13th Sunday, O T, Year A – 17

13th Sunday, O T, Year A – 17

2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a; Rom 6:3-4, 8-11; Mt 10:37-42

A farmer, who went to a big city to see the sights, asked the hotel’s clerk about the time of meals. “Breakfast is served from 7 to 11, dinner from 12 to 3, and supper from 6 to 8” explained the clerk. “Look here,” inquired the farmer in surprise, “when am I going to get time to see the city?”

The common theme of today’s readings is the work God gives us to do as the followers of Jesus: to love God and our brothers and sisters through hospitality, generosity, commitment and charity. The readings also remind us of the sacrifice demanded of Jesus’ disciples and the suffering they will endure for their Faith when they bear witness to him.

In our first reading, we see, in Elijah’s welcome by a childless woman who lived in Shunem, a radical illustration of all four works. The woman recognized the holiness of Elisha.

She showed him reverence and hospitality by inviting him to dine with her and her husband and by setting aside and furnishing an upper room of her house for the prophet to occupy whenever he should come to town.

In grateful response, Elisha promised her, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.” The promise was fulfilled by God.

The second reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans, reminds the Roman Christians, and us, that by Baptism we have been baptized into Jesus’ death, buried with him, and now look forward to resurrection with him (Rom 6:5).

Today’s Gospel lesson concludes Jesus’ great “missionary discourse” in which he instructs his twelve disciples on the cost and the reward of the commitment required of a disciple.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me….” These words may sound a bit extreme, since family comes first for most of us.

1) What Jesus means is that all loyalties must give place to loyalty to God. The wants of any person or any group of people (e.g. a family), cannot be met by trampling on or denying the rights and needs of others.

If members of one’s family act unjustly, one must, in conscience, separate oneself from them. In other words, one cannot condone immoral practices even by members of one’s family. Jesus clearly is not attacking family life.

He is giving a warning to his disciples of the conflicts and misunderstandings they will experience through their living out the word and thus becoming prophets, proclaiming God’s Will and living presence among His people through their own lives.

2) These words of Jesus can have another meaning. All those who become followers of Jesus belong to a new family. It is a family where every single person, including relatives, friends and even strangers are truly my brothers and sisters.

We become part of a larger family to whom we also have responsibilities.

Jesus means that there will be times when we will have to give more love and compassion to the hungry, the sick, those in prison, the social outcasts, the unemployed or the unemployable, the handicapped, and the lonely than to the members of our own family.

In other words, Jesus is not speaking against the family, but rather reminding us that we are part of a larger family of our fellow Christians.

The readings in today’s Mass are about what’s first in our lives, or what should be first, namely our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have in our lives.

Our relationship with God is the most important thing we can lose in our lives. God offers Himself to us, we respond. If we don’t respond, we’re telling God that His offer has no value for us and that His offer doesn’t mean anything to us.

Whether or not our immortal souls live in eternal life in heaven depends on our relationship with God here on earth. Our lives are filled with “busy-ness”; there are so many things we need to do and so many things we consider to be important. But what about God? Where is He in our lives?

What sort of attention do we give to God? We need to ask that question from time to time and today’s readings challenge us to do just that not only today, or on Sundays, but each and every day of our lives.

There are two big points to draw from today’s readings; the first being the question of how important God is to us in our lives. The second has to do with God’s messengers. God uses messengers, intermediaries, to relate to us. How important are they to us?

We live in a sort of “do it yourself” world. We like to take care of things all by ourselves. But we really can’t live that way, can we? We all need to depend on others in one way or another.

That’s true when it comes to the way God reaches us. The woman in the first reading and the businesswoman named Lydia paid a lot of attention to God’s messengers. As a result, God reached her and changed her life.

Are we open to God’s messengers in our lives? God cares for you, He loves you, and He wants your attention and love. We all need to make more room for Him in our lives, our hearts, and our thoughts. If we don’t, our souls are in peril.

Summertime is upon us, a time when our busy-ness is not so demanding. It’s a time of recreation and a time during which we can be reflective. What about reading some good books, especially books and things to read that turn our thoughts toward God.

