The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Sunday June 3, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Lectionary: 168

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
Jesus’ disciples said to him,
"Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
"Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there."
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.
While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
"Take it; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
"This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Body and Blood of Christ

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus telling His disciples of His real presence in the Eucharist. St. Francis de Sales notes that the Eucharist strengthens us and the community.

The first Christians had but one heart and one soul and preserved this union among themselves. What built that great union among them was none other than the celebration of the Eucharist. Later on, when reception of the Eucharist was discontinued or rarely received, holy love became cold among Christians, and totally lost both its strength and its alluring delight. In the Eucharist, God is at once both Gift and Giver who strengthens each of us in community.

The height of Our Savior’s self-giving love for us is the Eucharist. Infinite happiness is pledged to us in the Eucharist, the perpetual feast of divine grace. In the Eucharist, God becomes our food. How wonderful to be nourished on the Bread from heaven that Our Lord gave to us.

The more we are united to God, the more we are united to one another. Each time we receive Communion, our union will become more perfect. For being united with Our Lord, we shall also remain united to one another. That is why the holy reception of this heavenly Bread and of this sacrament is called Communion, that is, common union.

The Eucharist is the real and spiritual presence of Christ. When we receive the Eucharist, our Lord carries us and does deeds in us altogether performed by Him. In the Eucharist, all He asks is our co-operation in the practice of virtue and good works. Our Savior gives Himself totally to us in the Divine Sacrament. Ought we not to give ourselves totally to Him who advances, strengthens and nourishes us with His life-giving love in the Eucharist?

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

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Sunday May 27, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Lectionary: 165

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 all 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
Trinity Sunday

Today, Trinity Sunday, the Church celebrates the three Divine Persons in God. St. Francis de Sales states that we, as a community, are called to a similar union of pure love:

The pure love of the Trinity overflows into the spiritual health of the whole human family. The Holy Spirit, in us during this mortal life, leads us to Christ, who is the way to the Father. It is the Trinity that has brought about the mystery of God becoming human. Our Savior has taken on our likeness and given us His. Only in and through Christ are we able to participate in the Trinity’s union of pure love.

Our spiritual health is founded on the Incarnation. Our Savior was too great a lover of truth and authentic goodness to be carried away by greed, ambition, and honors that harm us. Our Lord calls us to love one another and be united together as purely and perfectly as possible. It is only God’s image and likeness that we ought to love and honor in all. St. Paul recommends: “Beloved, walk the way of love for one another as very dear children of God.” Paul adds that he wants us to walk with giant strides as Jesus did: loving and forgiving all. We are truly God’s children when we love one another dearly in all goodness of heart.

The union of the three Divine Persons is really impossible to imagine. It would be presumptuous to hope to reach an identical union of love as found in the three Divine Persons. Yet we must be willing to approach this union in a manner consistent with our human condition. We are all called to become holy, but we must rely primarily on God’s grace, not our own human effort, to love divinely. Just as the love of the three Divine Persons overflows into the whole human family, may our love resemble the Trinity, and overflow into the hearts of those we encounter each day.

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

Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day

Sunday May 20, 2018
Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 63

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 20:19-23

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."

Or

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Pentecost Sunday

On the Feast of Pentecost, we experience the Spirit of truth empowering the disciples of Jesus to be authentic witnesses to Jesus’ words and deeds. St. Francis de Sales notes:

The holy love that the Spirit pours into our hearts is infinitely more than all other forms of love. The love the Spirit gives us redeems us and gives us eternal life. On the Feast of Pentecost the Holy Spirit reinvigorated and gave strength and virtue to Jesus’ disciples to carry on our Savior’s work through forming the true Church.

You too exercise an apostolic function by witnessing to your way of life as a Christian. The love of the Spirit empowers you to do our Lord’s work. Our works that flow from the Spirit’s love have vigor and authenticity, and grow like the mustard seed. This Divine Spirit does not hesitate to dwell in us. Hence we must make room in our hearts for the Holy Spirit. Now what must we do to make room? God asks first for our heart. The Spirit, who dwells in us, desires to open our hearts to divine goodness. The Spirit of Jesus wants us to experience the fruits of divine love. The Spirit does this by giving us gifts and blessings inseparable from holy love that leads us to eternal happiness.

