Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 17, 2019
Second Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 27

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 9:28B-36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
"Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
"This is my chosen Son; listen to him."
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Second Sunday of Lent

In today’s readings, the Covenant of Abraham and the Transfiguration reveal to us how much God desires our love, so as to give us eternal glory. St. Francis de Sales notes: “When God spoke to and promised Abraham that he would have descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky, Abraham had only God’s Word to assure him. God also speaks to us in inspirations that propose the mysteries of faith.”

Through faith we know God’s Word. In hearts that give their consent to God’s inspirations, God, little by little, gently strengthens these hearts with divine love. These first perceptions of God’s love are poured into us through the Holy Spirit. Still, these first movements of love are just the dawn of faith.  They are like the green buds of springtime. Faith begins with a love for things of God.  Faith shows us that we have implanted in us, a holy natural inclination to love God above all things. No other love can satisfy this desire.

While we have the power to reject divine inspiration, we can not prevent God from inspiring us. Inspirations are favors that God does before we have thought of them. God awakens us when we are asleep. Still, it is in our power to rise or not to rise. Whereas God has awakened us without our help, God will not raise us up without our cooperation. We must consent to God’s call, for God always respects our freedom. God has no slaves, only friends. So it is that Our Savior never abandons us. It is we who abandon Him.

Our confession of faith is an act of choosing to love and serve God as faithful servants. Walk simply and faithfully along the path that God has marked out for you, and you will walk confidently. Be at peace, for Our Savior, who has shown His glory, has taken you by the hand and set you on the way to eternal glory.

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

First Sunday of Lent

Sunday March 10, 2019
First Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 24

Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
"If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread."
Jesus answered him,
"It is written, One does not live on bread alone."
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
"I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve."
Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
"If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
and:
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

Salesian Sunday Reflection

First Sunday of Lent

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent reminds us that when we are tempted with selfish desires we must keep focused on God’s way of love as exemplified in Jesus. Here are a few of St. Francis de Sales’ thoughts on loving God first, then doing what we desire.

Jesus was tempted in order to teach us that we will always have to choose between good and evil during our entire life. While Jesus tells us that the life of a Christian is a continual rejecting of evilness, and a constant choosing of God’s truth and goodness, He also urges us to walk in the way of love as God’s most dear children. When we live to do God’s will nothing can harm us, for we are armed with faith in God. God’s love becomes the source of all of our desires.  

Yet even in our desire to do God’s will, our selfish motives can infect our thinking. Many people who counted on their own strength to work marvels for God failed when under fire, while those who found their strength in God’s help accomplished wonders. We may feel that we do not have the strength to resist our selfish desires.  We ought not to be afraid of our weaknesses.  Since we desire to belong entirely to God, we must rely on the strength of God, who never fails us in the midst of our weaknesses.  

 While we must have a firm and habitual resolution never to willfully commit any imperfection, we must not be astonished if we do. At such times we must confide ourselves to the goodness of God, who does not love us less. Very gently place your heart back into the hands of Our Lord, asking God to heal your heart. Then set yourself once again on the path of virtue, practicing the virtue that opposes your selfish desire.

As we grow in holiness, knowledge of our faults disturbs us more. When we find ourselves not the saints we hoped to be, we are very discouraged in the pursuit of real virtue. Do not hurry on so fast. Begin to live well your life in light of your duties of state. Perfection consists in doing the little we do in our vocation, in love, by love, and for love. Trust God. When it pleases God to do so, God will make all your desires holy.

(Adapted from J. Power & W. Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal; L. Fiorelli, ed. Sermons)

 

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday March 3, 2019
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 84

Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 6:39-45

Jesus told his disciples a parable,
"Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
'Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,'
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite!  Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother's eye.

"A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the midst of our daily concerns Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel to do our level best to produce good fruit. 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. While we may not always be able to avoid producing bad fruit, we should focus on the times that we manage to produce good fruit.

