Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

September 9, 2018                                                                                                         

Focus

Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom and cured every disease among the people.

 Readings

  • Isaiah 35:4-7A
  • Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
  • James 2:1-5
  • Mark 7:31-37

Reflection

Disgusted. Angry. Confused. Joyful. The last few weeks have rocked the Catholic Church. They last few weeks have rocked me. I have experienced a variety of feelings as I surf the net for any piece of information I can get my hands on. I was initially angry and disgusted by the revelations from the Pennsylvania report and about ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. All of it left me in a state of confusion.

Where is Jesus Christ in all of this? Where do I go from here?

I speak to others, and we share in our frustrations. I pray, and I am still confused. When things get too overwhelming, my wife puts me in my place by saying, “Stop reading all of that! The Holy Spirit is guiding the Church.” I need to have more faith.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus Christ heals a deaf man with a speech impediment. The people brought to him the deaf man and begged him to lay his hand on him. There have been some priests and bishops who have been deaf to Jesus Christ. They have forgotten the Gospel, and there speech has been impeded from speaking the truth.

I want to do something, but what can I do? What can I do to begin the healing?

One sure-fire, concrete, and simple act we all can do is PRAY. We can pray unceasingly because we have faith that God hears the cry of the poor. We can pray like we have never before. We pray for healing. We pray for reparation. We pray for hope. In our prayers, let us lift up all the priests and bishops who have been unfaithful. Beg God to heal and have mercy on them so that they can hear, not with merely their ears, but most of all, with their hearts. Beg God that all priests and bishops can speak the truth, and bring into the light everything that has been in the darkness for so long. Most of all, beg God to heal the brokenhearted – the victims who have been abused and silenced. We can never forget the pain and the suffering they carry and live with every single day.

Jesus Christ took this man by himself away from the crowd. Jesus Christ knew exactly what this man needed – a personal encounter. Let us do everything and anything within our homes to dispel our own darkness to allow the radiant light of the Gospel to shine through our own families. This simply begins by putting down our phones and by intentionally looking at our family members in the eyes to tell them how much we love them. It may not feel like making a difference, but it can. It has to. It will!

More than ever, we must first look at our relationships at home. We must renew, transform, and unite our families – struggles, joys, and all – to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Consecrate our families to the Holy Spirit.

The initial confusion of all the scandal with the Catholic Church eventually dissipates from me, and my heart is full of joy. See…I love Mother Church not because of flawed men, but because Mother Church loves me. Jesus Christ gave Her as a gift to me. I love Her teachings. I love Her sacraments. I love Her! I will not give up on Her. I will fight for Mother Church because at this moment the Body of Christ needs me.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! We will do everything and anything within our power at keeping the ears of our hearts open to the Holy Spirit. We will be bold in speaking and living out the truth because it will set us free – all of us! I pray the light of my little church will dispel the darkness that is happening within the Catholic Church today. I know hope is there because the Holy Spirit is guiding us. The Holy Spirit has never left us. Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Jesus, King of Mercy, we trust in You.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

 

Action Steps

  • Pray the Rosary for holy bishops and priests.
  • Go to Mass, and pray for reparation for the Universal Church.
  • Fast one day for the healing of all those abused.
  • Get your house right!

Jesus, I trust in You!

August 12, 2018                                                                                                               

Focus

I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will leave forever.

Readings

  • 1 Kings 19: 4-8
  • Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
  • Ephesians 4:30-5:2
  • John 6:41-51

Reflection

Aside from the good old Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a handy guide to all things Catholic.  In paragraph 1324, it says the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life”.  Last week’s 1st Reading for Mass was taken from Book of Exodus, and it told the story of those grumbling Israelites who quickly forgot about the God who saved them.

It is this same God, who gives them not what they want, but what He know they need; the loving Father provides for His children.  Don’t we take the generosity and providence of God for granted in our own lives as well?  I know I do!  I have to remember that God has a good track record with me.  I look back throughout my life, and God hasn’t let me down.  There are times when I think He has, but those are the moments when I am trying to do everything on my own.

Throughout salvation history, God has revealed how awesome, amazing, and deep His love is for His own.  He sent prophets. He sent judges. He sent kings.  God the Father even sends us His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us His love.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.”

 – JESUS

 It seems to me that Jesus has made it pretty clear.  The way to the Father is through the Son.  I look at salvation history and my own life, and I see something very clear.  God wants me to be with Him.  He has sent a whole bunch of people to get this message out there.  People didn’t listen, so He sent His only begotten Son…for me. 

