They left

November 30, 2015 6:00 am

“‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.” (MT 4: 19-22)

In both cases “they left” “immediately” and “at once,” which gives us an idea of the urgency, radicalism and desires of our hearts. When Our Lord comes to us with the daily readings, we are invited to answer in the same way as the apostles and leave our “nets”—our mistaken patterns of interpretations, where we are trapped or our “boats”—our preferred ways of communication and to “follow Him” with creativity in charity. In the end, when we follow Him, we will find our deeper identity.

“Come after me, says the Lord, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Gospel Acclamation)

When will this happen

November 24, 2015 6:00 am

“Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” (Luke 21, 7)

The days from the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, to the next Sunday are very special. It is like an examination of our conscience when we are in the last days of the church’s year. Next Sunday we will start a new year in the Catholic Church, but right now we have to finish and summarize this year. Are we in a new place after this year? Are we closer to Our Lord; is He present more in our daily lives; do we love each other more with gentleness and respect? Is our gift of self joyful? free? creative?
We do not know when the real end of the world will come or when we will be invited to heaven—“when will this happen?” We don’t know when, but we know what we can do—“remain faithful until death.”

“Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Power is made perfect in weakness

July 5, 2015 8:44 am

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 COR 12: 9)

Perfectionism and evangelical perfection are not the same. The first one is self oriented, and the second one is based on our love for God, where everything is for Him and where—and this is the most important and the most differentiating aspect—our weakness does not oppose perfection but is an obstacle to it. Weakness is something we will always have. “For power is made perfect in weakness.” It is not about me; it is about God’s love for me. “My grace is sufficient for you.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” (Gospel Acclamation)

 

To hear the word of the Lord

May 2, 2015 7:00 am

“On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” (ACTS 13: 44)

Probably this is the best activity we can do on the “sabbath”: “to hear the word of the Lord.” He brings with every word the unconditional love of the Father to everyone. How different our world would look if “almost the whole city” could gather to hear. When we give a priority to “hear the word of the Lord,” there is less room for the evil patterns of our internal dialog. The more we listen to Him, the less we focus on us; the less we focus on ourselves, the more we listen to and respect others.

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)

They gave him a piece of baked fish…

April 19, 2015 8:25 am

“While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost…. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.” (Lk 24: 36-37; 41-43)

The first gift given to the Apostles was peace: “Peace be with you.” It is interesting that He came to them with this gift when “they were still speaking about this.” “This” means His death and resurrection–they were sharing the Good News and contemplating Our Lord’s word and His teaching. It is so important in our lives to be in love with God’s word. In the first reading, we read how Our Lord’s own nation didn’t recognize Him. “You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.” It could happen in our lives also, like when you started your practice as young doctors, and you were assured that what you do is a part of your profession, that you help people. Now you know. “Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did.”

St. Jerome used to say: Ignoratio Scripturarum, ignoratio Christi est. (łac.) “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” His word will help us to understand and strongly believe that we are loved unconditionally. When we are confronting our lives with Him, with Holy Scripture, we will never lose our dignity—even if we are the worst sinners. “Because he clings to me, I will deliver him; because he knows my name, I will set him on high.” (PS 91)

I did not ask you to spend all day long reflecting on His words. I ask you to spend the same amount of time in front of His word as you spend in front of the mirror, to prepare yourself to look presentable after sleeping. A friend of mine reminded me about the instructions for hair mousse: 1. apply a small amount on wet hair, 2. dry with a hair dryer, 3. Now you are ready to go out and face other people. You need to look at His face to recognize that you are loved and that your value is not based on your performance, but on God’s love for you, and then you can go out and face other people. You can bring them just yourself, or you can bring them an unbelievable love emanating from your heart. When you are hungry for love, you will be concerned about where and how to use others to receive it; when you are loved and when you know how much you are blessed, you will look where and how to share and bestow it on others.

