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)

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 21, 2017
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 55

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Sixth Sunday of Easter

Today's readings remind us that to love Jesus is to keep His word and to think, feel and act in accordance with His word. St. Francis de Sales stresses that we learn to keep His word and live Jesus through a life of prayer and virtue.

Prayer places our mind in the brilliance of God's light and exposes our will to the warmth of God's love. Prayer is a stream of holy water that makes the plants of our good desires grow green and flourish. Each day set aside some time to meditate. If possible meditate early in the morning, when your mind is less distracted and fresher after a night's rest. To live Jesus, ask God to help you to pray from your heart.

When you meditate on Jesus' life, you will learn his ways and form your actions after the pattern of his life. Gradually accustom yourself to pass with ease and tranquility from prayer to your various duties even though your duties appear far different from the affections you received in prayer. The lawyer must be able to pass from prayer to pleading cases, the merchant to commerce, and the parent to the care of children. Out of our meditation experience must flow our daily actions, which involve a life of virtue.

Each person must practice in a special manner the virtues needed for the kind of life he or she is called to. In practicing the virtues we should prefer the one most conformable to our duties rather than the one most agreeable to our taste. As a rule comets seem bigger than stars because comets are closer to us. Hence, comets seem bigger to us. Similarly, we esteem certain virtues merely because they appear greater to us. Yet, we must choose the virtues needed to counteract our habitual failings and weaknesses so as to advance in holy love. For instance, if assaulted by anger practice gentleness, no matter how small this virtuous act may seem. True virtue has no limits. If we act out of reverence for God and in good faith, God will raise us up to heights that are truly great so that we may live Jesus even when we suffer for doing what is good.

Of course, the Good News in today’s Gospel is that we are not on our own – we are not left to our own devices – in our attempts to Live + Jesus. We have Christ’s promise of the help, the guidance and the companionship of the Holy Spirit!

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

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 14, 2017
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 52

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 14:1-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way."
Thomas said to him,
"Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?"
Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him,
"Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Today Jesus implores us to believe in Him. He is the life-giving Truth who gives us strength to do great works. St. Francis de Sales notes:

There is nothing stronger than truth. To live in truth is to lead a life entirely conformed to simple faith. So great is the strength of faith that it fears nothing. People indeed have this strength of faith. Yet, because we do not always realize that this is in us, we often fear and become weak. The strength of faith consists partly in knowing its power that says we can do everything in God who strengthens us. Our strength of faith has us acknowledge the truth of our goodness and dignity as persons who are capable of being united to God, who is Truth. Our faith in being united to God sustains us amidst so many great weaknesses, and gives us strength to become authentic persons.

The aim of Christian authenticity is to transcend our own self-centered spirit and find our true spirit in Christ. Our Lord came into this world to give us life. Yet, as long as we live, we will have some self-seeking interests that deny us His life-giving way. Little by little, let us leave our affections of these lesser things and aspire to the happiness that God desires for us. The greater fervor we have in letting go of lesser loves, the more God’s love can do great works in us. The more we let go of our selfish desires and yield to God’s desire for us, the more our human spirit will be free from interior restlessness.

Bees are restless while they are without a queen. We too are restless until we give birth to Our Savior in our hearts. Let us remain very near to this sacred Savior who gathers us all around Himself so as to keep us always under His most holy protection. He is like the queen bee that cares so much for her swarm she never leaves her hive without being surrounded by all her little people. Great is the confidence that Our Redeemer wants us to place in His care for us. All who trust in Him always reap the fruits of this confidence. Imitating His truthful, life-giving way has us do great works indeed!

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

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 7, 2016
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 49

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 10: 1-10

Jesus said:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers."
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Easter

Today we experience Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He invites us to hear His voice so that we “might have life and have it in abundance.” St. Francis de Sales notes:

Our Good Shepherd gathers us all around Himself to keep us always under His protection. He tenderly nourishes us with His love. So loving is God’s hand as it handles our heart, bringing it strength without depriving us of freedom. Those who hear well His voice never lack holy inspirations in order to live life in abundance and to fulfill in a holy way their responsibilities.

