The Third Sunday of Advent

3rdsund.advent-wreate

Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Gospel  MT 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out?  To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

 

Reflection

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete: Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. The Latin words from the introit for this third Advent Sunday give this Sunday its name: Gaudete Sunday. Many parishioners will ask, “Why is the priest wearing pink?” First, the color is not pink but rose, not that that makes a lot of difference! More to the point is the significance of the color. Advent’s liturgical color is purple. White, as a liturgical color, symbolizes joy, as when we celebrate Christmas and Easter. On this Sunday we are invited to experience the joy of anticipating the coming of our savior. White, when added to Advent’s purple, yields the rose color (okay: pink!) of this day. But this Sunday has more significance than a mere color change.

Advent’s four weeks of preparation corresponds with the hectic preparations and commercial bombardment many of us experience in our culture’s mad dash to Christmas. It is easy to get caught up in the culture’s focus on consumerism and setting out decorations. Advent invites us to live this time from a different perspective.

As Catholic Christians, we are invited to step away from the culture’s hustle and bustle and to make Advent’s four weeks a time of intentional prayerful spiritual preparation to celebrate our Lord’s coming among us. We are to be, in a word, countercultural. Gaudete Sunday’s call to rejoice is an invitation to see Advent as a countercultural time.

How can we, as Catholics, be countercultural amid our consumerist society? Use Advent as a time to get closer to those you love: your spouse, children parents, and others in your family you may not have spoken to in awhile. It’s nice to think of and anticipate giving them gifts but take time to see in each of them – even the difficult ones – the gift they are to you and rejoice that God has given them to you as a gift.

Take a few moments each day to rejoice in the ways you are and can be a gift to others: your family and friends, your neighbors and coworkers and even the strangers you encounter each day. Make time to see and appreciate the little things that remind you of God’s presence in your life: the beauty of nature, the wonder of friendship, the peace of quiet time, and Christ’s eucharistic presence at Mass. In these rejoice: they are reminders that the Lord is near.

Advent is a time of renewal and growth. It is a way to fulfill Isaiah’s admonition to “strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, [and] say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!”

As we await his coming in glory, Christ comes to us not simply as a babe in a manger long ago but also in the person of others we encounter each day. As we see Christ in them, rejoice, be strong, fear not and know that the Lord is near.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, in all times of our anxiety and confusion, of distraction and haste, may your Spirit’s presence guide and protect us, bring calm and peace amidst confusion and despair, and strengthen us in our weakness that we may have the grace to see you ever-present in the world around us, in those most dear to us and in those whose presence challenges us most: that in them we may know your humble presence and rejoice that you are always near. We ask this in the name of him who humbled himself to become one of us and whose coming we await with joy, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Joseph Harmon

Pastor, The Oratory of St. Thomas à Becket

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

elijah-the-prophet

Reading 1         SIR 48:1-4, 9-11

In those days,
like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
and who falls asleep in your friendship.

Gospel              MT 17:9A, 10-13

As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Reflection:

Today’s instruction in the Book of Sirach speaks about the prophet Elijah and all his mighty works as the Prophet of the Lord God. He was a prophet on fire for his Lord and Master and tirelessly performed all that God required of him. At the end of his life, he was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was said that one day Elijah would return as he had left to make things right once and for all. Ben Sira, the author of the Book of Sirach, catalogs the mighty works, the great signs Elijah worked in the name of God. To this day, at Passover, one seat is left empty for Elijah—such was the greatness of God’s prophet.

In today’s gospel, Jesus acknowledges Elijah’s greatness, but suggests that one greater than Elijah has already returned in the person of John the Baptist. Like Elijah, like all the prophets, John acted as the conscience of an evil King. He eclipses Elijah because he announces the coming of the Christ, the one who would take away the sin of the world. Unlike Elijah, John was not saved from those who hated him. He preached of conversion of hearts and baptized converts in the Jordan—even Jesus himself. Once Jesus comes John realizes that “He must increase. I must decrease.” He is imprisoned by Herod and is beheaded for the amusement of Salome. John is silenced, but the goodness of his life and words would not be extinguished. His heart’s fire burned to the end and for that John is greater than all who had preceded him—even Elijah. Our road, our own purpose may not be that of Elijah or John the Baptist, but we too through our baptisms are prophets and our lives need to be spent being the message God has written into our hearts for the sake of others, no matter its cost.

