Reflections - September 23, 2018

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Mk. 9:35.

I remember a few years ago a lady that when the situation was difficult at work would say with great humility: “Not all can be part of the head, some must be part of the tail”.

We have a mission in God’s plan. The only thing that the Lord asks of us is, as James says, that in our treatment of each other we be “pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits”, Jas 3:17, with those that do not think as we do. Today there exists a great temptation to divide the world into good and bad, first and last, and there are sometimes many prejudices in our decisions labeling people without going beyond. Jesus invites us to put ourselves in the place of others carrying our cross, which is why He spoke to His disciples of suffering and of the cross, but “they did not understand”. The Word of God says that along the way they remained engaged in discussion about: “Who was first”, in other words who was the head and not the tail of the group.

Jesus tries to enlighten their minds with the example of the simplicity of children. Jesus invites them to change their “focus” just as He invites you and me. We do not follow a powerful and glorious king but a disarmed server. A poor, celibate man without a home who tells us: “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”. Mt. 20:38. “It is precisely through the Cross that Jesus will reach the glorious resurrection. Those who die with Christ will resurrect with Him. Those who fight with Him will triumph.” Pope Francis. If does not matter if you are the head or the tail. The only thing that matters is to serve to everyone and to grow the Kingdom of God and His Plan of Salvation through the New Evangelization as a parish community of encounter and with the help of Mary and her Son, our Lord.

Reflections - September 16, 2018

“Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah”.

I was reading some writings of the famous English writer Chesterton and he was asked in one of the writings: If Jesus lived in our world today what do you believe He would be doing? After thinking about it Chesterton replied: “He is living in our world today. He is with us and loves us”.

I think the value of this question and Chesterton’s response is very related to Jesus’ question: Who do people say that I am? Perhaps for some He is a dead teacher whose words are chosen and used in different social, political, or even religious occasions, but as the Apostle James said: “if faith does not have works, is dead”. James 2:17.

So now if I reply like Peter: “You are the Messiah” it is because I believe in a living Christ and in His promise. Peter’s response had to be purified with “things” that were important to him. As he continued to follow Jesus he understood Christ’s words: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross (a cross that does not need to be invented for it comes on its own) and follow me…..For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it”. Mk. 8: 34-35.

There is a grace that you must ask the Lord for when you want to follow Him and that is humility. The Prophet Isaiah says: “The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting….”. Is. 50:7. If you want a clear example a few months ago the Bishops, priests, and faithful people of Nicaragua came out to protest. Some were killed; others were beaten, insulted, and vilified for asking for justice, liberty, and compassion. They carried their cross with humility knowing that: “The Lord will do justice for them”. Is. 50:7.

Let us get closer to His divine presence with faith in the Eucharist to cultivate a personal relationship with Him purifying many disordered affections and expressing with humility: “Lord, to whom do I turn to….You are the Messiah, my Savior and my Help; in You I trust. Amen”.

Reflections - September 9, 2018

“Then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him “Ephphatha!”  And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.”  Mk. 7:34-35.
 
I would like to dwell on the phrases from this Sunday’s Gospel:  “the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed and spoke plainly….”.
 
We are moved by Jesus’ sensitivity towards this deaf-mute who lived in pagan land.  Jesus does not bless him as He was asked to do, but touches him, returns his health and returns him into his community.
 
The question to ask is: What does this miracle say to the men and women of this millennium?
 
We live in a world that we call a world of communication.  However, a medical professional told me “that so much information sometimes produces information saturation and addiction that prevents us from listening to one another”.  It also prevents us from listening to what the Lord tells us through prayer and to perceive the needs of our neighbor.
 
Another great challenge is that in addition to not listening, we have the inability to communicate.  This is noticeable in married couples, in relationships between children and their parents, and it is also noticeable in relationships inside the Church.  There are brothers and sisters that we see weekly and share “the same pew for years in the church that we sometimes don’t really know…”.  Of course, all this affects what we call the New Evangelization, which, in the end, means “to listen to your neighbor, comfort him with the words of Christ and act”. But how are we going to do this if we sometimes do not recognize them?
 
