Sunday, October 30, 2016

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: He Wants to Stay In Your Place

Before I get to today's reflection, I want to ask you for help. As many of you know, I started this site years ago and began with only 12 views. From there, this site has exploded with nearly a million views, a radio podcast and broadcast on You Tube. I noticed the hunger out there for God, especially from those outside of the Catholic Church. I believe the Lord is calling me and others to "go out into the deep" and "fish" for these souls. In order to do this, I need to expand this work and this costs money. I need to
continually renew the domain names I use, purchase equipment to keep the broadcasts as up
to date and professional as possible and need to pay for subscriptions in order to expand radio podcast hours. Moreover, I want to form an apostolate focused on reaching lapsed Catholics and those outside of the Church who may have been alienated. In order to do this, I will need to hire a lawyer to help with the legal documentation in order to trademark the apostolate and form it into a legal entity allowing for tax deductions for donators. I ask you to please help me raise about $35,000 in order to begin the process.  Please donate at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus. God will truly reward you for this effort. Be like Zacchaeus in today's reading and give away your possessions in order to help others spread the faith and care for souls.

Reflection:

Today's readings remind us that while God is bigger than the universe, He is not far from us or untouchable. The first reading reminds us that the universe is just a grain on a balance before God.
Those of you who studied astronomy know that the universe is extremely large. In fact, recently, astronomers have declared that there are more galaxies in the universe than previously thought. We with our technologies have barely scratched the surface, so to speak, on how big the universe really is. It may be eternal or may have a "wall" or end. We just do not know. The fact that this beautiful thing we call "the universe" exists is testament to how much bigger its creator is.  Despite the awesomeness of the creator, He is not far away (Acts 17:27, Jeremiah 23:23).  He is not an impersonal creator as deists believe. God looks upon all with mercy. This is because God can do all things (Luke 18:27). Sin, suffering and even death are not an obstacle to God. We who are the created panic when we see evil in the world.  This is because we are finite creatures.  We only see the limited, not the infinite.  God loves all things and does not hate anything or anyone. Those who go around speaking for God claiming that He hates Gays, Muslims, other Christians and so on are mistaken. God loves all.  He loves all so much that He sent His only son to die a horrible death in order to redeem the world (John 3:16). God truly loves all of us.  He will us to existence, as the reading tells us.

Despite our wrongdoings, He spares us and waits for us to turn back to Him. God warns us about our sins and redirects us. We must be aware of this in our spiritual lives.  This will bring us to praise God's name for ever as the responsorial Psalm tells us. God is our king and also our father.  He loves each of us and knows each of us by name. We must bless Him and praise His name. We must be thankful to God always. In all He does, He is compassionate and loving.  God is not a liar. He always keeps His promises. We must remain faithful even if we feel God is far away, which He is not. We must ask God to make us worthy of His calling, as the second reading reminds us.  Only God can direct our paths and perfect them. With His grace, we can fulfill whatever good purpose He calls us to.  Every effort of faith is perfected in Him, now ourselves. While we do cooperate in grace, it is ultimately God who is justifying us. We must try our bes to live holy lives that glorifies the name of Jesus. Our lives must reflect to others Christ.



Lastly, in today's Gospel, we read of the tax collector named Zacchaeus who was short in stature. He wanted to see Jesus, but could not for this very reason. Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree in order to be able to see Jesus. As Jesus passed, He sees Zacchaeus and tells him to come down because He is staying at his place. Can you imagine this? Imagine if Christ sees you and tells you He is staying at your place! Would this not be so awesome?  Well guess what! He does this every day. Christ tells us that He wants to stay in our place, the heart. He waits for us in the Blessed Sacrament. Zacchaeus I can imagine was a bit confused. He probably wondered why Jesus chose him out of the many others. This was because Zacchaeus did everything possible to "see" Jesus. He climbed an obstacle. Jesus
notices this. We today are like Zacchaeus who climb every obstacle in our lives in order to see Christ. When we do this, Christ notices us and makes a place for Himself at our home, the heart. Now, there will be those people who will criticize us when we get closer to God. In the Gospel, we read of those who went to see Jesus who were upset that Jesus paid more attention to Zacchaeus, a tax collector who was hated for doing his job. Even today, the tax collector is not a welcomed person. Those who pay taxes to the IRS or any other government tax agency know very well how tax employees are disliked. Despite this,Christ loved Zacchaeus. Christ is not prejudice. Moreover, Zacchaeus was overjoyed that Christ wanted to go to his home. Despite being a sinner and hated by the crowd, Jesus wanted to spend time with him. Christ goes after those who are pariahs in society. The sinner is not far from God despite his or her sins. Christ waits for him or her to invite him to his or her home. Zacchaeus offers half of his goods to the poor. He shows the change he made after realizing that Christ wanted to go to his home. He turns around and offers to repay four times what he took from others. Jesus sees this and tells him that salvation hascome to his home. The story of Zachaeus should remind us of our spiritual lives. We must not feel like God is impossible to reach. He may be bigger than the universe, but not impossible to reach. Like Zacchaeus, we must climb obstacles to see Him and let Him come inside to our home, the heart. However, this is not all. We must make the necessary changes in order to obtain salvation "in our home." St. Augustine tells us, "The Lord, who had already welcomed Zacchaeus in his heart, was now ready to be welcomed by him in his house. He said, 'Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down, since I have to stay in your house.' He thought it was a marvelous piece of good luck to see Christ. While imagining it was a marvelous piece of luck quite beyond words to see him passing by, he was suddenly found worthy to have him in his house. Grace is poured out, and faith starts working through love. Christ, who was already dwelling in his heart, is welcomed into his house.  Zacchaeus says to Christ, 'Lord, half my goods I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times over." It is as if he were saying, "The reason I am keeping back half for myself is not in order to have it, but to have something from which to pay people back.' There you are. That is really what welcoming Jesus means, welcoming him into your heart. Christ was already there. He was in Zacchaeus and spoke through him. The apostle says that this is what it means, 'For Christ to dwell by faith in your hearts.' ("Sermon 174.5", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 291.)

