Saturday, March 11, 2023

You shall draw water from the wells of salvation.

The Scrutiny of the Samaritan Woman. 

"Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”

—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.

—Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 

"The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”

"Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this ­water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.

"I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” 

'Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

"The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one (who is) speaking with you.”

"Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him. When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 

"Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” (John 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42). 

Sunday March 12th of the 3rd Week in Lent. The Church celebrates for the candidates and catechumens coming into the Church this Easter Vigil the Rite of the Scrutiny. 

The Samaritan Woman who engaged Jesus in a spirited conversation might have thought that the meeting was accidental. There is no accidents in the Bible. Everything is providence. 

For you and for me, Jesus will encounter us in today's Mass first in His word. Do you have a thirst for God? Do you have a thirst for the things of God: the Church, Sacraments, Lent, Novenas, Prayer, Spiritual Reading, etc. As a catechized Catholic, this day is your Scrutiny to prepare you for an enhanced encounter with Jesus Christ in Easter. Embrace the opportunity. 

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Friday, March 10, 2023

The Prodigal Son surprised by mercy embraced it.

Our Abba Father is rich in mercy. 

The Prodigal Son embraces mercy. 

"Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, 

"But the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, 

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

"So to them Jesus addressed this parable.

“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ 

"So the father divided the property between them. 

"After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. 

"When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.

"And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. 

"Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. 

"I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’

"So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

"His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 

"But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ 

"Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. 

"The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

"He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.

"He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ 

"He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’” (Luke15:1-3, 11-32). 

Saturday March 11th 2023 in the 2nd Week of Lent. 

Abba Father is rich in mercy. This is the whole story of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. 

The second point in this great Parable is that the Elder brother of the Prodigal and the Prodigal Himself are beneficiaries of the merciful largesse of the Father. The Elder brother might not realize this at once but hopefully will do sooner than later. 

What is the one thing to take away from this teaching. It is time to prepare carefully for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for Easter. If you need a comprehensive list of the examination of conscience, click the link below:

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Thursday, March 09, 2023

The Church is the Vineyard of the Lord.

Does God make mistakes in His choices? 

"Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: 

“Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. 

"Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. 

"When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. 

"Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way.

"Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’

"But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ 

"They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

"What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”

"They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” 

"Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?

"Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will ­produce its fruit.”

"When the chief priests and the ­Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were ­attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they ­regarded him as a prophet." (Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46). 

Friday March 10th 2023 of 2nd week in Lent. 

The Gospel today is an allegory of the Kingdom of God and the mysterious ways of Divine Providence. In the Parable, the owner of the Vineyard appears weak and stupid. After the malevolent tenants had killed scores of the servants sent to collect the rent, he decided to send his only son without a military backup which is the only language that some wicked people understand. 

The deep mystery of God's mighty, merciful and mysterious Providence is not whitewashed in Sacred Scriptures. Take the first Reading for example: The brothers of Joseph out of blind envy sold Joseph into slavery. We know how the story of Joseph ended in Egypt. 

When we are faced with what we do not and cannot understand like: Why are wicked people made rulers? Why the Holocaust? Why did God permit Islam to wipe out Christianity in North Africa and the Middle East in the 7th century? Why Pharoah, why Hitler, why Stalin, etc? 

Our faith teaches us that God is infinite. We are not. He is all-knowing. We are too limited in our knowledge, vision and wisdom. 

Therefore we must accept and believe what we can not understand. 

God did not allow Satan have the last word in the crucifixion of Jesus. He rose again on the third day. St Augustine teaches that God could never permit evil if a greater good would not emerge from it. This is true. Your life experiences will bear testimony to this truth. 

Below is my favorite Scripture when I grapple with the mystery of Divine Providence:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord.

 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55: 8 - 9). 

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Wednesday, March 08, 2023

The Feast of St Frances of Rome.

The Feast of St Frances of Rome. 

"Jesus said to the Pharisees: 

“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.

 "Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. 

"The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 

"And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ 

"Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’

"He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ 

"But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ 

"He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 

"Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16: 19 - 31).

Thursday 9th March 2023 of  the 2nd Week of Lent is the feast of St Frances of Rome. (1384 - 1440). Italian. A married woman who raised three children in the way of the Lord.  Frances became a Benedictine Oblate and founded a community of Oblates in the heart of Rome. Besides being a wife and mother, Frances was a mystic and very involved in charitable services in Rome. In Frances, we have a unique example of love in marriage as well as in religious life.

With all the wealth and technological advances provided by God, why is poverty, ignorance disease still with us? 

Why are the few clinging tenaciously to their pleasure loving lifestyle unmoved by the preaching and teaching of the Church? 

Lent is a great time to pray about this. 

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Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Feast of St John of God.

Feast of St John of God. 

"As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way,

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

"Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” 

Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20: 17 - 28).

Wednesday 8th March 2023, in the 2nd Week of Lent is the feast of St John of God (1495 - 1550). Religious. Born Portuguese. Worked and died in Spain. A prodigal of some sort in his younger days. Once he was converted at the age of 40, everything changed. He became fired up with ministry to the poor and the sick.

 John was a man of many talents and at various times became a farmer, soldier and merchant. I knew St John of God as a pamphleteer because at the time I first read his biography, I used pamphlets for evangelization. He became my patron saint and is still one of my patron saints.

Saint John of God founded the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of Saint John of God. 

St John of God is the patron saint of hospitals, nurses, booksellers, pamphleteers.

The Gospel today is the chilling prediction of the Passion and Death of Jesus. It is clear that the disciples did not understand anything of  what Jesus said about the greatest event in His life and in human history. Do we understand better? Lent is the time to come to this great knowledge of our salvation. How do we do this? If you ask for the grace, you will be given to adopt the 7-Way Plan. Through the lavish grace of God, you can commit to daily Prayer, word of God, couple of weekday Masses, bi-weekly Confession, daily Examination of Conscience, spiritual reading and some ministry work. Remember that on our own, we can do nothing. God promises that if we ask, we will receive the help we need to serve Him. 

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Monday, March 06, 2023

Feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicity.

Feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicity. 

Tuesday 7th March 2023 of the 2nd week of Lent.

"Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, 

“The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. 

"For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. 

"They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 

"They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ 

"As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. 

"Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. 

"The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 1 - 12).

Jesus affirms the Teaching Authority of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church:

"Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example."

Do you see where Martin Luther and other so-called Reformers in the 16th century went into error? 

Jesus also affirms a different type of authority in the Church:

"The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” 

These groups are called Saints or Charismatics. They lead by quiet example. Our saints of today, Perpetua and Felicity belong to this group. 

Be pleased to work your sanctification within us O Lord by means of the Lenten observance of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Amen. 

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Sunday, March 05, 2023

Be merciful like Abba Father.

Learn to be merciful. 

"Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.

"Forgive and you will be forgiven. 

"Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.

 For the ­measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6: 36 - 38).

Monday March 6th 2023 in the 2nd Week of Lent. 

The core teaching of Jesus today is God's quid pro quo. You give to God. You receive gifts from God. You forgive your neighbor, God forgives you. Sounds simple to understand? Absolutely. Why then do we not do this? Because Satan, the Father of lies plants confusion into the messages of God. 

Lent is the time to overthrow the reign of Satan in our minds. The Church teaches that Prayer and Fasting is the sure-proof means of war in overcoming the control of Satan in our minds. 

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