“They gave him a piece of baked fish.” I found in a reflection based on today’s Gospel (by Fr. Pelanowski) that fish, a creature hidden all the time, hidden in the bottom of the water, is a symbol of everything hidden in our hearts: our wounds, scars, rejections and abandonments. Whatever evil we experienced from others and whatever evil we did to others, we hide on the bottom of our hearts. When we give it to Him, He will “take it and eat it in front of them.” He will take it, like He took all our sins, and will bring us a new life. With Him we can go to the bottom of our hearts to present Him with our destructions and our ruins, and not to be afraid. “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world” (we read in the second reading).

He doesn’t need any extra occasion for this. Every occasion is good for Him, like a meal: “Have you anything here to eat?” He didn’t ask: did you pray a lot?, did you fast? did you…? Nothing like this. Just simple, daily questions because He is with us in all our situations, He is not only at Sunday Mass; He is with us every day and everywhere. And He asks you to take with you His love and bring it to your homes and workplaces. To start again and again the new life and new service to the culture of love and life. With you this world can be totally different. So many miracles happened when you came here the first time, how many more will happen now?

“Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Born of the Spirit

April 14, 2015 7:00 am

“‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (JN 3: 7-8)

Our calling from God is like the wind: “blows where it wills… but you do not know where it comes from or it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Who knows where we will be in five years from now, if we follow the Holy Spirit. We had no idea five years ago or even one year ago where we would be today.

We know how much one meeting or one conversation has changed our lives. So the same could happen with lives of many of those who we will meet. When we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to take care of us and our lives, we will not know “where it comes from or where it goes,” but for sure we will love people more, and because of this love, we will be able to change their lives. Every meeting with another person is a gift from God, and you are a gift from God to every other person. When we pray and when we are “born from above,” we can change this world and establish a civilization of love and life in our environment.

“The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Sins forgiven

April 12, 2015 7:00 am

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” (JN 20: 21-23)

With the resurrection of Our Lord, we receive amazing gifts: peace and the Holy Spirit and behind them the sacrament, which is an explosion of peace and presence of the Holy Spirit—the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the Sacrament in which we can receive the beauty of the Resurrection: forgiveness of our sins, reconciliation with the Father and new life.

And today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday instituted by St. John Paul II after the apparitions of Our Lord received by St. Faustina. We know from her diary that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of their sins and punishments. And we are invited not only to receive these gifts, but also to exercise mercy toward our neighbors: first—by deed, second—by word, and third—by prayer.

Without mercy there is no hope for the world. With mercy our dignity shines, our relationships grow, and we becomes ambassadors of God’s presence in the world.

“You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!” (Gospel Acclamation) 

Peace be with you

April 9, 2015 7:00 am

“The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them,‘Peace be with you.’” (LK 24: 35-36)

The very first message to the disciples from Jesus is: “Peace be with you.” Peace should be at the beginning of everything in our lives—when we have peace, we can react properly. “They were startled and terrified”; “they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,” and the thing they most needed was peace. So Our Lord came to them with the gift of peace. And He is always coming “in our midst” with the same message and gift: Peace be with you. We need peace in our families, our relationships, our duties and in our jobs; we need peace especially when we are under the pressure from so many different emotions. Peace keeps our dignity in the proper place.

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Ran to announce the news

April 6, 2015 6:10 am

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.” (MT 28: 8)

“Fearful yet overjoyed” the women “went away quickly from the tomb.” The same thing happened to the shepherds, when an Angel proclaimed to them the Good News about Jesus, who was just born—“they went with haste.” We have the Good News to announce all over the world: death is defeated, the darkness lightened and weakness strengthened with the power of Our Lord, who is risen.

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Unleavened bread of sincerity and truth

April 5, 2015 5:00 am

“Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 COR 5: 7-8)

Our Lord was born in Bethlehem – the House of Bread, and He gave Himself to us during the Last Supper as bread, and He wants us to be “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Our Polish Saint Albert Chmielowski used to say that we should be like bread for our brothers and sisters: “be good like bread.” We are newborn–we are cleansed because “our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.” So, “let us celebrate” our new life with joy, sincerity and true concern for the good of others.

“Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)

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