We must invite God in and allow Him to enter, no questions asked. We must not shut ourselves to christ, even in difficult times. Changing out lives and becoming detached are important. We must be willing to let go of even our possessions for the sake of Christ. This is why I invest a lot on bringing the Gospel to others, especially those outside of the Church and why I ask my readers to become benefactors and help me expand this evangelization work. We can use money to please ourselves or we can use it to please God and spread the Gospel. Which is more important? St. Jerome tells us, "There certainly is much truth in a certain saying of a philosopher, 'Every rich man is either wicked or the heir of wickedness.' That is why the Lord and Savior says that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Someone may raise the objection, 'How did wealthy Zacchaeus enter the kingdom of heaven?' He gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The Lord and Savior did not say that the rich would not enter the kingdom of heaven but that they will enter with difficulty. ("Homily on Psalm 83", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 290.)"  Having possessions or wealth in itself is not bad. As St. Maximus of
Turin tells us, "Zacchaeus must be praised. His riches were unable to keep him from the royal threshold. He should be greatly praised because his riches brought him to the threshold of the kingdom. From this, we understand that wealth is not a hindrance but a help to attaining the glory of Christ. While we possess it, we should not squander it on wild living but give it away for the sake of salvation. There is no crime in possessions, but there is crime in those who do not know how to use possessions. For the foolish, wealth is a temptation to vice, but for the wise, it is a help to virtue. Some receive an opportunity for salvation, but others acquire an obstacle of condemnation ("Sermons 95-96", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers
Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 291.)." We must make use of our wealth to serve God and others. Storing up wealth on earth just for the sake of storing is problematic. When we die, we do not carry our checkbooks with us nor our safes. These stay on earth for others to enjoy. If we use our wealth to serve God and others, we will demonstrate that resolve to change just like Zacchaeus. This is why I ask you to please be generous and help me raise the funds necessary to truly expand this evangelization work. This work serves God and others. God will reward you for being generous. Remember that you are not held back from approaching God. Climb the sycamores in your life and allow Christ to visit your home. Be generous and let go of material wealth for the sake of the faith. May Jesus Christ be praised.




Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/103016.cfm



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Anti-Catholic Jack Chick Dead at 92

Before there was Westboro, there was Jack Chick. Jack Thomas Chick was born on April 12, 1924 and died October 23 of this year 2016.  He was a cartoonist and a publisher who was fixated on defaming the Catholic Church and promoting heresies. Chick used his artistic ability to post lies and misconceptions on the Catholic faith as well as Islam, Jews, Gays and others. He published many booklets which he called "chicklets" which were modeled after comic books.  These booklets accused the Catholic Church of many conspiracies such as creating Islam, the Ku Klux Klan, the Holocaust, Communism, major World Wars, Nazism, the Great Depression and so forth.  He even claimed that the Catholic Church founded the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons!

Chick condemned Catholics and all who did not think like him to hell. He promoted bigotry and paranoia. Jack Chick became an Evangelical Baptist after World War II via the Charles E. Fuller radio program, "Old Fashioned Revival Hour." By the 1960s, he began creating his "chicklets" eventually leading to the formation of his own print company in the late '70s. As expected, Chick's tracts were controversial even among other Evangelicals who had issue with his harsh attacks against Catholics. Chick wrote a booklet on "Alberto Rivera" who was an alleged former Jesuit priest. This "priest" claimed to know secrets about the Catholic Church as an "insider." He claimed that the Catholic Church was responsible for Freemasonry and a whole host of other conspiracies. In 1981, writer Gary Metz of Cornerstone magazine exposed Alberto as a fraud.  He was never a priest and had a history of legal problems such as fraud, credit card theft and using phony checks. Alberto claimed to have left the Catholic Church in 1952, however, he was promoting Catholicism in a newspaper interview years later. His claims of possessing doctoral degrees was also proven false. He died in 1997.



Jack Chick's tactic of using falsehoods is widely known. Many in the Protestant community avoid his content as hateful and even see them as a parody. His Bible illiteracy is clearly visible in each tract. In one, he calls the Holy Eucharist "the death cookie" despite Jesus Himself stating that He is the bread of life and the historical and biblical fact that the Mass has been a rite since the times of the disciples. In fact, the Romans thought the early Christians who were Catholic were cannibals because of how serious they believed that Jesus was present under the appearance of bread and wine. Jack Chick also claimed that the words magical incantation "hocus pocus" came from the words used at Mass for Consecration (HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM).  The truth of the matter is that it was the name of a magician. \ In another tract, Chick attacks Islam claiming that it comes from a Pagan religion that worshiped a moon deity. Scholars have dismissed this claim as lacking substance.

In any event, Jack Chick was a talent artist. It is unfortunate that he used his talent to promote hate and lies. One does not have to be a college graduate to see his booklets had no academic value.  His material will most likely be collected as artifacts of American history. All we can do is pray that God had mercy on his soul. We Catholics are called to love and pray for those who hate us.  Jack Chick lived a life of ignorance and fundamentalism which is not compatible with faith in God. May God have mercy on him and may he rest in peace.








