Sunday, June 20, 2021

12th Sunday of Ordinary time - God Sleeps

The Holy Father's second encyclical "Laudato Si" was just released six years ago which deals mainly with climate change. Today's readings also deal with climate, but not in an ecological sense.

In the first reading, we read of God addressing Job reminding him who is the boss, so to speak. The readings tell us that God is in control. Today's first reading skips a few verses where God asks Job if he were there when the foundation of the earth was laid and if he has an understanding of it all (Job 38:4-5).  He made the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, Nehemiah 9:6, Isaiah 37:16, Isaiah 45:18, Psalms 8:3-8).  God was the one who set the limits in the universe (Jeremiah 31:35, Psalm 148:6). Therefore, He has full power over them (Romans 9:1).  This is a call to faith. We must trust God always (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 7:1). As we trust in God, we must give thanks for His love which never ends as we read in the responsorial Psalm.

The responsorial Psalm recalls how sailors traveling on the seas noticed the "works of the Lord."  He commands the storms and the waves (Job 5:10). Man in his timid spirit feels insignificant before storms. He cries out to God in panic.  God then calms the storm showing His kindness.  This Psalm is a foreshadowing of today's Gospel. It should remind us that we should give ourselves to God and trust in Him as we read in the second reading.

In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we have all died in Christ.  We no longer live for ourselves but for He who died for us on the Cross (Galatians 2:20).  Because of this, we must look at ourselves as a "new creation."  The old has passed away and now the new is coming into fruition. This is what true repentance is. When we are baptized and receive the other Sacraments, we must turn away from our old selves.  The Sacraments are not "graduation" ceremonies that we follow through with as if they were part of some coming of age social script.  Rather, the Sacraments are the means from which we become this new creation in Christ Jesus.  We trust in Him even when the storms of the world come as we read in the Gospel today.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus wanted to cross the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So.. just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a faithful God. Who fell asleep inside a boat as it went across the big pond.  The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, the disciples starting panicking, fearing they would sink or get lost. They went to Jesus as He slept and woke him up asking Him if He cared that they are going to perish.  He got up and told the wind and the seas to calm and be still (New York translation: shut up and cut it out!). The storm with its wind and strong waves calmed down.  Then Jesus asks them, "do you not yet have faith?"  They were left there in awe wondering who this guy named Jesus was.

This reading can be used in so many ways to reflect upon. We see how the Gospel is connected to the first reading and Psalm in regards to stormy weather and God's power over His creation.  Then we see the importance of having faith in God.  Jesus asks the disciples, "do you not yet have faith?" He does this because they were panicking as the storm came in. They still did not understand who Jesus was and what He was about. We too, many times believe we understand God, but we do not. How many times do we pray and God does not answer?  We then begin to doubt or panic.

Many atheists use this as an argument that God does not exist; they say 'If God were real, why doesn't he respond to prayers?'  We often ask after a big tragedy, 'where was God?' Today's readings touch on this. God is "asleep" in a boat. He seems nonchalant about a storm surrounding the boat about to sink it.  The disciples are panicking and terrified.  This is because they did not have faith. They did not realize they had God in the midst, the creator of the universe!  This is why when we pray to God and nothing happens, we must continue to trust in God (Proverbs 3:5-6).  He may be "sleeping" in the boat waiting to be woken up by our prayers, repentance, and commitment to faith.  This "boat" is the Church traveling to the "other side."  On the way, it faces storms that try to sink it.  However, Jesus is there with the boat and protects it always even when the passengers on the boat may doubt.  This is especially true today during the pandemic of the covid-19 coronavirus which has affected us all in many ways.  God may seem gone or never having existed. This is not so. We are beings in the physical realm and must deal with the things of nature, viruses and sickness included.  Despite the hardships, we must trust God.  The world keeps getting worse and worse. We see on televisions mass shootings beginning again, global conflicts around the world, and the rise of crime in big cities like New York where not even kids are safe from gunshots.  It seems hopeless, but God is still here.  

Three years ago a young Dominican boy of only 15 years of age was attacked and stabbed to death by youths much other than him bearing machetes and knives.  He was left for dead all over mistaken identity.  His name is Lesandro Guzman-Feliz also affectionately called Junior by family and friends.  I had the honor of attending his wake and funeral Mass in 2018 and befriended the family. I recall seeing his body in the casket. He was a small young slim boy.  Seeing his body there made me both sad and angry.  How can this be?  This boy should be out there having fun, playing sports, Nintendo, Xbox, or Playstation.  He should be going to school and planning his life. He should be dating girls and learning how to be a man to them.  A casket in a funeral home should never be the place for a child.  Unfortunately, this was the case for young Junior.  If I felt this, imagine what his own parents felt, especially his mother.  Mothers are especially close to their boys.  His mother could have become an atheist. She could have gotten so angry that God let this happen.  However, she did not.  Leandra kept her faith. In fact, she credits her faith for not going mad or caving into despair and thoughts of revenge. It is not easy to lose a child.  As the cliche goes, children must bury their parents and not the other way around.  Leandra knows that God is sleeping, but not aloof.  God knows what is going on and everything happens for a reason which we may not understand now or may never understand until we meet Him face to face, so to speak.  Leandra knows that her son did not disappear into nothingness.  His immortal souls live on.  She knows that she will see him again at the resurrection of the dead.  We must be like this and live in full trust of God even when things seem hopeless.  Remember, God sleeps, yes, but He is not indifferent or aloof to you.  May Jesus Christ be praised!

Readings: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - God the Planter

 We are now back in the season of Ordinary Time. During this season, the Church focuses on the teachings of Christ and His everyday life. Today's readings reflect on the Kingdom of God using proverbial language and botany.

In the first reading, God describes how He uses the things that are low and raises them up to a prominent position.  He will "tear off a tender shoot, and plant it on a high and lofty mountain."  He will "bring low the high tree" and will "lift high the lowly tree." God is God, He can do this (Luke 1:37). I never get tired of stating that God always uses the impossible to do great things, often impossible. He chooses the weakest of men and women to humble the powerful (1 Corinthians 1:27).  From death on the cross, He brings life, redemption, and salvation (1 John 3:16, 1 Peter 2:24). Instead of using a majestic presence that will capture the minds of human beings to be with His Church, He chooses simple bread and wine (1 Corinthians 10:16, John 6:35, John 6:55). I can go on and on, but you get the point.

