Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 17, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Sir 27:30-28:7 / Ps 103 / Rom 14:7-9 / Mt 18:21-35
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
A 99-year-old woman, pushing on in years, boasted to her pastor that she didn’t have an enemy in the world. He was very impressed. What a wonderful thing to be able to say after all those years! And then she added, “I have outlived them all!” If we live long enough, we’ll also be able to make the same statement.
“What goes around comes around” is a common expression. Its familiarity springs from the truth. When we offer words of kindness and love to others, that invites words of kindness and love in return. On the other hand, isn’t it true that words of anger only produce more anger on each side? The harsh judgement we pass on others easily could apply to us as well. In the final analysis, we will be judged by how we treat others, not how they may have treated us.
So what is it that we want to go around and come around? The reply that we offer should not be merely words, but also deeds. The wise man Sirach in our first reading says, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” These words in many ways echo the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” We have indicated that we want the same treatment as we give others.
The problem is, if we treat others in an unkind manner, we are asking that God treat us the same way. For example; if the young people here do not cooperate with their elders by loving them and obeying them, it means that they are saying to God: My parents shouldn’t love me and shouldn’t respond to my wishes. Jesus is saying that if we treat others poorly, then it’s only natural that they will treat us the same way. You are in command. Treat others well, including parents, and they will treat you well.
There is a story of a six-year-old, John. During night prayer he paused before his brother’s name and said to his mother, “I will not ask God to bless Paul. He gave me a big blow on the nose today.” The mother said to John, “But Jesus asked you to forgive your enemies.” Little John responded, “That’s the main problem. Paul is not my enemy, and that’s the reason I cannot forgive him.”
The reaction of little John tells us that forgiveness is hard, and that forgiving family and friends is even tougher. Forgiveness and reconciliation are twin virtues that hold a relationship whether it is an interpersonal or interethnic or interreligious relationship.
One of the hardest things to do is to forgive those who are mean to us. To forgive those who have done or said terrible things against us, or even to forgive those who contribute, or those who continue to put us down and those who hate us with disdain.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it was difficult to forgive someone who offended you? Yes, forgiveness can be very hard in certain situations, and for this reason it takes such a long time before we train ourselves to forgive our offenders, especially when they are people we trusted so much.
The first step towards forgiveness is the ability to say, Yes, I forgive. It really takes a lot of courage to forgive. The second step is to ask for the help of God by admitting, God, I really want to forgive, but I do not know how to forgive. Help me to forgive totally and completely from the depth of my heart.
Too often we wait for others to make the first move. We hesitate because we might face rejection, or we don’t want to seem too weak or eager for reconciliation. That’s not how Jesus treated us. He made the first move. He loves us so much that He died for us. We can show the same love by having His courage to treat our family and our friends in the same loving manner, not waiting for them to display their love but to offer our love first. Each of us must be Christ-like: We must take the initiative.
Our Lord gives this gospel as a warning that we must be constantly on our guard. God has forgiven us for things we could not possibly hope to repay. And we are duty bound in gratitude and compassion to share the graciousness, forgiveness, and charity that God gives to us and others around us.
In the gospel, Peter is asking about the limits of forgiveness. Isn’t it true that if we just grant forgiveness to someone who’s treated us in an unloving manner that they will continue to take advantage of us? Jesus says, “No, don’t forgive friends or members of your family seven times, but seven times seventy times.” Unlimited.
Jesus willingly gave His life for us because He loves us. We show our love in the same manner and, if we do, that love will be returned, whether it be from our child, our parents, our friend, or even from someone we don’t like. We do it not because we are weak, but because Jesus has asked us to do it, and He has promised we will be blessed for our actions.
Also, we must learn to forgive ourselves. Imagine you’re responsible for something very serious; you are driving a car while under the influence of alcohol, there is an accident and a young person is killed. That life cannot be brought back. For more and more people, there is something in their background, some skeleton in the closet, as we say. A broken marriage, an abortion, a pregnancy outside marriage, a broken relationship, or a serious mistake. And for many of us we do not believe that there is another chance, much less seven times seventy chances.
This is not the teaching of Jesus. God doesn’t just give us another chance, but every time we close a door, He opens another one for us. The Lord challenges us not to make serious, damaging mistakes. But He also tells us that our mistakes are not forever. They are not even for a lifetime, and time and grace wash us clean. Nothing is irrevocable.
The words of Sirach in the first reading say it all. “Think of the commandments. Hate not your families and friends, remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.” And so, as each of us takes a few minutes coming to Communion, think of what we can do for our families, our children, our siblings, and all of our friends so that we will love one another as Jesus has loved us. Let us continue to promote that awareness that we are all in communion with one another and with the one God. What we do to others we are taken as doing to God himself. May Jesus Christ be praised.KEEP READING
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 16, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Is 55:10-11 / Ps 65 / Rom 8:18-23 / Mt 13:1-23
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
A story is told of a young man named Eric, who was giving testimony regarding the turnaround in his life. Two years before, he confessed, he had no appetite for the Word of God. On Sundays he would shop around the neighborhood churches for the priest that gave the shortest homilies. So, his idea of a good church service was one that took as little time as possible; the shorter the better. After the big change in his life, he could sit down and listen to the preaching of God’s word without thinking about the time.
Our disposition for the Word of God is a good indication of our relationship with the Lord. Today’s gospel is an opportunity to reveal our attitude to the Word of God.
Often, as we listen to the readings each weekend, we may have the feeling that they don’t apply to our lives. Today’s gospel could be one of those instances. Jesus talks about sowing seeds, but what do we know about seeds? Perhaps if you mention supermarkets, restaurants, or McDonald’s, we might have paid attention to it. Most of us don’t scatter seeds to obtain our food, and we probably don’t know much about the growth process of most of the crops from which we get our daily sustenance. But if we reflect upon it, is there anything else that we sow, that we spread, that does have an effect upon our lives?
