Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May 1, 2014 Thursday: St. Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph and Work
Because the entire human experience was assumed by Jesus, work was transformed by Christ the worker

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC #2427) Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: "If any one will not work, let him not eat."  Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.

(CCC #2428) In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work.
Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.

A priest told in his homily that a teacher, in one of his Christian Values classes, asked his students to write a brief essay on this topic: What relic of which saint would like to have, if you were to be granted your wish and why? A budding writer had this to say: “I would like to have in a vial some drops of the sweat of Saint Joseph. Reason: Because his sweat would symbolize honest, humble, honorable work. It is because it was by the sweat of his brow that he was able to feed the Son of God, His Mother and himself.”

Vocation: Through labor and work, we give meaning to our existence. We realize that we are not just here to waste time and to occupy space. We have a unique role to play; we have contributions to make in our world.

Stewardship: Through labor and work, we show the highest accountability for all the talents and abilities that nature and education endowed on us.

Service: Through our labor and work, we employ our talents and abilities not only to make a living but to meet the needs of others.

-Fr. JS Benitez

April 30, 2014 Wednesday: 2nd Week of Easter

Do you know the love which surpasses the greatest joy and happiness which one could ever hope to find? Great love is manifested in the cost and sacrifice of the giver. True lovers hold nothing back but give the best that can be offered to their beloved, including all they possess, even their very lives. God proved his love for us by giving us the best he had to offer - his only begotten Son who freely offered up his life for our sake as the atoning sacrifice for our sin and the sin of the world.

Abraham's willing sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, prefigures the perfect offering and sacrifice of God's beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This passage in the Gospel of John tells us of the great breadth and width of God's love. Not an excluding love for just a few or for a single nation, but a redemptive love that embraces the whole world, and a personal love for each and every individual whom God has created in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26,27). God is the eternal Father of Love who cannot rest until his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love. God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love.

Jesus shows us the paradox of love and judgment. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief or we can love the light of God's truth, beauty, and goodness. If our love is guided by what is true, and good, and beautiful then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer and value most. Do you love God above all else? Does he take first place in your life, in your thoughts, affections, and actions?

Don Schwager,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29, 2014 Tuesday: St. Catherine of Siena

"Dearest sister in Jesus.

I, Catherine, servant of the servants of Jesus, write to you in His Precious Blood, wishing only that you feed yourself with God’s love and nourish yourself with it as at a mother’s breast. Nobody in fact can live without this milk!

Who possesses God’s love, finds so much joy that every bitterness transforms itself into sweetness, and that every great weight becomes light. One must not be astonished because living in charity you live in God:

“God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him”(1 John 4:16)

Thus, living in God you can have no bitterness because God is delight, gentleness and never-ending joy!

This is why God’s friends are always happy! Even if we are sick, poor, grieved, troubled, persecuted, we are always joyful.

Even if all the gossiping tongues were to set us in a bad light we would not worry; we rejoice and are delighted by all things because we live in God, our rest, and we taste the milk of his love. As a child who sucks the milk from his mother’s breast, likewise we, in love with God, draw love from Jesus crucified, always following His footsteps and walking with Him on the path of humiliation, pain and insults.

We do not seek joy elsewhere than in Jesus and we avoid any glory which is not that of the Cross.

Embrace, then, Jesus crucified, raising to Him the eyes of your desire! Consider His burning love for you, which made Jesus pour out His blood from every part of His body!

Embrace Jesus crucified, loving and beloved, and in him you will find true life because He is God made man. Let your heart and your soul burn with the fire of love drawn from Jesus on the Cross!

You must, then, become love, looking at God’s love who loved you so much not because He had any obligation towards you but out of pure gift, urged only by His ineffable love.

You will have no other desire than to follow Jesus! As if you were drunken with Love, it will no longer matter whether you are alone or in company: do not think about many things, but only about finding Jesus and following Him!

Run,Bartolomea, do not stay asleep, because time flies and does not wait one moment!

Dwell in God’s sweet love.

Sweet Jesus, Jesus love."

From the “Letters” of St Catherine of Sienna (1347-1380) (letter no. 165 to Bartolomea, wife of Salviato of Lucca).


O inestimable Love! You enlighten us with your wisdom so that we may know your truth and the subtle deceptions of the devil.

With the fire of your love, set our hearts alight with desire to love you and to follow you in the truth.

You alone are Love, alone worthy of being loved!

-St. Catherine of Siena

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014 Monday: 2nd Week of Easter

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.
In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April 27, 2014: Divine Mercy Sunday A

Have you ever heard of a reverse pilgrimage? Normally you would think of a pilgrimage as leaving your familiar home and surroundings to reach a destination seeking to be closer to Jesus. But think of a reverse pilgrimage--going from the foot of the Cross of the Calvary backwards and into the broken lives lived far away from Jesus.  That’s what I mean by reverse pilgrimage.  Put in another way, all of us here at mass had the experience of being “found” by Jesus. At some point in the past, however, we have to admit that, like the Prodigal Son in the scriptures, we were “lost” from Jesus.

Take Thomas in today’s Gospel for example. On Good Friday like most of the disciples, Thomas was not at Calvary to witness the death of his dear teacher and a friend. After the tragedy of the Cross, Thomas cut himself off from the other disciples and walked alone. He was isolated and lost. When he met the disciples a couple of days later, he noticed the excitement and joy in them. Although he heard the news that Jesus had risen, he refused to take their word for it. He could not bring himself to believe, until Jesus appeared to Thomas and showed his pierced hands and his pierced side. “My Lord and my God,” Thomas exclaimed. Thomas who was lost was then found by his Lord and his God.

