Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 31, 2015: The Most Holy Trinity

May 31, 2015: The Most Holy Trinity

Click to hear Audio Homily
A group of kindergarten children were asked the following question, "Who is God?" A little girl replied, "He is Jesus' father and he is our father." Pretty good answer, isn't it for a 5-yr. old? Then the children were asked, "Where does God live, and would you like to live with him someday?" Most of the children answered 'Heaven' and 'yes' they would like to live with him.

So I ask you a very simple question: "Do you want to be in Heaven?" What is your reply? Your answer reveals whether you are aware of the deepest desire that God has planted in you. Most of us can’t begin to imagine what heaven is or what it’s like. St. Faustina, the saint of the Divine Mercy, had an experience when receiving Holy Communion. She said,
“Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God.” At another time, she explained that the experience of Heaven was felt in her soul through the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. She wrote, “Once after Holy Communion, I heard these words: You are our dwelling place. At that moment I felt in my soul the presence of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I felt that I was the Temple of God. I felt that I was a child of the Father.”

It seems as though Heaven and the Holy Trinity are intertwined; to be in Heaven is to be in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity, and to be in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity is to be enveloped in love that we cannot describe with earthly terms. Is Heaven and the presence of Holy Trinity far away from us? Mother Teresa said, “We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now, to be happy with Him at this very moment. But being happy with Him now means loving like He loves, helping like He helps, giving as He gives, serving as He serves, rescuing as He rescues, being with Him twenty-four hours a day, touching Him in His distressing disguise.

Why do we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity? In the past couple of months, we experienced Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Through these celebrations, we have been renewed in our faith that God is not distant or abstract. We firmly believe that God is love. This love is not sentimental or emotional. This love is the love of the Father who is the source of all life, the love of the Son who died on the cross and rose, and the love of the Spirit who renews man and the world. Jesus is the Son who reveal to us the merciful Father and brought to the world his ‘fire,’ the Holy Spirit. How do we unite with the Holy Trinity who dwells in us? It is through selfless love. Do we see in ourselves selfless love, or selfishness? Do our everyday actions reflect the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or trappings of the world. It is our choice to live the life the Holy Trinity sets out for us.

-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29, 2015 Friday: 8th Week in Ordinary Time

May 29, 2015 Friday: 8th Week in Ordinary Time

He found nothing but leaves. As followers of Jesus, we are expected to bear fruits of good works in and out of season. As his disciples, we must do and perform good things for people in Jesus’ name. We must share and show good things to others.

The image of the barren fig tree means missing the messages of God and failing to act upon them. The prophet Jeremiah says, “I will gather them all in, says the Lord: no grapes on the vine, no figs on the fig trees, foliage withered!” (Jer 8:13). A fig tree without fruits is barren; it does not serve its purpose.

Our life has a noble purpose. God created us for a worthy reason. God called and chose us for his vineyard. We have a goal to achieve or a mission to accomplish for God. We participate in God’s work, performing the task entrusted to us, and producing for God. Our resolutions cannot remain on paper. We must work and bear fruits, fruits that will last.

Are we living and producing according to what Jesus is expecting from us?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 28, 2015 Thursday: Week 8 in Ordinary Time

May 28, 2015 Thursday: Week 8 in Ordinary Time

During a conversation with Mother Teresa the “living saint”, she summarized her experiences by saying: “Father, the poor teach us how to become saints.”

"Some years back, I and a European ambassador visited a leprosarium. It was shocking to see the worst cases: people without toes, fingers, ears and lips, their eyes blank."

"As a band outside played for us visitors, we came to talk with one of the worst cases, a lady, sitting on her bed and moving happily to the rhythm of the music. Obviously she could still hear. The ambassador asked her the secret of her apparent happiness. She searched with her arms stumps until she found a small crucifix. “When suffering becomes unbearable I touch Christ’s body and think: He was innocent but suffered so much more than me, a sinner. Then I can go on and be happy.” We were deeply moved. The poor teach us how to become saints!"

The blind Bartimaeus, too, is an unlikely teacher to guide me a step forward in the road to holiness. He was a helpless creature, a blind beggar. But he “saw” what Christ’s disciples of three years still did not see: that for Jesus nothing was impossible. This blind man also showed what I, after decades of being a follower of Christ, still don’t have – the courage and determination to reach out in faith to Him. I am still blind to wrong attitudes in myself, blind to certain needs of others, too blind to see God’s love and goodness everywhere. I still try to help myself or seek help in wrong places.

It could be so easy! Bartimaeus teaches me that with trust, courage and determination to reach Christ, miracles would begin to happen in my spiritual life. (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2005)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015 Wednesday: Week 8 of Ordinary Time

May 27, 2015 Wednesday: Week 8 of Ordinary Time

Ambition of James and John

“Ten easy steps to success!” Such and other “sure-fire” formulas are being popularized and surprisingly, there are enough people who readily devour such recipes for success in life.

