Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 1, 2017
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 136

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
"What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
He said in reply, 'I will not, '
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, 'but did not go.
Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that if we believe in and live His teachings we will enter the kingdom of God. Francis de Sales notes:

Jesus comes to teach us what we ought to do to love divinely. He confounds a culture that leads us to pursue false goals, a culture that never ceases to say, “How happy are the wealthy!” For Jesus, the blessed are they who conduct themselves in this life with trust in God. They will win perpetual peace and tranquility. They hear the word of God, keep it and profit by it.

There are two reasons why people do not profit from the word of God. First, they may indeed hear it and be interiorly moved by it. Yet, they postpone acting on it until tomorrow. Our life is the today in which we are living. Who can promise themselves a tomorrow? Our life consists in this present moment in which we are living. We can only assure ourselves of this moment that we now enjoy however brief it may be.

Second, some people have a great deal of knowledge. They amass all sorts of spiritual advice and information, but never put it into practice. We only learn well the teachings of Jesus when they become a part of our daily living. To live Jesus, we must allow ourselves to let go of our disordered emotions, habits, and affections.

We need to transform our emotions and affections so that they help us to become a divinely loving person. We do this by letting go of all that is not of God in us. To let go of our vices, we must practice the virtues opposed to the vice that we desire to abandon. For instance, if our anger is disordered, then we must practice gentleness and patience. Do not trouble yourself with anything else, except to follow Jesus’ teachings. Trust in the goodness of God, who will surely provide all that you need to enter the kingdom of God.

(Adapted from the Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, Ed.)

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 24, 2017
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 133

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 20:1-16A

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o'clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.'
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o'clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o'clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
'Why do you stand here idle all day?'
They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.'
He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
'Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.'
When those who had started about five o'clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
'These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day's burden and the heat.'
He said to one of them in reply,
'My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?'
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks to us about the Kingdom of heaven, where God’s generous mercy and goodness far exceeds our concept of justice. St. Francis de Sales notes:

When there is absolutely no human good to hope for, it is precisely then that God’s awe-inspiring mercy shines forth and surpasses God’s justice. God’s ways are not our ways. God would sooner work miracles than leave us without help. For this reason our Savior came to redeem us and deliver us from the tyranny of sin. The heart of our Savior is wholly filled with mercy and kindness for the human family.

God’s providence is wiser than what we are. We imagine we would feel better if we were on another ship. That may be, but only if we change ourselves! There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied and depressed about the world we have to live in. Truly we must not lose heart. God will never abandon us. It is we who abandon God.

If you are troubled you never want to leave God. An ounce of virtue practiced in adversity is worth more than a thousand pounds exercised in prosperity. We may be weak but our weakness is not nearly as great as God’s mercy toward those who desire to love God, and place all their hope in God. The problem is that all the nooks and corners of our hearts are cluttered with thousands of desires that prevent our Savior from giving us the gifts that He desires to shower on us.

We ought to be like the mariner who, in steering his vessel, always keeps his eye on the needle of the compass. We must keep our eyes open to correct our desires and have only one, that of pleasing God. Let our Lord reign in our hearts, as He desires. Then let us remain at peace, without hurry or fear in our hearts, and go on our little way. So long as we mean well and hold to our desire to love God, we are on the right track.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 17, 2017
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 130

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings challenge us to forgive each other. Gathered here are some thoughts on forgiveness that reflect the teachings of St. Francis de Sales:

Forgiveness is hard to do. While we desire to forgive, we still let our feelings of anger sway us. Yet, if we let anger reign in our heart it grows from a twig to a large branch. The greatest motive for not harboring anger in our heart is that it does not allow us to flourish as a healthy, lively human being. Forgiveness, on the other hand, leads to our wholeness in Christ, whose Spirit floods our hearts with eternal love.

Yet, deep hurts that return again and again remind us that they can never be fully eliminated. Just when we think we’ve been victorious in forgiving, we find our anger stirred up again in our hearts. We’ve thrown it out the front door, but like a strong wind, anger comes again through a back window in need of repair.

