Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 30, 2015 Thursday: 4th Week in Easter

April 30, 2015 Thursday: 4th Week in Easter

A. T. Wrote defines service like this: “Whatever is done for God, without respect of its comparative character as related to other acts, is service, and only that is service. Service is, comprehensively speaking, doing the will of God. He is the object. All is for Him, for His sake, as unto the Lord, not as unto man. Hence, even the humblest act of humblest disciple acquires a certain divine quality by its being done with reference to Him. The supreme test of service is this: ‘For whom am I doing this?’ Much that we call service to Christ is not such at all….If we are doing this for Christ, we shall not care for human reward or even recognition. Our work must again be tested by three propositions: Is it work from God, as given us to do from Him; for God, as finding in Him its secret of power; and with God, as only a part of His work in which we engage as co-workers with Him.”

And also Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, put together a brief comparison of the characteristics of service that is focused more upon ourselves and service that is focused more upon Christ (or a Comparison between Self-righteous Service and True Service). In paraphrased form, it becomes a self-help test worth taking. He said that:

Self-focused service is concerned with impressive gains. It enjoys serving when the service is titanic or growing in that direction. Christ-focused service doesn’t distinguish between small and large. It indiscriminately welcomes all opportunities to serve.

Self-focused service requires external reward, appreciation, and applause. Christ-focused service rests content in hiddenness. The divine nod of approval is sufficient.

Self-focused service is highly concerned about results. It becomes disillusioned when results fall below expectations. Christ-focused service is free of the need to calculate results; it delights only in service.

Self-focused service is affected by feelings. Christ-focused service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need. The service disciplines the feelings.

Self-focused service insists on meeting the need; it demands the opportunity to help. Christ-focused service listens with tenderness and patience. It can serve by waiting in silence (from Paul D. Robbins, Leadership, 1988, p. 146).

At the end let us reflect these coming from Evangelii Nuntiandi of Pope Paul VI: “Modern man no longer listens to teachers but to witnesses. If he listens to teachers, it is because they are first witnesses.”

April 29, 2015 Wednesday: 4th Week in Easter

April 29, 2015 Wednesday: 4th Week in Easter

Just before the death of actor W.C. Fields, a friend visited him in his hospital room and was surprised to find him thumbing through a Bible. His friend asked him what he was doing with the Bible, Fields replied, “I’m looking for loopholes.”

We are taught that at the end of our existence where we are going to face Jesus as our Judge, we are going to give an account of ourselves. An account of how we used the precious years of our lives. To borrow the words of students it will be our final exam. On the last day, the words of Jesus, His call to love with Gospel love, will become the measure against which our lives are measured, the question which will constitute the last great examination of our lives. This is because as Jesus says in today’s gospel: “Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day,” (v. 48). In other words, Jesus is Savior and nothing else. As it is stated in the 365 Days with the Lord 2007 that disobedience to His word has natural consequences. His word is like a spiritual sunlight. To turn one’s back on it entails blindness. No punishment is involved, not even judgment on the part of Jesus, since he neither judges nor condemns. His word merely states impersonally the requirements for living in light. And so we have to take Jesus seriously through His words.

To put this concretely how these words of Jesus judge us, St. John of the Cross exclaimed: “I will be examined on love!” It is because all of us Christians, our final judgment will be a looking back at every moment, weighing them on the scale of love, seeing them in the light of the demands of love. We are judged based on love. Are we ready to be examined on love if that exam were to take place today? What do we need to do in order to be ready?

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 28, 2015 Tuesday: 4th Week in Easter

April 28, 2015 Tuesday: 4th Week in Easter

A group of botanists went on an expedition in the Alps searching for new varieties of flowers. One of them looked through his binoculars and saw a beautiful and rare species growing at the bottom of a deep ravine. The problem was to reach it and they needed someone to be lowered into that gorge. They noticed a local youngster standing nearby, so the man approached him if he would help them get the flower. The lad was told that a rope would be tied around his waist and the men would then lower him to the floor of the canyon. The boy was excited but apprehensive about the adventure. “Wait,” he said, “I’ll be back!” When he returned, he was accompanied by an older man. Approaching the head botanist, the boy said, “I’ll go over the cliff now and get the flower for you but this man must hold on to the rope. He’s my dad!”

It is human to put our trust into someone we know deeply. It is dangerous to entrust ourselves to strangers and individuals we are not acquainted with. It is similar with our attitude in trusting God. We could not fully give ourselves to His disposal if we do not know Him much.

In today’s gospel, Jesus manifested His authentic trust in God His Father. As Christians, we need also to possess this trust by listening to the voice of the Lord Jesus our Good Shepherd. He will never permit us to stray away from Him. He is always on our side to protect us from harm. He will not allow the forces of darkness to lead us into eternal destruction. We might be experiencing pain, suffering, sickness and death. But the Lord will lead us to ultimate victory and safety in his everlasting home. The Good Shepherd assures us that amidst sufferings we can find peace and security. We should remain confident in the Lord wherever he lead us. (Fr. Marlone Ramirez, SVD Bible Diary 2005)

April 27, 2015 Monday: 4th Week in Easter B

April 27, 2015 Monday: 4th Week in Easter B

The sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. (John 10:4)

Do you hear voices? We all do, you know—all different kinds of voices. Some are actual voices, but there are also the voices in our minds: what we imagine certain people would say if they really knew us, as well as our own inner voice. Some of the voices are spiritual, from the Lord as well as from the devil’s tempters. There’s a lot going on in our minds, so it’s helpful to try to sort through all the voices to make sure we’re listening to the right ones.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us that we are able to recognize his voice. It’s the voice of the Good Shepherd, a voice that we, his “sheep,” know and respond to (John 10:4). His voice speaks words of care and protection. He points us toward paths of safety and provision. He speaks words of acceptance and love.

