Sunday, September 26, 2021

26th Sunday in Ordinary time - Let Us Cut It Out!

Urgent: I dislike putting these messages here, but I need your help.  Not enough donations have come in. Please help me reach my campaign goal so that I can maintain and expand this work for about 4-5 years more.  You will help to keep this work going and growing.  Please donate at, www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus. Thanks. 


Reflection:

Today's readings are about envying others who do things in God's name and "cutting" out what may send us to hell.

In the first reading we read of God coming down in a cloud and speaking to Moses.  We are told that God takes some of the spirit that was on Moses and gives it to seventy elders.  When He did this, those elders began to prophesy.  Two of the men, Eldad and Medad were not present but still received this spirit.  They too began to prophesy.  Joshua then tells Moses to stop them. Moses replies, "Are you jealous for my sake?  Would that all people of the Lord were prophets!  Would that the Lord might bestow His spirit on them all!"  He says this because Joshua felt that there was a sort of competition going on. To him, Moses should have been the only one prophesying.  However, Moses says that it would be better if all the people were prophets for the Lord and that each had His spirit. This ties in with today's Gospel.  We must not be envious of others nor prevent others from spreading God's word (Galatians 5:26). God gives to each of us gifts which bring joy to us and others as we read in the Psalm today.

The responsorial Psalm tells us that God's law is perfect and refreshes the soul.  Every decree from God is trustworthy.  The fear of the Lord or respect for Him is pure and endures forever.  As servants of God we must be careful with God's laws and follow them.  We must not let sin rule over us and must be blameless and innocent, free of sin (Matthew 5:48).  This means living unattached to things of this world like the second reading tells us.

We must not be like those rich people who whine and complain when they lose money or something does not go their way.  Material things should not define us (Hebrews 13:5).  They should not be relied upon unless for necessity (IE food etc).  So many people buy expensive cars, homes, clothing etc believing these will bring them status or joy.  It never ceases to amaze me how many rich people, especially singers, athletes and actors buy expensive mansions and then sell them within three to five years.  They sell them because they are expensive to upkeep.  Then when you add property taxes, it can get even more hairy to keep a mansion.
This is why we must not story up treasures that we clearly cannot take with us when we pass on (Luke 12:33, (Matthew 6:19-21).

The reading tells us, "Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud."  This phrase speaks well to what Pope Francis has been telling us, especially during his visit to the United States.  Unfortunately, some so-called "conservatives" have criticized him calling him a Marxist. He is no such thing. What he has reminded us is that greed is evil (Proverbs 11:28,Luke 12:15) . Capitalism is not a perfect system for all and is not a perfect system period.  Many people are left out of the "trickle-down economics" and the capitalist process.  There is something wrong when less that one percent hold almost all of the world's wealth.  Our Holy Father is calling attention to this; not to destroy capitalism, but to make it better and fair for all so that it focuses on the common good and not just the bank accounts of a few. In the medical field, notice how lately (past 50 years) we find treatments but no cures.  This is not a coincidence. A "cure" is not big business as it will only bring in profits once.  However, a treatment will bring profits all the time because they occur more than once. This is why the Pope speaks strongly against the abuse of capitalism. The things of this world will not last (Matthew 24:35).  We can live in luxury and pleasure  fattening ourselves up, but in the end, all of that stays here while our bodies rot in the grave (Matthew 6:20). We must cut out what is evil in our lives as the Gospel tells us.

In the Gospel, we see a similar scenario as in the first reading with Moses.  John tells Jesus that he saw someone driving our demons in His name and that they tried to stop him because the man was not part of the disciples.  Jesus' reply is interesting. He does not say, "Good."  Instead, He says, "Do not prevent him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.  For whoever is not against us ifs for us."  This speaks volumes even today where in many parishes there is sometimes a competition going on among the laity, among the clergy and even among both together. How many times have we become envious of others and their work in the Church?  I myself have been targeted at parishes and social media for my work; usually from "traditionalists" or "liberals."  These have interjected during my work with atheists and have tried to discredit me so that atheists would ignore me.  It brings up the question: who are they following, Christ or Satan?  Why impede the conversion of atheists with slander? They in their delusional understanding of the faith believe that only they truly profess and witness to the Catholic faith.  These are the postmodern Pharisees.  

Even outside of the Church, some of us may be bothered when we see "pastors" and others doing things in Jesus' name. We call them heretics and other bad things. This is wrong.  While these people are separated from Christ's true Church, they are still following Christ.  Jesus said He had sheep in other folds that still hear His name and will come join the one fold (John 10:16).  This is why ecumenism is important. Those who are against ecumenism and believe that we are a "militant church" that is at war with the world do not understand Christ nor Catholicism.  The term "militant Church" does not mean that we fight our brothers and sisters who are not Catholic.  We are not called to be Cain killing Abel in the world, so to speak.  It means that we are in a fight for our lives against the powers that be in this world that fool us into thinking money, power, the flesh etc are what bring eudaimonia or joy that never ceases (Ephesians 6:12). The Pope is not a heretic for praying with people of other faiths or for visiting a Protestant worship location or Mosque.

These people, while having different doctrines are worshiping the same God.  There is only ONE God up there listening to His children (1 Corinthians 8:6).  Some of our ancestors in our respective cultures may have named Him using different titles, or may have described Him based on culture, but that does not change the fact that there is only One God, One Creator. Lastly, we must protect our children.  The Holy Father told us at the World Meeting of Families that we must protect children who are our hope and future.  Jesus says, "whoever causes one of the little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."  These are strong words from Christ. They reflect how serious He was about protecting the little ones.  Unfortunately, some in our Church have offended these little ones in awful and evil ways. We must pray for all those involved, including the perpetrator.

If a child comes to us telling us of abuse, we must immediately report it to the police.  It is not our job to determine if kids are lying or not.  As the saying goes, "better safe than sorry."  All men have fallen short of God's grace, including the clergy (Romans 3:23). So we must not believe like in the past that priests cannot do any harm. We all have the defect found in the effects of original sin in us.  Because of this, we are predisposed to do all kinds of crazy and evil things (Colossians 3:5).  If you do not believe this, just turn on the news. You will hear all kinds of stories of beheading, rape, throwing babies in toilets, selling fetal parts, incest, parades with people having sex, States legalizing drug use, parents punching a girl to death and dumping her body on a beach, hashtags on Twitter celebrating abortion, I can go on and on, but you get the point.  We live in a beautiful world with ugly behaviors  in it.  This is why Christ tells us to "cut it out." He says that "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.  It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna."

Christ here is not saying to literally cut body parts off.  He is speaking metaphorically. Notice how He uses parts of the body that are essential to living but do not end life if they go missing. Jesus does not say to take out your heart or brain and throw them away because these organs are extremely vital to maintaining existence in the physical body.  We can lose hands, feet and eyes and still adapt to life but will face hardships of course.  The idea behind these words of Christ is to cut out what in our lives is keeping us in sin. We must go and sin no more (John 8:11).  Sin is like a cancer that keeps growing unless we kill it off or remove it. The more we sin, the more insensitive we become until we eventually set faith aside altogether (Ephesians 4:17-19). It is a cancer of the soul that effects the body and others around us (Micah 6:13, 1 Corinthians 11:27-30).  During this Covid-18 coronavirus pandemic, we have so many evils take hold. Large cities have become lawless. Murder and shootings have gone up.  We must cut all of this out. Reach out to people with the Good News and vote those out who do not share a reverence for God and morality.  So let us pray for one another and not be envious of others who preach Christ and have that Spirit of God in them. Let us protect our children and cut out what is keeping us from God.  May Jesus Christ be praised.


Readings: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Sunday, September 19, 2021

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Be Like A Child

 Urgent: I dislike putting these messages here, but I need your help.  Not enough donations have come in. Please help me reach my campaign goal so that I can maintain and expand this work for about 4-5 years more.  Please donate at, www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus. Thanks.


Reflection:
Today's readings focus on how Christ would suffer at the hands of the perfidious and how to answer our fallen human nature's drive to war and conflict.

In the first reading, we read the foreshadowing account of what Jesus would face during the passion.  He would be "obnoxious" to the people.  They will turn against Him because He rebukes their lifestyles (Mark 10:2). The people fought back against Him.  They tested Him and mocked Him because it says that "God will deliver Him" (Matthew 27:43).  Like Christ, we too will be mocked and harassed for speaking up for the truth ((Matthew 5:11, Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9)). We will be called smugish overly virtuous people who are obtrusive and so on. This is what a follower of Christ is to expect. But God upholds our lives as the Psalm tells us today.

