Friday, December 7, 2018


ADVENT II [C]: Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6 

Once upon a time there was a king, who ruled a prosperous country. One day he went for a trip to some distant areas of his country. When he came back to his palace, he complained that his feet were very sore because it was the first time that he had gone for such a long trip, and the road he had used was very rough and stony. He then ordered his people to cover every road of the country with leather. Definitely this would need skins of thousands of animals, and would cost a huge amount of money. Then one of his wise advisors dared to question the king, “Why do you have to spend that unnecessary amount of money? Why don’t you just cut a little piece of leather to cover your feet?” The king was surprised, but later agreed to his suggestion to make a ‘shoe’ for himself. – We often say, “I wish things would change or people would change.” Instead wise people say: “Change your thinking and change your world.”

The Advent season challenges us to prepare the way for the celebration of Jesus’ first coming by changing ourselves. “Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
“Every hill made low,” refers to the humbling of the proud, the repentance that the strong and arrogant must undergo in order to receive God’s salvation.

The “winding roads” and “rough places” refer to the twists and turns of the human heart, contorted by sin (Jer 17:9).  The human heart needs to be “simplified” or “straightened” by honest and truthful confession of sin.

Preparing “the way” means to create a favorable environment or to make it easy for someone to come to one and operate in one’s life.  If a king were planning to travel, work crews would be dispatched to repair the roads.  Ideally, the roads for the king's journey would be straight, level, and smooth.  A smooth road means nothing to God, but a repentant heart means a great deal.  Hence, the truly important goal for us is to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord. 
John's message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We have to turn away from them in sincere repentance and receive God's forgiveness.  There are basically two reasons why people who have recognized their sins fail to receive forgiveness for them.  The first is that they fail to repent -- but the second is that they fail to forgive.  Jesus is very explicit about this in Matthew 6:14 and 15. He says, "For if you forgive men their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."  Is there someone I need to forgive today?  We must not let what others have done destroy our lives.  We can't be forgiven unless we forgive.  We must release our bitterness if we are to be able to allow God to do His healing work in our lives. May this advent season help us to shed all the bitterness and revenge so that we may be worthy to receive God’s forgiveness.




IMMACULATE CONCEPTION-2015

In 1492, 526 years ago, Columbus discovered America. He sailed in a ship called Santa Maria de Conception (St. Mary, the Immaculate Conception). He named the first Island he landed San Salvador, in honor of our Savior. Columbus named the second island Conceptio in honor of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. The fearless French explorer Fr. Marquette who explored the 2300 miles long Mississippi River, flowing through ten states, called it River of Mary Immaculate. In fact, all the early American Catholics were so proud of the great truth we celebrate today that the American bishops in 1846 (8 years before the promulgation of the dogma) chose Mary Conceived without sin as the patroness of the United States. Hence, this feast is the feast of the country’s heavenly patroness in the U.S.  

This feast celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother Saint Anne; and nine months later, on September 8, we celebrate the Nativity, the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.”
She had to be immaculate for two reasons. First of all, her son Jesus, being God and man at the same time, could not have inherited original sin from her. That would nullify the infinite merits of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. If Jesus himself was in the shade of Original Sin, he could not effectively wipe away the sins of others. So Mary had to be free from Original Sin, so that her Son would be free from Original Sin. Mary’s Immaculate Conception enhances Jesus’ redemptive work. Other members of the human race are cleansed from original sin after birth. In Mary, Jesus’ work was so powerful as to prevent original sin at the outset.
Secondly, Sin is a condition of being not in friendship with God. If Jesus was God, how could God and sin co-exist. God and sin cannot co-exist. Sin is a situation of being away from God. And if one argues that Mary was not immaculate, then our whole doctrine of salvation through Jesus would be under attack, pushing Jesus in to original sin and making his redemptive work less effective.
Hence, fruits of Jesus’ redemptive work on the Cross was applied to Mary at her conception not because of her virtue or merits, but by the merits of Jesus. The angel’s salutation “full of Grace” is the scriptural proof of Immaculate conception too. Full of grace means having no stain of sin. If she had some stain of sin, angel Gabriel who knows heavenly secrets and knowledge would not address her so. This doctrine of immaculate conception leads us to conclude that Mary was ever virgin too.
All of the four evangelists make some mention of Jesus’ brothers and sisters. The Gospel of Mark 6:3 and the Gospel of Matthew 13:55–56 state that James, Joses (or Joseph), Jude and Simon were the brothers of Jesus, the son of Mary. The same verses also mention unnamed sisters of Jesus. Mark 3:31–32 tells about Jesus' mother and brothers looking for Jesus.
John writes that after Jesus performed his first miracles in Cana, “he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days” (2:12).

Many commentators hold that the author of the epistle of Jude, who identifies himself as the "brother of James," was one of these brothers (Jude 1). It is also generally believed that the leader of the church at Jerusalem was James the brother of Jesus, (see Acts 12:17; 15:13). This seems to be confirmed by Paul's reference to his visit to Jerusalem, in which he states that he saw only Peter, and "James, the Lord's brother" (Galatians 1:18-19).
The word brother in the Old Testament, like in Genesis 13 and 14, can be used to describe some other kind of relation, like a cousin or a nephew, with reference Abram and Lot.  Abraham called his nephew Lot as his brother.
They were the cousins of Jesus on the mother's side, according to some scholars, or on Joseph's side, according to others.
If Mary had other children, they would have been present under the cross and Jesus would have definitely given Mary’s protection to them, rather than giving her to John. It would have been an offense to them if Jesus gave their mother to somebody other than his brothers.

