The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time 2007 - Cycle C

Introduction: Who will be saved? For most of us, that means who will be in heaven? Will you or I be in heaven? These are the kinds of questions that Jesus generally dislikes. Instead, Jesus invites us to follow Him. If we trust Him and try to follow Him, then we don’t get concerned about who will be saved. Our concern is simply trying to follow the Lord.

Penitential Rite: In the Gospel for today, Jesus encourages us to strive to enter the narrow gate to salvation. Let us open ourselves to receive the graces He is offering to help us in our fight against weaknesses and failures …

• Lord Jesus, trough your passion and death, you open for us the door to salvation - Lord, have mercy,
• Christ Jesus, at the Eucharist you invite all to your heavenly banquet – Christ, have mercy,
• Lord Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance, you forgive us our sins – Lord have mercy,

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and brig us to everlasting life. Amen.

FIRST READING - Isaiah 66:18-21
Thus says the LORD: I know their works and their thoughts, and I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their offering to the house of the LORD in clean vessels. Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

SECOND READING - Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Brothers and sisters, you have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges." Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

GOSPEL Cycle C - Luke 13:22-30
Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.' And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."


For the question asked by some of His disciples: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” Jesus answered , “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” In the gospel of St. Matthew Jesus adds: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Mt 7,13-14)

It seems that this is the reality of our contemporary world. “Keep smiling, take it easy …. Jesus will certainly save you because He loves you.” – It seems to be the most popular philosophy of many of our brothers and sisters, Christians and even Catholics. We are very often convinced that to enter heaven it’s enough for us to go to Sunday Mass on a regular basis and to give our Sunday collection, or eventually to give up some minor weaknesses or faults."

Someone once asked me if he could keep chewing tobacco and go to heaven. I thought for a second and I said, "Yes, but you will have to go to hell to spit."

This humorous story illustrates an important point: Certain things are incompatible with heaven. Chewing tobacco, of course, is somewhat a silly example. But there are more serious things we have to give up if we are going to enter heaven.

The seven capital sins pretty well sum up what we have to renounce:
- lust,
- anger,
- gluttony,
- laziness,
- envy,
- greed
- and above all, pride or arrogance. Those sins have no place in heaven.

And this is the small gate and a narrow road we have to find and try to enter through.

But don’t be too sure and certain of your salvation, because as Saint Augustine said: “God prepares for each of us three great surprises for the future life:
- the first will be that we will be surprised seeing there people who, according to our judgment, shouldn’t be there – namely, in heaven,
- the second one is that we will be startled to not see there the people who, according to our convictions, should be there – namely, in hell :-) (the first will be the last and the last will be the first)
- but the biggest will be our surprise that we are there … for example in ….. (??????????????)

Intercessions: Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church that, in a spirit of true reconciliation, we all may be one. Grant that every member of your Church may truly and humbly serve you, and may glorify your name and that of your Son Jesus.

Father, we thank you for making us members of your family. As you hear our prayers, May we extend your goodness to all our brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

XX Sunday in Ordinary Time 18/19. 08. 2007

Introduction: “I have come to set the earth on fire” says Jesus in today’s Gospel. The fire is Jesus Christ’s own passion and love. But there is a question: “Is my faith also a fire of passion and love of God or only a simple, effortless custom, trouble-free routine or maybe a search for a comfortable Christianity?”
At the beginning of this Eucharistic Celebration we have to recognize that very often we search this kind of “relaxed Catholicism”.

• Lord Jesus, you came to set the earth on fire, Lord, have mercy
• Christ Jesus, you are the ultimate revelation of God, Christ, have mercy
• Lord Jesus, you didn’t search for comfort but you were searching the truth, Lord, have mercy

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and brig us to everlasting life. Amen.

