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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

5th Sunday of Easter – C

I give you a new  Commandment, --that you love one another as I have loved you.
Today's  gospel again boils down to the topic of love.
Jesus reminds us today that His love is the hallmark of a Christian.  He gives us a new  Commandment  which itself is the pattern of love.

But is this something new? No not really.  We have not heard one sermon about this,  because we have life experiences in this matter.
Now, when we look again at these words we find that our love is to be the pattern of Christ's love. Love one another as I have loved you.

So we can ask what's new?

Surely the people before Christ had  love. They gave their lives for others, dedicated their lives.   
Not only Christ taught us to love our fellow man.

We also know how to love today. We love those who are related to us by blood and friendship. We love those who are friendly to us, who  have reached out  their hands to us in moments  when we needed them. We do not need to learn about love from  the Gospel. But usually our love is conditional, often sentimental like  the movies.
The news  of this Commandment is that Christ died  out of love for all.

The enemies and the friends.
For those who have  lived and for those who have just begun their lives. Jesus loves  every person unconditionally. Our love is conditional and, unfortunately, often sentimental.
With this  Commandment, thanks to the unfathomable love of Christ for us, His death  gave us the seed of a new love.

So we have a duty to love every human being. Of course, it will never be an emotional  love  as with loved ones but to love others is to wish them the things  we expect from life. Love of neighbor, is primarily a desire for their good, an ordinary human kindness, respect, honesty to  our fellow man.

We need to know that this new and unconditional love, will cost us a lot.  It will now hurt and often not  be understood by others. But through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 
We read in the Acts of the Apostles...
Let us love each other, our first task, the hallmark of our Christianity. With love we do the simplest daily activities. 
Remember that the we are called to love.

Fr. Tom

Saturday, April 20, 2013

4th Sunday of Easter

My sheep listen to  My voice, and I know them. They follow  Me and I give them eternal life.
The readings today show us what it means that Jesus is our shepherd, but they also reveal the truth of what it means to be a sheep and how to look like a man for whom Jesus is the guide.

First of all, people who decide to follow the Shepherd and obey His voice  must know that they may be crticized, ridiculed, judged and even persecuted. But it is precisely in this way in which we aim for our goal of salvation.  
Following Christ is not and never will be easy,  as it has enumerable obstacles.
We live in a country in which there is religious tolerance. But we know that nowadays there is a persecution of Christians in 70 countries of the world.  In the twentieth century, every day about 1,250 Christians were killed about 460 thousand per year. So persecution has not ended. The world is  struggling with God and His followers all the time.
Despite this, Jesus has not changed his Gospel and  He further reaffirms its words with who ever follows Him and listens  to His voice will change his life dramatically.

Can I say that today the Lord is my  Shepherd and I shall not want?
Is it true he is able to give me what I need to live in the twenty-first century?
Surely you can go to Christ by selectively choosing what you want to hear.  No, I am not able to face the world  that tries at all costs to create a false image of faith and the commandments for selfish benefits. Where sin and evil ceases to be merely human weakness.

Many times we hear that surely the church should  move forward and  be progressive on a  number of moral issues. That the church  should be more open to man today because  we  cannot live the same radical commandments  as in the time of Christ.

Yet, God clearly says that we have only  to listen to His voice and we will go a long way towards eternity. 
Unfortunately, we cannot trust only our instincts and rely on our experiences because we need a solid foundation upon which to live.

Yes, some say that God is merciful and always ready to forgive.
But  what about the man who with a life time of premeditation selects only those commandments that are comfortable, easy to follow, that do not require sacrifices does he deserve the mercy of God?

The problem is that by selecting our own way we can never meet God who is ready to forgive  us.
And where do we stand?
On the side of Jesus, or the hypocrisy of the world.?
On the side of life or death?
Who do we listen to more?
Jesus, who demands a lot from us, which might discourage us down the road? Or maybe the promises  of those who require little from us.
Following Christ we must always choose the path of man. An uphill path where there will be an elevator or escalators which gives us the world. This way we only need to move on with our Shepherd.
Let us give  Jesus the permission to show us how to  surrender to Him, for then, He will show us the way to  eternal life.

 – Fr. Tom

Sunday, April 14, 2013

III Easter Sunday - C

Simon, son of John, do you love me? You know everything, you know that I love YOU - Peter responded.

Certainly, if Jesus asked today - Do you love me? Our answer would be the same: Lord you know everything you know I love you.
And there is a lot of truth in that.
Our presence here in the church is a public profession of our love for God. Our prayer, our fraternal help for another person and to trust our attempts, also confirms this.
Why does God, from time to time, ask us to love Him?
Not like Peter three times, but through whole of our live?
Is once not enough?
It appears that not.
We are people who often fall in love. We fall in love with another person, fall in love with our talents, fall in love with whatever we have. Normally, we would not change our lives but for a loved one we sacrifice everything. Time, skills, money. Silently counting on this love, to be returned to us as a reciprocated love. 

When our love is not understood by another and not reciprocated, we pull back. Very often we give up too early, because we see that it was not love but infatuation. Then we fall into gloom, and despair and ask ourselves - why does the other person not see our love?

