Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015: Divine Mercy Wk 8 Almsgiving

March 31, 2015: Divine Mercy Wk 8 Almsgiving

One of the three pillars of Lenten practice is almsgiving, which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. The Catechism calls it "a witness to fraternal charity" and "a work of justice pleasing to God." St. Therese of Lisieux in her diary recounts a time when she, as a child, witnessed her father showing great reverence to the least admirable of God's family. One time at a train station, her father spotted a poor epileptic stranded in the railway station. In addition to giving him money, he begged alms in his own hat from the passer-by until the man had enough money for a ticket home. Do our children or grandchildren ever catch us giving alms to the poor, thereby learning an important life lesson?

Mother Teresa often said, "I ask you one thing: do not tire of giving, but do not give your leftovers. Give until it hurts, until you feel the pain." Do you remember the scene in the gospel where in the temple, Jesus watched various people putting money into the treasury? He saw many put in large sums, then he spotted a poor widow who put in two copper coins. He then said to his disciples, "I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living" (Mk 12:41) The lesson here is that it's not how much we give but rather how much it costs us to give. Pope Francis said this about almsgiving. "Dear brothers and sisters, let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt."

So how do we practice true almsgiving? A question to ask ourselves is, "What can I give up in order to help and enrich others by my own poverty?" In true almsgiving, there's a direct correlation between what we give up and what we give. Both are important. If we're truly giving up, not from our surplus but from what costs us, then almsgiving becomes real for us. We feel it, and then, we receive the blessing.

A practical suggestion is setting up a personal mercy fund. Are we tempted to buy yet another outfit we may not need in our already packed closet? Set that money aside. Do we really need to go out to drink $4 coffee at a coffee house when we can brew it at home for far less? Set that money aside. Mercy fund becomes our piggy bank where we put all the proceeds from our sacrifices that will fund our works of mercy. When time comes, you can put that money toward projects such as our Easter Basket, Food Pantry, or Thanksgiving Basket. See how your lives will transform when you begin to give from your sacrifice.
-Fr Paul Yi

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 31, 2015 Tuesday: Holy Week

A lenten Pilgrimage
Tuesday of Holy Week
March 31, 2015

In two ways, Jesus tried to dissuade Judas from betraying Him. First, Judas was certainly seated or was reclining nearest the Lord for our Lord would not have been able to speak to Judas in private without the others overhearing the conversation. The sign is clear that such an arrangement during the Last Supper indicated that our Lord considered Judas an intimate friend. Second, our Lord’s gesture of offering Judas a morsel of food was, in the Jewish society, an act done by one who considered the other a genuine friend. Very sadly, Judas rejected these acts of our Lord’s reaching in love and compassion.

How often have we ourselves rejected God’s invitation to conversion? On this Holy Tuesday, indeed during these days of Holy Week, this reaching out of God to us is most vividly portrayed. Let us grab such a blessed opportunity. Such an opportunity can come in a form of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation during one of these days. It may be a call to offer a form of sacrifice like giving up some pride on our part and forgive someone whom we have been at odds with for quite some time. Of course, praying should characterize these holy days. Truly, the words said when we began the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday “Repent and believe the gospel” ring most true and loud for all of us during these holy days. (Fr. Emmanuel Meguito, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 30, 2015 Monday: Holy Week

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 30, 2015 Monday: Holy Week

TODAY we reflect on the anointing of Jesus’ feet by a woman named Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus who were close friends of Jesus) which foreshadowed His imminent death. She honored Him as God’s anointed and poured out to Him love and devotion too deep for words.

As Jesus made His way towards Jerusalem for what He knew would be His last Passover with His disciples, He stopped in the village of Bethany where He was invited to dinner by a well-to-do host named Simon. In the course of the gathering, a woman interrupted the meal, which shocked all those who were present: She loosened her hair and anointed Jesus’ feet. During that time, to loosen one’s hair in public, even for a married woman, was a sign of grave immodesty. Oblivious to all around her except for Jesus, she generously poured out a very precious ointment on His feet and then dried them with her hair.

There were some like Judas Iscariot who became indignant over what she did: “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.’’ Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me… She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing My body for burial.’’ (Mk 14:4-8).

Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give Me water for My feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Your did not give Me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing My feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’’ Then, He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.’’ (Lk 7:44-48).

The greatest commandment is not to understand, proclaim, or obey but to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mt. 22:37). After welcoming Jesus yesterday, we now accompany Him to His passion, desiring to be more intimately unified with Him. With an inner knowledge of the heart, may that love which impelled Mary to give not just a few precious drops but everything she had, also well up in our hearts.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 29, 2015: Palm Sunday B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Now days, many folks have Facebook accounts, even grandparents and great grandparents use Facebook to keep up with the activities of grandchildren. One thing that I find interesting about the Facebook posts is that the posts that get repeatedly shared are those that contain personal stories of triumph over tragedies, stories of conversion, or stories that mirror our own lives. We want others to know about these stories because we believe, in some way, that others will be touched by it too.

Today we heard a true story that happened a long time ago. We re-present the story because it is a story that involves not just some distant past persons, but a story that involves each of us in a real way. We witnessed, not as a bystander or observer but as a disciple, Our Lord Jesus triumphantly entering Jerusalem, offering himself freely to those who mock him and crucify him, and hanging on the cross asking forgiveness from Heavenly Father for those who "do not know what they are doing.”

Were you touched? Did you see yourself as one of the persons in the narrative? Perhaps you saw yourself in Peter, who was to be the rock, deny his Master out of fear and weakness. Peter later broke down and wept, bearing witness to the power of repentance and of the divine mercy. Perhaps you saw yourself in Mary Magdalen who anointed Jesus on the night of the Last Supper and accompanied him faithfully to Calvary. Did you feel, as you witnessed Jesus' suffering and death, a renewed resolve to recommit yourself to conform your life to him, to pour yourself out completely and unreservedly, out of love for the Heavenly Father?

Jesus, his person and his mission, demands a decision. Are we going to remain as bystanders or are we going to follow Jesus on that narrow path to Calvary? St. Andrew of Crete offers this advice to us disciples:

Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches, or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him...Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children's holy song: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel."

Friday, March 27, 2015

March 28, 2015 Saturday: 5th Week in Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 28, 2015 Saturday: 5th Week in Lent B

We need some quiet time to pray and be alone with God. Without a “desert experience” our faith becomes superficial, our courage sporadic and our love fragile. Noise and distraction constantly surround us; we can actually forget what life is all about and we can lose our contact with God.

