October 8, 2017

Reading 1 IS 5:1-7

Let me now sing of my friend,
my friend’s song concerning his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;
he spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he looked for the crop of grapes,
but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I had not done?
Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes,
did it bring forth wild grapes?
Now, I will let you know
what I mean to do with my vineyard:
take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled!
Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to send rain upon it.
The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are His cherished plant;
He looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry!

Why did the vineyard produce wild grapes, not the crop of grapes? The vineyard owner did all he had to do, yet the outcome was not the right one.  This sounds similar to how God does everything to make us the best people we can be, but we still continue to sin.  He even sent His Son as a perfect Example for us to follow in our own lives, but we do not follow many times.  The vineyard owner let it go to ruin, and if we do not fix ourselves and live holy lives, He will let us go.  There is only so much God will do before He allows us to completely walk away from Him.  He wants us so much, but love is a choice.  He gives us free will so if we do not follow Him, we will suffer the consequences.

Reading 2 PHIL 4:6-9

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

I am one to have a ton of anxiety about anything and everything.  From what am I eating for dinner to how am I paying that bill to where am I going to be in 5 years and will my dreams ever come true?  It is no way to live.  I need to be more focused on what I do have and how much I have been blessed.  Prayer must be surrounding everything we do.  Don’t you always want to talk to your best friend?  When you went on a date with a cute boy, when you lost 5 pounds, when you fight with your sister?  Well, Jesus needs to be our Best Friend.  We need to constantly be talking to Him.  This will give us the ultimate peace of Jesus Christ.

Our thoughts are flooded and clouded by so many things that are not pure, honorable, lovely, gracious, true, and just.  We are thinking of things that are lustful, pleasurable, selfish, negative, deceiving, and so on.  We have to change that because thoughts affect words and actions.  Thoughts can change lives.  Even just think of how perception of a situation changes how you react to it.  True peace is not the absence of problems, rather it is the Presence of Christ.

Gospel MT 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. 
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. 
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned. 
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way. 
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.” 
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The Stone that the builders rejected
has become the Cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

This parable is very symbolic.  The servants that were killed can represent all the people and prophets that God sent to the people.  After so many great people were sent, God sent His Son to save us, just like the man sent his son to the tenants.  The vineyard owner surely would expect the tenants to treat his son differently, but instead they treated him the same and even wanted to kill him more because of his inheritance.  Like the owner’s son was, Jesus, God’s Son, was mistreated, abused, and killed. Innocent blood was shed, and He was here to save the world.  In these terms, it is disgusting to think about and not understand how those people could do that.  However, think about how many times we hurt Jesus and kill Him a little more with each sin.  We add thorns to His crown of thorns every day with our failures and shortcomings.  We do not treat Him like the King of Kings that He is.  This needs to change with respect and reverence and prayer.

 

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October 1, 2017

Reading 1 EZ 18:25-28

Thus says the LORD:
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it My way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
and does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

We constantly think that because God’s way might not be our way that it means it’s unfair.  Instead of fixing our lives to please God, we may turn away from Him.  We are like the rich young man that does not want to give up his luxuries to follow Jesus.  When we sin, part of us dies because we are moving away from God.  We become spiritually dead, but if we do follow Him, we grow and become so alive.  We bloom and develop into what God wants.  This is the true way of life – stay with God, and joy will ensue.  Christ awakens our soul and something inside of us sparks.

Reading 2 PHIL 2:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though He was in the Form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, He emptied Himself,
taking the Form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
He humbled Himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him the Name
which is above every name,
that at the Name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in Heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Being a believer is a community affair.  We all come together under one Name and are united in His Love.  We should have the same goals and think the same to achieve these goals.  We should think of others before ourselves and work to achieve the mission of spreading God’s Message.

Jesus is God but came down to earth to serve.  He became human to be one of us and humbled Himself even to death.  How crazy is that?!  The King of Kings stepped down from His throne.  How often are we full of pride, thinking we are equal to God in how we sin or disobey Him?  We continue to try to please ourselves, and our motives can often be very selfish.  We think we have enough money, status, power, etc that we don’t need God.  We need to confess that Jesus is our Lord and be humbled by this fact.  We cannot live this life on our own.