Our desire, to attain the fullness of a holy life, is a spark of the divine flame and the work of the Spirit. If we wish to sail on the little boat of the Church amidst the bitter waters of this culture our Savior will glide us to eternal happiness. He makes every effort to encourage you take the oar in hand and sail. He has promised that if you take the trouble to row your boat, He will lead you to another place full of life. To the extent you allow the Spirit to enlarge your heart, the Spirit will increase your ability to love divinely. Happy, indeed, are those who decide to serve God even only a little! God will never let them remain barren and unfruitful!. Who, then, can resist the empowering love of the Spirit?

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

The Ascension of the Lord / Seventh Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 13, 2018
The Ascension of the Lord
Lectionary: 58

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
Mk 16:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Sunday May 13, 2018
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 60

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 17:11B-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Seventh Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus praying that his disciples may be made one, and “consecrated to the truth.” St. Francis de Sales notes:

How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity! When two or three or more souls share with one another their sacred love and holy affections, and establish a single spirit, they experience true friendship. Friendships that are sacred, speak truthfully, and praise only virtue and God’s love.

For those of us who live in the world and desire to embrace true virtue it is necessary to unite together in holy friendship. The higher the virtue you share with each other, the more perfect your friendship will be. You encourage, assist, and lead one another to perform good deeds. People walking on level ground do not have to lend one another a hand. Yet, those who are on a rugged road hold on to one another in order to walk more safely. The only connection between them is that of sacred love, which St. Paul calls: “the bond of perfection.” This bond of love grows in time and takes on new power. It gives us ease and true liberty. Its force is gentle, yet so solid.

It is the presence of God’s love in us that leads to an authentic love of self, and subsequently, to love others the way God desires us to love them. We cherish all creatures for love of God. To love our neighbor in holiness is to love God in them. Thus, we must not neglect to nurture the friendships with our parents, kindred, neighbors and others. Yet, we live in a world where everyone is not of the same mind and heart. Hence we need particular friendships to support us in the many dangerous places we must pass through. True friendships are sacred because they come from God, lead to God, and will endure eternally in God. How good it is to unite our hearts here on earth, as we will do in eternity!

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

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 6,2018
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 56

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Sixth Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus telling us to remain in His love. By remaining in His love we will learn to love one another. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Love causes us to be like what we love. We are given a natural inclination to love God. Moreover, we are commanded to love God and the things of God above all other things. Alas, we are like the eagles that have greater power of sight than flight. While we see how worthy of love God’s goodness is, we have less strength of will for loving it.

Yet, this human heart of ours is capable of producing certain beginnings of love for God. But to advance to the true maturity of love, that is, to love God and all the things of God, we need divine love. Through God’s goodness our spirits are raised up and united with God’s love. Overflowing with divine love, we come back to share this pure love with others.

To love God without loving the neighbor is impossible. God has chosen us as children and thus we must show that we are truly God’s children by our loving one another dearly in all goodness of heart. Our Savior, in coming into the world, raised our nature higher than all the angels and has made us so like Himself, that we can say that we resemble God perfectly. In becoming human, Our Lord has taken on our likeness and has given us His. Oh, how earnestly we ought to summon up our courage to live according to what we are! Imitate as perfectly as possible Him, who came into this world to teach us what we need to do: to preserve in ourselves this divine resemblance.

It is this divine resemblance only that we are called to love and honor in our neighbor. Is this not a powerful motive to have for loving each other? All nations, which have a union of hearts that reflect the image of God, will surely be filled with joy.