Solitude and prayer have a way of restoring perspective and renewing depth. Silence and solitude provide the atmosphere in which we can recall everything that the Lord has done for us in the past and experience all that He is doing for us now. “God is good all the time.” For many of us this dessert time or solace of solitude can be understood only in a metaphorical sense because many of us have all kinds of responsibilities and mundane concerns.

But precisely because we have so many responsibilities and mundane concerns, a desert time is crucially important. Is it not possible for us to individually work out a personal Holy Week’s Schedule?

The ascetic Thomas Merton wrote in New Seeds of Contemplation, “Let there be place somewhere in which you can breathe naturally, quietly and not have to take your breath in continuous short gasps; a place where your mind can be idle and forget its concerns and descend into silence and worship the Father in secret.”

I remember the philosopher Socrates who said: “An unreflected life is not worth living.” (Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 27, 2015 Friday: 5th Week of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Friday of the Fifth Week
March 27, 2015

Why were the religious leaders so upset with Jesus that they wanted to kill him? They charged him with blasphemy because he claimed to be the Son of God and he made himself equal with God. The law of Moses laid down the death penalty for such a crime: "He who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him" (Leviticus 24:16). As they were picking up stones to hurl at Jesus, he met their attack with three arguments. The many good works that he did, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and feeding the hungry, demonstrated that his power and marvelous deeds obviously came from God.

Jesus then defended his right to call himself the Son of God with a quote from Psalm 82:6 ("I say, "You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you"). Jesus argued that if Scripture can speak like that of humans, why should he not speak of himself like that? Jesus then made two claims: He was consecrated by the Father for a special task; and he was sent into the world to carry out his Father's mission (John 10:36). The scriptural understanding of consecration is to make holy for God - to be given over as a free-will offering and sacrifice for God.

Jesus made himself a sin-offering for us, to ransom us from condemnation and slavery to sin. He spoke of his Father consecrating him for this mission of salvation (John 10:36). Jesus challenged his opponents to accept his works if they could not accept his words. One can argue with words, but deeds are beyond argument. Jesus is the perfect teacher in that he does not base his claims on what he says but on what he does. The word of God is life and power to those who believe. Jesus shows us the way to walk the path of truth and holiness. And he anoints us with his power to live the gospel with joy and to be his witnesses in the world. Are you a doer of God's word, or a forgetful hearer only?

"Write upon my heart, O Lord, the lessons of your holy word, and grant that I may be a doer of your word, and not a forgetful hearer only." (Courtesy of Don Schwager © 2015, whose website is located at Dailyscripture.net)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 26, 2015 Thursday: 5th Week of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Thursday of the Fifth Week
March 26, 2015

The Jewish authorities were prejudiced against Jesus; they even envied Him because of the recognition and affirmation given Him by the people. Their feeling of envy had blinded them to accept and believe the things revealed by our Lord.
This unbelief had led them to judge Jesus falsely and accuse Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be God. Indeed, they went so far as to pick up stones with the intention of murdering Him.

Today’s gospel account reminds me of Jesus’ teaching in Matt 1:7: “Judge not that you be not judged.” At times Christians are the most critical individuals known. Judging others is one of the favorite pastimes of people nowadays, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is so devastating that it can break the strength of the one being criticized. It even serves to make us harsh, vindictive, and cruel, and thus leaves us with the flattering idea that we are somehow superior to others.

We must always remember that every wrong thing that we see in others has an equivalent in ourselves. Thus, every time we judge, we condemn our own selves. So we have to stop applying a measuring stick to other people; for at least there is one more dimension which we know nothing about in every person’s life situation. (Fr. Romy Benitez, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 25, 2015 Wednesday: Feast of Annunciation

March 25, 2015 Wednesday: Feast of Annunciation

I wanted names, dates, places, and the assurance of a happy ending. I wanted to know what the future held for me. I wanted God to tell me everything.

I can look up and think warm, fuzzy thoughts about the reality of the Incarnation. I know that at the moment of Mary’s “yes” – God became man in order to accomplish our salvation. I know, now, that everything worked out pretty well for Mary and the rest of humanity.

But at that moment… what was Mary thinking?

The Gospel of Luke tells us that when the angel Gabriel greeted Mary in Nazareth with “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28), Mary was “greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29).

After being told of God’s plan- that she would be the mother of “the Son of God the Most High” (Luke 1:32) – we know that Mary’s reply was “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

At the moment of the annunciation, Mary didn’t know the particulars. She didn’t know what would happen when Joseph found out she was pregnant. She didn’t know what responsibilities she was signing up for, as the mother of the Son of God. She didn’t know the suffering and joy she would experience. God didn’t tell her everything. Her “yes” to God wasn’t contingent on the details. She simply said “yes” because God asked.

Like Mary and the countless others who have journeyed to heaven before us, we can’t possibly know all the details when we first say “yes” to God, and it can be frustrating and scary.

The most important question God had for me was if I would pursue holiness no matter what — and everyday the annunciation (both the image and the reality) inspires me to say “yes.”
-Alison (http://lifeteen.com/dear-god-tell-everything/)

March 24, 2015 Tuesday: Week 7 Divine Mercy - I was in prison and you visited me

3-24-15 Wk7 Divine Mercy - I was in prison and you visited me

You don’t have to raise your hands on this question. Has anybody here been to prison before? Did you enjoy your stay there? Recently I visited a woman who was in prison for possession of an illegal substance. She explained to me that she was actually glad she was in prison, or otherwise she would have destroyed herself. She said that she attended so many drug rehabs that she was knowledgeable enough to teach the course. She said she had a good self-knowledge of her weaknesses and tendencies, but still that didn’t prevent her from falling back to her addiction.

A prison ministry volunteer shared this experience: He was giving a talk to a roomful of prisoners who just wanted to get out of their cell for an hour. They appeared not at all interested in what he had to say. A scene from the movie, “The Passion of Christ” came to his mind where Blessed Mother was looking for her son in Caiaphas’ dungeon. Then he said, “Just as Mary, the mother of Jesus wanted to be there for her Son in that dark prison, so also, Mary your mother wants to be here for you. We’ve come because we believe Mary sent us to you, her beloved sons. She hasn’t forgotten you. She loves you, and she wants to come into this prison. She wants to heal your wounds and be a mother to you now. You just have to let her in. You just have to open up your hearts and let her come in.”

Everyone can’t do direct prison ministry like the volunteer I just mentioned. If you can’t, there is still something you can do to visit those in prison. You can visit them with your prayers. Those in prison are often forgotten and suffer so many things. There is so much brokenness and humiliation in prison, and therefore, inmates are among those who are most deserving of the Lord’s mercy. In justice, they have to pay the price for their crimes and do their time, but the Lord loves them most especially. For as Jesus tells us through St. Faustina, “The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.” At this mass, can you offer your prayer for one prisoner whom you do not know so that they may experience God’s mercy?