We human beings tend to think that success, power, money and the "big" things in life are what give us meaning, status and purpose.  This is not true. Think of how many celebrities and people in power possessing all kinds of material things end up empty inside. They resort to drug use, alcohol abuse, and even suicide. We saw this now with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.  People lost their jobs and earnings.  The stress drove many to take their lives.  What happened??  They had it all, money, fame, girls or guys.  I will tell you what happened!  These people bought into the world's lie. The lie that echoed since Adam and Eve from the serpent telling them to take, eat and enjoy, that in doing so they will not die and will be like gods (Genesis 3:4-5).  Material things do not give us life.  Having the means to afford plastic cosmetic surgery, botox, and whatnot will not make us live forever.  We will not become like gods.  This is a lie from the father of lies (John 8:44).  To hell with that liar, literally! Only Christ gives life (John 14:6)!  We must be humble so that God can raise us up (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:10).  We must be poor so that we can be rich in God (Matthew 5:3). This is why the Pope is calling the Church to be the "Church of the poor."  The poor have nothing, yet they have a lot.  It is one of the biggest paradoxes and mysteries that outdoes any physics differential equation that attempts to describe dark matter or any other concept using derivatives. We must give thanks to God for all we have as the Psalm today states.

In the responsorial Psalm, we are reminded to give God thanks.  We must praise God's name and proclaim His kindness at dawn and throughout the day.  This is why the Church has the Liturgy of the Hours which every Catholic should pray. By living in God, being holy and humble, we will "flourish like the palm tree."  We then shall be "planted in the house of the Lord."  The house of the Lord is our true home (Philippians 3:20).  The second reading reminds us of this.

In the second reading, we read that "while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord." This does not mean that the body is evil or that we should desire death.  What this means is that we are meant for better things (Matthew 6:26, John 14:2). We are meant to have a body like that of the resurrected Jesus (Philippians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 15:53).  A body that does not get sick and cannot die.  A body that is pure and truly houses the Holy Spirit as His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).  When we pass on to the Lord, we will be judged and will receive what we deserved based on our faith and works or lack thereof (Ephesians 6:8, Matthew 6:1).

The Gospel today tells of Christ comparing the kingdom of God to that of a mustard seed. He described this seed as the smallest on the earth.  Once it is planted, it grows becoming the largest tree. From it, the birds use it to nest and for shade. Jesus is using the imagery found in the first reading.

Atheists often bring up this Gospel passage in order to drum up charges against Christ claiming Him to be ignorant and disqualifying Him as God. You may ask, 'how so?' Well, they resort to the science of botany to make their claims.  Jesus says that the mustard seed is the smallest on earth and this is not so, scientifically speaking.  Did Jesus lie?  Did Jesus get His science wrong?  How can God - the Son of God - not know about His own creation?   Well, the response is simple.  Jesus was speaking proverbially.  Remember, He was making a comparison in regards to what the kingdom of God is like. In the region, there are several kinds of mustard seeds.  Among them are the Salvadora persica, Sinapis alba, the Sinapsis juncea, and the Brassica Nigra.  The Salvadora persica has small seeds which grow into a shrub.  Both the Sinapsis juncea and the Sinapis alba grow into small tree-like plants.

Therefore, the one that Jesus was referring to was the Brassica nigra. This seed is small and black, yet grows into a bushy tree over 10-15 feet tall.  Moreover, the crown of the Brassica Nigra tree or the bushy top part where the branches and leaves are is structured in a way that provides shade or a shadow which is how the first reading and the Gospel describe how birds or winged creatures will enjoy it. Jesus was not scientifically illiterate.  He used proverbial language with the available botanical elements in the area in order for the people to understand.

Let us be humble, plant our lives in God and allow Him to cultivate our lives so that we can grow into a "Brassica Nigra" and show the world what real "success is."  It is not in money, fame, or power, but in Christ Jesus.  May Jesus be praised!

Readings: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

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Sunday, June 6, 2021

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ - Corpus Christi: Christ is Truly Present!

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi or the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is so much attention given to the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, basically because Our Lord suffered and died for us.  He gave His Body and shed his blood so all can have the doors of Salvation opened to them.

Moreover, Christ emphasized the importance of His Salvific work on the Cross by leaving us the Holy Eucharist.  During the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread and wine, blessed it, and distributed it among the Apostles saying that they were His Body and Blood.  He instructed them to do this in His memory.  (Luke 22:7-20)  In other words, this meal was not a one-time thing.  It had to continue.

Was Jesus Crazy?
Was Jesus joking around when He said that bread and wine were His Body and Blood?  The answer is no.  In John 6:22-69 Jesus gave a long talk about the "Bread of Life."  He goes on to say that the bread Moses gave wasn't the "True Bread." The people asked Him for this "Bread of Life" and He then makes the radical statement that HE is the "Bread of Life" and the "True Bread from Heaven."  The people began to murmur among themselves because they knew Jesus was the son of Joseph, and not to mention that His words were a bit strange and in today's postmodern world would be interpreted as psychotic and delusional.

However, it gets "stranger," so to speak.  Jesus continues saying that one has to "eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life."  This is when the people really had enough.  Many walked out on Him thinking He was a lunatic or delusional.  Jesus then turns to His disciples and asks them if they will leave as well.  Peter replies saying that they can't go anywhere else because Jesus had the words of eternal life.  Peter is always the first to speak up or to lead, this shows why the Pope is the first bishop among all bishops of the world.

Real or Symbol?
Moreover, something interesting happens here in regards to how serious Jesus was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Many of our separated brothers and sister in the Protestant faith believe the Holy Eucharist is a symbol and not literally Christ's Body Blood Soul and Divinity.  Let's think about this for a moment: When people started abandoning Jesus for saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus didn't run in front of them and say "hey, wait a minute, I was joking." Instead, Jesus let them go.  This shows that He was very serious about His flesh and blood being actual things or foods that someone has to consume.  In 1 Cor 10:16  St. Paul reminds the people that the bread and wine are the Lord's Body and Blood.  He never calls them a symbolic representation of them.

Why bread and wine?
In Genesis 14:18 we read about Melchizedek - priest of God and king of Salem- giving Abram bread and wine.  He then blesses Abram.  Jesus uses bread and wine to make the connection to the Old covenant and to show that He is the True Priest who offers the True Sacrifice - Himself.

Bread is a food that is delicious.  It has a lot of carbohydrates which in turn gives a lot of energy to the body when burned as calories.  It is a food that is easy to make, but does a lot to appease hunger and give nutrients.  Then there is wine.  It is used to party with and used as medicine as well as a disinfectant agent for wounds.

Jesus as Bread and Wine does exactly that to our souls.  He appeases the hunger for God and nourishes the soul.  He brings our souls to jubilation by uniting with it when one receives Holy Communion.  He heals the soul from the harm sin has caused.

One may ask:  at Mass, the Bread and Wine still look, taste, smell, feel like Bread and Wine, so how can it be the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, God knows us well.  God designed the human body and mind.  He knows that human beings would cringe at the sight of eating raw meat and drinking blood.  How many times have we ourselves have gotten disgusted at looking at our own wounds?  It is not easy seeing blood and flesh in a traumatic form.