Prayer

Father in heaven, may your will for our lives be done in us. May we always be open to your touch, as was Elijah and John the Baptist. Help us to remain faithful to our baptismal call.  Enflesh the message you have written in us for the service of others, especially now as we reflect on Jesus’ coming in history. We ask this through Jesus, your Son.

Mthr. Phyllis McHugh

Pastor, St. Thomas More

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

424

Gospel: MT 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

REFLECTION

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is talking about the people of his time and how they keep looking for the perfect excuse to willingly and capriciously ignore the signs of wisdom. This Gospel reading is a perfect example of what the Advent season is about, a call to discover one’s self and his/her environment again and while contemplating the mystery of the incarnation and the second coming of our Lord, JesusChrist.

In life, we all have many opportunities to taste, smell, touch, see and hear God in everything that surround us. Opportunities that can be totally ignored or overseen due to many reason like priorities, egos, fears, business, distractions among others. However, Jesus is calling us to stop for a moment and open ourselves to those opportunities.

One may think that I am talking about supernatural experiences, spiritual trances or exaltations. No, I am talking about simple things that allow us to connect with the divine, a conversation with a friend, a kiss to a loved one, an opportunity to get to know a new person, a playful moment with a pet, a moment of silence, or the contemplation of nature. Every single moment in our life is an opportunity to discover the divine and it is only up to us if we allow that encounter.

PRAYER

O God, you that designed the perfect plan of salvation for your children, allow us to discover your presence in our lives daily, so that when we get to meet you face to face, on an eternal gaze of love, we may be able to recognize you with all our senses.

Rev. Fr. Julian Garcia-Londono

Pastoral Associate – St. Anthony de Padua American National Catholic Church

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

guadalupe_12december

Gospel: LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
Reflection
When I was first ordained, I was fortunate to take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Among the many places we visited was Nazareth, where Jesus grew up.  There is a beautiful church called the Church of the Annunciation.  When you walk in, you will see many different mosaics on the walls about Mary. She is depicted in each mosaic as you would see her in that native country.  For example, Portugal would show her as Our Lady of Fatima.  France would show her as Our Lady of Lourdes.  Mexico as Our Lady of Guadalupe which we celebrate today.  There must have been a dozen countries giving honor to Mary in their native way.  It was wonderful to see.
The Scripture for today is about the Annunciation.  This feast is often passed over because it is always in Lent.  The date is March 25th.  But I feel that it is just as important as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.  When Mary said yes to the angel, our salvation through Jesus began.  The ancient prophesies about the Messiah finally became a reality through Mary saying “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Whether we honor Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe, or any other expression, she is our spiritual mother and deserves our unfailing gratitude.
Prayer
Lord Jesus, as we honor your mother today, please give us the courage to say yes as she did.  Help us to follow your example and answer your command to serve one another.  Amen.
Rev. Fr. Anthony Testa
Pastor – Our Lady of Guadalupe American National Catholic Church

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

come-to-me-i-will-give-you-rest

Reading 1 Is 40:25-31

To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

Gospel Mt 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

 

Reflection

“My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”.

So often in life, many people come to feel as if they have been abandoned or ignored by God. This may be a passing moment or may last years. This feeling of abandonment, as if God no longer cares can bring deep pain which people sometimes try to alleviate through use of alcohol, drugs, through shopping or some other outside compensation; but these external things, while in the short term might distract from the feeling of hopelessness, are fleeting distractions at best. Eventually, that emptiness may return, and the outside thing relied upon no longer drowns out the pain.

“To whom can you liken me as an equal”

When outside substances, like alcohol, drugs, sex, even people, are used as a replacement for God’s love, these things always fall short. They just cannot compare to the vast depths of God’s love and healing. This of course does not mean any of these external things are bad, rather, how much time and effort are these “things” allowed to take up during the day? How much time is spent with the Lord? Is there a balance? Sometimes, it is easy to “feel” abandoned by God because the previous consolations that we felt in prayer seem to have been replaced with a sort of monotony. God has not gone anywhere; He is ever present. The issue may be that the zeal and excitement of first love needs to grow beyond the feeling and into the commitment of a deepening love.

