These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions. (Mt 19:16-22)
When the cost of discipleship goes up, will we rise to the occasion? The saints have no problem. When they hear the gospel, they know it is addressed to them. Because that is the invitation that comes to us all, “Come, follow me.”
God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One.” (Rev 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab)
The image of the woman with child, clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of 12 stars, has always captured the imagination of the church. Our response to these great signs is to join with Mary in singing the praises of the Lord: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, and holy is his Name.”
Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem,
and addressed them, saying:
“Fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely.
Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt,
and serve the LORD.
If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Jos 24:14-29)
Sometimes we have to decide, like Joshua and his family: “We will serve the LORD.” Maximilian Kolbe also made a decision to take the place of someone condemned to death during the atrocities of the Holocaust of World War II. He gave his life for Christ. The following link is to the reading of the first chapter of the book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (2006). The remainder of the book may be found on YouTube. https://youtu.be/jsECnhhO3xw
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 136)
R. His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures forever;
Give thanks to the LORD of lords, for his mercy endures forever.
R. His mercy endures forever.
The Psalms teach us to sing God’s praises while recalling the great story of God’s salvation. The purpose of course is to remember so that we don’t forget.
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. (Mt 18:21-19:1)
The question about forgiveness is still with us today . . . because forgiving others is about the hardest thing we have to do. We usually measure out forgiveness and we’re often quite stingy at it. Perhaps the Cross teaches us why being generous in forgiving is important.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.” ( Mt 18:15-20)
The Real Presence refers to the sacramental presence of the Lord in the Eucharistic elements. But the Lord also promised to be present whenever we gather in his name. And how else could we describe this Presence than to say that he is truly, really in our midst as he promised? Today is the feast of Saint Clare, who heard the Lord calling her through the preaching of Saint Francis of Assisi. Today in Medellín, Colombia, we are celebrating the Feast of the Dedication of our Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. This year is the 90th anniversary of its dedication. Today's picture is of the interior of the Metropolitana, as it's called.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (Jn 12:24-26)
As the arch-deacon of the Church of Rome, Lawrence would have been the next pope after Saint Sixtus. But when Sixtus and the other six deacons were martyred, Lawrence was arrested. Knowing that the deacons were in charge of the charity of the church, the magistrate ordered Lawrence to bring in the treasure of the church. Lawrence asked for a few days to accomplish the task . . . and after having given everything to the poor, he brought some of them in to the court and declared, “Here is the treasure of the church.” For his impudence, Lawrence was roasted alive. In church art, Lawrence is usually pictured with a gridiron. His story still lives on in the church.