What are you hearing? The voice of someone other than your shepherd? Maybe they’re words of condemnation or accusation, telling you that you are a failure or a disappointment. Maybe the voices seem like they’re coming from outside yourself, or maybe they are clearly your own words, the way you think about yourself. It doesn’t matter too much where they’re coming from. What matters is that these words do not come from the Good Shepherd, so you need to run away from them like a frightened sheep.

You have the ability to control this inner conversation. You can choose whom to listen to. Blaise Pascal once said, “Man is so made that if he is told often enough that he is a fool he believes it. By telling himself often enough he convinces himself, because when he is alone he carries on an inner dialogue with himself which is important to keep under proper control.” Don’t let that happen! Don’t pay attention to any voice that contradicts what the Good Shepherd is telling you.

Try an experiment today. Try to identify one or two “internal conversations” that you don’t think are Jesus’ words for you, and shut them down. Then try listening for his voice. Isn’t it a far more encouraging—and inspiring—thing to hear?

“Lord, help me to hear and recognize your voice today.”

-Word Among Us (

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 26, 2015: 4th Sunday of Easter B

Click to hear Audio Homily
How would you describe one of your friends whom you admire the most? An Italian journalist was asked to describe his unusual friend. "Someone asked me what would be the quality that I would most highlight; it is difficult to decide on only one, but one is his sensitivity, his attentiveness to the other person, his listening, being sensitive to what the other person needs. He worked a lot in prisons, something that is not very well known. He went to hospitals a lot; he went to the retirement homes. He stands out for always having approached the neediest." The journalist was describing his Argentinian friend, Cardinal Bergoglio, who is now Pope Francis. Many identify him as the “good shepherd” described in today’s reading.

In today’s Gospel passage, there are two people engaged in the same work - tending sheep. However, each of them approach their roles with vastly different attitudes. The hireling does not have his heart in his work, for minding the sheep is just a job. He does his work because he has to and not because he want to. The quality of his work is not important to him, but his wage are.

The good shepherd, on the other hand, has his heart in his work and thus minding the sheep is a labor of love. Tending the sheep is not just a job -- it is his life! In one sense, the job is harder for the good shepherd because he puts more of himself into it. However, in another sense, the job is easier because it enables him to bring all his energies and talents to it. I think we would all agree that the easiest actions are those that flow from love.

The hireling’s work suffers because he only gives a part of himself to it. He may have an easier life, but he derives no satisfaction from his work. When he stops caring about the quality of his work, something corrosive happens to his soul and thus he suffers. The good shepherd puts his entire self into tending the sheep and he prospers because the work brings out the best of him.

Jesus is the supreme example of the Good shepherd. He gave his life for his sheep. We must always remember that his life wasn’t taken from him -- He gave it because he cared about his sheep. He gave his life as a loving fulfillment of the Father’s will and he saw his whole life as an act of obedience to the Father. Death was not the end; He took up his life again in the resurrection. Jesus trusted the Father that He would not abandon him.

Each one of us is called to be a loving caring person, that is, to imitate the Good Shepherd. This has to begin at home, with our own spouse, our children, and grand-children. If we love well, then this love will spread beyond the confines of our homes into our work and community. Often we think God’s asking us to be someone great. But our one vocation in our earthly life is to love as Our Lord loved, meaning to be willing to sacrifice for others in our daily life.

You are the Shepherd, I belong to you
When I walk on rough ground, you can guide me through
You know my name, you know my voice
Before I was born I was your choice
Show me how to follow, Lord keep me close to you
You are the Shepherd, I belong to you

-Fr Paul Yi

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24, 2015 Friday: 3rd Week in Easter

April 24, 2015 Friday: 3rd Week in Easter

An old illiterate woman in Ireland was so poor that the priest had to bring her food each week. Then he heard that she has a son in America who was successful in business. So he asked if her son ever send her anything. She replied that he only send her the same picture every month. She went to get a box with a stack of pictures which were actually one hundred dollar bills. She was rich, but didn’t know it.

Many Catholics are like that woman. They live in spiritual poverty, not knowing what wonderful riches they have in the Holy Eucharist. They rarely attend Mass or if they do they do not receive Holy Communion. What wasted opportunities! “If only you know the gift of God,” Jesus told the woman at the well, (John 4:10).

In the gospel today Jesus promises the Eucharist, “the source and summit of Christian life.” He insists on its necessity, “Unless you eat…”Just as we need food to stay alive and healthy, so we need spiritual food. At Communion, we receive not only the grace of God, but God Himself, the giver of all grace. He promises life eternal and union with Him and with our fellowmen.

St. Paul encountered Christ on the road to Damascus which changed him forever. From a persecutor, he was transformed into the most zealous and courageous apostle. We encounter the same Christ at every Eucharistic celebration. May this encounter be so deep that it changes us it did St. Paul.

