The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Penitential Rite:

Let us come before our God in humble prayer, let us acknowledge our sinfulness, and ask for God’s mercy ….

Lord Jesus, your hear the cry of the humble and the poor, Lord have mercy,
Christ Jesus, you alone justify the sinners, Christ have mercy,
Lord Jesus, you exalt those who humble themselves, Lord have mercy.

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Sirach 35:12-14; 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18; Luke 18:9-14

In today's Gospel we have the strange scene between a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee - and he clearly has evidence to prove it - is the "good" person. He carefully keeps the Law of the Jews and the Commandments of God. He faithfully observes the obligations of a good Jew: he prays, he fasts, and he gives alms.

And yet, God is not happy with him. Why? Because he is basically a totally self-centered person. He says, "I thank you, God, that I am not like others, especially this terrible tax collector..." What he really is saying is: "God, you should be deeply grateful that you have someone like me (and there are not many of us), someone who is so faithful in following your commands..."

When he prays, fasts, give alms, it is not because he loves God (or the poor) and wants to serve God. It is because he loves himself; he is the centre of his whole existence. Even God is on the fringe. God should be so happy to have such a rare example like him. Especially when so many are like the tax collector.

The tax collector in the parable in today’s Gospel suffered from the loneliness caused by his sins. He worked for Rome, collecting money from his own people. He was a thief, demanding from the Jews more than the Romans would demand he pay them. He used the Roman guards as his means of enforcing his arbitrary decisions. The tax collector had many things. He was rich. But he was alone. He had no friends other than other tax collectors, people as despicable as he was. His people hated him. His family hated him. He hated himself. Surely God must hate him. So he slipped into the Temple and sincerely sought God's forgiveness. And God heard the cries of this abandoned one.

Now the Pharisee comes to the Temple, not to cry out for help, but to remind God of his goodness. He fasts. He pays tithes. He reminds God that he is not like so many others who are grasping and crooked and adulterous. The Pharisee has no sense of dependence on God. He is so full of himself that he doesn't recognize his own emptiness. He does not have enough sense to ask God to help him be a better person. He thinks he has everything. He leaves the Temple with nothing.

The Pharisee sinned because he did not recognize his dependence on God. Paul in the second reading, the orphan and widow in the first reading, the tax collector in the parable, all have a sense of total abandonment. They recognized their need for God. They ask God to fill their emptiness. They are justified, raised up to God by his gratuitous mercy.

We come before God not because we are so good, but because we are so empty. We recognize how our sins have left us isolated in our worlds. We have lost close friends because we have not been able to control our tongues. We have destroyed relationships when we have allowed fantasy to be confused with reality. We have not loved as we could love because we have tried loving ourselves instead of others. As a result there are times that we don't even like ourselves. So we come before the Lord, alone, abandoned by some whom we love, perhaps abandoned by our own self esteem. And we ask the Lord to hear our cries.

It is incidental whether the Pharisee or the tax collector is the one who exalts himself to in the sight of God. In today’s culture, Jesus would probably have someone like the tax collector exalt himself and despise others in his prayer: “God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—do-gooders and church-going Pharisees. I may be greedy, dishonest, and adulterous, but I am grateful not to be a hypocrite like them.” The desire to exalt oneself can always find a reason—even one’s humility.

In other words, today we should turn the terms around to get at the original intention. The publicans of yesterday are the new Pharisees of today! Today the publican, the transgressor, says to God: "I thank you Lord, because I am not one of those believing Pharisees, hypocritical and intolerant, that worry about fasting, but in real life are worse than we are." Paradoxically, it seems as if there are those who pray like this: "I thank you, Lord, because I'm an atheist!"

Who says today: “I have no sins, I am sinless, and there is no sin at all. I don’t need God for my salvation, I will save myself. The confession is not for me, the recognizing of the sin is a kind of masochism and it’s psychologically unjustified”? Who is the Pharisee and who is a publican able to recognize his total dependence on God?

General Intercessions

Celebrant: The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds. With confidence that God is with us, we humbly bring him our needs.