A similar situation may occur in our relationship with God.
Many of us can confirm our love and devotion to God. Especially in the solemn moments of our lives: when we receive the sacraments, in the solemn moments of the liturgy of the church.

How strong is our love and faith at Christmas and Easter?
How strong we feel when we have faith that God hears our prayers and they impact our life as we want them to?   When we are not missing anything, when we are happy because our children are our friends, we call out ..."God loves us".

But the situations in our life do not look so colorful when we start to doubt whether in fact we are  loved very much by beloved Father. 

Are we sure He sees our efforts?

St. Peter affirmed his love for Jesus and for this love he was paid by death.

Well we know that love very often requires sacrifices. We can only say after years if it was a great and lasting love. Only when we decide to commit to someone can we see the everyday reality of life to be able to overcome the problems and to be able to say I love you, I love you now, I love you still and I will not stop loving you.

Our God is asking from time to time for our love for Him. He wants to eliminate our temporary fascination with love. While waiting for our answer, He wants to be treated exactly the same as those which we love.

People with whom we live and for whom we are able to devote our lives. Do not expect flowers, gifts, and other examples of love from God, for when we begin to live with Him, as in our common everyday life we affirm our words..."Lord you know that I love You."

Fr. Thomas

Monday, April 08, 2013

Annunciation 2013

 When the angel came to Mary, she certainly felt in  her heart great anxiety.  An  unknown creature talking to her about things that she never would have expected. Her answer and consent to the plan of God had to be a big puzzle and had to be questionable.

We can only imagine what Mary felt, and thought. But on the other hand, how great must have been the faith of this woman, completely resigned to their plans, to keep the promise made to somebody who loves you. Somebody who is thinking humanly, shattered her life and erected a very difficult job to do.
How great had to be her humility because from that moment  nothing mattered to her but  a human  desire to fulfill God's plan.

How great must have been  this love since the threshold of her adult life  reigned  from the beautiful flesh of human love and spiritual love,  she devoted  herself to  her God. These are the effects of total entrustment to God of life.
When today we are faced with the mystery of the Annunciation we want  to settle accounts with our attachment to God's plans.

How many times have we promised entire confidence and to give our life to Him?  But, as a result it turns out that we can not do that. It looks a little as if, that life goes its own path and our own faith also .Often we think that God is not able to guarantee our everyday existence.

Is it possible today  that a man can give himself completely to God? Seems not.
We have too much to lose.
When we look at the life stories of people who have said yes to God, we see they left everything and started a new life.
Can we afford such a gesture?

You do not have to wait long for an answer because the heart tells us -  I am  afraid. We can not endlessly promise God something we can not do or what we are not yet ready to do.  Looking at Mary I admire her and I think that not many of us would have survived,  and I ask that she help us during our lives to prepare for such a gesture. It helps us to evaluate  ourself and see how far we are from God and His plans for us.
And FIAT let her quiet  holiness  slowly but surely prepare  our souls so that  when the day  comes,  we will want to return to God, to do his will and sing "God I come to do Your will"

Fr.  Tom

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday 2103

Over the last 9 days, the church has been preparing for todays feast....Divine Mercy Sunday, established by Pope John Paul 2nd.

This Sunday we open our hearts to the healing action of the love of God. None of us can say that,.. "I do not need Mercy."

Very often we learn in the media about disasters, and their victims. However, as it turns out, the more information we get the more we become immune. Yes, we can afford gestures of solidarity, and as a gesture of Mercy, we say we can afford to help the victims materially. But, what good is all this if we have a closed heart? It probably has nothing to do with the Mercy that God offers us. For Mercy, which God wants to teach us, is opening up to the man in need, the spiritually blind, the depressed, and those seeking only love.
This opening will also help us find each other, and, as Francis, our Holy Father said at the beginning of his Pontificate,.... to believe that God will never tire of forgiveness. The problem is that it must parallel our asking Him for forgiveness. We are able to become people of Mercy but only with God's help.

We understand God's Mercy only.... when our lives of charity will be visible. We will be merciful only.... if it is a Mercy for us, asked by the whole world. We do not doubt the fact that we can be merciful. Sister Faustina wrote: The biggest sinner can become a saint, because of the greatness in the power of God's grace. It depends on us not to resist the action of God.

Pope Francis said: "Only someone who has experienced Mercy , who has suffered a tender caress of Mercy is happy before God."

Today, let us hear the following words which Sister Faustina once heard: "Try to see to it that everybody after meeting with us, can go away happy. Spread the "smell" of happiness around you, even if they can only touch your robes. Remember well these words, which at this moment I am speaking to you."

Perhaps many of us lack the strength for our everyday life. The problems are getting heavier. Maybe we cannot cope with the problems. Maybe we should stop to think about God as a loving Father. Maybe we do not believe in His help and forgiveness. This day is just for you....Time to trust in Jesus...Time to believe in the impossible. This, together with St. Thomas we say: "My Lord and My God."

Sisters and brothers, believe in the words spoken to Sister Faustina: "I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, especially for poor sinners. Believe in the incredible power of these beautiful words: "Jesus, I Trust in You."

Jesus, we trust that our community will be a true family in which we will learn that Mercy. A Mercy we will experience and share.

Fr. Tom