Thursday, August 13, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
When I served at my last parish assignment at St. Paul Catholic Church in Tampa, my pastor had a familiar phrase: “How big is your God?” The point of his message was to challenge the listener’s perception on how God works in our life.
In the Gospel today, Jesus challenges Peter to think big and outside the box. “How many times do we have to forgive others (Matthew 18:21)?” Peter stated 7 times. In saying the number 7, he thought that he was being quite generous. What was Jesus response to Peter’s question? “Not seven times but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22).”
Jesus went on to share with His Apostles another one of His parables. This story was about a king who reached out to his servant with compassion and forgave his entire debt that was owed to his king. What did the servant do after receiving his forgiveness? He did not return the same compassion that was offered to him by the king.
God’s forgiveness knows no limits. In His great mercy, God continues to forgive each one of us, our debt of sin. We cannot ever repay God for His generous compassionate treatment toward us.
How can we show our appreciation and gratitude to Jesus for His generous gift of forgiveness? We do so by forgiving our sisters and brothers in the same Spirit that God has forgiven us. Let us look at the best example of how to forgive – Jesus on the Cross on Calvary. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23: 34).”
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
We celebrate the Feast of St. Jane Frances de Chantal. She was born in Dijon, France in 1572. She married a nobleman, Baron de Chantal, and gave birth to 6 children, 2 of whom died at birth. After her husband’s death, she placed herself under the direction of St. Francis de Sales. She devoted her life to a life of charity especially among the poor and the sick. She founded the Visitation Religious Order in 1610 in Annecy, France. She died in 1641 (Information was taken from The Loose-Leaf Lectionary August 12, 2020 page 1139) .
In our first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel had a vision of Jerusalem. Five years after his arrival in Babylon, the prophet returned to Jerusalem in a vision. He found himself besides the Temple walls. He witnessed a breakdown of religion in Israel. The Temple was being desecrated by pagan worship. A man dressed in linen, which was normally worn by the priest, was flanked by three men on his right and three men on his left. A voice had instructed the man in linen to mark the heads of those who were grieving the breakdown of religion.
Here we are in the year of 2020 were we too are witnesses to the breakdown of our religion and traditions. Our Catholic Church is often attacked for her stance on the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. I was just reading last night an article online were elected officials out in the west coast were threatening to turn off the water and electricity of Churches that celebrate the Mass. Churches are being set on fire and our Catholic statues are being taken down.
Like the Prophets of the Old Testament, the Apostles and the Saints, we too must be a voice for the Gospel message across our land. Let our prayer today be for the return of our Catholic faith and identity throughout the world, our country, our neighborhood, and our homes.
Tuesday August 11, 2020 Scripture Reflection
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
There is a story about St. Clare, when she turned away a barbarian army from sacking the town of Assisi. As the army approached, she prostrated herself before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and prayed for the protection of Assisi. She heard the voice of Jesus assuring her from the monstrance, “I will always have you in my care.” Clare, took the monstrance in her hands and raised it in front of the approaching army, and at its sight, the attacking army was filled with fear and fled the town.
This is why statues and religious art depict St. Clare holding the monstrance. We have her statue in my home parish and a stained-glass window at the same place.
There is another story of her great love and devotion to the Eucharist. Toward the end of her life, when she was too ill to attend Mass, the Holy Spirit would project the Holy Mass on the wall of her room so that she could watch it from her bed.
This is why this saint from the 1200s was named the patron saint of television. And it’s not a mere coincidence that a poor Clare nun, Mother Angelica founded the first worldwide Catholic Television network, EWTN.
The reading from the letter to the Philippians is so fitting. Paul speaks of “forgetting what lies behind” and “straining forward to what lies ahead.” St. Clare was born in a family with great wealth. She could have married a very rich person and lived in luxury and comfort her whole life. But this beautiful woman chose to follow the Lord in poverty, chastity, and obedience as a cloistered nun. She gave up everything to follow Jesus and she became a saint.
She reminds all of us that the greatest happiness in this life and the life to come is found in deep, intimate communion with Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful and praiseworthy exchange! To leave the things of time, for those of eternity, to possess a blessed eternal life.
Scripture Reflection Monday August 10, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
St. Lawrence is remembered both for his courageous martyrdom and his care for the poor.
As a deacon in Rome, Lawrence was in charge of the Roman Church’s treasury, and had the responsibility of distributing alms to the poor. When Pope Sixtus was arrested and killed, Lawrence knew that he would be next—he sold all of his personal possessions and gave them away to the poor widows, orphans, and beggars of Rome.
When the prefect of Rome heard this, he imagined that Church must have a considerable treasure hidden somewhere in the city. He ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. So, Deacon Lawrence gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasures of the Church.”
In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The Saint was to be slowly roasted alive upon an iron grill. Lawrence however was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flame. He even joked. I’m done on this side! Turn me over” Among many other things, Lawrence is a patron saint of Comedians.
In the words of today’s first reading, he was someone who gave of himself, not grudgingly, but generously and cheerfully, to the Lord and to the church. In the words of Jesus in the gospel reading, he is the wheat grain that fell to the earth and died and in dying yielded a rich harvest. He is reminding us that we find life by giving our lives away, by dying to our tendency to live for ourselves alone. That pattern of gaining life for oneself and for others through the giving of our life is to be the pattern of all our lives as people baptized into Jesus. As Paul says, when we give of ourselves generously and cheerfully, there is no limit to the blessings that God can send upon us.
In these present times, the seeds of faith are also waiting to sprout in and around the Church.
We as Christians are called to fertilize the soil by the example of our lives and by our love for God and for others.
We do this by faithfully following Christ and serving Him in the poor, like St. Laurence did, so that our lives will also bear a rich harvest.
Friday, August 7, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Thursday, August 6, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
A couple of years ago I was visiting my youngest sister and her family. My nephew, Leo, was sitting at the kitchen table drawing on a piece of paper. So, I asked my nephew what he was drawing. He responded: Uncle Tim, I am drawing a picture of God. Is that what God looks like? No one has really seen God’s face. Leo gives me one of his looks and responds. “Well now they will know what God looks like.”
So what does God look like? We are all fascinated to know what God looks like as we all hunger to experience God’s presence in our daily life. It is a question that is discussed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament in Scripture.
Today the Church celebrates the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. “Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain by themselves (Matthew 17:1).”. Peter said: “Lord, it is good that we are here (Matthew 17: 4).”
Today’s Gospel passage is packed with rich symbolism and meaning. We hear about the image of a mountain. Scripture also uses the image of mountain throughout Scripture. Here are a few examples: God reveals Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The Prophet Isaiah spoke about a suffering servant who will die on a mountain and how God will provide for His people. In a number of Gospel passages Jesus was up on a mountain: 1) To pray before He begun His ministry, 2) Feeding of the multitudes (last Sunday’s Gospel), 3) the Beatitudes, 4) The Transfiguration of the Lord, and 5) His death on the Cross on Calvary. In each trip on the mountain, Jesus drew Himself closer to His Heavenly Father in His prayer.
How do we draw ourselves closer to God in prayer? Taking time out of our busy calendar to pray to God, celebrating the Sacraments on a frequent basis and listening to what God has to say. As we prepare to receive the Eucharist this morning, may the Eucharist strengthen our resolve to radiate in God’s glory.
Wednesday, August 5, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today we celebrate the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. The Blessed Virgin Mary received the title “Mother of God” from the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. A basilica in honor of the Holy Mother of God was built on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. The name was later changed to St. Mary Major and is the oldest Church dedicated to Our Lady in the West. We pray through the intercession of Mary as she leads us as well as our intentions closer to her Son.
We read from the Prophet of Jeremiah in our First Reading today. One of the themes that are found in the Book of the Prophets in the Old Testament is God rebuilding His Chosen People.
The people have strayed from their covenant relationship with God. They were not adhering to the commandments that God gave to Moses and the people. They were following and worshiping false gods. The people were broken into small pieces. After a period of time, God desired to repair the broken pieces of their lives to help His people realize that God has not turned His back on His people. He retrieves the people from the places of despair and reshapes us into something very beautiful.
Reflection: How firmly do we believe that our loving and merciful Father can take the broken pieces of our lives and make something beautiful out of them?
Daily Scripture Reflections Tuesday August 4, 2020 By Father Claudius Mganga
Today the Church honors St. John Vianney, who was a French parish priest and is venerated as the patron saint of parish priests.
He came from a poor peasant family, had his studies interrupted by the French Revolution, considered a slow and unpromising candidate for the priesthood, but he was ordained on account of his love and devotion to God rather than anything else.
In 1818, he was sent to an isolated village of Ars to be the parish priest. Here he spent almost forty-two years of his life, devoting himself to prayer, mortification, and pastoral works.
He was noted as a simple but heart-touching preacher and also a confessor who was gifted with the spiritual insight into souls, for his dedication to the poor, his counseling to those in need, and for founding La Providence, an orphanage for girls.
He also, had a deep love for the Eucharist. St. John will wake up early and go to the Blessed Sacrament to beg conversion for his parishioners to attend daily Mass.
Some of his simple and practical quotes are these:
– Do not try to please everybody. Try to please God, the angels and the saints – they are your public.
– Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross.
As a priest, he expressed what the priestly ministry is about in these words: The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.
Let us pray for priests that they will love God’s people with the heart of Jesus and be faithful servants of God as St. John Vianney was.
Daily Scripture Reflection Monday August 3, 2020 By Father Claudius Mganga
Whenever this phrase “a bitter pill to swallow” is used, there could be several shades of meaning to it. It could mean:
– an unwanted or unpleasant situation that someone is forced to accept
– an unpleasant fact, disappointment, or humiliation that is difficult to endure
Whatever shades of meaning there are, the word that is most obvious is “bitter”.
As much as bitter is far from pleasant, but swallowing the bitter pill may result in something better.
In the 1st reading, the prophet Jeremiah said that true prophets often present the people a bitter pill to swallow.
And unless the people swallow the bitter pill and repent and turn back to God, there can be no real peace.
And in the gospel, Peter had to swallow the bitter pill of being called a man of little faith.
Interestingly, this story reveals much to us about our own lives of faith and much more about the goodness of Jesus. So often we begin with a faith in our head and have every intention of living that faith.
Like Peter, we often make firm resolutions to trust in Jesus and to “walk on water” at His command. However, all too often we experience the same thing Peter did. We start to live the trust we express in Jesus, only to suddenly give in to fear in the midst of our hardship. We begin to sink and have to cry out for help.
We too must humbly swallow the bitter pill of humility and acknowledge that we have little faith and we also doubted God especially when the going gets rough and we want to take the easy way out.
We only need to cry out “Lord! Save me!” and what is bitter will be turned into something better
Friday, July 31, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Thursday, July 30, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
One of the reoccurring themes that we find in the Books of the Prophets is strained relationships. The people of Israel have strayed away from their covenant relationship with God. It is a theme that we read throughout the Scriptures in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.
The people were worshiping false gods instead of the one true God, the Father. They were not observing the Commandments that God gave to Moses and the people. They were also aligning themselves with foreign enemies.
Despite all that was going on, God still was concerned with His people. So God dispatched the Prophet Jeremiah to go to the people of Israel with the following message of hope: God is not done with His people and He will never be done with us.
The same message holds true for us here in 2020 at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Inverness, Florida. God is not done with us. At times we may have turned our backs to God, but God actively seeks us out with the pastoral care of a shepherd. God meets us where we are and invites us to change our ways.
So do not lose hope. God is not done with us yet. Amen.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Martha. Jesus had a special relationship with Martha, her sister, Mary, and her brother, Lazarus. Jesus was a regular guest at Martha’s house in Bethany, a small town just outside of Jerusalem. The Gospels record at least three of those visits. (Luke 10: 38-42) Martha welcomes Jesus and His Apostles and attends to their needs. (John 11: 1-53) Martha grieves at the death of her brother, Lazarus. Jesus returns to give Martha and Mary comfort. (John 12: 1-9) Jesus returns to Bethany to share a meal with His friends. Martha spent much time in service to Jesus. Martha is the Patron Saint of Housewives, Cooks, Restaurants and Hosts (Excerpts taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints).
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus went to visit Martha and her family. Mary was reclining at Jesus’ feet listening to every word. On the other hand, Martha was busy serving the food and drinks to Jesus and the Apostles. So what was Martha’s problem? It was not that she was very busy. She was distracted by her busyness and worry. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things (Luke 10:41).”
Jesus challenged Martha and to us to turn away from those distractions that keep us from the important things in our life. Take time out of our busy calendar to be focused on Christ, our family and our friends.
Reflection: Take some time out of our day to rest and to listen to God today.
Daily Scripture Reflections Tuesday July 28, 2020 By. Fr. Claudius Mganga
Whenever it rains, we don’t usually think much about it or make reflections. It could be that because the weather here is either sunny or rainy, so we may take it rather for granted.
We may even complain that the rain makes our shoes wet or that we have to bring an umbrella along if we are going out.
Rain is always a sign of blessings back in Africa, especially when it is raining during a special occasion like Ordination, Wedding, Baptism, Confirmation, Graduation, and Initiation. It’s a happier moment. Indeed, the rain waters the earth and gives life and makes the earth fertile.
Yet, let us not take the rain for granted.
In the 1st reading, the prophet Jeremiah has something to say about rain: Can any of the pagan Nothings make it rain? Can the heavens produce showers? No, it is you, Lord. The rain that waters the earth and gives life also falls on the good and bad alike.
Through the parable of the wheat and the weeds in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to be patient with those who fail to meet the high ethical standard expected of a Christian. If we don’t spend all our time wondering why there is so much evil in the world, we may have a little left over for wondering why there is so much good!
We need to practice patience. We need to be patient with ourselves and with others, especially those who annoy us and those who offend us. Let us patiently and lovingly treat the “weeds” in our society as our brothers and sisters and do all in our power to put them back on the right road to Heaven, especially by our good example and our fervent prayer for their conversion.
We need to be slow to judge. It can be all too easy to see ourselves as wheat and identity various groups of other people as weeds. Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says to those who were judging him, ‘With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court… It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes’. This morning’s first reading reminds us that the Lord who will judge is a ‘God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness’
Monday, July 27, 2020 Daily Scripture Reflections:
By Fr. Claudius Mganga
Too often we tend to feel as though our lives are not nearly as important as others. We can often look to others who are far more “powerful” and “influential.” We can tend to dream about being like them. What if I had their money? Or if I had their social status? Or if I had their job? Or was as popular as they are?
Sometimes we may feel that our good efforts at something are bearing very little fruit. We can get into a frame of mind that says, ‘What good have I been doing with my life?’ We can feel that we have precious little to show for our endeavors. Yet, we can be doing a lot of good without realizing it or recognizing it. We can sometimes forget that even a little can go a long way. The little efforts we make, the little good we do, can have an impact for the better beyond our imagining. The truth is that each one of us is capable of making a HUGE difference in our world.
Humble beginnings can have an extraordinary outcome when the work in question is God’s work. There is an encouragement to us all to keep doing the little bit of good we are able to do. It may not seem much in our own eyes or in the eyes of others, yet God can work powerfully through whatever little good we do, in ways that will surprise us. We can all plant the equivalent of the mustard seed; we can all be the equivalent of the leaven. The little initiative, the small gesture, the offer of help, can all bear fruit in ways that we could never have imagined at the time. The Lord can work powerfully through our smallest efforts if they are done out of love for him. Our calling is often to plant some good seed and to trust that the Lord will do the rest.
We need to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, changing our evil ways and tendencies to a life of holiness; from unjust and uncharitable conversations to speaking with God and listening to Him (prayer); from a judgmental attitude expressed in scornful criticism, and destructive gossip to a loving, welcoming attitude live out in willing help, patience, and consoling, encouraging, inspiring support.
We need to act like yeast, influencing the lives of others around us: Just as Christianity in the past transformed the treatment of women, children, slaves, the sick, and the poor by the power of Jesus’ Gospel, we Christians, in our time, have the duty to transform the lives of people around us by our exemplary lives, led according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit
Friday, July 24, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Thursday Scripture Reflections July 23, 2020 –
By Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today we commemorate the memorial feast of St. Bridget who was the daughter of a wealthy governor in Sweden. She married a well-to-do man and they had eight children. She went on to serve as the principal lady in waiting to the queen of Sweden.
She had a reputation as a woman of great prayer. After her husband died she became a member of the third order of Saint Francis She then founded a religious order and journeyed to Rome in 1349 to obtain papal approval for the order, known as the Brigettines.
She never returned to Sweden from Rome. She spent the rest of her life in Italy or on various pilgrimages, including one to the Holy Land. She impressed with her simplicity of life and her devotion to pilgrims, to the poor and the sick. She experienced visions of various kinds; some of them were of the passion of Christ.
She died in Rome in 1373. She was canonized not for her visions but for her virtue.
The gospel reading for her feast is Jesus’ wonderful image of the vine and branches. By means of this image Jesus shows how much he wants to be in communion with us and wants us to be in communion with him. It is that communion with him, through prayer, through the Eucharist, which enables our lives to bear fruit in plenty, the rich fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to be like Bridget and to give of what we have in the service of the Lord and of his people. If we do so then we will produce much fruit for the Kingdom
Wednesday, July 22, 2020 Scripture Reflection –
Fr. Claudius Mganga
Every now and then, we see in the newspapers a notice about a missing person, with the person’s photograph and some details. It happened to one of our beloved parishioners here at Our Lady of Fatima, I remember!
What is certain is that when a loved one is missing; the anxiety is painful and the search is relentless.
Such was the depth of the emotion expressed in the 1st reading in the search for the one whom the heart loves deeply.
It may also express the pain and grief of Mary Magdalene as she looked for the One, she loved in the tomb.
And not finding Jesus in tomb, Mary Magdalene searched relentlessly and persistently for Him.
Mary’s deep love for Jesus was because it was He who loved her first and healed her of her sufferings and sins.
In life, Mary Magdalene loved Jesus. Even in death she searched for Him in order just to be with Him.
Mary Magdalene is remembered because of her deep love for Jesus and her relentless and persistent search for Jesus when others seemed to have given up.
Mary Magdalene stands by Jesus when he is crucified and is the first to visit his tomb after the Sabbath following his death. She also is the first person to announce his resurrection.
We can have a similar relationship with Jesus as Mary. It entails accompanying Jesus by taking to heart the gospel and ingesting Him in the Eucharist. It includes telling others about how His words and His love have transformed us. We should not minimize the positive effect that this relationship will have. It will build a happiness without end or limit.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
One theme that we find in our first reading from the Book of Micah today is: God is forgiving. The issue of forgiveness is probably one of the hardest issues that we have. How do we forgive someone who has hurt us?