In Luke chapter 1, when Mary respond to the angel's declaration that she's going to have a baby, her response only makes sense if she has taken some kind of vow of virginity, because she says "how shall this be since I know not man." 
James and Joseph and Simon and Judas aren't the children of Mary and Joseph, because the Gospels themselves tell us they aren't, and the early church fathers make clear who these men were.  In Matthew 27 verse 55 we read:
There were also many women there [i.e. at the cross], looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among whom were Mary Magdalene [number one], and Mary the mother of James and Joseph [number two], and [number three,] the mother of the sons of Zebedee.  
 Now that second woman is the one that's important for us, because James and Joseph have already been identified in the Gospel of Matthew as born of another woman.  We met them in chapter 13 when Matthew called them the brothers of Jesus. So the same people are called brothers of Jesus and at the same time born of a different mother than Virgin Mary.
So in John 19:25 we read these words:
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
In other words, we have even more evidence of who the other Mary is.  She's identified as, not the wife of Joseph, but the wife of another man name Clopas, and this would of course make Joseph and James, the two sons of Mary, the so-called brothers of Jesus, the children of Mary and her husband Clopas.
It's not impossible, but it's very unlikely that the Virgin Mary had a blood sister named Mary as well.  But it would've been very common for her to have a cousin or a relative named Mary, and that's who this other Mary is being identified here as in the Gospel of John.  Many protestants blindly argue that Mary had other children of her own. But that is not what we find in the scripture.
Mary having co-operated in our redemption with so much glory to God and so much love for us, Our Lord ordained that no one shall obtain salvation except through her intercession. (Alphonsus Liguori). That is why the Church gives so much importance to her.
When we respect and adore Jesus, we cannot but fail to honor Mary. Because it is through Mary, that Jesus came into this world and learned his human virtues.
Every mother wants her children to inherit or acquire all her good qualities. Hence, our immaculate and holy mother wants us to be holy and pure children. 
Let us listen to her instructions and follow her example so that one day in the heavenly Jerusalem we may love the Lord as she does. At the first miracle at Cana, Mary said to waiters, “Do whatever he tells you”. This is what she continues to tell everyday to us. Do what he tells you.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


CHRIST THE KING (Dn 7:13-14; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37)

There is a play that shows about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually the persecution of Henry VIII of England.  In the scene, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second-in-charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine on the grounds that she was also his sister-in-law but really because she had not given birth to a male heir to the Kingdom.  After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome.  Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a Pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.  Then we come to the center point.  Thomas More asked the King, “Why do you need my support?”  Henry VIII replied with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest.  And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest.  There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support.  But you are different.  And people know it.  That is why I need your support.”   In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asserts before Pilate that he is a king and clarifies that his kingdom “does not belong to this world.” It describes the qualities of Christ’s kingdom. It is primarily spiritual. Christ’s “kingdom is not of this world”.  Christ rules as King by serving others rather than by dominating them; his authority is rooted in truth, not in physical force, and his Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the beatitudes.
The title “Christ the King” has its roots both in Scripture and in the whole theology of the Kingdom of God.    In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 1:2-33, we read: “The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and He will be the King of the descendants of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will never end.”  In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are uses by Jesus.  b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt. 2:2) “Where is the baby born to be the King of the Jews?  We saw his star… and we have come to worship him.”  c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, who comes in the name of the Lord. d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question:  (Jn 18:33):  “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king.  I was born and came into this world for this one purpose, to bear witness to the Truth.”   e) The signboard hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews.”  f) Before his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus declared: (Mt. 28:18): “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”  g) Finally, in Matthew 25:31, we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.

By cultivating in our lives the gentle and humble mind of Christ, we show others that Jesus Christ is indeed our King and that he is in charge of our lives.
Bishop Villegas in his book entitled Jesus In My Heart said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian. To explain this contention, Villegas used the image of a deck of cards which carries four images of kings. The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is here, gentle and humble of heart, not to sow enmity among us. Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials. But Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts. (Fr. T.S. Benitez).
“All the kings and queens known in history sent their people out to die for them. Only one King, Jesus who decided to die for his people.”

Today’s Feast of Christ the King reminds us of the great truth that Christ must be in charge of our lives, that we must give him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart and our will.  In every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas, and the one who seeks to live in Christ’s Kingdom is the one who says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”  Let us ask ourselves the question, “What does Jesus, my King, want me to do or say in this situation?”  Are we praying each day that our King will give us the right words to say to the people we meet that day, words that will make us true ambassadors of Jesus?  Does our home life as well as the way we conduct ourselves with our friends come under the Kingship of Jesus?  Or do we try to please ourselves rather than him?




Friday, November 16, 2018


OT XXXIII [B]: Dn 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mk 13:24-32

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on December 7th, 1941. Soon after, they invaded and occupied the Philippines. The US General Douglas McArthur was stationed in the Philippines, and on March 11th, 1942, he was forced to leave the islands. Before leaving for Australia, he promised the islanders “I shall return.” On October 20th, 1944, two and a half years later, he kept his promise. He landed on one of the islands and announced, “I have returned.” This heralded freedom for the Philippines. Jesus assures us: “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will not pass away.”

 Today’s readings taken from Mark offered hope to early Christians persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero, reminding them of Jesus’ words about his glorious return to earth with great power and glory as Judge in order to gather and reward his elect as we proclaim in our creed. Next Sunday is the Thirty-fourth and last Sunday in our liturgical year when we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, and the following Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season with a new Liturgical Cycle.  Each year at this time, the Church asks us to mediate on the “last things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell — as they apply to us.
Though Daniel and Mark describe frightful scenes, their accounts also remind their audience that God will ensure that the righteous will survive the ordeal and will find a place with Him. Through the parable of the fig tree, Jesus warns us all to read the “signs of the time,” and reminds us that we must be ever prepared to give an account of our lives to Jesus our Judge, because we cannot know “either the day or the hour” of our own death or of his second coming.
God is coming to us in the ordinary events of our daily lives.  We must learn to recognize and welcome Him in these everyday occurrences – happy, encouraging, painful or disappointing – always remembering that He comes without warning. 

Bruce Lee’s son Brandon was on the set of the film The Crow in which he was playing the lead role. One scene required Lee to be shot by a prop-gun firing blanks. The gun had been used several times before in filming but a cheaply made round of blanks had lodged part of the lead in the barrel of the gun. It caused his death.

