Sunday, February 28, 2021

2nd Sunday of Lent: This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.

Today's readings remind us of sacrificing what we love most and God's sacrifice of His own Son for our redemption and salvation.

In the first reading, we read the story of Abraham the father of faith.  He is called this because of today's first reading.  Abraham is put to the test by God. This test is sometimes very hard for some of us today to bear.  Even philosopher Kierkegaard wrote extensively on this in recalling how Abraham "suspended the ethical" in order to take this test (Fear and Trembling).  So what was this test and why is it so hard to process?  Well, Abraham and his wife Sarah were blessed by God with their own son named Isaac which means "God laughs or He laughs."  Sarah was unable to conceive a child (Genesis 11:30).  Despite this, God promises Abraham that she will conceive a child from him; this gives both a chuckle (Genesis 17:15,19Genesis 17:17Genesis 18:12).  This is why the son was named "Isaac" because God laughed at the incredulity of Abraham and Sarah. Since Isaac was Abraham's only biological son with Sarah, he naturally valued him greatly as would any parent who has a child after not being to have one for so long. God then tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac to him. God does this to test Abraham.

At the time, the Hebrews were surrounded by all kinds of Pagan influences which demanded that they sacrifice even their own children to their deities of stone and wood. God tested Abraham to show the faith Abraham had. The Pagans had gods they could see and touch, but Abraham's God was just a disembodied voice. It would take a lot of faith to trust this voice as being a real deity and not just Abraham's imagination. Abraham demonstrated this exactly.  He showed great faith and became the father of faith and an example to all believers.  God of course prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac because that was never the real intention.  Some atheists use this story to accuse God of being a bloodthirsty sadistic God. This is just false and academic sloth on their part.  In this season of Lent, we are called to make sacrifices and deny ourselves in order to get closer to God. In order to get closer to God and understand ourselves and our purpose, we must suspend our humanity, so to speak.  We must set aside the norms that we create in society and trust solely in God's will and providence.  This is not easy to do.

This ties into the responsorial Psalm which reminds us that we have to "walk before the Lord, in the land of the living."  We must trust God and believe in God even when we are afflicted (Job 13:15).  This must be done while we are still living. A life of prayer, reception of the Sacraments, reading of Sacred Scripture, and performing good works allows us to walk closer to God "in the land of the living." Accepting the trials and tests we receive is also important (James 1:2-4).  These help us grow stronger spiritually and psychologically. We must "go through hell first before we can get to heaven."  God never abandons us as we walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).  This rings very true today during this alleged global pandemic we are facing. The Covid-19 coronavirus has really taken the world by storm. Recently, in the United States of America alone, half a million succumbed due to complications of the virus. This is very sad and we must keep those who lost loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.  Despite the tragedy of this massive loss of life here in American and around the world, we must have faith and focus on God. I stated many times.  We do not know what is the reason behind this virus. Is it a plague? Is it God's justice or a warning? Is this biological warfare or an accident at a lab in China?  Is this a natural phenomenon?  We just cannot know for sure. We must learn what we can and use it to grow our spiritual lives.  

In the second reading, we are reminded that God is always with us and because of this, no one can stand against us.  St. Paul reminds us that God loves us so much that He will always be there for us and will give us everything (Matthew 7:11John 3:16). Today we are facing all kinds of trials from the world as Christians. The Catholic Church is being charged and accused of all kinds of evil.  Nevertheless, as St. Paul states, "who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?" God is the one who will judge and acquit us (Psalm 75:7James 4:12). We must go through these trials and trust in God as precious metals go through the fire before they become beautiful jewelry (Zechariah 13:91 Peter 1:7).

