R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
SUNDAY 32nd WEEK YEAR C.
In the first reading of today we have the story of the martyrdom of seven brothers who urged by their mother remained faithful to God with the hope that they will enjoy the glory of the resurrection to come.
In the second reading we have Paul praying that Jesus and Father will help the people to persevere in living the Gospel and tells them not to be over anxious about the situation of afterlife or the end of the world. They must persevere in their faith and show their loyalty to God in Jesus. This is the fulfilment of their life.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is challenged by a group of Sadducees concerning the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees as a group which did not believe in resurrection and they confront Jesus who tells them the meaning of resurrection. A resurrected person would be alive with God praising and thanking him and experiencing a life totally different from the earthly life. Jesus does not address the Sadducees’ question directly. Instead he makes the point that the resurrected life is totally different from any kind of life experienced on earth. Resurrection life refers to a radical new order of life that cannot be compared with anything on earth. Jesus clearly affirms that those raised from the dead are no longer liable to death. In eternal life, those who have persevered to the end, they shall all enjoy the fullness of life as it was meant to be enjoyed from the beginning of creation. They shall be counted among the living, all sharing the same Father, the living God. To attain this Resurrection, we have to be with Jesus and experience his life. The presence of Jesus is the knowledge of the resurrection.
Jesus also affirms the fact that all those who have proved themselves worthy while in this life will rise to an eternal life. In that life we will become like angels. They will not be subject to decay or corruption and cannot suffer any pain or sickness. In the Kingdom people have entered a new family where all irrespective of their origins are our brothers and sisters.
This is indeed a new life which is attained in Jesus. The presence of Jesus is the knowledge of the resurrection. To attain this Resurrection, we have to be with Jesus and experience his life. He tells us that whoever wishes to come after him must deny self, take up his cross and follow him. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for his sake and that of the gospel will save it.
The gospel tells us that our Christian life is based, first, on the firm hope that one day we will rise again and be perfectly united with the One from whom all things come and to whom all things are destined to return.
The readings challenge us to live in the light of the resurrection, full of hope that indeed there is life after this present earthly life. That is why we confess in the Creed that “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” The resurrection is the center-piece of our faith and Christians have shed their blood because of that faith. Just as the Jewish family in the first reading endured suffering because of their faith in the resurrection, we too must be prepared to defend and to live our faith in the light of resurrection. Let us all therefore truly be faithful to God at all times and in everything we say and do in our lives. Let us all draw ever closer to Him and let us all dedicate ourselves with ever greater zeal and love for God, through every actions and efforts we take in this life we have in this world. Let us all be courageous in loving God, and resist the many temptations of false pleasures and joys of this world so that our lives may truly be Christian-like and inspirational that through us and our good examples of faith may bring ever more souls to redemption and salvation in God.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
The first reading explains,“the prayer of the lowly, pierces the clouds to reach the unseen throne of God.” Such prayers are heard because they come from the hearts of people who know how much they need God. Although God has no favorites and answers the prayers of all, the oppressed, the orphans, the widows, and those who can least help themselves are His special concern. The best prayer is humble and selfless service. In the second reading, Paul humbly acknowledges, his work as accomplished by the grace of God, and he thanks God for enabling him to fight a good battle — to run a good race while keeping his Faith intact and proclaiming it. In today’s Gospel parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus reminds us that God hears the prayers those who approach Him in humility with a repentant heart. God did not hear the prayer of this Pharisee because he exalted himself. His prayer was a prayer of thanksgiving that he was not as evil as other people. He announced to God his freedom from sin and detailed his fidelity in observing the prescribed fast and in giving tithes. The tax collector’s prayer, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” was heard because he humbled himself, acknowledging his sins and requesting God’s mercy.
The parable has a two-fold meaning, giving us i) a warning against pride and contempt for others, and ii) an admonition to approach God with a humble and repentant heart. The parable was mainly intended to convict the Pharisees who, on the one hand, proudly claimed they obeyed all the rules and regulations of the Jewish Law, while on the other hand, they ignored the Mosaic precepts of mercy and compassion. The Pharisees were looked upon as devout, law-abiding citizens and models of righteousness. But they were proud and self-righteous. The tax collectors, on the other hand, were the most-hated group in Israel because they collected taxes for a foreign empire. Hence, they were considered by their fellow-Jews to be traitors, unclean and sinful. The parable shows that both men were sinners: the difference was that the publican realized that he was, but the Pharisee did not.
The Pharisee got what he asked for, which was nothing, while the sinner got what he asked for, which was everything. Two things especially make our prayers void and of no effect: a proud sense of our own righteousness, and a contempt for others.