When we look back in our lives--that is, taking a reverse pilgrimage--do we see something similar that happened to us? Perhaps we begin to see how no matter what we’ve done, no matter how much we’ve made a mess of our lives, no matter how we’ve abandoned Him in our fruitless searches for comfort, peace, and happiness in the world, God embraced us when we turned to Him with repentance, trust, and love.  What’s another word to describe this embrace of a Prodigal Son or a Prodigal Daughter by the Heavenly Father? Divine Mercy.

Our Lord who appeared to Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska beginning in 1931 gave this message to the Saint:

"My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy" (Diary, 1485)

Pope John Paul II who is being canonized as a saint this Sunday devoted his life spreading the message of this Divine Mercy through his encyclicals, homilies, and by establishing the Second Sunday of Easter as the Feast of  Divine Mercy. In his encyclical, “Rich in Mercy,” St. John Paul II described the message of Divine Mercy through the Gospel parable of the Prodigal Son and his father. In the parable, it is the father who waits for his lost son to be found, regardless of what his son has done. The story of the Prodigal Son is a mirror to our own story. Our Heavenly Father’s only desire is to restore us to His Home. He does not want us to live as slaves of this world; He desires for us to live as sons and daughters who are heirs of His Heavenly Kingdom.

How did each of us get here today, being in this church, celebrating this great Feast of the Divine Mercy together? If we take the reverse pilgrimage through our lives, there was one thing that separated us from being found by Our Lord: trust. It was our fear that kept us from trusting the Heavenly Father. It was fear that kept us saying, “I’m not worthy of this.” Our Lord gives us one succinct solution through the image of the Divine Mercy: “Jesus, I trust in You!”

Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25, 2015: Friday within Octave of Easter A

After receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples went back to their usual lives. When Peter initiated that he was going out to "fish," the others "followed." Unfortunately, they did not catch anything. Probably they were thinking about Christ and about what just happened when Christ "commissioned" them to continue his work. Probably they were thinking what's next? Can they do what has been asked of them without Christ being physically with them? Will people believe them? Has any of them thought of just abandoning the "co-mission" offered to them and just go on with their lives?
When Christ instructed them where to throw their net on the right side of the boat, they were able to drag a netful of fish. This was when they knew "It is the Lord" (Jn 21:7).
Surely it makes a big difference when we have faith. The apostles were tasked to be "fishers of men" but with doubt and uncertainty in their hearts, how could they catch men and bring them to Christ? In anything we do, as long as we do not believe in what we are capable of doing, we will not be able to get things done. Let us also remember that though we do not see Christ, we must believe that he is always accompanying us in every step of our journey.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 24, 2014: Thursday within Octave of Easter

The apostles must really have taken a hard fall with the suffering and death of their Master... that they were just soaking in misery and pain that they were simply oblivious to the realities occurring before them. How many times have this happened to us? Note our Blessed Lord as to how he tried to present himself to his beloved ones...'standing in their midst'...greeting them 'Peace to You'... nothing but panic, fright, disbelief and astonishment! To this point of the situation, the apostles are in denial of the occurrences until Jesus, in a sense, leveled off with them. "...have you anything to eat?' which in essence gave the apostles a fond remembering of the days together with their Master! From their recall and remembrance, the understanding of the heart flowed as Jesus said; 'Remember the Words I spoke to you when I was still with you.' O, the power of the spoken word of Our Blessed Lord to heal the minds and hearts of his beloved ones. Jesus did it then when he walked the earth; and he does it now to us who believe!
In light of the grace we received during the Paschal Triduum, reflect, recall and remember a similar incident or situation in our life of faith in the Risen Lord!

April 23, 2014: Wednesday within Octave of Easter

We live in a world where to see is to believe. But sometimes we need to walk by faith and not by sight. In the road to Emmaus, the two men did not recognize Jesus at all. And this was just after the resurrection. Even after Jesus was recounting and giving a summary of the scriptures, the two men still had difficulty recognizing what was happening. But their hearts did burn. Their instinct did suggest something to them. They only recognized the risen Lord during the breaking of bread.
Because during the breaking of bread, Jesus offers his body to be broken, to be eaten so that we may be nourished. We have often heard the saying that the Lord works in mysterious ways. But we need a certain wisdom, a certain discernment to recognize that it is the Lord who is working the mysterious way, or else it will remain mysterious forever. That event will just remain a question mark, a coincidence, an isolated experience that has nothing to do with the Lord. But the Lord does work, the Lord does send prophets, does send experiences for our favor.
Let us ask the Lord for the discernment and inner vision and eyes to see the miracles that he has done and is doing in our lives.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22, 2014: Divine Mercy Novena #9, Pray for Priests' relationship with Blessed Mother

If you want to find the secret to a man’s success, for whom should we look? The woman behind the man. It is the wife who helps her husband look good, helps him prepare for the next day, and builds his confidence. Likewise, behind every priest whose ministry is fruitful and successful is Blessed Mother. It is to her that a priest, after a long day, confides all his troubles and anxiety. Cardinal Timothy Dolan discovered that every priest who had been a model for him over the years had an unshakable trust in Blessed Mother. Sister Briege McKenna said at a priest conference, “No wonder you priests are so close to Blessed Mother, for you and Blessed Mother both look at Jesus--and you both say, as no one else can, ‘This is my body; this is my blood.’

Bishop Fulton Sheen said that the real good news of the Incarnation of Our Lord, which occurred in the little town of Nazareth, is that the Incarnation continues right here and now, as the Word of God is enfleshed each day in the heart and mind, speech and actions, of his disciples. This means that priests will have to respond, just as Blessed Mother responded to Archangel Gabriel, to the following: Will you provide God the Son with a human nature? Will you allow the Lord to become incarnate for his people in and through you?