Suppose we were to learn today that we had just one year to live – that we would die on November 18, 2019.  What changes would we make in our lives?  How would we spend our time, talents and wealth?  What changes would we make in our priorities? Would we be concerned about the petty quarrels and bickering of life?  No!  The next twelve months would be the best year of our lives because we would spend our time doing loving, holy and worthwhile things.
To prepare for the end times is to live our daily lives in the manner we are called to live. Do our daily duties always remembering that God is not far from us.
There is a story told of Colonel Davenport, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives back in the year 1789.  One day, while the House was in session, the sky of Hartford suddenly grew dark and gloomy. Some of the Evangelical House representatives looked out the windows and thought this was a sign that the end of the world had come.  Uproar ensued, with the representatives calling for immediate adjournment.  But Davenport rose and said, “Gentlemen, the Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not.  If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment.  If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.  Therefore, I wish that candles be brought.”  Candles were brought and the session continued. Therefore we need to live lives accepting Jesus now as our personal Savior and doing now what he has commanded us to do.
The end of the world should never be thought of as depressing, disheartening or frightening because we are in the hands of a good and loving God.  Christ’s second coming gives us the message that God is journeying with us in the trials and difficulties of life, and that His word is ever-present as a light of hope.  He speaks to us through the Bible.  We have the Eucharist as a sign that God is with us, in our midst.  Holy Communion is our point of direct, personal contact with God.  That is why the holy Mass is special: the more fully and frequently we participate in the Mass, the more deeply the Lord can come to us, and the more completely He can remain with us. Let no one frighten us with disturbing descriptions of the end of the world because “the end” is all about the birth of everyone and everything into eternity.
We foolishly consider growing old as an evil thing, rather than as a warning from a loving God to prepare to meet Him and to give an account of our lives.  Our aches and pains and frequent “doctor’s appointments” in our senior years should remind us of God’s warning that we are growing unfit to live in this world, and that we have to get ready for another world of eternal happiness. 

Let us remember that the Lord is present wherever people treat each other with gentleness, generosity, and thoughtfulness.  Hence, let us try to bring Jesus to earth, as St. Teresa of Calcutta puts it: “by doing little things to others around us with great love.”




Thursday, November 1, 2018


T 31 [B]: Dt 6:2-6; Heb 7:23-28; Mk 12: 28b-34

The central message of today's readings is the most fundamental principle of all religions. It is to love God in loving others and to love others in loving God.
When Jesus quoted the statement, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might and with all your strength," every devout Jew would agree with him. Loving God with our whole heart is the key to everything in life; because our relationship with God affects everything and everyone in our life.  St. Augustine wrote: "Love God – and do what you like."

The second most important commandment is "You should love your neighbour as yourself." Hillel was a famous Jewish religious leader. Once he was asked by someone to instruct him in the whole law while he stood on one leg. Hillel's answer was, "What you hate for yourself, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole law, the rest is commentary.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself: The command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is a very demanding one. It was very hard for the Jews of Jesus’ time because only a fellow-Jew, obeying the Mosaic Law, was considered their neighbor. That is why, immediately after defining this important commandment, Jesus tells them the parable of the Good Samaritan, as reported in Luke’s Gospel. He wanted to teach His listeners that everyone in need is their neighbor.
If I am going to love my neighbor as I love myself, it will cost me as well! I may have to seek forgiveness when I think I have done no wrong. I may have to sacrifice something I think I need to meet a brother’s need. I may have to give up time to help someone. I may have to spend time in prayer for people, go to them, and reach out to them in the name of the   Lord.

Paul says in Romans: God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.(Rom. 5:8). While we were loathsome He loved us. Augustine said to God: By loving the unlovable, You made me lovable.

G. K. Chesterton once said that the really great lesson of the story of “Beauty and the Beast” is that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. A person must be loved before that person can be loveable. Some of the most unlovely people got that way because they thought that nobody loved them. The fact of the matter is that unless and until we feel ourselves loved, we cannot love. That’s not only a principle of theology but of psychology and sociology as well. Just as abused children grow up to abuse their children, loved children grow up to love their children. Loved persons are able to love. Unloved persons are not. Christianity says something startling. It says that God loves and accepts us “just as we are.” Therefore we can love and accept ourselves and in so doing, love and accept others.
Loving somebody who is attractive and wise and rich is no big credit. We naturaly fall in love with such people. But to love someone without any of these, is hard and then we are following the command of the Lord.

A rabbi was asked, "Which act of charity is higher--giving out of obligation or giving from the heart?"
All in the class were inclined to respond that giving from the heart had something more in it, but they knew the rabbi was going to say just the opposite, because in spiritual teaching nothing is logical. They were not disappointed.
"Giving from the heart is a wonderful thing," the rabbi said, "It is a very high act and should never be demeaned. But there is something much more important that happens when somebody gives charity out of obligation.
When somebody gives from the heart, there is a clear sense of oneself doing something; in other words, heartfelt charity always involves ego gratification.

"However, when we give out of obligation, when we give at a moment that every part of us is yelling NO! because of one reason or another--perhaps the beneficiary is disgusting, or it is too much money, or any of thousands of reasons we use to avoid giving charity--then we are confronting our own egos, and giving nonetheless. Why? Because we are supposed to. And what this means is that it is not us doing the giving, rather we are vehicles through which God gives... Therefore loving out of obligation because it is a command of Jesus receives more merit than when we love somebody out of innate loving urge.

We should ask ourselves these questions on a daily basis: Is my love for God all that it should be? Do I pray to Him as I should? Am I in His Word as I should be? Are there people or things that have crept in and taken over first place in my life? Is Jesus somewhere down the line after some person, some thing, or even myself? What about my love for others? Is it all it could be? How loving am I to the members of my family, to my neighbors, to the members of my parish community? The answer to all these questions will help us to measure the degree of our love of God.

During this Eucharistic celebration, let us ask the Lord that we might truly love him, with all of our heart. May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who sacrificed herself fully, for love of God, by offering up her Son dying on the Cross, grant us her help and her protection throughout our life! 






