Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2023 – Year A
Readings: Acts 6:1-7 / Ps 33 / 1 Pt 2:4-9 / Jn 14:1-12
by Rev. Dan Kelly, Guest Celebrant
“Amen, amen, I say to you.” Why do we hear this repetitiveness? It’s kind of Jewish prose, if you will. A way of speaking, a way of writing even.
As a youngster, attending Holy Mass when it was celebrated in Latin. Maybe I was only in fourth grade or so. I was captivated by some of the repetitions that I would hear. When the priest would read the gospel, it would be read in Latin, and then it would be read in English. And the priest would say, “Amen, amen, dico vobis.” So when I came home from Mass, I would say to Dad, “Amen, amen, dico vobis.” It was such a familiar thing to me, I actually knew what I was saying, because he gave it to us in English too. But that sort of rhythm was something that captivated me. It was also part of the Hebrew heritage of the repetitiveness, for calling attention: “Amen, amen I say to you.”
The other thing I want to call your attention to is the fact that we have in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles the naming and the calling of the first deacons. They chose seven men filled with the Holy Spirit. The first deacons: Stephen, filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Timon, Parmenas, Nicanor, Nicholas of Antioch, a convert. They presented these men to the apostles.
We’re anticipating, coming in just a few weeks, the Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. And I’m wondering when’s the first time that I ever thought seriously about the Holy Spirit. It was when I was to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. You’re going to receive the Holy Spirit when the bishop comes in. He’ll be wearing that tall hat called a mitre, and he will walk down the aisle and then he will face you. You will come forward, and he will anoint you and put hands on your head and confirm you in the Faith. And you will be Soldiers of Christ. It meant you had the courage and the strength to defend your faith in Jesus Christ.
Now what about those men selected to be deacons? What is this role of deacon about? They don’t collect any salary. What they do is serve in their parishes. There you have a little summary of the diaconate, much of which you may have already known.
I’m going to turn now to the gospel. It’s the Last Supper, and the apostle John is remembering all this. Jesus is talking to the apostles, if you remember. They ask Him, “Where are You going?” And He has to explain. Jesus knows that He’s about to die. He also knows that He will be spending the night in agony in the garden. So He’s trying to explain to His apostles at the Last Supper how they must have strength and must have courage.
Soon we will have the feast of Pentecost in which the Holy Spirit comes down upon the apostles. Not only the apostles, but others too, including the Blessed Virgin Mary. But He knows that they need to have strength. He will be arrested. And the next day He will be on trial. They’re going to see some terrible things happening to their leader, and they’ll remember His healings, His raising of the dead, Lazarus and others, and His driving the devil out and of those who were possessed by the devil.
On that night, He also gives His commandment to love one another. As Jesus washed the feet of His apostles what did Peter say? Oh, you’re not going to wash my feet. And Jesus answered, Peter, if you don’t let me wash your feet how can you enter into the Kingdom with me then? What else did Peter say? Wash my head. Wash me all over, if that’s what it takes.
So why did Jesus wash the apostles’ feet? Because the washing of feet was done in a household by the lowest slave. And Jesus Himself takes that role of a lowest servant in a household and puts on an apron and washes the feet of His disciples. By doing so, He reminds them that that’s what they need to be doing.
The path to death does not end with death. And that is what we can recall too. Whenever illness, great illness affects us or loved ones in this life we have this great confidence and hope in life eternal. God bless us all in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.KEEP READING
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 18, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Am 8:4-7 / Ps 113 / 1 Tm 2:1-8 / Lk 16:1-13
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There is a story about an angel who appeared at a faculty meeting and told the dean that he had come to reward him for his years of devoted service. The dean is asked to choose one of three blessings: infinite wealth, infinite fame, or infinite wisdom. Without hesitation, the dean asked for infinite wisdom. “You’ve got it,” the angel said and disappeared. All heads turned toward the dean, who sat glowing in the aura of infinite wisdom. Finally, one of his colleagues whispered, “Say something.” The dean looked at them and said, “I should have taken the money.”
