Life is much more important than food, and the body much more important than clothes. Instead, be concerned with His Kingdom, and He will provide you with these things.
Luke 12:23,31

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday Gospel Message - Second Sunday of Lent

“Is this what God wants of me” is a question that we
often ask of ourselves. We want to be sure that we are doing
the right thing. At times, we will just have to trust; at other
times, we will have a reassurance that we are doing the right
thing. As we reflect upon God’s word today, we see that
Abram (later to be called Abraham) wanted to know what
God’s will in his life was. God made a covenant with him. In
the event of the Transfiguration of Jesus, God spoke with
basically the same words that He spoke at the Baptism of Jesus.
“This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” With Moses and
Elijah appearing, and the words of God the Father, it was a
confirmation to Jesus that He was the fulfillment of the Law
and the Prophets and that He was to undergo death on the cross.
Used with permission - Msgr. Bob Lawrence

Family Bible Study - Second Sunday of Lent

Gospel Passage
Luke 9:28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him
Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And
while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes
became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah,
talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his
departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter
and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had
stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33
Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to
be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for
Elijah” — not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud
came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the
cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my
Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found
alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things
they had seen.

Questions for Discussion:

1. God the Father speaks rarely in the Gospels, but in this Bible story He
tells the three Apostles to “listen to Jesus.” How hard do you try to listen to
Jesus when He speaks each Sunday in Sacred Scripture?

2. Why do you think Jesus was transfigured? Do you think it has anything to do with His Resurrection?

3. Who are Moses and Elijah? Why do you think they came to speak to
Used with permission - Fr. Roger Landry

Friday, February 26, 2010

Daily Meditation for Lent - Friday (First Week)

Lord, I give thanks to You for the Sacraments.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bl. Jacinta and Francisco Marto - February 20th

Today is the memorial of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto...
Francisco would say: "How beautiful God is, how beautiful! But He is sad because of the sins of men. I want to console Him, I want to suffer for love of Him."
and Jacinta: "I love Our Lord so much! At times, I seem to have a fire in my heart, but it does not burn me."
You can read more about Bl. Jacinta and Francisco at

Family Bible Study - First Sunday of Lent

Gospel Passage
Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the
Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate
nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The
devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of
bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the
world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this
authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, ‘He will
command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11 and ‘On their hands they
will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus
answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the
devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Questions for Discussion -
1. Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days in the desert. Knowing this, and
knowing that the three Lenten works are prayer, fasting and almsgiving
(giving of yourselves and what you have to those who need), what
commitments are you ready to make with regard to each of these three
important things?

2. Jesus was tempted by the devil, but never sinned. What does this teach you
about your own temptations. Can you resist them? How can you resist them?

3. What Lenten sacrifice are you planning to do?
Used with permission - Fr. Roger Landry

Homily - Triumphing Over Temptation - First Sunday of Lent

Triumphing Over Temptation
Dt 26:4-10;Rom10:8-13;Lk4:1-13

1) The episode in today’s Gospel is particularly special, because the only way the evangelists would have known about it would have been if Christ had told it to his disciples himself. No one else was there. The Lord must have opened up his heart to them about this seminal moment in his hidden life, which occurred immediately after he was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist (Mk 1:12). The Holy Spirit led him into the huge fifteen-by-thirty-five mile desert between the mountain of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea so that he could pray to the Father about the public ministry that he was about to commence. He prayed and fasted for an incredible forty days, which obviously would have left him physically weak and infamished. It was at this moment that the Devil came to him to tempt him. Much like God the Father had once allowed Job to be tested, the same Father allowed his Son to be tempted. In the temptations Jesus suffered and later described to his disciples, the devil brought out in a pristine form the types of temptation that Christ would undergo in his public ministry and that each of us undergoes in our lives. By focusing on how Christ responded, we, too, can learn how to react to the various temptations we encounter.

