Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 19, 2017
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 79

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 5:38-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel Jesus calls us to a higher love. Jesus calls us to forgive and love our enemies! Clearly, this is no small task. St. Francis de Sales stresses that perhaps the best way to be instruments of God’s merciful, forgiving love is to first accept that same divine merciful and forgiving love ourselves.

Truly in no way must we lose heart. For even though we are weak, our weakness is not nearly as great as God’s mercy toward us, who desire to respond to God’s love. All of us are subject to some passion or changes and ups and downs. Do not worry about these feelings. Persevere in your call to holiness. In all good faith, you are trying to do all for God. It is God’s merciful love that constantly transforms us, so let us do what we can.

First thing in the morning, prepare your heart to be at peace. Then take great care throughout the day to frequently call your heart back to that peace. And as it were, take your heart in your hand. If you happen to do something that you regret, do not be astonished or upset. Acknowledge your failing. Quietly place yourself before God, and try to regain your gentle composure. Say to your soul: “There we have made a mistake, but let’s go on now and be more careful.” Each time you fall do the same. No matter how frail and weak you feel, remember that the divine Craftsman delights in putting up magnificent buildings with badly twisted pieces of wood that are good for nothing.

When you are inwardly peaceful, don’t miss an opportunity to perform as many acts of gentleness as you can—and as frequently as you can—no matter how small these acts may seem. For as our Lord says: “To the person who is faithful in little things, greater ones will be given.”

Walk very simply along the way our Lord shows you. Don’t worry. For if little chicks feel perfectly safe when they are under their mother’s wings, how secure should the children of God feel under God’s protection! God’s merciful love is eternal.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, esp. Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal: Letters of Spiritual Direction, J. Power, W. Wright, Eds. P).

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 12, 2017
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 76

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,'
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, 'You fool,'
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

"You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

"It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife - unless the marriage is unlawful -
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

"Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God's throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.'
Anything more is from the evil one."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today the Responsorial Psalm tells us to “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord.” St. Francis de Sales elaborates on this intention:
How do we “follow the law of the LORD” 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 living as best we can in conformity with God’s ways. 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 follow the law of the Lord, 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 follow the law of the Lord, 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 5, 2017
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 73

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Today’s readings remind us that we are the light of the world. For St. Francis de Sales, this means sharing our life in Christ with others in order to glorify God:

Just as Jesus enlightened the world with the radiance of His life, we too must do likewise with our lives. You ought to feel honored in being chosen for this mission. Consider the nobility and excellence of being human. You are endowed with the gift of understanding that knows this visible world and that there is a God, most good and most indescribable. You know there is an eternity. You also know what manner is best designed for living well in this visible world so that you may enjoy God for all eternity. Moreover, you have a most noble will that can love God and your neighbor. Look into your heart and behold how generous it is. God’s love in you calls you to love others.

We can never love our neighbor too much, provided God’s love holds first place in our heart. The image of God in all of us is our most powerful motive for loving each other. Loving our neighbor gives us the opportunity to do much for God. Do not say I am not virtuous enough or I have no talent to speak well. That does not matter. Go ahead. Do what you have to do. God will tell you what to say and do. If ever you have fear, say to yourself: “The Lord will provide.” Our heart finds rest solely in God, who cares for us.

Do not worry that you are not producing the fruit you intend. You will only be asked if you have faithfully cultivated well these barren and arid lands. Others will have a more abundant life by the example you give them. Go, hence, in simplicity and filled with courage. Our Savior will be with you always as long as you work for God’s glory. Just as the stars are hidden in the sunlight, so ‘Our life is hidden in Christ with God.’ Walking in God’s Light, and sharing our abundance of God’s love in us, we are light of the world.

(Adapted from the writings of Saint Francis de Sales)

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 29, 2017
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 70

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 5:1-12A

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Epiphany of the Lord
The Gospel for today focuses on how to be happy by living the beatitudes. If one takes apart the word “beatitudes,” one sees the expression “Be-attitudes.” In other words, beatitude is a positive attitude that permeates our whole interior life in such a way that it comes out in our actions by praising and thanking God. When we are blessed we don’t have all the material comforts we want but all that we need. In our present condition there is joy and peace. Everything that comes into our life advances our love of life and God. The Beatitudes is God’s plan for us right now. Beatitude is a spiritual attitude of recognizing that all that we have is pure gift. Beatitude is the attitude of a loving person who relies totally on God, not worrying about self-interest. People who possess the gift of beatitude entrust all their interests to God.