A few years ago, there was a big story about the "Zombie" in Miami which involved a man high on "bath salt" drugs who attacked a homeless man and literally ate his face.  People were disgusted at the news and the reality of how a human can even succumb to this evil cannibalistic act.  That being said, God would not give us tangible and biologically tactile flesh and blood to eat and drink in the sense we are used to.  Rather, He would use matter that we are all familiar with and that we enjoy: food and drink.

At consecration, the Bread and Wine do not turn into a piece of meat and human blood with DNA, platelets, red/white cells, etc - unless a Eucharistic Miracle has taken place which sometimes does occur.  The outside of the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same, but what it is, or the essence changes.  Think of it this way:  We see leaves on trees.  During spring and summer, they are green.  However, during fall they begin to change colors.  They turn red, orange, yellow, and brown.  Now let's think:  which one is the REAL leaf?  At one point it was green, then red, then orange, then yellow, and then brown.  The leaf changed colors, so is it the same leaf when it was green?  The answer is yes.  The outside or accidents of the leaf changed, but the essence of what it is remains the same.  The same with the Bread and Wine at Mass but in the opposite manner.  The outside remains the same (bread/wine) but the inside or what it is changed and becomes the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Similarly, we ourselves go through many changes.  Our bodies grow and change as we age; however, our temperament remains the same.

In today's first reading, we read of the primitive sacrifices offered to God by way of young bulls and other offerings. Animal sacrifices were common among pagan religions which the people of the Old Covenant often found themselves being influenced by. The use of animal sacrifices and the sprinkling of their blood was a sign of forgiveness and a foreshadowing of the true sacrifice in the person of Christ, the Lamb of God (Leviticus 4:35, 5:10; Hebrews 9:22, Leviticus 16:15, John 1:29). Animal sacrifices by themselves were just symbolic and had no power.  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes,
"The blood of animals could neither 'atone' for sin nor bring God and men together.  It could only be a sign of hope, anticipating a greater obedience that would be truly redemptive." (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 133)
The true sacrifice is Jesus who died on the cross and had His blood shed for all of us as expiation for our sins (1 Timothy 2:6). Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was done once and is efficient for all to be redeemed (Hebrews 7:27). Many of our Protestant friends believe Catholic priests "re-sacrifice" Christ over and over, this is not true. The Sacrifice at Mass is a remembrance or reenactment if you will, of the salvific events of the Passion of Christ (CCC, 1366-67). In the Mass, we receive the Holy Eucharist and participate in the "cup of Salvation" which we read in today's Psalm.

In today's responsorial Psalm we say, "I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord."  This Psalm is a foreshadowing of the "cup" that would hold the wine during the Last Supper and which Christ would bless and declare it to be His blood (Matthew 26:27). The Psalm connects to Christ who is the one whose death is "precious in the eyes of the Lord. (1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 3:16, John 10:17-18." The Psalm says, "I am your servant, the son of your handmaid," does this sound familiar? Jesus is described as the servant of God in Acts 3:26 reflecting His humanity and His mother calls herself the "handmaid of the Lord" in Luke 1:38.  Here we see a clear link to Jesus and Mary.

Today's second reading reminds us that Jesus is the true High Priest who was the sacrifice.  No longer do we have to use animal blood and sacrifices for atonement.  Christ did it already using His own body and blood on the Cross.  Before, it was demanded that Jewish priests offer animal sacrifices for the Feast of Atonement or "Yom ha-Kippurim."  This is now obsolete. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes,
"In order to understand this, we must first consider the ritual of the Feast of Atonement that is described in Leviticus 16 and 23:26-32.  On this day, the high priest is required, through the appropriate sacrifice (two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering, a young animal: cf. 16:5-6.), to make atonement, first for himself, then for "his house," in other words, for the priestly clan of Israel in general, and finally for the whole community of Israel (cf. 16:17)." (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 77)
The second reading reminds us of this and makes the emphasis that Christ's blood is worth more and is perfectly efficacious in redemption (Ephesians 1:7, 1 Peter 1:18-19).  It is through the Blood of the Lamb who is Christ that we conquer sin, evil, and ourselves (Revelation 12:11).

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of the Last Supper where Jesus "took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said,'Take it; this is my body.' Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.'" Here we have the first Mass. Christ gives us His body and blood, soul and divinity under the species of bread and wine (CCC 1406).  The blood of Christ is shed for all of us as expiation.  Pope Emeritus writes of this:            

"The Greek word that is here translated as 'expiation' is hilasterion, of which the Hebrew equivalent is kapporet.  This word designated the covering of the Ark of the Covenant.  This is the place over which YHWH appears in a cloud, the place of the mysterious presence of God.  This holy place is sprinkled with the blood of the bull killed as a sin-offering on the Day of Atonement --the Yom ha
Kippurim. The thinking here is that the blood of the victim, into which all human sins are absorbed, actually touches the Divinity and is thereby cleansed -- and in the process, human beings, represented by the blood, are also purified through this contact with God.." (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 39) 

Corpus Christi is a day to reflect on this and thank Our Lord for remaining with us in the hidden form under the appearance of Bread and Wine.  Unfortunately, this central point of our faith is not accepted by many in the United States of America.  According to a Pew Research survey, only 1 out of 3 Catholics accepts that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist (One-third of U.S. Catholics believe in transubstantiation | Pew Research Center).  This is horrific and shows that the Church has a lot of work to do.  To deny this dogma is just evil and comes from satan who rejects Christ.   I am afraid things might get worst after many bishops shut Catholics out of Mass, churches, and the Sacraments last year during the pandemic of Covid-19 coronavirus.  Some are still shutting out their people in other parts of the world.  This is just a travesty.  What message does this send to Catholics and non-Catholics?  If the Mass, Eucharist, and Sacraments cannot be used during a pandemic, then are they really efficacious or even necessary?  Those bishops who meant well did not pay close attention to the optics.  The message many received was that the Mass is not necessary, the Sacraments are not necessary and the Holy Eucharist is just a trinket we receive and not the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.  They sent the message that Holy Eucharist is just another conduit for diseases, which it is not. There is absolutely no evidence, scientific or non-scientific that Holy Communion in any species via the reception of any form spreads disease.  It makes me wonder if our bishops really believe themselves in the True Presence.  Archbishop Chaput is one of the few brave prelates who condemned bishops for paying too much attention to the authorities and not being leaders.  St. Pope Piux X even warned about this, see here below:

Many dioceses and parishes have processions on this day. They process through the parish area with the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance or Ciborium.  Sometimes due to weather, it is done inside the church or a hall owned by the parish. This is an awesome event and I wish every parish and diocese did this.

