Twenty first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 27, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Is 22:19-23 / Ps 138 / Rom 11:33-36 / Mt 16:13-20
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon
Thank you, Jesus, for calling Simon to be the Rock upon which the Church would be built! Jesus called him this before Simon had gained Christian courage or fortitude at Pentecost. He called him the Rock knowing that just moments later He would chastise him, saying, “Get behind me Satan.” He called him the Rock while knowing Simon would one day deny Him three times when He needed Simon the most.
Hang on to that thought a moment; we will come back to it in the second half of this homily. But now, let’s use a powerful prayer-centering technique from St. Ignatius of Loyola and place ourselves in the gospel scene. This is a time for you to use your imagination in a holy way that God intended. Once you have the image in your mind, go back to it whenever your mind wanders. It will help you stay centered. You can do this any time you pray with scripture.
Jesus and the twelve were in Caesarea Philippi, a mostly Gentile area with a temple to the ancient Greek god, Pan. There is a large spring there, which helps form the headwaters of the Jordan river. The spring makes the area lush with greenery. The area is mountainous with brown, grey, and orange-streaked rock all around.
Imagine Jesus and the twelve and you stopping underneath the shade of some trees and sitting on some of those rocks common to that area. There is a breeze cooling us off after our long walk from Galilee. Jesus sits on the largest of the rocks and begins to speak to us. Place yourself in this scene next to a disciple, except Peter. If your mind wanders, recall this scene and where you are sitting.
Jesus asks, “Who do people think I am?” We have all heard different things. Then He asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Before any of us can think it through, Simon says, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” Jesus tells him that neither his intellect nor that of others came up with that answer, “[B]ut it was revealed to you by my heavenly Father.” And then Jesus stuns us who know Simon’s weaknesses, saying, “I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church…I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”
You lean over to the disciple you sat next to and ask, “Why did Jesus call Simon by the name Peter?” He replies, “When God changes a person’s name it is because He is giving them a new mission and a new authority. God did this with Abraham and Sarah who became the father and mother of the nations.” You suddenly realize God did this with Peter who becomes the first Pope. Pope is Latin for papa or father; Peter is to be the Father of the Church to which all nations belong (Cavins Session 15).
You ask the disciple, “What does it mean that Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven and that what he binds and loosens will be done in heaven too?” The disciple lightheartedly ribs you, saying, “You should have paid more attention to the first reading from Isaiah 22,” and he winks at you. He goes on, “Jesus was using the same language used by Isaiah. In Isaiah, a royal steward, Shebna, is removed from power and the keys were given to Eliakim. Stewards were the most powerful person in Israel under the king (Mitch_Sri 209).”
You tell him, “I learned in Adult Faith Formation that the power to rule in the king’s absence is denoted by keys that represent the office, not the person, and therefore this power or office can be handed down to successors (Cavins). There are some in my time who say that Peter had primacy among the twelve, but that it ended when he was martyred. They are wrong. The bible and historical records prove them so.”
The disciple asks you, “In your time, do you know what authority Jesus gave Peter?” You Google Catechism 553 and read to him while he looks curiously over your shoulder at the cell phone. “The keys are a symbol of his power to open the gates of heaven to men; ‘to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church.’” Not to be outdone by a machine, the disciple one ups Google and adds, “Jesus was using an ancient Jewish idiom or figure of speech of binding and loosing whereby rabbis exercised teaching and juridical authority (Mitch_Sri 211).
You tell him, “I heard in Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Catechism in a Year podcast that the authority of the pope and the college of bishops that we call the magisterium is vitally important to our faith. First, because authority must exist if we are to learn to be obedient like our Master, the one sitting on that tall rock over there, of Whom it was said, “Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (Heb 5:8-10).” The disciple animatedly adds, “That is why we must teach our children to be obedient. We cannot be their buddy all the time. If they do not learn to obey their earthly mother and father, how will they learn to obey their heavenly Father through the Church?”