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 24, 2015 Tuesday: 5th Week of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Tuesday of the Fifth Week
March 24, 2015

In today’s gospel (John 8:21-30) we see and hear a Jesus who is confident of His identity: “I am who am”, Beloved Son of the Father sent to this world, a Jesus who is faithful to His mission: “I always do what pleases Him.” Because of this self-possession, He is very sure of His identity. And to those who failed to listen to Him and to recognize Him as the Messiah, He said, “You cannot go where I am going,” as straightforward as that.

How about each of us, do we know where we are going? Will we make it to where Jesus is going?

Like those who were listening to Jesus, I would like to take His word as a challenge rather than a cause for disappointment, an invitation rather than a rejection. “Many who heard Jesus believed in Him.” The way is open should we want to take up the challenge.

The person of Jesus challenges us today to be rooted too in our identity as beloved children of the Father who sacrificed His only Son for our salvation. Only in this rootedness can we resist sin, free ourselves and do what pleases the Father. Then we can be sure of our identity as Jesus was of His. (Sr. Maria Cecilia, SSpS Bible Diary 2004)

March 23, 2015 Monday: 5th Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Monday of the fifth week
March 23, 2015

When accusations are brought against you, how do you respond and where do you turn to? The Gospel accounts frequently describe how Jesus had to face unjust accusations made by the Pharisees, the ruling elders of Israel. They were upset with Jesus' teaching and they wanted to discredit him in any way they could. They wanted to not only silence him, but to get rid of him because of his claim to speak with God's authority. When a moral dilemma or difficult legal question arose, it was typical for the Jews to take the matter to a rabbi for a decision. The scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. John writes that they wanted to "test" Jesus on the issue of retribution so " they might have some charge to bring against him" (John 8:6).

Jewish law treated adultery as a serious crime since it violated God's ordinance and wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life. It was one of the three gravest sins punishable by death. If Jesus said the woman must be pardoned, he would be accused of breaking the law of Moses. If he said the woman must be stoned, he would lose his reputation for being the merciful friend of sinners.

Jesus then does something quite unexpected - he begins to write in the sand. The word for "writing" which is used here in the Gospel text has a literal meaning "to write down a record against someone" (for another example see Job 13:26). Perhaps Jesus was writing down a list of the sins of the accusers standing before him. Jesus now turns the challenge towards his accusers. In effect he says: Go ahead and stone her! But let the man who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. The Lord leaves the matter to their consciences.

When the adulterous woman is left alone with Jesus, he both expresses mercy and he strongly exhorts her to not sin again. The scribes wished to condemn, Jesus wished to forgive and to restore the sinner to health. His challenge involved a choice - either to go back to her former way of sin and death or to reach out to God's offer of forgiveness, restoration, and new life in his kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus gave her pardon and a new start on life. God's grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is - unfaithfulness to God, and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God's mercy and forgiveness. Do you know the joy of repentance and a clean conscience?

"God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, that you are on our side against all that stunts life, and that our resentment against you was groundless. So we come to you, asking you to forgive our past ignorance, and wanting to know more and more of you and your forgiving love, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Prayer of Saint Augustine)
- Don Schwager (www.dailyscripture.net)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 22, 2015: 5th Sunday of Lent B

March 22, 2015: 5th Sunday of Lent B

Click to hear Audio Homily
The past two weeks, I have been spending time with my mom. I brought her from Texas to see medical professionals for a particular condition she is experiencing. As long as I can remember, she had been energetic and always-on-the-go kind of a woman. She used to do aerobics everyday until recently. She said to me a few days ago that her mind wants to move, but her body is no longer cooperating. She was experiencing, in a sense, a dying of herself--her youthful energy has dissipated and her body is getting frail, prone to break.

If you think about it, there is a lot of dying that is mixed in with living. Every time we pass from one stage of life to another, something in us dies and something new is born. This past Christmas, I bought mom an iPod and filled it with Korean pop songs from her familiar era, but she said that she no longer enjoys that music. For some strange reason, she said, she wants to hear religious music. Similarly, she no longer enjoys Korean soap dramas. Instead, she enjoys watching spiritual retreat talks given by Korean priests on Youtube.

Jesus used an image of the grain of wheat buried in the cold damp earth as in a tomb. He said, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” There is a sense in which we must die if we are to live fully and fruitfully. We have to die to self in order to realize our full potential as human beings and children of God. Jesus set himself as the example. He sacrificed his life; his life wasn’t taken from him; he gave it, out of love for us. When the moment of death arrived he was filled with fear and doubt as he said, “My soul is troubled.” But he received the strength and courage from praying to His Father.

Concretely, what does all this dying to self or dying to our own will mean for you and me everyday of our lives? It means dying to our pride and asking for help; admitting our problem and seeking help from others and God; forgiving the person from our hearts and treating her/him with love once again. To die to self, then is to choose eternal life. This week let us ponder what in our lives that we need to modify or eliminate so that we can bear more fruit.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 21, 2015 Saturday: 4th Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Saturday of the Fourth Week
March 21, 2015

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said,
“This is truly the Prophet.”
Others said, “This is the Christ.”
But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?
Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family
and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”
So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Some of them even wanted to arrest him,
but no one laid hands on him.  (John 7:40-44)

The guards sent by the Chief Priests and Pharisees were unsuccessful in arresting Jesus. They were astonished and amazed when they heard Him preaching and saw Him performing miracles. He brought sight to the blind, the lame walked again and he even cast out evil spirits. Jesus words have power and authority that whoever listened was moved to repent and follow Him.

The Chief Priests and Pharisees did not accept Jesus as the Messiah primarily because he was of Galilean origin. They accused and condemned Him without examining His case. The leaders claimed that Jesus has not convinced anyone who was educated and therefore He was not the Messiah. They used their power and authority to persuade the crowd against Jesus.

In our life, how often do we accuse and condemn others without even listening to their side? Is it because we always think that we know the truth better than anybody else? (Bro. Rudyard Bartolome, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 20, 2015 Friday: 4th Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 20, 2015 Friday: 4th Week of Lent

John 7:25-30
Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.' Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, 'You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.' Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.

I admire people who take risks. I admire people who try to conquer their fears. I admire Filipinos who are working abroad. They would endure everything for the sake of their loved ones.

In the gospel, Jesus, throughout His time in Jerusalem, encountered increasing hostility to His message and mission. In spite of rejection, verbal harassment and even death threats He was able to accomplish God’s will. Jesus did not let His fear conquer Him. He took risks because of His love of the Father.

