From Pastor's Desk
From Pastor's Desk
Sunday, July 31th, 2022 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C Readings: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23, Psalm 90 “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts”, Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11, Luke 12:13-21
In today’s gospel, the Lord takes advantage of a question about inheritances to teach us about the true worth of things in the light of eternity. “Take care to guard against greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions”. “Greed”, the inordinate or disordered attachment to worldly things. Greed can be an obstacle to true freedom.
The rich man in the parable sought for total security and comfort in this life. We can describe him as a person of vision, he had foresight. In fact, he was a serious, and hardworking man, who did not steal from anyone. But his pursuit of security and complacency that rejected God was his problem. “Fool” is what God calls him because the person who ties himself down to the world, forgetting that his or her end is Heaven, is doomed to live a disoriented life of complete ‘idiocy’. A word, which comes from the Greek word ‘idiotes’, meaning ‘one who is alone’. This parable covers about four verses of the chapter and in these verses the words I, my and myself are used more than any other word. He does not make mention of his wife, or children, or family or friends, or workers, everything is about I, me, myself, and his crops and barns without the thought for others.
The rich man saw himself in a very se cure position because he had acquired great resources. He based his stability and happiness on this wealth. But he didn’t know that authentic human life and happiness itself are not founded on worldly goods. St Augustine says, “Lord, you made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Worldly goods can never become an end in themselves because our destination is heaven. And if our treasure takes us away from God, this parable is a wakeup call for us. ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be’. St Paul exhorts us in the second reading: “put to death, then the parts of us that are earthly; immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another”.
May the Lord grant to us the grace not to make a selfish use of wealth. Let us seek for security and comfort in our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless us, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen. Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD.
Sunday, July 10th, 2022 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C Readings: Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalm 69 “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. ”, Colossians 1:15- 20, Luke 10:25-37
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” The Good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ most popular parables known by most of the people even for those who are not Christians. It started with one of the most important questions of a lawyer to Jesus: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer in this story is keenly interested in making sure Jesus’ interpretation of the Law/the Torah is correct. He already knew the answer: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
It should not surprise us that the lawyer wanted to know who his neighbor is because there were different understandings about the definitions and notions of what neighbor is all about. For some of the Jews neighbor’ means, someone who is near to them, either physically or socially; the one who shares the same religious persuasion as themselves or only those who shares the same nationality and ethnicity with them, etc.
For Jesus, nevertheless, neighbor means anyone of any nation who is in need, regardless of his/her status in life. Without a doubt, Jesus went beyond the concept of neighbor as a friend or someone of the same religion or of the same nationality. Jesus did not respond with a definition, but with a story: the parable of the Good Samaritan. Meditating on this parable leads us to discover who our neighbor is according to Jesus.
In that story, the first person to see the victim is a priest, but rather than get involved, he passes by on the other side of the road. He is followed by a Levite, a temple-worker. The Levite does the same—he passes by. Then along comes a Samaritan. One must understand the relationship between Jews and Samaritans.
So, who were the Samaritans, really? They were not simply outcasts: They were the despised enemies of the Jews. They were a mix of Jew and Gentile, and the Jews did not like them. They had names for Samaritans like “half breeds” and “heathen dogs,” and considered them to be spiritually defiled or unclean. But in Jesus’ story, it is this outcast who stops to help. Not only does this Samaritan help, but he goes far beyond what most people do. He cleans the victim’s wounds with oil and wine, then bandages them and takes him to a safe place to be taken care of.
With this little story, Jesus asks the lawyer: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”. Jesus has turned the question around. He is not asking, “Which people should I help?” He is saying: To answer the question, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the man who was beaten and left to die. Therefore, the better question should be: “When we need help, who do we want to help us?”
The parable ends with Jesus giving a commandment to go out and do the same as the Samaritan had done. So, Jesus is using the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of loving those who may not be our friends. Normally, it is easy to love friends and family, but it is much more difficult to love those who you may not get along with, or even those who may harm or hurt you. Luke is talking about the need to see as neighbors, people who are very strange to us and maybe even threatening to us. To show love to your enemies is to truly love as Christ did. This reminds us that we should also love our enemies as it is also reflected in Matthew's Gospel: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5,43-47). Therefore, we should not forget that our neighbor can be whoever God puts in our path or in our personal history regardless of his/her status in life or whether he/she is rich or poor, black or white, educated or not, native-born American or foreigner or refugees, legal or illegal…. The fact that it is a Samaritan who stops to aid the man in need highlights the point that we should show compassion and kindness to everyone we meet, even those who are considered enemies.
In our society today, there are countless victims along the road. They suffer from ignorance, disease, violence, blindness, depression, old age, poverty, discrimination, floods and fire and etc. At the end let us ask ourselves the following question: what are we doing for them?