You emphatically agree, mentioning that, “Obedience to the Church is important to ensure the teaching of Jesus is not distorted by a constantly changing worldly culture or our own passions or brokenness. For example, there are Christians who now believe baptism is not necessary for salvation despite Peter’s writing later that, “[B]aptism now saves you (1 Pt 3:21).” End of the scene. Now let’s shift from the theology of today’s gospel to its spiritual meaning for our lives.
Recall that at the beginning of the homily I thanked Jesus for selecting Simon as head of the Church. Here is why. Prior to his being confirmed in the Spirit at Pentecost, he would sink in the water for he had little faith. He would tempt Jesus to avoid His Passion, prompting Jesus to say those words I mentioned earlier, “Get behind me Satan.” In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter would fall asleep multiple times while Jesus prayed alone in agony. While Jesus was on trial, Peter denied his friendship with Him three times. Despite knowing all this would take place, Jesus called him “the rock” before Pentecost.
So here is the question we all must answer, “Where is Jesus calling you to be a rock, but you resist His call because you feel unworthy, inadequate, ignorant, weak, too busy, too old, or too young?”
We know our past and our weakness almost as well as Jesus does, but we do not know as well as He does our strength, and especially not how strong we will be in the future by His grace. When He calls you to be a rock for a friend, for your spouse, for your children, for your students or patients or customers, for the poor, or for this wonderful parish, you can trust He knows you better than you know yourself.
What about when you fail after He calls you to be a rock for someone or something? Again, Peter shows us the way. In his fear and confusion after Jesus’ arrest, he continued to follow Jesus as best he could, albeit at a distance. By doing so, when Peter hit “rock bottom” (pun intended), denying Jesus three times, he was still near enough to Jesus to receive His saving grace, His divine glance. Across the high priest’s courtyard, Peter saw how Jesus looked at him and the healing and conversion of heart began with Peter’s holy sorrow falling as tears.
When you feel the frustration and hopelessness of your repeated failures to do God’s will or the confusion from being deep in darkness and despair from the natural evil of serious illness or the death of a loved one, or addiction, or the uncertainty of a new season in life like retirement, keep following Jesus. We do that by following Him in prayer, adoration, Confession, and Holy Communion. In those moments, even if we are not feeling strong in faith, we are close enough to see how He looks at us.
His glance, His gaze starts the healing and strengthening that enables us to fully receive the grace of our Pentecost, Confirmation. And this awakening to the power of the Holy Spirit within us transforms us from being unstable in doubt to being a rock in faith. But we still must move and act.
Here is my personal testimony to this truth, and this is for the glory of God. When I was six years old, Jesus called me a rock, if you will, in the happy moment of my first Holy Communion when I was asked to read one of the readings. It meant a lot to me at that time in my life. But then life happened. My dad lost his way, which led to my losing my way. I didn’t go to Mass or pray or think about God during my teenage years. Yes, Jesus brought me back to the Church through marriage, but I still was filled with self-doubt, worsened by sin and the baggage from those years, without an awareness of Him.
Fast forward to 2016, before I began the process of becoming a deacon, Jesus asked me to be a rock for my brother, Kevin, who was dying of cancer in home hospice and who was estranged from the Church. I had no medical training and no hospice experience. I tended to lose control of my emotions when those around me were experiencing strong emotions. Furthermore, I was the baby of my family, the youngest of five.
Through unmerited grace, I found the courage to fly to New Orleans to care for Kevin. As it turned out, his condition was direr than the doctors thought. The six weeks of life they thought he would have were only to be one. Throughout that week, in a somewhat surreal way, I was pondering the inner strength and joy I was experiencing. And I was quietly amazed that everyone turned to me, the normally overly emotional baby of the family, for strength and hope when they were overcome by fear and sadness.
A day or two after Kevin died, as we were in the midst of funeral planning, I received a text from my brother-in-law. He is a thinker, a cardiologist, so his opinions are something you pay attention to. I’ll never forget his few short words, which, looking back on it, were surely those of Christ. “Mark, you are the rock of your family.”
