Reflections - February 24, 2019

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them….Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Lk. 6:31-33, 36.

I read sometime ago a phrase that I will never forget and it is: “the most important place to enter into a dialogue with God is in a human being”. Remember that all human beings have been created in the image and likeness of God and He reveals himself to Israel as one who has a love stronger than a father or a mother: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you”. Isa. 49:15. Because God is love. He is the God that “gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”. Jn. 3:16. “He became a man and was crucified until death on the cross for you and for me”. (Catec. #206-213).

That is why the best place to find the Lord is in one another – in our neighbor. Although sometimes it is difficult for us to do this in a world that one sometimes lives closed up in oneself.

However all children of God feel the need to be loved, valued, cherished, respected and listened to. That is the call of the love of God. We need others but we also want to feel self-sufficient so we sometimes maintain superficial relationships that do not compromise us and mark distances between others and us. But let’s remember that the human being that lets himself be touched by the love of God dares to come out of himself and worry about others feeling capable of suffering for another that is not himself even if that person “strikes you on the cheek or takes your cloak…..”.

We are called to be part of God’s plan, as the First Reading tells us in a letter to the Corinthians: “When we become the Celestial man and woman who allow ourselves to be vivified by the Holy Spirit”.

Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to discover His image, lovingly Holy, perfect and merciful, and make it present in our relationships with other men and women – even those who reject us. Amen.

Reflections - February 17, 2019

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.” Lk. 6:20.

I have always reflected about what the Kingdom of God is? I have sometimes heard answers that were a little abstract and individualistic that as one young man said do not reflect what the Lord wants to convey in this profound message of salvation.

A few days ago I read a phrase about the Kingdom of God, which made an impact on me and wanted to share it with you.

“The Kingdom of God is the destiny of our human race.”

What a deep phrase! We live in a world where some have lost the sense of here and now, the sense of what is to come beyond life forgetting that the Kingdom of God is what makes life worth living. For me it is also what gives meaning and purpose as baptized people to our pastoral and missionary efforts worrying about our neighbor with the power of the Word of Christ which sometimes is not made alive: “To love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself”. It is also to quench the hunger and weeping of the poor making them laugh giving meaning to their life with the message of hope of the Kingdom of Justice and Peace which Christ began with His life, death and resurrection. It is the evangelizing Praxis of Paul: “To make all with all” to win them all for Christ”, to suffer with others and then to laugh with them in the Kingdom even when we are persecuted. Remember that in this 21stcentury there many ways to be persecuted. It could sometimes be a way of life that clashes with anti-values and superficialities.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.” This is the promise of the Son of God, the Creator of the world “of all that is visible and invisible” who speaks to us of a new world as Paul says: “Where neither eyes saw nor ears heard what the Lord has created for all His children even after this life”.

Let us pray to the Lord in the Eucharist to strengthen us in faith so that we may work and live with the hope of sons and daughters of the Kingdom, the fate of our Christian humanity, and the prize of a consecrated life which from now on struggles for justice for every human being who are part of the Kingdom of Christ, the face of God. Amen.

Reflections - February 10, 2019

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!........Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Lk. 5: 8,10.

Every time I read this Gospel I remember a phrase that was said years ago: “God writes straight on crooked lines”. This was expressed when humanely sometimes there was no solution to difficulties.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus presents himself to us teaching in the lake from Peter’s boat. Then Jesus invites Peter and His disciples to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch”. Despite their doubts about the previous night’s failure they agree and throw their nets and the result is a miracle.

I feel upon reading this Gospel that Jesus was alone until now, preaching and healing. From this moment on he will be accompanies by His disciples that will become “fishers of men”.

However I would like to point out something that “touched” me. It is the words of Peter: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”. This phrase is repeated many times in the evangelizing work of the Apostles. When they have to face a lake sometimes empty of fish where they will become frustrated and say: “We have worked hard all night and collected nothing”. What is working so hard and sacrificing so much for? Yet, Peter gives us the answer: “At your command I will lower the nets”.