Despite what the world may try to tell us, God wants to guide us into happy and fulfilling lives. There will be unexpected bends in the road, some negative and some positive. The best strategy, however, is to put our attention on God’s love for us. God’s love will help us conquer everything. God’s love can turn fear to strength.

Let’s try to take another step this Lent. Let God take the plans we made and fill them with His wisdom and purpose. (Fr. Emmanuel Ferrer, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

March 19, 2015 Thursday: Feast of St. Joseph

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 19, 2015 Thursday: Feast of St. Joseph

Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.

What do we know about St Joseph? That he loved Mary so much that he suppressed his doubts about her chastity and allowed himself to be regarded as the father of her child, knowing that he wasn’t (when Jesus took the floor in the Nazareth synagogue [Luke 4,22], the begrudgers remarked: ‘Is not this the son of Joseph?’); that he brought up that child as his own, despite great difficulties and dangers, particularly at the start; that he taught him his trade; that he loved him; and that Jesus’ virile health as an adult (physical stamina, courage, strength of purpose and attractiveness to women, men and children) is proof of good parenting by his foster-father. Joseph is the obvious patron of adoptive fathers.

In today’s gospel we see Joseph as a righteous man. He, at first chose, not to disgrace Mary but divorce her quietly. In those days Mary could have been led out of town and stoned to death for her perceived indiscretion. Joseph chose the path of tolerance and love. This is something I need to remind myself about when I meet trying circumstances and difficult people. A message then came from an angel that Joseph followed without question. He was to remain with Mary as her spouse.

In my life I need to examine when God sends a messenger, do I listen? Am I even aware a message is being sent? Have I opened myself up to hear God? The message I received from his reading speaks to me as a father and a husband. Joseph is a role model that is there if I just choose to follow. The challenge is to put the choice into action

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 18, 2015 Wednesday: 4th Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 18, 2015 Wednesday: 4th Week of Lent

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)

Are we aware of God’s unconditional mother-like love for us? Are we even capable of such awareness, when we go through difficult and painful moments in our lives? In an ideal world that awareness should even be easy. But we live in a real world and we are human beings, not human should-beings. It is perfectly natural and understandable to feel abandoned by a seemingly distant God in such moments. However feelings, which do affect us, do not really define who we are and I submit that in calmer moments, when the pain is not present, we can be restored by God to the awareness of God’s love for us, an awareness that will always remain a gift. A gift we need to pray for.

March 17, 2015 Tuesday: Wk 6, Divine Mercy - I was sick and you visited me

What’s your first reaction when you are told that you need to visit a sick person? A young priest shared his reaction in his memoir:
“I remember that at the beginning [of my priestly ministry] the sick intimidated me. I needed a lot of courage to stand before a sick person and enter, so to speak, into his physical and spiritual pain, not to betray discomfort, and to show at least a little loving compassion.”
The young priest who shared his reaction was Fr. Karol Wojtyla who later became St. Pope John Paul II.

Why is it so hard for us to see suffering? Fr. Karol Wojtyla reflected, “Only later did I begin to grasp the profound meaning of the mystery of human suffering. In the weakness of the sick, I saw emerging...a new strength--the strength of mercy. In a sense, the sick provoke mercy...By their illness and suffering they call forth acts of mercy and create the possibility for accomplishing them.”

When we encounter a suffering person, we are called out of ourselves, to forget ourselves, to leave the comfort of our egos, to think of another and suffer with him. Something extraordinary happens when we decide to take the invitation to be with the suffering person. For instance, we see a look of sorrow on a loved one’s face and suddenly forget our own problems and go to that person. We hear of a tragedy on the news, and our own petty concerns dissolve into compassion for the victims.

For those who are suffering, the old school advice from nuns still apply--”offer your suffering by joining it to the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.” When Jesus said, “This is my body and my blood given up for you,” his gift of himself saved us. Therefore, the grace from the suffering offered up has power to save lives! Would you say yes to Jesus and Blessed Mother if they ask you, “Would you endure suffering for your loved ones?” We should not forget what the old nuns used to say to us, “Don’t waste your suffering.”

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 17, 2015 Tuesday: Lenten Pilgrimage, 4th Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 17, 2015 Tuesday: 4th Week of Lent

[A paralyzed] man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" 7 The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down  before me." Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. (John 5:1-16)

Is there anything holding you back from the Lord's healing power and transforming grace that can set you free to live in wholeness, joy, and peace with God?

The lame man that Jesus stopped to speak with had been paralyzed for more than 38 years. He felt helpless because he had no friends to help him bathe in the purifying waters of the pool. Despite his many years of unanswered prayer, he still waited by the pool in the hope that help might come his way. Jesus offered this incurable man not only the prospect of help but total healing as well. Jesus first awakened faith in the paralyzed man when he put a probing question to him, "Do you really want to be healed?" This question awakened a new spark of faith in him. Jesus then ordered him to "get up and walk!" Now the lame man had to put his new found faith into action. He decided to take the Lord Jesus at his word and immediately stood up and began to walk freely.

The Lord Jesus approaches each one of us with the same probing question, "Do you really want to be healed - to be forgiven, set free from guilt and sin, from uncontrollable anger and other disordered passions, and from hurtful desires and addictions. The first essential step towards freedom and healing is the desire for change. If we are content to stay as we are, then no amount of coaxing will change us. The Lord will not refuse anyone who sincerely askes for his pardon, mercy, and healing.
(Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 16, 2015 Monday: 4th Week of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 16, 2015 Monday: 4th Week of Lent B

At Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." The official said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. (John 4:43-54)

Sometimes it is not even our own experience with God that impacts our relationship with him. We can know him more, love him more and even meet him for the first time through his interaction with others. In today’s Gospel message from John, Jesus is greeted by a man whose son is ill in Capernaum. The man asks him to heal his son and Jesus assures him that when he arrives home, he will be well. “The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe” (John 4:53).

None of the members of the household had seen or experienced Jesus in the flesh like the father of the sick child, but yet being a witness to the miracle of healing led them to believe. We don’t always have to be on the receiving end or the center of God’s work. When we have open eyes and open hearts, we can see him working in those around us. We can be amazed, be in awe, and feel his power by watching and listening.

This is extremely encouraging to me because my selfish nature is always asking God to show himself to me. I expect him to perform a miracle in my life or answer a specific prayer, and he might not decide to reveal himself in that way. Instead he might use the circumstances of those around me to speak to my heart.


