Thursday, May 13, 2021 – Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima
Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. This is the title that was given to the Blessed Virgin Mary when she appeared to three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal between May and October of 1917. Lucia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marco, were tending to the sheep when a bright light caught their attention and settled above a tree. There was a lady dressed in white with a rosary in her hand who said she was from Heaven. She asked the children to meet her in the same spot on the 13th of the next five consecutive months and to pray the rosary daily for peace throughout the world.
Here are the following key events of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima:
June 13th – Francisco and Jacinta would go to Heaven soon while Lucia would remain to promote devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Our Lady of Fatima prayer was added after each decade of the rosary (O my Jesus, forgive us our sins…)
July 13th – Five thousand people gathered but only the children could see Mary as she spread out her hands to give them a vision of hell. She predicted another world war and asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. She gave the children three secrets and requested that the people to receive communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month.
August 13th – a Government Official jailed the children threatening to boil them in oil if they did not reveal the secrets to him. They would have died for their faith. August 19th – Mary appeared to the children in a different place.
September 13th – Thirty thousand people witnessed a shower of white petals.
October 13th – After a heavy rain, seventy thousand people witnessed what was called the miracle of the sun. The sun appeared to be dancing in the sky. The children saw Mary and Saint Joseph with the Child Jesus blessing the world.
Lucia continued to receive visions of Our Lady and in 1927 she revealed the first two secrets: 1) Vision of hell. 2) Prediction of another world war and the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. The third secret was written down, sealed in an envelope and delivered to Rome. Pope John Paul II revealed the third secret – 20th century persecution and a failed attempt on the life of a Pope. Our Lady of Fatima is the Patron Saint of Portugal.
(The above information was taken from “Illustrated Book of Mary” pages 18-19)
Our Lady of Fatima pray for us!
Scripture Reflection Tuesday, May 11, 2021
The test of faith usually comes in tough times and in tribulation. I have been there; I hope the same to you.
That is the time when whatever we believe in is put to the test.
That is also the time when we will know how much we trust in God and whether He will help and save us.
In the 1st reading, Paul and Silas suffered persecution and flogging and then thrown into prison.
But despite the suffering, they keep to their faith and even late at night they were praying and singing God’s praises, while the other prisoners listened.
For the other prisoners, they were obviously amazed that despite their difficult circumstances, Paul and Silas were still in high spirits and far from being dejected.
The wonder and beauty of faith in the face of tribulation is that it opens believers to the signs and wonders of God. So, if you find yourself at times experiencing the grief of some loss, or difficulty with some new endeavor in life, know that the disciples experienced something similar. But in the end, Jesus’ words came true—“it is better for you that I go.” Though they did not want to see Jesus die and then ascend to Heaven out of their sight, this was part of the plan of God for their lives. So also, when the changes we encounter in life are part of God’s divine plan, we can be certain that good things await.
May we hold firm to our faith in the face of trials and tribulations and God will give signs and wonders of His might and power and save us in our distress.
Scripture Reflection Monday May 10, 2021
A religious experience can be an amazing and powerful emotion.
For example, in the 1st reading, when the disciples were preaching, among those who were listening was Lydia. A devout woman who was a dealer in the purple-dye trade. In that culture, the color purple was associated with honor and prestige, and purple cloth was the most expensive cloth of all. She must have been a woman of some means
The Lord opened her heart to accept the Good News and she and her household were baptized.
Then she invited the disciples to stay with her and she would take no refusal.
Such was her conviction after that religious experience.
In the gospel reading, Jesus promises to send the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, from the Father, to empower us to witness to our relationship in him. Lydia shows us that one aspect of witnessing to our faith in the Lord is giving to others out of what we have received from the Lord. This is our baptismal calling, and we are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us to live out this calling. Any experience of God should make us be like Him, which is to be loving, good and kind.
We have today a good example of St. Damien, whom we commemorate today, priest from the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary originally from Belgium. In 1873, began to work on Molokai, known as “Devil’s Island”, in Hawaii Island used as colony for over 800 Lepers and he said to be contracted the disease. He is famous on his saying “ I make myself a leper with the Lepers, to gain all for Jesus Christ”
Scripture Reflection Friday, May 7, 2021
Communication is certainly not as simple and easy as it sounds, because it is not just about talking and talking. Communication is an art.
The art of communication is the ability to listen and deliver information in a clear and accurate way. Therefore, good reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills are important. That’s why good verbal and written communication skills are essential in our hectic world.
In the 1st reading, the letter that the apostles and elders gave to Paul and Barnabas is a good example of the art of written communication.
But more then just being clear and to the point, the contents of the letter gave encouragement to the Christians in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.
They were delighted with it and it would have also strengthened their faith and united them closer to the rest of the Christian communities.
In the gospel, when Jesus gave His disciples a commandment, it was not something that began with “You shall not … “
Rather it was communicated with love and it was about love.
May our communication always be based on love.
May we speak in such a way that others will love to listen to us. And may we also listen in such a way that others will love to speak to us. Otherwise, they will switch off!
While the Heart of Jesus has been honored in many ways throughout the centuries, Christ has communicated the importance of this devotion over and over again through the saints.
While Our Lord revealed some of the tender love of His Sacred Heart to St. Gertrude the Great in the 1200’s, the full flowering of the devotion began when Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in France in 1673. During these apparitions He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. Jesus asked for acts of reparation, frequent reception of the Sacraments, and time of quiet prayer. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the fount of all virtue, all joy and all strength and is worthy of all our love, dedication and devotion and all of this is necessary especially today.
Thursday, May 6, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Love is the theme that we hear in today’s Gospel passage of John.
When you were young, who was the person that first taught you how to love? Your parents, grandparents, aunt or uncle. Most likely, it was our mother that taught their children how to love most likely by her example. Mothers are the one that we turn to when we are sick. Moms are the ones who are protecting us from harm. They provide us with nourishment. Mothers love their children unconditionally. They make numerous sacrifices for their family. They even make sure that we are connected in our faith journey. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, may we remember all our mothers both living and deceased for their unconditional love. Next month we will honor our fathers.
In the Gospel of John today, Jesus spoke about the love that binds Him to His heavenly Father. Jesus’ love is modelled after that of His Father. Jesus shows each of us how we too should love God and each other. One of the helpful tools that God has given us are the Commandments on love. The Commandments are guidelines not suggestions on how we should love God and our fellow neighbor. The first three commandments focus on our love of God: 1) Love God over material things (gods). 2) Use God’s name with reverence. 3) Keep holy. The remaining seven commandments focus on our relationship with our fellow human beings.
St. Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Theresa) offers us the following wisdom: “At the hour of our death when we come face to face with God, we are going to be judged on love and not on the doing.”
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In the military, there is the following philosophy: Leave no one behind. In the midst of the battle, each Soldier (Marine, Airman or Sailor) is called to look after the needs of their fellow Soldier, etc. If a fellow Marine is injured, his fellow brothers will carry him back to their base to safety. If a pilot is ejected out of his/her plane, a rescue squad in a helicopter goes after to pick up the airman and bring him / her to safety. If a Sailor is injured in a fire onboard the ship, fellow Sailors go to rescue the injured Sailor. If someone dies during his/her service to our country, we carry the body with reverence back to base and ship off the remains to Dover Air Force Base to be returned to their grieving family members. The ultimate goal is not to abandon our brothers or our sisters in their time of need.
One of the themes that we have been hearing in the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John lately is focus on the community. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read about the persecution of the Early Church. The Christians were either dying or placed in prison for exercising their faith openly. The faith was increasing with a large number of baptisms. The Christian community had to come together and look after the needs of one another.
Today’s Scripture readings uses a similar analogy to demonstrate our connection with Jesus and one another. As Disciples of Jesus, our full potential and fruitfulness comes from recognizing our identity as being connected to one another and to God. We achieve our full potential by offering ourselves in service to one another. We are not alone in our journey in life. With the support of God and the community we can bear our best fruit.
Reflection Question: How is our connection with God and our fellow brothers and sisters?
Scripture Reflection Tuesday, May 4, 2021
By Fr. Claudius Mganga
In the ancient world, there are many horrible forms of torture with death as the objective.
We are familiar with the crucifixion, and that was what Jesus went through.
It was horrible in that the condemned person was nailed to the cross and hung there to die slowly.
Another form was stoning a person to death. It was another horrible way to die slowly.
As we heard in the 1st reading, Paul was stoned and then dragged outside the town and his enemies thought he was dead.
The disciples came crowding round him, but as they did so, he stood up and went back to the town, as if nothing had happened to him.
We may be surprised, we may be amused, but we will surely be amazed at what had happened.
But such were the signs and wonders that God worked in the early Church, and that strengthened their faith to continue proclaiming the Good News of salvation with courage.
In spite of opposition and persecution, the early disciples had the peace that Jesus gave to them, a peace that the world cannot give nor take away.
Jesus’ peace is rooted in his loving relationship with God his Father. This is the peace that Jesus gives to his disciples, to all of us. It is a peace that is rooted in God’s love for us through Jesus. Because it has such deep roots, it can endure even in the face of the world’s hostility.
Let us pray for that peace of Jesus to be always in our hearts so that we will see the signs and wonders that God will work for us.
Scripture Reflection Monday, May 3, 2021
St. James and St. Philip, Apostles
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today we celebrate the feast of two apostles, St. Philip and St. James.
St. Philip was one of the first chosen disciples of Christ. He in turn shared his calling with Nathaniel, saying, “We have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth.” And when Nathaniel in wonder asked, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” And St. Philip simply answered, “Come and see,” and brought him to Jesus.
St. James (the Lesser), traditional author of the Letter of James, was the son of Alphaeus. St. Paul tells us in the 1st reading that he was favored by a special apparition of Christ after the Resurrection. As the Apostles went forth among the nations to preach the Good News, St. James remained as Bishop of Jerusalem, where the Jews held him in high veneration for his purity, mortification, and prayer, that they named him the Just. He governed that church for 30 years before his martyrdom.
Yet, like the rest of the apostles, St. Philip and St. James also took a while to understand who Jesus was and who He really was.
As we heard in the gospel, St. Philip asked Jesus to let them see the Father and they shall be satisfied. We could almost hear Jesus sighing as He commented that they still do not know Him.
It was after His resurrection that the apostles began to understand who Jesus really was and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Just like how St. Philip and St. James and the rest of the apostles were called and sent forth to preach the Good News, we too are called and sent.
Just like the apostles had to slowly come to an understanding of who Jesus is and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, we too must come to that understanding of who Jesus is.
The apostles were ordinary men who trusted and loved Jesus and led holy lives worthy of their calling.
May we too love Jesus deeply, pray faithfully and live lives worthy of the Good News of Lord, so that we can also be able to preach the gospel courageously.
Scripture Reflection for Sunday, May 2, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today’s Scripture selections emphasize the need for Christians to abide in Christ as a condition for producing fruits of kindness, mercy, charity, and holiness.
The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, testifies to the abundance of spiritual fruits yielded by the apostles because of their close bond with the risen Lord. The reading tells us how the Lord pruned the former Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, a fanatic who had persecuted the Church, to produce a fruit-bearing branch called Paul, the zealous Apostle to the Gentiles, entirely dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel
In today’s second reading, John, in his first letter to the Church, explains that only if we remain united to Christ by putting our Faith in him and drawing our spiritual strength from him, will we be able to obey God’s commandments, especially the commandment of love, loving one another as Jesus commanded us.
In the Gospel, taken from the Last Supper discourse, Jesus uses his favorite image of the vine and branches to help his disciples understand the closeness of their relationship with him and the necessity of their maintaining it. They are not simply rabbi and disciples. Their lives are mutually dependent – as close as a vine and its branches. In fact, in using this image, Jesus is explaining to them and to us what our relationship with him should be like We need pruning in our Christin life, cutting out of our lives everything that is contrary to the spirit of Jesus and renewing our commitment to Christian ideals in our lives every day is the first type of self-imposed pruning expected of us. A second means of pruning is to practice self-control over our evil inclinations, and sinful addictions. Cordial mingling in our neighborhood and society with people of different cultures, races, religions, and orientations also enables us to prune away our selfish, judgmental, and prejudicial tendencies as we treat others in the society with Christian charity, and strengthens us, enabling us to face with the courage of our Christian convictions the pain, suffering, contradictions, and difficulties He permits to enter our lives.
We need to abide in Christ and Christ abide in us. The four Gospels teach us how to become true disciples of Jesus and how to abide in him as branches abide in the main trunk of the vine, drawing their life from it. Personal and liturgical prayers, frequenting of the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation, daily, meditative reading of Scripture, and our loving, mutual forgiveness exchanged with everyone enable us to abide in Jesus, the true Vine, as fruit-bearing branches.
Scripture Reflection, Saturday May 1, 2021
St. Joseph the Worker
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis announced the beginning of the universal celebration of the “Year of Saint Joseph,” which will conclude on December 8, 2021.
He introduced this year with an Apostolic Letter entitled “With a Father’s Heart.” In the introduction to that letter, the Holy Father said, “Each of us can discover in Joseph—the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence—an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”
We have heard from the Gospel reading for this memorial, point to the fact that Jesus was “the carpenter’s son.” Joseph was a worker. He worked with his hands as a carpenter so as to provide for the daily needs of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Son of God. He provided them with a home, with food, and with the other daily necessities of life. Joseph also protected them both by following the various messages of the angel of God who spoke to him in his dreams. Joseph fulfilled his duties in life in a quiet and hidden way, serving in his role as father, spouse and worker.
Though Joseph is universally recognized and honored today within our Church and even as a prominent historical world figure, during his lifetime he would have been a man who was largely unnoticed. He would have been seen as an ordinary man doing his ordinary duty. But in many ways, that is what makes Saint Joseph an ideal man to imitate and a source of inspiration. Very few people are called to serve others in the spotlight. Very few people are publicly praised for their day-to-day duties. Parents, especially, are often greatly unappreciated. For that reason, the life of Saint Joseph, this humble and hidden life lived out in Nazareth, provides most people with inspiration for their own daily lives.
If your life is somewhat monotonous, hidden, unappreciated, and even boring at times, then look to Saint Joseph for inspiration.
Reflect, today, upon the ordinary and “unremarkable” daily life of Saint Joseph. If you find that your life is similar to what he would have experienced as a worker, a spouse and a father, then rejoice in that fact. Rejoice in the fact that you are also called to a life of extraordinary holiness through the ordinary duties of daily life. Do them well. Do them with love. And do them in inspiration of Saint Joseph and his spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary who would have shared in this ordinary day-to-day life.
Scripture Reflection, Friday April 30, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Whenever we are faced with a difficulty, the phrase that we would really like to hear is “No problem”.
Those two words will give us the sense of relief that whatever the difficulty or the problem is, there is a solution.
“No problem” really mean that there is no problem or that it is not a problem.
But we should know better that even when we say “no problem” the solution at hand may not be an easy one.
When Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” He is not saying that life has no troubles.
Rather as we face life with all its troubles and struggles, Jesus is asking us to trust in God and to trust in Him.
We can say that trust and trouble are like two sides of the same coin.
When we trust in God, we are able to face the troubles of life; and the troubles of life make us turn to God and to trust in Him. This is my personal experience from my mom’s passing on. It was one of my difficult experience I ever had.
So let not our hearts be troubled. Let us trust in God and trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It is in the Sacred Heart of Jesus that we will find peace even in the midst of trouble.
Scripture Reflection – Thursday, April 29, 2021
St. Catherine of Siena
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Opening prayer stated that her contemplation of the Lord’s Passion and her service of the Church Set Saint Catherine of Sienna was on fire with Divine love.
St. Catherine’s life was filled with extraordinary mystical phenomena such as visions and revelations, raptures, mystical marriage. So united to Christ in his Passion was she that she received the holy stigmata on her hands, feet and heart. Originally, her stigmata were visible, but she prayed that they not be seen by others, and her prayer was answered. However, at her death, the stigmata reappeared.
Listen to her words addressed to God: “You are mystery as deep as the sea. ” She says “the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find, the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied: What I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul, I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light.
As a Dominican nun, not only did she believe in the importance of contemplative prayer, but also in charitable service. She nursed the sick and the dying and brought comfort to prisoners by visiting them in
That is the calling of each one of us. We are all called to be mystics to some degree. The Lord’s invitation, ‘Come to me, all who labor and are overburdened’, is addressed to us all. He calls out to all of us to come to him, to know and love him as he knows and loves us. In calling us to himself he also sends us into the world afire with the flame of his love.
Scripture Reflection, Wednesday, April 28, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
In today’s gospel reading Jesus speaks of the one who sent him. He speaks of God as the one who sent him. God sent his Son out of love for the world, which was an act of generosity on God’s part, involving a real giving.
In the first reading this morning, the church of Antioch sends two of their most gifted members to parts of the Roman Empire where Christ had not yet been preached. The sending off of Barnabas and Paul by the church of Antioch involved a real giving on their part. They were sacrificing two of their most valuable assets for the sake of others whose need was greater.
Over the centuries the local church has sent and given some of its most gifted members to proclaim the gospel far from home. That is the nature of the church and the nature of our lives as Christians. We give away what is most precious to us so that others can benefit from our resources. Each local church, each parish, is called not just to serve itself, but to serve other parishes, other local churches, whether next door or far away. As God gave his Son to us, we are called to give his Son to each other by sharing our most precious resources, time, and energy for the benefit all. That how can bring light to everyone otherwise there will always be darkness. A call to participate to the different ministries in our parish.
Scripture Reflection Tuesday, April 27, 2021 by Fr. Claudius Mganga
Easter season is always implying New Life, new beginnings. In the Acts, the disciples are spreading the good news everywhere. They recognized that Jesus was Christ and wanted to share the news. They follow him and know him. They are the first to call themselves Christians because they recognize and follow Christ.
And likewise, like a shepherd recognizes his sheep, Jesus recognizes his people and gives them life everlasting.
Jesus spent most of his time in Galilee! The Galileans had perhaps seen more miracles and had more opportunities to hear Jesus preach than did those in Jerusalem. They gathered by the thousands to hear Jesus preach there. They walked for miles to be with him, sometimes going without food—in other words, they made sacrifices to make him a part of their lives. The people in Jerusalem weren’t nearly as interested. They seemed not to need him. They might have gone to see him out of curiosity–but they did not believe.
For us, what kind of Jesus are we looking for today? For someone whose presence we need in our lives? Or someone to fix our problems and make us more comfortable?
Gospel Reflection Monday, April 26, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Much has been said about the sheep’s amazing keen sense of hearing.
They listen only to the voice of the shepherd and they follow the voice of the shepherd.
We may not know much about sheep but if we have pets, then we would know that our pets also have a keen sense of hearing. We can call our pets by names and we know how attentive they are!!
For us there are often many competing “voices” that speak to us each and every day. From the latest news in the headlines, to the opinions of friends and family, to the temptations all around us within the secular world, to our own self-drawn opinions, these “voices” or “ideas” that fill our minds can be hard to sort through. What is from God? And what is from other sources? So, we need Faith.
In the 1st reading, the discussion was on the acceptance of pagans to the faith.
As the discussion went on, the voice of God became clear that God grants the pagans the repentance that leads to life.
As we make decisions and directions in life, let us also do it with faith.
Gospel Reflection – Sunday April 25, 2021 By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
One of the interesting features of the Catholic Church is the presence of religious objects.
These religious objects can take the form of stained glass, as you can see them around here especially in our chapel
Or, there can be statues or holy pictures and images, all of which are present within the church as well as around the church.
These religious objects (the proper name is “sacramental”), are certainly helpful for our devotion and religious piety.
They serve as reminders of God’s love and blessings, and they also serve as visual prayer aids.
So, there is the Crucifix to reminder us that Jesus died on the Cross to save us. The statues of the Saints remind us of the communion of saints, as they are there to pray for us and help us along the journey of life and the journey towards heaven.
In front of my home parish back home. There is the statue of the Good Shepherd and with four lambs. One is being carried and the other three are standing around.
That statue of the Good Shepherd and the lambs evoke warm feelings and sentiments of God’s love and care for us, that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and that He will protect us from harm and danger.
That statue also connects us to today’s Gospel and what Jesus said: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
And when we look at the Cross, we can see it so profoundly and explicitly that Jesus is our Good Shepherd who laid down His life to save us.
In the Bible, there are many mentions of shepherd and sheep, and often the imagery is that God is the shepherd and the people are His sheep.
One interesting feature of the Bible is that, while all the books in the Bible tell us how God speaks to us, there is one book that tells us how to speak to God.
That book is the Book of Psalms. The Psalms also have many mentions of Shepherd and sheep.
One of the well-known Psalms is Psalm 23, also known as the Good Shepherd Psalm.
It begins with this line: The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.
That psalm is also expressed in hymns, and it evokes feelings of how God loves and cares for us, that He leads us to the green pastures and peaceful waters, and that if we should walk in the valley of darkness, then God with His shepherd’s staff will lead us to safety.
One interesting point is that the psalm before Psalm 23, is also a psalm that we are also quite familiar with.
Psalm 22 begins with this line: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.
It is a cry of distress, and that was what Jesus cried out on the Cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.
But Psalm 23 follows up with: The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.
So, the message is clear, that God comes to comfort those in distress, just like how the Good Shepherd will look for the lost sheep and tend to the sick and injured sheep.
Yes, “the Lord is my shepherd, and there is nothing I shall want”. Indeed, what else would we want when we have the Lord as our Shepherd?
This Sunday is known as “Vocation Sunday”, and vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is highlighted.
And there is something that we are asking of the Lord, there is something that we want of the Lord.
We are asking the Lord to send more men and women to serve in His vineyard, and especially more men to serve as shepherds, as priests, in the church. Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, bosses, politicians are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents, health and wealth for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties as shepherds, becoming role models for their children by leading exemplary lives
May the Eternal Shepherd send us good shepherds who will serve with love and lead the people of God to green pastures and peaceful waters, as well as through the valleys of darkness and distress
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
With the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the Acts of the Apostles will now transition into a period of time where the Early Church becomes a persecuted Church.
Saul began going house to house searching for Christians and placing them in prison. Last week, we heard the wisdom of the Pharisee, Gamaliel. He cautioned the authorities not to persecute the Christians as they would risk spreading the Gospel message more rapidly.
In fact, this is what we hear in today’s First Reading. The Christians were fleeing out of Jerusalem and they were taking the Gospel message with them. Philip traveled into Samaria where he preached and cured those who were crippled and drawing out demons in those possessed. How where the Disciples feeling? “There was great joy in that city.” (Acts of the Apostles 8:8)
Reflection Question: How joyful are we in sharing the Good News this Easter Season?
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
We are introduced to 2 new characters in our First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles today: St. Stephen and Saul of Tarsus, later to be known as St. Paul. It is amazing how the Spirit can move people of faith as well as people outside the faith.
Life of St. Stephen. Possibly one of the 72 Disciples that followed Jesus during His ministry. He was one of the original 7 Deacons of the Church after the Ascension of Jesus. Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin charged with blasphemy. He was dragged through city and was stoned to death. “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56).” He was the first Martyr to lay down his life for the faith. He uttered the following words before he died: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them (Acts 7:60).” (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 206 – 207 & Acts of the Apostles Chapter 7)
Saul of Tarsus – St. Paul: Born of Jewish parents. He received his training in the Schools of the Pharisees. He saw the Christians as the enemy. He had the authorization from the High Priests to seek out the Christians and bring them before the Jewish courts. He was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen. Although he did not pick up a stone, his act was more harmful because he was the one with authority. Saul will eventually experience a conversion experience. (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 174 – 175.)
One of the lessons that we learn from today’s First Reading is that the forces of evil will never prevail over the forces of good. Jesus death on the Cross paved the way for His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday morning.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The Special Forces in the US Military use the following mantra: Leave no man behind.
As we continue our first reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles during the season of Easter, one theme that keeps repeating itself is “Community.” From the opening paragraph in today’s First Reading we hear: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own (Acts of the Apostles 4:32).” Remember as the Church was growing in the beginning, we saw a large number of people being baptized in the faith. The Church was also experiencing some challenges as well. The Church was experiencing persecution as well. So Christians had to live in communities so that they can stick together and look after the needs of their fellow neighbors – strength in numbers. If the family had an excess in supplies (money, food, supplies), they would give the items to the Apostles who would distribute to those in need in the community.
Reflection Question: What can we do to assist those in our community that are in need?
Saturday, April 10, 2021 – Scripture Reflection
Mark 16:15 “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
There are three words that stand out in this Scripture passage in today’s Gospel passage.
1) Proclaim the Gospel: It is the job of everyone who is baptized to proclaim the Good News (Bishop, Priest, Deacon and lay person). How do we go about proclaiming the Gospel message? Listening attentively to someone, offering a helping hand, sending a message of comfort, praying for someone, exercising our Corporal Works of Mercy.
2) Whole world: We can become a missionary to share the Good News to foreign lands. We can share the Gospel message throughout the USA, in our parish, in our neighborhoods, schools and work places.
3) Every creature: The Gospel message is intended for everyone, the sinner, the outcast, person with no faith and people with faith. Jesus did not come for a select few.
Reflection Question: Jesus has entrusted His Disciples (us) to go out into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel message to every person that we meet in our travels. What is holding us back from proclaiming the Good News?
Monday, March 29, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The theme that we find in today’s Gospel passage: Do we appreciate our family, our friends and others around us? Or do we take for granted that they will be around us for a long period of time? This is a common concern that I hear from family members who are gathered around their loved one who is dying or who has passed away. If only I took the time to….(fill in the blank).
I share with you the following story. I took my wife for granted. She took care of my everyday concerns: She cooked my meals, washed and ironed my clothes, did the clerical work for my business, took care or all my errands. My wife died unexpectedly. I finally came to my senses and I realized how bad that I treated my wife. He was too late to show his appreciation.
In the Gospel today Mary took performed oil to anoint the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair. One of the Apostles made a comment: Why would she waste this precious oil on a person that was alive? Jesus reminds those who criticized Mary for anointing His feet. You will always have the poor but you will not always have me with you. Jesus was preparing His Disciples for His upcoming death.
Reflection Question: What signs of affection do we show our loved ones?
Friday, March 19, 2021 – Feast Day of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Fr. Tim
Happy Year of St. Joseph. Joseph was born of the ancestry line of the royal family of King David. He lived a life of humble insignificance as a carpenter. God chose him to the highest sanctity and chose him to be the spouse of His Virgin Mother Mary, and foster-father and guardian to Jesus.
From Scripture, we have learned the following about St. Joseph. He was a just man innocent and pure. When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant with Jesus, he feared to take her as his wife, but the Angel Gabriel told him not to fear and all his doubts vanished. When King Herod sought the life of the baby Jesus, an angel told Joseph in a dream to flee with the Child and His mother into Egypt. After King Herod of Antipas’ death, God directed Joseph and his family to return home to Nazareth. When Jesus was 12 years old, Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the Temple after being missing for three days. From this point on, there is no further mention of St. Joseph in Scripture. Joseph is presumed to have died before the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of Families, Carpenters, Married Couples, Laborers, House Seekers, the Universal Church and a Happy Death. (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 126 – 127.)
What are some of the Lessons that we learn from the Life of St. Joseph? 1) Being faithful to your spouse and children. 2) Protector of the family unit. 3) Leader of prayer in the family unit. 4) Taking time from your work to spend time with your family. 5) Educate your family on the importance of your faith.
Thursday, March 18, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Cyril of Jerusalem who was born of Christian parents in 315 AD. He succeeded Bishop Maximus in Jerusalem in 348. He spoke out against the Arian Heresy. As a result, he was exiled three times by the Arians. He had a religious zeal for pastoral ministry as reflected in his homilies, his love for Scripture and tradition of the Church. He was devoted to the liturgy and the sacraments.
Scripture Reflection: One image that we find in both Scripture passages today is stiff-necked people. Have you ever experienced neck or back pain? This pain can be very irritating and painful. Yet, the writers of the Scripture has used this human ailment to describe the people in the times of the Bible. People can be very stubborn. They are unable to turn their heads in order to see things from a different perspective in life. People who are stiff-necked are fearful and want things their own way.
First Reading: Book of Exodus: Moses was up on a mountain talking with God. While this was taking place, the Israelites lost their compass heading. They created a golden calf to worship.
Gospel of John: The Pharisees fit the description of stiff-necked. They refused to acknowledge Jesus’ Divinity and were constantly finding fault with Him. Jesus turned their accusations around.
The challenge for us today is not to become stiff-necked people like the Israelites and the Pharisees in today’s readings. We go to the Chiropractor to straighten and align our body. The Season of Lent is a time for each one of us to turn our hearts to encounter God in a new way.
Reflection Question: Whose way do we follow: the Pharisees, the Israelites or God? What adjustments do we need to make for the remainder of Lent?