I also urge you to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and spent time with Him.  Many parishes have Eucharistic adoration for a period of time, sometimes perpetually.

There is nothing like getting lost in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  Go visit our Lord, share your life, your activities, your stresses, your desires, etc.  He is there waiting for you.  May Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist be praised forever!

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Holy Trinity - Three in One

 Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. We remind ourselves of this important truth of the faith that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

There are NOT 3 gods, but rather 3 persons who are ONE God or one essence.  For centuries the brightest minds, both within and without the Church have tried to fully comprehend and explain this, but they could not.

God cannot be understood completely by mortals.  Human beings are limited to space, time, and matter and can only understand things within the laws and experiences of each.

What human being has experienced infinity in order to define it?  What human being has experienced being all benevolent, all omnipotent, all sapient, and all-knowing?  There is none.   Human beings are finite creatures with finite minds.
It is important to understand that the Father is not the Son nor the Son the Father.  Moreover, the Father and Son are not the Holy Spirit and vice versa.  Each is distinct Divine persons who are of the same singular Divine substance or essence.

Think of it in this way:  One of western psychology's pioneers and also an atheist, Sigmund Freud believed that human beings have the Super Ego, Ego, and Id which comprises their psyche. Each is distinct but is of one person.  Moreover, human beings have a reason, conscience, and self-awareness.  Each is distinct but is of one person. The same with God, but with the difference that each (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are distinct persons, not attributes of personality as in the aforementioned examples.

There are some sects today that deny the Holy Trinity such as, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons.  Jehovah's Witnesses even went as far as to altering the Gospel of John 1:1 to read ".. the Word was A god..." which was done to support their idea that Jesus is some sort of a lower god or demi-god.  In Genesis 1:26, God says, "Let US make man in OUR image, to be like US."  The words "US" and "OUR" signify a plurality of persons.  God describes Himself as a community of persons.

It sounds confusing, but this shows the awesomeness of God.  God will never be completely understood by any creature.  If any creature understands God completely, then God would not be God. He would be a thing in nature that can be understood.

There is a story about Augustine of Hippo who is a Catholic saint and bishop. He is a well-known philosopher and a celebrated champion of Christian thought. 

Anyhow, one day he was trying to figure out God - in particular the idea of Father Son Holy Spirit as one God - he thought and thought and thought wondering how can God be 3 persons in one - how can God be God. Well, while sleeping he had a dream that he was by the shore. He saw a small child digging a hole in the sand. Once dug, the child took a shell and went to the ocean and took water. He brought it back and poured it into the hole. The child then ran back and repeated the same action. Augustine smiled and went to the child and asked the child, "what are you trying to do?" the child answered, "I am trying to put the ocean in this hole." Augustine smiled again thinking the child said something cute. Augustine replied to the child, "The ocean is vast and immense, there is no way you can put it all into this small hole." The child looked at him smiling and replied, "neither can you put all of God in your mind." At that Augustine woke and realized that no one can truly grasp God. It would be like putting the ocean into a small hole dug in the sand on a beach.  This child is said to have been Augustine's guardian angel.

Today's readings introduce the three Divine Persons.  The first person of the Blessed Trinity or The Father is introduced in the first reading. In the first reading, Moses is telling the people of the one true God YHWH (Exodus 8:10, Deuteronomy 4:39,2 Samuel 7:22, 1 Chronicles 17:20). He begins to ask the people if they recall anything so great to ever happen before and if they have ever known of a people who heard the voice of God or any god speaking from fire or venturing out to rescue them from another nation by using tests, signs, wonders, and war.  He, of course, is referring to the events of the Exodus (Exodus 13:21-22, Exodus chapters 7-20). Moses was reminding the people then and us today of this one true God. Mankind has formulated all kinds of designations and descriptions for deities trying to define the One God; however, these deities never spoke to them nor went out to rescue them from powerful nations. While these people had the right idea that a Supreme Being exists, they got the name and descriptions wrong.  Only one God has done what Moses described, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc (Exodus 3:6, Acts 3:13).   Moreover, some atheists and skeptics claim the story of Exodus is fiction. However, we have evidence such as the text "Ipuwer Papyrus" which describes the ten plagues that fell over Egypt which Moses reminded us of in today's readings.  God is indeed an awesome God. He is faithful and our Father (Deuteronomy 7:9, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Isaiah 64:8, Matthew 6:9).

In the responsorial Psalm, we read of the greatness of God.  His word is upright and trustworthy. God is not a liar (Numbers 23:19, Romans 3:4).  He is fair and just (2 Thessalonians 1:6). The word of God is what brings things to existence (Genesis 1:3).  This "logos" keeps our universe in existence (Hebrews 11:3, Colossians 1:17). We as His children must wait on God and trust in Him for He is our help and our shield (Psalm 91).  His Spirit gives us life, protects us, and guides us as we read in the second reading.

The second reading focuses on the third person of the Blessed Trinity whose coming we celebrated last Sunday on Pentecost. This Spirit reminds us that we are sons of God, not slaves (Galatians 3:26). We are able to call God "Abba, Father!"  We are united with the Blessed Trinity in the Spirit, not to be God, but to be sons and daughters of God (1 John 3:2).  This Spirit is our guide and our courage who gives us gifts that allow us to grow in the Holy Trinity and be witnesses to this union of love to the world (John 16:13, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Ephesians 4:7-13, Romans 12:3-8).

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of Jesus' last words to the disciples before the Ascension.  He reminds them that all power in heaven and earth was given to Him because He is the Word of God (John 1:1).  Jesus instructs them to go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Here we read Jesus dictate to His disciples the persons who constitute God. This is a truth that can never change because it comes from Christ who is the Truth (John 14:6).  God is One in three Divine distinct Persons.  Some atheists tweet around this meme of Christ praying at the Garden of Gethsemane and next to it they write that Christ is praying to Himself and asking Himself to spare Himself from what He is about to go through.  This, of course, shows the ignorance of many atheists who do not understand the Holy Trinity, among many other things.  Our job is not to try to understand this, but to trust this triune God who created us and loves us so much that the second person of this Trinity came, took on flesh, suffered, and died for all of us (John 3:16).  We must trust this God who rescues us from oppression as He did in the Exodus and who sends us His Holy Spirit to remind us of what Christ taught and guide us.  Again, no one can truly understand the Holy Trinity using man's knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:16, Romans 11:34).  We can understand the Holy Trinity with love because God is love (1 John 4:8).  As Catholics, we must go out and evangelize reminding the world of the One God in three Divine Persons.   

