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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

III Ordinary Sunday – 26-27 January, 2008


After his preaching, Jesus finds the first partners for his work. They are not Pharisees or Scribes, not scholars or influential members of the community but fishermen, who may have been quite illiterate.

It is significant that the call takes place right in their working place. The initiative for the call comes from Jesus. "I chose you, you did not choose me."

For them it means a metanoia, a complete break in their lifestyle. There is a complete letting go. "Immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus." They put their total trust in Jesus, leaving behind their only means of livelihood, not knowing where it would all lead. Jesus himself had already taken this step in leaving Nazareth, his family and his livelihood as a carpenter.

From now on their life would consist not in worrying what they could get and keep but in service to their brothers and sisters, especially those in greatest need.
Peter and Andrew, James and John hear the call of the Lord, drop everything and follow him. They were not the sort of people who anyone would suspect of being religious. They were common, everyday people, fishermen. They were not the sort of people anyone would suspect could convince others to change their lives. They were common, everyday people, fishermen. They were not the sort of people that anyone would suspect could take the position of leadership in the conversion of the world. They were common, everyday people, fishermen. But they were called. They responded. And God worked his wonders through them.

This Sunday’s readings have led me to a reflection on the vocation to the priesthood and religious life. I wish I could find a way to communicate to you and particularly to our young people my feelings about the priesthood. For me, the priesthood is the greatest life possible. I certainly that our married and our single can also say, “For me, this is the greatest life possible.” Back to the priesthood, though. Sometimes I’m called upon in emergency situations to bring the sacraments to a person I have never met. If I only did that once in my life, my life would be have meaning and purpose, but this is an everyday event for a priest.

The ancient Hebrews of the psalms and wisdom literature spoke about their longing to sit at the gates of the city and meditate on Scripture. The priest is obliged to do this every day and every week. We pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which is basically psalms and readings from scripture. We prepare homilies. Sometimes we need a break from preaching. Sometimes you need a break from our preaching. But it is a wonderful life to be obligated to spend so much time with the Word of God.

Then there is the Mass. The Mass! One of my main motivation to become a priest was to be able to celebrate Mass. It is beyond my imaging that God would allow human beings to act in his person and recreate the offering of his Son at the Last Supper and on the Cross, but that is what happens every time the priest celebrates Mass.

Vocational story - one simple “Our Father” every day

Somehow at the beginning of the 19 century
A young man, who would like to be a priest … but he met a young, beautiful girl …
Pretty normal story of the young boys who think sometimes about the vocation, but …

They get married.
Few years later they have already some children …
- He started to regret that he didn’t realize his first vocation …
But he cannot change anything … they get more and more children but his wife saw that he is not happy in the marriage
Why? He told her … what his grudge was? She proposed a very simple thing
Lest us pray everyday one “Our Father” for the vocation of one of our children
They prayed for the years and the years adding always one simple Our Father in a special intention …. The children were coming and praying with them …

Many years later the father was dying and at the bad of the dying father all children gathered.
The oldest one got the courage to ask a question

What for we were praying always in the evening as a last prayer of every day?

Father said what the intention of this one simple prayer was.

All were amazed because at the dying father’s bed were present 3 religious sisters, 4 priests, one bishop and one – the oldest one among the siblings - cardinal … 9 out of 13 children God called to his service .

Maybe this is the solution for the shortage of priests in Canadian church?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

13.01. 2008 – Baptism of Christ

Baptism of Christ reminds us about our Baptism, about our dignity as the children of God, but also about our obligations …

Penitential: Let us recognize that very often I spoil and ruin my dignity of the child of God and I forget my obligations. I confess …

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

Reading I - Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm - Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Reading II - Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

Gospel - Mt 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”


Home made religion

John the Baptist was a very fierce man. This might be what you would expect of a man who lived most of his life in the desert. He knew all about hardship and he had the marks of penance on his body. Much of his message was taken up in condemnation, condemnation of those living a life of luxury and giving no thought to the life of the Spirit.

But if John was so fierce why did so many people come to him, people from all over Palestine? If I preached fierce condemnatory sermons each week you would soon get fed up, so why did the people flock to hear John.

They came because he had a message of hope and truth. Yes, he was fierce, but he was also truthful. He tapped into something deep inside each person. He knew that each one of us is profoundly aware of their own guilt and wants to repent and he drew this out.

But he was also able to tell them that one of their deepest yearnings was also about to be filled, a Savior was about to come. One who would reach out to them with the hand of healing and Salvation. They came to John because he had a message of hope and Truth, and the hope he pointed to Jesus Who is the Truth.

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus asked John to baptism him "to fulfill all righteousness." The words "to fulfill all righteousness" meant to live by God's will, to do all God commands.

The baptism of Christ reminds us about our own baptism. At his baptism, God identified Jesus as his "beloved son." At our baptism, we become sons and daughters of God, identified as "Christian." We have no more noble title. Jesus became the suffering servant. We are called to serve. We have no more noble task than to do God's will, to serve others, to do all God commands.

And what indeed we do with our baptism, with our faith, with our moral obligations?

Famous German theologian Karl Rahner in his book “Foundation of faith” writes:

“True religion, as a religion of the transcendental God and not the religion of my own subjective imagination cannot be rooted only in my subjectivity or depend only on my individual projection. It has to be a religion of objective and indisputable moral and ethical values rooted ultimately in God, Who is always out of me and finally out of my understanding. If the religion is only an expression and interpretation of my personal understanding and my private acceptation, it is always subjective and week, and finally it is a kind of home made religion. And what is the value of such a home made religion? The value of such a home made religion is the same as the value the home made currency. Means null, literally zero!!”