God is our savior (Psalm 68:19).  It is in His name that we are saved (Acts 4:12, Romans 10:13).  God hears our prayers even in bad times when we feel abandoned by Him (Psalm 116:1, Psalm 17:6, Psalm 3:4). All kinds of arrogant people will rise up against us (2 Chronicles 36:16). This is expected when we publicly profess our faith in Jesus.  These people will seek our demise, slander us, and may even put us to death.  But we must not give up or become afraid. God will help us and will be there for us (Romans 8:31).  We must live in love, not hate like the second reading tells us (Ephesians 5:2).

War, jealousy, and so forth are things found in fallen human nature (Romans 1:18-32). These are the bad effects of Original Sin which brought about disorder in the world (Romans 5:12).  Unfortunately, these will continue to plague us as we advance in our spiritual lives. We will see fellow Catholics who may be jealous of us, or we ourselves may become envious of the positions others hold in the Church. Sometimes we start wars in our communities, parishes, workplace, and of course among nations. It seems like human beings love to fight each other. We fight over anything; religion, politics, places in line, material things, for the love or attention of others, etc. These are the bad effects of Original sin.

This is what happens when we set aside the law of God. We become like primitive animals seeking only our selfish ambitions. The novel "The Mist" by Stephen King comes to mind. A movie was even made about it. In this story, scientists open up a dimension to another world where these insect-like creatures enter and wreak havoc upon humanity. A group of people is trapped in a supermarket and little by little they go from being civilized to uncivilized. The rule of law disappears so they become driven by the instinct to survive. Meanwhile, a fanatical and demented Protestant Bible thumper begins to capitalize on the events by associating them with the Bible. She becomes a Jim Jones type as the people begin to believe her and also become psychotic.  They fight amongst each other. Human beings often have weak minds which are impressionable, especially to evil. We call this concupiscence (Romans 7:8, Colossians 3:5, CCC 1264). However, Christ it the key that unlocks these natural disordered instincts and sets us free (John 8:36, Galatians 5:1). We must trust Jesus and allow Him to transform our fallen human nature. In the Gospel, we will read how fallen human nature corrupts the mind.

In the Gospel, Jesus and His disciples begin a journey through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know about it in order to avoid the crowds. He wanted to use this time to teach the disciples. Jesus tells them that “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”  They did not understand what He was referring to and clearly were not knowledgeable in Scripture (first reading which mentions this).  When they had reached Capernaum, Jesus noticed that the disciples were arguing among themselves.  He asks them, but they remained silent. We are told by the writer of the Gospel that they were arguing about who among them was the greatest.  Jesus tells them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all. Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”  Jesus says this after placing a young child among them.

We see how Holy Mother Church has placed the readings in such a way that they connect. Jesus is the fulfillment of what was prophesied in the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17).  He is this "Son of Man" who would be mocked and put to suffer a shameful and horrible death.  This ties into what we read in the first reading. Furthermore, the argument among the disciples is connected to the second reading in regards to human beings and their selfish ambitions and instinctual drive to hurt each other. Jesus says tells that they must be like children.  Children can go to a park with their parents and play with other kids with ease.  They play with other kids as if they knew them already. It is when they begin to "mature" that they start developing this sense of competition and inner drives to fight each other. We must be like children and be innocent (Matthew 18:4).  Trust one another just like kids trust other kids at a playground and just have fun. If we were like "kids" like Jesus suggested, we would not have wars and all of these stupid conflicts that we create for absolutely no reason.  Those who are not innocent before God like children cannot go to heaven (Mark 10:13-16).

We must be a servant to others and not seek positions of power or first place in order to gratify our egos (John 13:12-14, Mark 10:44-45). By being a servant, we show that we are secure in our egos.  Serving others does not make us weak or a "push-over."  Lastly, we must be good to children, teach them well and protect them (Proverbs 22:6). Children are our greatest asset (Psalm 127:3-5).  On the news, we hear of Planned Parenthood selling unborn children body parts and some people out there defend this.  It is just sickening. Recently a young Muslim boy was arrested simply for showing an electronic clock that he made which caused school officials to overreact due to Islamophobia. This is not how we should treat kids.  We have to receive them, protect them, and teach them well (Matthew 18:2-6). Today, MTV, Pop singers, Rap singers, and whatnot are raising our youth. They instill all kinds of crazy messages into their young minds. We must end this and restore the home as the first school and not let the "village" raise our kids. The best way to teach our kids is by being examples to them.  We must show them that to be last is to be first. We must show them that serving others is the way we should go. May Jesus be praised forever.






Readings:  Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Sunday, September 12, 2021

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Follow Christ via the Cross and Transform Faith into Work

Faith without works is dead. Our Lord expects us to not just believe, but to put that "believe" to work.  I have been trying to do this for a few years now online and need your help. Please donate at: www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus and put your faith into action by helping me continue and expand this work.  Thanks and God bless you for your help.


Reflection:

In today's first reading, we see the foretelling of what happened in last week's Gospel with Jesus healing the deaf and mute man (see: Sacerdotus: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Ephphatha - Fear not, God Opens Us Up). This first reading is also a foretelling of what Christ would go through in His passion.  He would be beaten, spat on, and humiliated but would return no response to the violence (1 Peter 2:23).  We too much "turn the other cheek" and not return evil for evil or violence for violence (Matthew 5:38-48).  God is our help and our protection (Psalm 46:1, Psalm 28:7).  Let those who hate us and oppose us come forward; let them mock us and hate us (2 Peter 3:3).  God is with us (Psalm 46).  As long as we stay in God's truth, no one can prove us wrong.  We must walk with God in this life like the Psalm for today tells us.

Walking with God in the "land of the living" is a must like the responsorial Psalm tells us.  God is always with us listening to our supplications (1 John 5:14, Psalm 66:19).  He may not answer every prayer, but He knows of them and what is in our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 17:10).  All kinds of evil can encircle us, but God will be there to save us (Psalm 22:16, Psalm 27:2).  God will rescue us from whatever may come to us, but we must be just and loyal to Him. Our faith must a living faith that works, not a dead one as the second reading tells us.

What good is belief without the exercise of that belief?  What good is faith if that faith is not put to practice?  St. Paul asks this question and states that such a faith does not save.  He is correct!  How can we be Catholic, believe in God and the teachings of the Church but refuse to help others and spread our faith?  What good is our faith in that regard?  Atheists criticize all Christians about this.  Many times when we see a homeless person or someone in need, we simply tell them "I will pray for you" instead of helping them with their material needs.  We say, "go in peace, keep warm, and eat well" as the reading tells us. This is not genuine Christianity.  We must put our faith into practice by not only believing in God but also by helping others (Matthew 5:42, Matthew 25:35-40). Today, many parishes are closing because of a lack of participation and donations. We must do our best to help our parishes grow by participating and donating.  I know many are upset over church closings due to the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, but remember, these parishes ultimately belong to each parishioner. While the bishop may be the owner on paper, in reality, the people who attend them are the owners and must care for them.  It is in giving that we receive (Luke 6:38). Last week I shared a personal story of encountering homeless people in the streets of the Bronx. I can tell you firsthand how good it is to help others in many ways, not just spiritually. Giving to others may seem strange.  Why should I give my hard-earned money to others? The act of giving shows that we deny ourselves to serve God and others as we read in the Gospel.   It may seem strange, but it is a way to spiritually mature. We may not always understand God's ways as we read in the Gospel today.

In today's Gospel, Jesus and His disciples went out to Caesarea Philippi. While traveling there Jesus asks the disciples "Who do people say that I am?"  They respond that the people think He is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other prophets.  Jesus then asks them, "who do you say that I am?"  Peter takes speaks first showing his leadership and tells Jesus, "You are the Christ."  Jesus then tells them not to say anything. He does this to avoid the fanaticism that would take place if people learned too fast who He really was.  Jesus then teaches them that He has to suffer greatly and would be rejected by the elders, chief priests, etc which is connected to today's first reading.  He would then be killed but will rise after three days. Peter took this news badly and rebuked Jesus, but Jesus told Him and said "Get behind me, Satan.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Jesus was referring to His passion, death, and resurrection.  Peter did not understand this and rebuked Jesus.  Jesus told Peter "Get behind me, Satan" because Satan is the one who would have something to protest about regarding Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection.  It was in this moment that Jesus crushed the serpent's head so naturally, Satan would not want Jesus to carry out what was supposed to happen (Genesis 3:15, Romans 16:20, Psalm 68:21).  Peter did not understand because he did not have the Holy Spirit yet (John 14, John 13:16).  We too may not understand things until we pray to the Holy Spirit to come and enlighten us (Isaiah 11:2). Many times, we try to rationalize things via our human understanding.  Atheists tend to do this a lot.  They see things through the lens of materialism and what they believe to be logic.  This is why they have a hard time understanding God and the things of God (Romans 11:33).  We wonder many times why God allows evil.

