Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday February 25, 2018
Second Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 26

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
"Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
"This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday of Lent

In today’s Gospel, Peter, James and John experience Jesus being transfigured. St. Francis de Sales notes:

At the Transfiguration God went out of the way to show that Jesus was truly Savior. At that moment, nothing was so desirable for the Apostles as remaining in the presence of Jesus. I assure you that I never stop wishing you countless blessings from heaven, especially that of always being transfigured in Our Lord. Thanks to our Savior, we are climbing Mount Tabor since we are resolved to serve Him and love His divine goodness. We must encourage one another in holy hope. Let us leave our love for lowly things so we can continue faithfully to aspire to the happiness He has prepared for us.

Where could we give better witness to our fidelity to God than in the midst of things going wrong? There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied with the world and depressed about it when we have to be in it. Yet whether we are immersed in the busyness of worldly events or in solitude, we will encounter difficulties. To think that we can be holy without suffering is a delusion. Where there is more difficulty, there is more virtue. However, if you stumble, don’t be upset or ashamed. Instead let us cry out to our Lord and our Lady who will reach out a blessed helping hand to us.

Be like the honeybee. While you are carefully making the honey of holiness, at the same time make the wax of your worldly affairs. For if honey is sweet to the taste of our Lord, wax also honors Him since it is used to make the candles which give light to those around us. Be at peace and walk simply and faithfully along the path that God has marked out for you, and you will walk confidently. Our Savior, who is transfiguring you, has taken you by the hand, and set you on the way to His glory. Let Him be your Guide.

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

First Sunday of Lent

Sunday February 18, 2018
First Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 23

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
First Sunday of Lent

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus being tempted in the desert. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Jesus did not seek temptation. The Holy Spirit led Him into the desert to be tempted. If we encounter temptation in that place where the Spirit of God leads us, we must be firmly confident that God will strengthen us against these temptations no matter how strong they may be. Yet, no matter how holy and generous we may think ourselves to be, we must never trust in our own strength or courage, and go out and seek temptation, thinking we can confound it. Nonetheless, we must prepare ourselves to rise above temptation. Like Jesus, we must arm ourselves with the truth of God. This truth is nothing other than faith, which shields us from temptations. When we say, “I believe” in God the Almighty, we place our trust in God’s power, not in our own strength.

As soon as you are conscious of being tempted, follow the example of children when they see a wolf or bear out in the country. They immediately run to the arms of their parents or call to them for help and protection. If the temptation continues, embrace the Holy Cross and look at our Lord. Then, turn your thoughts to some good constructive activity. Our temptations are like a chained dog. If we do not approach them they will do us no harm, even if they try to frighten us by barking at us.

Sometimes when we are faced with a temptation, in the beginning we feel wounded by some troubled emotion. Alas, we might think that it is almost impossible to serve God in holiness. Don’t trouble yourself with such an idle fear. Armed with the truth of God’s Word, God will strengthen us and give us the grace to persevere to do what is required for God’s glory and our own welfare and happiness.

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

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 11, 2018
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 77

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today St. Paul tells us to “do everything for the glory of God.” St. Francis de Sales elaborates on this intention:

How do we “do all things in the name of God” so as to live well?” First, we must purify all our intentions as far as we can. We must make a firm purpose to use the day well for the intention of giving glory to God and not us. Anticipate what tasks, transactions and occasions for serving God you may meet today. What temptations will you be exposed to, such as anger, self-centered love, or some other irregularities? Carefully prepare yourself to avoid, resist, and overcome whatever might hinder you from authentically living Jesus.

To do all things well, first make a holy resolution to grow in the love Jesus exemplified. To prepare yourself to put this resolution into practice, ask our Savior to help you make the best use of the means available to you to grow in holy love, and serve Him. Admit that you alone cannot carry out your decision to avoid evil and do the good that God desires of you. Hold your heart in your hands, and offer it with your good desires to Our Savior. Ask Him to take your heart under His protection and strengthen it so to grow in His authentic love.