March 15, 2015 Sunday: Lenten Pilgrimage, 4th Sunday Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Sunday, Fourth week
March 15, 2015

Brothers and sisters: God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ — by grace you have been saved —, raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. Ephesians 2:4-10

St Paul wrote, “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ --by grace you have been saved…” St. Paul used three beautiful words in that one verse – love, mercy, grace. The word that St. used for love is agape love - that self-sacrificing kind of love -- that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. If we ever ask the question, “how much do you love me Lord”, we only need to look at the crucifix and gaze at our Lord’s out-stretched arms.

Mercy and grace have been described as two facets in the jewel of God’s love. Mercy has the idea of love for the unlovable, the miserable, the afflicted. It also carries an intense desire and ability to do something about it. Mercy says, “look at what you’ve gotten yourself into; I’m going to do what it takes to get you out.” Grace also gives us a glimpse into the heart and mind of God. Grace describes a quality in God that made him willing and eager to save sinners.

Are good works necessary for salvation? No, they are excluded! Are good works necessary for a Christian? Yes, they are expected! God who gave us the gift of salvation also gave us the gifts of time, talents, and treasures that are to be used to his glory. We are also given many opportunities for us to say thank you for our gifts by reaching out and helping someone else. May God open our eyes to see and seize those opportunities! May He forgive us for the times we made excuses not to help!

During Lent we have many opportunities to share the message of God’s love, mercy and grace with those around us. Let us remember how richly God has blessed us and thus look for opportunities to be a blessing to someone else.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

March 15, 2015: 4th Sunday of Lent B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Do you like museums? More than 20 years ago, my family went on a trip to Italy which included visiting many museums and churches. At that time, I was a sophomore in college and my spiritual life was best described as agnostic, that is, I claimed neither faith in God nor disbelief in God. One day in Rome, after over an hour wait in line to enter the Vatican Museum, and after more than two hours of touring the museum inside, I was not impressed and was just plain tired. The tour inside the Vatican museum ended in a vast room filled with painted walls and ceilings. I looked around, was not dazzled by it at all, so I sat down to wait for our guide to lead us out of the room.

Two years ago, I was in that same room again, not as an agnostic but as a believer and a priest of Jesus Christ. The place that I once called a vast room is in fact the Sistine Chapel where popes are elected. On the main side of the chapel is a scene painted by Michelangelo called, “Last Judgment.” In that scene, are angels blowing the trumpet with some of the souls climbing up to heaven and some souls being dragged down to hell by the demons. At the upper center is Jesus surrounded by light, his mother, prophets of the Old Testament, Apostles, and saints. As I sat in that room, I had much to ponder.  I had a spent a few years in the darkness in the realm of the demons, yet because of God’s incomprehensible mercy, I was brought back to the light of Christ. That painting and my faith journey reflect today’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16)

Nicodemus in today’s Gospel grew to understand the meaning of that passage. The gospel passage described his first personal encounter with Jesus. That encounter happened in the cover of darkness, for Nicodemus did not want others to discover that he was meeting Jesus. His faith became more public as he defended Jesus against religious leaders, insisting that Jesus should not be condemned without a trial. After crucifixion, Nicodemus assisted at the burial of Jesus, providing a large quantity of expensive spices for his burial. Here was a man who grew in relationship with Christ--going from curiosity to a deep commitment to Jesus.

Where do you find yourself in your relationship with Jesus? Do you rather keep it private, not letting others know or are you bold enough to proclaim Jesus as your Lord? Do you live what you proclaim? How does your faith show through to others? Do you sense that you also need to deepen your relationship with Jesus like Nicodemus?

-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 14, 2015 Saturday: 3rd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 14, 2015 Saturday: 3rd Week of Lent

In today’s parable, two men--the Pharisee and the tax collector--offered prayers at the Temple. When they expressed their prayers, the true character of their heart was revealed. When the Pharisee prayed, he was quick to tell the Lord how things really were -- he bragged about his righteousness by comparing himself to other men. He even saw a tax collector praying nearby and talked about how much better he was than the man. The tax collector, however, did not offer any swelling words of self-glorification. He knew that he had nothing at all to offer the Lord and he knew that he was a wicked sinner. The tax collector told the truth, humbled himself before God, and asked for mercy.

The prayer of the Pharisee was indicative of the praying of most self-righteous Jews in the area.  The tax collector prayed a short, simple to the point prayer and God heard him. When the Pharisee prayed, he was not talking to the Lord; he was talking to himself and for the benefit of those around him.

Prayer is not about who we are, what we think, what we want, or what we have done. Prayer is time to seek the face of God; to ask Him to bless our lives; to ask Him to move among us; to pray for those around us; to humble ourselves before the Lord; to acknowledge our own need of Him! We should use our public prayers, not as a time to exalt our spirituality, but to praise and glorify God; to seek His power; and to thank Him for His blessings.

One man went to the temple and left with nothing -- he went through the ritual, judged others by his standards, prayed his self-serving prayers, worshiped himself. This man went home feeling good about himself, but He received nothing from God for his efforts. The other man went to the temple and left with everything -- he didn’t make a spiritual show, prayed a simple prayer, offered God honesty, confession and worship, left that church right with the Lord. The difference between the two was in the attitude and condition of their hearts. One was full of himself and thought he needed nothing more. The other knew he was nothing and possessed nothing. He humbled himself before God and he was blessed.

How do we come to church? How do we see others around us who don’t do things to our standard? How is our praying? We should humbly admit that we ourselves are like the tax collector needing the mercy of God.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 13, 2015 Friday: 3rd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 13, 2015
Friday, Third week of Lent

When we read books such as the "7 habits of highly-effective people" or "The joy of living" or other inspirational books, they provide very interesting and very good pointers for life. Yet, when we ponder it carefully, the principles of life are actually very simple – as Jesus said in today's gospel: Love your God and love your neighbor.

We may think that ‘Love your God and love your neighbor’ would be easy to live out in our lives, but it may take a whole lifetime to discover the truth of such a simple statement because we tend to love objects and be self-centered.

The season of Lent calls us back to the love of God. In the first reading, the prophet Hosea not only called his people back to this love of God, he also proclaimed how much God loves His people even though they turned away from Him.

We may remember that hymn of Hosea - Come back to me with all your heart, don't let fear keep us apart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.

The way of life is indeed simple: Love God and neighbor. That is the way that Jesus is teaching us. As the first reading ends off - For the ways of the Lord are straight, and virtuous men walk in them, but sinners stumble.

Fr. Stephen Yim

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 12, 2015 Thursday: 3rd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 12, 2015 Thursday: 3rd Week of Lent

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Luke 11:23)

Thomas Brooks has this to say about Satan. He says: “Satan promises the best but pays with the worst. He promises honor and pays with disgrace. He promises pleasure and pays with pain. He promises profit and pays with loss. He promises life and pays with death.”

