The Resurrection of the Lord

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

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

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

OR

Mt 28:1-10

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

OR

Lk 24:13-35

At an afternoon or evening Mass.

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

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Easter Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

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

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

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

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Palm/Passion Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

Fifth Sunday of Lent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Adapted from the Treatise on the Love of God)

Fourth Sunday of Lent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Sunday of Lent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 12, 2017
Second Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 25

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

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

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

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday of Lent
This Sunday we climb Mount Tabor with Jesus. Here, we get a glimpse of the glory of Jesus, whose divine love is always transforming us. St. Francis de Sales notes: Jesus, through his Transfiguration, shows us a little spark of the eternal bliss that is awaiting us. Our Lord is transfigured to make us desire eternal happiness in its entirety.

Our gentle Savior wishes to make use of his divine attractions and inspirations to draw us to His most pure love. When God gives us faith, God speaks to our mind through inspirations. These first perceptions of God’s love are poured into us through the Holy Spirit. In hearts that give their consent, God, little by little, gently strengthens the holy love that comes from these inspirations.

The disciples experienced such delight on Mount Tabor that they wanted to stay there. Let us also place all our affections on Our Savior and aspire to the happiness that God has prepared for us. God has given us all the necessary means to attain the happiness of eternal glory. We too are climbing Mount Tabor, since we are firmly resolved to serve Our Savior well, and to love His divine Goodness. Yet, as it often happens when we begin to grow in holiness, we find our affections are still entangled with useless loves. Don’t be upset. It is an opportunity to practice virtue. You have a great desire for holiness. Nourish this desire and let it grow each day. If you stumble, cry out to Our Lord who desires your love, and will hold you by the hand. Without growing weary, let us climb Mount Tabor toward the heavenly vision our Savior gave us.

Walk joyously, then, among the difficulties of this passing life. Embrace all the challenges that you encounter along the path that God has marked out for you, and be at peace. Transformation is the true mark of a divine visitation. May you always desire it!

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

First Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 5, 2017
First Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 22

Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 4:1-11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
"If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread."
He said in reply,
"It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God
."

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone
."
Jesus answered him,
"Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test ."
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, "All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me."
At this, Jesus said to him,
"Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve."


Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
First Sunday of Lent
Today’s Gospel focuses on the temptations of Christ. St. Francis de Sales notes: Our Lord did not seek temptation. Yet, He allowed the Spirit to lead Him into the desert to be tempted to show us how we ought to resist it. No one who comes to serve God can avoid temptations. But no one should seek temptation. Still, if the Spirit leads us to a place where we encounter it, we must have confidence in the Spirit to strengthen us.

As soon as you are conscious of being tempted, be like children when they see a bear out in the country. They immediately run into the arms of their father or mother, or at least call to them for help and protection. Turn in the same way to God, for we must not trust in our own strength or courage to overcome evil. If the temptation continues, turn your thoughts to some good, commendable activities. When good thoughts enter and find a place in your heart, they will drive away evil thoughts.

No matter what temptations may come to you, and no matter what pleasure accompanies them, as long as you refuse consent, they do not offend God. Let the enemies of our salvation stand continually at our heart’s door so as to gain entrance. As long as this act of refusal remains in our heart, we may rest assured that divine love, the life of the soul, remains within us. Through continual prayer, the sacraments, and confidence in God, our strength will return and we will live a healthy and happy life.

Walk confidently, then, and remain in peace. Live well in gentleness, simplicity and humility. If you believe in God and the truth of God's word, nothing can harm you. Resolve not to sin, but do not be astonished or troubled when you do fall into sin. We must confide ourselves to the goodness of God who, for all that, does not love us less.

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

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 26, 2017
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 82

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew
Mt 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
"No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?'
or 'What are we to drink?'or 'What are we to wear?'
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
In the midst of our daily concerns Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel to do our level best to avoid being worried or anxious. Jesus invites us to have complete trust and confidence in him in the midst of the ups and downs, the losses and gains of everyday life. St. Francis de Sales offers his understanding of the basis for our having childlike trust in God:

The visible sun touches all things with its life-giving warmth, and like a universal lover, it gives them the vigor needed to grow. In the same way God’s love animates the human heart. There is no person who can hide from God’s love. God desires to love us and in turn desires our love.

It is God’s eternal and faithful love that draws us to a faith-filled life. God is at the gate, not merely knocking, but calling to our soul and awakening it: “Come, arise, make haste.” God even goes about crying in the street: “Return to me! Live!” Our divine Savior faithfully shows that his mercy surpasses his justice, and that his redemption is copious. He wishes all to be made whole and that none should perish. “I have loved you with an everlasting love and I will build you again.” These are God’s faithful words and by them God promises that when our Savior came into the world, He established a New Kingdom in his Church.

Yet, the Holy Spirit, a fountain of living water that flows into every part of our heart so as to spread God’s love, has no wish to enter into us, unless it be with our heart’s consent. We are never deprived of God’s love, but we can deprive God’s love of our cooperation. God never takes away our gifts. It is we who turn away our hearts from God. Thus we must be attentive to our advancement in the love we owe God. For the love that God brings to us will never be wanting. Let us respond to this divine love that the Spirit of Jesus desires to flood our hearts with. Then we will experience a new life in the Spirit that helps us to face the realities of life without inordinate worry or overwhelming anxiety.

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

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)