To do all for the glory of God, train yourself to pray. Receive the sacraments often. As you perform the important tasks of your vocation, never forget to practice humility, gentleness, patience, and simplicity, virtues that grow like flowers at the foot of the Cross.

As you care for your family with all the diligence required, bring these souls to love God by infusing good inspirations into their hearts. Great opportunities to serve God rarely present themselves but little ones are frequent. As you carry out your responsibilities so that they give glory to God, all your activities, even eating, drinking, sleeping or recreation, will be done in the name of God, who leads you to authentic wholeness through Jesus Christ.

(Adapted from the Writings of St. Francis De Sales.)

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 4, 2018
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 74

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left
and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues,
preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel tells us that in the midst of busyness, even Jesus saw a need to find a quiet place to pray. St. Francis de Sales also stresses the importance of practicing mental prayer in the midst of our worldly activities, and gives us a short simple method:

I especially counsel you to practice the prayer of the heart. Set aside some time each day, if possible early in the morning, when your mind is less distracted and fresher after the night’s rest. Place yourself in God’s presence. Remember that God is present in a most particular way in your heart and in the very center of your spirit. Do not hurry along and say many things but try to speak from your heart. A single Our Father said with feeling has greater value than many said quickly and hurriedly. Don’t be concerned about finishing the vocal prayer you intended to say. By often turning your eyes on Jesus in meditation, your whole being will be filled with him. You will learn his ways and form your actions after the pattern of his.

From your meditation gather a few thoughts that you liked best and are most adapted for your improvement. During the day frequently think of them. Make particular resolutions for your own correction. On that same day, we must try to carefully practice them and to seek occasions, small or great, to do so. Since prayer places our mind in the brilliance of God’s light and exposes our ability to make choices to the warmth of God’s heavenly love, nothing else so effectively purifies our mind of ignorance and our will of disordered affections. Meditation makes the plants of our good desires grow green and flourish, and quenches the disordered passions in our hearts. By keeping close to our Savior in meditation and observing his words, actions and affections, we learn by his grace to speak, act, and will like him.

(St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to a Devout Life.)

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 28, 2018
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 71

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said,
"Quiet! Come out of him!"
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
"What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

St. Paul tells us in today’s reading “to be free of anxiety.” St. Francis de Sales gives us some advice on how to cope with anxiety:

There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied with the world and distressed about it when we have of necessity to be in it. We imagine we would feel better if we were on another ship. That may be, but only if we change ourselves! Solitude has its assaults, the world its busyness. In either place we must be courageous since in either place divine help is available to those who trust in God and who humbly and gently beg for God’s caring assistance.

One of the sources of our anxieties is our self-centered love. Why are we surprised by our imperfections? We want nothing but consolation. When we experience our own misery and weaknesses, let us do three things and we will have peace. Let us have a pure intention of seeking in all things, the honor and glory of God. Let us do the little we can toward this end and leave to God the care of the rest.

These little attacks of anxiety and sadness that are brought on by the multiplicity of our responsibilities permit us to practice the dearest and best virtues that Jesus recommended to us: gentleness and trust in God. True virtue is not produced by outward idleness, anymore than healthy fish are raised in the stagnant waters of swamps.

To protect ourselves from surprise attacks of anxiety, where we become resentful and ready to flare up if any one crosses us, we must often arouse in our hearts patience and courage. But when we do totter and fall, we must not be ashamed of being a little grimy and dusty. It is better to be covered with dust than with sores. If we place ourselves in God’s care and let the heavenly dew of God’s love heal us, all will be well.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 21, 2018
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 68

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
MK 1:14-20

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus preaching “the kingdom of God is at hand,” as He invites several fishermen to come after him. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God has many ways of calling men and women to service. God uses preaching more than any other form to convert individuals. Through the ministry of preaching God has touched the hearts of many people, and called them to special vocations. Preaching is like a divine seed cast into the ground of our hearts by the words of preachers.