God is always with us even in these trying times with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.  It may seem like God abandon us or just simply does not care, but that is not so.  He has been with us since day one and will continue to be with us until the end when the good are weeded from the bad and those who rejected Him will get their wish of existing without feeling connected to God for eternity.        

Readings: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity | USCCB
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Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen  

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Pentecost - Come Holy Spirit, the World Needs You!

Today we celebrate Pentecost or the day when the Catholic Church was officially born in the public. 

In the first reading, we read the account of this coming of the Holy Spirit.  The Blessed Virgin Mother Mary and the Apostles gathered in an upper room and prayed for 9 days (Acts 1:14).

They then received the Holy Spirit who descended upon them as tongues of fire. Each received the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as the gift of tongues so that people could understand them in their native language as they preached the Gospel of Christ. This ability to communicate in various languages while speaking only one is connected to the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. The people of Babel were ambitious, never thinking of God, only themselves.

Like today, they place science and technology as means to give humankind a sense of self-divinity. We can split atoms, go to the moon, collide protons, clone animals, land space crafts on comets and immediately we think we are gods. The arrogance of the people of Babel brought God to confuse their language. Their sins united them, so to speak. The confusion of their tongue humbled them and delayed any advancements they were planning.  However, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the Blessed Mother and the Apostles the gifts of tongues allowing them to once again speak in one language that was intelligible to everyone else but with the message of Christ, not one like those of Babel who were self-centered humanists.

Pentecost means the 'fiftieth day' and was the day on which the 'Feast of Weeks' or 'Shevout' was celebrated.  On this day, all Jews recalled the day the Commandments were given to Moses 50 days after their Exodus from Egypt (Leviticus 23:15-21, Deuteronomy 16:9-11).  There was a big harvest on this day. Jesus had promised the Holy Spirit to the Apostles (Luke 24:49).  He told them that the Helper or Paraclete would come to them reminding them of all He has taught them and will guide them in Truth (John 14:15-31).

These are important verses that are ignored by our separated brethren who often claim that the Catholic Church is corrupt and apostate.  In America's infancy, groups such as the Finneyites rose up preaching a form of "primitivism," or what they called a return to the "original Christianity."  We see many of their sects today such as the Baptists, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists, Evangelicals, Mormons, Adventists, and so on.  Anyone who believes that Christ's Catholic Church became corrupt is basically calling Jesus a liar.  If Jesus indeed promised that the Spirit would guide the Church in Truth, how can it become corrupt?  How can the Church fall away from Christ?  This is a misconception our separated friends must really meditate on.  They must cast away that ignorant rhetoric from the harsh anti-Catholicism that existed in the past - post-reformation and into America's infancy.

It is the Holy Spirit who gave life to the universe, the earth, and man (Genesis 1:2, Genesis 2:7).  The Spirit will renew the face of the Earth as we read in today's Psalm.  It is via this Spirit that we can profess faith in Jesus as Lord as the second reading (the first option from (1 COR 12:3B-7, 12-13) tells us. This Spirit gives us the gifts necessary for us to spread the Gospel to others and grow in the Gospel internally. We must not fight the Holy Spirit, but let Him transform us as we read in the second option from Galatians 6:16-25.

Lastly, in the Gospel, both options tell us of Christ's promise of this Helper. We need this helper today more than ever. Our Church is being attacked from within and without. Many among us have lost our way, even among the clergy.  Churches are closing, people are leaving the faith.  A culture of death, sexual confusion, and egoism is on the rise.  The world seems to have gone to hell, so to speak. We must ask the Holy Spirit to come to us and renew us so that we can combat the evils in the world which come from the father of lies (John 8:44, Ephesians 6:12). The Spirit will come when we are united in prayer.  In this Holy Spirit, we must go out and proclaim Christ in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).  We all know that Christ and His Gospel is extremely out of season in our day, nevertheless, we must be courageous because God's Spirit which was given to us is not a pusillanimous or timid Spirit  (2 Timothy 1:7).  We may not have the 'eye of the tiger,' but we have the Holy Spirit and the world will hear us roar just like on the day of Pentecost.

  • Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to come once again and renew the Catholic Church and the world.  
  • Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to rid the Church of scandals; to rid the Church of her Judas' who continue to betray Jesus.  
  • Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to renew our faith and to restore or bring the gift of faith to those who lost it or never bothered with it.  
  • Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to tell us what to do in these trying times.  To instruct us how to confront with love and reason the errors of today such as Relativism, Atheism, Secularism, Homosexual behavior, the distortion of Marriage, the selfishness and ego of Feminism, Indifferentism, Personhood distortion and attack on life, and gender confusion.  

The Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic has humbled man in ways he has not imagined. As stated before, humanity prides itself on having abilities to split atoms, bring men to the moon, robots to Mars, the internet, and so forth.  Like Babel, man is still arrogant thinking he can build himself to God's realm and be godlike.  Ironically, an organism way smaller than man has reminded man that he is not the be-all-end-all of nature.  The Covid 19 virus paralyzed the world. It froze economies, world powers, belittled science and medicine into primitive guessing trades, and even froze religious institutions. We must learn from this and remind ourselves that we are not gods. Our science and knowledge are allowed by God only to do good, not to become gods or replace God.  We must rely on God's Holy Spirit for true Knowledge and Wisdom which guides us to goodness and righteousness.  This year is the year of St. Joseph and we should focus on him; however, we should also focus on the Holy Spirit during this pandemic.  God's Spirit is what gives the universe life and existence.  Let us call on the Paraclete to come to help us during this pandemic and in everyday situations.  Let us ask Him to guide us and protect us from evil and ourselves.   Let us pray for all the confirmandi around the world who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, especially those of Our Lady of Solace and St. Dominic in the Bronx. My nephew and niece were among them.  May the Holy Spirit be with them always guiding them.  Today is also my anniversary of my First Communion. Pray for me that I may remain faithful, humble, and always open to service to God, Church, and world. 

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love, sent forth your spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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Readings:  Pentecost Sunday | USCCB

Sunday, May 16, 2021

7th Sunday of Easter - The Church Starts to Form

 As we approach the end of the Easter season and Christ has ascended into heaven, we prepare to commemorate the events at Pentecost.  Today's readings show us the early Catholic Church in formation.

In the first reading, we once again see Peter, the first Pope takes leadership of all (120 in number).  He speaks with authority regarding Judas and who is to be chosen to replace him.  As you may know, the apostles were the first bishops.  The offices of the priest and deacon as we know them today still did not fully develop (Acts 15:623Acts 1:201 Timothy 3:8-13Philippians 1:1). These offices would form to be part of the kingdom of priests caring for the Church (Revelation 1:6Revelation 5:10).  By Peter being the one leading the selection to replace Judas, we see how important his role is.  This is why only Popes appoint bishops.  Peter had to choose a replacement for Judas because the 12 apostles represent the 12 tribes of the old covenant.  Jesus did not abolish the old but fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).  He began a kingdom with a new Jerusalem on the throne of David (Psalm 122:4-5Revelation 21:9-14Galatians 6:16). This new kingdom would be founded on Peter or "the rock."  Peter would be given the keys which are linked to the Davidic throne (Isaiah 22:20-22Revelations 3:7).  You can read more on the primacy of Peter and the Papacy here: The responsorial Psalm continues with the theme of the throne.