To hear well we must listen. To hear the word of God, we must first be attentive to it by having an open heart. To listen to God’s word we must learn it well and carry out what we are taught. When manna fell from Heaven, the Hebrews rose each morning to collect it before sunrise. They ate and swallowed it so as to be nourished and strengthened. We too must digest well God’s word to make it part of our own being.

Thus, each day nourish yourself with a little spiritual reading that affirms God’s word and sends you on your way to your everlasting welfare. Let the word of God that you hear, speak to you throughout the day. Put that into practice and leave the rest to Our Savior, who nurtures your true needs. If we are to have life in abundance eternally, we must hear the voice of Our Shepherd, who guides us if only we let Him.

Since we easily mismanage ourselves, Our Shepherd wants to teach us how to have life in abundance through loving His voice rather than the voice of strangers, who easily lead us astray. True love is when we live in light of Our Savior’s love, rather than the selfish loves that the culture stresses. How happy we will be if we remain in the Shepherd’s presence, faithfully listening to and living His voice!

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

Third Sunday of Easter

Sunday April 30, 2017
Third Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 46

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus' disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
"What are you discussing as you walk along?"
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
"Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
They said to him,
"The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see."
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?"
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, "Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
"Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
"The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday of Easter

Today, two of Jesus’ disciples experience the dawning of faith in the risen Jesus as they meet Him on the road to Emmaus. St Francis de Sales notes:

Jesus, appearing as a pilgrim, encounters two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He questions them about their conversation on His resurrection but they do not recognize Him. After they confess the doubt they are experiencing concerning His Resurrection, Jesus is able to instruct and enlighten them with His words. Then as Jesus breaks bread with them, they recognize their risen Savior and believe in Him.

It is a very good sign when a person listens willingly to the divine word. We are in continual communication with God, who never ceases to speak to our hearts through inspirations and sacred movements. God gives to each of us the inspirations needed to live, work, and preserve our life in the spirit.

When God gives us faith, God enters into our soul and pleasantly proposes what we must believe through inspiration. Yet our soul amid obscurity and darkness only gets a glimpse of those truths. It is like the earth when covered with fog. We can’t see the sun, but we see a little of the sun’s light. This obscure light of faith enters into our spirit, and step by step brings us to love the beauty of God’s truth in Jesus Christ, and believe in it.

Faith is the best friend of our human spirit. Faith assures us of God’s infinite goodness and thus gives us sufficient reason to love God with all our power. We must nurture well what we hear inwardly and outwardly of the divine word so that it strengthens us. Be devoted then to the word of God whether you hear it in familiar conversation with spiritual friends or in sermons. Be like the disciples. With joy, let the words of Our Savior nourish your heart as a precious hope-filled healing ointment.

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

Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday April 23, 2017
Second Sunday of Easter
(or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Lectionary: 43

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
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."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But he said to them,
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday of Easter

Today as Jesus appears to His Disciples after His resurrection, we experience Him in His glorious immortal body. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Alas how the faith of Jesus’ Apostles is shaken after His crucifixion! Assembled in a room with closed doors, they are filled with fear. Then Jesus enters, stands in their midst, and greets them: Peace be with you. Showing them the signs and marks of the reconciliation of humanity with God, He says see my hands and my side. Why does He do this? To bolster their vacillating faith. Without the presence of our Savior, they felt timid and lacked strength. Such is the case when one is without God. They were afraid. Like a ship tossed in a storm without a pilot, such was this poor boat. Our Lord appears to his disciples to bring relief to their fear.

What joy and celebration the Apostles experience when hey see their Master in their midst. Jesus affirms their vacillating faith, assures their daunting hope and illumines their sacred love of God. Faith, hope, and holy love are necessary while we remain on earth. In heaven only holy love lives on. Especially with his Disciples during these days after his resurrection, and particularly in the apparition recounted today, Our Savior only does one thing: teach us that it is necessary to believe, to hope and to love.