Blessed Mother teaches priests and all of us that discipleship, serving her Son, should be prepared for uncertainty. She reminds us that when we say “Thy will be done” to the Lord we are surrendering our most prized commodity — our future and our security to plan our life. Just as she encountered the happiest moments, such as Bethlehem, and the saddest moments, such as Calvary, we too will face both joys and sorrows in our discipleship. She teaches us fidelity in such moments. Her lesson is that what is happening to us is not as significant as with whom it is happening, for what is of the essence is that, at both the crib and the cross, she is close to Jesus. That is fidelity.

As a good mother will display a special love for whichever of her children might be sick, troubled, or ignored by the others, so does Blessed Mother for her spiritual children. She is the “comforter of the afflicted,” “refuge of sinners,” “health of the sick,” and “help of Christians.” In showing her tenderness for her children, she teaches the priests how to be a good shepherd.

Blessed Mother also helps priests discover and deepen their identity. The first moment of self-identity a baby has is when the infant, held up by its mother, stares into its mother’s eyes and sees there its own reflection. Likewise an effective way we discover the priestly identity is by gazing into the eyes of the Blessed Mother. Therein we see the reflection of Jesus.

We need to pray for our priests so that they will deepen their relationship with their Heavenly Mother who will help them discover and persevere in their identity, vocation, and mission as priests.

(This reflection was taken in part from Cardinal Timothy Dolan's Priests of the Third Millenium)

April 22, 2014: Tuesday within Octave of Easter

Unlike the others who were with her in the morning of the resurrection, Mary of Magdala, because of her great love for Christ, remained by the tomb looking for him. It was her perseverance in seeking Christ that gained her the reward of finding what she sought for. Mary of Magdala is a figure of the bride of Christ. After Pentecost, according to tradition, Mary lived for some period in the desert, living only on the bread of the Eucharist before she went to France to evangelize. Her intense love for Jesus was enough for her to live. All of us, whether male or female, are called to be brides of Christ, to have Christ as the meaning of our existence. Let us not tire of seeking him even when it seems like we are facing an empty tomb, which may be the darkness or death we experience in life. Jesus will meet us there. When we approach Christ, he will appear to us even in a surprising manner. The Lord is just waiting for us in the deserts of our lives where he will reveal himself and speak to our hearts.
In the Acts of the Apostles, the Lord touches the hearts of 3,000 men through the preaching of the apostles. They believe in the preaching and ask for baptism. The miracle of the resurrection now begins to change the face of the earth as the Christian community starts to grow by leaps and bounds. Christ is truly risen!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19, 2014: Easter Vigil A

One evening,out of the blue, I got a text which read, “God’s not dead.” How would you respond to such a text? Would you reply, “Of course He’s not dead.” Or would you reply, “I don’t know.” I simply replied back, “Amen!” Later I found out that someone texted me that phrase  from a movie theater during the movie with the same title, “God’s Not Dead.” In the movie, a college philosophy professor asked his students what the famous philosophers Sigmund Freud, Noam Chomsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ayn Rand have in common. They were all atheists, he said, and the professor made his own atheism clear. He instructed all the students to write on a piece of paper, “God is dead” along with their signature; it was an automatic credit for doing so. There were Christians in the class, and all did as the professor instructed, except one student. I mentioned this movie to Bishop Muench during a gathering at the Chancery. He came back with a poster which read at the top in bold, “God is dead,” with a caption underneath which read, “Nietzsche, 1883.” Underneath that sentence was in bold, “Nietzsche is dead,” with a caption underneath, “God, 1900.” 

In our Gospel today, we encounter women who loved Jesus so much that they got up very early to go and anoint his dead body. They were convinced that Jesus was dead, but love prompted them to head toward the tomb. A beautiful dream was over. It was time to face life and go on as well as they could without their Master. When they arrived at the tomb, the angel announced that Jesus was alive, and then they ran away, trembling, saying nothing to anyone because they were fearful yet overjoyed.

How often in our Christian life, do we go about life as if God is dead or that He is a figure who is irrelevant in our daily lives?  In the movie, the girlfriend of the lone student who refused to consent that ‘God is dead’ urged the boyfriend to just sign the paper and get the credit. She said, “You need to prioritize and decide who is the most important person in your life, me or your professor.” The boyfriend responded, “What if it’s God?”
God should be the most important person in our lives. What would it look like for our lives if God was at the center of our lives? He would no longer be relegated to a bumper sticker, a cross hanging on our neck, or a one-hour commitment on a weekend sitting in a pew. If He was at the center our lives would we: discern our vocations, instead of choosing one based on earning potentials; discern how we can be humble instead of choosing prestige; discern how we can be self-giving, instead of self absorbed.   

In the movie, the girlfriend responded back to her boyfriend, “God says it’s me.  So just sign the stupid paper.” The boyfriend replied, “God stands up for me. Who will stand up for God?”

This is how we stand up for God, believing that the tomb is empty. He is alive! He is with us! Instead of feeling indifferent, we should rejoice everyday that He is at our side. What does it mean to you to stand up for God? Is it living out your faith? Is it trusting that He will bring you safely through everything, including death? Is it defending life, serving the poor, and handing on your faith to your children and grandchildren?

If God is not at the center of your life, what keeps you from making the steps necessary to invite Him in and let Him be your God? I saw an interesting refrigerator magnet that read, “If God is your co-pilot, swap seats!” Is God inviting you to swap seats? We are invited during this Easter season to rejoice in a living God who longs for us to not be afraid to live the Good News of  Our Lord’s Resurrection.

