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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Holy Trinity

Talking about the mystery of today’s Solemnity we have to have in our mind the fundamental truth: „God is God and I am not. I will never be able to understand God, because if I understand God I will be God.”

Tertullian, the theologian from the third century gives us a very interesting image of the Holy Trinity. He says: “Imagine high in the mountains a source, inaccessible and hidden high in the mountains. Nobody ever had seen it but we know that it exists because we see the streams, and the river coming out of this source. Finally the river finishes in the ocean. All three have the same nature, the source is the water, the river is the water and the ocean is the water. In the source we have the image of God the Father, in the river –which is revealing the source- we have the image of God the Son, and finally in the ocean -which comes from the source and the river- we have the image of God the Holy Spirit, the Ocean of God’s Love.

As we progress through the liturgical year we take in turn the wonderful sayings and miracles of Christ, we contemplate the great events of salvation, the birth of Christ, the Last Supper, his passion and death, his resurrection and ascension into heaven, the birth of the Church at Pentecost, the Eucharist on Corpus Christi.

But today we contemplate the greatest mystery of all, the Blessed Trinity, the source of all that was, is and is to come. Today we contemplate the inner mystery of God himself. And I use my words advisedly; we contemplate the mystery of God.

We contemplate —what else can we do in the face of God but contemplate. To contemplate is to turn our gaze on him, to empty our hearts and minds of all other thoughts. In contemplation we become aware of his majesty, his glory, and wonder at his greatness and the extraordinary depth of his love.

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." Simple, isn't it? We learned that prayer when we first began to come to Church. Perhaps our parents helped us put our fingers in the holy water font and bless ourselves as we said it. It's the prayer with which we begin and end all our prayers. It's the prayer with which we begin and end the Eucharist as well. What a great reminder it is!

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always been in existence ... will always be in existence. It's a mystery that we cannot fully understand. Even though it cannot be fully understood, it can be lived and appreciated.

God is Father, the one who made all things and keeps them in existence. God created the world we live in and all the wonderful things we can enjoy. He created us and gave us dominion over the world. God calls us to take good care of the world as well, and pass it on in good shape to the generations that come after us. We can help God in his continuing work as well. We can respect the gift of our sexuality and be faithful to our vows. We can cooperate with God as he creates new life within us and charges us with the responsibility of raising our children as children of God. What a wonderful privilege. What a hard job!

God is Son. God love us so much that he gave us his son to reveal God's love for us. Jesus was the word of God made flesh. He lived the love of God for us and taught us to do so. He helped to open our minds to higher things and to accept our higher calling. He died and rose again that we might have life, forgiveness and the courage to live as God's children every day. We can receive Jesus, body, soul and divinity every time we go to Mass. We become what we eat, the very body of Christ here on earth. What greater love could God have for us than to give us his Son?

God is Spirit. The love of the Son for the Father and the Father for the Son was expressed in the Holy Spirit. That Spirit of God calls us to live as sisters and brothers to one another. We become one body in Christ and become indeed the body of Christ in the world we live in. The gifts of the Holy Spirit give us the courage and strength to do each day what we need to do as we strive to live as children of God. Those gifts are awesome indeed. If we cooperate with the Holy Spirit others will be amazed at the lives we live.

God as Trinity is too complicated for us to fully understand. It is described as a "mystery." Our minds are just not large enough to grasp it. But we can live that mystery each day, as we are thankful and responsible for creation, as we follow the example and light of Christ, as we draw upon God's strength to do good things in God's name.

This week we can reflect upon these truths and live as thankful children of God. We can open ourselves to receive God's gifts that we can build up the body of Christ. We can reject the kind of gossip and negative talk that can tear down others and weaken Christ body here on earth. Have a good week!

Rublev's Holy Trinity icon reveals the deepest meaning of the mystery of the church as the communion of life with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit around the Eucharistic table of love. The tree of Mamre by which the Lord appeared to Abraham and Sarah is in the background of the icon. It calls to mind the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden, and also the tree of the cross -- the ultimate revelation of divine self-giving love made present for us in the Eucharist. The icon reveals the highest ideal and challenge of human existence. We are called to reflect in the church, in our families, and in our world the communion of love, which is the true nature of God. This is the glory and the joy for which we are created.

A story has it that the fifth century Augustine of Hippo was taking his summer holiday along the North African seashore.

Walking along the water's edge on a delightful day, he was pondering the mystery of the Trinity. All this genius was getting for his efforts was a severe headache. Finally he thought he was coming close to breaking the code of the mystery. He was about to shout, "Eureka!"

Suddenly at his feet was a boy of five The bishop asked him what he was doing. The youngster replied, "I am pouring the whole ocean into this small hole." Augustine said, "That's nonsense. No one can do that." Unintimidated by the towering giant above him, the child replied, "Well, neither can you, Bishop Augustine, unravel the mystery of the Trinity." Then he disappeared.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Song For Karol

A moving tribute to Pope John Paul II by Mark Mallett with Raylene Scarrott.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pentecost Year “C”

As Catholics we begin every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the sign of the Cross “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

The central mystery of the Catholic faith is that God is a Trinity, three divine persons but one God. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, "God's plan for mankind is the common work of the three divine persons. 