2) The first temptation was aimed right at Jesus’ tremendous hunger after 40 days of eating nothing: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of Bread.” When the Israelites were in the desert, Satan successfully tempted them to grumble to God to feed them (Ex 16:3ff). Satan was tempting Jesus to recapitulate the Israelites’ lack of trust in God and Jesus would have nothing of it. Satan also was trying to tempt Jesus away from his mission and Jesus would have no part of that either. Jesus had come to save people, to feed their most important hunger — the hunger of their souls — and Satan was trying to induce him to become a baker rather than a Savior. To feed people’s physical hunger would be a great way to win a crowd and become popular. As Jesus himself realized after feeding the five-thousand men with the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish, great crowds followed him, “not because [they] saw signs, but because [they] ate [their] fill of the loaves” (Jn 6:26). Hunger is the most basic human need and the devil was tempting Christ to bribe others to follow him. But Jesus himself was already living off a greater source of food and was preparing to train disciples to seek this same celestial nutrition: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” This same insight he passed on to the crowds when they were following him to have their stomachs satiated: “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6:27).

3) All of us in the Church need to remember what this greatest food source of all is. There is no shortage of people who live by their stomachs alone. The American people elected Herbert Hoover president in 1928 on his motto, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” While the slogans have changed, often times we do not think much higher. The most important factor in most presidential elections still today — even among Catholic voters, as we see in exit polls — is the economy, who we think will put more money in our pockets and allow us to put more food on the table. The larger spiritual issues, about whether a candidate opposes the slaughter of unborn innocents or wants to celebrate it as a civil right, about whether a candidate will set a good moral example or a bad one, often are pushed to the side. Even within the Church, sometimes Catholics will make all types of sacrifices to meet their own or others’ material needs, but do very little to try to address their own or others’ greater spiritual needs. Lent is the time Christ calls us all to resist that temptation and to seek first this heavenly food and live by it, trusting that, as he promised, everything else will be given to us besides (Mt 6:33).

4) In the second temptation, the devil presented Jesus with a vision of all the kingdoms of the world and said to him “To you I will give their glory and all this authority … if you … will worship me.” Jesus was about to announce that his kingdom is at hand, but that kingdom was going to come about through humility and the Cross. The “father of lies” (Jn 8:44) was proposing a short cut, another way, an easier way. “I’ll give it all to you if you fall down and worship me.” The devil had gotten the Israelites in the desert to succumb to this temptation to worship him in a golden calf, rather than to trust in the God with whom Moses was speaking on the mountain. But he failed with Jesus, who said to him, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.”

5) The devil likewise tempts us to compromise our relationship with God, with the truth, with the principles that flow from God, in order to get ahead or to get what we want. Oftentimes the devil disguises these temptations in terms of the pursuit of power, privilege, prestige or profit. He’ll get candidates for political office to give in to the temptation to compromise the principles of faith in order to get elected or re-elected. He’ll get students in school to cheat on exams to get a better grade. He’ll get those who are gifted with the ability to speak well to use their eloquence and charm to manipulate and fleece people. He’ll get those blessed with physical beauty to use their good-looks to try to sleep their way to the top. He’ll tempt those who have a job to put working and the money one can earn ahead of worshipping the Lord on the Lord’s Day and building up a treasure in heaven. It is a perennial temptation to seek to achieve something worldly by compromising our relationship with God and his moral law, to serve the “ruler of this world” rather than the one, true God. Jesus told his disciples about this second struggle he faced so that we could learn from him that and how we are called to worship the Lord our God and serve him alone.

6) In the third temptation, the devil tried to tempt Jesus to test God the Father. He even misused Sacred Scripture to do so: “Throw yourself down from [this pinnacle], for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone’ (cf. Ps 91).” The devil had succeeded in getting the Israelites to test God while they were in the desert. He got them to complain that Moses had brought them out into the desert to kill them and their children of thirst, and they were about ready to kill Moses. They said, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex 17:1-7). Jesus didn’t succumb to the same temptation. He replied, “It is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