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

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sunday April 29, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 53

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that He is the true vine and we the branches. Thus, we must remain in Him if we wish to bear much fruit. St. Francis de Sales state that we too must live Jesus in order to advance the kingdom of God in our hearts and in the world:

How happy you will be if in the midst of the world you keep Jesus Christ in your heart! I beg Him to live and rule there eternally. Confidently and sincerely keep up this holy pursuit of living Jesus, for all true peace finds its source in His way of truth.

If Our Savior is to reign in our heart so that we may bear much fruit, then there are some things we must observe. The first thing in the morning is to prepare your heart to be at peace. Ask for God’s grace, and offer to God all the good you will do during the day. In this way you will be prepared to bear with peace and serenity all the pain and suffering you will encounter during the day. Then take great care throughout the day to frequently call your heart back to that peace. At every moment give the very heart of your heart to our Savior. You will see that as this divine Lover makes a home in the center of your heart, the world with its emptiness and meaninglessness will leave.

This is a huge undertaking but a generous person can do it with the help of the Creator. Yet it is impossible to have your soul so totally in hand right away. We have to put up with others, but first with ourselves. Good heavens! What makes us think we can enter into a state of interior rest without going through setbacks and struggles? If you ask God for patience, and strive to practice it faithfully, God will give it to you. But most of all don’t lose heart. Be patient. Meanwhile, do all you can to develop a spirit of compassion. What matters most is that we do faithfully all the things we need to do to advance the kingdom of God in our hearts. Then we can bear much fruit in the world.

(Adapted from Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal…. J. Power & W. Wright, Ed; Spiritual Directory, L. Fiorelli, Ed.)

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Sunday April 22, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 50

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 10:11-18

Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus describing Himself as the Good Shepherd and what this means. St. Francis de Sales reminds us that we are all shepherds who must tend our sheep:

Our Good Shepherd gathers us all around Himself in order to keep us always under His most holy protection. But we too are shepherds and have a flock to attend. Our flock is our desires, feelings and emotions. We must keep watch over this spiritual flock, by learning from Jesus how to govern ourselves.

Since we easily mismanage ourselves, Our Good Shepherd wants us to give up such self-management except to consent and follow His Will. He desires what is best for our wholeness. Following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, we learn how to direct, to govern and put our desires, feelings and emotions in order, so that they conform to God’s goodness. What could be more pleasing to this Divine Shepherd than to bring to Him our loves so that He may purify them? Holy love is our first desire. True love is accomplished when we live no more according to our own willful desires, but according to the inspirations and promptings of Our Savior.

Our Shepherd tenderly nourishes us with an incomprehensible love. He died in love, by love, and for love. To bring us life, He suffered death. What remains for us? We ought to consecrate every moment of our life to the divine love of our Savior’s death that opened us up to eternal life. That is, we must bring to fruition all our works, all our actions and all our thoughts so that God’s glory may shine through them. How happy we will be if we remain in the Shepherd’s presence, faithfully bringing His reign in our midst!

(Adapted from St. Francis de Sales, Sermons, L. Fiorelli, Ed.; St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God).

Third Sunday of Easter

Sunday April 15, 2018
Third Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 47

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 24:35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
"Peace be with you."
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have."
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?"
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
"These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled."
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
"Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel we come to see how the Disciples’ faith is affirmed as they continue to experience Jesus’ presence among them. St. Francis de Sales tells us that God also continues to affirm our faith:

So loving is God’s hand as it handles our hearts! So skillful is God’s hand in bringing its strength to us without depriving us of freedom. God’s power gently gives us power as the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts the first rays of the divine light of faith.

These movements of the Spirit are the beginning of holy love. They are the first green buds that the soul, warmed by the Heavenly Sun, begins to put out in the springtime. Joyous, beautiful, and pleasing is this dawn of sacred love. Still it remains true that the dawn is not the day. These movements of divine love precede our act of faith. When God gives us faith, God enters into our being and speaks to us by way of inspiration.