April 18, 2014: Good Friday A

If your dear friend told you that she was diagnosed with a terminal illness, how would you react? Perhaps you would feel shock, disbelief, confusion and denial. Such was the reaction of the disciples when Jesus told them several times during the journey to Jerusalem. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Peter would not hear of such depressing and shocking news. He rebuked Jesus, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Peter did not understand that Jesus had sovereign command of his destiny. The Passion was not something that happened to Jesus -- the Passion was the destiny that Jesus embraced.

All of us are a bit like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus speaks of his Passion, death, and Resurrection, of the gift of himself, of love for all, Peter takes Jesus aside and reproaches him. Likewise, news of suffering upsets our plans and threatens the security that we have built for ourselves. Perhaps, we think to ourselves, “A loving God would not allow such a thing to happen to my spouse, my dear friend, or my parents!” Suffering threatens our idea of what the Messiah or the Savior should be.

At every moment in today's narrative, however, it is Jesus who drives the drama forward: in the garden, where he is arrested; at his interrogation by the Temple officials; in the preposterous proceedings before Pilate; in entrusting his mother Mary to John; in declaring that his mission was finished, and in giving over his spirit.

Even today, Jesus makes his way, Via Dolorosa, through the believers and the atheists, the hopeful and the despairing, the rich and the poor, the happy families and the forlorn individuals. He is the object of scrutiny by curious onlookers, excited children, contemplative crowds. He passes through a gathering of nations, languages, and cultures, sowing on his way the question that every Christian must answer: “And who do you say that I am?” He is nailed to the cross, then placed in the tomb. The crowd disperses into the night, each person looking for the last station— the station that manifests itself in life’s many twists and turns. Tonight Jesus passes among us on the Way of the Cross— just as he does every day on the streets of the world.

Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness. Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus, who loves us so much. He is all love.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 17, 2014: Holy Thursday A

Do you remember the first time that you changed a dirty diaper? I saw a funny compilation on America’s Funniest Video of new dads attempting to change the diaper of their new born. Many dads gagged after they carefully peeled away the diaper when they saw what was in there. Some dads put laundry clips on their nose or wore a mask. One dad put on a HAZMAT chemical suit with the SCUBA respirator; he sounded like Darth Vader and looked like he was about to enter into a radioactive spill. Meanwhile the wives were filming all this and were quite amused, for they do change the diapers all the time without all the drama. How does a mom do this with such ease? It’s her great love of her child who is the flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone; her great love compels her to bend down and clean her child of dirt.

The love of a mother for a soiled child offers us a window into what Jesus did for the disciples at the Last Supper. Everything was ready for the Passover meal in the Upper Room when Jesus stood up and took his tunic off, wrapped himself in a towel, picked up a basin and filled it with water. Each disciple was astonished disciple as Jesus washed his feet and dried them with the towel. They didn’t react until Peter protested, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus replied, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand. If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” Only servants and women were the ones who washed and cleaned the feet of another. What Jesus offered the disciples was profound, humble love. “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

This humble love took on even greater dimension at the Last Supper, when Jesus offered himself as the Paschal lamb to be eaten. “This is my body...this is my blood.” The disciples remembered the words from Jesus that prompted so many disciples to leave him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” At the Last Supper, Jesus lowers himself even more -- to become food for us -- because of his profound love for us and because without this food, we will not be able to make the Exodus from death to eternal life.

We Christians are called to become the image of Christ, to reflect him. We are called to incarnate him in our lives, to clothe our lives with him, so that others can see him in us, recognize him in us. God offers us risk, danger and a strange insecurity that leads to perfect security. His security begins when we start loving God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul and our neighbor as ourselves. With the Holy Spirit in us, we have the courage to risk loving the neighbor, the courage to wash his feet of dirt.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 16, 2014: Wednesday of Holy Week

Why did Judas betray his Master? Was his treachery motivated by greed, bitter disappointment with Jesus, or hatred because of disillusionment? It may be that Judas never intended for his Master to die. Maybe he thought Jesus was proceeding too slowly and not acting aggressively enough in setting up his messianic kingdom. Perhaps Judas wanted to force Jesus' hand by compelling him to act. Nonetheless, his tragedy was his refusal to accept Jesus as he was.

Origen (185-254 AD), a bible scholar and early church father, comments on Judas' betrayal:

"Let us consider what Judas said to the Jewish priests: What will you give me if I hand him over to you? He was willing to take money in exchange for handing over the Word of God. They do the same thing who accept sensual or worldly goods in exchange for handing over and casting out from their souls the Savior and Word of truth who came to dwell with them. Indeed, it would be fitting to apply Judas's example to all who show contempt for the Word of God and betray him, as it were, by committing sin for the sake of money or for any selfish motive. People who behave in this way appear openly to be calling out to the powers of the enemy who offer worldly gain in return for the sin of betraying God's Word, saying, What will you give me if I hand him over to you? And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.
The number of coins they gave Judas was equivalent to the number of years the Savior had sojourned in this world. For at the age of thirty, he was baptized and began to preach the gospel, like Joseph was thirty years old when he began to gather grain for his brothers (Genesis 41:46). Just as at that time the grain was prepared by God for the sons of Israel but given also to the Egyptians, so also the gospel was prepared for the saints but preached also to the unfaithful and wicked." (Commentary on Matthew 78.)

Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him. As Jesus ate the passover meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion (one of you will betray me) to teach them to examine themselves rightly, lest they be highminded and think themselves more strong than they were. We, also must examine ourselves in the light of God's truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. Do you pray with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray: Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13)?
"God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking. Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for Jesus Christ's sake." (Prayer of Thomas a Kempis)

Don Schwager,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15, 2014 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Novena #8 Pray for Zeal in our Priests

Can you remember a priest whose zeal for Jesus and His people impressed you? Cardinal Timothy Dolan recalled such a priest when the Cardinal was a high school seminarian. One Christmas Eve his home parish pastor invited him on a communion call to the nursing home. The young seminarian initially envisioned a nice steak lunch and beer at a restaurant after a brief visit to the nursing home. But it turned out to be something totally unexpected. It was the seminarian’s first ever visit to a nursing home. When they entered a resident’s room, the seminarian gasped as he saw an emaciated lady lying on the floor in her soiled gown. The pastor bent over her, consoled her, got her to smile, and got her on the bed. The pastor then took a wet towel and soothed her face, went and got a mop, and cleaned up the mess. He settled her in the bed, calmed her down, prayed with her, gave her Holy Communion, and then gave her a little bottle of lotion as a Christmas gift. Cardinal Dolan remembered how that experience changed his viewpoint of priesthood.

What does a zealous priest look like? He is a priest on fire with love for God and his people. His motive is the salvation of the people entrusted to his care, to bring people into living contact with Jesus the Savior through his Word, his Church, and his Sacraments. He spends his life giving to others and being available to others. If a priest is looking for a life of ease, comfort, convenience, and advancement, he is not living the priestly life to which Jesus called him. We do not need lazy, whining, self-serving, and lethargic priests. One bishop commented to Cardinal Dolan, “If I could get my priests to put in an eight-hour day, forty-hour week, I’d have the most vibrant, evangelized diocese around.” We do not need tired, scared, pampered priests who are only concerned about their time off, their rooms, their cars, their clothes, their comfort, their rights, but priests whose hearts are so on fire with love for Jesus and the salvation of his people that, as St. Paul said, “all is rubbish save my knowledge of Jesus Christ.” We also do not need priests who are zealots, who are single-minded, obsessed priest who thinks that the answer to everything is by excessive attention to one cause, for there is only one cause--Christ and his Church. Priests needs to be careful about excessive absorption in one single cause, however good that one cause might be. Causes such as the pro-life movement, Medjugorje, perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, Divine Mercy, peace and justice, the environement--all are worth careful attention and zealous care, but priests should not become a zealot over any one cause except Jesus and his Church.

Tomorrow, all the priests of our Diocese will be gathering together for the

Chrism Mass where they will renew their priestly vows and recommit their obedience to their bishop. It is the day when priests remind themselves the great privilege given to them by Christ who configures the priests of his Church to himself in a unique way, making them icons of his own priesthood. The ordained priesthood feeds, blesses, and ennobles the baptismal priesthood of all the faithful, enabling them to go into the world to convert it to Christ. Pope Francis, during last year’s Chrism Mass said to the priests present, “A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed with the oil of gladness, when they leave mass looking as if they have heard good news. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes.”

Let us pray for our priests as they renew their vows tomorrow that their hearts will be stirred up with God’s grace with zeal for God’s people and they go out of themselves to be fishers of men.

April 15, 2014: Tuesday of Holy Week

It is a mystery that Christ chose Judas as one of his disciples even if he knew that Judas was to betray him. Knowing the plan of salvation that his Father had for all mankind which had to pass through the cross, Jesus accepted Judas to be among the Twelve.
As the disciples asked Jesus in the other accounts of this gospel, "Is it I, Lord?" when he foretold the betrayal, we also need to ask Jesus, "Is it I, Lord?" for we can betray Christ like Judas or deny him like Peter. Every time we are used as the devil's tool to carry out his works, such as greed, promiscuity, slander - an endless list - we betray Christ. The devil easily deceives us with his empty promises but Christ has already overcome him so we can call on him to defend us. When we do betray or deny Christ, let us be like Peter who had a deep sorrow for his sins and be assured of Christ's endless mercy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014: Monday of the Holy Week

Laying Down Your Life for Your Friends

Good Shepherds are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep (see John 10:11).   As spiritual leaders walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we are called to lay down our lives for our people.  This laying down might in special circumstances mean dying for others.  But it means first of all making our own lives - our sorrows and joys, our despair and hope, our loneliness and experience of intimacy - available to others as sources of new life.

One of the greatest gifts we can give others is ourselves.  We offer consolation and comfort, especially in moments of crisis, when we say:  "Do not be afraid, I know what you are living and I am living it with you.  You are not alone."  Thus we become Christ-like shepherds.
-Fr. Henri Nouwen

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 13, 2014: Palm Sunday A

Have you used the following phrase, ‘Will it be worth it in the end?’ We use the phrase in all sorts of circumstances. For example, a high school graduate would ask, “Four years in college and a decade in debt--is it worth it?” A priest who is fatigued and tired from his ministry would ask himself, “Priesthood, is it worth it?” A young man who is about to ask a beautiful young lady to a date would ask himself, “Is it worth it for me to risk being rejected or being laughed at to ask her out?”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the host of the show, “Life is Worth Living,” said, “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her.” Echoing this sentiment, Victor Hugo, the author of the novel Les Miserables, was careful to preserve his purity while engaged to be married. He wrote this to his fiancee in 1820:“It is my desire to be worthy of you, that has made me so severe on myself. If I am constantly preserved from those excesses too common to my age, and which the world so readily excuses, it is not because I have not had a chance to sin; but rather it is that the thought of you constantly preserves me. Thus have I kept intact, thanks to you, the sole treasures I can offer you on the day of marriage; a pure body and a virginal heart.”
Having heard the Passion narrative just minutes ago, we may ask the question, was it worth it for Jesus to go through the rejection, cowardice of his friends, betrayal by a trusted companion, hatred of an angry mob, humiliation by strangers, cruelty of crucifixion, and finally death? At the final moment, Jesus cries out from the depths of his heart a plea to his Heavenly Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Most people probably think that Jesus was abandoned by His Father on the cross. However, he could not be abandoned by God because he was God. Sin is the only thing that can separate us from God, and so when Jesus took on the sin of the world, he became separated from God. From the Cross, Jesus still trusted in his Heavenly Father and he remembered all that St. Joseph and his Mother taught Him through the scriptures, prayers and rituals of their Jewish faith. Jesus grabbed onto that faith, trusted and called out in prayer, ' My God, My God why have you forsaken me'. (Psalm 22) In the end, Jesus’ loving and selfless act reconciled the world to His Father...and thus, it was all worth it.