Friday, October 26, 2018


OT XXX [B] Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5: 1-6; Mk10:46-52

As the captain of a British slave ship, John Newton regained his faith during a storm at sea and became an ordained minister who was very active in the abolitionist movement. He explains how he gained his spiritual eyesight in his famous hymn, Amazing Grace.
Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

Today’s Gospel, which tells of the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus, challenges us to strengthen our faith in Jesus, the healer, and invites us to gain true spiritual vision.
The healing of the blind Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel is seen also as the fulfillment of the joyful prophecy of Jeremiah in the first reading about the return of the exiled Jews from Babylon to their homeland.
It is not by coincidence that this Gospel of blind Bartimaeus follows immediately upon last Sunday’s text about James and John’s ambitious request for positions of primacy in Jesus’ coming Kingdom. It is probable that Mark intends to the two stories to be seen in contrast: James and John, although possessing physical sight, evidently do not “see” Jesus for who He is, do not understand Him and His message properly yet, and are still too filled with pride and a desire for power. Bartimaeus, on the other hand, although physically blind, evidently “sees” Jesus much better than some of His own disciples; he recognizes Jesus as the promised Davidic Messiah, but, instead of asking for power and glory, seeks only the healing and mercy that many Jews believed the Messiah to be bringing.

All four of the evangelists use sight as a symbol for Christian faith. Believing is the deepest kind of “seeing.” The section of Mark’s Gospel that deals with discipleship (8:22-10:52), begins with the healing of a blind man (8:22-26), and concludes with the story of another blind man, Bartimaeus.  In between these two stories are three episodes in which the disciples are presented as blind to the meaning of Jesus’ mission and of their own discipleship.  Their spiritual “blindness” is evident in their persistent misunderstanding.  The gradual coming to sight of the first blind man (8:22-26), stands in contrast to the story of Bartimaeus, who regains his vision at once and becomes a follower of Jesus. 

The healing of Bartimaeus has Messianic implications.  Jesus commended Bartimaeus because he had correctly understood that Jesus was the Son of David and the expected Messiah.  Referring to the coming of the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped” (Isaiah 35:5; 29:18, 42:7).  The Church has taken the persistent prayer of Bartimaeus to heart.  The prayer “Kyrie eleison” (“Lord, have mercy“), appears frequently in the liturgy. Bartimaeus’ prayer has also become the source of “the Jesus Prayer:” “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”  In its adapted form, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” it has become a popular Christian prayer.  The Church advises us to repeat it frequently, in acknowledgement of our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy.  Like Bartimaeus, we should recognize — even in our blind moments — the presence of Jesus.  We can trust in the power of Jesus to give us new visions and to  strengthen us in our weakness. “

There is a story, believed to be true, about Abraham Lincoln, just before the close of the Civil War. Landowners in the Deep South were cutting their losses, liquidating their slaves before slavery was banned, and President Lincoln came upon a slave auction in progress. A young girl was placed upon the auction block, in front of all the bidders and gawkers. With defiance and disdain, the woman scanned the crowd, daring someone to start the bidding. Lincoln did – and when he won the bid and took possession of the young woman, she was belligerent. “What are you going to do with me?” she asked. “I’m going to set you free,” the president answered. “Set me free? What do you mean, ‘Set me free?’ Free for what?” Abraham Lincoln said, “Free. Free to do what you want to do. Free to go where you want to go.” The astonished woman replied, “Then I choose to go with you.” After a lifetime of yearning for freedom, the first thing this former slave chooses to do when she becomes free is to yield herself back under the authority of someone else. Bartimaeus decided to follow Jesus when he received sight, his faith. This is our call.  You and I are free; that’s what Jesus said. May we use our freedom to be his servants in a dark and hurting world, and reflect his glorious light to remove the spiritual blindness and darkness around us! May this begin today.


Friday, October 19, 2018


OCT 21: WORLD MISSION SUNDAY – 2018

A room-service waiter at a Marriott hotel learned that the sister of a guest had just died. The waiter, named Charles, bought a sympathy card, had hotel staff members sign it, and gave it to the distraught guest with a piece of hot apple pie.
"Mr. Marriott," the guest later wrote to the president of Marriott Hotels, "I'll never meet you. And I don't need to meet you. Because I met Charles. I know what you stand for. I want to assure you that as long as I live, I will stay at your hotels. And I will tell my friends to stay at your hotels."
Today is world mission Sunday. A Sunday dedicated to reminding us of our mission to preach the gospel every day. Like Charles who conveyed the message of hospitality and sympathy through his kind action we are also called to present the Gospel before others. We may be the only gospel others may ever get to read in their life.
This annual observance was instituted 92 years ago in 1926 by a Papal decree issued by Pope Pius XI. Every year since then, the universal Church has dedicated the month of October to reflection on and prayer for the missions. This annual celebration gives us a chance to reflect on the importance of mission work for the life of the Church. It reminds us that we are one with the Church around the world and that we are all committed to carrying on the mission of Christ, however different our situations may be. The greatest missionary challenge that we face at home is a secular and consumerist culture in which God is not important, moral values are relative and institutional religions are deemed unnecessary.
Pope Benedict encouraged the sending of missionaries from Church communities which have a large number of vocations to serve those communities of the West which experience a shortage of vocations.  In 2009, the Pope clarified that the “the goal of the Church’s mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel as they journey through history towards God.”

The Church, according to Vatican Council II, is “missionary” in her very nature because her founder, Jesus Christ, was the first missionary.   God the Father sent God the Son into the world with a message.   This message, called the Gospel or the “Good News,” is explicitly stated in John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die, but have eternal life.”  St. Paul writes to Timothy about the Church’s mission: “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4). Thus, the evangelizing mission of the Church is essentially the announcement of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation as these are revealed to mankind through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Gospels show us how Jesus demonstrated this all-embracing and unconditional love of God by his life, suffering, death, and Resurrection.
Jesus, the first missionary, made a permanent arrangement for inviting all men throughout the ages to share God’s love and salvation:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19).  This is why the Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared that the Church of Christ “is missionary in its origin and nature.”  Hence, it follows that the mission of the Church is the mission of every member of the Church, and is not reserved for the priests, the religious, and the active missionaries alone.    Thus, every Christian is a missionary with a message to share — the message of God’s love, liberation, and eternal salvation.
There is a striking story about one remote area in western Sudan. Expatriate missionaries, especially priests, Brothers and Sisters, had labored there for many years with few visible results. Then expatriate lay missionaries — married and single — came to that area and soon many Sudanese people became Catholics. A Sudanese elder explained: “When we saw the priests and Sisters living separately and alone we didn’t want to be like them. But when we saw Catholic families — men, women and children — living happily together, we wanted to be like them.”