Yesterday, we were reminded once again of the horrific attacks against America. These things do not make sense to us yet we hear so much about "God's plan" in regards to the course of events.  No one can understand God's mind and why He allows certain things that we find horrendous (1 Corinthians 2:16, Romans 11:34). We trust that all things will lead to a greater good (Romans 8:28).  As followers of Christ, we must accept the cross and be prepared to suffer and possibly lose our lives for Him (Luke 14:27). We must deny ourselves and let Christ transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18). This does not mean that we cease having an identity. What this means is that we are restored to what God designed, not the fallen state that we are in now.  Today so many are pushing for "my truth" or "my personal truth." This is nonsense. Truth exists independent of each one of us. Truth is a person named Jesus. Science is not the truth, math is not the truth, psychology is not truth.  Not even theology of philosophy.  This is because these fields of study are finite and do change as our understanding of reality grows.  Our true identity is not in our "personal truth," but the Truth, Jesus Christ. Let us trust God always; put our faith into practice; not become a "Satan" attempting to thwart God's will and be prepared to carry the cross and suffer for Christ and the Gospel.  May Jesus Christ be praised.  





Readings:  Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB




Sunday, September 5, 2021

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Ephphatha - Fear not, God Opens Us Up

 Hello friends, I ask you to please help me with my fundraising campaign in order to maintain and expand this evangelization work. Not enough have donated and I am concerned.  Please donate at: www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus.  



Reflection:
Today's readings are about trusting God and being open to Him so we can be made new.

In the first reading from Isaiah, God says to those who are afraid, "Be strong, fear not!"  Fear is a natural response in human beings. Biologists and evolutionary psychologists believe that we developed this feeling in order to survive. Some of us when we see an arachnid, automatically get nervous and our fight and flight processes get to work.  We either squish an arachnid, spray it with Raid or something, or we run like "Forrest Gump."  Fear allows us to survive in many cases.  However, God tells us to not fear.  He "comes with vindication; with divine recompense" we are told.  God will care for us and fight for us (Exodus 14:14, Deuteronomy 3:22). This is why we must "turn the other cheek" and not take revenge (Romans 12:19, 2 Samuel 22:48, Deuteronomy 32:35).  Today, we have many reasons to be afraid. Around the world, we have ISIS and others who take pride in beheading Christians and torturing them.  Even in our beloved USA, we now have the LGBT, secularists, atheists, and pro-abortion advocates targeting us in many ways.  They are trying to push us into our church buildings and silence our public voice and witness.

As you may know, a Christian county clerk named Kim Davis was arrested in 2015 for simply following her conscience (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/09/kim-davis-jailed.html). She refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples and for this, she was sent to jail for contempt despite other politicians doing the same in regards to refusing to obey or enforce laws and getting scot-free. Moreover, the Supreme Court did not even bother to hear her appeal. Justice Elena Kagan, a supporter of the LGBT agenda clearly showed her bias and rejected Davis' case demonstrating that Christians have no voice before the Supreme Court.  This is scary indeed. However, we must anticipate this and worse (John 16:33).  Because we believe in Christ the Lord, we will suffer greatly and will be brought before the powers that be (Luke 21:12). However, God will not be mocked and will avenge us if we remain faithful through this or any persecution that will come (Galatians 6:7, Romans 5:3-4).  Recently, Texas passed a huge abortion ban that brought abortion supporters to their knees whining in anger. The Supreme Court refused to block the law which may indicate that Roe vs. Wade may be seeing its last days. This is good news!  However, because of this law, many businesses like Lyft and Uber are paying the legal fees of drivers who get sued for driving someone to an abortion mill. Many others are protesting and voicing diatribe against the Church, other people of faith, and the pro-life movement in general. They are mocking us, calling us backward and misogynists.  Things will get really bad if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade effectively making abortion illegal again. If this does occur, God-willing, we must prepare for the wrath of the evil one and those who support evil. 

We must not fear man and his pretenses to possessing power over other human beings; but instead, only listen to and obey God (Matthew 6:24, Matthew 10:28-29, Acts 5:29).  Only God has the power (James 4:12 ).  If we trust God, we will see His marvels (Matthew 13:58, Matthew 8:13).  The eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will hear (Isaiah 35:5).  This is not just physical healing, but also a psychological and spiritual one as well.  Those who are blind to God and refuse to listen to Him will, once God intervenes.  God will restore creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 21:5).  Today we are seeing many droughts around the world, especially in areas that have lost their way (Job 12:15, Psalm 32:4, Psalms 68:6, Amos 8:11, Jeremiah 17:5-6).  God will take those "burning sands" and turn them into pools.  He will bring springs of water to the "thirsty ground" (Isaiah 44:3).  However, first, we must bring back our nation to God (2 Chronicles 7:14).  We must allow Him to change us from within without fear (Ezekiel 36:26).  As today's Psalm states, we must "praise the Lord."

"Praise the Lord, My soul!"  This has to be the essence of our lives. God is faithful to us (Psalms 86:15, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 3:3).  He is just and secures this justice to those who are put down and oppressed (1 Corinthians 1:28, Psalm 9:9).  Refugees seeking help must trust God.  He will help them.  It is God who has the final say in the affairs of each one of us (Proverbs 19:21).  He gives sight to the blind, picks up those who are humbled, protects the strangers and those who society labels as pariahs or undesirable classes (Deuteronomy 10:18, Leviticus 19:34).  God has no favorites and treats everyone equally as we read in the second reading.

God shows no partiality we are told.  He does not favor one group over another (Acts 10:34, Galatians 3:28).  While He did choose Israel as His people, these people were a preparation for the redemption and salvation of the whole world (Isaiah 49:6, Acts 28:28).  God is not the father of just the Jews, but of the many nations He promised to Abraham (Genesis 17:4-5).  We on our part, must "adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ."  This is done not just by being pious, but by loving others regardless of their condition or where they come from (Mark 12:31).  If we see people not well dressed or maybe lacking hygiene enter our churches, we must not look at them with disgust. We must not judge them or separate them from the congregation as if they do not deserve to be there.  Instead, we must bear it all for Christ. The grace of God transforms us.  No one should be treated differently simply because they are different. This is not what Christianity is about. 

Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I do not like being touched or embraced. I tend to keep to myself in that regard.  During this Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, I have welcomed the social distancing and hope it remains. This will prevent not only diseases from spreading from person to person but will prevent scandals and accusations of violation of boundaries. We know this is the new thing now.  However, as a Catholic, I began to grow spiritually and as a human. The stoic atheist was dying in me.  I will never forget years ago in the Bronx.  I walking on 181st and Grand Concourse.  The event was so powerful that I still remember the location.  Anyhow, as I was walking with a cassock on, I passed by a small park on the Concourse. There were a group of homeless people sitting there.  One of them asks for money and I only had seven dollars so I gave it to him and asked him to share it with the others.  What happened next was just amazing.  After giving him the money, I had gone on my way walking. The man comes and calls me and I turn around. He is smiling and invites me to join them for lunch.  I was confused as to what he meant.  Well, he took the money I gave and bought some slices of Wonder bread and cold cuts, bologna I think which is cheap.  He got the food and was making sandwiches in the park and giving them to other homeless people (his friends).

Moreover, he invited me to join them. Now, naturally, I was a bit hesitant to join them but did not show it outwardly.  The dying atheist in me was concerned about diseases, lack of hygiene, etc.  But I felt a voice in me tell me to go eat, so I did.  We held hands and prayed on the street and ate this simple lunch. It was one of the greatest feelings ever and spoke to me better than any papal document, homily, theologian or spiritual director could.  I still remember this and always pray for those people I met that hot summer day. God spoke to me strongly using those people. Another more recent event was in Boston.  I was working at St. Francis House giving out clothing to people.  This young Caucasian male comes in about 18 or 19 years old, maybe younger.  He was shirtless and barefoot.  Mind you, it was about 28 degrees outside.  His milk-white smooth young skin was red from the cold. He was shivering and was just a sad sight to look at. Those who work at the place are only allowed to give one article of clothing per person. Well, I was stuck.  He needed a shirt, socks, shoes, and coat.  I did not know what to do.  Again, the "stoic Mister Spock-like atheist" was still in me a bit and I was trying to judge the situation like a Utilitarian using calculus. The guy was nearly in tears obviously desperate. I tend to be very stoic so he probably interpreted my lack of emotions as "he doesn't believe me."