God touches others while they are reading good books. Still others when they hear the holy words of the Gospel while being read. There are others who were disturbed by the misfortunes, troubles and sufferings that befell them in the world. Still, even if God is all-powerful and can do anything, God does not want to take away the gift of freedom given to us. Whenever God calls us to service, He wants us to come willingly and not out of force or compulsion.

Nonetheless, even if some people come to God’s service because they are disgusted with the world or because some sorrows and afflictions trouble them, they can still give themselves to God freely and willingly. Our sufficiency is from our Redeemer who taught us how to be fit ministers and capable of doing God’s will. One who abides in Christ partakes of his divine Spirit, who is in the midst of our hearts as a living fountain. Through the love the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts, the frail reeds of our actions are turned to gold. Our hearts, flooded with the love of the Holy Spirit, produce sacred actions that tend towards immortal glory and carry us to it.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially his Spiritual Conferences, I. Carneiro, Ed.)

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sunday January 14, 2018
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 65

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
JN 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God."
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
"What are you looking for?"
They said to him, "Rabbi" — which translated means Teacher —,
"where are you staying?"
He said to them, "Come, and you will see."
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
"We have found the Messiah" — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
"You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas" — which is translated Peter.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday we begin the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. Our New Year’s resolutions have already gone the route of ordinariness. Yet St. Francis de Sales tells us that we are called to live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. One element of this extraordinary way is our good desires to live a holy life. Francis notes:

What other flowers do we have in our heart but good desires? As soon as good desires appear, we need to prune away all the dead and useless obstacles that stop us from living a holy life. Bad habits come galloping on horseback as they enter our heart but leave slowly on foot. In this enterprise we must have courage and patience. After striving to be holy for a while, we generally recognize that we are still subject to many imperfections. It is easy then to become dissatisfied, disturbed and discouraged. Yet we must not let our heart give in to the temptation of giving up everything and going back to our old way of life.

On the other hand, there are those who think themselves perfect before they have scarcely begun. They try to fly without wings and are in great peril of a relapse on being too soon out of the physician’s care. The work of growing holy ought not to end until God calls us to our eternal home. We must not be disturbed by our imperfections. Unless we see them, how can we transform them? Our victory does not consist in being unconscious of them but in recognizing them. We are always victorious as long as we continue to struggle to overcome them. We are never conquered unless we lose courage. Imperfections and venial sin cannot deprive us of spiritual life. Thus, we must have a good opinion of those we see practicing virtues imperfectly, since we know that the saints themselves have often practiced them in this manner.

(Francis de Sales, Introduction to a Devout Life).

Epiphany of the Lord

January 7, 2018
Epiphany of the Lord

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
MT 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage."
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
"Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Epiphany of the Lord

Today we celebrate the manifestation of God to the world in the person of Jesus.

The magi were men of the East who were wealthy and educated. They were able to see the signs of the times concentrated in a single star and came to honor a great one born into the world.

Naturally, they began by seeking him in a palace, since they came looking for the King of the Jews. They eventually find a poor infant born to parents who were far from home. They bend their knee before the helpless infant, and offer gifts of great value to a child that is poor. Station in life is forgotten in the presence of this child whose star they had followed.

We are invited to follow the example of the magi.

This is the 2015th anniversary of the event these wise men experienced. We know that Jesus is God become flesh and blood like us. He has told us that God is so passionately in love with humanity that he entered the human condition in order to redirect human history back into its proper order – the establishment of the kingdom of God.

He came to remind us that each of us is created by God and destined for God. Our destiny is eternal union with our God. As one of the Sunday prefaces used to remind us, addressing God our Father: “So great was your love that you gave us your only Son as our redeemer. You sent him as one like us, though free from sin, that you might see and love in us what you see and love in Christ.”