Nonetheless, we do not have to let our weaknesses control our lives. God does not order us to keep anger from coming into our heart, only that anger ought not to reign in our heart. Little by little we become forgiving as we very gently put our heart back into God’s hands and ask God to heal it. Tell God how you desire to forgive as Jesus forgives. For it is in Jesus that we must place all our affections.

By nurturing sacred love in our heart through prayer and the sacraments, we become open to the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness comes more fully when we allow our Savior to enter our hearts and explore the rooms that require repairing. We must not be disturbed but rather glory in our infirmities so that God’s power may shine through us. Our deepest hurts remind us of our own weaknesses, and of our need to be more compassionate with others’ weaknesses. In that lies the power of forgiveness.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 10, 2017
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 127

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
"If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that 'every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel challenges us to love one another in light of “fraternal correction,” a concept lost in our culture. St. Francis de Sales speaks of it in light of true friendship:

It often happens that when we have high regard for friends, we can absorb their imperfections. Certainly we must love our friends in spite of their faults. Yet, true friendship requires us to share the true good, not evil. Thus, just as gold diggers leave the sand on the bank and take the gold they find, so also those who share in a true friendship ought to remove the sand of its imperfections, and not let this sand get into their souls.

True friendship can live only on true virtue. It comes from God, leads to God and its bond endures eternally in God. It is a weak friendship that passively watches our friends take the wrong path: to let them perish rather than to courageously help them with the lance of correction. Genuine, living friendships cannot continue in the midst of vice. If it is only a passing vice, a true friendship will put it to flight by correction.

When we correct with compassion rather than anger, repentance will sink in far deeper and penetrate more effectively. Nothing so quickly calms down an angry elephant as the sight of a little lamb. When reason brings along rage, it is feared rather than loved. But reason without anger peaceably chastises, corrects, and warns, even though it might be severe and exact. A father’s gentle, loving rebuke has far greater power to correct a child than rage and passion.

Blessed are they who speak only to give “fraternal correction” in a spirit of sacred love and profound humility! More blessed are those who are ready to receive it with a gentle, peaceful and tranquil heart! In being humble, faithful and courageous, they have already made great progress, and will arrive at the highest degree of Christian holiness.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially, Introduction to the Devout Life)

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday September 3, 2017
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 124

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
"God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you."
He turned and said to Peter,
"Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to lose our life in order to find it. St. Francis de Sales speaks of losing our life so as to find it in Christ through a change of heart.

To lose our life in this sense is to let go of our unhealthy, self-centered loves. That may cause us to suffer. Yet, we must not be disturbed at our imperfections, for holiness consists in letting go of them. How can we abandon them unless we see and overcome them? Our victory consists in being conscious of them and not consenting to them.

As long as we live, we will feel the stirrings of anger and attachments. They ought not to surprise us, for these emotions of the heart are spontaneous natural inclinations. It is not these that we wish to uproot. Holiness does not consist in feeling nothing! What we need to uproot are those actions that are consequences of these emotions, like those murmurings that dissipate our energy, and that we willingly nurture in our heart for days.

To the extent that our beloved Jesus lives in your heart your whole being will be turned away from a culture that has so often deceived you. Dead to your old life, you will find a new life in Christ. The stars do not stop shining in the sun’s presence. Rather the sunlight is so bright that they are hidden within the sunlight. So, too, we no longer live by ourselves when we live Jesus, for our life is hidden in Christ with God.

Whoever wins your heart has won you wholly. While our heart is the source of our actions, it must be instructed on how it ought to act. If you live Jesus in your heart, you will soon live Him in all your outward ways. As if holding your heart, soul, and will in your own hands, dedicate and consecrate them to God. Little by little as we change the orientation of our heart, we find our true life in living Jesus. We come to love what God loves. Then, like Mary, we can say, “My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord!”

