Reflections - July 8, 2018

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

July 1, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections - June 24, 2018

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

Reflections - June 17, 2018

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

Reflections - June 10, 2018

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

Reflections - June 3, 2018

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

Reflections - May 20, 2018

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

Reflections - May 13, 2018

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

Reflections - May 6, 2018

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

Reflections - April 29, 2018

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

Reflections - April 22, 2018

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

Reflections - April 15, 2018

“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.”  Lk. 24:38-39
 
Upon reading this Gospel it seems that the Lord is speaking to our society when He says:  “why do questions arise in your hearts?”
 
We live in a global social environment where the culture of technologies can be very good if they can help you in the plan to know and serve God, but it can also be an obstacle if we lose all ability to reflect on the meaning of our lives and our spiritual values by making these technologies an “idol” that offers false happiness through gratification of the senses and of the here and now.  In these environments it is sometimes difficult to reflect on the faith in the living and resurrected Jesus, Christian values, and spiritual life.  All of these technological realities do not fill “the absence of God” because the Lord can only fill the absence of God.  It is very easy that in this “culture of the death of God” for the mind to be dulled and to seek “false gods”, new age booklets of self-help…., “recipes that do not give inner peace” and that only the risen Christ can give you.  Remember that sometimes group profligacy gives one no time to think.
 
The apostles also lived a crisis of faith.  On the one hand there was what they expected from Jesus as the liberator of their Roman enemies and their lust for power, and on the other hand there was Jesus’ Plan of Salvation, a change of life, a repentance of our sins, and faith in Him as our Savior.
 
Today Jesus asks us the same question that he asked the Apostles.  “Why are you troubled?  Why do questions arise in your hearts?”  The Lord is asking you why you are asking questions about the meaning of life. Jesus calls you to discover His resurrected face through prayer, the bread of the Eucharist, Scriptures, and forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession.  Jesus, living and resurrected, sends you as a baptized Christian to be a witness to His resurrection to the worldly limits of your family, social, and community life bearing witness to His love and the hope of Christian life.

Reflections - April 8, 2018

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”.  Jn. 20:30.
 
On this Second Sunday of Easter the Gospel of John tells us about two events of faith.  In the first event, Jesus appears to the apostles and “breathed on them the Holy Spirit” with the sacramental mandate to forgive sins to all those who repent and believe in the Lord alive and risen.  The second event of faith is the encounter with Thomas, one of the Twelve also known as “doubting Thomas – the doubter of faith”.  The Lord shows him His sores and His side and says to him:  “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”.
 
What was the meaning of faith that the Lord wished to manifest in the Apostles and in each one of us after the resurrection?  It was to increase our faith in Him and in His divinity and to give witness of life.
 
This Paschal experience of faith produced in His disciples and followers a change of life.  Now it wasn’t was they though or said, but their way of living “in a coherent manner” the faith in Jesus.  “Look how they love one another” Acts 2:47.  The disciples tried to live the faith as resurrected people with their scale of values.  They had no need to theorize about Jesus.  They just mimicked the Lord’s life and family, with the help of prayer, in the middle of the Synagogue and the Roman Empire to the point of giving their lives for Christ as many Christians still do today in the Middle East and Africa.  Did you know that this is happening at this time in some countries?
 
The testimony of faith also moves in others to make changes, repent (Confession, Baptism). Remember:  “An example is worth more than a thousand words”.
 
Another gift of faith expressed to the disciples of Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit was to recognize the signs of the times in which they had to live and to overcome with the help of the Risen Christ those forces of evil that acted against man and that today as well continue dehumanizing.  Examples being worldly values of power, prestige, corruption and violence, which often live in our social environment and have nothing in common with the living and risen Christ.
 
Let us pray to the risen Lord in the Eucharist for the grace to awaken in us the “compassion and faith” to live in our community as a testimony of life and power of goodness, truth, and justice that Jesus, living and risen, brings us.  Amen.

Reflections - April 1, 2018

“You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been raised; he is not here.”
Mk. 16:6.
 