Today’s feast offers us a challenge for this New Year. Can we become like the magi, open to recognizing God’s presence in the poor and less fortunate around us? Can we receive the Good News that Jesus has shared with us, by humbling ourselves before the helpless? Can we announce the good news by acting justly and peaceably in our homes and schools and workplaces?

2015 offers each of us an opportunity to deepen our faith and widen our love. It offers us opportunity and grace to grow. May we have the wisdom of the magi to see the signs of our time in the world around us and follow the lead of grace. We too will find Jesus with Mary his mother. May we learn to humble ourselves before him in the many forms he will take each day and offer him all that we have in loving service.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

December 31, 2017
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
LK 2:22-40

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
They took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
He took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
"Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel."
The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
—and you yourself a sword will pierce—
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

Or

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke

LK 2:22, 39-40

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
they took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Feast of the Holy Family

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We tend to forget that the First Family of the Christian Church had their trials too, as St. Francis de Sales notes:

We are often upset because things don’t succeed the way we want them to. What we desire was not found even in the family of our Lord. Think of the difficulties and changes, joys and sorrow found in the Holy Family. Mary received news that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit a Son, our Lord and Savior. What joy this was for her! Shortly afterward Joseph, seeing that she was with child and knowing that it was not by him, was plunged into distress! Mary was in grief, seeing her dear Joseph was about to leave her. When this storm passed, they experienced great joy. There was also joy in their hearts when the shepherds and Magi came.

However, a little later, the angel of the Lord said to Joseph in a dream, “Take the child and His mother and flee into Egypt.” Without doubt Mary and Joseph were troubled by this command. But was Joseph’s response: “Why do I have to go at night? Couldn’t this journey wait till the morning? I have neither horse nor money.” If we had been in Joseph’s place, would we not have made a thousand excuses? Whereas he promptly did all that the angel commanded. The peace and serenity of mind of Mary and Joseph shows their constant openness to do God’s will amid all the unexpected events that befell them.

We too, when we meet similar problems in our lives, must repeat over and over again to ourselves, so as the better to impress the truth on our minds, that no disturbance of events must ever carry away our hearts and minds into unevenness of temper. Like the Holy Family, God will guide us on our way no matter how difficult it may be.

(Adapted from St. Francis de Sales, Serenity of Heart: Bearing the Troubles of This Life, Sophia Press)

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
At the Vigil Mass
Lectionary: 13

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
MT 1:1-25

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile,
fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

Or

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew

MT 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

Vigil of Christmas
December 24, 2017

This evening is the vigil of Christmas and we ponder on the mystery of the birth of Jesus, Our Lord and Savior. St. Francis de Sales offer us some thoughts on the nativity:

If someone intends to build a house or a palace, he must first consider for whom the dwelling is intended. He will obviously use different plans depending upon the social status of the person. So it was with the Divine Builder. God built the world for the Incarnation of the Son. Divine wisdom foresaw from all eternity that the Word would assume our nature in coming to earth. To accomplish this task, God chose a woman, the most holy Virgin Mary, who brought forth Our Savior.

In the Incarnation, God made us see what the human mind could hardly have imagined or understood. So great was God’s love for humanity that in becoming human, God desired to fill us with divinity. God wished to crown us with divine goodness and dignity. God wanted us to be children of God, for we are formed in God’s image.

Our Savior came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves this divine resemblance of God. Oh, how earnestly we ought to summon up our courage to live according to what we are. Our Savior came so that we may have life to the fullest. He was wholly filled with mercy and kindness for the human family.

Often when the most hardened souls have reached the point of living as if there were no God, Our Savior allows them to find His Heart full of pity and kind mercy toward them. All, who know this, experience some feeling of gratitude for it. Let us let go of all that is not of God in our house. When we open our hearts to God’s love, we bring to birth the Christ Child in our hearts so as to establish God’s kingdom on earth.