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday August 27, 2017
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 121

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
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."
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel we experience Peter firmly identifying Jesus as the “Christ, the Son of the living God.” St. Francis de Sales has much to say about St. Peter:

God does not always choose the holiest to govern and to serve in His Church. Our Lord chose Peter as Chief of the Apostles even though he was subject to many imperfections. Peter, filled with much zeal, was apt to be impetuous. While he followed our Savior with his whole heart, he stumbled many times after his initial calling.

He boasted that he would never abandon Our Lord. Yet, he found himself cursing Him and saying that he never knew Him. That pierced our Lord’s heart!

Yet, Our Lord did not reject Peter, since He was sure that St. Peter had a strong and constant determination to correct himself. Peter ought to have relied on Our Lord’s power than to trust in the fervor that he felt. Peter’s natural disposition to cater to his feelings and desires was in part the cause of his lapses. When we experience certain lapses in our on-going conversion, we must not abandon our quest for holiness. Like Peter, let us have a strong and constant determination to take the measures needed to correct ourselves. Then we too will receive special favors and blessings on earth and in heaven.

What a great reason to anchor our hope and confidence completely in Our Lord! For even after spending one’s life in horrible crimes and iniquities, one can find forgiveness when one returns to the Source of our Redemption, Christ. We must not listen to the voice that tells us that our faults are unpardonable. We must say boldly that our God died for all. No matter how ungodly one is, he or she will find redemption in our Savior. Let us consider with what patience our divine Savior awaits those who reject Him. Then like Peter, we may say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” our Redeemer.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday August 20, 2017
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 118

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
"Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon."
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus' disciples came and asked him,
"Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us."
He said in reply,
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me."
He said in reply,
"It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs."
She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters."
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
"O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish."
And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel we experience the Canaanite woman’s deep faith in Jesus. St. Francis de Sales expands on her confident and persevering response of faith in Jesus.

If God gives us no indication of hearing our prayers or of promptly answering them, we lose courage. We cannot persevere in prayer. We quit it completely, then and there. This is not the case with the Canaanite woman. Our Lord at first was paying no attention to her prayer. Since He did not respond to her, He seemed to do her an injustice. Nonetheless, the woman persevered in crying out after Him, even after the apostles told Him to send her away.

She had great confidence when she made her request amidst squalls and tempests that ordinarily shake one’s certainty. Like the Canaanite woman we ought to have firm confidence in Our Savior’s power and will, particularly in tribulations. Will God, who makes houses for the snails and turtles, not have care and mercy for you, a child of God? Such confidence always accompanies attentive faith.

Attentive faith is what the Canaanite woman had. She stood among Jesus’ listeners, carefully observing Him. Her faith was great, not only because she was so attentive to what she had heard spoken about Him. But she also decided to believe what others said of Him. We make our faith in God livelier by reflecting attentively on the mysteries of our Savior. These reflections make our heart desire the innumerable virtues of Jesus.

Perseverance is a virtue that flows from a faith attentive to the mysteries that Scripture and Tradition teach us. Our happiness is grounded on perseverance. If Our Lord seems not to hear us, it is to compel us to cry out louder and to draw us closer to God who gives us our power to persevere. Courage then! Like the Canaanite woman, let us walk faithfully with confidence in the way of our Savior and we will eternally be happy.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Sermons, ed. L. Fiorelli).

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Tuesday August 15, 2017
Solemnity of the Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 621

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 11:27-28

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
"Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed."
He replied,
"Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Assumption of the Blesses Virgin Mary

Today, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Holy Tradition teaches us that Mary died and was assumed into heaven in her glorified body. Mary ascended for the honor of her Son and to arouse great holiness in us. She dedicated all of her actions so as to give glory to her Son. Mary also desires that all of our actions glorify her Son.