7) This is the temptation to be presumptous with God, to do things that will try to force God’s hand. We try to coerce the Father into protecting us no matter what. By this temptation, the devil tries to get us to re-create our relationship with God on our terms rather than His terms; then, when God doesn’t seem to respond to that situation because such behavior harms us, the devil uses it to divide us even further from God. Some of us can smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for several decades and then expect God to cure us of lung cancer simply because we ask him nicely in prayer. Some students can blow off their studies all semester and then expect God to help them get a good grade on their exams. We can all put ourselves repeatedly in a near occasion of sin and then expect God to save us from the consequences of the slippery slope into serious sin that results. Again and again the devil tries to tempt us to do something reckless and make us expect God to rescue us from it every time. Jesus passed onto his disciples his response to the devil’s temptation, so that we could make it our own: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Rather than dig a hole and expect God to get us out of it, Jesus says, don’t dig the hole. Rather than risk physical or spiritual injury and expect God to prevent the harm, Jesus says, don’t take those reckless risks.

8) The last line of today’s Gospel says that the Devil subjected Jesus to “every test” (v. 13), but Jesus never succumbed. In the letter to the Hebrews, we learn that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet never sinned” (Heb 4:15). That is, for me, one of the most consoling passages in all of Sacred Scripture: every single temptation we are experiencing — and I would encourage you to call to mind what temptations you suffer — Jesus himself underwent and overcame. The devil exists and he is trying to tempt us in every way away from God, away from our mission, away from our vocation and dignity. Jesus, however, knows what we’re going through and has taught us the way to overcome these temptations, by imitating him and his responses. Lent is a time when we are called to focus on living these responses of Jesus.

9) How do we imitate and live Jesus’ responses to the devil? How do we grow in strength against temptation? Jesus tells us in St. Mark’s Gospel, that some devils are expunged “only by prayer and fasting” (Mk 9:29). That is why, every Lent, the Church, to strengthen us, presents before us the need for us to pray, to fast and to give of ourselves and what we have toward others. The devil seeks to trick us to disorder our relationship ourselves, to others, and to God and fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the respective antidotes. The more we fast and place spiritual nourishment over material food, the less vulnerable we will be to be tempted by bread and other earthly pleasures. The more we sacrifice ourselves and our belongings for the good of others, the less prone we will be to giving in to the devil’s seductions to give us power or control over others. The more we pray to God and seek to know and do his will in our lives the less assailable we will be to the devil’s traps presumptuously to force God’s hand. These three traditional practices of Lent are a great remedy to the temptations of the Evil One, which is why the Church proposes them to us each year.

10) St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, wrote, “In order to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, put on the whole armor of God.” Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to do just that, because they help us to “put on Christ” (Rom 13:14), who himself prayed unceasingly, who fasted for 40 days, who gave himself until his last drop of blood. The discipline that Lent requires of us helps to keep us vigilant against the devil, by conforming us to Christ in faith. St. Peter instructed us, “Discipline yourselves and keep alert. The devil is prowling like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith.” The devil exists and he is real. He seeks to devour us. But Christ has overcome him and we will, too, provided that we put on God’s armor, discipline ourselves as a disciple should, and remain vigilant. Lent is an annual spiritual boot camp the Church gives us so that we might train, yet again, to be victorious in this most important battle we’ll ever fight.

11) “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus refused to change a stone into bread for the devil; but for us, his beloved flock, he is about to change bread into his own flesh and blood. He is the word that comes from the mouth of God and now that God wants to put that Word-made-flesh in our mouths. More than anything else, the devil wants to distract us from this reality, by keeping us from Mass or by distracting us if we come to Mass. Let’s ask for God’s help to avoid those temptations, so that we might, in the Eucharist, “worship Him, the Lord our God, and serve Him alone.”
Used with permission - Copyright Fr. Roger Landry
February 25th, 2007

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart

We wanted to share this paragraph from "Fatima in Lucia's Own Words"...
Sister Lucia had passed from the earth 5 years ago today.
But he had no sooner placed the Divine Host on my tongue than I felt an unalterable serenity and peace. I felt myself bathed in such a supernatural atmosphere that the presence of our dear Lord became as clearly perceptible to me as if I had seen and heard Him with my bodily senses. Then I addressed my prayer to Him: "Oh Lord, make me a saint. Keep my heart always pure, for You alone." Then it seemed that in the depths of my heart, our dear Lord distinctly spoke these words to me: "The grace granted to you this day will remain living in your soul, producing fruits of eternal life." I felt as though transformed in God. -From "Fatima in Lucia's Own Words" - Sr. Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart

Homily - Two Types of Trust, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily - Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C
Jer 17:5-8; 1Cor15:12,16-20;Lk6:17,20-26

1) There is a huge contrast in today’s readings. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah describes the contrast as essentially one of trust. On the one hand, there are “those who trust in human beings and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord.” On the other there are those who “trust in the Lord.” Those who trust in men live, he says, like a “shrub in the desert… parched… a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.” Those who trust in the Lord, in contrast, are “like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when the heat comes: its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

2) This insight is crucial for us to understand why Jesus says what he says in the Gospel in his famous Sermon on the Plain. All the beatitudes and woes he describes have to do with whether a condition fosters trust in God or trust in men, material possessions, whether the condition makes us turn toward the Lord or “away from the Lord.”

a. On the subject of money, Jesus says “blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours” and “woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” The point he’s making is those who are rich often place their faith, hope and security in money and the things money can buy. Those who are poor often have no one or nothing to turn to but God. In terms of what really matters, their poverty turns out to be a blessing because it helps them to place their treasure in God and stretch out their roots to his eternal stream.

b. On the subject of food, Jesus says “Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied” and “woe to you who are now full, for you will be hungry.” It’s those who are really hungry who mean the prayer “give us today our daily bread,” who learn to hunger and trust in God’s fatherly care. Those who are full, who have no food worries, can often begin to take its presence for granted, can stop saying thanks to God for the food. One state helps to bring one closer to God; the other can often help to turn one’s “heart away from the Lord.” In the final analysis, Jesus says one is clearly better for us.

c. With respect to human emotions, Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh” and “woe to you who laugh now for you will grieve and weep.” Those who are laughing now can begin to put their trust and happiness in their own wit or in a group of interesting and entertaining friends and experiences. They may experience human contentment and have their desire for eternal happiness lessened. Those who are weeping on the other hand, who are entrusting their pains, sorrows and intercessions to God, are those who will have the time of their eternal lives.

d. The greatest contrast is in terms of how others treat us and think about us. Jesus says “Woe to you when all speak well of you” and “blessed are you when people hate you, exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.” He says that the false prophets, the spiritual terrorists and great villains of history, were similarly praised in their lifetime but ended up facing judgment; the real heroes of eternity, the true prophets — and we can add Jesus himself, his apostles and so many saints — were hated, denounced and even killed. They all lived a life, however, of total dependence on God, who trusted in him even and especially when it was hard, and now are rejoicing and leaping for joy forever.

3) Jesus’ logic and focus are very clear. In terms of what’s most important, worldly blessings like riches, food, laughter and praise can be spiritual woes and curses, and worldly woes like poverty, famine, tears and derision can become spiritual blessings It’s a sad truth that the more one is filled with human blessings, the easier it is to push God to the side, to think that one doesn’t need God. The real question each of us needs to face is whether our values, our logic, our focus are like Jesus’ or like the world’s. Many of us if given the chance to be humanly rich like Donald Trump or spiritually wealthy like a poor old holy widow would say, “Show me the money!” If given the choice between being the life of the party or someone who is mocked, misunderstood, or mistreated because of our fidelity to Christ, most of us would say “Party on!” If given the choice between eating filet mignon and lobster or fasting, most of us would respond saying “Pass the butter… and the Grey Poupon.” But like the three temptations Christ will undergo in two weeks, the devil often uses food, or riches, or the promise of power or popularity to draw us away from God. Today Jesus, just as Jeremiah did, describes for us a choice between two types of trust: a genuine trust in God or a trust in the good things of God that the devil can often easily manipulate to draw our hearts away from God.