For most of us when we are in the midst of suffering the pain is more bearable when we understand the purpose. Granted, most of us will not get a clear answer on why we are allowed to suffer; however, when we trust Heavenly Father, as Jesus did, we gradually begin to grasp the meaning of the pain that we undergo.

This week as we enter into our own passion, pain, and suffering we must remember to unite it with the experience of Jesus. No matter what we do to tune out our pain and suffering, we cannot avoid it. Although we have been taught to numb our suffering, to drink it away, to medicate it away, to deny it, to replace it with some other quick fix, this is not the message of the gospel.

In accepting our own suffering we are able to understand the pain of others. Jesus walks in solidarity with every person on earth who is suffering. During this coming Holy Week, can we meditate on the Passion of Our Lord and seek the meaning of our own suffering?

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11, 2014 Friday: 5th Week in Ordinary A

There are times when we can be biased about some people because they are different from us in the way they look, speak, dress or do things. No matter what good they do, we find it difficult to see beyond our biases about them.
There were always some people who asked for signs from Jesus so that they could believe in him and his message. Throughout his ministry, Jesus had been doing good works: healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, forgiving sins, preaching the Good News. And yet, despite all these works, these same people who asked for signs still did not believe in him. They closed their eyes, hearts and minds to the divine works that Jesus was doing and only saw a carpenter's son from Galilee. Almost in exasperation, Jesus said, "If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. But if I do them, even if you have no faith in me, believe because of the works I do; and know that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
In any relationship, especially in our relationship with God, it is important to have an open mind and heart in order to see beyond our limited perspectives and biases. The truth is not limited only to what we know and have experienced.God asks us to have an open and receptive heart and mind so that he could work through us in bringing about His kingdom here and now.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 10, 2014 Thursday: 5th Week of Lent A

Death may be inevitable to all but in the Gospel today Jesus says that for those who keep his word they will not experience death. How is this possible when in truth no one escapes death? The Jews could not understand him. What death is Jesus talking about? Is it possible to live forever? Actually, Jesus was not talking about physical death. He meant that a life lived in him will bring one to eternal life. Jesus' word is life giving. This means that if we keep his word and live it, we bring out the "shine of Jesus" in us. Therefore, we are alive when others see more of "Jesus" and less of us. As we experience more of the life that Jesus has shown us, we will come closer to the life everlasting that all of us are hoping for. Sin, on the other hand, means death because it opposes Jesus, the Light. It operates in the darkness of evil and does not give light.
Let us allow the Light of Jesus to give us life. Live Jesus because he is the Resurrection and the Life! Something to ponder about today: we are made to live a life in preparation for what is eternal and reserved for all those who love God and do His will.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9, 2014 Wednesday: 5th Week of Lent A

To kill is a strong word. And yet today's Gospel finds Jesus using the word kill. He addresses this word to the Jews who were his fellow countrymen and believed in him. And if this word is proclaimed to us today, it means that this word is applicable to us. We are slaves because we have idols that control our lives. Be it money, career, affections of people, job, fame, fortune or any other earthly concern. It is this addiction, slavery and obsession that forces us to commit sin. God understands our nature not as evil but weak and sends his word to hopefully find place in our hearts with the purpose of freeing us from this slavery. Every time we reject the word, we kill the Spirit that wants to free us. Do we kill Christ? Yes, every time we reject the Holy Spirit. When we kill the impulses of our conscience, we are in fact killing Christ's advances to us. Let us be alert to notice when the Spirit speaks to us that we may listen to the word that Christ sends to us to help us in our daily life.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Novena Week #7, Pray for Patience in our priests

Are you a patient person? How would you react to the following scenario: You just purchased your elderly mother a brand new iPhone, but she is having problems using it. Do you,
a)    Listen calmly, go through each step with her, and go over it again until she understands?
b)    Try to explain the problem, but bite your tongue as you find yourself getting frustrated?
c)     Raise your voice, take the phone from her to work the problem out, give it back to her, and leave immediately?

Patience is a virtue central to the life of any authentic Christian. Yet is the virtue which most folks struggle with. Don't we say in confession, “I need more patience!"

Patience is a virtue so critical for the priest. A priest is to act in person of Christ, meaning that people would walk away with the experience of encountering Christ when they meet a priest. However, people have been shocked by priests who are powder kegs, volatile, angry, dismissive--in short, impatient.

More than ever today are there temptations against patience for the good priest. The demands made upon him, the different understandings of his ministry that people have; the expectations multiply, the resources shrink, and the faithful priest is often tempted to blow up, to lash out, to give up, to become tepid, or to leave it behind.

Priests are tempted to impatience with the Lord in his prayer life. He may argue with God, "Where were
you? Why did you not appear at the beginning, so that you could stop my distresses?" A wise priest gives this advice to an impatient priest, "We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and the wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and he will come. He never comes to those who do not wait."

Some young priests (including myself) have problems being patient with people--impatient with bishop, the diocesan structures, with the parish ministers, with the teachers at school and the DRE, with the secretary. Of course, it's always the other person's fault. So they want a new they want to go on a graduate they want some time no one wants they leave... Spare us ! Any bishop would much prefer the man who patiently approaches his assignment, willing to learn, eager to serve, ready to bend, and earning the trust of his people before he starts changing everything.