Lastly in the Gospel which ties into the first reading, we read of the Transfiguration of Christ. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a high mountain.  While there, He is transfigured before them. His clothing becomes a vivid and dazzling white.  We see this excursion up mountains in the Old Testament with three individuals in  Exodus 24:1,9,15.  The number three shows the perfection of divine fullness. This is important because Elijah and Moses appear and talk to Jesus as if they were friends while at the same time representing the old Covenant and giving validity to Jesus being the awaited Messiah while God the Father speaks saying, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him."  Here we see that Jesus is the real deal (Malachi 3:1,23-24). He is not another prophet from Israel like the Jews were used to.  Jesus is God in the flesh; the second person of the Blessed Trinity (John 1:1-14).  The Father said that Jesus is His Son connects to the first reading in that Jesus (God's only Son) would become the sacrifice offered for all humankind just like Isaac was Abraham's only biological son with Sarah and was going to be sacrificed (Hebrews 10Romans 3:25). Jesus is the lamb of God who was provided to redeem all peoples in every time and place, dead and alive (John 1:29).  Our job now is to do what the Father asks of us: "Listen to Him." This is what Lent is all about.  Many times we just hear God's word and do not listen. We must LISTEN!  Listen is not the same as hearing. When we listen, we take action and put what we hear into action.  We set ourselves aside, all of our human customs, culture, and whatnot, and follow Jesus.  We give up what we love most: ourselves; sacrificing this while seeking Jesus who is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for all of us. This is true love. God in a way treats us as if we were His god.  This is how strong God's love is for us. Like Abraham, we must trust in God and have faith as we walk into the desert leaving our comforts behind while accepting any trials that may and will come.  We must LISTEN TO HIM.     

Readings: Second Sunday of Lent | USCCB

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

1st Sunday of Lent: God's Enduring Covenant

We are now in the season of Lent.  It is a season of penance, repentance, and preparation. Our parishes and clergy are adorned with violet or purple vestiture symbolizing penance. We fast and abstain from meat to imitate Jesus in the desert who ate nothing for 40 days. Today's readings reflect on God's reach to humanity via His covenant and that we rely on Him.

In the first reading, we read of God speaking to Noah and his sons. God establishes a covenant between them and their descendants.  The covenant is not only with them but also with nature. Every living creature, all the birds and wild animals is a part of this covenant. God says that He will never again destroy creatures with floodwaters. God had punished the world by pushing the cosmic reset button, so to speak. The world had gotten so horrible and sinful that there was no way for it to come back.  It reached the point of no return. The world was too far gone so God has to start again. He flooded the world to the point that everything died except Noah, his family, and the animals that were aboard the ark. Now there are many ideas surrounding the story. Some say it is allegorical while others say it is literally true. Some say the world was not flooded and only a specific region while others say the entire globe was flooded. Scholars debate the details. Despite this, we cannot ignore the facts of the story. God made a covenant. He used the bow in the sky to serve as a sign. This bow is of course the rainbow. The rainbow belongs to God, not any group or political agenda. We have to be clear about this. The reading shows us how God still pursues humanity despite how bad it can get. He is just but also merciful. His ways are love and truth, as the responsorial Psalm tells us.

We must ask God to make His ways known to us and teach us the path of righteousness. God is our guide and teacher. This path of righteousness is not easy. As we read in the first reading, God did destroy the wicked. His ways are love and truth; truth can hurt many times. I know coming from an atheist background the cliche of the "God of the Old Testament" being this evil, sadistic God. Comic books like "The Preacher" even parody this caricature of God as an evil God who loves to torture or is an immature being that punishes on a knee-jerk reaction, so to speak. This is not true. The Old Testament does not depict some sadistic God that is different from what the New Testament depicts God as.  We see a just God who punishes the wicked. Without justice, nothing can function. This is why we seek God and rely on His compassion which is from old. This compassion is shown in the covenant. God could have just erased the universe. Instead, He erased the wicked like a gardener pruning the bad branches and weeding out the weeds that are destructive to the ecosystem.  God is good and upright. He shows sinners the way and guides the humble to justice. We must rely on Him always. The second reading puts it into perspective.