When I was attending St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Florida, there was an interesting class that I took called Fundamental Ethics with Fr. Robert Vallee. He had the class read “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness” by Simon Wiesenthal. In the first half of the book, Simon was a Jewish prisoner in a work camp during World War Two. He was brought to a German soldier who was in the process of dying. The soldier asked Simon for his forgiveness for his part in persecuting the Jews. He knew that he was asking too much of Simon, but he wanted to die in peace. Simon thought about the request for a period of time and then walked away from the soldier without forgiving him. The prisoner survived the war but could never forget the incident as it bothered him for the remainder of his life. I wonder if I was Simon, would I have been able to forgive the German soldier?
When Jesus was hanging on His Cross, He uttered 7 phrases. One of His phrases was: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do (Luke 23: 34). Jesus was able to reach out and forgive us before He took His last breath on the Cross.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray the following words: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us.”
I leave the OLF Parish Community to reflect on the following question today: How forgiving are we towards others?
Monday, July 20, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Bonaventure. Giovanni di Fidanza was born around 1221 in Tuscany, Italy. His name was changed to Bonaventure after he was healed from a serious sickness through the intercession of St. Francis who cried out: “O Buona ventura” which translates to “O Good Fortune.” He entered the Franciscan Order and went to study in Paris, France. He taught Scripture and Theology at the Franciscan School in Paris. He was appointed Master General of the Franciscans in 1257. He worked hard to reorganize and reform the Franciscan Order. Although the members increased, he had a difficult time finding middle ground between the rigorists who placed poverty above everything and the moderates who wished to relax the rules. He placed great importance on study. He viewed their mission as preaching and spiritual direction. In 1273, Pope Gregory X appointed him Cardinal-Bishop of Albano. Bonaventure was summoned to Rome to speak at the Council of Lyon in an attempt to repair the divisions between the Churches of the East and the West. He died on July 15, 1274 before the Council of Lyon ended. He was canonized by Pope Sixtus IV who was a Franciscan in 1482. His multiple writings, valuable commentaries and lectures ranked him as one of the great Doctors of the Church. He is the Patron Saint of Workers. (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints, pages 36-37.)
Saturday, July 11, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Tuesday, July 7, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
We continue our first reading from the Prophet of Hosea. The theme we find in today’s first reading is on shortcuts. The Israelite’s in the Northern Kingdom have gone astray from their relationship with God. They were seeking out shortcuts in their day to day actions. There has to be a better way than being burdened by numerous laws and commandments. So they decided to go about their own way. The prophet reminded the faithful about their covenant relationship with God. Stop taking detours and seeking out shortcuts.
There are times that we are looking for shortcuts in life. I remember the following story from my Navy days. Twice a year we had to do a PRT (Physical Readiness Test) which consisted of sit ups, push ups and a mile and a half run. This particular time we ran the mile and a half around a baseball field. We had to run three times around. A few of the sailors decided to run to the bathroom and hid while the rest of us was running. On the last lap they exited the bathroom to complete their only lap. Unfortunately, they were caught and had to redo the mile and a half run. People will try to find shortcuts so that they do not have to do everything that is expected of them.
Are we making shortcuts with regards to our relationship with our God? What is the quality of our faith traditions? Are we being sincere?
Monday, July 6, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Maria Goretti. She was born in Corinaldo, Italy in 1890. Her parents had 7 children and lived and worked on a farm. When the farm became too small for the family to live in, they relocated to a small town of Nettuno and joined with Giovanni and his son, Alessandro, as sharecroppers on a farm that was owned by Count Mazzoleni. Maria’s father died in 1901 from malaria and pneumonia. Maria’s mother had to take over his job in the field while Maria had to do all the chores at home. Maria filled her day with work and prayer; she would pray the rosary every day with her brothers and sisters.
Alessandro began making advances at Maria and threatened her if she told anyone. On July 5, 1902, Maria was attacked by Alessandro. She refused his attack and insisted that God would not want this and he, Alessandro, would go to hell. Alessandro stabbed Maria repeatedly.
She was rushed to the hospital and before she died the following day, she met with the parish priest and she forgave Alessandro completely. While in prison, Alessandro had a vision of Maria which changed his entire life. He and Maria’s mother were present at Maria’s canonization in Rome by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
Maria Goretti is the Patron Saint of youth, children of Mary, teenage girls and rape victims. St. Maria Goretti pray for us.
What a powerful lesson this 12 year old girl has left the Catholic Church? She refused to cave in to an evil request. Despite all that she had endured, she still showed love and forgiveness to her assailant, Alessandro. When our faith is being challenged, how do we respond with regards to our faith?
Friday, July 3, 2020 – Scripture Passage – Fr. Tim
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Thomas, the Apostle. He is also known as Thomas Didymus (the twin) and doubting Thomas.
Today’s Gospel has ten of the Apostles gathered behind lock doors after the death of Jesus on the Cross. Thomas was not in the room with the other Apostles. Why, we do not know the reason. Maybe he was going to get the food for the others. Jesus appeared to the 10 Apostles with His greeting of peace. When Thomas returned, the other Apostles told Thomas the Good News. But Thomas was not believing his brothers. Unless I see Jesus with my own eyes and feel the nail marks in his hands only then will I believe. Jesus returned to His Disciples and Thomas was present this time. Jesus walked over to Thomas so that he can inspect His wounds and made his famous Christological statement: “My Lord and my God (John 20: 28).”
We live in a world that embraces the following philosophy: Seeing is believing. Unless we witness the person, the thing or the event personally, we find it difficult to believe in. Let us look at oxygen. Can we witness oxygen with our senses? What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it feel like? What does it taste like? Does that mean that oxygen does not exist because we can not experience oxygen with our senses? We know that oxygen does exist because every human being depends on oxygen to exist.
Jesus lived over two thousand years ago. Nobody here today has seen Jesus personally. Yet, we all believe in His existence. Otherwise, we would not be here. We read about stories of Jesus in Scripture. We come to Jesus in the Eucharist. We spend time every day in prayer with Jesus.
Facts of St. Thomas the Apostle: He was one of the 12 Apostles. He was called Didymus (the twin). He was known as Doubting Thomas because he refused to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus without seeing Him with his own eyes. Tradition has Thomas travelling outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel message in India. He was martyred for his faith. He was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips. He is the Patron saint of: India, Pakistan and builders.
St. Thomas the Apostle pray for us!
Thursday, July 2, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
We continue our first reading from the Prophet Amos.
We see a number of similarities between the Prophet Amos in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament. Both answer to a higher power – God. Amos does not follow the instructions of the High Priest to depart for Judea to preach God’s message; he remains in town for a little longer. The Scribes were quick to charge Jesus with blasphemy because He forgave the paralytic’s sins. Amos was a shepherd and an arborist when God called him to become a Prophet. Jesus was a carpenter before He began His ministry. Both spoke out against authority figures who were not following the spirit of God’s laws especially with regards to the poor. Being a carpenter, Jesus would have identified with the poor not with those in authority.
Question for us to reflect on today: Who do we find ourselves associating with? Those who have plenty? Or those who do not have plenty?
Wednesday, July 1, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Junipero Serra. He was canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015 during his pastoral visit to Washington DC. He entered the Order of Friars at Palma, Majorca in 1730 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1736. In 1749, he began his missionary work and went to Mexico, where he preached the Gospel to the native people and founded missions. He entered California on July 1, 1767 where he founded 9 missions along the California coast from San Diego to San Francisco. He died in Monterey on August 28, 1784 and is buried in the mission Church of St. Charles Borromeo.
Our first reading comes from the Prophet Amos. He wrote his book between 760 – 750 BC. He focuses on Social Justice concerns especially for the needs of the poor. Today’s first reading shares God’s concern for the poor. He wrote against the Israelites who offered sacrifices on religious feast days but trampled on the needs of the poor for the remainder of the year. “Instead, let justice flow like a stream, and righteous like a river that never goes dry (Amos 5:24).” Jesus would continue Amos’ wisdom in the times of the New Testament. Jesus spoke out against the community who ignored the plight of the poor. “Away from me…I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink (Matthew 25: 41-42).”
The first reading today invites the reader to reflect on our attitude towards the poor. May God watch over the poor
SATURDAY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – JUNE 27, 2020 BY: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The first reading this morning is from the Book of Lamentations. The title of the book, Lamentations, describes its tone and content. The book is a series of laments that rise up from the people of Israel as they try to come to terms with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and their land and the resulting experience of exile in Babylon.
The situation which we are having now in the world can make us to lament in one way or another!
In the past three months or so, we have become used to things happening at a distance from us. Children and young people have been taught at a distance, as lessons are given on line. People shop at a distance as they go to the websites of stores and have items delivered to their door. We have been attending Mass at a distance (Live streaming), in today’s gospel reading, Jesus heals at a distance. The gospel reading says that Jesus was astonished at the centurion’s faith. The centurion symbolizes all those pagans who would come to believe in Jesus without having seen or heard him, all those who believed in Jesus without having physical contact with him. In that sense, the centurion represents us all. Like the centurion, we believe that the Lord is never really distant from us. He can enter our homes, our hearts, our lives, at every hour of every day.
With this familiar phrase “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:8
which is repeated every time we prepare to go to Holy Communion. It’s a statement of great humility and trust from the Roman Centurion to Jesus. When we make his words of faith our own at Mass, do they express a similar faith?
Today, we celebrate the memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Doctor, and Father of the Church. He is most famous for presiding over
the Council of Ephesus in 431 as Archbishop of that city and the Pope’s representative. He was the principle defender of Our Lady’s title “Mother of
God”—“God bearer”—Theotokos, in the Greek.
FRIDAY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – JUNE 26, 2020 BY: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The Jewish nation was invaded by the Babylonian in year 587 BC.
On top of that, the magnificent Temple that was built by King Solomon, that Temple which was the pride and glory of the nation was utterly demolished, along with the city of Jerusalem. Jews were deported to Babylon.
As a nation they were Stripped off of all dignity and status, with no country or land to call their own, and being slaves in the land of their conquerors.
So, the people began thinking and reflecting.
Why did such disaster and humiliation come upon them? Why didn’t God protect them or come to their help?
Upon deeper reflection, they came to realize that in the first place, they had sinned and turned away from the Lord.
This was despite repeated attempts by the prophets to call the nation to repentance and to turn back to the Lord.
Hence it can be said that the one good thing that came out of the Babylonian Exile was that the people turned back to God in repentance and asking for forgiveness.The history of the Jewish nation serves as a lesson for us especially when we become complacent and begin to take God for granted.
The leper in today’s gospel was an outcast, like the Jews who had been deported. Jesus cured the man out of a motive of compassion, but the cure was also a sign that Jesus had come to heal the world of the wounds of sin.
I am trying to imagine being the person with leprosy in today’s Gospel. That I have a deadly contagious, disease—a disease requiring me to be isolated from the community and my loved ones lest I spread the disease to others. This disease will kill me. A disease that makes me untouchable, an outcast.
Do I have the courage—to approach the Lord and, instead of asking, tell him– “If you wish, you can make me clean”?
To follow Jesus takes courage and commitment. It is not the easy road.
THURSDAY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – JUNE 25, 2020 BY: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The kingdom of Babylon was one of the powerful kingdoms of the ancient world, and Nebuchadnezzar was one of the popular kings of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar and the army of Babylon conquered Jerusalem in the year 586 BC.The glorious Temple built by king Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonian army and most of the people of Jerusalem were deported to Babylon where they would be in exile for about 40 years.
The glorious Temple was destroyed because the people had turned away from God who is their Rock and their protection.
In the gospel, Jesus tells us to build on rock and not on sand.
God is the only Rock that we should build our lives on. The others are just passing and shifting sands. The house is your life. And the question it raises is simply, how strong am I? How strong am I to face the storms, hardships and crosses that will inevitably come my way?
When life is easy and all goes smoothly, we do not necessarily need great inner strength. When the economy is good, we have many friends, we have our health and our family all gets along, life can be good. And, in that case, life can even be easy. But there are few who can go through life facing some storm. When that happens, our inner strength is tested and the strength of our inner convictions is required.
Jesus is calling on us to make him the foundation of our lives. We do that by listening to his word and putting it into practice. When our lives are shaped by the Lord and his word, when they are directed by the Lord’s Spirit, they are solidly grounded and we will be able to withstand the worst that life can throw at us.
TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2020 SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
In the gospel reading Jesus reduces all of the Jewish Law and the Prophets to a very short maxim, ‘always treat others as you would like them to treat you’. Jesus invites us to imagine how we would like people to treat us, to ask ourselves the question, ‘what do I really want from another person?’ Most of us would answer that question along similar lines. We want from others respect, tolerance, loyalty, understanding, compassion, justice. Having engaged in that exercise of imagining how we would like others to treat us, Jesus then declares that we should act towards others in a way that reflects those very same qualities. The following verse in the gospel reading, ‘enter by the narrow gate’, implies that following this rule of treating others as we would want them to treat us will not always be easy. Narrow gates require an effort to get through, like a daily dying to self, putting the good of the other before our own good. The way that he sets before us is a difficult and challenging way. Yet, Jesus declares that it is the way that leads to life.
In the first reading we learned from King Hezekiah that many battles we fight today are not really ours to fight. It is good sometimes that we know when we need to hand over our situations to God and He will fight on our own behalf. God help us.
MONDAY, JUNE 22, 2020 SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
Being judgmental can be a difficult thing to shake. Once someone falls into the habit of regularly thinking and speaking in a harsh and critical way, it’s very difficult for them to change. It is a kind of a habit, once someone starts of being critical and judgmental, chances are that they will continue becoming more critical and more judgmental.
This is one of the reasons Jesus addresses this tendency in such a strong way, with the following statement, “ You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first…” Just ask yourself, meditate now “Is Jesus talking to me? Do I struggle with being judgmental?”
If the answer is “Yes,” fear not and do not get discouraged. Seeing this tendency and admitting it is very important and is the first step toward the virtue which is opposite of being judgmental. The virtue is mercy. And mercy is one of the most important virtues we can have today.
It seems that the times we live demands mercy more than ever. Perhaps one of the reasons for that is the extreme tendency, as a world culture, to be harsh and critical of others. All you need to do is read a newspaper, browse social media, or watch the nightly news programs to see that our world culture is one that is continually growing in the tendency to analyze and criticize. This is a real problem.
Remind yourself that mercy is always far more rewarding and satisfying than being judgmental. It produces joy, peace and freedom. Put mercy in your mind and commit yourself to seeing the blessed rewards of this precious gift.
Our limited vision comes from the many failings in ourselves. That seems to be the point of the humorous image in the second part of the gospel reading. We cannot attempt to take a splinter out of the eye of someone else while all the time we have a plank in our own eye. We need to attend to the plank in our own eye first. We need to put our energies into renewing ourselves rather than condemning others. Only then can we begin to see as the Lord sees.
Sunday, June 21, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today we honor all our fathers today as we celebrate Father’s Day. Thank you to all our fathers for your love, guidance, support and sacrifices that you make for your family. May God bless all our fathers living and deceased. Happy Father’s Day.
Theme that we find in today’s Scripture passages: “Do not be afraid.” When Jesus sent forth His Disciples out into the communities to preach the Gospel message, He knew that they would be fearful. They would face hardships and persecution. Jesus told them three times in today’s Gospel passage: “Do not be afraid.”
In our first reading from Jeremiah, the youthful prophet was fearful as a result of his inexperience. However, Jeremiah knew that God was with him in his journeys. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was filled with anxiety. He relied on God’s will to get Him to His cross on Calvary.
Jesus understood the Apostles fears just as He understands our fears. He was there to get them through their fears and He will assist each one of us through our fears. We just need to trust in God.
May the Eucharist give us the strength to overcome our fears as we go out into the community to spread the Good News.
Have a blessed day.
Saturday, June 20, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s heart was filled with so much love – love for God, love for her Son, Jesus, as well as love for each one of us.
When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple after His birth, they encountered a wise man by the name of Simeon. Simeon said to Mary & Joseph: “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be contradicted. And you yourself a sword will pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2: 34-35).” We are told that Mary held onto this information close to her heart.
In the Gospel today (Luke 2: 41-51), Mary, Joseph and their child Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Afterwards, they set out to return home and they realized that Jesus was missing from the caravan. They returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the temple asking questions of the teachers.
Parents I am sure that there were times that you were separated from your children. I am sure that you were frightened about the possibility of losing your child. Like Mary, may we share our concerns with the Lord and to share our love for God, for His Son and for each other.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
Friday, June 19, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius
The heart can be understood in various ways. Scientifically and medically speaking, it is understood as a vital organ.
Psychologically speaking, the heart is understood as the center of emotions and feelings.
Morally speaking, the heart is the seat of good or evil, because out of the heart flows our words and actions that define us as a moral being.
The heart is also known as the wellspring of our love. There are a number of phrases that express this centrality of the heart. For instance, we say, “Let’s get to the heart of the matter,” “I am putting my whole heart into this activity,” or “Take what I say to heart.” We say, “I love you with all my heart,” and when things don’t go well, we say, “You have broken my heart.”
The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is essentially a feast that celebrates the divine love and the human love of God for humanity. One might wonder why this feast does not happen on February 14th when our entire world seems to be focused on the heart and love!!
God’s love for His people as expressed in the Old Testament takes on a human form in the person of Jesus in the New Testament.
And that divine love and human love was expressed on the Cross and even more so when the heart of Jesus was pierced with a lance and out flowed blood and water.
Indeed, the Heart of Jesus represents so many doctrines and devotional aspects of the Church that we are drawn to the image of Jesus that shows His Heart.
In the Heart of Jesus, we see love and mercy, forgiveness and compassion, strength and courage.
And in the gospel, Jesus calls out to us as He says: Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest.
These words of Jesus give us so much consolation, but like little children, we must come before Jesus and gaze in wonder at His Heart.
He will reveal to us what we need for our hearts so that we can find peace in this troubled world and rest from the burdens of life.
And as we unite our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us humbly pray and ask Jesus to make our hearts like His.
Thursday, June 18, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Yesterday, Jesus spoke about the three Disciplines of Lent: Alms-giving, Fasting and Prayer. Today, Jesus speaks about the Discipline of Prayer.
Jesus teaches us the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is found in two Gospels, the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. If you were to compare the two passages, you will see some slight differences. Let us look at the number of opportunities that the Lord’s Prayer is prayed: the Mass, the Rosary, Morning and Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours which the Priests and Religious pray every day.
What is the purpose of Prayer? It is not intended as words just to be recited in prayer. The words of the Our Father have very special meaning behind the words. So let us reflect for a few moments on the words that are contained in the Lord’s Prayer. (The following “A Lord’s Prayer Reflection” is being taken from The Catholic Youth Bible “Matthew 6: 5-15”).
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name (verse 9). How do we honor God as creator of all things? How do we honor God in our thoughts, our words and our actions?