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

Christmas Eve Vigil Mass

December 24, 2017
Christmas Eve Vigil Mass

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.

"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Advent

In today’s Gospel we experience Mary’s openness to God’s will for her. St. Francis has many thoughts on being open to God’s love, which is God’s will in our life:

Mary’s greatest gift was her absolute openness to God’s love. God speaks to us through inspirations and the inner stirrings of our heart. We must be open to willingly accept the inspirations it may please God to send us. By inspirations we mean all those interior desires, acts of regret, thoughts and affections God places in our hearts to awaken and attract us to authentic virtues, holy love, and good resolutions. In short everything that sends us on our way to our everlasting welfare. Any thought that causes us anxiety and fear must be let go, as they do not come from God who is Prince of Peace.

When a good inspiration comes, receive it as an ambassador sent by a leader of a nation. Approach it simply and gently. Listen calmly to God’s proposal. Think of the love it inspires in you, and cherish it. Nurture your good desire and keep it alive by sleeping in the arms of God’s providence. That is, give your inspiration complete, loving and permanent consent by peacefully accepting it, and trusting that God will give you the love you need to fulfill it. In this way, God will be pleased with your good will. Sometimes when God asks us to do some good work, all God really wants is our willingness to do the work, and not the accomplishment. While Jesus established the Kingdom on earth, He left work for His Apostles and future generations to help Him bring it to completion.

However, before you consent to and act on inspirations that are important or unusual, always consult your spiritual adviser to affirm whether they are true or false. Once the consent is given, you must hasten to put the inspiration into practice. The fruit of our practice is true virtue that keeps us continually open, like Mary, to God’s infinite love.

(Francis de Sales, Introduction…; Power & Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal)

Third Sunday of Advent

December 17, 2017
Third Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 8

A Reading for the Gospel according to John
JN 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, "Who are you?"
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, "I am not the Christ."
So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"
And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
So they said to him,
"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?"
He said:
"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
'make straight the way of the Lord,'"
as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
"Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday of Advent

Today’s Gospel speaks of John the Baptist. St. Francis de Sales unfolds aspects of John’s character that we could all start to develop in our hearts during Advent:

John the Baptist dwelt in the desert like a rock, immovable in the midst of all the waves and tempests of tribulation. We, on the other hand, change according to time and season. When the weather is fine, nothing can equal our joy. But when adversity storms in on us, we become disheartened. We sometimes get upset even for the littlest thing that is contrary to our liking. As a result, our peace of soul cannot be restored until long after we have had to use many “healing ointments.” In short, we are spiritually fickle, not knowing what we want. One minute we are light-hearted. The next minute we are harsh and bitter. We are reeds, tossed about in every direction by every mood and humor.

John the Baptist tells us that we need to even out these ways for Our Savior’s coming, our path to wholeness. All the saints to a degree did this but none perfectly. In each of them something marred the perfection of their equanimity of spirit. This was true even for John the Baptist. Yet, we must become disciples of John the Baptist. We must look into our actions, reforming those that are not of good intentions and perfecting those that are. Our goal is to act with only one intention: conforming ourselves to the true image of God in us. For the reason why Jesus came, was to show us our true self in God.

We must remember God’s grace is never lacking, and if we are faithful in cooperating with the first grace God gives us, we will receive many more. For this reason in Holy Scripture, God recommends us to be faithful in following our good impulses, insights and inspirations. When we do this the greatness of God’s infinite mercy will surely shine through.

(Adapted from L. Fiorelli, ed., Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, V.4)

Second Sunday of Advent

December 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 5

A Reading for the Gospel according to Mark
MK 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
"Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths."
John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel's hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
"One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday of Advent

In today’s Gospel we experience “A voice in the desert” crying out to us to make straight God’s paths. St. Francis de Sales tells us how to do this:

Roads that twist and turn only weary and mislead travelers. To make straight God’s path in our hearts, we must have as our only goal to please God. We ought to be like the mariner who, in steering his vessel, always keeps his eye on the needle of the compass. We too must have our eyes fixed on acquiring an even disposition, the most pleasing virtue in the spiritual life. We need to consistently lead our feelings, emotions and inclinations to God’s love, which transforms them so that we possess an even disposition.