So again, I encourage you to rethink whatever person or cause or need for which Jesus has asked you to be a rock. And in a few minutes, before you come forward for Holy Communion, look for that divine glance as Father elevates Jesus before us and pray with a renewed faith, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” And maybe add in the quiet of your heart, “I will be a rock for whomever and whatever as you wish Lord.” St. Peter, once weak, but now the rock, pray for us. Amen.
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition. Ascension Publishing 2018.
Curtis Mitch & Edward Sri. Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, The Gospel of Matthew. Baker Academic 2010.
Jeff Cavins & Sarah Christmyer. Matthew – The King and His Kingdom. Ascension Press 2011.
Fr. Mike Schmitz. Catechism in a Year. Podcast on Hallow App 2023.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
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 22, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 / Ps 67 / Rev 21:10-14, 22-23 / Jn 14:23-29
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon
I’ll always remember when my wife and I learned the Church’s teachings on birth control. We were newly married and living in Austin, Texas, while I attended the university there. We were a sharing couple on Engaged Encounter weekends and needed to learn about Natural Family Planning, so that we could answer couples’ questions on the retreat weekends. But as we were driving home down I-35 in our Chevy Luv pickup, with no AC and no radio, after the Natural Family Planning class, we were somewhat in a state of shock at what we had learned. We drove in silence for a time, and then I looked over at Catherine, and said, “We are going to do this, aren’t we?” She said, “Yes.” And I remember a feeling of excitement and rightness.
And when we conceived a child a few months later, we were a little frustrated. But the Church proved wiser than us. That child is our oldest son. He has given us much joy over the years. Some angst too, to be sure. But when I needed help at the drop of a hat, when my brother died in New Orleans a few years ago, he dropped everything and flew there to help. And he has helped us on our property, when my health gets me behind. And he and his wife have blessed us with five grandchildren. None of those blessings would have come to us if we had not taken a leap of faith and submitted to the authority of the Church, trusting that the Holy Spirit guides her to all truth (Jn 16:13).
We should have the same feeling about submitting to the Church’s authority as we do to Jesus’, because He gave His moral and teaching authority to the Catholic Church. A great proof of this is the apostle Paul, who received a powerful, life-changing personal revelation from Jesus that no one received. Despite that supernatural moment in his life, he submitted himself to the Church’s authority when a dispute over matters of morals and faith arose (Acts 15:1).
To understand why St. Paul did this, it helps to read the readings in reverse order. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells the apostles, “Whoever loves me will keep my word… and the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14: 15, 26). He expands this teaching a little later, telling them that “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (Jn 16: 12-13). The Church is led to and bound to the truth by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ words about the Holy Spirit are fulfilled by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In the first reading, which comes from Acts, we heard that there was a heated debate about whether circumcision was required in order to be saved (Acts 15: 1). To resolve it they each read the scripture and prayed to the Holy Spirit and came to their own personal conclusions. Not! What the reading said was, “It was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders (same Greek word used for presbyters and bishops elsewhere in the Bible) about this question” (Acts 15:2). The apostles discussed the question and made a proposal, which Peter then announced. This was the first Church Council.
In the second reading, from Revelation, we hear of twelve courses of stone with the names of the twelve apostles on them (Rev 21:14). Here is the thing about foundation stones. They do not sit there passively. They transmit their power to the stone above them, and those stones to the stone above them and on and on. Thus, this analogy gives us a powerful image of Apostolic Succession.
According to Apostolic Succession, today’s bishops are the successors to the apostles, and the bishop of Rome is the successor to Peter who had primacy among them. The bishops in communion with each other and the Pope form the magisterium, which is the teaching arm of the Church. It was to this body that Jesus gave His authority and the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide them to all truth. Therefore, we should be obedient to that authority.