Human as they were, the apostles were no exception. James and his brother john plotted to capture Jesus’ friendly ear by making use of a very Oriental ruse: “get the sympathy of an influential person through a woman – their mother, (Matt 20:20). The other apostles were no less ambitious than the sons of Zebedee. They had banked on their close kinship to Jesus, for after all, they were His cousins (adelphoi). Surely, once Jesus would have established His kingdom, they would jockey for such juicy positions as the secretary of defense, of the interior or even the very financially rewarding secretary of finance. In no time, they would bask in pomp and glory.

As a stern reminder of what was really in store for His disciples, Jesus pointed to service as the genuine seal of His realm. Sacrifice of one’s life would cap it all. Generations of Christians – from Peter and the others apostles to the latest martyrs – proved the truth in Jesus’ words. His kingdom, unlike others, is based on service and forged in the life-giving sacrifice of His followers. (Fr. Flor Lagura, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26, 2015 Tuesday: 8th Week in Ordinary Time

May 26, 2015 Tuesday: 8th Week in Ordinary Time

What does God ask us to give up? For the apostles, it could mean their hovels, rickety boats, some old fishermen’s nets and of course the whole world. By doing this, presupposes much great generosity, untiring effort and sacrifices. Somebody said that the word ‘sacrifice’ comes from Latin word sacrificium that means, “To make holy”. It is to take something that is on the natural level, something that is dear to us and to offer it to God; we make it holy. If we are trying to be selfish, bribe God, extort Him or anything else, that is anything but holy and therefore it fails to be much of a sacrifice.

For us, what God wants us to give up is maybe we leave behind our family and friends if we move to a new place. God wants us to give up some friends because they infect us with worldly things and immorality. We can let go some of our time or money due to the needs around us if we want to do something about it. Perhaps we are being asked to give up a cherished possession for the sake of those who need it more than us. Giving up is hard because we are afraid that God won’t replace what we lose and yet He wants to give us even more.

In relation to this giving up I read this personal story of a church leader and at the same time a mother. According to her, she learned this giving up way back in the 1980s, when she was the leader of a prayer group and the editor of the monthly Charismatic newsletter for her diocese. God wanted her to give up both ministries so she could take better care of her pregnancy, but that this didn’t make her sense, because no one else in the prayer group was willing to lead and no one at the newsletter knew how to organize and edit it. After weeks of refusing to believe that God really did want her to quit, she noticed that the problems created by her not quitting were getting bigger and bigger. At the end she decided to trust God’s advice. She quit.

As a result, the free time gave her evolved into writing articles for Christian magazines. Just as she’d expected, the prayer group fell apart, but something new and better grew up in its place. And God sent a new editor to the newsletter who did a better job than she did.

In this regards we must trust Jesus as we accept the changes He makes in our Christian lives. This trust in Him always rewards us with new friends, new apostolate and new blessings that are hundred times better than what we have before that we have given up. He replaces it with a hundred times better, for He is more generous than you and I.

Fr. Joseph Benitez

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25, 2015 Monday: Week 8

May 25, 2015 Monday: Week 8

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)

During my college days, I almost dropped out of school because of financial difficulties. My father was a farmer with three hectares of land to till. My mother was a housekeeper and we were ten brothers and sisters. The income was not sufficient for the family. To support some of my school expenses, I studied as a working student in an optical shop. My relationship with God during that time was good for I knew it was only Him who could help me in my problems. Later I was granted a scholarship and was able to finish my course.

However, as I was able to find work and earned sufficiently, I started to forget some of my obligations to God. I encountered a lot of problems and it was only then that I would turn to Him again and would ask for guidance and assistance.

Though I was financially stable, I felt incomplete and unsatisfied. I happened to read a biblical passage: “No one can serve two masters. You cannot at the same serve God and money,” (Matt 6: 24). This made me realized that one could not be happy with money alone. The will of the Lord should be done.

The man in the passage asked Jesus the way that will lead to eternal life. And he proposed a new experience of liberty by becoming His follower. Jesus did not say that the rich person will not be saved but that it will be difficult for him because of material things and concerns.

It is then only by placing God at the center of our daily experience and activities can we find meaning and strength to surmount an obstacle we encounter.
- (DWCSJ Bible Diary 2002)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 24, 2015:Pentecost

May 24, 2015:Pentecost

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen once said about the church that even though we are God’s chosen people, we often behave more like God’s frozen people. God’s frozen people indeed: frozen in our prayer life, frozen in the way we relate with one another, frozen in the way we celebrate our faith. We don’t seem to be happy to be in God’s house; we are always in a hurry to get it over and done with as soon as possible. Today is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle in us the spirit of new life and enthusiasm, the fire of God’s love.

Today we come to the high point of our Easter celebration, the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost, meaning “fifty days” after the Passover was originally a Jewish feast called Savuot or the Feast of Weeks. A week of weeks is forty nine days but if we count both ends, as the Semites did, it becomes fifty. It was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of the First-Fruits. It was a major feast and a very popular one on which Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate.

Pentecost was also the feast day in which the Jewish people celebrated the Giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. At Mt Sinai the twelve tribes of Israel entered into covenant with God and with one another and so became the people of God. God gave them the Ten Commandments as a guide to show them how to be a people, because being people of God means relating to God and to one another in a way that God Himself has mapped out, not in the way that we think is right.