What helps priests maintain their patience with others? Humility helps : pride leads to impatience because it tempts them to think they know best and have all the answers. Humility helps them admit that these people, this parish, this assignment — these were all here long before them and will be here long after them, and they are but an instrument .

Another help? Interpreting slights, inconveniences, and less-than-perfect situations as occasions of grace and opportunities to grow in virtue. St. Rose of Lima said, “Without the burdens of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase.”

Let us pray that our priests will increase in their virtue of patience, that they will trust God and be patient in the midst of trying times.

(The reflection above was taken in part from Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s Priests for the Third Millenium)

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with him forever in the next. Amen.

April 8, 2014 Tuesday: 5th Week of Lent A

Jesus Christ reveals himself to us as "I Am who Am" or "I Am" - the name by which God revealed himself to Moses. In Semitic thought, "I Am" brings to mind God's deliverance of Israel from the slavery in Egypt, which was a powerful and merciful intervention of God in the history of this people. For Israel, "I Am" is the true God, the only one who can save. Even if we are not of Semitic origin, we are the new Israel - for God is ready to manifest himself to us in our lives today. He is acting now with the same strength to save us from the tyranny of Pharoah, which is sin. However, we are like the Israelites in the desert as portrayed in today's first reading which describes the consequences of this people's lack of trust in God: they were bitten by the snakes and were dying from the poison. This is the effect of sin in us. Whenever we sin, we kill God in us and choose to do our own will, thus making ourselves God. When we kill God, who is life itself, we kill life within us. That is why Jesus says in the Gospel, "You will die in your sins." Today Christ is waiting for us to believe that he was sent by the Father so that we do not need to die in our sins because on the cross he has already destroyed sin. We are called to believe in Christ who is telling us today, "I Am." In believing, we will have life.

Friday, April 4, 2014

April 6, 2014: 5th Sunday of Lent A

How do children understand about miracles of Jesus? At a children’s Sunday school class, one little boy began to talk about Lazarus. He said, "Yes, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!" The teacher urged him to tell more.  The little boy continued, "Well, Jesus told them to open the tomb, and then He said, 'Lazarus, come out!' And it's a good thing he called Lazarus by name because there would have been a stampede of dead guys."

We find humor in that story, but how many times have we been at the side of deathbed or by the graveside of our loved ones recalling the story of Jesus calling forth Lazarus from the tomb? Perhaps we wished that our loved ones would come back to life like Lazarus. We see sickness and suffering in our families, in our communities, and around the world. Didn’t we find ourselves empathizing with the suffering families of Malaysian Airline 370 passengers or the Washington State mudslide victims?

One parishioner shared this experience from her father’s funeral. At the time when her dad died, she had just finished her chemo therapy where she lost all of her hair. A friend of hers approached her at the funeral and said, “You suffered so much already, and this must be unbearable. How you must wish that Jesus would bring your dad back just as he did with Lazarus.” The parishioner replied, “No. Then dad would have to suffer the dying process again.”

Recently in our community we had suffering and deaths which prompted some of us to doubt and perhaps even question our own faith. Sickness and suffering are personal. We feel broken inside. We struggle to understand the meaning and purpose of the pain and, at times, actually wrestle with our fear of death. When something bad happens to us or to a loved one, we can’t help thinking that if God really cared about us, if he really loved us, then he wouldn’t have allowed this thing to happen. We feel abandoned by God. However, faith is our great ally in facing death. It doesn’t mean we have all the answers, and it doesn’t dispense us from the painful work of grieving. But  faith does add a vital element to our grieving. That element is hope. We grieve as people who believe that death doesn’t have the last word. No matter what we suffer in this life, we must remember what our faith teaches us: suffering is not the end of life but the beginning of a spiritual awakening of the transforming power of God’s life and love within us.

‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ This is one of the greatest statements in the Gospel. It means that Jesus holds the key to life and death. Though he himself experienced the darkness of death, by rising from the dead in our mortal humanity, he broke the power of death forever. He entered the dark kingdom  of death, and emerged victorious. Thus he has become a pathfinder for us. He has caused a new and invincible morning to dawn on all who believe in him. Eternal life is not something that begins when we die, but begins the moment we hear the voice of Jesus and believe in him. Thus, even in the midst of the darkness of our life, we know that the rising sun is at quietly at work.

To become reconciled to death in a very great grace. A deeper and more human life results, as well as a
falling away of fear. Someone who visited an old man who was close to death shared this experience. He asked the old man, ‘Are you afraid of dying?’ ‘I’m not,’ the old man replied. ‘The Almighty God put a blanket around me coming into the world and I don’t remember being born. He’ll put another blanket around me going out of it, and I won’t remember dying but as little.’

April 4, 2014 Friday: 4th Week of Lent A

All of us have experienced days when we don't feel like doing a task at hand because it seems such a drudgery. We'd rather do a shortcut or just forget about it. But then we also know that it is important to finish the job and we feel good when we complete it.

Jesus had been going around Palestine preaching the Good News. There were people who believed in his message and followed him. There were also others who did not believe and felt threatened by his message because they thought it would end the status quo and their comfortable positions. Jesus hesitated going up to Jerusalem (in Judea) because of the threats on his life. But because of his love for and obedience to his Father and his strong commitment to his mission, he entered Jerusalem and continued with his preaching, knowing full well that he would invite strong opposition from the Jews and earn their ire.