Wisdom, in the sense of being smart or shrewd, as we see in today’s gospel parable of the dishonest servant, is not an end in itself. One can be smart and use one’s smartness to do mean things. We know for a fact that many con artists and terrorists are smart people who use their smartness to create unhappiness in the world.
Today’s parable challenges us to be smart in the pursuit of the Kingdom of God, just as godless people are smart in their pursuit of selfish goals and ambitions. Jesus uses the example of a smart manager in his master’s business to teach us the need to be smart in the Lord’s service. We are challenged to imitate the manager’s shrewdness, not his dishonesty.
The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. Why did the master, who had made up his mind to fire the manager, now commend him? Probably the manager had been running his master’s business in a drab, routine, and lifeless manner, devoid of creativity and imagination. As a result, the business was failing, so the master decided it was time to fire him. He said, “Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.”
The manager is facing the real danger of being dismissed from service. He knows the seriousness of the situation. He knows exactly how helpless he is. That is why he says to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. (Luke 16:3) He is in a very difficult and precarious situation. He scratches his head and comes up with this ingenious plan to safeguard his future. The master praises him, because if the manager had been using such smart thinking in the daily running of the business, he would have been a much more successful manager rather than a failure.
The parable challenges all of us to be smart managers. Yes, we are all called to be managers. God has entrusted the whole of His creation into our hands as His managers. Jesus Christ, in addition, entrusts the kingdom of God, the kingdom of love, justice, and peace into our hands as His managers. World peace and harmony and the renewal of all things in Christ, are the business of us all, collectively and individually. Jesus calls it the Kingdom of God.
Our business as followers of Christ, ordained and unordained believers, is to help bring about the Kingdom of God, starting with our own selves. We have all been given the necessary resources to do this. We have been equipped with the truth of faith, we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts, and we have been given time. Sooner or later, we shall be called upon to render an account of how we have invested and managed these resources.
There is a story about a very rich woman who died and went to heaven. Saint Peter escorted her down a magnificent street on which each house was beautifully made like a palace. The wealthy woman saw one house that was particularly beautiful and asked who lived there. “That,” Saint Peter answered, “is the home of your servant.” “Well,” the woman said, smiling, “If my servant gets a house like that, I certainly look forward to seeing a palatial home for myself.” Soon they came to a narrow alley where the houses were small and cramped. “You will live in that house,” said Saint Peter, pointing with his finger. “Me? Live in a shanty? That’s an insult,” retorted the wealthy woman. “This is the best we can do for you,” Peter said. “You must understand that we only build your home up here with the materials you send ahead while you are still on earth.”
The Church reminds us today that it is now the time to send materials ahead of us in the afterlife, in order to build our homes in heaven. These materials are not construction materials that we can buy in a construction supply company. These materials are not just prayers and acts of charity but doing the day-to-day ordinary work in an extraordinary way. It means consciously performing your duties well, whether you are a lawyer, a government official, a teacher, a student, a policeman, or an ordinary citizen.
We don’t have to wait, like the dishonest servant, for the last-minute display of smartness to fix our eternal concerns. The time to be smart is now. The smart manager used what he could not give to get what he needed so badly: friendship with his business associates. We should likewise invest all of our temporal and spiritual resources to gain the only thing that matters in the end: the Kingdom of God.KEEP READING
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 28, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 / Ps 68 / Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a / Lk 14:1, 7-14
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon
This week, Jesus emphasizes the virtue of humility and next week, detachment. The world sees these two virtues very differently than Christians do. Humility is seen as weakness, and detachment is seen as a lack of drive. For Christians, however, these two virtues are powerful. They help us shrink our ego and fleshly desires so that we can fit through the “narrow gate” Jesus spoke of last Sunday when answering the question about how many will be saved. When our ego and fleshly desires shrink, then our souls can grow.
What is humility? The Christian definition is knowing who you are, and who God is, and not confusing the two. A good role model of humility will help us understand it, especially someone from everyday life. Around 2009, there was an unassuming, elderly usher named Jack at Holy Name of Mary parish. He would greet everyone with a smile while opening the door to the nave for them. Come to find out, he lived alone in my neighborhood. One Christmas I learned that he, a widower, was going to be alone over the holiday, so my wife and I invited him to our home for Christmas dinner.
