As we celebrate the wedding anniversaries (especially the 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 60th and beyond) of our brothers and sisters, we have an opportunity to reflect on the vocation of marriage. Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament; a sign of Christ's presence in the world. Just as Jesus laid down his life for us so that we may have eternal life, so a husband lays down his life for his wife, and a wife for her husband. Dying to oneself is not depressing or something to be avoided at all costs. Rather, it is the 'greatest love'; the way to eternal life with God.
Today's readings speak to the trials and difficulties that we experience every day. Often it seems that we can say with Job that our life doesn't appear to have any meaning. Jesus came to be like us in all things, however, and even though he took on our trials and infirmities, he never gave up hope. In fact, he came to bring hope to the world which "groans and struggles through time". The hope that we have in Christ Jesus is stored up for us in heaven. Knowing that God the Father is pleased to give us this gift makes us want to dedicate our lives to building up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
As we celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit with and for our brothers and sisters in the various branches of our state government, we pray for God's guidance in all things. Particularly, we ask for the gift of "Fear of the Lord", so that we may revere and adore God while remembering that we are called to do His will. Only when we 'get out of the way' and let God work through us with God be glorified in us and in our world as well.
The Gospel story of the healing of the paralytic teaches us the importance of interceding for others. Just as the friends of the paralytic brought him to Jesus so that he might be healed, so we bring our petitions and the needs of others to the Lord. This weekend we pray especially for the respect of all life -- from natural conception to a natural death. We will march, we will pray, and we will speak out. Today's Gospel reminds us, however, that before we do any of that we must ask God to hear our prayers. May God's will be done, and may Life, in all of its beautiful stages, be protected, defended, and celebrated.
We all know the story of the visit of the Magi, and it has many levels of meaning for us as Christians today. Isaiah's prophecy (which we hear in the first reading) reminds us to raise our eyes, for our redemption is at hand. The prophet speaks of the restoration of Jerusalem, and the promise that all nations shall stream toward it with their wealth and faith. This prophecy, perhaps directed at the time to the return from the Babylonian Exile, is yet to be fulfilled completely. We still await the day when all nations will seek and find the light of faith; when peace will truly reign in our hearts and in our world.
The last verse of today's Gospel gives us practically all the information we need on the early life of Jesus:
"[T]hey returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him" (Lk 2:39-40).
It is fitting that the Feast of the Holy Family be situated in the season of Christmas, for it underscores and reinforces our belief in the mystery of the Incarnation. As well it teaches us about the dignity of every family, including ours.
Jesus Christ is born for us this day! He shall be Emmanuel, a name which means, "God is with us". On this holy night all of creation celebrates the closeness of our God. There is no greater gift to give or receive than the very presence of Jesus Christ. Let us receive him with joy and then share the Good News with all we meet. God is with us. God is always with us.
Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, also called, "Gaudete Sunday". Gaudete is a Latin word that is translated, "rejoice". Why do we rejoice on this day, specifically, and what kind of rejoicing is in order? Today's homily takes on that question and reminds us to rejoice in light of our salvation that is to come.
Clearly, the message from Scriptures for all of us today comes from the words of Isaiah and St. John the Baptist: "Prepare the way of the Lord!" We all need to do this - literally - by making space in our hearts, homes, families, and our world for the Lord Jesus Christ. This begins with our repentance. We must first clear out sin and anything contrary to the Gospel in our own hearts, and they we must help others around us do the same. Come, Lord Jesus!
Today we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, and we join with the prophet Isaiah and people of all time who look to the heavens and cry, "Come, Lord Jesus!" We must prepare our hearts and our world for his coming, and we do that by doing the work he gave us: to teach all nations and to share the Good News.
(Video from a phone from a person in the congregation).
What is the Assumption, and why is it important for us? Why don't we go directly to Jesus Christ? Why do we talk about Mary and the saints so much? The saints are our friends in heaven, and just as we would ask friends and family members here on earth to pray for us, it makes sense that we would ask our friends in heaven to take our prayers to Jesus. Besides, as Mary herself said, "My soul magnifies the Lord!" So everything we give to Mary is magnified on it's way to her son.
Today's Gospel gives us the account of Jesus' Transfiguration. This mystery is important to us for so many reasons - most especially because it reminds us that Jesus is more than just a good (or even perfect) human being; he is the Son of God. As such, he has the authority and power to redeem us and open for us the way to Heaven. In addition, the vision of Jesus' divinity serves to remind us of our future glory: where he has gone, we hope to follow!
In the Gospel for today Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven, and that we should desire it more than anything (or anyone) on earth. It is the 'pearl of great price', the 'treasure buried in the field', in the words of Jesus. What is the Kingdom of Heaven and how can we obtain it? It is the realm of Jesus Christ, and we obtain it by accepting God's invitation to be faithful members of that realm. It is the Lord Jesus who calls us: "Come. Follow me."
