lunedì 31 dicembre 2007
LAST DAY OF THE YEAR:
First of all, let us whisper a prayer of thanks to God for the gift of the year that is ending today. From his loving hand we have received the hours, days and months of the year. During this year God has offered us many graces through the events of our lives and through the people we live with and the people we met. They are the ways in which God has dome to us ; it is they who have helped us to learn and to grow. So, as we offer our thanks to God our Father we can also express our gratitude to all the people who have been for us the presence and love of God in our lives.
As we leave this year and enter into the new one, we know that God is coming with us. As we have walked and worked with the Lord in the past, so shall we confidently take up the tasks of the coming year.
Lord Jesus, you are our light, love and our life. You have anointed us with your spirit of truth and courage, the spirit of perseverance and fortitude. As we take leave of the past year and commit it to the heart and mind of your Father and our Father, we request you that we become more conformed to your image, who became one os us.
domenica 30 dicembre 2007
Scripture: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Joseph was given a unique task as the guardian and protector of Mary and of Jesus. What can we learn from the example and witness of Joseph? Joseph is a man of God, a man of unquestioning obedience and willing service. He is a man of prayer and a man of God's word. Through faith he recognized the hand of God in the mystery of the Incarnation — the Son of God taking flesh as the son of Mary. Joseph is a man of action, diligent in the care of his family and ready to do the Lord's bidding. Joseph fearlessly set aside his own plans when God called him to "take to the road" and to leave his familiar surroundings — his home, friends and relatives, and the security of his livelihood in order to pursue a hidden mission God entrusted to him as the guardian of the newborn King. God has a plan for each of us. With the plan God gives grace and the assurance of his guiding hand and care.
sabato 29 dicembre 2007
ORISSA Hindu extremists attacked Christians in the State of Orissa and they burnt the Capuchin Minor Seminary, Barakhama, and its chapel to the ground. The 32 students and four staff members at the Arunodaya Ashram and the minor seminary had to flee on foot for their safety.
These Hindu hardliners, known as the VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), attacked and destroyed at least 12 Christian churches and institutions in Orissa, especially in Khandhamal District, which is part of the Archdiocese of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar from December 24th through December 26th. They also destroyed some Christian homes. They want the Christians to be out of Orissa. They accuse them of trying to convert the Hindus in the region. These Hindu fanatics seem to be targeting mostly the buildings of missionaries, of priests and religious.
Religion which is insensitive to human( life) ills and social crimes do not appeal to modern man. Religion is Realisation. Religions are having tremendous power in them, but often have done more injurey to the world than good, simply on account of their narrowness and limitations.
True Religion forbids man to hate anybody.Religion is not for separating people. It is to bind them. We chrisitians remain always in love , truth, tolerance and service to humanity.
Scripture: Luke 2:22-35
Simeon was a man who was just towards others and devout towards God.His whole life was in tune with the Holy Spirit. His was found daily in the temple in prayer and worship and in humble and faithful expectation for the day that the Lord would comfort his people. As the days and months grew into years he never lost hope. When Joseph and Mary presented the child Jesus in the temple, Simeon immediately recognized the Lord’s presence in his temple. Through eyes of faith he say the infant Jesus as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies, hopes, and prayers of the people of Israel. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he prophesied that Jesus was to be "a revealing light to the Gentiles". Jesus came not only as “light and salvation” for the people of Israel, but for all nations as well.Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and he prophesied to Mary about the destiny of this child and the suffering she would undergo for his sake. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord. Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross.
venerdì 28 dicembre 2007
Scripture: Matthew 2:13-18
Herod's massacre of children who gave their lives for a person and a truth they did not know seemed so useless and unjust. What a scandal and stumbling block for those who can't recognize God's redeeming love. Why couldn't God prevent this slaughter? Suffering is indeed a mystery. No explanation seems to satisfy our human craving to understand. What does Paul the Apostle mean when he says: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called to his purpose (Romans 8:28)? These innocent children and their parents suffered for Christ. Suffering, persecution, and martyrdom are the lot of all who chose to follow Jesus Christ. There is no crown without the cross. It was through Jesus' suffering, humiliation, and death on a cross, that our salvation was won. His death won life – eternal life for us. And his blood which was shed for our sake obtained pardon and reconciliation with our heavenly Father.
giovedì 27 dicembre 2007
Scripture: John 20:2-8
John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, wrote his gospel as an eye-witness of the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us, and who died and rose for our salvation.