This Sunday as we receive the Body of Christ, we could ask ourselves:  What is it that sometimes prevents us from listening to the Lord who speaks to us through our neighbor?  What is that has our speech impeded to console?  Perhaps, it is only listening to my own problems.  But remember:  Suffering has a redemptive value when it resembles the redemptive value of the suffering Christ.  If something is not allowing us to listen to and comfort the needy with words of hope then we should meditate on our Christian faith and hope.  Sometimes we need to be more selective in the reception and saturation of technological information and become more humble to listen in silence to the voice of the Lord through prayer, His Word, your family, and your community.  And of course put it into practice.  Amen.

Reflections - September 2, 2018

“Everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile……But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles…….evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.” Mk.  7:18, 20-23.
 
I was reading a book in which the author narrates examples on the inconsistency between what you think and what you live.  My attention was drawn to how sometimes we reflect that incoherence through our relationships:  friendship, social, political, and religious.  In the end the author of the book makes a call to be consistent between what you think and how you live your life and with your relationship with your neighbor.
 
In this Sunday’s readings, the Apostle James also urges us to Christian consistency using as a symbol two homeless people of his time – the widow and the abandoned orphan. Today the field can be expanded with works of justice, as Pope Francis says:  “……..with the elderly living alone and discarded”.
 
Some days ago I was reading the story of an elderly man who wrote messages of compassion and hope through Facebook.  Dozens of people sent him messages saying:  “Profound words.  I was struck by your inspiring message!  Like!” Days passed and the man was not communicating so a lady that lived nearby his home passed by to see why he was not writing anymore and found that the man had died alone several days before. The reflection that comes to mind is the phrase from James:  “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.”  Jas 1:22.  Christian faith is consistent love that translates into works of justice and mercy. Otherwise, we fall into the incoherence of living a superficial faith for appearances only without compromises. As the Lord said:  “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  Mt. 15:8. Remember that:  “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Mt. 6:21.
 
Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to make us coherent with the Commandment of love to:  “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself”.
 
I wish to remind you that this Saturday, the 8thof September, is the Feast of Our Lady of Charity – the patroness of Cuba.  Virgin of Charity - pray for us!

Reflections - August 26, 2018

“Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life…..you are the Holy One of God”.  Jn. 6:28-29.
 
Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on the search and following of the Lord who loved us first.
 
Peter expressed it well in this Gospel:  “Jesus, you are the Holy One of God”.
 
Peter manifests that the only way we have to know the Lord is by His Words, His deeds, His ideals, and His demands about following Him.
 
“Jesus, you are the Holy One of God”.  In you, Lord, the living and true God is revealed.  A powerful God, but also poor because He is the Son of man who has nowhere to rest his head and suffers for love.  “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down on my own”.  Jn. 10:18.
 
Jesus also teaches us in this Gospel:  “that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father”.  What is required of the Apostles and of us? Saint Paul tells us that “it is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God”, 1 Cor 1:30. Of course, to receive this wisdom requires a great deal of poorness of the heart and availability of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Gift of wisdom) which blows where It wills.  It is there in the history of the Church, in the lives of the Apostles and in the many saints who were examples of how to follow a poor and humble Jesus through persecutions and humiliations seeing what The Word teaches us:  “The Lord is our God”, Jos 24:17.
 
Today in this century of so much confusion we say:  “Master, to whom shall we go?”  In an environment of the globalization of superficiality where we are seen as “strange people” Pope Francis expresses in the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exultate: “Be glad and rejoice”, Mt. 5:12, as Jesus says to those who follow Him and are persecuted and humiliated.  The Lord asks for everything and what He offers is true life, happiness for which we were created.  He wants us to be holy and does not expect us to conform to a mediocre, liquefied, watery existence.  From the beginning of the Bible we are called to holiness.  This is what was proposed to Abraham:  “Walk in my presence and be blameless”, Gen. 17:1.
 
Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to not only imitate Him, but to transform ourselves in Christ “by living the grace of Baptism” carrying the message of salvation not in isolation but as a people who confesses in truth and serves Him holily in the family, at work and in the community:  believing with an authentic life that He is “the Holy One of God”.

Reflections - August 12, 2018

“I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  Jn. 6:41.
 