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – Reflection on the Life of St. Patrick – Fr. Tim
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. It was tempting to wear my green vestments to Mass this morning, but we are in the Season of Lent. I wish they made a green Clerical Shirt that I could wear for such an occasion. So I am wearing the green face mask in honor of my Irish heritage.
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Patrick. He was born towards the end of the 4th Century in possibly Scotland. At the age of 16 years, Patrick was captured by barbarians who took him to Ireland where he was forced to shepherd cattle in the mountains. After 6 months in slavery, Patrick was advised by God in a dream to return to his home. Several years later, he was captured again as a slave, but regained his freedom. When he was back home with his parents, God revealed to him many visions. He was destined to work for the conversion of Ireland. He left his family, and consecrated himself to God and to carry God’s name to the ends of the earth. He returned to Ireland as a Missionary to preach the Good News in the regions where the people worshiped idols. Patrick devoted himself to the salvation of the pagans. He traveled across the whole island, where he baptized the people and instituted monastic life. Patrick used the shamrock to preach the doctrine of the Trinity. It is said that Patrick drove out all the snakes out of Ireland. He died and was buried in Ulster. His body was found there in a Church of his name in 1185.
The meaning of his name: the Noble One. He is the Patron Saint of Ireland and snakebites.
The above information was taken from the “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 172 – 173.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The theme in today’s Gospel passage is there are no limitations with God.
Have you ever resisted trying a new challenge in life? Sometimes it is natural to stay in our comfort zone than to start something brand new. I can still remember my feelings on Wednesday, May 13, 1996, the day I left for Boot Camp at Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training in Illinois. The recruiter picked me up at my parent’s house at 4 am and drove the 7 of us to Tampa MEPS where we got our medical screening, took our Oath of Enlistment and was taken to Tampa International Airport to say goodbye to my family before boarding the plane to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. When the van arrived at the Front Gate, two Company Commanders jumped in the van and began yelling at us. We all looked at each other wondering what we just got ourselves into?
In the Gospel today we are introduced to a man who has been ill for 38 years who was limited in movement. He wanted to be cured so badly but he was unable to get into the curing waters in the pool until his physical limitations was freed by Jesus. The he was able to get into the waters of the pool.
He was not the only person in the Gospel who was limited by his actions. The other Jewish people would not assist the man had shown spiritual limitations. The Laws on the Sabbath was more important than exercising compassion on a fellow human being. It is through our faith that breaks the chains of our limitations.
Reflection Question: How persevering are we in our efforts to explore our faith?
Monday, March 15, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The Prophet Isaiah described a new creation of happiness, ample food & good health to be shared by all. However, his words appear to contrast what we read in the newspaper or see in the news on the television screen today. The prophet envisions a future not yet realized in his time frame.
Jesus shared the prophet’s vision. However, Jesus had a different understanding than Isaiah did. Jesus referred to it as the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to place the prophet’s vision into action through His healing miracles, His teachings and His compassion. In fact, the Kingdom of God is not something unique and new, it is already a work in progress. People are assisting others in their time of need, devoted nurses and doctors ministering to their patients, teachers going an extra step for their students, parents and grandparents making numerous sacrifices for their family.
Reflection Question: What are we doing to making the kingdom of God present today?
Friday, March 12, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In 9 days we will enter the season of Spring. We will say goodbye to the dark and dreary days of winter. We anxiously await a season of new growth: grass turns bright green and grows, the trees and the flowers will sprout new growth. Daylight Savings Time returns this coming Sunday in which we will see longer daylight hours.
In our First Reading from the Prophet Hosea, he spoke of hope for the coming of spring. He gave us descriptions of the dew, the lily, the cedar, the olive tree and the vine. The time to start preparing the ground for spring is up on us right now.
Like the Spring Season, Lent is a time for Christians to make the necessary changes as we prepare for the upcoming Glorious Easter Season. We grow closer to God in prayer. We place the needs of others before our own personal needs. We change our sinful ways.
Reflection Question: As we prepare for the Season of Spring, what areas in our life need some pruning? Have a blessed day.
Thursday, March 11, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus met a man possessed by a demon in today’s Gospel message. Filled with compassion, Jesus drove out the demon from the individual. However, there were those present who refused to acknowledge God’s action in Jesus.
Jesus knew moments of frustration throughout His ministry. Today’s Gospel passage was one of those experiences. Unable to deny Jesus’ miracle, His opponents began to raise some doubt.
Reflection Question: There are time that our life can be filled with moments of frustration. How do we deal with those moments of frustration? Lord, give us the strength to overcome those moments of frustrations that we may encounter from time to time. Amen.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In the Gospel today, Jesus shares the following message with the community: “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 shared His concern about how the law was being interpreted not the law itself. The laws are based on love of God and our fellow sisters and brothers. That love must come from our interior (the heart) and not our exterior being.
As Jesus’ Disciples, we too must be ambassadors of holiness. Lent is a time in which we strive to live out the promises of relationship with God and one another. It took great strength for Jesus to carry out His Father’s Mission here on earth. How are we going about living out our Christian commitments on a daily basis? “Do not be afraid for I am with you (Isaiah 43:5)!”
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
How many times should I forgive someone that has harmed me? Peter came to Jesus with a question concerning forgiveness: “Lord, if my brother sin against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Peter was trying to establish the upper limit to mercy. Jesus extended the number from 7 times to 77 times. In other words, there is no limitations to God’s mercy. God’s forgiveness is infinite.
We hear the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in today’s Gospel passage. The core of the parable is to experience how generous and patient God is with His people. God’s forgiveness does not just stop with God’s forgiveness. We too must be just as willing to forgive those who have harmed us. Jesus gives us a model of forgiveness to imitate.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation Pope Francis has challenged the priests not to turn the confessional into a torture chamber. The confessional is a bridge to experience God’s love and mercy that He has for us. What is holding us back from receiving God’s forgiveness? What is holding us from forgiving those who have harmed us?
Monday. March 8, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
I wonder how Jesus must have felt when He returned back home to Nazareth after being rejected by the people in His home community? “They rose up, drove Him out of the town (Luke 4:29).” In many of the Gospel passages, we read about Jesus being surrounded by great crowds of people who witnessed His numerous healings and His teachings. One of Jesus’ miracles was when Jesus fed the five thousand men, women and children up on a mountain.
However, there were some times that Jesus was among crowds that were not very receptive to His message. Today’s Gospel passage was one of those times. In John 15:20 Jesus predicted the following: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” However, Jesus reassures us to not be afraid; He is standing right besides us for moral support.
Question for reflection: There will be times in our life where our Catholic faith will be challenged and tested by the media, our neighbors and our family members. How will we respond to those events? Jesus is right there to help us get back up on feet when we have fallen down.
3rd Sunday of Lent – Sunday, March 7, 2021
In the First Reading from the Book of Exodus, God gave us the Ten Commandments. The Commandments were not intended to be burdensome on the people. Instead, these were guidelines that help us to reach out in love with God and our fellow neighbors. So, let us take a deeper look at the Ten Commandments, shall we:
a. Deacon: Listen Israel! I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Priest: Listen followers of Christ! I am the Lord your God who brought you out of darkness into the light. The effects of the light are seen in goodness, right living & truth. Once you were slaves to sin & wrong-doing. Now you are to live in the freedom of the children of God.
b. Deacon: I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.
Priest: I am the Lord your God. I am not a strange & distant God. I am your friend & counsellor. Beware of idols. Idols will betray you. Money is the most common idol of all. You cannot serve God & money.
c. Deacon: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
Priest: Call me Father. Pronounce this name not in fear but in love. Invoke it in praise, in thanks, and making your needs known to me. Your names are written on the palm of my hand.
d. Deacon: Remember to keep holy the Sabbath
Priest: Remember all days belong to the Lord. But let the first day of the week, Sunday, be special. This is the day Jesus broke the chains of death & rose in triumph from the grave.
e. Deacon: Honor your father and mother.
Priest: Love your father & mother, those precious souls through whom you were invited to the banquet of life. Look over them in their later stages of life.
f. Deacon: Thou shall not kill
Priest: You must not hurt another person in any way. Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge & you will not be judged. Do not condemn & you will not be condemned. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who speak evil against you.
g. Deacon: Thou shall not commit adultery.
Priest: Love your spouse as you would yourself. Fidelity is a great thing.
h. Deacon: Thou shall not steal.
Priest: There are many ways of stealing. If you pile up & hoard goods that you do not need, while at the same time that your neighbor is in need. The goods of the earth were meant for all of us to share. Give to those in need. Share your bread with the hungry. Clothe the naked. Open your heart to the lonely & the homeless, & God’s light will shine on you.
i. Deacon: Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Priest: Be a light to your neighbor, not a source of darkness. Let your words build up, support & comfort your neighbor. If you can’t find nothing good to say about your neighbor, then remain silent.
j. Deacon: Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
Priest: Strive to keep your heart pure.
k. Deacon: Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
Priest: Do not lay up treasures here on earth. You can’t take them with you.
In conclusion, just think, if we loved God and others as God has showered us with His love, there would be no war, no terrorism, no violence, no crime, no need to divide humanity behind barriers (walls). We should obey these Commandments not out of fear but out of love. And if you find the Ten Commandments too many to remember, you can always reduce them to the following two Commandments: Love of God and Love of neighbor.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Saturday, March 6, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In Luke Chapter 15, there are 3 Parables on the theme of God’s forgiveness: 1) The Lost Sheep, 2) The Lost Coin and 3) The Prodigal Son (Lost Son). In today’s Gospel passage we hear the Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son.
In today’s Gospel passage we encounter a concern that is quite prevalent in any family life setting. What happens when a family member becomes estranged? This holds true for our own personal family setting as well as our spiritual home.
The Prodigal Son Parable invites the reader to place ourselves in the story. So let us reflect briefly on the three principle characters in today’s Gospel message. 1) Older Brother: He does everything that his father requested without any arguments. He has always been faithful. He experienced times of jealousy and resentment that the younger brother, who did his own thing, received benefits from his father. 2) Younger Brother: Asked for his share of his inheritance before his father died. He blew his inheritance on a lifestyle that was contrary to his upbringing. He was aware of the times he had abandoned his loved ones for his own selfish desires. He eventually, comes to his senses and seeks out his father’s forgiveness. 3) Father: Despite the younger son going astray from the family, the Father still has hope that his son will eventually come to his senses and return home. When the son returns, what does the father do? He offers his unconditional love and forgiveness.
Reflection Question: Is there a family member that we need to reach out in forgiveness to? How is our personal relationship with God doing as we continue our Lenten journey? May God empower us to reach out in forgiving others as He forgives us.
Friday, March 5, 20201 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The theme that we find in today’s Scripture passages is about jealousy. The issue of jealousy is found in every aspect of human life. A lot of times younger siblings get jealous at the older brother or sister because of favoritism. If I purchase something for my nephew or niece, I have to purchase something for each of them.
Jealousy is also a concern that is found throughout the Scriptures as well. Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, Joseph & his brothers, Peter & Paul, the Apostles & James and John, the Pharisees, etc.
In today’s First Reading from the Book of Genesis we read about Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was the beloved son in his family. His older brothers were jealous of all the attention that Joseph was receiving. His brothers made plans to kill Joseph initially. They changed their minds by selling him to the Ishmaelites.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shared the Parable of the Tenants. “Surely they will respect my son (Matthew 21:37).” During the days of Jesus, absentee landlords were a common thing. They would rent their land to the tenants who would repay them with their crops. At the time of the harvest, the landlord would sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his shares of the crops. Hostility between the tenants and the landlord frequently ran high.
So let us take a look at the individual characters of today’s parable. The vineyard represents the people of Israel. The vineyard owner stands for God. The tenants are the leaders of Israel. The slaves are the prophets. The owner’s son is Jesus. The new tenants are the Apostles. The Parable of the Tenant shows Jesus challenging those who were envious of Him. Their jealousy does not diminish His calling or ministry. Jesus courageously continued to preach about the Kingdom of God.
Reflection Question: What prevents us from continuing Jesus’ mission here on earth?
Thursday, March 4, 2021 – Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
Our Gospel passage speaks about the topic of the people who have (like the rich man) verses the people who do not have (Lazarus). In the Parable of Lazarus, there is a lot of symbolism. Rich man was dressed in purple garments. Purple garments were very pricey in the times of Jesus and only the rich could afford these types of vestments and able to afford rich food. On the other hand, the poor person such as Lazarus whose body was covered in sores would gladly eat the scraps of food that fell on the floor.
Jesus came to challenge the norms of society in those days. We should not forget the needs of the poor or outcasts of society. We need to take off our blinders to reach out in compassion with the Lazarus’ in society.
The rich young man lived his life here on earth surrounded with good things. Now he is suffering torments in the after world due to his self-centeredness. Lazarus who experienced his pain and suffering in this world now experiences his eternal reward in Heaven. The rich man asks that someone goes to his 5 brothers so that they do not experience what he is experiencing. They have the words of Moses and the Prophets to abide by.
The message of today’s Gospel passage, Do not wait to recognize a person’s human dignity during your time here on earth. Tomorrow is not a given. The time to act is right here and right now. Waiting until after our death, is too late. The Scriptures and the Lives of the Saints are filled with numerous examples of how we are called to act to our brothers and sisters in need.
Reflection Question: How in tune are we to the needs of the people who are suffering in our community, our country and our world? What are we doing about it today?
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 – Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Katharine Drexel who was born into a prominent Philadelphia family in 1858. She had a tremendous love for God and her neighbors. She ministered to the spiritual well-being of the Native Americans and the African Americans. She donated huge amounts of money and concluded that more was still needed; She needed people to assist her out in her ministry. Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Native Americans and African Americans. From the age of 33 until her death in 1955, she dedicated her entire life and a fortune of 20 million dollars to her ministry. In 1894, Mother Drexel opened the first Missionary School for Native Americans in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Other schools quickly followed for Native Americans and African Americans. In 1915, she founded Xavier University in New Orleans. At the time of her death, there were more than 500 Religious Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the United States. St. Katharine was beatified and canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II. (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 96 – 98).
Scripture Reflection: Today we hear the Gospel story of the mother of James and John asking Jesus for places of honor for her two sons. Like any mother, she was concerned for her children’s future. This request was not for Jesus to grant. Jesus preceded to ask both James and John the following question: “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink (Matthew 20:22)?” Are you sure that you understand what you are asking for?
Reflection Question: Are we as Christ’s Disciples prepared to endure suffering in our call to ministry? Let us follow both of the examples from Jesus and St. Katharine Drexel as we serve the needs of those around us. Amen.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
As parents and grandparents there are times when you have to correct the behavior of your children / grandchildren. You do so because you want the best for your children / grandchildren.
I can remember the following story in my days in the US Navy. During our 6 month deployments, the ship would make a number of port visits in different countries for a few days. Some of the guys in my division would drink a little excessively. One of the chiefs in the division became a little concerned. One day the Chief spoke with us about the challenges of drinking too much from his personal experience. He shared with his Division his conversion experience. He really did care for the people in his Division as if he was our father.
This is the message that we hear in today’s First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah. The Jewish people in the community were turning away from their relationship with God. The Prophet Isaiah was very concerned for the people in the community so he took on the relationship of being their spiritual father. He offered the people of Israel an intervention. “Come now, let us set things right (Isaiah 1:18).” Remember our covenantal relationship with God. His words offer the Jewish people tremendous hope. Just like a loving and concerned parent, Isaiah tells the community: I know that you are experiencing difficulties in your relationships with God and each other. There still exists hope for a changing of one’s former ways. Now is the time to experience God’s healing and become free.
The Season of Lent is a time to reflect on this invitation to set things right and restore those fragile relationships with God and each other. What can we do to change our lives? The three Disciplines offer us a remedy: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Lent is a season of penitence. When was the last time we experienced God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? We do not have to be perfect in our changes that we make during this Season of Lent. We just need to be faithful and persevere.
Today’s Reflection: What areas in our life need changing? Have a blessed day.
Saturday, February 27, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Abraham Lincoln is my favorite US President. He had a very challenging Presidency. He had to navigate both sides of the American Civil War. Even after the Civil War was over, he tried very hard to preserve the United States of America. Although he never made a profession of faith, he did respect the beliefs of others. He was very familiar with the Bible. He often would quote Scriptures in his speeches such as: The Gettysburg Address, the House Divided Speech and his 2nd Inaugural Speech (Information concerning Abraham Lincoln’s Religious beliefs were taken from Wikipedia.org
I remember reading about the following story from Abraham Lincoln during the US Civil War. One morning President Lincoln was speaking very kindly to a Confederate Soldier. A woman who was passing by, was shocked at the President’s interaction with the Confederate Soldier. ‘Mr. President, should you not concentrate your energies on destroying the enemy instead of being nice to him?’ President Lincoln responded: ‘The best way to destroy our enemy is to befriend them.’ There were other stories in which President Lincoln treated others with the same amount of respect.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus gives His Disciples and the reader another new teaching on the topic of love. Jesus shared with us the importance of loving God and our fellow brothers and sisters. Jesus did not stop there. He took the Commandment of Love one step further. We should also love our enemies.
Okay, love God and your neighbors. Now Jesus wants us to love our enemy. That is very challenging. Is Jesus kidding? Jesus never said being His Disciple would be easy. After all, love is the central meaning of the Cross. Jesus accepted His Cross for us. Why? Because He loves us. Yes, even Jesus found it in His heart to reach out in forgiveness. Should we not do the same?
Refection Question: How easy do we find it to reach out to our enemies with love?
Friday, February 26, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The Season of Lent is a visible reminder of our need for repentance and conversion. Regardless of how good and how holy we believe ourselves to be, we always are in need of God’s mercy in our life. The Good News is that God hears the cries of His people. As we continue our Lenten journey, we are invited to be open to God’s graces to transform our life.
As we journey through this Lenten journey, it is a time for us to reevaluate our relationship with God and our fellow sisters and brothers. Do we worship God over worldly things? Do we use God’s name with respect? Do we spend time with God in our prayer time? Do we respect family, friends, neighbors, and people in authority? Do we respect other people’s property? The Ten Commandments are guidelines on how we as Christians interact with God and one another. They are not suggestions.
Reflection Question: How do we respond to the needs of others around us? Have a blessed day.
Scripture Reflection – Thursday, February 25, 2021 – Fr. Tim
The theme we find in today’s Gospel passage is on persevering in prayer. I will share with you a story about perseverance. When Tom was a young boy he had some difficulty with his studies at school. He tried to the best of his ability. After a period of time, Tom’s teacher had given up on Tom. The teacher was spending too much time with Tom in a classroom filled with students. The teacher wrote a letter to Tom’s mother saying that she will have to keep her son home due to his difficulties in the classroom. His mother did not agree with the teacher’s recommendation but refused to give up on her son. She took on the responsibility of teaching her son his course material. Many years later Tom became an inventor. In fact, he invented many items that are still used today throughout the world. His most notable invention was the lightbulb. It took Tom over 100 times to create the lightbulb. He was asked if he felt like a failure that it took 100 times to invent the lightbulb. No I do not feel like a failure; I just found 99 ways that the lightbulb did not work. Thanks to Tom’s perseverance and his mother’s ability to believe in her son, the world has the lightbulb to see with. By now, everyone should know the Tom that I am writing about – Thomas Alva Edison.
There are times in our prayer life that we find ourselves being distracted or not in tune with our prayer life. At times we can feel overwhelmed that we might say why bother with prayer? Jesus gives us some helpful suggestions: ASK. Ask, Seek and Knock. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened (Matthew 7: 7-8).”
Reflection Question: What are we seeking these forty days of Lent?
Scripture Reflection – Wednesday, February 24, 2021
There are seven Penitential Psalms that can provide us with spiritual help in expressing our repentance during this Season of Lent. Let us briefly take a look at those seven Penitential Psalms:
1) Psalm 6 – Prayer in Distress. “Do not reprove me in your anger, Lord, nor punish me in your wrath (Psalm 6:2).”
2) Psalm 32: Remission of sin. “Blessed is the one whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven (Psalm 32:1).”
3) Psalm 38: Prayer of an Afflicted Sinner. “Lord, do not punish me in your anger; in your wrath do not chastise me (Psalm 38:2)!”
4) Psalm 51: The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance. “Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions (Psalm 51:3).”
5) Psalm 102: Prayer in Time of Distress. “Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry come to you (Psalm 102:2).”
6) Psalm 130: Prayer for Pardon and Mercy. “Out of the depths I call to you. Lord; hear my cry (Psalm 130:1-2)!”6)
7) Psalm 143: Prayer in Distress. “Lord, hear my prayer; in your faithfulness listen to my pleading; answer me in your righteousness (Psalm 143:1).”
I will reflect on today’s Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 51. “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense (Psalm 51:3).” This prayer was written by King David when he cried out to God asking for His forgiveness for his sins of adultery and murder.
Lent is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our relationships with God and our fellow neighbors. We are human beings and there are times that we fall short – what we call sin – in our relationships with God and our neighbors. Our sins may be few or many. King David experienced a conversion experience – a metanoia. Metanoia is a change in one’s way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion.
As we continue our Lenten journey in the desert these forty days, may we continually pray the prayer in Psalm 51: “Lord, have mercy…”. Have a blessed day.
Scripture Reflection Tuesday, February 23, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius
Every action has a reaction and we see that in everyday life.
The 1st reading gives an example from nature, that as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, it waters the earth, and makes plants grow and bear fruit.
The Lord uses that example to tell us that the Word that goes forth from His mouth must also enter into our ears and into our hearts so that we will know what He wants of us and to do His will accordingly.
So we must pay attention to God’s Word and let it take root in our hearts and to bear fruit in our lives.
And we must also pay attention to the words that are coming out of our mouths.
Our words must also be the fruit of God’s Word in that our words must be for the good of others, to encourage them and to help them walk in the ways of the Lord.
So too must be our prayer. Our prayer is not to be some babbling, as Jesus pointed out in the gospel, words that don’t come from our hearts and which won’t go up to God.
If our words are to be for the good of others, then our prayer should also lead us to do the good that God wants of us.
May the Word of God fill our hearts, and from what fills our hearts, may it be for the good of others and also for our good.
Scripture Reflection, Monday February 22, 2021
The Chair of St. Peter the Apostle (Feast)
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
When you google a Christian website, you will find that there is over 36,000 different Christian denominations.
When I saw that number, I realized that it’s a sad testament to Christian disunity in our day. At the same time, it made me grateful to be a member of the Catholic Church, united in belief under the teaching authority of the Pope and our bishops.
In every cathedral of the worldwide church, there is to be found a special chair where the bishop or archbishop of the Diocese sits when he is celebrating the liturgy.
Bishop Parkes has that chair in the Cathedral of St. Jude, St, Petersburg. The chair is a symbol of the teaching authority of the bishop.
In Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome behind the main altar at the very back of the Basilica in a very elevated position is an ancient wooden chair encased in bronze. It is traditionally understood to be the chair of Saint Peter.
When we speak of Peter’s “chair,” we speak of the teaching authority Jesus gave to Peter and the popes who followed him, an authority we call the “Magisterium,” from the Latin word for “teacher.”
That teaching authority was based on the gospel reading for today’s feast.
Jesus is portrayed as giving Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Keys are a symbol of authority. It is clear that teaching authority is involved from Jesus’ subsequent reference to binding and losing. Peter is being asked to interpret Jesus’ own teaching for the other members of the church. In this way, he is to watch over the flock of God, in the words of today’s first reading.
We look to Pope Francis, and to each Pope, to proclaim the teaching of Jesus in a way that speaks to the issues and concerns of our times. Jesus was aware that his words, his teaching, would need to be re-interpreted continually for every age. Today we ask for the grace to listen to Pope Francis who, we believe, is especially inspired to interpret the teaching of Jesus for us for this age.
Personally, I cherish the Magisterium as a precious gift. Firsthand experience has made it clear to me that without a divinely-instituted teaching authority, what you’ll wind up with is fragmentation, disunity, and schism. In other words, over 36,000 Christian denominations.
Today, let’s celebrate the unity of faith we have, and pray for reunion with those who don’t. Like Peter, we are called to confess the Lordship of Jesus in our daily lives as Christian.
Scripture Reflection, Sunday Feb 21, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Nowadays, traveling out of the country is not as easy and not as convenient as before. Because when we enter into the other country, we will have to be quarantined for a number of days, and it is usually around 14 days. We may think that those 14 days should pass by quickly and all we need to do is just eat and sleep. That sounds quite easy-going.
But for those who had served a Stay-Home Notice, they will say otherwise. In fact, they say it is quite depressing and they felt like they were in some kind of prison. Well, if 14 days is hard to go by, then how about 40 days? how about spending 40 days in a big boat, and in an ark, with 8 persons and a whole lot of animals, and it was raining non-stop and there was nowhere to land, with outside being wet and cold and inside being stuffy and smelly. The ark was certainly not a luxury cruise ship.
Well, that was the situation with Noah’s ark and we heard about it in the first and second readings. In the gospel it was quite another situation. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness without food, being tempted by the devil, there were wild beasts and the only consolation was that the angels looked after Him. The same is true with us. Our Lord does not leave us alone in the midst of our daily temptations. Rather, He always sends us His angels to minister to us and to help us defeat this vile enemy.
So as we are just beginning our Lenten season, the forty days! What is your greatest temptation in life? Perhaps you struggle with a habit of sin that you fail at time and time again. Perhaps it’s a temptation of the flesh, or a struggle with anger, self-righteousness, dishonesty or something else. Whatever your temptation may be, know that you have all you need to overcome it on account of the grace given to you by your Baptism, strengthened by your Confirmation and regularly fed by your participation in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Reflect, today, upon whatever your temptations may be. See the Person of Christ facing those temptations with you and in you. Know that His strength is given to you if you but trust Him with unwavering confidence.
Let us convert Lent into a time for spiritual growth and Christian maturity by:
•a) participating in the Mass each day, or at least a few days in the week;
•b) setting aside some part of our day for personal prayer;
•c) reading some Scripture, alone or, better still, with others.
•d) receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Lent and participating in the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays;
•e) visiting the sick if possible and doing some acts of charity, kindness, and mercy every day in the Lent.
Let us use Lent to fight daily against the evil within us and around us by practicing self-control, relying on the power of prayer, and seeking the assistance and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
For Catholics, as you observe the government protocols, also try to observe heavenly protocols as well:
Wash your heart with Christ’s blood.
Keep a social distance from evil. (Job 28:28 )
Avoid the crowd of wickedness and wicked
men. (Psalm 1:1)
Cover your mind from being infected from the
sneeze of sin and hatred.(Lev 19:17)
Do not shake hands with abomination.
Do not hug or embrace hearsay and false
Be safe so that you will be saved. (Jer 17:14)
Sanitize your life with the Word of God.
In case you notice any symptoms of sin, call
the helpline of Christ in PRAYER.(Jer 33:3)
Always remember to boost your spiritual
immunity with Faith and the Power of the
Holy Spirit. (Jude1:20)
Saturday, February 20, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus encountered the tax collector in today’s Gospel passage (Luke 5:27-32). The Pharisees were quite upset with the fact that Jesus and His Disciples were ministering to the outcasts of society, i.e. tax collectors, lepers and sinners. Jesus response to the hardness of the Pharisees hearts: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners (Luke 5:31-32).”
Returning to the tax collector, Jesus invited the tax collector, Levi” to “Follow me” (Luke 5:27.) What was the tax collector’s response to Jesus’ invitation? He got up, abandoned his post and followed Jesus. What a remarkable testimony of faith by the tax collector.
During these forty days of Lent, how are we responding to Christ’s invitation to come follow Him? Have a blessed day.
Friday, February 19, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Our Scripture passages today speak about one of three Lenten Disciplines – the Discipline of Fasting. This past Ash Wednesday, we heard Jesus tell us what fasting should look like. Today, we hear what fasting should be.
Why should we fast? We fast because we have a hunger for God. It is about deepening our relationship with God and focusing on the other and not the self.
In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah gives the reader an initial look into the Corporal Works of Mercy. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give shelter to the homeless.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a Jewish wedding feast. Now is the time for rejoicing. After Jesus leaves His Disciples, it will be time for them to fast. The Season of Lent is a time when we recall that we must prepare for Jesus’ final coming at the end of time. Now we must fast and make ready for the Lord’s return.
Reflection Question: What is the best way we could make ready during this Lenten season for Jesus’ final coming?
Thursday, February 18, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus talking about the cost of discipleship. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me (Luke 9:23).” Let us take a look at the three Costs of Discipleship.
1) Deny himself. Lent is a time in which we detach ourselves from worldly things that get in the way of our relationship with God. As a disciple, we follow Jesus’ lead. It is a life that embraces the other over the individual person.
2) Take up his cross. No one wants to suffer. When we hear the word, cross, we immediately recall Christ’s suffering on his way to Calvary: false condemnation, scourging, wearing a crown of thorns, carrying His cross up to Calvary, being nailed to the cross and His death on the cross. As His disciple, we too could face rejection and ridicule by the people around us.