John in his first epistle testifies: What we have seen, heard, and touched we proclaim as the word of life which existed "from the beginning" (1 John 1:1-4). John bears witness to what has existed from all eternity. This "word of life" is Jesus the word incarnate, but also Jesus as the word announced by the prophets and Jesus the word now preached throughout the Christian church for all ages to come.
sabato 22 dicembre 2007
My Dear loving Brothers and Sisters,
A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR
Your presence is a present to the world. You are unique and one of a kind.
Your life can be what you want it to be. Take the days just one at a time.
Count your blessings, not your troubles. You will make it through whatever comes along. Within you are so many answers. Understand, have courage, be strong. Do not put limits on yourself. So many dreams are waiting to be realized.
Decisions are too important to leave to chance. Reach of your peak, your goal, and your prize. Nothing wastes more energy than worrying. The longer one carries a problem the heavier it gets. Do not take things too seriously. Live a life of serenity,not a life of regrets.
Remember that a little love goes a long way. Remember that a lot goes forever. Remember that friendship is a wise investment. Life’s treasures are people… Together Realize that it is never too late. Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Have health and hope and happiness. Take the time to wish upon a star.
The king of kings is born to us. Rev. 16.19
The light of the world is born. John. 8.12
Where shall we seek for the newborn king today?
Not in the palaces, glittering dresses, sumptuous food
and colorful celebrations. Let us find among those foodless, destitute,lonely and the orphan children.
May this Christmas bring more happiness to your life and may the New Year
2008 bring YOU peace and prosperity!
May the blessing and love of the Christ child be with you now and throughout the year!! Again, my sincere love,gratitude and thank you for who you are. I continue to count on your prayers. With Loving regards
Your loving brother
General Spiritual Assistant
venerdì 21 dicembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 1:39-45
What is the significance of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary's womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfilment of God's promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth's heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us.
giovedì 20 dicembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
God uses signs to communicate his purposes, his presence, his righteousness, his favor to his people (Psalm 86:17), and his assurance that he is speaking to them and that he will keep his promises. God also performed mighty signs to demonstrate his saving deeds when he delivered his people from bondage in Egypt (Psalm 78:43).
How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel? She knows she is hearing something beyond human capability. It will surely take a miracle which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, “how shall this be, since I have no husband” is not prompted by doubt or skepticism, but by wonderment! She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust. Mary's prompt response of "yes" to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers.Mary believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled.
mercoledì 19 dicembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 1:5-25
Advent is a time to renew our hope and confidence in God’s faithfulness to the covenant he made with his people. In preparing the way for a Savior, we see the wondrous miracle of two barren couples who conceive and bear sons – Samson in the Old Testament (Judges 13) and John the Baptist in the New Testament (Luke 1:5ff) – who are called by God to bring hope and deliverance at a time of spiritual darkness and difficulty for the people of God.
Zechariah was a godly man who was tuned to God’s voice.When God draws us into his presence, he wants us to be still and quiet before him so we can listen to his voice as he speaks to our hearts and reveals his mind to us.
martedì 18 dicembre 2007
During our Tempo forte we 4 General spiritual assistants could participate in the profession of SFO members. The National Spiritual Assistant Fr.Godfrey OFMCap , the National Minister Godwin and other members of the SFO were present. It was meaningful celebration with Eucharist and after eucharist we congratulated the professed members and had small get together of Fraternal love.
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-24
The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke words of hope in a hopeless situation for Israel.
The prophets trusted that God could somehow “raise up a righteous shoot” from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 2:11). Like the prophets we are called “in hope to believe against hope” (Romans 4:18) that God can and will fulfill all his promises.God has not left us alone, but has brought us his only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, with joyful hearts and let us renew our faith and hope in God and in his redeeming work
lunedì 17 dicembre 2007
We 4 General spiritual Assitents had our annual meeting in Malta at Porziuncola Retreat House, Bahar ic-Caghag NXR 08. The meeting was from 3 - 8 december 2008. We had discussions, decisions , sharing and pryer. It is beautiful small island but the sea makes you to feel the immensity of God. We also met the Provincial of OFMCap, and Provincial of OFMConv and other spiritual assitents requested them to assist and animate SFO in their country. The encounter was fraternal, amicable and all of them felt the need of assisting the SFO. God bless them all.