Yes, He has resurrected!  Psalm 118 says:  “This is the day the Lord has made”.  This is the Church’s dogma which we say every Sunday at Mass.
 
Not even forty-eight hours ago, Christ, giving a loud cry, expired.  But the Temple of Jerusalem was also destroyed and died, the place where the inner sanctum, Moses’s rod and David’s crown were found.  Upon the Lord’s death the temple is destroyed because now the new temple is Christ.  He is, as Paul says, “our Paschal Lamb, who has been slain.”  Yes, This is the day the Lord has made”.
 
The resurrection of Christ is the most important event in the Plan of Salvation.  The human soul of Christ in the resurrection came into His body and there was a movement of earth.  “When they looked up, they saw that the stone has been rolled back; it was very large”.  Mk. 16:4.  Now Christ’s new body with new properties “crosses the savannah”.  John’s Gospel says:  “Then the other disciples also went in, the one who has arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.”  Jn. 20:8.
 
Now after resurrecting where is Christ?  The Lord stayed forty days preparing His Church with Peter and His apostles.  He will also manifest Himself to the disciples of Emmaus in the Eucharist:  “And it happened that, while he as with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Lk. 24:30-31.  “And of course, where does a son go after resurrecting?  Well, to see his mother, Mary.  What joy and how much consolation would the mother receive upon seeing her child.  A joy to be shared with the apostles.”  St. Ignatius.
 
“Yes, this is the day the Lord has made”.  Jesus is not here; His is resurrected.  That is why today we raise our heads full of hope and joy because what pertains to us Christians ended in triumph because we believe in the resurrected.  Today incredulous ones bow your heads!  We also have risen with Christ through Baptism.  As Paul says:  “Seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God”, Col. 3:1.
 
I conclude with this phrase from Paul:  “Let us celebrate the Feast of the Passover not with old yeast that is made of vice and evil, but with unleavened bread that is sincerity and truth”.  Christ is alive and risen in the Eucharist.  Alleluia!

Reflections - March 25, 2018

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord……”.
 
This Palm Sunday begins Holy Week.  Jesus climbs up to Jerusalem, where the expectations of the people who were going there to celebrate the Passover are not those of Jesus.  They expected and waited with palms for a Messiah that would be full of power, but Jesus’ power was to surrender and give His life for the redemption of humanity.  Jesus always said to His disciples “we climb” up to Jerusalem where the Son of Man is going to be incarcerated, slapped, crucified, as the four Gospels in the Liturgy of the Passion and Death of the Lord in the context of Holy Week narrates.
 
The Lord’s message is:  “If you want to be sanctified and you want to live as a Christian you have to climb up with me to the Cross.  That is the path that takes you to holiness of life”.
 
In the Last Supper on Holy Thursday Jesus gives us the Eucharist, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, divine nourishment that strengthens us to carry the cross.  “He who eats by flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him”.  This is the day in which He also gave us the Sacrament of Holy Orders, “so that they will become one with Christ in love and service to others”.
 
On Good Friday we will accompany Christ in His pain and loneliness. God’s enemy tried to triumph over human history by using our ignorance and our human sins of envy and rancor.  The salvation of humanity was at stake on the cross.  Some unbelievers passed by the foot of the cross saying:  “Come down from the cross”.  There was also a repentant thief who was able to see what others did not – The Son of God:  “Lord, remember me in your kingdom”.  “Today you will be with me in paradise”.  This is the first saint that enters with Jesus to Eternal Life.  But is it also a call to you and me, as Pope Francis says:  “…..to allow ourselves to be summoned by the one crucified and discover that there lies wisdom and the key to the interpretation of life which is hope.  The Christian life is a militia.  The supposed fight is not against men of flesh and blood, but against the rulers of this world of darkness.  To overcome in this fight and stand firm we need God’s weapon the cross.  It is there that Jesus triumphed over evil once and for all”. 
 
On Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil when the Paschal Candle is lit the Church wants us to remember that the darkness of death does not have the last word.  No!  Jesus, the light of the world, triumphed over darkness and overcame sin and death.  “Where is your sting dead?  Blessed be the Lord!