The psalmist reminds us to “Bless the Lord, oh my Soul, and forget not all His benefits.” No matter what is happening, whether God feels near or feels absent, “Bless the Lord, oh my Soul, and all my being, bless His Holy name”. Praising God does not have to be relegated to specific times during the day, but all day, in all that is done, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.” The amount of energy praising God takes, is minimal compared to the energy needed to hide the pain and keep up a façade.

Jesus invites us to renew our strength with Him, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”. Even if poor choices have been made, even if harm has been caused, Jesus still, and most especially offers healing and rest; lay down the burden, lay down the guilt, the shame, the fear, lay it down and pick up the Lord’s Yoke. Picking up Jesus’ yoke, is to be joined with Him, His yoke is easy and the burden light because He carries it with us. Where we are weak, He is strong. Where we are fearful, He is courageous. Where we are hurting, He is our healing.

 

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we give thanks to you for your deep love and understanding. We give thanks that you have not abandoned us but are with us throughout our lives. Help us to see your love and care in the ordinary things of life. Help our love for you to mature into the love that is not dependent upon our present feelings. Help us not to seek comfort in the things of this world. As we become burdened by the things of this world, help us to remember that any burden that we carry you carry with us.

Br. Caleb Oeming, FCM

Seminarian

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

fi100517_tsw_luke15-770x493

First Reading: Is 40:1-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All flesh is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever.”

Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Gospel:  Mt 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

 

Reflection

Since the beginning, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, realized they were naked and hid from the Lord, we have had lost sheep of one sort of the other. The why or how one becomes a lost sheep tells the beginning of the story. It is not supposed to tell the end of the story. The end of the story is waiting to be written as the Lord seeks out the lost sheep.

When we were little we heard stories about the knight in shining armor coming to the rescue. In the scripture it tells us “Here is your God! Here comes the Lord GOD with power, who rules by his strong arm.” We dwell in both physical and spiritual worlds. We tend to give more credence to the physical realm because it appears to define us. But we need to remember that it is the physical world that is transitory. It is the spiritual world that defines the ultimate realities. Here is our God, coming with power to save us. This is the true reality.

The story of the lost sheep is often based in what we perceive as the realities of the physical world. But our salvation is not found in this world, but in the spiritual world. It is this world that we see through the eyes of faith. It is for this reason that it is all important that people of faith live as people of faith. When people of faith live as if this is the world that counts why would we expect people with no faith to embrace belief in God?

We are God’s children and as all good children, we are called to enter into the work of our family. If our family is about tending the sheep, our work is to be tending the sheep. We are all simultaneously sheep and shepherds. It is our job to follow the true shepherd and to shepherd those around us. We are to actively look for the lost sheep and to bring them into the fold.

We have probably all seen a movie where it appears that all is lost and the protagonist is going to lose. But in our hearts we know the protagonist will win in the end, even if we do not know how. This is the same thing for the lost sheep. We need to know in our hearts that God loves the lost sheep and in the end God will make things right for the lost sheep. We need to tell, to believe and to live that story. We need to remember that Jesus is not going to be king, but already is the king. While we cannot see with our physical eyes the kingdom of God, with the eyes of faith we know that it is the present and the eternal reality.

 

Prayer

Oh Loving Shepherd,

Help us your sheep and fellow shepherds to enter faithfully into you work. Help us to live in faith trusting in your faithful love and not in the things of this world. Help us to be faithful witnesses of your love and care for all your children. Lead us to the lost sheep and help us to tell of your great love. Through our witness may the Holy Spirit inspire the lost sheep to turn to you and trust in your love. We ask this in the name of the great shepherd, Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Louie Amezaga

Associate Pastor – Holy Family American National Catholic Church

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Image result for Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you"

Gospel: LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Reflection

Mary is our model for us as how to follow her son Jesus.  She said Yes, to the angel and agreed to be the mother of Jesus, even though she did not
know how or where it would lead. She acted out of total faith and love sacrificing her life.  Mary never wanted to outshine her son and so one of
her titles is that of “New Moon.” Can we spread the Good News of Jesus and put ourselves second and Him first?  Can we model the humility she
demonstrated, for that humility, which is the essence and spirit of love will bring our world together?