After her Son’s death, the Mother of Jesus was a reliable witness to the truth of His human nature, as well as a light for the faithful who were in deep affliction. With what devotion she must have loved her holy body, as it was the living source of our Savior’s body. Yet to serve God better, she too had to rest her weary body so as to restore her strength. Assuredly taking care of our bodies is a most excellent act of charity. As the great St. Augustine said, God’s holy love in us places an obligation upon us to love our bodies properly, since they are necessary for good works, constitute part of our person, and will share in eternal happiness.

Indeed, a Christian must love his or her body as a living image of their incarnate Savior, as having issued with him from the same stock, and consequently belonging to him in parentage and blood. Like Mary, we must know our human excellence so as to glorify God through the gifts that God places in us. At the General Resurrection, our mortal bodies will become immortal, and remade like that of Our Lord.

Mary asks us to have her Son reign in our heart. Let us examine the affections of our heart to see that they are in tune, so that like Mary, we can sing of the great things God is doing in us. In all dangers, in all tempests, “Look at this star of the sea, invoke her.” With her favor your ship will arrive at port without disaster and without shipwreck.

(Adapted from Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, Ed.)

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday August 13, 2017
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 115

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
"It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter said to him in reply,
"Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come."
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
"Truly, you are the Son of God."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to take the risk of following Him with ever deeper faith as we are tossed about in the storm of life. St. Francis de Sales speaks similarly:

When fearfully faced with tempests and earthquakes, we make acts of faith and hope. Yet, there is another kind of fear where we find everything difficult and trying. We think more of future difficulties than what we have to do at present. Rise and do not be frightened by the day’s work. It is natural that the night is for rest and the day for work.

Let us do three simple things, and we shall have peace. Let us have a very pure intention of seeking, in all things, the honor and glory of God. Then let us do the little we can toward this end. Finally, let us leave to God the care of all the rest. I have seen few people make progress without experiencing trials, so you must be patient. After the squall, God will send the calm. Children are afraid when they are out of their mother’s arms. They feel nothing can harm them if they are holding her hand. Hold God’s hand and God will protect you from all, for you are armored with truth and faith.

If you lack courage, be like Peter and cry out, “Lord save me!” Then resume your journey quietly. Often we think we have lost peace because we are afflicted. Yet we have not lost it if we remain totally dependent on God’s will, and in no way abandon our responsibilities. Let us carry out our tasks courageously, and you will see that with God’s help we will go beyond the reaches of the world, beyond its limits. Trust then in God, and all things will be rendered easy, although at first they may frighten you a little.

Our Lord is called Prince of Peace in the Scriptures. Where He is absolute master, He holds everything in peace. To be at peace in the midst of warfare, to live serenely amid trials: this, indeed, is to imitate the “Prince of Peace.”

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Sermons , ed. L. Fiorelli).

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Sunday August 6, 2017
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Lectionary: 614

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
"Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him."
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
"Rise, and do not be afraid."
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
"Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

St. Francis de Sales challenges us to be transfigured in Christ through our daily activities:

At the Transfiguration Jesus showed us a spark of eternal glory. While the Prophet said, “I will never forget you…I have carved you on the palm of my hand,” Jesus went further and said, “I will never forget you, since I bear your name engraved in My Heart.” At the Transfiguration Jesus shows His flaming Heart of love for us.

Like the apostles who wanted to remain in Jesus’ presence, we too must do likewise. So little by little let us leave behind all our affections for lowly things and aspire to the happiness that Our Lord has prepared for us. Where could we give better witness to our fidelity to God than in the midst of things going wrong?

There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied with the world and depressed about it when we have of necessity to be in it. Yet we will always encounter difficulties in the “busyness” of the world. To think that we can be holy without suffering is a delusion. Where there is more difficulty, there is more virtue. However, if we stumble, with trust and confidence in God’s mercy, let us put ourselves back on the path of virtue.

Be like the honeybee. While you are carefully making the honey of holiness, at the same time make the wax of your worldly affairs. If our Lord finds honey sweet, so does the wax honor Him, since it is used to make the candles that give light to those around us. Let us focus on always being transfigured in Christ. What we will do and become as we experience the lovable Heart of our Master aflame with love for us!