That night he absolutely glowed while telling us how amazing his wife was, and how successful his children and grandchildren were. He also listened intently to and took joy in hearing our family’s stories. It wasn’t until his funeral that I learned that he was a great man, a Top Gun-type fighter pilot, highly decorated across two wars. He earned a graduate degree from MIT and is recognized as one of the fathers of the GPS. May God exalt you, Jack, for teaching us about humility.
Now let’s look at humility in the scriptures. In today’s first reading from Sirach, a book of wisdom, we hear, “Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” Jesus fulfilled these words perfectly. St. Paul best articulated this truth when he wrote that Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, but humbled himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of man, and obediently accepting even death on the Cross (Phil 2: 6-11). Humility has power. Jesus’ humility is infinitely powerful, and it paid our infinite debt so that we can be with Him in Heaven.
Peter Kreeft had a good take on the second reading from Hebrews, where he contrasts two mountains associated with God’s old law and old covenant and the new law and the new covenant. These are Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. In the reading from Hebrews, it talks about approaching Mount Zion, where the heavenly Jerusalem is. This heavenly Jerusalem is seen by John in the book of Revelation, descending from heaven. It was a vision of the Catholic Church, the mystical body of Christ. In the Old Testament, if the Jews touched Mount Sinai, which was enveloped by thunder and lightning while God spoke with Moses, they would die. They trembled and stayed back. In contrast, when we approach Mount Zion and the new Jerusalem, the Church…we live (Kreeft 551).
God, in the greatest act of humility that can ever be, came down in Christ Jesus that we could touch Him…as we do at Holy Communion. Humility enables us to learn from the Jews at Mount Sinai and remember Jesus is God when we approach Him. This keeps us from losing our sense of humble awe in Jesus’ presence in Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, and His presence in others, especially the baptized.
You might say that the messages in Sirach and Hebrews set the table for today’s gospel. Jesus is dining at the home of a “leading Pharisee.” To put it in perspective, imagine you are at a gala dinner hosted by a famous or powerful person. It’s not hard to imagine people trying to impress the host, jockeying for a prominent place to sit. At the Pharisee’s dinner, Jesus tells a parable that seems to be teaching these social climbers how to fake humility that they may “enjoy the esteem of their companions.” We know Jesus would not do that. So what was He doing?
What Jesus did is a powerful lesson in humility for us, especially how it helps us draw others closer to God. Peter Kreeft says that Jesus was meeting the Pharisee where he was spiritually (Kreeft 552). St. Paul in Romans 15 describes how to do this. “We who are strong in faith should be patient with the scruples of those whose faith is weak…Each should please his neighbor so as to do him good by building up his spirit (Rom 15: 1-2).” St. Monica, whose life is celebrated today, helped save her son, St Augustine, whose feast day is tomorrow, by being patient with his “weak faith and scruples” (an understatement), and praying for him until he discovered friendship with Jesus.
In doing so, St. Monica, like any devoted mom, emulated Jesus who “came not to condemn us, but that we might have everlasting life (Jn 3:16-17).” He came down to the Pharisee’s level to show him the path to a higher level, that he might be saved. We know this, because Jesus then shared that path with the Pharisee, saying, “…when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” The path to heaven that Jesus was showing the Pharisee was the path of humility lived out in service and love.
The Catechism says, “the baptized person should train himself to live in humility (CCC 2540).” Why? Because the deadliest sin is pride, and humility cures us of it. Along those lines, St. Augustine wrote, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” How do we train ourselves in the virtue of humility?
In Romans 12, St. Paul describes a way that aligns well with Jesus’ message in today’s gospel. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep….do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly (Rom 12:15-16)”. By doing these things, we not only combat pride but also its close cousin, the deadly sin of envy. I encourage you to read and reflect upon all of Romans 12 this week; it is filled with guidance on living life with genuine humility. Then pick one go-do from it and use it to train on living in humility.