When our heart struggles constantly between our love of God and our self-centered love, we find ourselves in a state of fear, anxiety and confusion. The sight of our great faults can bring with it a certain unhealthy fear that unnerves the heart and often leads to discouragement. For this reason, throughout our whole life we must exercise ourselves in trusting God, and confiding ourselves to the goodness of God, who loves us.

Yet, a holy fear leads us to take proper means to avoid trouble. Holy fear and hope ought never to be without one another. Hope encourages us to expect holy enjoyment in God’s supreme goodness. God uses both of these virtues to work spiritual cures in us.

Our life contains many tortuous paths that can be put right only by a change of heart. When we orient our heart towards God’s love, we experience true self-love. When divine love reigns in our hearts, it tames all other loves. Divine love subjects all our natural emotions and affections to God’s plan and service. All one’s movements are at rest in this holy love. Those who have an abundance of sacred love have hearts full of confidence and hope, for they are on the straight path to wholeness in God. (Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Sermons, L. Fiorelli, Ed.).

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

First Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2017
First Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 2

A Reading for the Gospel according to Mark
Mk 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

Salesian Sunday Reflection
First Sunday of Advent

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The readings remind us to be aware of our need for Christ who strengthens us until the end. St. Francis de Sales constantly stress the importance of living Jesus so that we may become fully human. But to live Jesus calls for the spirit of liberty. In a letter to Jane de Chantal he writes:

It is clear what God’s will is regarding the commandments and the duties of our vocation. However, there are many other things I am not obliged to do either by the general commandments of God or by the duties of my own vocation. With these it is necessary to consider carefully in liberty of spirit what would tend to the greatest glory of God. I said “liberty of spirit” because this needs to be done without pressure or anxiety. If it is not a matter of great importance, then we should not invest a great concern in it, but after a little thought decide. And if later the action or decision doesn’t seem good, I must in no way blame or bother myself about it, but rather trust in God and laugh at myself.

Do all through love, nothing through constraint. Love obedience more than you fear disobedience. I want you to have a liberty of spirit that excludes constraints, scruples and anxiety, not the kind that excludes obedience (this is freedom of the flesh). If you really love obedience and docility, I’d like to think that when some legitimate or charitable cause takes you away from your religious exercises, this would be for you another form of obedience. And your love would make up for whatever you have to omit in your religious practice. In all things a holy liberty and freedom must reign and we must have no other law or coercion than that of love. Whether love invites us to make something for the poor or for the rich, it does all things well and is equally pleasing to our Lord.

(Joseph Power, OSFS & Wendy M. Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal)

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

November 26, 2017
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe
Lectionary: 160

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Christ the King

Celebrating Christ as King, while popular in the Church, only became part of the liturgical calendar in 1925. St. Francis de Sales speaks of Jesus as King:

Jesus as a king was called to be our Savior. He desired that others should share in the glory of being leaders, especially his blessed Mother. Our Blessed Lady asks us to have her Son as King of our hearts so that He might reign in us. His commandments are good and very useful because they give goodness to those who otherwise would lack it, and increase goodness in those who would be good even if not commanded to be so.

Thus, Jesus made God’s goodness abound more than evilness. Jesus’ reign is truly salutary when it touches our miseries and makes them worthy of divine love. When the Holy Spirit pours divine love into our hearts, we are restored to health and empowered to share in our Savior’s work: to bring God’s love and care to those in our midst.