Reflections - March 18, 2018

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
Jn. 12:23.
 
We are one week away from the Passion of Christ and the Gospel today speaks to us of Christ’s feelings before the pain, treachery, and death that will come in His redemptive Passion.
 
The Gospel tells us:  “There were some Greeks among those who had come to see Jesus”.  But who were these Greeks who went to see Jesus?  We do not know if they were pilgrims who went up every year to Jerusalem or spectators  “who listened, but did not commit”.  However, it is to this group of foreigners who perhaps “seek wisdom” that as Paul says, Jesus presents himself not as the hero of the Iliad, or the wise Greeks, but “like the grain of wheat that died on the cross to produce fruits of eternal life”.  Jesus speaks to them of the wisdom of the cross, as Paul says:  “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”, 1 Cor 1:23.  Yes, the grain of wheat would die on the cross on Good Friday, but there is a resurrection and fullness of life.
 
There is also a call to the baptized in this Gospel.  “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life”.  As you can see it is the giving over to Jesus not selfishness, product of our sin, but the dynamics of charity that strengthens us in His following.
 
Of course, the Jesus that expresses His feelings is not a super-man, but He is a human being who feels “shaken as the hour approaches”.  Now my soul is shaken and what do I say?  Father, save me from this hour.  No, for this I have come to this hour.
 
Jesus’ words were an invitation to trust in the Father when pain and suffering approaches.  “I have glorified him and I will glorify him”.
 
May fasting, prayer, and charity help us be more sensitive in this Lenten time to the voice of the Father who strengthens us to carry with faith the cross of each day.

Reflections - March 11, 2018

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  Jn. 3:16.
 
In John’s Gospel we find this statement that unequivocally summarizes the meaning of our faith.  The love of God manifested in Jesus Christ is unconditional and heals our wounds.  As Saint Augustine says:  God is more intimate with my being that I am myself.  And faith is the consciousness of this intimacy.
 
There are two attitudes to the love of God manifested in Christ Jesus:
The first attitude is the conviction that “because we are loved, we love freely and we become worthy of greater love”.  San Bernardo.
 
The other attitude is the faith of feeling loved and happy because we know that we are doing His will:  loving God and others.  That faith in the Son that gave himself up for us is what makes us observe the commandments of loving God and our neighbor, not to earn or preserve His love, but, as Paul says:  “we have been saved by grace through faith and this is not from you; it is the gift of God”.  Ef 2:8.  It is the true faith in God that matures through prayer where it is perfected, accepting from the Lord His plan of salvation in our family and community.  As St. Teresa would say, “You do not have to give so that I will love you, but as a son that “drinks from the source of living water” we are filled with love and faith “to be the light of the world”, cooperators of grace.  Remember that faith is not being still, nor is the result of reasoning or argumentation, on the contrary, the love and the faith in Jesus “has two hands”, the first is forgiveness, that never abandons us despite our failings.  The other hand is His resurrection, which reveals to us that God sustains us even beyond death.  Amen.

Reflections - February 25, 2018

“This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”  Mk. 9:7.
 
In an environment where the glory of God is manifested, the Lord transfigures at the summit of a mountain.  In the history of the people of Israel the mountain was a place of encountering the glory of God.  An example of this was Moses in Mount Horeb and also Elijah.  It was a place of prayer and manifestation of Yahweh, our God.
 
In the Transfiguration of the Lord there are two people next to him, Moses and Elijah that represent the commandments and the prophets.  Also up the mountain climbed Peter, the Rock of the Church, and James and John, columns of the Church.  All were very important in the plan of Salvation.
 
In this spiritual encounter of the disciples with Jesus the voice of the Father manifests itself inviting the disciples to listen to the Lord in prayer and to carry His Cross in their daily life.  He invites them to not remain in this spiritual experience, but to also with their words and their liberating signs of healing release from evil and to satisfy from hunger and thirst for justice giving hope and walking with Jesus by “denying oneself and carrying one’s daily cross until death as the apostles and God’s saints did.  The server is not greater than his Lord”.
 