In the second reading, we read of how Christ suffered for sins once. This means that Jesus died and suffered for all of our sins once. This is important to know in regards to the Mass.  Many of our separated brethren in the Protestant faith believe Catholics re-sacrifice Jesus over and over. This is not true. The Mass is a reenactment of the passion of Christ. We are seeing it happen like a movie that is taped or recorded already and we are just replaying it. Jesus is not being sacrificed again. His sacrifice was once and transcends time. At Mass, we link to that sacrifice via the Holy Eucharist. Jesus died for everyone. He was the innocent who died for the sake of the not so innocent. All of this was done to lead us to God.  His flesh was put to death bringing the Spirit to us which brings life.  Jesus even reached those in the afterlife who waited since the days of Noah. This prison is often called hell but is like purgatory. They waited there for Christ.  The waters of the flood were a prefigurement of baptism. God washed the world of the original sin.  The flood was not just a big punishment, it foreshadows baptism. This all links to Jesus. Jesus sits at the Father's right had pleaded for us all. All angels, authorities, and powers are under Him and are subject to Him. Jesus is our only hope. This is why there is no one else who saves. Only Jesus does.  We rely on Him.  The Gospel introduces Jesus' desire to reach the world even at the expense of HIs own life and comfort.

In the Gospel, we get a brief taste of Lent. Jesus is taken the desert by the Spirit. He is there for forty days. While there, Satan comes to tempt Him. It was not a good experience. The devil is the ultimate and first troll. He trolled Jesus trying to get Him to break with the Father. Here we see that Satan is not an all-knowing being. He did not know who Jesus was and was trying to figure Him out. Despite all he did, Jesus never broke His Father's will. Angels ministered to Him.  After John was arrested, Jesus became the prominent figure preaching repentance and faith. Jesus went to Galilee to preach the Gospel of God. He reminded them that the kingdom is at hand. This is the kingdom of God. To be part of this kingdom, we must not only believe in God but follow HIs will. We must repent and believe in the Gospel. Believing in the GOspel is not just saying "I believe." By believing, we follow it. We put into action what we believe. This is what Lent show brings us to. During Lent, we must get closed to God and help one another. We must put the Gospel into practice.  During this period of Covid-19 Coronavirus, we can enhance our Lenten experience by offering more sacrifices for the sake of our relationship with God.  God's covenant endures forever. He never breaks it.   


Lent is a season of penance and also charitable works. One way of being charitable is by helping our ministry pay its bills and expand. Please donate at our Paypal,, or become a monthly Patreon on  You can also purchase items at our online store Your funds help us a great deal. We need your help!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday 2021

Today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of the season of Lent. Many reflections come to my mind, in particular, the humility we should aspire to live by.  It is also 2 days after St. Valentine's day, a day hijacked by secularism to reflect relationships.  More on this later.

During Ash Wednesday, we receive the ashes as a sign of repentance, humility, and reminder of our finite existence on Earth. The use of ashes is not new and can be found in Sacred Scripture: Esther 4:1Job 42:6, and Daniel 9:3.

The ashes remind us of our state of this world.  "We are dust and to dust, we shall return" which comes from Genesis 3:19.  It is a reminder that we are not an end in ourselves.  Our lives, our successes, our education, in a word; our entire being returns to dust and ashes after death.  All that we were or could have been is reduced to a pile of ashes.  The whole thought is humbling.  The very word 'humbling' comes from 'humility.'  The word 'humility' comes from 'humus' which means 'dirt, soil or ashes from the Earth.'  The ashes placed on us should remind us of humility.  It should remind us that eventually, we will die and that life should be well spent, so to speak.  

