Monday, December 24, 2018

CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS:  Is 9:1-6;  Ti 2:11-14;  Lk 2:1-14

The Gospel for the Midnight Mass tells us how Jesus was born in Bethlehem and how the news of his birth was first announced to shepherds by the angels. 
Since David was a shepherd, it seems fitting that the shepherds were given the privilege of visiting David’s successor in the stable.  If these shepherds were the ones in charge of the Temple sheep and lambs which were meant for daily sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem, no wonder they were chosen to be the first to see the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!  Shepherding was a lonely, dirty job, and shepherds found it difficult to follow all the obligatory religious customs.  Hence, they were scorned as non-observant Jews.  So Baby Jesus selected these marginalized people to share His love at the beginning of his earthly ministry.  The shepherds expressed their joy and gratitude by “making known what had been told them" (v 17). 
Is Christmas a message of joy for us. ? And do we pass that joy to others as the shepherds did?
What can you do this Christmas to avoid disillusionment?

How can we improve our level of joy this Christmas? The answer is found in the story of the magi in Matthew 2. Magi, wise men from the East, saw a star that indicated the birth of a new king in Israel. Wanting to honour Him with gifts, they set out on a journey following the star to find this new born King. From the attitudes of these wise men and the events that surrounded their journey, we see how we can raise our level of joy at Christmas.

There are three lessons we learn from this story.
I. What do you seek?
Your level of joy at Christmas is directly related to what it is you seek.
Ask the question: What is it I want to get out of Christmas? What is it that would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? Snow? All the family together and happy? Finding the right present to give? Getting the present you have been hoping for? The problem with all these is that they can leave us disappointed.
Have you ever had that kind of experience - when you were disappointed by Christmas because it did not deliver what you thought it would? The problem is not Christmas. It is in our expectations. We are looking for the wrong thing.
The magi show us how to increase our level of joy at Christmas by looking for the right thing. What was it they were looking for? They came to Jerusalem and said, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." They were looking for Jesus. Christmas for them was an opportunity to worship Jesus.
That is what we need to be looking for and expecting this Christmas - an experience of worship, a fresh glimpse of He who was born King of the Jews. If our goal this Christmas is to worship Jesus, then we will not be dissatisfied with our experience.

II. Where do you look?
Your level of joy at Christmas is directly related to where you look.
We learn from the magi that there are wrong and right places to look for Christmas. They started by looking in the wrong place. They looked where their own human reasoning said they should look. The star indicated the birth of a new king in Israel. The magi went where kings should be born - to the palace of Herod the Great. But what a mistake that was! When Herod heard of the birth of a new king, he jealousy sought to destroy him.
We, too, are tempted to look for joy at Christmas in the wrong places. We think by getting or giving the right gift we will be satisfied. We imagine that being with family will be joyful. All these can easily disappoint us. You may not be able to afford the right gift for a loved one. Family members may be missing from your holiday celebration. If you are looking to these things for joy, you may be left with a feeling of disillusionment.
The magi looked in the right place when they looked to God. The trip to Jerusalem was not a total loss. While there they discovered where they should have looked in the first place: the Bible. The scribes in Jerusalem said that, according to the prophet Micah, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. With this new information, they looked again at the star and followed it to Bethlehem until it stood over the house where the child Jesus lived.
III. What do you give?
Your level of joy at Christmas is directly related to what you give.
The magi came to Jesus' house bearing gifts. The gifts they gave were entirely appropriate. They gave gold, gift for a king. They gave frankincense, a gift for a priest. This was incense the priests used in Temple. They gave myrrh, gift for the dead. This was a fragrant ointment used to anoint a body before burial. By giving it they acknowledged that Jesus had come to die for the sins of the world.
We ought to give appropriate gifts this Christmas as well. We ought to give the gift of our love and kindness to our friends and family. We ought to give the gift of our help to those who are hurting. We ought to give the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Giving these kinds of gifts will result in a joyous and meaningful Christmas.