The Jewish leaders ask: How can He get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan’s power? They assume that He has to be in league with Satan. They attribute His power to Satan rather than to God. But Jesus answers them with this smart statement: “For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges.” It is as if Jesus is saying to them: “Yes, one of your fingers is pointing on me but look, the other three fingers are pointing on you too.”

But I would like more to reflect about what Jesus is saying in today’s gospel reading. He says: “Whoever is not with me is against me and whoever does not gather with me scatters,” (v.23). With Jesus we cannot evade decision; we cannot remain noncommittal; we cannot protect ourselves against risks. Why? It is because there is a cosmic war that is going on between good and evil. In this kind of war we cannot remain neutral or noncommittal. If we refuse to side with God, it can mean, we accept or take side with Satan. Now we know that God will eventually win this war. And so, why we allow ourselves to be on the losing side? How to take side with God? It can be shown in this way:

First is through our obedience to Him. Jesus Himself encounters personal opposition and battles with Satan when He was put to the test in the wilderness just before His public ministry. But He overcomes the evil one through His obedience to the will of His Father. We can do the same. The call of obedience is disturbing since we human beings want freedom, choice and doing what feels good. And on the process, we misuse our freedom and choice. Sin enters and damages us spiritually. Therefore, we need obedience or relying on an authority outside of ourselves that guides us. We have to rely on God, His Word and Sacraments and the leaders He puts in charge of our lives.

Second is by loyalty to Him. I read this story of a young man in the army who made a confession to his compatriot that he never went about with another girl if he was within fifty miles of home, his loyalty went fifty miles away. How far does our loyalty to Jesus Christ go?

-Fr. Joseph S. Benitez (https://justmehomely.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/thursday-of-the-3rd-week-of-lent/)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 11, 2015 Wednesday: Third Week of Lent, Lenten Pilgrimage

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Wednesday, Third Week of Lent
March 11, 2015

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." Matthew 5:17

We sometimes wonder how many laws we have in our country. There are so many laws, that one lawyer can be trapped by another lawyer who accidentally discovers an obscure law. However, in spite of so many laws and lawyers, there is so much lawlessness that we may wonder what will happen to the country.

Like Moses in the Old Testament, Jesus emphasizes the importance of the law. What puzzles us is that Jesus stresses the strict fulfillment of even the smallest letter of the law while He Himself often violated the law by healing on the Sabbath or by not performing all the rules of ritual cleanliness.

When Jesus speaks about not abolishing the old but fulfilling the Law he does not think of the manmade oral law of the scribes, their petty rules and regulations that lead to legalism. He thinks of the old law of God, especially the Ten Commandments. He teaches that what he brings is something between the past and present, between old and new, between traditional and progressive. It is because real progress builds on the past. The present grows out of the past. When Paul wrote, “Christ is the end of the law,” he did not tell his readers that they could do now what they like, something our permissive society encourages.

If in the gospel Jesus gives importance to the law or God’s law, no matter how limited and human is its interpretation, then it must be lived seriously. For Jesus did not come to abolish the law or the prophets. For God’s law, as a bible scholar puts it, is a synthesis of human and divine wisdom. Beneath God’s word or law is God’s spirit. So, His word will not return to Him empty, for it is alive and dynamic.

May these days of Lent help us to reflect on our attitude towards God’s commandments: do we keep them only when it is convenient and ignore them when they go against our desires? Do we realize that the commandments are given to help us find the right way and preserve us from spiritual anarchy? (Fr. Rudy Horst)

March 10, 2015 Tuesday: Wk 5, Divine Mercy Novena

March 10, 2015 Tuesday: Wk 5, Divine Mercy Novena 
I was naked and you clothed me

Recently, we had some cold days here in our area. On those cold days, as you were driving around town, did you notice anyone walking or standing around without a warm jacket? Did a thought pass through your mind that you wish you could have given away a coat in the closet that you were not wearing? Most of us have more clothes in our closet then we need.

One cold morning when I was unlocking St. Francis Church, I knelt by the crucifix to pray. Have you prayed before the crucifix lately and noticed his appearance? I noticed how Jesus was stripped of all his clothes and dignity. I recalled that he was stripped many times on his journey to Calvary--1) when he was scourged by the soldiers, 2) when he was stripped and a crown of thorns was put on his head by mocking soldiers, 3) when all of his garments were removed at Calvary and the soldiers gambled over them. They stripped him to humiliate him and degrade him. Yet Jesus allowed this so that he might clothe us once again with glory of being called children of God, the glory stripped from us by the decision of our fore-parents Adam and Eve.

We can see the nakedness of our fellow humanity everywhere.  Mother Teresa said, "Nakedness is not only for a piece of cloth. Nakedness is for the loss of that human dignity, the loss of that respect, the loss of that purity that was so beautiful, so great, the loss of that virginity that was the most beautiful thing that a young man and a young woman can give each other because they love each other, the loss of that presence, of what is beautiful, of what is great this is nakedness. Homelessness is not a lack of a home made of bricks, but the feeling of being rejected, being unwanted, having no one to call your own.”

Jesus said at Mount Olives, “I was naked and you clothed me.”  What can we do in our everyday encounters to answer this call from him? Do we see around us those who are discouraged or in doubt, whom we can clothe with our compassion and kindness? Can we take an ornament from our Easter Giving Tree and bring back a set of clothing for a needy child in our community? As we continue through this season of Lent, let us remind ourselves that at the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by how we loved our neighbor.

March 10, 2015 Tuesday: 3rd Week of Lent, Lenten Pilgrimage

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Tuesday of the Third Week
March 10, 2015

‘Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’ Matthew 18:33

Concrete lessons in forgiveness are more powerful than mere verbal exhortations. We may never forget that St. John Paul II went to a prison to visit the man who shot him. St. John Paul presented the man with a silver rosary and his forgiveness. However, Nothing can compare with our Lord dying on the cross yet He still managed to say: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus wants us to imitate the forgiving master in today’s parable. The genuine test of our Christian faith is our readiness to forgive. Love withstands anger and forgets offenses (1Cor 13:5). I don’t believe in God who looks for reasons to punish us for being less than perfect. God surely knows how complicated human life is, how difficult it is to be a good person all the time. Even the best people cannot get everything right every time. God does not expect a perfect life but an honest effort at a good one. Life is not a test in which the passing grade is 100 percent and anything less is a failure.

Today there are many of us carrying heavy loads and are disoriented in life simply because we don’t know the good effect of forgiveness. We cannot even forgive ourselves. We have to learn that God, who can forgive sins so easily because He loves us, initiates forgiveness. So, if we really understand how much God loves us and how much He longs to forgive us our sins, we too, will easily forgive others, including ourselves.