 


Source:

http://www.chick.com/

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/25/jack-chick-christian-comic-cartoonist-death

http://www.wnd.com/2016/10/jack-chick-christian-tract-evangelist-dies/

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/october/died-jack-chick-cartoonist-controversial-gospel-tracts.html

https://boingboing.net/2016/10/24/rip-jack-chick-father-of-the.html

Metz, Gary (1981). "The Alberto Story". Cornerstone. 9 (53): 29–31. Archived from the original on 2005-12-02

"Hocus Pocus Junior: The Anatomie of Legerdemain"

http://www.hocuspocusjr.com/hocvspocvsjr.htm

http://www.latinliturgy.com/id18.htm


Sunday, October 23, 2016

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: God Hears the Humble

Today's readings continue from last Sunday on the theme that God is just and listens to the humble and righteous person.

In the first reading, we are reminded how God has no favorites but does focus a bit more on the weak, the oppressed and the widow.  God is not deaf to them and we are given an image of how the prayers of the weak, orphan, oppressed and widow "travels" to God.  They pierce the clouds and do not rest until they reach their goal.  God, in turn, does not delay in answering them. God is always there listening and answering our prayers, especially those prayers that come from those who are suffering injustices (Psalm 34:17).  In this Year of Mercy, we must remember those around the world suffering injustices. Our Holy Father Pope Francis has made it a top priority to help refugees in war-torn lands. It is sad to read tweets and other comments from aledged Christians who attack the pope for reminding us how to be Christian. These people put partisan politics over Christ and the Works of Mercy. God will judge them for this because we all will be measured against how we treat others (Matthew 7:2).  Matthew 25:35-40 is a top priority in the Christian faith.  We are not just called to go to Mass and pray; we are also called to be our brother's keeper, even if this brother is a stranger or even an enemy (Deuteronomy 10:19, Matthew 5:44). I know this is very difficult to process for all of us, but we must trust God. We must set aside our worries and ego and let charity take over.  When we do help others, we must do it for God and the person, not for recognition (Matthew 6:4). These acts should be genuine, without ulterior motives. We cannot be like those who keep a list of the good works they have performed believing God is taking score in heaven and will reward them.  He will tell them that He does not know them (Matthew 7:21-23).  Pride and careerism are not part of the Christian life.  We must do good and not look at who we are doing good towards, so to speak.  God will help them and us.  We are reminded in the responsorial Psalm that God hears the cry of the poor.  God is a just God who hears the cry of the poor and handles the evildoer with justice (Psalm 147:6).  God is close to those who are brokenhearted, depressed and crushed in spirit (Proverbs 29:23). He saves them and rescues them from their misery.

God is a Father to us.  He is not some oppressive cosmic agent out there in existence taking pleasure at our demise like how the ancient Greeks described Zeus and other malevolent deities as being. They totally did not understand the nature of God which is goodness (Psalm 136:1). God only seeks the best for us, even in times of suffering.  This is why we read in the second reading how St. Paul describes his suffering.  He is "poured our like a libation." A libation was used in Pagan rituals to please the gods by pouring wine or other liquid on altars or sacrifices. St. Paul uses the Pagan imagery to describe his life and service being offered to God. Our lives must also be a libation to God. We should "pour ourselves" before the Lord and offer Him all of our pains, sufferings, joys and all that makes us human (Colossians 1:24). We are in a race, as St. Paul describes. In this race, we will tire from running. Things around us will try to prevent us from finishing, but we must move on without stopping.  At the end, if we persevere, we will receive the crown of righteousness.  The Christian life is not "puppy and kittens," so to speak. We must suffer.  This suffering may even include the abandonment of those we thought were our friends, family, and fellow Catholics!  We must pray for them. God is the one who gives us strength and keeps us on the course.  He will rescue us from the "lion's mouth" we may face daily in our lives. Faith, hope, and love are our guides. These are more effective when we are humble.

The Gospel for today reminds us of being humble. Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector.  Both were praying.  The Pharisee took his place and prayed to God thanking God that he was not like other people.  He even singled out the tax collector as an example before God.  The Pharisee then lists all the things he does in the name of God as if God needs to be reminded.  We can see how arrogant this guy was! He thought he was the best thing since slice bread, so to speak! The tax collector, on the other hand, prayed looking downward and beat his breast in an act of contrition. He did not thank God for making him different from others, nor did he list his religious practices or good works. All he did was an act of contrition. Jesus uses this parable to present the importance of how being humble is if we are to be with God. St. Basil tells us, "Never place yourself above anyone, not even great sinners. Humility often saves a sinner who has committed many terrible transgressions ("On Humility", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 280.)." We must never put ourselves above anyone else. All of us are equal in the eyes of God. Human beings can make themselves kings or queens, presidents or prime ministers, but we are all the same before God. One of us may live in a mansion and another in the projects in an inner city.  In the end, we all will dwell in the cemetery in the same earth.  Humility is important in the Christian life.  It puts things in perspective. If we see ourselves as not being above others, then we will be more psychologically compelled to help others and love them. However, if we look down at others, we will feel all high and mighty believing others are like bugs under us that we can trample over without concern. St. Augustine puts it using the role of a doctor and patient, he states, "How useful and necessary a medicine is repentance! People who remember that they are only human will readily understand this. It is written, 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' … The Pharisee was not rejoicing so much in his own clean bill of health as in comparing it with the diseases of others. He came to the doctor. It would have been more worthwhile to inform him by confession of the things that were wrong with himself instead of keeping his wounds secret and having the nerve to crow over the scars of others. It is not surprising that the tax collector went away cured, since he had not been ashamed of showing where he felt pain (: "Sermon 351.1", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 279)." We must be reminded that we do not justify ourselves, God does. Unfortunately, some of us Catholics live life religiously in a mechanical way. We do things in the name of obligation and not sincerity. In our parishes, we may encounter others who seek positions of power just to lord over others. We see others give money or perform a task just to gain recognition. This is not Christianity.  It is egoism. We can go to daily Mass, confess every day, pray a million Rosaries and chaplets, but if we do not have love and humility, then there is no point (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). We like the Pharisee will only be condemning ourselves. St. Cyril of Alexandria states,"What profit is there in fasting twice in the week if it serves only as a pretext for ignorance and vanity and makes you proud, haughty and selfish? You tithe your possessions and boast about it. In another way, you provoke God's anger by condemning and accusing other people because of this. You are puffed up, although not crowned by the divine decree for righteousness. On the contrary, you heap praises on yourself. He says, 'I am not as the rest of humankind.' Moderate yourself, O Pharisee. Put a door and lock on your tongue. You speak to God who knows all things. Wait for the decree of the judge. No one who is skilled in wrestling ever crowns himself. No one receives the crown from himself and then still waits for the summons of the referee.… Lower your pride, because arrogance is accursed and hated by God… No one who is in good health ridicules one who is sick for being laid up and bedridden. He is rather afraid, for perhaps he may become the victim of similar sufferings. A person in battle, because another has fallen, does not praise himself for having escaped from misfortune. The weakness of others is not a suitable subject for praise for those who are in health ("Commentary on Luke, Homily 120", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 279)."  We all must be humble. Humility begins when we remember that we are not God. It begins when we ask God for mercy. This act reminds us that we are not perfect and need God. Since it reminds us that we are not perfect, this brings us to help others because we are no better than they are.  Let us be humble.  Let us not be the Catholic-Pharisee who finds faults in others and not our own.  Let us not be like the Catholic-Pharisee who thinks he or she knows more than even the pope and bishops.  Let us not be the Catholic-Pharisee who is so stuck on nostalgia that we label others as "Novus ordo cultists" and begin to decide who is a true Catholic and who is not based on our nostalgia, bias and ignorance. A seed grows from the ground up, not the other way around. This is why humility is the way to go if we are to rise up to God. Remember, pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18).  May Jesus Christ be praised!