We do not have all the time in the world so we must make good use of it in order to try our best to follow God's will.  As Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 states:  
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;"
God will call each one of us in due time. We will face judgment immediately after death as Hebrews 9:27 tells us, and there is no attorney nor can we make use of an alibi.  It is important that we try to do God's will and not waste our lives on sin and other vices that give the illusion of happiness or joy. Like the quote from the classic movie, "A Bronx Tale" produced by Robert De Niro states: "The saddest thing in life is wasted talent."  We all have the talents necessary along with God's grace in order to live a virtuous life and grow spiritually.  Ash Wednesday and Lent should remind us of this.

The ashes remind us of our finite state in this world. We are no almost a year from the onset of the alleged global pandemic of the covid-19 coronavirus.  This virus froze the world, literally.  Nations were and some still are on lockdown. Churches were shut down in many areas and still remain so. The Sacraments were denied to many.  It has been a disastrous period.  Let us not even forget the many deaths linked to this virus.  Covid-19 reminded us of our mortality perhaps more than ashes could ever do.  Life is short.  Covid-19 has reminded us day after day about this.  Many of us live in fear because of this virus.  We are stuck now wearing masks and performing sanitary rituals.  This is a sort of imposed Lent on all of us, Christian and non-Christian.  We should reflect on this.  

The popular Oscar-winning movie, "Joker" has a line where the Joker Arthur Fleck says, "I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it's a comedy."  Many times, we may see life as a tragedy. Some even take their lives because of this belief. Life is not a tragedy. In fact, it is a comedy of sort. If we sit down and think carefully, the things we get mad over or that we let bother us are tiny compared to life and our potentiality.  We are in control of our lives. Fasting and abstaining from meat remind us that we can give up anything in order to grow spiritually, even sustenance.  This shouldn't be a burden for 'man does not live by bread alone, but by the Word of God." (Matthew 4:4)  

As an atheist, existentialism was part of my frame of mind which states that all rests on the individual - we are an end in ourselves.  Ash Wednesday added to my way of thinking.  It reminded me that I am not an end in myself.  My intellectual reasoning ability, my knowledge, my talents, etc eventually will dissipate as I take my last breath.  This allowed me to consider that there has to be more to life, this couldn't be it on Earth.  However, this is a topic for another blog post.

Unfortunately, some Catholics rely on the external aspect of days like Ash Wednesday.  The "A&P Catholics" come to church on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday out of 'duty' or false piety and not a genuine search for God and discipline to grow more in Him.  Like the Pharisees, they do not internalize the symbolism behind the sacramentals given on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday. Faith cannot become a mere "duty" or "obligation."  It must be a way of life.  The ashes on Ash Wednesday must not become a pagan ritual if you will.  There is nothing magical about the use of ashes. It does not have any powers.  They are just holy reminders of our mortality.   

I hope you attending Ash Wednesday Mass today or if you receive ashes during a service that you remind yourself that we must be humble.  We must remember that we are indeed 'dust and to dust, we shall return.'  Nothing will change this.  No advancements in science or medicine will make death a thing of the past.  The ashes should remind us that the hourglass is slowly emptying and that we must make every effort to use every precious second to grow spiritually in God's grace.  We will fall along the way, but God will help us get back up.

The first reading reminds us that we have to return to the Lord.  Our fasting, the ashes we receive, our abstaining from meat much have an internal meaning, the rending of our hearts.  God is merciful and gracious.  He waits for us to return to Him.  In this season of Lent, we must do our best to return to God. None of us are perfect.  We all sin. However, sin is not the end of the story.  Sin is the villain in our story that we have to defeat.  We can only do this by living a holy life of prayer and reception of the Sacraments. These bring about a greater representation of Christ in the world. We begin to love God and our neighbor more and more.  We start to gain the courage to face all trials.  Lent is a special time in the Church. We walk with Jesus in the desert, face temptation, and walk out victorious with Christ Jesus. 