The Psalm for today reminds us that God has set His throne in heaven. Since heaven is above, this means that God's throne rules over all (Psalm 47:8Psalm 22:28). From this throne, God views all and orders all today His purpose (Proverbs 3:6).

In the second reading, we are once again reminded that we must love one another.  This is one of the most important essences of Christianity. Christianity is not a religion of the self like Buddhism, Taoism, and so forth. It is a religion of love that serves others (Matthew 5:44Matthew 25:35-46).  If we are Christian, yet do not love anyone, then we cease being Christian (John 13:35).  This is because God is love and commanded us to love (1 John 4:8).  As the reading says today, "..if we love one another, God remains in us.."

Lastly in the Gospel, we read of Jesus praying to God the Father.  He asks the Father to keep the apostles in His name.  He also asks the Father that the apostles be one.  We see here how important the Church is to Jesus. The Church has to be of one mind, heart, and body, so to speak (Ephesians 4:4-6).  She is the pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).  Unfortunately, due to human egos and other reasons, the Church has lost members who have created their own "churches" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  We must join our prayers to that of Jesus by asking God to make us one again.  Christianity must be only One Catholic Church and not a Catholic Church along with other smaller groups claiming to be the Catholic Church or the "true Church." Jesus said He would build His Church on Peter, not churches (Matthew 16:18). In my opinion, I believe this is the reason why many are leaving the faith. They see all these different "churches" competing with one another and ask themselves, "how can there be truth if there are different variations of it?"  This then leads to doubt and alienation from Christianity and eventually God. This week a study was released claiming that Christianity is on the decline, in particular Catholicism.  I address this here:

We must try our best to bring Protestants, the Orthodox who refuse to accept the Papacy and others back into unity with Rome (Matthew 5:24). This is what Christ desired.  We must ask the Father along with Jesus to consecrate all of us in truth.  It should be the truth that keeps us united because Jesus is the truth and there is only one Jesus (John 14:6).  Unfortunately, our attempts to understand this truth and the egos behind it keep us from unity.  As we approach Pentecost, we must ask the Holy Spirit to unite the Church since He is the spirit of truth and our paraclete (helper) (John 14:16).  We must be true witnesses to the truth in the world so as to bring it to Christ.  This truth is not popular.  We will be hated because of Christ (Matthew 24:9).  Today we are seeing this more publicly with the persecution from Isis, governments, the LGBT movement, secularists, and so forth.  It is a battle between what God wills and what I want to do.  Nevertheless, we may suffer, lose members, parishes may close, there may be shortages of priests, but in the end, we will win because Christ already won. We must remain faithful and go through the storm (Romans 5:3-5). In the end, we will receive the crown (James 1:121 Corinthians 9:25).  As Catholics, we must evangelize. Being Catholic is not something we only do on Sundays.  At work, in school, in public, within families, we must preach Christ even when Catholicism may be unpopular.  It is via the way we live our Catholicism that others will be either attracted to it or disgusted by it. Unfortunately, the mistake of bishops closing parishes during this alleged covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has hurt the faith of many.  Why even have Mass or a church if we can pray at home via live streams?  If the Sacraments were denied to those dying and everyone else, then what good are they if they do nothing against a virus?  There are many things the Church has to answer now after her bishops made exaggerated decisions without any scientific thought. Recently the pope issued a motu propio making the catechist an official ministry.  This is the first step to reclaiming the world for Christ.  However, catechists must be trained well so they can evangelize with clarity and facts so conversions can be made.  Let us pray for the Catholic Church, for more vocations, for the Holy Father the Pope.  May Jesus be praised forever!

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Seventh Sunday of Easter | USCCB

Sunday, May 9, 2021

6th Sunday of Easter - Love Of Neighbor

Today's readings remind us of God's commandments and love.

Readings: Sixth Sunday of Easter | USCCB

In the first reading, we read of Peter taking his leadership role of the Church as the first Pope. He speaks of God as showing no partiality. God does not have any favorites (Romans 2:11Colossians 3:25). He treats everyone equally and does not judge anyone based on appearance, only what is in the heart (1 Samuel 16:7Jeremiah 17:10). This is important especially in today's world where the word "equality" is being thrown around a lot.

Instead of picking favorites, God looks at those people who fear Him or respect Him and who are righteous (Proverbs 15:91 Timothy 6:11). Now, this does not mean that God only pays attention to the good people because remember,  all have sinned and this includes the good and the ones who persist in sin (Romans 3:23). Rather, God pays close attention to those who while still in sin, try their best to be righteous and holy.  He still does pay attention to those in sin waiting for them to turn around (Isaiah 30:18Romans 11:32).  No one is going to become a saint overnight. It is a process that entails God's grace and a response to that grace with faith and good works (James 2:14-26Romans 3:24CCC Article 2 Grace & Justification). This grace is open and free to all peoples, both the Jews and Gentiles. This is why the circumcised believers or the Jews were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the Gentiles. God wants all to be saved because all humanity are His children (1 Timothy 2:4Hebrews 2:14). This is why Baptism should not be denied to anyone.  The closing of churches around the world is a great travesty. Many were denied the Sacraments even as they died of Covid-19 Coronavirus!  Peter clearly states that water for baptizing these people should not be withheld. It is in baptism that we die in Christ to then rise in Him (Romans 6:4Colossians 2:12). In Baptism, God's power removes original sin and prepares the soul for spiritual growth as we read in the responsorial Psalm.

In the responsorial Psalm, we read of God's saving power being revealed to the nations. God has always willed that all be saved starting with Abraham who became the father of many nations (Genesis 17:5). God has worked wonders with Israel in order to prepare the rest of the world for Christ (Isaiah 40John 20:31Acts 13:29Matthew 26:56). Christ would come to redeem the world and open the doors to heaven for all peoples (Titus 2:14Galatians 3:13). In order to be part of this salvation from Christ, we must follow His commandments. Loving one another is one of these commandments and what the second reading tells us about.