In the context of Jesus in the Eucharist, Jesus tells us:  that He is “the bread that gives life”.  If we reflect on the First Reading we find the prophet Elijah, who after preaching against the idolatry of his people and of those in power, was persecuted and, unfortunately as what usually happens in these cases, everyone abandoned him.  He then suffered a profound existential crisis perhaps even asking himself where was the Lord in all of this.  However, in the midst of the crises an angel appeared to him and invited him to feed on the bread.  Recovering his spiritual strength he climbed Horeb, the mountain of the living and true God.
 
In the previous reading and in the Gospel we find two attitudes.  First that of Elijah who murmurs against God because he is lonely, persecuted, and abandoned, a very human gesture of calling to his good Father God.  Who in a moment of despair and sorrow has not exclaimed:  Where is God in all of this?  I also invite you to reflect on the feelings of Jesus’ countrymen.  Many of them believed to know Him as the son of the carpenter.  That is why it was difficult for them to understand His filial relationship with His Father, God.  What conclusions can we draw from these attitudes.  Well that faith is a gift from God.  This is how it was in Jesus’ life.  Some saw Him resurrect a dead man and said:  “This is the Son of God, alive and true” while others were looking for ways to eliminate Him or were just indifferent to Him.
 
In our culture there are many who claim to believe in the Lord, but without commitment. These are human attitudes that as Pope Francis say:  “They are human, but not Christian”.  Human freedom is a mystery where human beings have to constantly respond to the grace of God opting with faith for Jesus, the Bread of LIFE, to face the traps of evil or rejecting the Christian life style with all of the consequences of the indifference, injustice, and pain that we see every day around us.
 
Remember brothers and sisters, Jesus, the Bread of Life, is the only one that brings us the forgiveness of the sin of indifference uniting with us in solidarity before the pain and suffering of many brothers and sisters.  
 
I do not want to end without reminding you that the best example of saying YES to the Lord is found in Mary, the mother of faith.  This Wednesday, the 15th of August, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary elevated to heaven.  She is an example of solidarity.  I invite you to pray the rosary for all the families who suffer in our community and for the new evangelization.  

Reflections - August 5, 2018

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”  Jn. 6:35.
 
This Sunday’s Gospel continues to speak about the Bread of Life, but the affirmation that Jesus makes when he says “I AM” is in relation to a need that His followers had and that we also have:  “Sir, give us this bread always”.  Jesus states one of the greatest reasons why He came into this world.  Jesus identifies himself as the bread that quenches our cravings and thirst for happiness.
 
Whenever I read John’s text about the Bread of Life the following phrase from St. Augustine comes to mind:  “Lord, my heart will be restless until I find you”.  Today many men and women seed happiness through technology.  Others try to find happiness through addictions looking for a minute of happiness and endangering their lives as well as the lives of others.
 
The Lord in the Gospel invites us to quench our hunger and thirst for happiness through the Eucharist – The Bread of Life.  Although we have problems, “The Eucharist…is a remedy and food for the weak that sustains us in our journey”, Pope Francis.  Jesus enters into our crises and makes us purify our intentions in order to make better decisions.  A widow said to me:  “Had it not been for the Eucharist and for those times I spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament I do not know what would have happened in my life”.  This widowed lady had the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to go to Jesus, the Bread of Life, to fill that need for comfort, peace, and hope that she so needed upon losing her husband.  She also discovered, through her faith, “Jesus’ unconditional love” in moments of loneliness helping her to face these difficult moments with faith and Christian hope.
 
Let us present before the Lord in the Eucharist this Sunday with our yearnings to be satiated with the Bread of Life and our thirst for happiness, justice, and peace.
 
I do not want to end without reminding you that tomorrow the 6thof August is the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory.  Let there be in Him Sovereignty and dominion through all the ages.  Amen.

Reflections - July 29, 2018

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining…..”.  Jn. 6:11.
 
In the John’s Gospel, Jesus feeds more than five thousand people not counting women and children and then He ordered for the leftover to be gathered so as not to be wasted…..Jesus invites all of us who live in an environment of waste to reflect that even the scraps of bread count…remember:  not very far from us with what you and I throw away in the garbage we could feed children and elderly freeing them from death…..
 
But let us get to the point that I wished to briefly reflect on in this Gospel.
 