This lesson teaches us to allow the Lord to write straight His plan of salvation in situations that seem at times without solution especially when we are discouraged and lacking faith or feeling the indifferences of others. In these moments Peter, the head of the Church, repeats to us to trust and “at His command lower the nets”. We sometimes forget that the work is of the Lord as Paul says: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) is with me”. 1 Cor 15:10.

Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to help us trust in Him even when we sometimes do not see results in our evangelizing fishing. The Apostle Peter exhorts us to “have faith and cast the nets in the name of the Lord” because “the Lord’s time is perfect and He writes straight on crooked lines”.

Reflections - February 3, 2019

“No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Lk. 4:24.

In this week’s Gospel Jesus presents himself in the synagogue of His town as a prophet. Yet His people did not receive Him. The question we can ask ourselves is: Why didn’t they receive Him? They didn’t because they could not accept that in Jesus were found the three realities in which the life of the people of Israel revolved: priesthood, prophetism, and the Reign of God. Jesus assumes all prophetism until John the Baptist. All the Scriptures are fulfilled in Jesus. He is the “I am, the expected One of all the nations, the Redeemer, the Savior”.

Also Jesus Christ’s prophetism is as St. Paul says: “to build, exhort, and console”. This is the mission that Jesus has left to the Church for our baptismal commitment.

To accept that in Jesus as been fulfilled what was prophesied in Scripture we must allow our hearts and minds to transform accepting that the Kingdom of God is already here and that Jesus’ liberating message reorients our life leaving behind “compromises and shady deals”. Otherwise we will reject Jesus just as His contemporaries did: “Physician, cure yourself” or “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

In our everyday reality it can be an attitude of indifference and superficiality in the face of the crime of abortion where the abortion of a baby up to nine months of pregnancy is “legally” accepted if, as they say, “it is necessary…”.

My dear families, it is not possible to have a true faith in Jesus up to the cross without discovering His compassion for His neighbor especially in the most helpless. Remember: Jesus is the Prophet of God’s compassion.

All, by Baptism, are called to be prophets of the new evangelization announcing Christ with the truth of His word, His compassion, and the example of His life. As Pope Francis says: “We must smell the sheep, that is, we must involve ourselves in everyday social realities making our voices heard with the strength of Christ”. Pope Francis told this to the youth on World Youth Day: “Be witnesses to the truth walking and announcing the Lord”, the Prophet of the Truth.

When you receive Communion ask the Lord to strengthen your faith to believe that good is more powerful than evil and that the truth of the prophetic message of salvation, which He brought us with His cross, death and resurrection, is stronger than the lie of sin.

Reflections - January 27, 2019

“He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’…….He said to them, ‘Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing’.” Lk. 4:16-19, 21.

Today the Gospel of Luke presents us with Jesus explaining His liberating work to the poor and oppressed by evil. This passage is very important to understand the message of Christ the Savior.

There are several phrases used by Christ our Savior taken from the prophet Isaiah that I would like to share briefly with you.

My attention is drawn by the word “liberation” that is used for the different ways that the Lord acts towards the poor and oppressed. Returning sight to the blind and the hearing to the deaf are different ways of proclaiming their liberation by causing them joy, making them free. It occurs to me that this is a message for the New Evangelization, through the spoken word and the Christian Praxis, to take to the catechesis of the family environment. They are as the Beatitudes say: The poor in spirit, who identify with one another carrying the blessing, joy, and the promise of salvation.

The first Christians gave us this example as Paul says: “Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it”. 1 Cor 12:27. Many in the early Christian community gave their lives as they faced the oppression of the reign of evil, which also exits today with all its consequences of domination, blindness and ungodliness. Psalm 19 says: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul……the Lord’s commandments are true and just”.

Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to be liberating instruments for “the good that Christ brings is more powerful than evil”. Jesus reminds us: Today the message has been fulfilled in you, put into practice the message you have just heard “liberate all the oppressed from the chains with which the enemy enslaves them and help your brethren live in the freedom of the children of God”. Cardinal Martini.

Reflections - January 20, 2019

“His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jn. 2:5.