But for us Christians Pentecost is the day where we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Spirit that Christ promised them before His ascension, back to His Father in heaven. Pentecost comes from the word pente, the Greek word for fifty. So Pentecost is fifty days after Jesus was resurrected from the dead during Easter.

Coming from somebody’s reflection, today’s readings we actually see two outpourings of the Holy Spirit.

The first of these occurs in the very first meeting of Jesus with the group of Apostles after the resurrection as recorded by John the Evangelist. So rich and generous is he in his love that he does not delay to pour out his Spirit on the Apostles. Together with the Holy Spirit he gave them three gifts.

First is the gift of forgiveness. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles wiped away any trace of sin, just as occurs in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Their ministry was to be one of forgiveness and healing and so quite naturally they experience forgiveness first.

With forgiveness they experience peace, its natural outcome. And this is the peace of Christ himself not a self-induced state of tranquillity. My peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Jn14:27

And with peace, joy. A joy they had never experienced before, a joy beyond all others. This was the moment of fulfilment of everything they had been preparing for. All was now made clear; disaster turned into victory; fear turned into peace; sadness into joy.

The second outpouring of the Holy Spirit comes on Pentecost Day itself in the account that we are so familiar with. Jesus is not to be seen for he has returned to the Father. No word from God is spoken-the sound of the wind is the language God chooses, the flames the sign of his presence. The effects on the Apostles are twofold:

They receive the gift of wisdom they are turned from ignorant fishermen into the most sublime theologians. And they are impelled to announce the Gospel of Christ to the world—it cannot be kept under wraps any longer, they find reserves of the gift of courage they never knew they had and they go forth to the ends of the earth and face all kinds of dangers despite having been a timid little group huddled together in an upper room only a short time before.

We often say that Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church as though it was something that happens only once a year. The truth of the matter is that for Christians everyday is Pentecost Day. We are connected through faith with those Apostles (Apostolic) and we experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us in Baptism and Confirmation but since there is no limit to God’s love, no restrictions on his Holy Spirit, he comes to us each day.

We live our entire Christian lives in the Spirit. He is ever-present to us, he constantly prompts us and impels us forwards in our life of faith.

The Holy Spirit moreover draws us together in unity (One)—as a parish we witness to what Christ has achieved but we do so as one body united in faith and worship.

The Holy Spirit also keeps his Church holy (Holy)—we are constantly cleansed and forgiven through the celebration of the sacraments.

And the Holy Spirit keeps us faithful—throughout the centuries the Church is kept free from error in matters of faith, despite all the new ideas and philosophies, the Holy Spirit guides its course in fidelity to the Gospel.

We are called to be spirit-filled people – we have been given the gift of God’s own Spirit, alive and active with us. What a privilege! And with every privilege there is responsibility. It is our responsibility to be LISTENING to the Holy Spirit –
RECOGNIZING the voice of God, and RESPONDING to that voice.

-Fr. Joseph Benitez

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 22, 2015 Friday: 7th Week in Easter

May 22, 2015 Friday: 7th Week in Easter

"Do you love me?” This question reminds me of that heart-warming kitchen scene in the “Fiddler of the Roof” where the Jewish father of three daughters, Teyve, teases his wife Golde who has been married to him by parental arrangement for over 25 years. “Do you love me?” he asks with a sheepish grin. Golde brushes off the question as corny: “You’re upset, you’re worn out. Go inside, go lie down! Maybe it’s indigestion.” Undaunted, Teyve pursues his coquetry, hunting for some spark of passion: “Do you love me?” To which the good wife answers: “Do I love you? For twenty five years I’ve washed your clothes, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After twenty five years, why talk about love right now?”

“Do you love me?” The question posed by Jesus three times to Simon Peter gives no ironic hint at Peter’s betrayal. Instead Jesus rehabilitates him by drawing out courage, faith and leadership from him. Jesus chooses the fisherman Peter to shepherd the church. Overwhelmed by this forgiving trust, Peter resolves to recommit his entire life to disciples and pastoral leadership.

“Do you love me?” We may never have posed this question but God does presses us for an answer in our day to day living. Indeed, this is a crucial question that draws us to the heart of God and it compels us to give to Him our full commitments and our very lives. Certainly we can never outmatch God in love. He loves us first and our love for Him and for our neighbor is often a hesitant response to His exceeding graciousness. However, if we allow God’s love to transform and empower us, our daily crosses in the discipleship may yet become a resounding response: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” (Fr. Oliver Quilab, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 21, 2015 Thursday: 7th Week in Easter

May 21, 2015 Thursday: 7th Week in Easter

Baula, a very old man I encountered in one of my home visitations asked me with much concern: “Why is it that people say, ‘we believe in one and the same God’ but we have so many different Christian churches, sects and denominations and worse, each one tries to destroy and outwit one another?” This situation and many more, like broken homes, divided communities and warring nations show us a picture of disunity and division. They mirror the truth that indeed, in our earthly lives, we have not yet fully experienced the reality of the intimate relationship between the Father and the Son.