In response, he kept insisting, looking at me with piercing sky-blue eyes that he needed the clothes; that he was freezing and did not even have underwear. He even pulled the waistband of his jeans outward out of desperation revealing his male parts and buttocks as "proof" that he only had the pair of jeans and nothing more. Again, I did not know what to do. He was clearly poor, in need of clothing, and not lying. He was dirty and the odor of armpits and unwashed male genitals was obvious to all present.  In my head I was processing, "Should I or should I not?  What if I get in trouble with the religious brother supervising me?" However, again I felt that voice in me telling me to give him what he needed, so I did.  The young guy started crying and gave me a big hug which almost took the air out of me showing how hard he squeezed me.  When I saw the religious brother I told him what I did expect to be scolded and instead, he smiled and told me that we do not get in trouble for doing God's work and told me not to worry about the rules.  Again, God was teaching me about the poor and what to do.  I have many more stories like this, but if I write them, then this post would be over 400,000 characters! Like the old Nike sneakers motto, "just do it."  Help others and do not worry. As the reading tells us, "Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.  Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?"

Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus goes to the people who have all kinds of physical handicaps.  A deaf man with a speech impediment was presented to him. Mark when writing the Gospel even used the word for "speech impediment" in Greek which is mogilalon.  The same word is used in the Greek version of the first reading showing the connection between this Gospel event and Isaiah's words. Anyhow, the man with the handicap begs Jesus to lay His hands on him.  Jesus takes the man away from the crowd and does something strange.  He puts His finger inside the man's ears, spits, touched the man's tongue, and looked up to heaven saying "Ephphatha" which means, "Be Opened!"  The man was immediately healed. He tells the man not to tell anyone, but the man obviously does.  The people were amazed and said, "He has done all things well.  He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

This is a lot to take in, but let us simplify it.  The encounter here is clearly a fulfillment of the first reading.  In regards to the finger in the ears, spitting and the touching of the tongue, these had to do with the beliefs of the time. The Romans and Jews of the time believed saliva had healing properties.  There were also many people at the time who believed in talismans claiming them to be able to heal others using these gestures and objects. Jesus used these gestures and spit to communicate to the people what He was doing (healing).  He was also indicating that healing comes from God because the healing took effect not when the touching and spitting happened, but after Jesus looked up to heaven.  This was not magic. One can see the body language at work here.  Then looking up to heaven was conveying that God above does the healing and has the power. Moreover, the spitting on the ground shows how God "waters" the dust of the Earth (human beings),(Genesis 2:7, John 9).  This is why the Church uses Sacramentals which are sacred signs that are connected to the Sacraments, remind us of God and our faith, and which God uses to bless (Acts 5:14-16, Acts 19:11-12, CCC 1667-1679). God can do miracles easily without needing anything, however, we see in today's Gospel how God is a personal God who engages our senses and our physical existence via His human self in the person of Christ.  Jesus pulls the man aside in private showing that God has a personal relationship with each one of us (Isaiah 43:1). God deals with us individually, not just as a Church collective (Ezekiel 18, 1 Corinthians 7:17).

Now you may be wondering why did Jesus tell the man not to inform others of the healing, well, this was due to several reasons. Jesus clearly had people among the religious leaders who hated Him and were jealous of Him.  He did not want to draw attention to Himself in that regard.  Moreover, if news spread that Jesus was this healer, then people will flock to Him just to seek this and will never learn about the Kingdom of God nor the Gospel (John 4:48). Unfortunately, we see something similar today with Popes.  Whenever a Pope visits a location, millions go to see him and a lot of these do not even bother to process his message or internalize it. Finally, the reading ends by stating that Jesus did well.  This is in relation to God making all things new (Genesis 1:31, Revelation 21:1-5).  Jesus restores all things (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Our past does not define us, Jesus does. Let us not be afraid and trust God.  Let us welcome all, especially the poor who need our love and care.  Like the deaf and mute man, let us go to Christ and ask Him to lay His hand on us to cover using grace; spit to water our dry souls, put His finger in our ears to take away our stubbornness and refusal to listen, and let Him say "Ephphatha" so that we can be completely open to God.  Only Christ can open us to receive His Word and preach it to others. A good example of someone who accomplished this is St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was a humble woman who served the poorest of the poor.  She was slandered by many atheists including the late Christopher Hitchens but kept to her work of serving others. Mother Teresa was a true humanist who cared for others while Hitchens and other alleged humanists simply made money off of atheism and making shock and awe commentaries.  Let us imitate Mother Teresa who let Jesus open her to receive His Word which she took to heart, mind, and action.  May Jesus Christ be praised!




Readings:  Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB



Sunday, August 29, 2021

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Follow the Spirit of the Law

 URGENT: Today's second reading speaks of "good giving" and reminds us that "every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." 


In light of this, please help keep this evangelization work alive by donating. So far a few have donated, but I have not met the goal. In December, I have to pay for the renewal of this domain name, so I need your help.  I also want to expand this work so it can reach even more people.  Please help me meet my campaign goal by donating at: www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus.

If about 2,700 people donate only $9.25-$10, then I will meet the goal quickly.  As more people donate, gofundme will in turn place my campaign on the front page of their website giving it more promotion.  So I hope you reading this will help with a donation.  

Remember, after September 2021 if I have not raised enough, then I will have to wind this work down. God will judge us not only on how good we were but also on how much we have helped each other in love by giving; and not on what we saved up in life (Luke 6:38, Matthew 6:19).  

Thank you, God bless + Mary keep!'


REFLECTION:
Today's readings are about the real Law of God in our hearts.

The first reading tells us of Moses.  He instructs the people of Israel to listen to the statutes and decrees given by the Lord. God has given the Hebrews the promised land along with the Commandments (Deuteronomy 1:8, Joshua 1:3, Exodus 20). The name "Israel" means "one who wins with God" (Genesis 35:10). Israel would become the name of the people of God (Deuteronomy 33:29, Isaiah 44:21). This new nation would be one founded upon God's law (Exodus 21:1, Psalm 78:5).  Moses tells the people to observe the Law carefully and not add to or subtract from them. Those who live by the Law will be in observance of God's will and live in His presence as we read in the responsorial Psalm ((Leviticus 18:5, Proverbs 7:2, John 14:15, Proverbs 3:1).

We must do justice in order to live in the presence of God as the responsorial Psalm tells us (Isaiah 1:17). Those who walk blameless and do justice; who has truth in his or their heart and speak no deceit are who God will take into His abode (Psalm 24). We must be like this, doing harm to no one; hating no one (Romans 13:10, John 13:34-35, Matthew 5:44).  We must lend to others without asking for interest (Exodus 22:25-27, Leviticus 25:25-37, Nehemiah 5:10,11). Our hearts and minds must be pure, focused on God and His law (Psalm 123:1, Lamentations 3:41). This law is planted in our hearts as we read in the second reading (Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:27, Hebrews 10:16).

In the second reading, we are told that all good giving is from heaven above (2 Corinthians 9:7). We must help others, donate our time, goods, and even money to help others (Deuteronomy 15:10, 16:17, Proverbs 21:26, 28:27, Luke 3:11). God willed us into being to be the first fruits of kindness and generosity (Acts 17:25). Today, we see many so-called preachers speaking of the "Gospel of prosperity."  There is no such thing.  This is a lie of the devil (John 8:44, Luke 4:6, 1 Timothy 6:10). The Gospel is the Gospel of the Poor (Luke 4:18, Matthew 11:5).  We are called to be poor (Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 19:21). This does not mean that we have to be on the streets begging (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  What this means is that what we do have must not define who we are (Luke 21:1-4, Luke 12:15). We must be ready to let go of it if and when the time comes. When we do have enough, we must make use of it to help, not only ourselves and loved ones, but also others (Luke 6:38, Proverbs 11:24-25, Proverbs 19:17).  Charity is true charity when it is done to the stranger (Matthew 10:42). The other day I tweeted this:


Now I did not tweet that to show off or do like the Pharisees by standing on the corner so others can see (Matthew 6:5).  I tweeted this to hopefully inspire others. It feels good to help others, especially a complete stranger. I loved working at St. Francis House in Boston. Handing out clothes, shoes, and food to the homeless of "Beantown" gave me great joy. This good work of helping others is that word that is planted in us.  We must put this word to practice (Matthew 5:16, James 2:14-17).  As the reading says, "be doers of the word and not hearers only."  Religion must not just be something we do on Sundays. It must be a living faith that is genuine, in service of others and most importantly, of God (James 1:27).  We must not become like the Pharisees who used religion and the law to oppress others and themselves as we read in the Gospel.

In the Gospel, we read of Jesus confronting the Pharisees or teachers of the Law in His day.  These men noticed that some of Jesus' disciples ate with "unclean hands." Under the law, Jews are supposed to go through a ritual before eating which includes the washing of hands (Leviticus 17:15).  This was a tradition that developed in the past and served for hygienic purposes at first, but then became a spiritual gesture or sacramental of sorts in the Jewish faith. Anyhow, the Pharisees questioned Jesus on this asking Him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?"  They asked this because these men were so caught up in rules and regulations that they failed to see why these rules even existed. They mechanically followed them without internalizing them (Mark 2:27).