3) Follow me. Jesus gives His Disciples an invitation to stop what they are doing and to follow Him. We have to make a response to His invitation. Jesus does not expect His Disciples to go about their ministry by themselves; He is walking right by our side. Which pathway do we choose from: 1) the easy verses the hard, 2) the good verses the bad, 3) my way verses His way? Either way, we have a choice to make.
Reflection Question: How do we submit to hardships for the sake of becoming a Disciple of Christ?
Scripture Reflection Tuesday Feb 16, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, so today is the last day before Lent. For some of you, that means today is Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day, a final chance to eat up valuable meat and supplies they would be abstaining from in the days to come. For some, today is Shrove Tuesday, a time of self-reflection, repentance and identifying areas for spiritual growth. I am sure many will both eat heartily and self-examine today.
Today’s first reading about Noah prepares us for Lent. The reading mentions the vast extent of human wickedness. Then it shows God taking action against it. Likewise, God gives us the season of Lent to root out the sin that prevents our lives from growing in love.
Yesterday’s Gospel concluded with Jesus letting out a deep sigh and lamenting over the Pharisees demands for signs and wonders, and even when he produced them, like when he fed the five thousand, they were still unconvinced of his identity.
Today’s Gospel picks up immediately with the disciples also not quite getting it. They had been with Jesus now for some time, they had seen miraculous healings and feedings, and Jesus still detected some blindness, some doubt in them.
Now notice how Jesus hasn’t given up on the disciples. The mere fact that they were still with him, showed their openness to his teaching. They were “unfinished products” and that’s okay. And the fact that Jesus is still teaching them shows his commitment to helping them become free from their inner resistances.
So, too, with us. None of us are “finished products”, we are all “works in progress”; we come to the altar with some blindness, some lack of trust in God, some selfishness. And that we are here is such a good sign of our willingness to be healed, to be taught, to be led by God. God sees the tremendous potential each one of us has, and he provides the teaching and the spiritual nourishment and the boundless mercy, that we can become the people he made us to be. Our Lenten practices, good in themselves, are most importantly ways of opening ourselves to God’s transforming grace, the only thing that will truly transform us this Lent.
Wishing you an abundantly blessed Lent,
Scripture Reflection Monday Feb 15, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Our emotions are very powerful signs of what is going on within us. They are also very critical indicators of what we intend to do next.
If we are feeling high with love, then we may feel that nothing is too difficult to accomplish and no sacrifice is too painful to be offered.
But if we are angry and downcast, then those emotions are certainly warning signs of danger.
And if the anger is left burning, then it will become a destructive fire that will burn others as well as ourselves.
In the 1st reading, God warned Cain that his anger and his ill disposition will cause him to sin. But Cain did not heed the signs nor check himself. Instead he gave in to his anger and ill disposition and ended up killing his brother Abel.
The Pharisees themselves often witnessed the signs and wonders that Christ had done. Yet, they still could not believe or refused to believe in the Lord because they could not resist the temptations and the pressure of their own pride and ego.
Let us all not fall again into the same trap that Cain, the Pharisees and many others had fallen into, and entrust ourselves to the Lord with a new faith and a renewed love for Him. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us all in faith, that we may draw ever closer to Him and His ways. May He empower us all to be good and dedicated Christians at all times. May God bless us all, and may He be our Guide at all times.
Thursday, February 11, 2021 – Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes – Fr. Tim
Our Lady of Lourdes is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary when she appeared in Lourdes, France. On February 11, 1858, Bernadette Soubirous went to gather firewood with her sister and a friend in the foothills of the Pyrenees in southern France. Bernadette was weak from her asthma and fell behind the other girls. Near the river, she heard a rushing sound in the grotto at the bottom of the mountain. She turned to see a bright light and within the light, a beautiful lady dressed in white. As she approached, she saw that the lady had yellow roses at her feet and was holding a rosary. After Bernadette knelt and prayed the rosary, the lady disappeared.
Three days later, the lady appeared again in the grotto but only Bernadette could see her. They lady asked Bernadette to continue to come to the grotto and as she did, more people would follow her. On February 25th, the lady told Bernadette to dig in the dirt and to drink the water that would come from her digging. With hundreds of people watching, she drunk the muddy water. By the next day, the water was flowing from the place where she had dug and on March 1st, a woman was cured of paralysis after dipping her hand in the spring.
The lady told Bernadette to tell the priests to have a chapel built and processions held there. The priest told Bernadette to ask the lady her name. When Bernadette returned and told him that she was the Immaculate Conception, the priest knew that the apparitions were real because Bernadette would have never heard those words.
The Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette a total of eighteen times and a large Basilica was built near the grotto. The Church has recognized sixty-seven known cures in the waters at Lourdes which still flow endlessly for the millions of pilgrims that visit Lourdes each year.
Our Lady of Lourdes is the Patron Saint of France. Our Lady of Lourdes pray for us.
The information was taken from “Illustrated Book of Mary” pages 14 – 15.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict. She was born in Italy in 480 AD. She consecrated her life to God. She established a hermitage 5 miles from Monte Cassino, the first Benedictine convent for nuns. She died around 547 AD.
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus spoke about evil. Evil begins in the heart and not from what we consume from the outside through our mouth. It was no wonder why the Pharisees reacted so angrily when Jesus swept aside the dietary laws that their ancestors died for. What was the point that Jesus was making with His statements? What makes people unclean is what comes out from the heart. It was not what goes in one’s stomach.
The Scripture Passage from the 2nd Book of Maccabees illustrates Jesus’ message, The brutal Syrian King was out to destroy the Jewish faith traditions. In 170 BC, the Syrian army had occupied Israel. The king was out to destroy the Jewish faith. There was a widow mother who had 7 sons. Each of her 7 sons were tortured and killed because they refused to eat pork which went against their Jewish culture.
Reflection Question: How do we treat our Catholic traditions?
Prayer: Lord, help us to realize that religion comes from the heart. Amen.
Scripture Reflection Tuesday, February 9, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
As the People of God, our spiritual vision should be that we see God in all things and to give thanks to God for all things.
We must see the goodness of God in all things because God created all things good.
We heard in the 1st reading that as God created the earth and all living things, He saw that all is good.
When God created human beings in His image and He saw that it was very good.
God commanded human beings to take care of His creation and to beautify it for His glory.
But when human beings sinned, the relationship between God and man and the relationship between man and creation was also broken.
Sinful humanity began to have vested interests and ulterior motives, and Jesus pointed that out in the gospel when He said that the commandment of God was put aside so as to cling on to human interests.
We should strive to be good like God. It is an impossible task, but we can come close to perfection. In any case, we do not go forth blindly. God helps us to be like Him. He establishes His laws in nature. He gives us His word in Scripture. And, most of all, He has sent His Son, whom we know as Jesus Christ, to help us be like Him.
As God’s Chosen People we have this mission to bring humanity back to the state of goodness that God has created.
And we must begin with ourselves, which we see God in all things and to give thanks to God for all things, so that we bear witness to the goodness of God in this world.
Scripture Reflection, Monday Feb 8, 2021
By Fr. Claudius Mganga
St. Jerome Emilian; St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin
Today we begin the series of readings from the Old Testament in our first reading with the account of the creation of the universe as represented in the Book of Genesis, the very first chapter of the entire Bible.
We heard how the Lord created the whole creation, the entire universe and all the things and our world as we know it, and the Lord made everything good as He had created it, according to His will.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus went about doing His ministry, going from places to places, and many people came to see Him and listen to Him, hearing the words of truth that He has brought into their midst. They also brought their sick with them, and many people with various conditions and sicknesses came to seek the Lord and wanted Him to heal them.
Today, we should be inspired by the faith and examples showed by two saints, whose lives indeed shine through as great inspiration for us all, namely St. Jerome Emilian and St. Josephine Bakhita.
St. Jerome Emilian is remembered for his great charity and efforts, in caring for the needy, the poor and the sick, all those whom he had encountered, selflessly caring for them and inspiring many others to follow in his footsteps and examples. He built many orphanages and other places where those who need help could be taken care of and loved, just like the Lord Himself has reached out to His people and sought to help us. St. Jerome Emilian showed us all what it means for us to be Christians, that is to be like Christ in His love.
Then, St. Josephine Bakhita was a former slave who hailed from the area now known as Sudan. As a child, she had already suffered much, captured by slavers and treated horribly as a slave passed on from master to master, one after another. When she had the fortunate chance to escape slavery through her former master, who was touched and converted by her virtuous life, St. Josephine Bakhita eventually found her way to freedom and eventually joined the religious community in which she spent the rest of her life in.
She never held grudges for her past slavers and masters, all those who had made her life very difficult and painful. In embracing the Christian faith and in dedicating herself completely to the Lord, St. Josephine Bakhita showed many people including us all what it means to be true disciples and followers of Christ. We are all called to love one another just as the Lord has loved us all so generously.
Therefore, let us all discern what we all can do, even in little things and ways, to serve the Lord and glorify His Name by our worthy lives and actions. By God’s grace may we choose the right path, faithful to his commands, generous with the gifts he gives for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Thursday, February 4, 2021 – Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
Can you imagine going away for a period of time taking nothing with you but the clothing and shoes that you are currently wearing? No money, no extra clothing, no cell phone, no computer, nothing. That is the message that Jesus shared with His Apostles in today’s Gospel message. “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey (Mark 6:8).” They are to place their trust in God that He will provide for them their needs.
I remember attending a weekend retreat before my days in the Seminary. The theme of the retreat was acting on one’s faith. The Retreat Director, Fr. John, shared with us the following message: “If you are feeling very comfortable in your faith, you may not be truly living out your faith. Speaking to others about your faith, should make you feel a little uneasy, because you just do not know how the message will be received. We then had an assignment that Fr. John gave us. We drove over to the Mall in Clearwater, Florida. Fr. John then gave us our assignment. We had to go out by ourselves individually for 45 minutes and talk with 3 people that we did not know about our Catholic faith. We will gather again to discuss our experiences. We were not allowed to use any cell phone device at all or go with another person.
Jesus did not just sent out the 12 Apostles on His Father’s Mission. Jesus sends us forth today at every Mass celebration. We gather at every celebration of the Mass to be nourished in Scripture (God’s Word) and the Eucharist (Body & Blood of Christ). At the end of the Mass, we are sent forth by the Deacon or the Priest to bring the Good News to those we encounter on a daily basis. Besides, why would we want to keep the Good News to ourselves?
As we go forth, may we rely on God to share His message with those we come into contact with today. Have a blessed day.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
“Is He not the carpenter?” (Mark 6:3) The citizens of Nazareth wondered where Jesus got His wisdom and authority. After all, they knew that he was a Carpenter by trade for the first 30 years of His life with Joseph.
When I was getting close to my priesthood ordination in May of 2008, some of my parishioners wondered if I would be assigned at my home parish of Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon, Florida. I reassured them that would not be the case, as they rarely assign a priest to his home parish.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus experienced a form of rejection by His hometown of Nazareth. They knew from His earlier years, that He served as a carpenter just like Saint Joseph. Jesus did not attend Seminary Formation nor did He receive any formal religious training. Jesus was not part of any of the Jewish religious groups such as: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, or the Scribes. So, where did Jesus get His wisdom and His authority?
Reflection Question: How do we handle rejection by others, especially by people we consider to be our friends or our neighbors?
Scripture Reflection – Tues, Feb 2, 2020
The Presentation of the lord
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today’s celebration is as much a celebration of Jesus’ first appearance in the temple, as it is that of Mary’s purification.
Traditionally, the Mass begins with the blessing of candles. The significance of the blessing and lighting of candles is connected closely with this feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to be presented to God as laid down by the Law.
The purpose of the presentation was for purification and consecration.
In the 8th century Pope Sergius began the tradition of a candle-lit procession on this day; which led to the custom of blessing candles on this day for the entire church year. The light from these candles symbolizes Christ, the light of the world and echo Simeon’s words in the gospel reading, of the little Jesus being “a light of revelation to the Gentiles.”
Saint Pope John Paul II designated February as the World Day for Consecrated Life; as Jesus was presented to the Lord he was consecrated for His mission of the salvation of mankind.
Many consecrated religious with their communities will renew their religious vows on this day. Today might be a good day, for a quiet day of reflection and gratitude. To think about and thank God for the people that have helped us encounter Jesus at a deeper level. Our parents and grandparents who passed on the faith to us, the catechists, Deacons and the priests.
Particularly, today, on this World Day for Consecrated Life, we do well to pray for the consecrated religious who have touched and blessed our lives, teaching us, guiding us, helping us to encounter Jesus more deeply. Pray for their souls, and pray that young men and women may continue to answer God’s call to religious life, that they may be a blessing in the Church to help others encounter Jesus.
May Jesus, the Light of the world, enlighten our homes, purify it and consecrate it so that we can present to Him a worthy dwelling place. May we keep His light shining brightly so that we will be a consecrated People of God
Scripture Reflection Monday Feb 1, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
It’s normal as human beings to be weak, which is a condition that we have to acknowledge that is a reality in our lives.
No matter how healthy we are, we will fall sick now and then or feel pains here and there.
It is the same way in the spiritual aspect, we are also struggling to temptation and sin.
But St. Paul would say that when he is weak, then he is strong.
It means that he admits to and acknowledges that he is weak, both physically and spiritually, but it is Jesus Christ who gives him the strength to run the race to the finish and keep the faith.
The 1st reading mentions of great biblical figures like Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets.
They performed great deeds, but it also said that they were weak people who were given strength by God to carry out the marvels of God.
The man in the gospel who was possessed by an unclean spirit was also weak but cleansed of the evil, he was commissioned by Jesus to go and proclaim all that the Lord in His mercy has done for him.
Today, begins the month of February. What a fitting Gospel to begin this month, as we pray for the Spirit of Christ to free our families from all evil, to deliver all members of families from demonic attitudes and behaviors, and to free us from our sins during the upcoming season of Lent.
We need to come out of our tombs: Jesus is calling us to come out of the tombs. He is ready to free us from the tombs of our evil addictions and bad habits Then we will be able to go forth and accomplish the marvels of God.
Tim Cummings, Tom Williams and 12 others
Thursday, January 28, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church. Saint Thomas was born of noble parents in Aquino, Italy in 1226. At the young age of 5, his father placed him under the care of the Benedictines of Monte Casino. At the age of 17, Saint Thomas renounced the material things of this world and entered the Dominican Order. His family was not very happy with Thomas’s decision. At the age of 19, Saint Thomas joined the Dominicans in Naples. Some of his family members pressured Thomas over a two year period to break his religious vows. They even went as far to send an impure woman to trap Thomas. Despite the challenges presented by his family members, Saint Thomas persevered in his vocation. I admire his strength.
Saint Thomas went to Cologne to study under Blessed Albert the Great. He then went to Paris where he taught Philosophy and Theology and became friends with King St. Louis. Saint Thomas authored many writings. He was also known as the Angelic Doctor.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was very instrumental in creating the Mass parts for the Feast Day of Corpus Christi. He wrote the following popular songs that the Church utilizes today at Benediction: O Savings Victim (O Salutaris Hostia) and Pange, Lingua, Gloriosi (Tantum ergo).
Saint Thomas died near Terracina on March 7, 1274. His Feast Day is celebrated on January 28th, the day on which his body was transferred to Toulouse, France in 1369.
Saint Thomas Aquinas is the Patron Saint of School, Students, Publishers, Catholic Schools, Booksellers and Academics. Saint Thomas Aquinas pray for us!
(The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints”, pages 212-213.)
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In the first three weeks of Ordinary Time, the Gospel of Mark has presented a variety of ways that Jesus employed in His Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. At the age of 12, Jesus was found preaching in the synagogue. As a young adult, the seashore then became His new synagogue and the fishing boat became His pulpit. Jesus then employed the use of statements. And today, Jesus introduces another method – the use of parables (stories).
Jesus utilized simple stories from everyday life in order to teach the people in the community about eternal life. Why did Jesus switch to the use of stories (parables)? First, stories attracted the attention of the people, made them think and were easy to remember. Remember when you heard stories from your youth from your parents and grandparents. You are probably sharing those very same stories with your children or grandchildren today. Second, stories tested the hearts of the people.
We hear the Parable of the Sower in Mark’s Gospel today. Jesus emphasized four kinds of soil that symbolizes how the people hear the Gospel passages. 1) Hard Path – the people do not hear the message at all. 2) Rocky Ground – The people hear the message but drift away. 3) Thorns – The people are interested but they do not have the time. 4) Rich Soil – The people hear the message and they flourish. These four kinds of soil still exist in the Church today.
Reflection Questions: What kind of soil do we identify with in today’s Gospel passage? How open are we to all of Jesus’ teachings?
Scripture Reflection – Tues, January 26, 2021 St. Timothy & St. Titus Memorial
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today’s memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus is celebrated after yesterday’s Feast Day of the Conversion of St. Paul.
St. Timothy and St. Titus were disciples of St. Paul, and he calls them affectionately as a “child of mines. Paul saw himself as their spiritual father and he had formed them in the faith and he had appointed them as leaders of their respective communities. They helped Paul as both companions and ambassadors.
St. Timothy accompanied Paul the second time the apostle set forth from Antioch to evangelize. Paul sent him to Thessalonica where Christian converts were being persecuted. Paul wrote Timothy two letters intimating a father-son relationship although their authenticity is questioned. It is said that Timothy was martyred in Ephesus.
Titus too traveled with and for Paul. He was sent to Corinth to find out how Paul’s letter to the community there was received. Later Paul ordained Titus as bishop of Crete. Titus serves as an example of Paul’s regard for Judaism. Because he was not born a Jew, Paul did not want him circumcised since that would imply need of the law for salvation. It is said that Titus died of natural causes at an old age.
More than just for the purpose of continuity and succession, what was urgent was the mission of the proclamation of the Good News. As Jesus said in the gospel, “The harvest is rich but the laborers are few.” And Jesus also added, “So ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to the harvest.”
So, for St. Paul it was not just about appointing capable and efficient people to be the leaders of the communities that he had founded. He had to pray to the Lord and to see who the Lord was sending as laborers for the harvest.
God granted St. Timothy and St. Titus with apostolic virtues of courage, generosity; through their intercession may we use the gifts God has given us for the building up of the Church, the passing on of the faith. Let us remember to pray for those in formation for the priesthood and the religious life.
May they answer the call of the Lord and offer themselves generously to be laborers in the harvest of the Kingdom of God.
Scripture Reflection – Monday, Jan 25, 2021
The Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
We celebrate, today, one of the greatest conversions ever known. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is so significant that it is given the glorious status of a Feast within our Church. Saul’s conversion resulted in one of the greatest evangelists our Church has ever known. Saul, who later was given the name “Paul” by Jesus, was a man of incredible zeal and wholehearted commitment to the faith.
Many letters written by him form part of our New Testament, and also because of Luke’s concentration on Paul in the Acts of the Apostles.
It was Paul who was largely responsible for taking the gospel from the Jewish world of Palestine into the Greco-Roman world beyond. He founded churches throughout much of modern-day Turkey and Greece, bringing the gospel further west than it had ever gone before. He was at one and the same time, a dynamic missionary, a caring pastor and a profound theologian. His letters continue to nurture the faith life of Christians today.
Writing to the Corinthians he says, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am’. Paul’s story reminds us that we can never underestimate the power of God’s grace in our own lives, the extent to which God powers at work within us and among us can bring about real transformation, both personal and ecclesial
But we must strive after holiness, believe wholeheartedly, root out sin from our life, celebrate the sacraments joyfully, practice rich, vibrant prayer, and never be afraid of sharing the Good News, as Jesus commands in the Gospel today: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature,” for the glory of God and salvation
This feast of the conversion of St. Paul tells us that people and situations can change.
We don’t have to take things into our own hand. We just have to put it into God’s hands through prayer, and wait for signs and wonders and even unexpected pleasant surprises.
Saturday, January 23, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today’s Gospel passage may be brief but it prepares the reader for the major theme that will run throughout the Gospel of Mark. The theme is rejection.
I remember visiting a patient in the hospital in my first summer assignment in the seminary. I was doing pastoral visits with the patients in the hospital. I met with a patient and had a pleasant conversation with her initially. When she found out that I was preparing to become a priest, she asked me to leave. The lesson that I learned from that encounter was sharing the Gospel message in the midst of being rejected. She was rejecting the message that I came to share with her. As Catholics, we frequently face rejection from the community around us for standing up for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. We must persevere in the face of rejection.
There are three places in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus was rejected by the people. His family wanted to seize Jesus because “He is out of His mind (Mark 3:21).” The second passage was Mark 6:1-36). Jesus returned home to Nazareth for the first time since He left to do His ministry. As a result, He was unable to to any works. Was He not the son of the Carpenter? The third passage of rejection was Mark 14:50 when Jesus was arrested. The place where Jesus needed His Apostles the most and they fled His side.
These feelings of rejection did not stop Jesus from fulfilling His Father’s Mission. The feeling of rejection should not stop us from courageously living out the Gospel message as well.
Scripture Reflection – January 22, 2021 By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today, January 22, 2021, marks the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. In keeping with the instruction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops– we are observing a special day of penance and reparation for sins against the dignity of the human person through acts of abortion.
Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and the lives of millions of their parents have been shattered. That single legal opinion, and the subsequent millions upon millions of individual and societal decisions that have been made in its wake, not only have taken the lives of countless human beings in the womb, but have also taken an unimaginable toll on those who have turned to abortion, those who have performed abortions, those who have encouraged abortions, and on our society as a whole as we have witnessed a steady desensitization regarding all forms of assaults on human dignity and life at all its stages.
The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion as gravely sinful. Our Faith teaches that a baby is human from the very moment of conception and that innocent human life may never be directly and deliberately taken. Abortion is murder and it is intrinsically evil.
So, the Catholic Church prays intently today for the legal protection of unborn children today is also a day of hope. We trust that God hears our prayers. Many who once supported abortion have come to embrace the Church’s teachings on the dignity of human life; many workers in the abortion industry have become faithful, practicing, and vibrant Catholics.
May the Church faithfully continue to be God’s instrument of hope, healing, conversion and life for our culture for His glory and the salvation of souls
Daily Reflection – Thursday, January 21, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
St. Agnes, Virgin, Martyr
Today, we remember St. Agnes, one of the first martyrs of the Church. She died around the year 257 during one of the persecutions of the Church by the emperor of Rome. A mere girl, who gave her life in witness to her love for Jesus and the truth of her faith. She spoke. She did not remain silent.
This is a special day in Rome, for every year at this feast, the Holy Father receives and blesses several young white lambs. The wool from these lambs is then used to weave the fabric of the Pallia that are placed over the shoulders of each archbishop in the world. Agnes means “lamb” in Latin and the word is also derived from a Greek word meaning “pure.”
Pope Benedict in a reflection on Saint Agnes, said “Her Martyrdom illustrates “the beauty of belonging to Christ without hesitation.”
When she was about thirteen years old, the son of the Roman governor wanted to marry her. Agnes had given her heart to Christ-she was a consecrated virgin-she had consecrated herself to Christ for the love of His kingdom.
When she resisted the governor’s son. He then threatened her, and told her that he would accuse her of being a Christian. This meant that she would face death, since it was against the law to be a Christian.
Her heart belonging to Christ, she did not hesitate in remaining true to her faith. He accused her of practicing the Christian faith, and she was beheaded.
We are reminded by St. Agnes that when we are given the opportunity to witness the gospel, without hesitation, without fear, we are boldly proclaiming the gospel with conviction.
Agnes teaches us that holiness does not depend on length of years. It would have been so much easier for her, especially at that tender age, to have gone along with her persecutors, to have remained silent and preserved her life. In all honesty, it would have been very difficult for any of us to have spoken if we were to have been in her place. Our fear would have overtaken us.
With the help of St. Agnes’ prayers and example may we come to see Christ’s glory in the eternal kingdom of heaven
Scripture Reflection – Wednesday, January 20, 2021 –
By. Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today we have the option of celebrating the memorials of two martyrs: St. Sebastian, a lay person martyred in the persecutions in Rome in the third century under the emperor Diocletian, and Pope Saint Fabian, who was martyred when the Emperor Decius decreed that all Christians must offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods, and killed the ones that wouldn’t.
Pope Saint Fabian was Pope from 236 to 250 AD. He is famous for the miraculous nature of his election, in which a dove is said to have descended on his head to mark him as the Holy Spirit’s unexpected choice to become the next pope.
Fabian organized greater care for the poor in Rome and the flock began to grow again after a terrible persecution. Yet, along came the new Emperor Decius, who decreed that all Christians were to deny Christ, and forced them to worship pagan idols. Many stood firm in their faith, suffering torture and death, one of the first of which was Pope Fabian.
As we are reflecting between two saints Pope Fabian and St. Sebastian, Emperors and the gospel message. Begin a day by reflecting upon the Pharisees and the poor example they set. From there, try to look at yourself with great honesty. Are you obstinate? Are you hardened in your convictions to the point that you are unwilling to even consider that you may be wrong at times? Are there people in your life with whom you have entered into a conflict that still remains? If any of this rings true, then you may indeed suffer from the spiritual ill of a hardened heart.
Reflect, today, upon your own soul and your relationships with others with as much honesty as possible. Do not hesitate to let your guard down and be open to what God may want to say to you. And if you detect even the slightest tendency toward a hardened and stubborn heart, beg our Lord to enter in to soften it. Change like this is difficult, but the rewards of such a change are wonderful. Do not hesitate and do not wait. Change is worth it in the end.
Scripture Reflection – Tuesday, January 19, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
In this morning’s gospel reading we hear of a clash between Jesus and the Jewish authorities over how the Sabbath was to be kept. The Pharisees interpreted very strictly the commandment to rest on the Sabbath and do no work. They were not so much concerned about honoring God on the Sabbath as they were interested in being judgmental and condemning.
Jesus, however, held that basic human needs could be met on the Sabbath, such as the need of the hungry to be fed and the need of the sick to be healed, even if it involved activity that could be considered work. Whereas the Pharisees gave priority to the law as they had come to understand it, Jesus gave priority to the human person. He thereby teaches us that at all times we are called to work for each other’s well -being – their material, emotional, spiritual well-being. That kind of work is God’s work and such work is always timely, regardless of the day of the week.
Today, consider your family and those who are closest to you. Are there things they do and habits they have formed that leave you constantly criticizing them? Sometimes we criticize others for actions that are clearly contrary to the laws of God. At different times, we criticize others on account of some exaggeration of fact on our part. Though it is important to speak charitably against violations of the external law of God, we must be very careful not to set ourselves up as the judge and jury of others, especially when our criticism is based on an exaggeration of something minor. In other words, we must be careful. We must remember that while others might be looking at what we are doing, God is also looking at what we are doing and He knows the intentions of our actions.
The 1st reading reminds us of this: God would not be so unjust as to forget all you have done, the love that you have for His name or the services you have done and are still doing.
Let us go humbly and quietly go about doing good and offering up prayers and penance, like fasting, for the good of others and not to get their attention.
What really matters are that God sees and He knows and He will reward us for doing what is good and doing it humbly and quietly.
Daily Reflection – Monday, January 18, 2021
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Very often we try to solve our problems and difficulties with our own resources and abilities first., though we believe in God and pray to Him.
And when everything else has failed then we turn to God in desperation and we storm heaven in the hope of an immediate answer to our prayer.
But that would mean that God is that last option for a solution, when all other options have failed or didn’t work.
The 1st reading tells us that during His life on earth, Jesus offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the One who had the power to save Him out of death, and He submitted so humbly that His prayer was heard. We may tend to think that Jesus turned to God when He was literally at a “dead-end” on the Cross.
But the 1st reading tells us that during His life on earth, Jesus prayed all along as He faced rejection and threats to His life until He finally ended up on the Cross.
Let us learn from Jesus to let God be the first and only option in our lives because He has the power to save us and raise us up from our troubles and difficulties.
In fasting, and in all of the practices of our spiritual
life, we seek not mere external observance but interior transformation, that our souls may be opened to the great gifts God desires for us.
As our nation observes the civil holiday of Martin Luther King Jr, let us seek the transformation of our hearts, that we can work for authentic justice and peace between all people through the faithful preaching and living of the Gospel for the glory of God and salvation of souls, and liberate us from all sins of hatred.
Patti Garrison Tongate and 7 others
Saturday, January 16, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
This weekend we will hear the call of Jesus’ Apostles. Today, we hear the call of the Levi, the tax collector in the Gospel passage.