Here are three more ways, from the Catechism, to train in humility so that our ego will fit through the narrow gate: pray, confess, and adore. Humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,” are we ready to freely accept the gift of prayer (CCC 2559). And when we confess our sins in prayer and in the Sacrament of Confession, we show “trusting humility.” The humility of confession is a “prerequisite for the Eucharistic liturgy (CCC 2631)”. In Adoration we acknowledge that we are a creature while adoring our Creator. In Adoration, humility is blended with love (CCC 2628).
By the way, Jesus waits for you in Confession each Wednesday evening at HNM starting at 5:30 and each Thursday after the 11 AM Mass at Resurrection. For you teens and twenty-somethings who like all-nighters with a friend, sign up for an hour with your best friend, Jesus, late at night next time all-night Adoration comes around. By doing so, you not only benefit yourself, but you help ensure others can benefit from Adoration by filling those difficult-to-fill slots so that it is not canceled.
Here are some closing thoughts. Humility is a gift that frees us from ego and pride. We must be free if we are to love God and others, for love only exist as an act of our free will. St. Mother Teresa said it this way, “It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted, and ardent.” Jesus was infinitely humble, real, devoted, and ardent on the Cross. He had a humble dad who did without question whatever God asked of him. He had a Mother who humbled herself and, just as Jesus said in the gospel, He exalted her. Thus, she wears a crown of humility as the “handmaid of the Lord” and a crown of queenship as the Mother of Christ the King (Lk 1:38; Rev 12:1).”
Mother Mary, our Queen, ask your Son to help us train ourselves in humility this week that we may ardently love Him and others and enter His Kingdom through the narrow gate. Amen.
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Wis 18:6-9 / Ps 33 / Heb 11:1-2, 8-19 / Lk 12:32-48
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
One day in 1780, the state of Connecticut was enveloped by a mysterious darkness. The same thought came to all: The Last Day had arrived. In the House of Representatives, members were heard asking for an adjournment, so that they could go home and wait for the Lord’s coming together with their families. The chairman, Abraham Davenport, made a short speech. “Either it is the day of judgment or not. If not, there is no need for adjournment. If it were the day of judgment, I would rather be found doing my duty. I wish candles to be brought.”
Brothers and sisters, the parable of today’s gospel focuses on the unpredictable return of Jesus and our need to be prepared for His return. He is saying to us, Ready or not, here I come.
Normally, when we think of being ready, we usually think of being prepared for the worst that could happen. Locks on the doors in case of thieves. Life jackets in the event of a boat accident.
Isn’t it interesting that most of us believe in preparation for many uncertainties, but not for the most important event of our lives? We carry a spare tire in our car as a preparation for a flat tire. We have insurance in preparation for our death. Fire truck in preparation for a fire. Airline stewards provide pre-flight instruction in preparation for turbulent weather. And we seek education in preparation for a good job.
Preparation, in our society, is a sign of wisdom. But think about this: Of all the preparations that we make for the things I just mentioned, not a single one is a certainty. Yet we feel compelled to prepare ourselves for them.
The return of Jesus is a certainty. We can never know precisely when He will return or when we will die, but His return is certain. We must constantly watch, being always faithful and ready, so that we may be found worthy to share in the heavenly banquet He has prepared for us.
The question of the parable is not whether or not Christ is coming again, or when He’s coming, or even how He’s coming. The point is being prepared for His coming and ready to receive Him whenever He comes, now or later.
When a family was vacationing in Europe, they found that they needed to drive three days continuously, day and night, to get to Germany. They all got into the car: Mom, Dad, and their three-year-old daughter. The little daughter had never traveled at night before. She was scared the first night in the car, seeing only the deep darkness outside the window.
“Where are we going, Daddy?”
“To your uncle’s house in Germany.”
“Have you been to his house before?”
“Then do you know the way?”
“Maybe we can read the map.”
“Do you know how to read the map?”
“Yes, we will get there safely.”
“Where are we going to eat, if we get hungry before arriving?”
“We can stop at restaurants if we are hungry,” the Dad replied.
“Do you know if there are restaurants on the way?”
“Yes, there are.”
