Last week on the Feast of Divine Mercy, I invited you to join me and your fellow parishioners to Consecrate yourselves, and our Parish to Jesus through Mary using the 33 days to Morning Glory Consecration. I shared with you the true story of Mary imploring people to conversion and her being so influential in the world in order to lessen and prevent evils, like Communism. I talked about how Our Lady is credited with preventing the bullet from killing her servant, John Paul II, and how she inspired and used John Paul II to spread Jesus’ message of God’s unbounded mercy. We will see in week 4 of the Morning Glory Consecration how John Paul II consecrated himself to Mary, in fact his Papal Motto was Totus Tuus- meaning ‘totally yours’. Did you know it was Mary who was the catalyst behind the holiness and legacy of now St. John Paul II? Did you know Mary was and wants to be so active in the world in preventing evils and bringing about God’s will? Have you ever wondered how much closer to God you could be if you and I would intentionally let her guide us? That’s what the Consecration is all about- letting her lead us even closer to her son Jesus and God’s will for our lives than we ever could on our own.READ MORE
You may or may not know, the Diocese of Phoenix is currently celebrating our 50th anniversary. To celebrate the past 50 years of blessings in gratitude, and to assure continued blessings and growth for years to come, Bishop Olmsted would like at least 100,000 Catholics in the Diocese to Consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary, but also strongly encourages parishes to consecrate themselves. As your pastor, I would greatly like our parish to be one of those parishes, not only for the good of the Diocese, but so that we can be lead to become the Corpus Christi we are meant to be. Personally, I first consecrated myself when I was in college using St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration. But a couple of years ago I consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary using Fr. Gaitley’s Consecration, which personally I find more inspiring. For those who don’t know, Fr. Gaitley describes 4 Saints- St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Mother Teresa, and St. Pope John Paul II- all who have all had a special devotion to Jesus through our Blessed Mother. As a parish we’ll have an introduction on this Thursday, May 2, especially if you haven’t Consecrated yourself in the past, and the 33 days of daily reading and praying will begin Thursday, May 9. You can purchase your own book to have for your own to renew each year, or we’ll give you a free handout to help lead you through the Consecration. In addition, we’ll meet each week on Thursday evenings, for those who can, to watch the video and discuss what we have read about that Saint’s devotion through Mary. Finally, we will Consecrate ourselves on Monday, June 10- the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church- the Monday after Pentecost. Then we will reap the blessings.READ MORE
My brothers and sisters, our readings today are so rich and full but before I jump into our reflection beginning with our well-known and powerful first reading of Moses and the burning bush, let us pause and ask God that we too will encounter our Lord as Moses did. To warn you though, you might find this homily a stronger homily than others, and like Moses, it might make you a little uncomfortable, but I would not be doing what I’m called to do as your pastor if I don’t.READ MORE
Ready or not, the season of Lent begins Wednesday. Yes, we celebrate Ash Wednesday in a couple of days. Are you ready, do you know how you are going to draw closer to our Lord this season? What you’re going to give up or take on this Lent? Perhaps you’re thinking, whoa I can’t believe the season is upon me already, so maybe I’ll just do what I’ve done before. Well, before you think about falling into that pattern of doing what you’ve always done, let us first think about what the purpose of lent is and reflect on what Jesus says in our Gospel today. Have you ever thought about what the purpose of Lent might be? Maybe you’re thinking, well it is to prepare for Easter. Yes, you’re right, then what is the purpose of Easter? As you know, during Holy Week and Easter we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Easter and the Resurrection is the source of our salvation, the source of the forgiveness of our sins. A couple of weeks ago, St. Paul in the second reading said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain; you are still stuck in your sins”. Jesus took all the sins of humanity, past, present, and future, to the Cross, and by his Death and Resurrection, then we have the forgiveness of our sins, that is, we don’t have to be stuck in our sins. Therefore, if the purpose of Lent is to prepare us for Easter, then it should be said, that the purpose of Lent is to help make the Death and Resurrection of Jesus effective in our lives, which will lead us to grow in our discipleship of following Jesus more closely. Have you thought about that- the purpose of Lent is to help you grow in holiness and follow Jesus more closely? Many people tend to give up something, usually something small, during Lent, and then look forward to taking it up again, sometimes over-indulging after Easter. If that has been you, think about if have you met the goal of growing closer to God by doing that? It is OK to give up something, even something small, but we must do it for the purpose it is intended. The purpose is to grow and strengthen your self-discipline so that the discipline can then be applied to another area of need in our lives. But ideally, the purpose of Lent is to begin something that will help bring about a lasting change in us away from sin and closer to God. Now let’s look at the Gospel for a few ideas.READ MORE