The tax collectors in the times of the Scriptures were not looked upon in a positive manner. The tax collectors paid for the right to collect the taxes from the citizens. They would get back the money they put out as well as taking a portion of the money collected for their work. The tax collectors would use extortion in order to collect taxes from the people in the community. This would explain why the tax collectors in the times of Jesus were so despised by the Pharisees and the citizens. They were not to be trusted or associated around.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus encountered the tax collector, Matthew. Jesus looked at Matthew and invited him to “Follow me (Mark 2:14).” I wondered what must have gone through the mind of Matthew when Jesus spoke with him. Are you talking to me? Any way, Matthew excepted Jesus’ invitation. He abandoned his post and followed Jesus.
Jesus did not choose the Apostles who were most qualified for the position. Through the grace of God, Matthew as well as the other Apostles became qualified for Jesus’ mission. Today right here in Inverness, Florida, Jesus is calling you and I to continue the mission of the Church. We are flawed people. That does not stop Jesus from inviting us as His Disciples. Jesus still reaches out to us with the same invitation: “Come follow me (mark 2:14).” How will we respond to His invitation?
Friday, January 15, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Mark’s Gospel portrays the early ministry of Jesus as being very successful. It is the fourth time this week that we heard about Jesus’ healings in the Gospel of Mark.
Tuesday – Jesus expelled a demon
Wednesday – Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law
Thursday – Jesus cured a leper
Friday – Jesus cured a paralytic
Jesus started His ministry in His home town and His popularity was beginning to grow in the community. The community were gathering around Jesus.
Jesus healed a paralytic in today’s Gospel passage. Jesus was inside a house and the house was filled with people who were listening to His teachings and hoping for Jesus to cure those who were sick. Four men carried a paralytic on a stretcher in hopes of him being cured by Jesus. But they could not enter the front door in the home because of the crowds. They refused to give up and found another way into the building. They climbed up on the roof, opened up the ceiling and lowered the paralytic man and his stretcher to where Jesus was sitting. Jesus was so impressed with their faith that Jesus healed the paralytic and told him to get up and pick up his mat.
However, this event caused the Scribes to criticize Jesus’ ministry. Only God can forgive the peoples’ sins. Who does this person think He is? Jesus responded to the faith of the four men and the paralytic.
Reflection Question: Recall a time when another person’s faith played a big role in your life?
Thursday, January 14, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus cures a person who was a leper in today’s Gospel passage. In the times of Jesus, a leper was an outcast in society. In the Book of Leviticus, the author described how a leper was to go about his daily life. A leper had to dress in torn clothing, leave his hair uncombed, cover their face and to live outside the camp, segregated from others. (Leviticus 13: 45-46). Here we are today dealing with the COVID Virus and we have to practice 6 foot spacing and wearing face masks.
The Book of Leviticus also pointed out what a leper had to do before returning to the community once he was cured from the disease. He had to present himself to the priest to be examined. If he was cured from the disease, the priest would pronounce him clean. (Leviticus 14: 2-4, 7)
A number of spiritual writers saw a similarity between leprously and sin. SIn alienates us from God and the community. Only when we are absolved from our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation are we able to rejoin God and the community.
How does my sin(s) affect the community of the Church? When was the last time that I celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Have a blessed day.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
For a second day in a row we hear about Jesus curing the people in the community who were sick, one of which was Peter’s mother-in-law. We hear Jesus serving as a physician of one’s soul.
As I was reflecting on the Gospel passage, it made me reflect on the ministry of our Doctors and Nurses who are caring for the patients with the Covid Virus in the Hospital and Nursing Homes. These Medical personnel have been working very hard these past ten months attending to those afflicted with the virus. During my pastoral visits, they have included the patients, doctors, nurses and medical staff as well. Let us keep them in our daily prayers.
So, Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law today. What does she do afterwards? She got up and waited on Jesus and His Disciples. The mother-in-law was so grateful for Jesus taking the time out of His busy calendar to stop by and heal her.
What is in need of healing in our individual life? Jesus the Divine Healer, wants to heal us of our remedies, if we so desire.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop of Poitiers and Doctor of the Church. He lived in the 4th Century. He spoke out against the Arian Heresy. Let us learn the lesson of St. Hilary and speak out in defense of our Catholic faith.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus expels an evil spirit in Mark’s Gospel passage today, Jesus represented His Heavenly Father and the evil spirits knew it. Jesus desires to perform the same cleansing in each of our lives if we are open to it.
God wants to reside in our body. It is vital that we keep our temples (body) pure for His presence. What does Christ find in our world, or our temple? Are our hearts filled with love, charity, peace, blessings and gratitude? Or will He find our life filled with worldly things, money and esteem from others?
When Christ comes into our temples, He will have a cleansing role to play through the celebration of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, Scripture and prayer. But are we open to His housekeeping duties?
Lord, let your presence in our hearts touch us as well as to silence our sinful tendencies. Amen.
Have a blessed day.
Monday, January 11, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church returns to the Liturgical Season of Ordinary Time. Saint Mark sets the stage for the beginning of Jesus’ Ministry. John the Baptist has prepared the way for Jesus. John points out to his Disciples the Lamb of God. John the Baptist has been challenging the people to change their sinful ways including King Herod.
In the Gospel we heard that John the Baptist was arrested. Now the Gospel passage switches to Jesus. Jesus made an important proclamation today: “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:15).” Jesus built on the preaching of John the Baptist so that the people realized that the message is the same.
Today’s Gospel then spoke about the call of Jesus first Apostles: Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John. The Apostles dropped their fishing nets, left their family and jobs to follow the Shepherd’s invitation. They will spend the remainder of their lives following Jesus.
Jesus calls you and I to do something remarkable with our life. Are we listening to His call? Are we responding to His call?
Have a blessed day.
Thursday, January 7, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus returns to His home town of Nazareth in today’s Gospel passage. The people have heard the news concerning about Jesus’ ministry. They have heard about His preaching and His miracles. Now Jesus is in the Synagogue with the community and all their eyes are fixed on Jesus. The people were wondering: What will Jesus do for them?
So the attended comes to Jesus and presented Him with the Scrolls to read. Jesus took the Scroll and opened up the Scroll and read from the Prophet Isaiah 61. Jesus told the community that this Scripture passage is being fulfilled as they heard Him say these words. The people were amazed with the words of Jesus.
How open are we to Jesus’ words in the Gospel passage?
Wednesday, January 6, 2021 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today we hear about Jesus walking on the water from the Gospel of Saint Mark. Jesus had just fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish. Jesus then dismissed His Disciples and to precede Him to the other side towards Bethsaida. “He was going to pass them by”(Mark 6: 48). What did Jesus mean exactly when He was going to pass by? A number of Old Testament passages used a similar phrase “pass by” to indicate an occasion when God manifested Himself to someone. For instance: God “passed by” Moses (Exodus 33:19) and God “passed by” Elijah (1 Kings 19:11). We can understand today’s Gospel passage in a similar way.
The Evangelist, Saint Mark intended Jesus’ action to be a manifestation of Himself as the Son of God.” The Disciples failed to understand the point behind Jesus’ miracle.
Reflection Question: How do we recognize Jesus when He ‘passes by” us in some form of trials in our lives? Jesus help us to recognize your presence in every aspect of our human activity.
Scripture Reflection, Tuesday, January 5, 2021
By Fr. Claudius Mganga
Food is the source of nutrition for the body and also the primary means to address physical hunger.
But food is also a symbol of care and love, especially home-cooked food. It is a sign and symbol of love and care for others because a sacrifice of time and effort is needed in cooking.
When God wanted to show His love and care for us, He sent His son Jesus to become a man in order to save us.
The compassionate Jesus multiplied the bread to feed the hungry crowd. A sign that He will be the Bread of Life for the salvation of the world.
Jesus looks at each one of us with the same compassion. Whenever you find yourself confused, lacking direction in life and spiritually hungry, Jesus gazes at you with the same gaze He offered this vast crowd. And His remedy for your needs is to teach you, also. He wants you to learn from Him by studying the Scripture, by daily prayer and meditation, by reading the lives of the saints and learning the many glorious teachings of our Church. This is the food that every wandering heart needs for spiritual satisfaction. We have a good example of the Saint of today, Bishop Neumann a “renowned for his charity and pastoral service, he was tirelessly devoted to preaching in parishes in the many immigrant communities throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio. By age 41, he had become the fourth bishop of Philadelphia and was absolutely devoted to fostering education amongst the Catholic youth. The first American Bishop Canonized.
St. John Neumann also promoted the forty hours devotion, encouraging parishes to gather for the adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Let us hunger for Jesus alone and for in Him we will have life and salvation
Scripture Reflection, Monday January 4, 2021
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The season of Christmas offers us the opportunity to see God’s love made manifest in the birth of Jesus, and to offer that love to others – a love that “remains” as long as we believe in it and act on it.
A good example of this is Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton whom we commemorate today. She was from a wealthy Episcopalian family in Manhattan, New York. In 1794, Elizabeth married William Seton, with whom she had five children. Unfortunate circumstances led to the family losing their wealth, and having to go stay with some Catholic friends in Italy. Even more unfortunate is that her husband died of Tuberculosis after just six weeks in Italy.
In that time of great loss, the compassion her Catholic friends brought her great comfort. She began to notice a great difference in the way she witnessed how deeply the Catholics were nourished by the Sacraments, by their prayer, and by the company of the Saints.
Elizabeth began to feel very attracted to the Catholic faith and especially to the Eucharist. She also began to love the Blessed Mother for the first time in her life. Despite stern opposition from her Episcopalian friends, she became Catholic on March 4, 1805.
Here’s a woman who became Catholic and ultimately a saint because she was treated with great kindness by Catholics at moments of great tragedy—Catholics who were simply living their faith with deep devotion to the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin.
Elizabeth went on to work for the conversion of souls as the foundress of the first religious congregation having its origin in the United States—the Sisters of Charity. She basically founded the Catholic School System in the United States.
A wife, mother, widow, impoverished single-mother, convert, religious foundress, educator, social minister, and spiritual leader, Elizabeth Seton was the first person born in the United States to become a canonized saint. In following Jesus, she serves as a model of courageous witness and good deed.
We are also called to reform our lives, to believe in Jesus Christ, and pay him homage.
Scripture Reflection Thursday, Dec 31, 2020
By: Fr. Claudus Mganga
As we come to the last day of the year 2020, we will think about how this year has turned out. We might even be tempted to say: O God, can you please reboot 2020. The one that you sent had a virus! So, if we really could, would we really want to go back in time and start 2020 all over again?
For many, this year been a difficult one. The economic situation of the country has left many without a job. Some will have lost a loved one during the year and are struggling to come to terms with the loss.
The gospel passage began with these words: In the beginning was the Word. It reminds us that Jesus, the Word of God, was with us as we began this year, and that He was with us throughout the year. We may look back at the year with regrets and with disappointments at all the things that have gone wrong and think that it had been a really rough year. But we have survived the year, and thanks be to God, we still are able to look forward with hope to the new year and the days to come. This can be a time to look back in thanksgiving, a time to name the graces and gifts that have come our way and have enhanced our lives
But we must stand firm in our faith that Jesus has always been with us and will always be with us, no matter how rough and tough the days ahead may be.
It is our faith in Jesus that we can have the hope and the courage to look forward to the days to come. The future is in the hands of Jesus. Let us thank Him for being our Savior and He will bestow us with grace upon grace.
Scripture Reflection – Wednesday, Dec 30, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The first two chapters of St. Luke’s Gospel contain what are known as the “Infancy Narratives”. They are familiar stories to us, including the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity of Our Lord, and his Presentation in the Temple.
Today, we read the concluding verses of the infancy narratives—of a woman named Anna. Anna is described by Luke as a prophetess, a widow, and a woman of advanced years. Her husband had died after only seven years of marriage, and since his death, for about sixty years, Luke tells us “she never left the temple.”
After the death of her husband, Anna could have stayed home, depressed and withdrawn, but after a period of grief and mourning, she devoted her life to God. Anna is a wonderful example for all widows and widowers, who answer the call to come to daily mass, to worship, to pray, to encounter the Lord.
She, like Simeon, is a representative of faithful Israel who awaited the Messiah, who prepared for him through prayer and fasting and an enduring hope, and was now blessed to witness his coming.
She is an example for all Christians. Those who celebrate the Lord’s birth on Christmas day, are tasked, like Anna, with sharing the good news of his birth with others.
We are to speak about Him, sharing with others, how he is the fulfillment of all their desires, he is the way by which God’s peace is offered to us, the way joy can fill our lives in this dark world of today with several challenges of life. And the best way is to follow St. John’s words of advice for little ones, children, young people and adults, the final word is most important than all, “The man who does God’s will endures forever”. Sentiment and emotions are part of the Christmas celebration, but they are empty without a determination to be followers of God’s will as we are winding up the year, let us make up a good resolution and, May Anna help us to live out the true meaning of Christmas, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
On the second day of Christmas, we heard of the suffering of St. Stephen, stoned to death for his witness to Christ. On the third day of Christmas, we were supposed to hear of the suffering of the Apostle St. John, who suffered arrest, torture, and exile for Christ. Since it was Sunday, we commemorated the Feast of Holy Family. Yesterday, we heard of the suffering of the Holy Innocents, slaughtered by the King in his attempt to rid the world of Christ. On this fifth day of Christmas, the Church honors the Archbishop Thomas Becket, murdered on the steps of his Cathedral for opposing the king’s plans to infringe upon the freedom of the Church.
We also heard the story of the presentation of Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple. The identity of the Christ Child continued to be revealed to the Holy Family through the prophecy of Simeon. His future will involve upheaval, pain and suffering. If he is to bring peace, good news, reconciliation, and eternal life, it all certainly seems to come at price. His kingdom of peace in our souls is born when we die to sin, and that is not a popular message. It’s a message that the saints have embraced and the world has resisted for two thousand years.
In the Incarnation, Jesus became like us that we might become like Him. But that transformation comes at price. We must submit, we must die and let him live in us. This truth is what allowed Paul to joyfully proclaim: “it is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” The cross is the price for peace.
Reflect, today, upon how fully you have allowed your mind to engage the incredible mystery that we celebrate this holy season. Have you taken time to prayerfully read the story once again? Are you able to sense the joy and fulfillment experienced by Simeon and Anna? Have you spent time considering the minds and hearts of Mother Mary and Saint Joseph as they experienced that first Christmas? Let this deep supernatural mystery of our faith touch you this Christmas season in such a way that you, too, are “amazed” at what we celebrate
Scripture Reflection – Monday, Dec 28, 2020
Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs.
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
In today’s first reading, we find that very striking statement about God, ‘God is light; there is no darkness in him at all’.. In God there is none of the darkness associated with the absence of love. God sent his Son into the world to reveal God as light, as the light of love.
Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, is very much the feast of light, the feast of the light of God’s love as expressed in a human life, the life of Jesus. It is very appropriated that on this feast of Christmas we light candles and we place lights on Christmas trees. If the first reading proclaims that God is light, the gospel reading is full of darkness. The massacre of the little children two years old and below by the soldiers of King Herod who wanted to kill the baby Jesus.
These little babies represent all the people who are killed in our present generation for all the wrong reasons – prejudice, hatred, jealousy, madness or just plain ambition.
Like Saint Joseph, we must see it as our solemn duty to protect the most innocent and vulnerable. We should also hear the Father calling each and every one of us to do all we can to protect the innocent and most vulnerable, especially the child within the womb, as it is a total disregard for the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill!”
And those who are born also deserves our attention and resources. But every parent, grandparent and all those entrusted with responsibility for another must strive to protect those in their care in countless other ways. We must diligently work to preserve them from the evils in our world and the numerous attacks of the evil one on their lives. The Holy Innocents speak for all children
Wednesday, December 23, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In today’s Responsorial Psalm we heard the following prayer: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me: teach me your paths, guide me in your truth…” (Psalm 25: 4-6). How many times have we found ourselves praying for God’s path in our life?
Today we hear the birth of John the Baptist in the Gospel passage. In choosing the name John, his parents caused some confusion with their family and neighbors. After all, there was nobody in the family named John. Why did they not name him, Zechariah? Zechariah even questioned God’s intentions and he was struck mute. John grew up to be an important messenger of God.
It was through John the Baptist, that God would navigate the Chosen People on the path of repentance. John will point the way to the Messiah. How was John the Baptist’s message received by the people? Some accepted his message. Even some of his disciples went on to follow Jesus. Other people will reject his message. Still, others will eventually kill the prophet.
Going back to the prayer in the Responsorial Psalm this morning. When you pray for God’s ways to be made known to you, brace yourself. You never know where God will lead us to.
Thursday, December 17, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Starting today until Christmas Day, the Gospel passages will set the stage for the Birth of Jesus. Today we hear the Genealogy of Jesus from Matthew’s Gospel. Please be patient with your priests or Deacons as they read the names of Jesus ancestors. In the following days we will hear the following Gospel passages: The Annunciation of the Lord, the Birth of John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus is announced, the Visitation to Elizabeth, Mary’s Magnificat, the Birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah speaks about John the Baptist.
The Gospel of Matthew groups the ancestors of Jesus to three time periods in Jewish History for a total of 42 Generations. The first era is Abraham to David, which recalls Israel’s call to greatness. The second era is David to Babylon, which recalls Israel’s fall from greatness. Finally, the third era is Babylon to Jesus, which recalls Israel’s restoration to greatness.
As the Season of Advent is coming to a close what growth do we need to adjust in our life?
Wednesday, December 16, 2020 – Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
John the Baptist sent 2 of his Disciples to Jesus with the following question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Luke 7:19)
Jesus did not answer their question the way that they were hoping. Look at all that was taking place before their very eyes: 1) The blind were able to see, 2) the lepers have been healed, 3) The dead have been raised, 4) the lame can walk, 5) the deaf can hear, and 6) the poor have the Good News brought to them.
What Scriptures have we read that have helped us to answer the following question? Are you the one who is to come? May the Gospel continue to inspire our ability to recognize Jesus in our midst.
Scripture Reflection Sat, Dec 12, 2020 – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Fr. Claudius Mganga
When Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531, Mexico was one of the most depraved cultures in human history.
Our Lady came bearing the message of her Son and a message of life. Mary to Juan Diego said: “My dearest son, I am the eternal Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God, Author of Life, Creator of all and Lord of the Heavens and of the Earth…and it is my desire that a church be built here in this place for me, where, as your most merciful Mother and that of all your people, I may show my loving clemency and the compassion that I bear to the Indians, and to those who love and seek me…”
A Church was built. The Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most popular pilgrimage site in North America built near the site where Our Lady appeared to the poor farmer, Juan. It is second in the world only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Zechariah’s words from first scriptures of the feast really captures the essence of the occasion. It is a recognition that God has not abandoned God’s people but comes in many ways to dwell with them. This is, of course, best realized in the birth of Jesus, which seems proclaimed in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a pregnant woman. She moves us forward in hope.
Devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates our humanity, our dignity as human beings, and demands the justice which honors the dignity and worth of every human person, with particular attention to those who are poor and suffering. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is often carried in procession as a demonstration of faith and symbol for justice as willed by God. To honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is to stand right with God; to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is to respect the dignity and worth of every human being as made in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ;
The Feast of Guadalupe is an important Advent feast, to remind us that we prepare during Advent to celebrate the birth of Christ the Savior, victor over the powers of sins and death.
And so throughout Advent we do well to invoke Our Lady in our prayers for the conversion of our culture, especially for those who, because of their errors and false beliefs spread and participate in evil intentionally or unintentionally.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the Right to Life Movement, pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Scripture Reflection Friday, Dec 11, 2020 by Fr. Claudius Mganga:
Life as we know, is never smooth and without problems.
We tend to grumble about life and when the grumbling gets intense, we will take it out on people.
We will resort to complaining about people, whether spoken or written. But the fact is that complaining about people will not solve any problems; in fact, more problems will be created. And the fact is that we complain because we can’t do anything to change the people that we are grumbling about.
That seems to be what Jesus is saying about the people of His time – they grumble, they complain and they criticize, but nothing good is coming out of it.
But in the 1st reading, the Lord, the Holy One of Israel says this: I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you, I lead you in the way you must go. If only you had been alerted to my commandments, your happiness will have been like a river. So, we know the solution to our grumbling, our complaints and our criticisms against people or situations. We must turn to the Lord our God and learn His ways and walk in His paths.
It often hurts to change our ways. But once it is done, our joy should eclipse any pleasure that we gave up. Now is as good a time as ever to change our ways. True, Advent is not as penitential as Lent. Nevertheless, we can hear during these four weeks both John and Jesus calling us to repent
As the Responsorial Psalm teaches us, may we also respond with this: Anyone who follows you, Lord,
will have the light of life.
Thursday, December 10, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The sound system enables everyone in the Church to hear the Scriptures and the Mass, providing we speak into the microphone and the sound system is turned on.
Today’s Gospel passage reminds each of us of the greatest power Jesus made available to us. It also reminds us of our responsibility to spread the Gospel throughout the world.
People heard the voice of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness. Will the people hear our voices today as we share the Good News?
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Juan Diego who was born in Mexico in 1474. He and his wife, Maria, was baptized by Franciscan Missionaries in Mexico. After Maria’s death, Juan took care of his elderly uncle. Every Saturday and Sunday, Juan walked 9 miles for religious instruction and the Mass. On December 9, 1531, Juan heard singing on the top of Tepeyac Hill. As he climbed to see who was singing, he received his first vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She asked Juan Diego to deliver a message to the Bishop, that a Church should be built on the place that she was standing. Juan delivered the message but the Bishop was skeptical. On the 4th apparition, Mary sent proof to the Bishop that she wanted a Church built on the spot she had shown to Juan Diego. As Juan knelt before his Bishop and opened his tilma, flowers that were rare for that part of Mexico fell to the ground and the image of Our Lady appeared on the surface of the cloth. The Church was built on the spot and Juan Diego cared for the Church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to see her image on the tilma. He died on May 30, 1548 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 31, 2002. (Information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints – pages 128 – 129).
Scripture Reflection: We hear the comforting words from Jesus in today’s Gospel passage. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).” Jesus was talking about being physically and spiritually tired. What are some of those burdens? Concern about someone we love, Guilt of one’s sins, Health concerns, Employment concerns, etc. Jesus is there right besides each one of us. When we are experiencing burdens, Jesus tells us: here let me take those burdens for you; my shoulders are strong enough. “When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2).”
Daily Reflection Monday December 7, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
St. Ambrose, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church
At celebrations of Mass, two individuals are typically prayed for by name: The Pope and the local bishop, which in our case is GREGORY PARKES.” This is a sign that Mass is celebrated in union with them.
To be a bishop is no easy task. Great things are expected of them because they’re successors of the apostles, and great demands are placed on them as a result. It’s a critically important and public ministry. It can lead to stress; it can lead also to pride. As a result, our bishops need our prayers; they need our support.
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, Italy, some sixteen centuries ago. He was a talented man, to be sure. He administered a large diocese with effectiveness and skill. St. Ambrose wrote magnificent homilies and composed beautiful hymns. He gave generously to the poor and lived very holy life. He openly challenged emperors and courageously defended the truth in spite of stiff opposition. Ambrose’s determination is reflected in today’s first reading. Isaiah exhorts Judah to resist evil. He encourages the people to be strong first by promising God’s assistance. Then he holds out the hope of a better world.
May we pray for our leaders to follow a moral design for a strong society, which will be marked by human development and mutual respect among people and nations. May they follow St. Ambrose’s regard for both the moral and spiritual sensibility of civic governance
Just as the paralytic needed a little community of faith to bring him to Jesus, we need the community of faith to come to Jesus. We don’t come to the Lord on our own. As people of faith, we bring each other to the Lord. That is one of the reasons we gather as a community of faith, whether physically in the church or virtually through the parish webcam. As people of faith, we feel the need to be together in some way. We need each other’s faith to find the Lord. I need other people of faith for me to meet the Lord and others need my faith to come to the Lord. God has come to save us in Christ Jesus. He offers us peace , forgiveness and healing.
Saturday, December 5, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The prophet Isaiah challenges the reader to stop taking shortcuts. God’s ways are not difficult to follow when we exercise the gift of love. Changing our old ways or bad habits is not impossible with the assistance of God.
Jesus tells His Disciples that the Kingdom of God has begun. Like the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus challenges the reader to change our old ways.
What changes in our life do we need to make during these short four weeks of Advent?
Daily Scripture Reflection – Friday Dec 4, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
To understand the impact of Isaiah’s words during advent, again, it is good for us to consider the context of the people of Israel at the time. Remember, it is the darkest point in Israel’s history. Most of the Jews had been banished from the land of milk and honey, the promised land. They were in exile. Family members had been separated as a way to break their spirits. The Temple of God, where they went to worship and bask in the presence of God had been destroyed. So, imagine the impact of Isaiah’s message from God, we have heard the same message this week about the promise of a holy mountain on which the peoples would be gathered back together again, where they would feast, where tears would be wiped away. A God who deals with deficient and broken bodies, wipes away tears, and restores us to innocence.
Advent helps us to mold our souls, helping us get our souls into shape through prayer and penance. So what needs to change in me, what attitudes need to change, what habits need to change in order for God to bring his promises to fulfillment in my life?
We can easily make our own the prayer of the two men in the gospel reading, ‘Take pity on us, Son of David’. In response to that cry for help, the Lord is asking us too to have an expectant faith. He calls upon us to believe that he can bring light out of this darkness, that he can bring good out of this evil. There has been blindness at various levels in our daily lives as individuals, we need the gift of new sight; we all need the ability to see as the Lord sees. In asking to be healed of our blindness. We raise up our prayers of petitions, as we await with longing the Advent of Christ the Lord. With the focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus will also involve expressing thanksgiving to all those who are demonstrating the loving Heart of Jesus in the service, compassion, diligence and sacrifice during this crisis.
Thursday, December 3, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the celebrates the Feast Day of St. Francis Xavier. He was born in Spain in 1506. While he was studying at Paris, he became a disciple of St. Ignatius of Loyola. At the age of 28, he entered the Jesuits and became one of the first seven Jesuits to take their vows. He was ordained a priest in the City of Rome in 1537. He was sent as a missionary to India and Japan; He is considered one of the greatest missionaries since the times of St. Paul. He was an evangelist who would teach the Christian people their prayers, the Commandments, the Creed and the Mass. Some of his accomplishments are as follows: Baptized hundreds of thousands of people in the Orient, destroyed idols in the East, built over 100 churches and raised people from the dead. St. Francis Xavier died in 1552 on the Chinese island of Sancian (St. John’s Island). (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints”, pages 88-89).
Scripture Reflection: We live busy lives. We are constantly on the go. During the season of Advent, it is a time for us to slow down, to reflect on our life and listen to the words of God. “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Matthew 7:24). The Season of Advent is about taking time from our busy life and listening – listening to what God has for me. Listening is not always easy as it sounds, There are many distractions and disruptions that take place over the course of our day.
God has a message for us today. How prepared are we to receive His message?
Daily Scripture Reflection Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
This morning’s first reading from Isaiah is often chosen as the first reading for a funeral Mass. It is a vision of a great feast on a mountain at which the Lord is host and from which all mourning and death have been banished forever. It is truly a feast of life. It is a vision which anticipates much of what we find in the gospels. A sign of humble beginnings. We know that great things have humble beginnings. For example, great oak trees grow from small acorns. Big cities are built stone by stone.
As we begin a new liturgical year with the season of Advent, we are brought back to the humble beginnings of our salvation.
God’s plan of salvation began in Jesus coming to the world as a little helpless baby.
And even in the ministry of Jesus, He used simple and humble things like bread to show the signs of the kingdom of God and God’s care and love for His people.
All these simple and humble signs point to the heavenly banquet that is being prepared for those who accept the saving love of God.
So, the season of Advent is a time to look at the simple and humble signs like the Nativity scene, the candles on the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree.
When we understand what all these signs point to, then we will know that God’s saving love is found in the simple and humble people who do the simple and humble things.
Let us go back to the humble beginnings of our faith and may we grow to be signs of God’s saving love for the world
Tuesday, December 1, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Happy Advent. In today’s Gospel passage we read the following quotation: “For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:24)
Do you remember your child’s or grandchild’s baptism? Part of the Rite of Baptism the clergy prays the “Ephphatha” while he touches the child’s ear and mouth. The word “Ephphatha” means “Be Open.” “Grant that you may soon receive His word with your ears and profess the faith with your lips…” (The Order of Baptism of Children, page 31). It is the responsibility of the baptized, not just bishops, priests and deacons, to give witness to their faith.
During these four short weeks of Advent, we will be reading about the prophets in the Old Testament as well as the Prophet John the Baptist the next two Sundays. The prophets are challenging the people of Israel as well as each one of us to get our lives in order and to prepare for an encounter with the Divine.
Reflection Question: What are we doing to hear the words of Scripture and sharing it with those around us?