Little by little our Lord strengthens the grace that comes to us from divine inspiration. So pleasantly does God propose to us what we must believe that we adhere to the light of truth with a gentle but powerful certitude: faith alone makes us love and believe in the truth of Christ’s love by diffusing a certitude in our mind. Faith is the best friend of our spirit. For step by step as it were, we are led back to God.

How gently Our Lord proceeds in hearts that consent to serve God throughout their life by keeping the Commandments. I believe that God would give us still more help if it were not because of our failure and the obstacles we place in the way. Therefore, let us be attentive to our progress in the love we owe to God, for then the love that God brings will never be wanting to us, and our faith in Christ will grow just as the Apostles’ faith did after the resurrection.

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

Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday April 8, 2018
Second Sunday of Easter
(Or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Lectionary: 44

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

In today’s Gospel the Disciples experience Jesus’ real presence after His Resurrection. He invites us also to believe in His real presence among us. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Through faith God leads us to penetrate, understand and love divine truths that are revealed. An act of faith on our part is choosing to love God and the things of God. When we allow the mysteries of divine revelation to speak to us, our faith is strengthened.

When temptations against faith and the Church arise, do as you do with other temptations. Don’t argue at all with them. Place yourself at Our Savior’s feet. Tell Him that you are His, and want His help, even if you are unable to speak. Temptations against faith are trials like any other, and you must calm yourself. I have seen few people make progress without experiencing trials. So be patient. After the squall, God sends the calm.

Faith is brought to life by holy love. Without a doubt as long as we are in this life, the imperceptible movement of God’s love in us makes us holy. It is the Holy Spirit who pours this divine love into our hearts. As soon as trees are transplanted, their roots spread and are thrust deeply into the earth that nourishes them. Only later, when we see the tree continue to grow, do we notice that their roots are spreading and being nourished by the earth. Similarly, by divine love, a heart can be transplanted from things that are not of God to things of God. If this heart earnestly prays, it will surely continue to reach out and attach itself to God’s goodness that nourishes it.

Vivified by holy love, a living faith serves God. As a faithful servant it does all that it knows and recognizes is pleasing to God. Let us be servants also of God’s love just as the Apostles and early Christians were. In this way we will give witness to Jesus’ presence among us, as a living community of faith, hope and holy love.

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

Easter Sunday

Sunday April 1, 2018
Easter Sunday
The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day
Lectionary: 42

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

Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
Mk 16:1-7

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
"Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?"
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, "Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
'He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.'"

Or

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
Easter Sunday

Today we experience and celebrate Jesus conquering death. We also celebrate and welcome our newly baptized who now robe themselves in a new life in Jesus Christ. St. Francis de Sales speaks of the power of God’s love as we take off our old garments that led us away from God, and put on the new garment of Jesus Christ:

It is divine love that empowers us to take off the old garments of Adam and put on the new garment of Jesus Christ. It is holy love that causes us to live again in God. Divine love enters the soul to make it happily empty itself of all that is not of God.

Yes, we even must empty ourselves of all our affection for virtue that is agreeable, profitable and honorable to us, and suited to our self-centered loves. Now we clothe ourselves anew with various affections, perhaps the very ones we have given up, because they are agreeable to God, profitable to God’s honor, and destined for God’s glory. This means that we take on the affections suitable to the service of God’s love. Hence we love our parents, country, home, friends, and things, as God desires us to love them.

God’s love, which is stronger than death, enables us to forsake all things that lead us away from loving divinely. Holy love, magnificent as the resurrection, graces us with glory and honor. Through God’s love, we gladly die to our false self so as to rise anew to our true self in Christ!

Alleluia!

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

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Sunday March 25, 2018
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 37 and 38

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark
Mk 14:1—15:47

The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
were to take place in two days' time.
So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way
to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.
They said, "Not during the festival,
for fear that there may be a riot among the people."