What about some quiet time spent in reflection about God’s presence in our lives? Pick up some spiritual reading now so you can have it over your summertime. Spend some thoughtful, quiet, and reflective time during which you can pay attention to God and what He has to say to you.

Spend some time asking yourself what’s important in your life and how important God is to you in your life. After all, He made you to know Him, love Him and serve Him, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

What, after all, is your life really all about?


12th Sunday O T Year A – 17

12th Sunday O T Year A – 17

Jer.20:10-13; Rom.5:12-15; Matt.10:26-33

Sparrows are the most common and the most plentiful of all birds. This being so, they are not valued very highly at all. If as a species they were becoming extinct you can safely bet, however, that committees and campaigns would spring up to save them.

But what about human life? There are over seven billion human beings alive on this earth today. In this century, more than in any other century in human history, human life is less and less valued.

In the midst of all this we hear our Church proclaim today’s gospel message throughout the world: “Are not two sparrows sold for next to nothing? Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.

As for you, every hair of your head has been counted; so, do not be afraid of anything. You are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows.” “Do not be afraid.” How good it is for someone who is worried to hear those words from Jesus.

Jesus knew we needed to hear those words. “Do not be afraid.” Jesus, who was human as well as divine, knew that some of us need to be reminded again and again not to worry. So many times, in the Gospels we hear Jesus asking us not to worry.

Three times in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid.” The reason why Jesus tells us these words is that the Heavenly Father has great concern for us all. He knows us well, our person, our well-being, our needs.

Prophet Jeremiah tells us to expel from our mind all fear and worry because God is with us and he will protect us from all evil. He invites us therefore to commit our cause to God. At the same time St Paul tells us that the grace of God is great and it is a free gift given to us in and through Jesus.

That is the reason why we do not have any reason to worry or fear. Hence the central theme of today’s reading is that we should expel all fear and anxiety from our minds by cherishing an unshakable confidence in the never-failing providence of God.

The reading from the Gospel of Matthew advises us not to be afraid of human persons. Jesus repeatedly asks the twelve disciples not to be afraid. As disciples, we stand with Jesus entrusting ourselves to him.

Jesus reassures us of our value in God’s eyes and promises us that he will protect us as he does with the birds of the air and entire creation. If you are afraid, you are not alone because in the United States of America there are 13 million of different cases of fears happened.

If these fears will not be healed, a person will have nervous breakdown, tension, stress and shamefulness. If a person is ashamed, he is afraid. If there are millions of fears, I would like to share with you five types of fears, as mentioned by someone.

First is fear of rejection. It is because others’ reputation is destroyed and broken. If we will not do this or that, they might reject us and we will be in the limelight.

Second is fear of being hurt again. We don’t want to be hurt again. We may get hurt because we are overlooked, unappreciated or misunderstood. It may even compel us to close ourselves from any involvement for fear of being hurt again.

I experienced this myself. It’s very painful if you are misunderstood even though if what you are doing is right. What I did and said was being misunderstood. I came to a point that I have to be indifferent.

In the beginning, this experience depressed me a lot. But I realized at the end that none of these should diminish my spirit to continue doing well. My heart should be too big enough to allow such hurts to keep me from reaching out to people who may be worse off and hurting more than I am.

Jesus said: “Do not fear who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

Third is fear of anticipation of what might happen. The most prevalent statement by us is: “What if…” “I will do this or not do that, what will happen to me?” The person who asks these types of questions are afraid of.

Fourth is fear to take responsibility and act on it. We want to be blest by God and yet we are afraid of the demands that the blessing will ask us for from all of us. We want to go and have reconciled with our enemy and yet we hesitate to do so.

We like so much to give comments and evaluations but we don’t want to be subjects of criticisms and evaluations.

Fifth is fear to tell the truth. That is why there are so many things happened that up to now are unresolved because we are afraid to tell the truth. We are denial kings and denial queens.

But Jesus says: “Do not be afraid…” for three times. He gives us an assurance that if we are rejected or being hurt or afraid of what will happen to us or ready to take responsibility or ready to tell the truth, He will acknowledge us before His Father in heaven.

Jesus delicately tells his disciples not to be worried of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. The history of the church is filled with examples where people have stood for Jesus and sacrificed their lives.

