Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 21, 2019
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 108

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 10:38-42
Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
"Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me."
The Lord said to her in reply,
"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings exhort us to listen to the Word of God. St. Francis de Sales has much to say about actively listening to the Word of God. Here are a few of his thoughts:

Martha was anxious and upset about many things while Mary had no care but to listen to Jesus’ words. Our Lord reproved Martha because she was anxious, not because of her care for His needs. She had mixed motives. On the one hand, she desired to serve Our Lord. On the other hand, in busying herself with many tasks, she was anxious to appear as the perfect hostess. Since Jesus wanted Martha to listen to Him as Mary did, one dish well prepared would have sufficed to meet His needs.

Our Lord makes it very clear that we must not only hear His words but also listen to them with the intention of making them profitable to ourselves. To profit from the word of God, we must let ourselves be moved by it in the depths of our heart. It is by listening to God’s word with the heart that we receive good inspirations. The heart comes alive and ever gains new strength and vigor.

However, it is difficult to listen to the Word of God with our hearts when our hearts are filled with anxiety. God is full of care for His creatures, but with peace and tranquility. Yet, our care tends to be anxious. Birds stay caught in nets because they flutter wildly. So it is when we desire to escape an anxiety. Resolve to do nothing that your desire insists on until your mind has regained peace. Gently put yourself in God’s hands. Try calmly to moderate your desire according to reason. Our life consists in the today, this present moment in which we are living. Use with care all that is given you. Be free of all other care and leave the rest to Our Lord, who takes tender care of us and will surely provide sufficiently for your needs when you listen to His words and inspirations.

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

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 14, 2019
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 105

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 10:25-37
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?
How do you read it?"
He said in reply,
You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself."
He replied to him, "You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live."
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
"And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus replied,
"A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
'Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.'
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"
He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy."
Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today we are reminded that Jesus is the manifestation of God who desires our love so much that we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God has planted in the human heart a special natural inclination to love good in general. Likewise, implanted in us is a desire to love God’s goodness that is better and more lovable than all things. So ardent is God’s desire for our love that we are commanded to love God with all our strength. Thus we have no pretext to turn away from loving God’s infinite goodness that enlivens all souls. When commandments are ordained by love they give goodness to those who lack it and increase goodness in those who have it. God’s law of love takes away our weariness, as it refreshes and restores our hearts. There is no toil in doing what we love, or if there is any, it is beloved toil.

Eagles have strong hearts and great power of flight, yet they have greater powers of sight than of flight. Hence, they extend their vision much more quickly and much farther than their wings. Likewise, our reason knows that God’s goodness is lovable above all things. However, our minds have far more light to see how worthy of love God is than strength of will to love God’s goodness. Consequently, our natural desire to grow in divine love becomes constricted when our selfish desires and feelings stir us up.

Thus, our human heart produces certain beginnings of love for God’s goodness in the most natural way. Yet, to advance as far as loving God above all things belongs only to hearts animated and assisted by divine grace. Still, if we faithfully co-operate with our natural inclination to love God above all things, the gentleness of God’s divine mercy always gives us an abundance of help so as to become divinely loving.

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

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday July 7, 2019
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 102

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
'The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.'
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name."
Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless,
do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Or

Lk 10:1-9
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'".

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s first readings focus on our need to focus on the providence of God as well as to embrace the cross (our commitments) of Jesus if we wish to partake of our new creation in Christ. Here are a few thoughts of St. Francis on the value of simplicity in becoming Christ-like:

Simplicity is nothing else but a pure and simple act of charity. This act of simple charity has only one aim and one desire: to love God. (Conf. Coneiro, 96-7) Simplicity is a virtue. Truly simple persons spend their time with the Lord. Learn from the dove to love God in the simplicity of your heart. Doves have only one single partner for whom they do everything. They are quite certain of their love and happy to be in each other’s company. That is, obtain in yourselves an increase of divine love through the simplicity of your heart. (Conf. Coneiro, 97)

Simplicity removes from our hearts all the worry and anxiety that we have searching to know the art of loving God. The only way we can experience and grow in the love of God is to start doing the things that please God. Simplicity includes all the means prescribed to each person, according to one’s particular vocation, to acquire God’s love. (Conf. Coneiro, 98)

Simplicity is opposed to all kinds of subtlety, cheating and duplicity, which are ways we deceive our neighbor. Simplicity requires that our interior disposition match our exterior behavior. This does not imply that we ought to necessarily reveal exteriorly all our interior feelings. God’s love requires that we admit our agitated feelings so that we are able with God’s love to transform them so that they serve God’s good and wholesome purpose. (Conf. Coneiro, 99-100). This is to say that by cooperating with God’s grace through the use of reason and our free will all of our destructive feelings become transformed through virtuous acts of doing God’s will.