4) This contrast between two types of trust is starkest in today’s second reading. St. Paul describes two types of people. Those who trust in the reality of the faith in the resurrection of Christ, or those who trust in their own philosophy. Many in Corinth were teaching that Jesus had not risen. The Greeks — like, unfortunately many people again today — didn’t believe in a resurrection of the body. They thought that after death the soul continued to live, but that the body was just a temporary prison from which death liberated the soul permanently. They clung to this Greek philosophical belief and said that bodily resurrection couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. St. Paul came and preached clearly that Christ rose from the dead and said that all of Christian faith was based on this belief. He said, “If Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” To bring St. Paul’s language up to 21st century terminology: if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then the last person to leave this Church today is the biggest fool, because our faith would crumble like a falling house of cards. Jesus Christ, simply put, PROMISED that he would rise on the third day. If he didn’t rise from the dead, then he was not God, then he was not even a good man, but in fact a liar. All of us who put our faith in him would be pitiable fools.

5) Today’s readings about trust focus ultimately on what faith in God really is and does. Faith is a trust in a person that leads to our trusting what the person says or does. To believe in Jesus Christ means to trust in what he taught and did and base our life on it. Our issue may not be the issue of the resurrection. It may be one of the controversial issues today on which so many in the world want to tell Jesus and the Church he founded that they’re wrong or out-of-touch: it may embryonic stem-cell-research, or the need to put God first on Sunday by coming to Mass, or to forgive our neighbor seventy-times-seven-times, or to confess our sins to a priest, or that we should become one flesh with another only after God has joined us in one flesh to that person through marriage, or that Jesus knew what he was doing when he ordained only men as priests, or that abortion is wrong in every circumstance, or that marriage is between one man and one woman until death. The list could go on. The question is, when confronted with one of these issues, do we trust Jesus enough to trust in what he taught or in what the Church he founded teaches, or do we trust in what Rosie O’Donnell thinks, or Bill O’Reilly opines, or whatever person who says what we like to hear declares? Do we trust in God and the Church he founded to proclaim his Gospel, or do we trust more in our own opinions and ideas?

6) At this Mass today, we have all the members of our Confirmation class who have been doing their pre-Confirmation retreat with me. We began the retreat focused on Jesus’ poll questions in Caesaria Philippi (Mt 16:13-16). The first question was “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The crowds responded with great comparisons: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets. All good and holy men. But fallible. Not divine. Then Jesus asked the twelve, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter arose and said, “You are the Messiah. The Son of the Living God.” Moved by God the Father, he confessed Christ to be not just the long-awaited Messiah, but God’s own son. Divine. This type of real faith showed its character about a year later when Jesus said in the synagogue of Capernaum that unless we gnaw on his flesh and drink his blood, we would have no life in us. Many of his disciples — I stress, disciples! — walked away shocked and scandalized, saying, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Then Jesus turned to the twelve and said, “Do you also wish to go away?” Peter stood up again and showed the same type of real faith, real trust in Christ. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:53-69). The teaching on how we would eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood made no more human sense to Peter and the apostles then it did to the disciples who had just abandoned the Lord. It would only make sense one year later, when Jesus would take bread and wine and turn it into his body and blood. But they trusted in Jesus, and therefore trusted in what he said, even and especially when it was hard. They believed. That’s what it means to have faith in God. Peter and the apostles, like countless other saints throughout the centuries, trusted in the Lord and in his promises even when it meant that they would be poor and hungry, even when they would weep , even when they, on account of Christ, would be hated, persecuted and killed. But they were attached to the Vine; they stretched out their roots to his living water, and they were the ones who bore fruit thirty, sixty and a hundred fold, fruit that has endured (Jn 15:1-5; Jn 4:10; Mk 4:8).