The first thing that struck me is Jesus’ attitude that cares “for the needs of those who followed Him”. The Lord is not beyond our material need, which is why He is first concerned that they “eat” and after their hunger is satisfied He wants to fill their “spiritual hunger” and offers them the Bread of Eternal Life.  “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  Jn. 53-55.  However, “ironies of life” when Jesus Christ, who fed them, wants to give them “the Bread of Eternal Life”, they then want to turn Him into a “temporary king”.  Unfortunately they had not understood the sign of the real “Bread of Life”.  But, pay attention, the same thing can happen to us. Each Sunday we eat the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, and we sometimes forget to ask the Lord in prayer “to have His same feelings”.
 
Jesus, the Bread of Life, helps us to educate our feelings.  Remember:  When the Lord educates our feelings we change our focus and serve others more.   When this does not happen we “crawl”.
 
Let us ask Christ, the Bread of Life, to sensitize us to serve others and “that everything will interest me and nothing will seem alien to me”.  That I will be interested in my family and if I am political my country, the elderly and their loneliness, the youth, the quality of life and the security in neighborhoods and, of course, my Church, evangelization, and my community.

Reflections - July 22, 2018

“The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.”  Mk. 6:30-31, 34.
 
Summer is here.  A time for summer vacations and sunny afternoon that invite us to build up our energy in order to begin filled with joy pastoral work within a few weeks.
 
Also in this Sunday’s Gospel the disciples return from their missionary work.  They communicate to their Master and Lord their experiences lived just as we experience the task of evangelizing in our parish.  What joy the Lord must have felt upon hearing that “the Good News of the Kingdom was welcomed” and that His friends taught his teachings.
 
However there is something to highlight in this Gospel and that is that Jesus was also concerned for the spiritual well being and health of His friends.  He wanted them to regain their “balance” in their apostolic work. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”.  As we can see it was not to go away for a holiday on a strenuous and exhausting trip, but to “gain quality of life”.  “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”  Jn. 10:10.
 
Jesus invites them to rest and prepare spiritually in order to carry the Good News of the Kingdom to His people with compassion.  “He was moved with pity for them”.
 
Times change.  Today we live in a world of technology, but the need for God and His Words of consolation are the same.  When human beings do not have Christ as absolute value “they are like sheep without a shepherd” at the mercy of “false idols” that do not fill the vacuum of God.  That is why as envoys of the Lord we are called to assume our leadership with creativity.  As Pope Francis says (in Misericordiae  vultus): “Let us have compassion as Jesus did who cured the sick, fed the hungry, and especially to do the same signs He made with the sinners and the excluded because they all wore the hallmark of mercy”. “They will no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing”.  Jer 23:4.
 
I conclude with this phrase from the Pope:  “That in our parishes…..and anywhere there are Christians, the needy will find in them an oasis of mercy”.

Reflections - July 8, 2018

“When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this?  What kind of wisdom has been given him?  What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!  Is he not the carpenter…….? And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and his own house…..  He was amazed at their lack of faith.”  Mk. 6:1-6
 
Christians in the world also suffer the suffering of the Lord, as well as contempt and mistrust when they try to be consistent in their teachings.
 
A few weeks ago one of the young catechumens told me this phrase:  -Since I started to know and follow the Lord, the biggest obstacles I have encountered have come from some of my friends and even some family.  I have never heard these phrases:  “You have now become fanatical.”  “Now let’s board the Pope mobil to listen to religious music…..  To believe in God you don’t have to go to Mass every Sunday…”. 
In the Gospel we heard that it was not much different for Jesus.  He reminds us:  “A servant is not greater than his Lord”.
 
To be consistent with what we believe and how we live it brings consequences like the pain of being misunderstood and not accepted.  Revolving around Christ and His teachings comes with a price and in many cases it is contempt especially among those that know us from before and want us to remain how we were before.  They do not have eyes to see “the change that the Lord has done in our lives”.  Do you think the lives of Zacchaeus and Magdalene were easy after their conversion?  Do you know what helped maintain themselves firm in the following of the Lord?  It was their faith that gave them the certainty to know that the Lord walked by their side giving them strength.  We have two sacraments that strengthen us in our faith – the Body of Christ in the Bread of Life and examining our conscience in asking for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession for the times when we too have not forgiven the rejections and contempt that we have received from others.  Remember that when we recognize our own weaknesses before the Lord, He gives us strength.  As Paul said: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hard ships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Cor. 12: 10.
 
Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist for purity of intention to have “the same attitudes that is also yours in Christ Jesus”, Phil 2:5, through the affective sanctifying gifts that strengthen us in the face of the rejection of the world and for piety to unite with Him in our daily crosses with faith, hope, and charity.  Amen.

July 1, 2018

“Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”  Mk. 5:34.

In this Sunday’s Gospel there appears the figure of a woman who suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had heard about Jesus and had faith that He would cure her.  She came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak.  Immediately her flow of blood dried up and was cured.

The question that we should ask ourselves when reading this Gospel is:  How deep was the faith that that woman had?  I feel that having faith is to accept the word of that person. Perhaps that woman had heard that Jesus said:  “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Mt. 11:28.  The woman in the Gospel needed to feel welcomed and healed of many tribulations among them her disease.  For many years she had sought and spent her fortune looking for healing and peace of heart that only the Christ of hope and life can give.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”  Jn. 14:27.

The foreign woman was cured but she also received the miracle of feeling loved and welcomed. Jesus offered her a reason to live as a dear daughter, forgiven and redeemed by His Divine Mercy:  “Daughter, Go in peace”.

Today the Lord asks all of us to come to Him with faith through the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist.  A sacrament that gives us peace and spiritual healing.  

I do not want to end without remembering Independence Day, the day our country gained its independence on the 4th of July 1776.It is a day of thanking God as a family, for living in a country of freedom and historical Christian foundations. May God bless America!

Reflections - June 24, 2018

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.
 
Who was John the Baptist? One day Jesus answered a question about the Baptist and said:  “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he”.  Lk. 7:28.
 
John was the humble prophet who “prepared the way for the Lord”.  He was the prophet that baptized as a sign of repentance.  He said in a strong language:  “You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.”  Mt. 3:7.
 
I feel that great importance was placed on the commitment of repentance in baptism.  How hopeful would it be that if all persons who come to ask for Christian baptism in our communities would try to live with that sense of commitment and recognize and teach their children “that there is a new birth” that forgives our sins.  As it says in the Creed:  “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins” and that allows us to share in the Divine life as adopted children and heirs to heaven and to live in a manner consistent with the family and faith values that we profess.
 
Another characteristic of John the Baptist was his love and humility towards Jesus.  He said:  I am who has need to be baptized by you and yet you come to me to be baptized?  The love toward our Redeemer made him recognize that Jesus is:  “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.  Jn. 1:29.
 
Let us pray in our daily prayers for the grace to imitate the humility of Saint John the Baptist to prepare “the way of the Lord” by imitating his “evangelizing fire” and applying pastoral perspectives that welcome all men and women who are searching for a word of comfort and reconciliation in our communities.

Reflections - June 17, 2018

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God……?  It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.  But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants.”  Mk. 4:30-32.
 
On this Sunday of Ordinary Time the Lord speaks of the Kingdom of God in the form of parables. I would like to briefly explain what parables are.
 
When we read the parables we are deepening Jesus’ message.  The Lord wanted to put himself at the level of those who heard Him so He spoke to them in stories.  The context of parables is Jesus speaking and teaching among the people by example.  “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike….”.  Lk. 10:21.
 
Just one more thing. You begin to understand parables as you live them with changes in values and attitudes towards life.
 
This Sunday’s parable can be classified from Kingdom-sower, seed-mustard.  This message of salvation is the Good News that is sown and brings forth life changes giving joy and hope.  We could also connect it to, as Pope Francis says, a “Church in departure” that sows the seeds of evangelization by giving reassurance, forming conscience, and accompanying, encouraging, giving strength, and patience in the path of sanctification which gives glory to God “converting the seed of the Kingdom in the greatest of shrubs”.
 