On this second Sunday of Ordinary Time we celebrate the Wedding at Cana.

In this Gospel I would like to highlight the sublime figure of the mother of God Mary, Most Blessed, in the first miracle of her Son Jesus at a wedding. Mary observes and warns: “They have no wine”. The merciful and caring mother with an overflowing faith trusts in the goodness of her Son and the miracle is given. Mary’s loving request may not coincide with the expectations and impatience of our time, but she does coincide with her Son’s heart to love the needy unconditionally.

Blessed Mary gives us the first Christian teaching: to be attentive and discover around us “when the wine is missing”. There are many spiritual, social, and moral needs that exist. Today we are desperately missing in our society a new sense of fraternity and solidarity! We live in a world that needs to be visited by the presence and joy of Jesus and His mother and we need to allow them to enter our hearts and not resign ourselves to read the everyday reality that reach our senses from the different means of communication that sometimes overpowers our feelings and decisions.

Another lessons the Virgin teaches us is to gain a new sensitivity to “do what He tells us”. When you are missing the wine of the faith listen to what the Lord says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me”. Jn. 14:1. He also tells us: I have conquered the world! If you lack the wine of generosity He says: “To all those who ask – give”. Lk. 18:1.

Let us go to the mother in our prayers so that she may awaken in each of us alertness to the needs of our neighbor by humbly doing what He tells us. Let us pray a rosary for families and the respect for the life of the unborn being in solidarity with those who defend this right as this year’s motto says: “To be pro life is to be pro science. The DNA of life begins in fertilization”.

Reflections - December 30, 2018

“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” Lk. 2: 40.

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

It is a day of reflection for all Christian families. When the Son of God is embodied in our humanity He chooses a family, because our God is a God of family. We find Mary, “the full of grace”, accepting God’s plan with all the difficulties of doing “God’s Will” in poverty, dangers, and exile. We also find the paternal figure of Joseph that will always be attentive to fulfill God’s plan as the father of Jesus Christ. Joseph was chosen by the Trinity as the father who receives the charge of fleeing with the child and His mother to Egypt. Joseph has full confidence in God and thus fulfills his duty to protect and care for his family. We can also reflect on the obedience of Jesus to His parents.

On a visit to Israel I found a stained glass in a church that moved me. In it you see Joseph dying in the arms of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin.

This school in Nazareth also gives all families an example of spiritual discipline that strengthens us to follow the teachings of the Gospel and to be disciples of Christ in love.

I would not like to end this reflection without leaving you with some words from St. Paul VI on this day of the Holy Family at the inauguration and blessing of the Basilica of Nazareth: “We are in the school of Nazareth in this chair, ‘School of Silence’, in a world of so much extraversion and hypersensitivity”.

The best lesson from this Holy Family is the living of love in the simplicity of life, in communication, and in difficult times. “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety”. They also give us a lesson in work. The house in Nazareth is also “the house of the Son of a carpenter”. The Holy Family restores the nobility and value of work. A humble, tidy, and dignified house where “growing and becoming strong, being filled with wisdom; and the favor of God is – The Savior of the World”.

May the Lord bless and protect all the families of our parish. Amen.

Reflections - December 23, 2018

“How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Lk. 1:43.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, a week from the Nativity of the Lord, the Church invites us to reflect on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.

The Plan of Salvation, the incarnation of the Son of God, is revealed to us in the hidden tabernacle of the womb of the Blessed Mary, “the full of grace, the handmaid of the Lord”. Today we find another humble woman, Elizabeth. A woman who manages to see what “the wise and learned could not see, the presence of the Savior of the world incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary”.

This week’s Gospel is an invitation to discover the mother that brings us our Savior to the home of our hearts: “The King of the nations and the cornerstone of the Church”. How sad it would be that extroversion or worse superficiality will blind us and we could not recognize His coming hidden in the humility of a Mother.