“I am the living bread…whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

– JESUS

Jesus does not mince words.  You can look the original text, and it is pretty clear that Jesus meant what he said.  The Eucharist is not a symbol of Jesus Christ; it is Jesus Christ.  Maybe going through how and why this is can be for another blog post.

All I know is God the Father loves you, and is calling you into a deeper relationship with Him.  How are you going to answer that invitation?  A first step is going to the Eucharist, sitting at the feet of the Son, and trusting to Him everything you have. 

Summary

  • The Jews do not believe the hard sayings of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t mince words, but He meant what He said.
  • “I am the bread of life.” – JESUS

Action Steps

  • Go to the Eucharist (in a tabernacle, Mass, or a monstrance), and get on your knees.  Lay everything you have and entrust it to Jesus Christ.

 

Busted Grill!

July 29, 2018  | Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

focus: "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?"

Readings:

  • 2 Kgs 4:42-44
  • Ps 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
  • Eph 4:1-6
  • Jn 6:1-15

Reflection:

I love summers! And I officially kick off the summer season with some good ol’ grilling of hotdogs and burgers. I have not used our gas grill since the last sunny day of the previous summer. And we just went through a long cold winter and soggy spring. I was excited that summer was finally here!! As soon as I opened up the grill, it broke. The metal covering fell to the ground and I noticed that some inner parts and screws were missing. I couldn’t use this thing to cook! All the kids gathered around me as I tried to fix it! The kids were getting hungry or maybe it was just me getting “hangry.” You know those moments when you’re trying to figure something out? So you’re thinking out loud and you start voicing out your frustrations? And you think you’re doing it all quietly? Well, I was doing that mumbling/grumbling thing and the kids heard me. They wanted to help. My 6 year old boy, offered a few twigs and pebbles. And my youngest boy gathered dandelions and said “Dadda! Fix with this.” The pebbles, twigs, and yellow dandelions did not fix the grill. But it fixed my heart that was upset. These simple offerings gave me joy. I ended up cooking some hotdogs inside the house but we still had a great time. Time to get a new grill!! Best summer kickoff ever!

The Gospel this Sunday is similar. Ok, not really but sort of.

The disciples have walked with Jesus and witnessed multiple miracles at this point. He turned water to wine, healed many who were sick, and cured the blind. It was a chosen few that witnessed these miracles up close. Many others have seen Jesus do all these great things but from a far. Some just heard stories from a neighbor’s friend of a friend. A large crowd were convinced enough to get out of their “usual” and meet Jesus.

And from a distance, Jesus took notice of a large crowd coming towards him. He asked one of his disciples, Philip, who was possible part of his logistics/finance team. “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip, the logical man that he is, basically reported to Jesus how much it would cost and how impossible it would be to feed this large crowd.

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?"

Andrew had a different approach. He offered something that did not make much sense. How can five loaves and two fish feed this large crowd?! But it was an honest offering. Jesus took these simple offerings and fed the large crowd. No matter how small we may think our offerings may be, once we give it to Christ, He does the rest. We are invited to pray a simple prayer: "Jesus, I trust in You." Let's offer up our concerns to Him and let Him do the rest. He wants to feed us the everlasting bread of life.

 

Summary:

  • Jesus wants to feed a large crowd and asks His disciple, Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?"
  • Philip says it will cost a lot and is impossible.
  • Andrew had a different approach and points out a boy who has something to give.
  • No matter how insignificant or small our offerings may be, once we give it to Christ, he transforms it and makes it into a miracle.
  • Jesus wants to feed us the everlasting bread of life.

Action Steps:

  • What may be holding you back from seeing a great miracle that Jesus wants to show you?
  • Who is Jesus asking you to help Him feed or serve?

 

More Faith, Please

July 8, 2018 | Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time                                         

Focus

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

 

Readings

Ezekiel 2: 2-5

Psalm 13:1-2, 2, 3-4

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Mark 6:1-6

 

Reflection

My eldest daughter taught me an important lesson this past weekend at church.  My little toddler genuflected towards the tabernacle and told me, “This is what we need to do for Jesus.  We need to be small for Him.”  It made me stop and think.

Do I approach Jesus Christ with a sense of humble and child-like faith?

The people in the small village of Nazareth knew Jesus well, and they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.  They “were astonished” and “they took offense at him”.  They could not believe the “son of Mary” was at the synagogue teaching them with wisdom and performing mighty deeds.  How could God work through such an ordinary person?  I can only imagine how amazing it was to experience the simple human nature of Jesus with His powerful divinity.