Today, we have even in the Catholic Church some people who go to Mass just to nitpick how the priest celebrated it or how the altar servers and faithful participated. I have so many stories of some parishioners coming up to me to criticize a particular priest or altar server. They got the details to the letter in regards to what they wanted to point out and criticize, but when I asked them what the readings were about or what the homily was on, they had no clue. These people like the Pharisees did not internalize the Mass.  Instead, they were focused on judging the celebrant, altar servers, and their peers in the pews (1 Samuel 16:7).  Jesus faced the same hypocrisy as the Pharisees.  After the Pharisees questioned Him, Jesus responds, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.  You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”  Jesus continues stating that what comes from the outside cannot defile a person.  Rather, what comes from within is what does.  

Pope Francis recently released a Motu Propio entitled Traditionis Custodes.  In it, he gave more authority to bishops to regulate how the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is used. Before this, he conducted a survey where the bishops gave their thoughts on the Extraordinary Mass and how it is being used in their dioceses. The majority of bishops showed concerned.  When Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued his own Motu Propio Summorum Pontificum, he was hoping to bring unity and foster a love for the Mass in its many forms. Unfortunately, certain factions within the Church who call themselves "traditionalists" and "radical traditionalists abused the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  They used it to attack the Ordinary Form, Vatican II, the pope, and Catholics who attend the Ordinary Form. They see themselves as the sole authentic Catholics who participate in the "true Mass." The Ordinary Form to them is an "innovation." This of course is not true and shows a lack of education on the part of these Catholics.  They behave like the Pharisees caught up in the letter of the law and not the spirit.  

He says, “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”   By stating this, He made all foods clean (Mark 7:19).  The Jews got carried away with their laws. In the past, they avoided what the Gentiles ate because these animals were sacrificed to pagan deities and faced stomach illness which traumatized them due to animals that needed extra preparation (swine).  This overzealous piety got the best of them becoming a sort of taboo.  The Pharisees were caught up in the externals.  It was all about these rites, clothing, and gesticulation with them (Matthew 23:13). Jesus reminds us that we must not be like them (Matthew 6:5, Matthew 23:33).  All foods are clean, spiritually speaking.  Touching or eating pork, shellfish, etc has no effect on the soul in regards to sin and holiness.  The Jews got carried away with the laws.  These rules were made not for us to be slaves to them, but for them to help us become better people (Mark 2:23-27).  Christians today are not bound by the laws (lower-case L). These are the cultural and civil laws of Israel that served the people at that time. Many atheists love to claim that Christians are hypocrites because they eat shellfish or wear polyester in light of the rules in Leviticus (Leviticus 11:12, Leviticus 19:19).  However, they do not understand that these laws were created to serve the Jews of the time and to regulate their culture and civil affairs, not faith.  It is the Law (capital L/moral laws) that we are all bound by, not the law (lowercase/rituals, culture, civil) (John 14:15-31, Romans 7:1-6). This is the Law of God, His commandments (Exodus 20).

We in the Catholic Church must not be like the Pharisees by getting caught up in rites and externals that change with every council that comes by.  These rites and rubrics serve us, we do not serve them. We must not become like those who are so caught up in rules and rites that we even attack the Pope and reject Vatican councils just to adhere to legalism. If we do this, we become like the Pharisees.   Instead of the rites bringing us to worship God, these rites become a god to us forcing us to betray the Catholic Church and the Successor of St. Peter. We become cold and rigid like the Pharisees.  Our faith tradition is a living one, not a dead one stuck in a set period of time. "Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism the dead faith of the living" (quoted from "On the Lord's Appearing: An Essay On Prayer And Tradition," pg 17).   Vestments, rubrics, gestures all serve to guide us to God, not to imprison us into becoming liturgical mindless robots mumbling things without sincerity or without understanding what we are saying (Matthew 6:7).   We must not participate in Mass as if it was some act or script for a television show that we must get perfect.  This is not what the Mass is supposed to be.  Let us internalize the faith using the externals the Church allows so that we can become generous loving Christians who help others, and do everything to please God and become the image of God.  In today's age of this pandemic of the Covid 19 Coronavirus, we must appreciate the Mass more and all liturgical rites of the Church.  We must see the Spirit behind them and not just the letter.  May Jesus Christ be praised!


Readings: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB



Sunday, August 22, 2021

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - To Whom Shall We Go?

 Please help keep this evangelization work alive. So far a few have donated, but I have not met the goal. In December, I have to pay for the renewal of this domain name, so I need your help.  I also want to expand this work so it can reach even more people.  Please help me meet my campaign goal by donating at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus.


If about 2,700 people donate only $9.25, then I will meet the goal.  As more people donate, gofundme will in turn place my campaign on the front page of their website giving it more promotion.  So I hope you reading this will help with a donation.  Remember, after December 2021 if I have not raised enough, then I will have to wind this work down.   

Thank you, God bless + Mary keep!

Reflection:
We have pretty much wrapped up Jesus' revelation to the Jews that He was the "Bread of Life."  In today's readings, we see how this affects the people who took His words as too hard to follow. This created a dilemma: do they follow Jesus or someone else?

In today's first reading, we read of Joshua who had taken the lead after the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 31). He gathered all the tribes of Israel, calling forward the elders, leaders, judges, and officials.  Each stood before God as Joshua spoke to them.  He tells them if they are not happy with serving God then they must decide who they must serve. He puts before them the gods of the Amorites or the God of their ancestors.  As Israel began to expand, she found herself surrounded by other nations who worshiped different gods.  Many atheists love to claim that "Yahweh" is one of the gods of these nations who the Israelites adopted as their own. They claim that "Yahweh" was a "borrowed" god from the Pantheon.  However, this is not true. While "Yahweh" is listed in the pantheon, this only occurred after the Israelites mingled with the surrounding nations.  So naturally, those nations would add the God of the Israelites as part of their gods to reflect the diversity of cultures.  They were Henotheists, or people who worshiped a single deity but acknowledged that there were other gods.

Anyhow, Joshua gathers the top people of Israel and questions their loyalty to the God of the Hebrews - of their ancestors.  The people respond that they will not forsake their God for other gods because it was their God who rescued their ancestors from the Land of Egypt.  It was this God who wrought the miracles and protected the people (Exodus 20:2, Leviticus 22:33, Amos 2:10, Exodus 3:20, Psalm 40:5).  They chose God Yahweh.  We too should ask ourselves this question every day, especially every Sunday before we recite the creed.  Do we serve the one true God or the "gods" of today: money, sex, power, popularity, the self etc? Now we know there are no other gods out there, Yahweh is the only one (1 Kings 8:23, 2 Chronicles 6:14, Isaiah 45:5, Deuteronomy 33:36).  Today we understand that primitive man defined and named god the best way they could.  So they got the right idea that a supreme being existed, but got His name and description wrong. I address this more in this radio podcast (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sacerdotus/2014/05/09/the-3000-gods-argument).  Like the Israelites, we choose God, the real God.  We "taste and see the goodness of the Lord" as we repeat again in the responsorial Psalm.

We are called to "taste and see the goodness of the Lord."  In order to do this, we must be with God, bless Him, praise Him, let His glory shine in our being.  We must be happy and proud to be with God and not "blush with shame" (Mark 8:38, 2 Timothy 1:8). God hears us during our distress just like He heard Elijah (1 John 5:15).   God sends His angel to protect us and aid us just like with Elijah (Psalm 91:11).  He is with us when we are down or hurting.  The phrase that "He watches over all His bones; not one of them shall be broken" is a foreshadowing of Christ on the cross who was spared from having his legs broken by the Roman soldiers (Psalms 34:19-20, Exodus 12:46, John 19:36).

The second reading has been controversial in the last 40 years ago. This is why the Church gives us two versions.  One skips some controversial statements.  We read that we must be "subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ."  This is something that causes shock in today's world where it is all about the self or "me me me."  We are taught at a very early age to strive to be better, to share and care.  Then all of a sudden when we get older, we are told that we have to be "go-getters" and step on others in order to climb the ladder of success.  But this is not how a Catholic is supposed to be.  We are supposed to serve others (Mark 9:35, John 13:14, Galatians 5:13).