The poor woman didn’t realize what she was missing. How about us? Do we really value the Mass, Holy Communion and visits to the Blessed Sacrament as opportunities to encounter Christ, deepen our union with Him and our brothers and sisters and to gain eternal life? (Fr. James Risse, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 23, 2015 Thursday: 3rd Week in Easter

April 23, 2015 Thursday: 3rd Week in Easter

An old lady was being wheeled into the operating room. Visibly nervous, she blurted out: “Doctor, please be gentle with me. This is my first time to be operated on.”

The youthful surgeon glanced at her and said: “Don’t worry, madam. This is also my first time to do an operation.” I don’t know if the lady survived.

Anyway, when a doctor tells you that your operation will be successful, even if it’s his first time to do it and you believe although you don’t know how he will do it, that’s faith.

Similarly in today’s gospel, Christ asks us to believe in the Eucharist, even though we don’t understand how His Body can become our life-giving food and His Blood our nourishing drink.

It is not surprising why the cynical Jews grumbled: “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” (John 6:5). Cannibalism, one might say today.

God’s word goes beyond the mystery of the Eucharist. In everyday life, we’re also asked to have faith, to accept God’s will, hard and bitter though it is to swallow or understand sometimes.

It can be the untimely death of a loved one, an incurable sickness, an undeserved suffering, say, of children from estranged or separated parents; you may complain: “”Why do I experience all these setbacks and trials? It’s unfair when I’ve been trying to be good.”

When these situations arise, can we hold on? Can we still believe that there’s a good and loving God.

Ultimately, we are asked to believe, to put our trust in Christ. Like Peter and the apostles, we say: “Lord, to whom shall we go; you have the words of eternal life.”
(Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 22, 2015 Wednesday: 3rd Week of Easter

April 22, 2015 Wednesday: 3rd Week of Easter

After the feeding of the multitudes, people were again looking for Jesus. Were they hungry for things which satisfy the body, or the heart and soul? From a practical angle, the people were looking for Jesus not because they believed in His words. The people were looking for Jesus not because they loved Him. They were looking for Him in order to use Him. I am afraid that on certain occasions especially during election time we can be likened to the people in Jesus’ time. Because of bodily needs, some of us allow our votes to be bought in exchange for what is temporal. The values of Jesus which satisfy the soul – honesty, integrity and the truth are easily neutralized.

Jesus echoes the question posed by the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy,” (55:2). I believe there are two kinds of hunger: spiritual and physical. Only God can satisfy the spiritual hunger – the hunger for truth, for life and for love. Jesus says: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger…”

The big problem that Jesus had with the crowds looking for Him was that while Jesus spoke of a spiritual reality they misunderstood Him to be speaking of material things. Materialistic minds cannot comprehend spiritual truths.

The challenge for us today is to recognize that materialism creates a false hunger, promises satisfaction but leaves us hunger. We hear the word of God but we understand it in terms of satisfying our selfish desires for wealth and power. The cure is to follow the example of Jesus and flee worldly allurements and promises of materialism. Then we can pray with St. Augustine: “O Lord, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless ‘til they rest in You.” (Fr. Sammy Clarin, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 21, 2015 Tuesday: 3rd Week of Easter

April 21, 2015 Tuesday: 3rd Week of Easter

It is interesting to ask people about their image of the Church. Pious people speak about the holiness of the Church, about a place of rest in the presence of the Lord. Many are more critical. They speak about the Church as always criticizing, as interfering too much in politics. Others think the Church is too powerful and rich. “Just look at those beautiful churches with all those treasures.
Catholic Church in Iraq after bombing

These answers contain a grain of truth. But seldom do people see the Church also as a suffering Church, persecuted throughout her long history until now in many countries. Forgotten also are those great figures in the Church who try to pattern their lives after Christ.

I think today’s first reading gives a realistic picture of the Church. There is Stephen. He is interfering in politics, for he speaks out against the political and religious leaders. He stands up for the truth. For that he is persecuted and killed, like so many martyrs from the first to the twelfth century. When you read his last words you cannot but realize that he patterns his death after that of Jesus, praying for his killers and offering his spirit to God. in life and in death he tried to imitate the Lord, a real disciples like the countless Christians who did so throughout Church history. Then a persecution begins but because of that the disciples stopped staying in one place, dispersed themselves all over the country and so spread the good news. So many times in Church history bad moments have turned into blessings. This should encourage us today not to abandon the Church because of scandals or bad examples. As long as we do not focus on the negative things only but, without ignoring them, try to see the Holy Spirit at work, we can contribute to the growth and spread of the Church. (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2005)

April 20, 2015 Monday: 3rd Week of Easter

April 20, 2015 Monday: 3rd Week of Easter

You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” Jesus invites His listeners to strive for higher realities. “Work for food….that endures for eternal life.”

The invitation to strive for higher realities is constant in practically all religions. In Christianity this is captured in the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given you besides,” (Matt 6:33).

We are constantly advised to seek “the truth about things in matter,” to desire and work for things that truly count.

This is part of the genuine wisdom throughout human history. Plato urged his disciples to love the “eternal ideas” and to reject mere shadows. The Old Testament sapiential literature repeats the invitation of Wisdom to take solid nourishment.