Celebrant: Father, You always hear the prayers of the lowly.
Aware of our sins, we still trust you.
Grant all we need, and keep us faithful.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 17:8-13a; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8.

Mission Sunday

"Do we not perhaps lack the courage to speak out and witness as did those who witnessed the healing of the deaf-mute in the Decapolis? Our world needs this witness; above all, it is waiting for the common testimony of Christians”
Pope Benedict XVI
Our world is starving for witnesses, authentic and reliable messengers

Don’t our children need true faith formation? Should not the parents be, for their children, the witnesses of Christ? Are not our children being educated by television and computers rather than by their own parents? Why in catholic countries and in catholic families are so many children not yet baptized, not catechized, not educated in faith?
why do they know so little about Jesus Christ,
why do they ask: what is Holy Communion?
what does Confession mean?
what is the meaning of the Sign of the Cross?

Today is World Mission Sunday. The theme suggested for us this year by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith is "Go! Proclaim the Gospel!

What does that mean for us today? Perhaps we can find the beginning of that answer in the last line of today’s gospel: "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?

“The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin …”
(Ad Gentes n.2)

Since the whole Church is missionary, whole and everywhere, and the work of evangelization is a basic duty of all the People of God, we are also the missionaries in our own houses and families.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

28 Sunday in Ordinary Time - year C

Penitential Rite:

Lord Jesus, you show us the path of love and thankfulness: Lord, have mercy,
Christ Jesus, you invite us to share our goods with less fortunate: Christ, have mercy,
Lord Jesus, you teach us the ways of kindness and humility, Lord, have mercy.

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

FIRST READING - 2 Kings 5:14-17

Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean of his leprosy. Naaman returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before Elisha and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant." Elisha replied, "As the LORD lives whom I serve, I will not take it;" and despite Naaman's urging, he still refused. Naaman said: "If you will not accept, please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth, for I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except to the LORD."

SECOND READING - 2 Timothy 2:8-13

Beloved: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

GOSPEL Cycle C - Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."


How thankful we are? Gratitude and thankfulness …

Once upon a time there was a man who was struck down in his early thirties who was diagnosed with brain cancer. He had a wife and young children and a promising career. Suddenly all of that was swept away from him. He could barely talk or walk. He was in constant agony. His friends and his family, except for his wife and mother, avoided him. The doctors shook their head. It was too bad. He was a nice man and deserved longer life. But there was nothing they could. At last he went to a very famous doctor who offered to operate on him, even though everyone else said the tumor was inoperable. The doctor warned the patient and his wife that he could very well die during the operation, though he (the doctor) was pretty sure that he would survive and return to health. They decided that they should take the risk. After nine hours of surgery, the doctor came into the waiting room, grinned at the man’s wife and said, “Got it!” The man recovered and went on to a happy and successful life. Twenty years later the surgeon died. We should go to the wake, the patient’s wife said. I’d like to, her husband replied. But it’s on the weekend and I have an important golf tournament.


‘Isn’t it great?’
A number of years ago a Chicago high school student went to Nicaragua during his summer vacation to do volunteer work.
He accompanied a medical team to Wiwili, a tiny mountain village. Life in the village was primitive.

Most of the children had no clothes and were inadequately fed.
The houses, built right on the ground, were made from old lumber and banana leaves.
The medical team vaccinated the villagers against polio, measles, and DPT. Sometimes they had to turn children away because they had already gotten the disease.
The high school boy found this especially heartbreaking. He wrote:

“By the end of the first week of work, I started feeling sorry—even guilty— for the conditions these people lived in. I became homesick and depressed.
“One night I was sitting outside in the darkness. I was thinking about home, my girlfriend, and why I had volunteered. I asked myself why people had to live like this. Whose fault was it? Why did God permit it?
“Then I heard someone in the darkness.
It was José Santos, the schoolteacher and the father of the family that I lived with. He sat down next to me, tilted his chair back against the wall, and stared up at the sky. “After a minute, he broken the silence, saying,
‘Isn’t it great!’
“I questioned what he said, and he repeated, ‘Isn’t it great—all that God has given us!’ His eyes were still staring up at the sky. “I tilted my head and looked up. I hadn’t noticed that the sky was lit up with millions of stars. “It was spectacular. The two of us just sat there looking up at the stars. It was an experience I will never forget.