The most powerful means of fulfilling this goal is by living a truly   Christian life — a life filled with love, mercy, kindness, compassion and a forgiving spirit.   Mr. Gandhi used to say:   “My life is my message.”  He often challenged the Christian missionaries to observe the “apostolate of the rose.”   A rose doesn’t preach. It simply radiates its fragrance and attracts everyone to it by its irresistible beauty.   Hence, the most important thing is not the Gospel we preach, but the life we live.  This is how the early Christians evangelized.   Their Gentile neighbors used to say:  “See how these Christians love one another.”   The Christ they recognized and accepted was the Christ who lived in each Christian.

Prayer is the second means of missionary work.  Jesus said: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Therefore, prayer is necessary for anyone who wishes to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.   In his message for World Mission Sunday, 2004, Pope St. John Paul II stressed the fact that the Holy Spirit would help us to become witnesses of Christ only in an atmosphere of prayer.  Since missionaries are weak human beings and since witnessing to Christ through life is not easy, we need to support them by our prayers.
Hence, on this Mission Sunday, let us learn to appreciate our missionary obligation and support the Church’s missionary activities by leading transparent Christian lives, by fervent prayers, and by generous donations.



Saturday, October 13, 2018


OT XXVIII [B] (Oct 14) Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30 (L-18)

With a coconut, some roasted peanuts or rice and a string, tribal people living in the border of forests in Africa, Sri Lanka and India have been trapping monkeys for centuries.  At one end of the coconut, they open a hole that is big enough to allow a monkey’s hand to push inside. However, the hole is too small for a monkey to remove his hand when he makes a fist.  On the other end of the coconut, a string is firmly attached and tied to a tree trunk.  The coconut trap, with roasted peanuts or roasted rice inside, is placed along a monkey’s trail, and the trapper hides behind bushes with a net.  The monkey smells the peanuts and is attracted to them.   He puts his hand through the hole and grabs a handful of peanuts, after which it is impossible for him to remove his hand since he is unwilling to let go of the peanuts.  Suddenly the trapper casts the net over the monkey and traps it.  We too are attracted by different “peanuts” that can be detrimental to our spiritual and physical pursuits.  Today’s Gospel presents a rich young man who wants eternal life but will not relinquish “the peanuts” of riches.
Today’s readings remind us that we do not possess anything in our life that we refuse to surrender to the Lord.  But, in reality our “possessions” often possess us, and we become their prisoners. What we really do is give our “things” top priority in our lives. Thus, we violate the First Great Commandment, which demands that we give absolute and unconditional priority to God.

The first reading advises us to use the God-given virtue of prudence and to seek true wisdom rather than to seek vanishing realities like riches or political and social influence.  Solomon chose Wisdom before everything else.  But when he accepted Wisdom, he received everything else along with her. Since Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate, when we put following Jesus ahead of everything else, we receive everything else along with Jesus.
This rich young man who came to Jesus in search of eternal life really wanted to be accepted by Jesus as a disciple. However, Jesus did not want this man as a disciple on his own terms, but rather on Jesus’ terms.  The young man claimed that, from his youth, he had observed all the commandments Jesus mentioned, including the fourth commandment.  His tragedy was that he loved “things” more than people.  He was trapped by the idea that he could keep his possessions and still obtain God’s mercy.  He failed to realize the fact that his riches had built a wall between himself and God.  In other words, his possessions “possessed” him.  Even though the rich man had never killed, stolen, or committed adultery, he was breaking both the commandment forbidding idolatry and the one commanding love of neighbor.  He worshiped his wealth more than God. Jesus asks him to break his selfish attachment to his wealth by sharing it.  He makes the same challenge to each of us today.  Our following of Jesus has to be totally and absolutely unconditional. 

An old mountaineer was on his deathbed. He called his wife to him. “Elviry,” he said, “go to the fireplace and take out that loose stone under the mantle.” She did as instructed, and behind that loose stone she found a shoe box crammed full of cash. “That’s all the money I’ve saved through the years,” said the mountaineer. “When I go, I’m goin’ to take it with me. I want you to take that box up to the attic and set it by the window. I’ll get it as I go by on my way to heaven.” His wife followed his instructions. That night, the old mountaineer died. Several days after the funeral, his wife remembered the shoe box. She climbed up to the attic. There it was, still full of money, sitting by the window. “Oh,” she thought, “I knew it. I knew I should have put it in the basement instead of the attic.”
As someone has said, “We can’t take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.”

We all have something in our lives that serves as a major obstacle to happiness and peace.  We must recognize this obstacle and address it head-on.  It may not be riches — it may be anger, holding grudges, alcohol, drugs, lust, apathy, lies, unfaithfulness, theft, or fraud.  Let us invite God into our lives and into our efforts to face and remove that one obstacle to holiness.  We have a decision to make: whether to go away sad like the rich young man, or to follow Jesus and be happy. 




Saturday, October 6, 2018


Oct 7: THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY

October is the month of Rosary. October 7th is the feast of our Lady of the Rosary. So we say solemn rosary before the masses during this month.  The word Rosary means “crown of roses” or “garland of roses” and each prayer in the Rosary is considered a flower presented to Mary. The prayers we repeat are Biblical and, hence, “inspired,” and the mysteries we meditate upon are taken from the lives of Jesus and Mary.  As we are saying the Rosary, we are, in fact, in contact with two of the most basic prayers in our Christian tradition: the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father), and the Angelic Salutation (the Hail Mary).  The first is fully rooted in the Scriptures, taught by Jesus Himself. The second is largely rooted in the Scriptures, its first half echoing the words of the Archangel Gabriel and of Elizabeth as each addressed Mary.  The third prayer — the “Glory be to the Father” — ancient in its wording — surely reflects the unceasing prayer of adoration and praise found in the Book of Revelation.