St. Francis de Sales speaks of beatitude as a gift of love that makes us moldable and willing to listen to God’s commandments, counsels and inspirations. However, he adds that while Our Lord taught us “Blessed are the poor,” we eagerly desire and seek to be so wealthy as to lack nothing. Jesus adds, “Blessed are the meek” but each of us wants to lord it over others. “Blessed are those persecuted for justice sake,” yet we want to be avenged and suffer nothing, for fear of being despised. “Blessed are they who mourn,” nonetheless everybody wants to rejoice in this mortal and passing life as if here were found our true happiness.

The wisdom of the Beatitudes is wholly contrary to that of the worldly wise who cannot embrace this wisdom. Let us submit ourselves to the things that are taught us concerning God’s will for our perfection and spiritual advancement. Let us place ourselves out of danger of being lost in worldly things by persevering in the truth, in living according to it, and making ourselves capable of understanding it. They who keep the Word of God are declared blessed by Our Lord.

(Adapted from L. Fiorelli, ed., Sermons, V.3).

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 22, 2017
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 67

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel Jesus calls several fishermen to come and follow Him. St. Francis de Sales comments on their calling, and also ours, to follow Our Savior:

When Our Savior tells His Apostles that He has chosen them, He makes no exception. Even Judas was called although he misused his freedom, and rejected the means God gave him. We can be sure that when God calls someone to embrace Christianity, to be single or married, to be a religious, priest or bishop, God gives each person all the necessary help to attain sanctity in his or her vocation.

Yet, even after their conversion, some of the Apostles were subject to some imperfections, like St. Peter who failed miserably by denying the Lord. Likewise, we see that it is impossible to overcome in a day all the bad habits acquired by caring poorly for our spiritual health. Nonetheless, Our Savior wants you to serve Him just as you are, both by prayer and by actions suited to your state and stage in life. Once you are convinced that you must serve God where you are, and go on doing what you are doing, have a tender affection for your state in life. Be of good heart; cultivate your vineyard with divine love.

As you set out on your daily tasks, place yourself in the hands of God, who desires to help you succeed in your affairs. Believe that God will do what is best for you, provided that, on your part, you employ a gentle diligence. Do not be surprised if the fruits of your labor are slow to appear. If you do the work of God patiently, your labor will not be in vain. Our Lord, who makes houses for the snails and turtles, will lead you well; let Him do it. We must walk faithfully in the way of our Lord, and remain in peace, as much in the winter of sterility as in the autumn of fruitfulness. Walk joyously, then, in your vocation with confidence in Divine Providence.

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

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 15, 2017
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 64

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
'A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.'
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel."
John testified further, saying,
"I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel the testimony of John the Baptist proclaims that Jesus, the Son of God, comes to take away the sin of the world. St. Francis de Sales remarks:

John the Baptist accepted and proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. Others refused to acknowledge Jesus as Savior. John the Baptist had great humility. The first step into humility is not to seek to be held or esteemed for what we are not. John the Baptist rejected the honors and titles offered him. He could have led others to himself but instead he recognized Jesus as the Redeemer and pointed others to Him.

Now success can be an excellent thing: if we enjoy and rejoice in it because it gives glory to God, who is the author of our accomplishments. Yet, success and ambition are both capable of seducing the human heart. Unfortunately, our human nature is all too anxious to attract whatever is to its advantage. People seek ways to erect idols and images that are regarded as gods among them. How many of us are greatly taken with worldly elegance, prestige, superiority, and personages? In this we act quite differently from John the Baptist. His spirit was far from that of our times. Walking in humility, he accepted the greatness of Our Lord, and recognized his dependence on the Son of God to guide him.

John the Baptist refused to be moved by pretense. A lover of truth, he suffered martyrdom. While we may not be called to martyrdom, we ought to have the courage to suffer and fight when small temptations present themselves. If we wish to enter the combat against evil, we must be armed with a humility that recognizes our dependence on God’s greatness and goodness. If we wish to grow in divine love, let us begin by imitating John the Baptist in accepting the Master of truth and goodness into our hearts. And then, let us lead others to Our Savior: Light to all nations.