The parable of the unforgiving servant shows how little the servant knows of the value of forgiveness offered by the master. The fault of his co-servant might have been less serious and yet he attacked him with impunity. If only he had learned how great sins were, and how gracious the master was, he would have learned how to forgive others and himself as well. (Fr. Carlos S. Lariosa)

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015 Monday: 3rd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 9, 2015 Monday: 3rd Week of Lent

And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. (Luke 4:24-30)

So why did our Lord tell the people who had been his neighbors for years that a Prophet is not accepted in his own native place? The people had known him as a member of an ordinary working-man’s family. They considered that they knew him too well as one of their own to view him as God’s chosen representative, as the one who speaks for God, in a word, as a prophet. His comment was not only a voicing of his deeply felt frustration, but a warning that still invites us to reflect on our readiness to take his words to heart and to act upon his words.

God often reveals his will to us in the every day ordinary circumstances of our life. The surface of life often serves as a screen for deeper realities that remain buried within events and remain hidden in the heart of the individual. Our Lord is present yet most hidden in the world we encounter daily. His message and identity are revealed only to those specially chosen and willing to respond from the heart.

In the sacrament of the Eucharist, under the ordinary forms of bread and wine, he remains among us and joins himself to us in a communion that is a pledge of his fidelity and love. May we open our hearts to him with trusting faith and follow him where he leads until we meet him in his glory.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 8, 2015: 3rd Sunday of Lent B

March 8, 2015: 3rd Sunday of Lent B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Do you remember how you kept your room as a teenager? Most of you probably did not have the luxury of having your own room when you were growing up. Was your room clean? Or did it have piles of crusty socks, old cereal bowls of curdled milk, and mildewed towels with a bit of funky smell? (In the old days, that would never happen because you were not even allowed to take any food to your rooms). How did your parents encourage you to keep your rooms clean? Did they (a) beg you, (b) bribe you, or (c) like Jesus in today's Gospel, use a whip to drive you to clean the mess?

If you had to make an assessment of your spiritual house--that is, your soul--how would you describe it? Is it peaceful, like a tranquil lake with no ripples on the water? Is it quiet, like sitting out on your patio in a quiet night with only the chirps of night insects? Or is it more like a busy mall, perhaps like the market place Jesus found inside the Jerusalem Temple, where there is plenty of hustle and bustle of restless desires that want to buy and possess additional material goods. When our Heavenly Father sees the cleanliness or the messiness of our soul, how do you think he would react? In today's Gospel we do not find a meek and gentle Jesus, but an angry Jesus with whip in hand, crying out, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

We all have experienced the inner struggles that take place in our hearts. God created our hearts to have the capacities to know, to desire, and to love Him. The first three of the Ten Commandments (Lord is our God / His name is Holy / Keep holy His day) are a call for all of us to relinquish our attachments to false gods and embrace the worship of the one true God. How faithful are we to these first three commandments? When we don't dedicate our whole heart to worship God, everything else in our lives fracture--our relationship with our spouse, our children, our friends, and our community. There are occasions when the pang of our conscience stings us. Those are times when God is inviting us to love Him and to put Him first, but we resist. We know intellectually that our ultimate happiness depends upon surrendering to God's will. Nevertheless, we resist and tenaciously cling to our own will. So at times, we feel like God is barging into our messy room and demanding us to change something we don't want to change. But, we can only make a new beginning in life when we give up an old way of living. If you have been feeling a sting of conscience lately, what is God inviting you to clean out? Is He inviting you to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Fr Paul Yi

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 7, 2015 Saturday: 2nd Week of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 7, 2015 Saturday: 2nd Week of Lent

Even when the Prodigal Son returned he still missed the point. His motive was to have an easier life, for he thought, “How many of my Father’s workers have more than enough food, but here am I, dying from hunger.” Having decided to go back to his father, his focus was still on himself. He must have been asking how to appear good and what right words to say to his father: “I shall go to my father and I shall say to him…”

The point he missed: his father’s love. That since he turned his back, his father had been longing for his return.

Our Father’s love. We experience it especially in the Sacrament of Confession. Do we really? It would seem that for many of us confession is a matter of right mechanics and right number of sins reported. One penitent confessed: “Here are my sins: telling lies, 243 times; gossip, 527 times…” another penitent listed her sins on her cell phone, so she would not miss anything. Children are asked to list down their sins on a piece of paper which will be burned after confession.

A catechist tested her first communicants with a question: “What is the most important thing that happens in confession?” A child hesitantly stood up and proclaimed with her equally tiny voice: “The most important thing that happens when I go to confession is I experience the Father’s mercy and love.” (Fr. A. Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 6, 2015 Friday: 2nd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 6, 2015 Friday: 2nd Week of Lent

Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him. (Genesis 37:3-4)

The Genesis account in the first reading today regarding Joseph’s brothers and their eventual sale of him is a well-planned crime. It occurred among brothers who shared the same blood of a father-Jacob. It was caused by jealousy and injustice, that is, favoritism in the family.

In the gospel reading, Jesus recounts by way of a parable the Jewish rejection of the prophets who came and ministered before him. Jesus reminds His listeners that He, too, is about to face exactly the same fate.

The scriptural texts make us wonder how such cruelties can happen to Joseph who loved his brothers and to the prophets and Jesus who unconditionally loved the Israelites their brothers.

Similar cruelties also take place in our families. How often do we face conflicts and suffer from the practices of injustice in our families? How often do we hold enmities toward our brothers and sisters until we can’t fraternally talk with them as we used to, because of the problems over farmlands, for instance or money inherited from parents or grandparents?

This holy season of Lent Jesus calls us to repent and make an effort to reconcile with our brothers and sisters and love one another again as Jesus has taught us. (Fr. Alexander Jebadu, SVD)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 5, 2015 Thursday: 2nd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 5, 2015 Thursday: 2nd Week of Lent

Jesus said to the Pharisees, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. (Luke 16:19-31)

In the national news, it featured a businessman in Midwest, USA, who had anonymously given away more than $600 million to universities, medical centers, charitable institutions and other beneficiaries for more than fifteen years. When on account of some legal proceedings his identity was known, a friend described him as a man who does not even own a house or a car, flies economy class and wears a $15 wristwatch. He explained his generosity in plain words by saying: “I decided I had enough money and I thought it best to share it for the good of many who could not benefit from it. Anyway when we die, we cannot bring anything to heaven.” He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. This is contrary to the rich man in today’s gospel whose concern is his fine clothes and feasts everyday.