Scripture: Matthew 1:1-17
They give us our roots and help us to understand our heritage. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus traces his lineage from Abraham, the father of God's chosen people, through the line of David, King of Israel. Jesus the Messiah is the direct descent of Abraham and David, and the rightful heir to David's throne. God in his mercy fulfilled his promises to Abraham and to David that he would send a Savior and a King to rule over the house of Israel and to deliver them from their enemies. When Jacob blessed his sons he foretold that Judah would receive the promise of royalty which we see fulfilled in David (Genesis 49:10). We can also see in this blessing a foreshadowing of God's fulfillment in raising up his annointed King, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus is the fulfillment of all God's promises. He is the hope not only for the people of the Old Covenant but for all nations as well. He is the Savior of the world who redeems us from slavery to sin and Satan and makes us citizens of the kingdom of God.
lunedì 3 dicembre 2007
We four General Spiritual Assistants today go to Malta to have our TEMPO FORTE. We will have our meeting withregard to our next year plan, discussion on the decision of Presidency and other matters concerning SFO. We also have group prayers and meditations. Please do pray for us.
Scripture: Matthew 8:5-11
The centurion who approached Jesus was not only courageous, but faith-filled as well. He risked the ridicule of his cronies as well as mockery from the Jews by seeking help from an itinerant preacher from Galilee. Nonetheless, the centurion approached Jesus with great confidence and humility. He was an extraordinary man because he loved his slave. In the Roman world slaves were treated like animals – something to be used for work and pleasure and for bartering and trade. This centurion was a man of great compassion and extraordinary faith. He wanted Jesus to heal his beloved slave. Jesus commends him for his faith and immediately grants him his request.
The season of Advent reminds us that the Lord wants us to actively seek him and the coming of his kingdom in our lives. The Lord will surely reward those who seek his will for their lives. We can approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith, like the centurion in today's gospel reading, knowing that he will show us his mercy and give us his help.
domenica 2 dicembre 2007
hope and joy.
The Lord Jesus expects us to watch in great anticipation for the most important event of all -- his return in glory at the end of time! The prophets foretold the coming of the Lord when he shall judge between the nations and decide for many peoples (Isaiah 2:5). The Advent season reminds us that we are living in the end times. The end times begins with the first coming of Christ (his Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas) and culminates in his final return on the Day of Judgment. Jesus spoke of his return in glory at the end of time as a for certain fact. Jesus' audience understood the title, Son of Man, as referring to the Messianic prophecy of the Annointed King who comes to establish an everlasting kingdom over the earth (see Daniel 7:13). While the second coming is for certain, the time is unknown. The Lord's judgment comes swiftly and often unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives. It will surely come in God's good time!
venerdì 30 novembre 2007
Scripture: Matthew 4:18-22 (alternate reading: Luke 21:29-33)
What kind of disciples did Jesus choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus' work: he chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position of power or fame in society. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special marks of education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. When the Lord calls us to be his disciples, we must not think we have nothing to offer him in exchange. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Do you believe that God wants to work through and in you for his glory?
Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will "catch people" for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel. Paul the Apostles says, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing" (2 Corinthians 2:15). Do you show others around you the joy of the gospel and do you pray for your neighbors, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love?
giovedì 29 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 21:29-33
The Jews believed that when the Messiah came he would usher in the kingdom of God at Passover time. The early signs of a changing season, such as springtime, are evident for all who can see and observe the changes. Just so are the signs of God's kingdom and his return in glory on the day of judgment. The "budding" of God's kingdom begins first in the hearts of those who are receptive to God's word. Those who trust in God's word will bear the fruits of his kingdom. And what are the fruits of that kingdom? "The kingdom of God ..is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
The Lord wants us to be filled with joyful anticipation for his coming again. He surely comes to us each day and speaks to our hearts like a lover who whispers in the ear of the beloved. As he promised, the Lord will surely come again in all his glory.