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

The Epiphany of the Lord

Sunday January 8, 2017
The Epiphany of the Lord
Lectionary: 20

A Reading from 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
On this feast of the Epiphany, we are reminded that God accepts those who approach God in simplicity of heart. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Many wonders accompanied the birth of the Savior. One was the appearance of the star that brought the Magi. They came with simplicity of heart to adore and render homage to our new King lying in the manger. Let us, likewise, love Our Savior in simplicity of heart, having but one aim and object in all we do. Simplicity is nothing else but a pure and simple act of charity which has only one end in view, and that is to obtain the love of God. The heart full of sacred love has no less love when it turns to external duties than when it prays. In such hearts, their silence and their speech, their action and their contemplation, their work and their rest equally sing God’s praises. They do all their deeds, great or small with great love. Such were the lives of the saints.

We may ask, “How can we acquire God’s love?” Some people think that a certain art is needed in acquiring sacred love. In fact there is no art other than to set ourselves to the work of loving God, which means applying ourselves to the practice of those things that are pleasing to God, in simplicity, without trouble or concern. Imitate the simple love of doves in their having only one mate, for whom alone they do everything, and whom alone they wish to please. Imitate them also in the simplicity with which they express and show their love. They are happy to rest quietly in each other’s presence.

The true means of finding and acquiring holy love is to remain in Christ’s presence. In this Presence, let us delight in the joy of experiencing many inspirations and affections because we belong exclusively to God. Like the Magi, let us come close to the crib of the Christ Child. Let us be rich in love for our Savior who desires to show us how to love.

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

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

January 1, 2017
The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
Lectionary: 18

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 2:16-21
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Mary. Mother of God
Mary is called the Mother of God because she is the “mother of the divine redeemer.” She conceived, brought forth and nourished the Son of God here on earth. While she is subordinate to her Son, she is greater than all the saints.

Mary has a unique role to play in our history of salvation. Her consent without hesitation to accept God’s Will at the Annunciation has had a salutary influence on the whole human family. She brought Life to the whole human family. Since she is the Mother of the Son of God, Mother of the Church and our Mother who brings us to her Son, it is most fitting that we honor her in a special way.

Today, is an appropriate day to honor Mary as she stands first among all the saints, and brings forth the Great Peacemaker to the human family.

Blessing

Lord, Mary’s child, make us as a human family an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.
For it is giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

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

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

December 30, 2016
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17
When a Sunday does not occur between December 25 and January 1, this feast is
celebrated on December 30 with only one reading before the Gospel.

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. In the Gospel we see how Divine Providence guided the Holy Family as it endured its trials. St. Francis de Sales notes:

In today’s Gospel the angel commanded Joseph to take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Egypt. Like the Holy Family, we must go into a world where we find ourselves in the midst of enemies. As a result, we can become disquieted if events don’t go according to our wishes. To avoid the shipwrecks that are so common in sailing the waters of this world, let us consider the great peace and serenity of mind that the Holy Family had. With holy confidence in Divine Providence, they remained calm and peaceful amid the unexpected events that befell them. God will protect us too in the sea of life when everything may be in confusion not only around us, but within us as well.

However, no matter what course the ship may take, our heart, our spirit, our will, which is our compass, must tend toward God’s love and peace, for God’s place of peace is in the restful heart. When a lake is very calm on a very serene night, the stars in the sky are reflected in the lake. If we look down into the tranquil lake, we see that the beauty of the heavens is as clearly visible as when we look up at the night sky. Likewise, when our soul is perfectly calm and untroubled by the winds of superfluous cares, unevenness of spirit, and uncertainty, it is very capable of reflecting in itself the image of our Lord.

The Holy Family teaches us how we ought to embark on the sea of Divine Providence. Trusting in God’s providential goodness, let us not be surprised or troubled when we meet with similar problems to those encountered by the Holy Family. Try to do well today without thinking of the next day. If you fall short in some way, do not be disheartened. Our Savior’s heart is large, and wants our heart to find room in His heart.

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

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

December 25, 2016
The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Mass at Dawn
Lectionary: 15

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 2:15-20
When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

Christmas Eve Vigil Mass

December 24, 2016
Christmas Eve Vigil Mass

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.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Vigil of Christmas
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)

Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 18, 2016
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 10

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 1:18-24
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.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today’s Gospel reminds us that like St. Joseph, we must have confidence in God’s plan for us. God has a plan for us that is greater than our own. St. Francis de Sales notes:

In today’s Gospel, Joseph sees that Mary is with child. Knowing that it was not his child, he was ready to divorce her. But the angel revealed to Joseph that the Holy Child was to be Our Savior. With great peace and serenity of mind, Joseph accepted the unexpected event that befell him. Our confidence in God ought to be like St. Joseph’s.