In time, Wisdom comes among us as Jesus. The Gospels repeat the refrain that “He taught with authority, unlike the scribes and Pharisees.” St. Paul would warn his communities against teachers who merely tickle their bearing. The Pastoral Letters exhort the teachers and leaders to give their congregations solid food. The well-known passage from 2Timothy (4:1-5) is worth remembering.

In decadent times people prefer only entertainment and light literature. In the Church we should weep when preachers use the pulpit only to entertain, gauging the “success” of the homily by the number of times the people laugh.

“Work for food…that endures for eternal life.” (Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 19, 2015: 3rd Sunday of Easter B

April 19, 2015: 3rd Sunday of Easter B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Most of us bring flowers to the gravesite of a loved one to remember the deceased and to pay our respects. One day in St. Peter’s Basilica, a 54-year old man brought a basket of flowers to a pope’s grave, and he stayed there for a while. This man did what many other pilgrims do, pay respect to the deceased. The man was not a relative of the pope and he had one unanswered question that haunted him for many years. It was a question that he asked the pope personally when he was alive. The question was, “Why aren’t you dead?” 31 years prior, he was in St. Peter’s Square, surrounded by a crowd cheering on Pope John Paul II as he rode in the open jeep as it was winding its way through the square. He was just a few feet away from the pope when he pulled the trigger twice, and then the pope slumped into the arms of his secretary. After recovering, Pope John Paul II visited the incarcerated man in jail, desiring to forgive the then 23-yr. old man. The Pope saw the incredulous look on the young man, who could only ask in bewilderment, “Why aren’t you dead?”

Something similar happened nearly 2,000 years ago to a group of men and women. Jesus’ crucifixion dealt a shattering blow to his disciples. On Easter Sunday evening we find them gathered in the upper room, not daring to go out. The room was haunted by absence, and full of bittersweet memories. It was there that Jesus had washed their feet and celebrated the last supper with them. It was there they swore loyalty to Jesus, but that night, they were overcome with guilt of their cowardice and betrayal. When Jesus walked in and showed them his wounded hands that still bore the marks, his disciples perhaps asked themselves, “Why aren’t you dead?”  Jesus fulfilled what he told them at the last supper only a few nights prior, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (Jn 16:21-22) After overcoming their incredulity, the disciples became witnesses to hope.

One of the greatest witnesses to hope, St. John Paul II had this to say:
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

For us, is Jesus just a name written on a tombstone, or do we believe that Jesus is risen and back with us today as Our Lord and our friend? Our faith is based on the fact that Jesus is with us, today, real as ever. He has forgotten our past cowardice, betrayals, and sins. Now we must forget the wrongdoings of others committed against us. The world would be transformed by the power of our forgiveness. As St. John Paul II said, "Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."

Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17, 2015 Friday: 2nd Week of Easter

April 17, 2015 Friday: 2nd Week of Easter

Where can we buy enough food for them to eat? (John 6:5)

With these words, Jesus launched Philip and the other disciples on a path of discovering more clearly who he was and what he had come to accomplish. Of course he was concerned about feeding the crowd of people who had come out to listen to him. But he already “knew what he was going to do” about that (John 6:6). He asked this question to help his disciples become more confident in their ability to build his kingdom on earth. Jesus didn’t want this miracle of loaves to be the last time God miraculously took care of his people. He wanted the Twelve to become familiar and even comfortable with the idea of performing miracles themselves.

And so Jesus involved his disciples in every step of this miracle. He asked Philip to assess the situation: the size of the crowd and the inadequacy of their own resources. When Andrew brought him a bit of food and a lot of skepticism, he accepted the gift and told the disciples to make the people sit down, to pass out the loaves, and to collect the fragments. From beginning to end, the Twelve were an integral part of the miracle.

What did the disciples learn that day? They learned to look at needs through the lens of God’s compassion. They learned to put their own meager offerings into Jesus’ hands, and to do so unselfishly. They learned to give thanks to God before and after each request. And they learned to rely on the power of God as they built the kingdom.

Jesus wants to do the same thing for us. He wants us to become vessels of his grace in the world. So whenever he brings a need to your attention, pay attention. He is not just asking you what you think. As he did with Philip, he’s inviting you to join him in doing something wonderful about it. If you’re alert for his direction and willing to take a step of faith, you’ll see wonders!

“Jesus, make me a co-worker with you. Teach me how to cooperate with your Spirit.”

Word Among Us,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 16, 2015 Thursday: Second Week of Easter

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
April 16, 2015
Gospel: John 3:31-36

The obstetrician was not at home. His five-year-old daughter answered the doorbell. “Is your daddy in?” asked the stranger. “No, he’s gone,” the little girl replied. “When will he return?” “I don’t know. He’s out on an eternity case!”

The little girl meant “maternity” but her mispronunciation segues into a higher reality, every person born is not only a maternity case but an eternity case as well. We were born to live forever. What form of life, we don’t know. What we know is that Jesus lived, died and rose to life again. He says in today’s gospel: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.”

What constitutes believing in the Son that would merit eternal life? It is obeying His words, for He ‘speaks the Word of God.’ It is imitating His life because His words reflect His life. And His life was defined by love and service. “He does not ration His gift of the Spirit.”