Obedience is not a popular topic. There is a lot of talk about freedom in our world, but lately, it is increasingly focused on personal beliefs and choices. However, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and the truth will set us free” (Jn 8:32; 14:6). Our personal opinions will not make us free when they conflict with the Church’s teaching. Through the Holy Spirit, the Church’s teaching is the same as Christ’s teaching. St. Joan of Arc said, “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”
To be truly free, we must obey Christ who speaks to us through His Church by the Holy Spirit. To speak and to do things contrary to Christ’s teaching is a sin, and sin always enslaves us. Sin is a cruel master that entices us with attractive packaging and then snares us. Sin always has strings or chains attached that latch on to us and pull us away from our brother, Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ. It dulls our intellect, mutes our creativity, corrupts our charity, and just plain makes us miserable.
What do I mean by “corrupt charity?” One of the best examples is the belief that killing someone is an act of mercy. One example of this is physician-assisted suicide. A Holy Name of Mary parishioner named Bill shared a story that highlights this corrupt charity and contrasts it with the Church’s divinely inspired wisdom.
His brother Joe was dying from COPD, so Bill traveled to see him in the hospital, which was in another state. He asked the nurse what the plan was. She described a process where they would give him morphine and slowly turn down his oxygen until he died. Bill said, “You are going to euthanize him!” The nurse shrugged her shoulders. Bill demanded an alternative plan. They came up with one, and it worked. As a result, they were able to stabilize Joe’s oxygen level so that he could be transported safely back to his home. This gave Joe his final wish to die in his home. God blessed Bill for taking a leap of faith and obeying the Church’s teaching by blessing him and his brother with six more weeks together, and Joe, God bless him, died in the peace and comfort of his own bed, next to his wife.
We can see from both the stories I’ve shared that the Catholic Church has wisdom, but does she claim too much authority? No. I think Peter Kreeft defends her authority well, writing, “Her teachings on matters of morals and faith are non-negotiable, not because she claims too much authority, but because she claims she has none…but Christ’s.” (Kreeft 309)
To help us understand the need to obey and the good that obedience brings, Jesus used the image of Himself as our Good Shepherd (Jn 10). The Good Shepherd calls his sheep by name, and they know Him and follow Him. And if the sheep get into trouble, He lays down His life for them to save them. The sheep obey their shepherd because they know Him. By praying, reading our Bible, and going to Mass we come to know Him. They obey Him because they trust Him to lead them to safe pastures where they will live life abundantly (Jn 10:10). We learn to trust Him by taking leaps of faith and experiencing the good it brings. He calls us by our name, not by a label like Satan does when he calls us by the name of our sin to shame us.
When we, the sheep, disobey, we stray away from the Good Shepherd; this is sin. This is a dangerous time for us. Mind, body, and soul are in danger away from the shepherd. When one sheep strays, it can lead another into danger; sin is contagious. We see this in the world today. Isaiah described this dangerous situation like this, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Is 53:6). Interestingly, this dire warning is in the middle of Isaiah’s passage about the suffering servant, our Good Shepherd and Savior.
When “every one goes his own way,” individuals, communities, cities, states, and nations become unstable and unhappy. This state of affairs was captured beautifully in Psalm 42, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” (Ps 42:5). Jeff Cavins points out that when a sheep is cast down, it means it has fallen over and cannot get up. Cast down sheep are unstable and unhappy, and if the shepherd does not right them, they will die. (Jeff Cavins; Hallow App)
I will close by addressing an issue that may be on your mind when speaking of being obedient to the Catholic Church. The Church consist of laity, consecrated religious, deacons, priests, and bishops, and all are sinners. Some have committed horrific, criminal acts. No human institution is free from sin. However, only the Church is One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic. It is One through Christ, Holy through the Holy Spirit and catholic (meaning universal) through all of us in communion with all the believers around the world. Finally, it is Apostolic by Jesus’s decree to his disciples. “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Lk 10:16)” Lord Jesus, who were perfected through obedience, may we choose happiness and abundant life by following and obeying only you, our Good Shepherd, through our Mother Church, Amen.