A prominent example was when Archbishop Oscar Romero was gunned down in the middle of celebrating Mass by the military rulers of El Salvador, to be followed some years later by the brutal and sadistic murder of six Jesuit priests dragged from their beds in the middle of the night.

All that these men did was to draw attention to the many injustices being perpetrated against the poor and powerless in their society. There are many others who have died silently and are known to Jesus alone.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that we do have a responsibility to stand up and be counted. And, thank God, many are still doing so. “If anyone declares himself for me in the presence of others, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven.

The greatest fear is not that we may be killed but that we may be seduced into betraying those values on which our integrity as human persons depends.

To save our “bodies” at the expense of Truth, at the expense of Love, at the expense of Justice, at the expense of Freedom, at the expense of Human Solidarity – this is the real danger. That is the real death.

Jesus therefore provides the remedy to overcome worry and distress. Having faith in his heavenly Father and sharing the cause of his worry in prayer with the Father. We see a transformation in Jesus during his prayer.

He began praying, “My soul is sorrowful even to death” (Matt 26:38) but when he concluded he prayed, “Your will be done!” (Matt 26:42) That is what happens to us when we have faith in God and bring our anxieties to God in prayer.

We should be transformed during prayer and receive strength from God to face what lies ahead. So, when there are problems, have faith and pray! Amen.

Corpus Christi, Year A – 17

Corpus Christi, Year A – 17

Dt.8:2-3,14b-16a; ICor.10:16-17, Jn.6:51-58

What is the most precious gift that Jesus Christ gave to his church? I do not mean the gift of the Holy Spirit. I have in mind things that we can see and touch. Many people will say, “the Bible.”

The Bible is indeed an invaluable gift of God, but Jesus did not write a Bible for the church nor did he commission his disciples to write one. The most precious gift that Jesus gave to his church is that which we celebrate today, the gift of his own body and blood in the form of bread and wine.

When we go to a football game, a baseball game, or any other sports event we go to watch it being played. We watch television shows; we watch and listen to concerts. We watch so many events in our lives. But when we come to Mass, we should participate.

The Church wants us to fully, actively, and consciously offer the Mass with the priest, not simply watch the priest and ministers offer Mass for us while we remain passive observers.

When we hear the term “Corpus Christi” we may tend to think of its meaning only in terms of Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. That is an unworthy notion.

In reality, in the Eucharist we receive not only Christ in His Body and Blood but Christ in His entirety, an entirety that encompasses His activity, His project among us, His mission and purpose in engaging us and in engaging the world in which we live, move, and have our being.

God our Father has sent His Son into our world with a mission. In Christ, we too are sent by God into our world, not to condemn it but to save it.

Often, we think of the Body of Christ as the Eucharist, as Holy Communion, and as the Blessed Sacrament. Each of those terms has overlapping meanings with the others; all of them are a part of the meaning of Corpus Christi.

What is central is the sacramentality of Christ’s presence among us. Each of the seven great Sacraments of the Church are particular expressions of the One Sacrament, namely Christ incarnate among us.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is something that is encouraged by our Church. Spending holy hours in adoration, spending time with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is wonderful; it is a form of worship; it is sanctifying.

At the same time, however, we are there in adoration not simply to receive; we are there to be energized so that we might give.

In Baptism and Confirmation, God’s Holy Spirit consecrates the recipient and makes him or her at the same time a living member of the mystical Body of Christ, a participant in the mission of witnessing to his love and in bringing His light to our surrounding world.

The Body of Christ takes us into Jesus’ entire life, a life given over to God in every way at every moment. His death on the cross was the culmination of His life among us as Jesus of Nazareth.

God calls us to Himself not in some remote and distant heaven, but here on earth. His call is to us now; His call is present. Our response is not some future response; our response is now, here on earth. The bread and wine we offer at Mass symbolize the sacrifices of ourselves.

Our giving thanks in the Eucharistic Prayer is our surrendering ourselves to God in Christ’s surrendering of Himself to His Father. We should never simply “get” or “receive” Holy Communion.

When we enter into Holy Communion; we enter into the totality of Christ’s incarnate life among us. There is an intrinsic interconnection between the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (which we call Eucharist), Holy Communion, and the Blessed Sacrament.