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Psalm 40: 2-4, 18; Hebrews 12:1-4; St. Luke 12: 49-53

Jeremiah had been called to be a prophet from his mother's womb. He was the prophet at the Kings court. He should have been held with the deepest respect. But he refused to butter up the king by just telling the king what he and the people wanted to hear. Because Jeremiah stood for the truth, he was berated and mocked. In today's reading he was thrown into a cistern where he would have died if the King had not stood up against his own counselors and saved Jeremiah's life. Jeremiah's life should have been wonderful, beautiful, full of honor. But being true to the Word of God resulted in his being treated with contempt.

The persecution which Jeremiah experienced was something that afflicted all the prophets due to their determination to stand up for God's word, to stand for what was right and good and true, no matter what others would say about them or do to them.

Grounded in reality, our faith tells us that it is difficult to stand for what is right and true. It is difficult to stand for the Lord because we will be persecuted and mocked. Sometimes even by our own family, or members of the same community. Because what the contemporary world is searching for, is not the truth but the comfort and easiness and freedom without truth.

This is what Jesus did. He stood for the truth and was put to death. But he was not going to compromise the Word of the Father. If this meant denouncing the leaders of the Temple, he would do so. If this meant criticizing his closest followers, he would do so. If this meant journeying to Jerusalem where he knew he would die, he would do so.

It is in this context that we can understand the difficult gospel for this Sunday. The grim things predicted. The strife and the sword that the Lord's presence in the world will instill, results from the truth we try to stand for.

Consider the young people of our parish those who refuse to go along with the drinking and drugs, how they will be mocked and ridiculed.

Consider the parents of our parish. They will be criticized for setting moral standards within their homes. Perhaps even their own children will tell them that they need to get real and allow them to go along with what everyone else's parents allow them to do, and what is in reality just contemporary immorality. Many of the parents of our parish will have to put up a terrible struggle to stand for what is right and true in their own homes, with their own children. But living for the Lord is worth the struggle.

The readings for today are clear and grounded in reality. Life is full of challenges and struggles. And the greatest of these challenges are rooted in our standing for what is right and true, standing for God. But each challenge met, each crisis overcome, forms each of us into more loving people. And this is the fire Jesus is talking about I today’s Gospel.

JESUS MAKES two important statements in today's Gospel.
a. "I have come to bring fire on the earth."
This is not the fire of destruction, the fire that ravages rain forests every year.It is the fire of heat and light.t is the fire that cleanses and purifies.
It is the fire of God's presence, as in the burning bush that Moses saw, as in the pillar of fire that accompanied the Israelites in the desert, as in the tongues of fire at Pentecost where the bringing of fire was mandated to the disciples, to the Church, to all of us.
As a purifying fire it can also bring pain and purification but it ultimately leads to conversion and liberation.

"I have come not to bring peace but division." This is a statement that critics of religion would cynically agree with. Religion is seen by many as a major source of division, suffering, and war in our world. In our own times we have only to look at the Middle East (Jews and Muslims), the former Yugoslavia (Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims), India (Hindus and Muslims and Christians), Northern Ireland (Catholics and Protestants).

But to others it is a very puzzling, even alarming, statement. It seems to contradict the whole message of the Gospel. At the Last Supper Jesus told his disciples that he was giving them peace, a peace that the world could not give, a peace that no one could take away from them. We call Jesus the Prince of Peace. In the Beatitudes we read, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God". They especially are the ones who do the work of God - and of Jesus. In the letter to the Ephesians, Jesus is called our peace, breaking down the walls that divide peoples. "By this will all know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another." In the contemporary world we are living this kind of division because of the Truth which is Jesus Christ. Should we thus, search rather for a comfortable and relaxed Christianity, to be politically correct?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

19th Sunday of ordinary time - C - AUGUST 12, 2007

First reading - Wisdom 18:6-9
Second reading - Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Gospel - Luke 12:32-48

Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. "Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.

Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." Then Peter said, "Lord, is this parable meant for us or for veryone?" And the Lord replied, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant's master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."


Sigmund Freud, a famous Austrian neurologist, had a favorite story that touches on the point of preparedness. The story concerns a sailor who was shipwrecked and washed ashore on a South Pacific island.