Christmas really happens that moment when we open up our hearts and receive God’s Christmas Gift that was given to us two-thousand years ago. It is when we turn our heart into a manger and we allow Jesus to be born anew into our life. During this night let’s resolve to help Jesus be born in our hearts and family this moment by opening our hearts wide like Mary did by saying her BIG AMEN.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


After a long day’s Christmas shopping a man remarked , "I’m glad that Christmas comes only once a year. It leaves my pocketbook pretty thin." If all that Christmas means is a seasonal shopping spree, it leaves only a bitter taste in the mouth. To be sure, there is a sweet sentimentality about the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day itself is joyfully observed in our homes. But then what? Suddenly the long awaited holiday is all over and the inevitable feeling of letdown sets in. Another Christmas has come and gone. Does this mean that like the ornaments on the Christmas tree the Christmas story too is to be stored away until next year?
Those who have grasped the true meaning of Christmas know that it is not a mere date in a calendar. It is a glorious truth which retains its vitality throughout the year.
What is the perennial truth which the Christmas story brings to a focus? The author of the fourth gospel captures it and is led to tell the story in a strange way. He says nothing about the angels or the shepherds, about the manger or the star of Bethlehem. But he grasps the permanent meaning of the event that happened in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, what the birth of the Christ-child has meant through the rolling centuries, what it means to us today. The almighty God who by his word made heaven and earth expressed himself, made himself known to men, by taking on the flesh and blood of a human baby. The eternal word became a human being. This is the abiding mystery and wonder of Christmas.
The baby born to a young Jewish girl almost 2,000 years ago is none other than "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God." When he grew up and taught people on a mountainside or a lake shore, it was God himself speaking the same creative word by which the heavens were made. When he was nailed to a Roman cross planted on a Judean hill, it was God in action to reconcile an estranged world to himself. And when he rose from the dead, it was God bringing eternal life to mortal men. Man’s life is now linked with God’s life. Saint Irenaeus, one of the great early Fathers of the church, states the meaning of Christmas in words of simple beauty and depth: "Jesus Christ, in his infinite love, has become what we are in order that he may make us entirely what He is."
The Christian message must never lose sight of its ultimate goal, the establishment of a personal relationship between human beings and the God who confronts them man to man in Christ. For this reason the "Jesus our Immanuel" of whom we sing at Christmas must be the Jesus who brings God into our life every day.
As a mother tucked her child in bed and left her alone in the bedroom, she said quietly, "It looks as if we shall have a thunderstorm tonight. But do not be afraid. God will take care of you." Soon the storm did break with fierce flashings and thunderings. The frightened child cried out for her mother. When the mother came and comforted her, she said gently, "You know, dear, I told you God is right here and he takes care of you." The child replied, "Yes, mother, I know that, but when it thunders like that a little girl wants somebody near who has skin on."
A word was not enough. Even a mother’s reassuring word was inadequate. The child needed a friendly human presence, a gentle human voice, the touch of a warm human hand. That is how the Baby of Bethlehem brings God to us. God has been a word, an awe-inspiring word or an encouraging and comforting word. But the word has represented a fuzzy idea, something or somebody far, far away. Now the word becomes flesh. God puts on human nature, with its skin and all, and becomes a living and saving presence. He is now more than a word. He is Immanuel, God with us.
The word that became flesh for us becomes flesh in us as he uses us to establish contact with other people. Christ himself walks in our steps, looks through our eyes, thinks in our thoughts, speaks through our words, loves through our hearts. Through us the Kingdom of God effects on the lives of men and God becomes real to them.
Jesus came that we might become children of God. So often we miss the real meaning of Christ’s coming. We say that Christ came to die for the sins of the world. Well, he did die. And by his death we do find salvation. But according to John, that wasn’t the only thing why he came. He came so that we might become a new creation. As John writes, “. . . to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Imagine that--you and I, are children of God. That is, Christmas is ultimately about transformation.
That’s why Christ came: to bring light into a dark world. To make it possible for every person on earth to know that they are children of God.
Once there was a Rabbi who asked his disciples the following question:  "How do you know when the darkness has been overcome, when the dawn has arrived?"  One of the disciples answered, "When you can look into the distance and tell the difference between a cow and a deer, then you know dawn has arrived.  Close," the Rabbi responded, "but not quite."  Another disciple ventured a response, "When you can look into the distance and distinguish a peach blossom from an apple blossom, then you know that the darkness has been overcome."  "Not bad," the Rabbi said, not bad! But the correct answer is slightly different.  When you can look on the face of any man or any woman and know immediately that this is Gods child and your brother or sister, then you know that the darkness has been overcome, that the Daystar has appeared."