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 30, 2017
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 109

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 13:44-52

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

"Do you understand all these things?"
They answered, "Yes."
And he replied,
"Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old."

Or
Mt 13:44-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of heaven is worth pursuing at any cost. St. Francis de Sales gives us some practical advice on how to keep advancing in our pursuit of the Kingdom:

All we have to do is nothing more than what we are doing: adore the lovable providence of God, and throw ourselves into God’s arms and keeping. Oh, how blessed are they who choose to place themselves in God’s hands! To renew and conform ourselves to this choice, we merely need to say that we love only God and love all else for the love of God. This continual aspiration is very helpful in applying all our works to love; it is especially useful for our ordinary little actions in everyday tasks. The tasks required for each person’s calling increase divine love, and gild a work of holiness.

Let us be like the valiant woman of the Old Testament. “She puts her hand to strong, generous, and exalted things and yet does not disdain to spin and turn the spindle.” Put your hands to strong things, by training yourself in prayer and meditation, receiving the sacraments, bringing souls to love God and infusing good inspirations into their hearts. Perform important works according to your vocation. But never forget your spinning and spindle. That is, practice those little virtues of simplicity, patience, humility and gentleness that grow like flowers when we do little deeds with great love.

The nightingale has no less love for its song when it pauses than when it sings. Similarly, the devout heart has no less love when it turns to external duties than when it prays. In such hearts their silence and their speech, their work and their rest equally sing with joy-filled love. Their daily prayer life overflows into their daily actions. They seek the Kingdom of God at all cost and it is revealed to them.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales especially his Treatise on the Love of God).

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 23, 2017
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 106

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 13:24-43

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?'
He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'
His slaves said to him,
'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
"First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

He proposed another parable to them.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"

He spoke to them another parable.
"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Or
Mt 13:24-30

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?'
He answered, 'An enemy has done this.'
His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
"First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today’s readings we are reminded how God’s justice and mercy work together to care for the human family. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God is Goodness itself. This infinite goodness of God has two hands: one is mercy, the other is justice. Justice and mercy can only thrive where there is goodness. God uses mercy to have us embrace what is good. Justice uproots whatever prevents us from experiencing the effects of God’s goodness. It makes us shun evil.

Those who have a true desire to serve our Lord and flee from evil should not torment themselves with the thought of death or divine judgment. The holy fear of those who love God is a filial reverence for God. They fear displeasing God simply because God is their most kind and loving father. A good child does not obey his father because of his power to punish or disinherit him, but simply because he is his loving and caring father. Holy fear strengthens our human spirit. It is full of confidence in the goodness of God. God’s mercy, seeing that we are clothed in “flesh, a wind” that comes and goes, never casts us into total ruin. Our Savior’s infinite mercy always bends towards us.

When sinners are most hardened in sin and are living as if there is no God, it is then that our Savior allows them to find His heart full of pity and kind mercy towards them. David, though he offended God, was always nourished in the Heart of leniency and divine mercy. Let us reflect how from eternity God’s goodness tenderly cherished us and provided for us all the means to progress in sacred love. Now God provides us the opportunity to do the good that presents itself and to persevere in the present trial that is upon us. The greatness of God’s mercy shines forth in the awe-inspiring deeds of Jesus. What a great reason to anchor our hope and confidence completely in God’s mercy!

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 16, 2017
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 103

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 13:1-23

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
"A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

The disciples approached him and said,
"Why do you speak to them in parables?"
He said to them in reply,
"Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them.

"But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

"Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

Or
Mt 13:1-9

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
"A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that if we understand His word with our heart, it will bear abundant fruit. St. Francis de Sales expands on this thought:

God’s word is so powerful and efficacious that it gives life to those in need. What a good sign it is for a Christian to take pleasure in listening to God’s word, and to belong totally to God! Those who come to abandon all to God without any reserve are like the sunflower that is not content with turning its flowers, leaves and stem toward the sun, but by some hidden wonder, it also turns its underground root. To love God completely means we love God who commands, and we love the thing commanded.