7) Today at this Mass, along with our enthusiastic and much loved young people preparing for their confirmation, we’re presented with the choice between two paths. It’s the choice between putting our trust fully in Christ or placing it someplace else. We might think it’s a choice between poverty and wealth, between hunger and sumptuous foods, between laughter and tears, between friends and enemies. But that’s not what it’s really about. It’s really a choice between streams of living water or deserts, between fruitfulness or sterility, between beatitude and woe, between life and death. As we help our confirmation students to finish their retreat with an exclamation point, let us with them renew the vows of our baptism and of our confirmation, when we made a choice, a choice against Satan, his evil works and empty promises, and for God the Father, for God the Son, for God the Holy Spirit, for the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. This is our faith! This is the faith of the Church! How proud we are to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen!
Used with permission - Copyright Fr. Roger Landry
February 11, 2007

Family Bible Study - 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

Gospel Passage
Luke 6:17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great
crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea,
Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 20 Then he looked up at his
disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom
of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 “Blessed are you
when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame
you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,
for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did
to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received
your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did
to the false prophets.
Questions for Discussion:

1. Jesus says “blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude
you, revile you, and defame you” on my account, because “your reward is
great in heaven.” Has anyone ever treated you unkindly or teased you because you’re a
follower of Jesus?

2. Jesus says “Blessed are the poor,” not because it’s great to have no money,
but the poor are those who do not treasure earthly riches, but treasure God and His kingdom. Are you poor in this way?

3. Jesus says that those who are “hungry” are blessed, meaning those who are
“hungry” for holiness. How much do you hunger to be holy like Jesus? What do you do to try to answer to God and become holier?
used with permission - Fr. Roger Landry

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Homily - Living By The Church's Motto, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Is 6:1-8; 1Cor15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11

Living By The Church's Motto

1) At the beginning of the third Christian millennium, Pope John Paul II wrote a beautiful letter to the members of the Church throughout the world, charting the Church’s path for the 21st century and beyond. In it he focused on an expression from the Gospel which he proposed as a motto for everything we do, everything we are, everything we’re called to be and to accomplish. In order to appreciate what he proposed, we might first pause to think what we would select if we had to choose a motto from the Gospel to inspire the whole Church. I occasionally ask younger people to answer this question. Many of them come up with some good candidates. Some say, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Others suggest, “Come, follow me!” But John Paul II, who knew Sacred Scripture intimately and was well aware of the challenges that confront the Church in our day, chose a passage from today’s Gospel, one that he repeated incessantly from the beginning of the millennium until the day he died: “Duc in altum!,” the Latin words for Christ’s command to Peter and his collaborators: “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch!” “Duc in altum!” John Paul II was convinced that these words aptly describe the Church’s situation and what needs to be her response. When we examine today’s Gospel more closely, we see why.

2) Early one morning, Jesus was at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, teaching. As more people began to awaken and come down to the shore, the crowd listening to Jesus grew. Jesus asked Simon to borrow his boat so that he might sit a little bit away from the shore to teach the crowds. With the wind coming over his shoulder as a natural amplifier, Jesus nourished the infamished crowd with his words. But it was no coincidence that Jesus was there that morning. It was no coincidence that he asked to borrow Simon’s boat. Jesus had come to do more than teach the crowd. He had come to catch a big fish. He had come to convert and call Simon.

3) After Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon Peter, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch!” Few statements could have sounded more ridiculous to a fisherman. Simon must have had to control himself from saying something unkind. He was a professional on the Sea of Galilee, and like all the other fishermen, he knew that fish were successfully caught in shallow water at night, not in deep water in broad daylight. It would be as if Jesus said today to a mechanic whose car had just broken down, “Put some antifreeze in the gas tank and turn the ignition.” It made no sense. Moreover, Peter was tired after a long night. He was frustrated that he had nothing to show for hours of hard work. He had just spent time cleaning all of his equipment, to put it away for the day. So in what was probably the nicest way he could, he replied, “Master, we have worked all night but have caught nothing.” He looked into Jesus’ eyes. But Jesus didn’t flinch. “No one had ever spoken like this one,” Peter might have been whispering to himself: “Is it possible that he might know something I don’t about fishing? Probably not, although how can I refuse what he asks for and embarrass him and embarrass myself in front of this entire crowd?” Peter conceded. “At your word, I will let down the nets.” They got into the boats and paddled far away from shore to the deep water. Probably many of those who had listened to Jesus were watching to see how the drama would unfold. We know what happened. Peter and his companions won the fisherman’s equivalent of the megabucks or the Super Bowl, catching so many fish that their nets were about to break and two boats were about to sink. Peter couldn’t help but think, however, that he was unworthy of such a gift from God. Rather than run to Jesus, hug him and thank him, he fell down at Jesus’ knees and begged, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” He was afraid of what this blessing to such a sinner might mean. Jesus spoke right to the heart of Peter, and said, “Do not be afraid!” Then he gave Peter his vocation: “From now on, you will be catching men!” When they had brought their boats to shore, Peter and Andrew, James and John, left everything behind — their boats, their nets, the treasure of fish they had just caught — and followed Jesus.