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in Heaven (Verse 10). Whose will are we praying for? How does our life reflect God’s reign of love, justice and peace? Are we placing too much emphasis on our material things?
Give us today our daily bread (Verse 11). Can I trust God to provide for my daily physical, emotional and spiritual needs? Or are we relying on our own?
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us (Verse 12). When we have sinned, do we admit our wrongs and seek out God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and start anew? When we have been wronged by others, are we just as quick to forgive others as God is quick to forgive our sins?
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from every evil (Verse 13). What are the temptations that we face in our daily life? How do we rely on God for His strength to resist them and persevere?
We all have our traditions and rituals of prayers that we say on a daily basis. Do we simply recite them in order to check them off our checklist of prayers? Or, do we take the time to reflect on the ,meaning of the word(s) in our prayers?
Have a blessed day.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today’s Gospel passage speaks about the three Disciplines of Lent. We read this Gospel passage on Ash Wednesday as the Church embarks into the 40 days of Lent.
What are the 3 Disciplines of Lent? Fasting, Almsgiving and Prayer. Should we observe these 3 Disciplines only during the Liturgical Season of Lent? Not necessarily.
Prayer: We all have our traditions of prayer. Daily Mass, the Rosary, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 pm, spending time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, reading Scriptures, Stations of the Cross or listening to Christian music.
Fasting: We give up something that we really enjoy and to do without the item. Some examples may include: giving up sweets, dessert, coffee, playing video games, watching television or social media. Why do we give up the item(s)? It helps us to unite our sacrifices with the sacrifice of the Lord on the Cross.
Almsgiving: We fast so that we can share our food with others who are hungry. We respond to Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, visit the sick and to comfort those around us. We utilize the Corporal Works of Mercy. We are more generous with our time and our love with others around us. We may begin with our family and friends We should also strive to move to others that are not known to us.
Why do we as Catholics practice the Disciplines of Lent? It is to grow closer in our relationship with God. It is not about us seeking affirmation and belonging from the community around us.
Daily Scripture Reflection Tuesday, June 16, 2020 By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
What holds a place in the showcase of life are certificates and testimonies, medals and trophies, prizes and photos of grand occasions.
These are considered the successes and achievements of life and we are proud to put them on display because they are symbols of our ability and our worth. Some of these successes and achievements may be even quite extra-ordinary.
However, in today’s gospel, Jesus asked a question that will make us do an honest reflection.
That question is: Are you doing anything exceptional?
So if whatever we are doing is for the praises and recognition of men, then it can be said that what we are doing is for something personal and not so exceptional.
In fact, the exceptional is not so much something phenomenal but actually something simple and humble.
The prophet Elijah was a great prophet who did great deeds, but essentially, he simply did what God told him to do, and he did it humbly.
Let us be humble and simple in whatever we do, and may it be acceptable in the eyes of God.
How different our world would look, how different our communities and families would be, how many hearts might we touch if we always responded with mercy, love, and compassion as God does for us! That is what Jesus wants to teach us today.
Jesus concludes today’s teaching by saying, “So be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Daily Scripture Reflection Monday, June 15, 2020 By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today we hear much of justice, power, greed, corruption and evil on full display.
The readings tell us about our tyrannical nature willing to use our power and influence to obtain what we want (1 Kings 21:1-16 King Ahab and Jezebel. In the gospel we heard Jesus teaching us how to live peaceably in community trying to understand each other by turning the other cheek, sharing what we have with each other, and walking with each other for that second mile. We are called to place faith in God by emptying ourselves of both material possessions and desire for revenge
The world may seem confusing and upside down now. The Psalm reading gives us words we can read daily in these troubled times and find comfort and solace. “Heed my call for help, my king and my God! For you, O God, delight not in wickedness; no evil man remains with you; the arrogant may not stand in your sight.” God always is the constant and I must rely on him in these challenging times
Daily Scripture Reflection Friday, June 12, 2020 By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Elijah, the prophet, thought of himself as a failure because he could not convert his people from Idolatry. In his disappointment he yearned to die because God seemed far from him. Then the Lord told him to go to the mountains because he, the Lord, would pass by. Elijah apparently expected a marvelous manifestation. But he did not find God in a mighty wind, or a great fire, or even an earthquake. To his amazement Elijah felt the divine presence in a breeze so gentle that it seemed like a whisper. The lesson was that without great fanfare God would work His will for Israel in His own way.
The Lord doesn’t overpower us; he comes to us gently, respecting our freedom. Whenever we welcome his coming and receive him into our hearts, he will send us out, as he sent out Elijah, to bring his life-giving presence to all those we meet.
Whenever we choose to act in contradiction to God’s plan for our human nature, we cause damage to our souls. That’s why Jesus exhorts us to cut away anything in our lives that leads us into sin. Jesus really wants us to make the right choices
Sometimes we may want God to intervene dramatically in our human affairs! We may ask ourselves, why should he not use his power to prevent people from dying of Corona Virus?Why millions of innocent human lives through abortion? Miraculous cure for cancer? Why not prevent natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
To these and similar questions we have no humanly satisfactory answers. Like Elijah we may think that God ought to do things our way, but we must accept the fact that he will do things his way. Such an acceptance takes not only faith but a real humility. Faith moves us to believe that God is in control, but humility helps us to realize that his form of control is for the best.
In the midst of this noisy world, let us take time to be quiet and listen to the voice of God.
The voice of God speaks into the depths of our hearts so that we will know the way that God wants us to live our lives
Thursday, June 11, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle and Martyr. He became one of the first believers at Jerusalem, preached at Antioch and accompanied St. Paul in his first missionary journey. He was in attendance at the Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD, which addressed a number of concerns with the Gentile converts. He would return to his native land were he was eventually martyred for his Catholic faith.
What are the necessary steps that we take when we leave for vacation? We might take our car to our mechanic so that we can have the oil changed, the tires checked and rotated to make sure that our car is ready for the trip. We are going to pack our suitcases so that we have the necessary clothes for our trip. We are going to make the room reservations where we will spend the night. We will get the necessary maps and tour guide books from our local AAA office. We will go to the bank to have the necessary cash available.
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus is sending the Apostles out into the community and He challenges them to take nothing with them for their journey. They are simply to rely on God for their mission. The Apostles witnessed a number of healings from Jesus as well as Jesus raising the daughter from the dead. Yet, Jesus has entrusted His Apostles to go out into the community and exercise their ministry. Think of the trust that the 12 Apostles had in Jesus in carrying out His mission.
Here in 2020, we too are being entrusted with Jesus’ mission in our Our Lady of Fatima Parish Community. We too are take nothing except our passion to share the Gospel message in our community. We are to place our trust in the Lord that He will give us the same strength and courage to persevere in our ministry.
How is God calling each one of us to go forth into the community to share the Good News? How has God equipped each one of us to accomplish this mission?
Have a blessed day.
Scripture Reflection – Wednesday, June 10, 2020 – Fr. Tim
What direction are we following?
Over the course of my 12 years of priestly ministry, I have really appreciated the GPS (Global Positioning System). The GPS device has been very helpful in assisting me to get to the parishioner’s address so that I can celebrate the various sacraments during my pastoral visitations. For the most part, the directions are very accurate and if I make a wrong turn, the voice tells me to recalculate my position. But think about it, how much trust do we place on the GPS devise to safely navigate the streets of our community?
As Catholics, we too have a GPS devise that we rely upon. That GPS devise is called God. Hopefully, we place our hope and trust in God that He will assist each one of us to navigate our lives to where God is leading us towards.
Both our Scripture passages today speak about instructions that help us navigate our interior relationships with God. God gave us the Ten Commandments via Moses. These Commandments are the guidelines that help us to live a right relationship with God and our fellow brothers and sisters. However, the Jewish people made choices to follow a wrong god(s), known as Baal. These gods led the Jewish people astray from the true God. Then came the prophets to the Jewish community. They were tasked with the responsibility of getting the Jewish people back onto the right pathway to God. The prophets were the voice of today’s GPS device telling the Jewish community to recalculate their destination.
Now we switch to the New Testament. John the Baptist tells the people to change their ways and make straight their paths to God for the Messiah is getting ready to make an appearance. Jesus tells His Disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill (Matthew 5: 17).” Jesus is the GPS device for each one of us to follow. If we follow His commands, we will not get lost.
However, we are left with a decision to make. Do we choose to follow Christ? Or, do we choose to follow some other form of god that takes us in the opposite decision? Choose but choose wisely.
Even if we made that wrong decision, there is still hope for each one of us. There is the beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation that gets us back in the right path of life. Pope Francis offers us the following wisdom: “The confessional is not a torture chamber but the place where the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.”
So, I ask the same question once again. What direction are we following?
Daily Scripture Reflection – Tuesday, June 9, 2020 Fr. Claudius Mganga
Over the next three weeks we will read through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, for our daily Gospel readings, we began yesterday with Chapter 5 of St. Matthew’s Gospel.
This is also the second day since February 25th this year that we are wearing liturgical green for Mass. Green, the liturgical color for the season of ordinary time, symbolizes growth, spiritual growth, growth in the virtue, growth in charity, growth in utilizing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that is to occur throughout the ordinary seasons of our life. The ordinary day-to-day life of the Christian is meant to bring about growth in us. That’s why yesterday, we began with the beatitudes; which we normally read at baptisms, weddings, funerals, and throughout the Church year because they are the attitudes and dispositions, we are meant to cultivate throughout all of life whether we are mourning or rejoicing.
Today’s gospel immediately follows Jesus’ preaching of the Beatitudes. Jesus went up the mountain. Moses also went up a mountain, but where Moses went up to receive the revelation of God, Jesus goes up this mountain in Galilee not receive the law, but to teach it.
In the passage we heard today, Jesus summons his disciples to be what God’s people were always meant to be: “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. Salt was used to flavor and preserve food, of course. Through living the beatitudes, the disciples of Jesus Christ are to do just that, to preserve God’s goodness in the world and to help others experience that goodness. And he says that the disciple who does not embody the beatitudes is like salt that loses its taste: good for nothing, basically. Similarly, disciple of Jesus Christ, that is, us, are to be light of the world.
He is entrusting us with the mission to spread this redemption. The candlelight service on the Easter Vigil, when the light from the Easter candle is passed on to every person in the church, one by one, until the whole space is illuminated, is a symbol for the Church’s mission in the world as a whole. Each one of us receives the light of Christ, as well as the grace to live in harmony with that revelation–and is called and equipped to pass that light onto others.
These are the questions we have to ask ourselves! Does my life shine with the light of Christ? What inhibits it from shining? What helps it shine more? In what ways am I spreading that light to others? In what ways is God asking me to spread that light? The first reading suggests that whenever we are generous even with the little, we have, we create an opening in our lives for the Lord to be generous with us. That’s how we faithfully engage in our mission to build up Christ’s Kingdom, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Monday, June 8, 2020 -Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today’s gospel contains declarations by Jesus known as “the beatitudes.” “Beatitudes” means happiness or even something stronger, perhaps like bliss. In fact, some translations have “Happy are the poor in spirit,” rather than “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
Everything in our society is calculated to becoming rich and to eliminating every form of pain and sorrow. We are led to believe that happiness is found in money and everything money can buy. Even though we say that money cannot buy happiness, one cynic expressed his view by saying, “Having money is a pretty good way to be miserable.”
Jesus wished to establish a whole new set of values. He insisted that happiness comes, not from relying on riches, but from relying on God. His key statement is “How blest are the poor in spirit.” The poor in spirit are those who depend completely on God and see him alone as the source of all good. The cynic would protest that this approach does not work, but the truth is that it has worked for the saints, who like St. Paul truly believe that God “comforts us in all our afflictions.”
Jesus in effect says to us: Make your choice; rely on material things which cannot last, or rely on God who never fails.
In the 1st reading, the prophet Elijah proclaimed a message from God and declared a drought for three years.
But God took care of His prophet and provided for his needs of sustenance.
Yes, God will take care of us when we do His will and walk in His ways.
To do God’s will and walk in God’s ways is indeed a blessing!
Sunday, June 7, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius Mganga
The word “online” is not a new word.
When Information Technology came into the scene more than 20 years ago, it was a technological advancement that made a great impact on the world.
With that many resources began going online and there was no turning back.
But recently, the word “online” has taken over almost every aspect of our lives So there are online meetings, online teaching, online shopping, online buying and selling, online praying, online worship services like Live streaming, , online social gatherings and online entertainment.
But with that being said, it cannot be denied that online is just a virtual reality.Although there is audio and visual, there is no physical reality presents.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity in which we celebrate this Sunday, is certainly not an abstract reality. As we heard in the gospel, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. God sent His Son into the world so that everyone who believes in Him may not be lost but be saved and have eternal life. God is not a virtual reality. Jesus Christ His Son is the image of the unseen God, and to have seen Him is to have seen God the Father.
The Holy Spirit is given to us so that we can be in union with the Father and Son and to be members of the Mystical Body of the Church in which Jesus Christ is the Head. For the love and union of the Holy Trinity is a spiritual as well as a physical reality that is manifested in the Church.
The celebration of the mystery of the Holy Trinity is also acknowledged in the reality of our faith in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The union and love of the Holy Trinity is also to be reflected in our lives and more so when we gather as the Church. Love and Union is what the Holy Trinity is all about. We humans love to get together. This is a lesson we learned with the pandemic. We are, in fact, the beings in communion we were created to be. Being separated by the coronavirus has not broken that sense of communion. Across the Church, people are finding ways to stay connected. Imperfect as they are, our new ways of joining together come from a deep longing which is in the very heart of Holy Trinity.
Our mission is to go forth and proclaim the Gospel courageously that is what the world should be all about.
Saturday, June 6, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4: 7).”
How many of us have participated in a race during the course of our life? What is the goal of participating in the race? The finish line! Maybe for some, to finish the race in first place.
I will share a story with you my sisters and brothers about Derek Redmond. In 1992, a young man was favored to win the 400-meter race in the Barcelona Summer Olympics. However, disappointment came about 250 meters from the finish line. His hamstring tore, he quickly came to a halt and fell to the ground in agonizing pain. As stretcher bearers made their way to the injured runner, he knew he had a decision to make. Despite the pain, he stood up and began to hobble along the track. Suddenly, a man pushed through the crowds, fighting back security. The man was his father. “You do not have to finish the race my son.” “Yes, I do Derek declared.” “Well we will finish the race together!” So, the father wrapped his arms around his son and helped him finish the race. Right before the finish line, the father let go of his son so that he could complete the race with a standing ovation from the crowd of 65,000 people. Derek Redmond may not have finished in first place but he finished the race that he started. Despite the pain and the tears, he was determined to give his all.
In today’s first reading Paul realizes that the end of his life here on earth was near. He is passing on the responsibility of continuing Christ’s mission to one of his Disciples, Timothy. He was giving Timothy, his marching orders, to carry on the work he has done, with the same spirit and perseverance. Paul wants Timothy to proclaim the Gospel message all the time, whether it is convenient or not, whether he is comfortable or not. Whether it is easy or not. If St. Paul was present here today here at OLF, he would be instructing us to do the same as well.
How are we doing in the race of life? Are we passing on our marching orders to our family and friends so that they can continue the race?
DAILY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION, FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2020 BY: FR. CLAUDIUS MGANGA
Today’s first reading sounds like a description of the missionary activity of St. Boniface. Much like St. Paul, Boniface experienced hardship and persecution in preaching the gospel in Germany. Yet faithful to his mandate to convert the German peoples, Boniface became enormously successful. He was born in England, became a monk, and followed the call to preach the gospel in foreign lands. An Archbishop of Mainz and patriarch of Germany.
He was a man of tremendous courage. He opposed falsehood, proclaimed justice and the Gospel of Christ in the face of grave opposition. At the age of 80, he was martyred. He was preparing converts for Confirmation when he and 53 companions were massacred. We’re never too old to witness Christ in our lives!
Paul assures Timothy that faithfulness to Christ brings suffering, that was vivid to them and many others. Let’s keep our eyes on the saints like Boniface today. They had a clear vision of what they hoped to achieve in life. They also were wise not to rely on their own resources but on God’s grace.
The Month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Of all devotions, devotion to the Sacred Heart was, and remains, one of the most widespread and popular in the Church. Understood in the light of the Scriptures, the term “Sacred Heart of Jesus” denotes the entire mystery of Christ, the totality of his being, and his person considered in its most intimate essential: The “Sacred Heart” is Christ, the Word Incarnate, Savior, intrinsically containing, in the Spirit, an infinite divine-human love for the Father and for his brothers.
Scripture Reflection for Thursday, June 4, 2020 – Fr. Tim
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus speaks to a Scribe. What is a Scribe you might ask? In the times of Jesus, a Scribe was a professional writer. Remember in the times of Jesus, not many people were able to read or write. So, the people in the community would go to a Scribe to create or to copy documents for record keeping purposes. Thank goodness for computers today. It would have been natural that the Scribes would have asked Jesus about the commandments that He spoke to the community. What does Jesus do? He has a conversation with the Scribes about the commandments.
Here comes a quiz: How many commandments are there? Now be honest, how many of us would have responded with the number of 10? If we read the first five books of the Old Testament otherwise known as the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) one would find they contain 613 Commandments. Can you imagine how many trips Moses would have had to make up and down the mountain carrying the stone tablets? From the 613 Commandments, God broke them down into the top 10 Commandments. The first three commandments dealt with our relationship with God. The remaining seven commandments focus our relationship with one another. From the Ten Commandments Jesus broke them down into two areas: Love of God and love of one another.
The Commandments are guidelines for we as a Christian community to live our daily life by. How much love do we have? Towards God? Towards our fellow human beings?
In the past week or so, we have been watching the television, social media or the internet to see what has been happening in the streets throughout our country. There has not been much love being shared around our human family in our country. Murder, violence, destruction of property, looting and rioting have filled our streets and community. This cycle of violence goes against the Commandments of love that Christ speaks to us today in the Gospel passage. We must end this culture of violence now and to reach out to all God’s people in love. Today, let us become the instrument of peace and love. Let us see each other as God sees each one of us through the eyes of unconditional love and mercy.
May God be with us.
Scripture Reflections – Wednesday, June 3, 2020 – Fr. Tim
I. St. Charles Lwanga & Companions (Martyr)
During the years 1885 – 1887 numerous Christians of Uganda were slain by King Mwanga out of hatred for their Catholic faith. Some of them were court officials and personal aides to the king. Charles Lwanga and 21 of his companions were either put to death by the sword or burned to death for their unalterable convictions & their refusal of the king’s sinful desires. In 1969, five years after their canonization, Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit Africa, visiting Namugongo, the place of their execution. St. Charles Lwanga and Companions pray for us.