On the one hand we are told to take great care of our perfection and progress, and on the other hand not to think about it. The misery of the human spirit is that it never follows the middle course, but usually runs to extremes. It is these extremes that we must avoid. (Conf. Coneiro, p.103). In the end, true simplicity seeks our well-being in letting ourselves be led and directed absolutely by God’s Spirit. (Ibid)

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday June 30, 2019
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 99

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus' being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?"
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,
"I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him,
"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel Jesus corrects his disciples who want to imitate Elijah’s violent way to combat evil. Jesus’ way is one of nonviolence. St. Francis de Sales notes:

Some people think that in order to have great zeal or fervor you need to have great anger. Our Lord made his disciples understand that his spirit and ardor to eliminate evil in the world, was mild and gracious. While we must hate the sin, we must love the sinner. The following story from a 6th C monk illustrates this point.

Once a pagan influenced a Christian to return to idolatry. Angered by this turn of events, Carpus, supposedly a bishop and a man known for his sanctity of life prayed that the two men might no longer live. When this did not happen he became enraged and cursed them. Our Savior appeared to Carpus, and moved by great pity for the two men, stretched out his helping hand to them.

Carpus’ zeal, or ardor to eradicate evil, justly aroused his anger. But once aroused, his anger left reason and zeal behind. His anger transgressed all bounds and limits of holy love and consequently of zeal, which is holy love’s fervor. His anger turned hatred of sin into hatred of the sinner, and gentlest charity into raging cruelty.

The most excellent exercise of zeal consists in enduring difficulties in order to prevent evil as Jesus did in his death on the cross. Holy zeal is especially a quality of divine love that makes so many of God’s servants watch, labor, and die amid those flames of zeal. Whereas false zeal is troubled, choleric, arrogant and unstable, true zeal is ardor or fervor without hatred, and is mild, gracious, diligent, and untiring. Happy are those who know how to control their zeal with the love of Jesus Christ, who urges us on.

(Adapted from St. Francis De Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God)

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Sunday June 23, 2019
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Lectionary: 169

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 9:11B-17
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,
and he healed those who needed to be cured.
As the day was drawing to a close,
the Twelve approached him and said,
"Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms
and find lodging and provisions;
for we are in a deserted place here."
He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves."
They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have,
unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people."
Now the men there numbered about five thousand.
Then he said to his disciples,
"Have them sit down in groups of about fifty."
They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets.

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Body and Blood of Christ
Today we celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Here are some thoughts of St. Francis de Sales on the Eucharist.

After the resurrection, Jesus entered into the room where the Apostles gathered, although the doors were locked. H wanted to assure them that He was still alive and present to them. Similarly, Jesus gives us His body and blood under the form of bread and wine to assure us of His real presence among us.

The height of God’s self-giving love for us is the Eucharist. Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist so that the whole human family might be intimately united with Him. United in Christ, this sacrament also calls us and helps us to unite with one another in that spiritual union that Our Savior desires us to have. This union unites many different members and forms them into one body. Thus, this sacrament is also called Communion as it represents to us the common union of holy love that we ought to have together.

In the Eucharist, the perpetual feast of divine grace, we have a pledge of infinite happiness. When we frequently and devoutly receive the Eucharist, we build up our spiritual health so that we may effectively avoid evil. It strengthens our hearts and makes us God-like in this world. Very tender fruits such as strawberries are subject to decay. Yet, they can be easily preserved for a whole year with sugar or honey. How much more so are our frail and weak human hearts preserved from evil in receiving the Eucharist.

Both the perfect and imperfect ought to receive the Eucharist often. The perfect, as they are predisposed to It. The imperfect, so that they may become perfect. We are all loved with the same love by Our Lord who embraces us all in this Sacrament. Let us grow in the gentle and strengthening bonds of holy love through receiving the Eucharist.

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

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Lectionary: 166

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Most Holy Trinity
Today is Trinity Sunday. St. Francis de Sales stressed that we must strive toward a loving union with one another that reflects the love of the three divine Persons.

God’s acts of goodness to the human family are actions of all three Persons. Their goodness overflows into the spiritual health of the whole human family, for we are made in the image of God. The Father provided all the means necessary for us to render glory to God’s divine goodness. The Son, who came into this world, made our nature higher than the angels. In becoming human, Our Lord took our likeness and gave us His so that we may enjoy the treasure of eternal life. The Spirit, who came to enliven the Apostles who formed the true Church, continues to give us life through divine love.

No one can possibly imagine or understand the union of the Persons of the Trinity. Thus, Jesus does not call us to the identical union of the Trinity, but we ought to be united together as purely and perfectly as possible in holy love. For through and in Christ we participate in the Trinity’s divine love that makes us children of God.