Jesus, who died for love of us, wants us to listen to His word so as to make it our own. After we have listened attentively to the Word of God, let us open our hearts and be receptive to understanding what we hear. Understanding well God’s word helps us to keep it. Our actions ought to be congruent with our words. That is, the carrying out of our good resolutions ought to immediately follow our words. Let us implore the Divine mercy to strengthen us to make effective what our heart desires and approves.

Our Lord makes it very clear that His word is effective in us when we embrace His will for us. This does not mean that we feel “good” or “holy” in doing God’s will. What matters is that we hold in reverence God’s word and keep to the intention of profiting from it. Divine Goodness is satisfied with this. God is content with little, and focuses on the intentions in our heart, not our feelings. However, those, who listen to the word of God with a particular attention and desire for it, speak of the victories over themselves and their weaknesses. Our entire good consists in accepting the truth of Our Savior’s word. Let us persevere in living that truth so we may have life in abundance.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 9, 2017
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 100

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."

"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."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel speaks of our need to be gentle and humble of heart. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Take care that gentleness and humility are found within your heart. Little by little, bring your quick mind around to being patient, gentle, humble, and affable in the midst of the pettiness, childishness and imperfections of others. Humility and gentleness are true and good when they preserve us from the inflammation and swelling that injuries usually cause in our hearts.

One of the best exercises in gentleness that we can perform is in ourselves. Reason requires that we must be displeased and sorry whenever we commit a fault. Yet when we do so, we must refrain from bitter, gloomy, spiteful and emotional displeasure with ourselves. We correct ourselves much better by calm, steady repentance than by harshness. These fits of anger against ourselves spring from our self-centered love that is disturbed and upset at seeing it is imperfect. If I had seriously committed a fault, I would correct my heart in a reasonable, compassionate way and say: “Alas my poor heart, here we are, fallen into the pit we were so firmly resolved to avoid! Well, we must get up again and leave it forever. Let us start out again on the way by trusting in God. God will help us and we will do better.”

When you are inwardly peaceful, perform as many acts of gentleness as you can, no matter how small and do all you can to develop a spirit of compassion. As long as reason rules and peaceably chastises, corrects, and warns, even though firmly and exactly, everyone loves and approves it. If we find ourselves aroused to anger we must call for God’s help like the apostles when the wind and the storm tossed them about. This life is only a journey to the happy life to come. We must march as companions united in gentleness, peace and love.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially, J. Power & W. Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal, Paulist Press.)

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 2, 2017
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 97

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 10:37-42

Jesus said to his apostles:
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

"Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet's reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man's reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us how we must love Him if we are to be His disciples. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God willed that Adam should love Eve tenderly, yet not so tenderly that to please her he should violate the command God had given him. Love of our family, friends, and benefactors is what God desires. Yet, we can love them to excess. This also may be the case with our vocation, no matter how spiritual, and even with our devotions, when we love them as if they were our last end. We must remind ourselves that they are only a means to our final intention, which is love of God.

Why does our excessive love of persons and things arise? It arises because the very things we ought to love according to God’s Will, we love for other causes and motives. These motives may not be contrary to God but are apart from God. That is, they focus more on our desires than what God desires for us.

Yet, there are souls who love only that what God wills and whatever way God wills it for them. These souls are truly blessed for they love God, love their friends in God, and even love their enemies for God. It is God whom they love not only above all things, but even in all things. Rare and singular are these souls. They are like pearl fishermen who do not say they are fishing for oysters but rather for pearls. These great souls find the pearl of God’s loving presence in all persons and things, and this is the cause of their joy.

In today’s Gospel Jesus urges us to love, as God desires us to love. To will what God wills for us, we must let go of all that is not of God in our desires and affections. Then we are free to love all persons and things in Christ and for Christ. It is the presence of Christ’s divine love in us that empowers us to become His disciples.