Jesus prays that we may be one as He and Father are one. We are far from this dream but it is worth nothing that many individuals, groups and communities work to make the dream a reality. The challenge is great, for it means grappling with individualism, competition for profit, power, prestige and other worldly values which lure us from what is essential and lasting. But with Jesus who longs for our unity with Him and Father as well as our unity with one another, we humbly pray that we may enter more deeply into the love-relationship of God and move on to concretely live out this unity wherever we are, in our being and doing, always joyful of the glory we share with Jesus. (Sr. Patricia, SSpS Bibble Diary 2004)

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015 Monday: 7th Week in Easter

May 18, 2015 Monday: 7th Week in Easter

There is this story about an alcoholic, playboy and gambler (alak-babae-sugal in Tagalog parlance) who figured in a serious vehicular accident one night on his way home. With severe head and body injuries and almost unconscious behind the wheel, he saw these big, boldvehicular accident one night on his way home. With severe head and body injuries and almost unconscious behind the wheel, he saw these big, bold and well-lighted letters – HELL. He knew he was by the gate of Hell. Crying profusely he shouted in prayer to God saying, “Lord, I am not ready to enter the place. Give me another chance and I will change my kind of life!” shortly afterwards, he passed out. The rescuers came, pulled him out of his almost totally wrecked car and he was brought to the hospital. He survived the ordeal, remembered what he prayed to God and once out of the hospital, he turned a new page in his life. What he didn’t know was that the place where the accident happened was by a gasoline station. From his vantage point inside the car before he was rescued, the letter “S” was fully blocked by a vacant billboard. It was “SHELL.”

In today’s gospel, the disciples were at past happy that Jesus was not anymore talking to them in veiled manner such as in his parables before. This time they found no need to question Him.

Yet even when he talked to them using figures of speech, Jesus had His own special purpose. When His disciples asked Him before, “Why do you use parables to talk to the people?” Jesus answered, “The reason I use parables in talking to them is that they look, but do not see, and they listen but do not hear or understand. So the prophecy of Isaiah applies to them “… they will look and look, but not see, because their minds are dull and they have stopped us their ears and have closed their eyes. Otherwise, their eyes would see, their ears would hear, their minds would understand and they would turn to me and I would heal him,” (Matt 13:13-15).

Today there are times when the Lord still talks to us in a “veiled manner” as was the case of the alak-babae-sugal man. But he does it surely for a good and special purpose.

Reflect: Do you notice that many different ways God comes to your life? Do you recognize Him in people, places and events? Do you understand His special message for you? (Fr. Ed Foguso, SVD Bible Diary 2009)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 17, 2015: Ascension of Our Lord

May 17, 2015: Ascension of Our Lord

Click to hear Audio Homily
This month, all across our country students are graduating from high schools and colleges. I have wondered what goes through the minds of parents during the graduation. One mom whose daughter was graduating wrote this reflection. “The moment my daughter was born, her entry in the universe was transformative for me, as she turned me from person into parent — a permanent alteration, a complete reconfiguration of all one knows to be true in the world. This tiny, spectacular creature who has, at different times, kept me up at night, sent me running and chasing, challenged some of my most basic beliefs and completely unhinged me, has also taught me how to love unconditionally, how to stretch beyond the limitations of my experience and how to imagine a different world. Somehow, despite the fact that she came out of my body a mere 18 years ago, her vision of life is completely her own, her identity proudly independent and strong. I am in awe of her entire person, and her continued presence, the blessed intertwining of our journeys, has been nothing short of a divine gift.”

There are persons in our lives, who have transformed us permanently yet are no longer with us -- perhaps it’s our parents, grandparents, our siblings, a friend, or a mentor. How does that person who changed us, still remain with us in a tangible way? Today we are celebrating the Ascension of Our Lord which commemorates the elevation of Christ into Heaven, as witnessed by his disciples. Before Jesus ascended, he gave the disciples a mission to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." How were his disciples going to fulfill this mission without Jesus’ presence? They had been with Jesus for three years, yet they didn’t understand their role. Jesus told them if they believed in His name, signs would accompany them: in His name, they will drive out demons, speak new languages, pick up serpents with their hands, cure the sick by laying on their hands. How many of you here have these signs happen to you?

My guess is that most of us do not experience these signs. Is something wrong with us? Are we lacking faith, prayer, or confidence? Or perhaps, is Jesus giving us a mission that is for our time and our age? Pope Francis explains our mission this way: we are to place our lives in service to others and to become a blessing to others; we are to be missionaries of love and joy; we are to go out to the world, to embrace life with hope, embrace those who are poor as our brothers and sisters. The Pope also gives us this admonition while we accomplish our earthly mission: we should not turn the pursuit of success, pleasure and possessions into idols, nor allow these to control our lives because we risk becoming slaves to these.

As plausible as this mission sounds to us, we still can’t do it on our own. We need grace. And this is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” We need the Holy Spirit within us to give us strength and inspiration to be instruments of transformation for others. This coming week, I invite you to pray to the Holy Spirit each day so that you will receive the power and grace necessary to accomplish your mission on earth.
-Fr Paul Yi

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015 Friday: 6th Week in Easter

May 15, 2015 Friday: 6th Week in Easter

The Disciples’ Joy

Spiritual author Jean Catoir in his humorous book, Enjoy the Lord. A Guide to Contemplation, says: “We were made for happiness and we alone among created beings have the capacity for laughter… From our earliest days we were taught in religion class that our purpose was ultimately to be happy with God in this life and forever in the next. If only the teachers had spent more time telling us how. Saint Thomas Aquinas started in the right direction with this piece of wisdom: ‘The end of education is contemplation.’ I like the definition of contemplation that describes it as ‘the enjoyment of God.’ I do not believe the enjoyment of God should be left to monks and nuns in monasteries. We should have some fun too,” (p. X).