The children of the world are all separated one from the other, as their hearts are in different places. On the other hand, the children of God, having their hearts ‘where their treasure is’, have but one treasure which is the same God. They are always joined and united together by God’s love. Our Savior has restored us all equally, and without exception made us like to Himself. Therefore, ought we not to have a warm and genuine love for this divine semblance in our neighbor? We are not called to love anything evil in our neighbor, only this image and likeness of God. Let us cherish, then, being God’s children who strive to be united in a similar way as the three Persons of the Trinity, whose overflowing divine love nurtures and transforms the whole human family.

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

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Sunday June 16, 2019
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Lectionary: 166

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Most Holy Trinity
Today is Trinity Sunday. St. Francis de Sales stressed that we must strive toward a loving union with one another that reflects the love of the three divine Persons.

God’s acts of goodness to the human family are actions of all three Persons. Their goodness overflows into the spiritual health of the whole human family, for we are made in the image of God. The Father provided all the means necessary for us to render glory to God’s divine goodness. The Son, who came into this world, made our nature higher than the angels. In becoming human, Our Lord took our likeness and gave us His so that we may enjoy the treasure of eternal life. The Spirit, who came to enliven the Apostles who formed the true Church, continues to give us life through divine love.

No one can possibly imagine or understand the union of the Persons of the Trinity. Thus, Jesus does not call us to the identical union of the Trinity, but we ought to be united together as purely and perfectly as possible in holy love. For through and in Christ we participate in the Trinity’s divine love that makes us children of God.

The children of the world are all separated one from the other, as their hearts are in different places. On the other hand, the children of God, having their hearts ‘where their treasure is’, have but one treasure which is the same God. They are always joined and united together by God’s love. Our Savior has restored us all equally, and without exception made us like to Himself. Therefore, ought we not to have a warm and genuine love for this divine semblance in our neighbor? We are not called to love anything evil in our neighbor, only this image and likeness of God. Let us cherish, then, being God’s children who strive to be united in a similar way as the three Persons of the Trinity, whose overflowing divine love nurtures and transforms the whole human family.

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

Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day

Sunday June 9, 2019
Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 63

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 20:19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

Or

Jn 14:15-16, 23B-26
Jesus said to his disciples:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.
"Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.
"I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Pentecost Sunday
God’s great love and care again manifests itself on this Feast of Pentecost. The dwelling of Holy Spirit in us is central to the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales.

Love is the life of the heart. The Holy Spirit who has been given to us pours divine love into our hearts. The Spirit is like a fountain of living water that flows into every part of our hearts so as to spread its grace. Grace has the power to entice our hearts. Through the Holy Spirit, God awakens and enlivens our hearts to their own good. We often need to be stirred up and led by the hand to put our strength and skills to proper use.

If we wish to become aware of the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in us, we must wean ourselves from our willfulness and adjust our will to that of God’s will. We must be like clay in the hands of the potter, so that God may shape us and lead us to true spiritual health. While we cannot prevent God from inspiring our hearts, we do have the power to reject God’s desire to love us. Also, the Spirit has no wish to work in us without our consent. Yet, even if we give just a little of our consent to God’s inspirations, what happiness results!

The sole fruit of the Holy Spirit, divine love, gives us inward joy and consolation together with great peace of heart, which is preserved in adversity by patience. Holy love makes us kind and gracious in helping our neighbors with a heart-felt goodness toward them. Such goodness from the Holy Spirit is constant and persevering, and gives us an enduring courage that renders us mild, pleasant and considerate of all others. We put up with their moods and imperfections. We live a life of simplicity that testifies to our words and actions. Divine love is the virtue of all virtues. Let us cherish and nurture the indwelling of the Spirit so that God’s love may reign in us.

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

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Sunday June 2, 2019
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 61

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 17: 20-26
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
"Holy Father, I pray not only for them,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Seventh Sunday of Easter
In today’s Gospel Jesus prays that those who believe in Him may all be one. St. Francis de Sales uses several images to express the bond of love that must bring us together as one.

It was a fervent, holy love that united the hearts and wills of the first Christians. Many grains of wheat are ground and kneaded together to make a single loaf of bread. In the loaf, the grains of wheat can no longer be separated individually. Many grapes are pressed together to make one wine. It is impossible to distinguish what wine came forth from which cluster of grapes. Similarly, the holy love of the first Christians was made from many hearts, yet their wills and hearts were all blended as one.

Together we constitute the image of one portrait, for we bear the image of God in ourselves. Our Lord came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves this divine resemblance that unites us as children of God. Out of love, He gave us the means to reach the highest degree of union that He desired for us, namely to be made one with Him, as He and His Father are one.

In this life we may not be able to attain this divine union, but we must do all that lies in our power to strive towards it: the more we are united with God, the more we shall be united to one another. Jesus gave us only precepts that he himself first practiced. He loved us and showed us by his example how we ought to love our neighbor so that we might not have an excuse to think that it is impossible to love one another.