During the Middle Ages, a legend spread that somewhere in the New World was a “Fountain of Youth.” If old men drank from it, it made them young and alive forever. Roundabout us is a ‘fountain of youth’ which few recognize. It is a sparkling spring of opportunities where we can gain new purposes of living, where we can love and serve, like Christ, the first eternity case. (Fr. GdP, SVD Bible Diary)

April 15, 2015 Wednesday: 2nd Week of Easter

April 15, 2015 Wednesday: 2nd Week of Easter

Was there ever a time when you felt trapped inside a “prison” of illness, emotional distress, or weak faith? Waking up every morning, it felt as if there were a dark cloud over your head or a ball and chain dragging you down. Now, remember the day that you woke up feeling better or the moment that your situation was resolved. What a sense of release! You couldn’t wait to move forward with your life, relieved of those restraints!

If you had the choice, would you willingly go back into that prison? This was precisely what the apostles did in today’s first reading. An angel of God released them from their prison cell then told them to go right back to the Temple area and tell people about their life in Christ—the very thing that got them into prison in the first place. And they did! They couldn’t keep quiet about the Lord, so they trusted that God would take care of them.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm tells us why the apostles were so committed to proclaiming the gospel in the face of arrest and imprisonment. “I will bless the Lord at all times,” the psalmist says, “his praise shall be ever in my mouth.” But why? So that “the lowly will hear me and be glad” (Psalm 34:2, 3). The apostles’ witness and their courage inspired everyone in the Church in Jerusalem to stay faithful to the Lord. It also was instrumental in bringing more people to conversion. They blessed the Lord so that his blessings could overflow to other people!

The same is true for us. Our testimony of how God has worked in our lives can hearten our brothers and sisters who may be struggling. Likewise, their stories can help us. It’s always good, when feeling hemmed in, to be reminded that our horizons are a lot bigger than we think! What’s more, the witness of our joy and peace in every situation, no matter how easy and challenging, can motivate the people around us to turn to the Lord and experience him themselves.

So keep on blessing the Lord! Who knows how many people you will help lead to freedom?

“Thank you, Jesus, for having rescued me! Help me to keep your praise always on my lips and in my heart.”

The Word Among Us,

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015 Tuesday: 2nd Week of Easter

April 14, 2015 Tuesday: 2nd Week of Easter

Nicodemus came to Jesus looking for clarity, for a better understanding of what Jesus was teaching. But Jesus didn’t just take him one step further in his faith; he turned his whole world upside down. He told Nicodemus that Nicodemus had to be “born from above” if he wanted to understand Jesus’ words (John 3:7). Nicodemus needed to embrace a whole new way of living, a way guided by the sometimes gusty wind of the Spirit.

Look back over your life. Where have you seen the Holy Spirit blowing you onto a new and different path? Think about a time when God surprised you, maybe by deepening your faith as you endured a stormy period. Maybe there was a family emergency that brought people together. Maybe you lost your job, but new opportunities opened up. Maybe your parish priest was transferred, but the new pastor’s preaching resulted in a conversion of someone you know.

God may be unpredictable, but he is completely trustworthy! Whether the wind of his Spirit blows hard or gently, he will always respond to our faith with more grace and a deeper relationship with him. So let the lessons from your past help you lay hold of your faith in the present and the future!

“Lord, no matter how the wind blows, I will hold on to you. I trust that your ways are the best!”

Word Among Us,

Monday, April 13, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 12, 2015: Second Sunday of Easter B - Divine Mercy Sunday

April 12, 2015:Second Sunday Easter B - Divine Mercy Sunday

Click to hear Audio Homily
When you arrive home after a long day of work or busy activities, do you like to plop down on the sofa and turn on the TV? I’ll let you in on a secret. Sometimes when I get back to the rectory in the evening, I like to turn on shows like America’s Funniest Videos or Family Feud to relax. I just have to laugh at the thought of someone trying to answer the question, “We asked 100 people to name something a baby might hide in his diaper if he didn't want his mommy to leave home."

It was a big surprise to me to find out what Rick Warren--the author of the book “The Purpose Driven Life” and the pastor of an Protestant mega-church Saddleback Church in California--watches after a long day of work. He said in an interview, “Whenever I had a stressful day, I’ll come home and watch a taped show called, ‘The Chaplet of Divine Mercy,’ with my wife Kay. We’ll put it on and sit back, relax, and worship. And in that time of reflection, meditation, and quietness, I find myself renewed and restored. It’s one of my favorite shows on EWTN.” What is it about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a Catholic prayer, that attracts even a well-known Protestant minister who leads a weekly congregation of 20,000 people. We turn to St. Faustina's diary for an explanation. In an apparition to St. Faustina, Jesus told her, "Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this Chaplet...let all mankind recognize my unfathomable mercy...let them have recourse to the fount of my mercy; let them profit from the blood and water which gushed forth for them" (Diary of St. Faustina, 848) .