martedì 27 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 21:5-11
Jesus' prophecy is a two-edged sword, because it points not only to God's judgment, but also to his saving action and mercy. Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and the dire consequences for all who would reject him and his saving message. While the destruction of Jerusalem's temple was determined (it was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D.), there remained for its inhabitants a narrow open door leading to deliverance. Jesus says: "I am the door; whoever enters by me will be saved" (John 10:9). Jesus willingly set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that he would meet betrayal, rejection, and death on a cross. His death on the cross, however, brought about victory and salvation, not only for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but for all – both Jew and gentile – who would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
lunedì 26 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 21:1-4Jesus drove this point home to his disciples while sitting in the temple and observing people offering their tithes. Jesus praised a poor widow who gave the smallest of coins in contrast with the rich who gave greater sums. How can someone in poverty give more than someone who has ample means? Jesus' answer is very simple: love is more precious than gold or wealth! Jesus taught that real giving must come from the heart. A gift that is given with a grudge or for display loses its value. But a gift given out of love, with a spirit of generosity and sacrifice, is precious. The amount or size of the gift doesn't matter as much as the cost to the giver. The poor widow could have kept one of her coins, but instead she recklessly gave away all she had! Jesus praised someone who gave barely a penny — how insignificant a sum — because it was everything she had, her whole living. What we have to offer may look very small and not worth much, but if we put all we have at the Lord's disposal, no matter how insignificant it may seem, then God can do with it and with us what is beyond our reckoning.
domenica 25 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 23:35-43
Jesus was crucified for his claim to be the Messianic King who would rule not only over his people Israel but ultimately over all the nations as well. What is the significance or meaning of Jesus' kingship for us? Kingship today seems antiquated, especially in democratic societies where everyone is treated equal and free. God at first did not want to give his people Israel a king. Why? Because God alone was their King and they needed no other. Nonetheless, God relented and promised his people that through David's line he would establish a kingship that would last for eternity (Psalm 89:29). The Jews understood that the Messiah would come as king to establish God's reign for them. They wanted a king who would free them from tyranny and from foreign domination. Many had high hopes that Jesus would be the Messianic king. Little did they understand what kind of kingship Jesus claimed to have. Jesus came to conquer hearts and souls for an imperishable kingdom, rather than to conquer perishable lands and entitlements.
The scriptures present us with the choice between two kingdoms — the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. The choice is ours. Which kingdom do you serve? God's kingdom remains forever because it is built on the foundation of God's eternal love and justice. To accept Jesus as Lord and King is to enter a kingdom that will last forever where righteousness, peace, truth, and love dwell.
sabato 24 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 20:27-40
The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, did not believe in immortality, nor in angels or evil spirits. Their religion was literally grounded in an earthly image of heaven. Jesus retorts by dealing with the fact of the resurrection.
The ultimate proof of the resurrection is the Lord Jesus and his victory over death when he rose from the tomb. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he exclaimed: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25). Jesus asks us the same question.
venerdì 23 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 19:45-48
The money changers took advantage of the poor and forced them to pay many times more than was right— in the house of the Lord no less! Their robbery of the poor was not only dishonoring to God but unjust toward their neighbor. In justification for his audacious action Jesus quotes from the prophets Isaiah (56:7) and Jeremiah (7:11). His act of judgment aims to purify the worship of God's people and to discipline their erring ways. Despite the objections of the religious leaders, all the people present stood in awe of Jesus and they "hung upon his words".
The Lord disciplines and chastises us in love to lead us from the error of our ways to his truth and justice. "God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10).
giovedì 22 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 19:41-44
God's visitation in the person of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Jesus' entrance was a gracious visitation. Jerusalem's lack of faith, however, leads to its destruction. Jesus' lamentation and prophecy echoes Jeremiah's of the first destruction of Jerusalem and its first temple. Jeremiah's lamentation offered hope of deliverance and restoration: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies are new every morning; great is your faithfulness"(Lamentations 3:21-22). Jesus' death and resurrection would bring about a new temple in the Holy Spirit, the church as the bride of Christ and the people of God.
mercoledì 21 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 19:11-28The Lord Jesus has brought us his kingdom of righteousness and peace and he calls us to live as citizens of this kingdom where he rules as Lord and Master. The Lord entrusts us with his gifts and graces and he gives us freedom to use them as we think best. With each gift and talent, the Lord gives sufficient grace and energy for using them in a fitting way. As the parable of the talents shows, God abhors indifference and an attitude that says it's not worth trying. God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have. There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back.
martedì 20 novembre 2007
lunedì 19 novembre 2007
The Presidency of SFO has met from 10-18 in Assisi. They have discussed various points and made many decisions withregard to Formation,Presence in the world, economic situation, emerging Fraternities, spiritual assistance and above all the celebration of Elective General Chapter of SFO in Hungary in 2008. The 4 General spiritual Assistants everyday animated the Eucharist.
