Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.

"So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs." (Mark 16: 19 - 20).

Sunday 16th May 2021, in the 7th Week of Easter is the Solemnity of the Ascension.  The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated on the Thursday of the 6th Week of Easter or on the 7th Sunday of Easter depending on the Diocese.

Jesus is taken up into heaven in full view of His disciples. During the forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus continued teaching, encouraging and comforting His disciples. Now the time of Departure has come. He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Gift of the Father. He then turned the work of building the Kingdom of God on earth to them with the Great Commission:

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." ( Mark 16: 15).

Every epoch and people respond to the Great Commission with the peculiar gifts and infrastructure provided by God. But the universal and perennial Gift of God is the Holy Spirit. Without the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit we cannot evangelize. Nobody can undertake the onerous missionary work of evangelization without the Holy Spirit.

Two powerful and different examples of evangelization are:
#1. St Therese of the Chlld Jesus (1873 - 1897). She became the Patroness of Missionaries without stepping out of her Carmelite Convent. She offered her prayers and sufferings to support the missionary endeavors of the Church. She gave the world a spirituality of "little ways."  One can be very effective in the spiritual life by doing "little things." She is a Doctor of the Church.

#2. St Teresa of Kolkata (1910 - 1997). Her missionary endeavors all over the world earned her a Noble Peace price.

Every saint in the Church, that includes you and me are missionaries. Our Baptism gives us the mandate of Mission and Witness.

Do what you are inspired to do. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

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Friday, May 14, 2021

St Isidore the Farmer and our common Environment.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.  Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete." (John 16: 23 - 24)

Saturday 15th May 2021, in the 6th Week in the Easter Season is the Feast of St Isidore the Farmer (1070 - 1130). Isidore was a humble Spanish farmer who spent most of his day on the land and managed to attend daily Mass and spend significant time before the Blessed Sacrament. His wife Maria is a canonized saint. His life reminds us that all creation belong to God who requires us to care for the environment that surrounds us. Isidore is the Patron of the National Rural Life Conference in the US.

Two important things to note from the key Scripture for this Saturday.
#1. Asking Abba Father for our needs and gifts in the Name of Jesus.
#2. The joy of of answered prayer.

Before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples have not prayed to Abba Father in the Name of Jesus. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He was no longer available for His disciples to answer their questions and fulfill their needs. But in His Ascension, the Holy Spirit descended and the disciples could ask the Father directly for their needs in the Name of Jesus. Jesus promises:  "Whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you."

If you do not ask with faith, you will never know the joy of answered prayer. It is intense. It is intended to grow your faith.
An exercise I give to my class is this: Write down 5 of the most joyful events in your life. Some have written: Wedding day, birth of my first child, day of first job, first car, engagement, home, etc. Next question: Which of them is answer to prayer? Almost all. Prayer is the Activator of Power. God will look silly if He promises to answer all prayers and then equivocate.
"God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" (Numbers 23: 19 NTL).

The Holy Trinity wants to share with us the joy of Answered Prayer.

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Feast of St Matthias, Apostle.

"It was not you who chose me, says the Lord, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last." (John 15: 16).

Friday 14th May 2021, 6th Week of the Easter Season is the feast of the Apostle Matthias. (+ 64). The story of his election into the College of Apostles to replace Judas is the first Reading today: (Cf Acts 1: 15 - 26). Matthias witnessed to Jesus in Palestine where he was stoned to death.

How did Matthias become the 12th Apostle? It was necessary to replace Judas who had perished after his betrayal of Jesus. "Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles."

Our Scripture verse is from the Last Supper Discourse. Like St Matthias, each of us is called, chosen and anointed for a specific mission in the Kingdom. This is true whether we are soldiers, teachers, accountants, lawyers or housewives. Your day job is the field for your ministry. We are called to be friend and companion of Jesus who will carry on His ministry through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthias must have been deeply surprised by his call to join the Apostolic College. This is the way of God:
"God raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes,
with the princes of his own people." (Psalm 113: 7 - 8).

"I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord." (John 15: 16).

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

"Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized."  (Acts 18: 8).

Thursday 13th May 2021, in the 6th Week of Easter. 13th May 1917 is the day that Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. She gave them a message to the world: Conversion of heart, repentance from sin and a dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the promise of peace through the saying of the Holy Rosary.

Our key Scripture today is the conversion of Crispus, the synagogue official and all his family to Christianity and their subsequent Baptism by St Paul. How did this happen? Read below:

"After Silas and Timothy had arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted all his time to preaching, declaring to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ." (Acts 18: 5).