Let us learn from Elizabeth, who manages to discover in the womb of that humble maiden, “the Word made flesh”, the expected by the prophets. How well Jesus the Son of God said: “I give you thanks, Father, for you have hidden mighty works……and have revealed them to the humble and simple….”. Yes, that is the great mystery that we celebrate, “God hidden in the womb of a mother”. Those that discover it are Elizabeth who prophesies: “Blessed are you among women, how does it happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me” and her son, John the Baptist, who “leaped in her womb”.

This week as you pray the Rosary with your family ask the Mother for the grace to open our eyes to discover the presence of her Son amongst the humble, the needy, and the abandoned who ask for a word of comfort and an alms of love and hope. Amen!

Reflections - December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

“In those days the crowds asked John: “What then should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none…..Do not practice extortion……Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.” Lk. 3: 10-11, 18.

The question to ask on this third week of Advent is: Why the joy? There exist two joys.

There is a joy of purely hedonistic pleasure that dispenses with all that is an obstacle breaking years of marriages, not accepting sacrifices or unborn children. It is like the famous “slogan” that some repeat: “You…..are happiness or this is my body and I remove all that impedes me from living happily”, and as some cultures say “living happy and tropical…..”.

There is another joy that is not in our power: It is the unconditional mercy of the Holy Spirit that conquers men and women in the joy of Jesus Christ’s Gospel – the Word of God. Which, as Pope Francis says: “Is not a stoic ethic. It is a lifestyle that makes us live Christian morality with joy” and that counts with you. As St. Augustine says: “The one that created you without you does not justify you without you” that is why we will meditate that joy in the following scriptures.

The first reading of Zephaniah tell us: “Be glad and exult….Jerusalem….because the Lord has freed his people from the oppression of the Assyrian people. He has turned away their enemies. You have no further misfortune to fear. The Lord will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you”. This joy of the prophet Zephaniah is the fruit of gratitude for what the Lord did for his people. Perhaps a good question for everyone to ask is: Are we thankful for the gift of faith and for our salvation? Had the prophet and the people of God had lived in the time of the Incarnation of the Son of God, as we do, how much joy and gratitude would they have expressed.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist invites us to bring the joy of salvation to all men and women with a radical change of life. He said to those who had power: “Do not exhort anyone”. It is a very current message, as we do not know what business they had: “Do not charge more than the law establishes”. It seems like a social justice treaty from the 21stcentury. That’s “the joy of the Good News of Salvation”. “Dress the naked, give your bread to the hungry because whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me”. Mt. 25:40.

Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to welcome all brothers and sister in Christ with the joy of salvation. Pope Francis says: Remember that the joy of mercy is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person when he or she looks with sincere eyes at the every brother and sister he encounters in the path of life”.

Reflections - December 9, 2018

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Lk. 3:4.

Today the Gospel presents to us the prophet John the Baptist, the last prophet of the Old Testament, who denounces injustices and announces a baptism of repentance, joy, and hope.

What is John the Baptist referring to when he tells us to make straight our path through life?

There are three paths that the Lord uses to attract us to Him.

The first is to convert. We must convert every day and we have to listen to what the Lord wants from us. This is why the words “I have converted” must be renewed because until the last day of our lives we will be converting by being docile to the Spirit of the Lord and discerning what He wants from us in different situations which may be social or family justices.

There is another path. It is the path of joy because one who loves is happy. We find this example in the lives of the saints. Some served with joy among the sick like St. Teresa of Calcutta and others like St. Alberto Hurtado who said: “Happy, Lord, happy”, in spite of his selfless work, sickness and suffering.

The third path is the path of hope. We are men and women who are called to live with Christian Hope because by Baptism the Lord dwells in our soul – we are his abode. To prepare the way is also to remove the obstacles that prevent us from “entering into our spiritual abode”. Sometimes there are many obstacles that we have to bring down, eliminate, purify to bring down our egos which are obstacles for us to live with hope in the abode of our hearts. Paul said to the Philippians: “that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”. Phil 1:9-10.

Let us ask through our prayer life that the Lord will help us to do His will and live with Christian hope this Advent. I leave you here with this antiphon of preparation.

“Come soon Lord! Come Savior, Son of David! Come to free us! Lord, do not make us wait! Amen.