Today’s gospel parable of Lazarus and the rich man Jesus paints a dramatic scene of contrasts: riches and poverty, heaven and hell, compassion and indifference, inclusion and exclusion. We also see an abrupt and dramatic reversal of fortune.  Lazarus which means, ‘God is my help,’ was not only poor, but also incapacitated because he was brought at the gates of the rich man’s house. The rich man treated the beggar with contempt and indifference, until he found his fortunes reversed.

At the end of their lives Lazarus was in the bosom of Abraham, not because he was poor and incapacitated, but because he did not lose hope in God. His eyes were set on a treasure stored up for him in heaven.

While the rich man when he died was in torment in the netherworld, why? He was in torment because, like many of us, he did nothing so that the life of Lazarus will become better; he did nothing about the rights of the poor and did not extend help to them; he was in apathy and indifference. He failed to see beyond self and earthly existence. He did not take wealth as God’s gift and that its true value is not in keeping it for self alone but in using it for the benefit of others. He could not see beyond his material treasure. He lost sight of God and the treasure of heaven because he was preoccupied with seeking happiness in material things.
(Fr. JS Benitez, https://justmehomely.wordpress.com/)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 4, 2015 Wednesday: 2nd Week of Lent B

A Lenten Pilgrimage, March 4, 2015 Wednesday: 2nd Week of Lent B

The mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?'' (Matt 20:20-23)

Were you ever given something that you were not prepared to receive--even though you thought you were prepared? A week after the funeral of her father's death, a well-wisher came to the daughter of the deceased and said, "Don't you wish your dad could come back and be with you?" The daughter replied, "No, then my dad would have to go through the dying process again." Before her dad became ill, the daughter thought that she had prepared herself for the day when she would be able to walk the journey with her parents. But when it came, she was not prepared to see the suffering that journey involved.

Think of a situation in life where you eagerly said 'yes' to a commitment or a responsibility. The wedding day, the day of priesthood ordination, or the day you accepted a new job come to mind. James and John in the Gospel thought they were ready for the glory that came with being the disciples of Jesus--their mother thought so too. But Jesus asked this poignant question, "Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" The brothers eagerly said 'yes,' not knowing what it all involved. When Blessed Mother said 'yes' at the Annunciation, she did not know ahead of time all the suffering that 'yes' would bring. It required of her a deep faith and trust in God's grace to follow through with her commitment. We too are asked to have that deep faith and trust as Blessed Mother had. We have said 'yes' to God, to our family, to our community in various ways. Does any of that commitment frighten us because of the suffering involved? In the end, although James and John did not understand the implication of their 'yes,' they did follow Jesus' path of suffering. They weren't alone in their journey; there were many who assisted them to accomplish what God asked them to do. Bishop's words to a man about to be ordained to priesthood applies to all of us, "May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment."

Fr Paul Yi

March 3, 2015 Tuesday: Week 4, Divine Mercy Novena - Praying the Chaplet for the Sick and the Dying

March 3, 2015 Tuesday
Week 4: Divine Mercy Novena - Praying the Chaplet for the Sick and the Dying

Most of you have heard the term, ‘power of prayer.’ Have you experienced it for yourself personally in your life? The fact that I’m standing here in church preaching about the Divine Mercy of God as a Catholic priest after leading a rather godless life in my younger years is proof of the power of prayer. We all encounter though, situations where we feel powerless--particularly when someone finds out they have a serious illness or are in the process of dying. What can we do for them?

Jesus told St. Faustina, “Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties [that is, insistent prayers], obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least.” Our natural question is, “How or what should we pray for them?” Jesus told St. Faustina, "My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. ... Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior" (Diary, 1541). Earlier, our Lord said to her, "At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same" (Diary, 811).

St. Faustina said that by prayer, “God's mercy can touch the sinner even at the last moment, in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything is lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God's powerful final grace, can turn to God even in the last moment, with such a power of love that in an instant, it receives from God, forgiveness of all sin and punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things”. (Diary 1698)

To a person who does not know the power of prayer, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy seems like yet another devotional prayer. But the power behind the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is the power of Our Lord’s self-emptying love on the cross at Calvary. When a drop of blood from Our Lord’s side touched the Roman soldier who had pierced Jesus’ side with a lance, the soldier was instantaneously converted. Do you know of a sick or dying person for whom you can pray the Chaplet?

Fr. Paul Yi

March 3, 2015 Tuesday: Lenten Pilgrimage, 2nd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
March 3, 2015 Tuesday: 2nd Week of Lent

"The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." (Matt 23:1-12)

“Dear children! You are my strength. You, my apostles, who with your love, humility and silence of prayer are making it possible for one to come to know my Son. You live in me. You carry me in your heart. You know that you have a mother who loves you and who has come to bring love. I am looking at you in the Heavenly Father – your thoughts, your pains, your sufferings – and I offer them to my Son. Do not be afraid and do not lose hope, because my Son listens to his mother. Since he was born he loves and I desire for all of my children to come to know that love. I desire that all those who left him because of their pain and misunderstanding may return to him and that all those who have never known him may come to know him. That is why you are here, my apostles, and I as a mother am with you. Pray for the firmness of faith, because love and mercy come from firm faith. Through love and mercy you will help all those who are not aware that they are choosing darkness instead of light. Pray for your shepherds because they are the strength of the Church which my Son left to you. Through my Son, they are the shepherds of souls. Thank you. ”
(March 2, 2015 message of Our Lady of Medjugorje to Mirjana)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 2, 2015 Monday: Lenten Pilgrimage, 2nd Week of Lent

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Monday, 2nd Week of Lent
March 2, 2015

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus advises us to be compassionate, nonjudgmental, non-condemning, forgiving of the faults we see and generous in our assessment of others. No doubt, in some situations in life we cannot escape the obligation to make judgments even on the moral character of others. For example, an employer must make judgments about a prospective employee, and parents must make judgments regarding their children. Jesus does not say that we cannot form opinions about others; but He does take us completely out of the realm of passing sentence on anyone; discern, but do not discriminate or criminate.

Jesus’ command to us to be compassionate, to be merciful means more than imitating His compassion -- it means that God’s attitudes must become ours. His compassion and mercy must come naturally to us when we deal with others. There are so many souls who are in need of Jesus’ love and mercy and we are called to be living witnesses of His mercy and love.

We are also reminded that we must have a forgiving heart. Each time we pray the ‘Our Father’ we say, ‘and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us’. We are clearly stating that if we cannot forgive others, then we will not be able to experience God’s love and forgiveness in our lives. Our heavenly Father permits us to determine the manner He will deal with us. In the unloving condemnation of another, we condemn ourselves.

As we continue on our Lenten Pilgrimage, let us ask for a loving and compassionate heart so that we may be Christ’s presence in this world.