Daily Reflection Monday November 30, 2020
St. Andrew, The Apostle
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Andrew is first of the Apostles to be called and to
At least six of the Twelve Apostles were fishermen, Andrew was one of them, along with his brother Saint Peter. Though he was Jewish, his name Andrew, comes not from a Hebrew word, but a Greek word: andreios, meaning “brave” or the virtue of the warrior.
The Apostle Andrew like a Warrior bravely followed
Christ, bravely worked for the spread Christ’s Gospel, and bravely witnessed to Christ in martyrdom.
Tradition says that Andrew preached the gospel in Greece and in the year 60 was crucified on an X shaped cross. He hung on the cross for two days before he died, and it is said that he continued to preach the Gospel while hanging from the cross.
The Lord calls each of us to bravely follow him, and to courageously live His Word:
As we begin this Advent season, we must allow the call of Andrew and Peter to also become our own calling. We must allow ourselves to notice Jesus as He looks at us, sees who we are, is aware of everything about us, and then speaks a word of invitation. He says to you, “Come after me…” This is an invitation that must embrace every aspect of your life. To “come after” Jesus is to leave all else behind, our former ways of life, and follow him.
He calls us to come to him in prayer, he forms us, he reveals his love to us, and then he sends us out. He launches us in our own vocation, among our own people, and gives us a mission to bring others—our family, children, friends, and coworkers—to him so that he can reveal his love to them as well.
The beginning of Advent is an opportunity to evaluate your responsiveness to the call of our Lord once again.
Through the help and prayers of the Apostle Saint Andrew may we embrace every aspect of our lives in following Jesus by our actions.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Theme: Jesus warns His Disciples about difficult times ahead in their ministry.
Think about when you made your New Years Resolutions in the beginning of 2020. How many of us would have predicted the following events? 1) Protests, riots and unrest across the streets of the USA. 2) Election 2020. 3) COVID 19 Pandemic (lockdown, wearing masks and social distancing, unemployment, classes and work done over the internet and livestreaming the Mass. Hopefully, the New Year of 2021 will be a better year for all the world.
The role of the Old Testament and the New Testament prophets was to warn the people about their sinful ways as well as to prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Messiah. In a few more days we will enter the Season of Advent. In two of the weeks of Advent, we will read about the Prophet Saint John the Baptist. The Season of Advent is time to reflect on our spiritual life and make the necessary changes to prepare the way of the Lord.
Jesus invited the people to become His Apostles and the Disciples. He never promised His Disciples that their ministry will be easy. In the cost of Discipleship, they will face rejection, ridicule and challenges. They will have to made numerous sacrifices for the cause. Jesus told His Disciples that He will be with them by their sides. Need to trust and have faith during their times of trials and tribulations. When Jesus was carrying His Cross up to Calvary, He needed the assistance from Simon of Cyrene. Jesus is willing to be our Simon of Cyrene as we encounter our challenges and difficulties.
Today’s Reflection Challenge: What is our level of trust in the Lord? Do we feel His presence by our side?
Daily Reflection – Tuesday, November 24, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
St. Andrew Dung-Luc, Priest, Martyr and companions, Martyrs.
On June 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized a group of 117 martyrs who died for the Roman Catholic Faith in Vietnam during the nineteenth century. Members of this group included 8 bishops, 50 priests, 59 lay Catholics. Andrew Dung-Lac was one of them, a native Vietnamese diocesan priest. He came from a poor, non-Christian family and was taught by a Christian lay catechist. He worked in the missions with French Missionary Priests. He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured during the persecutions.
As John Paul II said during the canonization homily, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Where Christians struggle to remain faithful, where sacrifice is made for the spread of the Gospel, it is there that Christianity flourishes, where souls are brought to Christ.
As we come to the end of another Church year and prepare for the celebration of Advent, as you gather with your families at Thanksgiving in any way during time of pandemic, which has been a challenge for everything we thought was a normal part of life as we know it, we missed all sorts of celebrations. We have experienced cancellations or adjustments, sacred rituals and family traditions, out of an abundance of caution recall the blessings of life, food, shelter, family, and of course our faith which promises everything in life. We are challenged by the witness of the martyrs.
Though we may not be called upon by God to give the witness of martyrdom, we still seek to make our souls like theirs: faithful amidst the trials of this life, making our lives a pleasing sacrifice to Christ for the glory of God and salvation of souls
Daily Reflection Monday, November 23, 2020
By: Father Claudius Mganga
We would certainly be delighted if our names were being mentioned for some good deed or accomplishment.
It is a good feeling to be recognized for doing something that is commendable and extra-ordinary.
In the gospel, Jesus noticed a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins into the treasury, and it was all she had to live on.
It was certainly an inspiring deed and an act of total dependence on God as well as an act of total self-giving.
But the poor widow was not mentioned by name.
She and the other many figures in the gospels who have been an inspiration to us were however not mentioned by name.
Although it may not be that important for them to be mentioned by name, it also goes to show who the gospels were focusing on – Jesus.
In the 1st reading, the Lamb had with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand people, and all of them had His name written on their foreheads.
They too were not mentioned by name, but what was more important is that the name of the Lamb was written on their foreheads.
May we come to understand that whatever recognition that we received, or desire, is only temporary. May the name of Jesus be in our minds and hearts always so that what we do is done for Him so as to lead others to Him and to Him alone.
St. Clement, one of the saints we honor today was an early successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome, likely the 4th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church; he was ordained a priest by St. Peter himself.
It is said that St. Clement converted many high-ranking citizens of Rome, and because Emperor Trajan saw Clement as a rival to his power, Trajan condemned Clement to death by drowning into the sea with a marble anchor.
Similarly, with Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, also honored today; the martyred Jesuit novice of Mexico; because the Church was so hated in Mexico in the 20th Century; Father Miguel would clandestinely go about celebrating Mass, hearing confession, anointing the sick, comforting the poor. For this, he was arrested and killed by firing squad.
Like the poor widow in the gospel, let us ask the intercessions of Pope Saint Clement and Blessed Miguel Augustin, that we can always give our time, energy and resources without the feelings of being commanded and recognized, focusing on Jesus Himself.
Gospel Reflection – Sunday, November 22, 2020 – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today the Church celebrates with great joy the Solemnity of Christ the King. It is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. This feast day was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI who was concerned about the state of the world in the post-World War I period, a war in which over 9 million soldiers were killed and over 21 million wounded. People seemed to be lost about what had happened and the tense state that was in development. In the early 20s Mussolini marched on Rome and formed a Fascist government. Stalin ruled as the Soviet Dictator. We begin to hear of Adolf Hitler.
By that time, the world had begun to bow down before the “lords” of exploitative consumerism, nationalism, secularism, and new forms of injustice. The old power structures in Europe and the Middle East were fading into memory (including the colonial system that allowed European nations to claim lands in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America). A new and uncertain world was rising in their place There was fear, a lack of hope, and feelings of helplessness. So the Feast of Christ the King was established as a reminder to all about who is ultimately and eternally in charge.
While the image of the shepherd found in the readings for the Solemnity seems familiar to us, the notion of a “king” is fairly foreign to most people in our world today. It is a bit foreign to the American mindset. We live in a democracy, not a kingdom. We elect our leaders; they don’t descend from a long line of monarchy. For many, our vision of king may be originated from the DISNEY WORLD–“The Lion King”- Simba which is the Swahili word of Lion.
The first reading, taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, introduces God as the Good Shepherd reminding us of Christ’s claim to be the Good-Shepherd-King, leading, feeding and protecting his sheep. St. Paul presents Christ as the all-powerful Ruler-King Who raises the dead and to Whom every form of power and authority must eventually give way.. Jesus is present to us now, not only as our Good Shepherd leading, feeding and healing his sheep, but also as dwelling in those for whom we care. In the parable of the separation of the sheep from the goats at the Last Judgment, every person to whom we give ourselves, “whether hungry, thirsty or a stranger, naked, sick or in prison,” is revealed to us as having been the risen Jesus. Our reward or punishment depends on how we have recognized and treated this risen Jesus in the needy.
The Solemnity of Christ the king challenges us once again to truly put Christ at the center of our lives: to allow him to reign in every aspect of our life: our political life, our social life, our leisure time, our family, our friends, our parish, our attitudes, our behaviors, our thoughts, to put all under the dominion of Christ, to subject ourselves to his rule, to ready our souls for judgment by serving Christ in the poor, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
These months of the pandemic have highlighted the desperate need of the poor, and those newly impoverished by loss of jobs, businesses and medical bills. Jesus directs us Christians today, even if our resources are limited, to ask ourselves: What can we share with those Jesus so powerfully identifies with in today’s parable.?
Meanwhile, as we prepare for Advent next week, we can take up the prayer, with the hope, the parable prompts, “come, Lord Jesus.”
Saturday, November 21, 2020 – Fr. Tim
The Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary today.
God’s selection of the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God (Theotokos – Mother of God) was not a random selection. God selected Mary, not from a line of nobility, but from a humble, devout parents, Joachim and Anna. According to tradition, Anna, childless for many years, reached a point in her life just short of despair. In those days, having children meant that you were blessed by God. Anna prayed that God would grant her a child with a promise that should her wish be fulfilled, she would pledge her child to the Temple. Faithful to her word, Anna presented her daughter, Mary, at the Temple at the age of three, on the 21st day of November. Mary remained in the house of God for twelve years, emerging at the age of fifteen with a purity found in no other creature of God. Her formation was entrusted to the High Priest Zacharias who was the father of St. John the Baptist.
Mary may you always show us the way to your Son, Jesus. Amen. Hail Mary full of grace….
The above information was provided from (The Loose-Leaf Lectionary, Liturgical Press, Saturday, November 21, 2020 page # 1513.)
Friday, November 20, 2020 – Fr. Claudius
One of the things that we will certainly remember about this year is the suspension of Masses and subsequent closing of churches to all public religious activities.
As far as we can remember, that has never happened before.
Even now as Masses have resumed and churches are opened for religious activities, it is certainly not like before. Where the church is closed, another church is opened, and that is the church of the home.
With online Masses and devotions and prayer sessions made available, the home has now become a “church” and a house of prayer.
But just as in the gospel when Jesus cleansed the Temple and restored it as God’s House of prayer, we too have to cleanse our homes to make it into houses of prayer.
As the online prayers come into our homes, let us also ask Jesus to cleanse our homes of all defilement and whatever that is displeasing to God.
Let peace and love, kindness and forgiveness flourish in our homes.
Also, each soul is a temple that should be set aside solely for the glory of God and the fulfillment of His holy will. Therefore, today’s gospel is fulfilled if we allow our Lord to enter in and to see the evil within our own souls. This may not be easy to do and will require a true humility and surrender, but the end result will be cleansing and purification by our Lord.
Reflect, today, upon the fact that Jesus desires to bring about purification in many ways. He desires to purify the Church as a whole, each society and community, your homes your own family and especially your own soul.
Thursday, November 19, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The theme in today’s Scripture Readings is focused on tears. In the First Reading from Revelations we hear: “Do not weep” (Revelations 5:5). In the Gospel of Luke (19:41): “As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it.”
In the early days of the Creation narrative, we are told that God created the world and marveled at her goodness. God created human beings and gave them a task to cultivate this world. As we read through Scripture until present time we see how the world has evolved. After God’s creation of man and women, sin has entered the world through Adam and Eve’s eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Cain murdered his brother, Abel, because God had favored Abel’s sacrifice. The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt. God heard the cries of His people and commissioned Moses to rescue His people and lead them towards the Promise Land. The Israelites lived under terrible conditions under the Babylonian Empire and the Assyrian Empire. God sent the prophets to reassure His people. God sent His Son, Jesus, into our world. Yet, we nailed Jesus to a Cross to die.
Today there is hatred among the people all across the world. People cannot get along with one another. Humanity is in the process of destroying God’s beautiful creation.
I guess that we can understand why Jesus was weeping in today’s Gospel passage. After all Jesus knew what was waiting for Him in Jerusalem. Some people will continue to turn towards sin. Some people will continue to reject Him. Jesus has some broad shoulders to carry our concerns.
The fact that Jesus is weeping should provide each one of us with hope and comfort. Why? Because His tears are a sign of His compassion for us. Jesus refuses to abandon us. Jesus still goes to His Cross and offer His life for us.
Thank you Jesus. Thank you for your love and compassion. Thank you for not abandon us your flock. Amen.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 – The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul.
There are 4 major basilicas in the city of Rome. St. Mary Major is the largest Church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. John Lateran (Lateran Basilica) is the Cathedral of the Pope and the Mother Church of the world. The other 2 major Basilicas in Rome are St. Peter and St. Paul Outside the Walls, which Feast Day the Church celebrates today.
St. Peter is the most famous Church in all Christendom. Began when believers gathered around the tomb of St. Peter on Vatican Hill to pray. In 319 AD, the Emperor Constantine build a Basilica on the site that stood for over a thousand years. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it to be razed and reconstructed. It would not be completed for more than 2 Centuries.
St. Paul Outside the Walls was erected where St. Paul was beheaded. It too was first constructed by the Emperor Constantine.
Today let us reflect on the lives of these 2 saints in the Early Life of the Church. May we too seek the strength and perseverance to share the Good News.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a Third Order Franciscan. St. Elizabeth was born in 1207 and was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary. At a young age, she was married to Prince Ludwig of Thuringa in Germany. They had three children. She was a pious woman who was devoted to meditation on the things of God as well as her charitable work with the poor and the sick. She build a hospital that would specialize in the poor. She died in 1231. One of the key lessons that we learn from the life of St. Elizabeth: How do we serve the needs of the poor in the community? St. Elizabeth of Hungary pray for us.
In the Gospel of Luke we hear the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus, a tax collector, on the road to Jericho. Will Jesus notice Zacchaeus in His travels? Zacchaeus was a tax collector who was hated by the Jewish community. He was a collaborator with the Roman Empire. So, why did Zacchaeus want to meet Jesus? Like everyone in those days, he heard about Jesus who was a preacher, a miracle worker, a healer, a forgiver of sins and a person who spoke the truth. When Zacchaeus arrived on the streets of Jericho, he found the roads lined with people. Because of his short stature, he climbed a Sycamore tree hoping that Jesus would see him. From the encounter, Zacchaeus became a changed individual.
If Jesus came walking down the roads here in Inverness, Florida today, how will our life change?
Scripture Reflection – Monday Nov 16, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The test of our fervor, of commitment and conviction, of love and faithfulness will be over the test of time. Under the test of time, we will know where we stand in the areas of our work and our relationships, and also in every aspect of our lives.
We may start of something with fervor and profess our commitment and declare our conviction. But as the days go by, with its monotony and repetition, we get bored for lack of variation and variety. We are not as excited and energetic as when we first started. It can happen with marriage, priesthood with care-giving to the elderly, with a job and even in our relationship with God.
In the 1st reading, we hear of this peculiar complaint from the Lord about the church in Ephesus as He says this: You have less love now than you used to. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first. We too must think about our relationship with God and renew our love for Him every day so that our love for God will grow deeper each day.
The Gospel tells us next to nothing about the blind man. We do not know his name, his age, or his religion; in fact, the only things we really know about him are that he wanted to be cured, and he believed that Jesus could do it. And when he heard that Jesus was passing by, he did everything he could to get his attention, disregarding what people thought about him. Today thin
Today think of any unnoticed person in your life—or individuals who have been spiritually or physically handicapped by life’s difficulties! Perhaps Jesus is calling you to notice them despite what people might think, and to reach out on his behalf to offer a healing touch.
Today we commemorate the memorial feast of St. Margaret of Scotland, Wife of the King and mother of eight children, St. Margaret’s sanctity was clearly seen in her compassion, energy, and commitment to the relief of the suffering poor in the midst of extreme political and social upheaval, and became legendary.
St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland could have indulged in the luxuries of the royal court, and as queen, had any earthly desire satisfied. But she first and foremost sought to become a saint, and she teaches us to do the same, for the Glory of God and salvation of souls
Gospel Reflection by Bishop Gregory Parkes
Sunday, November 15, 2020
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Are you using your talents for God’s glory?
When I was growing up, I would occasionally come into some money. Maybe it was a gift for my birthday or Christmas, or perhaps I had earned it by delivering newspapers or doing some chores or odd jobs. I was often reminded by my parents to save some by putting it in the bank to earn a little interest. While they wanted me to enjoy it, they didn’t want me to waste it on frivolous things. They taught me the importance of preparing for the future and the value of money. As I grew, I learned that these lessons were also applicable to my faith.
We are nearing the end of another liturgical year. Next Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King, and then we begin a new church year with the celebration of Advent. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples yet another parable. There was a man who was going on a journey and gave his possessions to his three servants to oversee. He gave one servant five talents, or coins, another servant two talents, and the third servant, one talent. The two with the larger amounts quickly traded with others and doubled their money. But the servant who only had one talent decided to bury his so that he wouldn’t lose it. When the master returned, he questioned each servant. The first two servants reported that they made more money for the master, and the master rewarded them for their efforts. But the servant who only had one talent and did nothing to make it grow, had it taken away, and was summarily dismissed.
It is interesting that the money is called talents. We use the word talent today to describe we can do very well – better than others. Some people have more than others, but everyone has at least one talent. We acknowledge that our talents come from God. That’s why when someone has an exceptional talent like a sharp mind, artistic skills, or athletic ability, we call that a “God-given talent.” God calls us to use these talents to reach our full potential and for the good of society and others.
As Christians, we’re also called to use our talents to serve others and give glory to God. Do you do this, or do you use them merely for self-interest? Do you use your spare time to better the Kingdom by studying God’s Word and to help others…or do you waste time playing games on the computer? Do you use your efforts to care for the less fortunate, or do you spend night after night in front of the television? There’s nothing wrong with relaxation and enjoying some down time at the end of a busy day. But, remember that in the parable, the one who did nothing with the talent he was given was turned away turned away by the master.
Are you using your talents to their fullest potential? If not, make a fresh start and a new beginning. Each day strive to do your best to use your God-given talents in all that you do at work, home, school, church and in the community for the good of others and to give glory to God.
Saturday, November 14, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
We read from the third Letter of John in today’s First Reading. It is only 1 Chapter long; it is a very short letter.
It is a letter to a man by the name of Gaius. He is a leader of the local Church. He is well liked by the community and is highly praised by other local Christians. However, standing in contrast is another Church leader by the name of Diotrephes, who is out to dominate other people. Diotrephes refuses the instructions from John and undermines his authority.
John’s letter today reminds each of us that the Church has always had its share of good and bad members as well as good and bad leaders. These leaders and members live side by side like weeds and wheat until harvest time.
God’s mission for His Church must be lived among the good and the bad leaders and members alike. Hopefully, the good leaders and members will encourage the bad to change their ways.
How do we support the mission of the Church? Even in the midst of the COVID 19 Virus Pandemic where the ministry of the Church has been hampered, we still must persevere.
Scripture Reflection – Friday, Nov 13, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Mother Cabrini- The Immigrant Saint
For most of us, life is generally busy, but it is usually busy with monotony.
In other words, we are usually busy with the same stuff – work, every day work around the house, assignments, appointments.
Like Jesus said in the gospel, we just slide into the monotony of eating and drinking, buying and selling, and we shut down to life and meaning.
Yet the 1st reading reminds us to watch ourselves because there are many deceivers in the world.
Hence we must stand firm in faith and stand-by with truth in our hearts, and prepare to witness to the truth, and that was the life of Mother Cabrini!
Small and weak as a child, born two months premature, Francesca Cabrini remained in delicate health throughout her 67 years. Yet, even as a little girl she dreamed of being a missionary.
Her poor health kept her from being admitted to religious life, but at the request of her local parish priest, Francesca took over care of a local orphanage. Francesca persuaded several women who worked at the orphanage with her to begin their own religious community. So, in 1877, she became Mother Superior to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Within a few years she and her sisters had opened six orphanages. And when Pope Leo XIII, in 1889, asked her to go to the United States to care for the Italian Immigrants, she did not hesitate. Within a few years, she opened a Catholic school in New York City, founded an orphanage and hospital for the immigrants which had wards which were free to the poor. She built other hospitals in Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, New Orleans, and Chicago.
This frail, immigrant, virgin nun become Mother to so many, particularly immigrants. She is also the first American citizen to be canonized, having become a naturalized US citizen in 1909. She never really mastered the English language, but that did not keep her from doing great and holy work, either.
At her canonization in 1946, Pius XII said in his homily:
“Where did she acquire all that strength and the inexhaustible energy by which she was able to perform so many good works and to surmount so many difficulties? She accomplished all this through the faith that was always so vibrant in her heart; through the divine love that burned within her; and, finally, through the constant prayer by which she was so closely united to God…She never let anything turn her aside from striving to please God and to work for his glory for which nothing, aided by grace, seemed too difficult or beyond human strength.”
Is there some holy work you think God might be calling you to do? Likely, He is! So like Mother Cabrini seek strength to do this holy work through your faith and prayer and closeness to God in the Sacraments, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Thursday, November 12, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
We are introduced to the following three characters in today’s first reading: Paul, Philemon and Onesimus. Philemon was recently baptized who lived in the city of Colossae. He had a runaway slave called Onesimus. Paul met him in Rome, instructed him in the faith and baptized him around 62 AD. Paul’s letter to Philemon asked him to forgive Onesimus and to welcome him back not as a slave, but as a brother. This is the shortest of all Paul’s letters. Paul wrote about unity and love that should exist between baptized Christians. How loving and forgiving are we towards our sister and brother Christians? Do we forgive from the heart?
We celebrate the Feast of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr. He lived from 1580 to 1623. He was born in Ukraine. He embraced the Catholic faith and became a monk. He was ordained a priest and became Bishop of Polotsk. He worked for Christian unity. St. Josaphat, pray for us.
Scripture Reflection Tuesday Nov 10, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
When you have done all you have been commanded, say, “we are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” Luke 17:10b
This is a hard phrase to say and it is even harder to truly mean when said.
It reminds me when I was growing up back home, my mother used to spend the day cleaning and then preparing the family meal. Taking care of twelve kids by herself while my dad was at work. She did a lot for us and we always thank her. I hope you have been doing the same way to your families.
And, I think it is certainly nice to be recognized for her hard work and to be thanked for it. Of course, when the family is grateful and acknowledges this loving service, this gratitude is healthy and is nothing other than an act of love. It is good to be grateful and to express it.
But this passage is not so much about the fact that we must strive to be grateful for the love and service of others, rather, it’s about our own motivation for service. Do you serve so as to be thanked? Or do you provide service because it is good and right to serve?
Jesus makes it clear that our Christian service to others, be it in the family or in some other context, must be primarily motivated by a certain duty of service. We must serve out of love regardless of the receptivity or acknowledgment of others.
We must serve and fulfill our Christian duty simply because it is the right thing to do and because it is what God wants of us.
Today we celebrate the feast of Pope Saint Leo The Great, doctor of the Church. Only few Popes are given the title “The Great”, and Leo truly earned his title through both his theological contributions and his skill as a leader.
On the theological side, he had significant merits, including his many excellent and profound sermons and letters. For his theological contributions, Pope Leo was eventually declared a Doctor of the Church.
Through the intercession of Pope St. Leo, may all Christians stand firm in God’s truth and know the protection of his lasting peace for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Daily Scripture Reflection – Monday 9, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
THE DEDICATION OF THE LATERN BASILICA
The Lateran Basilica was built around 324 by the Roman emperor Constantine, and it is the cathedral of the city of Rome.
Throughout the centuries, St John Lateran has survived fires, earthquakes, barbarian invasions, and world wars; It is the oldest church in Europe, and perhaps symbolic of the universal Church, who has survived schisms, heresies, corruption, and government persecution—the storms and chaos of nearly two thousand years.
The Lateran Basilica is the official church of the Pope since the 4th century.
It is also called the “Mother of all churches” and on Holy Thursday, the Pope and priests will celebrate the Eucharist there.
This feast reminds us that we belong to the universal church, with Christ as the Head of the Church which is His Body. Hence, we acknowledge that the Church is not just a building, but the body of believers who are scattered all over the world, yet spiritually united in the body of Christ.
We also acknowledge, in the celebration of this feast, that the Pope is the head of the Church and we pledge our obedience to him and our unity with the whole Church.
Churches are privileged places of encounter with God, the place of worship. Silence is necessary so that comers can speak to God in their inner chambers. They have to be respected with all signs of reverence. Here, as in all Churches, the faithful can find a home filled with strong sacramental life that empowers them to go forth as witnesses of the Gospel.
Nevertheless, the scriptures for today’s liturgy focus on the temple image, and St. Paul’s image is one that we can all relate to. We may not be great basilicas but we are temples nonetheless. .” Our own personal temple of the body is like any other temple. It is a place of reverence but it also requires maintenance! Do we take good care of our temple? On another level, do we regard every human life is a temple of the Spirit. St. Paul’s warning about destroying God’s temple should give us serious pause for thought.
May we continue to be united as Church and as the Body of Christ and be a sign of salvation to the world
Thursday, November 5, 2020 – Fr. Tim
In the Gospel of Luke today, we hear two of the three parables on forgiveness: the lost sheep and the lost coin. In each of the parables we hear about a party thrown in honor of the lost sheep and the lost coin. The central theme in today’s Gospel passage is focused on God’s abundant love and forgiveness on the part of the sinner.
We all have this special sacrament of Reconciliation that is available to each one of us. Even though there have been times when we have turned our backs away from God, God still lavishes upon us sinners, His abundant love and mercy. Reflect on how you feel after receiving absolution from the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Lost Sheep: Why would the shepherd abandon 99 sheep for the lost sheep? For someone who has a pet that is treated like a family member. all life is precious.
Lost coin: Why would the woman exhaust all her energy in seeking out the lost coin? By seeking out the lost coin, she can now afford purchasing food for dinner.
Lost son: The older son has been faithful to his father his entire life and yet the father did not throw a party for his older son or his friends. The younger son who hit rock bottom and seeks out forgiveness from his father. Still, the story does not tell the reader if the two brothers ever reconciled with each other. The father loved both of his sons and never stopped trying to keep the family together.
Reflection Question for today: How forgiving are we towards others as God is toward us? Why not pray the Our Father today and reflect on the following petition: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Wednesday, November 4, 2020 – Fr. Tim
In the Gospel of John today, we hear one of the following “I am ” Statements from Jesus. “I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’ (John 10:11). Life as a shepherd is not always very easy or appealing. Jesus accepts this responsibility with great joy. He feeds His flock, protects us from harm, and seeks us when we are lost.
Today the Church celebrates another shepherd of the Church, St. Charles Borromeo. Charles was one of six children born to the Medici family. He began his journey to the priesthood at the age of twelve years of age. By the time he was twenty-two, he had earned his doctorate in civil and canon law and was named cardinal-deacon by his uncle, Pope Pius IV. He served as Secretary of State and Papal Legate in 1562. He convinced the pope to reconvene the Council of Trent. He oversaw the writing of the Catechism, Missal and the breviary that was called for by the Council. He was ordained a priest in 1563. The following year he was ordained a Bishop and served in Milan, Italy. St. Borromeo devoted the rest of his life to reforming his diocese, creating a number of parishes and established monasteries. His reform caused a lot of opposition initially but his self-sacrifice and care for the people during the plague of 1576 made him beloved by his flock. He would sit by the roadside to teach the poor the following prayers: Our Father and Hail Mary. He refused to leave his diocese during the plague and was constantly by the sick and the dying. He died in Milan and was canonized a saint in 1610. He is the Patron Saint of against ulcers, apple orchids, bishops, catechists, colic, catechumens and intestinal disorders. (Information taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 52-53).
St. Charles Borromeo pray for us.
Daily Reflection Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
St. Martin de Porres, Religious
Martin was born in Lima, Peru in 1579 to Spanish conqueror and an African Slave, who were not married. Martin’s father rejected him at his birth because of his dark skin, and throughout childhood, Martin was given cruel names like “half-breed”. Perhaps because he himself was poor and despised, Martin developed a heart for charity.
While a young man, he became an associate of the Dominican Order. He spent long hours caring for the sick and dying, particularly among the slaves. Daily he fed nearly two hundred people, and weekly he gave hundreds of dollars’ worth of food, clothing, and other necessities of life among Natives, Africans, and Spaniards.
Due to a ridiculous interpretation of church law, Martin was forbidden to become a full member of the Dominican Order. A law from Deuteronomy was being interpreted to exclude him from the order due to his slave background. So what did Martin do? He dedicated himself to healing, to charity, He became known as the Apostle of Charity, and many stories arose about his closeness to God and healing miracles.
No matter what our circumstances: whether we are ridiculed for our race, our nationality, our economic level, excluded unjustly, like St. Martin, we are called to intimacy with our Lord, we are called to be instruments of healing and charity.