Readings:  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/102316.cfm

Please help expand this evangelization work by donating via my PayPal and/or www.gofundme.com/Sacerdotus    

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nintendo Nx now Nintendo Switch

Nintendo has just officially announced its new gaming system.  Originally thought of to be "Nintendo NX," the company has officially announced it as the "Nintendo Switch." The console is extremely unusual in design. The controllers are small and almost look like remote controls that come with air conditioners. This system is not expected to be as powerful as the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, but has something the aforementioned do not have.  The Nintendo Switch has a tablet that can be removed.

Users can continue playing their games on the portable tablet.  In other words, one can take the console anywhere and not have to be at home stuck to a television and hooked up console. This feature is being celebrated by gamers, especially hardcore fans of Nintendo.  Nintendo has suffered some losses due to poor sales of its current system, the Wii U. This console is more family oriented and may not have gotten the attention of today's youth who crave violence and action. The system saw an increase of sales after the release of Mario Kart 8, but sales were not enough to compete against Sony and Microsoft as well as cell phone app games.

With the Nintendo Switch, there may be a big increase of Nintendo gamers who will find the portability of the new console as "cool."  Games are already being announced, including a new Mario game where he is featured in New York City, a revamped Mario Kart 8 and a whole host of other games.





Source:

http://www.theverge.com/games/2016/10/20/13342308/nintendo-switch-nx-console-reveal-video-trailer-release

http://www.polygon.com/2016/10/20/13345686/nintendo-switch-news

http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/20/technology/nintendo-switch-revealed/


Sunday, October 16, 2016

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time: God is Just

Today's readings remind us that God is just and always helps.

In the first reading, we read of Amalek who wages war against Israel. Amalek and the Amalekites were a ruthless group.  They were a nomadic nation who attacked the Hebrews for no reason.  These people were extremely wicked and capable of anything.  A contemporary example of them are ISIS and in the comic book "The Walking Dead" the group "Negan."  In my book, "Atheism Is Stupid," I mention the Amalekites when addressing the claim by Atheists that "God is evil" because God allows their destruction.  Atheists are not biblical scholars, so naturally, they will read the accounts in the Bible and call God evil and accuse Him of genocide, when this is, in fact, far from the truth.  Anyhow, as the Hebrews fight off the Amalekites, Moses raises his hand up in prayer.  As he does this, the Hebrews get the upper hand.  When he lowers his hands out of fatigue, the Amalekites get the upper hand. This narrative tells us that the power of prayer is more powerful than that of armies. It is the prayer of the holy man Moses which gives the upper hand to the Hebrews because God sides with the one who prays and is holy (James 5:16).

In this month of October, we should recall the Rosary.  The Rosary is a very powerful prayer.  St. Pio of Pietrelcina and Blessed Pope Pius IX both described the Rosary as a weapon and an instrument which can be used to conquer the world.  They are correct!  The Rosary is a prayer that entails the Gospel. We walk with Mary as she shows us her Son via the mysteries. I recommend that all Catholics pray the Rosary. Like Moses and the Hebrews, you will get the upper hand as you pray while facing today's Amalekites.  God is truly our help as the responsorial Psalm tells us.  We sometimes feel hopeless in life wondering when help will come. Help seems far away.  However, our help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth. This verse is used as a final blessing by bishops and is a great reminder that we must depend on God. God is always there to aid us in any need. He will not let us suffer anything that we cannot handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).  God is with us and all around us as St. Patrick describes in his beautiful prayer. We must trust in God always and ask for His protection against the evils of this world, especially the spiritual ones which cause more damage than the physical ones.  It can be rough, but we must persevere in prayer and hold fast to what we have learned and believe.