“Do you know where?”
“No, but we’ll be able to find some.”
The same dialog was repeated several times during the first night and also the second night, but on the third night, his daughter was quiet. The Dad thought that she might have fallen asleep, but when he looked into the mirror, he saw that she was awake and was just looking around calmly. He couldn’t help wondering why she was not asking questions anymore.
“Dear, do you know where we are going?”
“Germany, uncle’s home.”
“Do you know how we are getting there?”
“Then why aren’t you asking anymore?”
“Because Daddy is driving.”
Because Daddy is driving. Yes, brothers and sisters, our Father is driving. We may not know the destination, and sometimes we may just know it as the child knew it – Germany — without understanding what or where it really is. In the road of life that we follow, there are many uncertainties and distractions. We do not know where the road will take us. We do not know when it will end. But one thing is certain: At the end of life’s journey, Our Lord will be there to meet us, to welcome us into the heavenly kingdom, if we have prepared ourselves.
Preparation cannot be a “sometime” thing but living each moment of our life for Jesus. If we can do that, we will be prepared to greet our Master whenever He comes.
How can one be prepared in this matter? If you can still remember when Jesus talks about the Last Judgment, He makes it clear that this preparation or preparedness would be measured by our readiness to serve the people we meet. He said, “What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do this unto me.” We have to complete the task entrusted to us every day and be at peace with, and at the service of, our neighbor now, to be ready for His Second Coming.
Another way is to be faithful to the life and mission of Jesus, as we await the end time, His Second Coming. Despite criticisms, rejection, pain, and suffering, let us remain faithful to the love of the Father, as Jesus did. Let us fulfill the mission entrusted to us, that is, to proclaim God’s reign to all.
God loves faithfulness and rewards those who are faithful to Him. What is faithfulness? It means keeping one’s word or promise, and commitment, no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a character trait of God and one that He expects of us.
May Jesus Christ be praised.KEEP READING
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 17, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Gn 18:1-10a / Ps 15 / Col 1:24-28 / Lk 10:38-42
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There is a story about three prisoners on death row, who were asked for their last wish. The first one wished for pizza. It was given to him, and then he was executed. The second one asked for a steak. It was given to him, and then he was executed. The third one asked for cherries. When the guard told him that cherries were not yet in season, he replied, “Well, that’s all right, I can wait.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us about the value of waiting, and the ways of waiting. Martha was the one waiting on the Lord, while Mary was the one who waited and listened at the Lord’s feet. Martha was busy and anxious serving the Lord, while Mary was still and calm, listening to the Lord. And in the end, Jesus tells us that Mary has chosen the better part.
There are a Martha and a Mary in each one of us. In prayer, may we be given the wisdom to know who we really are and what we should be, as we follow and serve the Lord. Mary sat beside the Lord at His feet, listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?”
The gospel also introduces us to two women: Martha, the perfect host, and Mary, the perfect disciple. They are both eager to serve Jesus, but they go about it in different ways.
Martha is the perfect host. She prepares the house for Jesus and His disciples. She cooks the food and serves everyone because she thinks they are tired and hungry. She has no idea that Jesus comes, not to be served, but to serve.
That is why Martha is so upset, so preoccupied with preparing nice food. She becomes anxious and even snaps at Jesus for allowing Mary not to help her in the household chores. But Jesus gently rebukes her. “Martha, Martha, you fret and worry about so many things, but just one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best portion.” Mary listens to Him, learns from Him, experiences His presence, and occupies a place that only men should have – sitting at the foot of her master – in order to learn and be taught.
Actually, Brothers and Sisters, we also experience this. When we invite someone to our house, after we greet them and welcome them, sometimes we leave them alone for some time while we continue to prepare their food. For example, we may give them photo albums to look at, or give them magazines to read, or the remote control for them to watch television. Like Jesus, our visitors didn’t come for a free meal; they came to be with friends. They came to be with us.
On the other hand, Mary is the perfect disciple. She sits beside the Lord at His feet, listening to His instructions and teachings. She seems to know instinctively that there is need for only one thing: to listen to the good news that Jesus brings.