Since our Lord repaired us all equally, and wants all to share in spreading His Kingdom, we too must love in our neighbor what truly represents to us the sacred Person of our Master. We are not to love in our neighbor what is contrary to this sacred image. Let us walk then as Jesus Christ walked. He gave His life not only to heal the sick, to work miracles and to teach us what we ought to do to be divinely human. He also taught us how to give our life, as He lovingly did, for those who would take it from us.

How happy we are when we choose Jesus as our leader, who gives us unparalleled peace and calm if we follow Him. May we remain faithful to our King’s desires, so we might begin in this life what, with the help of God’s love, we shall do eternally in Heaven: Live in glory with Jesus, who in overcoming evil with good, is the true King.

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

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 19, 2017
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 157

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
'Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
'Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.'
His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'"

Or
Mt 25:14-15, 19-21

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'"

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that it is just as important and useful to serve Him faithfully with one talent or many. Here are some Salesian thoughts on using our talents:

What went wrong with the servant who buried his one talent? He wasted much time examining his ability to do his Master’s work. Focusing on his own lack of talents became an obstacle to faithfully perform the task asked of him. He was clinging to a false sense of security. He feared taking the risk that a spiritual journey demands.

In orienting our talents to serve God, we need to be patient with everyone, but first of all with ourselves. Like most of the saints, it will take us years to free ourselves of our selfish desires, including our desire for false security. Gradually though, we discard our disordered affections, and open ourselves to what God desires for us. We are then free to perform our everyday activities with the confidence that we are doing God’s will. Our true security and happiness is in God—who provides us with all that is necessary to establish the reign of God in the midst of our daily tasks.

Jesus tells us that those with one talent are just as useful and important as those with many talents in doing God’s work. The bees give us a good example. Some gather honey, some watch over the hive and others keep it clean. But they all eat the same honey. We too, the strong and the weak, work together in Christ. Faithful servants do all they know to be pleasing to God, who fills their emptiness. They reveal their divine potential for union with God through their everyday tasks. They recognize that God reigns in the midst of their daily activities. Happy are they who use their talents to establish God’s love in their midst. God will never let them be unfruitful! Even if they do only a little for God, God will shower abundant blessings on them in this life and in the next.

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

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 12, 2017
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 154

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
'Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.'
But the wise ones replied,
'No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.'
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!'
But he said in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that those who experience the kingdom of heaven are wise and prudent. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Good Christians who live in a worldly culture must be prudent to improve their situation. They have to give great care to the needs of their families. By acting otherwise, they would be failing in their responsibilities. Yet, good Christians also trust in God’s wisdom more than in their own proficiency. They work faithfully, but let God take concern for their work. The things they do are insignificant when they consider only the dignity their work has in being willed by God’s will, arranged by Providence, and planned according to His wisdom. God’s wisdom is God’s love for us.

Now the problem with our human spirit is that it never follows the middle course, but usually runs to extremes. We can be too concerned about our personal welfare or not concerned enough. In always trying to follow a straight path it is only natural that at times we tilt to one extreme or the other. We can recover our balance by choosing God’s wisdom and prudence, for they unite us to God’s love by rejecting what is harmful to us.

Let us not let our worldly desires get in the way of God’s loving wisdom. To the extent that we reorder our lives through prayer and virtuous living, we find God’s love empowering us to balance our actions so that they are effective in living wisely. We must be like little children who with one hand hold fast to their father while with the other they gather blackberries from the hedges. So too if you handle the goods of this world with one hand, you must always hold fast with the other to the hand of your heavenly Father, whose loving wisdom gives us an abundance of means to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 5, 2017
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 151

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
"The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people's shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.'
As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.'
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called 'Master';

you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that we must be good and faithful servants who care for God’s law and people. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Our Lord desires only that we be totally open to God's will for us. When we embrace God’s will we consecrate our hearts to God’s love. We desire to serve God faithfully in both great and small tasks. Flies bother us not because of their strength, but because of their numbers. So it is that many trifling tasks give us more trouble than important ones. While we must be attentive to the tasks God has committed to our care, we must not be worried about them. Worry hinders our ability to reason and clouds our good judgment. So, without hurry, try to calmly do your tasks in order one after the other. Order carefully what is at hand today with a calm mind. Tomorrow you will order something else.