If we let Christ into the inn of our hearts, he will make our hearts more like his, and we, like him, will fill this world with a light that no darkness can extinguish.
Jesus is glad that we are here today to celebrate his birthday, and he is hoping that we will give him the only present he really wants: our renewed commitment to spread the Good News of salvation to everyone around us - a commitment that we fulfill in our everyday activities, through our way of life, words, and works. He is eager for us to give him that gift, because he loves us without limits, and he knows that if we give happiness to others, we will receive much more happiness ourselves. Let this celebration of the birth of Christ give us also a new birth in Christ and make us children of God.

Christmas Vigil: Is 62:1-5, Acts 13:16-17, 22-25, Mt 1:1-25 

Phyllis Martin, a schoolteacher in Columbus, Ohio, tells of the day when the storm clouds and strong gusts of wind came up suddenly over the Alpine Elementary School. The school public address system blared tornado warnings. It was too dangerous to send the children home. Instead, they were taken to the basement where the children lined against the walls and huddled together in fear. She said the teachers were worried, too.
To help ease the tension, the principal suggested a sing-along. But the voices were weak and unenthusiastic. One child after another began to cry. The children could not be consoled and were close to panic. Then one of the teachers, whose faith seemed equal to any emergency, whispered to the child closest to her, “Kathy, I know you are scared. I am too, but aren’t we forgetting something? There is a power greater than any storm. God will protect us. Just say to yourself, ‘God is with us,’ then pass the words on to the child next to you and tell her to pass it on.” Suddenly that dark and cold basement became a sacred place as each child in turn whispered around the room those powerful words, “God is with us,” “God is with us,” God is with us.” A sense of peace and courage and confidence settled over the group.
Phyllis Martin said, “I could hear the wind outside still blowing with such strength that it literally shook the building, but it did not seem to matter now. Inside the fears subsided and tears faded away when the all-clear signal came some time later, students and staff returned to the classrooms without the usual jostling and talking. Through the years I have remembered those calming words. In times of stress and trouble, I have been able again and again to find release from fear or tension by repeating those calming words: ‘God is with us!’ ‘God is with us!’” When we are frightened, we can claim that great Christmas promise. That’s number one.

 “GOD IS WITH US!” When we accept Christ into our lives, nothing, not even death, can separate us from God and His love. “God is with us!” Its what Christmas is about. God is with us, the great people of faith have always claimed that promise. Just think of it:
-- Moses caught between the Pharaoh and the deep Red Sea in a seemingly hopeless situation believed that God was with him and he went forward and trusted God to open a way and He did!
-- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went into the fiery furnace into a seemingly hopeless situation and they trusted God to be with them and He was!
-- Little David stood before Goliath. What chance could a small boy with a slingshot have against this giant of a warrior? But David believed that God was with him and it made all the difference!
The impact of that Christmas promise is incredible. When WE believe that, when WE accept that, when WE claim that promise it will absolutely change our life.
When we are frightened and when we are lonely, we can claim the Christmas promise of God’s presence with us.
We can claim the great Christmas promise when we are in sorrow. It seems like it would be easy to feel the presence of God when we are on top of the world and everything is going our way. But actually the reverse is true. God is never nearer to us than when we are hurting. There are two reasons for that. First, we are more open to God when we are in need; and second, God is like a loving parent who wants especially to be with His children when they are in pain. Being with us he wants to share his strength with us.
An 85-year-old woman with a large family had a crippling stroke. As a result, she was unable to speak, unable to walk, and unable to care for her basic needs. Reluctantly, her children placed her in the care of a nursing home. She was there for 5 years, mostly content. They had no indication that she even knew them when they came for visits. One Christmas season the family was gathered for their family Christmas celebration. They decided to reenact a tradition of their childhood and gather around the piano to sing carols.
After they had sung a couple of Christmas carols, one of the daughters suddenly said, “Let’s go get Mom.” Two family members drove to the nursing home and brought Mom back to the house. Swiftly they wheeled her to the piano and they began singing carols again. When they came to Silent Night, they could not believe what happened. Their mother, who had not spoken a word in 5 years, started singing Silent Night along with them. It was amazing.
The daughter telling the story described it like this: “mom was singing, too. Her voice was soft, but she was on key and she knew the words. Everybody was stunned, but they kept on singing. They smiled at her and she nodded. They sang other carols and she sang them all. It was a moment of incredible warmth and joy, blessing and almost magical beauty. Even when she couldn’t recognize the faces of her own children, even when she seemed incapable of laughter or tears the songs of Christmas faith were still alive deep within her spirit, well below the frost line of illness and loss the Christmas carols survived.”
Deep within her soul, the songs of Christmas faith were alive and well and somehow miraculously she was able, as the Christmas carol puts it, to “Repeat the sounding joy.”
The cause of Christian joy isn’t presents. The cause of Christian joy isn’t a trouble-free life. The cause of Christian joy is Jesus Christ, God-With-Us.
If God is in Jesus, if we believe that God was present in the sufferings and death of Christ, then we must believe that God is present with us in our suffering as well. Remember how Jesus answered the disciples? Who sinned, he was asked. "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him" (John 9:3). Somehow there is a purpose in what we are going through. Somehow God's mercy will be revealed. It may be beyond our grasp and understanding. He is wiser.