The whole Franciscan Family joined together for the closing 800th Birth Anniversary of St.Elisabetta in Assisi at the Portiuncula. The Bishop of Assisi celebrated the Eucharist and gave some insights on the life of St.Elisabetta. It was meaningful and prayerful celebration.
St.Elizabeth of Hungary has a unique appeal for Christians today.Love, rather than ideology of politics,was the basis of her whole life.She was a lover not just of social justice in the abstract,but of the poor as individuals.
This incident reveals something important about how God interacts with us. The blind man was determined to get Jesus' attention and he was persistent in the face of opposition. Jesus could have ignored or rebuffed him because he was disturbing his talk and his audience. Jesus showed that acting was more important than talking. This man was in desparate need and Jesus was ready not only to empathize with his suffering but to relieve it as well. A great speaker can command attention and respect, but a man or woman with a helping hand and a big heart is loved more. Jesus commends Bartimaeus for recognizing who he is with the eyes of faith and grants him physical sight as well.
giovedì 15 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 17:20-25
Jesus identified himself with the "Day of the Lord". "Son of man" was understood as a Messianic title for the one who would come not only to establish God's kingdom but who would come as Judge of the living as well as the dead. Jesus points to his second coming when he will return to complete the work of restoration and final judgment. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both believers and non-believers as well. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what sign would indicate the "Day of the Lord", Jesus replied that only one sign would point to that day and that sign was Jesus himself. Jesus surprised the Jews of his time by announcing that God's kingdom was already present among them in his very person — the Son of God sent from the Father to redeem the world from sin and destruction. In Jesus we see the power and the glory of God's kingdom. His power overthrew the powers of darkness and sin. Jesus knew that the only way to victory was through the cross.
mercoledì 14 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 17:11-19
Why did only one leper out of ten — a Samaritan –— return to show gratitude? Gratefulness is related to grace — which means the release of loveliness. Gratitude is the homage of the heart which responds with graciousness in expressing an act of thanksgiving. The Samaritan approached Jesus reverently and gave praise to God. If we do not recognize and appreciate the mercy shown to us we become ungrateful. Ingratitude is forgetfulness or a poor return for kindness received. Ingratitude easily leads to lack of charity and intolerance towards others, as well as to other sins, such as discontent, dissatisfaction, complaining, grumbling, pride and presumption. How often have we been ungrateful to our parents, pastors, teachers, and neighbors? Do you express gratitude to God for his mercy towards you and do you show mercy to your neighbor?
martedì 13 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 17:7-10Perhaps we are like the laborer in Jesus' parable who expected special favor and reward for going the extra mile? How unfair for the master to compel him to give more than what was expected! Don't we love to assert our rights: "I will give only what is required and no more!" But who can satisfy the claims of love? Jesus used this parable of the dutiful servant to explain that we can never put God in our debt or make the claim that God owes us something. We must regard ourselves as God's servants, just as Jesus came "not to be served, but to serve" (Matthew 20:28). Service of God and of neighbor is both a voluntary or free act and a sacred duty. One can volunteer for public service or be compelled to do service for one's country. Likewise, God expects us to give him the worship and praise which is his due. And he gladly accepts the free-will offering of our lives to him and to his service. What makes our offering pleasing to God is the love we express in the gift of self-giving. True love is sacrificial, generous, and selfless.