When he was in Bethany reclining at table
in the house of Simon the leper,
a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil,
costly genuine spikenard.
She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.
There were some who were indignant.
"Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?
It could have been sold for more than three hundred days' wages
and the money given to the poor."
They were infuriated with her.
Jesus said, "Let her alone.
Why do you make trouble for her?
She has done a good thing for me.
The poor you will always have with you,
and whenever you wish you can do good to them,
but you will not always have me.
She has done what she could.
She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.
Amen, I say to you,
wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
what she has done will be told in memory of her."

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve,
went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them.
When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money.
Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
his disciples said to him,
"Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
"Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there."
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he came with the Twelve.
And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said,
"Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me,
one who is eating with me."
They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one,
"Surely it is not I?"
He said to them,
"One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish.
For 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."

While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, and said,
"Take it; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
"This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
"All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be dispersed.
But after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee."
Peter said to him,
"Even though all should have their faith shaken,
mine will not be."
Then Jesus said to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows twice
you will deny me three times."
But he vehemently replied,
"Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you."
And they all spoke similarly.
Then they came to a place named Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
"Sit here while I pray."
He took with him Peter, James, and John,
and began to be troubled and distressed.
Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch."
He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed
that if it were possible the hour might pass by him;
he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.
Take this cup away from me,
but not what I will but what you will."
When he returned he found them asleep.
He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing.
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open
and did not know what to answer him.
He returned a third time and said to them,
"Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
It is enough. The hour has come.
Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
See, my betrayer is at hand."

Then, while he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs
who had come from the chief priests,
the scribes, and the elders.
His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying,
"The man I shall kiss is the one;
arrest him and lead him away securely."
He came and immediately went over to him and said,
"Rabbi." And he kissed him.
At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
One of the bystanders drew his sword,
struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his ear.
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs, to seize me?
Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me;
but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled."
And they all left him and fled.
Now a young man followed him
wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.
They seized him,
but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.

They led Jesus away to the high priest,
and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.
Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest's courtyard
and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death, but they found none.
Many gave false witness against him,
but their testimony did not agree.
Some took the stand and testified falsely against him,
alleging, "We heard him say,
'I will destroy this temple made with hands
and within three days I will build another
not made with hands.'"
Even so their testimony did not agree.
The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus,
saying, "Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?"
But he was silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked him and said to him,
"Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?"
Then Jesus answered, "I am;
and 'you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power
and coming with the clouds of heaven.'"
At that the high priest tore his garments and said,
"What further need have we of witnesses?
You have heard the blasphemy.
What do you think?"
They all condemned him as deserving to die.
Some began to spit on him.
They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, "Prophesy!"
And the guards greeted him with blows.

While Peter was below in the courtyard,
one of the high priest's maids came along.
Seeing Peter warming himself,
she looked intently at him and said,
"You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus."
But he denied it saying,
"I neither know nor understand what you are talking about."
So he went out into the outer court.
Then the cock crowed.
The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,
"This man is one of them."
Once again he denied it.
A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more,
"Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean."
He began to curse and to swear,
"I do not know this man about whom you are talking."
And immediately a cock crowed a second time.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him,
"Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times."
He broke down and wept.

As soon as morning came,
the chief priests with the elders and the scribes,
that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him,
"Are you the king of the Jews?"
He said to him in reply, "You say so."
The chief priests accused him of many things.
Again Pilate questioned him,
"Have you no answer?
See how many things they accuse you of."
Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison
along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
The crowd came forward and began to ask him
to do for them as he was accustomed.
Pilate answered,
"Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?"
For he knew that it was out of envy
that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd
to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate again said to them in reply,
"Then what do you want me to do
with the man you call the king of the Jews?"
They shouted again, "Crucify him."
Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?"
They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him."
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led him away inside the palace,
that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
They clothed him in purple and,
weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
They began to salute him with, AHail, King of the Jews!"
and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
They knelt before him in homage.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him out to crucify him.

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus,
to carry his cross.