What about our time? Yes, we do scatter the minutes of our day just in the way that a farmer would scatter seed in the field. We scatter 60 seconds each minute, and 60 minutes each hour, for about 16 hours each day. That’s about 57,000 seconds that we scatter throughout our daily routine. And that’s a lot of seeds.
So how does this apply to the words that Jesus spoke to His followers? He said that if the farmer scatters his seeds in certain ways, he will not create a bountiful harvest. His message to each one of us today is the same.
Jesus mentioned the seeds sown on the ground that is so hard that nothing can take root. That is like sowing grass seed on our driveway – nothing will grow. If we are sowing minutes each day on hard ground, pursuing money, power, or influence, we are making the same mistake the farmer made. If we have no time for prayer, no time for our families, no time for helping others, our minutes will not bear fruit. We will not store up an abundance of grace or of charity.
We, too, can spread our minutes on rocky ground. We can spend hours at the office or on the golf course. We can attend luncheons or bridge parties, and, like the seed that fell on rocky ground, we will have no roots. We will not have time to attend Mass during the week, or will be forced to pray the rosary while driving our cars. So, therefore, our minutes will not bear fruit.
Jesus said, “Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew and choked it.” If anyone sows their seed in the thorns of drugs, alcohol, and sins against the Sixth Commandment, Jesus warns us that our lives will be choked out. Some here are probably familiar with friends who sowed their seeds among the thorns and did not find the fulfillment of a rich harvest, but the agony of tragedy. Think of them as you listen to the words of Jesus this morning. There is a better way.
Is Jesus saying we shouldn’t work hard in order to support our families? Or that we should never relax and enjoy ourselves, or engage in wholesome entertainment with our friends? Not at all.
Jesus died so that we could be happy, so that our lives could be full, and so that we could have an eternal future with Him. However, for that to happen we must make a decision. We must recognize that He’s been talking about seed, but He’s talking about how we spend our minutes: whether or not we are making the same mistake the farmer made.
Going back to Eric’s story, prior to his conversion… Eric did not relish the preaching of the Word of God. Many young people today, and many who are not so young, are in a similar situation. The responsibility for this attitude toward God’s Word could be shared between those who communicate it and those who receive the message.
Some preachers often take pride in saying it just as it is. The fact that Jesus uses stories and parables to teach tells us that it is not enough to say it just as it is. How the Word is communicated is important, but the parable focuses more on how it is received. The parable today is a reminder that the Kingdom of Heaven is a mystery. It is something that we cannot fully understand with our minds, but we can understand it with our hearts if we are willing to believe and obey the Word of God.
Often, we read the Gospels and dismiss them as ancient history. In a way they are, because in the world in which we live we must be much more vigilant than those who lived in Jesus’ time. Look around us, and consider the challenges we face. Turn on the television or attend movies, and you will see graphic depictions of people living lives that were condemned by all in the time of Jesus.
In order to counteract the immoral society, Jesus is telling us to sow our minutes on the rich soil. Sow them in such a way that we can find happiness and fulfillment. But the question is: Where is the rich soil? It is right here; here in this church this day. We are all spreading our seeds, our minutes, in an atmosphere that allows us to grow, not in a worldly fashion, but in a way that ensures us of real life, a life of fulfillment in Jesus’ word.
What is real happiness? We find it in being charitable, prayerful, loving our children, loving and helping our parents. We find real happiness in honesty, chastity, sobriety, and freedom from drugs. We find happiness in the words of Jesus, when He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” or “Love one another as I love you.”
Jesus has promised that we will reap a huge harvest by following His teaching. By following His commandments, by loving others as we love ourselves, by using our minutes to help those less fortunate, by spending time each day in prayer, and by realizing that His words guide us to true happiness, we can reap the harvest He has promised. Jesus has promised all this to us: we can have everything by spending our minutes wisely, both in His service and in following His commandments. He points the way to true happiness.KEEP READING
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 2, 2023 — Year A
Readings: 2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a / Ps 89 / Rom 6:3-4, 8-11 / Mt 10:37-42
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There was once a catechist who asked the students in her Confirmation class, “Which part of the liturgy or Mass is the most important?” She was not prepared for the answer she received from one of her students. The youth said, “The most important part of the Mass is the Dismissal Rite.” After the class laughter subsided, the catechist asked, “Why did you say that?” The youth said, “The purpose of the Eucharist is to nourish us with the Word of the Lord and the Body and Blood of the Lord, so that we may go forth and bear witness to the Lord and to bring the Kingdom of God into existence.” The student continued, “The Eucharist does not end with the Dismissal Rite. In a sense, it begins with it. We must go forth and proclaim to the world what the disciples of Emmaus did. We must proclaim that Jesus is raised from the dead. We must proclaim that Jesus lives on.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus gives His disciples an extended teaching on mission, or ministry. In the first part of the of the gospel, Jesus describes a missionary, or minister, who is worthy of the name “Christian.” He said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” (Mt 10:37-38)
Why would Jesus say such a thing? Before we can answer this question, we must deal with a more fundamental one. Why do we love? What is it that motivates us to love another person?
It is good that we perceive the person. A man loves a woman because he finds something good in her: her compassion, her joy, her patience, her kindness. The fact is, however, that everything that is truly good comes from almighty God. As we are told at the end of Eucharistic Prayer III, “All good things have their source in the Lord, even those good things which come to us through other people.” So, yes, a man loves a woman because of her compassion, joy, patience, and kindness, but the only reason a woman is compassionate, joyful, patient and kind is because God has given her the grace to be that way. This is what Bishop Fulton Sheen was getting at when he said, “It’s only because we are loved by God that we are lovable.” God, who is love, places some of His love inside of us and that grace is what makes us attractive to others.