We always must revere the Name of Jesus.  It is so often taken in vain, which is so sad.  His Name is the Name that saves and keeps us safe.  We pray to His Name and should take it so seriously.  We should bow when It is spoken of.  When we hear a name, we automatically think of the person we know with that name, and all our emotions for them come flooding.  It should be the same with Jesus because His Name represents everything we live for and hope for.

Gospel MT 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Our actions are more important than our words.  The son that followed the father’s will was the one who originally said no but changed his mind and did the work.  It is better to do what we are asked than act like or say we will and then not follow through. That seems hypocritical and fake.  We cannot just do God’s will on the outside or seemingly do God’s will, but we must say yes with our words and actions.  Seek His will in all things and repeatedly say, “Thy will be done….Thy will be done.”  Spend time with Him to see where He wants you and what He wants you to be doing. Prayer is the key.

 

 

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September 24, 2017

Reading 1 IS 55:6-9

Seek the LORD while He may be found,
call Him while He is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, Who is generous in forgiving.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD.
As high as the Heavens are above the earth,
so high are My ways above your ways
and My thoughts above your thoughts.

We must look for the Lord.  He is all around us for us to find Him.  He allows Himself to be found and does not hide from us.  He wants us to find Him and be with Him.  These evil people must stop their wicked ways and flood themselves by the ocean of God’s grace.  God’s thoughts and ways are so much better than ours, and we need to recognize this fact.  We tend to think our thoughts are amazing, and we think we have to live how we want, but are we looking at what God wants?  Are we truly praying and pondering over His Word and what He whispers to us?  We need to be humble and get to know God better to see what He has to say for our lives instead of being stubborn and clinging to our own minds.  We must surrender and allow God to inundate our thoughts and take control of our lives.  Let the King be the King.

Reading 2 PHIL 1:20C-24, 27A

Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. 
If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me. 
And I do not know which I shall choose. 
I am caught between the two. 
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better. 
Yet that I remain in the flesh
is more necessary for your benefit.

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

We all long to be with Christ.  We know His promises and love and want that immediately.  Especially when we feel pain and hardships in this life, we just want to be able to rest in His Arms and be protected.  We know the reality is that we are on this earth, and we will experience many many difficulties.  We can either choose to complain each day and just dream of the day we are with Christ, or we could live here for Him for the time being.  Christ can shine through our lives if we conduct ourselves in a way that imitates Him.  This can benefit His Message because we will be making disciples all along our lives.  Although we look to the future with joy when we are with the Risen Lord, we can live here and now for Him.

Gospel MT 20:1-16A

Jesus told His disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. 
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard. 
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off. 
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise. 
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage. 
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage. 
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you. 
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 
Take what is yours and go. 
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? 
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

How often do we complain and grumble about what we want or what we think we deserve? We try to blame others and want explanations for the reason things are the way they are.  We want more than others if we think we did more, and want to make sure others don’t get the same (as if that actually affects us).  The thing is God doesn’t owe us anything.  Just how the landowner could do what he wanted with his money, God does not have to give us anything.  He does because He loves us, and this especially shows in the Person Jesus.  God wants us to worry about ourselves.  When we are pessimistic, we lose focus on the blessings He has given us.  That is plain selfish.  We must remember to be grateful for what we do have, and to love our brothers and sisters instead of competing and fighting with them.  How much it must hurt God when we constantly gripe about what we think we should have rather than rejoicing in the gift of Jesus’ death and Resurrection.  Prioritizing Jesus to be the Center will change everything.

 

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September 17, 2017

Reading 1 SIR 27:30—28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for He remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

We sinners know what’s wrong but still choose to do it.  Why? These sins that we keep committing recur as habitual sins.  Or we switch up our sins.  The beautiful part of it is that God is merciful and full of grace.  We are wiped clean and are as pure as white snow.  This does not mean keep sinning.  We need to stop sinning because how we love the Lord is by serving Him.  One of the ways to serve Him is by loving our neighbors as well.  When people do wrong to us or hurt us, we have to forgive them as God forgives us.  What God gives us should flow from us, especially grace and mercy.  We cannot be selfish with the gifts God give us because then we would be hypocrites.  How can we not give to others what God gives to us, and how would we feel if God didn’t give them to us?

Reading 2 ROM 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

We should be living for God.  Everything we think, say, and do should be for His glory.  Our lives should not be for our own comfort, pleasure, and enjoyment.  We are here to serve and model Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  We are called to a life of humility, not to boost ourselves.  At the end of our lives, we cannot take anything anyway from this world except our relationship with Jesus.  He is the Ruler of all, and we need to recognize our lives are His, not ours.