God the Father also tells the baptized, you and me to:  “Listen to him”.  But do we listen to the Lord or, by contrast, do we listen to the voices of those “false gods” that often conceal His voice?  My hope is that in this Lenten time, prayer can help you to know how to listen and how to discern “what the Lord wants from you”.  Perhaps it is to discover the “interferences” that do not allow you to convert and become more generous and more grateful to the love that the Lord has spilled over time through your vocational call either religious or matrimonial.
 
Ask the Lord in the Eucharist to help you to listen and follow Him and then strengthened in faith to accept your daily cross.  Let us remember what Paul said to the Romans:  “If God is with us, who is against us?

Reflections - February 18, 2018

“Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  Mk. 1:15.
 
Lent began on Ash Wednesday.  It is forty days of preparation for the mystery of our redemption – Jesus Christ crucified and risen.  The Church proposes prayer, fasting and almsgiving to us.
 
In the Gospel the Lord, after having been Baptized, goes to the desert and there He fasts, prays, and it tempted.
 
In the Hebrew mentality, the desert was a place for reflection, prayer, and fasting, but it was also a place of temptation.  Jesus, in His human condition, felt the temptation from the enemy to divert Him from the plan of salvation.  However, by fasting and prayer to His Father, God, He gave us an example on how to overcome the plan of the enemy in the desert of our own lives.
 
Here I leave you with three traditional ways to get closer to God this Lent.
 
Prayer:  Convert your “daily life” to an offering to the Lord by elevating your mind and heart by, as Paul says, “praying without ceasing”.  Some examples that occur to me would be to offer good works toward those in need of prayer.  Also, perhaps, to pray the rosary while you are walking or taking your pet out for a walk.  And also to take to prayer for the forgiveness of those you make your life a “yogurt”.
 
Fasting:  Create in ourselves an awareness of our dependence on God in an environment where we sometimes dispense with Him and put our trust in “idols” that pass.  Perhaps we can be a little more selective in choosing to watch or listen to alienating or manipulative programs.  We can also stop clacking the horn at our brothers in sisters therefore creating, first of all, awareness in ourselves and, above all, generating peace.  Maybe while driving we can listen to Radio Peace.
 
Almsgiving:  “Realize and open our eyes” doing works of charity therefore having compassion for our needy brothers or sisters as Jesus did, who gave Himself for all even for those who rejected Him.  “Forgive them for they know not what they do”.  Perhaps during this time we can cut certain expenses to assist in works of charity in the Church like buying food for the pantry of the needy in the parish.  We can also give away something that we do not use.
 
Let us pray to the Lord in this season of Lent to allow ourselves to be “lead by the Holy Spirit in order to find others in the desert of our lives” through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Reflections - February 11, 2018

“A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”  The leprosy left him immediately.”
Mk. 1:40-42.
 
In this Sunday’s Gospel I would like to first highlight this phrase:  “Moved with pity, Jesus touched him”.
 
Let us reflect on some of the details.  Who was that man that Jesus touched?  He was a leper and a contaminated man that had to live separated from the community by several kilometers in distance.  He was like an outcast, like, as some that feel lonely and live close to us in our society and family express, “invisible”.
 
That alienated man approaches Jesus with deep humility saying:  “If you wish, you can make me clean”.  Here humility and mercy was found, and of course, the law, which prohibited anyone to approach these people much less touch them in order to not be “contaminated” was ignored. 
 
Sometimes the law can become a trap in which we can all fall in order to escape the practice of mercy.  Jesus not only heals, but also touches the contaminated man because mercy can only be done with love.
 
The leper also teaches us a lesson.  When we practice the virtue of humility, or simplicity of life, we recognize our own limitations and our smallness.  “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean”.  A gesture of humility has a merciful response from the God of love that never abandons us and who knows what are our strengths and our diseases.  Jesus, true God and true man, immensely loved the leper.  “I do will it.  Be made clean”. 
 
Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to help us recognize and go meet the needs of the alienated and the needy of our community with humility and mercy.
 
I would like to remind you that this Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a time of fasting, prayer and mercy.