The first major Rosary miracle, and one of the most impressive, is the one that occurred at the Battle of Lepanto. This historic battle took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting at Lepanto, on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece. The defeat was attributed to the effect rosaries recited by the soldiers and their respective countrymen for the sole purpose of preventing the Muslim army invading Europe and destroying Christianity as they did in the Byzantine Empire. The Turks had nearly three times more troops. The winds were against the Christians and the conditions were poor. But after the rosary recitals by the soldiers ended, the winds aided the Christians who gained a colossal victory against the Turks. This was one of the greatest naval upsets in history from which the Turks never fully recovered and their threat in the Mediterranean Sea ended. Following this victory, Pope Pius V established the Feast of Our Lady of Victories on October 7th. The name was later changed to its present form – the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716 and it is celebrated on the 7th of October, observing October as the month of the rosary.

During the recitation of the Rosary, we meditate on the saving mysteries of our Lord’s life and the faithful witness of our Blessed Mother. Journeying through the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries of the Rosary, we bring to mind our Lord’s Incarnation, His public ministry, His passion and death, and His Resurrection from the dead. Hence, by praying the Rosary, we come to live out the Paschal Mystery in our lives, thereby becoming authentic disciples of Jesus, people who really follow in his footsteps, dying with him so as to rise with him. We also ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother, the exemplar of faith, who leads all believers to her Son. Hence, we as modern-day Catholic Christians need to pray the Rosary and live the Rosary.

In the ninth century, the Christian monks who recited the 150 psalms instructed the illiterate common people to recite the “Our Father” 150 times using beads. These strings of beads became known as Paternosters, the Latin for “Our Father.” It was in the eleventh century that the Europeans added “Hail Mary” to “Our Father.” According to legend, in 1214, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic Guzman and instructed him to pray with the bead-string in a new form as an effective antidote against the Albigensian heresy.  At least a dozen Popes have mentioned St. Dominic’s connection with the Rosary in various Papal pronouncements, sanctioning his role as at least a “pious belief.” Historians agree that St. Dominic preached its use to convert sinners and those who had strayed from the Faith. The Rosary devotion had attained its present form and gotten its name the Rosarium (“rose garden”), by AD 1500. An additional boost to the Rosary devotion was given in 1917, on the thirteenth of May, when our Blessed Mother, in her sixth apparition to the three children at Fatima, demanded, “Say the Rosary every day…  Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for sinners…  I’m Our Lady of the Rosary.” She advised them to say the Rosary rightly, daily and devoutly for a holier life and world peace.  The “Fatima prayer” “O, my Jesus” was added in the twentieth century. Pope John Paul II enriched the Rosary by adding the “Luminous Mysteries” in 2002. 

Bishop Fulton J.  Sheen called the Rosary the perfect prayer because in addition to engaging the mind and the spirit, our fingers touch the beads and we are engaged in a physical way also. During this month of rosary, also every day of the year, let’s be faithful in saying the Rosary, because its power is unimaginable. Remember to come 30 minutes earlier for the weekend masses this month and become part of our parish rosary recitation a community one and gain spiritual graces from God through Mary.


Saturday, August 25, 2018


OT XXI Jos 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Eph 5:21-32; Jn 6: 60-69 

 A group of Christians gathered for a secret prayer meeting in Russia, at the height of the persecution of all Christian churches. Suddenly the door was broken by the boot of a soldier. He entered the room and faced the people with a gun in his hand. They all feared the worst. He spoke. “If there’s anyone who doesn’t really believe in Jesus, then, get out now while you have a chance.” There was a rush to the door. A small group remained – those who had committed themselves to Jesus, and who were never prepared to run from him. The soldier closed the door after the others, and once again, he stood in front of those who remained, gun poised. Finally, a smile appeared on his face, as he turned to leave the room, and he whispered “Actually, I believe in Jesus, too, and you’re much better off without those others!”
At least once in a while thoughts cross our minds, especially these days, that if all the fake Church leaders and believers left the church, it would have grown much stronger and faster. Like weeds among the wheat they hamper the growth and fruit bearing of the Church.

Today we, too, are challenged to decide whom we will serve. In the first reading Joshua challenges the Israelites to decide whom they will serve, the gods of their fathers, the gods of the Amorites in whose country they were then dwelling or the God of Israelites Who had done so much for them. As Joshua spoke to his followers, Jesus speaks to the twelve apostles and gives them the option of leaving him or staying with him.

“This teaching is difficult.  Who can accept it?” It was Jesus’ disciples complaint.  They were offended by Jesus’ language — his imagery — the metaphors he used in his Eucharistic discourse. It was Jesus’ dramatic way of saying that we must accept him totally, without any conditions or reservations. His thoughts and attitudes, his values, his life-view must become totally ours.

G.K. Chesterton, a Faithful British Catholic said: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” These days we hear many youngsters leaving the Catholic Church for mega Churches. Why? Is it because the Catholic Church is not appealing to them? Yes and no. Yes, because they find no novelty in the liturgy. They find the same prayers every day and more rigid discipline which is not the same with other Churches. Once you begin the Catholic Mass the prayers go by rote, as if you turned on a tape recorder. Even if my mind is miles away I can respond to the prayers. No personal effort is needed to respond to the prayers, if you have been a Catholic for long time. But, more than that why they leave the Catholic Church is because, it is very hard to live as a true Catholic. As Chesterton said: It has been found difficult and left untried. As the disciples of Jesus’ time said: It is a hard teaching. Who can follow it.

The Gospel is offensive and scandalous because God’s ways are not our ways.  It is offensive because it is costly.  When Christ calls us to eat his Flesh and to drink his Blood, he is inviting us to participate in his death.  The Christians who first heard this Gospel experienced persecution.  They knew martyred Christians, and they knew Christians who had avoided martyrdom by compromising their Faith. The Gospel with no offense would be like a surgeon with no scalpel — having no power to heal.  Christ and his cross, truly revealed, will always be an offense, except to the redeemed. The total assimilation of Jesus’ spirit and outlook into our lives is very challenging. And it was a challenge that some of Jesus’ disciples were not prepared to face. The reason Jesus says: “There are among you some who do not believe, do not trust me.” Faith is not simply a set of ideas to be held on to. It is a living relationship with a Person and His vision of life. It is a relationship that needs to grow and be deepened with the years. It is a relationship that has constantly to be re-appraised in a constantly changing world.
It is high time that we also reflected to find out where we stand, as his followers. When Jesus challenged his followers, Peter's determination was expressed. His words to Jesus are resounding through the centuries: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”Peter's loyalty was based on a personal relationship to Jesus. There were many things that he did not understand. But there was something in Jesus that held him fast to Jesus; that was his experience of Jesus. In the last analysis, Christianity is not a well set doctrine of dogmas, not a credible philosophy, not a well-defined Christology, but simply a personal relationship with Jesus. This personal relationship is deepened and strengthened through the Eucharist. That is why Jesus said unless you believe, and eat the flesh of the Son of Man you have no life in you.