In the Temple court of Jerusalem, the center of life in the city, Jesus boldly proclaimed, "I have not come of myself; I was sent by the One who is true, and you don't know him. I know him for I come from him and he sent me." Jesus' intimacy with the Father gave him the courage and steadfastness to carry on with his mission and fulfill his Father's will. In the same way, we need to build an intimate relationship with Jesus and follow him. If we know Christ, then we'll also know the Father. And just as Jesus was sent by the Father, so does Jesus send each one of us to continue his mission of bringing the Good News to everyone.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 3, 2014 Thursday: 4th Week of Lent A

"Prayer changes us our heart. It helps us better understand our God. This is why it is important to speak with the Lord, not with empty words - Jesus says: 'As pagans do'. No, no, talk with [Him about] reality: ‘Look , Lord, I have this problem, in my family, with my child, with this, with that ... What can you do? You cannot leave me like this!'. This is prayer! Does this prayer take a long time? Yes, it takes time".
It takes the time we need to get to know God better,[the same time we take] with a friend, because Moses - the Bible says - prays to the Lord like one friend speaking to another:

"The Bible says that Moses spoke to God face to face, as a friend. This is how our prayer must be: free, insistent, with arguments. Even rebuking the Lord a little': 'You promised me this but you didn’t do it... ' , just like talking with a friend. Open your heart to this prayer. Moses came down from the Mount invigorated: ' I have known more of the Lord ' , and with that strength given him by prayer, he resumed the task of leading his people to the Promised Land. Because prayer invigorates: it is invigorating. May the Lord give us all this grace, because prayer is a grace".

"The Holy Spirit is in every prayer” - the Pope concluded. “You cannot pray without the Holy Spirit . It is He who prays in us, He makes us change our heart, it is He who teaches us to call God 'Father'. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, as Moses prayed, to negotiate with God, with freedom of spirit, with courage. And may the Holy Spirit, who is always present in our prayer, lead us on this path".

Pope Francis
at Thursday Daily Mass, April, 3, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 2, 2014 Wednesday: 4th Week of Lent A

Jesus always speaks about doing the work of the Father. One of the work of the Father is to raise the dead to life, work that Jesus does as well. "The Son gives life to anyone he chooses," Christ says. He will raise us all from death on the last day; but he can also raise us from death during our lifetime. Whenever we sin, we are dead; we have no life inside us. Nonetheless, Christ came to give us life. And how does he do this? Jesus says in this Gospel that the dead who hear the voice of the Son of God will live. We hear his voice whenever the Word of God is proclaimed. Christ invites us to listen to it so we will have life. We truly listen by keeping his Word; and this is what raises us from death.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1, 2014 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 6, Pray for Kindness in Priests

In preparation for the topic of today’s homily which is praying for kindness in priests, I asked around to get personal experiences of parishioners. To one parishioner I asked, “Can you think of a priest in your life who was kind?” There was a long pause. “I’m sorry, I can’t think of one.” Perhaps this is the reason why we are praying -- so that our priests will have the virtue of kindness. (When I was looking for a photo of a priest of recent memory who was kind, Pope Francis came to mind).

Kindness is a difficult attribute to define, but not to illustrate. Each of us, if asked, could tell personal stories about when we have been treated kindly and when we have been treated unkindly. We know it when we experience it, and we recognize when it isn’t there.

Kindness is the quality of understanding sympathy and concern for those in trouble or need. It is shown in graciousness of speech, generosity of conduct, and forgiveness of injuries sustained. A kind person acts in benevolent, gentle, and loving ways. You can see kindness in a person when you see generous acts, considerate behavior, and comforting words. Kindness is one of the seven virtues, and is considered antidote to envy. Envy is sadness at another’s good, and joy at another’s evil. What rust is to iron, what moths are to wool, what termites are to wood, that envy is to the soul — the assassination of brotherly or sisterly love. Kindness celebrates another’s good fortune and success.

You can see why we would love to see kindness in priests. In fact, married couples also desire that virtue in each other. A recent study conducted in various cultures around the world asked people to name the trait they desired most in a spouse. For both sexes, people overwhelmingly wanted their spouses to be kind. We priests also have a bride or spouse--the Church--which is all of you. Kindness comes from the same root as the word “kin,” someone who is a part of your family. Thus, when a priest shows kindness to you, the priest is treating you as a part of his family, as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).

Kindness is a way of showing love to another. Everything that St. Paul wrote about love in 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is patient; not jealous, pompous, inflated, or rude; does not seek its own interests, is not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury or rejoice over wrongdoing) also defines how a kind person acts.

Kindness is an essential virtue in a healthy and happy priesthood.
Priesthood is strengthened when both priest and parishioners treat each other kindly: with love and understanding and with dignity and respect. Kindness is evident when a priest puts the needs of his parishioners first, acting on what will please or help the other most, and not on self-interest. By never being rude or abusive to his parishioner in any way, you build a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Priesthood, like a marriage, is based upon compassionate and caring thoughts, words, and actions.

Let us remember to pray for all of our priests, especially for those listed on the sheet you picked up today, that they continue to grow in kindness.

April 1, 2014 Tuesday: 4th Week of Lent A

Today's gospel talks about a man who is sick and cannot move freely by himself. He has been waiting for 38 years to be able to get into the pool when the angel of the Lord touches it so he can be healed, but because of his condition he is unable to do so. Then one day, Jesus comes and heals him, just like that, because he wanted to.
     We all live our lives like this sick man. We go through life just accepting what has been handed to us by the world and just waiting for the moment when something or someone will come to help us to go into the pool to be healed. We are waiting for someone to come into our lives to change our situation, to help us out of our difficulties, for someone to give us the money to pay off a debt, for someone to discover a cure for the cancer we have, or for someone to give the answer to the board exam so we can finally pass it and start earning a lot.
     Let us not wait for someone to come and help us. Today Jesus is telling us that he can heal us and he wants to help us in our present situation. We do not realize that our healing (not only physical but emotional and spiritual as well) comes from Jesus Christ. All we need to do is ask.