Let us pray,
Loving God you gave Mary to us as the Mother of your Son and as our mother.  She modeled her life after Love and the message of her son. Jesus’
message is just that, one of love.  Give us the courage to spread the message of love and surrender to all. For only love will block out darkness
in this world.  She said that she was the handmaiden of the Lord, help us to live out that same humility for we need to come together as a world.
Pride separates us and humility brings us together.   We ask this in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen

Fr. James Lehman, FCM
Pastor of Holy Family American National Catholic Church

Second Sunday of Advent

Image result for prepare the way of the lord"

Gospel: MT 3:1-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Reflection

There is a great story I heard once about an ant and a grasshopper. The ant worked hard in the summer months. He stored up food and built a safe and warm home underneath the soil. The grasshopper played around and thought that the ant was foolish for doing his perpetrations. Winter arrived sooner than usual, and the ant is warm and well-fed in his home. The grasshopper on the other hand was starving and eventually dies in the cold.

In this season of Advent, we are called to be more of an ant than a grasshopper. It is easy to be a grasshopper with all our preparations for Christmas. We see the figure of John the Baptist in the scriptures from today who calls us to prepare. We may have heard or read this passage numerous times. We might even be able to recite it word for word. All of which is a great but let’s dive in a little more. Many times, I have heard homilist and other focus on the part of preparing. While Advent is the season of preparing and conversion, I think the question that God has for us is, “what have you done for me and others lately?”

John in the gospel today challenges the religious leadership who had come to be baptized by him to not rely on what they had done in the past but what they were going to do in the future. Many times, we focus on the sin something we did in the past and not realize that we can’t change the past, but we can prevent the sin of the future by changing the present. If we failed to be good to our sisters and brothers yesterday and we continue to hurt them today and tomorrow. The behavior doesn’t change even when we recognize what needs to be changed.

We find guidance in the wonderful reading from Isaiah today as to the qualities we need to embody to change where we may be falling short in our lives. Isaiah reminds us that we are to people of wisdom and understanding, of knowledge and strength. We are to cause no harm or ruin in our dealings with each other. Paul also reminds us that we are to be a welcoming people while promoting harmony in the community.

These are the signs of a true person of God and this is how we are to respond when we hear the words of John to prepare the way of the Lord.

 

Prayer

Loving and merciful God

We continue our advent journey towards the celebration of miracle of the manager.

Help us to make ready our hearts for the celebration.

Help us be more Christ like to others in our daily life.

May we reach out to the needy and marginalized. May we cloth the naked and feed the hungry.

Help us to slow down so we can feed our souls. In do so may we do your will more boldly in the world.

All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our light in the world.

+Amen

 

Rev. Fr. Anthony Martinez

Pastoral Associate – Holy Family American National Catholic Church

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

9cebb564761eb768397c673ac3c58dde4ee074a5v2_hq

First Reading:   IS 30:19-21, 23-26

Thus says the Lord GOD,
the Holy One of Israel:
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem,
no more will you weep;
He will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as he hears he will answer you.
The Lord will give you the bread you need
and the water for which you thirst.
No longer will your Teacher hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
“This is the way; walk in it,”
when you would turn to the right or to the left.

He will give rain for the seed
that you sow in the ground,
And the wheat that the soil produces
will be rich and abundant.
On that day your flock will be given pasture
and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows;
The oxen and the asses that till the ground
will eat silage tossed to them
with shovel and pitchfork.
Upon every high mountain and lofty hill
there will be streams of running water.
On the day of the great slaughter,
when the towers fall,
The light of the moon will be like that of the sun
and the light of the sun will be seven times greater
like the light of seven days.
On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people,
he will heal the bruises left by his blows.

Gospel:  MT 9:35–10:1, 5A, 6-8

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Reflection

“On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people,
he will heal the bruises left by his blows. (IS: 30-26)

We are on day 7 of waiting.  How are you doing? Advent, is the great season of waiting.  Aren’t we all waiting to have our wounds bound up and the angular life we live smoothed?  This was Isaiah’s prophesy to a people whose world had been torn apart.  The trusted institutions of the Jewish people were discredited, and the icons of their world destroyed.