In this sense, “receiving Holy Communion” is a dynamic reality: we receive Christ and in so doing, Christ receives us, and by the power of the Holy Spirit presents us to the Father.

All of this, however, is not just for our own sake, for our own salvation. All of this is so that we can bring that dynamic purpose of Christ to the world around us, a world into which we are called to bring the saving presence of Christ.

In today’s Old Testament reading, Moses’ first word is “Remember,” which he repeats a few verses later with the negative phrase, “Do not forget.” The saving acts of God on behalf of his people were not to be taken lightly.

The Passover and many other festivals were meant precisely to keep the memory of them alive. Jesus did not want to be forgotten. So, he “left us a memorial,” as we heard in the opening prayer of today’s Mass.

The memorial Jesus left us is unique, because it doesn’t point only to the past. It’s much more than a reminder. In it we believe that he is actually present among us. We believe that he gives himself to us, truly, as food and drink.

As St. Paul reminds us, “The cup of blessing that we bless is a participation in the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a participation in the body of Christ.”

“Do this in memory of me.” These are the words that conclude the Consecration of the Bread and Wine, taken from St. Luke’s and St. Paul’s accounts of what Jesus did at the Last Supper. They are a command, but they can also be taken as a plea, a solemn request, that we never forget him.

On the eve of his death, he gave us something to remember him by. He wanted to be remembered for his gift of self. So, we come to Mass to remember Him and to join ourselves into Christ in His Mystical Body and into His mission among us.

The purpose of Mass is not to be seen as an action wherein the priest simply consecrates hosts; some people think their participation in the Eucharistic Prayer is all about watching the priest and then receiving Holy Communion.

Truly it is much more. By our Holy Communion we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, but our incorporation is not something that we simply receive. We are taken up rather into the totality of what Jesus Christ is all about.

May the Lord, who is present in the Eucharist, continue to sustain us through the giving of His Body and Blood, that we, who receive Him worthily into our being, may be strengthened by His Presence.

And may all of us grow ever more faithful and ever more devoted, that we, the Temple of His Holy Presence, will be deemed worthy of eternal glory with Him forever.

May we fully, actively, and intentionally participate in that reality, a reality summed up in the dynamism of Corpus Christi.

May the Lord bless us all. Amen.


The Most Holy Trinity, Year A – 17

The Most Holy Trinity, Year A – 17

Ex.34:4-6, 8-9; 2Cor.13:11-13; Jn.3:16-18

There is a story about a man who was suspected of being out of his mind, climbed a tree. Many were worried about this. So, they shouted at him to go down from the tree but he did not. They called the captain of the fire department to convince him to go down but he was not convinced.

They called the mayor but it’s hopeless. Finally, they called the old parish priest of that place. So, the old parish priest went to the place and they asked him to make a blessing if in case he will fall down and die.

So, the priest made the Sign of the Cross. After a while the man went down from the tree and the people were surprised why it happened that way. They asked the priest how he was able to convince the man to come down by making the Sign of the Cross.

The priest told them: “No, I did not convince the person to come down. I just said, ‘If you will not go down (tracing a vertical line), I will cut this tree (tracing a horizontal line in the air). After that he came down.”

Today we encounter the mystery of all mysteries, the mystery that underlines our faith and our entire spiritual lives. It is a mystery, too great for many people to accept. Many people prefer having a God whom they can understand.

This celebration of the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity had started since the 10th century. The idea of the Trinity is not explicitly stated as a doctrine in the Sacred Scriptures. But implicitly it is stated many times.

We believe the Blessed Trinity through faith and nothing more. This faith has to be realized, embodied and materialized in our concrete lives. And what is that, that makes the life of a Christian so important.

All prayers in the Church begin in the Name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity.

All Sacraments are administered (we are baptized, confirmed, anointed, our sins are forgiven and your marriage blessed, our Bishops, we, priests and deacons ordained) in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Church bells ring thrice daily, reminding us to pray to the Holy Trinity.

We Bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Let me try to give you some Biblical proofs: There are only vague and hidden references to the Trinity in the Old Testament. But the New Testament gives clear teachings on the Holy Trinity.