(Adapted from St. Francis de Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God)

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday June 25, 2017
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 94

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:
"Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
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.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us to fear those who try to destroy our souls and to place our trust in God who cares for us. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Everyone desires to embrace the good and fly from what is evil. When we experience an evil, we become sad and desire to free ourselves of this sadness. We are right to seek a means to get rid of this sadness. Fear and anxiety can come from an inordinate desire to be freed from a present difficulty or to realize a hoped for goal.

Whenever you urgently hope to realize a certain good or to escape from a certain uneasiness, you must be especially careful to put your mind at rest and be at peace. When you see that you are becoming anxious, place yourself in God’s presence. Resolve to do nothing that your desire insists on until your mind has regained peace. Be careful to make calm judgments based on the authentic values found in Jesus’ teachings. Then try, without hurry, trouble, or anxiety, to accomplish your desire. Perform the action, not according to your desire, but reason.

When we seek to escape from our troubles, we must do so patiently, gently, and calmly. We must look to God for help rather than our own efforts. If we look to ourselves only, we will wear ourselves out. Walk simply in the way our Lord shows you and don’t worry. Sing songs of praise and thanksgiving. Involve yourself in a variety of healthful activities. Also, revealing the cause of your anxiety to your confessor or a reliable person empowers you to find relief. If we always tend toward God’s love, neither tribulation nor fear of future troubles will separate us from this love. Our love is founded on Jesus Christ, who cares for us and never betrays us. Great indeed is the confidence our Savior wants us to have in His care. All who trust in this confidence reap great fruit.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Introduction to the Devout Life)

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Sunday June 18, 2017
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Lectionary: 167

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Body and Blood of Christ

Today we celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Here are some of St. Francis de Sales thoughts on the Eucharist.

So that we might intimately be united with God’s goodness, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. Our Savior desires us to be united to Him by a union so strong and close that we are marked with His features. In receiving the Eucharist our Lord carries us and does in us works altogether performed by Him. Whoever turns to the Eucharist frequently, and in a holy manner, builds up his or her spiritual health. If fruits that are tender and most subject to decay, such as strawberries, can easily be preserved a whole year in sugar and honey, it is no wonder that our hearts, no matter how frail and weak, are preserved by the spiritually real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

After you have received our Lord in the Eucharist, talk with Him about your inmost concerns. Reflect that He is within you and has come there for your happiness. Make Him as welcome as you possibly can. Conduct yourself in such a manner that by your actions all may know that God is with you.

Receive the Eucharist often. Two kinds of people ought to receive the Eucharist often: the strong and the weak. The strong, lest they become weak, and the weak that they may become strong. The sick that they may be cured, those in good health, that they may not fall sick. Persons who are involved in many worldly affairs need it. Those who labor much and are heavily burdened need to eat solid food and often.

In the Eucharist our Savior advances, strengthens and nourishes us with His self-giving love. Since Christ gives Himself totally to us in this Divine Sacrament, ought we not to give ourselves totally to Him, who is at once both Gift and Giver?

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Sunday June 11, 2017
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Lectionary: 164

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 3:16-18

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
The Most Holy Trinity

Today we celebrate the Trinity, the three Persons in One God. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The love of the Three Persons in the Trinity overflows into creation and especially the human family. Humanity was united to the person of God the Son so that humanity might eternally enjoy the treasures of His infinite glory. Only in and through Christ are we able to participate in the Trinity’s union of pure love.

Our Savior does not call us to the identical union of the Three Persons, but we ought to be united together as purely and perfectly as possible. When we respond to His call, our Redeemer so completely transforms us into His image. It almost seems as if there is no longer any difference between Him and us. He repairs us all equally. Without exception He makes us like Himself. Through the strength of His sacred love, He succeeded in forgetting Himself but not His creatures. How great was the flame of love that burned in the heart of our gentle Savior! We too are capable of such heart-felt love.