Matthew clearly recounts that the time of waiting is nearly done. Jesus charges the disciples to “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”   Change the world!  The end is near.

So what happened? Why are we waiting for a time when we will see the face of the Teacher;

when there will be no more weeping, the seed will be wet by rain, the wounds of God’s people will be bound?

The time of Advent, our time of waiting and preparation forces us to look at this question.  Are we really ready to proclaim the kingdom is as hand?  Do we believe that Jesus can be born in our hearts or do we hide behind the soft, gentleness of the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes?

In the period waiting, our challenge is to prepare our hearts, to be open to the transformational Love that is the Incarnation.   By being incarnate, Jesus God broke into history once but not only once.  This miracle happens every day, every hour, every moment that we say “yes” to the gift of Love that is ours.

It is very human that we are afraid to take this step.  In “Silent Night,” we sing “Shepherds quake at the sight……” These. simple souls provide a window into our experience.  The awesome power of this Love makes us quake so we turn away.

How are you doing in your wait?  We can say, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Have we the courage drawn from the ultimate Love to live it?  This advent “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”   Change the world! The end is near.  You have seen the face of the Teacher.  See this face in all you meet. Take the time to allow your wounds to be bound.

The waiting of Advent opens us to the surprise of the coming of Jesus everyday. We mark a particular day, Christmas, to celebrate this coming into our hearts.

Change your heart.

Be ready to welcome the Love into your heart.

Prayer

Lord, I await Your coming! As I celebrate the first Advent––the first coming––I look toward the day where I will see You face to face. I imagine what it will be like. Give me a heart, Lord, that looks for Your coming on a daily basis. Help me to live my life where I’m constantly seeking Your presence. My offering to You today is my righteous life for I know I am only clean because of Jesus. Show me today how I need to be refined, purified, forgiven. Give me the strength to ask for forgiveness and to then change my ways.

~Sarah Martin, from “The Awe & Wonder of Advent: Day 18

 

Rev Dcn. Owen Borda

Pastor – St. Dominic de Guzman American National Catholic Church

 

Friday Of The First Week of Advent

jesus-speaks-with-a-man-born-blind

Reading 1 – Isaiah 29:17-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
But a very little while,
and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be regarded as a forest!
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone;
All who are alert to do evil will be cut off,
those whose mere word condemns a man,
Who ensnare his defender at the gate,
and leave the just man with an empty claim.
Therefore thus says the LORD,
the God of the house of Jacob,
who redeemed Abraham:
Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of,
nor shall his face grow pale.
When his children see
the work of my hands in his midst,
They shall keep my name holy;
they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob,
and be in awe of the God of Israel.
Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding,
and those who find fault shall receive instruction.
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31
As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
“See that no one knows about this.”
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.
Reflection

There are three levels of reflection with which Isaiah shows us the great transformation of God and the salvation that is to come.

  1. Isaiah shows us a somewhat hazy landscape. He says: imagine the mountains of Lebanon. These are rugged wooded mountains full of rocks, large tree roots and bushes. No one can think of sowing grain there or intending to harvest fruit. But after a while everything will be different: instead of rocky land, there will be fertile land for tillage, a lovely garden, a paradise, more beautiful than everything that has been seen. Yes, it is that God will begin to act. in this way God will transform the earth covered with sin and heal it and will do it again in a fertile farmland. That promises us God; We can rejoice from the heart for this!

Isaiah describes even more precisely what God will do. It is no longer more of a vague landscape, but rather it is specifically about people. Suddenly the deaf will hear, the blind will see, the poor will rejoice in the Lord, the needy will rejoice over what they receive from God. With this announcement of salvation we can see the heart of God. God only has good in mind for us. God wants to help all who suffer and promises that the shortcomings will have an end. keep in mind that God announces a great change, to be better and he will take care of it.