Anxiety is a desire to escape a present evil or acquire a hoped for good. When we do not succeed in the way we want, we grow anxious and impatient. Nothing impedes our progress in holy love more than anxiety. That is why we must take great care to have our heart pliant and open to God’s love. When we allow divine love to govern our tasks, we have no less love than when we pray. Our work and our rest joyously praise and serve God. Then our daily tasks gild as it were a work of holiness. For a single cup of water, our Savior has promised a sea of perfect bliss to his faithful.

We are open to God’s will when we perform with love our little daily acts of charity and accept all the little trials throughout the day. Such opportunities present themselves from moment to moment. To do little actions with a great purity of intention to please God is to do them excellently. Then our daily tasks increase divine love, for we live Jesus who teaches us how to be good and faithful servants of God.

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

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 29, 2017
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 148

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us to love God and neighbor. These two commandments are the foundation of Christian Spirituality and permeate the writings of St. Francis de Sales:

To show us more vividly how ardent God’s desire is for our love, God demands that love from us in wonderful terms: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” We often think that God is so great and we are so little that we are incapable of loving God. So as not to be discouraged and turn away from God’s love, we are told that we are highly capable of loving God with all our strength, even after sin.

To love God above all else means we need to place God above all our idols, for our heart runs after many material things and spiritual consolations. As soon as we have obtained them, it seems that we have to do it all over again. Nothing can ever satisfy our heart. God wills that our heart not find a place of permanent rest in our idols. Then our heart is free to return to God from whom it comes. Bees can only rest upon flowers in bloom. So it is with our heart. Our heart finds rest solely in God’s love. Why then do we detain our heart’s desire for God’s love, and pursue other loves?

The Commandment to love God is higher than the Commandment to love the neighbor. But our nature offers greater resistance to the love of neighbor. Yet, when we trust in our Savior’s love, we can be more courageous in loving the image of God that is frequently veiled from us in our neighbor. We come to recognize the resemblance of the Creator in each other. For, the pure love of God is to love what is of God in all creatures. Let us then imitate Jesus, who taught us more through His works than His words, how to love our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as we do our own self.

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

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 22, 2017
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 145

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax."
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel tells us to give to God what belongs to God and to give to the state what belongs to the state. St. Francis de Sales notes that in order to enjoy a just state we must obey those to whom God gives authority to govern. Yet he stresses more “what belongs to God” in light of “obedience of love”:

We have a natural desire to love God that tells us we belong to God. We are like deer marked with the initials of their owner who lets them free to roam in the forest. Yet, all know to whom the deer belong. We too are free, and our natural inclination to love God lets our friends and enemies know that we still belong to God, who desires us to be united through “obedience of love.”

This obedience of love consecrates our heart to God’s love and service. Jesus is the model. Allowing God to shape and form us, we place all our desires in God’s hands. Such obedience has no need to be roused up by threats or rewards, by commandment or law. It goes ahead of all such things when it gives itself to God. It begins to do with love all that leads to the union of our heart with God. It undertakes this journey in simplicity.

Sometimes our Lord urges us to run with full speed in the tasks required of us. Then God makes us stop in mid career, when strongest in our course. While we must do everything to bring God’s work to a successful end, we must peacefully embrace the outcome. It is our part to plant and water carefully, but the increase belongs only to God.

Nonetheless, as a tender mother leads her little children, and helps and holds them up as long as she sees a need for it, so also our Savior carries us and holds our hand in unbearable hardships. Let us then enjoy a serenity of heart by embracing this obedience of love that unites us to God to whom we belong.

(Adapted from the works of St. Francis de Sales, esp. Treatise on the Love of God)