Citation for Peter Kreeft: “Food for the Soul – Reflections on the Mass Readings for Cycle C.” Published by Word on Fire in 2021.KEEP READING
Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 8, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Acts 13:14, 43-52 / Ps 100 / Rev 7:9, 14b-17 / Jn 10:27-30
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Four clergymen, taking a short break from their heavy schedules, were on a park bench chatting and enjoying an early Spring day.
“You know, since all of us are such good friends,” said one, “this might be a good time to discuss personal problems.” They all agreed.
“Well, I would like to share with you the fact that I drink to excess,” said one. There was a gasp from the other three.
Then another spoke up. “Since you were so honest, I’d like to say that my big problem is gambling. It’s terrible, I know, but I can’t quit. I’ve even been tempted to take money from the collection plate.” Another gasp was heard.
The third clergyman spoke. “I’m really troubled, brothers, because I’m growing fond of a woman in my church, a married woman.” More gasps.
But the fourth remained silent. After a few minutes, the others coaxed him to open up. “The fact is that I just don’t know how to tell you about my problem.”
“It’s all right, brother, your secret is safe with us,” said the others.
“Well, it’s this way,” he said, “You see, I’m an incurable gossip.”
Brothers and Sisters, jokes like this have shaped our view of priests, as if there is no difference between the life and work of a priest and that of other Christians. That is true only up to a point. We see another dimension to the life and work of priests when we consider it from the aspect of vocations, or the Call of God. This is the aspect that the Church wants us to dwell on today, as we observe the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Today the Church invites us to reflect on the meaning of God’s call, and to pray for an increase in vocations.
To help us reflect on the meaning of the priestly vocation, let us not only pray for religious vocations, but also encourage and support young men and women who have the inclination to walk the less-travelled road. If you feel you are called, or have the desire, to serve God and His people in a more meaningful way, and without having a family, a wife or children, then you are called to become a priest and to grab that opportunity given by God. You should inquire further and discern God’s will. You can consult me or some other priest regarding your desire, or call our Vocation Director.
One way of showing our love for God, especially for parents, is by supporting and encouraging our children to enter the priesthood. The family is the seedbed of vocations; a fertile ground for more vocations. Parents can demonstrate their faith in the way they encourage their children.
In last Sunday’s gospel, we heard Jesus three times give Peter the charge to “feed my sheep.” In that way, He made Peter a shepherd, a pastor, a priest. In today’s gospel, the Church presents to us the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Our Lord continues His work of shepherding His people through Peter and his co-workers, the apostles and the disciples, and through their successors, the Pope, the bishops, priests, deacons, catechists, laypeople, and others.
Today is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us what a good shepherd is. A good shepherd is present, knows, directs, tends, and protects the sheep.
We who are in involved in shepherding others in one way or another, would do well to ask ourselves today if we are good or bad shepherds or shepherdesses, in the light of today’s gospel.
First of all, a shepherd must be present to the sheep. How can the sheep hear someone who is absent, or is not accessible, or is hard to reach? We can say anything we want, or put up numerous excuses and reasons, but being present and being with the sheep are very basic and important.
Second, a good shepherd knows the sheep, or at least takes time and gives effort to get to know the sheep. We want shepherds who are genuinely interested and who genuinely care. A text message says it beautifully: People don’t care about what you know, as long as they know you care.
Third, a good shepherd leads and directs the sheep. He or she must have an idea, a direction, of where to lead the sheep. The good shepherd or shepherdess must have a clear vision and a strong sense of mission for the sheep.
Fourth, a good shepherd gives. He or she must have a sense of sacrifice. We need shepherds and shepherdesses who can also give us our sense of dignity, freedom, respect, and personhood.
Finally, a good shepherd protects the sheep. He or she must be aware and must protect us from all that would harm us. When push comes to shove, he or she must be ready to sacrifice life and limb for the good of the sheep.