Gospel MT 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked Him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?” 
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. 
That is why the Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants. 
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. 
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt. 
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan. 
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount. 
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused. 
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt. 
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair. 
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! 
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. 
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt. 
So will My heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

The Gospel is related to the First Reading.  The servant was forgiven by the master but could not forgive his fellow servant.  He looks like such a hypocrite.  This is how we are when we don’t forgive those who hurt us.  It does not matter what they’ve done or how many times they’ve done it.  Jesus wants us to forgive them.  I know now we think about the best friend that cheated with your boyfriend, the parent that abused you, the bully that picked on you, and so on.  But all of these must be let go of in our hearts.  We have to move on from the pain and hurt and choose to still love them.  Not forgiving those who wronged us is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  It also offends God.  When we have too much pride to forgive others, we are saying that we think we are better than God.  That we are too good to do things that He even does.  We need to swallow this pride and learn that love heals all.

 

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September 10, 2017

Reading 1 EZ 33:7-9

Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when You hear Me say anything, You shall warn them for Me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, “
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

As the Body of Christ, we are responsible for our brothers and sisters.  Saving souls is a mission we have, and we need to take it seriously.  We need to tell others about Christ and warn them if they are not following Him since we do know Him.  God wants all His children with Him in Paradise, and we are His agents in this life.  It is our problem if we do not help those in their walks with the Lord.  Ignorance is not bliss here.  If you do not know Christ, you will not be saved.  Therefore, we have to get up and get moving.  There are so many people out that that have yet to accept Christ into their hearts.

Reading 2 ROM 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, “
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the Law.

All the Commandments about not doing evil can be summarized by saying we must love.  Love heals all wounds and prevents evil from taking hold on us.  Everything in the law is fulfilled with love especially because Jesus is Love Himself.  While deciding if something is wrong or hurting anyone, ask yourself am I loving well? Am I loving like Jesus?

Gospel MT 18:15-20

Jesus said to His disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by My heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in My Name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

There is strength in numbers.  The more disciples the better.  Jesus says that He is with those that are gathered in His Name.  The Name of Jesus holds so much power, especially when His followers are together in His Name.  A community of faith is so important (one of the reasons we have church).  We are enriched by each other’s passion and knowledge. You may not be strong where I am, and I may be weak where you are strong.  This fills the gaps in the believers as we become a more whole family.  I feel more encouraged when I see more Christians to strengthen my relationship with the Lord because I do not feel as alone in this world on my journey with Him.  Praying for and with other believers is so important and has beautiful , saving effects.

 

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September 3, 2017

Reading 1 JER 20:7-9

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
You were too strong for me, and You triumphed.
All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the Word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention Him,
I will speak in His Name no more.
But then It becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding It in, I cannot endure It.

The Fire burning in his heart and soul is the Holy Spirit.  There is such a strong desire to talk about God that Jeremiah cannot hold back as much as he tries.  I love that God prevails.  There may be times when we want to talk about God, but we might think of past times when we were made fun of or ridiculed.  We may have been mocked or lost friends because of our faith, and that leaves a sting.  People might not have dated us or hired us because of our religious beliefs, and that leaves us confused.  Why is something so good taken as a bad thing.  After so many times, we may grow angry with God.  Why is this happening while serving Him? This can cause us to not want to mention Him anymore and to hide more parts of our faith.  Well, that won’t work for long! God wants to be known and loved, and we are His messengers.  There is no way we can stop talking about the Creator and Savior of the universe.  Love conquers all.

 

Reading 2 ROM 12:1-2

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. 
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.

   Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice.  How beautiful.  That is exactly what Jesus did.  He is the Sacrificial Lamb.  He wants our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.  Our souls and bodies are connected and intertwined so what we do with one affects the other.  There are so many ways to offer God our bodies.  We can use our time to help those in need and use our hands to serve food to the hungry or ears to listen to the depressed or lonely.  We can take care of the physically impaired or orphans.  This is using the parts of our body to imitate the Lord.
   Another way is chastity.  Saving ourselves sexually for marriage and then practicing chastity within marriage is an excellent form of spiritual worship.  We are giving God our bodies by practicing self control, patience, and trust.  It is especially hard in this day and age when sex has become so casual and carefree.  But like St. Paul says, we must not conform to this age.  We must be refreshed and renewed by Jesus, allowing us to know what God whats us to do with our lives.