The first reading reminds us of the need to ask God for mercy; to spare His people!  We receive the ashes as a reminder of our mortality. Humans are just dust and to dust, they shall return. Scientifically speaking, we are carbon-based lifeforms who are made of "stardust," as the late Carl Sagan famously stated. Our accomplishments, our intelligence, our capacity to reason should not make us feel pride as if we are gods on earth; we are not!  Nature is constantly reminding humanity that despite its accomplishments, a simple act of God can wipe everything away. The wildfires and losses of wildlife due to man-made activities that add to global warming remind us of how our pride will be our destruction.  As Scripture says, after pride, the fall comes (Proverbs 16:18).  Man thinks he can control the forces of nature and destroy the environment, but he is reminded time in and time out that God ordained nature to function in a certain way and if man interferes, he will suffer the consequences. Today, there is the fear of a pandemic that is taking hold. The Coronavirus or COVID19 is taking the world by storm. Is this divine justice, part of man-made global warming, or just nature doing its thing?  We may never know. However, the timing cannot be coincidental. Nevertheless, even this disease is reminding man that he is not an end to himself. The ashes today remind us of this. This is why we must repent and believe in the Gospel. 

We need mercy from God for we have sinned, as the responsorial Psalm says.  God is indeed mercy. There is no sin He will not forgive unless it is the sin against the Holy Spirit or the sin of not trusting in God's mercy and avoiding it. Only God can cleanse us of our sins and guilt. Only God can create a pure heart in us and a steadfast spirit. We must take this time during Lent to call on God to have mercy on us so that we can proclaim His praise.  The second reading tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ.  We represent Christ in our state in life to others.  Therefore, we must be holy and humble.  We must be full of love and mercy.  This can only be done if we are reconciled with God.  Jesus became the image of sin (human) but did not sin so that He could rescue us from sin.  We must not be ingrates and receive God's grace with humility and not vain. Ashes on our foreheads are not a trophy to show off to others.  They are a reminder that we are mere dust.  They give witnesses that we are nothing but dust before God and therefore must rely on Him and His mercy.

The Gospel today reminds us that our righteous deeds are not supposed to be for self-glorification or promotion. We must not "blow a trumpet" before ourselves in order to be looked upon as if we are religious celebrities. Instead, we must pray in private, do things in private whether it is giving to the poor or helping others.  In other words, we must not make a spectacle of our actions as if we need to be praised by others because we did well.  Praying and doing good must be directed towards God, not self-glorification. During Lent, we fast and abstain from meat. This may be hard for some of us. However, we must not walk around with gloomy faces so that others can see and focus on our misery as if we fast and abstain in order to feel pity from others or garner attention.  God will reward us for suffering in silence.  Joy has to be part of this as well. We do all of these sacrifices for a greater purpose which brings joy. During Ash Wednesday Mass in 2020 at my old parish St. Dominic in the Bronx, as I was distributing ashes. A father came carrying his baby girl. As I placed the ashes on her forehead, she gave me a stern look and grabbed my hand to take it away. We all laughed. It reminded me of what Jesus said about being like a child. We must be humble and not take ourselves seriously. Our fasting and abstinence must serve to make us stronger, not miserable, bitter, or neurotic.  

As mentioned previously, many in America and around the world also celebrate Valentine's day.  On this day, couples give each other chocolates, roses, cards, and whatnot.  Ash Wednesday is a reminder of our mortality and that we must repent.  We can repent and change because God wants us to and allows us to.  This is because He loves us.  God is love. God is the ultimate love.  Love finds its definition in God.  What a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine's day by repenting and accepting the Love of all Loves: Jesus Christ.

Take this time during Lent to refocus your attention on God. Do things for His honor and glory, not your own.  Wear the ashes as a witness to your mortality and as a witness to your conversion to Christ. Do not wear them in order to show off as if the ashes cry out "Hey!, I am a Catholic."  This is not what Ash Wednesday is about. Remember to be humble. We are just dust, not gods. Live your life to serve and love others.  In today's Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, the reading tells us that God prefers service to others over ashes or rituals.  It says: "Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high. Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a truly penitential day for men? Hanging your head like a reed, lying down on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord who speaks – to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin? Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over."  This is from Isaiah 58:1-12.  Let us not get caught up in ashes or rituals but put the significance of them into practice.   May Jesus Christ be praised!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Be Made Clean

We are approaching Lent in a few days with Ash Wednesday. Today's readings lead us into this period of repentance and spiritual cleansing. It is a great way to put a "pause" to Ordinary Time until after Pentecost.