II. Scripture Readings
In today’s first reading St. Paul wrote to Timothy about the imposition of his hands. “For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands (2 Timothy 1:6).” The imposition of hands was a symbol that a person was dedicated to God’s service. This gesture is still used by the Church today especially during the sacrament of Holy Orders. During the Ordination to the Priesthood, there is a time when the Priests of the Diocese will process to the altar and we will individually lay our hands over the head of the newly ordained priest(s) and recite a prayer over the new priest. If you have never experienced a priest ordination, I invite you to watch the live stream on Saturday, August 15, 2020 when Bishop Gregory Parkes will ordain three men to the priesthood. The imposition of hands is a very powerful symbol that is being communicated from the person laying on the hands to the person upon whom the hands are being laid upon.
There are three other sacraments that uses the imposition of a priest’s hands. Does anyone know what those three sacraments are: Reconciliation, Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick. During the prayer of absolution during the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the priests extends his arm over the penitent’s head. During the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Bishop invites his priests to extend our hands out with his hands while the Bishop prays over the Confirmandi. Finally, during the Sacrament of the Sick, which most people today still refer to as Last Rites, the priests places his hand on the person’s head as we pray over the individual before we anoint with the Oil of the Infirm.
Reflect back to the time that you were confirmed by your bishop. Before you were anointed with the Sacred Chrism, your bishop prayed over your head by the imposition of his hands. This past Sunday we celebrated the feast of Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles to go out and preach the Gospel message throughout the world. How has the imposition of your bishop’s hands at your Confirmation empowered each one of us to proclaim the Good News?
TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2020 DAILY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – Fr. Claudius Mganga
The Church returns to “ordinary time” now, and we pick up where we left off before Ash Wednesday! (If only the coronavirus would let us go back to “ordinary time” as well!!!!)
As human beings, In a way we can say that we are very lax and complacent with regards to our safety.
We would consider Buckle Up or fasten one’s seat belt in the car, using Motor cycle or bicycle helmets, a hassle rather than as a means of protecting ourselves. Yes, we would not fear until we see danger right in the eye and then fear runs up our spine. That would be too late.!!
Similarly, we do not fear death. We may have attended numerous funerals of loved ones and friends, but yet the coldness of death won’t hit us until we are grasping for life. But then again, would it be too late? Even when we hear in the 1st reading about the sky dissolving in flames and the elements melt in the heat, would we jump up and start confessing our sins and repenting of our evil deeds?
We may be thinking – All this will happen, but not soon. (Maybe not even in my life-time!) But the 1st reading warns us: Think of our Lord’s patience as your opportunity to be saved. We must always remember that our time on earth is short. As the Psalm would say – our lifespan is seventy years, and eighty for those who are strong.
Kingdoms have come and gone, Caesar has come and gone, generals and geniuses have come and gone.
We too will go, and when we go, let us pray that we will go back to God. Let us not be lax and complacent about our salvation. Let us get serious on it now.
MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2020 – DAILY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION BY: FR. CLAUDIUS MGANGA
Two years ago, Pope Francis inserted the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church into the church’s liturgical calendar, to be celebrated on the Monday after the feast of Pentecost.
The first reading from the book of Genesis reminds us that motherhood is part of God’s creation and is a gift from God. Eve is presented as the first mother and therefore the mother of all who come after her – the “mother of all the living.” Mary participated in that gift as a woman and mother of Jesus.
Mary stayed with the apostles and she was with them in prayer. She was doing this because she was obedient to what Jesus entrusted to her while He was on the cross: Woman, behold your son.
So from Mother of God, she is now also the Mother of the Church. And if we are obedient to what Jesus said on the cross, then we too must embrace Mary as our Mother, which most of us would be more willing to do.
But for us, Mary is not just our Mother, but we would also want to carry out what Jesus entrusted to us and we want Mary to be the Mother of all peoples.
There is more reason now than ever to seek our Blessed Mother’s intercession due to the Corona virus pandemic. As people have been laid off work, fear of the crowds, future uncertain. We ask her to assist us with prayers for the Church and indeed the world in this pandemic crisis
Sunday, May 31, 2020 – Pentecost Sunday
Going Forth with the Holy Spirit
Have you ever been asked to do something that you didn’t feel prepared to do? Maybe it was something at work, like being asked to lead a team on an important project. Maybe it was when you found out you were having your first child. Perhaps it was when you were called into a difficult situation to bring words of comfort and compassion. I know I’ve experienced that feeling during my years as a priest and now a bishop. What do you do when you feel inadequate to tackle the task at hand?
This weekend the church celebrates Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, which marks the end of the Easter Season. It’s now 50 days after the resurrection. Despite all they witnessed while in the presence of Jesus, the disciples still had questions…not so much as to who Jesus was, but what they were to do next after he ascended to the Father. In future scriptures we read that Jesus tells them to go to the ends of the earth, proclaiming the good news and baptizing all in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They no doubt questioned if they had what it would take to do so. Could they do it? Did they have the courage to do it?
Those questions may also be in your heart today. This same commandment Jesus gave applies to you and me. Do you have the courage to stand for truth, to love our enemies, to persevere when things seem difficult or impossible, to lead others to know Jesus Christ?
Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to give us that courage. It is our vision today in the Diocese of St Petersburg to courageously live the Gospel: to proclaim, invite, and encounter. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, may we emerge from this pandemic and go forth in our circles to proclaim, invite and encounter Christ in our own lives and to invite others to do the same.
– Bishop Gregory Parkes
SATURDAY MORNING SCRIPTURE REFLECTION, May 30, 2020
FR. Claudius Mganga
This is the final weekday of the Easter season. The season of Easter concludes with tomorrow’s feast of Pentecost. We are back to Ordinary Time on Monday!
Here is the traditional prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
In the gospel, Jesus had just commissioned Peter to take care of the early Church.
But just as quickly, Peter got distracted and was curious about the other disciple whom Jesus loved.
In a very firm and pointed manner, Jesus addressed the issue: What does it matter to you; you are to follow me.
In other words, Jesus was saying to Peter: Mind your own business, stay focused and follow me.
Even in the 1st reading, St. Paul did not lament about being in chains despite his innocence, but he took the opportunity to proclaim the Kingdom of God despite wearing those chains. He stayed focused on Jesus.
So Peter’s distraction and Paul’s predicament have taught us to focus our minds and hearts on Jesus and to follow Him.
Nothing else really matters
Friday, May 29, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus ended today’s Gospel with the following invitation to His Disciples: Come Follow Me (John 21:19).” This phrase has been reiterated by Jesus a number of times in the Gospel narratives.
Have you ever asked yourself the following question: Why did Jesus choose Simon Peter from all the Apostles to lead His Church? There are numerous passages in the Gospel that make the reader ponder such a question. 1) Jesus walking out on the water to the Apostles who were out on a boat. Jesus invited Peter to come out of the boat and walk towards Him. Peter was fine until he took his eyes of Jesus and began to sink. 2) The Apostles were in a boat out in the midst of a storm and Jesus was sleeping. How can you be sleeping when our lives were at risk in the storm? 3) Peter’s response to the question on how many times should we forgive someone. He thought that he was being very generous by responding with seven times. 4) Peter standing besides a campfire after Jesus’ arrest and denied knowing Jesus three times.
Despite Peter’s imperfections, Jesus still chose Peter as the first Pope to head His Church. “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church (Matthew 16:18).”
In the Gospel today, Jesus just finished cooking breakfast over a campfire for His Apostles. He pulls Peter aside and precedes to ask him the following question three times: “Peter, do you love me.” Why did Jesus ask Peter three times if he loved Jesus? To undo his three denial around the campfire after Jesus’ arrest.
Peter will have a difficult road as Pope ahead of him. He will lead the flock and try to keep them united under Christ’s mission of the Church. Peter does not fully comprehend what his new position will entail. But, he does accept Jesus’ invitation to follow Christ.
Jesus’ invites you and I to come follow Him. We have a choice to make: Follow Christ or Not to follow Christ. The decision is ours to make. We accept the call to follow Jesus, not knowing where He will lead us
Wednesday, May 27, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In both Scripture Readings today, St. Paul and Jesus both shared a similar concern with the people in their respective communities. Paul had stayed with the people in Ephesus for three years. As their spiritual father, Paul was looking after their spiritual needs. He was preparing their religious leaders for what was waiting for them after Paul’s departure. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you and they will not spare the flock (Acts of the Apostles 20:29).” In the Gospel passages, Jesus instructs His Disciples to remain vigilant and stay awake.
Jesus and the saints have constantly spoken out to the community to be concerned for the needs of others in their community. Who will watch over the flock after Jesus has returned to His Father in Heaven? Who is going to address the physical needs of the poor in the society? Who is going to look after the Corporal Works of Mercy of those in society?
That is the responsibility of the Church and all the baptized members of the Church. It is easy to donate our treasures (money). However, the real challenge is the giving of ourselves through our time and our talents.
Tuesday May 26, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Claudius Mganga
When something is under “draft”, it means that it is not finalized and approved yet, and that it is still “work in progress”.
In the process of having something finalized and approved, there will be a lot of drafts.
But the finalized and approved result or product will be neat and orderly and presentable.
In the 1st reading, St. Paul made this statement: But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race, I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.
It is a statement worth remembering always because for all that we did and for what we have achieved, have we like St. Paul, did what the Lord Jesus wants us to do.
And when we come to the end of our race on earth, are we still with our “drafts” or are we the witnesses who have carried out the mission of proclaiming the Good News of God’s grace.
Let us not waste our life and our words on “drafts”. Let us be the final wonderful product and be a witness of God’s grace in our lives.
As we end the Easter Season this week with its liturgical focus on Jesus’ defeat of the power of the “world” – that is, death and fear of death – we are challenged to turn to Ordinary Time, inaugurated by Pentecost, when we ponder the passing of the active work of Jesus’ mission to His disciples of every generation. Jesus’ farewell prayer becomes ours, because we have been given to him by the Father and are now filled with His Own Spirit of truth and life
Monday, May 25, 2020 Daily Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today the Church celebrates various saints. Among them is Pope St. Gregory the Great, an eleventh century Church reformer. He reformed the clergy against simony and clerical marriage. Gregory is famous for excommunicating the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, who turned on Gregory and forced him into exile where he died. No doubt Gregory felt some of the abandonment that Jesus speaks of in today’s gospel.
We may feel especially anxious because of the virus. It really does threaten our safety and also our livelihood. Praying for help, we will receive Jesus’ support.
As we are preparing ourselves for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost this coming Sunday.
Let us be led by the Holy Spirit to pray, that we will be brave and be led by the Holy Spirit to trust in Jesus who have conquered the world.
Today we honor especially those who have died in war. Perhaps some did so reluctantly and may be some fought for reasons other than love of country. We also pray for them that they be judged for the good that they did. After all, we hope to be judged ourselves according to the same measure. These are men and women who have died so that you and I could live with greater security, justice and Peace. We owe them a debt of gratitude and our prayers as we visit cemeteries and memorials and volunteers place an American flag on each of their graves.
Though, Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance. Many people choose to hold picnics, sports events and family gatherings on this weekend. We should ask ourselves, what do we owe them? What due should we offer them?
Sunday, May 24, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Have you ever had the experience of saying goodbye to a family member or a friend that was leaving you for a significant period of time? I remember one significant experience 10 days after graduating from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. My recruiter from the US Navy had picked me up at my parent’s house at 5 o’clock in the morning to take me to the MEPS building to take care of necessary paperwork and to be sworn into the US Navy. My parents then took me to Tampa International Airport so that I can catch my plane to the airport in Chicago in which I would begin my Naval Career at Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training for two months. After saying my goodbyes with my parents. I began the walk down the terminal to the airplane. I did not look back as I began my journey to the plane as I had tears coming out of my eyes.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven. Jesus’ mission here on earth was finished. He was leaving the Church into the capable hands of His Apostles. Now it was time for Jesus to return to His Father. Before His departure, He commissions His Disciples with the following message: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).” I wonder what was going through the minds of Jesus’ Apostles at that moment?
Here we are in the year of 2020 here in Inverness, Florida. Christ’s mission must continue. Just like the Apostles, Jesus is commissioning you and I to do remarkable things. May the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen us as we share the Good News with those around us.
May God be with us.
Saturday, May 23, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you (John 16:23).”
As Catholics, we turn to God with a variety of prayers. We love to pray the Rosary and / or the Divine Mercy Chaplet with our Rosary beads. We come to the Church and spend time before the Lord in Adoration. We might listen to Christian music or turn to God through Scripture. Still others might go outside and pray to God through God’s beautiful creation. The past two months, we have had to watch the Mass being celebrated online in the comforts of our home. The Eucharist is the highest form of prayer, we as Catholics enjoy.
One of my summer assignments in the Seminary was doing a ten week program called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Tampa General Hospital, a Level One Trauma Unit. During the ten weeks we attended classes, met with a supervisor once a week, do pastoral visits and to serve twice a week as the Chaplain on Call. As the Chaplain on Call, we visit with patients who were scheduled to have surgery the following day in between pages. In one of the visits, I met with a woman who was having serious surgery the following day. During my visit, I noticed that she was very much at peace. So I asked her the following question: “For someone who is having serious surgery tomorrow, you appear to be very much at peace?” Her response was very inspiring to me. “Chaplain, I have been in a lot of pain for the past many years. My husband and children have been very helpful and supportive with me during this period of time. Whatever happens tomorrow, I will praise God.” She had a great prayer life which has gotten her through any difficulties in her life.
What is our favorite form of prayer? How does our prayer relationship with God help us through our daily journey of life?
Friday May 22, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Claudius Mganga
At the beginning of today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the risen Lord says to Paul in the course of his mission in Corinth, ‘Do not be afraid to speak out… I am with you’., in other words he says ‘do not allow yourself to be silenced’,
This is the message that Jesus gives to his disciples in the gospel reading as well. He acknowledges the pain and sorrow that the disciples are experiencing and that lies ahead for them, ‘you will be weeping and wailing… you will be sorrowful… you are sad now’.
Yet, Jesus also says to them, ‘I will see you again’. In other words, ‘I will be with you’. Because of his presence to them, Jesus says, ‘your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one will take from you’. What comforting and encouraging words!
My dear brothers and sisters, the Risen Lord assures us that his presence to us will help us to get through whatever negative experiences come our way, which is associated with times of loss and bereavement, loneliness and isolation. It is good for us to hear that simple but profound message especially in these difficult days.
We are not on our own. The Lord is with us and he will give us the strength to get through these demanding days, bring us his presence, keep us strong and even joyful.
Thursday, May 21, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
While I was on vacation last year, I went to St. Augustine, Florida with one of my nephews for 3 days. His 2 middle school aged sisters were attending a Youth Camp with their mother. An hour into the drive north to St. Augustine, my nephew asked a very familiar question: “Are we almost there?”
Jesus in today’s Gospel passage made a similar statement to His Disciples: “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me (John 16:16).” In fact, Jesus made this statement three times in the Gospel passage today.
So, what did Jesus mean by: “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me (John 16:16)?” Could He of been talking about His Death on the Cross and Resurrection three days later.? Or was He referring to His return home to His Heavenly Father which we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord this coming Sunday as well as promising His Apostles an Advocate – the Holy Spirit in the days ahead. For the past several weeks, we have seen a transition from the Resurrection narratives to the promise of sending forth the Holy Spirit.
The time frame of “a little while” is difficult to comprehend. We live in a time frame that is centered around a 24 hour clock. However, God’s time is not like our time. Jesus tells His Disciples as well as each one of us how to wait in joyful hope. In the meantime, we actively wait by participating in God’s ,mission here on earth by employing the Corporal Works of Mercy to those around us. So let us wait in the joyful hope for the coming of the Holy Spirit!
Have a blessed day.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
I remember hearing the following story from Msgr. Eugene McQuaid, my pastor, while attending Catholic School as a kid. There were 2 brothers, Johnny and Tommy, who were attending Catholic School. Like most brothers, they got into their fair share of mischief. One day both brothers were acting up in the classroom and both of their teachers sent them down to the Principal’s Office. They were sitting in the chairs in the lobby when the secretary’s phone rang. Fr. O’Malley asked for the younger brother to enter his office. Tommy sat down on the chair in front of Fr. O’Malley’s desk and waited for the pastor to speak. Looking up at Tommy with a frown on his face, he asked the following question: “Where is God?” Tommy ran out of the office to his older brother. What happened asked Johnny? “Apparently, God is missing and they think that we are responsible for His disappearance.”
Today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles challenges the reader to answer the same question. Where is God in our life? Who was responsible for teaching each of us about God?
Today, Paul visits the people in Athens. Through his discussions with the various communities that Paul has visited, he would introduce Jesus to the people. Many of the people came to believe in and follow Jesus because of Paul, Silas and Paul’s other companions.
I invite each of you today to reflect over the course of your life, who taught you about Jesus? (Parents, Grandparents, family member, friend, teacher, coach, a priest or religious sister, etc.) Was it something they said? Or , was it something they did that helped us in our journey of living a Christian life? Starting today, let us take some time to: 1) Thank God for those people that have introduced us to a relationship with God and 2) Reach out to the people and thank them personally.
Going back to the question that the School Pastor asked Tommy. Where do we find God in our journey of life?
SATURDAY MAY 16, 2020 DAILY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – FR CLAUDIUS
As you may know that this month of May is a very special one for the Blessed Mother, and this past Wednesday we commemorated the memorial feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The Feast day of our parish!
I am sure we are all familiar with the statue of Our Lady Help of Christians. This statue is very striking. Our Lady holds the child Jesus high above her head; the child’s hands are extended straight out to left and right symbolizing his death on the cross and the overcoming of his death with his resurrection. These outstretched arms are also a symbol of love for all humanity. We need to pray for the Church and the world in general as we are living in this challenging time and we also ask the Lord to make us more courageous in bearing witness to him in our own time and place.
St. Paul in the first reading begins his second missionary journey to the Gentiles, knowing full well the difficulties he will undergo.
Jesus warns his apostles of what they are to expect from a world which ignores God and His teaching. They will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was. But there can be no compromise between Christ’s disciples and the followers of the powers of darkness. The term “world” in today’s Gospel passage means people who are hostile towards God and opposed to His will. And, there are two ways: the way of the world is inevitably a selfish and self-centered approach which does not bring about much good. The other way is the way of Jesus. It is obviously a more difficult way, but one that leads us to discover the meaning of life and wonders of love.
As it is, the world talks about retribution, revenge, to think about ourselves and to be No. 1 even at all costs. The way of Jesus shows us sacrifice, humility, love and care for others.
The modern world hates and ridicules everything Christian through its liberal, agnostic and atheistic media.
Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, let us ask the Holy Spirit for the courage of our Christian convictions to believe and practice what Jesus taught and what Jesus continues to teach through the Church
Friday, May 15, 2020 – Scripture Readings – Fr. Tim
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Isidore, the Patron saint of Farmers and Rural Communities. We thank God for the bountiful harvest that we enjoy at the dinner table. St. Isidore pray for us.
