Signs and wonders are a form of divine communication
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
After the crucifixion, think about the struggle encountered by the disciples and their response — locked doors and fearful. They did not have the benefit of hundreds of years of reflection, debate, and arriving at clarity. Their first thought and image were the awful crucifixion and death of a dear friend and the loss of hope which had filled their hearts.
Pray for a deepening respect for life
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We journey now through Holy Week as we have accepted our Lenten invitation for prayer, reflection and grace-filled action. I pray that you have taken this time to reconcile and deepen your relationship with God and with your brothers and sisters. Our Holy Father reminds us in his Lenten reflection, “When we live as children of God, redeemed and led by the Holy Spirit and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law, beginning with the law written on our hearts, we participate in the transformation and redemption of our world…Yet in this world, the harmony generated by redemption is constantly threatened by the negative power of sin and death” (Pope Francis, 2019).
How are we ambassadors of Christ?
St. Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ. Think of God appealing through us. As we are in the season of Lent, it is a good time to reflect upon how our thoughts, words, and deeds may or may not truly expose the goodness of God for all people. God brings us together as one people, a people who acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness.
Abandon tomb of insecurity, we are children of God
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We are within the season of Lent. During the second Sunday of Lent, we hear the wondrous proclamation, as Jesus and some of the apostles were praying, that Jesus is God’s chosen Son. We are to listen to him. There are many words which might strike you significantly when hearing this proclamation. The one that is most striking to me is the word, chosen.
The gift of the Eucharist
In the Gospel of St. Luke proclaimed on the seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus explains what his true love is; what he means when he says, “love one another as I have loved you.” But his words are not easy to hear; certainly, they were life changing for those who first heard them. They are life changing for us, and their simplicity is perhaps, complex, because of our own human weaknesses.
Who has a compassionate heart?
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Who has a compassionate heart?
If we have the heart for God, then our heart is compassionate. God seeks us to be in relationship with him and rejoices when we trust in him completely, when we turn everything over to him — all our fears, uncertainties and difficulties; all our goodness, beauty and riches. When we trust in God, we grow a compassionate heart and find hope or blessing.
January focuses on life from many fronts
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. The Christmas season has ended, and we continue with the season of God among us. The Scripture of the third Sunday in Ordinary Time speaks to the mission of the Church: Ezra calls upon the people to recognize God among them proclaiming the day holy; St. Paul reminds us that we are now one in Christ; and St. Luke tells us of Christ’s mission, to which we are all called to serve in holiness:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord (Luke 4:18,19).
We are all formed by God and we all are his covenant
The Scripture we hear proclaimed on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord announces our mandate. The words speak to us of servanthood in the context of Jesus’ baptism. He, the one who is baptized, is called beloved because he is the model servant. There is no question about our calling; there is no denial of the covenant for which Jesus came to fulfill. We are reminded that we are formed by God and we are his covenant — the bond of love for all the people.
Christmas: A three-week season, not just one day of the year
How great our joy. Today the child whom we seek, the deliverer of mankind, is born. This divine gift does not come to us in wrappings of the secular world. The glitter on the gift is a star of the heavens; the paper in which the gift is adorned is of human flesh; the gift is offered through the womb of the earth, our Blessed Mother. This gift to us, Prince of Peace, is not bestowed upon a mansion, but laid in a manger. While the bows and colored paper torn from their boxes will be thrown into the recycling bin, this Christmas wrap, swaddling of the father’s love, is sacred and we cannot part from him. We all gather to see this child for our faith, like that of the shepherds in the field and the wise men, propels us closer and we proclaim our belief.
What way might you repent?
While St. John the Baptist was in the womb, he heard Mary as she visited his mother, and the unborn Baptist leaped for joy over the voice of Mary and the presence of the unborn Jesus in her own womb. Our spiritual tradition calls this the first Eucharistic Adoration, namely, St. John the Baptist was worshipping the Son of God whose presence he knew although he couldn’t see him. At a time when so many believers appear to have given into mediocrity, suspicion and fear, the zealous witness of St. John the Baptist pokes at us, provokes us into a greater love and deeper devotion to the demands of discipleship. During this season of Advent, St. John the Baptist compels us to repent, to forgive — that we might see the salvation of God. The Second Vatican Council Fathers echo the provocative words of St. John the Baptist, “The Lord himself renews his invitation to all the lay faithful to come closer to him every day, and with the recognition that what is his is also their own (Phil 2:5) they ought to associate themselves with him in his saving mission. Once again he sends them into every town and place where he himself is to come” (Christifideles Laici).
What the world needs is God’s love
Grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We are concluding our Jubilee Year, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Orlando. On the first Sunday of Advent, I proclaimed this Jubilee, the Year of the Eucharist. Together, we proclaimed, “Never more than at this time do we find our urgent prayer, ‘Stay with us, Lord,’ burning in our hearts as it did with those disciples on the Road to Emmaus.”
To give to the Lord is a profound blessing
Grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Jesus talks about the rich and the poor in the Gospel of St. Mark. But the rich and the poor of whom he speaks are not the typical ideals. The rich person is characterized by the poor widow and the poor person is characterized by the rich who give of his/her excess. The widow is fragile, someone who has lost a sure, reliable life partner. The widow is vulnerable. Yet, the widow is also faith-filled and her stewardship of all that God has given her is realized within her two small coins. She has given of her entire being for the glory of the Lord.
May we pray unceasingly, ‘Stay with us Lord’
During the month of October, the Gospels we proclaim have been from St. Mark, Chapter 10. The last Scripture reading from this chapter is proclaimed on Oct. 28. It would be good for you to pick up a Bible and read the entire Chapter 10 of St. Mark, to reflect upon the whole chapter and the message St. Mark conveys to us through the telling of his encounter as Jesus’ disciple. Upon prayerful discernment, I hope you will note that Jesus’ message is not to put ourselves before God; rather, whatever authority we exercise must be like that of Jesus, offered as service to others, rather than for personal aggrandizement. The service of Jesus is his passion and death for the sins of the human race.
In what are you lacking?
In what are you lacking? In the Old Testament, wealth and material goods are considered a sign of God’s favor. The words of Jesus, as St. Mark tells us, provoke astonishment among the disciples because of their apparent contradiction of the Old Testament concept. Since wealth, power and merit generate false security, Jesus rejects them utterly as a claim to enter the kingdom. Achievement of salvation is beyond human capability and depends solely on the goodness of God who offers it as a gift.
Pray with gratitude for our first responders
Our ever-reliable God will bless the reverent. We are created by God and within that creation we are given a dignity that is beyond all telling. Our first responders know of this dignity of each person and spend their lives honoring this dignity through their offering to keep us safe. It is fitting to recognize these men and women during our annual celebration of the Blue Mass on Sept. 28, 12:10 p.m., at St. James Cathedral. First responders throughout the Diocese of Orlando are invited to participate with us in prayer, praising God for our ability to serve him using our talents to flourish his kingdom here on earth.