Martin could have developed a bitterness and even hatred for his fellow man, even for the Church, but he allowed God’s grace to break through any resentment or self-pity. We too are called to open ourselves to God through prayer, scripture, and the sacramental life of the Church, that God’s life may penetrate and transform us into Apostles of Charity, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Since it is an election day, let’s reflect on the words of our first president George Washington, who held that without religion, liberty could not be maintained. He said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable.” Without morality, without virtue and religion, freedom and justice will quickly disappear.
Our faith must inform our political involvement. We must promote and defend laws which are reflective of God’s laws, particularly those that defend basic human rights, especially the right to life.
For really, every decision we make, whether political or otherwise, must be formed by our faith. For the Christian, every decision is a religious decision: how we spend Sundays, how we educate our children, how we reach out to those in need, how we vote, how we respond to the evil we see in our society or in our hearts, what television shows we’ll watch, what internet websites we’ll visit. With every choice we must first ask ourselves, is it in keeping with our faith.
Daily Reflection – Monday November 2, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
In the Hispanic culture today. The graveyards would be filled with flowers and people spending the day literally picnic-ing at the graveside of a deceased loved one. A favorite food or beverage might be placed on the grave, or, in the case of a child, a favorite toy. This is all about remembrance and grief, and those things are done by the living!
The feast is as much about our needs as it is about the needs we believe the deceased to have, especially when our memories dwell on their vices as well as their virtues!
Our parish will celebrate a special LAZARUS MINISTRY MASS at 11 AM for all the parishioners who died in the past year. I will certainly remember my niece Marycella and other important persons in my life’s history who have died. I take comfort in the words from the Book of Wisdom that the “souls of the just are in the hand of God,” But I also take comfort from Jesus’ words about not losing anyone whom God has given to him and pray,
Jesus said, “Those who believe in me will live forever?” Then why is there death? Why should we remember the dead and pray for them? These are all basic anxieties of human beings ever since the history recorded
Today the Church is commemorating the “All Souls’ Day. The CCC teaches that there are 3 fragments of the Church; The struggling Church on Earth. The Triumphant Church in Heaven and the Suffering in the Purgatory. All these 3 sections together constitute the Church.
Thus it is the responsibility of the Church on Earth to pray for the Church in Purgatory. We hope that all will rise on the final day with Christ and will be radiated with the Spirit. St. Paul says, “Hope does not disappoint us everybody will have eternal life.”
All of us, without exception, have experienced the death of a loved one, a relative or a friend.
We have gone for the funeral wake, said prayers for them and maybe even was present when their remains were interred.
We have travelled long and height to attend some of the funerals, some were really touching and inspiring. Some funeral moments are there in our mind forever. We have offered Masses for them in the hope that they will be in heaven and have eternal rest in the love of God.
Let us also know that we have an assurance from Jesus as He tells us this from the gospel: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me, I shall not turn him away … whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.
We believe in that assurance of Jesus and that’s why we remember and pray for the departed as we continue to walk on in faith until we meet Jesus face to face
Thursday, October 29, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Theme in the Gospel today: Jesus loved the people of Jerusalem. He wants to embrace us.
There was a Conference taking place in town. The theme of the Conference focused on “Better Relationships with your teenage children.” The presenter was telling the parents in the audience to reach out more to their teenage children. These days parents spend little time with their children. Their professions are occupying much of their time. When his presentation was finished, he opened the floor up for any questions and comments. One father walked up to the microphone with a question. “You have spoken with us about our failure to reach out to our children. My wife and I have tried to reach out to our teenage children over and over with no resolution. Our best efforts have been often rejected by our children. What suggestions can you offer us?” The same scenario is true with adult children not spending time with their parents in their later years.
Jesus understood the pain that the father in this story was feeling as well. Time and time again, Jesus reached out to the people in Jerusalem but His best efforts were often rejected. The people failed to listen to the Old Testament Prophets before Jesus’ time.
Today’s Reflection Question: How do we respond when our love is not being appreciated by those around us? How are we responding to Jesus’ concern for His people?
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Have you ever noticed that anytime Jesus had an important event in the Gospel passages, Jesus went off to be with His Heavenly Father in prayer. We hear an example of this in today’s Gospel. The calling of the 12 Apostles was an important moment in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus chose 12 ordinary men to do something extraordinary in their lives. Jesus is calling you and I to something special. How will we respond to Jesus’ call?
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of the following 2 Apostles: St. Simon the Zealot and St. Jude. St. Simon belonged to a sect among the Jews called the Zealots. He suffered martyrdom in Persia. St. Jude, also known as Thaddaeus, preached the Gospel message in Judea, Samaria, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. St. Jude was the author of an Epistle to the Churches of the East. He suffered martyrdom in Armenia. He was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
St. Simon and St. Jude, pray for us.
Scripture Reflection – Tuesday October 27, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
We know what a watermelon is. It is said to be a fruit and medicine at the same time with Vitamins A,C and E. And there are those seeds that we dig out..
Each of those seeds is a wonder in itself. Each has the capacity to grow up to 200,000 times or more of its size and become yet another watermelon.
We may not be that familiar with mustard seeds or with yeast and dough, but certainly the watermelon seed and the watermelon will give us an adequate picture of what Jesus is talking about in the gospel.
In the two parables which is about the kingdom of God, Jesus talked about a growth that is beyond imagining.
The Church began as a very small number of faithful followers of Jesus Christ, indeed much like a tiny seed planted in the earth. The growth of the Church has often been characterized by pain, much like the growing pains we experience daily in our lives. The Church has seen martyrdom, divisions by heresies and schisms. Nor will the struggle end until Christ comes again.
The 1st reading tells us that growth is not without struggle or suffering. It urges us to give way to one another, but it is for a higher purpose. We give way to one another in obedience to Christ. So whether it is in marriage, in the family, at the workplace or in relationships, we give way to others out of love for Christ, and also out of love for them. That seed of love that is planted in our hearts can only germinate and grow when we give way to others in obedience to Christ. Thenwe will bear the fruits of the kingdom of God, fruits of peace, joy and love for God and for others.
Today let us reflect on the power of a tiny seed. We should never scorn any small beginnings in our lives. We should never under look the power of God in tiny beginnings. Big things have small beginnings. No little efforts to advance God’s kingdom on earth should be despised. Never be afraid of growing slowly. Be afraid of stagnancy in life. God always gives you “a mustard seed,” a gift, an opportunity-something that causes you to hope. Recognize that seed. Focus on it. Take care of the seed.
Daily Scripture Reflection Monday Oct 26, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Physical pain, sickness and illness are part and parcel of life. Still they are not to be taken lightly as they wear us down and we don’t have that quality of life that we desire. Hence, good health is what we pray for so that we can live life fully and happily.
In the gospel, we heard of a woman who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that left her enfeebled, and she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright. She was in the synagogue, and obviously her foremost prayer would be one for relief of her affliction. When Jesus cured her of her infirmity, she immediately straightened up and with great rejoicing, she glorified God. If such is the joy of a physical healing, then there is an even greater joy in spiritual healing. Sin in any form is a spiritual affliction that makes us impure and erodes the peace and joy in our hearts.
Every minute of every hour, God is inviting us, calling out to us, to love Him, to be freed by Him. Whether they are the chains of addiction, or the depression that comes from setbacks, attitudes of self-righteousness like that of the synagogue leader, or bitterness toward people who betrayed our trust, or fear that keeps us from becoming devoted to the works of charity, God wishes to bring us freedom from the things that infirm us.
This might mean the total elimination of these oppressive forces, an immediate healing miracle, but it certainly means bringing us freedom of spirit, which allows us to live faithfully to Him amidst our infirmities and hardships. St. Paul exhorts us “remember that you have been called to live in freedom”.
He gives some examples of the sins that destroys us within. Sin darkens our hearts, but God’s forgiveness shines the light and cleanses us and brings us peace and joy. Let us always stay united with God and be children of the light
Thursday, October 22, 2020 – Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. John Paul II. Karol Joseph Wojtyla was born in Poland in 1920. His mother died when he was very young, so he was raised by his father and older brother. He looked upon Mother Mary as his mother. He was an athlete and enjoyed his studies in school. He also loved theater and literature and wanted to be a professional actor.
During the Nazi occupation in Poland during World War II, he worked as a stonecutter while belonging to a Catholic organization and still acting in the theater secretly.
He then decided on a vocation to the priesthood in 1942 and was ordained in 1946. Twelve years later, he was named auxiliary Bishop of Krakow and a full Bishop 4 years later. He was born a leader. Pope Paul VI elevated him to Cardinal in 1967. In 1978 at the young age of 58, he was elected to the Papacy taking the name of Pope John Paul II. He was the first Polish Pope and non-Italian Pope since 1522.
Pope John Paul II changed the way the Papacy was viewed upon in the outside world. Like the Apostles, he traveled all over the earth bringing the Church’s message to his flock. On May 13, 1981, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, he was shot by a Muslim assassin in St. Peters Square. He miraculously survived the wounds and attributed his survival to Our Lady’s intervention. Pope John Paul II would later visit his assassin in prison and forgave him. He was a prolific writer who wrote many books on spirituality and countless encyclicals to move the Church toward the true teaching of Christ. He established World Youth Day, an event that is still in existence today.
Pope John Paul II died in 2005 but will be forever remembered as one of the most dynamic and great Popes ever to succeed St. Peter. On May 1, 2011 Pope John Paul II was made Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI on Divine Mercy Sunday, which he had established. On April 29, 2014 Pope Francis canonized both Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 122 – 123.)
St. John Paul II pray for us.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Have you ever wondered how a US Navy Aircraft Carrier refuels while it is out at sea? The refueling ship comes up on the side of the carrier at a distance away. Someone on the Aircraft Carrier will shoot a line over to the Supply Ship which is attached to the fuel hose. Once the line is attached, we then begin the process of pulling over the fuel hose and attach it to the gas line. Then the fuel begins the process of transferring over to the aircraft carrier. The same process takes place for sending over the food, the supplies and the weapons. It is amazing to watch the underway replenishments of the ships take place out in the open ocean.
Had St. Paul lived in today’s modern world, I think he would have used this story to make his point that he stressed in today’s first reading to the Ephesians. Paul, “the least of God’s people,” was the tiny, fragile thread by which God began the conversion of the Gentile world.
How is God using us to accomplish something great right here in Inverness, Florida today?
From a spark, you get a roaring fire.
Daily Reflection, Tuesday October 20, 2020 by Fr. Claudius Mganga
The saint we honor today was born the son of a wealthy merchant near Genoa Italy, in 1694. He
received his early education from the Capuchin Franciscans. Even as a young boy he was marked with great sanctity. Not only did he excel in his
studies, but he was deeply reverent, and devoted to prayer, especially to Holy Mass.
Shortly after his confirmation, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Him in a vision wearing an all-black habit. This became the habit of the order he would found, called the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, known today as the Passionists.
The Passionist rule included dime daily for seclusion, penance, and several hours of contemplation of the Passion of Christ. They wore long black tunics made of rough cloth with the words “the passion of Christ” inscribed within a white heart.
Paul of the Cross became a very popular preacher, traveling bear-foot throughout Italy, preaching the Passion of Jesus. He attracted large crowds and was responsible for many conversions and miracles.
Passionists to this day visit parishes and seminaries
preaching and helping us more deeply conform ourselves to Christ’s passion. Paul of the Cross is one of the patron saints of evangelists.
Paul is, indeed, a fascinating man who lives the transforming experience of giving oneself over totally to a God who loves us!
St. Paul of the Cross is clearly a vivid example of the truth of the testimony of St. Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Corinthians. God’s wisdom and power, revealed in the Passion of His Son, Jesus Christ, is truly beyond human understanding.
As we remember the example of this great Saint, we ask God to keep us centered in the love God has for us as revealed in the Passion and Death of His Son.
Daily Reflection, Monday October 19, 2020 by: Fr. Claudius Mganga
We all place a high value on security, in its various forms. We like our lives to be financially secure; we like to feel that our job is secure, that our home is secure, that our health is secure, that we live we a secure society. Security is a very legitimate human need and requirement. In this part of the world we are likely to have more security that people who live in other parts of the world. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus speaks about security of life. He says that a person’s life is not made secure by what he owns. Possessions can only give us so much security and no more. The man in the parable we have just heard made the mistake of thinking that possessions would provide him with total security of life. Jesus declares in the gospel reading that it is the person who is rich in the sight of God who will be secure in the ultimate and true sense of that word. We are rich in the sight of God when we live our lives generously, when we give of ourselves, as Jesus did, rather than hoarding for ourselves, like the man in the parable. We pray that the same generous spirit that filled the life of Jesus would also fill our lives, so that we would know true and lasting security
The 1st reading tells us God loved us with so much love that He was generous with His mercy. When we were dead through our sins, He brought us to life with Christ and raised us up with Him and gave us a place with Him in heaven.
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Isaac Jogues, St. John de
Brebeuf and 6 french Jesuit companions, the first martyrs of North America to
be canonized by the Church
St. Isaac wrote a letter before his death. He wrote: “Our single endeavor should be to
give ourselves to the work of the spread of the Gospel and faithfulness to God,
and to not let our own desires get in the way of doing God’s work.”
For the Saints, the work of spreading the Gospel is not to cross their fingers and hope for the best. They actively pursue the salvation of
souls—they actively strive to bring others to Christ, so that they may know
Jesus in this life and in the life to come.
May the courage of our own North American Martyrs fill us
with fervor in continuing to work for the spread of the Gospel in our land and
around the world for the glory of God and salvation of souls, so that in the end we will inherit the true treasure, and that is eternal life with God.
Friday, October 16, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Who do we belong to? By our Baptism, we are marked Christians.
In the First Reading today, St. Paul uses the word “seal” to the Ephesians. “The Gospel of your salvation…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).”
The word “seal” designates a mark which people place on their property that they own. Military uniforms are worn so that the military officers can recognize their Soldiers, Airman, Marines or Naval personnel. Clement of Alexander told the second century Christians to use doves to represent the Holy Spirit, fish to represent Jesus and ships to represent the Church.
Think about Ash Wednesday. We come to the Liturgy to receive ashes on our forehead with the sign of the cross. This tells people that we are marked as Christians.
Reflection Question: Do we act as people who belong to Christ? In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 we read the following phrase: “God Himself…has placed His mark (seal) of ownership upon us.”
Thursday, October 15, 2020 Reflection – Fr. Tim
In the Gospel of John (15: 1-8) today, we read one of the “I Am” Statements of Jesus: “I am the true vine (John 15:1).” Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain connected with the vine, we will bear good fruit. What are we doing to remain connected with the true vine (Jesus)?
The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin and Doctor of the Church. She was born in Spain in 1515. She grew up in a large religious family. Her mother died when she was young and she had a tremendous effect in Teresa’s life. She became a Carmelite nun. A few years later, she became ill and left for nearly two years. During this time, she became a student of the practice of mental prayer. At the age if 40, she experienced a second conversion and began to experience mystical prayer accompanied by visions and voices. A few years later, she founded a convent and began to write books and started a reform movement returning to the primitive Carmelite rule. She encountered great opposition from other clergy over her mysticism and her reforms but her persistence overcame them all. Teresa was known for her writings. She died in Spain on October 4, 1582 and was canonized in 1628. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. St. Teresa of Avila pray for us. (The above information on the life of St. Teresa of Avila was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 208 – 209.)
Have a blessed day.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
One theme that we find in the First Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians is that faith must be accompanied by love.
St. Paul tells us that love is at the center of true and authentic Christian faith. How will people know that we are Christian? By our love that we have for one another.
Reflection Question for today: How loving are we towards one another?
1 Corinthians 13:2 “I may have all the faith needed to move mountains – but if I have no love, I am nothing.”
Monday, October 11, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
God sent the Prophet Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh that He was going to punish them for their sins. Imagine being Jonah, walking into Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, to proclaim its doom. No wonder Jonah was afraid to prophecy in Nineveh initially. The Ninevites finally heeded the prophet’s warning and repented of their sins. God forgave them and did not punish them.
Jesus compares Jonah’s preaching to Nineveh to His own preaching to Israel. The Ninevites were more responsive to Jonah’s call to repentance that the people of Israel were to Jesus’ call.
Reflection Question: How responsive are we to Jesus’ call to repentance? What steps are we taking to prevent us from falling into sin?
Wednesday, October 6, 2020 – Our Lady of the Rosary Reflection – Fr. Tim
My Granny Rose loved praying the Rosary several times a day. When I transferred to the University of South Florida in Tampa in 1989, I lived with my Grandmother the first year. She would be praying the Rosary when I left for classes in the morning. She would be praying when I returned home from class and she would be praying the rosary before she went to bed. She was probably praying the rosary for my future vocation to the priesthood. Her last Thanksgiving 2003 she was recovering from a fall in a nursing home. I went to visit her with my father that day. She was very restless so we decided to take her out to the courtyard to pray the Rosary. I start off with the Apostles Creed which I did not know by heart and switched over to the Nicene Creed (we pray on Sunday). My Grandmother looked at us and said: “That is not how you say the Apostles Creed. She then took over leading the Rosary.”
Let us look at the history of how the Rosary came in to being. The feast was established by Pope Pius V in 1573 in thanksgiving to God for the Christians armada’s defeat of the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the entire Church in 1716 after the Christian defeat of the Turks in Hungry. The rosary was said to have developed through the early Christian practice of reciting the 150 Psalms prayed by the Church. Those who were unable to read replaced the Psalms with 150 Our Fathers and eventually with 150 Hail Mary.
In 1208, Domingo de Guzman, a Spanish preacher, went to France to defend the faith against the Albigensian heresy. As Dominic prayed in the Chapel in Prouille, Our Lady appeared to him and taught him the complete rosary, attaching 15 promises for those who prayed the rosary faithfully. St. Dominic founded the Dominican Friars, opened monasteries and spread devotion to the rosary all over the world. Have you ever saw a Dominican Friar; they wear a rosary made from rope around their waist.
In 1917, Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Portugal to three shepherd children (Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia) as they were tending their sheep. During the sixth apparition on October 13th, Our Lady told the children that she wanted a chapel built there in her honor and she wanted people to pray the rosary daily. She told the children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”
The above information was taken from: “Illustrated Book of Mary.” pages 42-43.
Daily Reflection – Tuesday October 6, 2020
Memorial Feast of St. Bruno
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Both readings today testify to God making a call on people. In the first reading St. Paul tells the Galatians how he was persecuting Christians when Christ paid him a visit. The account of Christ’s appearance is the most authentic available. It is the personal testimony of someone who saw the risen Lord. Unfortunately, Paul does not elaborate beyond saying that Jesus was revealed to him so that he might proclaim him to the Gentiles.
In the gospel Jesus stops at Martha and Mary’s house for a visit. They are evidently his friends as Martha does not mind complaining to him. Indeed, they seem to be such good friends that Jesus can correct Martha’s attitude easily. Meanwhile, Mary knows that when the Lord comes, people should drop everything to listen.
Attentive listening to the word of the Lord in which we allow the Lord to serve us and feed us has a great value which be easily undermined by the anxious business of our lives.
There are times when the Lord calls us to be silent in his presence. Our inclination to anxious activity can lead us to miss those times. Sometimes we too need to choose the better part, to listen to the Lord in prayer when that is what he is calling us to.
Jesus comes to us especially in the Eucharist. But he also arrives throughout the day at unexpected moments. He may say something important to us through the friendly mail deliverer. Or perhaps when we face a setback, he will speak to us if we offer a prayer instead of a curse. He is always around and will make himself apparent if we open ourselves to him
Today is a memorial feast of St. Bruno, priest. He is the founder of the Carthusians monks and nuns withdraw from the world in order to focus on what really matters, and they remind us to do the same, sometimes the world of noise, busyness, and distraction seeks to deprive us of the peace and joy God wishes to give us. we need moments every day, where we truly withdraw from the world to cling to Christ. There are contemplative monks and nuns, who have followed this vocation: to enter
the silence to pray. They pray for us
constantly, that we can be free from all that keeps us from the deep
faithfulness God wishes for each of us.
Let us ask the intercession of the blessed mother virgin Mary to help us to listen to her beloved Son Jesus Christ.
Daily Reflection – Monday Oct 5, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37
Here we have the conclusion to the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. First, robbers beat him and left him for dead. Then a priest walked by and ignored him. And then a Levite walked by also ignoring him. Finally, the Samaritan walked by and took care of him with great generosity.
Interestingly, when Jesus asked the disciples which of these three acted as a neighbor; they didn’t respond “the Samaritan.” Rather, they responded, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Mercy was the key focus.
It is so easy to be judgmental and harsh with one another. If you read the newspapers or listen to the news commentators you can’t help but hear continual judgment and condemnation. Our fallen human nature seems to thrive on being critical of others. And when we are not critical, we are often tempted to act like the priest and Levite in this story. We are tempted to turn a blind eye to those in need. The key must be to always show mercy and show it in superabundance.
Reflect, today, upon the call God gives you to show mercy. Mercy, in order to be true mercy, must hurt. It must “hurt” in the sense that it requires you to let go of your pride, selfishness and anger and choose to show love instead. You choose to show love to the point that it hurts. But that hurt is a true source of healing in that it cleanses you of your sin. Saint Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Mercy is the kind of love that may hurt at first, but in the end leaves only love.
Thursday, October 1, 2020 – Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
Therese was born in Alencon, France on January 2, 1873. She was baptized with the name of Marie Francoise Therese. She was the ninth and final child of her parents. Five of their daughters entered religious life.
Therese entered the Carmel Religious Order at the age of 15 and became a novice one year later and professed her vows the following year. For three years, she had simple jobs to do and at the age of 17 she was put in charge of the sacristy. During the nine years she spent in the convent, she apparently never did anything remarkable but her writings were amazing. She was asked to write down all of her childhood recollections. The resulting manuscripts which covered all her life was published after her death as a book, “The Story of a Soul.” Her book took the Christian world by storm.”
Sr. Therese’s “Little Way” of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and complete self-surrender, the way of simplicity and perfection has become a pattern for millions of people. She is the saint of an era. God enabled her to attain holiness through ordinary means in a short period of time. She died on September 30, 1887 not quite the age of 25. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. She is the Patron Saint of African Missions, AIDS sufferers, Bodily ills and Tuberculosis. (The following information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 210 – 211.)
St. Therese of Lisieux pray for us.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” This quote is from St. Jerome whose Feast Day is celebrated today.
When I was attending DePaul Catholic School in New Jersey, I had a theology teacher by the name of Dr. Donald Dalzell. At the beginning of each class, Dr. Dalzell would pick 5 students randomly to try to stomp him in Scripture. If we were successful in stumping our theology teacher, he would not give his students any homework. As hard as we tried, we were never successful. Later, we realized that he did this task to have us open up the Bible.
Who was St. Jerome? St. Jerome was born in the early 340’s. He went to Rome where he studied rhetoric, grammar and the classics along with Greek and Latin. He was baptized between 360 – 366, took time to travel and finally settled in Aquileia where he became a monk. He traveled to Antioch around 374 where he became seriously ill. While he was sick, he had a vision that convinced Jerome to set aside his secular studies and devote his life to God. He became a hermit in the Syrian Desert and for 5 years he learned Hebrew so he could study the scriptures in their original language. He returned to Antioch and was ordained a priest. He went to Constantinople where he studied scripture under St. Gregory Nazianzen and began to translate the early writings of the Church from Greek to Latin. During this time, Jerome spent time on Biblical translations, wrote a number of commentaries on the Bible and began to produce a Latin text of the entire Bible called the Vulgate. He moved to Bethlehem in 385 along with his brother and some friends and established a monastery and several convents. He died in 420 in Bethlehem and was buried beneath the Church of the Nativity. His remains were later moved to St. Mary Major in Rome. He is the Patron Saint of Scholars and Librarians. (Material was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 106 – 107.)
Why don’t we take some time every day to reflect on the Scriptures. St. Jerome pray for us.
Daily Reflection – Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael-Sept 29,2020
By: Father Claudius Mganga
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael that are mentioned in the Bible.
Archangels, and angels, are servants of God and in particular, the three archangels are given special missions to carry out God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
St. Michael was given the task of leading the army of angels of heaven to fight and defeat and to drive out the devil and the fallen angels out of heaven.
He is the protector of God’s people and we turn to him with the “Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel” whenever we face mortal or spiritual dangers.
St. Gabriel was the messenger of God’s plan of salvation, firstly to Zechariah when he was offering incense at the Temple, and then to Mary at the Annunciation.
We turn to him for his assistance especially when we have difficulty in proclaiming God’s message, whether orally or in written form.
St. Raphael appeared in the Book of Tobit where he declared that he was sent by the Lord to heal Tobit of his blindness and to deliver Sarah, his future daughter-in-law, from the demon, who killed every man she married on their wedding night before the marriage can be consummated.
We turn to him for his intercession in times of illness and in praying for a cure.
So in this feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we ask for their help and intercession as we face the dangers, difficulties and the distress of life.
And we also give thanks to God for sending these His servants and messages to help us in our need and to guide us along the journey of life
Daily Scripture Reflection – Monday, Sept 28, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Why would the Apostles try to prevent someone from casting a demon out in Jesus’ name? Jesus was not concerned about it and, in fact, tells them not to prevent him. So why were the Apostles concerned? Most likely because of jealousy.
The jealousy we see in this case among the Apostles is one that can creep into the Church at times. It has to do with a desire for power and control. The Apostles were upset because the person casting out demons did not follow in their company. In other words, the Apostles were not able to be in charge of this person.
Though this may be hard to understand it may be helpful to see it in a modern context. Say someone is in charge of a ministry at church and another person or persons start up a new ministry. The new ministry is quite successful and, as a result, those who have been working in the older more established ministries may get upset and a bit jealous.
This is silly but it’s also reality. It happens all the time, not only within a church setting but also in our daily lives. When we see someone else doing something that is successful or bearing good fruit, we may get envious or jealous.
In this case, with the Apostles, Jesus is quite understanding and compassionate about the whole thing. But He is also quite clear. “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” Do you see things in life this way? When someone does well do you rejoice or are you negative? When another does good things in Jesus’ name, does that fill your heart with gratitude that God is using that person for good or do you get envious?
Reflect, today, upon the many good things going on all around you. Reflect, especially, upon those who are furthering the Kingdom of God. And reflect upon how you feel about them. Pray that you will see them as your coworker in the vineyard of Christ rather than as your competitor
Saturday, September 26, 2020 – Feast Day of St. Paul VI , Pope – Fr. Tim
What was Pope Paul VI known for?
He was born Giovanni Batista Montini on September 26, 1897 in Brescia, Italy. He died on August 6, 1978 at Castel Grandolfo, Italy. He served as the Vatican Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. He was named to the College of Cardinals in 1958 by Pope John XXIII. He succeeded Pope John XXIII as Pope. Pope Paul VI reconvened the Council Vatican II. After the implementation of the Council’s mandates, he walked a thin line between the various sides. He sought open dialogue with other Christian denominations and other religions. He had a devotion to Mary and named her “Mother of the Church.“. He was the first pope to travel to 6 continents. He was a diplomat working well with those of different opinions but was unwavering with Church teachings. (Louise-Leaf Lectionary – Liturgical Press – Saturday, September 26, 2020 – page # 1304)
Thanks to the wisdom of both Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, we have the ability to full active participation in the Liturgy. Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI pray for us.
Thursday, September 24, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
How many of us have come across products out in the market place with the following marking ploys: 1) New, 2) Improved, 3) Works so much efficiently? These words are used by the advertising companies to get the products out into the hands of the customers. Why do they do that? They want us to think that their products are better than the previous products.
In our first reading today we hear from the Book of Ecclesiastes. The author of the book is known as the teacher. The book was written in the 4th or 3rd century BC. The themes that are found in Ecclesiastes are: 1) Life is not always fair. 2) There are no easy answers. 3) Only faith in God is where true wisdom is found.
The author would not be overly impressed with today’s advertising claims. “Nothing is new under the sun!” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) The teacher is not convinced of the claims that something is new and improved. He has seen it before.
Advertisements can get us thinking that our lives are not good enough, that we have to have more things and new things in order to be happy. Or should we have the attitude of the Teacher if we truly desire happiness. Throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes, the teacher (writer) invites each one of us to enjoy what we have now.
Questions for reflection: 1) Have you ever gotten something because of its advertising, only to be discouraged after your purchase? 2) Are you content with the things you currently have – home, food, clothes, etc.?
Wednesday, September 23, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Padre Pio.
Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina, Italy in 1887. His family lived on a farm and were shepherds. At the age of 16, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars and was ordained a priest when he was only 20 years old.
After returning home for a while due to his health concerns, he was sent to the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he remained for the remainder of his life. While he was praying before a crucifix on September 20, 1918, he received the stigmata wounds of Christ and was the first priest ever to be so blessed.
Padre Pio was becoming quite popular. American Soldiers were returning home from World War II with stories about Padre Pio. People were making pilgrimages to meet Padre Pio.