When we are able to have a personal experience, we will become heroes of Jesus like Peter and other faithful Apostles. Let’s pray that like Peter may we have the courage to say everyday: Lord where shall I go, you have the words of eternal life.



Friday, August 10, 2018


OT XIX [B] I Kgs 19:4-8, Eph 4:30–5:2, Jn 6:41-51 

The German theologian Helmut Thielicke told of a hungry man passing a store with a sign in the window, "We Sell Bread." He entered the store, put some money on the counter, and said, "I would like to buy some bread." The woman behind the counter replied, "We don’t sell bread." "The sign in the window says that you do," the hungry man said. The woman explained, "We make signs here like the one in the window that says ‘We Sell Bread.’" But, as Thielicke concludes, a hungry man can’t eat signs.
Life sometimes fools us too. Bread isn’t always found where it seems to be. Today’s Gospel lesson picks up where we left off last week in John 6. Like the crowds looking for something else or that man looking in the wrong store, we often miss the point when God offers us enduring life in Jesus.
We are living in a world where people of all races and creeds hunger more for spiritual sustenance than for physical food.  In response to the spiritual hunger of people in his own day, Jesus, proclaims himself to be “the Bread of Life that came down from heaven.”  It is through Jesus, the bread of life, that we have access to the Divine life during our earthly pilgrimage to God.  
 Jesus makes a series of unique claims in today’s Gospel passage: 1) “I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven.”  2)”I am the Bread of Life.”  3) “The Bread that I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world.”  Jesus’ Jewish listeners could hardly contain themselves when he claimed to be the “Bread of Life” (v. 35) who “came down from Heaven” (v. 38).  They thought they knew his father and mother (v. 42), and saw him as just another hometown boy – a carpenter by profession without any formal training in Mosaic Laws and Jewish Scriptures.  They could remember when he had moved from Nazareth to Capernaum with a band of unknown disciples, mostly fishermen.  
Jesus challenged the Jews who were upset about his claim of bread of life and his explanation, to take a journey of Faith by seeing him, not as the son of Joseph, but as the one who came down from Heaven.  By saying, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me …” Jesus told his listeners, that everyone who has become his follower has done so because God the Father has called him or her to Jesus. It is an act of God that has brought us to follow the way of Jesus.   Faith in Christ is God's gift; no one can conjure it up on their own in a chemistry lab. When we look at the small white Host, no scientific test can prove that Jesus Christ is truly present there, body, blood, soul, and divinity. And yet, we know that he is; we have been given the gift of faith. This is why the priest says, after the consecration at each Mass: "Let  us proclaim the mystery of faith."
 Jesus offered the ultimate reassurance to every one of us who believes when he said: “I will raise him up on the last day” ( vv.39, 40, 44, 54).  This persistent theme serves to remind us that only Jesus, the true Bread of Life, can impart the gift of eternal Life to the faithful.
Jesus himself is the "bread" of this eternal life, its source and sustenance. Without bread, without food, physical life perishes. Without Jesus, without his "flesh for the life of the world" in the Eucharist, our life of intimate communion with God will perish. It's that simple - and it's that crucial. Eleven times in this discourse Jesus speaks of himself as the bread of life; he's really hoping that we'll get the message. The gift of faith gives us access to eternal life, and the Eucharist makes that life grow within us.

Jesus wants us to eat him because he IS Bread. “You are what you eat.” Jesus is Bread and he wants us to eat his Flesh. Thus, we bring him into the core of our being. The Fathers of the Church explain that, while ordinary food is assimilated into man, the very opposite takes place in Holy Communion. Here man is assimilated into the Bread of Life. He is ready to come into our lives, regardless of who we have been, or how unqualified we feel. Let us live the life of Faith … making changes so that He becomes the staple food of our spiritual life, not a side dish. Let us be people who recognize that Jesus, whom we consume, is actually God who assimilates us into His being. Then, from Sunday to Saturday we will grow into Jesus as he grows in us, our lives will be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will become more like him. Thus, we shall share in the joyous and challenging life of being the Body of Christ for the world – Bread for a hungry world, and Drink for those who thirst for justice, peace, fullness of life, and even eternal life.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


OT XVIII [B]: Ex 16:2-4, 12-15; Eph 4:17, 20-24; Jn 6:24-35
In the depression years of the 1930’s millions of Americans were out of work and many thousands were hungry. In a number of cities, religious groups set up bread-lines to feed the hungry. One of these was the Franciscan monastery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Every evening, the Friars, Brothers and lay volunteers prepared and gave a nourishing sandwich of bread and meat to hundreds of hungry men and women. It was interesting to note the reactions of the recipients. Many accepted the well-prepared and well-wrapped food with a smile and a thank you. Others, with heads hanging, snatched the food package and shuffled off. Some tore the bag at once and started eating as they hurried away. Most of them ate every last crumb after a silent prayer and put the wrapping into a nearby container, though some would eat only the meat and discard the bread on the roadside. A few discontented ones just opened the package and then threw the entire contents away in protest. The way those hungry unfortunates reacted to that little lunch is a lot like the way his listeners received the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel.
Jesus presents an introduction to his famous discourse on the Holy Eucharist in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and the Jews who had gone around the Lake and come to Capernaum searching for him.  The people were looking for a repeat performance of their miraculous feeding.  In answer to their question about his arrival, Jesus told them that they looked for him for another free meal and that such meals would not satisfy them. Hence, he instructed them to labor for food that would give them eternal life. True Christians, understand that real fulfillment comes from more than just making a living; it comes from making a life.