The second reading beings with "let us love one another because God is love." As Catholics, we must love one another. This does not mean fellow Catholics only, but everyone, including those who hate us (Matthew 5:44). Christ wants us to love one another as we love ourselves (John 13:34-35). We cannot be the true image of God if we hate one another because God is love and we cannot reflect something that is contrary to God. This can be extremely difficult since there are some people in our lives that we sometimes want to push down the stairs or under a bus. However, this is our fallen human nature thriving on concupiscence. We must ignore these impulses and offer them to Christ on the Cross. It is not easy getting along with others since each person is an ego with different views, experiences, understanding, temperament, and so forth. However, we must ask God for the grace to understand other people and be patient and forgiving with them (Ephesians 4:2Colossians 3:13). If we love one another, we truly show that we are of God and know God. This theme continues in today's Gospel.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples to love one another as the Father loves Him. In other words, this love must be genuine and perfect, without ulterior motives. This is done by following the Father's commandments and not our own desires which often seek to trump the will and lives of others. Jesus then tells His disciples what true love is and that it entails the laying down of one's life for his friends. He was referring to Himself on the Cross. This does not mean that we have to die just to show our friends that we love them. However, it does mean that the love of others should not be selfish (Philippians 2:3). 

In 2015, New York City's Police Department buried one of its finest. Young police officer Brian Moore only 25 years old was shot and later died of his wounds doing his job: to serve and protect. Detective Moore (he was promoted posthumously) paid the ultimate price for the job he always wanted; to be a police officer. While his loss of life is not exactly the "laying down of one's life" as Jesus described, nevertheless, it similar in that as a police officer he had a job to serve and protect his community.  Similarly, many have sacrificed themselves to help others, such as doctors, nurses, and teachers.  This week we celebrate them.  They put themselves on the front lines during this Covid-19 Coronavirus alleged pandemic.  

Furthermore, Jesus tells His disciples that they are no longer slaves, but His friends. By using the word slave, Jesus means servants since He is King and royals often have servants (John 12:151 Timothy 6:15Revelation 17:14). This statement is a powerful one indeed. Can you imagine being the friend of a King!? This friendship also applies to us who are baptized in Christ and are given grace freely. In turn, we must respond with genuine faith and good works which comprise loving one another. May Jesus Christ be praised forever!

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Message to readers:

Please help fund this work. Hosting this site and running this work is not free. I have to pay for the domain name, materials I mail people, postage, etc.  Moreover, I want to expand Sacerdotus Radio hosted on BlogTalkRadio which costs money and also want to publish some writings.  Without your generosity, I will not be able to continue this on my $70 a month stipend. Please donate and help me raise the funds necessary to run and expand.   I will probably have to stop this work if I am not able to keep up with costs.  You can donate to our Paypal or purchase items on our store: New tab (New tab (  Or you can use the GofundMe this site to make your donation which you can report on taxes as a gift, thanks and God bless. Thank you. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

5th Sunday of Easter - Vine & Branches: Representing Christ in the World

In today's readings, we learn of the importance of representing Christ in the world as his branches. Evangelization is important!

The first reading tells of Saul who persecuted the Christians.  After a vision of Christ, he converted and his name became Paul (Acts 9).  Since Saul persecuted the Christians, the disciples were worried when he approached them asking to be part of their group.  They felt he was just pretending in order to find out where Christians gathered in order to make arrests (Acts 8:3).

However, he sincerely did want to join the disciples and Barnabas took him in.  Saul told them of how he had seen the Lord who spoke to Him.  As a new Christian, Saul wasted no time and went after the Hellenists or the Greek philosophers of the time and debated with them.  They did not like his arguments so they tried to kill him. (Sounds like me today with online atheists who are constantly targeting me after I refute their nonsense!)  As a Church, we must spread the Gospel and praise the name of the Lord as the Psalm for today calls us to (Mark 16:15).

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Message to readers:
Please help fund this work. Hosting this site and running this work is not free. I have to pay for the domain name, materials I mail people, postage, etc.  Moreover, I want to expand Sacerdotus Radio hosted on BlogTalkRadio which costs money, and also want to publish some writings.  Without your generosity, I will not be able to continue this on my $70 a month stipend. Please donate and help me raise the funds necessary to run and expand.   I will probably have to stop this work if I am not able to keep up with costs.  You can donate to our Paypal or purchase items on our store: New tab (  Or you can use the GofundMe this site to make your donation which you can report on taxes as a gift, thanks and God bless.

Today's responsorial Psalm calls us to be faithful to God and praise Him.  We must call the whole world to remember the Lord and turn to Him (Acts 3:19). Like John the Baptist, we must be that "voice in the wilderness" calling the world to repentance and righteous living by reminding them that to God only should worship be given (Isaiah 40:3John 1:23). Covid 19 coronavirus has reminded us all that we are not here for long. Our lives and end at any moment for whatever reason.  Nothing will change this.  I am sure many of you noticed how our technology and science were reduced to nothing by a microscopic virus. It is humbling.  We need to be focused on God and repent.  The alleged pandemic brought the world to its knees to repent.  This call to the world to repent must be made with love as we read in the second reading.

In the second reading, we read that we must love in deed and truth, not just by words. We must show our love for others, not talk about it (1 Corinthians 13:1-2).  We who are in Christ belong to the truth because Christ is the truth (John 14:6).  With this confidence in Christ Jesus, we must go out and evangelize, keep the commandments ourselves and be examples to those around us (Titus 2:7).  Again, all of this must be done with love as Christ commanded (John 13:34-35). We are part of the Church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27Romans 12:5).  Christ is the true vine and we are the branches as we read in the Gospel.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that he is the true vine, the Father is the vine grower and we are the branches.  Every branch that does not produce fruit, the Father will throw away in the furnace (hell) (Revelation 21:8Matthew 25:46). Those branches that do produce fruit, the Father will prune so that it bears even more fruit.  Jesus reminds us that without the vine, the branches cannot produce fruit. If we do not remain in Christ, then we cannot bear fruit.  It is in Christ that we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Again, the Church is the body of Christ. We must remain faithful to the Church in order to be truly incorporated in Christ.  As branches, we must reach out around the world and spread the Gospel. The message of the Gospel works best when done with love as Christ commanded.  Mary, the mother of Christ, and our mother is a perfect example.  She was not just His mother, but also His disciple.  Her last recorded words in the Gospel are at the Wedding at Cana where she tells the servants "Do whatever He (Christ) tells you." What powerful words are these!  They ring true throughout the centuries.  In the month of May which is the month of Mary as our mother, the Holy Father Pope Francis has called on us to pray the Rosary daily.  Let us pray it daily and ask the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary to helps us be better disciples of her Son Jesus.  May Jesus Christ be praised!  

Readings: Fifth Sunday of Easter | USCCB


Sunday, April 25, 2021

4th Sunday of Easter: Jesus the Good Shepherd, Praise His Name

In today's reading, we read of how Jesus takes care of His own.