Padre Pio would hear confessions for hours a day. He was able to read the conscious of those who held back some of their sins. He was also blessed with the ability to bilocate, levitate and heal the sick through his touch and prayers.
He foretold John Paul II’s papacy when the future pope was a young Polish priest visiting Padre Pio. Padre Pio founded a hospital that cares for over 60,000 people a year and he founded prayer groups that continue today. Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968 and was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Many miracles and cures have been attributed to the intercession of Saint Padre Pio. The meaning of his name: The pious one.
(The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 168 – 169.)
Patricia Ann Frank Uzar, Tim Cummings and 3 others
Daily Reflection – Tuesday September 22, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Family means a great deal to all of us; we treasure our parents, our spouses, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. We are familiar with the saying, ‘blood is thicker than water’. We can have mixed feelings from time to time about the members of our family, but, at the end of the day, we tend to stick by our own flesh and blood.
In the Mid-Eastern culture in which Jesus was born and raised, family, clan and tribe were the fundamental social units.
The gospels suggest that whereas Jesus valued greatly his natural family, his real focus was elsewhere. He looked beyond his flesh and blood family to a different kind of family that he was engaged in forming, the family of his disciples. That is clear from this today’s gospel reading. Without disowning in any way his mother, and brothers and sisters, he says that his real mother and brothers and sisters are those who hear God’s word and do it. we are all part of the great spiritual family of the church.
We were made brothers and sisters of Jesus at Baptism. But the distinction needs continual updating. This happens in the Eucharist. We hear the word of God and are nourished by Christ’s body and blood. Then we are sent to put what we heard and were nourished by into action
Reflect, today, upon the invitation of Jesus to be a member of His intimate family. Hear that invitation and say “Yes” to it. And as you say “Yes” to this invitation, be ready and willing to let His voice and His divine will change your life
Patricia Ann Frank Uzar, Laura Woythaler Manos and 6 others
Daily Reflection Monday September 21, 2020
The Feast of St. Matthew. Apostle, Evangelist
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga:
People leave their jobs for all sorts of reasons: more pay, better opportunity, and many others. Today’s Saint Matthew left his job for a better boss.
While sitting at a custom’s post, Matthew saw a man who would not only change his life, but the history of the world, forever. He followed the Christ, and invited him into his home. and then…the normal day ended. Jesus said to Matthew, simply, directly, and with force, “Follow me.” And then something astonishing happened. Matthew followed Him.
Matthew, of course, would be chosen by the Lord as one of the Twelve, and would carry the Gospel after the Lord’s death and resurrection throughout Persia and as far as Ethiopia, where he was martyred on order of the king. St. Matthew is the patron saint of accountants, civil servants and bankers.
Christ passes by in every life. Everyone has their chance to say “Yes” or “No,” to stay or follow, to change or remain the same. That moment may come only once and never return. Every day He calls us to serve Him radically and completely in one way or another. And every day we have an opportunity to respond just as Matthew did. The key is to have two essential qualities.
• First, we must recognize the voice of Jesus clearly and unmistakably. We must, in faith, know what He says to us when He says it.
• Secondly, we must be certain that whatever Jesus calls or inspires us to do is worth it. If we can perfect these two qualities, we will be in a position to imitate the quick and total response of St. Matthew.
Reflect, today, upon your willingness to imitate this Apostle. What do you say and do when God calls each day? Where you see a lacking, recommit yourself to a more radical following of Christ. You will not regret it.
The central message of Matthew’s gospel is the coming of God’s Kingdom and the need to shift to a new heart and a new way of leading a devout life. How can this be done when throughout human history, there is so much divisiveness? Do the words of encouragement from St. Paul to his struggling Christian communities offer insights that might apply to our time?
In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul encourages us to live beyond what separates us, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2). In Paul’s letter, the phrase bond of peace seems especially important. A bond joins securely, forms a close attachment that is not easily separated or broken. In the context of Ephesians, it seems to be the bonding agent that pulls together Paul’s other characteristics of the Christian life. It is strong enough to hold in solidarity the diversity and complexity of human relations that comprise Church – humanity. What better glue than a warm, soft blanket of God’s peace gently and securely enfolding and bonding us together as we seek to grant mercy to others.
Today, can we embrace our need for the Physician that heals our souls?
Today, as we acknowledge God’s mercy for us, can we offer mercy to other hurting souls?
Thursday, September 17, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine S.J. He was born in Tuscany, Italy in October of 1542. He was the third child of ten in a family that was of noble descent yet they were a family without much money. His mother was dedicated to alms giving, prayer, meditation and fasting. His father wanted Robert to enter into politics. Due to his education by the Jesuits and his mother’s holiness, he chose to enter into the Society of Jesus when he turned 18 years old.
Robert studied at many Jesuit centers of learning over the next ten years and was ordained a priest in Belgium in 1570. His first assignment was to be a professor of theology at the University of Louvain for six years. While he was teaching at Louvain, he caught the attention of Pope Gregory XII who requested that he teach theology at the Collegio Romano in Rome, Italy. During his time in Rome, Robert wrote in defense of the Catholic faith against the attacks which the Protestants were spreading across all of Europe. His works helped stop the spread of false teachings. He also wrote a children’s catechism and a teacher’s catechism. He became the Rector of the College and then went on to become the provincial of the Jesuits in Naples, Italy. He was named a personal theologian to Pope Clement VIII. Robert wrote against King James I of England in defense of the Catholic Church because of the king’s split with the Church’s authority. He was made a Cardinal in 1598 by the Pope and lived the rest of his life in Rome where he gave most of his money to the poor. He used his tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor people. “The walls will not catch a cold.”
Robert died in 1621 of natural causes and was canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI. He is the Patron Saint of Canon lawyers, catechists and canonists. (The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 194 – 195).
This Sunday is Catechetical Sunday. So for all those who are teaching the Catholic faith in the Parishes, Schools, and Home Happy Feast Day of St. Robert Bellarmine.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 – Fr. Tim
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of two martyrs: St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian. A martyr is somebody who was killed for witnessing their religious faith. Both these two saints lived during the Early Church History when the Catholic Church was experiencing persecution from the Roman Empire. Many Christians were dying at the hands of the Roman authority for witnessing outwardly their Christian beliefs.
St. Cornelius was scarcely elected Pope. Novatian also claimed the Papacy. A Synod in Italy was established where Cornelius had gained the support of 60 Bishops and became the lawful Pope. He corresponded with St. Cyprian with regards to the reception of the Apostates (Christians who were renouncing their religious beliefs due to the intense persecutions by the Roman Emperor.) The Roman Emperor believed that they had the ultimate authority while the Papacy was claiming that the Papacy has the ultimate authority. It was the early witness for the primacy of the Papacy. St. Cornelius died a martyr’s death in the year 252 AD.
St. Cyprian was born in Carthage in Africa. He became a public professor of Rhetoric in Carthage. He converted to Christianity and eventually became a priest. Fr. Cyprian was appointed to succeed Donatus as Bishop of Carthage. In a period of ten years, St. Cyprian led his flock through a two-year persecution under the Roman Emperor, Decius, he defended the unity of the Church against two schismatic movements, he was the soul of the city’s morale during a plague and he experienced exile where he kept up the spirits of his people through his correspondences. He was martyred in 258 under the Roman Emperor Valerian.
(The above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 416 – 417.)
The question for reflection today: How are we witnessing our Catholic faith in our community today? Let us call upon the intercessions of both St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian today as we boldly witness our Catholic faith.
Daily Reflection – Our Lady of Sorrows Tuesday September 15, 2020 by Fr. Claudius Mganga
When someone we love suffers, we suffer along with them. The more we love someone, the more we suffer when they suffer. This is especially true of parents when their children suffer. When a son or daughter is suffering physically or emotionally or mentally, the mother and father is suffering just as much as their child is suffering, and sometimes even more so. There is no love without suffering.
In a normal circumstance, a mother carries her baby in her womb for nine months before giving birth to her child. In a deep sense, it can be said that the mother “knits” her baby in her womb and it is truly flesh from her flesh. So, the intense sorrow of a mother is also understandable when she sees her child being tortured and dies, especially if that is her only child.
The feast of our Lady of Sorrows brings us back to the Cross where Jesus was crucified and hung dying in front of his mother. In that intense moment of sorrow, the dying Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing near her, and He said to His mother, “Woman, this is your son. “And to the disciple, He said, “This is your mother.”
That wouldn’t have lessened the sorrow of Mary but even in that painful moment she knew she had let go of her son, the flesh of her flesh, and accept to be the mother of other children that Jesus is giving to her.
This feast of our Lady of Sorrows reminds us that Our Lady cries in sorrow for each of her children who dies in the torment of injustice as Jesus did.
Mary also cries in sorrow when each of her children dies in sin and eternal damnation.
Let us turn away from sin and work for peace and justice and pray with Mary for the conversion of sinner so that the sorrow of all mothers will be consoled.
Reflection of The Feast of the Holy Exaltation of the Cross, Monday, September 14, 2020. By: Fr. Claudius Mganga:
Life is surrounded by symbols, and these symbols point to a deeper aspect of life which is called mystery.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Once again, we see in the scriptures how God unfolds his plan of salvation over thousands of years. The Gospel clearly shows us that when Moses raised the Serpent on a pole to save the people from their sins how this foretold that Christ would be lifted high on the cross to save us from our sins.
For us Christians, the profound symbol of our faith is the cross. Yet the meaning of the cross may not be that explicit because it points to a deep mystery of life and love. At first sight, the cross is an instrument of death and suffering. It can be a stumbling block because we want to avoid suffering.
But with Jesus nailed to the cross, what the cross was meant to do is no longer as important as what God meant it to do. In the cross, we see the love of God for humanity, that God came into the world not to condemn the world but to save the world. In the cross, we see God offering His love and His life for us. In the cross, we see healing and the forgiveness of sins. In the cross, we see the invitation to discipleship, as well as the cost of discipleship. In the cross, is not just the symbol of Christianity, but the reality of Christianity.
When we accept the cross, then we will enter into the mystery of life and love. When we accept the cross, we become disciples of Jesus and through the cross, we are united with Jesus for the salvation of the world. One way we do that is by making the sign of the cross often
throughout the day: At Mass in the beginning and at the end, before our meals, before we begin work, before we go to bed, before we study, we should make the sign of the cross and ask God to bless us. Another way is by making sure your home has a crucifix on the wall in a prominent place. This is important in our increasingly secular culture. Someone visiting your home might have no other exposure to Christian symbols of faith. And it is good for all family members, to have the cross in a prominent place is a reminder of that love family members are to practice towards one another. We are not just to look upon the cross, but to encounter the depths of God’s love for us by reflecting upon it. By meditating upon the cross, God will continue to free us from all sin and selfishness, that we may become the people he made us to be for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Reflect, today, upon the Cross of Christ. Spend some time gazing upon the crucifix. See in that crucifix the answer to your own daily struggles. Jesus is close to those who suffer, and His strength is available to all those who believe in Him.
Sunday Reflections September 13, 2020
By: Fr.Claudius Mganga
All three readings today remind us of the path to forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation and challenge us to walk this, the only Way to Life.
What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is act of letting go; to forgive is to bring oneself to the point of holding no grudges against someone who has wronged and hurt you. To forgive is to triumph against the temptation to retaliate and to revenge!
The gospel parable uses the imagery of a monetary debt to point to a spiritual debt. When others do wrong to us, how willing are we to forgive, especially when they don’t seem to deserve it.
When people owe us money and they don’t pay up, or when they won’t pay up, it is painful. And whenever we think about it, the knife of resentment and anger twists in our hearts and it becomes more and more difficult to forgive them.
But when others do wrong to us, it can be more painful because the knife goes round and round in our hearts making a big hole in our hearts and all kindness and compassion are drained away.
The antagonist could be an abusive parent, an unfaithful spouse, a scheming sibling, a back-stabbing colleague, or even a gossip-mongering friend, relative, neighbor or parishioner. The hurt and the pain may make it so difficult to forgive.
But the 1st reading reminds us of this: Resentment and anger, these are things, and both are found in the sinner. Forgive your neighbor the pain he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. Jesus said likewise in the gospel: forgive each other from your heart.
For this, the 1st reading has this profound teaching: Remember the last things and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbor ill-will; remember the covenant of the Highest, and overlook the offence.
Yes, let us remember that the gospel is about forgiveness. Just as Jesus forgives His enemies, we too must forgive others. Just as Jesus forgives, our sins are also forgiven.
And as we remember the last things, let us stop hating and start forgiving. And as we forgive those who trespass against us, the Lord will also forgive us our trespasses.
Most people have faced situations where they struggle to let go of bitterness, anger, or resentment.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant reminds us how imperfect we are, how indebted to God for His outpouring of mercy each person truly is.
We need to forgive, forget and be reconciled: In the light of eternity and considering the shortness of our span of life, harboring old grudges is pointless. What God expects from us, and offers us grace to accomplish, is limitless forgiving and a willingness to overlook faults and to keep on loving even in the face of insults.
Let me conclude by asking each of you to find ways to strengthen your Shock-absorbers! The stronger the shock absorber the better the car, and the easier it is for the car to endure rough roads. Some of us have very weak shock absorbers for the potholes of life, such that even a small thing hurts us greatly. Remember that grudges kept at heart and in the mind are like poison. It kills the carrier, not the person aimed at!
Saturday, September 12, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Theme we hear in today’s first reading from 1 Corinthians: We are one body. One of the lessons that we learned from September 11, 2001 was to see our Military, First Responders (Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMT and a Franciscan priest, Fr. Mychal Judge, and everyday civilians assisting people assisting people to safety from the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. They could have easily stayed away but they did not. 343 First Responders and a priest died thinking of others. As a nation we were all united. If only we could be united today.
Who makes up the Body of Christ? People we know such as our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, parishioners. But the list does not stop there. The Body of Christ also includes the outcasts of society (homeless, prisoners), the stranger, people living outside the USA, etc.
Question to reflect on today. Do we see Christ in the needy in our midst? “Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers (sisters) of mine, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Daily Reflection, Friday, September 11, 2020
Sports in many forms have been part of human life for at least as long as history can record. The city of Corinth during Paul’s time hosted Olympic type games every two years. The prizes were not money or even Gold medals but only honorary crowns made of pine branches.
Paul reflected on how much discipline and effort were required to win a mere wreath destined only to wither. Even if he had known of the millions of dollars paid to professional athletes now days, he would have considered the sum as nothing compared with the imperishable crown granted by the Lord Jesus to his faithful followers.
His conclusion is obvious. If athletes are willing to sacrifice so much for something which is ultimately without significance, how much more should be willing to give everything to Christ!
How many people we know who are engaged in struggling for advancement in business whose reward turns out to be severe case of ulcers or perhaps nervous breakdown? What about politician stepping over other people to get to the top only to find his ambition cut short by heart attack.
For us we must constantly ask ourselves; What are our goals, where are we headed, what are we dedicated to in life. We need to consider the motive behind of all our ambitions. Are they done out of love for God and they are his will for us ?
In his parable about the blind leading the blind, Jesus teaches us to respect, admire and learn from each other’s gifts. Otherwise, in our ignorance we will be proud and arrogant, like a blind man trying to guide another. Each of us needs the insights of others to balance our own views and judgments. We need mutual and sincere interaction in the Church to keep us on the right path to community and eternal life.
Our limited insight into each other makes it hard to lead others in a way that is fair and just. We may be tempted to think that we see so much more clearly what needs to be done.
In the other image, Jesus warns us be aware of our own defects before judging others
It’s hard to see our own faults because our sin of pride blinds us. Pride keeps us from any honest self-reflection. Pride becomes a mask we wear which presents a false persona. Pride is an ugly sin because it keeps us from the truth. It keeps us from seeing ourselves in the light of truth and, as a result, it keeps us from seeing the log in our own eye.
Reflect, today, upon whether or not you struggle with being judgmental toward those around you. Especially reflect upon whether or not you tend to be more critical of those striving for holiness
Thursday, September 10, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
During the course of our travels, we have probably utilized a GPS – Global Positioning System. This device helps us to navigate to our desired destination providing that we type in the correct address and follow the directions. The GPS is a very helpful tool in during my Pastoral Visits to the parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima.
In our Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 139) today we prayed the following response: “Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.” We all know the importance of following the direction that Jesus has laid out for the faithful. I am certain that we are all setting our sights on Heaven when our earthly life has concluded in the future. How do we get to Heaven? We read the Bible (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) which gives us a road map on how we are called to live our life. We read about the Lives of the Saints as they inspire each of us in our daily journey. We follow the commandments of love with God and those around us. We exercise our Corporal Works of Mercy with those we come into contact. We participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
Which direction are we following? There goes the voice on the GPS, time to recalculate our direction.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Bishop Gregory Parkes has requested that each parish across the Diocese of St. Petersburg to pray for an end to racism in our communities on this feast day of St. Peter Claver.
The Catholic Church is often criticized for her teaching on social justice issues especially with regards to the sanctity of human life. We know from the Church’s teachings that human life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. It does not matter if you are young or old, male or female, rich or poor, homeless or not, prisoner or free person, religious person or not religious person, or the color of our skin. All human life matters and is important to God. God did not create a specific class to be more important than the other. What it boils down to is a lack of love that we have towards our fellow brothers and sisters.
The Church celebrates the feast of St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest. St. Peter Claver was born in Catalonia, Spain in 1580. He entered the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits and was ordained in 1616. He arrived in Cartagena in Columbia in 1610, which was the principal slave market of the New World where a thousand slaves were brought every month. After his ordination, he dedicated his service to the black slaves for the next 33 years. He labored for the salvation of the slaves and the abolition of the slave trade. St. Peter Claver would board the slave ships as they entered the harbor and offer the slaves whatever poor refreshments he could afford. He would care for the sick and the dying. He would instruct them in the faith before administering the sacraments. Through his efforts, three hundred thousand souls entered the Catholic Church. He vowed to be “the slave of the blacks for ever.” St. Claver died in 1654 and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. (Information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 404 – 405.)
How can we share God’s love with those around us today? St. Peter Claver pray for us.
Sunday, September 6, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Am I my brothers keeper? Am I my sisters keeper? This is the question that we find in today’s Gospel passage.
Today’s readings provide a clear picture of what it means to be a Christian. Yes, it is a matter of believing the teachings of the Catholic Church. Additionally, being a Christian involves living the Gospel message and striving to follow Christ’s example. We have to care about our brothers and sisters. We are called to live as a community, joined in mutual love and support. This commitment to community is not always easy; it can be a challenge at times.
The Prophet Ezekiel tells us about his assignment to minister to the community, the house of Israel. Sometimes a prophet’s message is one of consolation and God’s loving care for His people. However, today, we hear about a warning from the Prophet Ezekiel. The wicked ways of the people must be challenged and the prophets has the responsibility of telling the people about the consequences they will experience if they fail to change their sinful ways. The people were not very receptive to the prophet’s message today.
Communities are not perfect. From time to time there will be conflicts and difficulties between family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues and even among parishioners. The important lesson that we can take from today’s Scriptures. If we are experiencing difficulties with other people, Jesus challenges us to resolve them now. Ignoring the situation will cause harm to the bigger community.
As Christians, we come together to worship God. Why do we come together to celebrate as a Church community? Because we need one another. When we meet with other people who are trying to lead lives faithful to the Gospel we draw strength from them. We also offer encouragement to others as part of a community of faith.
As we heard from St. Paul in the second reading, the greatest thing that we can do together as a community is to follow the commandments. By loving our sisters and brothers, we share the same love that God has shown us. So let us set out this week to love one another.
Saturday, September 5, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa. She was born on August 26, 1910. At the age of 18 she joined a group of nuns, the Sisters of Loretto, in Ireland. In 1929, she was sent to India to teach at a school in Calcutta. After witnessing the widespread of poverty on the streets of Calcutta, she left the Sisters of Loretto in 1948 to live full time among the poor. She chose to wear a white Indian Sari with blue trimmings. She formed a new Religious Order known as the Missionaries of Charity. After receiving official status from Pope Pius XII, her nuns took the traditional vows of chastity, obedience and poverty and made another vow to provide free services to the poorest of the poor. The Missionaries of Charity consists of over 5,000 sisters operating in over 130 countries across the globe. Mother Teresa was the recipient of many honors including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. After her death on September 5, 1997, the Vatican began the process of beatification. Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa a Saint on September 4, 2016. Her Feast Day is September 5th. (Information taken from Saint Teresa of Calcutta Prayer Card.)
One of the many lessons that we have learned from St. Teresa of Calcutta was to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, the outcasts of society. May we exercise our Corporal Works of Mercy every day with those around us on a daily basis. St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.
Daily Reflection Thursday, September 3, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
The Kings of the Gentiles lord their power over their subjects…but it shall not be so among you; rather, let the greatest be as the youngest, and the leader as servant.” Such a fitting Gospel reading for the memorial of St. Gregory the Great. He was the first Pope to refer to himself as the “servus servorum Dei” in Latin— meaning the servant of the servants of God, a title which Pope St. John Paul II, used for himself many times. The Pope does not sit upon top of the hierarchy lording his power over the Church, rather he is the servant of all, as he leads, guides, shepherds. Though, he is in a position of authority, he does not use that authority for his own gain, but for the common good and the good of the Church.
St. Gregory is one of only two popes formally given the title “the Great”. And in the end, he is known as great just because he was a competent administrator, but that he poured himself out in service to Christ. He knew that true human greatness is found a total and surrender to Christ. He put into practice all that he preached and became a living example of the Gospel he proclaimed.
He took keen interest in providing for the poor with the revenue received from the lands the Church owned. He also had a hand in modifying the liturgy and in forming “Gregorian chant.” He preached extremely well and wrote important books on morality and pastoral care. That’s why he has the title of the Doctor of the Church.
To be the greatest, we must become servant of all. This is Christ’s teaching whether you are Pope or President, Bishop or Grandparent, teacher, priest, parent, boss, employee, we are all called to emulate the servant heart of Christ; who though he was God, did not grasp at godliness, but emptied himself, and became a slave.
This does not mean that authority is bad, but that it must be used not for our own good, but for the common good.
Through the intercession of St. Gregory the Great, may we put all of our goods, talents, and abilities, our whole life, into the hands of God the Father, that we may be like his Son, the servant of all, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.
Daily Reflection – Wednesday, Sept 2, 2020
By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
One of the things that are among the top in our prayer list is to pray for good health.
Certainly, we know the importance of good health, and we would even say that health is wealth.
And we also know how illness and sickness can be and how depressing it is to be lying on a hospital bed.
Jesus came to proclaim the Good News of salvation and He also cured illness and diseases.
And there was one other thing that He did – He cast out devils and evil spirits.
Equally as important, if not more important that physical health, is spiritual health.
In the 1st reading, St. Paul pointed out the spiritual health of the Corinthians in that there was jealousy among themselves. That caused division in the community.
He reminds them that they are different from other people because they have been formed by Christ into his body. In him there is no place for rivalry. As he writes to the Galatians, in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.
Life in Christ makes us a new creation. We are to leave behind thinking of ourselves as better than others. We should no more form rival groups than consider our arms as more valuable than our feet. Christ has made us one in love to reflect the love between him and his Father
If there is division in the community, that is a sign of the unhealthy state of spiritual health.
Let us turn to Jesus and ask Jesus to cast out all the evil in us so that we can be spiritually healthy and work for unity as fellow workers with God.
Tuesday, September 1, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In the first reading today from 1 Corinthians, St. Paul reminds the people in Corinth that they have the minds of Christ. He was in Ephesus when Paul wrote this letter to the Community in Corinth. Paul received news that divisions were happening and harmful behaviors among the community were surfacing. Paul being their spiritual father, wrote his letter to address these concerns and to boost the morale as well as the faith of the community. Being a Disciple of Christ, we possess the gift of the Spirit in order to discern what is of God and what is not of God.
How can we preserve this gift of the Spirit and place on the mind of Christ one might ask? First, we need to study the Word of God in Scripture. We need to meditate on the Scripture. We also need to allow the Word to dwell in our hearts. Second, we are part of a bigger community. We do not walk this journey alone. We should seek assistance from the members of the community when there is a need.
Is there someone in our home, our school, our work, our parish community that is struggling in some way? What are we doing to assist our sister or brother in need?
Have a blessed day.
Monday, August 31, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth in today’s Gospel passage. It was there with St. Joseph that He learned the trade of Carpenter before He began His public ministry. The citizens from Nazareth have been hearing about Jesus’ teachings and miracles. Surely, it cannot be the Jesus that grew up with Mary and Joseph here in Nazareth?
Jesus said: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place (Luke 4:24).” Jesus went on to speak about two Gentiles, a widow in Zarephath and a leper, which upset the Jewish people in attendance. This event prepared Jesus to expect rejection during the course of His public ministry in the upcoming future.
When was the last time that you returned to visit the place of your birth? What would the people in your hometown say about you now? How do we share openly with the community around us our faith?
Sunday, August 30, 2020 Scripture Reflection (Fr. Tim)
Today Jesus speaks about the cost of Discipleship in today’s Gospel passage. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”. (Matthew 16:24).
Let us take a look at the 3 Disciplines of Discipleship. 1) Deny himself. Jesus is not talking about the essential things in life such as as food and water. However, the worldly things that are not essential get in the way of being Christ’s Disciple. 2) Take up his cross. Jesus does not want us to love pain but to bear the pain. By experiencing pain with live in solidarity with those who suffer whether from hunger, loneliness, depression, health concerns, etc. We are to walk with our brothers and sisters who are dealing with pain. We are called to be the Simon of Cyrene to one another. 3). Follow me. Jesus has given us an invitation to become His Disciple. We know have a decision to make. Follow Christ or to follow or own way. Choose wisely.
This week let us reflect on Jesus’ call to discipleship. How do we deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Christ? Have a blessed day.
Friday, August 28, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Augustine, Philosopher, Theologian and Doctor of the Church. Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast Day of his mother, St. Monica, who played a vital role in his conversion to the Catholic faith.
St. Augustine was born in 354 AD at Thagaste, in North Africa. Although his mother did raise him in the faith, he left the Church to follow the Manichaean religion (a believer in religious or philosophical dualism). He went to Carthage and became a master in rhetoric and philosophy. Augustine took a mistress with whom he had a son, Adeodatus. In 383, he went to Italy to teach in Rome but moved to Milan, Italy where he was introduced to St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. After he read the life of St. Anthony of the Desert, Augustine underwent a profound conversion. With the influence of both St. Ambrose and the prayers of his mother, St. Monica, and the friendship of St. Alipius, he converted to Catholicism. He quit his teaching position and devoted the rest of his life to God and his Church. Bishop Ambrose baptized Augustine and his son during the Easter Vigil 387 in Milan, Italy. Upon the death of his mother, he returned to North Africa. In 388, he sold all that he had and created a monastic foundation in Tapaste. He was ordained a priest in Hippo where his popularity spread as a famous preacher. In 395, he was made coadjutor bishop of Hippo where he occupied for 34 years. He was constantly writing and preaching against the heresies of the time. During the 18 month siege of Hippo by the Vandals, Augustine spent much of his last days in prayer. He died in 430. He wrote many books including his Confessions and City of God. Augustine is a Doctor of the Church, a Western Father of the Church, and one of the most distinguished theologians in the history of our great Church. The meaning of his name: great; magnificent. He is the Patron Saint of Brewers, Theologians, City of Carthage, and Printers. Information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints, pages 26 – 27.”
One of St. Augustine’s many sayings come from the opening paragraph of his Confessions: “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you O Lord.” What helps us to calm ourselves from anxiety or worry in life?
Thursday, August 27, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine who was very instrumental in her oldest son’s conversion. She was born in Northern Africa in 333 AD. She was married to a pagan official and together they had three children: Augustine (son), Navigus (son) and Perpetua (daughter). At first, her husband would not allow his children to be baptized. Through Monica’s patience, perseverance and prayers, he and their 2 youngest children were baptized Catholic in 370. Her husband passed away shortly afterwards and Monica refused to remarry. Her younger two children entered religious life, however, Augustine was much more challenging. He was a Philosopher and a heretic. Monica was devastated but she continued to pray and weep for Augustine for 17 years. She never gave up hope on her oldest son. She constantly sought out the priests to pray for her oldest son’s conversion. The clergy would avoid Monica because of this hopeless endeavor. A bishop had consoled her by saying: “It is not possible that the son of so many tears shall perish.” She pursued Augustine to Rome but when she arrived she learned that Augustine had departed for Milan, Italy. She traveled to Milan to be with her son, Augustine, where she met Bishop Ambrose of Milan. Finally, Augustine was baptized by Bishop Ambrose in 387. Monica died that same year on her way back to Africa from Rome. The meaning of her name: The wise counselor. She is the Patron Saint of Abuse victims, Alcoholics, Homemakers, Married women, Mothers, Victims of adultery, Widows and Disappearing children. (They above information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints, pages 162 – 163.)