Our life consists of sadness and joy and Jesus recognizes this. That is why in today’s gospel reading, He tells His disciples that after the Resurrection they shall see Him again. And He adds: “And your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you,” (v. 22). These words are also true to us. Whatever our trials, we can always find strength, consolation and yes an abiding joy in the thought that our Lord is forever happy and wants us to have a joy no one can take from us.

Where then is real joy found? The answer is simple, in Christ alone.

Many times in our lives, while we are so very busy with the things of this world and go with its flow, we lose the sight of the Lord. And before realizing it we are already plastered all sorts of worldly promises and distractions offering us nothing but confusion.

At the end I would like to share with you this experience of an SVD missionary priest about Jesus’ presence even in every detail of our lives. Travelling with a companion on a deserted road in his mission assignment one day, they passed by a vehicle that was noticeably moving slowly. Assuming the car had mechanical trouble, they stopped and offered assistance. The driver, a fellow missionary (not an SVD), had a flat tire. However, he had no spare tire, so this SVD missionary exclaimed: “What? Running a car in a mountainous area and so remote without a spare tire?” and he said to him: “You know, I was already an hour on the road when I remembered that I left behind my spare tire at the mission house downtown but I said to myself God will provide for my needs.” “And you believe that?” he asked. “Yes!” came the candid reply. “And I assume He sent you.” We laughed but realized the truth of God’s abiding presence even in the smallest detail of our daily life.

Fr Joseph Benitez

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 14, 2015 Thursday: St. Matthias

May 14, 2015 Thursday: St. Matthias

Grief Turning Into Joy

The statement of Jesus ‘a little while,’ mikron in Greek, is used seven times in this short passage. Something is about to happen soon, but they don’t know what. This is the way to be scared. They can tell that It has something to do with death: the word here for ‘mourn’ is a word that is used for grief at a death.

When Jesus is saying, ‘a little while’, He is referring to His impending death. He predicts that His death makes His followers experience great sorrow but this delights all those who have joined forces against Him.

A concrete example is what Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book “On Death and Dying“, has presented. For her, there are 5 Stages of Grief or sorrow for terminally ill persons may go through upon learning of their terminal illness. These five stages are the following:

First is Denial. What is the first thing they do? The first reaction is shock. The universal first reaction to hearing the news is, “No.” The second stage that quickly follows is denial. Terminally ill patients would say: “This cannot be happening to me.”

Second is Anger. “%$@^##& car!”, “I should have junked you years ago.” Do we slam our hand on the steering wheel? I have. “I should just leave you out in the rain and let you rust.”

Third is Bargaining. Like when we are going to work realizing that we’re going to be late for work, we say “Oh please car, if you will just start one more time I promise I’ll buy you a brand new battery, get a tune up, new tires, belts and hoses, and keep you in perfect working condition.

Fourth is Depression. This is one of the examples of what we say when we are depressed: “Oh God, what am I going to do. I’m going to be late for work. I give up. My job is at risk and I don’t really care anymore. What is the use?”

Fifth is Acceptance — “Ok. It’s dead. Guess I had better call the Auto Club or find another way to work. Time to get on with my day; I’ll deal with this later,” is one of the statements we say when we accept our situation.

However, that situation is soon to be reversed by the Resurrection. For then, the disciples will experience a deep and abiding joy, whereas the soldiers guarding the tomb will be terrified (Mt 28:4) and the chief priests will be compelled to buy the soldiers’ silence (Mt 28:11-15). It is a reversal situation.

Our Christian life is somewhat patterned after what Jesus says, ‘a little while,’ that is, as a cycle of disappearances and reappearances endlessly repeated. Like for example, when we pray, there are times that Jesus is not felt as real or as present in our hearts when we want to experience intimacy with Him. This is what we call desolation in prayer. But if we persevere in prayer and if we continue living our Christian life as best we can, invariably there comes a time when the presence of Jesus is again felt. And this is what we called consolation in prayer. These alternating desolations and consolations are the warp and woof forming the very fabric of our Christian life. They are meant to make us constantly grow in faith and trust. After a while however, faith becomes so strong that Jesus is somehow always “seen” and not felt by a kind of special eyesight of the soul. Then the Christian’s joy is practically permanent.

Fr. Joseph S. Benitez

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015 Wednesday: Our Lady of Fatima

May 13, 2013 Wednesday: Our Lady of Fatima

Today we celebrate the feast day of our Lady of Fatima, the ninety-eighth anniversary since the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to three young children at Fatima in Portugal almost a hundred years ago, in a series of apparitions where she revealed to them the messages of utmost importance, seeking for the repentance and conversion of the world, and the consecration of Russia to her, which was at that year, precisely at that very moment, was about to fall into the long darkness of communism.