The theme in today’s Gospel passage is focused on love. Over the past two thousand plus years, Christians have heard Jesus’ message of love and have tried to implement this lesson in our daily life. We typically find it very easy to love our God, our parents, our family, and our friends. The challenge to love our neighbors, our fellow coworkers or our enemies has proven to be a challenge for most of us. But Jesus challenges His followers to take that difficult task of loving those we have difficulty in loving. Love has no boundaries and has no boundaries.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).” I share with you the following story during World War II. A prisoner had slipped away from a labor detail in Auschwitz in southern Poland. In retaliation 10 prisoners were chosen at random to be executed to deter future escapes. One of the prisoners who was chosen was a father of a family. He begged for mercy from the guard. As the ten men were being led off to execution, a Polish priest by the name of Fr. Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered to take the man’s place. The guard was stunned and confused at the gesture. He accepted the swap. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was executed along side the nine prisoners. What an example of love that was displayed by Fr. Maximilian Kolbe?
It is easy to love those we are familiar with. What is the greatest sacrifice that we have made for someone that we have never met?
St. Teresa of Calcutta, otherwise known as Mother Teresa offers us the following wisdom. “At the hour of death when we come face to face with God, we are going to be judged on love, not on how much we have done, but on how much love we put in the doing.”
Thursday, May 14, 2020 – Scripture Readings – Fr. Tim
The Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Apostle St.
Matthias, the successor of Judas the Iscariot.
What qualified St. Matthias to become an Apostle? He was a witness to Jesus’ ministry and resurrection. His chosen to the rank of an Apostle was very unique compared to the other Apostles. His appointment was not made by Jesus, Himself. At the time of his election, Jesus had already Ascended into Heaven.
Since Peter was the head of the Apostles, could he have not chosen the successor to Judas the Iscariot? Yes, he could have. However, he decided to have the other Apostles as well as the other Disciples to join him in choosing the candidate. There were two candidates to chose from: Joseph called Barsabas and Matthias. The Disciples turned to prayer and they cast lots and Matthias was selected from the list. Why did they cast lots? Probably to keep an open mind and allow for the Holy Spirit to operate in the election.
Not much is known about the ministry of St.Matthias. Matthias does not appear in the Gospel narratives. He does appear in the Acts of the Apostles. He suffered martyrdom by being stoned to death. His name does appear in the Roman Canon.
Reflection Question. God continues to call each of us and invite us to become one of His Disciples. How do we respond to God’s call in our life? We all have a choice. Let us continue to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit in our daily life.
Wednesday, May 13, 2020 – Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary when she appeared at Fatima, Portugal between the months of May and October of 1917 to three shepherd children.
Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were tending sheep when a flash of light caught their attention & settled above them in a tree. Within the light, there was a lady dressed in white with a rosary in her hands who stated that she was from Heaven. She requested that the children to meet her in the same spot on the 13th of the next five months and to pray the rosary for peace in the world.
On June 13th, Mary told them that Francisco and Jacinta would be going to Heaven soon and Lucia would remain to promote Mary’s Immaculate Heart. She added a prayer that we recite at the end of each decade of the rosary. “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.”
On July 13th, five thousand people gathered with the shepherd children but only the children could see as Mary spread out her hands giving them a vision of hell. Mary predicted another war and asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She gave the children three secrets and asked that the people would receive Communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month.
On August 13th a government official threatened to boil them in oil if they did not reveal to him the three secrets. They refused and would have died for their faith. On August 19th, Mary appeared to the children in a different place.
On September 13th, over 30 thousand people witnessed a shower of white petals.
Finally, on October 13th after a heavy rain storm, 70 thousand people witnessed what was called the miracle of the sun. The children saw Our Lady, St. Joseph with the child Jesus blessing the crowd.
Lucia continued to receive visions of Our Lady and in 1927 revealed the first two secrets. 1) Vision of hell. 2) WWI would end and predicted another war during the papacy of Pope Pius XI. The third secret would be revealed at a later time. The prediction of Pope John Paul II’s assassination attempt, which would take place on May 13, 1981. She would die in 2005. (Information taken from the “Illustrated Book of Mary” )
Have a blessed Our Lady of Fatima Feast Day today.
Tuesday Morning Mass Scripture Reflection – May 12, 2020 – Fr. Claudius
Experience tells us love gives peace. Without love, there is little peace. In normal circumstances we feel peace when we share a hug or when we show our love for each other. We feel peace when we recall our families, friends, parishioners, co -workers and how much love is shown when we’re together. We feel peace when a relative calls or visit. We feel peace in the presence of loving and caring friends.
Experience also tells us that peace frees us up to love others with more intensity. Anxiety makes it hard to feel and show love.
At this time of pandemic, feelings of deprivation and loneliness abound, especially while we wait to return to celebrating Masses together. Meanwhile, we can remember that there are many ways and opportunities to bring a sense of peace and unity with others.
We all need encouragement, especially with regard to our faith and our relationship with the Lord. We need to keep putting fresh heart into each other, encouraging each other to persevere in the faith. That is what we find Jesus doing in the gospel reading. It is the night of the last supper; the disciples are feeling discouraged. Jesus says to them, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid’. He offers them the gift of his peace, a ‘peace the world cannot give’. He assures them that although he is leaving them, he will come back to them again in a very short while, through the Holy Spirit. He is actively engaged in putting fresh heart into the disciples. We can encourage each other, but the Lord himself is the great encourager. If we turn to him in confident prayer, he will help us to persevere in the faith.
Monday Morning Mass Scripture Reflection – May 11, 2020 – Fr. Claudius
We are only a little under three weeks now from the feast of Pentecost, which we celebrate on Sunday two weeks. It is hard to believe we are already more than half way through the seven-week season of Easter.
As we get closer to the feast of Pentecost, we will begin to hear more references to the Holy Spirit in the readings that are proclaimed at Mass. In today’s gospel reading Jesus says to his disciples, ‘the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you’.
It is the evening before Jesus is put to death; his disciples are aware that Jesus is taking his leave of them. In that highly charged hour Jesus assures them that his leaving them, his death, will not be the end of his relationship with them. He will send the Holy Spirit from the Father who will remind them of all Jesus said to them. Jesus’ relationship with them will endure in and through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is present to all of us, within all of us, in and through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings Jesus to us today and brings us to Jesus. That is why we need to keep on praying, ‘Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart’. We keep asking the Spirit we have already received to keep on filling us more and more, filling our thoughts, words, deeds, filling our very being, so that our relationship with the Lord will continue to deepen.
Like Paul and Barnabas, we must realize that God lives and acts within us. Whatever good we do or evil we overcome, is the result of the presence and action of God and not any power or talent we may think we have as our own. In this Mass we are called to give praise, not to ourselves, but to the one true God who makes is dwelling place within us.
Sunday, May 10, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. We think about the many mothers (mothers, step-mothers, god mothers, grand mothers and mothers to be) that have been very influential in our journey of life. They have given us nourishment, taken care of our injuries, clothed us, stayed up late at night when we were sick, cleaned up the house after us, made sure that we did our homework for school and brought us to Church. Our mothers have made numerous sacrifices for their family. Today we honor all our mothers both living and deceased. May God bless all our mothers today as we celebrate Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers.
We enter into the 5th Sunday of Easter. In the past three days, we have heard this Gospel passage from John two times. Jesus speaks to us about His upcoming return to His Heavenly Father. “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way (John 14:2-4).” Jesus speaks to us of about our permanent home in Heaven with God.
There is no place like the comfort of our own home. When a family member is in a nursing home, they would much rather be in their own home. Anyone who has served his or her country and have been deployed overseas for a long period of time in the U.S. Military can not wait for the opportunity to return home to visit with their family. For the past 7 weeks, we as a parish family can not wait to return to the public celebration of the Mass in our spiritual homes.
Jesus speaks of a more permanent home in Heaven in today’s Gospel passage. How do we get to that home? St. Thomas asked Jesus that same very question: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:5-6).”
Let us continue to follow Christ so that He might lead us to our permanent dwelling home in Heaven. Have a blessed day.
Saturday, May 9, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Have you ever wondered what God looks like? It is a question that the Jewish people, the Apostles and all of us have asked over the course of human history.
In the Old Testament the Jewish people have often asked themselves? Who is God? What does He look like? Moses had a number of encounters with God: The Burning Bush, Receiving the 10 Commandments on stone tablets and he would meet God in the tent. When Moses came out of the tent, he had to wear a shield around his head because his face was covered with radiance from his meetings with God. Then came the Prophets who challenged the Jewish people to return to a relationship with God. So for the Jewish people, their understanding of God was that of a judge who sets out rules and is Holy.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus was gathered around His Apostles when Philip made an important request to Jesus: “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us (John 14: 8).” I wonder what went through the minds of Philip and the other Apostles when they heard the response from Jesus: “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (John 14: 9).”
My sisters and brothers, I invite you to spend some time today and answer the following question: What image comes to mind, when we think about God? Someone who is very holy. A Shepherd who seeks us out when we go astray. A loving and merciful judge. Someone who comforts us when we are feeling down. Someone who heals our wounds. A Spiritual Father. It is okay to add to this list.
Lord, we long to see your face. Help us in our daily journey of life to recognize the Father in those we encounter today in our journey of life. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Friday, May 8, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius
We may have heard of this song “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. It has a simple tune and simple words and we would sung along with it before. It was composed by “Bobby Keith McFerrin” an American Jazz Vocalist from New York.;The opening verse goes like this:
Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Oh yes, in life we will have trouble, at times big, at times small. We should have realized by now, that more often, we create the troubles for ourselves, just as we create problems for ourselves. Especially in this particular time of pandemic, we have restrictions to follow but, we keep ignoring them! That’s why I am repeating to say that most of our problems in the world are self-created.
Whenever there are troubles in life, our hearts are not at peace. And when our hearts are not at peace, and when our lives are in pieces, then what should we do? Of course we will try to put things together and try to look for peace. But peace is not just an ideology or a principle to be followed.
Jesus is our Prince of Peace. And that is why He tells us in the gospel, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me.” And we also remember Jesus telling us this: Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest.
So we come before Jesus with our troubled hearts and we ask Him to give us the peace that only He can give. But it is not just don’t worry, be happy. Rather, it is don’t worry, be holy. Yes, be holy, as God is holy, and He is calling us to be holy.
So as we come before Jesus, as we come before His Sacred Heart, let us ask Him to help us to be holy in all that we do, so that we can rest in His Sacred Heart and be at peace. In our lives and in our hearts, God must be in the Center, and then everything else will come together.
Thursday, May 7, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
I will never forget the first time that I washed the feet of the parishioners during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday; it was as an Parochial Vicar at St. Paul Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida. Initially, I remember that I was a little anxious when I began washing the feet of the parishioners during the proclamation of the Gospel. I have never washed anyone’s feet but my own before that time. As I listened to the words of the Gospel passage, it helped my understanding of servant leadership. Jesus was a leader and He led by being of service to one another. It is this model that I try to put in place in my priestly ministry.
Why would Jesus wash the feet of His Apostles? This was not something that ordinary leaders do to their followers. After all, the washing of someone else’s feet was reserved for a slave. So, why did Jesus wash His Apostles’ feet?
Jesus used this event as a teaching moment to His Disciples. This action made such a dramatic impact upon Jesus’ followers that they would imitate in their future ministry.
As Christians, we are to be concerned with the needs of those around us: family, friends, neighbor, the poor, prisoners, the elderly, the sick, our fellow human beings, and even our enemies. Servant leadership is all about the other person than the me.
As Christ’s Disciples today, we too must exercise the Corporal Works of Mercy with our sisters and brothers around us. The question for each of us to reflect on today. How can we “wash the feet” of our brothers and sisters around us? How can we imitate Christ’s example?
May God continue to bless our ministry.
Wednesday, May 6, 2020 Scripture Reading – Fr. Tim
At the end of every Mass, the Deacon or the Priest sends forth the Parish Community with one of the following phrases: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” The Holy Spirit empowers us to go out into the community to be missionary evangelists, much like Paul and Barnabas in today’s First Reading in the Acts of the Apostles.
The Acts of the Apostles gives us numerous examples of what the Early Church Missionaries went through to get out the Gospel message. The Religious Leaders tried so hard to thwart the Disciples from preaching the Resurrected Christ doctrine. Even being placed in jail did not stop the Disciples from accomplishing the Church’s mission. Last week we read about the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen witnessing the Gospel message even in the face of death. Despite the first 325 years of Church persecution, large number of people were being baptized in the Catholic faith all because the people saw the Disciples of Christ preaching the Good News and healing those who were sick in the community. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, nothing was preventing the growth of Christianity across the Roman Empire and beyond.
A recent convert to the faith, St. Paul too was inspired by the working of the Holy Spirit in his life. As we read from the Acts of the Apostles as well as many of his writings in the New Testament, we heard his zeal in sharing the Gospel message throughout the many different places that Paul set off during the course of his life: Thessalonia, Corinth, Galatia just to name a few places. Paul saw his role as a Spiritual Father to these communities. When the communities were acting out against the Gospel message, he would write letters to his Communities challenging them to remain faithful to their relationship with God.
Here we are in the year 2020. The Church has had to think outside the box, ways to become missionary Disciples in a world, a community and a home with regards to the COVID 19 Pandemic. The Gospel message still has to get out to the community.
Reflection Question: How does the Holy Spirit guide each one of us into becoming a missionary Disciple for Christ? Come Holy Spirit fill our hearts with the same zeal to preach the Good News. Amen.
Tuesday, May 5, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius
The last sentence of today’s first reading has caught my intention. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians, which means as follower of Christ, which is what we are supposed to be. Our Baptismal records allows us to verify that we are Christians, and what should we do as Christians? How do we know that we are indeed follower of Christ?
During this season of Easter, one of the necessary reflections that we must make is to think about what being a Christian is all about.
In short, we are to proclaim the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, being involved in the different ministries in our parish!
A quick glance through the Acts of the Apostles will give us a picture of how this Good News was proclaimed.
The Good News was proclaimed with the mighty acts of the power of God.
These were manifested in the healing of the sick and driving out evil spirits and forgiveness and conversion.
In the gospel, we hear of the people asking Jesus this question – If you are the Christ, tell us plainly!.
As for us, we need not tell people that we are Christians.
By what we do, they would know we are Christians and by our acts of love.
Because we are Christians, we are most precious in the eyes of God. Jesus says about us. “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish” Our identity should give us great confidence in God’s love. We can and should go through life with a sense of peace and serenity for bear the name “Christian”. We must make positive efforts to reach out in sharing his love with everyone we meet.
Pope Francis has challenged all the baptized to become “missionary disciples.” All that may be required is the courage to share our faith with someone who may be curious about it. The First Letter of Peter (3:15) says it best: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence….” God will take care of the rest!
In the early Church it was at first taken for granted that Christianity was for Jews only. When some of the Christians at Jerusalem heard that Gentiles too had become followers of Christ, they objected. Peter was challenged on the point and responded by explaining the vision he had which makes it clear that God was calling all people to salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the gate, as he declares in the gospel today. Through him all peoples are invited to enter into the kingdom of God.
How do we enter through the gate of Christ? Through faith. Right belief and right practice. Faith is the doorway to salvation Our Lord opened for us through his death and resurrection. What a beautiful image, through faith, through baptism we enter through Christ the gate into the life of God, into the Divine Life which begins now in this earthly life and endures to eternity.
There is another purpose for gates alluded to by the Lord in the gospel today. Gates keep out robbers and thieves. Gates stop those people, those ideas and beliefs, those attitudes and actions which deprive us of the life of God. When Jesus Christ is King and Shepherd of your life, he acts as a sort of gate which protects us from evil in the world which seeks to enter our minds and hearts and rob us of the peace and joy and life of Christ
There are many who will try to steal the sheep from the Good Shepherd. Anything that attracts people not to follow the Lord. But people may also be robbed from God by money, power, fame, pride, greed, etc. Worldly things and concerns can snatch is away from God. There are many wrong gates around us.
It is good to reflect the gate or gates we are presently using. There is still time to get out
“There are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well.”
Let us look for these sheep and bring them to Jesus and He will make them clean and give them the new life that He promises to those who believe in Him.
Sunday, May 3, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
We enter into the 4th Sunday of Easter which is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The Church also celebrates World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
In the Gospel of John we hear the following message: “The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3).” Back in the times of Jesus, the shepherds will come together with their flock at night for safety. The following morning the shepherd would gather his sheep. Now if all the sheep are gathered together and look exactly alike, how does the shepherd know which sheep belong to him? The sheep know his voice. They follow his voice. The sheep place their trust in their shepherd. They rely on the shepherd for food, water, shelter, protection and guidance. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. We as His followers, will follow Him.
I now share the following message with our youth. What is it that you want to be when you grow up as an adult? (Military, police officer, doctor, teacher, sports , etc.) As you grow older, you might find yourself changing your mind.
Today, we celebrate World Day of Prayer for Vocations Sunday. What vocation is God calling each one of us to? (Marriage, Single or Religious Life (Sisters & Priesthood) As Fr. Claudius began the Mass this morning, he said that vocations begins in the home. God is calling each one of you to a vocation calling my friends. Are you listening to the Good Shepherd’s voice? What vocation are you being called to? Marriage: Speak with your parents and ask them the joys and the challenges to marriage life? What makes for a strong marriage life? Single: People remain single and do a lot of charity work around the community. Maybe God is calling men to the Priesthood or ladies to the Religious Life. Speak with the Religious Sisters or priests about Religious Life. I am grateful for Sr. Catherine who was my 8th Grade Teacher. She was very strict but she loved her students and enjoyed teaching the Catholic faith to us. The Life of a Priest is not easy. As a priest, we get to walk with the parishioners in every aspect of their life. We prepare a couple for the Sacrament of Marriage. We get to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism shortly after the birth of a child. We minister the Sacraments of Holy Communion, Reconciliation and Confirmation with the youth. Finally, we get to walk with the person as he or she takes their last breath.
How does one go about deciding a vocation? We spend time in prayer. We listen to the story of someone’s vocation experience. We ask questions. Finally, we respond to God’s call in our life. So which voices are we going to listen to?
Let us call upon the intercession of our Blessed Mother, Mary, as we listen to the call of the Good Shepherd. Hail Mary, full of grace…
Sunday May 3, 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Claudius
As we are now having daily communications, like Live streaming, meetings, conferences, lessons and interactions with others over our computers and laptops, or may be smart phones we should have discovered by now, how important audio and video devices are in our computers and laptops.
We are trying to be experts now days due to the lockdown. learning a lot more about how they work.
It is difficult to say which is more important, the audio or the video, but the picture without the sound makes little sense, while the sound without the picture, we can still comprehend.
As much as seeing is exciting, listening gives rise to imagining and we picture in our minds what we are hearing and even images of people and places begin to form in our minds.