Like the first Christians we must honor God’s image in each of us and be open to one another in holy love, always strengthening this gentle bond of charity among us. Let us summon up the courage to live up to this divine semblance in us. In this way, we may experience and grow more deeply in God’s love, the life of abundance that our Lord came to bring to all, so that we may be one.

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

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Sunday June 2, 2019
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 61

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 17: 20-26
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
"Holy Father, I pray not only for them,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Seventh Sunday of Easter
In today’s Gospel Jesus prays that those who believe in Him may all be one. St. Francis de Sales uses several images to express the bond of love that must bring us together as one.

It was a fervent, holy love that united the hearts and wills of the first Christians. Many grains of wheat are ground and kneaded together to make a single loaf of bread. In the loaf, the grains of wheat can no longer be separated individually. Many grapes are pressed together to make one wine. It is impossible to distinguish what wine came forth from which cluster of grapes. Similarly, the holy love of the first Christians was made from many hearts, yet their wills and hearts were all blended as one.

Together we constitute the image of one portrait, for we bear the image of God in ourselves. Our Lord came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves this divine resemblance that unites us as children of God. Out of love, He gave us the means to reach the highest degree of union that He desired for us, namely to be made one with Him, as He and His Father are one.

In this life we may not be able to attain this divine union, but we must do all that lies in our power to strive towards it: the more we are united with God, the more we shall be united to one another. Jesus gave us only precepts that he himself first practiced. He loved us and showed us by his example how we ought to love our neighbor so that we might not have an excuse to think that it is impossible to love one another.

Like the first Christians we must honor God’s image in each of us and be open to one another in holy love, always strengthening this gentle bond of charity among us. Let us summon up the courage to live up to this divine semblance in us. In this way, we may experience and grow more deeply in God’s love, the life of abundance that our Lord came to bring to all, so that we may be one.

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

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 26, 2019
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 57

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 14: 23-29
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

"I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you,
'I am going away and I will come back to you.'
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe."and declare it to you."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Today’s readings remind us that to love Jesus is to keep His word. St. Francis de Sales stresses that we learn to keep His word and live Jesus through a life of prayer and virtue.

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

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

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

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

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 19, 2019
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 54

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 13: 31-33A, 34-35
When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another."

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Fifth Sunday of Easter
Today’s readings remind us that to enter the Kingdom of God we must persevere in faith in Jesus Christ. St. Francis de Sales stresses the need to persevere in God’s love.

Perseverance is the most desirable gift we can hope for in this life. All our happiness is grounded in perseverance and that is why I urge you to persevere till the end. Our entire good consists not only in accepting the truth of God’s word, but also in persevering in it. The Spirit of God makes us consider beginnings so as to arrive at the end. The Spirit has us rejoice in the flowers of spring only in expectation of enjoying the fruits of summer and autumn.

The aim of the Christian life is to transform our own self-centered spirit into that of Christ’s. As long as we live we will always have some self-seeking interests that we ought to relinquish. The more we let go of our selfish desires and yield to God’s desire for us, the more our human spirit will be at peace and free from interior restlessness.

True love strives to please those in whom it has found pleasure. The example of those we love has an imperceptible power over us. We cannot help conforming ourselves to those we love. By often taking delight in God we become conformed to God, and our will is transformed into that of God’s divine will. Conformity of our heart with that of God’s love takes place when we place all our affections in God’s hands so that God may shape and direct our spirit. In turn, we respond to God’s love through love of others.

Faith teaches that all that is true and good in us is from God alone. You must have great courage and a very firm confidence in God’s help. God, who holds you by the hand, carries you along in hardships that seem otherwise unbearable to you. If we persevere in responding to God’s love and mercy, God will complete the work of our salvation.

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

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 12, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 51

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 10:27-30
Jesus said:
”My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus as the Good Shepherd who cares for His flock. St. Francis de Sales reminds us that we too must be good shepherds who tend our flock:

Some say that shepherds represent all those who wish to become holy: but if each of us is a shepherd, who are our sheep?  They are our desires, feelings and emotions. We must keep watch over this spiritual flock. Jesus teaches us how to govern and rule over our desires, feelings and emotions, our flock that we must shepherd.

Like a shepherd who cares for his flock, our Good Shepherd gathers us all around Himself in order to makes us His own. He wants us to manage our lives in light of the Will of God, rather than our own willful desires. In Jesus, we learn how to govern our flock and direct our desires, feelings and emotions in a way that leads to spiritual health.

What can be more pleasing to Our Divine Shepherd than to bring to Him the lamb of our love?  Love is the first desire of the human spirit. True love is accomplished when we live according to the inspirations and promptings that God places in us.

Our God is the God of the human heart. Our hearts thirst for God. We have a natural inclination to know and love God. No other love can satisfy us as the infinite goodness of God, from whom we gain infinite nourishment.