This feast of our Lady of Fatima is a reminder for all of us yet again, how we have been given so many reminders and opportunities to repent and change from our sinful ways, and the one who had appeared so many times to us so that this may happen, is none other than the loving mother of our Lord, that is Mary, the ever faithful mother of us all. She appeared to us and reminded us from time to time, in her many apparitions, to reveal to us the truth about our sins and about the love and mercy that God is willing to show all those who repent from their sins.

Which mother would just ignore the plight and the cries of her children? Therefore, in the same way, Mary, whom God had made to be our mother as well, cares for us deeply and she is concerned for the state of our souls, which if nothing is done, we are truly prone to fall deeper into our sinfulness and the darkness that surround us, so that we are forever lost to the Lord.

And this is what God, and therefore, His mother Mary do not want to happen. He died for us so that we may be saved, and not suffer the eternal death in hell because of our sins. This is why, we have our best ally and friend with us, Mary, our mother, who ceaselessly prays for our sake, with all the other saints and with all of the angels, particularly each of our guardian angels, that we may be awakened from our slumber in the darkness and make the effort to come back into the light.

Thus, our faithful devotions to our Lady of Fatima is a constant reminder for us to keep our own lives in check, so that in all the things we act, say and do, we will always do them in accordance with the will of God, and remain righteous and just in all of our ways without exception. Remember, that Mary is always interceding for our sake, near to the throne of Jesus, her Son our Lord and God. She weeps for us whenever we commit sin, and rejoices whenever we repent from those same sins.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 12, 2015 Tuesday: 6th Week in Easter

May 12, 2015 Tuesday: 6th Week in Easter

In a few days, we shall be celebrating the Ascension of Jesus to heaven. And in today’s gospel, He says: “Unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you,” (v. 7). He continues to say: “And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation,” (v. 8). The original word for convince is convict. And so the work of the Holy Spirit is to convince the world about sin, righteousness and of condemnation or judgment. But Jesus said these words before His passion, death and resurrection. Therefore He is already referring to His final departure from earth. Eight days after Jesus ascended to heaven, the promised Advocate, the Holy Spirit, came who descended upon the gathered disciples on Pentecost.

It's good to reflect on the words of St. Augustine in his, The Confessions of St. Augustine, about sin that sin arises when things that are a minor good are pursued as though they were the most important goals in life. If money or affection or power is sought in disproportionate, obsessive ways, then sin occurs. And that sin is magnified when, for these lesser goals, we fail to pursue the highest good and the finest goals. So when we ask ourselves why, in a given situation, we committed a sin, the answer is usually one of two things. Either we wanted to obtain something we didn’t have, or we feared losing something we had.

Do we allow the Holy Spirit to have free reign in our lives that He may set us free from the grip of sin and set us ablaze with the fire of God’s love?

- Fr. Joseph Benitez

May 11, 2015 Monday: 6th Week in Easter

May 11, 2015 Monday: 6th Week in Easter

I’m sure you are very much familiar with St. Francis of Assisi. According to the book, Life of Francis d’Assisi, Francis once invited a young monk to join him on a trip to town to preach. Honored to be given the invitation, the monk readily accepted. All day long he and Francis walked through the streets, byways, and alleys and even into the suburbs. They rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. At day’s end, the two headed back home. Not even once had Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel. Greatly disappointed, his young companion said, “I thought we were going into town to preach.”

Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!

At the end let us reflect these words on witnessing coming from John White. He said: “A good witness isn’t like a salesman the emphasis is on a person rather than a product. A good witness is like a signpost. It doesn’t matter whether it is old, young, pretty, ugly; it has to point the right direction and be able to be understood. We are witnesses to Christ, we point to him.”

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 10, 2015: 6th Sunday of Easter B (Mother's Day)

May 10, 2015: 6th Sunday of Easter B (Mother's Day)

Click to hear Audio Homily
Do you agree with the following statement? A mother is always your mother, no matter how old you are, or how old she is. A mother recently told me that when her 24 yr. old son called at night for her to order him a pizza, pick it up for him, and deliver it to him, she changed out of her pajamas and got the pizza for him. Whenever I call my mom, the first thing she asks me is whether I’m eating well. She is 74, and I’m a grown man, but after she came for a visit and saw what was in my refrigerator and saw my blender, she is worried whether her ‘baby’ is eating well.

On this sixth sunday of Easter, which this year is also Mother’s Day, Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel to, “Love one another as I love you.” He said this on the night of the Last Supper, moments before his beloved friends abandon him and betray him. Jesus does not attach a condition for his love; he knows that most will not understand the cost of his love for them. He even knows that many will spurn his love. Why does he still love? Why does he open his arms to the cross, even when men and women of today would not acknowledge the great price he would pay.  He simply says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Mother Teresa puts it in another way, “Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”

Today we honor all mothers--mothers who are with us on earth, mothers who are our spiritual mothers, and mothers who are in Heaven. Ask a mother why she loves. Ask her why she still loves even when at times we don’t acknowledge or appreciate her love. What’s her response? God has placed in mother’s heart the image and likeness of Himself--total, faithful, sacrificial, and selfless love that does not ask for anything in return.