As we read the gospel about what Jesus said, the images that come to our minds might be the shepherd leading his flock of sheep.
Using the image of a caring and guiding shepherd, Jesus presents himself today to us as that trustworthy voice. He said to them and says to us, that we need to be attentive to his voice and separate it from all the other voices that tug on us and draw us here and there. His voice, he says, will keep us together and also guide us on our journey
Whatever we know about shepherd and sheep, we get the picture that the shepherd goes ahead of his sheep and the sheep follow the shepherd because they know his voice.
And the sheep never follow a stranger because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.
As we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, we also celebrate Vocations Sunday.
Vocations Sunday is a reminder that the Lord Jesus is calling those whom He has chosen to serve Him and the People of God in a special way, and that is, in the priesthood and the religious life.
Yes, Jesus our Good Shepherd calls out to those whom He has chosen, and He says that the harvest is rich but the laborers are few.
So this is a call-out to those who are hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd. He calls out to you whom He has chosen for a special vocation and a special mission.
He calls out to you, and He speaks heart-to-heart with you.
Amidst the anxieties and worries of life, and all the other voices in the world, when we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and listen to His call, we will have peace of heart.
Yes, it is a peace that the world cannot give. It is a peace that is given heart-to-heart.
So if the Lord Jesus is calling you, may you listen, may you respond, and you will be blessed with a peace that comes only from the Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd.
When we listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd, He will lead us through the valley of darkness and into the green pastures of light and life.
Saturday, May 2, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius
Most of us, if not all of us, wouldn’t want to say things that will embarrass ourselves and make ourselves look foolish.
St. Peter, as we know, had a reputation for being impulsive and brash and later he would have to eat his words.
Well, he had said that he wouldn’t deny his Master; he said at the transfiguration that he would build three tents although he didn’t know what he was saying; he tried to plead in protest with Jesus about His suffering only to get rebuked by Jesus.
Yet we also cannot deny that there were also profound words that came from St. Peter.
In the gospel, we heard one of those profound statements from St. Peter – Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that You are the Holy One of God.
Even in the 1st reading, the St. Peter that we hear about spoke words of power that brought about healing and even restored life!
And all that was because of the Risen Christ. Through the power of the resurrection, St. Peter has learnt to speak like his Master and even has the power to act like Him.
That is the power of the resurrection on St. Peter. And the power of the resurrection is also given to each of us. It is a total commitment, a faith which we are called to profess
Let it begin with our words so that we can speak like our Master. Like St. Peter may our words bring about healing and also awaken the life in those who hear us.
We have a good example of St. Athanasius whom we commemorate today. He was a Bishop of Alexandria in 328 and served as bishop for forty difficult years. He fought against the heresies of the time and particularly (that Jesus is not co-equal with the Father but created by him) and, as a result, was exiled from his diocese on five occasions for a total of seventeen years. Yet he never ceased to defend Christ and his Church. He is one of the four great Greek Doctors of the Universal Church.
Let us ask for his intercession on this difficult time of ours and especially on this month of our Blessed Mother.
Friday, May 1, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius
St. Joseph has two feast days on the Liturgical calendar. The first is March 19th, Joseph, the Husband of Mary. The second is May 1st, Joseph, the worker.
There is very little about the life of Joseph in Scripture, but just enough to paint a picture of an upright, righteous, honorable, responsible man ~ an example to all men, the chaste husband of Mary, the foster father of Jesus, a carpenter and a man who was not wealthy. We also know that he came from the royal lineage of King David.
On this day the Church inspired by St Joseph’s example and under his patronage, commemorates in a special way the human and supernatural value of work
St. Joseph is the greatest model of manhood, fatherhood, of a faithful husband, a provident father who provided the child Jesus with the first and most important gift a man must give to his children: himself, his own time and attentive, personal interest, and great loving devotion. Even in today’s gospel Jesus is identifying in Nazareth by his occupation. “Is he not the Carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary?
Yes, we need more “Josephs” ~ we live in a world of many Men’s hands that have been weakened by a lack of fear of the Lord and walking in his ways. Such hands grow lazy and insecure, as such hands find it easier to stretch out and touch what is evil.
Saint Joseph is a tremendous example for each of us: he put Christ at the center of his life, he served God in all his endeavors, he labored for the good of his family. He is a reminder for all laborers to keep God as part of your work, and in doing so we become cooperators with God. God brings about great goodness when we unite our labors with His.
May St. Joseph whose labors continue to touch us, help all workers and all of us to keep Christ at the center of our lives, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Thursday, April 30, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles today, Philip has an encounter with an Ethiopian during his journey. He finds the Ethiopian reading the Prophet Isaiah in Scriptures. Philip asks him does he understand what he is reading? The Ethiopian invited Philip to sit with him in his chariot. Philip goes about answering his many questions. After a period of discussion, the Ethiopian wanted to be baptized and so he was. The Ethiopian went away rejoicing in the Lord.
We are all on a journey in the Book of Life. There are times when we are presented with an opportunity to reflect over the course of our journey of life. Today, let us reflect on our spiritual journey of life.
How did we get to this spiritual path in life? Chances are that we are Catholic due to the influences of other people around us. Examples of people include: parents, grandparents, other family members, friends, clergy, religious sisters, teachers, sporting coaches or a stranger. Maybe reading the Bible or stories about the Life of the Saints has provided the spark for our spiritual journey.
Our spiritual journeys are very unique and personal to each one of us. It is not a race between others around us. What matters to us is that we have started the journey and working on our desired destination of Heaven with our loving and merciful Father.
Philip was instrumental in the spiritual journey of the Ethiopian. The Spirit of the Lord led Philip to the stranger. Through that encounter Philip led the man down the right path to God. The Spirit will lead you and I out to the battle field and will give us the necessary tools to accomplish the mission. So, I will leave you with the following question to reflect on today. How will we utilize those tools with those around us?
Wednesday, April 29, 2020 Reflection – Fr. Tim
The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena. She lived during one of the darkest periods of Church history, the 14th Century. As a child, she would spend a good part of the day in prayer. She would would pray a Hail Mary every time she walked up and down a step of a stair. She took a vow of virginity at the age of 7 years old. She endured much persecution for her refusal to get married. She was considered a guardian of the Church. She would defend the Church’s cause. She traveled through Italy telling the rebellious cities to to be obedient to the Pope. She brought Pope Gregory XI at Avignon back to Rome. She would pray day and night for unity and peace in the Church. She died at the age of 33 in 1380 AD. She was declared a Doctor of the Church. She is a patron saint of Nurses, against fires, fire fighters, illness, sexual temptation and miscarriages.
In Matthew’s Gospel today, St. Catherine understood the lesson. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).” She placed her burdens with the Lord and allowed His peace and strength to rest upon her in her ministry.
What are the burdens that we endure? Health, economy, spiritual, being isolated at home, etc. Let us come and place our concerns with the Lord and experience His lasting peace.
TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2020 SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
For every drop of sweat, a seed is taken and planted. But for every drop of blood that is shed, the seed of conversion if produced.
The first reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles describes the martyrdom of Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr. Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, describes the death of Stephen in a very similar way to how he had described the death of Jesus in his first volume, the gospel.
Just as Jesus prayed to God, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’, so Stephen prays to the risen Lord, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’. Just as Jesus prayed to God, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’, so Stephen prays to the risen Lord, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’. It is as if Luke is saying that the fundamental attitudes of Jesus are to be reproduced in that of his followers.
The risen Lord continues to live out his life in and through his followers, and that includes us all. If the Lord is to live out his life in us, we need to come to him as our bread of life, in the words of this morning’s gospel reading. ‘I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry’. It is only in coming to the Lord in faith, and receiving nourishment from him, that we will be able to reproduce, in some way, his life, his presence, his fundamental attitudes.
Saul who became Paul, was present at the death of Stephen and entirely approves of the killing. Saul would go on to become the great apostle to the Gentiles. Perhaps the courageous witness of Stephen left some kind of impression on Saul and sowed a seed which would later bear much fruit. God may have touched Saul in some way through the witness of Stephen. We need each other’s witness in this life.
Especially right now, with the pandemic, being confined to our homes will hopefully allow us to turn our attention back to the essentials, to rediscover the importance of our relationship with God, and thus the centrality of prayer in human existence. And, in the awareness of our fragility, to entrust ourselves to God and to his paternal mercy.
MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020 SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
Being misunderstood is probably one of the most disheartening of human experiences
In the 1st reading, Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the peoples.
But instead of trying to understand the meaning and the message of these signs, some people came to debate with Stephen, and even arrested him and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
And in the gospel, Jesus said to the people that they were looking for Him not because they understood the meaning and the message of the sign of the multiplication of bread, but rather it was because they had all the bread they wanted to eat.
So it seems that in both cases, the meaning and the message of the sign is not understood. But, both Jesus and His follower, Stephen, were strengthened by the realization that they were doing God’s will.
In this life, no matter how careful we are with others, no matter how loving our intention, we face misunderstanding, sometimes even actual rejection. The natural reaction is usually to give up on another person. But God calls us to an attitude and way of acting which at times may even be heroic.
Now, more than ever, in these troubling times, we should be asking. “what can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Instead, most of us are calling on God to help us. That is a good first step, but God then expects us to act appropriately on our faith. Jesus teaches us “not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the son of Man will give.
In this time of incredible human need, it is even more urgent that we each seek more than to meet our needs, like staying connected to others, to seek that heart changing, listening to them, caring, and staying cheerful around them is the best we can do.
God is speaking to us through these signs. Let us pray that we may come to understand the meaning and heed the message of the Risen Lord, that the light of the Resurrection may banish all sadness and shadow in your life for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Sunday, April 26, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – 3rd Sunday of Easter – Fr. Tim
How many of us remember listening to stories from our parents and grandparent growing up as kids?
I remember growing up as a child, my parents would share stories with me and my sisters and my brothers about their growing up when they were younger. My Dad who is very active in the Knights of Columbus, serves his Council as the Lecturer. At every meeting, he shares with his brother Knights, stories about key people or events that are very insightful and thought provoking.
I am sure that many of Our Lady of Fatima parents and grandparents share stories with your children and grandchildren. Hopefully, your children and grandchildren will learn the lessons of those stories and share with their family when they grow up as adults.
In today’s Gospel passage (Luke 24:13-35), we heard another Resurrection of Jesus narrative. There were two of Jesus’ Disciples who were returning to their home in Emmaus seven miles away from Jerusalem. They were talking about their painful experience in the past several days, when they encountered a stranger on the road. The stranger asked the two men what they were discussing along the way? The two Disciples were startled by his question. This event was breaking news, how could the stranger not know what just happened? After they recounted their story with the man, the stranger took over the story. The stranger interpreted to the two Disciples the events that occurred on the way to Calvary. Upon arriving to their destination, they invited him to have a meal with them and spend the night. It was not until the stranger took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the them that there eyes were open to the identity of the stranger.
My sisters and brothers, we are on the journey of life. We are all participating in this unique story of our life. Hopefully, our story will be lived by our family members, our friends, our parish family and work family. What will be the lesson of our story that we will share with those around us?
Have a blessed week.
Saturday, April 25, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Mark, the Evangelist. Where does today’s Gospel come from? The Gospel of St. Mark.
The Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel written sometime around the year 60 AD. The Gospel begins with the narrative of Jesus’ Baptism and continues to His Ascension into Heaven. The Gospel does not give details of his birth and early life. The Evangelist challenges the reader to a deeper understanding of discipleship. Mark reminds the reader that the path to discipleship is challenging and difficult at times. As the Gospel tells each of us a number of times, “Do not be afraid,” because Jesus Christ is present in our midst and will walk with each of us in our journey of discipleship as long as we invite Him in our journey.
In the Gospel today we heard the Commission of the Eleven Disciples. Jesus told them to: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16: 15).” As we continue our reading of the Books of the Acts of the Apostles, we read how the Apostles went all over the earth to proclaim the Good News as well as the birth of our early Church.
Question for today’s reflection. How are we sharing the Gospel message with those around us?
Friday, April 24, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius
Today we began reading from a very long chapter in St. John’s gospel. It is the sixth chapter and it is St. John’s profound presentation of the Eucharist. To borrow an expression from the first reading, the Eucharist does indeed come from God and nothing has been able to destroy Catholic faith in the Eucharist for more than two thousand years.
The chapter begins with an episode quite familiar to us, the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. What Jesus did was an act of compassion for the crowd who had been with Jesus all day and had nothing to eat. It was a sign of extra ordinary power over physical reality, bread in particular. Jesus showed that he had power over bread, a power which he exercises in the Eucharist. He multiplied bread to satisfy a natural hunger, so in the Eucharist he multiplies His presence under the appearance of bread to satisfy a spiritual hunger.
As Christians we need to commit ourselves to share all we have and to work with God in communicating His compassion to all. God is a caring Father, but He wants our co-operation. That’s what the early Christians did, generously sharing what they had with the needy.
We and others in our time need to ask for the courage to share, even when we think we have nothing to offer. Whatever we offer through Jesus will have a life-giving effect in those who receive it.
During this time of pandemic, we need that inspiration more than ever. The creative ways that the Church has found to continue sacramental and devotional life due to “stay-at-home” orders and “social distancing” are testimony to strengthen our faith. The virus will not prevail over faith. What our “next normal” will be is yet to be determined, but the Spirit will help us with that, too!
During this extraordinary time in which we are living, let us practice being extraordinary Christians and give of our time, talent and treasure without counting the costs.
Thursday, April 23, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
As we continue our journey through the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:27-33) today, the Apostles stood before the members of the Sanhedrin and were addressed by the High Priest. “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us (Acts of the Apostles 5: 28).” Remember the previous day, we heard that the Apostles escaped from the prison and the guards through the assistance of the angel of the Lord and returned to the temple area to continue their teaching (Acts of the Apostles 5:17-26). Nothing was getting in the way of their mission to preach the Gospel message.
One theme we find in today’s first Scripture Reading is perseverance. From the Oxford Dictionary, perseverance means 1) being persistent in doing something, 2) Being determined in the midst of difficulty, challenges, adversity. I remember when I was a youngster learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle and I kept falling down. My Dad was there to get me back on the bicycle. He would not let me quit until I learned to ride my bicycle. Before too long, I persevered in learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
In our journey of faith there are times that we find ourselves getting ready to throw in the towel in defeat. Our health concerns, the economy, strained relationships with our family and friends or sharing our faith with others can often lead us in an absence of hope.
Let us follow the example of the Apostles in today’s reading to overcome our challenges. Standing before the religious authorities, threats of being placed in prison and threats of being put to death did not prevent the Apostles from sharing openly the Good News. “We must obey God rather than men (Acts of the Apostles 5: 29).”
Question for us to reflect on today. What is holding us back from persevering in sharing our Catholic identity with the world around us?
Have a blessed day.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020 Reflection – Fr. Tim
What a tremendous difference we see in the life of the Apostles in a short period of time. Two weeks ago, the Apostles returned to the Upper Room behind locked doors after experiencing the Crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary. I wonder what was going through their minds after this experience. We gave up our family and our careers to follow the Lord. Will the religious authorities and the Romans come after each of us to put our lives to death? Where do we go from here? It was quite evident that they were living in fear.
As we enter the second week of Easter, we see a transformation in the lives of the Apostles as we continue our Scripture reading of the Acts of the Apostles. After witnessing with their own eyes, the empty tomb, the Risen Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit, the Apostles exit from the locked doors and go out to courageously spread the Gospel message to the people. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit their mission becomes very clear.
In our First Reading this morning, the high priest and the Sadducees had the Apostles placed in the public jail. However, the locked bars of the jail and the guards were unable to keep the Apostles from escaping the jail and returning to the temple area to continue their ministry. The hands of God were in action.
It seems that we are currently living in a world of darkness. We are living under a stay at home order to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 virus. Many of us are living in isolation in our homes by our self, a scarcity of essential items such as toilet paper, food shortages, hand sanitizers; unemployment is rising, people are dealing with health issues (COVID 19, cancer, etc.) and patients are dying by themselves and patients in Nursing Homes and Hospitals cannot have visits with their family. There are times that we as human beings are seeking out the source of light in our world that we live in currently.
Just like the Apostles during the time of Jesus, we too are called to continue Jesus’ mission right here at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. The Call to Discipleship is three-fold: To renounce worldly things; pick up our cross and follow Him. Jesus never said it was going to be easy to be His Disciple but He promises to be the source of light in these times of gloom, uncertainty and anxiety. The same Spirit that gave the strength, faith and courage to the Apostles to stand up for the Gospel message will give us the ability to lead others to the true source of light.
So, my sisters and brothers do not let the prison bars or these dark times hold us back from sharing the Gospel message. Happy Easter!
DAILY REFLECTION TUESDAY, APRIL 21, 2020 – BY: FR. CLAUDIUS MGANGA
In today’s first reading we see a beautiful ideal of Christian living. The community of believers were one heart and one mind, and everything was held in common. This group in Jerusalem was so small that a family atmosphere prevailed. Their arrangement was Ideal since through baptism they had all become God’s children and brothers and sisters of one another. They were indeed a family.
Circumstances are vastly different for us. The Church is now truly Catholic, worldwide. Even within a single parish it is impossible to know every Catholic. Our economic system is complex, based on a highly competitive spirit and entangled in a tax system so elaborated that is virtually out of control. Making money is for some a way of life than a means of support and social status is often determined by one’s monetary worth. In short, ours is a materialistic Society. It is such a time as this that brings out the best in people, as well as the worse.
Certainly in such anxious and uncertain times, that people will show their ugly sides like hoarding food, keeping to themselves, not being charitable or kind, flout the rules and the laws, and create problems for others.
But it is also in such times that there will be people who will show what their true character is.
There will be people who will face the risks and serve those in need and be signs of encouragement in an otherwise despondent and depressive situation.
In the early church, there was one such person that we read about in the 1st reading, His name was Joseph, but the apostles gave him the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement), and for a good reason.
It was he who took the risk and took the newly converted Paul under his charge and Paul went on to become a great missionary of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, Barnabas was a sign of encouragement for the early church as well as for the church of today as we face the trials of the current situation.
As Jesus reminds us in the gospel that we are born from above and so we have the God-given ability to be signs of encouragement for others.
So even though we may be stuck in the difficulties of this earth, let us look at the God above and keep being the “sons of encouragement” that He wants us to be. God Bless You
DAILY REFLECTION – MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2020 By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The words that we often hear nowadays are these two words – social distancing.
It was only fairly recently that we hear these two words being used.
And if we still don’t know what that means, then we will certainly get into trouble with the law.
With social distancing comes about new social practices like “Work from home” and “home based learning”
Being confined at home, whether for work or for learning, comes the lighter side of social distancing.