He was greeted enthusiastically by natives. They clapped and sang, hoisted him on their shoulders, carried him to their village, and sat him on a golden throne. Little by little, the sailor learned what was going on. The islanders had a custom of occasionally making a man king for a year. During his kingship he could order his subjects to do anything within reason, and they would obey him without question.

The sailor was delighted that he had been chosen to be the king. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. Then one day he began to wonder what happened to a king when his year of kingship ended.

That’s when his excitement and enthusiasm came to an abrupt end. He discovered that at the end of his kingship, he would be banished to a barren island, called King’s Island. There he would be left to starve to death as a sacrifice to the gods. After the sailor recovered from his shock, he slowly began to put together a plan. As king, he ordered the carpenters of the island to build a fleet of small boats. When the boats were ready, he ordered the farmers of the island to dig up fruit trees and plants, put them in the boats, and transplant them on King’s Island. Finally, he ordered the stone masons to build a house on King’s Island. In this way, the sailor prepared carefully for the day when his kingship would end and he would be banished to King’s Island.
That story makes a good illustration of what Jesus is telling us in today’s gospel.
In the words of Jesus, elsewhere in the gospel, he is telling us to “save your riches in heaven, where they will never decrease, because no thief can get to them,
and no moth can destroy them.” He’s telling us to do what the sailor did.
Today’s gospel invites us to ask ourselves how well we are preparing ourselves for that day when, like the sailor in the story, our life on this planet will come to an end. It invites us to ask ourselves, “If we were to die tonight, how ready would we be to face God?’’
And if our answer to that question leaves something to be desired, then we can be sure
that Jesus is speaking to us in a special way through today’s gospel. He is saying:

“Be . . . like servants who are waiting
for their master to come back. . . .
And you, too, must be ready,
because the Son of man will come at an hour
when you are not expecting him.”

Sunday, August 05, 2007

18th Sunday of the Year - 05 August 2007

Gospel - Lk 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21–23; Colossians 3:1–5, 9–11; Luke 12:13–21

Years ago a Chicago restaurant had specially printed place mats at all its tables. The mats were designed exclusively for the restaurant. And if you asked the waitress, she’d give you one to take home, frame, and hang on your wall. Let me share with you the wording that appeared on those mats. It went something like this:

“In 1923 an important meeting took place at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel.

Attending the meeting were the following men:

• the president of the largest steel company,
• the president of the largest utility company,
• the president of the largest gas company,
• the president of the New York Stock Exchange,
• the president of the Bank of International Settlements,
• the greatest wheat speculator,
• the greatest bear on Wall Street,
• the head of the world’s greatest monopoly,
• a member of President Harding’s cabinet.

That’s a pretty impressive lineup of people. Yet, 25 years later, where were those nine industrial giants?
According to the story on the place mat,

• the president of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died bankrupt;
• the president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died penniless;
• the president of the largest gas company, Howard Hobson, had gone insane;
• the president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was just released from prison;
• the bank president, Leon Fraser, died a suicide;
• the wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died penniless;
• the Wall Street bear, Jesse Livermore, died a suicide;
• the head of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Kruegar, died a suicide;
• the member of President Harding’s cabinet, Albert Fall, was just given a pardon from prison so that he could die at home.

That story dramatizes -as few stories can- the point behind today’s Scripture readings. And what is that point?
It is summed up perfectly in Jesus’ parable of the foolish farmer.

Contrary to what some people think, in this parable Jesus isn’t knocking the acquisition of wealth. He isn’t knocking private enterprise. What he is knocking is the foolish idea that some people have of placing greater importance on laying up material treasures than on laying up spiritual treasures.
How does one calculate one’s wealth? Usually we calculate it by checking how much we have, but the saints tell us we should calculate it by checking how much we have given away.

You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life.

No serious person can read today’s Scripture readings without asking the question: “What have I done with my life?