Reflections - December 2, 2018

“They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Lk. 21:27.

The readings for this first Sunday of Advent tell us that the Lord comes with “great power and majesty”, but His coming will be accompanied by terrible catastrophes. We are startled by the pain and fear because when we think of God we associate Him with peace, joy, and hope. An old man who was not a believer jokingly said: “If the Lord comes in that way then no hurry – He should take His time”. Of course that is not the idea of today’s message.

What is the message that this Gospel wants to transmit to us?

Will we be condemned to so many suffering from the good, loving, and merciful God who is “slow to wrath and rich in mercy”? I invite you to read carefully God’s Words and discover that He exhorts us to “beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise…...”. I think it would be a tremendous catastrophe that the Lord’s visit catches us unnoticed because He is not occupying the center of our minds and hearts. Sometimes “the things of this world can distract us from the Creator of the world”. Remember that when our “focus” and our prayer life is not with Christ we can “stagger” and what seemed firm like power, prestige, etc. “that at first were threads eventually can become chains that enslave us and blind us”. I was told by a young man “who was shaken to the core by a strong emotional upheaval in his life in which he lost everything he considered important that this made him seek help and free himself from his disordered addictions and affections and get closer to Christ and His mother Mary”.

Brothers and sisters, the merciful Lord can take advantage “when our star wobbles” to visit us and commiserate with us and liberate us from what we thought was important. Many brothers and sisters have returned to the Lord in moments of failure, pain, and death.

Let us pray to the Lord and His mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, whose feast we celebrate December 8th, to help us be alert this Advent and that through the events of life we can discover their closeness and escape from what alienates us and prevents us from being prepared and joyful for His visit in our lives.

Reflections - November 25, 2018

“You say that I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice”. Jn.18:37.

In this last Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church presents us with the Feast of Christ the King. Next week begins cycle C of the first Sunday of Advent.

I would like to dwell on this dialog between Christ the King of the Universe and Pilate a poor man with power in this small point on planet Earth in which he lived. This man Pilate judged the king of the Universe of the accusations given by the Jewish authorities of calling himself King and allows that He be condemned to death.

Jesus, scourged and crowned with thorns in front of the people, says to Pilate: “You say that I am a king”. Yes, brothers and sisters, Jesus is the one who returns the dead to life: “I am the resurrection and the life”, “I am the living bread come down from heaven”, “I am who I am”.

But Jesus also says something very profound “to the poor roman governor”. He says: “My kingdom does not belong to this world” because the power of this world is limited, but the power of the Lord is eternal. It is the Kingdom of justice, love, and peace. It is the Kingdom of hope. His Kingdom comes to transform the human being to become a “witness of the Truth” in a world where many times the truth is manipulated. Yes, because “everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” “and the truth will set you free”. Jn. 8:32.

The Truth of Christ and His Church is to carry the cross giving testimony of life every day with sacrifices made within our family, work environment, and community.

How nice it would be if we would examine our conscience every night before going to bed and ask ourselves: What are the obstacles to the Truth that I find in my every day life so that I can be faithful to Christ?

Let us allow the Feast of Christ the King to become a motive for joy in knowing that God’s Plan was fulfilled in Christ Jesus. He overcame the darkness of our soul from the throne of His Cross so that through prayer and the Eucharist we can be humble and faithful to the Truth of His Kingdom. Amen.

Reflections - November 18, 2018

“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels inheaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mk 13:32.

The Church presents us this week a Gospel with apocalyptic language almost at the end of the liturgical year: “The Great Tribulation – the whole universe will be moved….”.

Whenever I hear this text I think about the brothers and sisters from other denominations that take these words literally with calamities that occur in our world to corroborate the end of time without giving hope, but the interpretation of our Holy Mother Church is different. We believe in the Christ of hope who invites us

to live alertly the time that God has given us.

I remember visiting an elderly teacher a few years ago that would say: “How fast my time has gone”. Of course that lady was almost hundred years old. But the lady would also say: “The best years are yet to come when I meet the Lord who gave me life and promises me many more than one hundred years – eternal life!” This is well expressed in the First Reading from the book of the Prophet Daniel: “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” Dan 12:3.