He comes to bring safety in this place besieged of fear. He takes our miseries and ennobles them. Do you have need of strength? Here are my hands. Do you have need of a heart? Here is mine. His power gently gives us power. A living faith knows its power. Vivified by holy love, a living faith serves God as a faithful servant. May we be rooted in faith, joyful hope and fervent in holy love, in which we will rejoice for all eternity.

(Adapted from Saint Francis de Sales Oeuvres: Sermons)

The Resurrection of the Lord

Sunday April 16, 2017
The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day
Lectionary: 42

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
"They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don't know where they put him."
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

OR

Mt 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
"Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
'He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.'
Behold, I have told you."
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me."

OR

Lk 24:13-35

At an afternoon or evening Mass.

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus' disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
"What are you discussing as you walk along?"
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
"Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
They said to him,
"The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see."
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?"
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, "Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
"Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
"The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Easter Sunday

Today we experience Jesus’ victory over death. What joy in knowing that God’s love is stronger than death! St. Francis de Sales notes:

The resurrection of Jesus adorns us with a new life of glory. The Heart of our gentle Savior was so aflame with desire for our salvation that He generously shared with us His glory. In His redemption, Our Savior’s love, stronger than death, overflows, melts our hearts, and transforms us. In coming into this world, He raised our nature higher than all the angels, and when transformed, He makes us so like Himself that we may even say we resemble God. In becoming one of us, Our Savior took on our likeness and gave us His.

Consider the nature God has given to you. It is the highest in this visible world. It is capable of eternal life and of being perfectly united to God. How do we nurture this union? We must begin by loving the divine resemblance of the Creator first in ourselves, then in others. When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb she didn’t recognize our Savior because He was dressed as a gardener. She didn’t see Him in the form that she wanted to see Him in. Isn’t it our Lord in gardener’s clothes that we encounter in the ordinary trials that we daily face? Let us open the door of our heart so our Savior may saturate our hearts with divine love. Then we can begin to serve the Gardener as He desires.

Our Savior wishes to plant in our garden many flowers, but to His liking. It is for us to cultivate our souls well, and faithfully attend to them. When spring comes it renews itself with flowers that bring us joy. A day will come when we too will rise to a life of eternal joy. Let us fervently aspire to this most delightful Paradise. Let us travel on to that blessed land that is promised to us, putting away all that leads us astray or delays us on this journey. Let us walk then in the garden of the risen Jesus. It is a day to rejoice!

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

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Sunday April 9, 2017
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 37 and 38

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 26:14 - 27:66

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
"What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?"
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity
to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?"
He said,
"Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
'The teacher says, "My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."'"
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
"Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
"Surely it is not I, Lord?"
He said in reply,
"He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born."
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
"Surely it is not I, Rabbi?"
He answered, "You have said so."

While they were eating,
Jesus took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and giving it to his disciples said,
"Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
"Drink from it, all of you,
for this is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed on behalf of many
for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it with you new
in the kingdom of my Father."
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
"This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken,
for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed;

but after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee."
Peter said to him in reply,
"Though all may have their faith in you shaken,
mine will never be."
Jesus said to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows,
you will deny me three times."
Peter said to him,
"Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you."
And all the disciples spoke likewise.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
"Sit here while I go over there and pray."
He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,
and began to feel sorrow and distress.
Then he said to them,
"My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch with me."
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying,
"My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass from me;
yet, not as I will, but as you will."
When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep.
He said to Peter,
"So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again,
"My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass
without my drinking it, your will be done!"
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time,
saying the same thing again.
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them,
"Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
Behold, the hour is at hand
when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
Look, my betrayer is at hand."