The liturgical season of Christmas is relatively brief, but it is an excellent time to make a Christmas resolution: live each day as if God is with you, because he is.
Tomorrow there will be gifts, meals, and joy, but there may also be dashed expectations, family tensions, or worries that didn’t take Christmas break. The key is to remember that Our Lord, Emmanuel, is with us. He is all we need.
We’re going to receive the Eucharist in a few minutes – God With Us. The Word became Flesh and made his dwelling among us. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive him. If we’re ready to receive him, after a good confession, he’s truly present in our souls. Let’s allow Jesus, the God with us be actively present in us at this Christmas and the coming New year.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Advent III-C: Zep 3:14-18a; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18

Patricia Greenlee tells a story about her son who is a West Virginia state trooper. Once he stopped a woman for going 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. After he handed her a ticket, she asked him, “Don’t you give out warnings?” “Yes, ma’am,” he replied. “They’re all up and down the road. They say, ‘Speed Limit 55.’” People have a tendency to disregard the warning signs. Sometimes that has dire consequences. Today’s Gospel presents John the Baptist warning the Jews with prophetic courage of their need for repentance and conversion.

John preaches fervently, urging his listeners to make preparations for the coming of the Messiah. John advises people, not to be dreamers or planners only, but doers moved by sincerity and commitment.  Even though John’s preaching is characterized by scathing criticism, his call for reform is still described by Luke as "the Good News," because the arrival of the Messiah will initiate a new reign of forgiveness, healing and salvation.  The repentance which John preaches calls for a change in behavior and not just regret for the past. According to Scott Hahn “Repentance” translates a Greek word, metanoia (literally, “change of mind”). It means a radical life-change involving a two-fold “turning” - away from sin (see Ezekiel 3:19; 18:30) and toward God for His mercy (see Sirach 17:20-21; Hosea 6:1). It requires “good fruits as evidence of our repentance” (see Luke 3:8). That’s why John tells the crowds, soldiers and tax collector, and us as well, that we must prove our Faith through works of charity, honesty and social justice.  John demands that we share our goods with one another, emphasizing the principle of social justice that God will never absolve the man who is content to have too much while others have too little.  John also insists that a man should not leave his job to work out his own salvation.  Instead, he should do his job as it should be done.  He calls people to fidelity in the very circumstances of their lives.  Let the tax-collector be a good tax-collector and let the soldier be a good soldier.  In other words, it is a man's duty to serve God where God has set him.  “Bloom where you are planted,” St. Francis De Sales used to say.  We are expected to become transformational agents where we are.  And if the work environment is such that we are unable to deal honestly and fairly with other people, we should probably find a new job.

As we continue with this Mass, let's take an x-ray of our hearts, to see the state of our moral life. And when our Lord comes to heal and strengthen us in Holy Communion, let's renew our commitment to make his friendship, with all its moral consequences, the highest priority of our lives.

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.


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


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


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.