Now, the next phase is a big one that causes controversy, especially among radical feminists.  It says, "wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is head of his wife."  Ouch!  Those are fighting words in today's culture.  However, the latter word is what it is all about, culture. During St. Paul's time, women did not have much of a role. They were considered the property of man. Now, this does not mean that ancient people were evil or misogynist.  It simply was the way it was back then just like in America we had laws that allowed White men to buy Africans; and laws that said that they were 3/5th human!  Does this mean America is evil or racist?  Not at all. It was just the way people thought back then out of ignorance.  I guarantee you that centuries from now, kids will be in school having discussions about us who lived in 2015 and how we allowed abortion, same-sex marriage, and other illogical and evil things as "normal."  So what did St. Paul really mean?  Remember, St. Paul was speaking to the people of his day so he used examples that related to them in order to convey the Gospel to them better.  The theme of this phrase is that we must be "subordinate to ONE ANOTHER."  So St. Paul made it clear that this is a two-way street, so to speak.  St. John Paul II helps us out in "Mulieris Dignitatem," he wrote,

"The author of the Letter to the Ephesians sees no contradiction between an exhortation formulated in this way and the words: "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife" (5:22-23). The author knows that this way of speaking, so profoundly rooted in the customs and religious tradition of the time, is to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a "mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ" (cf. Eph 5:21). This is especially true because the husband is called the "head" of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church; he is so in order to give "himself up for her" (Eph 5:25), and giving himself up for her means giving up even his own life. However, whereas in the relationship between Christ and the Church the subjection is only on the part of the Church, in the relationship between husband and wife the "subjection" is not one-sided but mutual."  Source: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1988/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19880815_mulieris-dignitatem.html

So as you can see, St. Paul was using the cultural ideas of the time to convey the idea that Christ is the head of the Church and that we must be submissive to this head just like at the time wives were submissive to the husband as the head of the household. Unfortunately, many of our separated friends in the many fundamentalist Protestant sects take this "be submissive to the man" to heart and it can be abusive. Some Catholics have also fallen victim to this literal interpretation. Men and women are equal beings (Proverbs 22:2, Acts 17:26, Romans 2:11, Galatians 3:28).  The two cannot become "one body" in marriage if one is lesser than the other (Matthew 19:5). This is why God made Eve from Adam's side (rib), not his toes, feet, or back (Genesis 2:22).  Eve (women) must stand with man side by side as equals before God.  Similarly, we must love the Church and as Church submits to Christ.

Like husbands love their wives, we must love our Catholic Church.  Some people in the Catholic Church may do wrong, it will happen.  This is no reason to abandon her or demand changes of her to fit our views. This week I had interesting chats on Twitter with Catholics who feel the Church's teachings on sex must change.  Another believes the Catholic Church went apostate at Vatican II and thinks only a few are "real Catholics."  These individuals are not following St. Paul's words in today's second reading. We must love our Church.  The Church that Christ died for, sanctifying her with the blood and water that flowed from His pierced heart (John 19:34).  We are the Church.  We are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27, Romans 12:5).  As St. Paul says, "no one hates his own flesh."  We cannot hate the Church. If we do, then we hate Christ's body and ourselves. We choose to do our own thing rather than what Christ wanted. Today's Gospel presents a similar dilemma where a choice is presented to follow Christ or walk away.

In today's Gospel, many of the followers of Jesus were murmuring among themselves saying, "This saying is hard, who can accept it?"  They were referring to Jesus' words stating that He is the "bread of life" and that this bread is His "flesh." He tells them that they have to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life.  These words are hard.  Imagine if someone tells you that you have to eat their arm in order to live forever?  How would you feel about this?  Jesus asks the people, "Does this shock you?  What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  It is the spirit that gives life while the flesh is of no avail.  The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe."  Jesus knew that they were having trouble believing in Him. Because of His words, many of his disciples left and returned to their former lives. The Twelve remained and Jesus asks them, "Do you also want to leave?"

Here we see Simon Peter take the lead as the first Pope, speaking for the rest saying, "Master, to whom shall we go?"  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."  Like in Joshua's day, the people were given a choice.  Either they accept Christ's words on the Holy Eucharist or return to their former lives worshiping money, success, and whatnot. Unfortunately, they chose the latter.  Today we are presented with the same situation.  Do we accept Yahweh or the fake gods of today?  Do we accept Christ, the Holy Eucharist, and the Catholic Church or do we go back to our former lives, believe the Eucharist is a symbol, and pick and choose what teachings of the Church to follow?  Jesus' words can be hard for us which is a cross, but we must not give up and walk away (Luke 9:23). Jesus asks us today, "Do you also want to leave?"  What will we respond?  We must respond like St. Peter did, "Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. We are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."  During this time of Covid 19 coronavirus, particularly the Delta variant, we must go to Jesus more than ever.  Vaccines were developed hastily and were believed to have been the answer to this pandemic.  Unfortunately, they are not working as they were expected.  Breakthrough infections are taking place and several have still died from the virus.  It is basically a 50/50 gamble with the vaccine now.  God has the final say in regards to what happens to us.  May Jesus Christ be praised!





Readings:  Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB



Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Assumption of Mary

Today August 15 we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to heaven.  We remember how our Lady was taken to heaven by our Lord.

Her body did not face decay.  Mary did not resurrect, nor did she rise to heaven on her own power.  God took her body and soul to eternity in heaven.  She sits at the right hand of Jesus interceding for all of us.

This is important to clarify because our separated brethren are sometimes under the impression that Catholics view Mary as some goddess.  She is not a goddess.  She is the "handmaid of the Lord," a mere creature of God just like we are.  She was preserved by God from sin and the death all humans have experienced since Adam and Eve.  

This feast day is one of the oldest in Christianity.  It originates from about the 5/6th century and was celebrated in the East as "The Dormition" or the sleep of Mary.  The earliest text we have of this comes from the 4th century in the "Falling asleep of the Holy Mother of God" and account by St. John.  (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0832.htm)

Many ask if Mary died just like any other human.  Some say she just fell asleep, while others say she did die.  It is most likely that the former is more probable because Scripture says in Romans 6:23 that the "wages of sin is death."  Since Mary was conceived without sin, she could not owe these wages that would result in death.  Moreover, Acts 13:35 and Psalms 16:10 state that God won't allow His holy ones to rot in the grave.  In light of this, we can know that Mary did not decay.  She being sinless was preserved from death and decay.

The idea of someone being taken to heaven body and soul by God is not new.  Enoch in Genesis 5:22-29 was taken by God.  We also read about Elijah experiencing the same in 2 Kings 2:11.

The Assumption of Mary became a defined dogma on November 1, 1950, when Pope Pius XII declared it in his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus.  This is a great day for all of us.  It is a reminder of what God has planned for those who hang in there in the Faith.

This is a holy day of obligation where Catholics must go to Mass and treat the day as if it were a Sunday.  In some dioceses, the day is not obligatory if it falls on a Monday or Saturday.  It is important to check with your parish or diocese beforehand.  If this is the case, one can still participate in the Mass or do some other form of penance or good work.  More prayer and more faith work aren't bad at all.  

Mary is one of us.  She is human.  She made it!   She is an inspiration to us all.  May Our Blessed Lady pray for us and help us follow her Son more closely.


Father in heaven,

all creation rightly gives you praise,

for all life and all holiness come from you.

In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.



We ask this through Christ our Lord.




Reflection on today's readings:

Today's readings pretty much reflect on today's solemnity.  It is rare for this solemnity to fall on a Sunday. The last time this happened was in 2010. The first reading from Revelation is apocalyptic literature or a literary genre that uses images and symbols. We should not take them literally. The great sign of a woman dressed with the sun, crowned with stars, and standing over the moon is a representation of the Virgin Mary and the Catholic Church.  The red dragon is a representation of Lucifer and the Pagan Roman Empire.  The only pregnant woman that Christians focused on was Mary, so we know this woman represents her.  The Church is also represented as a female or mother, so we know this female image represents the Catholic Church too.  Since the beginning, in the book of Genesis, we know of the tension between Mary and the serpent. Here we see it in this reading. Mary vs the dragon or reptilian creature. As stated, the woman is also the Church at the time of emperors Diocletian and Nero who were persecuting the Catholic Church.  Mary has appeared dressed in this form. 

Sacerdotus: Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and Our Lady of the Universe in the Bronx are great examples.  Mary wears the sun, has a crown of stars, and stands on the moon. These represent that she is above creation and pagan deities often represented by natural things in the universe. However, one is above her and that is God. Mary is not a god or goddess. We must make this clear.  The dragon with seven heads represents pagan Rome. Rome has seven famous hills.  The 10 horns represent the provinces of the Roman government. Horns are a sign of power. Think of a bull with its powerful horns. The seven diadems are the famous diadems we see Romans depicted with behind their ears. So basically, here we see the woman and the dragon going after her child and then the rest of her children.
www.ourladyoftheuniverse.com

This is Mary with Jesus and also the Church with all of us in the first century and now. The chapter of course reflects more on the situation in the first century when the emperors were persecuting the Christians.  Clearly, the force behind Rome was the devil. We know this because of the imagery of the tail carrying off a third of the stars. This is Lucifer as he took with him a third of the angels. They were cast to the earth.  These angels are the demons who were once angels like Lucifer but were too arrogant to serve God. They are on earth prowling about looking for souls. These are the demons who possess people and cause havoc around the world. So the first reading reminds us of what our ancestors faced and also reminds us that Mary is an important figure. 

