Tuesday, January 22, 2019

You are a priest forever.

“You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.”  (Hebrews 7: 17).

Our first Reading from Hebrews celebrates the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  Some writers see Melchizedek as the pre-incarnation of Jesus. Scripture calls Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He is "without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever."  (Hebrews 7: 3).

Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest offered Himself once and for all on the Cross for our salvation. (Cf Hebrews 7: 27, 4: 14 - 15). He continues His ministry as Priest in Heaven through intercession.  How about on earth?  The Church has the priesthood of the Faithful where every baptized member belongs.  The Holy Spirit endows us with many gifts for the building up of the Kingdom of God in the world.

The Church has also the ministerial or ordained priesthood who is charged to celebrate the Sacraments in the person of Christ.

Thank You Jesus our Eternal High Priest for endowing Your Church with great gifts.

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Finding God in all things.

"Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work."  (John 4: 34)

"All that happens to me therefore will be food for my nourishment, water for my cleansing, fire for my purification, and a channel of grace for all my needs.  That which I might endeavor to find in other ways seeks me incessantly and gives itself to me through all creatures."  (John Pierre de Caussade, SJ)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.

 “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath.”  (Mark 2: 27 - 28).

What is God's intention for the Sabbath?

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work."  (Exodus 20: 8 - 10).

The Sabbath is a day of Rest.
"With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. "The Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath."  (CCC 2173).

The Catechism continues:
"God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant. The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel."  (CCC 2171).

The Sabbath Rest is Rehearsal for Eternal Rest. "Great are the works of the LORD, exquisite in all their delights.
The Lord will remember his covenant for ever."  (Cf Psalm 111).

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Everyone serves good wine first.

“They have no wine.”  (John 2: 3).
Mary told Jesus at the wedding party at Cana.  This is the first miracle of Jesus. What a story it tells about Jesus and His ways.  Some people choose to believe that Christianity is a kill joy religion. No fun whatsoever.  Only fasting, armsgiving and praying.  This first miracle at Cana demolishes this.  If Jesus did not perform the miracle, shortage of wine would not invalidate the marriage. Jesus performed the miracle to show His pleasure in the celebration of marriage.

"Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  (John 2: 10).

There is a word of encouragement for us here.  God in His most powerful Providence reserves the best for us to the last. Don't give up.

Another truth we can take away from the Miracle at Cana is this:
‘Tis not from chance our comfort springs, Thou art our trust, O King of kings."  (Lauds - Liturgy of the Hours).

Not even a single comfort you enjoy in life come from chance or accident.  Every single comfort you enjoy comes from the God of all consolation and comforts. (2 Corinthians 1: 3).
This is an incredibly powerful promise.  Will you share this good news?

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Approach Jesus with confidence.

"Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help."  (Hebrews 4: 16).

My friends, this is the beautiful invitation from today's first Reading. Consider for a moment the vehicle or medium of this invitation:
"The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword."  (Hebrews 4: 12).  Do you realize that another name for Jesus is the "word of God?"

We know who invites us to step forward boldly and receive grace and mercy whenever we need it.  But why should anyone hesitate to come to Jesus, the friend of sinners? Three reasons jump to me immediately:

#1.  Lack of faith.
#2.  Too busy for Jesus.
#3.   Our sins.

Does any of the above pass the Lie test? The answer is No.  If Jesus Himself invites us to to receive grace and mercy, why should He hesitate to deal with our lack of faith. Friends, open your mouth and ask.  Too busy for Jesus sounds like the teenager who goes off to college.  "Junior, why don't you write mom and dad?"  "Oh, I am too busy."  The Lord in His sense of humor might allow parents to experience such neglect in order to see how they treat Him.

Jesus is the friend of sinners. In the Gospel of today, Jesus dines with Matthew also known as Levi and his friends. All of them without exception sinners. At the objection of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said:  “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”  (Mark 2: 17).

Will you be an evangelist and bring this glad tidings to your family and friends?

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jesus saw their faith.

"Jesus saw their faith."  (Mark 2: 5).

Jesus while preaching the word in a packed room in his hometown, had a paralytic man lowered from the roof of the house by four friends and dropped to His feet.  Scripture records that Jesus saw the faith of the four friends of the paralytic.  What exactly did Jesus see?  He saw the four men did the one thing necessary.  The men knew and believed the healing powers of Jesus.  "If only we could get our paralytic friend before Jesus, he would be healed." Must have been their thinking.
Faith is a bold action based on a credible assumption.  The  woman with the issue of blood searched for Jesus until she found Him. Then she sneaked behind him and touched the hem of His cloak.  She got an instant healing.  (Matthew 9: 20 - 22).