Why does Jesus asks us to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet? Is it just another devotional prayer among many? What Jesus revealed to St. Faustina is that God's greatest attribute is His Mercy. Unfortunately, many of us do not know this nor understand what it means. Many of us don't trust God that He is merciful. I've encountered many people who left the Church after a loved one's death, after a tragedy, after divorce, or after being hurt by someone in the Church. In their pain, they lost trust in God. They asked, 'how can God who is supposed to be good allow this pain and suffering to happen?' They need God's mercy the most, but they do not ask for His Mercy because they don't trust. Many are quick to presume God as a just judge who is swift to punish or that God does not care. But that is not the Heavenly Father that Jesus reveals. Pope Francis said: “It is not easy to entrust oneself to God's mercy, because it is an abyss of beyond our comprehension. But we must! ...’Oh, I am a great sinner!’ All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things! He forgets, He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, He kisses you, He embraces you and He simply says to you: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more" (Jn 8:11).

It's because so many do not know, trust, or ask for God's mercy that Jesus desired the Second Sunday of Easter to be declared as the Divine Mercy Sunday. He said to St. Faustina, “My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.” (Diary of St. Faustina, 699)

We put limits on what God can and is willing to do. We heard in today’s Gospel “Doubting Thomas” refusing to believe. But once Thomas is invited to put his finger into the very place where Jesus’ heart was pierced, from where the water and blood flowed out, he relinquishes his doubt and then he trusts. Have there been times when you doubted or did not trust in God? Are you also doubting that you can be forgiven? Go to Jesus. Say to him, “Jesus, I trust in You!”
-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 12, 2015: Divine Mercy Chaplet and Mass at 3PM, Ascension Catholic Church, Donaldsonville

You are invited to a special singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Sunday mass on April 12, 2015, 3PM at Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church (Reconciliation available at 1:30-2:30PM in the church)
716 Mississippi St, Donaldsonville LA 70346

(Video: Divine Mercy Chaplet sung at Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church, Donaldsonville, LA on 4/7/15, Staci Gulino, Fr. Paul Yi, Sandra Mistretta, Choir)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 10, 2015 Friday: Octave of Easter

Skeptics who disbelieve the resurrection say the disciples only saw a vision of Jesus. The Gospels, however, give us a vivid picture of the reality of the resurrection. Jesus went out of his way to offer his disciples various proofs of his resurrection - that he is real and true flesh, not just a spirit or ghost. In his third appearance to the apostles, after Jesus performed the miraculous catch of fish, he prepared a breakfast and ate with them. Peter's prompt recognition of the Master - It is the Lord! - stands in sharp contrast to his previous denial of his Master during the night of Jesus' arrest. The Lord Jesus reveals himself to each of  us as we open our hearts to hear his word. Do you recognize the Lord's presence in your life and do you receive his word with faith?

"Lord Jesus, you are the Resurrection and the Life. Increase my faith in the power of your resurrection and in the truth that you are truly alive! May I never doubt your life-giving word nor stray from your presence."

-Don Schwager (

April 9, 2015 Thursday: Octave of Easter

I believe that each of us has need for forgiveness whether it is I who must forgive or other will have to forgive me. The point is repentance and forgiveness must be proclaimed (Gospel), first to us and then to others. I’ll never forget what a Capuchin priest told me in confession: “Father, learn to forgive yourself also.”

Forgiveness is not a human initiative. Humanly speaking, it is impossible to forgive, for it is a divine trait; therefore, there is a need to ask God for help with a humble heart. Moreover in order for forgiveness to bring healing it must be done in Jesus’ name (1st reading).

Having proclaimed and practiced repentance and forgiveness, at the end of our lives, in our homecoming, we shall approach God with bowed heads and in all humility we will utter the publican’s prayer: “Lord have mercy.” And with joyful hope we will take solace in His words: “Blessed are the merciful, they shall find mercy.” (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7, 2015 Tuesday: Week 9, Divine Mercy Novena, Putting Mercy into Action

April 7, 2015: Wk 9 Divine Mercy - Putting Mercy into Action

“Expand your horizon.” It’s a phrase we heard from our parents and mentors over the years. It means, if you expand your horizons, you broaden your outlook on life and its possibilities. Traveling to foreign countries, being part of a mission trip, or emerging from a particularly difficult challenge has a way of expanding our outlook. One winter I traveled to Juarez, Mexico to stay with missionary priests to explore whether I too would like to be a missionary priest. On one outing with a missionary priest, we visited an elderly lady living in a shanty town without running water or heat. She hadn’t bathed in quite a while. While the missionary priest gave her a heartwarming hug as we left, I just couldn’t bring myself to hug someone who stank so much. On my way back from Mexico, I reflected on my encounter with that elderly lady and how the missionary priest embraced her. I received an invitation from God to expand my horizon, to expand my “merciful outlook.”

The past eight Tuesdays, we reviewed Jesus’ call for us to see him in the disguise of ordinary men and women we encounter in our daily lives. Sometimes he comes disguised as someone who hungers for love, someone who is ill, someone who is imprisoned, or someone who is stripped of dignity.  How will we treat someone who comes to us needing compassion? Pope Francis wisely advises us, “I think we too are the people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think--and I say it with humility--that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy. It was he himself who said: ‘I did not come for the righteous...I came for sinners.’ He comes for us, when we recognize that we are sinners.”