She is the queen as the Psalm tells us: "The queen stands at your right hand arrayed in gold."  Mary is indeed the queen. In Jewish tradition, the King of Israel also had his mother as queen. Jesus being a descendent of King David followed the same tradition. Mary is the queen. She sits at His right hand interceding for us.  She takes her place at Christ's right hand.  Only Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus is the one mediator between God and man, but Mary is the most important mediator between Christ and man. 

The second reading reminds us of the Assumption. When someone dies we say "Rest in peace." This is because we believe the dead are asleep.  Even though their bodies rot away, they are resting awaiting the coming of Christ when they will come back to life and be judged.  Everyone has to die.  Even Jesus died.  If Jesus died, then Mary had to die too. Scripture tells us that the wages of sin is death; so why did Jesus and Mary die if both were sinless?  Well, they were human. Jesus was true God and true man so He had to experience everything a human does except sin.  Mary was totally human, but sinless, so she experienced everything humans experience except sin. However, Mary is not God.  She cannot resurrect herself. She cannot prevent death.  Therefore, it is believed based on  tradition that Mary simply went to sleep. She literally rested in peace and did not die in the sense we all die from natural causes. It is believed that she was in her 70s when this happened. Christ then took her body and soul to heaven because Mary cannot resurrect herself or ascend to heaven of her own volition. She is a creature of God subject to Him. Scripture tells us that the holy will not know decay, so it makes sense for Jesus to take Mary's body. She was holy and sinless from conception to death, so she could not rot or decay. She is the image of what we all will experience if we become saints. Christ is above death and preserved his own mother by taking her body and soul to heaven to be the queen of the Universe and heaven. 

The Gospel reminds us how important Mary is that the baby in Elizabeth's womb lept for joy.  Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit utters the words of the Hail Mary acknowledging Mary to be blessed in death.  Mary responds with her Magnificat reminding us all that all generations will call her blessed.  Protestants who dislike Mary truly do not value Scripture if they ignore this Gospel. If the Holy Spirit brought Elizabeth and Mary to proclaim these words, then why can we not proclaim them?  Do we know better than the Holy Spirit?  Mary is a very important figure in Christianity. This is why we offer her hyperdulia or a special high veneration. She is our model of what Christ wants us to be.  We do not worship her, but honor her because Christ honored her as His mom, and the entire Trinity honored her as their prized creation. She is the one that is "full of grace" and the "favored one of God," as the archangel Gabriel told us in the Gospel of Luke.  Let us foster devotion to Our Lady. She is very important. She points us to Christ.  Her last recorded words were, "Do whatever He (Christ) tells you."  What awesome words!  


Sunday, August 8, 2021

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Taste and See God's Goodness

Please help keep this evangelization work alive. So far a few have donated, but I have not met the goal. I want to continue this work and expand it and need your help to do so.  Please help me meet my campaign goal by donating at: www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus.    


If about 2,700 people donate only $9.25, then I will meet the goal.  
Thank you, God bless + Mary keep!

Today's reading is a continuation of an introduction to the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus is the "Living Bread that came from heaven."  The readings highlight this.

In the first reading, we read of Elijah traveling in a desert.  Remember, the desert imagery in the Bible represents a struggle, our lives in the world, and temptation. Elijah sits beneath a tree and prayed for death to come.  He was clearly stressed or depressed.  He tells God that he had enough and claims he is not as good as his fathers or those before him.  Once there, he falls asleep and the angel wakes him up. The angel tells him to eat.  Before Elijah was a hearth cake and jug of water.  Elijah enjoys the meal and laid down again but the angel told him to get up, eat and continue on his journey. The food gave Elijah strength where he was able to walk forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God. The number forty has a specific meaning in the Bible.  It represents a period of preparation, testing, or judgment (Genesis 7:4, Exodus 34:28, Ezekial 4:6, Matthew 4:2).  We see this number used numerous times in relation to these. Elijah was going through a "Lent," if you will.

We Catholics today can identify with him. We often lose hope and feel we are not good enough (Psalm 42:11). Some of us want to quit or even ask God to take us (Luke 22:42). This is a result of human weakness when it thinks it can do things on its own.  Notice that it was when Elijah was given to eat of the hearth cake and drink of the jug of water that he got the strength to go to God's mountain (Hebrews 2:18).  "God's mountain" was a way to describe the presence of God (Psalm 87:1, Psalm 24:3, Ezekiel 20:40, Psalm 99:9). When we get closer to God and grow in grace, we too go to "God's mountain," or His realm (2 Peter 3:18). The food the angel gives Elijah is a foreshadowing of Jesus, the Bread of Life. This is the "bread of the angels" that gives strength and eternal life as Christ will tell us in the Gospel (Psalm 78:25).  We must taste and see as today's Psalm says before we can advance to God's mountain as we travel the desert of life.

In the responsorial Psalm, we read about tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord (Hebrews 6:4-5). In order to do this, we must be with God, bless Him, praise Him, let His glory shine in our being.  We must be happy and proud to be with God and not "blush with shame" (Mark 8:38, 2 Timothy 1:8). God hears us during our distress just like He heard Elijah (1 John 5:15).   God sends His angel to protect us and aid us just like with Elijah (Psalm 91:11).  We must trust in God and not complain all the time thinking that we cannot do anything as we read in the second reading.

In the second reading, we are told not to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God." We must not be depressed or complain to God believing we cannot do anything in God's name (Isaiah 63:10,.  We can!  We can do anything in God's name and if He wills it (Philippians 4:1). If God wants us to do something, it shall happen even if it seems impossible or difficult (James 4:13-15, Luke 1:37). When I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing.  I had no set audience for it.  This work came to be only because God willed it.  From twelve views, now I have over half a million in a short time!  From ten or twenty views a day, now I have about 1,700 a day!  All this was because God is the one who is using this to spread the Gospel. Even when there were times I felt I was not doing enough just like Elijah, I set it aside and trusted in God. If the blog is successful, thanks be to God.  If it is not, then thanks be to God.

We must not become stressed when our attempts to evangelize may not produce fruit (Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:7).  We must set aside all bitterness, anger, shouting, etc, as the reading tells us.  These are not part of Christianity. We must forgive one another; yes, even that person who annoys us (Matthew 5:44)!  We must be "imitators of God," be "perfect as the Father is perfect" (Ephesians 5:1, Matthew 5:48)! This is a big call for us!  As Christians, we must live in love because Christ came to us, died for us because of love for us (John 3:16).  If Christ died for each one of us, then this means each one of us has intrinsic worth (2 Corinthians 5:15, 1 Peter 3:18).  If each one of us has intrinsic worth, then that means each one of us is valuable and we must treat one another with respect and love (John 13:34-35, Matthew 7:12).  Today we also celebrate the feast day of St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers or more commonly known as the Dominicans.  He lived on the Eucharist and it was via the Eucharist that he got the strength and wisdom to go out and preach the Gospel.  You can read more about him here: Sacerdotus: St. Dominic. We can achieve this by imitating God and becoming one with Him in the Holy Eucharist, the bread from heaven as we shall read in the Gospel.

In the Gospel, Christ continues His introduction of the "Bread from heaven."  The Jews were murmuring among themselves, confused about what Jesus was telling them.  He told them, "I am the bread that came down from heaven,"  The Jews present began to suspect Jesus.  They asked, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?  Do we not know His father and mother?" They did this because Jesus was saying some really weird things to them. The words of Jesus seemed crazy to them because they did not understand. Jesus was saying that He came from heaven, yet He had human parents.  That is why they asked, "how can He say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"  Jesus told them to stop murmuring and continued telling them that no one can come to the Father unless it was through Him.  He continues making a connection to Himself and what was written in the prophesies found in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Jesus then tells them that whoever believes in Him has eternal life and that He is the bread of life.  He tells them that their ancestors ate the manna in the desert and died, but that the bread that comes from heaven (Himself) will bring eternal life.  This is very significant now during this Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic with the delta and lambda viruses spreading quickly.  There seems no end to this.  It is a reminder of how precious our time on earth is and that we must be right with God and each other. Recently, I lost my brother-in-law and it has been hard on all of us especially my nephew and niece. It is a reminder that life is indeed short and we can be called to the Father at any moment. This is why we must seek the Bread of Life always so we can share in eternal life when we are called. 