As a Church in departure we also have “to scrutinize the signs of the times” and sow the seed amidst deep challenges in families with couples who go to marriage with a provisional mentality, biotechnology in procreation, violence against women, and discarding of elders.  Let us sow the seed of the Kingdom to give fruits of solid and fertile families according to the Plan of God “with branches strong of faith and fruits of love and Christian hope”.
 
I would not like to end without congratulating on this day the living fathers and pray to Mary, the most Holy Mother, and Saint Joseph for the deceased fathers who tried to sow the seeds of faith  and family values to their children.  Congratulations!

Reflections - June 10, 2018

“Whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness”.  Mk. 3:29.

 

I recently saw a program of interviews and the person being interviewed said this phrase:  “If God is go good as they say why then are there so many calamities?”  The interviewer replied, “Sir, I am not a believer but give yourself a little hope. Many of the things that you attribute to God are problems that we ourselves create”.  

 

Of all that was spoken for me the key was:  “Give yourself a little hope”.

 

Unfortunately the grave sin of the world today is that some live without hope, one of the Christian virtues, and without psychological balance.

 

When Jesus came into this world He opened the time of hope for all men and women.  However, sometimes the “approach with which we look at life is tarnished by the culture of death and negativity, products of sin”.

 

Allow the Lord to act in your life.  “ We must allow ourselves to be released in Him” to repent our sins of despair. Jesus tells you:  Trust in Me.  Believe in Me.  Do not be afraid.  Liberate yourself from all your insecurities and human calculations.  “I have conquered the world.”

 

Saint Paul tells us that he who lives in Christian hope is a person that possesses “a spirit of faith…..For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling  not made with hands, eternal in heaven”.  2 Cor. 4:13, 5:1.

 

 

In the Gospel Jesus also calls us to have hope and trust in Him.  This is the time for the work of the Holy Spirit, “evil does not have the last work, on the contrary, despite all its lies for thousands of years the good remains in the power of the Christ of hope although “this good news does not come out in the news”.

 

When you receive the Lord in the Eucharist I invite you to reflect with Him on the virtue of hope. Jesus says:  Do not try to accommodate me in your limited plans, but seek to find your place in mine.  Then you will live with hope and fulfill, as the Blessed Virgin Mary did by being docile to the Holy Spirit in her everyday life, the plan of salvation of giving joy and Christian hope.  Amen.

Reflections - June 3, 2018

“Take it; this is my body.” Mk. 14:22
 
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi.  This feast was instituted by Pope Urban IV to remember an extraordinary miracle that occurred in 1263 in Orvieto, Italy.  A priest doubted the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and as he doubted he saw that blood began to flow out of the consecrated Host and the corporal body was dyed with the glorious blood of our Lord.  The fabric of this corporal body is preserved in the Cathedral of Orvieto.
 
After this brief explanation I would like to dwell on Christ’s phrase:
“This is my body”.
 
This covenant of love happens at every mass when we participate in the sacrifice on the cross in which Christ surrenders himself for us.  “Do this in memory of me”.  Of course “memory” in the Aramaic language did not mean to remember, but “to now make present” so that we may have life, “abundant life”.
 
This is the invitation that the Lord gives us when we participate in His Body and Blood, to have an abundant life.  Hence the importance of participating in the mass, nourishing ourselves with the Word of God and the Bread of life that we receive at Sunday Mass and that is taken to the sick.  However, to receive His Body and Blood we have to be prepared.  That is why we say at the beginning of the Mass:  “before celebrating these sacred mysteries let us call to mind our sins” and here the priest is referring to venial sins – mortal sins have to be confessed in the Sacrament of Confession.
 
Today in this Feast of Corpus Christ we are invited to put at the center of our lives Christ, the Bread of Life and to not remain in an individualistic encounter.  Our faith is of community which is why we must bring that experience of “the living God”, Heb. 9:14, to our families and friends with Christian joy and hope.  Remember that our evangelization has to be built around the table of “the Bread of Life – the Body and Blood of Christ for the life of the world”.

Reflections - May 20, 2018

“Come divine Spirit, send your light from the sky.  Loving Father of the poor; giving of your splendid gifts”
 
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost.
 
The Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son has been poured out over the world specifically on the apostles and in our hearts.  It is the creative spirit of what we know and of what we do not know.  It is also the sanctifying Spirit that educates us with its seven gifts to conquer sin and death.  He is our defender, our lawyer that intercedes for us.  He is also the teacher of the Word of God in the Church.
 