So, Brothers and Sisters, on Good Shepherd Sunday, let us pray for more good shepherds of the church. Let us also pray for a better understanding and appreciation of the life and work of ordained ministers, so that more and more people avail themselves of the grace which God makes available through them. Let us also pray that more young people will be drawn to follow in their footsteps and generously answer the call of God.KEEP READING
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 30, 2022 – Year C
Readings: Jer 1:4-5, 17-19 / Ps 71 / 1 Cor 12:31 – 13:13 / Lk 4:21-30
by Rev. Louis Benoit, Guest Celebrant
In the gospel you heard last week, Jesus presented a grand vision of God’s plan for humanity: God’s plan for humanity through Jesus, God’s presence among them. The people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth at first were impressed – They liked it. But then they started asking, “Hey, isn’t this the son of Joseph, the local carpenter?” They go from seeing Jesus’ grand vision to seeing things from their local small-town viewpoint only. In their narrow vision, they miss God’s presence in Jesus, and they resent Him. That’s what’s going on in today’s gospel. (more…)KEEP READING
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 1, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Ex 16:2-4, 12-15 / Ps 78 / Eph 4:17, 20-24 / Jn 6:24-35
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
In last Sunday’s gospel, we read about the way Jesus fed a very large crowd of people with very limited resources—only five loaves and two fish. Everyone had their needs met. After that, Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee.
Today’s gospel tells us what happened afterwards. The people follow Jesus across the lake. When they meet Him, their reaction is, “Let us make Jesus our political leader, so we can eat well every day and have a supplier of our needs.” However, Jesus tells them frankly that they did not follow Him because they believed He was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and intended to grow spiritually. Instead, they followed Him because they merely wanted more food to eat. (more…)KEEP READING
Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 14, 2021 — Year B
Readings: 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23 / Ps 137 / Eph 2:4-10 / Jn 3:14-21
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
This, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is also known as Laetare Sunday, from the first word of today’s antiphon: Laetare! which means Rejoice! Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, gives us this special Sunday right in the middle of Lent. Lent tends to be a little bit somber: We’re fasting; we’re giving things up. Today, we’re called to take a break from that. It’s an opportunity to refocus, to reevaluate, to ask ourselves, “How are we doing?” (more…)KEEP READING
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 13, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Sir 27:30-28:7 / Ps 103 / Rom 14:7-9 / Mt 18:21-35
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
All of us know that learning never stops. We go to school and learn the basics, but we have to constantly keep up. My kids can’t imagine a world without the internet. It shows how the world has progressed in availability.
But just learning isn’t enough. Memorizing information can only get you so far. You have to process that information and actually learn the concepts. This can also happen with our faith. When we are young children, we learn Bible stories and our prayers. Hopefully, we don’t stop there. We don’t just repeat what we have learned but digest the information and internalize it and learn the lessons it is meant to teach. (more…)KEEP READING
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 30, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Jer 20:7-9 / Ps 63 / Rom 12:1-2 / Mt 16:21-27
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
A couple of decades ago, I had the privilege of being around a group of Religious who were just sparkling with joy. They are called Dominican Sisters of Sparkill and I happened to be their chaplain for a couple of years. I would say those were “heaven on earth” experiences. It was a joy to watch those nuns, especially those who lived in the retirement section and the infirmary. They spent the whole day thanking and praising the Lord. (more…)KEEP READING
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 9, 2020 – Year A
Readings: 1 Kgs 19:9A, 11-13A / Ps 85 / Rom 9:1-5 / Mt 14:22-33
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
For the past few years, during religious education, I have given a church tour to various classes. These seem to go over pretty well. I show them many things within the church area – we talk about the holy oils, the tabernacle, the altar and the relics of the two saints who reside within the altar. This week as I was doing some research, I came across a piece of information that I knew but hadn’t thought about. I was reminded that the main part of the church is called the NAVE. This word comes from the Latin word for boat. The Church fathers all agree that, whenever you read about a boat in the Gospels, it is a metaphor for the Church. (more…)KEEP READING