Today's Gospel gives us the parable of the Sower and the Seed. Clearly, Jesus intends to teach us that we must be like the rich soil that welcomes and receives the seeds of God's Word, so that it may grow in us and produce an abundant harvest. Jesus also has a few other 'hidden seeds' in this parable, teaching us about how successful God's harvest will be, as well as how we can imitate God who loves and forgives without measure.
Today in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives us a beautiful invitation: "Come to me, all who labor and are weary, and I will give you rest." God constantly invites us to rest in the Sacred Heart of His Son. It is there that we find peace, compassion, mercy, and love.
En el evangelio, Jesús nos enseña la importancia de poner en el primer lugar nuestra relación con Dios. ¿Cómo pasamos las horas del día? Muy probablemente, pasamos más tiempo mirando a nuestro teléfono o televisión que en oración con Dios. Todos de nosotros, no impora nuestra vocación o estado de vida, podemos pasar más tiempo cada día en oración con Dios, y en prestar atención a nuestros familiares y nuestro próximo.
In the Gospel today Jesus challenges us to make sure that we are not putting anyone or anything before our relationship with God. We are to love God with our whole mind, our whole heart, and our whole being. A good exercise for us would be to look at where we spend our time, our money, our thoughts and our energy every day. Do we focus on the things of this world more than those of God and our neighbor? No matter what we do, all of us can safely say that we could be spending more time every day in prayer and attending to the needs of our brothers and sisters.
Jesus returns to two of his favorite "themes" in the Gospel today: "Be not afraid", and "God loves you". These are two messages that we hear over and over again in the Gospels and in the teaching of the Church. This is to be the theme of our preaching as well. After accepting and embracing the all-encompassing love that God has for us, we must set out boldly and share this love with the whole world.
Today's Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is yet another reminder that our God wants to share His life with us. In the Eucharist -- the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ -- we have the fullness of Christ's Presence and communion. We are thus brought into communion with our heavenly Father. Even if we don't understand this awesome mystery completely, may we receive Christ's Presence with joy, and may we share that presence with all we meet.
In celebrating God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we find that we learn something about ourselves at the same time. God has revealed Himself to us because He loves us, and He wishes to include us in the Divine Life through the Holy Spirit and the Church. We cannot just adore God who is "up there" or "out there"; we must show our love for the God whom we cannot see by loving those around us whom we can see.
Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit to his apostles with his breathe and a word of peace. This enables them -- and us -- to act and love and forgive in the name of Jesus himself. When he blesses the Sacred Chrism during the Chrism Mass, the diocesan bishop breathes on the oil and thus imitates Jesus' action in today's Gospel. When we are anointed with this oil in baptism, confirmation and ordination, we receive the breath of God and are thus sent to proclaim the Good News.
The Ascension of our Lord is a celebration of Easter. In his death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus brought salvation to the world. Even though we cannot separate these aspects of our redemption, it is helpful to isolate the Ascension for a moment to focus on what it means for us. In the Ascension, Jesus Christ takes our glorified nature into heaven. That means that a "part" of us already lives with the Father in heaven! What an amazing mystery. As St. Augustine wrote, "God became human so that humanity may become like God." Whereas in the Incarnation of Jesus, God took our flesh upon Himself, in the Ascension, God takes our flesh (with His divinity) into the realm of heaven. Alleluia!
If we knew that Jesus would be present physically at a certain location and at a certain time, we would do everything we could to go to that place to meet him. But we DO have Jesus with us -- at every Mass! Jesus comes to us in a very real way in Word and Sacrament every time we celebrate the Eucharist. Today in the Gospel of John, Jesus gives us more good news: He will send us the Holy Spirit, another Advocate, to help us to know, love, and serve God. Alleluia!
En el capítulo 14 del evangelio de San Juan, Jesús nos dice, "En la casa de mi Padre hay muchas habitaciones, ... yo voy a preparar un sitio para Usteds, y volveré y los llevaré conmigo, para que donde yo esté, estén tambien Ustedes." La imagen es muy hermosa, y esperamos un día vivir en la casa de nuestro Padre para la eternidad. Pero Jesús quiere vivir con nosotros ahora tambien. Él está con nosotros por su Espiritu Santo, por la iglesia, y por los sacramentos. Para Dios es posible estar en muchos lugares al mismo tiempo. Jesús está sentado a la derecha del Padre, pero está con nosotros intimamente tambien.
Today's Gospel (John 14) gives us a memorable and much-beloved example from Jesus. He tells us that there are many rooms in our Father's house, and that he is going to prepare a place for us, and then he will come back to take us with him. Of course, this makes us think about heaven and the glory that awaits us after our life on earth. But it also speaks to us about God's very presence with us here at this moment; at every moment. Jesus has gone to heaven not to abandon us; he is in fact closer to us now than our very breath. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes, "This is our faith and our joy."