Thanks to His divine light the world is transformed.
“Come sweet guest of the soul, rest of our efforts…”.
 
His Holy Spirit is also given to all the baptized “because we are born from on high, from the water, and from the Spirit”.
 
It is also the Divine Spirit “that gives the effort its merit” helping its ministers and lay people, united to the Magisterium, to discern as a Church “the signs of the times” converting us into evangelized and evangelizing people to accompany the brother or sister and integrate him or her into the community.
 
“Receive the Holy Spirit for to those you forgive their sins shall be forgiven…”.  Also “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit, there are different forms of service but the same Lord ”.  1 Cor. 12:4-5.  “But one and the same Spirit procures all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes, 1 Cor. 12:11, for the common good. It is distributed to its ordained minister, through the Sacrament of Forgiveness and the preaching of the Kingdom of God.
 
As you pray on this day of Pentecost ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of wisdom to discern what gifts and talents you possess to better serve the Church.  “Because he who has made the love of the Holy Spirit the fullness of his life cannot do much more than give it back in service”.  Amen.

Reflections - May 13, 2018

The Ascension of the Lord.
 
Today the Church celebrates the departure of Jesus Christ to the Father’s house.
 
The Lord, after having fulfilled His mission of redemption, presented Himself resurrected for 40 days to the Apostles and left us His Church founded with Peter at its head.
 
The Evangelist Mark also presents to us a message full of hope and Christian joy.  Today the Kingdom of God has been established with the defeat of death and triumph over the power of evil:  “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”.
 
The Lord before going to His Father tells us that to be saved we must believe.  What is to believe?  It is to have faith in Him and to follow Him carrying our daily cross: “without Me You can do nothing”, because it is Christ who is the spiritual strength that helps us to face everyday problems and frees us from the injustices of sin.  As the Second Reading from Paul says:  “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of great might, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens”.  Ef. 1:18-21.  
This is the faith in the glory and the triumph of Christ that strengthens us and helps us to discern to see His work in the world and thus become cooperators of the message of salvation to the most needy.
 
I do not wish to end without congratulating all the mothers on this day.  Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of faith, in this month of May to intercede with her Son for the mothers living and also for those who have left for the house of the Father.
Let us pray a rosary together as a family for all the mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day!

Reflections - May 6, 2018

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love..”.  Jn. 15:9-10.
 
This Sunday’s Gospel is a continuation of last week’s Gospel. In that text we were asked to remain united to Christ using the allegory of the vine.  Today, John tells that to remain united to the vine, Christ our Lord, we have to love.  And what is to love?  Perhaps we should purify that word of what is known as “conditional love”, where we try to satisfy our need to be loved by extending the hands in our relationships asking for love to then feel “happy and loved”.  However, what we sometimes find in that conditional love is deception or disappointments when our expectations and existential desires are not fulfilled:
 
Today the Lord tells us of another love – unconditional love.
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you”.
 
This unconditional love is the one that creates and gives life. “Let us make man and woman in our image and likeness”, with the capacity to love and dedicate, which is why mothers can give that
unconditional love to their children.  There is nothing more similar to the love of God than what mothers feel for their children.
 
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you”.  Assuming our human condition, “the Lord, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped”, Phil. 2:6, running the risk of being crucified, mistreated, refused, and betrayed for our salvation.  As Paul says: “By the great love that God has for us He sent His only begotten Son so that we may live with Him”.  This is the Christian love, the unconditional love, that is given, and that, of course, is much more than the conditional and selfish love that we see and hear about in our soap operas, Rap Music……
 
I end with this phrase from the Lord:  “Remain in my love”.  Of course, yes.  When I live and put as absolute value the love of God and the love of my neighbor into my Christian praxis, then with the help of prayer and communion, my relationship of love with the Lord will be strengthened and will be reflected in the fruits of my life what I live and experiment in my relationship with Him helping me to feel free to live with extended hands waiting to receive “spoils of love that do not fill my eternal yearnings of happiness”, because, now “my living is Christ”. That is why I am filled with unconditional love, true love, that the first Christians lived until they gave their life for Him and, also, how many Christians today in different countries who are martyrs of their faith live rejected and discriminated against.  This, of course, is not news. It does it appear very frequently on Facebook or in any of the famous news outlets, but they do remain in the unconditional love of the heart of Christ.