For as the Trinity has only one and the same natures so too does it have only one and the same operation." 

The Catechism also tells us that "Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him" (see John 6: 44; Rom 8: 14). 

Today we celebrate the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and the Catholic Church was born.

Pentecost literally means "fifty days," and for Jews it was a harvest festival. For Catholics it comes fifty days after Christ's resurrection and is celebrated in thanksgiving for a new harvest of souls for God through Christ and His Church.

We believe in the Trinity—three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but one God. The Son became man by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary.

He was given the name Jesus. Because we have the Gospels, we know a great deal about Jesus and hence about the Second Person of the Trinity. Anyone of us can recognize the image of Jesus. We have more difficulty in recognizing the Father and the Holy Spirit, however.

They have not appeared to us as they are and so we cannot picture them. They are known only through their work, and so we use symbols to represent them. Perhaps the two most familiar symbols of the Holy Spirit are fire and a dove.

Fire represents warmth, light, enthusiasm and zeal, all associated with the work of the Holy Spirit. A dove represents purity, gentleness, peace and freedom, which are also associated with the Holy Spirit.

The ancient and beautiful hymn, Veni Creator, calls the Holy Spirit "the finger of God's right hand."

Yes, God keeps touch with us all through our lives through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God's power, wisdom and love envelop us.

When we profess our faith using the Nicene Creed we say: "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified."

This article of faith rests on Scripture and the constant teaching of the Church. It deserves our close attention.

The Holy Spirit, being the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, has always been active in the world, though knowledge of Him and His work was revealed only gradually. "A mighty wind swept over the waters" (Gen. 1:2) when God created the heavens and the earth.

The "wind" is understood to be "a spirit of God," or the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit was at work in the world long before Christ's incarnation, as He inspired the prophets to prepare for the coming of our Divine Saviour.

Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and at His bap­tism the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove. Our Lord was led to the desert by the Holy Spirit to confront Satan.

The Risen Lord tells the apostles, "Receive the Holy Spirit," and then the Lord gives them the power to forgive sins (John 20:23), and later He commands them to teach and baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).

We know the Holy Spirit accompanied our Lord as He taught and healed, but the Holy Spirit’s work became much more evident after our Lord's Ascension and the coming of the Spirit upon the apostles at Pentecost.

St. Peter appeals to the Holy Spirit at the election of St. Matthias (Acts 1:16) and St. Paul describes the Holy Spirit’s role in the Infant Church in his letters. He refers to His gifts, ministries and works in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 12:4f).

The Holy Spirit has worked with and through the Catholic Church throughout her history. His grace is conferred through the sacraments, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we have the books of the New Testament.

We know the Holy Spirit as our sanctifier. His work in our lives begins with baptism, when sanctifying grace is infused into our souls, and con­tinues throughout life as we grow in faith, hope and charity and are blessed with His gifts—wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that nothing in this world escapes God. Nothing happens without His fore­knowledge and permission.

 "Divine providence consists of the disposi­tions by which God guides all His creatures with wisdom and love to this ultimate end" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 321).

Yet people are special and God has chosen to deal with us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to us and for us. He works in, through and with us. This is under­standable.

We are the only creatures God made in His own image because we possess intelligence and free will.

With the Holy Spirit we get to know and understand God's will, set priorities and develop values in accord with his inspirations.

All of us have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, like all gifts these gifts can be rejected.

In the Acts of the Apostles we read about St. Stephen, thought to be a deacon and the first Christian martyr.

St. Stephen was brought before the Sanhe­drin and falsely accused. In his defense he turned to his enemies and said boldly, "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always opposing the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did before you" (Acts 7:51).

Whereupon he was stoned to death.

Let's remember St. Paul's injunction that if Christians who live in the spirit find another in sin, they should "gently set him right, each of you trying to avoid falling into temptation himself" (Gal 6:1).

St. Paul tells us that we have not only to carry our own responsibility but help carry the burdens of others.

Then he adds, "Make no mistake about it, no one makes a fool of God!  A man will reap only what he sows in the field of the flesh, he will reap a harvest of corruption; but if his seed ground is the spirit, he will reap everlasting life" (Gal 6: 7-8).

In the  sixth chapter of his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul said, "Let us not grow weary of doing good; if we do not relax our efforts in due time we shall reap our harvest." 

In his letter to the Ephesians he urges us, "At every opportunity pray in the Spirit, using prayers and petitions of every sort.  Pray constantly and attentively for all in the holy company" (Eph 6: 18).

We are Christians because we follow Christ. We are Catholics because we believe all that Christ taught.

We believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. When we say "believe," we acknowledge this to be a matter of faith and faith can­not be forced on anyone.

To believe requires goodwill and the grace of God. At the same time we know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:60.)

And so when the "rubber hits the road" in our lives, it is through the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have the courage to overcome temptations, to carry our crosses and remain loyal to Christ the King, to His Church and to the Holy Father, His Vicar on earth.