They brought him to the place of Golgotha
— which is translated Place of the Skull —
They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
but he did not take it.
Then they crucified him and divided his garments
by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
"The King of the Jews."
With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him,
shaking their heads and saying,
"Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross."
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes,
mocked him among themselves and said,
"He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe."
Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

At noon darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"
which is translated,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
"Look, he is calling Elijah."
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed
and gave it to him to drink saying,
"Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down."
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
"Truly this man was the Son of God!"
There were also women looking on from a distance.
Among them were Mary Magdalene,
Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome.
These women had followed him when he was in Galilee
and ministered to him.
There were also many other women
who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

When it was already evening,
since it was the day of preparation,
the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea,
a distinguished member of the council,
who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God,
came and courageously went to Pilate
and asked for the body of Jesus.
Pilate was amazed that he was already dead.
He summoned the centurion
and asked him if Jesus had already died.
And when he learned of it from the centurion,
he gave the body to Joseph.
Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down,
wrapped him in the linen cloth,
and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.
Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses
watched where he was laid.

Or

Mk 14:1—15:47

As soon as morning came,
the chief priests with the elders and the scribes,
that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him,
"Are you the king of the Jews?"
He said to him in reply, "You say so."
The chief priests accused him of many things.
Again Pilate questioned him,
"Have you no answer?
See how many things they accuse you of."
Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison
along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
The crowd came forward and began to ask him
to do for them as he was accustomed.
Pilate answered,
"Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?"
For he knew that it was out of envy
that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd
to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate again said to them in reply,
"Then what do you want me to do
with the man you call the king of the Jews?"
They shouted again, "Crucify him."
Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?"
They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him."
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led him away inside the palace,
that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
They clothed him in purple and,
weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
They began to salute him with, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
They knelt before him in homage.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him out to crucify him.

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus,
to carry his cross.

They brought him to the place of Golgotha
—which is translated Place of the Skull —
They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
but he did not take it.
Then they crucified him and divided his garments
by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
"The King of the Jews."
With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him,
shaking their heads and saying,
"Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross."
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes,
mocked him among themselves and said,
"He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe."
Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

At noon darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"
which is translated,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
"Look, he is calling Elijah."
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed
and gave it to him to drink saying,
"Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down."
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
"Truly this man was the Son of God!"

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Palm Sunday Passion of the Lord

Today we begin the most sacred week of the Christian calendar.

We heard Isaiah’s Servant Song proclaimed to us. The Servant represents the sufferings of the exiled community of ancient Israel in Babylon. In the midst of their suffering, the Servant speaks a word of hope to the community: “The Lord God is my help; therefore I am not disgraced.”

In Mark’s account of the Passion, Jesus’ last words from the Cross are the opening words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”? Jesus was identifying himself with the suffering people of every age. Jesus has taken upon himself the sufferings and sins of every person who will ever live.

In the midst of all his suffering, Jesus knew his Father’s love.

Perhaps his last cry in a loud voice indicated that he was identifying himself with the last words of Psalm 22: “You, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me.” Then Jesus breathed his last. We know that his Father heard the voice of his suffering Son – and has greatly exalted him.

Jesus wants each of us to know that he has shared in our sufferings – for he is our brother. He invites us to join our sufferings to His – for the salvation of the world.

Let us be with Jesus, our brother and Savior, during this Holy Week.

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 18, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 35

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.

"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
'Father, save me from this hour'?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name."
Then a voice came from heaven,
"I have glorified it and will glorify it again."
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
Jesus answered and said,
"This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself."
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Lent

As we continue our Lenten journey, the prophet Jeremiah turns our attention to the new covenant God desires to establish with his people. “All, from least to greatest, will know the Lord. He will write the law on our hearts and forgive our evildoing and remember our sins no more.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus announces that the “hour” has come. When he is lifted up from the earth, he will draw all to himself. Jesus has chosen to strip himself of his divinity and become human like us so that we would know the great love God has for us.

Now he is preparing himself to be the grain of wheat that will fall to the ground and die in order to produce much fruit. This will be the hour of our salvation. Because Jesus is obedient to his Father whom he loves dearly, he will suffer and die for the sins of the whole world. He will reconcile the whole human race with God. With his death and rising, Jesus will complete God’s new covenant. Through the grace of baptism, God’s law is now written on our hearts. We become God’s children once again, able to call God “Father.”

