The God of all grace

April 25, 2015 7:00 am

“The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen.” (1 PT 5: 10-11)

“The God of all grace” not only calls us “to his eternal glory” but also knows about all our needs. He knows when He should come to restore and when to confirm. He knows our weaknesses and when to come with strength, and He knows when we need to be consoled and to be settled. He is the most protective father. He gave us His Son as our brother to be closer to us.

“We proclaim Christ crucified; he is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (Gospel Acclamation)

To carry my name

April 24, 2015 7:00 am

“‘Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.’” (ACTS 9: 13-16)

From persecutor to apostle—with these few words, we can shortly describe St. Paul’s life. He was a very dedicated persecutor and much more devoted apostle. How totally different our lives can be when we meet Jesus. When we invite Him into our lives and when we carry His name before our families, neighbors and coworkers, we can change life for so many. The closer we are to Our Lord, the more we can accomplish with Our Lord.

“Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood, remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Taught by God

April 23, 2015 7:00 am

“It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.” (JN 6: 45)

God the Father takes care of us also by teaching us what is important, who we are and where our destination is. In Our Lord Jesus Christ, God said the final word about us and our relationship with Him. Jesus is the Word of God, who proclaims the Good News about us: our dignity, our vocation and our destination.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Sees the Son

April 22, 2015 7:00 am

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (JN 6: 40)

So many things and projects can absorb our attention, but we should remember that the first and the most important in our lives is to seek the Son. Only with Him we “may have eternal life.” And this should direct us every day—so He will “raise us on the last day.” Our morning prayer, our Rosary (or/and Divine Mercy Chaplet), daily Scripture readings, and daily Mass keep us on track and help us focus on Him.

“Everyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Whoever comes to me…

April 21, 2015 7:00 am

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’” (JN 6: 35)

Our basic needs, so necessary for living, are bread and water. Our Lord shows us that behind these needs are things more important, like love and relationship: a hunger for being loved, saved and adopted and a thirst for being related, important and respected. He came as an answer for all our needs. He brought redemption, grace and daily assistance so that our hunger and thirst will direct us to Him and to our brothers and sisters in need.
Among all the things we need, things are less important

“I am the bread of life, says the Lord; whoever comes to me will never hunger.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Accomplish the works of God

April 20, 2015 7:14 am

“So they said to him, ‘What can we do to accomplish the works of God?’
Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God,that you believe in the one he sent.’” (J 6: 28-29)

Quite often we think about our relationship with God as a matter of what we can do: “what can we do to accomplish the works of God?” But God prefers a different way, not what to do, but how to be with Him because believers first recognize their identity and relationship with God—who they are, and secondly, express their faith and beliefs.

“One does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (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)

It is I. Do not be afraid

April 18, 2015 7:00 am

“When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.” (JN 6: 19-21)

“It is I” or literally—I AM, is not only reassurance given to His disciples, but also a self-revelation. “I am” was the name revealed by God to Moses at the burning bush.

The ancient fathers used to say: we listen to the story, let’s move to the mystery. This story was about Our Lord and His disciples, but the mystery is about His presence in our lives: when we are in the boat, far away from the land, when it is dark, when “the sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing” and when we are tired. Tired because after a long day with a lot of activities, when our plan to rest in the afternoon somehow disappeared after phone calls, when an important project is not finished and when everything is not as it should be. This is His specific place He chose to be with us. He put His victorious cross not on the top of our achievements but on the top of our sins. He is our help and our consolation. He talks to us every day: “It is I, do not be afraid.” It is I, who chose you, redeemed you, support you, lead you and protect you. You are never alone. I am always with you. Always, because I love you forever and I will be waiting for you when your days are done to take you back home, where you will be in my loving arms forever. When we invite Him to our fears in our boat, “the boat immediately arrives at the shore to which we are heading.” 

“Christ is risen, who made all things; he has shown mercy on all people.” (Gospel Acclamation) 

Philip and Andrew

April 17, 2015 7:00 am

“Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.’ One of his disciples, 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?’” (JN 6: 7-9)

Between “two hundred days’ wages worth of food” and “five barley loaves and two fish” is a huge gap. Our Lord doesn’t need hundreds of options; it is enough for him where “there is a boy here who has” a little. Philip was looking for a solution in money; Andrew found a person with just a little something. We do not need to be perfect or self-sufficient to serve; Our Lord prefers situations where we are connected with the others, where we could help each other and where we can bring fruits only when dependent on relationship.

“One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Gospel Acclamation)

Obey God rather than men

April 16, 2015 7:00 am

 

‘“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.’ But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” (ACTS 5: 28-29)

“Obey God rather than men” provides the foundational premise of civil disobedience: believers cannot submit to human authorities, institutions and laws that contradict the law of God. We are invited to make a courageous stand in favor of the Gospel. Every person, who is for life and love, can expect a different level of “persecution.” It is silent disapproval from parents, it could be loud criticism from other doctors—partners in your clinic or even rejection and losing your place to work. In every situation we are not alone; we can expect all kinds of help from God, Whom we are to obey. And when this world closes some doors for us, God will open many, many more—because He never abandons His children. On the other hand people, who are useful to the system, are left immediately when they are not more profitable. I have heard so many times your testimonials, how difficult it was to make a decision to be NFP only, and how you suffered at the beginning, and how beautifully you were rewarded by God’s grace. You are His witnesses. 

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