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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Friday, May 22, 2020

Adapting to the Times

To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all.  And I do all things for the gospel's sake, that I may be made partaker thereof. 
2 Corinthians 9:22-23

Reflection 2020-05-22 Friday 6th Week of Easter

Acts 18:9-18; Psalm 47; John 16:20-23

Monday, May 11, 2020

Reflection 2020-10-11 Monday 4th Week of Easter.

APOLOGIES: I made the mistake of writing a reflection for today last week. So I am writing the reflection of last week’s Monday today.
Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 42; John 10:11-18

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Reflection 2020-05-07 Thursday 4th Week of Easter

Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 89; John 13:16-20
The Gospel today happens after Jesus washes the feet of his Apostles where he tells them to wash each other’s feet. But what does this washing of the feet mean? Many Catholics interpret this as serving each other, serving the poor. While this is true, there is a deeper meaning to this, which Jesus gave when he came to wash Peter’s feet. Peter would not allow Jesus to wash his feet and Jesus said if I do not wash you, you shall have no part with me. Hearing this, Peter tells Jesus to wash his hands and head. Jesus replied the one who is washed needs only to have his feet washed because he is entirely clean. Then Jesus says And you are clean, but not all. The washing of the feet goes beyond literally serving others. It goes beyond just service. We clean others so they can make others clean, not only physically but spiritually: so others may share in the life Jesus gives.
This is why Jesus tells the Apostles today that they are not greater than him. They are his servants and messengers. He warned them not to go beyond his message. They are not Jesus so they need to see themselves as they are: servants, messengers. They are to cleanse others as Jesus did. They are to bring the message as Jesus did. Nothing more and nothing less.
We cannot add to the message of Jesus. We cannot do more than what Jesus wants us to do. Many have added to the message of Jesus, changing the message to their own opinions. Many go beyond what Jesus meant, making their ministry their master to the neglect of preaching the Gospel. The main purpose of Christians is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so those who hear will believe and turn their hearts to him.
The First Reading shows us how Paul did this. He preached in the synagogue, not of his opinions, but of Jesus. Paul proclaimed Jesus as the promised Savior of Israel. In all his writings, we see this main thought. While Paul did write about serving the poor and serving others, all these are rooted in the fact that Jesus is the Lord and in him, salvation is found.
There is no other Savior, except Jesus Christ. Those who preach that we can save ourselves by good works alone preach a gospel different from the message of Jesus. While serving others is exemplary, it is NOT the way to salvation: Jesus is! Those who preach faith ALONE also preach a gospel different from the message of Jesus. Jesus said when he washed Peter’s feet that not everyone of them are clean even after Jesus washed them. Because even if Judas had his feet washed, he went out and betrayed Jesus! James also said, Faith without works is dead. Our faith or belief in Jesus is not enough. It has to bear fruit in service. We are saved by Jesus Christ when we believe him and bear fruit in good works.
Jesus said, Not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father. Calling Jesus is Lord, in this case, twice, does not guarantee salvation. It is only when we do the will of the Father that we are saved.
So yes, we are called to serve others. But this service should be based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul clearly says: though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be cursed. This statement is so important Paul repeats this.
1 John 4:1 tells us to test all spirits. So when we hear a message, we do not readily accept it. John tells us how to test the message: If anyone proclaims Jesus did not come in the flesh, that is the spirit of Antichrist. If anyone preaches salvation by works ALONE, that is the spirit of Antichrist. If anyone preaches salvation by faith ALONE, that is ALSO the spirit of Antichrist. Both deny the humanity of Christ. The first denies that Christ needed to die to save us from our sins. The second denies the need to make visible our faith in good works because Jesus became flesh to make visible the love of God through his signs.
Lord, I come to you. Let me realize I am your servant. Let me realize I am your messenger. May I preach Jesus Christ as the Only Savior through my good works. Give me wisdom to test all spirits, so I may reject false doctrines and accept only YOUR message. All I want is to follow you Lord. Show me your Truth Lord Jesus, that I may do the Father’s will.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Reflection 2020-05-06 Wednesday 4th Week of Easter (St Francois de Laval, Patron of the Bishops of Canada)

2 Timothy 4:1-5; Psalm 96; John 10:11-16
It is appropriate that after the readings on the Good Shepherd, we celebrate the first Bishop of Quebec City and the patron of the bishops of Canada. Some may ask, why do we worship a saint when we are to worship God only. We do not worship St Francois de Laval, but we commemorate him for what the Lord has done through him, just as we remember heroes of society. St Francois was born of a noble family in France but became a priest despite the power and influence of his family in their society. He was appointed appointed bishop of what at that time was New France. As part of overseeing the spiritual needs of his new diocese, St Francois set up a seminary which is now called Laval University. He looked after the welfare of settlers and the First Nations which often conflicted with the civil authorities.
St Francois exemplified in what Jesus said in today’s Gospel: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd … sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away. Today’s Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and they are the shepherds of their diocese. When the Apostles were electing a replacement of Judas as narrated in Acts 1, Peter said their main purpose is to be a witness to the resurrection of Jesus. This is why Bishops have the full authority to preach and teach and govern their diocese. All preaching and teaching in the diocese come under the authority of the Bishop. We should expect therefore, that our bishops should be a witness to the resurrection of Christ, through their fidelity to the teaching of the Church handed down from the Apostles. Granted there had been, and still are, bishops who have preached error, we will know the true teaching of the Apostles by learning what the Church has taught through the centuries. The Gospel message will not change because Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Bishops are guardians of this treasure and are not the masters of it. They have no authority to change the teaching of the Church, despite what many would want the Bishops to do.
Which is why the words of St Paul in the First Reading is very applicable today: For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. Our Bishops need our prayers. They are under pressure to change the teaching of the Church because many do not put up with sound doctrine. They want to hear what they want rather than what they need. Many are persecuted because of this. Bishops are arrested in China, precisely because they do what St Paul said to Timothy: be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
Pray for persecuted bishops, that they may continue to be faithful and not waver, so they will receive their reward from their Lord, Jesus Christ. Pray for bishops who are not faithful to their ministry, who teach error to make people feel good rather than desire the good of the people. Pray that they may repent and turn back to the Lord. Pray that they may do what the Psalm tells us: tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, tell of his marvelous works among all the people. Pray they may say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established, it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity”. If a bishop does not do this, his flock will be misled and they will die. And he will be made responsible for the lost souls.
Pray also for those who are ordained to preach the Gospel, namely priests and deacons, that we may have courage to speak the truth, no matter how unpopular it may be, no matter what the cost. Pray we may proclaim the unchanging Gospel of the Lord, clearly and boldly, for the glory of the Father.
Pray for lay preachers and teachers that they may have the humility to submit to the authority of the Church and preach what is true and will lead to the growth of those who hear them.
Lord, through the intercession of St Francois de Laval, I pray for our Bishop. Bless him and give him courage to remain faithful to you. Bless him and let him remain steadfast in you. May we learn from him and hear the Gospel so our hearts will turn to you and recognize you as our Lord. In Jesus’s name we pray.