This might be the reason that God created us with two eyes and two ears, but only one tongue. He wants us to speak less, but see and listen more, especially in our hearts. God cannot speak to a noisy heart. Second, the heart must be obedient and submissive. God cannot speak to a heart that denies, rationalizes, or postpones. Third, the heart must be open, so that all the deepest concerns and chambers can be reached and cleaned. In the same way, God cannot clean and heal a heart that is closed tight.
It does not mean that Jesus did not appreciate Martha’s hospitality, but He chided her for being so anxious and upset about many things. She forgot a very important element in her relationship with Jesus. That is, to allow time to listen to a friend, a beloved, and most of all, to her Lord and Savior.
Brothers and Sisters, we can discern from the action and reaction of Martha and Mary in serving the Lord their different forms of spirituality. With Martha, we have an active form of spirituality, while for Mary we have the contemplative spirituality. It is a combination of prayer and action and reflection which we need in our lives as Christians. Action and contemplation are not viewed as opposing forms, but complementary.
We are drawn to the danger of too much activity; we work and work as if there is no tomorrow. We are so involved in our apostolic activity, outreach programs, and looking for money, but we miss giving attention to enlivening our relationship with God, family, and friends, and listening to them.
If we have given so much time to work, we must also in the same manner, have time for prayer, meditation, reading scripture, and the Eucharist. All of us are a bit of Martha and Mary. We are both body and soul, and we must keep both in balance. We must give each of them its due. Jesus does not need people who work for Him; He needs people who do His work.
Lastly, let us pray that the Lord may teach us the value of being prayerful, hopeful, and joyful in waiting.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
April 14, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14 / Ps 116 / 1 Cor 11:23-26 / Jn 13:1-15
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There is a meaningful quotation from an unknown author that says: “It is not the number of servants you have that matters to God, but the number of people you serve.”
This evening’s Mass includes the washing of the feet. I will remove my outer vestment, the chasuble, before I perform the washing of the feet. This is also what Christ did before washing the feet of the twelve apostles. This gesture of Our Lord Jesus Christ, removing His outer garments, has a deeper meaning, not just removing it to make it more comfortable.
The outer garment is a symbol of our titles, our rank, our position in the community. It can be that you are a bishop, a priest, governor, mayor, doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, etc. But the question is, are we ready to remove that in order to serve? Jesus removed His outer garment in order to wash the disciples’ feet. In order for Him to serve, He forgets that He is the Son of God, the King of the Universe, the owner of everything, the all-powerful, the Creator.
That’s a great act of humility that Jesus did for all of us. That’s why, in Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Phil 2:6), he said: “Though He was God, He did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped at. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges. He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”
So Jesus took off His outer garment, His mantle of privileges, and put on an apron of service. That’s what Jesus did as an example of service for us. He forgets His titles, His privileges, and humbles Himself in order to become a servant.
During Jesus’ time, the people who washed feet were only those who were slaves or servants. That is why we can understand in our gospel why Peter refused to have his feet washed by Jesus. Peter could not say he treated Jesus as his master, teacher and savior, and then allow Him to wash his feet. Peter could not take it; that’s why he refused to let Jesus wash his feet.
Just imagine the Creator who kneels down before His creatures in order to serve them. That’s something very humiliating in the eyes of the world, in human eyes. Our Creator kneels down before His creatures in order to wash their feet. It’s something that’s incomprehensible for us. Perhaps the only explanation for us to understand the act of Jesus, is because of God’s great love for us. Only love can do that. And Jesus chose to do it in order to show us the example of how to serve and to be humble.
Perhaps, I can imagine, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, God the Father was looking at Jesus and was filled with so much joy and pride. Perhaps He said, “Here is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Sometimes it’s very important for us to forget our positions in order to humbly serve others. This reminds me of my former parishioner when I was still at Our Lady of Nazareth. The parishioner was a doctor, a pediatrician. One day a mother brought her child for a checkup, and it happened that, when they reached the clinic, her car broke down; she had a flat tire. When the doctor learned that she had a flat tire, he checked the child first, and after the checkup, he went to change the tire of his patient. He even accompanied the mother to bring the bad tire to the shop to be fixed. An act of service, an act of humility, forgetting oneself in order to serve others.