Crispus heard Paul proclaim that Jesus is the long expected Messiah. Paul used the Scripture to prove his point. Crispus the synagogue official considered Paul a faithful and credible witness. He believes that Jesus is the Messiah. Happy and delighted, he went home and shared his faith with his family. They all believed because they know Crispus and trusted him.

This is the ABC of Evangelization.
Do you doubt any teaching of the Church? For example: the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and in the Blessed Sacrament? You don't have to die with your doubts. Pray that the Lord leads and guides you to a faithful and credible witness. Your doubt will vanish and you will enjoy the the fullness of faith. Do not be content in living 50% or 70% of the faith. The Lord Jesus wants you to live 100%. The fullness of abundant life.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

I have chosen you from the world.

"I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord, and have appointed you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last." (John 15: 16, 19 Communion Antiphon).

Wednesday 12th May 2021, in the 6th Week of Easter. We celebrate today the feast of St Pancras (+ 304). Roman. Martyred at 14 under Emperor Diocletian. Also today: Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Roman soldiers. Both martyred under Emperor Trajan.

Jesus looks upon us with merciful love and overlooked our filthy works or useless credentials when he chose and called us from the marketplace.  Jesus called us to join Him in building the kingdom of God.  When He asked me: Do you accept this? I said, Yes Lord.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, the call and choice of Jesus will transform our lives. We will start to bear fruits of love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, gentleness, chastity, etc. Will people that inhabit the marketplace notice that we are different from them? What would be their reaction? Persecution! They will attack us with lies and defamation. We may be denied the opportunity of promotion. Our property may be seized.

In the midst of all the persecution, the Spirit urges us:
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2: 15 - 16).

Jesus reveals this inevitable consequences of the spirit-transformed life so that we may be prepared. We must be persistent in bearing fruit knowing that our persistence will break the resistance at some point.

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Monday, May 10, 2021

The Spirit of truth will guide you to all truth.

"I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; he will guide you to all truth." (John 1 6: 7, 13 Alleluia Verse).

Tuesday 11th May 2021, in the 6th Week of Easter.

Who is the Holy Spirit? The Lord Jesus calls Him here The Spirit of truth.  He is "the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby)." (AMPC).

Why is He sent after the Ascension of Jesus? He is sent to take up permanent residence in the disciple. As the Spirit of power, He will empower the disciple to fulfill his mission and witness to Jesus. The Holy Spirit continues the ministry of Jesus today through the Body of Christ.

Jesus also promised that the Holy Spirit "will guide you [Church] to all truth." This is a very important detail that has divided the Body of Christ. St John the Evangelist writes in the conclusion of his Gospel:
"It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written." (John 21: 24 - 25).

The Holy Spirit reveals to the Church through the written and oral sources the truth that concerns Jesus and the Church.

An example of this is the stability of doctrine that characterize the early Church up to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and continues till today 2021. Only the Holy Spirit could have guaranteed this phenomenon:
One People, One Faith, One Shepherd, Worldwide.

"I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord; he will guide you to all truth."

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Liturgical Norms

Is it okay for a lay person to preach at Sunday Mass? 
This is clearly a liturgical abuse. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states:
The homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate. (GIRM 66)

Sunday, May 09, 2021

St Damien of Molokai bore witness to Jesus in a Leper Colony.

"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify." (John 15: 26, 27 Alleluia Verse).

Monday 10th May 2021, in the 6th Week of Easter is the feast of St Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai. (1840 - 1889). Priest. Belgian missionary. Father Damien requested to be sent to the leper colony in Molokai where he spent the rest of his life ministering to lepers. Four of these years were lived in confinement after he contracted leprosy. St Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009. He is the patron saint of people with leprosy.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will bear witness to His person and His work through you and me. We are no longer neophytes. It has been many years since our Baptism. Baptism is the Sacrament that calls us to Mission and Witness.

Example of those who witnessed to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost:
Peter, John, Stephen, Barnabas, James. These saints were expressly mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.
In today's first Reading from Acts 16: 11 - 15, a wealthy business woman of Philippi witnessed to Jesus after she was baptized by St Paul.

In the Cursillo Movement, you are challenged every week in the small group meeting with this question:
"What Apostolic success did the Lord want to accomplish in His Church through you this week?
  * In your family
  * In your neighborhood
  * In your environment

These questions challenge me and  remind me that Baptism is for Mission and Witness. Jesus tells us today: "You too (you reading this) will witness to me." In your family, market place, environment, etc.

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