Faith is absolute confidence in the word of God, in the promise of God.  Do you have a faith that can be seen? How do you get such faith?
By prayer and daily feeding of the word of God.

For many days now, the Church has repeated the same prayer in the Collect in the daily Mass:

"Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care,
O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen."  (Collect).

Give us the grace to see what we must do.  Give us the strength to do what You show us.  This is how faith that is seen is produced.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Encourage one another to persevere in the Christian walk.

"Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God." (Hebrews 3: 12).

An evil and unfaithful heart is one that conveniently forgets all that God has done for him. He is not constant in prayer nor steadfast with acts of devotion.

The word of God wants us to be our brother's keeper.  "Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin."  (Hebrews 3: 13). The lure and the lust of sin are everywhere. This is why the ministry of encouragement is sorely needed in the Church today.

Never forget that without perseverance and constancy we cannot make it to the Kingdom of God. "We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end."  (Hebrews 3: 14).

Brothers and sisters, encourage one another with prayers and the word of God.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to avoid fear of death.

Jesus came to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."  (Hebrews 2: 15).

My friends, are you terrified of dying? Of being suddenly snuffed out of existence and disappearing forever?  The word we share today is your Good News.

It is God's plan that Jesus Christ be like us in everything but sin;  that He suffers and dies so that "he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil."  Jesus broke the power of death by rising from the dead on the third day.  He shows that we too must die but shall rise again.  Dying and rising is what we sacramentally experience when we are baptized.  We die when we are immersed into water. We rise from death when we are raised up again.

As a result of the power of this Sacrament, our faith and the word of God, every Christian should have no fear of death.

It is not only the fear of death that the devil causes us. He makes us to have unhealthy fears of poverty, ill health, etc. To overcome these fears, we have to die to money and worship of good health.
Remember Jesus in His Temptation in the Desert?  He looked the devil in the eye and told him: "Man does not live on bread alone." (Matthew 4: 4). Man does not live on money alone. Man does not live on good health alone.
If you are able to do this, you will experience peace and freedom.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Jesus is still teaching with authority.

“What is this? A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

The people of Nazareth noticed something peculiar about Jesus the first time He walked into the synagogue.  But after reading and interpreting Isaiah's prophecy on the Messiah, Scripture records that their eyes were transfixed on Him.

On another Sabbath, Jesus "entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes."  (Mark 1: 21 - 22).

Jesus taught with the authority of Moses and all the prophets combined plus something different: "A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

After His Resurrection, He breathed on His Apostles and imparted them the Holy Spirit. Then before He ascended into Heaven, He gave them the authority to go to all the world and teach and evangelize all people.  This authority has been exercised by the Sacred Magisterium of the Church from the very beginning to today.

The Church exists to evangelize. Are you part of this effort?

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Will you follow me and become a fisher of men?

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Mark 1: 17).

These are the words of Jesus the Fisher of men to new recruits Simon and Andrew.  What I love most about this incident is this:
"Then they abandoned their nets and followed him."  (Mark 1: 18).  Do you notice the immediacy of the response? God loves the cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9: 7).  Social psychologists teach that spontaneity and immediacy of response point to a good finish.  Remember a young Virgin called Mary? "Yes I will. Let it be done to me according to your words."  She too left everything and embraced her mission.

Jesus is still passing by. He is still calling. He has tremendous good news to share. For example:

"I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10).

Will you too be a fisher of men?

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

The world is in dire need of revival.

"John said: One mightier than I is coming; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."  (Luke 3: 16).

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas Season.

Jesus will baptize us with Holy Spirit and fire. What an amazing promise.  Are you ready?  “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!"  (Luke 12: 49).

The Journey to the Promised Land was not a straight road. There were many bends, curves and detours. So is our personal Journey of Faith. From the arrival in the Promised Land to the Coming of Jesus Christ more bends, curves and detours for the chosen people.  From Pentecost to the Second Vatican Council, more curves, detours and bends for Christians. The Genealogy of Jesus Christ teaches us that God's loving and all powerful Providence anticipates all these.  He built in correctives and resets into the march of the world to Kingdom of God.

Friends, to make a long story short, the world is in dire need of reset. Yes. Of Revival. The Holy Spirit is the Principal Agent for this great Revival.  Are you ready to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire?

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Can you let Jesus increase a little bit in you?