We become the proud Pharisee when we brag about our achievements giving no credit to God, when we seek praise and recognition from others for our accomplishments, and when we degrade others with insensitive comments, hurting their feelings. In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to imitate the humble publican (tax collector) by acknowledging our total dependence on God and His grace for all our achievements and blessings; by confessing to God daily our sinfulness and asking for His pardon and forgiveness; by praying for God’s continued daily support through His grace; by asking God for strengthening through the daily anointing of His Holy Spirit living within us; and by becoming more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, serving Jesus in them as best as we can.
If we are truly humble, we will find grace, mercy and peace. There must be a space in our lives for grace to enter and work its miracle. One lesson of the parable for us is that we must keep our focus entirely on God and our relationship with Him, recognizing that we are constantly in need of His mercy and forgiveness.
On Sunday, October 20th, at the 11am Mass at Sacred Heart, we experience Mass Explained. We will celebrate Mass but as I go through each part, I will be taking time to explain the meaning of each step. The following week, on the 27th, I will do the same thing at St. Mary on the Lake at the 9:30 Mass. (Brunch will follow there as well.)
I am very excited about this opportunity. The Mass is something at the heart of our faith—a powerful weekly time where we come to encounter Jesus. It is both a time to give and to receive. We give something to God: our time, our hearts, and all that is in them. Then having given, we receive grace from Him. Something that is astounding is that at Mass we give God simple bread and wine that He takes and then gives back to us, but better and transformed: the very body and blood of His Son. We are called to surrender all of ourselves and experience that same reality—giving of ourselves and then receiving something back, but better and transformed. At times, our focus can be solely on what we are receiving, but that is a narrowed vision of what Mass is meant to be.
Because the size of the audio file, there are 2 audio files attached.
Mass Explained – PART 1
Mass Explained – PART 2
SUNDAY 28TH WEEK YEAR C
The central theme of today’s readings is gratitude – in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us. Today’s Gospel story of ‘the forgetful lepers’ presents a God Who desires gratitude from us for the many blessings we receive from Him, and Who feels pain at our ingratitude.
The sincere gratitude of Naaman towards Yahweh and his prophet Elisha brought him a gift far more precious than the healing of his leprosy. He received faith in Yahweh and was determined to serve Him faithfully. Obedience to the prophet healed him and his faith in Yahweh brought him healing of his sins as well. Humility obtained for him the cure of his skin disease. Gratitude to Yahweh obtained for him a far greater grace, faith in the true God. Jesus was pleased to see one of those lepers, the Samaritan, coming back to Him, praising God for the favor received. It pained Him that the other nine had not come back to do the same. He certainly expected them back, not because He wanted to receive their gratitude as to enable Him to complete His work of love, of which their healing was only the first step to bring them to faith.
We must not fail to notice that Jesus did not withdraw His favor from the other nine. They must have happily returned to their village after the priest issued a certificate confirming their cure. But little did they think of the greater blessings they missed on account of their ingratitude. Eucharist means thanksgiving. When we come to take part in the Eucharist we do what Naaman and the Samaritan leper did, we give praise and thanks to God. Let our thanks find joyful expression in this Eucharist. An unreflective heart is an unappreciative heart, an unappreciative heart is an ungrateful heart, and an ungrateful heart is a sick heart. Our ego can become so demanding that it can make endless claims and multiply needs. Hence, it is part of self-discipline to put a check on the demands of our ego and teach it to be reflective, to consider the blessings it has received to enjoy them and to be grateful for them. Thanksgiving has the rare power to refine the person who gives it and to gladden the person who receive it. Ingratitude on the other hand, hardens the former and saddens the latter. Once a son wrote a letter to his mom.
Dear Mama. This morning I cleaned our lawn that will cost you ten dollars. After lunch, I washed the plates and utensils that was worth five dollars. This afternoon, you asked me to buy some items in the grocery, since the sun was hot and the grocery store was far, I would charge you ten dollars. Twenty-five dollars is the total money you owe me. Signed: Your Obedient Son.
The mother wrote back. Dear Son. I carried you in my womb for nine months I charged you nothing. I had a hard time giving birth to you that I almost died I charged you nothing. When you were two years old, you got sick and I was not able to sleep for three days caring for you but I did not charge you anything. Overall, you owe me nothing because I love you. Signed: Your Loving Mother.
Gratitude is the attitude of a sensitive soul appreciative of its gifts. It is the sign of a good heart which, while it enjoys the gifts, is not forgetful of the giver of gifts. The nine ungrateful lepers in today’s gospel were so wrapped up in themselves and engrossed with the blessings they had received that they forgot their benefactor and saddened Him. A grateful heart is a humble heart, a humble heart is a religious heart, a religious heart is a reverential heart, a reverential heart is a liturgical heart, a liturgical is a praising heart, and such a heart cannot but be joyful and healthy.
Our mission consists in leading people to God, in becoming Good Samaritans. Let our celebrations of the Eucharist be done with conviction and let our voice re-echo the Eucharistic prayer Lord we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. Amen.