Consequently, it makes perfect sense for Jesus to tell us in today’s gospel that our love for Him must be primary. We are to love Him with all our heart, because if it were not for Him, there would be nothing lovable in us or in anyone else. In fact, if it were not for Jesus, we would not even exist. As Saint Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians, “In Christ Jesus everything in heaven and on earth was created, and in Him everything continues in being.” (Col 1:16)
It also means that a minister or a missionary must be willing to accept and carry the cross or sacrifice, for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In other words, a missionary or a minister of Christ must be someone who is in love with Christ in such a way that love of parents, children, spouses, and even oneself, assumes secondary importance. To take up one’s cross and follow Jesus is a sign of one’s death, since the way to the cross leads to Calvary and the crucifixion. The only worthy missionary or minister of Christ is the person who has found a reason to live and to die, and that reason is Jesus Christ Himself.
A case in point is the story of the young Spanish Jesuit by the name of Alfredo Perez Lobato, who was killed in December 1973 in Chad, Africa, at the height of the civil war. While he was helping refugees, a stray bullet hit him. The story of his short life is featured in the book, A Community in Blood, along with those of other Jesuits killed in different third world countries. When asked by superiors why he volunteered to join the mission in Chad, Alfredo replied, “Why do I want to go to this poor country? It is simple. Because it is difficult. I believe that I am called to the difficult and the demanding.”
It is natural for us to dream of a life of comfort, luxury, and pleasure. If we are honest about it, most of our prayers are directed towards alleviating our suffering. In short, we want a life free from trials and sacrifices. Perhaps this is the reason why we attach our lives to the pervading values of the modern world so life can be easy and convenient. In the book, Crossing on the Crossroad, it is said that the reason why people are frustrated is their failure to accept the crosses in their lives. The moment we try to escape suffering, we encounter suffering ten times more.
Thomas Merton said, “The truth that many people never understand until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because the smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”
To conclude His teaching, Jesus encourages the people to be generous with His messengers. Let us take these words of Jesus to heart and act on them to the best of our ability. Remember, we do not need to give gold or silver. A cup of cold water is enough.
“Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” (Mt 10: 41-42)
Jesus has entrusted us with the ongoing work of the Kingdom. It is a work that does not allow any human attachment to frustrate the reign of God. The work of the Kingdom transforms our average hearts into hearts which will forever sing the goodness of the Lord.KEEP READING
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 18, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Ex 19:2-6a / Ps 100 / Rom 5:6-11 / Mt 9:36-10:8
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Brothers and sisters, fatherhood is a God-given mission. It is not just an obligation, neither is it just a human aspiration, nor just a personal passion. It is a commitment to become a real shepherd and to become a worker disciple in the Lord’s vineyard. The call on every father is to focus not so much on the worldly commission, but on the divine mission. This is also the message in our readings today.
The gospel message from Matthew gives us the account of Jesus commissioning the twelve men whom He has chosen, giving them the charge to continue the work He has begun here on Earth. Matthew tells us that these were the first people who were authorized to spread the good news to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus charges the twelve to go out and cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons. Just imagine yourself lucky enough to be selected by Jesus himself to be one of the twelve. But then you are given the assignment to go and cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons.
Did Jesus really mean for them to actually do all these things? How could these twelve men – fishermen, tradesmen, common folks including a tax collector and even the one who would betray Jesus – be capable of accepting these assignments?
Down through history, Jesus has chosen unlikely people to do seemingly impossible tasks. We can pick up the book, The Lives of the Saints, and find numerous examples of ordinary people who responded to God’s call. The Church, throughout its history, has had regular, ordinary people performing what might be considered impossible tasks, simply because they have responded to Christ and His teachings. People like Saint John Vianney, Saint Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton are just a few examples of people who responded when they were called to spread the good news to others.
Jesus is now calling us. We are just like the twelve whom He chooses. We now have the responsibility to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons. We accepted this call, this responsibility, at our baptism, but the question we immediately ask ourselves is how in the world do we cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons?
Can we cure the sick? Yes, we can help cure those who are sick. We can help to provide for physical, psychological, or spiritual ailments. We can be caregivers by assisting those in need. It could be simple things like making an appointment with a physician or providing transportation to a physician’s office. Perhaps it could involve something more complicated by administering care at your home or the home of the individual that is ill. We might be required from time to time to provide simple one-on-one counseling to someone who is depressed, so that the person may find inner strength that he or she needs to make a decision enabling them to help themselves and to return to their daily activities.
How can we raise the dead? Taken literally, we know this is impossible, but sometimes people are dead in their faith. We can provide spiritual assistance to those who are dead in their faith experience. Perhaps it is someone who has fallen away from the faith because of a simple misunderstanding. We can be instruments of hope to those who might think returning to God is hopeless. Sometimes it is as simple as answering a question about the faith, providing information that will help heal the person of their spiritual illness. Perhaps the person is dead spiritually because they were involved in a marriage that ended in a divorce. We can provide information to help them understand their rights as a divorced person, and if they are in need of an annulment, we can provide resources for them to begin the annulment process.
Can we cleanse lepers? The question we have to answer is who are the lepers in our lives? It could be the individual at work that constantly is getting under our skin. It could be the neighbor up the street who seemingly forever has knocked our children or has constantly criticized us because they don’t like our dog. It could be a brother-in-law who has been on our case from the first day we met. What can we do? Sometimes the best way to handle people like this is to kill them with kindness. We can simply smile or offer help to them with a project. Perhaps we could send some greeting card or surprise them in some way that causes them to think or to ask why this person is being so kind to me. We can present ourselves to these people as true followers of Christ, someone who is willing to clear the air, make amends, and try to begin a new relationship.
Can we drive out demons? The answer is yes – sometimes those demons are in us and all about us. They are the things that prevent us from being the best person we can be. It could be those inner feelings that constantly cause us to see the negative side of life. Perhaps we are constantly seeing the glass as half empty instead of always half full. The demons could be feelings that can cause us to fall into various states of depression. What can we do? Obviously, we can seek professional counseling. We can confide in family and friends. However, because we are members of the Church, baptized into faith, we can many times rely on the gift of faith to help us through those difficult times. Many times, prayer is a good way to rid ourselves of those demons. Through prayer, we can seek the intercession of our patron saint, or call upon St. Joseph, or ask the Blessed Virgin to intercede for us with her Son to help us overcome times of negativism and the states of negative thought.