Let us learn to live responsibly and with hope in the future the years the Lord gives us. Pessimism and negativity are not in God’s plan. Our fidelity to the plan of God manifested in Christ Jesus will have its reward as Paul says: “The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us”. Rom. 8:18.

Let us come to the Sunday Eucharist trusting in Christ that guarantees us the future. We are in His hands which is why we say in the Psalm: “Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, for you will not abandon me to Sheol, nor let your faithful servant see the pit.” Ps 16:9-10.

I would like to remind you that this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. I leave you here with part of a proclamation of thanksgiving from our first president George Washington: “Our duty as people with reverent devotion and gratitude is to recognize our obligation to the almighty God and to implore Him to continue to prosper and confirm the many blessings that we receive from Him”. Amen

Reflections - November 11, 2018

“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” Mk. 12: 43-44.

Today the Word of God shows us the example of two generous women that gave not from their surplus wealth, but from their sacrifices. The first example is found in the widow in the village of Zarephath. There had been a severe drought in this village that had disobeyed God. The prophet Elijah arrived at this village and found a poor widow and called out to her to “please bring a small cupful of water to drink”. He also asks for “a bit of bread”. She swears by the Lord that she “has only one bread for her and her son; they will eat it and then they will die”. The prophet tells her: “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth’.” She did what the Lord said through the prophet and both her son and herself ate. From that moment on neither the jar of flour not the jug of oil were exhausted.

The Gospel also presents us with an example of generosity. Jesus was seated in front of the treasury in the temple watching people throw their coins. He saw a poor woman who threw some coins in the treasury and said: “All the others have contributed their surplus wealth, but she in her poverty has contributed all she had to live”.

Whenever I read these two readings I take note that these two insignificant people have been remembered for their generosity for more than two thousand years. Let us reflect on the words of Jesus: “This woman has contributed more than anyone because she has given all that she has to live”. What do these words mean? I feel that Jesus wants to tell us that He notices the intentions of the heart more. Jesus once expressed: “I will never forget a cup of water in my name”, because what the Lord sees is our generosity in the giving of our heart to the family, the community, our neighbor, the giving of our time and our talent. He notices how we bring hope and joy to our brothers and sisters sharing with them without expecting anything in return. “Remember that the reward is given by the Lord in the treasury of eternal life.”

Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to make us as generous as these two widows to recognize Him when He visits us through our brothers and sisters in need.

Reflections - November 4, 2018

“One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’……”. Mk. 12:28-31.

They asked Jesus what was the most important commandment. This is a transcendent question because God’s people, between prohibitions and positive precepts, had more than 600 commandments. Jesus synthesizes all of them into two commandments: Love God and your neighbor.

What does it mean to love God with all the heart………? For me it means to recognize who governs your life. If it is the old man, as Paul says, then life will be a quest to possess and seek his own satisfaction trying always to integrate in the family and in all those that surround him his projects and whims. This is not Christian love – it is possessive love that enslaves and does not allow growth. We have to purify our intentions to make sure we keep the Lord as the absolute value in our life, but to have Him as the absolute value in our life we need to first know Him. “Let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God”. 1 Jn. 4:7. We must strive to know the love of God and experience it in our life through the experience of faith in Jesus Christ.

The Lord is the revelation of the Father, “He defines His Father as to what love is”. The obstacles of sin and selfishness are of no matter. God’s love is always there giving and surrendering for you and me. But that love must be manifested to the neighbor. We are by Baptism children of God. This means “that we are the extension of the love of God” which is why we cannot be alien to “our neighbor”, nor to the practice of justice because love is not an emotion. It is a commitment to that other person – the Son of the same Father, the God of love.

Upon receiving the Eucharist I invite you to pray to our loving Father with these beautiful phrases from St. Augustine: Late I loved you, beauty so ancient and so new. Late I loved you and You were inside me”.

Reflections - October 28, 2018

“What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man relied to him. “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Mk. 10:51-52.