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 24, 2019
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 81

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings reveal to us that being made into the image of God we are called to be compassionate and forgiving as Jesus was. St. Francis de Sales notes: “Our Lord came into this world so that all might live a more abundant life and receive a better life. When we see the excessive evils that our loved ones endure, they arouse great compassion and love in us. Yet, we ought to help and express our love to all those who have great need of us. Frequently it is those who bring us more pain than comfort.”

Console the sick and visit the poor. Have compassion for their infirmities, letting these acts touch your heart. It is here that we show that we love from holy love. Pray for them as you help them. Yet, be careful that you do not neglect your responsibilities to your own family household while you care for others. We must ask God to help us love others, especially those for whom we have no inclination to love. They will have a more abundant life by the example you give them.

Since God wants us to love and cherish others, we must see God’s love in our neighbor. Even though at first we seem reluctant to do so, we must not give up practicing this love of neighbor outwardly. But we must not be surprised if we find ourselves not equally kind and gentle. Be patient with everyone’s imperfections but especially your own. Have the courage to pick yourself up after a fall. There’s no better way to grow in God’s love than to always start over again and never think that we have done enough.

Do not worry whether or not your work will bear the fruit you intend to produce, for you will not be asked for the fruit. You will only be asked if you faithfully occupied yourself in cultivating well these barren and arid lands. You will not be asked whether you have gathered in a harvest, but only if you have taken sufficient care to sow the seed.

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

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 17, 2019
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 78

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 6:17, 20-26

Jesus came down with the twelve
and stood on a stretch of level ground
with a great crowd of his disciples
and a large number of the people
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.
And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings remind us of the life-giving qualities received by those who follow God’s teachings and who trust in God’s goodness. St. Francis de Sales similarly notes: “The greater our trust in God, the more life-giving is our spirit. If we are to allow God’s love to operate in us, we must make room in our heart so that the Holy Spirit may flood our heart with holy love. When our concerns and responsibilities are full of anxiety and fear, we limit our ability to act in the way God desires us to act.”

What are we to do if we have the desire to serve God but lack sufficient strength to put that desire into practice? Offer this desire to God. God renews our desire as often as is necessary to make us persevere in our desire to do God’s Will. Placing our trust in God’s goodness makes us eventually capable of acting on our desire to belong to God.

I am not saying that you must always feel this determination to belong entirely to God. We may always have feelings of reluctance to the events in our life that God does not desire but permits. Do not be troubled by such feelings, for few people are able to get rid of them. Yet, you ought to constantly recognize that you belong to God even though you do not always feel that way. We must deliberately choose to keep ourselves focused on the goal to belong to God alone. As we focus on pursuing our goal, our reluctant feelings will gradually be transformed as we allow God’s love to flood our heart.

Let us frequently place our good will in God’s hands, and God will renew our true willingness as often as is necessary in this mortal life. Those who place themselves peacefully in the hands of God’s Providence let themselves move forward, like a person sleeping in a ship that never stops moving forward on a tranquil sea. Blessed are they who put their trust in God, for confidence in God brings life to their human spirit!

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

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 10, 2019
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 75

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
Lk 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."
Simon said in reply,
"Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets."
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
"Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men."
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today’s readings we experience Isaiah, Paul and Peter coming to recognize that their past sins did not prevent them from becoming true disciples of God. St. Francis de Sales notes: “No doubt, there is a sense of shame when we have been disloyal to God. These feelings of shame are very good when they are used in a constructive way. Shame is only useful if it leads us to rise to an intimate union of our heart with God.”

We must never remain in shame, or with a sad and unquiet heart. As St. Paul teaches, we “must discard the old nature and put on the new.” We must clothe ourselves with God, and lift up our hearts in holy confidence to God. The foundation of our trust is in God and not in ourselves. Our well being derives from letting ourselves be led and directed absolutely by God’s Spirit, who transforms us through divine love.