At that moment I felt great. Everything fell into place.
“Never before had I felt so thankful for all that God had given me. Never before had I felt so loved.

This poor man showed me, what is the most important in our lives and how to be thankful even if apparently I have nothing.

The word Eucharist means "to give thanks". I suppose to thank God for all He has done and is doing for me. I thank God for the prayers that have been answered the way I wish they would be answered, and for the prayers that have been answered in ways different than I have asked.

… but the Eucharist is on Sunday and I have so many other urgent things to be done …

Nowadays we are not able to say “thank you” to God, because we are deeply convinced that all we have is the effect of our efforts and labors. It seems to us that we own nothing and to nobody.

Prayer of the Faithful:

Introduction Lord Jesus Christ, you hear all our cries for mercy and reveal God’s saving power. With humble heart and faith we pray for the Church, for our families and for all those who are in burden ….

Lord God, you continue to perform mighty deeds on our behalf: may faith and gratitude be ever evident in our world as we strive to reach out to all in need for you are worthy of all thanks and praise trough Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen

Sunday, October 07, 2007

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, OCT. 5, 2007 ( ).- Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Increase Our Faith

This Sunday's Gospel begins with the apostles asking Jesus: "Increase our faith!"

Instead of satisfying their desire, Jesus seems to want to make it grow further. He says: "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed ..."

Without a doubt, faith is the dominant theme this Sunday. We hear about it also in the first reading, in the celebrated line of Habakkuk, taken up again by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans: "The just shall live by faith" (1:17).

Faith has a few different meanings. This time I would like to reflect on the more common and elementary understanding of faith: believing or not believing in God.

This is not the faith by which one decides whether one is Catholic or Protestant, Christian or Muslim, but the faith by which one decides whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever, believer or atheist. A Scripture text says: "Those who come to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). This is the first step of faith, without it, we cannot take the other steps.

To speak of faith in such a general way we cannot base ourselves only on the Bible since it only has validity for Christians and, in part, for Jews, but not for anyone else. It is fortunate for us that God wrote two "books": One is the Bible, the other is creation. The one is composed of letters and words, the other of things.

Not everyone knows or is able to read the book of Scripture; but everyone, from every place and culture, can read the book of creation. "The heavens tell of the glory of God and the firmament declares the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:2). Paul writes: "Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made" (Romans 1:20).

It is urgent that we show how unfounded the opinion is that says that science has already liquidated the problem and exhaustively explained the world without any need to invoke the idea of a reality beyond it called God. In a certain sense, today science brings us closer to faith in a creator than in the past.

Let us consider the famous theory that explains the origin of the universe with the "big bang," the great explosion at the beginning. In a billionth of a billionth of a second, we go from one situation in which there is not yet anything, neither space nor time, to a situation in which time has begun, space exists, and, in an infinitesimal particle of matter, there is already, in potency, the whole subsequent universe of billions of galaxies, as we know it today.

One could say: "There is no sense in asking about what there was before that instant, because there is no 'before,' when time does not exist."

But I say: "How can we not ask that question!"

"Trying to go back behind the history of the cosmos," it will be said, "is like going through the pages of a large book starting at the end. Once we arrive at the beginning we see that the first page is missing."

I believe biblical revelation has something to tell us precisely about this first page. Science cannot be asked to declare on this "first page," which is outside time, but neither must science close the circle, making everyone think that everything is resolved.

There is no pretense of "demonstrating" God's existence, in the common understanding of this term. Here below we see as through a mirror, says St. Paul.

When a ray of light enters into a room, it is not the ray of light itself that is seen, but the dance of the dust that receives and reveals the light. It is the same with God: We do not see him directly, but as in a reflection, in the dance of things. This explains why God is not reached without the "leap" of faith.