Gospel MT 16:21-27

Jesus began to show His disciples
that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised. 
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to You.” 
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle to Me. 
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to His disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow Me. 
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life? 
Or what can one give in exchange for his life? 
For the Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory,
and then He will repay all according to his conduct.”

  We must think how God does.  We cannot stay in our selfish, limited point of view as human beings.  We need to stay concentrated on the Face of God and set our minds on the things above.  We have to die to ourselves and rise with Christ.  We cannot run to the world for comfort and happiness because it will only leave us thirsty.  If we prioritize and value money, shoes, jewels, popularity, social climbing, etc, we will get wrapped up and lose ourselves.  Is it worth all the pleasure to lose your soul?
  We must recognize the fact that there are going to be crosses in life.  Jesus says this.  As a follower of Him and His cross, we have our own to carry.  There will be difficulties, struggles, diseases, test failed, unemployment, rejection, and loss but Jesus is with us.  He carries His cross and now helps hold ours.  We are never alone and have to remember when we want to complain, everyone else has crosses, too.  God will never give one that is too heavy.  We may have to bend to hold it, but we will not break.

 

August 27, 2017

Reading 1 Is 22:19-23

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:
“I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon My servant
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe,
and gird him with your sash,
and give over to him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut
when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,
to be a place of honor for his family.”

God said the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.  Pride is an idol, and Jesus warns us about this vice.  He promotes humility, and He Himself practices it, especially with His death on the cross.  I am guilty of it, too, but we cannot let pride take over our hearts and minds.  Jesus shows us that He wants His servants to lead, not the selfish ones that boast of their power.

Reading 2 Rom 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!
For who has known the Mind of the Lord
or who has been His counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?

For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.
To Him be glory forever. Amen.

God knows everything, and our minds are so finite.  We often times cannot understand what God is doing, but He knows perfectly well.  We should not get mad at Him when we do not know what is going on because who would want a god they could understand?  Just because God is speaking loudly doesn’t mean He is not working on things.  Plus, He owes us nothing but gives us everything.  All He deserves is glory.  We must remember, too, that everything is for Him.  This should prioritize our tasks and put our thoughts in perspective.  All of our thoughts, words, and actions should have the intention of honoring God.

Gospel Mt 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
He asked His disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or One of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But Who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build My Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”
Then He strictly ordered His disciples
to tell no one that He was the Christ.

Jesus chose Peter to lead the Church.  Peter was not perfect so why do we have such trouble when we think God is calling us to do His work.  We think He could not be possibly wanting us to do this or that.  In reality, we are wrong.  God uses all of us to accomplish His mission.  All we have to do is say yes.  Our shortcomings, failures, and flaws should not hold us back from our full potential because that is doubting God’s choice in us.  We need more faith, faith in God and faith in our abilities.  We are all parts doing our job to form the Body.  Jesus chose Peter to show us that we can do it.

 

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August 20, 2017

Reading 1 Is 56:1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just;
for My salvation is about to come,
My justice, about to be revealed.

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to Him,
loving the Name of the LORD,
and becoming His servants—
all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation
and hold to My Covenant,
them I will bring to My holy mountain
and make joyful in My house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on My altar,
for My house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.

Jesus wants us to do what is right.  This is not always easy, but if we follow Him, we will be full of joy.  We must love Him and His Covenant because then we will be joined to Him and what’s better than that? Jesus saves.

I will admit that it gets very hard trying to keep the Commandments daily, but I can say from experience that nothing is worth sinning.  No matter how pleasing something is or how happy a sin makes you in the moment, it is not worth hurting a relationship with God.  I rather be 1 day in His house than 1,000 years “enjoying” a sin.

Reading 2 Rom 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking to you Gentiles.
Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles,
I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous
and thus save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world,
what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that He might have mercy upon all.

Mercy is so beautiful and so underrated.  Feeling God’s mercy is like nothing else.  Being forgiven by others when you wrong them is one thing, but being forgiven by God is something else.  There is no logical reason He should forgive us, especially after giving us His Son -yet we still sin-  but the reason is love.  He loves us so much that He allows mercy to be the bridge that brings us close again and again.