Today is a great day to reflect on the responsibilities of our mothers. Besides all that they do for our physical needs such as: Provide us with nourishment, Provide us with first aid care when we were injured, Protect us from harm, Assist us with our school studies, Become our advocate, Shower us with their unconditional love, they also make sure that our spiritual concerns are taken care of, Making sure that we get to Church, our journey through the sacraments and our prayer life.
Today let us reflect on the life of our mother and the sacrifices that she has made for each one of us. St. Monica pray for us.
Wednesday, August 26, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim Cummings
Have you noticed the difference how Jesus spoke to the ordinary citizen verses the Pharisees and the Scribes? Jesus spoke with compassion and mercy and love with the ordinary citizens, the sinners, the outcasts of society, the Gentiles, His Disciples and His Apostles. Now there were times that Jesus had to speak rather firmly with His Apostles when they did not respond to their faith. However, when Jesus spoke with the Religious Leaders of the days, He spoke rather harshly. Why, we might ask? The Pharisees and the Scribes were learned individuals. They often placed heavy burdens on the every day citizen that was unrealistical.
Once again, we hear Jesus having some difficult words with the Pharisees and the Scribes, the Religious leaders of the time. Yesterday, Jesus spoke out against the Pharisees formalism. Today, Jesus speaks out against their hypocrisy.
This was the last of His seven warnings to the Scribes and the Pharisees. It was the most challenging statements as well. Jesus charged the Religious Leaders with hypocrisy. The Pharisees and the Scribes were acting opposite than what they were preaching to the everyday people.
Let us take a look at the words that Jesus used in today’s Gospel passage: “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside (Matthew 23: 27).” During those times, people were often buried above ground in stone tombs which were pleasing to the human eye and not an eye sore. Jesus was challenging the Religious Leaders and the reader to be cautious that our exterior should match what is inside of us.
This past Monday, I saw a cute poster on the wall of Watra Church Goods when I picked up some religious supplies. The poster read: “Be careful how you live. Your life may be the only Bible some people will ever read (Author unknown).” The question for reflection today: What message will people take away after meeting us today?
Daily Scripture Reflection Tuesday, Aug 25, 2020 by Fr. Claudius Mganga
There are many things that we wish to know about the future.
But the fact is that life will slowly unfold before us moment by moment.
Still, we may wish to know how long more will we live on earth and when we will die.
For the Thessalonians in the 1st reading, they were wishing to know when the Lord Jesus will return. So there was a certain obsession, almost hysteria. That kind of outlook continues today. There are people who have given up their homes to live in some remote area where they were convinced Christ would momentarily arrive in a flying saucer to take them to the planet Saturn where they believed heaven to be.
But St. Paul tells them and us not to be deceived by any of these. Rather he tells them to believe in the Good News and to stand firm and keep to the traditions.
What is important for them, as well as for us, is that Jesus and God the Father have given us love and comforted us with hope and strength to do good in everything we do and say. The Responsorial Psalm goes on to remind us that our Lord is indeed in complete control. No pandemic nor other forms of evil will have the final word.
The criticism of the scribes and Pharisees we have heard in the gospel is exactly what we need to hear in these times we are currently living through. Christ is reminding us that our actions are what really count. Our actions are what unveils the true nature of our heart. Jesus is indeed watching how we respond to those around us with different views, those that react differently to the challenges that threaten to overtake us all
So let us live every moment in love and do the good that the Lord Jesus wants of us and to place our hope of a glorious eternity with Him.
Monday August 24, 2020 Scripture Reflections By: Fr. Claudius Mganga
Today is the Feast of the Apostle St. Bartholomew. He was from Cana in Galilee, and he was often identified as Nathaniel because the Gospel according to Mathew lists him together with Philip as one of the first apostles chosen by Christ.
But from the gospel that we have just heard, Nathaniel did not initially have a good impression of Jesus.
Because when he heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, he asked, “What good can come out of Nazareth?”
He was a straightforward man, and Jesus recognized that in him when he said that he was incapable of deceit, meaning that he was frank.
But Jesus saw more than that in him; he saw that he was sincere and he waited for the coming of the Messiah.
The phrase “under the fig tree” means that one is at prayer and open to the Lord.
And indeed, Nathaniel was open enough to recognize Jesus as the Son of God and the King of Israel.
For me personally in my vocation, I see Phillip who is one of the characters in today’s gospel, as helping me appreciate people in my life who have helped me become a better person and those who have seen gifts in me that I had not yet recognized.
I am particularly grateful for people who have made the effort to introduce me to others who have helped me develop my faith and commitment to service. I pray to listen for opportunities to be a bridge builder in the generous manner of Phillip by encouraging, supporting, introducing and sharing. We need people like Philip to support us on every step of our faith journey and we in turn need to be a Philip to others on their faith journey.
Reflect, today, upon how free you are from duplicity. Are you also a person of great honesty, sincerity and transparency? Are you the real deal? Living this way is the only good way to live. It’s a life lived in the truth. Pray that God helps you grow in this virtue today through the intercession of St. Bartholomew.
Thursday, August 20, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The Church celebrates the feast day of St. Bernard – Abbot & Doctor of the Church. Bernard was born near Dijon, France in 1090. He joined the Cistercian monks in 1111. Shortly afterwards, he was elected the Abbot of Clairvaux. His actions and his example were an excellent guide to his brothers in their pursuit of Christian virtue and ethics. Schismatic movements caused St. Bernard to travel all over Europe in an effort to restore peace and unity. He wrote many books on Theology and Asceticism (Self-discipline). Bernard died in 1153 (Information was provided from the Loose-Leaf Lectionary from Liturgical Press August 20, 2020, page # 1173).
Today, the students, teachers, school administration, janitors, lunchroom personnel and the bus drivers return back to school across Citrus County. St. John Paul II Catholic School will begin their new academic year next Monday, August 24, 2020. As we begin this new academic school year whether it be in person or on-line, watch over our students, their parents, the teachers, School Administration personnel, janitors, cafeteria personnel and the bus driver. May the Lord watch over them and bless them with good health and safety as they begin a new and challenging educational year; let us pray to the
Lord. Lord hear our prayers.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Jesus tells His Disciples the Parable of the Vineyard Workers in today’s Gospel passage. The theme that comes from today’s Gospel speaks on jealousy.
Let us reflect on the key characters of today’s Parable. The idle workers in today’s Gospel are not loafers. They are laborers who need a job. The fact that they are still waiting around 5 pm shows how badly they need to work. Back in the days of Jesus, if a man did not find a job today, his family often did not eat the following day. A man who found work early in the day would rejoice all day as would his family. Had not the early workers not learned the employer paid the latecomer a full wage, they would have returned home joyfully.
Who were the latecomers and who were the early workers? The latecomers represented the repentant sinners. The early workers represented the Pharisees who were jealous that the repentant sinners were entering the kingdom of God late and receiving the same reward that the Pharisees received.
Everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord; everyone deserves the opportunity for eternal salvation. It does not matter how late or how early in life we turn to the Lord. What matters is that we have made that very important decision. When we turn our lives around to God, we are welcomed with open arms much like the father welcomed his younger wayward son home in the Prodigal Son Parable in the Gospel of Luke.
Have a blessed day.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020 Scripture Reflections – Fr. Tim
In the Gospel today, Jesus has an interesting conversation with His Disciples about the cost of Discipleship. Choosing to become one of Jesus’ Disciples is not always easy. Although it may be easier to take the easier path, it offers us no eternal rewards. Regardless, the choice to follow Christ is ours to make. Which choice will we make? Choose, but choose wisely.
Have a blessed day!
Monday, August 17, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Over the course of Jesus’ three year ministry, He shared with His Disciples and the people in the community many parables (stories). The themes of the parables that Jesus used were images of the time that were familiar with the people, such as: farmers, shepherds, gardeners, fishermen, etc. If Jesus were living here in 2020, he would use themes that we are very familiar with and understand today.
Today we hear about the Parable of the Rich Young Man in the Gospel. Many years ago I came across a modern version of this parable. It went something like this: Jesus came across a high school athlete in His journey. The teenage student asked Jesus the following question: “What must I do to become one of your followers?” Jesus: “Respect your teammates, obey your coach, practice hard and play fair.” The teenager responded: “I do all these things already. Is there anything else that I should do?” Jesus: “If you want to be perfect, forget about making the team, forget about the applause and fanfare and the yearbook photos. Instead, utilize your talents to help the younger students who get into trouble because there is no one to teach them how to play properly.” After hearing this, the teenage athlete went away very sad because he really loved sports.
We get so attached with the material things in our world that it becomes a distraction to the call of discipleship. Our Gospel passage invites each one of us to reflect on the following question: How generous are we with our talents?
Have a blessed day.
Saturday, August 15, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Over the course of the history of the world, there was a mother, who stood by the side of her Son from His birth, to His death, to His Resurrection and to His Ascension. Mary was with Jesus from the very beginning and stayed with Him to the end of His earthly life. She was right besides Him in all the joyful and sorrowful moments of His life. She brought Him into the world in a stable in Bethlehem. When He was a newborn baby, she and Saint Joseph took Him into Egypt to save Him from King Herod. She brought Him to Nazareth & took care of Him as He grew older. She desperately sought Him in sorrow when He was lost in the Temple. At the Wedding Feast of Cana, she was there to push Him to begin His Father’s mission. During His public ministry, she sometimes feared for His safety. She had accompanied Him all the way to Calvary, staying with Him until His death on the Cross. She held His lifeless body on her lap after He was removed from the Cross as beautifully depicted in the Pieta.
Therefore, it is right and fitting that Mary should share in Jesus’ risen glory in Heaven. That is what the Catholic Church celebrates today.
Hail Mary, full of grace….
Friday, August 14, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).” This Gospel passage really speaks to the heart of St. Maximilian Kolbe whose feast day the Church celebrates today.
St. Maximilian Kolbe was born in 1894 in Russian occupied Poland. He entered the Franciscan Junior Seminary in 1907 and made his vows in 1911. While he was studying Philosophy and Theology in Rome, he and six of his friends founded the Immaculata Movement to spread devotion to Our Lady. He returned to Poland after his ordination to the priesthood in 1918 where he began the publication of the magazine “The Knight of the Immaculata.” His work outgrew the friaries and he founded the new monastery of Niepokalanow. He started a radio program. He opened monasteries in Japan and India before returning home in 1936 due to poor health. By 1939, his monastery housed almost 800 men and was totally self-sufficient. He and several of his brothers were arrested during the Nazi invasion but were released and they returned to active ministry. In 1941, Maximilian Kolbe was arrested once again and was sent to the Concentration Camp in Auschwitz. He was assigned to a work group with other priests and his dedication to the faith and calm demeanor caused him the worst jobs as well as the most beatings. Near the end of July, a group of ten prisoners were chosen at random to be executed in exchange for one prisoner who had escaped. A young husband and father who was chosen cried out in despair and asked for mercy. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take the young man’s spot. After weeks of starvation, dehydration and neglect, he was given an injection of carbonic acid. Maximilian died on August 14, 1941 and was later canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. He is the Patron Saint of drug addiction, families, journalists, prisoners and the pro-life Movement.
One of the lessons we learn from the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe is one of sacrifice. What sacrifices do we make for our Catholic faith, our family, and our friends? St. Maximilian Kolbe pray for us.
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
Our First Reading today comes from the Book of Nahum, which was written by the Prophet Nahum around the time period of 663 – 612 BC. Why was this book written? It was written to the Israelites, who had experienced cruel treatment at the hands of the Assyrians. The prophet assures the people that God will continue to fight for His people. The book describes the fall of the city of Nineveh and celebrates God’s triumphant victory. The book was written after the Assyrians had destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and invaded the southern kingdom of Judah but before the Babylonian Exile. The Book of Nahum is one of the shortest books found in the Bible. (The above information was taken from “Break Through! The Bible for Young Catholics. New American Bible, Revised Edition. St. Mary’s Press. Page 1511).
Today’s message from the Prophet Nahum is quite clear. No kingdom can be built on by fraud or force. God will not tolerate such behavior as we hear about the destruction of Assyria. The same is true for people. The unrepentant sinner is doomed to die.
Reflection Question: How aware are we of the sin(s) in our lives? What are we doing to turn our lives around?
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
Happy Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was born on December 24, 1491 at the castle of Loyola in Spain. He served in the army in 1507. He was severely injured by a cannonball while defending the town of Pamplona. During his long road to recovery, Ignatius did a lot of spiritual reading on the Life of Christ and the Lives of the Saints. He was moved by their heroic deeds and he underwent a profound spiritual conversion experience. In 1522, Ignatius traveled to the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat where he left his sword from his days in the army on the altar of Mary in dedication to her. He was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi that he spent months in a cave where he begun to write his Spiritual Exercises. He spent the next 11 years studying at Alcala, Salamanca and Paris. It was during this time that he met his companions including Francis Xavier who would be the core of his new group, known today as the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. Besides the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, the Jesuits also provide special service to the Pope. In 1537, Ignatius traveled to Italy to be ordained a priest. Pope Paul III recognized the Society of Jesus in 1540. Ignatius was elected the first Superior General of the Order. He wrote the Jesuit Constitutions and spent the rest of his life working for the Society, caring for the sick and the poor, founding colleges and universities. Ignatius died in Rome on July 31, 1556. He is the Patron Saint of Spiritual Exercises, Spain, the Jesuits, Soldiers and Retreats. (Excerpts taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints pages 102-103.)
Happy Feast Day Pope Francis, and to the Jesuit Community serving here in Tampa, Florida.
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
Jesus gives an explanation of the Parable of the Sower to His Apostles in today’s Gospel passage. Only in the first scenario was the word rejected. In the remaining cases, the word was received joyfully. The biggest challenge in hearing the Scriptures is not the receiving it, but in retaining it and making it bear fruit.
You could say that there are three stages in hearing the Word of God. 1) Mind Stage, which involves the listening to God’s word and understanding what the word means. 2) Heart Stage, which involves the taking the message to one’s heart and allowing it to touch our hearts. 3) Soul Stage, which involves embracing the message and putting it into practice.
Hearing God’s word involves listening to it with our mind, our heart and our soul. That is the reason that we sign our head, mouth and heart before we read the Gospel passage at Mass. Which stage do we find the most challenging for us?
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
Monday, July 20, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
The theme we find in today’s Gospel passage is sign. So what is the purpose of a sign? 1) Signs point us in the right direction. If we are traveling a distance by car we look for the road signs that will help us get to the correct destination. 2) Tell us about the current weather situation. If we look up at the sky and notice that it is overcast, we should take our raincoat or rain jacket. 3) Scripture. We look for signs that will point us to a higher spiritual power (God).
In the Gospel, the Pharisees and the Scribes were looking to Jesus to perform a sign for them. They were hoping that the sign from Jesus might point to His Divinity. But, Jesus did not fall into their trap.
Scriptures are filled with numerous stories of signs. The Pharaoh received a number of signs from Moses before finally releasing the Israelites out of Egypt. Gideon who was a nobody before God called him to lead Israel. Gideon requested a sign from God. The prophet Jonah was swallowed by a whale for 3 days. The people in Nineveh changed their ways as a result of the sign.
There is a time when we too need signs. More importantly, there is also a time when we need to simply trust in the Lord. Today the Gospel invites us to ask ourselves the following question: Why do we find it hard to trust God at times? Lord, bless us with a loving and trusting heart. Amen.
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.)
Tuesday, July 14, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus cries out against the people who have failed to recognize His presence and power in their lives. Matthew the Evangelist has Jesus departing the wilderness after 40 days, and going out to Capernaum to reside there. In the adjacent neighborhoods of Chorazin and Bethsaida, the people who have heard Jesus’ message and witnessed some of His healing miracles were not moved at all. They did not even change their lives. We can certainly understand the frustration that Jesus had experienced. The question for us to reflect upon today: After hearing the Good News, how do we recognize Jesus’ presence in our lives?
The Church celebrates the Feast Day of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin. She was born in Auriesville, New York. She was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior and a Catholic Algonquin mother. Small pox had swept through her village killing both of her parents and her brother when she was only 4 years old. As a result of the small pox, she was left partially blind and her face was scarred. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle who lived in another settlement in Caughnawaga. She worked in the fields with her aunts gathering roots for medicine and dye. She helped out with the every day chores around the house. At the age of 18, a Jesuit Missionary came to the village and she was allowed religious instruction. At the age of 20, she was baptized and given the name Kateri, but her faith was not accepted by her family. She was refused food and threatened until she fled to a Catholic mission in Canada. At St. Francis Xavier, she dedicated her life to prayer, penance and caring for the sick ant the aged. She made crosses out of sticks and placed them throughout the woods to remind herself to pray. She had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She received her first Holy Communion on Christmas Day 1677. The people in her village enjoyed listening to stories about Jesus and they felt close to God. She took a vow of chastity in 1679. She died the following year at the young age of 24. Moments after her death, the scars on her face miraculously disappeared. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012. She was the first Native American to be declared Blessed. St. Kateri is the Patron Saint of Ecology, Environment, Loss of Parents and People in exile. (The information on St. Kateri was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints” pages 132-133).
Monday Daily Scripture Reflection July 13, 2020 – Fr. Claudius Mganga
St. Henry together with his wife St. Cunegunda, assisted the poor, as emperor he respected the Church’s freedom, fostering reforms of the Church.
His message was almost the same as prophet Isaiah, in today’s first reading who made a very powerful statement. He declares that all the worship of the Temple in Jerusalem is unacceptable to him if it is not accompanied by a search for justice and by a readiness to help the oppressed and the most vulnerable.
Faith must be expressed in words and deeds of love not just for God but for neighbor as well. God rejects the worship that ignores the widow and orphan. Isaiah was warning the people that they must be different from the Pagans and their view of religion.
The shocking words of Jesus in the gospel have much the same purpose. His point about coming to spread division, even within families, was his way of stating clearly that his followers must not allow themselves to be influenced by anyone who would turn them away from sound religion.
To be a follower of Christ requires a capacity for self-denial and total trust in him. To be faithful to his will, we must embrace the necessary difficulty and hardship. We must take up our crosses leaning on his promise to walk with us and never leave our side
We need to be hospitable and generous: Hospitality allows us to encounter the presence of God in others, usually in those in whom we least expect to find Him, and to share our love with them. We become fully alive as Christians through the generous giving of ourselves to others.
Scripture Reflection, Sunday July 12, 2020 – Fr. Claudius Mganga
The different types of soil in which the seeds are sown are, as explained by Jesus, metaphors for the disposition with which each individual hears the teaching about the kingdom of heaven.
Some will be easily swayed away from the kingdom of heaven. Some will receive it for a time but will lose it when faced with difficulties. Some will hear the word but will then permit other cares to choke it out. Yet some will receive it well, and the seed will produce abundant fruit.
Every time we read this part of the Gospel we begin by asking ourselves “What type of soil does the Word of God falling on me find? How much fruit do I bear as a result of my disposition to the word of God? But I am rather concerned about the lost seeds; seeds falling on the wayside, rocky soil and in the bush – bringing a disappointment to the farmer.
When it comes to facing failures or disappointments in life, the farmer’s story in today’s Gospel parable sounds a lot like many of us. We study hard, work hard, but not every time do we succeed. Most of the best things that we give to others are not well received by them. Most of what we want to plant in the lives of those around us doesn’t “take” or become rooted and permanently planted in their lives. It becomes a lost seed.
All of us have to deal with failure and disappointments at times. Take a look at those areas where you’ve given the best for others, but comes up lacking, falling short of our hopes, our dreams, and our great expectations. When we read and reflect on the Holy Scriptures we find out that even Jesus knew the pain of failure and disappointment.
· He was born and raised in Nazareth and his own hometown folks rejected Him.
· His own Hebrew countrymen rejected His message.
· What about his handpicked twelve apostles? Well, one of them sold Him out for thirty pieces of silver and the others fled when He was crucified.
· Peter wasn’t too swift to take His message to heart, Thomas was the doubter, and the others weren’t much better either.
Elijah, long before Christ, along with Jeremiah and other prophets as well, went through such disappointing experiences and sometimes failures, most of them being taken outside the walls of Jerusalem and then stoned to death. We need to remember that Jesus did not let apparent failure stop Him. In ministry we are primarily called to sow a seed. How this seed germinates, grows and bears fruit is not our responsibility; it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Any Crisis has within it both threats and opportunities. God is at work among us bringing good out of evil. We must remember that in the hands of God the slightest good can be multiplied to feed thousands if we would but hand our efforts into His care and providence.
Many times, I am called upon to console discouraged parents who poured out all of their love and faith into their children, taught them the Catholic faith, sent them to religious education classes, or to Catholic schools, only to have them, as adults, leave our Church and go elsewhere.
We must remember in such cases that the love and the faith that we’ve planted in the hearts of those around us, particularly in the hearts and souls of our children, will eventually blossom. The hopes and dreams that we’ve planted in others, even when they seem to be buried under too much dirt, will germinate, grow, and yield a harvest of some extent, even if our efforts now appear to be unqualified successes. How will it happen? Just keep your faith to God and your prayer for them.
You and I, like all good farmers who continually face floods and disasters of every sort, need to seriously engage ourselves in the enterprise of faith and hope, planting the best of what we have, and then letting God’s sun, wind, and gentle rains do the rest. God’s only-begotten Son, along with the gentle breath of His Holy Spirit, provide waters of grace to nourish and sustain what He has planted in the lives of those we love.
The best years of our lives, and the best that we have given to others, or are giving right now, or will give in the future, will not be fruitless. Faith and hope are what should be in our hearts, not defeat and despair.
And so, my friends, keep on planting God’s good seeds in the lives of those near to you. For God Himself has said through His prophet Isaiah that His Word shall go forth from His mouth “… and it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Saturday, July 11, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Tim
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Benedict. He was born of a noble Italian family around 480 AD As a young boy, he was sent to Rome and placed in a public school. He was not very impressed with the discipline and laziness of the youth. He fled to the desert mountains of Subiaco and lived as a hermit for three years in a cave. Benedict’s example of prayer and sanctity soon attracted other people to join him. The strictness of his rule caused others to despise him. He build twelve monasteries in the mountains. Later, he moved to Monte Cassino, where he founded an abbey and wrote his rule and lived there until his death. At one point, there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine rule with the following charism: work and prayer. Benedict was known as the father of Western Monasticism. He died on March 21, 547 AD. Benedict is the Patron Saint of: against witchcraft, temptations, poisoning, dying people, monks, kidney disease, fever, civil engineers and school children. (Following information was taken from “Illustrated Lives of the Saints, pages 30-31.”)
Did you know that we have a Benedictine Abbey here in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. St. Leo Benedictine Abbey is located at 33601 State Road 52 Saint Leo, FL 33576. Today let us keep in prayer Abbot Isaac Camacho O.S.B., and the Monks at St. Leo Abbey as they celebrate their Feast Day. St. Benedict pray for us.
Friday Scripture Reflection July 10, 2020 – Fr. Claudius Mganga
If there is a passage in the gospels that we would rather not listen to, it would probably be the passage in today’s gospel reading.
In this gospel passage, Jesus talks about danger and persecution and betrayal.
Jesus instructed His disciples, and also to us, to be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves.
And before that He say that He is sending us out like sheep among wolves, and we know what wolves will do to sheep.
Then He gave the images of two creatures and their characteristics – the cunning (or shrewd) serpent and the harmless (or docile) dove.
As much as it may initially seem contradictory, both characteristics are needed in order to survive and even overcome a dangerous and hostile world.
And we should be able to understand that we need that wisdom (like that of a serpent) and humility (like that of a dove) in order to live out our Christian calling and to be disciples of Jesus.
Let us ask the Lord Jesus to grant us that wisdom and humility
Thursday, July 9, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius Mganga
The first reading from the prophet Hosea is surely one of the most beautiful readings in all of the Jewish Scriptures.
God speaks of his relationship with his people Israel as loving parents would speak of their relationship with their child, indeed as a mother would. ‘I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms… I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him I gave him food’.
Yet, in spite of such tender love, Israel turned away from God and went after other gods.
He too experienced the turning away of people from this love, their refusal to respond to it in any meaningful way.
When Jesus sends out his disciples in this morning’s gospel reading he warns them to expect the same. They are to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand, the reign of God’s life-giving love, but they will encounter those who will not welcome them and will not listen to what they have to -say
Wednesday July 8, 2020 Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius Mganga
At times we can’t help but wonder about wealth and riches. Is it for the better or for the worse?
No doubt, wealth and riches can resolve some of our financial worries and we can even obtain some of the luxuries of life with it. But at times, they can lead to many complicated problems for us.
In the 1st reading, we heard that Israel was indeed blessed by God with riches and wealth.
But the problem was that the richer and wealthier Israel became, the more their heart was divided and they became unfaithful and strayed away from God.
In the gospel, we heard that Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.
If riches and wealth can divide the heart, then spiritual power can also result in pride and arrogance.
In whatever we have and in whatever we lack, let us always sow integrity and reap a harvest of kindness, and keep seeking the will of the Lord God.
That will be our blessing and the joy of our life.
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.
WEDNESDAY SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – THE SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST JUNE 24, 2020
In the birth of a child, there is a whole spectrum of emotions involved – excitement, anxiety, worry, happy …
And along with that are hopes and dreams and expectations of what the future will be like with the arrival of the child.
We can even say that every birth of a child changes the whole of humanity.
And the birth of John the Baptist, the feast that we celebrate today, is certainly quite dramatic.
John the Baptist is the only saint, after Jesus himself, whose birth the church celebrates with a solemn feast. We celebrate the birth of John the Baptist on June 24th, six months before we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th
The circumstances of John the Baptist’s birth were unusual indeed. No wonder, those present asked, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ It is a question that could be asked of any new born child. Indeed, it is a question that could be asked of any one of us, at any stage of our lives. We are always a work in progress, all of us. None of us are the finished product, regardless of our age or stage in life. We can all ask ourselves, ‘What will I turn out to be – today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? Shortly after the crowd asked that question in relation to the new born child of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the evangelist said that ‘the child grew up and his spirit matured’. John’s human spirit matured because he was open to God’s Spirit. This is how the Lord would want us all to turn out. He calls us every day to keep maturing in spirit, by opening ourselves more fully to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In today’s responsorial psalm, the psalmist turns to God and says, ‘I thank you for the wonder of my being’. The Lord calls us to allow the wonder of our being to flourish by surrendering ourselves to the movement of the Holy Spirit within us, after the example of John the Baptist who lived the wonder of his being to the full. We have a lot to learn today from the birth John the Baptist.
God has a plan for each and every one of us. Work with the plan God has set for you. Most people have abandoned the life they should live and are living the lives of others. You are special the way you are and God loves you that way.
We see in the life of John the Baptist humility at its best. He never arrogated to himself anything that did not pertain to him. We are called upon to reflect humility always in our lives. One of the best ways to achieve this is to know our positions and maintain them.
Truth was the hallmark of John’s ministry. We all know that he came to bear witness to the truth. Truth must always be told because it exalts God.
As we celebrate the Birthday of St John the Baptist, we pray through his intercession that, as we live out our various vocations, we be given the grace to understand the various dimensions of our call and respond to those calls of the Lord positively and become great in the Kingdom of God
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 – Bishop Gregory Parkes
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.
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?
MONDAY, MAY 18, 2020 DAILY MASS SCRIPTURE REFLECTION – FR. CLAUDIUS
Today we commemorate the memorial feast of Pope John I, Martyr. He was frail when he was elected to the papacy in 523, and he did not survive imprisonment by a heretical king. From permanent disabilities to occasional illness, from aging to chronic fatigue to widespread viral infection.
We all experience physical weakness at some point and know that it can feel like a prison. When we hit the limits of our bodies, our inner strength can decline, too. At that time—and at any time—lean on the Lord to carry you through.
In the gospel reading, Jesus tells his disciples to expect hostility because of their faith in him and their witness to that faith. Paul himself experienced a great deal of hostility because of his witness to his faith in Jesus. Yet, every so often, he also experienced great support and kindness from people like Lydia. Paul needed people like Lydia who supported his mission. We all need such people on our faith journey. We need the support of one another, especially in the times we are in. The supportive faith presence that Lydia was for Paul, we are all called to be for one another. In the gospel reading Jesus promises to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to help his disciples in their witnessing to him. Lydia was a channel of that Holy Spirit to Paul and we are called to be channels of that Holy Spirit to one another, so that we can all be encouraged in our efforts to follow the Lord as his witnesses in the world.
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
Peace is “ AMANI”, in Swahili! At Mass, I say “Peace be with you”
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!
Monday, May 4, 2020 – Scripture Reflection – Fr. Claudius
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 – Fr. Tim Cummings
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 – Fr. Tim Cummings
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 – Fr. Tim Cummings
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.