When we go within our hearts to listen to God’s word, we must not be surprised that we encounter a challenge. Jesus will challenge us to follow him wherever he goes, to do the will of his Father, as he did. Like Jesus, we may feel troubled at times with what we have to face each day. Like Jesus, we will come to understand that our Father is with us in everything we do.

We have nothing to fear. We heard Jesus tell us: “My Father will honor whoever serves me.” That is Jesus’ promise to us.

Let us be faithful to the new covenant Jesus has made with us. Let us listen to our heart; it is there that God speaks to us. Let us strive each day to do with love all that our God asks of us. Let us ask Jesus, who has died and risen for us, to draw us closer to him and one another each day.

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

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 11, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 32

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 3:14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For 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.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Lent

Here we are at the mid-point of our Lenten journey.

During the past three weeks, we have been listening to the call of the prophets and Jesus himself: “Repent and believe the Good News.” Change your way of living.

Today, in the midst of these voices for change, we hear the Good News: “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 to save it.

We heard St. Paul expand on John’s words: “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in sin, brought us to life in Christ – by grace you have been saved.”

The wonder of God’s loving mercy shown to us in Jesus: the immeasurable riches of his grace, his kindness to us in Jesus.

Our salvation, our new life, is pure grace, freely given by the God who loves us. We have done nothing to deserve it; we can do nothing to merit it. It’s ours because God loves us. When we have the humble faith to accept this gracious gift of our God, then we can be made new, for we share in the life and love of God.

When we listen to the Good News and trust in God’s faithful word to us, then we are open to confessing our sins and receiving the mercy of God.

When we understand what God is doing in us, we will find ourselves being led to gratefulness. And our gratefulness will show itself in the way we live with one another. We then choose to become part of the light that Jesus is bringing into our world. The good we do for one another is done in response to God’s graciousness.

It is good to be reminded that God has loved us so much. May today’s reminder be a source of encouragement as we continue our good works on our journey to our Father’s house.

Third Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 4, 2018
Third Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 29

Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 2:13-25

Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
"Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father's house a marketplace."
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
"What sign can you show us for doing this?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews said,
"This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?"
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday of Lent

The Temple was built as a house where God’s glory would dwell in the midst of his people. The buyers and sellers of offerings had compromise the sacredness of the Temple. Jesus’ zeal to restore its sacredness leads him to clear the Temple.

But this parable-in-action had a deeper meaning, as his disciples understood later.

When the Jews asked for a sign for why he had acted this way, Jesus responded: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews thought he was talking foolishly. Later on, the disciples understood that Jesus was talking about the temple of his own body. Jesus is the sacred place where God’s glory dwells in the midst of his people.

After the disciples experienced the tragic death of Jesus on the Cross and became witnesses to his resurrected body three days later, and the Holy Spirit had come upon them and filled their minds and hearts with light, they were able to look back at all they had experienced with Jesus in a new light. They began to understand that they were now part of the Body of Christ – the continuation of the sacred place where God’s glory remained in the midst of his people. As they preached Jesus Christ crucified and raised, they experienced the power and wisdom of God at work in Jesus’ name. Some people who heard them found a crucified Savior to be a stumbling block; others thought it utter foolishness. Still many others accepted it as saving grace.

You and I are among those who have accepted saving grace. We have been incorporated into the Body of Christ by our baptism. As Church community, we are to be the sacred dwelling place of God in our world. And each of us has been taught to reverence our body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Hearing the account of Jesus cleansing the Temple is a good Lenten reminder to us individually and as a community. Am I keeping the temple of my body sacred?

What kind of effort do I make to keep the community (both Oblate and Church) sacred? Is Jesus inviting me to a cleansing in some way?

Lord Jesus, you are the power and wisdom of God. Open each of us to the cleansing you want to do in your temple during this Lent.

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.)