  1. It is worth continuing to look in more detail. Isaiah prophesied: “On that day the deaf may hear the reading of the book.” What ‘book’ do you mean? There is only one book, that is, the scriptures. There we see that it is not a bodily deafness, but a spiritual deafness that God wants to heal. This is about people who have not yet tended to the Bible, suddenly recognize the spiritual riches of the word of God found in it. So also God heals spiritual blindness; it dawns with the sun of the Gospel
  1. Now we see more clearly: the change of God has already taken place, for Jesus has risen from the dead and we live with him and through him in the kingdom of God. We believe that together with God we are safe and secure. God has redeemed us and will give us the promised eternal life. We are baptized, and if someone is baptized and has understood what that baptism is about, that is, if they also had the possibility once in their life to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, – that means becoming – then from there in his life ‘nothing will be as before’ – everything has been bathed in the joyful light of the gospel. God will lead us there, where finally our natural eyes can also see with total sharpness and clarity, the love he has for us.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, help us understand that we are all called to conversion, and that you wait for us with open arms, give us the ability to see and hear you through your word so that it may work in us with strength and efficiency. Amen

Fr. Bernardo Cardona

Associate Pastor – Sacred Heart of Jesus American National Catholic Church


 

Reflexion

Hay tres niveles de reflexión con los cuales Isaías nos muestra la gran transformación de Dios y la salvación que está por venir.

1. Isaías nos muestra un paisaje un tanto nebuloso. El dice: imagínense las montañas del Líbano. Estas son agrestes montañas boscosas llenas de rocas, raíces grandes árboles y matorrales. Nadie puede llegar a pensar de sembrar allí grano o de tener la intención de cosechar frutas. Pero luego de un tiempo todo será diferente: en lugar de tierra rocosa, habrá tierra fértil para labranza, un jardín encantador, un paraíso, más lindo que todo lo que se haya visto. Sí, es que Dios comenzará a actuar. así transformará Dios a la tierra cubierta de pecado y la sanará y la hará otra vez en tierra fértil de labranza. Eso nos promete Dios; ¡ya podemos alegrarnos de corazón por esto!

Isaías nos describe aún de forma más precisa lo que Dios hará. No se trata ya más de un vago paisaje, sino que se trata en concreto de gente. De repente los sordos oirán, los ciegos verán, los pobres volverán a alegrarse en el Señor, los más necesitados se regocijarán por lo que reciban de Dios. Con este anuncio de salvación podemos ver el corazón de Dios. Dios sólo tiene en mente lo bueno para nosotros. Dios quiere ayudar a todos los que sufren y promete que las carencias tendrán su fin. ten en cuenta que Dios te anuncia un gran cambio, para ser mejor y él mismo se encargará de ello.

2. Vale la pena seguir mirando con más detalle. Isaías profetizó: “En aquel día podrán los sordos oír la lectura del libro”. ¿A qué ‘libro’ se refiere? Hay sólo un libro, es decir la Biblia. Allí vemos que, no se trata de una sordera corporal, sino de una sordera espiritual la que Dios quiere sanar. Aquí se trata de que las personas que hasta el momento no hayan tendido a la Biblia, de repente reconozcan las riquezas espirituales de la palabra de Dios que, se encuentra en ella. Así también Dios sana la ceguera espiritual; se amanece con el sol del Evangelio

3. Ahora vemos más claro: el cambio de Dios ya ha tenido lugar, pues Jesús ha resucitado de entre los muertos y vivimos con él y por medio de él en el reino de Dios. creemos que junto a Dios estamos a salvo y seguros. Dios nos ha redimido y nos dará la vida eterna prometida. Estamos bautizados, y si alguien está bautizado y ha comprendido de qué se trata ese bautismo, es decir si tuvo también la posibilidad una vez en su vida de aceptar a Jesucristo como su Señor y Salvador, –eso significa convertirse– entonces a partir de allí en su vida ‘ya nada será como antes’– todo se ha bañado con la luz gozosa del evangelio. Dios nos conducirá hacia allá, donde al fin también nuestros ojos naturales podrán ver con total agudeza y claridad, el amor que él nos tiene. Amén.

FR BERNARDO C.

Oracion

Amadísimo padre Celestial, ayúdanos a entender que todos estamos llamados a la conversión, y que tu nos esperas con los brazos abiertos, danos la capacidad de ver y de escucharte a través de tu palabra para que esta obre en nosotros con fuerza y eficacia Amen