At the Annunciation, God the Father sends His angel to Mary, God the Holy Spirit overshadows her and God the Son becomes incarnate in her womb.

At the baptism of Jesus, when the Son receives baptism from John the Baptist, the Father’s Voice is heard and the Holy Spirit appears as a Dove.

At the Ascension, Jesus gives the missionary command to his disciples to baptize those who believe, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel of John, chapters 15-18, we have a detailed account of Jesus’ teaching of the role of each Person of the Holy Trinity:

1) God the Father creates and provides for His creatures.

2) God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God.

3) God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us and guides us to God.

Now, another way to think about the Trinity is the way that St. John described it in one of his letters. He said very simply, “God is Love.” And the theologians and saints have helped us to see, that in his innermost heart – God is a communion of three divine Persons in love.

Remember, the human person is created in the image of God. That means that you and me, every one of us are created in the image of the Most Holy Trinity. In the image of the God who is Love.

So, the Trinity tells us the meaning of our lives. It tells us that we are made to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity. We are made to live a divine life in this world. As children of God. As temples of the Holy Spirit.

This is the basic reality of our Christian lives. Jesus said that if we love him and keep his commandments, that God will come, the Trinity, to make his home within us.

St. Paul used to say, we are the temples of the living God. That’s the truth. God is dwelling in each of us by his grace! But are we aware of it? Are we living this truth? So, this great feast today challenges us to examine ourselves.

This feast calls us to really believe this and to really live with a greater awareness of this beautiful reality, of the Blessed Trinity’s presence with us.

The last words we heard from Jesus in our Gospel last Sunday are: “Behold! I am with you always.” This isn’t just a happy thought. It’s another way of expressing the beautiful spiritual reality of our lives. As we all remember, when Jesus was born, they called him Emmanuel.

And as we know, that name means, “God with us.” The mystery of the Trinity means that we have access to God – all the time.

Trinity Sunday is a good opportunity to pay special attention to what we do and pray every Sunday at Mass so that we realize more deeply that every Sunday is Trinity Sunday.

The early Christians discovered later that they simply could not speak of God without speaking of the three ways in which He had revealed Himself to them.

This does not mean that there are three Gods. It means that there is only One God who has shown Himself in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thomas Edison, the inventor, once remarked: “We don’t know what water is. We don’t know what light is. We don’t know what electricity is. We don’t know what heat is. We have a lot of hypotheses about these things, but that is all.

But we don’t let our ignorance about these things deprive us of their use.” The truth of that statement is real. Most of us do not know how an electric light works, how a telephone or a TV works, but this does not prevent us from using them.

Let us try to apply the same common sense to our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity. Let me end by saying that the doctrine of the Trinity does not attempt to explain God. It only explains to us in a very elemental way what God has revealed to us about himself so far.

To describe the tip of the iceberg above the water is not to describe the entire iceberg. So, we Christians affirm the Trinity, not as an explanation of God, but simply as a way of describing what we know about Him.

Let us have the firm conviction that the Trinitarian God abides in us, that He is the Source of our hope, courage and strength and that He is our final destination.

Let us practice the Trinitarian relationship of love and unity in the family relationships of father, mother and children because by Baptism we become children of God and members of God’s Trinitarian family. Amen.

Pentecost Sunday, Year A – 17

Pentecost Sunday, Year A – 17

Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13, John 20:19-23

After we have celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension of Christ, there follows the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit or the Solemnity of Pentecost. We see a connection between these two important feasts. The ascent of one leads also to the descent of the other.

It has been taught to us that the Descent of the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of the Church. But there are other roles of the Holy Spirit in the life of the apostles who were left by Christ. The Spirit was seen as the force which led the apostles to proclaim the gospel of salvation.

But for Paul, the Spirit appears as the continuing presence of God and Christ in the world. In fact, he calls the Spirit both as the Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ. Let us reflect once again on the Holy Spirit and his importance to our life.

Essentially Pentecost is the final movement of God’s journey toward us. The initial movement begins in Genesis with God in the Garden of Eden. Note that it is God who makes the move. It is God who initiates; God who offers; God who loves us first.