And this is what we precisely do nowadays with our baptism. We create a kind of home made religion, which is absolutely subjective and depending only on my private acceptation and rejection depending on my private and subjective caprices.

Very often contemporary Christians see the religion rather as merchandise in the supermarket. Many people declare their adherence to the Catholic Church, but they “privatize” faith making it “more human, soft and flexible.” They accept God as long as He is obedient to them, accommodating, submissive and yielding to their desires.

They say I believe in God, I believe that God exists but I don’t believe God, I don’t trust Him, I don’t accept all or at least some commencements. Their decisions are not an effect of the commandments of God and the teaching of the Church but their personal convictions, they agree that robbery is a sin, but they reject for example the moral teaching in the domain of sexuality.

Sociologist Chuck Colson, who has examined this trend, says that "instead of adhering to a specific set of doctrines, they feel free to pick and choose from all the various belief systems, or to create their own tailor-made religion."

This is dangerous ground. The true believer knows that Jesus Christ is the only way to God (Acts 4:12), and that the Bible, God's inspired Word, is the only true source of instruction (2 Timothy 3:15-16). The true believer knows also that sin is a terrible reality and not only the invention of some ultra superstitious priests. They know that: “Whoever says, ‘I know God’, but does not obey His commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist” (1 John 2:4)

All beliefs and practices relating to spirituality must be based on biblical truth—not on how appealing they may sound. Don't trust a homemade religion that contains a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Make your faith all about Jesus, and test everything by God's Word which was given to the Church “knowing this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20).

So, what did I do with my Baptism? Do I live by God's will, do I follow all God commandments or rather my personal, tailor-made caricature of faith?

Prayer of the faithful:

Almighty God, our Father, we know that your truth is revealed in your Son Jesus Christ, but very often we reject Him as your revelation, give us please the grace of the ultimate recognition of the Truth revealed in Christ and given to us trough the Church.

May the incarnation and Baptism of your Son Jesus Christ be for us always a source and example of our personal obedience to your commandments and may it reminds us of our dignity of the children of God. We ask this trough Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen

Monday, January 07, 2008


Introduction: During these past several weeks of Advent we have been conscious of Christ’s light penetrating our darkened world. We have celebrated God’s grace manifested through his Son, Jesus, and gloried in this heavenly visitation. In the book On Being Human, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen explains, “But Christmas is not a man making himself a god, but God becoming a man, without ever ceasing to be God. In the first instance, there is exaltation or self-inflation by which man makes himself what he is not. In the second instance, there is humiliation, for God takes on the form and habit of man.” What a glorious truth!

Penitential rite: Let us recognize our sins and ask God for pardon and forgiveness

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

Isaiah 60, 1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3, 2-3.5-6; Matthew 2, 1-12

Solemnity of the Epiphany – means Revelation

Artaban’s gift
The greatest gift to the King of Kings is the gift of a life of faithful love and service.

There’s a story called “The Other Wise Man’’ by Henry van Dyke.

It’s about a fourth person who is supposed to accompany the other three wise men on their journey to search for the newborn King. The name of the person is Artaban. As Artaban prepares for the journey, he takes with him a bag of precious stones to give to the baby King. On his way to join the other three wise men, Artaban stops to help a poor person. The delay is just enough to make him miss his rendezvous with the others.

Artaban never does catch up with them. He constantly runs into people who need help. And he always stops to help them. Eventually, Artaban gives away all his precious stones. As the story ends, Artaban is old and poor. He never realized his dream to meet the King of Kings and place at his feet his gift of precious stones.

The story of “The Other Wise Man’’ could end here. And if it did, it would be a sad story. It would be the story of a man who never realized his one big dream. But the story doesn’t end here.

One day Artaban is in Jerusalem. The city is buzzing with excitement. Authorities are about to execute a criminal. When Artaban sees the criminal, his heart skips a beat. Something tells him this is the King of Kings for whom he has been searching all his life. Artaban is heartbroken at what he sees. He is even more heartbroken when he sees he can do nothing to help the King. Then something remarkable happens. Artaban hears the King’s voice say to him:
“Don’t be brokenhearted, Artaban.
You’ve been helping me all your life.
When I was hungry, you gave me food.
When I was thirsty, you gave me drink.
When I was naked, you clothed me.
When I was a stranger, you took me in.’’

The story of Artaban is the story of many people in our world. Like Artaban, they begin life with the dream of doing something great. But as time passes, circumstances beyond their control interfere with their dream. Eventually it disappears.

The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us that we all have a gift we can give to the King of Kings. And the story of “The Other Wise Man’’ reminds us that our gift is far more precious than those of the other three wise men. Our gift is not a one-time gift of gold, frankincense, or myrrh. It’s a full-time gift of love and service. Some people may consider us foolish for giving this gift. But that’s only because they don’t know the end of the story. The story will end with Jesus saying to us what he said to Artaban:

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father!
Come and possess the kingdom
which has been prepared for you
ever since the creation of the world.
“I was hungry and you fed me,
thirsty and you gave me a drink;
I was a stranger
and you received me in your homes . . .
“I tell you, whenever you did this
for one of the least . . . of mine,
you did it for me!” (Matthew 25:34–35, 40)