This is what we are told in the second reading.  We must be faithful to the Sacred Deposit of the Faith. Our faith is not a salad bar where we pick and choose from what we want and do not want as the late Cardinal O' Connor, Archbishop of New York once stated.  We must accept the entire meal, so to speak. In fact, we can compare the faith to a healthy meal. Many times, we avoid vegetables because of their taste or texture and go for the meat and dessert.  We find those pleasure and delicious.  However, the truth of the matter is that the vegetables are better for us than meat and dessert.  Vegetables may not taste so good or feel so good in our mouths, but they are rich in nutrients.  The same with the faith and some harder aspects of it which unfortunately some Catholics cannot take in like contraception, abortion, divorce and same-sex marriage.  These hard teachings are like the vegetables we sometimes dread.  However, if we accept them, we will be truly nourished.  It may take time, but we must start out with milk before taking the solid food, as St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:2. Our faith comes from Christ who is the Truth. Who are we to reject any part of the Truth? Do we know better than Christ?!  Of course not!  We are told in the second reading the value of the Sacred Scriptures.  They are inspired by God and are useful for teaching, refutation, correction and righteousness.  Unfortunately, not too many Catholics read the Bible. This is sad. The Bible is God's word.

Our separated friends in the Protestant faith often use today's second reading to claim that we only need the Bible and not Sacred Tradition or the Magisterium of the Church.  This is a bad interpretation of this scripture.  The reading does not say "Scripture Alone," it says that Scripture is "USEFUL," not the only source.  In fact, Scripture tells us that we must also rely on Sacred Tradition in 2 Thessalonians 2:15. The interesting thing about Protestants and their interpretation of today's second reading is that when this verse was said and written, the only Scriptures around were the Hebrew Scriptures!  There was no New Testament. If we take the Protestant interpretation of "Sola Scriptura," then we can only call the Old Testament as inspired by God and reject the New Testament because the latter was not even finished. Moreover, we cannot rely solely on Scripture because Scripture does not even list the canon or list of books that make up the Bible. If the Bible is the only thing we must use to teach and learn on the faith, then how can we address where the list that makes the Bible come from?  For this, we must look at Tradition and history. It was Pope Damasus who ordered the official canon be comprised with 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.  If it was not for Pope Damasus, we would not have a Bible. It was the Catholic Church that gave us the Bible and hence why the Church is the PILLAR and FOUNDATION of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)!  This is why only the Catholic Church can interpret Scripture via the Holy Spirit (CDF, "Instruction Concerning the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian," 21). The Bible is not open to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).  We must share this with our Protestant friends and evangelize them with charity.

Lastly, in the Gospel, we read another parable from Christ concerning a judge who sounds like an atheist who had no fear of God nor respected any human being. This judge heard the case of a widow and was reluctant on helping her but then agreed to do so because she was "bothering" him. Christ then states that God will secure the rights of His chosen ones who call out to Him.  This is why we must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). God will answer us.  He may not answer us in the way we want but will answer us in the way we need.  God is just. God does not cheat anyone nor is He unfair. He will be there for us. Christ then asks if there will be faith on earth when He returns. This is an important question because it may be a clue as to when the world will end.  Christ mentioned how He will come like a thief in the night and catch everyone by surprise. We must wonder if the end of the world will come when religion is dead and atheism seems like the norm. It is clear to me that we are seeing this today. Study after study from the Pew Study organization claims that religion is on the decline. We see Mass attendance declining and people questioning the faith more and more. Strange ideas such as gender theory are taking over. No one seems to know what a male or female is anymore. It is a scary time. We can see the "fingerprints" of the enemy Satan in all of this who sows confusion and deception. Satan wants us to think that there is no God; that there is no gender; that life does not begin at conception but only when a judge says so; that marriage can be anything we want; that we can destroy the earth to live comfortable lives; that we can believe whatever we want because everything is a social construct etc. This is all a lie.

We must persevere in the faith and fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us,"The power that changes the world and transforms it into the Kingdom of God, in silence and without fanfare, is faith—and prayer is the expression of faith. When faith is filled with love for God, recognized as a good and just Father, prayer becomes persevering, insistent, it becomes a groan of the spirit, a cry of the soul that penetrates God’s Heart. Thus, prayer becomes the greatest transforming power in the world. In the face of a difficult and complex social reality, it is essential to strengthen hope which is based on faith and expressed in unflagging prayer. It is prayer that keeps the torch of faith alight. Jesus asks as we heard at the end of the Gospel: 'When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?' (Lk 18:8). It is a question that makes us think. What will be our answer to this disturbing question? Today, let us repeat together with humble courage: Lord, in coming among us at this Sunday celebration you find us gathered together with the lamp of faith lit. We believe and trust in you! Increase our faith! (Source: Pastoral Visit to Naples, October 21, 2007.)." Things will get worse. The Church will suffer greatly. Be prepared!  Let us keep faith alive and pray without end like Moses. St. Cyril of Alexandria tells us, "The present parable assures us God will bend his ear to those who offer him their prayers, not carelessly nor negligently but with earnestness and constancy. The constant coming of the oppressed widow conquered the unjust judge, who did not fear God or have any shame. Even against his will, he granted her request. How will not he who loves mercy and hates iniquity, and who always gives his helping hand to those that love him, accept those who draw near to him day and night and avenge them as his elect? (Source: “Commentary on Luke, Homily 119”, quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 276)"

I cannot stress enough the importance of prayer.  We must pray always.  It must not be a "hobby" we do only on Sunday.  Prayer is a way of life!  Even our actions can be prayer, especially when we help others.  We must be ready for the day when Christ comes.  St. John Paul II reminds us, "The question with which Jesus ends the parable on the need “always to pray and not lose heart” frightens our soul. It is a question that is not immediately followed by an answer: indeed, it is intended as a challenge to each person, each ecclesial community, each human generation. Each one of us must give an answer. Christ wants to remind us that human life is directed to the final meeting with God; but in this perspective he asks himself whether, on his return, he will find souls ready, waiting for him, to enter the Father’s house with him. This is why he says to everyone 'Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour' (Mt 25:13). (Source:  John Paul II, Homilies of Pope John Paul II (English) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2014). October 21, 2001.)"  May Jesus Christ be praised!  


Readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/101616.cfm

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: God is Merciful, Be Thankful

Today's readings remind us to always be faithful and thankful to God.

In the first reading, we read of Naaman who was a leper.  Elisha told Naaman to go into the Jordan river and plunge himself seven times.  As you may know, the number seven means perfection or completion.  It is the number connected to God (Deuteronomy 5:12, Joshua 6:3-4, Exodus 25:37).  By stating that Naaman was plunging himself seven times in the Jordan, this meant that he became good with God.  His flesh became like that of a little child. When we return to God, we are like children running back to our parent(s) after wandering away too far. The statement that Naaman's flesh became like that of a child should remind us of what Jesus say about being like a child (Matthew 18:3).  It is only when we reach this humility that we see God and our leprosy (sin) is removed. Naaman realized that the real God was in Israel.  This does not mean that God is stuck in a nation. No one can contain God (1 Kings 8:27). What this means is that the God of Israel is the real God, not the many idols made of stone and wood that were around during the time. God has revealed Himself to all of the world.

We have seen His saving power, as the Responsorial Psalm tells us.  This is why we sing to God a new song and praise Him for He has made known His salvation to each of us.  We must remain faithful and share this news of salvation to all of the world even if we suffer as St. Paul tells us in the second reading (Matthew 28:19).  Jesus Christ rose from the dead (Luke 24). This was not metaphorical nor a legend. He really did rise. We do not need to see a video of it to believe this.  At the time, many people claimed to be the messiah and did not last long (Matthew 24:24).  People did not believe them and abandoned these preachers.  The main reasons as to why this happened is because 1) they did not fulfill the prophesies and 2) they did not perform the works of God. Jesus did fulfill the prophecies and performed many miracles (Matthew 5:17, John 19:30, John 20:30). However, despite performing them, some still did not believe. The resurrection changed this for many. The early Catholic Church would not have grown the way it did if the resurrection did not happen. People would not dedicate their lives to Christianity if it was based on tall tales and legend. They would not face persecution, torture and death if who they were suffering for was not the real thing, so to speak.  This is why St. Paul was open to suffering and imprisonment.  He was chained, but the Gospel was not.  The Gospel can never be chained. In season or out of season, the Word will thrive even after heaven and earth pass (Matthew 24:35). We as Catholics must have this zeal and be open to suffering for the sake of the Gospel.  Enemies of the Church may martyr us, but the Gospel will not die with the death of even a million of us.  The Gospel will live on forever.  We may die, but if we die with Him, we will live and reign with Him (John 11:26).  However, if we deny Him, He will deny us (Matthew 10:33).  God is always faithful. He is good to us and we must reciprocate this. We must not become ingrates like those nine lepers we will read about in today's Gospel.

In today's Gospel, we are told that ten lepers met up with Jesus and shouted, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"  Jesus did not turn them away.  Instead, He tells them to go show themselves to the Jewish priests. He says this because He had mercy on them and cured them.  Here we see how merciful God is that a mere shouting of "Have pity on us" is suffice to get God to show mercy.  This is why we must pray for those who are not in our faith or do not believe, especially at the end of their lives.  We hope that non-Catholics, atheists and agnostics use their last seconds of life to say like the lepers, "Have pity on us!" The Gospel reminds us that we must be thankful to God and not hustle Him, so to speak.  Out of the ten lepers, only one returned to Jesus to thank Him.  The others disappeared after their healing.  St. Athanasius tells us, "You recall that he loved the one who was thankful, but he was angry with the ungrateful ones, because they did not acknowledge their Deliverer. They thought more highly of their cure from leprosy than of him who had healed them.… Actually, this one was given much more than the rest. Besides being healed of his leprosy, he was told by the Lord, 'Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.' You see, those who give thanks and those who glorify have the same kind of feelings. They bless their helper for the benefits they have received. That is why Paul urged everybody to 'glorify God with your body.' Isaiah also commanded, 'Give glory to God. (“Festal Letter 6”, quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 268.)'"  Ironically, this leper was a Samaritan who was part of a sect that lived the Jewish life in a lax or liberal way and were despised by those who were more conservative. This is why we must not judge others who may worship differently or liberally (John 8:7).

In many cases, these people are holier than those who adhere to liturgical rules and traditionalism as if their life depended on it. The alleged "modernist" may be holier than the staunch "traditionalist."  We must not judge one another (Matthew 7:1-3).  We must be humble like that one leper who returned to Christ to give thanks.  He realized that Christ not only healed Him, but forgave Him and showed him how much he was loved.  St. Bede tells us, "The one leper fell upon his face, because he blushed with shame when he remembered the evils he had committed. And he was commanded to rise and walk, because he who, knowing his own weakness and lying lowly on the ground, was led by the divine word to accomplish mighty deeds. Faith made him whole, and so he hurried himself back to give thanks. But unbelief destroys those who have neglected to give glory to God for mercies received. Therefore we ought to increase our faith by humility, as exemplified here (Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 3 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 587-588.)."  God is good to us.  Even in times of trial and suffering, we must try our best to realize that this suffering is for a greater good (Acts 17:11). God is not some cosmic masochist getting a laugh of each soul's stumble and pain.  He is a loving father who sometimes uses tough love, so to speak. Therefore, we must give thanks to God for both the good and the bad; I dare to say, for the bad more.  I state this because it is the bad things in life that either break or make our faith. If one can go through "hell," so to speak, and not come out a bitter atheist, this is testament to a great faith and love for God which will be rewarded. St. Josemaría Escrivá reminds us, "Get used to lifting your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day. Because he gives you this and that. Because you have been despised. Because you haven’t what you need or because you have. Because he made his Mother so beautiful, his Mother who is also your Mother. Because he created the sun and the moon and this animal and that plant. Because he made that man eloquent and you he left tongue-tied.Thank him for everything, because everything is good (Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 268.)."  Let us praise God always and remain faithful.  Let us thank God for all things in life and not treat Him as if He was our personal genie in a bottle granting us our desires.  He is our loving and merciful father.  May Jesus Christ be praised!



Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100916.cfm

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

#VPDebate 2016

The one and only vice presidential debate just took place. CBS News moderator Elaine Quijano took the task of steering the discussion between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. This debate was more lively than the presidential debate with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In many instances, the democratic vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, interrupted Mike Pence. He took on the role as the aggressor and it made him look bad, in my opinion, and the opinion of many others.  Mike Pence did an excellent job.  He won the debate.  Pence was calm, poised and did not fall into the bait attempts by Tim Kaine.  Tim Kaine repeatedly tried to get Pence to address why Trump has not released his tax returns and also pushed to get Pence to defend Trump's statements in the past. Many believe that this may have been Pence's weakness.  He did not defend many of Trump's statements. Some even say that Pence threw Trump under the bus and was indirectly making the case for Pence 2020.  Pence represented himself well, and this came across as him distancing himself from Trump.

On the issues, Pence spoke eloquently while Kaine seemed unprepared and resorted to scripted one-liners which Pence called him out on.  Kaine was very condescending, smiling a lot and gave an air as if he was more intelligent as opposed to Pence who came off as humble and collective.  Tim Kaine really did not present anything solid in regards to the economy and other issues.  Pence clarified Trump's ideas but did not go entirely into detail.  On the topic of faith, Kaine stated that he does not believe that a public servant should push doctrine on citizens and criticized Pence's stance on abortion and a law passed in Indiana which calls for the funerals of unborn children killed in abortion.  Pence replied in an eloquent manner reiterating that human life is sacred and that a nation is judged by how it treats its weakest.    

Both sparred over Russia and Vladamir Putin with Kaine accusing Pence and Trump of calling the aforementioned a "better letter" than Obama. On nuclear weapons, Kaine accused Trump of favoring a nuclear war. Pence simply replied that Trump never said that. On taxes, Pence attacked Kaine for raising taxes in North Carolina and repeated that Trump would lower taxes while at the same time sharing his record in Indiana and how he lowered taxes and made the state better.  On the topic of immigration, Kaine kept repeating the accusation that Trump hates Mexicans and called them rapists and criminals.  Pence defended Trump stating that this was not true.  Kaine also accused Trump of wanting to deport all Mexicans.  Pence again said this was not true and stated that the targets for deportation were criminals, not all Mexicans.  Pence dismissed Kaine's accusations as "nonsense."  The moderator seemed to have been focusing on vetting Trump and did not do the same with Clinton.  She kept allowing Kaine to interrupt Pence and would interrupt Pence.    

Again, I believe Pence won the debate tonight.  He showed great debating skills and temperament. Tim Kaine came across as a contrarian troll who was trying to bait Pence.  As to whether or not this will hurt Clinton, only time will tell.  In any event, Pence's performance may help Trump, especially with those who are afraid of a Trump presidency.  With Pence next to Trump, there may be some hope that Trump will be kept in check. However, most likely, whether intended or not, Pence made a case for his own bid for the presidency and let Republicans know that there is still of having a viable candidate within the party.  I would definitely vote for Mike Pence if he were to run for president! He is very intelligent, calm, poised and firm with his Christian values.  He would make an excellent president.

Here are polls I started and their results:










Source:







Sunday, October 2, 2016

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Have Faith!

Today's readings tell us about having faith.

In the first reading, we read of the prophet Habakkuk who is witnessing a tragedy in 7th century Judah before Christ. He is witnessing violence and ruin. As a result, he complains to God as to why he has to see this and why God does not intervene.  God simply says in response to write things down so that all can read it.  He describes the event as a vision that has "its time" and "presses on to fulfillment."  What this means is that God has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). God can bring good out of evil (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28). In today's world, we wonder many times why God allows evil. On the news, we see children being killed in Syria and other places due to war. In New York City, a 6 year old black boy was beaten to death by his mom with a broom as her boyfriend held the kid's head in the shower.  We see tragedies in our own neighborhoods or cities. We see people become victims of crime; perhaps even ourselves. These bad things bring us to complain to God: "Why!?"  We get upset and shout either internally or maybe even externally, "Where are you!?" This is the typical human response because humans are finite creatures.  They can only see things based on their senses and perception of space and time. This brings about all kinds of anxieties.

Imagine if we knew the day we were going to die. Do you think we will live our lives carelessly or make rigid plans? The answer is no. We will try to live each day to the best of our ability because we already know that the hourglass is pouring away. Our perspective would change if we had the ability to know our expiration day beforehand, so to speak.  However, this is not how life works. We are conceived, born and grow. We do not know what will happen a minute from now, more less when we will die. Only God knows these things (Psalm 139:2). Because we do not know, we worry. When we worry, we lose hope. When we lose hope, we lose faith; and when we lose these, we lose charity or love. Life then becomes a survival of the fittest contest where we believe in nothing and love no one but ourselves. This is why God tells Habakkuk, "The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live." We must have faith. We must trust God even in horrible times when it feels like God packed up His bags and went on vacation, so to speak (Psalm 37:5).