Discipleship is not so much doing but being. Go down the list of the twelve apostles, and you’ll notice that nothing was said to describe what they did, except Matthew the tax collector and Judas who betrayed Him. Perhaps that should lead to deeper appreciation of our personhood rather than of our so-called achievements, not so much of what we carry in our hands but what we carry in our hearts.
Christ is calling us to do his work now on Earth. The beautiful thing that we have going for us as members of the Church on earth is our diversity. We all have different talents and different abilities to accomplish the work our Lord has entrusted to us. Jesus, whether we realize it or not, sends us out to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers. and drive out demons.KEEP READING
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 / Ps 66 / 1 Pt 3:15-18 / Jn 14:15-21
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Someone once said that man is an able creature, but he has made 32,647,389 laws and hasn’t yet improved on the Ten Commandments.
In our gospel today, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) Jesus is telling us that the reason we follow God’s commandments is that we love Him. That is why it is wrong to say that we follow God’s commandments because we are afraid of Hell, or that we follow God’s commandments because we are expecting something. We go to Mass not because we are afraid of committing mortal sins. We help the poor and needy, we try to be good, we try to please God simply because we love Him. That should be our motive in doing good and in loving God.
So, what are God’s commandments? There are only two: Love your God and love your neighbor. When Jesus says to keep these commandments, He is telling us that love is not a mere word, but an action. The question is how to make God’s love concrete and possible in our lives.
In psychologist Erich Fromm’s book, The Art of Loving, he suggests ways to make love concrete and possible. First, love must have discipline. Discipline means doing something hard because it is right. We are usually not very disciplined people. Why? Because we tend to avoid the difficult to take the easy way out. Sometimes in following God’s commandments and loving God, we want the easy way out. Even in our prayer, when we get very busy, we sometimes say that God will understand, and I will pray tomorrow. But sometimes when we talk to God, we say, “Lord, you are the most important person in my life.” Is that really true? If God is truly important in our lives, why do we keep suspending our prayer life? Why do we keep delaying our prayer life, or making excuses in terms of our relationship with Him?
We often do not do what is right because it involves sacrifice, even in our dealings with one another. That is why we sometimes try to have that kind of culture where we silence the right in order not to hurt the wrong. Or in other words, we try not to speak the truth, so that we won’t be rude to evil. That’s why we try not to speak about anything that is immoral, especially if the person who is doing it is a family member or close friend of ours. We don’t tell them that a man loving another man or a woman loving another woman is wrong and sinful. We don’t say that because we don’t want to appear to be rude. We don’t want to make that sacrifice.
Again, let us not forget what St. Maximilian Kolbe once said, “There can be no real love without sacrifice.” Sometimes when we love, especially with our children, or with other people we love, we need to speak the truth, and we need to make that sacrifice. Love is hard.
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. The love of a mother for her children is a classic example. This reminds me of a story of a mother named Patricia, who donated part of her liver to her son, Carlos, who underwent a liver transplant surgery because of a congenital liver disease. When the mother was interviewed, she said, “If God will allow, maybe I will have another child like Carlos. I will continue to donate any part of my body to make sure my child will live.” That’s the heart of a mother, willing to sacrifice for her children.
During World War II, in France, an officer was walking with his soldiers. They noticed that a bush was moving, so the officer asked one of the soldiers to check the bush. The soldier found a starving mother with her two sons. The officer took a loaf of bread and gave it to the mother. The mother broke the bread in two pieces and gave it to her two sons. The soldier asked the officer, “Sir, is she not hungry? I thought she was starving.” The officer replied, ‘No, it is because she is the mother.”
That’s the heart of a mother – willing to sacrifice herself for her children. That’s why today on Mother’s Day, children, always remember to love your parents, especially your mother. Yes, it’s good that you send greetings to your mother, but always remember to show her that you love her and be respectful towards her. You cannot just be kind and loving in your words, but also show it in your actions. Sacrifice.
Second, Erich Fromm says that we must have patience. Love is not something that comes abruptly. We have to work at it and let it grow. A person with patience knows how to wait. That is why we must be patient with ourselves and with others. Patience is also very important in our desire to love God and our neighbor.
A story is told of Abraham, who one evening was standing outside his tent, and there was an old man walking on the street, around eighty years old, and this man was cursing God. Because Abraham was a good servant of God, he invited the man into his tent. He washed his feet and then fed him. While the man was eating, the man continued to curse God. Abraham was infuriated and grabbed the man and threw him out of his tent. That very evening, God spoke to Abraham in a dream, and God asked, “Abraham, where is that old man?” Abraham replied, “Lord, I threw him out of my tent because he does not worship You and he kept cursing You.” God said, “Abraham, Abraham, for eighty years that man has disowned me. He has kept cursing me, but I continued to give my love, my grace, and my patience to that man so that he will come back to me. But you cannot give your patience and love to that man.” And Abraham woke up crying. Patience.
Third, Erich Fromm tells us that love must have humility. Brothers and sisters, the biggest obstacle to love is pride. Sometimes it is very difficult to say I’m sorry. Let us not forget what St. Augustine once said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils. It is humility that makes men as angels.” True. Pride can ruin our lives, can ruin our morality, can destroy our desire to love God and our neighbor. Humility is the foundation of real love.
President Lincoln once got caught up in a situation where he wanted to please a politician, so he issued a command to transfer a certain regiment. When the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, received the order, he refused to carry it out. He said that the President was a fool. Lincoln was told what Stanton had said and he replied, “If Stanton said I am a fool, then I must be, for he’s nearly always right. I’ll see for myself.” As the two men talked, the President quickly realized that his decision was a serious mistake and without hesitation, he withdrew it.
Unlike the story of King Herod and John the Baptist: When Herod gave the word that John the Baptist should be beheaded, even though he knew that what he said was wrong, he did not take it back. That was pride. So, humility is very important in our desire to fulfill the commandments of God, which is to love him and our neighbor.