While the saints saw in themselves many imperfections, this did not stop them from doing God’s work. God left in several of the dear disciples many marks of their evil inclinations for some time after their conversion, all for their greater good. For example Peter who stumbled many times after his initial calling failed miserably in denying God.

We cannot expect to be a saint in an instant. We must little by little and step by step acquire a self-mastery that the saints took years to acquire. Be patient. Leading us by the hand, God does with us deeds that call for our cooperation Some trees bear fruit every year, others every three years. Let us be content that God will let us bear our fruit sooner or later.

During this long pilgrimage on earth, God’s Goodness is willing to lead us and carry us. Yet, God always wants us to take our little steps alone, doing on our part all that we can in virtue and good works, helped by God’s love.

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

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday February 3, 2019
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 72

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
LK 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:
"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, "Isn't this the son of Joseph?"
He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb,
'Physician, cure yourself,' and say,
'Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'"
And he said, "Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s reading of the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul tells us what it means to love. St. Francis de Sales based his whole life and his teachings on love:

By love we live, feel and move. All our affections follow our love. Love is the life of the heart. As our heart is, so are our actions. Those who open themselves to God’s love in their heart have God’s love in their actions. Divine love can do all things and endure all things when we allow it to reign in our hearts. A heart that has holy love lives a clean, healthy, new life. This new life is both lively and life giving. It is the bond of perfection.

God’s love is always present in us. Unfortunately, we do not see it in ourselves. Because we do not see the presence of God’s love in us, it is easy to forget. We then behave as if God is very distant from us. God’s love is present in a most particular way in your heart and in the very center of your spirit. From time to time, retire into the solitude of your own heart, even while engaged in discussions or transactions. Talk with God. Other people cannot enter this mental solitude since they are not standing around your heart, which remains alone in the presence of God.

Our life on earth is like the perpetual, diverse motions of the waves of the sea. Some days we are buoyed up in hope, and sometimes we are cast down in fear. Even though everything changes within or around us, we must be like the mariner’s needle that always points to the North Star. Our will must remain looking, striving, and aspiring toward the love of God. Nothing can disturb or move us from God’s love, since our resolution never to forsake God’s merciful love keeps us steady amid the various changes brought to us by the conditions of this life. Thus do not lose courage, nor let your spirit sink amid contradictions. God will never abandon the care of your heart, for God’s love is eternal.

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

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 27, 2019
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 69

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
LK 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s reading of the Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul describes how members of the Christian community have different functions and gifts that contribute to the unity of the community. St. Francis de Sales speaks of the gifts that unite us in our differences:

As members of the body of the Church, we are so united that we share in the good of one another. Even the sick who practice many admirable virtues in their illness contribute to the well being of the community. Our Savior wishes that holy love unite us. As living members of Jesus Christ and the Church, the fruits of our labor flow down upon those who are united by sacred love. Many grapes are pressed together to make one wine. Many grains of wheat are ground and kneaded together to make one single loaf. The gift of our sharing the Eucharist together is the source of our union, for the Eucharist unites us as children of God.

We must give great value to the gifts received from God and do our best for the welfare of all. This may be difficult at times. We may have many doubts in accepting the responsibilities given to us. However, in simplicity of heart we must say, “I can do anything in God who strengthens me.” We do what we have to do: not troubled by the greatness of the task, the amount of time required or the many delays encountered. For the Holy Spirit dwelling in us makes our frail works display the greatness of God’s love that unites us.

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

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday January 20, 2019
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 66

A Reading from the Gospel according to John
JN 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers,
"Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told the them,
"Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
"Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
"Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now."
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel focuses on God’s presence in Jesus as He transforms water into wine, symbolic of our transformation in Christ. St. Francis de Sales similarly notes:

Jesus came to create a new humanity. He began his ministry to transform the human person by manifesting God’s goodness with a miracle at a joyful banquet. At the Wedding Feast of Cana, Jesus transformed water into wine to meet a need of the newly wedded couple. Then at another banquet before His death, He instituted the Eucharist so that we might be nourished and become like Him.