In the last verse of our gospel today, it tells us: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example to imitate.” This is the command of Jesus, especially today. That’s why Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” is from the Latin word mandatus, which means “commanded.” Jesus is giving us commands this evening.
The first command is to serve one another. Wash each other’s feet. We are all asked to serve one another, not only in times of crisis and trouble, but every day of our lives. I’m sure, every time we serve with humility, the Lord is pleased, seeing us helping and serving each other.
Also, Jesus’ command to His disciples to serve one another happened on the same night on which Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. After He gave the instruction of serving each other, He also instructed them to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, when He said, “Do this in memory of me.”
Jesus is giving us two commands: to serve one another and to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Holy Thursday is the first holy Mass that happened in the Catholic Church. The Holy Eucharist is a living memory when Christ gave Himself, Body and Blood, for the forgiveness of our sins. This is an expression of God’s great love for us. We are mandated to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, but let us also remember that Christ also commanded us to serve one another, to wash each other’s feet.
These two commands of Jesus are interconnected. They cannot be separated, simply because every time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, it gives us the strength and the courage to serve, and then our service will make the Eucharist meaningful for us.
That is why going to church every Sunday without serving is not good, because we fail to follow what Christ tells us to do.
To serve without going to church is also not good. Why? Because our motive for service is not for God, but for ourselves. That’s why the two must go together. Going to church, prayer, and service must go together. We cannot say, I don’t have to attend Mass; as long as I do good works, I’ll be fine. No, Jesus made that command, that instruction, for us to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him.
This reminds of the story of a sacristan who served the Church for a very long time, and one day she got ill. The priest visited the woman, and the woman looked worried. So the priest told the woman, “Don’t be afraid. Is there something you’re worried about?” And the woman said, “Father, I’m worried that, on the day I meet God, what I will tell Him.” The priest smiled and said, “What you need to do is just show Jesus your hands and your knees, and that will be enough.”
In this Mass we pray that, when the time comes for us to meet our Lord and Creator, our Judge, that our knees reveal our being prayerful, and our hands show we are merciful and helpful to those people who need our help.
Let us not forget: It is not the number of servants you have that is important to God, but the number of people you serve.KEEP READING
The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
December 25, 2021 — Year C
Readings: Is 52:7-10 / Ps 98 / Heb 1:1-6 / Jn 1:1-18
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
I’ve always had a special feeling for Christmas, because Christmas is one of the best memories I have of my childhood. I remember that in the Philippines, every Christmas after we attended Midnight Mass, my parents and siblings gathered together to watch the fireworks. After that, we prayed together and had our meal.
This is what Christmas is: It is fathers, mothers, children. It is learning how to love. It is learning how to care. It is learning how to be the people that we really want to be and know we can be, if we have enough faith in ourselves and in the people around us. (more…)KEEP READING
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 17, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Is 53:10-11 / Ps 33 / Heb 4:14-16 / Mk 10:35-45
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There is a story about three sons, who left home, went out on their own, and prospered. Later, when they were reunited, they discussed the gifts they had been able to give to their elderly mother.
The first one said, “I built a big house for our mother.”
The second one said, “I sent her a Mercedes with a driver.”
The third smiled and said, “I’ve got you both bested. Remember how Mom enjoyed reading the Bible? You know she can’t see very well, so I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church twelve years to teach him. He is one of a kind. Mom just has to name chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it.” (more…)KEEP READING
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 19, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Wis 2:12, 17-20 / Ps 54 / Jas 3:16-4:3 / Mk 9:30-37
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Who is above all of us? Who is the most powerful? Who is the most respected? In today’s gospel, this is what the apostles were arguing about. As Jesus spoke of His coming pain, the disciples insisted on exaggerating themselves.
Our gospel today reminds me of a beautiful story that moved me. It is about a wealthy man and his son, who loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They often would sit together at night and admire the great works of art. (more…)KEEP READING