Fourth, love must have faith. Faith means that we believe even if we do not have any evidence whatsoever of our beliefs. The deadliest enemy of love is lack of trust and faith.
Lastly, love must have courage. In many ways, it is the most important of them all, because we have to reach out and touch other people. How often, we do not reach out because we are afraid of rejection. It takes a lot of courage to love.
So loving is what life is all about. But it takes discipline and patience. It needs faith and trust, humility and courage in order to make it concrete and possible. To remain in love with God every day, we must remind ourselves that our most important appointment of the day is our appointment with God, and that our most important agenda is to love Him and our neighbor.KEEP READING
Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 30, 2023 – Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14a, 36-41 / Ps 23 / 1 Pt 2:20b-25 / Jn 10:1-10
by Rev. Jay Biber, Guest Celebrant
The theme of the Good Shepherd often refers to the shepherds of the Church, and there have been some times of suffering they’ve had in that regard. But I’ve gotten a pretty good sense over the years that Catholics (and I don’t think it’s just Catholics, either) want a shepherd’s voice. They want a voice they can trust.
To me, the most important shepherds are parents. There are those who would like to take children and put them in the care of the state. We’re beginning to see that more and more clearly. But in our experience – and I speak for two or three thousand years of experience — in every corner of the world, and every conceivable government, Mom, Dad, and the kids is the way to go. That’s the core of a society; the state cannot replace that. Whatever the state or the empire offers in our vision needs to be a partnership with Mom and Dad, and part of the challenge is restoring Mom and Dad. It is not giving up on marriage but redoubling our prayer and our efforts.
This is the central mystery of how we socialize one another, how we become human. I see a lot of kids today – I know you see them in school – they’re not evil but they are feral. There’s a feral quality to them. They’re supposed to be socializing, but they haven’t been given the benefit of learning how to socialize.
I used to spend a lot of time in prisons. The parishioners said about the prisoners, “They’re all trying to con you.” They said, “But they need to be rehabbed.” And I said, “No, they need to be habbed, because they were never habbed to start with.” So, for us, the way that takes place is the shepherding; the shepherding of the mother and father.
Think of that voice – that voice of God. I know many people were praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet before 8:00 Mass this morning. They were praying the Rosary at Resurrection in Smith Mountain Lake yesterday afternoon. We had a devotion at Lexington to the Eucharistic Miracles, and that devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. How many have heard in those moments of still and quiet, not the focus on each Hail Mary, but letting the beads slip through the fingers, creating a spirit of tranquility, a spirit of quiet order, a spirit where life is restored and recentered, and that, I suspect, is that voice, the voice of the shepherd that the sheep hear?
It’s helpful to begin with the assumption that all of us are sheep and shepherd. Because I’m the sheep, too. I’m the one who gets lost and is stubborn and doesn’t want to hear it. And so, I’m that, too. It’s helpful to not think of yourself as one or the other. We’re all both.
When a baby’s been around Mom since the beginning, it knows that voice. Think of it, kids, and I think Mothers can probably tell you. Sometimes Dad, too, but I think Mom has a special place here for many.
Maybe the first time after you were born that Mom and Dad went out on a date – finally got out a little bit – but as far as you were concerned, you couldn’t put it into words as we often can’t. You couldn’t put it into words, but your world as you knew it was coming to an end. Total disorder; total chaos; now what? Where do I go from here? Then, maybe the babysitter had some nice sweets and cooing, and some music. But at some point, that began to wear off, and your cry started to rise. It may well have been that only when you heard your mother’s voice again did the world begin to be a friendly place again, a place where you could count on a certain order, where you could count on a certain tranquility, because you knew you were in a safe place. There was a place you were protected.
The image of Christ as the Good Shepherd has a second element. Did you hear that part of the gospel that said, “I am the gate for the sheep”? Well, you say, how could you be the shepherd and the gate? How can you be both?
I learned about a sheepfold, as they called it in those days. Imagine a stone wall in the shape of a circle, with one entrance. They would put thorns and bristles and shrubs and bushes on top of the wall, so that basically no predator could jump over and attack the flock. Where did the shepherd sleep? Right in the doorway – the one entrance. So, I suppose the way we would put it, the shepherd’s making a statement. “If you’re coming in here, you’re coming in over my dead body.”
When I sort-of retired, I wanted to go to a campus town. Many of you know I live in Lexington with Washington & Lee and VMI. Part of my reason was that I’d seen a lot of kids in college begin to lose faith. And I began to ask myself the question, “What’s going on here?” It seems to happen sort of quietly, drip by drip by drip. And all of a sudden, what was there isn’t there anymore. So, what’s going on here? What’s wrong with this picture?
Part of me said, I don’t want them to lose the gift that’s most precious. This gift is most precious of all: the work of Christ, and how it touches us; our vision of the human person; our vision of who we were from the moment of our conception, and our great human dignity from the moment of our conception and all through life. I don’t want them losing that. So, I was focusing on college. I want to give them the words so they know how to recognize when something’s wrong with the picture, and they know what words to use. They know what to say.
Of course, as Covid came on, many of us have had sort of a rude awakening: That it isn’t just college kids. It drips on down, in multiple respects, and it’s fair enough if there are those who think the state does a better job than parents. They have a right to think that. I don’t have an obligation to believe it: I think it’s dead wrong. It’s incumbent upon us to be that protector, to be that voice of the shepherd, to learn the words ourselves. It can’t just be a feeling. We have to learn the words and say, “This is why it’s wrong.” So my kids can go to school and, when they hear things, they have a response.
Looking back, I feel that we haven’t protected them, largely out of ignorance, maybe some laziness. Because to learn the words of the Faith, to learn the depth of it, takes work. To develop that vocabulary, to be able to challenge the vocabulary that they get, that takes work.
But it’s a protection, I believe, worth offering. Ours is the greatest story. We need not fear other stories, but we have to take the time to study them, and then to respond to them and to say, “No, we’ve got something better.”