I cried one time when I specifically felt God’s mercy.  It was right after Confession, and I was overwhelmed by this feeling of forgiveness by my God and my Lord, Who so graciously makes me feel whole again even though I am broken.  These tears were happy tears.  Thank God for the priesthood, too, because it was through this priest that I felt God.

Gospel Mt 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked Him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

The woman was healed because of her faith and persistence.  We need to believe that Jesus will heal us when we ask.  It might not be right away or in the way we ask Him, but He will always provide.  I want that kind of faith that moves mountains, the kind that doesn’t give up.  I also want that persistence especially in prayer so I can push through even when the going gets tough.  We should all learn to be like this woman, constantly asking and believing in Jesus even in the most difficult times.

 

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Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Mass during the Day August 15, 2017

Reading 1 Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

God’s temple in Heaven was opened,
and the Ark of His Covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with Child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her Child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a Son, a Male Child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in Heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Anointed One.”
This was a sign because it was showing Mary giving birth to Jesus, Who rules the universe.  God had a place prepared for her, just as He has a place prepared for each one of us.  He is taking care of us no matter what and is constantly pursuing us.  Mary is a prime example of doing God’s will for one’s life because she experienced many hardships and much pain but still trusted God in doing what He asked of her knowing it is best. Jesus has all authority and power, and we are saved because of Him.

Reading 2 1 Cor 15:20-27

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through Man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the Firstfruits;
then, at His coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when He hands over the Kingdom to His God and Father,
when He has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His Feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death,
for “He subjected everything under His Feet.”

Christ is the New Adam.  Death was brought into the world because of Adam, but Christ gives life.  Jesus destroys every other enemy; the final one being death.  Jesus is greater than death, and death no longer has any power over us.  Because of what He suffered, we are now set free.

Gospel Lk 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the Fruit of your Womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of His Arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel
for He has remembered His promise of mercy,
the promise He made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

Mary visited Elizabeth when they were both pregnant.  John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb because of Jesus.  Jesus’ Presence was so powerful even when He was in the womb.  This right here is an example of why abortion is wrong.  This scene is a wonderful display of joy that we all should have when we encounter the Lord.  We are sometimes reluctant to go to church or pray, but coming to God should always be exciting, not a burden.

What Mary said speaks a lot into mercy and humility.  We cannot love God or our neighbor if we are too filled with pride.  Only when we are humble can we accept the fact that although our sins put Jesus on the cross, He loves us unconditionally despite our failures and shortcomings.  God has done so much for us, and His Name is holy.  We need to have reverence and know He keeps His promises.

 

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Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Vigil, August 14, 2017

Reading 1 1 Chron 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2

David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring the Ark of the LORD
to the place which he had prepared for It.
David also called together the sons of Aaron and the Levites.

The Levites bore the Ark of God on their shoulders with poles,
as Moses had ordained according to the Word of the LORD.

David commanded the chiefs of the Levites
to appoint their kinsmen as chanters,
to play on musical instruments, harps, lyres, and cymbals,
to make a loud sound of rejoicing.

They brought in the Ark of God and set It within the tent
which David had pitched for It.
Then they offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings to God.
When David had finished offering up the burnt offerings and peace offerings,
he blessed the people in the Name of the LORD.

The Ark was very sacred to the people as should anything be that is of the Lord.  There should be much reverence and respect for religious ceremonies, rituals, and traditions.  We should celebrate like the Israelites about how great our God is.  Our faith should bring us unending joy, and we should be happy with our God Who loves us so much.  Everything in life that brings us down cannot shake the love that comes from serving our King, and we need to express this more often rather than being ashamed of the Gospel.

Reading 2 1 Cor 15:54b-57

Brothers and sisters:
When that which is mortal clothes itself with immortality,
then the Word that is written shall come about:

Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God Who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus conquered death.  He prevailed and triumphed over it.  We are no longer slaves to sin and chained down due to lack of forgiveness and freedom.  Through His sacrifice, we are set free.  Sin has no power; only His victory.  We just have to know we won and live our lives as a victory lap instead of a race.

Gospel Lk 11:27-28

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to Him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which You nursed.”
He replied,
“Rather, blessed are those
who hear the Word of God and observe It.”

This shows how important it is to keep God’s commands.  He puts so much focus on listening to His Word.  We ought to follow what He says.  It is easy to get caught up and act as if sins and habits are normal or that “times have changed,” but the Word of God is alive and eternal, for all people of all times.

 

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