4) John Paul II proposed Jesus’ imperative “Put out into the deep water” as the motto for our life in the Church in this third millennium because so often we in the Church today can feel that we’re in Peter’s shoes. In many areas of life, but particularly in our discipleship, we can work so hard and seem to have so little to show for it. In our prayer life, we can sometimes think that we’re getting nothing out of it. With our call to spread the Gospel, we can sometimes strive diligently to share our faith with our husband or wife, or with our kids, or with our siblings and friends, or with our co-workers or fellow students — and believe that we’ve made no progress. With regard to the culture that surrounds us, it is not uncommon for people to become exasperated, not knowing even where to begin to help our society become more moral. To each of us in these situations, Jesus says, like he said to Peter, “Put out into the deep water.… Trust in me!” We might think that from a human point of view what Jesus asks us to do makes little or no sense, or would be a waste of time. We can think the odds seem so slim. Doesn’t Jesus say so many things, after all, that fly in the face of the common human way of looking at things: “Happy are the poor in spirit, … the pure of heart, …the peacemakers, … those who mourn, … who hunger for holiness, … who are persecuted.… Unless you pick up your Cross daily and follow me… Heaven rejoices more for one repentant sinner… unless you gnaw on my flesh and drink my blood, … the Son of Man will be handed over, scourged, mocked and crucified, but on the third day will rise…” But to each of these, like Peter, we’re called to say, “Lord, at your word, I will lower the nets,” leave behind the security of the shore and of human wisdom and put out into the deep trusting that all things are possible with God.

5) So the first reason John Paul II proposed “Duc in altum!” as our motto is because it points to a trust in the Lord’s words above every other factor, that even if we were to have all the professors in the world on one side, but Jesus on the other, we should trust Jesus. But that’s not the only reason the Pope selected it. In it, as well, we find very clearly spelled out what our Christian vocation and mission is in the midst of our time. The Lord Jesus calls each of us, as he called Peter and Andrew, James and John, to be a fisher of men, to go out to try to bring other fish into the salvation of Peter’s boat, the Church, in which Christ is still sitting and teaching. Being a fisher of men is not the job only of priests and bishops, or of nuns and catechists and Catholic school teachers, but each of us. It’s our mission as a Christian, flowing from our vocation. It’s not enough for us merely to pray each day. It’s not enough for us faithfully to live by Christ’s commandments and then mind our business. Christ calls us to love our neighbor and the greatest act of love we can do for our neighbor is to bring the neighbor to Christ and bring Christ to our neighbor. Just like in the Gospel, Peter, James, John and Andrew — the soon-to-be apostles — “called to their friends in the other boat to come and help them,” so the successors of St. Peter and the apostles are calling to us, their friends, to come to help them bring more and more fish into Peter’s boat, to share in the task of the new evangelization.