The foundation of our trust is not in our own self, but in God. While we may change, God remains always gentle and merciful when we are weak and imperfect, as well as when we are strong and perfect. When we have absolute trust in Our Lord, we are like an infant on the breast of its mother. The child just lets itself be carried and led wherever the mother wants to take it. Similarly, we ought to have such confidence in letting ourselves be carried when we love God’s will in all that happens to us.

Holy confidence in the goodness of God is the life of the human spirit. As we grow in love with God, we may experience the contractions and pangs of spiritual childbirth. Yet, in the midst of our troubles, Our Savior will guide us on our way no matter how difficult it may be. Let us think of the words of our gentle Savior: “When a woman gives birth she is in great distress, but after the birth she forgets the suffering of the past because a child is born to her.” Our souls ought to give birth to the dearest Child that one could wish for. It is Jesus whom we must form and bring to birth in ourselves. The Child is well worth whatever we endure. How happy we would be if we devoted all our efforts to accomplishing God’s will for us. We would obtain from God’s goodness all that we could possibly desire and need, a new invigorating life. A holy rebirth in Christ!

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

Third Sunday of Advent

December 11, 2016
Third Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 7

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
MT 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday of Advent
Today’s readings reveal that God’s saving mission is achieved through Jesus Christ, who establishes God’s kingdom on earth. St. Francis de Sales notes:

In today’s Gospel, St. John the Baptist guides his disciples, not to himself, but to Jesus. Jesus had as his mission to be Savior. True Light of justice, He enlightened the land of the Church by the radiance of His life. He came down to our humanity to fill us with His divinity, satiating us with his goodness, raising us up to his dignity, and giving us the divine existence of “children of God.” Constantly He lifts the heavy and sluggish spirit of the poor and humble, giving them His own Spirit so they can do great things.

Our Savior teaches us that it is not enough to be called a Christian. I must live in such a manner that others clearly recognize in me a person who loves God with my whole heart. True servants of God, like John the Baptist, lead others to God by their words and deeds. Let us be attentive to John’s example. He teaches us that our true success in life is to guide others, not to ourselves, but to Christ. Under Him, others, as well as ourselves, must learn and do what is necessary for His love and service that lead to stability.

St. John the Baptist was a rock, immovable in the midst of all the waves and tempests of tribulations. He was as joyous in the winter of trouble as in the springtime of peace. We, on the contrary, are reeds tossed about by every mood and humor. We allow the winds of wealth, honors and material comforts to toss us about. In worldly things we can say, “I have a moderate amount, I have enough.” As for spiritual goods, we can never have enough of them. Like John the Baptist, let us continually incline our hearts to receive the divine love that Our Savior desires to give us. For it is God’s love that allows us to bring to others God’s kingdom, where mercy, justice and peace reign.

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

Second Sunday of Advent

December 4, 2016
Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 4

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday of Advent
In today’s Gospel we experience John the Baptist urging us to “repent, prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his paths.” St. Francis de Sales comments on this passage:

“Make straight the paths of the Lord.” Roads that twist and turn too much, only fatigue and mislead travelers. Our life contains many tortuous ways that we must make straight for our Lord’s coming. First, we must correct our mixed intentions and have only one, that of pleasing God by changing our heart. Like the mariner who always keeps his eye on the needle of the compass as he steers his boat, we too must always have our eyes open to penitence, that is, a change of heart.

In changing our hearts, we return to God’s image and likeness in us. In repentance we experience tribulation and sorrow for having offended God’s goodness. We are no longer slaves to our emotions. Our inclinations, feelings, and emotions are now directed toward the love of God and neighbor. We see plainly that it is a most reasonable thing to be repentant for our great faults when we consider attentively the benefits of a virtuous life. All acts of repentance are made for the sake of the beauty, honor, dignity and happiness of our own well being. A change of heart leads to an even disposition.

The perfection of penance is to have a holy love for God that overflows into love of neighbor. The love of God and self-centered love continually struggle within our heart and cause us great travail. True self-love serves God. When divine love reigns in our hearts it tames all other loves. It places our natural emotions and desires under the Divine plan and service. Let us therefore walk with determination before God like John the Baptist. Let us be a voice crying out that we must prepare the way and make straight the path of the Lord, so that receiving Him in this life, we may enjoy Him in the next.