As we contemplate – Moms and Dads, and certainly priests and religious –It’s a tough place to begin for most of you, I think, maybe saying to yourself, “I wouldn’t know where to begin putting the words to this thing; I’m clueless.” Well, I say some of the same words. But you know something? I think clueless is the best place to start. Because God – we need Him. Because now it’s not just a pleasant thing on a Sunday – now we need Him.
And then we offer ourselves and just say, “Do with me what You want and, just, Lord, one thing: Don’t let me get in Your way. Don’t let me get in Your way. I give You permission to do what you want with me. And to sit and see how You, like in every generation, have set things right.”KEEP READING
Third Sunday of Easter
April 23, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33 / Ps 16 / 1 Pt 1:17-21 / Lk 24:13-35
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon
[Parish children received their first Eucharist today. The first part of the homily is directed toward them.]
The Eucharist makes us like Jesus, who said, “I am the light of the world (Jn 8:12).” Therefore, when you receive Holy Communion, you become a light in the world. This is why St. Paul wrote that you are meant to “shine like stars in the world (Phil 2:15).” So, it is right that you all decorated candles and put them on the windowsills. Candles are a sign of Jesus, our light. There are candles by the ambo to signify Jesus, the light as the Word of God, and by the altar, Jesus, the light as the body and blood of God. Jesus wants us to be a light in the world. How?
Jesus told us how. He said, “Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 13:34).” So be kind to everyone, especially those that others are mean to or make fun of or ignore. Be loving to everyone in your home. Obey your parents; remember that Jesus was made perfect in His obedience (Heb 5:8-10). Spend time with Grandma and Grandpa; you are their joy, and the time you spend with them is a great treasure for them. Ask them to tell you stories from their life and you will learn much. Pray; God loves it when you talk with Him. He becomes a good friend when you spend time talking to Him every day. And by the way, if someone tells you the bread is only a symbol, you say: “That is heresy (Fr. Dan Beamon homily).”
[Rest of Homily]
As the youth are receiving First Holy Communion in our two parishes this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the mechanics of receiving. Please do not think I am judging your technique when you come forward. What I want to do is reduce the number of times Jesus’ precious body falls to the floor and to remove some of the anxiousness of the priest, deacon, and extraordinary Eucharistic ministers. Here is a refresher.
Now let’s open up God’s word a bit. Have you ever wondered what Jesus told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? Oh, to have been there and hear Jesus, the Word made flesh, teach scripture! In the gospel Luke wrote, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures (Lk 24:27).” Fr. Pablo Gadenz, in his commentary of the Gospel of Luke, suggests that we could be hearing what Jesus taught them when we read what is said by His followers in the Book of Acts (395).
We just heard an example of that in the first reading from Acts. Peter interprets to them what referred to Jesus in the scriptures. Peter said, “For David says of [Jesus]: I saw the Lord before me…My flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld (Acts 2: 25-27).” He was quoting King David’s Psalm 16, which we sang a few minutes ago.
I think Fr. Gadenz is on to something here, and it is exciting. It makes me want to read Acts again with the mindset that when Peter and Stephen speak, they are sharing what Jesus taught on the road to Emmaus! (By the way, the Hallow app has a daily podcast for the Easter season where Jonathan Roumie reads one chapter from Acts each day and Dr. Scott Hahn explains it.)
In this Road-to-Emmaus gospel passage, there is another important point. Jesus explains the scriptures and then He blesses and breaks the bread. This is what we do at every Mass. Why did Jesus not simply get straight to the Eucharist and then talk about scripture? Was the order important or simply coincidental?
In Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire Bible, he points out, as does Fr. Gadenz, it is the “divine purpose” to use scripture to gradually prepare our hearts and minds and to stir up our faith, but it is not until we see the Eucharist that we truly see Christ (Barron 445). This makes sense. Those two disciples were sad and agitated and downcast. Once they heard the Word of God and heard it explained, their hearts were “burning within them (Lk 24:32).” Then their “eyes were opened” and they were ready to see Jesus in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24: 31).
This is why it is so important to get our families to Mass. A mountain hike, a walk at sunset on the lake shore, holding hands with that special someone on the porch, gazing at the moon on a starry night, etc., reveal God to us Who is in all things, but ONLY at Mass do we hear Him clearly in the Word and see Him clearly in the Eucharist.
Bishop Barron says of Jesus in the Eucharist that He is “breaking his heart open in compassion.” What images does this bring to your mind? One is the priest breaking the consecrated bread and placing a piece in the chalice of blood and water. This is evocative of the blood and water that poured forth from His side on the cross, which is the like the image we celebrated last week on Divine Mercy Sunday with red and blue rays coming from His heart. And then I think of the Eucharistic miracles posted in the hallway of Holy Name of Mary, where the Eucharist became flesh. Scientists who were asked to analyze the tissue, without knowing where it came from, said that the tissue is that of a heart. Do you see a recurring image here? It is the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart.
No one knew Jesus’ heart more intimately than his mother, Mary. St. Pope John Paul II wrote about this, “And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled Him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion (Ecclesia de Eucharistia)?” John Paul is describing the Third Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Nativity, and is tying it to the Fifth Luminous Mystery, that he gave us, which is the Institution of the Eucharist. Imagine Mary looking at her Son’s heart in her hand at her first Holy Communion and her mind flashing back to holding Him in her arms at Bethlehem.
Mary, pray for us that every time we receive your Son in Holy Communion, we will see Him with your eyes and love Him with your Immaculate Heart. Amen.
Peter Kreeft. Food for the Soul – Reflections on the Mass Readings for Cycle A. Word of Fire 2022.
Bishop Robert Barron. The Word on Fire Bible_The Gospels. Word on Fire Ministries 2020.
Fr. Pablo T. Gadenz. Catholic Commentary of Sacred Scripture. The Gospel of Luke. Baker Academic, 2018.