But not that long ago, social distancing was practically unheard of. Human beings are also social beings, and to socially distant oneself from others may mean that one is an extreme introvert or a social misfit.
In yesterday’s gospel we heard of one apostle who seemed to have socially distanced himself from the rest of the apostles.- St. Thomas. , but later, he believed, and he proclaimed, “My lord and my God”. Of all the apostles, it was Thomas who went far and covered the longest distance to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard St. Peter and John being transformed and were not intimidated by the elders and Scribes.
They returned to their own people and affirmed that though “Herod, Pontius Pilate, together with the gentiles and the peoples of Israel” had “stood against the Lord’s anointed One,” they themselves would continue “to speak the word of God with boldness.”
So let us ask Apostles to help us, that in this time of social distancing, we will take this opportunity to get in contact with those whom we have neglected because of our busy lives.
It can be a text message, or a phone call, or even a video-call, as these are readily available.
Though we may have to be socially distant from each other, let us be spiritually united with Jesus Christ our Lord, and with each other, and pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness on us and on the whole world. And, like Jesus’ instructions to Nicodemus, we have to live out our faith and develop our own spiritual lives. We, as baptized people, have an obligation to proclaim the Risen Lord as did Peter and John, Thomas and other Apostles. God Bless You.
SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2020 REFLECTION – FR. TIM
We enter into the 2nd Sunday of Easter. In the Gospel passage, we hear the Doubting Thomas Story. Additionally, the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday.
We live in a world that embraces the following philosophy seeing is believing. Unless we are able to view someone or an event with our senses (eyes), it is difficult for us to to believe.
After the death of Jesus on the Cross on Calvary, the Apostles went into hiding behind locked doors. Jesus appeared to His Disciples and offered them the following greeting: “Peace be with you (John 20: 19).” Can you imagine the excitement that the 10 Apostles experienced at the sight of Jesus? Remember Thomas was not initially present at this meeting and Judas Iscariot had hanged himself shortly after his betrayal of Jesus. I wonder why Thomas was not initially present in Jesus’ first appearance to His Disciples?
A week later Jesus returned to visit the Apostles and Thomas was present for Jesus’ visit. Jesus walked right up and presented His hands to Thomas to witness with his own eyes. We heard Thomas remarkable statement of faith: “My Lord and my God (John 20:28).”
What helps each one of us come to believe in the Risen Christ here in the year of 2020?
SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 2020 REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
Today, the elders, chief priests, and scribes of the people refuse to listen to the testimony of Peter and John and the rest of the disciples. In fact, the chief priests and elders go a step further beyond not listening: they want to silence the testimony of Christ’s Good News, not wanting it to be heard.
Peter and John, also the other disciples were ordinary men, uneducated comparing with the elders and Scribes.
We don’t hear of their CVs, about universities they studied, they didn’t have access to modern technology, Facebook, twitter, emails, Skype, no cellphone, smartphone, but they still made it a point to tell everyone about their exciting experience of Jesus and his resurrection.
Peter and John can be an inspiration to us all to be courageous in our own witness to our faith, in spite of pressure to be silent. At the end of the gospel reading, the risen Lord says to his disciples, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the good news to all creation’. We have all received that same commission, to proclaim the good news by what we say and above all by the way we live. If we turn towards the Lord, he will give us the courage to be faithful to that commission, just as he gave courage to Peter and John.
Perhaps we need to shout a little louder and say what Peter and John said: “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” We are called by Pope Francis to be “missionary disciples.” And our Diocese is asking us to live the gospel courageously during this Easter season as we live out the challenges caused by the Covid -19 pandemic, so that we can experience the Risen Lord.
FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2020 REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
In this morning’s gospel reading we find the disciples returning to their occupation as fishermen-“wavuvi” in Swahili.
Jesus had been crucified, there was nothing to do but go back to what they knew best. They were returning to their past.
The risen Lord now stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to redirect them, to renew the call he had made to them by the Sea of Galilee some years back. He first established communion with them, the communion they had broken by abandoning him in the hour of his passion and death. He did so by the simple invitation, ‘Come and have breakfast” what a lovely warmth and simple invitation!
It is the kind of invitation any one of us could make to others. Indeed, we have been doing it before this epidemic! every Sunday after 9 am mass we used to have coffee and donuts in our parish hall. The invitation to ‘Come and have breakfast’ or to ‘come and eat’ or to ‘come and have a cup of coffee’ or whatever is an invitation to communion is very common among ourselves.
We are inviting the other or others to be in communion with us. That is what the risen Lord is doing by the Sea of Galilee in today’s gospel reading. All of his disciples, apart from the beloved disciple, had broken communion with him. Peter, the leading disciple, had denied him three times. Yet, the Lord had not broken communion with his disciples. He appeared to them to call them back.
We are often tempted to go back to where we have been, even if it is only in our memories. Yet, the Lord is always calling us forward. Even when we have failed him in various ways, he continues to call us to begin afresh, and to cast our net in a different direction. Our relationship with the Lord always has a future that is full of hope. Easter is a season when we are invited to recognize the Lord on the shore of our lives calling out to us to follow where he is leading us, even if it is difficult and challenging like this time of epidemic!
Thursday, April 16, 2020 Reflection – Fr. Claudius
The first few words that comes out from the mouth when meeting a person or addressing a group of people are important.Those words set the stage for the encounter, and it can either put people at ease or make them anxious about what is to come.
When the Risen Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, His first words are, “Peace be with you”. “shalom” in Hebrew which means completeness, soundness or welfare.Those words would certainly put the disciple at ease because they were with guilt for deserting Jesus when He was arrested and tortured and died on the Cross.
More so, for someone to come back from the dead that was beyond their imagination and so they thought that Jesus a ghost and came to haunt them. Jesus seems eager to dispel any fear in their hearts. When you think about it, without faith we have every reason to live in fear.
Many of us are nowadays confined to our homes in fear and taking precautions almost the same ways to the apostles locking themselves away in that upper room. There is fear of virus; fear of economic situation as there is no jobs, fear of loneliness maintaining social distancing. Today’s psalm passage extols man’s dominion over the earth. This seems far from today’s reality. Human beings, who like to be in control of the nature and everything, have been humbled in silence and quietness in the so called lock down. We need to develop hope and trust even in this difficult time.
Here is where the first reading offers some hope of transformation by Peter and John. The time between Easter and Pentecost was a time of uncertainty for the apostles. I see my world as uncertain. My hope and my prayer are that after this Lenten and Easter experience we may be open to the transformation of Pentecost. We will then go on to preach courageously in the face of all kinds of opposition, hatred, persecution and fear and hence acquire peace of both mind and body, so feel the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in our daily lives. God Bless You.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020 Reflection – Fr. Tim
We live in a society that is filled with many material possessions. Let us look at one example, a new car. Let us say a neighbor purchases a brand new car that has the latest technology attached to it. Before too long, we find our self purchasing a brand new car with the latest technology as well. Does the new car bring you happiness? Maybe for a brief period of time. After you get your first scratch or accident, we lose the new car feeling. Now I am not saying owning a new car with the latest technology is bad.
In today’s first reading from the Book of Acts of the Apostles, we read about an encounter that Peter and John had with a man begging at the gate of the Temple. Peter stated: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise and walk.” (Acts 3:6) After being healed, the man got up and began to praise God.
The Apostles Peter and John did not provide the individual with material possessions. Instead, they provided him with something more important and life sustaining. They took time out of their busy day to speak with the person and provide him with self-worth.
There are people around us that are craving for someone to spend time with, to acknowledge their existence and to be listened to. When was the last time that we picked up the phone and spoke with our parents or grandparents? Maybe we have a family member or friend that we have not heard from in awhile? What do we have to offer them today?
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus asked Mary Magdalene in today’s Gospel the following question? “Whom are you looking for?” Jesus is also asking each one of us the same question.
One common theme that we find in the Resurrection narratives in the Gospel passages in the early weeks of the Easter season is the Disciple’s initial inability to recognize the Risen Christ. One example is found in today’s Gospel passage (John 20: 11-18). Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to find the tomb empty. She notices a gardener in the area and asks him if he knew where the body of Christ was. It was not until that the person spoke that Mary recognizes that the gardener was Jesus Himself. Other Gospel passages illustrate additional examples where the Disciples did not initially recognize the Resurrected Christ. On the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), the disciples finally realized that the stranger in their midst in the breaking of the bread was the Risen Lord Himself.
Jesus is asking each one of us today the following question: N. (Name) whom are you looking for? How do we go about answering Jesus’ question?
Jesus is in the midst of our daily journey. He is in the homeless person standing on the side of the street corner. He is with the people isolated in the nursing home. He is there with the person who is in the process of death. He is with the person who is serving his / her sentence. He is with people who are battling health concerns. Jesus is with those struggling with the basic necessities of life. He is with each and every person that we will encounter today.
So, whom are we looking for today?
Monday, April 13, 2020 Reflection – Fr. Tim
Happy Easter to you and your family. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, Alleluia!
As we journey through the Season of Easter, we will be reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The Acts of the Apostles shares with us the story of the Early Church and her struggles of persecutions. Despite these persecutions and challenges, we read about how the Apostles are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to overcome those challenges.
As we read the Passion narratives last week, we read about how the Apostles went into hiding in the Upper Room in fear that the authorities will arrest then and have them sentenced to death. In today’s Scripture passage, the Apostles filled with the Holy Spirit became bold in order to spread the Gospel message and build the Church.
Jesus chose 12 ordinary men to do something extraordinary with their lives. Jesus did not choose the best candidates to lead His Church. Each of the 12 Apostles had flaws in their lives. Regardless of their imperfections, Jesus entrusted these men with His mission.
What about us? How is Jesus choosing you and I to continue the mission of His Church? Or do we place a variety of excuses in response to God’s invitation. For example: I am too inexperienced, I am afraid, I am not a public speaker, I am not worthy of this call, etc. The same Spirit which empowered the Apostles to carry on Jesus’ call will give us the same strength to accept God’s call in our life.
Come Holy Spirit into our life. May you provide us the strength and courage to overcome any obstacle in our journey of life. May we imitate the Lives of the Apostles and the Saints as we continue Christ’s mission here on earth. Amen.
GOOD FRIDAY REFLECTION. APRIL 10, 2020 – FR. CLAUDIUS
Each year in United States we have a Memorial Day in honor of the soldiers who have died on the field of battle in struggle against the enemies of this Country so that we might be preserved in life and freedom. We have also been so concerned that none of these heroes be forgotten that in Arlington National Cemetery we have erected the tomb and monument of the unknown soldier.
Today the Church throughout the whole world is having a memorial day in honor of its great hero, its soldier who died. His battle was against Satan and sin, the enemies of our salvation. His battlefield was the cross, and he died that we may have supernatural life and freedom of the sons of God. Perhaps to many is an unknown soldier. To others he is little known and less honored.
The one thing that we will remember of a Good Friday service is the Adoration of the Holy Cross.
Most of us would genuflect or kneel before the cross and kiss it.
Even the seniors would make all the effort to do this pious act.
Of course there are other things in the Good Friday service, like the Readings, the Solemn Intercessions where we kneel and stand, and Holy Communion.
But the Adoration of the Cross is what we will remember most We kiss the cross and we hold the cross and we become personal and emotional before the Cross.
It is a moment that lasts hardly 2 seconds and yet the memory that goes deep into our hearts.
But for this year, all we have are memories of the past Good Fridays and memories of our personal experiences of how we venerated the Cross.
But we still can have that experience as we follow the online Good Friday service or when we have a prayer service at home with our families.
We all have our own favorite devotional cross. Let us take up that cross and venerate it.
And, let us also remember that Jesus said that if we want to be His disciples, we must take up our cross and follow Him.
For this year, our crosses and the crosses of many others who are affected by the current pandemic are especially heavy and rough and tough.
With the rest of our brothers and sisters, we feel the pain of the Cross, we feel the weight of the Cross, we stumble and fall as we feel the Cross crushing us.
And we also feel like being nailed to the Cross and that we are coming to a dead end, in every sense of the word.
On this day as we look at the Cross, we must also feel the pain and the sufferings of our less fortunate brothers and sisters who are struggling in these depressive difficult times.
Yet, let us remember the “good thief” who was nailed to the cross next to Jesus, and his profound cry of faith in these words: Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.
As we hold the Cross of Christ tightly in our hands let us like the good thief, cry out to Jesus as we say:
Jesus, remember those who are suffering and in pain from the infection of the virus, and also those who have succumbed to the infection.
Jesus, remember the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and first res ponders as they continue to serve and also to protect them.
Jesus, remember those who have lost their jobs and those who are in financial difficulties caused by these difficult times.
Jesus, remember all of us as You lead us through this valley of Darkness into Your kingdom of light
Holy Thursday Reflection
Today the Church celebrates the Institution of the following two sacraments: Holy Orders and Eucharist.
The Priesthood is a role of service. Jesus did not come to be served; He came to serve the needs of those around Him. Over 2,000 plus years later, priests have followed the example of Christ in service to the needs of the Parish Community they have been assigned to ministry. The Church invites all of us to care for those around our community.
Jesus invited His 12 friends around the altar to share with Him the Last Supper. Jesus invites us to share a meal together as His honored guests. I share with you the following message on Eucharist.
Eucharist as a meal. We come together around the Altar to share in a meal. There is no need to rush. Eucharist as a memorial. Every time we come to Mass, we recall all that Jesus has done for us. Do this in memory of me. Eucharist as sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed much for us. He asks that we make a sacrifice by giving up food and drink an hour before Mass. Eucharist as celebration. We should be very happy to receive Jesus in the Eucharist .
DAILY REFLECTION – Wednesday, April 8. 2020 – FR. TIM CUMMINGS
One lesson that Jesus gives us in the Scripture passages during Holy Week is God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.
Today we hear about Judas of Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus. Despite what will happen, Jesus still reached out in compassion with Judas. Jesus hoped that there might be a different outcome with Judas.
It is interesting that 2 of Jesus’s 7 statements on the Cross dealt with forgiveness. The first was: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The second was: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). This was in response to the thief who admonished the other thief.
Jesus holds out hope for us as well much like He did with the people of His time. He never tires of forgiving our sins. Jesus wants to offer us His unconditional love and mercy.
What is holding us back from receiving His love and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? There is no better time than the present.
DAILY REFLECTION, TUESDAY APRIL 7, 2020 – BY FR. CLAUDIUS
In today’s gospel we hear Jesus’ loving appeal to two of his chosen Apostles, Judas and Peter.
They seem to be alike as they both failed Jesus, Peter by denial and Judas by betrayal. They are totally different from each other in their reaction to Jesus after their failure. Peter repented and Judas despaired.
Peter’s character was so human that I think all of us can feel very close to him. He was eager, yet weak; sincere, yet faltering, devoted, yet temporarily disloyal. He committed a great sin against the Lord by denying Him three times. When he realized it, he repented. He made use of God’s grace to eat his pride and accepted his sin. And we know that before the Lord, repentance is always welcome.
Judas did not use his freedom to humble himself and accept his sin. He became more absorbed in his own self-pity and pride that he ended up hanging and killing himself.
We hope and pray that we will not end up as Judas did but how like Peter most of us are.
We all make mistakes. Jesus understands that. Today, remember that his grace can cover any of our blunders, and he is rich in mercy and love.
We, too, can become like Judas when we have become addicted to evil habits, and we can refuse Jesus’ call for repentance and conversion even during Holy Week. Let us consider humble, committed and sacrificial service for others as our glory and learn to love others as Jesus loves us.
DAILY REFLECTION, MONDAY APRIL 6, 2020 – BY FR. CLAUDIUS
We are within Holy Week, a time to prayerfully reflect on the final journey of Jesus to his Passion. Due to the need for physical distancing during the pandemic, we won’t be able to meet in church, but let’s remain aware of each other, and pray for each other.
Most of the people Jesus encountered on that final journey were hostile to him. Yet, according to this morning’s gospel reading, six days before the feast of Passover during which Jesus was crucified, he experienced great kindness. Not only is he the guest at the table of a family that he loves, one member of that family, Mary, went to great expense to render him a very thoughtful service. She anointed his feet with very expensive perfume and dried them with her hair. Jesus interprets Mary’s action as preparing him for his death and burial. What Mary did for Jesus we are called to do for each other. On our own journey through life, we may meet people who make our journey more difficult. We will also experience people like Mary who support us on our journey, and, hopefully, we can be for others what Mary was for Jesus.
Each act of kindness during this challenging time like reaching out, each offer to shop for an elderly neighbor, each rosary prayed and Mass watched online or on TV in a spirit of prayer is a concrete act of hope in God’s saving and renewing power.
So, as we participate in the liturgy of Holy Week, let us not concentrate simply on the sufferings of Jesus which only have meaning because they lead to resurrection, new life and new joy. We are reminded that, the pain and sufferings of our lives are not the punishments of God, they are sources of good when they help us to become more mature, more loving, more caring, more sympathetic people — in other words when they lead us to be more like Jesus himself, when they lead to our own liberation and the liberation of others.
A Prayer to Begin Holy Week
Lord Jesus, as we enter into Holy Week once again, I come before you to renew my love and gratitude, and to ask you to open my heart to all the special graces that this week contains.
I know that everything that took place during this week two thousand years ago was done for the salvation of the world, and yet as if for me alone. As you carried your cross, you thought of each man, woman, and child you would redeem. As you suffered betrayal, denial, and the fleeing of your disciples, as you experienced the mockery and scorn of the crowds, you knew of every human betrayal and denial that would ever take place, and you knew of all the sufferings and humiliations every person would ever undergo in every corner of the world. You saw my whole life, every moment of my existence.
Lord Jesus, I want to live this week in union with you. I want the mysteries of your Passion, Death, and Resurrection to continue to transform my life. Though I do not know the hour of my physical death, I do know that at each moment of my life, lived in union with you, you can put to death all that separates me from you. By your grace, I have already been raised with you, and the life I now live is not my own, but yours.
In the Sacrifice of the Mass today and every day, I unite myself to you. I offer you my whole heart, my whole life. Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings—holding nothing back.
God, we trust that you are good and do good. Teach us to be your faithful people in this time of global crisis. Help us to follow in the footsteps of our faithful shepherd, Jesus, who laid down his life for the sake of love. Glorify his name as you equip us with everything needed for doing your will. Amen.
Palm Sunday Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus’ death on the Cross caused a lot of fear as well as a lot of questions by those around Him. Let us review some of the key players in today’s Passion.
Pilate: Why did I sentence a man that I found no fault with to death?
Centurion: After Jesus’ death he remarked: “Truly, this was the Son of God!”
The Apostles were numb & trying to comprehend the message of the Cross. They returned to the Upper Room to seek shelter from the Authorities.
Mary: Understood that Jesus was doing the will of His Heavenly Father. Like any mother, she wondered why her Son?
Tragic events over the course of time have people wondering the following question: Why? Why does God allow these horrific events to take place?