Today we find the two big realities that develop the human being: Light and darkness, faith and disbelief. In the life of every man and woman we sometimes find a very weak faith and more doubts than assurances. What can we do? We find the answer in the man born blind – a limited man. He asked for alms and depended on charity to survive. However, his ears still heard and he had heard about Jesus.

The blind man uses his ears and his voice when he cries out loudly. It is the cry of the discarded, of the desperate and abandoned, however those that accompany Jesus “did not want to waste time with a discarded person”. Yet everyone counts for Jesus. Jesus asks him a question of faith: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus takes the initiative in the matter of faith because it is for Him to act for us. The only responsibility that the blind Bartimaeus had was to open himself to God since we cannot produce the faith. He opened his heart with humility, the spring of living faith, “to the light of the word”.

Today Jesus asks you the same question: What do you want me to do for you? A question that also as a Church we should ask the world looking for the light. Bartimaeus is an example of living faith so that as a Church we open ourselves to the grace of the Lord with humility and that “we commit ourselves to the announcement of the new evangelization with a new vision” bringing the joy of the Gospel that fill the heart and life of those that through us find Jesus. Just as our friends, the saints, did whose feast we celebrate on November 1stand that the Church gives us as an example of surrender and of faith committed in Christ.

This week, after praying the rosary, I invite you to reflect on these anonymous saints that lived in our community, in our families and were examples of joy and hope. For all of them we thank you, Lord.

Reflections - October 21, 2018

“Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant……For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mk. 10:43,45.

Today’s Gospel presents us with a reality that affects all human beings, the thirst for power, that was not alien even to the Lord’s innermost circle, Peter, James, & John. We also find in the Gospel of Mathew the same situation with the mother of the sons of Zebedee asking the same question: Lord, what power will my sons have?

Jesus gathered the apostles and told them: “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” This lesson given by Jesus was to “purify” the expectations that they had of power, sometimes like us.

The Church is human and divine and its human nature has historically lived these same pretensions as the sons of Zebedee.

It is important to reflect that the apostles did not follow Jesus because His doctrine to deny Himself and carry the cross convinced them. They did not change their lives and denied themselves by understanding and obeying – just as it can happen to you or me. It was only after living with Him, experiencing His life that they understood Him and obeyed Him to the point of giving their lives. Through Jesus they learned to do the will of the Father: “For the Son of Man did not come to serve”.

The path of happiness that Jesus proposes does not come through power, but to serve selflessly. We find that in the lives of the saints, the lay and religious people, their witness of life accompanied their moral authority. For example, Archbishop Roman, who in his eighties was a moral and religious authority with the rioters of prisons in our country thereby putting an end to this situation since they knew “that his words were backed by the testimony of his humility and a life given to the Lord, the Virgin, and thy neighbor”.

Let us pray to the Lord in the Eucharist to help us to purify ourselves of the disease that has plagued all the centuries, and in particular the twenty-first century. The disease of power and wanting to be first. The saints remind us that to follow the Lord, you “need to drink his chalice and be baptized in His baptism and serve Him until the final consequences”. This is the antidote that cures and strengthens us “to give our lives in the tiredness of every day with crosses and agoniesn with joys and

consolations, but always looking towards the Lord that initiated and completed our faith to the will of the Father.

Reflections - October 14, 2018

“For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Mk. 10:27.

Today we hear a question that we should all ask ourselves at one point or another in our lives: What must I do to inherit eternal life? The most important thing to remember is that this question is made by a young man. For those who say that young people live without concerns, we find in today’s Gospel this young man who does not feel satisfied and questions what is the ultimate meaning of life.

Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, tells us that “all things are possible for God” and that there is a way for all men and women who want to do His will. Of course, Jesus’ proposal is for those who feel uneasy and it is based on the Commandments. Do you know the Commandments? These are the materials that help us to build “the Way”; that takes us on our journey through life relating to our God and our neighbor and ultimately to attain eternal life.