Reflections - April 29, 2018

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”  Jn. 15:5.
 
A few days ago I visited some friends who have crops of fruit in the south of the State and I was able to ascertain how they cared for their trees.  As I observed the thorough work of these men and women I asked myself, “What if we had the same commitment to build our spiritual world, our faith, in the same way we build our temporal world?  How many fruits would be acquire for the Kingdom of God?”
 
Today the Gospel of John presents us with Jesus strolling through the vineyards of Galilee and it occurs to Him to say:  I am the true wine and you are the fruits……remain in me and I in you.  “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples”.
 
The Lord says: “Remain in me”.  It is not good enough to say that I am baptized and that I come from a Catholic family.  All of that is good, but Jesus insists on something more.  He wants us to remain “when it rains and when it is not raining and also in times of drought (the trials of life…)”.  To remain in Christ is to share “the sap”, divine life, which we receive at Baptism by the spirit of adoption that as baptized members of the Church we received from God.  This gives us the hope, joy, and peace we need to be able to share it with others.
 
At the end of that beautiful spring trip into the fields of South Florida, I realized that the workers “pruned” the foliage of some trees.  I found a lesson to evangelize in this gesture.  It is that sometimes in our lives and in the Church the Lord permits “pruning” that which is superfluous.  What He does not permit is the pruning of the essential mission of our vocation – to bear fruits.  “Evangelization is preaching with authority the Word of God that walks as a traveling companion in the midst of crises and pain to teach and to be a channel of the gift of grace and also as a host that welcomes, heals, and reconciles sinners with God.  That is our identity received from the Lord who calls us to be evangelized communities and evangelizing communities.”  Pope Francis.
 
Let us pray to the Lord in the Eucharist that we may bear more fruits, united to Him, who is the true life.  Remember, “Without Christ we can do nothing”.

Reflections - April 22, 2018

“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me…..I will lay down my life for the sheep.” Jn. 10:14-15.
 
In this Gospel Jesus reveals himself as the Good Shepherd, a very known image in the peasant culture of the people of Israel.  It was also a lesson for those who had power to control and direct spiritually the people of God.  Jesus teaches them what was the true image of a spiritual guide to the people of God.
 
Jesus, first of all, uses the image of the shepherd of sheep by assuming in His life that image for simple people.  There are in the life of Jesus other images.  He also assumes the image of the one who “was hungry and you gave me no food, thirsty and you gave me no drink…..”.  Mt. 25:42.
 
In this image of the Good Shepherd He tells us, “that He is our guide and that He wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us”.  “I know mine and mine know me”.  What a tremendous pastoral lesson for a good evangelization!  The Lord wants to say to you that your problems, your history, your existential and spiritual crises are not alien to Him.
 
We trust in our Good Shepherd because He is willing to give His life for His sheep.  How much confidence and peace it gives us to know that our Good Shepherd does not abandoned us in the difficult moments of life. Jesus never says, as some in our society and culture say:  “That is your problem”.  He also does not say to us based on human wisdom:  “Do not cast on the shoulders of others your troubles, assume them yourself for everyone has their burden to carry”.  That seems a very human expression, but as Pope Francis says:  “It is human, but it is not Christian….”
 
The Lord as the Good Shepherd knows the dangers that lurk.  The Apostle Peter says:  “Evil, like a roaring lion, looks for whom to devour, resist him firmly in faith”.  1 Pet 5:8.  Do not be afraid, the Lord accompanies you and with his “staff” sends away the enemies of the faith, the world, the flesh, and evil.  He is our Good Shepherd.  How well the Psalm expresses this:  “Better to take refuge in the Lord than to put one’s trust in mortals.”  Ps 118:8.
 
I do not wish to end without inviting you to pray for priestly and religious vocations on this Sunday of the Good Shepherd.  Pray that the Lord gives us the discernment to connect our pastoral care to the realities of our families and young people who sometime feel “as sheep eager to be welcomed and heard”.  Amen.