In the transformation of water into wine, and the institution of the Eucharist, God’s goodness in the Person of Jesus is made present to us. Christ’s presence in our lives turns the water of our tepid love into the wine of God’s love. Divine love invigorates and strengthens us as we journey toward wholeness in living Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Mary, convinced that Jesus would provide the wine for the wedding couple, presents their need to her Son. We too must confidently ask God for our spiritual and temporal needs. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask daily that God’s Kingdom come and God’s Will be done. But Jesus also told us to ask God to give us our daily bread.

When we are disheartened and feel desolate we must present our needs to God, convinced that God will answer us according to our needs. We can say to God: “It is enough for me to present myself to You as I am. You will provide for my miseries and necessities as You see fit.” While God never gives us an excess of our self-centered wants, God never fails to supply what is necessary for our well-being, if we are open to God’s presence in our life.

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

The Baptism of the Lord

Sunday January 13, 2019
The Baptism of the Lord
Lectionary: 21

A Reading from the Gospel according to Luke
LK 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
"I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
"You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Baptism of the Lord

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, which marks the beginning of his ministry. St. Francis de Sales observes that God also calls us to service that at times is a struggle for us:

Our Savior’s unfathomable ways of calling us to His service are so lovely and varied. When we have a firm and steadfast determination to want to serve God in the way and place where God calls us, we then have a true vocation.

While we are firm in our perseverance to serve God, we still commit faults. We may also hesitate in our resolve to use the means given us to serve God. We are all at the mercy of our feelings and emotions, subject to changes and ups and downs. We are not to worry if we sometimes experience feelings of distaste and discouragement in responding to our call to serve God. It is normal to experience these ups and downs. Even though we are not exceedingly virtuous, we are still fit for God’s service. Yet, we must stand firm in the midst of changing moods. Some virtues can only be practiced amid difficulty. It is not our willful feelings, but our intention to willingly persevere in serving God that determines the firmness and steadfastness of our commitment to love as God desires us to love.

A good string musician has the habit of testing the strings of his instrument from time to time to see if they need tightening or loosening in order to render the tone in perfect harmony. We too at times need to examine and consider all the affections of our heart to see if they are in tune with the wishes and commands of Our Savior. Let us strengthen our fervor, by reaffirming often our commitment to be God’s children who are called to love divinely. Live courageously and faithfully to the original stirring of your heart to serve God, and you will be happy.

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

The Epiphany of the Lord

Sunday January 6, 2019
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

In today’s Gospel, on the Feast of the Epiphany, we experience the confidence of the Gentile magi, who seek God’s goodness in the Christ Child. Confidence to trust in God’s goodness is a constant theme in St. Francis de Sales’ writings:

The Magi from the East, confidently following the Star of Bethlehem, seek to render homage to the newborn Infant lying in a manger. They find no pleasure in the beauty of the city of Jerusalem, or in the magnificence of Herod’s court. Their hearts seek the little cave at Bethlehem and its little Child. They rigorously forsake every other pleasure so that they may more strongly find pleasure in God’s presence in the Christ Child.

Let us come close to our Savior in the divine crib and listen to the many inspirations and affections that awaken us to God’s goodness. It may be very difficult at times to trust in God. We may even feel no confidence in God. Yet in these times of difficulties we still have the power to make a simple act of confidence in God. We can say, “While I feel no confidence in You, I know that you are my God, and that I am all yours.”

We must not be distressed if we make these acts without fervor. Our Lord loves them better thus, for our lips speak what our heart wills. In this way we make continual progress in holy love, our journey toward wholeness. Our confidence is in God who is unchangeable and not in ourselves who are constantly changing. No one can ever trust in God without reaping the fruits of this confidence. Like the Magi following the Star of Bethlehem, let us pursue divine love with the confidence that we are continually being made whole in Christ—Who guides all those that choose to walk in His radiant light.