However, Jesus has something more for those men and women with concerns who “want to walk and not crawl spiritually” in this beautiful time in which we live. Now the Lord proposes something more radical and liberating. “You are lacking in one thing. Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me”. A call for those who want to radically live the spirit of the Gospel by carrying their cross each day and serving.

This call does not mean that Jesus rejects wealth and that poverty is good. Remember that: “all that the Lord has done is very good”. What following the Lord requires is freedom and detachment, to follow Him along the path that He first made. We cannot be tied to live as He lived, “we cannot serve two masters”.

Remember that the logic that the Lord teaches in the different stages of life is to put ourselves on alert with profound discernment on the “false values” presented to us by the spirit of darkness like riches, vainglory, pride and from there all the sins and vices that cannot fill our eagerness for eternal life.

Today upon receiving Communion let us ask Christ, “for whom everything is possible”, for freedom to choose “the two riches that will never disappear, the Lord and our neighbor”. Pope Francis

Reflections - October 7, 2018

“Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Mk. 10:15.

Today’s Gospel tells us to receive the Kingdom of God as a child. I believe we should ask two questions to be able to receive the fruits from this Gospel in our spiritual lives. The first is: What is the significance of the Kingdom of God? And the second is: How can we be like children to receive the Kingdom?

For Jesus the Kingdom of God is everything that is opposed to evil. Jesus’ criticisms of the Scribes and Pharisees was not based on their doctrine, which, of course, was based on the Law of Moses, but in the way they acted and interpreted that law based on their own interests and the prestige that men could give to them. “The Pharisees approached and asked, they were testing him. “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife? That hypocrisy is what Jesus says keeps us away from the Kingdom of God. But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment……Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Who can live and understand the mystery of the Kingdom? “Those that are like children”.

Jesus was not opposed to the law but in the way the law was used. The Scribes and Pharisees had turned the law into a burden when it was suppose to be a service. “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” Mt. 23:4.

To be like children is to try to build the Kingdom of God by putting my life in the Lord’s hands as a “blank check”. With all my confidence, Lord, I put myself in your hands for You to put with Your Love and Mercy the amount of success or the amount of failure into the pleasant or painful experiences of my life. I would feel unhappy if I would not walk as a child, if I would not know that the Kingdom of Love is You and that You welcome me as I am with all my weaknesses and with all my limitations and my brother as well. That is what will make us happy in the end to live in Your Kingdom and to also see you in the needy because they are also part of the Kingdom of God, a sacrament of Your Love.

When you receive sacred communion ask the Lord to make you as a child to be able to see the Kingdom of God in your life, in your family and in your community. Amen.

Reflections - September 30, 2018

“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Mk. 9:38.

We find two examples of prejudices in today’s readings. In the First Reading we find two men who received the Spirit of the Lord even though they had not been at the gathering and we see that a young man runs to tell Moses what happened and said to him: “Stop them”. Moses replied: “…..Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow the spirit on them all!”

In the Gospel John tells the Lord: “We saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him. Jesus replied, “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me”.

In the readings we hear about two examples of prejudices and intolerance that Jesus invites us to avoid in our apostolic work. The Apostles did not come to understand the logic and mercy of God, which is why they were forbidden to act. It is an example to not forget that we are a Church and as Pope Pius XII said: We are the mystical Body of Christ. “There are diversities of gifts, but one same Spirit”.

“We are many and we are different, but we live united in Christ and in that diversity and in that unity is our greatness. We have to help each other and support each other.” Pope Francis.

As we can see the sin of criticizing is found in both the First Reading and in the Gospel. Criticism can sometimes be converted into a disease that can damage our soul and become an obstacle so that the Mercy of God humiliates our haughty and arrogant hearts that does not allow us to recognize our limitations. Yet do not forget that constructive criticism also exists, but what builds, as the Pope says, is Charity. Prejudices and criticism does not come from God and they create tensions and conflicts.

Let us pray to the Lord in the Eucharist that when we feel the temptation to criticize that we begin by criticizing ourselves first and, I believe, that will not leave that much to time to criticize others. Perhaps we can ask ourselves this week: How do I live in unity with others, my family and friends, my Church?