We all have to choose. Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart. Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking. To the degree that we all take this risk, we reflect the unconditional love of Jesus. This love is best reflected in Blessed Mother, in the way she loved her son and in the way she loves us now.
Today we honor our Heavenly Mother who stands by us day in and day out, who sacrifices herself listening attentively to all of our prayers, grieves with us in our sorrows, holds our hands to lead us to Her Son. May we honor her today with our affections and our devotion.

-Fr. Paul Yi

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 8, 2015 Friday: 5th Week in Easter

May 8, 2015 Friday: 5th Week in Easter

The gospel today shows us that our love for God is a love of friendship. He says: “You are my friends, if you do what I command you.” To be a friend of God is a great gift. Jesus calls His disciples His friends and not His servants. What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship with God certainly entails a loving relationship which goes beyond mere duty and obedience. Jesus’ discourse on friendship and brotherly love echoes the words of Proverbs: “A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity,” (Prov. 17:17).

Like love, today friendship is easily misrepresented by us. But friendship is more than convenience, mutual tolerance or mutual utility. Friends not only share love, they share secrets and intimate knowledge. Friendship implies an intimate sharing of goods. It involves familiarity and ease in mutual dealings. An old Jewish proverb says: “A friend is one who warns you.” Spiritual writers talk about the practice of “presence of God.” God is present in our hearts as a good friend. We can maintain a conversation and dialogue with Him as we go about our tasks for the day.

At the end, if we want to be true friends, let us maybe listen to these advices (from Common Ground, January, 1990):

When you are with people, be aware of their likes and dislikes.
Remember friend’s birthdays and anniversaries.
Take interest in and cultivate relationships with your friend’s children.
Become need sensitive
Keep in touch by phone.
Express what you like about your relationship with another person.
Serve your friends in thoughtful, unexpected ways.

May 7, 2015 Thursday: 5th Week in Easter

May 7, 2015 Thursday: 5th Week in Easter

I read this sad story about a father who, while washing his brand-new car, heard a scratching sound and saw his eight-year-old son writing something on the car door. In a fit of anger, he hit the hand of his son so hard unknowingly with a wrench that the boy had to be brought to the hospital.

When he came home, he looked at the car and on it were the words written: “I Love You, Daddy.”

Jesus commands us to love one another because the Father loves Him and so He loves us too. That is why in today’s gospel He says: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you, remain in my love,” (v. 9). Through these words, Jesus says to us that He loves us because the Father loves Him first. He loves us very much because the Father loves Him very much as well. His Father’s love for Him is everlasting, selfless and undying and so also His love for us is everlasting, selfless and undying. As the Father loves Him, so does Jesus loves us in the same measure of His Father’s love for Him.

And so I invite you to reflect on the words Jesus is saying in today’s gospel. Jesus says: “As the Father loves me,” (v. 9). For me, I am sure that God the Father loves me and really cares for me. It is because His love for me is, above all, personal. Even if I experienced trials and difficulties in life just like this text message I received a long time ago, God still loves and cares for me as He loves and cares for Jesus. His love for me is unparalleled. His love for me does not change. The text message I received says: “Sometimes God breaks our spirit to save our soul. Sometimes He breaks our hearts to make us whole. Sometimes He sends us failure so we can be humble. Sometimes He sends us illness so we can take care of ourselves better. Sometimes He takes everything away from us so we can learn the value of everything we have.” Do we believe in God’s love for us?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 6, 2015 Wednesday: 5th Week in Ordinary Time

May 6, 2015 Wednesday: 5th Week in Ordinary Time

The Vine and the Branches

When she was younger, my mother loved to grow and tend roses. She spent early mornings either watering or putting fertilizer around the plants. But each year there was one morning when she did something different. With pruning scissors, she would cut off a lot of branches from the plants. After pruning, the rose garden looked like it just had a terrible haircut. It did not look neat at all. However, after some days new branches came out and at the height of the flowering season, full and luscious roses of all colors! Pruning does wonders!

“Pruning” is one consequence of our relationship with Jesus. He says: “”I am the vine and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit and everyone that does he prunes so it bears more fruit.”

The dictionary defines pruning as trimming by lopping off superfluous or unwanted parts. We are all aware of things in us that need to be pruned. A man, who can be you and me, drives his car every morning to the office. He gets terribly affected by the traffic and profusely blurts out expletives each time another car cuts into his lane. He arrives at the office hot-headed, affecting his work and his associates. He tries to overcome, to “prune,” so to speak, his attitude. This time, when caught in a traffic mess, the thought that he’s not the only traffic victim is a consolation. To the aggressive driver, he utters out a prayerful ‘bless you’ in place of an expletive. He arrives at the office cool and collected….more fruitful and productive.

What is superfluous in you that is better pruned so that your union with Jesus, the true vine, will grow and be more fruitful? (Fr. Gerry del Pinado, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

May 5, 2015 Tuesday: 5th Week in Easter

May 5, 2015 Tuesday: 5th Week in Easter

Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD told in his book, Just a Moment (February 8, 2008) that when he was in Canada, he met Fr. Jerry Desmont, who at 70 is so full of life, goodness, simplicity and love. When he asked him what is his secret he told Fr. Orbos: “Don’t let anything or anyone destroy your peace. Keep your peace. If you get angry, you lose your peace. If you worry, you lose your peace. If you get upset, you’ve been set up!”