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

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

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 the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Oeuvre: Entretiens)

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

December 30, 2018
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
LK 2:41-52

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast
of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor
before God and man.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Feast of the Holy Family

In today’s Gospel we experience Jesus telling Mary and Joseph that He must be in his ‘Father’s house’, yet he remains obedient to his parents. St. Francis de Sales notes:

God draws us by special attractions. If the attraction comes from God, it leads you to ‘loving obedience’. In doing God’s will, ‘loving obedience’ undertakes a command lovingly, no matter how difficult it may be. We desire that God take all our affections and actions, and shape them. This road will surely lead you to reap a harvest of blessings.

In the Scriptures, Jesus tells us often that He came not to do His own will but the will of His Father. During His mortal life, Jesus also lovingly obeyed His parents and others. Our Savior now asks of us to imitate the loving obedience that He rendered, not only to the Divine good will, but also to His earthly parents. Joseph and Mary received great joy because they helped Him, and remained constantly in His presence.

What causes us to be inconstant and changeable in our moods to love and serve God? It is the diversity of our desires. Constant mood swings come from our inordinate desires. Holy love has only one desire: to love and serve God, who desires we have a tranquil spirit, and experience in this world a slight foretaste of eternal joy.

Evenness of mind and heart is the most necessary virtue for the stability of moods that leads to holiness. One way to achieve evenness and stability of moods in our lives is to have a daily routine of mental prayer and other activities that sustain our well being: eating, sleeping, and exercise. Be faithful to God’s wishes and commands, as the bees do with their queen. Then you will live firm and unwavering in your resolution to love God’s will as Jesus did: constantly, courageously, hardily, and ardently.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Oeuvre: Entretiens)

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or

A Reading for the Gospel according to Matthew
MT 1:1-25
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

Vigil of Christmas
December 24, 2018

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 23, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 12

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
LK 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Advent

In today’s Gospel, we experience Elizabeth proclaiming Mary to be blessed as the mother of Our Lord. St. Francis de Sales notes:

When Elizabeth proclaims Mary’s blessedness, Mary affirms that she is indeed blessed, for all her happiness comes from God. God looks at Mary in her lowliness and exalts her. Mary, in her humility, is in awe that God has made her the mother of Jesus.

A very exalted love of God and neighbor, as well as a profound humility, form a special union in Mary’s heart. Humility has Mary experience the immense and inexhaustible depth of God’s goodness. After experiencing the immensity of God’s love, she is aware of her littleness in the face of God’s loftiness. She immediately acts on her love for God, by saying: Let it be done to me as You say. In giving her consent to God’s will, she demonstrates the greatest charity conceivable. For at the moment she consents, the Divine Word takes on flesh. Infinitely graced, Mary desires God’s love for all.

As with Mary, our first fruit of the grace of God is humility. Humility has us experience the infinite love of God. At the same time, humility has us experience the limitations of our capacity to love God and others. While grace inclines us to the excellence of God’s divine love, humility has us see how God’s love profoundly purifies the heart before God and creatures. Like in Mary, God’s love, in us, has us love others.

What a good sign humility of heart is in the spiritual life! If we humble ourselves by giving our consent to God’s will in our life, we too can give birth in our heart to the Christ Child. To let go of our own willful desires is painful. Yet, to bring Christ to birth in our hearts is well worth trusting in God’s action in us. Our divine Savior, with our consent, will assuredly make us eternally blessed, and introduce us into eternal life.

(Sermons of St. Francis de Sales, L. Fiorelli, Ed.; Saint Francis de Sales, Oeuvres.)

Third Sunday of Advent

December 16, 2018
Third Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 9

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
LK 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Third Sunday of Advent

In today’s Gospel we continue to experience John the Baptist urging us to conversion. He tells us to give of our abundance, have a sense of integrity in our daily activities, and know who we are and who Our Messiah is. St. Francis de Sales notes:

John the Baptist is too great a lover of truth to be carried away by ambition. He informs those who came to him that he is not the Messiah. He tells us, we must look into our actions, reforming those that are not of good intentions and perfecting those that are.