And yet, I can’t judge those in Nazareth too quickly.  There have been many times I have had a lack of faith.  I didn’t come from a traditional home; I was raised by a single parent.  I didn’t know if I could be a good father; I had a lack of faith.  When I first became a youth minister, I didn’t know if I had the skill set and experience to be successful; I had a lack of faith.

When was the last time you had a lack of faith?  How did you overcome it?

Jesus came down to earth to live like one of us, and I find a lot of peace in that.  I’m not the best youth minister or the best father.  No one is, and that is okay.  What is not okay is not trying to be the best.  There will be times life will be challenging, and I know Jesus went through tough times as well.  He couldn’t perform miracles when people didn’t believe Him. 

During trial and tribulations, I choose to have more faith in God.  I don’t have to focus solely on failing or being the best.  All I have to do is – like my daughter taught me – be small for Jesus.  If I decrease, then Jesus can increase and perform mighty deeds in, with, and through me.

Summary

  • After performing many miracles, Jesus goes home to the small village in Nazareth.
  • The villagers are astonished at first, but they begin take offense at Him.
  • They can’t come to grips that God can work with someone so seemingly ordinary.
  • Jesus can only perform miracles to those who have faith in Him.

Action Steps

  • Find one way to bring your extended family close to God.
  • Think of someone who is far from God.  Pray for them every day this week.
  • Search for one activity in your parish you and your family will do this summer.

 

It's Getting REAL!

June 10, 2018 | Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time                                

Focus

Now the ruler of the world will be driven out, says the Lord; and when I am lifted up from the earth, I will dray everyone to myself.

 

Readings

Genesis 3:9-15

Psalm 130: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Mark 3:20-35

 

Reflection

There is a lot going on in the world today, and much of it cannot be ignored.  Watch the news.  Look at your social media feed.  Or browse through the Internet.  It is very easy to see how crazy the world has become.  Amid the whirlwind of violence, abuse, and injustice, I honestly can feel hopeless, lost, and confused at times.

Where is God in all of this?  Is there still hope? 

I like to simplify things when I get overwhelmed.  I like to quiet down and find where God is in all of the chaos.  In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus makes it real clear that Satan is real.  He is not made up; he does not reside only in the movies.  Sure, exorcisms are real, but full-fledged possessions isn’t what I am talking about.  Look around!  We don’t have to look far to see how real evil is and how it is manifesting in our world.

What can I do to make this world a better place?  Is there anything I can do?

Biblical scholars have pointed to the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit as a rejection of salvation, not only in mere words, but more importantly, in having a closed heart to love of God.  In the end of the Gospel reading, Jesus Christ is not rejecting his own family, but He is establishing a new one.  The bonds of our earthly family are bound by human blood, while the bonds of the Church family are bound by the blood of Jesus Christ.  This is the family of all His followers who do not reject salvation but strive to embrace and live it; this is the family of the His Church today. 

We are birthed into this family through the waters of Baptism, but we continue to thrive in the Body of Christ by renewing our real, personal, and unique relationship with Jesus Christ every day through the Church.  What does this mean?  It is an answer to the turmoil we see in the world today.  Our simple yet powerful yes to God’s Will for our lives and families can make a difference when they are united to the heart of Jesus Christ.

Summary

  • Jesus Christ is accused by the scribes, but He uses parables to reach out to them.
  • Jesus Christ is not with Satan, but He has defeated Him and established a new family.
  • Jesus Christ has invited us to be part of this Church family by renewing our relationship with Him daily.
  • By saying yes to God’s Will, we can change the world as husbands and fathers!

Action Steps  

  • Spend some good quality time praying with your wife in a new and unique way.
  • Go visit a nearby Church, and take 15-20 minutes to ask God the following: What are you calling me to do?
  • Go immerse yourself in the sacraments this week: go to confession or daily Mass on Saturday morning.  Lift these up for the salvation of your family.

Joyful Fathers are Joy-filled Missionaries

May 13, 2018 | The Ascension of the Lord                                                           

Focus

Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world.

Readings

Acts 1:1-11

Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Ephesians 1:17-23

Mark 16:15-20

Reflection

Happy Easter! I love being part of a family – the Catholic Church – that not only prepares for different seasons, but joyfully celebrates them as well.  We are still invited to celebrate the Easter Season for a few more weeks.

How have you joyfully celebrated the Easter Season?

The grind of work and the stresses of life can suck the joy sometimes.  There are moments that bring self-doubt and a lack of faith into my life.  It is during these trying moments that I begin to question myself. 

Am I doing everything I can for my wife?

Am I a good Daddy?

What am I doing with my life?