6) Many of us might think we’re unworthy for such a task, that the Lord couldn’t possibly be calling you or me. But the readings today are a very strong rejection of that line of thought. In the first reading, Isaiah was awed at God’s majesty and holiness, as he beheld in a vision seraphs singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah was well aware of his sinfulness and thought he was unfit to be in the presence of such holiness. “Woe is me! I’m lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.” But God fixed that problem, sending a seraph to cleanse his mouth, take away his guilt and blot out his sin so that he could use that mouth to spread God’s word. In the Gospel, faced with the Lord Jesus’ majesty in the working of the miracle, Peter exclaimed, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man,” but the Lord told him not to be afraid, because the Lord had come to the seashore precisely to call that sinner to himself and then to send him out to call other sinners to repentance. The story of St. Paul from the second reading is perhaps the most powerful. He used to hunt down, torture and kill Christians for a living. If anyone was unworthy to carry out the task of preaching the Good News, it was this man, who had tried to extinguish it. But the Lord met him on the road to Damascus and purified him so that he might be his chosen vessel to take the Gospel to the nations. St. Paul says today, “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.” He passed on to us as of primary importance the Gospel he himself received and even used his past sinfulness as a motivation: “I worked harder than any of them,” because he had been forgiven even more.

7) Faced with their callings, none of us has any room to hide. Today, as in the time of Isaiah, and Peter and Paul, the Lord says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” We’re called, like Isaiah, to say, “Here I am, Lord!” We cannot pass the buck to the person sitting next to us on the pew, or to the priest at the pulpit, or to Catholic school teachers or catechists. Each is us is called — without exception — to answer personally, “Send ME.” We’re called, like Peter, Andrew, James and John to leave behind whatever might keep us from the Lord and follow him, being sent out into the deep water of the world to fish for souls. We’re called, like St. Paul, to “work harder than any” of the rest in passing on to others as of first importance the Gospel we have received, because of the Lord’s great mercy, love and trust in calling us and sending us by our baptism and confirmation.

8) Today, at this Mass, Jesus has gotten into Peter’s boat, the Church, again. He has taught us, the crowds, from the pulpit. He knows how hard we’ve been working, but he tells us to trust in him as he sends us out again, when we least expect it, to where we least expect it. To strengthen us for this mission, he is about to feed us with his body and blood. What Isaiah witnessed in his vision is about to be fulfilled, when all the seraphim, cherubim and angels will surround this altar as we join in their unending hymn to the King, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. Heaven and Earth are full of your glory.” The Lord whom we’re about to receive is thrice holy and wants to make us holy so that he can send us out with the instructions — Duc in Altum! — to the seas of New Bedford and the whole world. The only fitting response is to make Isaiah’s words our own, “Here I am, Lord. Send me! At your word, I will lower the nets for a catch!”
used with permission - Copyright Fr. Roger Landry
February 4, 2007

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Family Bible Study - Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Passage
Luke 5:1 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the
crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at
the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their
nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to
put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the
boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep
water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have
worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the
nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were
beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and
help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But
when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me,
Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at
the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of
Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to
shore, they left everything and followed him.

Questions for discussion -

1. Simon was a fisherman and knew that you caught the most fish during
nighttime in shallow water. Jesus asked him to put his boat in deep water and in
the bright daylight. Even though Simon thought this was strange, Simon obeyed
and got a huge catch of fish. What does this Gospel teach you about trusting in God
even when what he asks us to do does not seem to make much sense?

2. Peter asked the Lord to depart from him because he was a sinner. Yet the
Lord was calling him to be one of his apostles. Why do you think Jesus would
call sinners to proclaim his Gospel of forgiveness of sins?

3. Jesus gave the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John the “mission” of
being “fishers of men,” to go “catch” people. You, too, have that same job. How can
you catch “fish” for Jesus? Who are the “fish” Jesus wants you to catch and bring to
used with permission - Fr. Roger Landry

Sunday Gospel Message - Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are called to be disciples, to sit at the feet of the
Master and to be taught and formed by Him. Then He sends
us out as apostles, to bring His word and love to others. We
are unworthy to be disciples and apostles, but the Lord still
calls us and makes us worthy. Isaiah said that he was a man
of unclean lips. Paul stated that he was not fit to be called an
apostle. Peter exclaimed that he was a sinful man. Despite
these admissions, the Lord called and sent them. “Send me.”
“By the grace of God I am what I am.” “At your command I
will lower the nets.” The Lord forms us, calls us, and sends
used with permission - Msgr. Bob Lawrence