sabato 10 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 16:9-15
Jesus exhorts his disciples to be like the shrewd steward who used money generously to make friends and win for himself a secure and happy future (see the parable of the dishonest steward in Luke 16:1-9). Generous giving is connected with almsgiving — giving financial assistance to those in need (sell your possessions and give alms -Luke 12:33). Those who receive alms become your friends because you are merciful to them in their time of need, just as God is merciful to you in your need for his forgiveness and help. What is the enemy of generosity? It's greed, the excessive desire for personal security. True generosity does not impoverish the giver, but enriches that person a hundredfold! Generosity expands the soul; greed contracts it. God is generous and superabundant in lavishing his gifts upon us. We can never outgive God in what he has already given to us. Do you know the joy and freedom of generosity and liberality in giving to others what God has so richly given to you?God loves generosity and he gives liberally to those who share his gifts with others. The Pharisees, however, had no room in their hearts for God. The gospel says they were lovers of money. Love of money and wealth crowd out love of God and love of neighbor.
venerdì 9 novembre 2007
THE DEDICATION OF THE LATERRAN BASILICA
Scripture: Luke 19:1-10 (alternate reading: Luke 16:1-8)
Would you be excited or embarrassed? Jesus often "dropped-in" at unexpected times and he often visited the "uninvited" — the poor, the lame, and even public sinners like Zacchaeus, the tax collector! Tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts, no doubt because they over-charged people and accumulated great wealth at the expense of others. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was much hated by all the people. Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? Zacchaeus needed God's merciful love and in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus' testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine. The Lord is always ready to make his home with us.
giovedì 8 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 15:1-10
The scribes and Pharisees took great offense at Jesus because he associated with sinners and treated them graciously. The Pharisees had strict regulations about how they were to keep away from sinners, lest they incur ritual defilement.Jesus characteristically answered the Pharisees' charge with a parable or lesson drawn from everyday life. What does Jesus' story about a lost sheep and a lost coin tell us about God and his kingdom?
The shepherd's grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold. The housewife who lost a coin faced something of an economic disaster, since the value of the coin would be equivalent to her husband's daily wage. Her grief and anxiety turn to joy when she finds the coin.
mercoledì 7 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 14:25-33Jesus tells his would-be disciples that they, too, must count the cost if they want to succeed as his disciples. Jesus assures success for those willing to pay the price. All it cost is everything! What does Jesus have to offer that's worth giving up everything else? More than we can imagine! Jesus offers the gift of abundant life and everlasting peace and happiness with God. (See the parable of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-45). It's natural to ask what will it require of me or cost me before I sign up or agree to pay for something. Jesus was utterly honest and spared no words to tell his disciples that it would cost them dearly to follow after him. There can be no room for compromise or concession with God. We either give our lives over to him completely or we keep them for ourselves. Paul the Apostle says, "We are not our own. We were bought with a price" ( 1 Cor. 6:19b,20). That price is the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed for us upon the cross to redeem us from slavery to sin and death.
martedì 6 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 14:15-24
Jesus probes the reasons why people make excuses to God's great invitation to "eat bread" with him at his banquet table. The first excuse allows the claims of one's business to take precedence over God's claim. Do you allow any task or endeavor to absorb you so much that it keeps you from the thought of God? The second excuse allows materials things and possessions to come before God. Do you allow the media or other diversions to crowd out time for God in daily prayer and worship? The third excuse puts home and family ahead of God. God never meant for our home and relationships to be used selfishly. We serve God best when we invite him into our work, our homes, and our personal lives and when we share our possessions with others.God invites each of us to his banquet that we may share in his joy.
lunedì 5 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 14:12-14
The Lord is always ready to receive us at his table. As far as we can tell from the gospel accounts, Jesus never refused a dinner invitation! Why, in this particular instance, does Jesus lecture his host on who he should or shouldn't invite to dinner? Did his host expect some favor or reward from Jesus? Did he want to impress his neighbors with the honor of hosting the "miracle worker" from Galilee? Jesus probes our hearts as well. Do you show favor and generosity to those who will repay you in kind? What about those who do not have the means to repay you — the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged? Generosity demands a measure of self-sacrifice. It doesn't impoverish, but rather enriches the soul of the giver. True generosity springs from a heart full of mercy and compassion.
domenica 4 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
Jesus often "dropped-in" at unexpected times and he often visited the "uninvited" — the poor, the lame, and even public sinners like Zacchaeus, the tax collector! Tax collectors were despised and treated as outcasts, no doubt because they over-charged people and accumulated great wealth at the expense of others. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was much hated by all the people. Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? Zacchaeus needed God's merciful love and in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus' testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine. The Lord is always ready to make his home with us.
sabato 3 novembre 2007
Scripture: Luke 14:1, 7-11
Jesus' parable of the guests invited to the marriage feast probes our motives for seeking honor and position. Self-promotion is most often achieved at the expense of others!
venerdì 2 novembre 2007
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:31-46
The scriptures present us with the choice between two kingdoms -- the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. The choice is ours. Which kingdom do you serve? God's kingdom lasts forever because it is built on the foundation of God's love and justice. To accept Jesus as Lord and King is to enter a kingdom that will last forever where righteousness, love, truth, and peace dwell.