While he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs,
who had come from the chief priests and the elders
of the people.
His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying,
"The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him."
Immediately he went over to Jesus and said,
"Hail, Rabbi!" and he kissed him.
Jesus answered him,
"Friend, do what you have come for."
Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus
put his hand to his sword, drew it,
and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him,
"Put your sword back into its sheath,
for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father
and he will not provide me at this moment
with more than twelve legions of angels?
But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled
which say that it must come to pass in this way?"
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,
"Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs to seize me?
Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me.
But all this has come to pass
that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled."
Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away
to Caiaphas the high priest,
where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Peter was following him at a distance
as far as the high priest's courtyard,
and going inside he sat down with the servants
to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death,
but they found none,
though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward who stated,
"This man said, 'I can destroy the temple of God
and within three days rebuild it.'"
The high priest rose and addressed him,
"Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?"
But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him,
"I order you to tell us under oath before the living God
whether you are the Christ, the Son of God."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"You have said so.
But I tell you:
From now on you will see 'the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power'
and 'coming on the clouds of heaven.'"
Then the high priest tore his robes and said,
"He has blasphemed!
What further need have we of witnesses?
You have now heard the blasphemy;
what is your opinion?"
They said in reply,
"He deserves to die!"
Then they spat in his face and struck him,
while some slapped him, saying,
"Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?"

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.
One of the maids came over to him and said,
"You too were with Jesus the Galilean."
But he denied it in front of everyone, saying,
"I do not know what you are talking about!"
As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him
and said to those who were there,
"This man was with Jesus the Nazorean."
Again he denied it with an oath,
"I do not know the man!"
A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter,
"Surely you too are one of them;
even your speech gives you away."
At that he began to curse and to swear,
"I do not know the man."
And immediately a cock crowed.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken:
"Before the cock crows you will deny me three times."
He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning,
all the chief priests and the elders of the people
took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
They bound him, led him away,
and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned,
deeply regretted what he had done.
He returned the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders, saying,
"I have sinned in betraying innocent blood."
They said,
"What is that to us?
Look to it yourself."
Flinging the money into the temple,
he departed and went off and hanged himself.
The chief priests gathered up the money, but said,
"It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury,
for it is the price of blood."
After consultation, they used it to buy the potter's field
as a burial place for foreigners.
That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah
the prophet,
And they took the thirty pieces of silver,
the value of a man with a price on his head,
a price set by some of the Israelites,
and they paid it out for the potter's field
just as the Lord had commanded me.


Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him,
"Are you the king of the Jews?"
Jesus said, "You say so."
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
"Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?"
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
"Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?"
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
"Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him."
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?"
They answered, "Barabbas!"
Pilate said to them,
"Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?"
They all said,
"Let him be crucified!"
But he said,
"Why? What evil has he done?"
They only shouted the louder,
"Let him be crucified!"
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood.
Look to it yourselves."
And the whole people said in reply,
"His blood be upon us and upon our children."
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
—which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
"You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!"
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
"He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?"
which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
"This one is calling for Elijah."
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
"Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him."
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
"Truly, this was the Son of God!"
There were many women there, looking on from a distance,
who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph,
and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening,
there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph,
who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus;
then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen
and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock.
Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb
and departed.
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation,
the chief priests and the Pharisees
gathered before Pilate and said,
"Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said,
'After three days I will be raised up.'
Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day,
lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people,
'He has been raised from the dead.'
This last imposture would be worse than the first."
Pilate said to them,
"The guard is yours;
go, secure it as best you can."
So they went and secured the tomb
by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Palm/Passion Sunday

Today we walk with Jesus to Mount Calvary. We experience His self-giving love for us as He dies on the Cross. We too are called to imitate Him. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Contrary to the wisdom of the culture, true Christians who are seeking holiness, place all their perfection in the folly of the Cross. All the saints became wise in their folly to follow Jesus. They suffered contempt and humiliations that came from the culturally wise. Yet, they washed their feet and their hands in the sacred waters of forgiveness. We too must cleanse our works and affections so as to give glory to God.

Like the saints, we too must go to Mount Calvary with Our Lord and endure labors and persecutions. When exterior or interior troubles overtake you, take your good resolutions, and like a mother, who rescues her child from danger, put them in our Lord’s wounds, asking Him to protect both you and them. Wait there in the sacred shelter until the storm has passed. With God’s help you will make great progress. As Jesus shows us, to be able to sin is not power, but powerlessness. Even the persecutions of Jesus’ enemies were not powerful enough to destroy Our Savior’s incomparable solid and constant love for all. Such ought to be our love for one another: firm, ardent, solid and persevering.