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

First Sunday of Advent

November 27, 2016
First Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 1

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 24:37-44
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
First Sunday of Advent
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the readings urge us to walk in the light of the Lord. This calls us to respond to God’s love with a change of heart. St. Francis de Sales notes:

With a heart unsurpassed, Mary gave her mind, heart and soul to God without reserve. More perfectly than any other creature, her will was conformed to God’s Will. If there is change in Mary, it is only that of further growth in virtue to render invariable her resolution of belonging wholly to God. However, because of the continual vicissitudes of life and our readiness to constantly change our affections toward others, we must frequently renew the promises we made to embrace and live God’s word.

How do we continually affirm that we belong to God alone? If we really take care of our heart, every morning and evening, we will consecrate our mind, heart and body to God’s love and service. First thing in the morning, prepare your heart to be at peace. Then take great care throughout the day to frequently call back your heart to that peace. Happy are they who walk in the way of God’s love. Their hearts are changed!

But you will ask me, how can I now give God my heart since it is still so full of imperfections? How could it be pleasing to God, since I have so infrequently conformed myself to God’s will? Are you not aware that God converts everything to good? God did not say, “Give me a pure heart like the angels or Mary,” but rather, “Give Me your heart.” So give God your heart such as it is for God desires only what you are.

Let us pursue the love that God desires to give us. Just as stags pursued by the hunter redouble their speed so that they seem to fly, likewise we must run our course in pursuing what God desires for us. Let us not only run but ask God to give us wings of a dove not only to fly upward in this life but also to find rest in eternity.

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

The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

November 20, 2016
The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Lectionary: 162

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 20:27-38
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out ‘Lord,’
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Christ the King
Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. St. Francis de Sales encourages us to place ourselves under the Kingship of Christ:

Bees are restless while they are without a queen. But when their queen is born, they gather round her and follow her desires. In the same way our senses ceaselessly wander about, drawing our interior self after them, wasting time and creating restlessness and anxiety in us. All shatter the peace that is so necessary for our human spirit. Our senses and our mind and will are like mystical bees. Until they have a ruler, that is, until they have chosen our Lord for their king, they are restless.

Yet, when we have chosen our Lord for our king, we ought to place ourselves under Him. Our Majesty is sovereignly good in exercising both mercy and justice. God’s mercy makes us embrace what is good while God’s justice makes us shun evil. Our Lord uses mercy and justice to uproot whatever prevents us from experiencing the effects of His goodness. Our Majesty’s justice may sting our conscience with insights. Yet they create movements that lead to our well-being. Letting go of our old self may cause us to suffer as our new self in Christ is formed. But Our Lord’s unrivaled mercy opens our hearts, and restores our health through the Holy Spirit, who floods our heart with sacred love.

Wherever Our Lord is the Master, there is peace. To preserve our peace let us have a pure intention of willing God’s glory in all things. Let us do the little we can for that end, and leave to God the care of all the rest. May we have the fidelity to keep ourselves submissive to our King’s desires as the bees do with their queen, so we might begin in this life what, with the help of God’s love, we shall do eternally in Heaven. Live Jesus!

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

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 13, 2016
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 159

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 21:5-19
While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here--
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel, we experience Jesus telling us that regardless of the situation that surrounds us, we must persevere in following Him. Francis de Sales speaks similarly:

Will there exist a society, a religion, an institution, or manner of living so secure that it is exempt from evil? Since this danger affects all, it is perilous to live in a world with those who do evil. In confronting evil, we must distinguish between actual events and imaginary fears. While God does not give strength for an imaginary conflict, God will certainly give us strength when the need arises. Many of God’s servants were frightened and almost lost courage in the face of imaginary danger. Yet, when the actual danger came they conducted themselves with courage.

If left to our own imaginary fears, we would perhaps lose courage and do nothing at all to overcome evil. Alas, we must work. Our Lord desires combatants and conquerors of evil. If we feel we lack courage, let us cry out in a voice full of confidence, “Lord, save me!” If we have good desires to serve God, but not sufficient strength to put them into practice, let us offer them to God, who will make us capable of accomplishing them. God will renew our desires as often as is necessary to make us persevere. It is enough that we have a desire to fight valiantly with perfect confidence for the Spirit will help us.

So long as we persevere in doing God’s will, God will make us victorious in perilous times. Let us lay our good will before Our Lord, who will renew it so that we may have enough courage for our whole mortal life. Little children feel secure when they are in their mother’s arms. They feel that nothing can harm them provided they are holding her hand. Although times of conflict may frighten us, we too must hold the hand of our “God Almighty,” who protects us and makes us secure.