He chooses us. We do not choose him. He chooses us first because He is the superior. If it were otherwise, and indeed when people think they first choose God, then men and women in their pride would fancy that they are in control.

Today’s First Reading from The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the promise of Jesus been fulfilled. While staying with them, He had ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father.

In obedience to Jesus, the disciples gathered together in Jerusalem and experienced the divine sign. The disciples did receive the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day. Luke initiates the new creation and the introduction of the age of the Holy Spirit as the dominant reality of humankind.

In the second reading, Paul speaking to the Corinthians tells of the effects of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He says we cannot even call Jesus “Lord” unless we have his Spirit.

To call Jesus “Lord” is not just uttering a pious phrase; it implies a real faith in who Jesus is and the proof of that will be in the way we live our lives.

Secondly, the Spirit is the source of the special gifts or the ‘charisms’ which each member of the community receives. The Source of the gifts is one – the Spirit of God and that is what unites together all those who receive them into one community.

But there is a huge variety of gifts. It is important to note that the gifts are not given as a personal grace for oneself. They are rather special abilities by which each one serves the needs of the community.

The Gospel of today brings us to the Easter Day, the day of the Resurrection on the first day of the week. Jesus’ disciples were hiding in fear behind locked doors. As colleagues of Jesus they are afraid they may have to face arrest or even worse.

Suddenly, they experience the presence of Jesus among them. He gives them the usual Jewish greeting ‘Shalom’ or peace which is his gift to them and in the presence of Jesus they experience a kind of peace which only he can give.

There is an immediate transformation in the disciples, who till now were terrified, but suddenly are filled with joy. There are two qualities that always accompany the presence of Jesus in our lives – peace and joy.

Now Jesus gives them the mission: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” The baton is being passed and the work has to continue. They have a job to do and it is exactly what Jesus himself came to do namely, to establish the Kingdom on earth.

They have the task of continuing his mission on earth. Jesus now breathes on them. The breathing recalls God breathing life into the dust and bringing the first human being into existence. Here too there is a kind of creation, as the disciples are re-created into the new persons.

He gives them the power to forgive and to reconcile. This is their new task: to be agents of reconciliation, of people everywhere with their God and reconciliation with each other as brothers and sisters, children of one common Father.

Reconciliation means the healing of wounds, of all forms of division. It is reconciliation that brings together all the diversity into one in the life of the Church and within any community or parish in the Church.

Reconciliation is needed again and again—to reconcile not only divisions within the Church, but also those divisions that cause separation and can place one outside the Church and outside the Body of Christ. This is the work of the Kingdom.

It is what we are called to do. He gives them power as he tells them that those whose sins they forgive, they are forgiven and those whose sins they retain, they are retained.

Today’s feast rounds off the tremendous mysteries that we have been commemorating since Holy Week – the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus culminates in the sending of the Spirit of the Father and the Son on his disciples.

This feast has been the extraordinary intervention of God into our lives by what we can only call the “mystery” of Christ. Today’s feast indicates that it is an on-going reality, which still touches our lives every single day.

This week, let us reflect upon the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the Church. He can guide and teach us according to the purpose that He has been sent by the Lord God. Through the power of the Spirit we ask for the grace to be forgiven and the grace to forgive.

As Jesus empowers his disciples with the new life of his Spirit, we look for the gift of Peace from the same Spirit.

‘He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.’ This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot. The man said he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

As individuals, we should be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We should allow him to take control over our lives so that we can be guided and enlightened in every endeavor we do. Moreover, we should also allow him to dwell in us so that our lives may be full of spirit and life. Amen.

Pentecost Sunday, Year A – 17 (Vigil)

Pentecost Sunday, Year A – 17 (Vigil)

Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13, John 20:19-23

After we have celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension of Christ, there follows the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit or the Solemnity of Pentecost. We see a connection between these two important feasts. The ascent of one leads also to the descent of the other.

It has been taught to us that the Descent of the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of the Church. But there are other roles of the Holy Spirit in the life of the apostles who were left by Christ. The Spirit was seen as the force which led the apostles to proclaim the gospel of salvation.

But for Paul, the Spirit appears as the continuing presence of God and Christ in the world. In fact, he calls the Spirit both as the Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ. Let us reflect once again on the Holy Spirit and his importance to our life.

