“And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately.” (MT 8: 2-3)
We can imagine ourselves asking for the same of Our Lord: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Especially when we are tired and working so hard on our repeated sins, endless weakness and lack of progress. Our Lord’s answer is always the same: “I will do it. Be made clean.” He wants for us all the best because He “took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
“Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (MT 16:18-19)
Today we celebrate the feast of two Apostles: the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul–two totally different personalities, different positions and professions, and different missions, but united in their service to Our Lord. Chosen to be His witnesses, they served Him until their death.
“You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.” (MT 7: 15-16)
We would like to be recognized by our good fruits. We pray, we fast and we give alms; we are good to our neighbors and friends, and we hope that one day—maybe at our funeral—someone will say how good we were. But more important is not what we do but with Whom we are united: “whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.”
“Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (MT 7: 13-14)
There are many roads “that lead to destruction” and few “that lead to life.” With Our Lord we will learn how to choose “the narrow gate” because “whoever follows Him will have the light of life.” Our homes will become places to make good choices.
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (MT 7: 3-5)
Again and again we need to remember these words: “remove the wooden beam from your eye first.” It takes us back to the Program when we speak about the difference between a husband/wife who makes an examination of conscience of his/her spouse rather than of himself/herself. It could be a life changing decision to stop judging him/her and start with my own “wooden beam.” As a result—“then you will see clearly.”
“The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”
The sign of the cross in front of the church, the way we greet each other, prayer before meals, the small cross or holy medal on our chest, the cassock I wear, the cross on the wall in my office and so many other ways are how we can respond to Our Lord’s words: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” We acknowledge Him, and He acknowledges us. How much more we receive than what we give.
“The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord; and you also will testify.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“God raised up David as king; of him God testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish. From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel;” (ACTS 13: 22-24)
The day after the Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate another solemnity: the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, who “heralded Our Lord’s coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.” He also, like David, son of Jesse, was “a man after my own heart.” When we listen often to Our Lord’s words, when we participate in the Eucharist, and when we recognize God’s presence in our brothers and sisters, we can form our hearts after His own heart.
“You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (MT 11: 28-30)
We know perfectly all kinds of labors and burdens; we know how it is to be tired or even exhausted. Our Lord also knows us and the reality of our lives and tells us: “come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” We can learn from Him; we can imitate Him, and we can “find rest for ourselves.”
“Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord; and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (MT 6: 7-8)
We are children of God; we are loved, and all we need is recognition of Our Lord’s love. He knows “what we need before we ask Him: “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” We do not need words for communicating our needs; we need words to communicate our love to Him.
“You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father!
“Brothers and sisters, consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 COR 9: 6-7)
God is the first “cheerful giver.” We can’t compete with His bountiful graces given to us. When we have a free and creative gift for somebody, we can always add one more element—cheerfulness. This makes our gifts perfect.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.”(Gospel Acclamation)