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?

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.