Jesus spoke of our union of hearts in daring terms. The quality of our love for one another must be similar to that of the love of the Three Persons. This seems too good to be true. Yet, it is impossible to love God and not love the image of God in our neighbor. Our Savior loves us so dearly that He makes us His adopted children. We too must show that we are truly His children, by loving one another dearly in all goodness of heart.

The children of this culture, who live only for their material treasures, are all separated from one another because their hearts are in different places. But the children of God, have their hearts ‘where their treasure is’. Having but one treasure that is the same God, they are always joined and united together. How much at peace and free we will be if our love for one another reflects the overflowing love of the Trinity!

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially, The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, ed.)

Pentecost Sunday

Sunday June 4. 2017
Pentecost Sunday
At the Vigil Mass
Lectionary: 62

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
John 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. As Scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me."

He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Pentecost

Today we read of Jesus giving His Spirit to the disciples. They are given the power to continue His saving mission for the whole human family. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The Holy Spirit is like a fountain of living water that flows into our hearts so as to spread divine love in us. Divine love is something infinitely more than all other forms of love. The love that the Spirit gives empowers us to serve God. Our works that flow from the Spirit’s love are vigorous and virtuous, and grow like the mustard seed. It is a wonderful thing that this Divine Spirit does not hesitate to dwell in us.

Still the Holy Spirit has no wish to enter into us unless it is with our free consent. God asks first for our heart. To the extent we open our heart to God’s love, so God continues to increase sacred love in us. Our Savior has promised that if you take the trouble to row your boat, He will lead you to another place full of life. He desires infinitely that you take the oar in hand and row. He makes every effort to make you do it. He commands, excites, and goads us. If we wish to sail on the little boat of the Church amidst the bitter waters of this world, He will lead us to eternal life. Yet, He refuses to lead us there without our help because by nature, we are made to be His cooperators.

It is not enough to feel an inspiration from God. We must give it our consent. Even if we give just a little of our consent to it, what happiness results! The divine inspiration, given to us by the Sprit, catches hold of us, mingles its action with our consent, animates our feeble movements, and enlivens our frail cooperation. God’s loving inspirations leave us complete freedom to follow or reject them. Yet, God’s love makes water flow from rocks, and makes persecutors into preachers. Let us do then what lies in our power to do. Let the Holy Spirit direct our actions and affections to forgiveness, which leads to our spiritual wholeness. Then we may spread the Good News to those we encounter each day.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)

The Ascension of the Lord

Sunday May 25/28, 2017
The Ascension of the Lord
Lectionary: 58

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
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."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
The Ascension of the Lord

Today we experience Jesus in His risen body ascending into the fullness of God’s kingdom. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The mystery of the Ascension astounds us. If we understand the Ascension, the most abundant treasure of Jesus’ gifts will be given to us. His body, no longer physical but spiritual, penetrates the heavens and is present in the Eucharist. He gives Himself to all those who wish to receive and embrace Him. In a hidden way, He is transforming all.

God’s love is continually divinizing our humanity. Our life of divine love places an obligation on us to love our bodies properly. They constitute part of us as a human person, and will share in eternal happiness. We as Christians must love our bodies as living images of our incarnate Savior. We must also love this divine image in each other.

When we begin to live a life “hidden in God with Jesus Christ,” we live out of our true interior self. We live a new life of divine love. Our selfish loves are in the service of divine love. How did we achieve this? Strong sunlight causes the light of the stars to disappear. Similarly, when we set up a stronger affection for imperishable, eternal things, we extinguish our inordinate love of ephemeral things. The stronger more powerful fire of God’s love extinguishes our excessive love of lesser things.

Jesus’ Resurrection-Ascension empowers us to live this new life of holy love that is contrary to all the opinions and rules of our materialistically oriented culture. Christ’s love is the wellspring of our love. Nothing urges on a person’s heart so much as love. Let us walk joyously among the difficulties of this passing life, since all is perfected and brought to perfection in the eternal beatitude of Heaven. Then Our Savior will glorify us with His splendor, for we loved all things, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)