In today’s gospel Jesus says: “My peace I give to you.” Notice the emphasis on “my peace.” By saying these words about peace, Jesus is teaching us that His peace is something different from other forms of peace. There is a difference between what we think of peace and the real peace that comes from Him. It is because we think of peace only as the absence of war. We think that when the two nations are not at war, they are at peace with each other. Maybe they are preparing for war instead. In other words, our understanding of peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Then He specifies negatively: “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” He offers no positive definition of his peace, but at least we know what it is not. Christ’ peace is more than the absence of trouble or unpleasant things. It includes everything which makes for our highest good.

What is peace? According to somebody who is a priest said that St. Augustine has a beautiful description of peace. According to him, peace means the following: The first is “The serenity of the mind,” that is, allowing Jesus to take control of our thoughts, our fears and our worries. The second is “the simplicity of the heart” that is, being contented with what we have and what we have received as gifts from God, and finally, the third is the “tranquillity of the soul” that is, being fully reconciled with God and others.

Through this definition of St. Augustine, therefore I can say that peace is not something outside of ourselves or external to us. It does not depend on local, national or international agreements or the result of a precarious balance of opposing forces all ready to pounce on one another if the status quo were to change. Of course we need these also. But peace is something internal. It resides in the hearts of those who are not disturbed by any conflict outside. It depends on reconciliation God has given to us through Jesus as a gift. Peace is not just the result of precarious balance but also it is the outcome of justice. And the most important element of justice is to give God what is due to Him, that is, there can be no true peace unless we are reconciled with our Creator. People who pray for peace are not automatically peaceful people, Fr. Bobby Titco said. Peaceful people are those who make reconcile with God and with one another.

“The absence of conflict is not peace. But the absence of Christ in our lives is always the absence of peace. Jesus is our Peace.”

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 3, 2015: 5th Sunday of Easter B

May 3, 2015: 5th Sunday of Easter B
Click to hear Audio Homily
How many of you this past Monday morning held a Rosary in your hands as you huddled inside a bathroom, down in a basement, or inside the innermost room away from the windows? It was a frightening storm wasn’t it, with pitch darkness, howling winds, and torrential downpour? Several of the parishioners told me that they hadn’t prayed so fervently like that before. That morning at a daycare center, children were being moved to a more secure building. A three-year old child said out loud amid this shuffle, “Should we pray?” Another child next to her replied, “Nah.”

Why do we pray? Most of the time, we pray for ourselves or for someone else when we are facing a challenge or suffering. As we pray, we are aware that we are connected to the Body of Christ.  There is no such thing as a solitary Christian. Every Christian is linked to Christ and to all other Christians. This is clear from the words of Jesus: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” This is a beautiful image of closeness and interdependence. But it is also a challenging one. We sometimes don’t listen to the Lord, ignore the help of others, and try to be self-sufficient. Many of you heard about a man who went to Heaven after drowning from a flood. On earth, he had rejected three rescue attempts by boats and helicopter, saying that God Himself will save him. When the man finally sees God, he questions God why He didn’t do anything. Then the man learns the irony: God did try to save him by sending those rescuers, but the man refused to accept.

Are you facing a challenge right now? Have you asked for help, or are you being a Lone Ranger? To refuse help, is like a branch detached from the vine. Jesus said, “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” We must be careful that we do not confuse false humility from genuine humility.  We may pray sincerely, “Lord, please help me. I’m weak.” But if we refuse help from others, refuse correction, or resist feedback, are we being humble? During this month of May, the month in which we honor our Heavenly Mother, ask Blessed Mother for the grace to be truly humble so that you can remain in Jesus and bear much fruit.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, May 1, 2015

May 1, 2015 Friday: St. Joseph the Worker

May 1, 2015 Friday: St. Joseph the Worker

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

Today is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, the foster father of Jesus. On May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII granted a public audience to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers, whose members had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their society. They were solemnly renewing, in common, their promise of loyalty to the social doctrine of the Church, and it was on that day that the Pope instituted the liturgical feast of May 1, in honor of Saint Joseph the Worker to coincide with Labor Day. He assured his audience and the working people of the world: “You have beside you a shepherd, a defender and a father” in Saint Joseph, the carpenter whom God in His providence chose to be the virginal father of Jesus and the head of the Holy Family. He is silent but has excellent hearing, and his intercession is very powerful over the Heart of the Savior (from Heavenly Friends: a Saint for each Day, by Rosalie Marie Levy, Saint Paul Editions: Boston, 1958).

The Church invites us to appreciate labor and work in terms of the following values:

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

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

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

St. Joseph the Worker is the patron saint for laborers precisely because in that they are affirmed in their dignity as working persons, they are also reminded to be faithful in their responsibilities not only to society in general but above all to their respective families and especially to God that they worship and believe.

But what kind of a worker or a carpenter was he? Looking at Jesus, whom St. Joseph molded too and we catch a glimpse of who he was. The people in today’s gospel say something about Jesus whom St. Joseph formed when still a child: “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?” (Matt 13:54-58).