St. Augustine said: “Love God, then do what you will.” When all of our loves flow out of God’s love, then we can say that we truly love God. How happy we will be if we remain in the presence of Our Good Shepherd and faithfully imitate Him by following His example! We will then serve God as God wills and be a good shepherd to ourselves as well as others. 

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

Third Sunday of Easter

Sunday May 5, 2019
Third Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 48 

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 21:1-19
At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."
They said to him, "We also will come with you."
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?"
They answered him, "No."
So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something."
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord."
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught."
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast."
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?"
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep."
Jesus said to him the third time,
"Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time,
"Do you love me?" and he said to him,
"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go."
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

Or

Jn 21:1-14

At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, " am going fishing."
They said to him, "e also will come with you."
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?"
They answered him, "No."
So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something."
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "AIt is the Lord."
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught."
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast."
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?"
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Third Sunday of Easter

Today’s Gospel tells the story of how Peter, in affirming his commitment of love to Jesus, is called to nurture Jesus’ flock. St. Francis de Sales urges us to be disciples like the apostles and bring God's Word to others:

Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter’s heart was completely filled with love for His Master. Peter was lifted up again by God’s providence. Love is the universal means of our salvation. God’s love must always hold first place in our hearts. Let us waste no time and place ourselves entirely in the arms of Divine Providence. So loving is God’s hand as it handles our hearts!

What does God expect from you if not what was asked of the Apostles. It was nothing else than what Our Lord himself came to do in this world: to give life to all so that they may live a more abundant life. He did it by giving them His grace. Grace has the power, not to overpower, but to entice our hearts to consent to the movements of God’s love in us.

As much as possible, we must touch the hearts of others like the angels do, delicately and without coercion. While we ought to help and express our love to all equally, we must do it more so to those who have a greater need of us. Lead them to a more perfect life. They will find fullness of life by believing in Jesus’ word that you will explain to them. They will live a more abundant life through the example you are.    

Go confidently and courageously, doing what you are entrusted to do. Do not say: “I am not up to the task.” Go ahead without worrying and turning back, for God will give you what you have to say and to do at the proper time. Have only one concern: to grow in your love and fidelity to God’s divine goodness and everything will turn out well for you.

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

Second Sunday of Easter

Second Sunday of Easter
(Or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Lectionary: 45

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 20:19-31
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

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

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

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

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Second Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel we see the steadfast love of God active in the risen Jesus as He appears to His disciples. St. Francis de Sales notes that the purpose of this appearance is to affirm their faith in the God of Jesus Christ:

When the disciples were assembled in the cenacle with the doors closed, our Savior stood in their midst and greeted them: Peace be with you. He showed them his hands and his side. Why does He do this? To bolster their faith that was shaken by the crucifixion of Jesus, to whom they were attached. Without the presence of Our Savior, they felt timid and lacked strength. Such is the case when one is without God. They were afraid. Like a ship tossed in a storm without a pilot, such was this poor boat. Our Lord appeared to his disciples to bring relief to their fear. His power gently gives us power.

 In Jesus, death was swallowed up in victory. He takes our miseries and ennobles them. Do you have need of strength? Here are my hands. Do you have need of a heart? Here is mine. He shows us his wounds through love. Jesus came into this world to teach us what we need to do to preserve in ourselves the beauty and the divine resemblance that He has so completely repaired and embellished in us. When we recognize the likeness of the Creator in us, then we are able to see the image of God in others. Let us walk as Jesus who chose to give his life for those who would take it from Him.

What a joy it is to reflect on how the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts the first rays and perceptions of divine light and warmth. O good Jesus, may we be open to the peace that you offer us. May we be rooted in faith, joyful in hope and fervent in holy love, as we await your future coming!

(Adapted from Saint Francis de Sales, Oeuvres)

Easter Sunday

Sunday April 21, 2019
Easter Sunday
The Resurrection of the Lord
Lectionary: 42 

The Mass of Easter Day

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.

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter! Today we celebrate the most unique moment in the history of humankind: The Resurrection of Jesus who triumphs over death. We welcome our newly baptized whose new life in Christ prepares them for eternal glory. St. Francis de Sales speaks of our need to renew each year our desire to serve God in order to live Jesus. 

Jesus, surviving death, lives on in His works. A day will come when we shall rise from the dead. Our mortal bodies, now subject to corruption, will be immortal. Jesus took on our likeness and gave us His so that we might have a new life in abundance. Our God has so lovingly inspired and urged you to conversion. In baptism you became a child of God, forming your self according to the Law of the Gospel. Letting go of your old self, you rose anew in Christ. 

Yet, as long as we live we shall need to renew ourselves and begin over. Like some clocks that need to be cleaned and repaired, so it is with our heart. We must straighten out bent parts and repair those parts worn out. Each year such an exercise will warm up your heart, bring new life to your good resolutions to serve God and make you flourish with fresh vigor.