John the Baptist was a firm rock, a man possessed of unshakable stability in the midst of changing circumstances He has courage to admit who he is. Indeed, he who truly knows himself is not annoyed when he is held and treated for what he is. Surely, it is a sign of great interior conversion when God gives us light to know who we are.

To be a Christian is the most beautiful title we can give ourselves. Yet, it is not enough to be called a Christian. We must live in a way that one recognizes clearly in us a person who loves God with his or her whole heart. One who keeps the Commandments and frequents the sacraments, and who does things worthy of a true Christian.

When we know we are loved, we are compelled to love in return. So it is when we live our life in Christ. The sacred love of Christ presses down upon us in a special way to have us share our abundance with others. Compassion makes us share the sufferings, sorrows and affections of those we love. Mothers and fathers suffer because of the great afflictions of their children. The dearer one is to us the deeper one’s welfare enters into our heart. Whether their welfare is sad or joyful, we commiserate with them. Our goal is to act with only one intention: conforming ourselves to the true image of God in us. For the reason why Jesus came, was to show us our true self in God.

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

Second Sunday of Advent

December 9, 2018
Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 6

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
LK 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Second Sunday of Advent

In today’s Gospel we experience John the Baptist urging us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus. St. Francis de Sales has us start with our hearts:

Our heart is the source of our action. As our heart is, so are our actions. Whoever wins a person’s heart has won the whole person. Yet even the heart, where we wish to begin, must be instructed. John the Baptist wants us to fill our fearful hearts with faith and hope. Certain fears and anxieties, when excessive, unnerve the heart and often lead to discouragement. These are the ditches and valleys that must be filled with confidence and hope to prepare for Our Lord’s coming.

Make straight the paths. Roads that twist and turn fatigue and greatly mislead the traveler. We must straighten our ways with confidence that God will give us the necessary help to acquire an even disposition. Don’t lose heart. Be patient. Do all you can to develop a spirit of compassion. I have no doubt that God is holding you by the hand. If God allows you to stumble, it is only to let you know that if God were not holding your hand, you would fall. This is how we learn to take a tighter hold of God’s hand.

It is not possible for us to have a change of heart so totally right away. We need patience. If you strive to practice patience faithfully God will give it to you. We must be like the mariner who, in steering his vessel, always keeps his eye on the needle of the compass. We must have only one intention and that is pleasing God. Let us pay attention to the Word of God and digest it well. How delightful it is to reflect on our Savior. He had perfect equanimity of spirit shining brilliantly in the midst of all sorts of changing circumstances. How pleasing it is to find this even disposition in someone. Those who have Jesus Christ in their heart will soon have Him in all their ways.

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

First Sunday of Advent

December 2, 2018
First Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 3

A Reading for the Gospel according to Luke
LK 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Salesian Sunday Reflection
First Sunday of Advent

In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges us to live a life of holiness so as to experience the glory of His coming. This calls for a conversion of our hearts. St. Francis de Sales notes:

As soon as some people see that you wish to lead a life of holiness, they might speak of your conversion as hypocrisy, bigotry, and trickery. They will say that the world has turned against you, and being rebuffed by it, you have turned to God. Your friends will tell you that you will become depressed, lose your reputation, be unbearable, and that your affairs at home will suffer. All this is mere foolishness. People spend hours in playing games and think nothing of it. Yet if you spend an hour in meditation or get up a little earlier than usual in the morning to pray, everyone thinks there is something the matter with you. So we must be firm in our resolution to live faithfully in God’s love.

When we first have a change of heart, things will seem a little strange, as they are new. When we see that the mountain of Christian perfection is very lofty, we tend to say “O God, how shall I be able to climb it?” Have courage. Such feelings will pass, and you will receive countless blessings.