In today’s first reading the Israelites wanted their bellies filled, and complained, and were even willing to return to slavery just to have a full stomach. Jesus reminds the Jews today that full stomachs didn’t enable those Israelites under Moses to live forever, even though the Lord provided them with manna to eat. 
Like the Israelites in the First Reading the people were still seeking signs, but now the moment had come for faith, a faith that lead to no longer living as the Gentiles did, just focused on immediate needs and concerns of this life and not seeing the bigger picture where this life is a pilgrimage toward eternal life. The Israelites who grumbled in the desert didn’t live to see the Promised Land due to their lack of trust in God; the people in today’s Gospel are being extended an opportunity to one day enter into the true Promised Land, but they have to trust the new Moses–Jesus–to lead them.

Although Jesus identifies himself as "the bread of life" (v. 35), he is not yet speaking about the Sacramental Eucharist in this part of his Eucharistic discourse. Here, the emphasis is placed on the Faith-acceptance of the teaching of Jesus. In other words, Jesus states that he is nourishment, first of all, as one who offers us the life-giving words of God about the meaning of our lives.
We must believe him to be the Messiah, sent with the message that God is a loving, holy, and forgiving Father, and not a punishing judge.  Belief in Jesus is not simple intellectual assent, but an authentic, total commitment to Him of loyalty and solidarity. There is no reference yet to eating His Body or drinking His Blood, which will come later. Here, we are reminded that only a believing reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus will bring us true life.

 In the Holy Mass, the Church offers us two types of bread: a) the Bread of Life, contained in God’s Word and b) the Bread of Life, contained in the Holy Eucharist.  Unfortunately, many of us come to Mass every week only to present on the altar our earthly needs without accepting spiritual nourishment by properly receiving God’s Word and the Holy Eucharist.

When we pray: "give us this day our daily bread," let us remember that the Holy Eucharist is not simply a "snack," such as we might eat at a party or at lunch.   Jesus not only gives the Bread of Life (John 6:11, 27) -- He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48).  The Giver and the Gift are one and the same.  The Eucharist is not a mere "symbol" of Jesus; rather, it is a Sacramental sign of Jesus’ Real Bodily Presence in his glorified risen Body.   As we come up to receive him today let’s believe that we are going to receive a bread that never perishes, but leads to eternal Life.



Friday, July 27, 2018


OT XVII [B]: 2 Kings 4:42-44, Eph 4:1-6, John 6:1-15 

The multiplication of the loaves is the only miracle from Jesus’ public ministry narrated in all four Gospels that has Eucharistic overtones.   This is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, that is told in all the Gospels, a fact that speaks of its importance to the early Church. John uses this story in his Gospel to introduce Jesus’ profound and extended reflection on the Eucharist and the Bread of Life.  The Cycle B lectionary has selected portions from John chapter 6 for the next four Sundays to remind us of Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist.  The Eucharistic coloring of the multiplication of bread is clear in Jesus’ blessing, breaking, and giving the loaves. 

The story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes recalls a particular aspect of the Mass. In this miracle, Jesus transforms a young boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish. At every Mass God wants to take from our hands the fruit of our labor and work of our hands…as the offertory prayer stresses. The offertory collection really covers that aspect of the Mass. After his resurrection, at the sea of Tiberias Jesus appeared to the disciples and let them have a miraculous catch. And he asked them to bring some of the fish that they caught to add to the fish Jesus had already caught and was baking for their breakfast. Jesus could have performed the miracle of the multiplication of bread from scratch, from nothing. But he needed the 5 loaves of the boy. Jesus could have made wine from nothing. But he used water, the servants had to work to fill the jars with water. He always takes something that we worked on for his miracles.  Therefore no Eucharist is offered without the fruit of our labor. The Eucharist brings no meaning to us if we bring nothing to the Eucharist. God in turn transforms our gifts, making this bread and wine to be the very Body and Blood of Jesus. We also offer ourselves in this exchange, and we, too, are transformed by the Eucharist. This is what the celebrant says when he mixes water with wine: By this mingling of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Water symbolizes our humanity and Wine symbolizes Jesus’ divinity. The water is fully absorbed in to the wine. The wine doesn’t become water. The same way our humanity is fully covered in Jesus’ divinity. That is why the Mass is fully acceptable to God the Father.

The multiplication may have actually happened in the passing out of the bread from Jesus’ hands into the hands of the Apostles or to the hands of the people. Therefore the people might not have seen a large bulk of bread before them. Only later may they have realized actually what happened a little before. This is what happens at the Eucharist too. We don’t see the transubstantiation taking place, but we only hear the word, this is my body and my blood, which Jesus utters using the celebrant’s tongues. And Jesus does not make a bulk of bread and asks people to come and help themselves. Instead, he did as we do at the Mass, the priests or the Extra ordinary Ministers serve the congregation as Jesus did at the multiplication of the bread or at the last supper. Receiving means I am accepting a gift, not a right that I have that I can go and take or grab. That is the reason only the bishop or the priests who stand in place of Jesus at the Eucharist serves themselves and nobody else. None of us have a right to divine gift.

In all the accounts of the multiplication Jesus asks the Apostles to collect the left over fragments. It shows the abundance of food they had. Also that God wants no food to be wasted. That's exactly what we do with the hosts that remain after Communion; we gather them in the ciboria and reserve them in the tabernacle. All of this is no accident.
Jesus is not just giving the crowds a free lunch to show them God's generosity and concern; he is also getting them ready to understand his coming discourse about the Eucharist.

At the Eucharist every particle that has any bread quality is believed to have the presence of the Lord. Therefore one is to carefully handle each and every particle. Extra ordinary ministers who deal with the bread may feel any tiny particle stuck to their fingers when they feel the fingers together. Therefore it is advisable to rinse your fingers in the water kept in the bowl here.

This reading invites us to become humble instruments in God’s hands by sharing our blessings with our needy brothers and sisters. Miracles can happen through our hands, when we collect and distribute to the needy the food destined for all by our generous God. 

As we continue with this Mass, let's make an effort to live it deeply. And we can live it deeply, by paying attention to the sacred words of the liturgy, by stirring up sentiments of gratitude and faith in our hearts, and by remembering that we are not alone, that through this Mass we are connected to Catholics throughout the world and throughout history who have gathered around the same altar and received the same Holy Communion, obeying our Lords' command: "Do this in remembrance of me."