The first reading tells us of God giving Moses and Aaron instructions regarding those with leprosy. Leviticus is known from its many rule, laws, and ritual. Some of us today may find them strange, however, they served their purpose centuries ago. Leprosy here is not just a physical illness, but it is a symbol of sin. Like leprosy, sin infects the soul. It makes it smelly, unclean, and deformed, so to speak. This is why the leper is called "unclean." This reading will connect with the Gospel and its context will make more sense. God heals us, but we must first do what is necessary for this healing.
This means repenting and turning to God. The responsorial Psalm reminds us of this.

We turn to God the Lord in time of trouble and ask Him to fill us with the joy of salvation. Those who God takes away their faults are blessed indeed. God is there with them and is restoring them. We must be free of guilt and be mature. Acknowledging our sin before God is important. This is why we go to confession. We confess to the Lord our sins via the priest who acts in the person of Christ. It is not the priest forgiving the sin, but Jesus Himself. Forgiveness brings us closer to God. We must rejoice and exult in this because we are in sanctifying grace. However, it is not easy. We all will eventually sin. Human beings are frail creatures; not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually. These are the effects of sin. They make us weak all around. This is why St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that we must be imitators of Christ.

In the second reading, St. Paul tells us to do everything for the glory of God, including when we eat and drink. So when we do anything, we must glorify God. By "everything," this means things that are moral. We cannot glorify God by committing sin. We must avoid giving offense to anyone. St. Paul specifies not offending the Jews, Greeks of the church of God. We must love and respect everyone. It is sad when I see some tweets from priests, deacons, religious and lay people endorsing and even justifying offending others. It is just disgusting and against God. We must try to please everyone in every way and not do so for our own benefit. Now this means to please everyone in a moral way of course. It does not mean to please everyone in sinful ways as the world is accustom to doing. We must imitate Christ.

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of how the leper came to Jesus begging Him to clean him. Jesus was moved with pity and made him clean. Jesus then warns the former leper not to tell anyone about the healing other than the priest and to offer what Moses had prescribed in the law. The man then went on to publicize what had happened to the point that people were looking for Jesus. Jesus could not enter the town openly because of the crowds seeking Him to obtain miracles for themselves as well. Again, leprosy is a symbol of sin. Sin is a disease of the mind, body, and soul. Like leprosy, it eats away at us, makes us weak and smelly before God, so to speak. It is not a pleasant sight when a soul is in sin, a particularly mortal sin. We must seek Christ and beg Him to cleanse us of our sins. He is the only one who can cleanse us. The rituals of Moses were a precursor to Jesus healing and cleansing us of the leprosy of sin.  The real pandemic is sin, not covid 19 coronavirus. As we approach Lent, let us do this. Let us seek Christ with sincerity and ask for forgiveness. Let us go to confession and receive the Eucharist daily if possible. Let us do good works, not offend others, and imitate Christ as St. Paul informed us in today's second reading. Today many nations celebrate love via St. Valentine's day. What better way to celebrate love than by restoring our relationship with God by going to confession! May Jesus Christ be praised!


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Sunday, February 7, 2021

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Christ Heals All Things

Today's readings remind us that Christ heals all things.

