On this 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Church invites us to reflect on the power of persevering prayer. Faith can move mountains, but prayer can also move the heart of God. But for prayer to produce such a wonderful effect, it must be rooted in humble faith, that is, in the sincere conviction that we are in God's hands and that He loves us immensely, in spite of our unworthiness. If we have this disposition of heart, we will avoid the two aberrations of wanting to impose our will on God, or giving up praying if our requests are not granted immediately. Our prayer must always be patterned after that of Jesus and end with the petition: "Your will be done!"As we observe "World Mission Sunday", we are invited to remember with much admiration and love our brothers and sisters who have left their homelands to be the heralds of the Gospel of Christ and witness to his love in the foreign missions. We should show our solidarity toward them, both with our donations and our prayer for all their needs and intentions. (Word and Life)
Reflection on my 17th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood, Feast of St Francis of Assisi 2019.
The dream. “A phrase that has become a great part of my journey as a priest. “The dream.” Saint Francis was called by God to rebuild a ruined church. “The dream.” Not so long ago I was haunted by a dream to serve. “The dream.” This dream, in which I shared with all of you.
17 years ago I lived a dream – God’s dream for me, the dream of those people who believed and helped me to get through, the dream my parents lived to see – “the dream.” That dream came true when I prostrated myself before the altar and pronounced my vows to live in obedience, in poverty and in chastity. That dream came true when I rose up from that altar and said my first Mass. That dream came true when I became Christ’s priest – a priest forever. I lived that dream.
Saint Francis lived God’s dream for him as well. As the Book of Sirach proclaimed, “Behold him in whose time the house of God was renovated, like a star shining...like the full moon at the holy day season...like the sun shining upon the temple...like the rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky.” Francis, lover and proclaimer of the Gospel became a renovator, an innovator, a collaborator, an instigator in the society and Church of his time. Francis discovered the humble, poor Christ and his example became the great light that directed Francis’ life. Jesus’ example was what set Francis’ feet resolutely on the road of poverty and humility, on the path of relationship where all were brother and sister. He invented a form of communio, of community where there existed no positions of dominance. The power of this quality of relationship flowed from Francis’ wonder-filled discovery of the mystery of the Incarnation – the God who became man. For Francis, God was not the God of the feudal wars or the holy crusades. Francis’ God was and is the Word who walked in our midst, without any sign of power, as the humblest and most loving of all. Francis discovered the humanness of God, the humility of God. For Francis, Celano writes, “the God of majesty himself became his brother (Celano, Vita II, 198). Francis embraced this call to “communio”, communion with all and identified with the God of the poorest and humblest human condition. He set an example for the society and Church of his time in his radical embrace of poverty and in his creation of a community in which “whoever wishes to become great shall be the servant, and whoever wishes to be first shall be their minister and servant (Rule of 1221). Radical thought for radical times! Francis created a true spiritual revolution with the Gospel at its very core. In his day Francis challenged his brothers, his Church, his society “ to be created anew.” St Paul echoed these words in his letters to the Galatians! “All that matters is that one is created anew!
In my journey as a priest, one thing I do is pray all the time – that God who called me to become his humble servant recreates me anew every day. The life of a priest is not easy. It’s a long road, oftentimes dark and uncertain, but God renews our heart every day. It is not possible for me to go on in the midst of difficult circumstances without you, who not only support me with my daily provisions but nourish my spirit with your faith and sustain my own faith with your prayers. I am blessed to have all of you as part of my journey of living “the dream.” Like Saint Francis, I look upon the crucified Christ and see in me his wounds – wounds that heal others, wounds that comfort the lonely, wounds that bind people together, wounds that becomes an ocean of love.
Pray for me. God Bless You!
We dedicate this first Sunday of October as "Respect Life Sunday." The willingness of those in our society to permit the killing of unborn children under the banner of “choice” is rooted in a failure to accord to God the worship due to him, and the obedience, which flows from that worship. One of the marks of a pagan society, of a paganized culture, is child sacrifice. Today, children are sacrificed to the golden idols of self-worship.
The battle against life is a long and arduous journey. We must turn to Our Lady, who is both Virgin all-pure, and Mother – Mother of Christ Our Savior, and our spiritual Mother in the order of grace. Satan, Jesus tells us, “was a murderer from the beginning.” I am convinced that the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to overcome the culture of death, and bring about victory with a culture of life, is through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, by praying her Rosary. Mary leads us to Jesus, the Author of all human life; the Immaculate Heart of the Mother is the gateway to the Sacred Heart of her Son, that Heart of the Redeemer, which overflows with love for us.
Let us turn to Mary in this Respect Life Month, asking her to mold us, more and more, into the image of her Son, that we may be examples to others, leading them to true, authentic worship of God as found and as lived in his One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which Christ founded on Peter, the Rock. Let us petition the Mother of God to intercede for all the people of these land, that they may come to a knowledge of the true Faith, thereby giving God the worship due to him, being his obedient servants, and respecting human life from conception until natural death.
The liturgy challenges us to solve the problem of poverty. The solution to poverty is difficult. However, our readings give us a plan for facing poverty. A recent study said that 46 million Americans lives in poverty. It should be embarrassing to a country with the great resources we have in the United States. For those living in poverty, the future is not bright. The reasons are both complex and numerous.
The rich man in our Gospel never lifted a finger to help the poor beggar. He ignored the calls for help. He remained insensitive to the needs of the poor man, Lazarus. He did nothing when a simple word from him would have given Lazarus more food than he could imagine.
The Lord calls us to be sensitive to the poor. It is easy to do nothing in the face of such a problem. It is easy to walk away … we cannot. No longer can we ignore the welfare of the poor, and the varied conditions that cause poverty. The only real solution, however, is you and I. What are we doing, and what can we do, in facing the depth of poverty? The liturgy today gives us a clear and, perhaps, uncomfortable, answer. As the Faith makes clear, this “Eucharist commits us to the poor,” and challenges us to be prayerfully mindful and actively dedicated to the weakest of our brothers and sisters (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1397).
As the causes of poverty are numerous, so also should our responses be numerous. Feed one child. Provide one family with shelter. Give one mother a bed, and a home for her new baby. Create one job. Poverty calls for Christian understanding and action. As a community of faith, we must re-examine our parish commitment to help the poor in our midst. We must exhort all peoples to live out their faith of love, mercy, and justice.