The first reading takes place after Pentecost which we will be celebrating soon.  Peter the first Pope is filled with the Holy Spirit. This fisherman who can be called a big coward before receiving the Spirit now has the nerve and courage to speak before a crowd and speak of Jesus.  He tells the people that the miracles they have seen are all done in the name of Jesus Christ. The name "Jesus" means savior and "Christ" means king or anointed one. It is in this name that salvation can only be reached (Acts 4:12).

This name was given by God so that all may come to Him and bend the knee asking for mercy and salvation (Philippians 2:9-11).  Using the name of someone shows that you have authority in that person. This is why the Apostles relied on Jesus' name.  It gave them credibility, power, and authority (John 14:13Acts 4:30). The name of Jesus is so powerful that even the demons of hell cry out and run in fear (Mark 16:17Mark 3:11).  This speaks volumes especially at the time when the people rejected Christ.  The "stone rejected" did become the "cornerstone," as the reading tells us.  This name of Jesus was the Word that created the universe (John 1:3).

In the responsorial Psalm, we are reminded that the stone that was rejected became the cornerstone. We recall how God's mercy endures forever.  Despite (all of us) putting Christ on the cross, God still has love and mercy for us. He welcomes us to repent and turn from our sinful ways in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38). We recall how it is better to trust in God than in men because in the end, it is God who judges us all and God is the one in control, not man (Psalm 146:3Matthew 10:28).

The second reading tells us of something very powerful. We are told that God loves us so much that we are His children! Think about this for a minute. We are children of God - the God of the universe, the creator of all things seen and unseen!  If this does not ring of awesome, then I do not know what does.  We are the children of God and can call God, "father" because of Christ who became one of us through the womb of the Blessed Mother Mary and the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:6Romans 8:15Hebrews 2:17Hebrews 4:15). As children of God, we must be of the light, not darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5). This means that we must be free from sin and live as God wants us to live (1 Peter 1:16). Jesus with His authority even taught us a prayer that begins with "Our Father" which should remind us that we are the children of God every time we recite it (Matthew 6:9Luke 11:2). Unfortunately, our friends who share our belief in the Abrahamic God (Jews, Muslims) feel that calling God "father" is blasphemous.  With all respect to them, I find this argument silly. If we are to believe that God created us. Then logically speaking, how are we not going to call God "our Father?" But clearly, today's second reading tells us that the world does not "know us."  The world thinks we are crazy many times.  This is because they do not understand yet. They have not accepted God's grace which will illumine their hearts and minds to understand the reason for the faith (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is why we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost which is coming up soon. The Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us understanding so that the "foolishness" that Christianity may come across as to those in the world can make sense to us (John 14:261 John 2:27).

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus describes Himself as this Good Shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep.  Jesus then tells His parable of a man hired who is not a shepherd. When a wolf comes, the man makes a run for it leaving the sheep at the mercy of the wolf. Jesus tells us that this hired man does this because he works for a salary and does not care for the sheep. He then proceeds to tell us that He is the good shepherd who will stick by His sheep even at the point of dying for them.  "Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?"  Well, not Jesus!  This is a very powerful parable. Here we see how God loves us so much that He is willing to go "through hell" to take us to heaven, metaphorically speaking (John 3:16Hebrews 12:2).  Furthermore, I cannot help to reflect on our shepherds today in the Church.  It is said that there are sometimes cardinals, bishops, and priests etc, who forsake God, the Church, and the teachings for ulterior motives. They see the priesthood or religious life as a career or a step on the ladder of success and power.  Thank God Pope Francis has been addressing this strongly and condemning clericalism. It has no place in the Church or the priesthood/religious life.  Priests - all clergy - and religious must serve God and the people. They must not be in it for the money or "perks" (1 Timothy 6:11Titus 1:7-82 Timothy 2:241 Timothy 3:21 Peter 5:2).  This defeats the purpose of being a priest, bishop or shepherd of the flock. 

Lastly, Jesus speaks of having other sheep that are not part of this main fold. These are those outside of the Church. Those who have not become part of the Church are still the sheep of Christ. They hear His voice from a distance and reply. Christ calls out to them as well. As Catholics, we must avoid triumphalism or the idea that Catholicism is the best and other faiths are inferior.  This is a bad attitude and pride. Some in the so-called "traditionalist" faction of the Church often cite "extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" or "outside the Church there is no salvation," with the intention of shunning those people outside of the Church as being condemned.  This is a complete misunderstanding of this phrase. This phrase does not mean, "hey world, we are Catholics and if you are not with us you are going to hell."  Instead, this phrase is a reminder that the Church (being the Body of Christ) is the ordinary means of salvation.  The Catechism states:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (CCC 846)

It is not meant to attack Protestants, other Christians or even non-Christians. The Catechism states:

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. (CCC 847)

In paragraph 843, it says of the Church's respect for other faiths:

The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332

So clearly, the Church sees the ideas of other faiths as a preparation for the Gospel. God is feeding these people "milk" before giving them the solid stuff (1 Corinthians 3:2).  Christ as the Good Shepherd is calling out to them. Since these sheep are not within His main fold, they hear Him from a distance, so the message may not get fully across which leaves them with the "shadows and images" they rely upon from which to look for God, as the above paragraph of the catechism states.

This shows the mercy of God. He is not a dictator in the sky demanding that we follow the rules or else.  He gives us many opportunities to change our ways and seek Him. We must trust in Jesus the Good Shepherd and remember that we are Catholics and live as such in His name, not our own.  We must not boast about our faith and scare others away (2 Corinthians 10:131 Corinthians 9:16), nor should we believe that we are perfect, holy, or "God's favorites" just because we are Catholic. Instead, we must be humble and share the faith with love; giving a reason for the hope that is in us (Philippians 1:161 Corinthians 13:1-31 Peter 3:15).  By doing this, we will win back our brother imitating the Good Shepherd and can proudly call God "Our Father" (Matthew 18:15James 5:19).  

The current covid 19 coronavirus pandemic we are have brought about many ways for us to help our brother or win him back.  Many are suffering due to this virus, not just due to sickness but also loss of job and way of life.  It has not been easy for all of us. We too at Sacerdotus have felt the impact and had to cut down many services we offer.  The pandemic has opened up new ways for all of us to serve one another.  We now offer live streaming of the Spanish Mass at St. Dominic so that those who cannot participate can join us virtually.  We have also found creative ways to reach others and remind them that God is still with them.  The pandemic and response of the Church have hurt the faith of some people.  Online polls claim many people do not want to return to church.  We must reach out to these brothers and sisters and win them back for Christ.  May the Holy Name of Jesus Christ be praised forever!

Readings:  Fourth Sunday of Easter | USCCB

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