Sunday, August 29, 2021

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

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


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

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

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

Thank you, God bless + Mary keep!'


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Readings: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB



Sunday, August 22, 2021

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

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


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

Thank you, God bless + Mary keep!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Readings:  Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB



Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Assumption of Mary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Father in heaven,

all creation rightly gives you praise,

for all life and all holiness come from you.

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



We ask this through Christ our Lord.




Reflection on today's readings:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, August 8, 2021

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







Readings:  Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB




Sunday, August 1, 2021

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

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

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

Funds are needed for the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Readings:  Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB




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