All Souls Day
Happy are those
who have died in the Lord.
Let them rest from their labors
for their good deeds
go with them.
giovedì 1 novembre 2007
The challenge of sainthood is to go where love takes me.
Pope John Paul II loves to “canonize” saints. As he goes about the world, reaching out to people of every country, he likes to raise to the altar some person or persons of that country who have practiced heroic sanctity.The pope’s purpose is to encourage us to aspire to holiness and to give us models for doing so.
May the light of gospel men and women remind us that God is always with us no matter how far we wander away.
Despite our flaws, each of us is a saint in the making.
WISH YOU ALL MY DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS A VERY HAPPY FEAST
Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12a
The beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness that God has placed in every heart. They teach us the final end to which God calls us, namely the coming of God's kingdom (Matthew 4:17), the vision of God (Matthew 5:8; 1 John 2;1), entering into the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:21-23) and into his rest (Hebrews 4:7-11). Jesus' beatitudes also confront us with decisive choices concerning the life we pursue here on earth and the use we make of the goods he puts at our disposal. God alone satisfies. Theresa of Avila's prayer book contained a bookmark which she wrote: "Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices." Is God enough for you? God offers us the greatest good possible — abundant life in Jesus Christ (John 10:10) and the promise of unending joy and happiness with God.
The beatitudes which Jesus offers us are a sign of contradiction to the world's understanding of happiness and joy.God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world.
mercoledì 31 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 13:22-30
Jesus doesn't directly answer the question, however; but his response is nonetheless unsettling on two counts. First, Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one's membership as a covenanted people does not automatically mean entry into the kingdom of God. Second, Jesus asserts that many from the gentile nations would enter God's kingdom. God's invitation is open to Jew and Gentile alike. But Jesus warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door. What did Jesus mean by this expression? The door which Jesus had in mind was himself. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved (John 10:9). Through the cross Jesus opens the way for us to enter into his kingdom. But we must follow Jesus in the way of the cross.
The good news is that we do not struggle alone. God is with us and his grace is sufficient! As we strive side by side for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27) Jesus assures us of complete victory!
martedì 30 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 13:18-21
The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God's kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God's word. And it works unseen and causes a transformation from within. Leaven is another powerful agent of change. A lump of dough left to itself remains just what it is, a lump of dough. But when the leaven is added to it a transformation takes place which produces rich and wholesome bread when heated -- the staple of life for humans. The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers.
domenica 28 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 18:9-14
Jesus' parable speaks about the nature of prayer and our relationship with God. It does this by contrasting two very different attitudes towards prayer. The Pharisee, who represented those who take pride in their religious practices, exalted himself at the expense of others. Absorbed with his own sense of self-satisfaction and self-congratulation he mainly prayed with himself. His prayer consisted of prideful boasts of what he did and of disdain for those he despised. The Pharisee tried to justify himself; but only God can justify. The tax collector, who represented those despised by religious people, humbled himself before God and begged for mercy. His prayer was heard by God because he had remorse for his sins. He sought God with humility rather than with pride.