"He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease.”  (John 3: 30).

John the Baptist at the end of his ministry says Jesus's elevation has made his joy complete. (John 3: 29).
With this parting gift of heavenly wisdom, he left a great legacy for the Church.
Yes, Jesus must increase. We must decrease.

But how?

"I let go of my desire for security." 
"I let go of my desire for affection ."
"I let go of my desire for control ."
"I let go of my desire to change the situation ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect health ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect family harmony ."
"I let go of my desire for the perfect job."

I let go and let Jesus use me as He wishes.

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Jesus can not resist trust in Jesus!

‘Sir,’ he [man full of leprosy] said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ (Luke 5:  12 ).

And the leprosy left him at once.

Dear friends, what is the one thing that melts the Heart of Jesus? Simple and full trust in Jesus.! That's it.  Serving in soup kitchens is great. Flying about in all parish ministries is good work.  But if you have not figured out how to increase your trust in Jesus, you are a non starter and may be missing a lot in this side of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus caused this words to be written in His Divine Mercy picture:
JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.
Jesus can never resist trust in Jesus.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

There is no fear in love.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4: 18).

We are talking here not of our love for God. For example: "Thou shall the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy mind and all thy will."  We are talking about God's love for us that never changes, never fails. This is such a radical concept that if you can become aware of how much God loves you, the knowledge and trust in God’s love for you will transform your life beyond widest expectation.

How do you become aware of how much God loves you? How do you become aware of how much your wife, father, friend loves you?  You match up the person's behavior towards you with your concept of love. For example:

This is how God loves you and me:
God is patient; God is kind. God is not jealous, nor is He pompous, or inflated.  He is never rude nor seeks His own interests. He is never quick-tempered nor broods over our sins.  He does not rejoice over our wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth and our success.  He is longsuffering and merciful to the extreme. (Adapted from 1 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 7).

To own this truth, you repeat the above every day until it becomes yours. The result is unbelievable. You come to believe that God loves you and is with you every single moment everywhere. And you know that this God is in control of every situation.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

If God is love, who are we?

"God is love."  (1 John 4: 8).

My friends, what does it mean to say that God is love? It is like saying "The sun is shining. There is light."  Of course there will be light if the sun is shining.  God's love suffuses everything. It penetrates all His creation. Genesis teaches us that after God created the world, He reviewed the work of His hand and sees that it is good and He loves it.

Original Sin damaged our ability to love and receive love.
We needed a re-education in other to understand love from God's perspective. This is how God loves you and me:

God is patient; God is kind. God is not jealous, nor is He pompous, or inflated.  He is never rude nor seeks His own interests. He is never quick-tempered nor broods over our sins.  He does not rejoice over our wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth and our success.  He is longsuffering and merciful to the extreme. (Adapted from 1 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 7).

"In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins." (1 John 4: 10).

Without the Spirit of Love living and working in us, we may never be able to overcome the effects of Original Sin working against love.

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

What happens when we abide in the will of God.

"Beloved, We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him."  (1 John 3: 22).

Friends, Scripture promises that when we keep God's commandments and do what pleases Him, we receive from Him what we need.  It is not the will of God to deprive us of the necessities of life.  Man does not live on bread alone.  Neither does he live on money alone. Man needs good health, family peace and prosperity. Man needs good job and tools and possessions. We need food all the time.  Who can live without peace of mind and soul? Finally, we are constantly preoccupied with thoughts of the future as we move from one lifecycle to another.

Today's message from 1 John should bring us great comfort.
"Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us."  (1 John 3: 24).
Friends, do you know for certain that the Holy Spirit remains in you?  Without the Holy Spirit, you cannot live effectively the Christian life and you cannot enjoy the privileges promised the children of God.

"You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, [the world] for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."  (1 John 4: 4).

We are engaged in a life and death struggle with the spirit of this world.  Are you gaining victory war zone by war zone: family, finances, job, health, etc. Are you winning sector by sector: workplace, home, church, etc.

"We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us,
 while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit."  (1 John 4: 6).

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Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Magi saw and believed.

"We [The Magi] saw the star at its rising and have come to do him homage."  (Matthew 2: 2).

Today is the Solemnity of the the Epiphany.  The star called forth the three Wise Men from the East to follow the star and they found and recognized the infant Jesus as Son of God and King of the Universe.  Every day, the star of freedom beckons men and women from everywhere to America, God's own country to their idea of paradise.