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

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 6, 2016
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 156

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 20:27-38
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out ‘Lord,’
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirty-second Sunday of Ordinary
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals that the children of God will rise again. We will rise because our God is not a God of the dead but of the living. St. Francis de Sales notes:

We must not look for surpassingly perfect love in this mortal life. Our hearts have a thirst that cannot be quenched by the pleasures of this mortal life. If they are moderate, our most cherished and sought after pleasures do not satisfy us. If they are extreme, they stifle us and become harmful. Only the fresh waters of undying life that God’s love offers us can quench our thirst and quiet our desires.

Since God’s love is so superior to ours, God willed to become like one of us to show us what we needed to do in order to live eternally. When we place our love in Jesus Christ, we place our life in Him. A spray of grapes united and joined to the stock brings forth fruit by virtue of the stock onto which it is grafted. So likewise our life in Christ vivifies and animates us with heavenly love. Through the sacred love that the Holy Spirit steeps in our hearts, we produce sacred actions that carry us toward immortal glory.

However, in this mortal life, the example of Jesus tells us that our salvation is a journey toward wholeness in Christ. Enduring injuries, contradictions and discomforts as peacefully as Jesus did are moments that fashion eternity. One ounce of patience acquired during a season of trials is worth more then ten pounds gained in any other season. In your daily meditation, reflect on patience so as to make yourself practice faithfully patience. If you find your heart agitated during this season, delicately take your heart with the tips of your fingers and put it back in its place. Then say, “Be cheerful, dear heart.” Great designs are effected through patience and duration of time. Courage, for our God who is God of the living is always with us, so that we may rise again in Christ.

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

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 30, 2016
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 153

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 19:1-10
At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus desiring to enter the home of the lost even before they are penitent. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Our Savior helps us to find His Heart full of pity and kind mercy toward us even when our hearts are most hardened. Like Zaccheus, we need only the desire to see who Jesus is. Our Redeemer constantly bestows His holy love upon us. He continually pardons our daily faults against Him. He rewards our slightest services with great favors. He continues to recreate humanity through His merciful love for the whole human family.

How does the greatness of God’s mercy shine forth? God’s mercy makes us embrace what is good. While we truly belong to God, God has no slaves, only friends who choose to love freely. Conversion, on our part, depends on our free response to God’s love. We are ready to respond wholeheartedly to God’s love when we begin to purify our affections and works by forming them according to the Gospel. If we let go of our willful pursuit of self-serving things, we delightfully find that our spirit is liberated. Then we are free to choose the true and good life that God desires for us in Christ.

This practice of letting go of all that is not of God in us is a continual life-long struggle. For certainly as long as we live we shall have need of renewing ourselves, and of beginning over. This restoration is needed inasmuch as our changeable nature easily grows cold and begins to fail. There is no clock so perfect that it does not need repair. Like the clock that needs to be oiled so that it will be less subject to rust, you need to anoint your heart with the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist to restore your strength, and warm up your heart. In this way you consecrate yourself again to God’s love. If we really take care of our heart, each day we will renew it for God’s service.

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

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 23, 2016
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 150

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 18:9-14
Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity --
greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings remind us that God responds without delay to the cry of those who repent of their wrongdoing. St. Francis de Sales notes:

With unrivaled mercy God opens the door of the penitent’s heart. This soul would have remained lost if God had not come to its assistance. To be truly sorry for not living up to the image of God in us, we must empty our heart of all things in order to enable our Lord to fill it with Himself. Alas, all the nooks and corners of our hearts are cluttered with thousands of things unworthy to be seen in the presence of our Savior. It seems that we thus tie His hands in order to prevent Him from giving us the gifts and graces that He is ever ready to shower on us if He finds us prepared.

Yet in repentance, the wonderful humility of our dear Savior enters our heart. Humility of the heart makes us aware of God’s goodness that is worthy of supreme love. Humility of the heart also gives us knowledge of our inability to love perfectly, and thus the need for our Savior who will raise us up from our lowliness until He makes us one with His greatness.

The value of the virtue of penitence is that it leads us to wholeness. We must be like the archer who in discharging a large arrow draws the string of his bow lower, the higher he wants it to go. We aim at the highest, to be united to God. Thus we must lower ourselves much by letting go of our self-sufficiency, and open ourselves to God’s help. Let us pour out all our tribulations before our ever-caring Savior so as to submit our whole being completely to Him. When we give our consent to let God love us the way God desires to love us, God will receive us in mercy, as well as reinvigorate and restore us completely to our true spiritual health, that is, sacred love.

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