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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was at a parish meeting this week, and as usual, the meeting began by reading the Sunday Gospel reading. After it was read, for about a minute, there was silence. It is as if we were all tongue-tied. It took a few quite moments to break the silence, but there still was this sense that we simply do not know what to do with Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. Unlike Matthew’s version, Luke creates a stark line of separation between the blessedness of the poor and the woe of the rich. How shall we understand Luke’s Beatitudes? 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

This year is the 25thyear of my ordination. As I look back, I have no idea where 25 years have gone. It all is a haze. Yet, I have very vivid memories of every one of these years. It has been a great life. It has been a wonderful life. It has been a daunting and challenging life project. It has demanded everything in me. Yet, it has been an awe-filled life. If I get another chance at life, I would do it all over again. Simply put, I am in awe! 

For a Christian, one of the dominant paradigms from which to reflect on life is, “the call.” From our conception until we die, in our origin and pilgrimage toward our destiny, we believe we are called. In fact, all of life is a response to, an accomplishment of, the realization of a call.

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Scripture Readings

Instead of a typical homily, today, I felt led to pray for families. Over the year, I get numerous requests from parishioners to pray for various needs of families. Today, it is my intention to bring these needs before the entire community, so that together we can raise these needs up to God in prayer. 

The Nativity of the Lord – Christmas

Scripture Readings

It was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was walking to the back of the church for the entrance procession for our school Mass. A kindergartner waived to me and said, “Hi, Jesus!” I waved back as I smiled. In my mind I said, “Girl, you are killing me!” Think about it, though. There was a time when a little child could wave and another human person and say, “Hi Jesus!” There was a time when Jesus walked as a human person and a blind man cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Have pity on me!” There was a day, when the disciples looked at a human person and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”! There was also that fateful day, when a Roman Centurion looked up to a human person nailed to a cross, and exclaimed, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Mt 27:54). Christmas is the day on which humans look at a baby lying in a manger in a stable and said, “Hi, Jesus!” 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” These were Elizabeth’s words to Mary. Two days before Christmas, are there better words to reflect upon? Mary’s role in the history of salvation can never be overestimated. Even though Joseph is not part of today’s gospel reading, I would like to bring him into the picture. In my three points, I would like to reflect on both of them.

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

This week, I spent quite a few hours in the confessional. I celebrated he Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students of St. Helen School on Tuesday. On Thursday, I was at the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students at Immaculate Conception School. On the same evening, we also the Tri-Parish reconciliation service. In numerous instances, the sense of comfort and relief in the faces of the penitents is something that only I get to see. One penitent put it this way: “I just want to be this (makes a gesture connecting her heart and God above), to be OK.” Tears rolling down her cheeks, she longed to have God back in her life again. She left the confessional in total relief and peace. It’s also called joy!  

Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

In today’s gospel Luke provides us with some very descriptive historical details. This kind of historical detail is rare in the four gospels, because, in terms of literary genre, they are not historical books. The gospels are a unique genre, and it is meant to inspire faith. Since Luke does give us historical data, we must pay attention to it. Luke tells us who the Roman Emperor was (Tiberius Caesar), who the governor of Judea was (Pontus Pilate), who the regional leaders were (Herod, Phillip, and Lysanias), and who the high priest were (Annas and Caiaphas), when John the Baptist began his ministry. Surely, Luke was being intentional in giving these details. What do these details teach us? I would like to suggest three things:  

First Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

 A friend of mine was telling me her experience at the stores on Black Friday. A mother was standing at the checkout line. Her two little children were giving her a harrowing time. My friend, who was also in line, decided to help her out. She pointed towards the security camera and said to the kids, “Santa is watching you from there!” The kids’ eyes grew big and they stopped dead! The mother had no further trouble with them.

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

Scripture Readings

With a contentious mid-term elections barely over,  I am not sure about our appetite for the Feast of Christ the King. Often, we completely de-politicize the gospel. However, think about it. Jesus was brought before the political establishment of the time, by the religious establishment of the time, to be judged, condemned, and finally crucified. Jesus’ condemnation and death as much a political event as it was a religious event. On the other hand, perhaps the feast is a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the political contentions. The Feast of Christ the King tells us that the cross was hardly was the end of the story. The feast of Christ the Kings celebrates the reality that the cross became Jesus’ throne, that strength lies in humility, and that power lies in love. 

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We have been hit by devastating hurricanes and wild fires this year. Especially, when it comes to hurricanes, people are advised to evacuate. I always wonder why some people do not heed the warnings. I understand that some people do not evacuate for compelling reasons - poverty, health issues, family compulsion, pets. But there are those who could and simply will not. And as they were warned, things end tragically for many of them. As we approach the end of the liturgical year, we are reminded that life itself comes with ample caution. We are all invited to live well. We are invited to strive to be happy. We are all invited to make life meaningful. However, the gospel cautions us - all things will come to an end. The Gospel cautions us that life is unpredictable. As with hurricanes and wild fires, there are those who heed the warning and those that do not.  

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

There are two stories in today’s reading and they both involve poor widows. In the first story, Elijah, as he flees from his murderous enemies, seeks refuge with a poor widow. The story tells us that she and her son had only and handful of flour and a little oil left. They were desperately poor. The second story tells us about Jesus’ admiration of a poor widow who “from her poverty” (Mk 12:44), put in two small coins into the treasury. The two coins were all she had. These two thought-provoking stories. 