Here we are in the year of 2020 confined in our homes avoiding human interaction with the community around us to protect ourselves from the spread of the COVID 19 virus. Many of us have probably spoken or thought about the following phrase: Why? Why God? Why me? Why now?
We are all on a journey. We do not journey alone in the world. During these dark times, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. And Jesus is the true source of that light. Although we may not have the answers to the above questions, there is one thing that is for sure. God is by our side giving us the peace & strength to journey forwards.
Before His arrest, Jesus invited His Apostles to join with Him in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus invites each of us today to join Him in prayer as well.
Whatever our fears or concerns are, we will get through these dark times together as a family, as a OLF Parish Family, friends, neighbors, as a country and as a world. We are all in this journey together. Importantly, God is there in the midst of our journey.
Saturday, April 4, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
Who are we following? Where are they leading us to?
We all have role models that we admire and look up to. The individual can be male or female, young or old, popular or ordinary, a family member, a friend, a teacher, an athlete, a musician, an actor or religious person, etc. There is something about the individual that attracts us to imitate the individual.
In the First Reading and the Psalm, we hear about the image of a shepherd. Let us look at the life of a shepherd. A shepherd works long hours. They work outside in the various weather conditions: sunny, snow and rain, hot and cold. The sheep are not the most pleasant of smell. They have to protect the sheep from strangers and other animals. Are we interested in becoming a shepherd?
We all look to imitate the lives of the Saints. These are men, women and children who were ordinary people like you and I, who did something extraordinarily with their life. May we continue to pray through their intercession as we journey the road of life. May they continue to inspire us in our personal life story.
Also, today we are presented with an opportunity to reflect on our spiritual shepherds, for example Pope Francis, Bishop Gregory Parkes and the priests. They lead us to a personal encounter with the Lord especially during these life’s challenges.
May God bless you.
Friday, April 3, 2020 – Scripture Reflection
Have you ever thought about throwing in the towel? In a boxing match, the manager of the boxer will throw the towel in the ring when the boxer is tired and cannot go on any longer to stop the boxing match.
In our 1st Reading today the Prophet Jeremiah Is feeling discouraged and frustrated in his ministry. The people are mocking him not taking him seriously and he wonders if has been tricked into being a prophet. These frustrations were weighing him down. So what does Jeremiah do? He has a conversation with the Lord.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is feeling a little frustrated with the people. They want to throw stones and have Him arrested for sharing the Gospel message. “What good deeds did I do that you would want to throw stones at me?” Some of the people were not listening to the words of Jesus? I am sure that there were moments of discouragement that Jesus felt over the course of His ministry. Jesus relies on His strength from His Heavenly Father.
We all encounter frustrations, anxiety and challenges over the course of our life. At times we feel like throwing in the towel. But it is important for each of us to share our concerns with God and pray for the strength to get us through these moments of crisis. God wants to be at our side during our daily life. Will we invite Him to be our copilot?
Thursday, April 2, 2020 Scripture Reflections
In our 1st Reading today from the Book of Genesis we read about God’s covenant with Abraham. God promised that Abraham and his descendants will be numerous & become a great nation.
A Covenant is an expression of an intimate relationship between God and His people. God initiates the Covenant with His people and always remains faithful to the covenants relationship. It is the people who have turned away.
Let us look at 3 examples of a convent relationship that we find in Scripture. 1) Abraham. God promises that Abraham & his descendants will be numerous & become a great nation. In return, Abraham & his descendants are to be circumcised as a sign that they belong to God. 2) Noah. God promises never to destroy the earth again. Noah & his family promise in return to fill the earth. 3) Moses at Mount Sinai & the Hebrew people. God promises to give them the Promised Land. In return, they promise to follow the Commandments that God has given them.
We too are invited to enter into a relationship with God. How are we going about remaining faithful to our relationship with our Heavenly Father? If we have slipped in our relationship, what are we doing to repair that relationship?
May God continue to bless us during our Lenten journey.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2020 SCRIPTURE READINGS REFLECTIONS
5th Wednesday of Lent Reflection – Fr. Tim
My family lived in New Jersey for 9 years. In our back yard there was a large woods that I would explore with my younger brothers and sisters. There was a brook that meandered through the woods. A lot of times I would look for the animals such as squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, birds and deer in my travels. There was a pond that would turn into an ice rink for ice skating. There were a number of trails throughout the woods leading to various destinations. Each journey into the woods I would ask myself, Which trail would I explore today?
My sisters and brothers we are traveling on a journey of life on a daily basis. what trail are we going to follow? Do we choose the easiest path that gets us to our destination quickly missing the beauty of God’s creation? Do we choose the path that paints the beautiful picture which leads us in the opposite direction? Satan paints this beautiful picture to get our attention to a life that is contrary to the Gospel message? Or do we choose a path that leads us through life’s challenges and sufferings to Eternal Life. A pathway that is filled with Catholic role models that walk with and guide us in our journey?
Our Scripture readings today all speak about choosing a pathway through our journey of life. In our 1st Reading from the Book of Daniel a message was sent to the Jewish people to not give into the temptations of worshiping false gods in the face of persecution and hardships. Remain faithful to the Lord. Follow the pathways that God has set before them. In the Gospel Jesus tells the people that He is from God. He knows God and He was sent to show each one of us the pathway to God.
We too have a decision to make. We are on this journey of life which will bring us to a number of trails to choose from. We will experience hardships along this journey but we do not have to walk this path alone. God and all the lives of the Saints are walking by our side in this remarkable journey of life. Do not allow these hardships (COVID 19, economic hardships, health) get in the way of our choosing the correct path to our loving and merciful Father. May we choose to follow Christ in our pathway to life.
May God bless you and your family
Fr. Tim Cummings
TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2020 SCRIPTURE READINGS REFLECTIONS
In life, we will always have stress, which of course we do not welcome at all.
More so when stress turns to distress, then we will get all flustered and frustrated.
In the 1st reading, we heard how the Israelites were in distress, but that was due to their own grumblings at God and the consequence was the scourge of the fiery serpents.
But out of this distress, arose the intercession of Moses which brought about healing for the people.
For Jesus, His greatest moment of distress was when He was nailed to and lifted up on the cross.
But it was also on the cross that He revealed His full identity as Savior.
The cross was also His throne of glory.
In these difficult days, we all need to look upon God who can give us hope. The news coming to us through our various media channels is invariably bad and, after a while, it can easily leave us feeling very helpless and even a little hopeless. In such a scenario we need all the more to look upon what gives us hope and keeps us going.
Whenever, and at every situation, we sink into the depths of distress, or face trials and difficulties that wear us down, let us remember this; that in times of great distress, God is closest to us in His full power to lift us up so that we can see His glory.
The times of distress are also the time in which God reveals His saving love for us.
That is somehow difficult to believe, just as it would seem strange that by looking at the image of a bronze serpent on a standard would bring about healing.
But as we look as Jesus being lifted up on the cross, then we will understand. Then we will believe.
Because we are looking at our savior who came to heal and forgive and save us.
MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020 – SCRIPTURE READING REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
It is true that the law of Moses stated that the penalty for adultery was death. The Scribes and Pharisees in today’s gospel, however, seemed to enjoy the misery of the poor woman as they dragged her before Jesus. They hoped to use her sad condition in order to trap Jesus.
Susan, in contrast to this woman, was falsely accused of adultery. Until Daniel appeared on the scene, all the people believed her guilty and condemned her to death. In her innocence she had trusted in God and her trust was rewarded by acquittal
Sometimes we are rightly accused by others because we do make mistakes, we do commits sins. Some people may even seem to enjoy our misery at the time. We too should learn to hate sin and love the sinners showing them mercy and compassion, sympathy and acceptance, and leading them to noble ways by our own exemplary lives. We should show mercy and compassion to those who sin because we ourselves are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. We have no right to judge others because we often commit the very faults we condemn, we are often partial and prejudiced in our judgment, and we do not know the circumstances which led someone to sin.
We must remember, however that Jesus is the judge who wishes to extend mercy to us., no matter what others may think about us. On the other hands we are sometimes falsely accused, and in one way can be even more painful situation. It is then that we must turn to God like Susan and put our trust in Him
This morning, we are given to see the merciful face of Jesus. God is love, and Love that forgives, Love that takes pity on our failings, Love that saves. He takes advantage of this occasion to manifest that He has come to seek the sinners, to straighten out the fallen, to call them to conversion and to penance. And this is for us the message for Lent, inasmuch as we are all sinners and we all need God’s saving grace.
This is why, the sense of conversion and penance during Lent is to confront us face-to-face with God, to look straight into the eyes of God in the Cross, to personally go and confess our sins to Him by way of the sacrament of Penance. And, Jesus will tell us, as He did with the woman in the Gospel: “Neither do I condemn you… go away and don’t sin again” (Jn 8:11). God forgives, and, on our side, this entails a demand, a commitment: Do not sin again!
Sunday, March 29, 2020 Scripture Reading Reflections Fr. Tim
For a 3rd week in a row, the Gospel of John gives us another encounter of Jesus showing His compassion with the people around Him. Three weeks ago, Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman at a well in the middle of the day who was thirsting for acceptance. Last Sunday Jesus met a blind man. Filled with compassion, Jesus restored the blind man’s sight. Finally, today Jesus returns to Bethany to visit His friends Martha and Mary at the death of their brother, Lazarus, whose name means, “whom God helps.” These 3 Scripture passages found in John’s Gospel were designed to elicit faith in Jesus on the part of the reader.
We have all experienced the death of someone over the course of our life whether it be a family member, a close friend, a coworker or a parishioner. One of the challenging ministries is walking with a family whose child has died at such a young age. During one of my visits to the hospital, I was called to the Critical Care Unit. Upon my arrival I was met by the patient’s nurse and she brought me into the room. The parents of the teenager were gathered around the bedside. One of the parents told me: “My child should be burying us not the parents burying their teenage child. Why is God taking our child?” Obviously, I had no answer to the parent’s question. All you can really do is be present for the teenage child and their parents during this time of need.
One of the common themes that often comes out in ministry in times of grief is broken family relationships. How often have I heard family members speak about not having the opportunity to resolve those broken relationships before their loved one passes away. Are there any strained relationships that you are currently experiencing with family members, close friends or parishioners? If so, what are we doing to resolve those relationships? Tomorrow is not a given. Why not start today to make an effort to resolve those broken relationships? Tomorrow may be too late to start. Let us seize the opportunity!
I share with you the following acronym, for FAMILY. F is for Forgiveness. Have we done something to our family members? Has a family member done something to offend us? Take the step to forgive the person. A is for Appreciate. Do not take for granted that we appreciate our family members. Share a word of appreciation especially during times of tension. M is for Meal. The family lives in the fast lane. We go from place to place stopping for fast food. Take time to sit around the dinner table and share a meal. I is for Investment. How are we making an investment in our family? Being invested in our family will truly bring about dividends. L is for Love. How often do we say I love you to family members? Do not always assume that our family knows that we love them. Y stands for You. In order for family to work, You must be invested.
May God continue to bless our family especially during the every day storms that occur throughout our life.
Saturday, March 28, 2020 Scripture Readings Reflection Fr. Tim
Living in the Sunshine State of Florida, we all can appreciate the great lengths Floridians undergo to prepare our home (shelters) for an approaching hurricane. We will stock up on batteries, water, nonperishable food, paper products as well as gasoline for the generator. We will make the necessary preparations to our homes to protect us from the approaching storm. Finally, we will take refuge in our homes.
In today’s first reading we hear from the Prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah takes refuge in an open communication with God. Just like the sheep in the pasture seek out the shepherd for its nourishment, protection and to lead them safely to their shelter. The Prophet Jeremiah opens up his heart to the Lord and shares with Him his deepest feelings. The youthful prophet feels the persecution of his fellow citizens and members of his own family.
We continue to read from John’s Gospel. The ministry of the prophet Jeremiah has a resemblance of Jesus’ ministry. The people and the authorities are rejecting the preaching of Jesus. For a second day in a row, we read about how the authorities were looking for an opportunity to apprehend Jesus but the timing was not right. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus took refuge in His Father’s plan to continue His ministry among the people.
The lesson we learn in the Scriptures this morning is as follows: When life gets challenging and filled with anxiety, who do we turn to for refuge? A family member, a friend, a classmate or a fellow coworker? Maybe we can also turn to the support of our Heavenly Father as we seek refuge from life’s challenges.
In closing, one of my favorite quotes comes to mind. In the opening paragraphs of St. Augustine’s Confessions, he wrote: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Like the Prophet Jeremiah, let us take refuge in our heavenly Father as we continue our Lenten journey.
Friday, March 27, 2020 Scripture Readings Reflection Fr. Tim
There are times in our earthly journey that we as Catholics find it challenging to share our faith openly with those around us. Why do you believe…(fill in the blank)? We may find ourselves being laughed at or mocked for exercising our Catholic beliefs. However, we must be brave and stand up for our faith.
I remember an event from my days when I was working at Grainger Industrial Supply. We had a teenager from my home parish in Brandon, Florida who was working in the warehouse. During his 10 minute break in the afternoon, he would go outside to pray the Rosary. I was in the warehouse picking an order for a customer when the event took place. Some of the employees spoke with the teenager about praying the Rosary during his break. I thought to myself, will I need to get involved? I observed the interaction with the teenager. The teenager responded: “I don’t make a big deal what you do for your 10 minute break. This is what I want to do, to pray the Rosary.” What a powerful message to those around the young man who witnessed his need to pray the Rosary.
In our First Reading from the Book of Wisdom, the unknown author wrote 50 years before the Birth of Christ. The author wrote about the torture and killing of Jesus & His Disciples.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus was openly and actively preaching the Good News knowing that the authorities were looking for an opportunity to arrest and to kill Him. The people were amazed at how bold Jesus was to preach the Good News openly and publicly.What a tremendous witness for each one of us in the midst of the storms that we encounter?
We too have a job to do with regards to our practicing the faith openly and publicly. There will be times that we too might be ridiculed for our beliefs. Like Jesus, Mary and the Saints, we must be bold and witnessing to the Good News and standing up for our faith. We are not alone; Jesus is standing by our side.
May we pray that the Holy Spirit will give us the strength and the courage to overcome any challenges we encounter in witnessing the Good News. May God continue to bless you my sisters and brothers.
THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020 Today’s Reflection By: Fr. Claudius, Parochial Vicar
In life, when the going is tough, and we are besieged with overwhelming problems, one of the things that will cross our minds is to quit.
In a boxing match, they would call it “to throw in the towel”.
So whether it is in the work-place, or in a marriage or even in serving the Lord, when the going gets real rough and tough, we will be tempted to throw in the towel and call it quits.
In the 1st reading when God wanted to punish His people for idolatry and to make Moses the founder of another great nation, Moses could have considered that offer.
After all, ever since he brought them out of Egypt, he had nothing but problems after problems from them, and he could have just called it quits and abandoned them.
Jesus could also have walked out of the descendants of those people that Moses had to deal with.
They were as stiff-necked as their fore fathers and refused to believe in Jesus, despite His signs and miracles.
But in Jesus and also in Moses, we can see a genuine love and compassion for their people.
For Jesus, and also for Moses, all their many words had only one purpose – it was for the salvation of their people.
We will meet with difficulties and problems from stiff-necked people. In our own time, we have the hostile indifference of secularism that seeks to expel faith from the social fabric of human life. The accounts of Jesus’ signs or encounters (e.g. the man born blind or the Samaritan woman at the well) are a warning that the process of coming to faith may take many steps. Patience and perseverance in our own efforts to bear witness can be renewed in Lent as we suffer through the COVID virus and move toward Jesus’ ultimate sign – his being “lifted up” on the cross and triumphing over death. AMEN
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020 SCRIPTURE READING REFLECTIONS – FR. TIM
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with a message from God. God chose a simple, young and holy person by the name of Mary to become the Mother of God. I am sure that Mary had a lot of questions going through her mind. Why me? I am not married? I am a faithful Jewish girl, how will I explain this to my parents? She had tremendous faith in God that she accepted God’s invitation with a YES.
God is personally inviting you and I to do something remarkable with our lives. Are we listening to God’s invitation? How are we answering His call in our daily life?
May we turn to our Blessed Mother, Mary for strength and support as we listen to God’s call and respond with an eager yes. Hail Mary…
TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2020 SCRIPTURE READING REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
Jesus appears to ask a strange question of the paralyzed man in today’s gospel reading, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ Given that he has had his illness for thirty-eight years and that he has come to the pool of Bethzatha many times to be healed, the answer to Jesus’ question would seem to be very obvious. Of course, he wants to be healed. Yet, Jesus’ question was to give that man the opportunity to tell his story and to express his need directly to the Lord. It obliged him to reflect on what it was he really wanted. Jesus did not heal this man without first engaging him and drawing out from him the desires of his heart. The Lord relates in a similar way to all of us. He looks to us to express our wants, our desires, especially our deepest desires, what it is we most want. He seeks to have a personal relationship with us. He waits for us to open our hearts to him, to tell him our story, to share with him our strongest hopes and longings, and also our fears and anxieties and sorrows.
Let us take this opportunity to share with Him our desires, challenges, fears especially with outbreak of Coronavirus, that we can’t go to the Church for the Holy Mass nor to school, there is social distancing, no restaurants, no Disney, no Cruising, we buy everything in the stores, we lose our jobs ….
If we open our hearts to him, then we will experience his life-giving presence and, in the image of the first reading, our lives will bear fruit that will never fail, the good fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is full of mercy and compassion. He will never allow us to suffer alone. Walk with Him
MONDAY, MARCH 24, 2020 SCRIPTURE READING REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah is preaching to a people who have been recently traumatized by the experience of exile. They had returned home to a land and a city that was in ruins. At such a moment, the prophet speaks a message of hope from the Lord, ‘I create new heavens and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered… I now create Jerusalem “Joy” and her people “Gladness”’ This was a message of hope that the people needed to hear if they were to begin the work of rebuilding what had been destroyed.
In today’s gospel reading, he brings new life to the seriously ill son of a court official. When Jesus told the court official that his son would live, the gospel reading says that ‘the man believed what Jesus had said and started on his way’. He had a hopeful faith as he started back for home.
We too need a hopeful faith, especially in these troubling and anxious days of national and global crisis. Such hopeful faith is more than optimism. It is a hope which springs from our faith in the Lord of life who is always creatively at work in every situation, no matter how unpromising it may be from a human point of view.
We are only two weeks away now from Holy Week on our memorable Lenten season, this year. All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting, there is new reality, little control of life, there is love. Yes, there is fear, isolation, panic buying, sickness and even death.
Like the court official who believed Jesus’ word and then started on his way, we are invited to allow the Lord’s word to guide and direct us on our way. We still need God’s messengers in our lives.