This chapter that we have been reading from the Gospel of John is probably the strongest Biblical evidence for the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Some of our separated friends believe Jesus is symbolically present in the bread and wine, but we read in this chapter that Jesus was very serious about being bread and drink (John 6:55). He was so serious that the Jews present were uneasy with His words (John 6:60-66).  They were murmuring among themselves and perceiving Christ as some lunatic or charlatan.  Jesus is the true bread from heaven (John 6:35).  He is truly present in the Holy Eucharist just like I am present here typing this and you are in your home reading it, not symbolically (1 Corinthians 10:16). Jesus waits for us in the Tabernacle, Monstrance, Ciborium, or Pyx - whatever receptacle used to reserve the Sacred Species. He is our food that gives us strength for the journey in the desert of life.  He remains present for us, even subjecting Himself to abuse or desecration just like when He walked the Earth in a human male body and allowed Himself to be beaten, abused, and killed.  Let us trust Jesus and visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament.  When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we must not eat and lay back down like Elijah did.  This heavenly food is not comfort food, per se; but food to get us up and moving, ready to work in the vineyard of the Lord.  He awaits you! May Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist be praised forever!







Readings:  Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB




Sunday, August 1, 2021

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time - He is the Bread from Heaven

Dear readers, sorry for this "in your face" message but it is urgent and I do not know any other way to get help.  So far a few have responded, but I still need more generosity. 

Please consider helping my fundraising campaign which will help me maintain and expand this evangelization work.  In about six months, I have to pay the expenses related to this website.  I need your help!

Funds are needed for the following:

1. Help keep the blog domain URL names which are expensive and help bring in web traffic.  see godaddy.com for more information on the costs of premium domain names.

2. To help purchase podcasting equipment for the radio podcast show and expand the time slot for it by updating the subscription. For subscription costs see: https://secure.blogtalkradio.com/register.aspx?aid=CRMTS

3. I mail religious articles (Rosaries, Crucifixes, Pamphlets, Medals, Scapulars, etc) to people who request them. This costs money to purchase and mail. Shipping is expensive, so funds are needed to help cover this cost as well. See usps.com for cost information regarding shipping.

4. I want to publish some books to help maintain this work via sales. In order to publish, I need funds for printing, access to research papers to cite from (journals et al), etc.

5. In the future, I may expand the work on Livestream and other streaming and video services which also cost money.  We want to purchase 2 more Mevo star cameras for production. 

All monies will go towards the ministry of Sacerdotus in order to keep it stable and running for at least 3 to 4 more years until another fundraising campaign will be needed.

Again, without your help, I will lose this domain name in six months when the renewal of it is due. If this happens, I will lose access to keywords, search engines, and millions of visitors. Moreover, someone else may purchase the domain for malicious purposes in order to attack Catholicism or me by pretending to be me.  Your help can help me keep this going and expand it, especially the radio podcast subscription.  With it, I can speak more, have guests, and take calls on the air live.

Our world is becoming more and more secular and without strong Catholic voices online, then it will continue to grow and push back all that Christianity has done in order to build the West.  As you may know, atheism thrives online.  On the internet, atheists can create blogs and other social networks which they use to promote their misconceptions. This draws in naive youth who read these blogs and buy into the rhetoric. We must stop this by having online evangelization work done just like sacerdotus.com which is a source for those of faith and no faith to get clear answers to the questions and claims regarding atheism.

I hope you reading this will make a donation at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus to help me.

God will repay you for your help.  I promise to remember at Mass, Liturgy of Hours, and private prayer all of those people who have helped me keep this evangelization work alive.

REFLECTION:
Last week we read of the multiplication of bread (see: Sacerdotus: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Christ Gives Us To Eat) which set up the introduction to the 'Bread from Heaven.'  Who is this 'Bread from Heaven?" Well, we are about to learn in today's Gospel. It begins with an introduction to this bread in the Old Testament.

In the first reading, we are told of the story of the Hebrews fresh out of Egypt.  They begin to complain to Moses while in the desert. Despite seeing the wonders of God, they are more concerned with food and the comforts of life (Numbers 20:13, Exodus 17:7, Psalm 95:8).  The Hebrews whine, "...You had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!"  We too always complain to God about every little thing. When things seem to go wrong we complain and even blame God. While we may not go into a literal desert, we when becoming Christians follow Christ into the desert where temptation comes to try to knock us down (Hosea 2:14, Ezekiel 20:35, Matthew 4:1-11).

The hardships of this spiritual desert often force us to crack, so to speak. We may begin to doubt God when things seem to have stopped in regards to feeling God's presence or observing His wonders in our lives. This is true especially when our physical needs start crying out for our attention. We become more focused on natural needs rather than spiritual ones. How many of us work on Sundays because we "need the money?" Our ancient spiritual ancestors were the same. God rescued them from Egypt and slavery in a dramatic fashion with signs and wonders, yet here they are whining about not having their fleshpots and fill with bread (Psalm 105:43). In the Gospel, we will see the same. The people were more concerned about getting fish and bread and were not concerned for Christ.  Not even the wonders that Christ performed had any significance for these people.

Anyhow, God feeds His people despite their whining. He rains down manna. Scholars debate on what exactly 'manna' was.  Some believe it was a seed or Spharothallia esculenta which could be used with other ingredients to make a form of bread. These all seem to match the descriptions given in Exodus in regards to appearing in the dew as flakes or hoarfrost.  In any event, Moses tells the people that this was the bread God has given them to eat.  This brings us to the responsorial Psalm.

Today's responsorial Psalm tells us that "The Lord gave them bread from heaven."  The Psalm recalls this event in Exodus and how God provided for the people.  The skies opened at His command and manna rained upon the Hebrews as food for them.  This food was the heavenly bread; the bread of the angels, so to speak (Wisdom 16:20).  We too were given "the bread from heaven," the true manna who is Jesus. Because of this, we must no longer live like Gentiles as we shall read in today's second reading.

The second reading tells us that we must live as new people, not like the Gentiles or those who were not part of the people of God.  We must put away our old selves and the way we have lived before dedicating our lives to Christ.  Instead, we must put on a new self-using Christ as an example (Luke 5:37).  What good is it to believe in Christ, do what the Catholic Church asks of us, and at the same time behave like we have no sense at all? This would be hypocritical. It is important for us to change and live totally as God wants us to live.  We must realize that conversion is a process. Holiness is a mission that may take a lifetime to achieve.  We must have the true bread from heaven, Jesus the Word of God in us (John 1:1). Regular bread will not sustain us (Wisdom 16:26, Matthew 4:4).

In today's Gospel, the crowds came looking for Jesus in Capernaum. They were searching for Him even asking Him how did He get there.  Jesus knew their intention.  They saw Him as a government welfare line of sorts.  He would provide bread and fish to them free of charge.  All they had to do was sit and wait similarly to today's situation with people getting online to get government cheese and so forth.  Like with the ancient Hebrews in the time of Moses, these people before Christ did not care for the signs and wonders.  They just wanted their needs met.  Jesus tells them not to work for food that perishes, but for that food that lasts eternally.  He tells them the Son of Man would give them this food. Jesus reminds them that Moses did not give the ancestors the bread from heaven, God does.

This bread from heaven gives life to the world.  The people want this bread and Jesus tells them that He is the bread of life (John 6:51).  Those who come to Him will never get hungry or will never thirst.  The events regarding the Exodus and the manna were a foreshadowing of Jesus as the bread of life.  Jesus is the bread of life (Matthew 26:26, 1 Corinthians 11:24).  He is present in the Holy Eucharist waiting for us to receive Him in Holy Communion or during adoration. He remains with us until the end of time under the form of bread and wine at Mass and in a monstrance, ciborium, or pyx (Matthew 28:20, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 11:27).  We must work for this bread.  Jesus is the food that lasts eternally and truly nourishes.

Let us not be like the Hebrews of the past and those Israelites in Jesus' time who were more concerned about material needs than seeking God.  Let us not whine and complain when things seem to go wrong (Philippians 2:14). We must go into the desert God leads us to and must accept the cross we must carry (Philippians 4:11-12, Luke 14:27).  God feeds us with the bread from heaven as we walk in this desert of life.  God cares for us and we have no need to become despondent in regards to our spiritual or even material needs (James 1:6, Luke 12:24, Matthew 6:31-32).  God always provides (Psalms 34:10, Job 38:41).  Unfortunately, due to the pandemic of Covid-19 coronavirus, many parishes were closed down and the Sacraments were denied to those who sought them, especially the sick and those dying.  It was a tragic PR disaster for the bishops which hurt the faith of many Catholics and brought the mockery of atheists and others.  How can we preach that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist and at the same time close parishes, deny Communion on the tongue believing contagion will spread, and deny the host to the dying while claiming it is "viaticum?"  The bishops really hurt the doctrine around the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus is truly present.  He will never become a conduit for disease.  

May Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist in every Catholic Church and chapel around the world be praised.  Please remember my brother-in-law Elvin Cabrera who passed away.  He is the father of my nephew and niece.  Please keep them in your prayers as well. They are still young and my niece is autistic.  It will be difficult for them to process not having their daddy in physical form around them.  May he rest in peace.  




Readings:  Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB




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