When we consent to love divinely by letting go of our own willfulness, we are like migrating birds. We migrate from a winter world where one meets cold and icy hearts, to springtime where God’s love is the sun that gives warmth to the human heart. This Sacred Fire fills us with a self-giving love that is infinite. This love never says: “Enough is sufficient.” Our Savior loved us with a love so ardent and persevering, that death could not cool His love. Divine love is stronger than death. May we remain at the foot of Our Savior’s Cross so as to be nourished by His self-giving love that we are called to imitate.

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

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Sunday April 2, 2017
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 34

Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 11:1-45

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
"Master, the one you love is ill."
hen Jesus heard this he said,
"This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
"Let us go back to Judea."
The disciples said to him,
"Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?"
Jesus answered,
"Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him."
He said this, and then told them,
"Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him."
So the disciples said to him,
"Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved."
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
"Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him."
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
"Let us also go to die with him."

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
"Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you."
Jesus said to her,
"Your brother will rise."
Martha said to him,
"I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day."
Jesus told her,
"I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?"
She said to him, "Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world."

When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
"The teacher is here and is asking for you."
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
"Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died."
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
"Where have you laid him?"
They said to him, "Sir, come and see."
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, "See how he loved him."
But some of them said,
"Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?"

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, "Take away the stone."
Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him,
"Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days."
Jesus said to her,
"Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?"
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
"Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me."
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
"Lazarus, come out!"
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
"Untie him and let him go."

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday Of Lent
Today Jesus, as He raises Lazarus from the dead, urges us to live and believe in Him. St. Francis de Sales expands on what it means to live in the Spirit of Jesus:

Jesus desires to give life to those who are dead to attest to God’s love for us. He speaks to those who are deadened by sin to affirm that all can hear the voice of God through the Spirit. The Spirit gently awakens us to a new human life. No matter how weakened our hearts may be by sin, the Spirit strengthens them with an invigorating and enlivening holy love. The Holy Spirit is like a fountain of living water that flows into every part of our hearts so as to spread its divine love there.

All our affections follow love. In love we desire, rejoice, hope and despair, fear, hate, avoid things, feel sad, grow angry, and exult. Love is the foundation of our life lived in the Spirit of Jesus. When divine love reigns in our hearts, it transforms all other affections we have chosen so that we may live, walk, and work in the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit has no wish to enter our hearts without our permission. The Spirit will flood us with divine love only with our cooperation. So what must we do to nourish a spirit where the Spirit of Jesus can dwell? When reason guides our appetites, feelings and emotions, we are then living in the “spirit.” We live in the ‘flesh” when our appetites, feelings and emotions determine our actions. Let us unambiguously choose a life in the spirit.

If a sick man takes only part of his required medicine, it partly heals him. So also with divine love, to the extent we consent to embrace it, the Spirit floods us with sacred love. Thus we must not only receive God’s love at our heart’s door, but also into our heart’s consent. We must nurture this love guided by holy reason and wisdom. When steeped with the love of the Spirit, our hearts produce sacred actions that tend toward immortal glory. Let us consent to a new human life in the Spirit of Jesus who raises us to eternal glory.

(Adapted from the Treatise on the Love of God)

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 26, 2017
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 31

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?"
Jesus answered,
"Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
"Go wash in the Pool of Siloam" —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
"Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?"
Some said, "It is, "
but others said, "No, he just looks like him."
He said, "I am."
So they said to him, "How were your eyes opened?"
He replied,
"The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.'
So I went there and washed and was able to see."
And they said to him, "Where is he?"
He said, "I don't know."

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
"He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see."
So some of the Pharisees said,
"This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath."
But others said,
"How can a sinful man do such signs?"
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
"What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?"
He said, "He is a prophet."

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
"Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?"
His parents answered and said,
"We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself."
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,
for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
"He is of age; question him."

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, "Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner."
He replied,
"If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see."
So they said to him,
"What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?"
He answered them,
"I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?"
They ridiculed him and said,
"You are that man's disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from."
The man answered and said to them,
"This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything."
They answered and said to him,
"You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?"
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
He answered and said,
"Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?"
Jesus said to him,
"You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he."
He said,
"I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
"I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind."