Where is your star pointing to?  Is it pointing to the Child Jesus born in poverty in a stable? Or is it pointing to “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” (Revelation 17: 5).

"They [Magi] were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother." 
(Matthew 2: 10 - 11).

Consider this for a moment: These 3 kings and scientists were able to recognize the Infant Jesus in such an unlikely environment.  How could this be when 2000 years after His birth, not everyone on earth has bent the knee at the Name of Jesus?

You that acknowledge Jesus as Lord and King, follow the example of the Magi:
"They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2: 11).

"Lord, every nation on earth will adore you."  (Cf Psalm 72).

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Friday, January 04, 2019

The Lord is my allotted portion and my cup.

"O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.  For me the measuring lines have fallen on pleasant sites; fair to me indeed is my inheritance."  (Psalm 16 :5 - 6: Entrance Antiphon).

There are Scriptures that affirm who you are.  They bring you comfort and encouragement  when you need it most.  I delight to rest in Psalm 16 and savor the sweet sentiment that this Psalm exudes. If the Lord Himself is your allotted portion and cup, it means that you have the best part.  You may not feel that you have the privileged part, but your feelings do not matter at all.

Faith is complete confidence in the word of God, in His promises.  To live by faith is to live by the promises of God and not by the evidence of your senses or feelings.  I am trying to put this teaching into practice daily.  How do I do this? Not by reading books on faith and praxis. But rather, I include in my morning prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to live this day as I believe and as I pray.

I believe in prayer.
I believe in the word of God.
I believe in miracle.
I leave the rest to God.

It is said that prayer is the efficient cause of every comfort in life.  St Augustine puts it this way:
"If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, then all is well."

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

The price of our freedom is huge.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  (John 1: 29).

It is impossible to understand Sin until you sit still and contemplate a life-size Crucifix.  A crucifix is a cross with a corpus (body).  I have often wondered why the Blessed Virgin Mary urges mystics and those who desire to advance in spiritual life to look at the crucifix often. The cross is the means and instrument of our redemption. The sacrifice of a human being who is equally God is how the price of our salvation is paid.

"The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil."  (1 John 3: 8).

What are the works of the devil?

"Now the works of the flesh [devil] are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 19 - 21).

These are works/sins that keep us enslaved, depressed, miserable, unfulfilled.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  (John 1: 29).

"We have found the Messiah."
(John 1: 41).  Have you?

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus..

January 4, 2019  -  First Friday in January.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 1st  month of the year 2019, we look at Promise #1.

#1.  "I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life."
 
What is your state of life?
A.  Married
B.  Single
C.  Divorced
D.   Adolescent

Each state has its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Jesus promises us here more than sufficient grace to cope with whatever happens.  There can be only one response to this magnanimous offer of Jesus:  Yes and Thank You Jesus!

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2: 10-11).

Today is the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  Jesus is the name given to our Redeemer before He was born. The name Jeshua in Hebrew means God Saves!  It is a name that is so appropriate for Jesus because He saves everyone who puts his faith in Him.

From the dawn of Christianity, Christians have discovered the mysterious power in the name of Jesus.  They have invoked this name out of love and for protection.  I recently laughed aloud when I was reading a book of Pope Francis and he asked his audience how many times a day they mention the name of Jesus.  When my alarm rings in the morning, the first sound I make is the name of Jesus. And throughout the day over a hundred times.  If you say the Rosary every day, you mention the name of Jesus at least 60 times.

One other thing I would like to say about the name of Jesus is that it is a full prayer. Have you heard about the Jesus Prayer? Packed into that one word is love, joy, adoration, petition, protection and power.

"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
To all who received him he gave power to become children of God."  (John 1:14,12).

It is said that the name of Jesus is the sweetest sound in every language.

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Who are you?

“Who are you?”..... “What are you then?.... What do you have to say for yourself?” (John 1: 19, 21, 22).

The priests, levites and Jewish leaders have been watching the ministry of St John the Baptist for a while. At long last, they decided to hear from the horse's mouth the identity of this austere prophet.  John did not beat about the bush:  “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.”  (John 1: 23).

And you? Who are you? What is your purpose on earth? What do you do for the Church of God?  All these are apt questions to reflect on as we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ on January 13th marking the end of the Christmas Season.

We celebrate today, January 2nd, two great Bishops and Doctors of the Church: Saints Basil the Great (329 to 379)and Gregory Nazianzen (329 to 389).  Both men, great friends in this world "proclaimed Christ crucified; Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God." (Cf 1 Corinthians 1: 23 - 24).

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