Jesus desires to heal our hearts so that he can expand our merciful outlook. He is giving us a new lens to look at the world. We are used to seeing the world and people through categories of profit, loss, performance, and usefulness. Yet all of us, through the eyes of God, are “unprofitable servants.” (Luke 17:10) Are we merciful right now to our family, friends, and co-workers? If we are not, we need to ask Jesus to teach us to look at God’s prodigal children, with Jesus’ own love and compassion. A genuine merciful outlook is not patronizing, pitying, looking down, or proselytizing. Merciful outlook means proclaiming the good news of Christ’s love through an authentic love for the other as a person. It gives a cup of love to another and to ourselves as we make our pilgrimage through this desert of life to the Ocean of Love in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Are you ready to put your merciful outlook into action?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April 5, 2015: Easter Sunday (B)

April 5, 2015: Easter Sunday (B)
Click to hear Audio Homily
Have you heard this phrase before, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible"? In an Internet Christian forum, a Catholic woman from Belgium was chatting with a Protestant man about the Resurrection of Jesus. The Catholic woman said that it was simply impossible that Jesus rose from the dead. She argued that dead was dead, that a dead man cannot relive his life in the same body. For her, the Resurrection of Jesus was symbolic. During my early college years, I shared her point of view. Although I was baptized and confirmed Catholic, my faith was limited to whatever I wanted to believe as long as it did not impinge on my sinful lifestyle. Did you have a phase in your life when your faith was just an identification in name only?

In the Creed we repeat this phrase: "Jesus rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures." This is the very event that we are celebrating, the Resurrection of Jesus, which is the center of the Christian message that has resounded since the beginning and has been handed down so that it may reach us today. Pope Francis said, "Without this faith in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus our hope would be weak, but it wouldn't even be hope, for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the heart of our hope."
Tomb of Jesus inside the Church of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

Year after year, we relive this Resurrection event to encounter the Risen Jesus. But there is a force that also hinders this encounter. Pope Francis said, "Unfortunately, there have often been attempts to obscure faith in the Resurrection of Jesus, and doubts have crept in even among believers themselves. This is because of superficiality, sometimes because of indifference, occupied by a thousand things considered more important than the faith, or because of a purely horizontal vision of life."

At the Holy Thursday mass held inside the Ascension Parish Prison, I saw the signs of the hope of Resurrection of Jesus alive in the men who came to participate in the foot washing and to partake in the Eucharist. Many had tattoos of grisly and morbid images on their arms, necks, and legs. When they had their feet washed, they were tearful and grateful that the Lord would count them among his disciples despite their sins. After receiving the Eucharist, one by one they knelt on the concrete floor with their heads leaning against the wall in deep prayer and thanksgiving.
Church of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

Jesus, by His resurrection, is showing us that life is not a meaningless puzzle. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us the greatest hope, because it opens our lives and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, death can be defeated. Because of this, there is no room for despair. Like Christ, if we go through life’s trials and strive to overcome them, then we will experience our own glorious resurrection.

Friday, April 3, 2015

April 4, 2015: Holy Saturday

Lenten Pilgrimage
April 4, 2015: Holy Saturday

We come to the end of our Lenten pilgrimage which began 40 days ago. What graces have you received while on this pilgrimage? Has something changed in you? Have you grown closer to Our Lord Jesus?

I leave you with a homily given by Pope Benedict XVI on Holy Saturday. As you wait for the Resurrection of Our Lord this weekend, may you experience the renewal of your hope.
-Fr. Paul Yi
Holy Saturday is the day when God remains hidden, we read in an ancient Homily: "What has happened? Today the earth is shrouded in deep silence, deep silence and stillness, profound silence because the King sleeps.... God has died in the flesh, and has gone down to rouse the realm of the dead" (Homily on Holy Saturday, PG 43, 439). In the Creed, we profess that Jesus Christ was "crucified under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, he rose again".

… in our time, especially after having lived through the past century, humanity has become particularly sensitive to the mystery of Holy Saturday. The concealment of God is part of contemporary man's spirituality, in an existential almost subconscious manner, like a void in the heart that has continued to grow larger and larger. Towards the end of the 19th century, Nietzsche wrote: "God is dead! And we killed him!". This famous saying is clearly taken almost literally from the Christian tradition. We often repeat it in the Way of the Cross, perhaps without being fully aware of what we are saying. After the two World Wars, the lagers and the gulags, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our epoch has become increasingly a Holy Saturday: this day's darkness challenges all who are wondering about life and it challenges us believers in particular. We too have something to do with this darkness.

Yet the death of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, has an opposite aspect, totally positive, a source of comfort and hope. And this reminds me of the fact that the Holy Shroud acts as a "photographic' document, with both a "positive" and a "negative". And, in fact, this is really how it is: the darkest mystery of faith is at the same time the most luminous sign of a never-ending hope. Holy Saturday is a "no man's land" between the death and the Resurrection, but this "no man's land" was entered by One, the Only One, who passed through it with the signs of his Passion for man's sake: Passio Christi. Passio hominis.