Katie Yoder. 15 Quotes from St. John Paul II on his love for the Eucharist. Catholic News Agency (CNA) Oct 22, 2022.KEEP READING
February 22, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Jl 2:12-18 / Ps 51 / 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2 / Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Today is the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday. Our gospel today reminds us of the three traditional gestures, or balances, so that we can enter into the spirit of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This also helps us to prepare for the suffering and death and resurrection of Our Lord, who is the source of our salvation.
Today the Church asks us also to fast and abstain. Fasting is a form of penance that imposes limits on the kind or quantity of food and drink. This is applicable to ages fifteen to fifty-nine. Abstinence refers to refraining from certain kinds of food or drink, like meat or those cravings or those foods that we like to eat every day. This applies to ages fourteen and above.
Why, brothers and sisters, does the Church ask us to fast and eat only one full meal today and on Good Friday? (Fasting is only for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.) We don’t fast in order to save money or to lessen our expenses.
First, we fast so that what we gather or what we collect we can share with the hungry. Sanctifying ourselves has to do with tenderness and compassion for the poor and the needy. Our penance has a social dimension, so that we can be in solidarity with others who are hungry.
Second, we fast because we are hoping that we experience physical hunger, so that it will awaken in us a deeper level of hunger. What is that deeper hunger? It is the hunger for God, hunger and thirst for God.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters observe fasting, which they call Ramadan. It is said that, when they are at the height of their hunger because of long fasting, that is the time when they read the Koran, their holy book. They believe that, when the body is very hungry, it is open to receive God.
The same thing with us. When we feel hunger, it awakens the deeper hunger that we have: our hunger for God. This hunger of ours for the Lord will bring us to our brothers and sisters who are hungry because of poverty.
In our first reading, the prophet Joel tells us that God, the Lord, is gracious and merciful. In our second reading, Paul reminds us that we are God’s coworkers, and he urges us not to receive God’s grace in vain. Connecting the meaning of the two readings, they tell us that the mercy that the Lord has given us, we will need to share with others.
How can we keep our penance and our compassion from making us sad people, because doing our penance or showing an act of compassion can be a very challenging thing?
Fasting is not only for food but also for our bad habits. Yes, it is true that every one of us here has our favorite food, but we also have our favorite sins. During the season of Lent, we’re invited to avoid these sins by denying ourselves, by controlling our desires and cravings.
Going back to the question, how can we keep a happy heart even if we deny ourselves? A spiritual writer said: “We can be happy even with our sacrifices and self-denial if we put emphasis on what we say ‘yes’ to, not to what we say ‘no’ to.” If we focus more on what we say ‘yes’ to, that makes us happy.
If we want to be happy in all our sacrifices, we need to focus on the reasons why we say ‘yes.’ For example, as parents, your ‘yes’ to your children is “I want my children to be successful, and that’s my commitment, that’s my ‘yes.’ But that ‘yes’ has a payment. It involves a lot of sacrifices. That’s why, in order for my children to succeed, I must work hard. Sometimes I work overtime. When I get my salary, I will take good care of it, and I will not waste it on my vices.”
That’s a big sacrifice on the part of the parents. They work so hard, even if they are tired. They continue to work overtime because of their love for their children, because they have that vision, they have that ‘yes’ that “I want a good future for my children. That’s a big sacrifice and it is meaningful for me, as a parent, and that’s what makes my heart joyful.”
So, brothers and sisters, we focus our commitment on saying ‘yes,’ because if we do that, we can be closer to the Lord. Our penance, every time we celebrate the season of Lent, is to be closer to the Lord and closer to the poor and those who need our help.
Saint John Paul II said, “The deepest fulfillment of every human person is in the giving of self.” Who can do this? Who can give their selves to others? Only those people who are hungry and thirsty for God.KEEP READING
The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
January 1, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Nm 6:22-27 / Ps 67 / Gal 4:4-7 / Lk 2:16-21
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
During the Christmas season, the image of the Most Holy Virgin Mary with her child comes readily to mind. We see this image in all Nativity things, right in front of us, and in many other places, on many Christmas cards or postcards that we receive from our families or friends. It should also be in our hearts.
We have come together here today as a family of God on this first day of the New Year. We celebrate the maternity of Mary, the event around which this feast is celebrated. As we start the New Year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, thus reminding us of our other mother: of course, Mother Mary.
When a child is in danger, it will instinctively call out, “Mom” or “Mama.” That’s because the essence of being a mother is care, love, help, support, and concern for her children. As a Jewish proverb puts it succinctly, “God cannot be everywhere, so he created mothers.”
As we commemorate this solemn feast, the Church has for us these brief reminders. In the year 431 AD, the Council of Ephesus, an ecumenical council of bishops of the Catholic Church, settled whether Mary was to be called “Mother of Christ” – Christotokos, implying Jesus is merely human, or “Mother of God” – Theotokos. The Council decided on the title Theotokos, Mother of God, for Mary. The Council said that Mary is rightfully the Mother of God, therefore affirming the divinity of Christ.
In the Bible, the very first person to refer to Mary as the Mother of God is her own cousin, Elizabeth, who said in a loud voice, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” There is nothing wrong with invoking Mary with the title “Mother of God.”
So what do we mean when we invoke Mary as the Mother of God? When we say Mary is the Mother of God, we do not mean that from all eternity, our God took His Godship from Mary, or that Mary is the source of the Godship of Jesus. As the Catholic Church teaches us, Jesus Christ was eternally begotten by God, Light from Light, True God from True God, eternally begotten by the Father. It means that Mary did not give Jesus Christ His Godship; Mary only gave birth to the humanity of Jesus Christ.
However, right from the moment of conception, the baby in the womb of Mary was truly God and truly man at the same time. Therefore, the baby born from the womb of Mary is God and man. Mary gave birth to God and man. When we say Mary is the Mother of God, it does not mean that she gave Godship to Jesus; it only means that Jesus was God right from her womb.