In winter the earth relaxes, rests and does not produce. When spring comes it renews itself with flowers that bring us joy.  Because our nature grows cold easily, we need to renew our promise to love God above all, and love all other things because they are agreeable to God, profitable to God’s honor, and destined for God’s glory. Before we enter eternal glory, the Gardener wishes to plant in our garden many flowers. Let us serve God as God wishes and we will see that one day God will do all we wish, and more than we know how to wish. When we are raised to a life of divine love, we live for our Savior who has risen. It is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice. Alleluia!

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

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Sunday April 14, 2019
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 37/38

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 22:14 – 23:56
When the hour came,
Jesus took his place at table with the apostles.
He said to them,
"I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,
for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again
until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said,
"Take this and share it among yourselves;
for I tell you that from this time on
I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine
until the kingdom of God comes."
Then he took the bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
"This is my body, which will be given for you;
do this in memory of me."
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which will be shed for you.

"And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me
is with me on the table;
for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined;
but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed."
And they began to debate among themselves
who among them would do such a deed.

Then an argument broke out among them
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
He said to them,
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors';
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

"Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded
to sift all of you like wheat,
but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail;
and once you have turned back,
you must strengthen your brothers."
He said to him,
"Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you."
But he replied,
"I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day,
you will deny three times that you know me."

He said to them,
"When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals,
were you in need of anything?"
"No, nothing, " they replied.
He said to them,
"But now one who has a money bag should take it,
and likewise a sack,
and one who does not have a sword
should sell his cloak and buy one.
For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me,
namely, He was counted among the wicked;
and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment."
Then they said,
"Lord, look, there are two swords here."
But he replied, "It is enough!"

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives,
and the disciples followed him.
When he arrived at the place he said to them,
"Pray that you may not undergo the test."
After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling,
he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing,
take this cup away from me;
still, not my will but yours be done."
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.
He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently
that his sweat became like drops of blood
falling on the ground.
When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples,
he found them sleeping from grief.
He said to them, "Why are you sleeping?
Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test."

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached
and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas.
He went up to Jesus to kiss him.
Jesus said to him,
"Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked,
"Lord, shall we strike with a sword?"
And one of them struck the high priest's servant
and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus said in reply,
"Stop, no more of this!"
Then he touched the servant's ear and healed him.
And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards
and elders who had come for him,
"Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
Day after day I was with you in the temple area,
and you did not seize me;
but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness."

After arresting him they led him away
and took him into the house of the high priest;
Peter was following at a distance.
They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it,
and Peter sat down with them.
When a maid saw him seated in the light,
she looked intently at him and said,
"This man too was with him."
But he denied it saying,
"Woman, I do not know him."
A short while later someone else saw him and said,
"You too are one of them";
but Peter answered, "My friend, I am not."
About an hour later, still another insisted,
"Assuredly, this man too was with him,
for he also is a Galilean."
But Peter said,
"My friend, I do not know what you are talking about."
Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed,
and the Lord turned and looked at Peter;
and Peter remembered the word of the Lord,
how he had said to him,
"Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times."
He went out and began to weep bitterly.
The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.
They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying,
"Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?"
And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met,
both chief priests and scribes,
and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.
They said, "If you are the Christ, tell us, "
but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe,
and if I question, you will not respond.
But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated
at the right hand of the power of God."
They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?"
He replied to them, "You say that I am."
Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony?
We have heard it from his own mouth."

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
They brought charges against him, saying,
"We found this man misleading our people;
he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king."
Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
He said to him in reply, "You say so."
Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
"I find this man not guilty."
But they were adamant and said,
"He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,
from Galilee where he began even to here."

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean;
and upon learning that he was under Herod's jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was very glad to see Jesus;
he had been wanting to see him for a long time,
for he had heard about him
and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.
He questioned him at length,
but he gave him no answer.
The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,
stood by accusing him harshly.
Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,
and after clothing him in resplendent garb,
he sent him back to Pilate.
Herod and Pilate became friends that very day,
even though they had been enemies formerly.
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people
and said to them, "You brought this man to me
and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.
I have conducted my investigation in your presence
and have not found this man guilty
of the charges you have brought against him,
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."

But all together they shouted out,
"Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us."
— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion
that had taken place in the city and for murder. —
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,
but they continued their shouting,
"Crucify him! Crucify him!"
Pilate addressed them a third time,
"What evil has this man done?
I found him guilty of no capital crime.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."
With loud shouts, however,
they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,
and their voices prevailed.
The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.
So he released the man who had been imprisoned
for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,
and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away
they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,
who was coming in from the country;
and after laying the cross on him,
they made him carry it behind Jesus.
A large crowd of people followed Jesus,
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said,
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
'Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.'
At that time people will say to the mountains,
'Fall upon us!'
and to the hills, 'Cover us!'
for if these things are done when the wood is green
what will happen when it is dry?"
Now two others, both criminals,
were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull,
they crucified him and the criminals there,
one on his right, the other on his left.
Then Jesus said,
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
They divided his garments by casting lots.
The people stood by and watched;
the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,
"He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God."
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
"If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."
Above him there was an inscription that read,
"This is the King of the Jews."