In some sense, Christian brotherhood is the inclination to make any person our neighbor because the foundation of what it means to live a Christian life is to love without boundaries.
Let us not forget that:
a) Love your neighbor as yourself means love everyone.
b) Helping the person who needs help is helping Christ
c) And the only thing that matters is what you do.
To conclude this let us remember these words entitled Song of St. Francis for us to reflect: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
When there is hatred, let me sow love
When there is injury let me bring pardon
When there is doubt, faith When there is despair hope
When there is darkness let me bring light
When there is sadness, let me bring joy….
Self-reflection: But do we keep the spirit of the Good Samaritan message alive in our daily lives? Do we put into practice the key lessons it represents?
Fr. Louis Nakpane, SVD
Sunday, July 3rd, 2022 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C Readings: Isaiah 66:10-14c, Psalm 66 “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy”, Galatians 6:14-18, Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
The Joyful Christian Wars and violence and many parts of the world, increased poverty, a world polarized politically and spiritually, pandemics and diseases, conspiracy theories, not to mention inflation … the world seems to be spiraling out of control … In the face of this, how can we say that we Christians ought to be filled with Joy?! We say that we come to celebrate Mass, but sometimes it feels more like a wake. Of course, there is a sense that the Mass IS a wake, for it encompasses all of the Mystery of Christ: His incarnation, suffering, DEATH, and resurrection… but for some reason we seem to focus on the suffering and death, and we forget both the joys of our own incarnation and of our own resurrection. For in celebrating all of HIM, we celebrate all of US. Some of you may be aware that Pope Francis wrote an Apostolic Letter (released this past week) on the Liturgy entitled: DESIDERIO DESIDERAVI. The title refers to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke Ch. 22:15. “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” words He spoke moments before the words of Institution.
Pope Francis exhorts us to take a good look once again at the meaning of the Liturgy and its importance. In it, he emphasize the importance of the Liturgy in forming us as a “joyful” people. But, how, when come Monday I must go back to the difficulties of life, when problems seem to accumulate…How can we be joyful?! How can we be joyful when God seems to ignore many of our problems? For some of you your crosses are heavier.
In Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning,” we find a very descriptive account of his experiences as a Jewish prisoner at different concentration camps during WWII. He noticed that amidst the great difficulties and horror of the camps, some like him could motivate themselves to continue on, weak and exhausted, by imagining in a future without war, without suffering. He also, imagined himself reuniting with his wife and helping others after the war … he was a psychologist. So, what does this have to do with being a Joyful Christian? I think a lot. We believe in THE God of the Living. We believe in Christ!!
We believe in the promise of the resurrection, of the kingdom, of heaven! We come to Mass to celebrate, not only his suffering and death… but His Incarnation AND His Resurrection as well!
We OBSERVE his suffering and death BECAUSE they indicate to us that LIVING HERE and LIVING ETERNALLY in the KINGDOM are SO Valuable that experiencing them is worthy part of the process. We come to celebrate first and foremost HIS incarnation, HIS suffering, HIS death, and His resurrection. But this celebration includes us, and we are also invited to celebrate Our incarnation, Our suffering, Our death, and Our resurrection!
And not just a resurrection to the fallen world… a resurrection to the KINGDOM! To God’s Kingdom, to the Kingdom of bliss, to the kingdom of Peace, Goodness, Beauty, and Love. To the Mystery of the Eternal Agape! We REJOICE today, now, because if we allow the celebration of what we are doing right now, this Liturgy, it will permeate every aspect of our lives in the coming week, no matter how difficult life might be. And we repeat it next Sunday in order to recharge our batteries so that we can do it again and again, until the Lord calls us. For in the Liturgy, we do not have mere imaginary conversations with Jesus, we have absolutely real conversations with Him… and we can carry on those conversations and encounters as we leave the Church… we don’t have to imagine helping others “when this is over” … no, we go on MISSION (“Ite Missa est”) to help those in needs, not as psychologists, no, … as evangelists as missionary disciples, because we KNOW our DESTINY. And when we go, we don’t go alone… like the disciples in today’s Gospel. We go accompanied by a host of others, friends, family members, fellow parishioners, angels and saints, and Jesus Himself. We too can heal and cast out demons … we too can dine with sinners and tax collectors, we too can preach the Kingdom, we too can do amazing things “in His Name.”
But we do not boast in what we can say or do, or even see in this earth … with St. Paul we “boast in the cross of Christ.” For like Christ, we know that part of our experience includes suffering, and includes death … The true rejoicing comes in the knowledge that, IN HIM, our names are written in heaven. This is why we should always rejoice!
Deacon Santiago Molina