This parable presents both an opportunity and a warning. Pride leads to illusion and self-deception. Humility helps us to see ourselves as we really are and it inclines us to God's grace and mercy. God dwells with the humble of heart who recognize their own sinfulness and who acknowledge God's mercy and saving grace. I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit (Isaiah 57:15). God cannot hear us if we despise others.
sabato 27 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 13:1-9God, in his mercy, gives us time to get right with him, but that time is now. We must not assume that there is no hurry. A sudden and unexpected death leaves one no time to prepare to settle one's accounts when he or she must stand before the Lord on the day of judgment. Jesus warns us that we must be ready at all times. Tolerating sinful habits and excusing unrepentant sin will result in bad fruit and eventual destruction. The Lord in his mercy gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a day, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up.
venerdì 26 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 12:54-59Jesus expects his disciples to accurately read the signs of the times! Farmers and seafarers know the importance of spotting weather conditions for safe travel and planting. A lot of effort is made today, with the help of science and technology, to discern potential natural dangers, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, tornados, earth quakes, and erupting volcanoes, so that people can be warned to take shelter before disaster hits. Our need for accurately discerning spiritual danger is even more necessary if we want to avoid moral and spiritual crisis and disaster. Jesus used a vivid illustration to point out the urgency of getting right with God before it is too late. If you got into serious trouble with your neighbor and did something that could get you severely penalized (like being thrown into jail and loosing everything you owned), would you not try to settle the case out-of-court to avoid the worst consequences?
None of us has the power and strength of will for overcoming sin and evil on our own resources. We stand in constant need of God's strength and protection. That is why scripture uses vivid language to describe God as our rock, fortress, and mighty defense.
The light of Christ reveals what is in our hearts and his grace frees us from the tyranny of sin, hurtful desires, and addictions. God's call is urgent and his grace is available for total freedom and transformation in Christ.
giovedì 25 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 12:49-53
Jesus shocked his disciples when he declared that he would cast fire and cause division rather than peace upon the earth. What kind of fire did Jesus have in mind here? Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God's glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deut. 4:24), righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16). It is also used of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11 and Acts 2:3). God's fire both purifies and cleanses, and it inspires a reverent fear of God and of his word in us.
When Jesus spoke about division he likely had in mind the prophecy of Micah: a man's enemies are the men of his own household (Micah 7:6). The essence of Christianity is loyalty to Jesus Christ.
Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin.
mercoledì 24 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 12:39-48
Jesus loved to tell stories, many which ended with a dramatic and unexpected change of circumstances. Can you imagine a thief calling ahead to tell his victim when he would strike? Should we be surprised to see a thief making off with a great treasure left unguarded? What does this say about the treasure which God has entrusted to you and me? When God offers us his kingdom, he gives us a treasure beyond measure (see the parable of the treasure hidden in a field and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46). What is this treasure of immeasurable value? The Lord himself is our treasure (Job 22:22-23)and the kingdom he offers us is a kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (Rom. 4:17). The Lord offers us a relationship with him as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well. The treasure is of far greater value that any earthly treasure and more secure! But it's possible to lose this treasure if we do not guard what has been entrusted to us by God.
martedì 23 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 12:35-38This parable contains a lesson in faithfulness and a warning against sloth.Why is faithfulness so important to God? For one, it's the foundation for any lasting and meaningful relationship. Faithfulness or fidelity allows us to persevere in living out an unswerving commitment. The Lord is committed to us in a bond of unbreakable love and fidelity. That is what covenant means – keeping one's word, promise, and commitment no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to be faithful. He also rewards faithfulness. Why is fidelity, commitment, and faithfulness so difficult today? Many today in western society extol freedom over fidelity and don't want to be bound to an unknown or uncertain future. It's regarded as inconvenient and a burden to the pursuit of the individual's interests. We badly need to recover this virtue, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of future generations as well. If we want to pass on the faith then we need to first be faithful models for our young people.
God loves faithfulness. That is why we can always expect God to give us what he promises. In turn, God expects us to be faithful to him and to one another. How can we grow in faithfulness? God's grace shows us the way. When we are faithful in the little tasks and promises we make, we learn to be faithful in the bigger and more important responsibilities and tasks entrusted to us.
lunedì 22 ottobre 2007
Scripture: Luke 12:13-21
What is the point of Jesus' story about a wealthy landowner and why does he call him a fool? Jesus does not fault him for his industriousness, but for his egoism and selfishness. Like the parable of the rich man who refused to give any help to the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), this man had lost the capacity to be concerned for others. His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. His death was the final loss of his soul!
In the parable of the rich fool Jesus gives a lesson on using material possessions. His lesson contains a warning to beware of all covetousness. To covet is to wish to get wrongfully what another possesses or to begrudge what God gave him. Jesus restates the commandment "do not covet", but he also states that a person's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.