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
"Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
"Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal."
Then he said,
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit";
and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,
"This man was innocent beyond doubt."
When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened,
they returned home beating their breasts;
but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,
including the women who had followed him from Galilee
and saw these events.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who,
though he was a member of the council,
had not consented to their plan of action.
He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea
and was awaiting the kingdom of God.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
After he had taken the body down,
he wrapped it in a linen cloth
and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb
in which no one had yet been buried.
It was the day of preparation,
and the sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind,
and when they had seen the tomb
and the way in which his body was laid in it,
they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.
Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

Or

Lk 23:1-49
The elders of the people, chief priests and scribes,
arose and brought Jesus before Pilate.
They brought charges against him, saying,
"We found this man misleading our people;
he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king."
Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
He said to him in reply, "You say so."
Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
"I find this man not guilty."
But they were adamant and said,
"He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,
from Galilee where he began even to here."

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean;
and upon learning that he was under Herod's jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was very glad to see Jesus;
he had been wanting to see him for a long time,
for he had heard about him
and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.
He questioned him at length,
but he gave him no answer.
The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,
stood by accusing him harshly.
Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,
and after clothing him in resplendent garb,
he sent him back to Pilate.
Herod and Pilate became friends that very day,
even though they had been enemies formerly.
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people
and said to them, "You brought this man to me
and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.
I have conducted my investigation in your presence
and have not found this man guilty
of the charges you have brought against him,
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."

But all together they shouted out,
"Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us."
— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion
that had taken place in the city and for murder. —
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,
but they continued their shouting,
"Crucify him! Crucify him!"
Pilate addressed them a third time,
"What evil has this man done?
I found him guilty of no capital crime.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."
With loud shouts, however,
they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,
and their voices prevailed.
The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.
So he released the man who had been imprisoned
for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,
and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away
they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,
who was coming in from the country;
and after laying the cross on him,
they made him carry it behind Jesus.
A large crowd of people followed Jesus,
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said,
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
'Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.'
At that time people will say to the mountains,
'Fall upon us!'
and to the hills, 'Cover us!'
for if these things are done when the wood is green
what will happen when it is dry?"
Now two others, both criminals,
were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull,
they crucified him and the criminals there,
one on his right, the other on his left.
Then Jesus said,
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
They divided his garments by casting lots.
The people stood by and watched;
the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,
"He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God."
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
"If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."
Above him there was an inscription that read,
"This is the King of the Jews."

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
"Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
"Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal."
Then he said,
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise."

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit";
and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,
"This man was innocent beyond doubt."
When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle
saw what had happened,
they returned home beating their breasts;
but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,
including the women who had followed him from Galilee
and saw these events.

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Palm/Passion Sunday

In today’s Gospel, we experience Jesus as the ‘suffering servant’. His suffering unto death brings eternal life to the human family. St. Francis de Sales reflects on this event: “The most powerful reason for Jesus’ death is to fill the human spirit with God’s love. Out of death has come life, the wondrous paradox, which the world does not understand. He not only died a cruel death to bring God’s love to us, but he also suffered fear, terror, abandonment, and inner depression such as never had and never shall have an equal. He did this so that we too may persevere in pursuing divine love.”

Jesus’ human feelings left his entire heart exposed to sorrow and anguish. For this reason he cries out: “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Mount Calvary is the mount of lovers. On Calvary death, life and love intermingle. Out of love Jesus chose death on a cross so that we might live as a child of God and possess eternal love.  Christian wisdom consists in choosing rightly. Let us choose to empty ourselves of our selfish desires and loves, so that we may be filled with God’s love, which gives rise to new life in us.

We ought to consecrate every moment of our lives to the divine love of Our Savior’s death. If injured by others, look often on Christ Jesus, crucified, forsaken and overwhelmed, by every kind of anguish. Then think of the many people who are incomparably more afflicted than you are and say: Are not my hardships roses in comparison with those, who without help, assistance, or relief live a continual death, burdened by afflictions infinitely greater than mine? When all things fail us, when our distress is at its height, say the final words of Jesus on the cross: “Into Your hands I commend my spirit.”  How happy we will be when we entrust ourselves totally into God’s hands! In doing all things for the glory of God, we will do all things well.