Saint Thomas added to this by asking, “Do mothers beget bodies or persons?” As one priest asked, “Do our mothers merely give birth to our bodies, or to ourselves as persons?” As people, of course. Thus, Mary conceived in her womb the Son of God, not just His human nature, but His divine nature as well.
If we look at the attitude of the mother, it is very beautiful. At the start, when she still bears the child in her womb, she must take care of herself, in order that the child is not in danger. She can’t sleep at night, because she watches the child sleep. As the child goes to school, she’s the one preparing the provisions.
But on the other hand, the womb of the mother becomes a battlefield or war zone, the worst enemy of the unborn, defenseless child. The enemies of the unborn child are many: abortion, artificial birth control, cigarette smoking, drinking hard liquor, and many more. That is why the child, while still in the womb of the mother, experiences rejection, insecurity, human rights violations, and lack of love from the parents. This is not so of Mary, who follows God’s will to be the mother of Jesus, even though she is in danger of being punished through stoning.
There was a teacher who had just given her primary grade class a lesson on magnets. In the follow-up test, one question read My name starts with M, has six letters and I pick up things. What am I? She was surprised to find half of the class answered the question with the word mother. Of course, the answer was supposed to be magnet.
People especially need their mothers in times of need, of uncertainty, or insecurity. We need our mothers to pick us up. Perhaps even more so for those of us who are already old, not necessarily physically, but emotionally and spiritually.
So as we begin another year, with all the uncertainties that it may bring us, the Church is telling us that we need our Blessed Mother Mary. May we all be like Mary with our total trust and faith in the Lord.
Let us not put our hopes in someone or something that may only give us false and ephemeral hope in the end. Instead, we place our entire lives in the loving and caring presence of our God who is always there for us. He is Emmanuel, “God with us.” With Mary, we pray that the Lord will bless us this new year, and all the days of our lives.KEEP READING
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 31, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Ecc 1:2, 2:21-23 / Ps 90 / Col 3:1-5, 9-11 / Lk 12:13-21
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
An elderly man on the beach found a magic lamp. He picked it up, and a genie appeared. “Because you have freed me,” the genie said, “I will grant you a wish.” The man thought for a moment, and then responded, “My brother and I had a fight thirty years ago, and he hasn’t spoken to me since. I wish that he would finally forgive me.” There was a thunderclap, and the genie declared, “Your wish has been granted.” The genie continued, “You know, most men would ask for wealth or fame, but you only wanted the love of your brother. Is it because you are old and dying?” “No way!” the man cried, “But my brother is, and he’s worth about sixty million dollars.”
Brothers and sisters, in the gospel, a man asks Jesus to interfere and to help settle a problem in the family concerning the division of ancestral property. He says, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” In Jewish culture, as well as in many other cultures, to be chosen as mediator is something honorable. Normally, people would ask someone to mediate because of the person’s good standing in the community. Jesus appears to decline the invitation and gives the reason for His refusal when He says, “Take care to guard against all greed. For though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” The Lord suspects that this conflict about the inheritance is driven by greed, and He does not want to take part in it.
Brothers and sisters, up through today, many family feuds are caused by a selfish interest in inheritance. Because of a piece of land or property, siblings give silent treatment to one another, file civil lawsuits against each other, and in some situations, harm or even kill one another.
To show his disgust with greediness, the Lord tells the parable of the man with the bumper crop, the man who built bigger barns to store up his harvest and secure his comfortable future. He is called a fool by God. Why? What did this farmer do to displease God? There is no sign that the man is dishonest or that he cheats others in order to gain more.
However, if we read between the lines of the parable, we can tell that the farmer is wrong on at least two counts. Number one, he celebrates bountiful harvests without being grateful. He believes that he is successful in farming because of his own efforts. Thus, he does not feel beholden to anybody, not even to God. And second, he depends solely on material possessions for his security and happiness. He believes that by becoming wealthy, his future is guaranteed. The farmer in the parable is a fool, because he forgets that all of creation is from God.
There is nothing that we can claim as our own in this world. Even personal achievements cannot come without God’s grace. We should remain grateful to God, because He is the reason for all our being and becoming. The person who thinks he succeeds through his own effort only tends to become proud and selfish, while he who recognizes that every blessing comes from God tends to become humble and generous.
Moreover, the farmer is foolish to think that his wealth alone would make him happy. The experience of so many lonely, rich people is proof that possessions do not guarantee life and happiness. In fact, there’s more to life than money and material things. Love, friendship, intimacy, and other Christian values are essential for joyful and meaningful living.
In the days of King Solomon, there lived two brothers who reaped wheat in the fields of Zion. One night, in the dark of the moon, the elder brother gathered several sheaves of his harvest and left them in his brother’s field, saying to himself, “My brother has seven children. With so many mouths to feed, he could use some of my bounty.” And then he went home. A short time later, the younger brother slipped out of his house, gathered several sheaves of his wheat and carried it into his brother’s field, saying to himself, “My brother is all alone, with no one to help him harvest, so I’ll share some of my wheat with him.” When the sun rose, each brother was amazed to find that he had just as much wheat as before.
The next night they paid each other the same kindness, and they awoke and found their stores still full. But on the third night, they met each other as they carried their gifts into each other’s field. Each threw his arms around the other and shed tears of joy for his goodness. And when King Solomon heard of their love, he built the temple of Israel there on the place of brotherhood.
Brothers and sisters, what does it matter if you have all the riches in the world, but have no real friends? What does it profit if you manage to get the bigger share of an inheritance, but lose a brother or a sister in the process? Would not love and intimacy in the family be more important than a piece of property?
In the first reading, the book of Ecclesiastes tells us that all things are vanity. When death comes, all of our human achievements, including material possessions and honorific titles, will be left behind. St. Paul, in the second reading, wisely admonishes that it is better to set our hearts on what pertains to higher realms and not on things of Earth. What are these higher things that St. Paul is talking about? What else, but the virtues that Christ our Lord would like us to have, such as love, compassion, generosity, mercy, and forgiveness. These virtues will accompany us to Heaven, not our earthly honors or possessions.KEEP READING