We are like young bees who cannot yet fly out among the flowers, mountains, or nearby hills to gather honey. Little by little, by continuing to eat honey the older bees have prepared, the young bees develop wings and grow strong, so that later they fly all over the country in search of food. At first we cannot fly up high according to our plan, which is to be holy. But as our desires and resolutions begin to take form and our wings start to grow, we hope some day to be able to fly aloft. Let us follow the instructions of holy persons of past times, and pray to God to give us wings, not only to fly upward during the time of our present life but also to find repose in the eternity that is to come.

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

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

November 25, 2018
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe
Lectionary: 161

A Reading for the Gospel according to John
JN 18:33B-37

Pilate said to Jesus,
"Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?"
Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?"
Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?"
Jesus answered, "You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. St. Francis de Sales stated that it was divine inspiration that the word “king” was inscribed on Jesus’ cross. He adds:

Our Lord came as a shepherd and as King of Shepherds. Shepherds represent those who make a commitment to lead a holy life. In this sense we are all shepherds, and Our Lord desires to favor those like Himself. As a good shepherd and lovable pastor of our souls that are his sheep, Jesus came to teach us what we ought to do so that we might be made whole through Him. He came to recreate what was lost, and no one has ever been betrayed by Him.

Jesus as a king was called to be Savior, and He desired that others should share in the glory of being leaders, especially his blessed Mother. Jesus made God’s goodness abound more than evilness. He overcame death, disease, toil, and abuse of our sensory desires. Jesus’ work is truly salutary when it touches our miseries and makes them worthy of love. When we possess God’s love, we are empowered to share in our Savior’s work.

God desired to save the Hebrew people through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the other prophets. We are shown more fully God’s delight and care for the world by the sending of our Savior Jesus. We plant vines because of their fruit. Yet leaves and buds precede the fruit. Similarly, while Our Savior was first in God’s eternal plan of creation, the vine (the universe) was first planted. For this reason Jesus is called the “first-born of all creatures.” Like leaves or blossoms, the many generations that precede Jesus prepare the way for Him. How happy we are when we choose Jesus as our leader, who gives us unparalleled peace and calm if we follow Him. Our Savior shows us that God’s majesty will not be overcome by evil, but will overcome evil by good: the work of a true King.

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

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 18, 2018
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 158

A Reading for the Gospel according to Mark
MK 13:24-32

Jesus said to his disciples:
"In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

"And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds'
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

"Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.

"But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

Salesian Sunday Reflection
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings remind us that we have nothing to fear if we have hope and faith in God. St. Francis de Sales has much to say about hope, faith, trust in God:

Hope in God, for God will free you from your burdens or give you the strength to bear them. When we have faith in God, we are shielded from our enemies and the terrors of the night. To say “I believe in God” is to say we do not trust in our own strength but in the strength of God. It is most certain that God exercises a tender care for us when we abandon all our anxieties and fears to Divine Providence. Yet God desires that we do all that lies in our power to accomplish our tasks. Go ahead filled with courage, but go in simplicity. God wants us to use all the ordinary means to attain hope and trust.

We must not think that we have no talent to do what we are called upon to do. Thinking we are not virtuous enough must not trouble us. The apostles were fishermen who were given talents and holiness to the extent these gifts were necessary to fulfil the mission God confided to them. Go ahead without worrying and without turning back. Whenever you work for God’s glory, God will always give you what you need at the proper time, and provide what is necessary for you and those entrusted to your care.

If you feel disheartened, throw yourself immediately into God’s arms, entrusting yourself to God’s care. We must not be upset if we have little attacks of anxiety and sadness, as they give us opportunities to practice the best and dearest virtues: trust in God and gentleness. When things go wrong, is this not the best time to trust in God? We must encourage one another in holy hope. Without growing weary, we must walk in hope, ardently yet tranquilly, carefully but confidently. Let us climb Mount Tabor where, in hope, faith and trust in God, we will encounter Jesus when He comes in glory.

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