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

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Sunday April 7, 2019
Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year C Readings
Lectionary: 36

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
Jn 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Today’s readings promise us a life that never dies if we live and believe in the Spirit of Jesus Christ who dwells in us. St. Francis de Sales reflects on these promises: “When the falconer removes the hood from his bird, the bird sights its prey and spreads its wings, ready to fly and capture its prey. Held back by the falconer, the bird struggles to free itself from him. So too when faith removes the veil of ignorance from us, we see that our supreme good is in God. We then desire to fly to God but the conditions of this mortal life hold us back. Our ardor may subsequently turn to sadness.

However, we must not lose courage and reduce ourselves to despair. Through a thousand promises made in Scripture and the holy inspirations placed in our heart, God strongly assures us that we can attain a life of infinite goodness. Yet, we must be willing to use the means God offers us. If you live under the Crucified Lord, progressively your desire for God’s goodness turns into hope animated by God’s love. Our Savior will never let you go if you choose Him. When you are completely restored to health by divine love that the Spirit of Jesus pours into your heart, you can go forward and stand by yourself in virtue of your new health and holy love.

While our human nature will always produce self-centered desires and thoughts, they need not delay us on our journey toward loving God’s goodness and doing God’s work. Happy are they whose self-giving love is in the service of God. God will never let them remain barren and unfruitful! Even though they give up only a little for God, God will shower abundant blessings on them in this life and in the next. God’s assurance through many promises of paradise infinitely strengthens our desire to pursue the enjoyment of God’s goodness in Jesus Christ whose Spirit dwells in us.

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

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 31, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year C Readings
Lectionary: 33

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’

So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.

Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.

But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Today’s readings urge us to live as children of light. It is the God of Jesus Christ who leads us out of blindness into the light of God’s love. St. Francis de Sales notes similarly: “When we experience the rays of the noonday sun, we scarcely see its light before we quickly feel its heat. So it is with the light of faith. It no sooner casts its light on us and we feel the warmth of God’s love that gives us hope in God’s goodness. When we are extremely careful to do all that we can to open ourselves to divine love, then our faith comes alive and strengthens our hope. Faith brings us to love the beauty of the truths of the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”

As we accept in faith the teachings of Jesus, our hearts are invigorated with holy love. In Christ, God brings us into the light of faith. When God gives us faith, God enters into our soul and speaks to us by way of inspiration. Only God can enlighten and open our blind eyes. It is a sign of interior conversion when God gives us light to see the source of our blindness. We free ourselves from our selfish desires and come to truly know and accept ourselves as children of the Light. While we naturally experience a deep desire within us for happiness, faith reveals to us the infinite marvels of eternal happiness.

Faith is the best friend of our spirit. It is the foundation of our hope and love. It gives us the certitude of God’s continual offer of grace to us. So let us not be afraid of Our Savior who treats us as a good father and mother treat their child. As long as the child walks on soft grass, the child is allowed to walk alone for that would not do much harm. However, on dangerous paths they carry the child tenderly in their arms. Let us offer ourselves to God, walking the way of love for one another as very dear children of God. It is then that we will live as children of light.  

(Adapted from the writings of Saint Francis de Sales)

Third Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 24, 2019
Third Sunday of Lent – Year C Readings
Lectionary: 30

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 13:1-9
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them—
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!"

And he told them this parable:
"There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?'
He said to him in reply,
'Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'"

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Third Sunday of Lent

Today’s readings speak to the catechumens who are preparing for baptism. The Scriptures reveal how God cares for those who, like Moses and the Samaritan women, have faith and hope in the Word of God and live it. St. Francis de Sales notes: “Moses’ faith in God’s Word allowed him to use his rod to make water flow from the rock. Attentiveness to God’s Word is necessary to sustain us in our responsibilities in this world. Our entire good lies in accepting the truth of God’s Word and persevering in it. In the Eucharist we are nourished by the Divine Word made flesh.”

We need to grow in God’s Word. Even outside of your prayer, keep yourself as if you were in prayer. Renew yourself throughout the day with thoughts of God’s infinite goodness. Good reading, too, helps the heart come alive and gain new strength and vigor.

Yet, we also ought to nourish and strengthen the divine word by opening our hearts. We must remain attentive and reflect on what God has to say to us in the depths of our hearts. We must digest the divine word so that it becomes a part of us in such a way that we are nourished and strengthened by it. Then, like Jesus, we will put our words into action. We will carry out what we are taught, discerning carefully the needs at hand.

Our Savior desires that we have great confidence in Divine Providence. All who trust in God always reap the fruits of this confidence. Our Savior takes tender care of those who have a great willingness to abandon to Him their weariness and anxious care of advancing in holiness.

We may question whether we will always have the will to please God during our entire life.  Alas! There is nothing so weak and changeable as we are. So let us frequently place our good intention before the Lord, who will strengthen our willingness as often as is necessary, so that we have sufficient determination to live God’s Word in this life. 

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