Our Gospel today continues the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in which Jesus is teaching his disciples how they are to live as set apart from the world, which as we just heard is a very high expectation. Jesus calls us to ‘love our enemies’. Yes, Jesus means those people we so often try to avoid because they annoy and frustrate us, we are called to love and do good to them. And if that isn’t hard enough, Jesus seemingly commands his disciples to do the impossible: be merciful as our Father is merciful. So often, we can hear Jesus’ teaching and perhaps feel a little, OK, better said, A LOT overwhelmed and unqualified, just like the first disciples must have felt. However, in this homily instead of trying to stir us on to do that which is so difficult, let me reflect on our 2nd readings from this week and last week to help shed light on one very critical aspect which makes our difficult task possible, and not so unbelievable as the first disciples must have thought. Indeed, this critical point makes it possible for us, but it also heightens the urgency and severity to Jesus’ words, and should make it more convicting for us. To do this, I am going to need your participation. Throughout this homily, I want you to be thinking about one very important question. That very important question is: Why are there so many atheists and agnostics in the world today?READ MORE
To begin my homily, I have two questions for you: First, raise your hand if you want to be happy? I know that’s a crazy question, of course all of you raised your hands because we all want to be happy. In fact, true happiness is what we were made for! Good, today Jesus tells us how to be happy.
Second, raise your hand if you want to be a Disciple? Good, I do too. If you remember in last week’s Gospel, Jesus called Peter, James, and John to become fishers of men and they left everything to become Jesus’ disciple. This week in our Gospel, Jesus gathered the 12 disciples with a large group of people and began to teach them what it means to be a disciple. So those who raised your hand and said you also wanted to become Jesus’ disciple, listen up. Our Gospel reading says that Jesus “raised his eyes to his disciples and said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours”. Sound familiar? Yes, today we heard Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. You are probably familiar with Matthew’s Beatitudes- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted, and so forth”. And even though both Gospels say ‘Blessed’, the Hebrew word Jesus uses in both versions more accurately means ‘happiness’ or ‘to be happy’, of course if you follow Jesus’ directions, you indeed will be both happy and Blessed! There are also some differences in Luke’s version compared to Matthew’s. First of all, Luke uses the 2nd person- and he says ‘blessed are you’, rather than Matthew’s more general 3rd person- in which he uses ‘blessed are they’. And secondly, Luke’s version is more rigid and imposing, as there is a whole list of woes or curses included, which is quite the different tone from Matthew’s nice and comforting version. Therefore, can you imagine the disciples listening intently as Jesus looked into their eyes and said, “Blessed, Happy are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Happy are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. I imagine those words were consoling, after all, keep in mind, the 12 disciples left behind their families, their jobs, and all the comforts of home to follow Jesus. But then Jesus goes on to say, “Happy are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in Heaven”. I can imagine the disciples after hearing this last declaration of what it means to be happy, were like ‘I don’t want to think about people hating, excluding, and insulting me. Uh Jesus, can you go back to what you said earlier, those are more comforting?’READ MORE
Welcome back, class. Again, keep in mind that in this section of the class we are discovering who God really is. And so, if you remember last week, we learned that Jesus went into the synagogue of his home town, and read the prophecy from Isaiah in which the future Messiah, the Anointed One of God, will bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed. Then Jesus startlingly declared that that prophecy, the long-awaited coming of the Messiah, had been fulfilled in their midst. In other words, Jesus declared Himself to be the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. Before I go more into today’s lesson which describes who God is, first, let’s look at how the people responded to Jesus’ declaration that He was the Messiah, “all were amazed at his gracious words that came from his mouth”. Amazed at his gracious words, I’m hoping I’m misinterpreting how Luke meant it. But if not, what a reaction! In other words, ‘oh good, thank you for being the Messiah’, oh, gee, thank you for being the One who brings good news and freedom’. Gosh, I sure hope they didn’t get it, or really did not fully understood the magnitude of what Jesus was saying, because I’d expect jumping up and down for joy, I’d expect they would be running to tell everyone who they saw, or at the very least a little more heartfelt gratitude, anything other than a passing thanks without much meaning. But wait, that rings familiar to me, isn’t that how you and I can sometimes approach God? With so much indifference, like we don’t really recognize the magnitude of who He is, and we don’t really know or fully understand all that God has done and is doing for us.READ MORE