In the first reading from the book of Job, we see Job describing life without God.  It is a life of "drudgery," misery, and depression. The book of Job is the oldest book of the Bible. It tells us about a man who suffered greatly, but never succumbed to that suffering and did not doubt God (Job 13:15). It is a book about theistic existentialism. Without God, our lives and everything in them has no meaning or purpose (Ecclesiastes 1).  This seems like a depressing life and rightfully so. If we come from God and want no part of Him, then what else is there?  This is why only the foolish reject God (Psalm 14:1). It is no wonder why atheists have higher rates of depression and suicide as opposed to those who believe in God.  This is the forlornness that leads to anguish and despair as Sartre coined it.  Nevertheless, God is always there for all.  This rings very true in these trying times with the covid-19 coronavirus plaguing the world. We have all lost so much. Some of us lost loved ones and even our jobs. We have lost our socialization and kids have lost their once in a lifetime experience of going to school and hanging out with their friends there.  

The responsorial Psalm responds to this first reading detailing the dark depressing environment of man with, "Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted."  The Psalm reminds us that God is Good.  All things God does is good.  He even brings good out of evil!  That is how powerful He is. He heals the depressed, those suffering within, who feel empty inside (Psalm 103:3Psalm 147:3).  Many of us feel like this now with this alleged pandemic plaguing the world. We are told to distance ourselves from others, including loved ones in nursing homes. It is difficult.  Kids are at home and not with their friends at school.  It is a sad time that can lead to depression.  We must seek God. God is always there for us.   

In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us that we must preach the Gospel for the sake of the Gospel and not ourselves. We should not preach it to make money or receive fame. Today we see these so-called "Televangelists" profiting off the Gospel. They turn the Gospel into a show people go to see and get entertained.  This is not how to preach the Gospel.  We must preach the Gospel with love and sincerity (Philippians 1:16). Preaching the Gospel requires us to become the "slave to all." What St. Paul means by this is that we must become the servant of the people. In doing so, we become all things to them; mother, father, brother, sister, friend, etc. This is how they will be able to better relate to us and the Gospel that we preach.  The Catholic Church uses inculturation for this reason. She uses the culture, music, and language of the people in order to preach the Gospel to them.

Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus heals Simon's mother-in-law after leaving the synagogue showing that God steps outside of the Temple to care for all.  God is not bound in any Temple or location (1 Kings 8:27). After healing Simon's mother-in-law, Jesus healed many others of various diseases and of demonic possession. Christ heals all things. Only He can rescue man when He is stuck in his own existentialist depression (Revelation 21:4).  Science is fine, medicine is fine, psychology is fine, but God is the one who has the final say. We learned this last year in 2020 when science, government, etc all failed.  A mere virus took the world by storm leaving scientists guessing whether or not masks work, what distance spread the virus, and how to fight it.  The mighty science fell; humiliated by a natural organism. God is the one who is in control.  By becoming human, Christ bore all of our sufferings and heals us (1 Peter 2:24). We should always seek Him especially when we get caught up in spiritual dryness.

Readings:  Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Romanian Orthodox Baptism Kills Baby

A baby dies after an Orthodox baptism in which he was submerged three times in water

A tragic case shocked Romania and sparked a debate about the ritual of Orthodox baptism, which involves immersing the child completely in holy water three times. A six-week-old baby went into cardiac arrest after being baptized in the city of Suceava and died in hospital a few hours later, according to France Presse. The autopsy showed that the baby had water in his lungs.

The police opened a manslaughter investigation against the priest who officiated the ceremony. The Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) faced a wave of criticism and an online petition calling for a change in the baptism ritual and giving up the immersion of children. More than 60,000 people signed the petition by Friday.

Some members of the Orthodox clergy suggested that they would be open to a modification of the ritual, but others rejected any change. Archbishop Calinic of Arges, one of the most important hierarchs of the BOR, told the Adevarul website that the practice of immersing babies should be reviewed and "the most appropriate decision taken to respect the orders [of the Church] and to carefully avoid unwanted accidents".

The Romanian Orthodox Church is the largest and most influential religious institution in the country, having over 85% of the population as members. The Church has a strong social role and often intervenes in family and education policies, promoting conservative and anti-liberal positions.

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