We have all, at some point, felt the frightening sensation of abandonment, and that is what we fear most about death, just as when we were children we were afraid to be alone in the dark and could only be reassured by the presence of a person who loved us. Well, this is exactly what happened on Holy Saturday: the voice of God resounded in the realm of death. The unimaginable occurred: namely, Love penetrated "hell". Even in the extreme darkness of the most absolute human loneliness we may hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes ours and leads us out. Human beings live because they are loved and can love; and if love even penetrated the realm of death, then life also even reached there. In the hour of supreme solitude we shall never be alone: Passio Christi. Passio hominis.
-Pope Benedict XVI

April 3, 2015: Good Friday (B)

April 3, 2015: Good Friday (B)

How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm carrying a cross" or “it’s my cross to bear”?  What do you think they mean? Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) What did Jesus mean by a cross? Let's begin with what Jesus did not mean. Some people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pity some say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

Is there a burden or suffering you are enduring right now? Is it someone else's burden or your own? Is it something you embraced with love or is it something you resent? We must remember that the cross that Jesus carried was not his, but ours. He embraced it with love and offered it back to the Heavenly Father. It’s been my experience that most folks do not embrace a burden or suffering from it’s beginning. Most often, they get angry about it, fight it, and wish it would go away.

If we wonder how we should carry the crosses of our lives, then we simply need to look at Simon of Cyrene. He was pulled from the crowd by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry the cross. Perhaps Simon resented being associated with a criminal and was angry that his own plan for the day was being ruined. Yet, he embraced the cross, already covered with Jesus’ blood, and carried it for Our Lord. As the movie "The Passion of Christ" showed, Simon gradually understood that it was his own cross that Jesus was carrying for him. At Calvary, Simon departs tearful and grateful for what Jesus has done for him.

As we gaze upon the cross we must ponder all that Jesus endured--the trials and sufferings of mankind. He emptied himself of his humanity for us; he poured out his life for us by dying on the cross. He endured suffering and death to show us how much we matter to him, how much he loves us, and how much he wants us to turn from sin and turn our love to him. The cross demands a personal response from us. His death becomes personal only when we recognize our desperate need for salvation, our own sinfulness, our powerlessness to be free from sin. His death becomes personal when we can place our hands around the crosses of everyday life and offer our pain and suffering for someone else's salvation. As we prepare to venerate the cross, let us look upon his death as an inspiration to extend our hands to assist someone in need, not to receive accolades, but because we have learned to love.

April 3, 2015: Good Friday Service

Please join us at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church for Good Friday of the Lord's Passion at 7PM. (818 W. 10th St., Donaldsonville LA, 70346)

April 3, 2015: Good Friday

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Good Friday
April 3, 2015

Today is Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion and we are remembering the death of Jesus, the Word made flesh, on the cross. This Friday is good because our redemption is finally accomplished. Heaven is opened for us. As we gaze upon the crucifix, let us ponder what it means for us. What is our response to Jesus’ offer of salvation?

It would be hard, indeed, to see the cross of Christ as a sign of victory if we are not able to realize that it was not just the mere endurance of the suffering of Jesus that saved us, but rather the love and forgiveness of Jesus that is the source of our salvation. Jesus’ act of sacrificing His life was full of compassion, which in its simplest terms means to “suffer with love.’’ We can find no greater proof of God’s love for us than the willing sacrifice of His Son Jesus who died on the cross for love of us.

The cross begins to make sense the very moment we see that love is more powerful than anger, hatred, and death. The cross of Christ, far from being a decoration or just an external badge of identity, is the very substance of our pain and struggle. It tells us there is hope for us even at our very worst and seemingly trying and helpless situations. It extends beyond us both ends of the scale: It measures our life and gives meaning to it. (Fr. JS Benitez)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 2, 2015: Holy Thursday

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Holy Thursday
April 2, 2015

Every action of Jesus is deliberate and meaningful. He rises from table, removes his outer garment and washes His disciples’ feet. He consciously performs the task of a slave.

Jesus is not a victim. He deliberately assumes the lowest servant-disposition, a disposition that he carries through and fully actualizes in death. What can make a person do this? What can make God Himself do this?

We’ve heard of the story of a man who spent some time observing nuns working in a leprosarium. As he watched a nun tenderly wash the leprous sores of a patient, he remarked: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars!” To which the nun promptly but quietly answered: “Neither would I…”

Only love can do such things. The kind of love Jesus concretely manifested in the washing of the feet – a reflection of the greater “washing” that happens in His passion and death. Through His suffering and death, He washed away our sins.

He asks us to show nothing less. (Sr. Lordes Anne, SSpS Bible Diary 2002)

April 1, 2015: Wednesday of the Holy Week

A Lenten Pilgrimage
Wednesday of Holy Week
April 1, 2015

Some time ago, there was a news report about the arrest of a young man for killing his own parents. When his aged parents refused to give him money, the confessed addict committed an unthinkable crime just to satisfy his hunger for illegal drugs.

Judas Iscariot could never fathom the depth of God’s love for him. He tried to measure and equate God’s love by what he thought was good for him: honor and wealth. He could not get that kind of honor with a Messiah who would be crucified soon. His line of vision was limited to what the world could offer. His selfish interest and worldly ambition blurred his sight; he could not grasp the beauty of dying for someone because of love. Jesus tried to reach out to Judas with an offer of forgiveness, even when he felt to his very bones the pain of rejection by someone whom he called his friend. Betrayal is one of the worst crimes one could ever commit. It strikes us at our deepest self. We feel alienation and loneliness. However, an experience of betrayal may offer an opportunity to a deeper commitment to God and a trusting relationship with one another purified and motivated by love. (Fr. Ben Limsuan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)