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Here is a tweet from a priest that I follow on twitter: “All liturgy should be celebrated solely by the candlelight of beeswax candles in an enormous, dark church filled with the smoke of incense. All parts should be either chanted loudly and solemnly in Latin or said in such a low voice that no one can hear them.” Here was my reply. “At the Last Supper, on which every Mass is based, none of these eccentricities existed!” What is it about us that we like to take what is accidental to Christianity and bring it center stage? And what is it about us that we take what is center stage of Christianity and relegate it to the boundaries? 

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Right after I was ordained in 1994, India’s corporate sector was introduced to a very influential and effective thinker, Stephen Covey. Many of us as priests also read his very popular book, The7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book sold more than 20 million copies in fourty languages. In 1996, Dr. Covey was recognized as one of Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans and in 2002, Forbes named The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the 10 most influential management books ever written.Stephen Covey died last July  but continues to influence the management world. I for one was a Stephen Covey’s fan. One reason for this was that he gave new insights into my own following of Jesus. Here is one statement that influenced my discipleship: “There is no involvement without commitment.” For example, my priesthood require both commitment and involvement. What would my priesthood look like it I was not committed? What would the celebration of this Eucharist look like if I was not involved?  Whether it is marriage, friendship, work or sports or the following of Christ, there is no involvement without commitment and there is not commitment without involvement. 

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

If a Christian does not look different than those who are worldly, then what is the point in being a Christian? What good does it serve to be Christian by name? To what purpose then, was the death of Jesus Christ? 

I have titled this homily, “But It shall not be so among you.” Today’s gospel reading reveals the internal power struggle among Jesus’ disciples. James and John beat the other disciples in asking Jesus if in his Glory they could sit one at his right and the other at his left. Mark tells us that when the other disciples heard this, they got indignant at James and John. Perhaps, this may have been because each of them either nurtured the same ambition or because they felt upstaged by the two brothers. Either way, Jesus’ response swift and categorical. “But it shall not be so among you” (Mk 10: 43). 

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

From the time I began to read the lives of saints in the seminary, I have come to admire many of them. Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila were among some of my favorites. However, my hero all through seminary was not a canonized saint - Archbishop Oscar Romero. That changed today. Nov 14, 2018 will remain and red-letter day in my priestly life. After 35 years of anticipation, today, Archbishop Oscar Romero was canonized by Pope Francis.   

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

It is not uncommon for me to receive calls about troubled domestic life. Sometimes these calls are about children, but most of the time, it is about a troubled marriage. I am not a professional counselor, hence, most of the time, after initial conversation, and some spiritual guidance, I point them out in the right direction for help. On the other hand, for every couple that encounters marital discontent, I know another family that is blissfully happy. I am sure you too know families that both have marital discontent and those that are content. In reality, there are no perfect families and there are no perfect marriages.  Most of the time bliss is experienced amidst imperfections, and imperfections amidst bliss. What shall we say about families, since, the liturgy compels us to reflect on marriage and divorce?   

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Who is the richest person in the world today? It’s Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Whole Foods fame. His net worth is more than $164 billion. Recently, he made news when he created a $2 billion fund to help the homeless and set up a network of schools. Jeff Bezos has often been criticized for taking a back seat on philanthropy. So when he made news with his new philanthropy, there were skeptical reactions. Imagine that I had $164 in my wallet. Now imagine that a very hungry family approached me for food. Imagine that I gave them $2. What would that look like? Even though $2 billion is a lot of money, not only did most influential people see Bezos’ action as too little, but also questioned whether his charity was meant to create a positive image in society. Either way, this story is a good starting point for my homily.

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Friday morning, just as I was looking for a start to this homily, a mother of a young man who plays for the Carroll High School Patriots sent me an e-mail saying, “We need a Patriot win against CJ Eagles tonight. Say a little prayer!” I replied, “For you I will pray for the Patriots, but for Fr. Bob Jones I will pray for the Eagles.” This way no matter who wins, I can say God heard my prayer. As it turns out the Eagles won! Here is another story. Today, India and Pakistan are playing a very crucial cricket match for the Asia cup. Of course, Jesus is on India’s side, right? How could he not? These are very naïve, harmless examples. However, apply the same rivalry to a job situation, to how the inheritance is shared, to sibling rivalry, to race relations, to the upcoming elections, to international politics; suddenly we have the perfect recipe for serious conflict and war. 

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

“Not my family, not my problem!” On the 26thof September, I am organizing an evening to share my experience with undocumented immigrants at El Paso and Juarez. I posted the information and flyer on my Facebook page. One of the actual responses on my post from someone who identified himself as a Christian was, “Not my family, not my problem!” For all the years I have been on social media, this was my first jaw-dropping, shocking moment. Immaterial of the issue, I cannot believe that a Christian could think this way. What use is faith, if it does not lead to action? What use is action if it does not originate in faith? 

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings 

Perhaps many of you know that I spent most of last week in El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico, on an immersion experience of the immigration crisis, along with 15 other priests. Our goal was to understand the immigration issue in depth, to express solidarity with the immigrants, to visit them at the various refugee shelters in El Paso and Juarez, and to pray at the border with Bishop Mark Sietz of El Paso along with other religious leaders.