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, "Surely we are not also blind, are we?"
Jesus said to them,
"If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, 'We see,' so your sin remains.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Today, Jesus reminds us that He is the world’s Light that produces goodness, justice and truth. We are urged to live in His Light. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The human mind finds its entire satisfaction in discovering and knowing the truth of things. The greater the truth, the greater the delight. Yet, our human condition makes us skillful in the pursuit of honors, riches and power. Experience teaches us daily that these useless loves make us prone to turn from the truth, rather than consider the truth of God’s love. God’s love has us think on the truth of a Paradise filled with eternal happiness.

Our hearts are refreshed and energized with holy love as we accept in faith the truth of the teachings of Jesus. It is a sign of interior conversion when God’ goodness gives us light to see our blindness. We come to know ourselves as children of the Light. When we remove the obstacles that stop us from loving God, we become capable of loving one another, as God desires us to love each other. A human flaw discovered is half healed, for we have received an insight that frees us of our blindness. Nonetheless, we must be patient at the sight of our faults. We must learn to acknowledge them calmly and without fuss. Nothing is more favorable to the growth of those “weeds” than our anxiety to get rid of them. Stay always on the road to holiness and these imperfections will grow weak.

Our Savior held us in his hand and guided our life when we did not want to be completely His. Since we now desire ardently only to do God’s will, don’t you think He desires to protect His little lambs that strayed from the gentle Shepherd? Faithfully focus, then, on nourishing God’s gift of conversion with awe and confidence. Let us make God’s grace effective in our lives by persevering in our holy resolutions and good desires. We then will live in the Light of Christ, producing truth, justice and goodness.

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

Third Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 19, 2017
Third Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 28

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob's well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
"Give me a drink."
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
"How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?"
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
"If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink, '
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water."
The woman said to him,
"Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?"
Jesus answered and said to her,
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
The woman said to him,
"Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water."

Jesus said to her,
"Go call your husband and come back."
The woman answered and said to him,
"I do not have a husband."
Jesus answered her,
"You are right in saying, 'I do not have a husband.'
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true."
The woman said to him,
"Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus said to her,
"Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth."
The woman said to him,
"I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything."
Jesus said to her,
"I am he, the one speaking with you."

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, "What are you looking for?"
or "Why are you talking with her?"
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
"Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?"
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat."
But he said to them,
"I have food to eat of which you do not know."
So the disciples said to one another,
"Could someone have brought him something to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, 'In four months the harvest will be here'?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that 'One sows and another reaps.'
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work."

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
"He told me everything I have done."
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
"We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday of Lent
Today’s readings speak to the catechumens. Moses experiences a deeper faith in God’s Word. The Samaritan woman experiences a new life in Christ. St. Francis de Sales notes: There are two different lives represented in us: the “old life” and the “new life.” In the “old life” we live according to the faults and infirmities we have contracted through our human condition and culture. We are like the eagle that drags its old feathers along the ground, unable to take flight. We must let go of the old life, ‘burying it in the waters of holy baptism or penance’ if we wish to enter into the “new life.”

In the “new life” we live according to the love, favors, and will of our Savior. Our new life in Christ is salutary and redeems us. It is living, lively and life giving. It causes us to soar aloft for we are ‘alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Our new life is like the eagle also. Having shed its old feathers, the eagle takes on new ones. Grown young again, it flies off in its new powers. Alas, some tender souls newly born out of penitential ashes may have difficulty soaring about in the open air of sacred love. While they are living, animated and winged by love, they may still have habits that their old life left in them. While we remain in this world, we can be bent either by divine love or useless loves.

When we choose to pursue useless loves, we become hesitant to approach Our Lord. This is normal. If we have offended a friend, we feel shame. But we must never live in shame. Our growth in divine love is such that an opening always remains for sudden assaults of other objects and apparent goods. We experience hesitancy in turning to God in our frailties so that we may cast ourselves even more into God’s merciful arms. Let us have the courage then to discard the old life. Let us grow in confidence to live a new life in Christ Jesus, who desires to deepen our love so that we may be eternally loving.

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