At all times, especially bad ones, we must look to Jesus for faith (Hebrews 12:2). We must not harden our hearts like the Jews did, as we are told in the Responsorial Psalm, which is used as the Gospel Canticle for Lauds or morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. Instead, we must sing to God joyfully and praise Him. At Mass and in our private prayer time, we bow and kneel before Him in prayer and worship. This is a gesture of humility before God. We surrender to God and let Him flood us with grace. Before God, we are "half" the person we think we are. The act of kneeling or bowing represents this physically. We cannot stand eye to eye, shoulder to shoulder with God. God and man are not equals. He is our God and we are His people, the flock He cares for, as the Psalm states. However, we must not do like the Hebrews at Meribaha where they challenged God (Exodus 17:7, Numbers 20:13).  While there, they denied God and questioned His care and omnipotence. We must not become ungrateful after witnessing in our lives the wonders God worked just like the Hebrews who saw great wonders and then doubted (Luke 7:9).

Our hearts cannot be hardened in times of desperation and trial. We must be the just one who perseveres (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11). God will not give us anything we cannot handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Spirit we have received from Him is not a cowardly one, as the second reading tells us.  This Spirit brings us to be patient and self-controlled. We bear things from the world and even from among each other in the Church. Because of this Spirit, we must be courageous and have faith (Matthew 8:26). We must not be ashamed of the Gospel nor scared to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. People may mock us, and they surely will, but we must bear it for the sake of the Lord (Matthew 10:18). God will not be mocked and those who denied Him or were ashamed of Him will have to face Him at death or the end of times (Matthew 10:33, Galatians 6:7).  God will never abandon us and promised to be with us until the end of time (Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20).  When you are mocked or persecuted for your Catholic faith, smile. Smile because you know you are doing the right thing. This world hates God, so it will never be on your side or the side of our Catholic Church (John 15:18-19). That being said, do not expect to be comfortable as a Catholic in this world.

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of how the disciples ask Jesus for more faith. They do this because Jesus expected so much from them as you can see if you read the verses before verse 5. To their request, Jesus says that if they have the faith the size of a mustard seed, they would be able to tell mulberry trees to uproot themselves and plant themselves in the sea.  The trees would obey! Jesus was using hyperbole to make a point on how powerful faith is. The uprooting of trees means that any difficult challenge in our lives that may be rooted deep like a tree is not a permanent obstacle. It can be uprooted!  Mulberry trees can grow up to nearly 50 feet. I mention this to give some physical perspective of how big of an organism this is and which is not easy to move. St. John Chrysostom states "The mulberry may be also compared to the devil, for as by the leaves of the mulberry tree certain worms are fed, so the devil, by the imaginations which proceed from him, is feeding for us a never dying worm; but this mulberry tree faith is able to pluck out of our souls, and plunge it into the deep (Quoted in Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 3 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 581.)."  Jesus then tells the parable regarding servants and their proper place in he house of the master. He reminds them that no master tells his servants to come eat with him after they have tended the sheep and plowed the field. Jesus is reminding the disciples and us today that the work of the vineyard of the Lord is not a simple chore that we do. We must earn our keep, so to speak. We must work hard in our spiritual lives before we can be invited by the Master to sit and eat with Him.  Our spiritual life is not something we start and end when we receive a Sacrament or go to Mass.  It is a ongoing process and maturation, learning and purification.

Our Protestant brethren who believe in the heretical view that one must simply accept Jesus and one is saved must really meditate on today's Gospel. Such a pretense to salvation is vanity (1 Corinthians 10:12). St. Ambrose says, "Know that you are a servant overwhelmed by very much obedience. You must not set yourself first, because you are called a son of God. Grace must be acknowledged, but nature not overlooked. Do not boast of yourself if you have served well, as you should have done. The sun obeys, the moon complies, and the angels serve.… Let us not require praise from ourselves nor prevent the judgment of God and anticipate the sentence of the Judge but reserve it for its own time and Judge ("Exposition on the Gospel of Luke 8.31-32", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 245.)." We must work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12). Faith without works is dead and does not save (James 2:14-26).  St. Cyril of Alexandria tells us, "But which of you having a servant ploughing or feeding cattle ... In the verses which precede a long and important discourse has been addressed to us by the Lord, to shew unto us the paths which lead unto honour, and to manifest the glories of the blameless life, that making progress therein, and advancing zealously unto whatsoever is admirable we may attain unto “the prize of our high calling” [Philippians 3:14]. But since it is the nature of the mind of man ever to be carried away unto vaingloriousness, and to be afflicted most readily with a tendency thereto; and since a pretext for this fault is often given by the being distinguished before God for some of the noblest virtues; and since it is a sin grievous and hateful unto God:—for the serpent, the author of evil, leads men sometimes into such a state of mind, as for them to imagine perhaps that God even owes them the highest honours, when their life is glorious and distinguished:—to draw us away from such passions, He sets before us the purport of the lessons which have just been read, teaching us thereby, under the form of an example, that the might of sovereign authority demands everywhere of its slaves subjection as a debt. For the lord, He says, will not acknowledge any gratitude to the slave, even if all that is due be done by him, according to what becomes the condition of a slave (A Commentary upon the Gospel to Saint Luke, Sermons CXIII-CXVI)."

We must respond to grace with faith and put that faith into action. Even faith the size of a mustard seed is efficacious. St. Augustine says "A mustard seed looks small. Nothing is less noteworthy to the sight, but nothing is stronger to the taste. What does that signify but the very great fervor and inner strength of faith in the church ("Sermon 246.3", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 267.)?"  We must have faith always. This faith will carry us a long way and will uproot those mulberry trees in our path to God. We grow in faith by prayer and listening to God in His Word (Romans 10:17). This word softens our hearts and brings us to put faith into practice by hoping and loving God and our neighbor (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).  Do not become like the Hebrews in the desert who hardened their hearts. Do not panic like Habakuk in times of trial nor be afraid (Revelation 2:10, Revelation 3:10). Instead, have faith in God.  Persevere and fight the good fight (Romans 12:12, Colossians 1:11-12, Galatians 6:9, James 1:12, 1 Timothy 6:12).  May Jesus Christ be praised!      


Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100216.cfm

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