Essentially Pentecost is the final movement of God’s journey toward us. The initial movement begins in Genesis with God in the Garden of Eden. Note that it is God who makes the move. It is God who initiates; God who offers; God who loves us first.

He chooses us. We do not choose him. He chooses us first because He is the superior. If it were otherwise, and indeed when people think they first choose God, then men and women in their pride would fancy that they are in control.

The story of the Tower of Babel is the story of the prideful people who thought they could build a tower to God. But in doing that they were usurping God’s role.

They were the initiators, they were trying to be in control, they were setting the specifications, they were going to discover God and then they would determine His existence.

What they forgot is that it is God who discovers man; it is God who determines our existence; God who speaks first. It is only when God speaks that things come into existence.

And so, the story of the Tower of Babel is a recapitulation of the story of Adam and Eve. Once again man is filled with pride. Once again man tries to be God.

And once again reality is fractured, nations are shattered, and destruction, disunion, misunderstanding, along with a total breakdown in communications occurs.

Mankind now speaks in different languages and even people who so speak the same language are no longer able to understand each other. But in spite of human arrogance God continues to move toward us.

The gospel shows us that the Spirit is a gift of Christ to the apostles. He says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” What this text clearly says is that “the Spirit is gift”. The Fathers of the Church who reflected the Spirit as gift was St Hilary of Poitiers.

But it was more developed by St Augustine. St Augustine explained further that the Spirit is a gift of love. Most of us don’t think too much about the Holy Spirit, but He’s no stranger in our lives.

When we say, “God is love,” we’re talking about the Holy Spirit in a very particular way. The Third Person of the Trinity is a God of Love. That is the Holy Spirit.

We received the Holy Spirit when we were baptized, and He sealed us in the sacrament of Confirmation. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to share the Body and Blood of Christ at this Eucharist.

It is the Holy Spirit who, in the course of our lifetimes, transforms us from sinners to saints. Thus, the Holy Spirit is with us. We have already received him.

Secondly, while we say that the Spirit is an irrevocable gift of Christ to the Church, St Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, spoke of the Holy Spirit as “giver of gifts”. In a community, Paul sees a diversity of gifts under one Holy Spirit.

It is the Spirit who gives the diversity of gifts that are so needed. But it is not diversity in itself that St. Paul celebrates, but rather taking those diverse gifts to serve the unity of the one body, the Body of Christ.

We have come to this Eucharistic celebration in order to encounter the risen Christ in this Eucharist, so that He himself can nourish us with Himself and make us one body in him.

In the Church, we experience this diversity of gifts in the various ministries and organizations. These ministries contribute and should contribute to the unity of the parish community. Division is not a mark of the Spirit; unity is.

Thirdly, in the Nicene Creed, we profess that the Spirit is “Lord and giver of life”. Let us also reflect on this. The Spirit is Lord. A “Lord” is someone who has control over somebody. The masters of the house are called “lords.”

In other countries, like Italy and Greece, people call their masters by that name. Even taxi drivers are called “Senor” and “Kyrie” which both mean Lord. Indeed, because they have the control over the lives of the passengers, they are lords.

If the Holy Spirit is Lord, have we allowed Him to take control over our lives? He is the driving force and thus he should control us, not the other way.

The Spirit is giver of life. This has something to do with the name of the Spirit himself. In ordinary usage of the term, we say that an activity is full of spirit if it is full of life or lively. If not, we can say that it is “spiritless” or Lifeless.”

This can also be applied to a person. If a speaker is boring, we would say that he is “spiritless.” Hence, spirit in ordinary usage means life.

The Holy Spirit as life is also the giver of life. In fact, it is the Spirit who makes the present Church alive and it is the Spirit who gives her life. The active participation of the laity in the Church is a mark of the Spirit’s presence.

The flourishing of Church organizations, like the charismatic communities, is also an index of the presence of the Spirit. These are examples which show that the Spirit gives life to the Church.

As individuals, we should be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We should allow him to take control over our lives so that we can be guided and enlightened in every endeavor we do. Moreover, we should also allow him to dwell in us so that our lives may be full of spirit and life. Amen.