This Sunday’s Gospel story bring me perspective and instills hope back into my life.  In  verse 14, Jesus Christ is rebuking the Eleven for their lack of faith.  These men are broken – like you and me.   In the verse right after, the Apostles are being commissioned to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.

We don’t have to go travel to another country to spread the Gospel.  What if the “ends of the earth” was right under our noses?  If God calls us to travel and be a missionary, then that is good and something we should properly discern.  But let us not fall into the belief that there is only one way to be a missionary.  For me, being a missionary and holiness go hand-in-hand.  You can’t have one with the other.

Like the Easter Season, we called to live the joy of the Resurrection in our families.  Let us go forth to the “ends of the earth” and share the Good News to all whom we encounter. 

 Summary

  • Jesus Christ rebukes the Apostles for their lack of faith.
  • Jesus Christ commissions the Apostles to go spread the Gospel to the ends of the world to everyone.
  • Jesus Christ invites us – imperfect and flawed as we are – to be joy-filled missionaries in our families.

Action Steps

  • Do one activity with your family that brings joy into your home.
  • Put your phones down during dinner, and share one time within the last week that you experienced Jesus Christ.
  • Take some time during this week to honor each member of your family by telling them how they bring joy into your life.

As the Father loves me. A Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

As the Father loves me. A Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Right now, I know I need to be a good father. I need to model to my family what prayer looks like in crisis. I need to show that I rely on the sacraments because I DO rely on the sacraments. I can show my authentic self, broken, vulnerable, and still hopeful, because I place my life in the hands of the one who defeated death. And I can love, just as I have been loved. 

-AP

Remain in me, as I remain in you

Focus: "Remain in me, as I remain in you."

Readings:

ACTS 9:26-31

Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

1 Jn 3:18-24

Jn 15:1-8

 

Reflection:

The word “disciple” rings loudest to me in this Sunday’s Gospel. Am I being a true disciple of Christ in my vocation as a father? How do I work on being a disciple? Our kids teach us many times over about God’s call for us. Even during the times they get in trouble. My son, Gabriel taught me a thing or two about being a good disciple last week.

Pardon me for not exposing the details as to why he got in trouble. Let’s just say it was a typical brothers’ scuffle but escalated quickly with what my eldest did. I was not there but my wife told me the details and when I arrived home, I had a serious talk with Gabriel. I mostly gave him the stern tone and asked many questions. Gabriel voiced out to me that it is not fair that he has to be a good example to his younger siblings. Maybe that is all he heard from the many things I’ve said. Of course, he really didn’t get in trouble because of the fact that he was being a bad example. He did something that he already knew he was not supposed to do. And in turn, became a bad example to his younger siblings. It’s tough being the eldest. I do believe I may be placing a heavier set of responsibilities on my eldest boy. But it is a great privilege and responsibility that sometimes one does not ask for. His younger brothers do look up to him. I reminded him that his brothers seek for his approval all the time. If and when they do something cool or clever, the first name that comes out of their mouth is, “Gabe! Check this out! Look at what I did!” They think he is the coolest! The younger ones started becoming disciples of Gabriel. What an honor! But with great power comes great responsibilities.

Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine.

We are invited to know Christ. I mean really get to know Him. Not just about Him but get deeper in your personal relationship with Him. Think of a moment in your life when you felt the most connected to Jesus. When you felt the realness of His presence. When you were overjoyed in His presence. How I wish I can always remain in that moment. How I wish I can always feel that joy and awe. Unfortunately, we lose sight of Him. Although He is and will always be there. Our eyes get distracted and sometimes blurred.

Think of a moment when you felt that painful pruning of God in your life. When you maybe questioned God and His ways. Has there been moments like that in your life? Have you recognized fruits that came from your trust in God? This is a challenge. To see and recognize His love for us and that His ways are better than ours. We may not completely understand at the time of pruning but indeed there will be fruits as long as we remain in Him.

We, as fathers, need to work on our relationship with the Father in Heaven. This is not just something good to do if we have the time. But really a call and instruction from Jesus to be His disciple. Imagine, our kids are looking at us as if we are the coolest most awesome person on earth. They look for our approval. And they follow our actions. Fatherhood is a great responsibility. Let’s always connect them to the real source in Jesus Christ.

Summary:

  • Reflect on the word “discipleship” and how can we be a good disciple of Christ

  • Get deeper in your relationship with Christ.

  • Become a good witness and example to your children. Lead them always to Christ.

Action Step:

  • Self: Do some gardening outside and reflect on the wonders of nature.

  • Children: Take them on a nature hike and talk about the gospel.  

  • Marriage: Plan a nice walk to appreciate nature as you do your couple’s rosary.