Deacon Bernie Ouellette

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ascension - 2010

Acts of the Apostles 1:1–11; Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:1923; Luke 24:46–53

No back-up plan

Jesus gave to his followers the task of completing his work by sharing the Good News with the rest of the world.

There’s an ancient legend about the ascension of Jesus into heaven. According to the legend, when Jesus reached heaven, his body still showed the wounds of his crucifixion. His hands and feet still bore the prints from the nails. His side bore the mark from the spear. His back bore the stripes from the whip, and his head bore the wounds from the thorns. When the people in heaven saw these marks, they fell on their knees before Jesus.

They were astounded to see how much he had suffered. Then the angel Gabriel rose up and said to Jesus:

“Lord, how greatly you suffered on earth! Do all the people on earth know and appreciate how much you went through for them and how much you love them?’’

Jesus replied: “Oh, no! Only a handful of people in Palestine know that. The rest haven’t even heard of me. They don’t know who I am. They don’t know how much I suffered, and how much I love them.’’

Gabriel was shocked to hear this. Then he said to Jesus: “How will all the rest of the people on earth ever learn about your suffering and your love?’’

Jesus said: “Just before I left, I told Peter, James, and John, and a few of their friends, to tell the rest of the world for me. “They’ll tell as many people as they can. Those people, in turn, will tell other people. In that way the whole world will eventually learn about my love for them.’’

Gabriel looked even more confused now. He knew how fickle people are. He knew how forgetful they are. He knew how prone to doubt they are. So he turned to Jesus and said: “But, Lord, what if Peter, James, and John grow tired or frustrated? What if they forget about you? What if they begin to have doubts about you? “And even if none of these things happen, what if the people they tell become frustrated? What if they forget? What if they begin to have doubts about you? “Didn’t you take these things into account? Don’t you have a back-up plan—just in case?’’

Jesus answered: “I did take all these things into account, but I decided against a back-up plan. This is the only plan I have. “I’m counting on Peter, James, and John not to let me down. I’m counting on the people they tell not to let me down.’’

Twenty centuries later, Jesus still has no other plan. He counted on Peter, James, and John, and they didn’t let him down. He counted on the people they told, and they didn’t let him down. And now Jesus counts on us.

The Feast of the Ascension is the commemoration of the elevation of Christ into heaven by His own power in presence of His disciples the fortieth day after His Resurrection. It is narrated in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Although the place of the Ascension is not distinctly stated, it would appear from the Acts that it was Mount Olivet. Since after the Ascension the disciples are described as returning to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, within a Sabbath day's journey. Tradition has consecrated this site as the Mount of Ascension and Christian piety has memorialized the event by erecting over the site a basilica. St. Helena built the first memorial, which was destroyed by the Persians in 614, rebuilt in the eighth century, to be destroyed again, but rebuilt a second time by the crusaders. This the Moslems also destroyed, leaving only the octagonal structure which encloses the stone said to bear the imprint of the feet of Christ, that is now used as an oratory.

Not only is the fact of the Ascension related in the passages of Scripture cited above, but it is also elsewhere predicted and spoken of as an established fact. Thus, in John 6:63, Christ asks the Jews: "If then you shall see the son of Man ascend up where He was before?" and 20:17, He says to Mary Magdalene: "Do not touch Me, for I am not yet ascended to My Father, but go to My brethren, and say to them: I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God." Again, in Ephesians 4:8-10, and in Timothy 3:16, the Ascension of Christ is spoken of as an accepted fact.

The language used by the Evangelists to describe the Ascension must be interpreted according to usage. To say that He was taken up or that He ascended, does not necessarily imply that they locate heaven directly above the earth; no more than the words "sitteth on the right hand of God" mean that this is His actual posture. In disappearing from their view "He was raised up and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9), and entering into glory He dwells with the Father in the honour and power denoted by the scripture phrase.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Priest Dies Saving 3 Drowning Youth
NUVEM, India, MAY 13, 2010 ( The Catholic community in the village of Nuvem is mourning a priest who died Sunday saving three youth from drowning in the rough sea.
Father Thomas Fernandes Remedios, 37, associate pastor of the Church of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, died of a heart attack after saving three young parishioners from drowning, the Fides agency reported.
The parish, in the seaside state of Goa, was having a day of fellowship and entertainment on the beach with a group of about 60 people, mostly youth.
In the afternoon, three adolescents between the ages of 17 and 19 -- two girls and a boy -- ventured into the sea despite being counseled otherwise.
When the waters became too much for them and they called for help, Father Fernandes swam after them and managed to save two immediately. After he had rescued the third, he suffered a fatal heart attack.
The local Church has pointed to the priest in this Year for Priests as an example and testimony. A statement affirmed that "he is a shepherd who gave his life for his flock."

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Great Shaking, Great Awakening

Great Awakening, Great Shaking from Mark Mallett on Vimeo.
6 Easter Sunday – 13.05. 2010 Mother's Day

Acts 15, 1-2. 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21, 10-14. 22-23; St. John 14,23-29

When Jesus says, in today's gospel, “Whoever loves me will keep my word,” he wishes to remind us that, though it is easy to say that we love Him, it is far more difficult to love others for his sake. A few lines further in the next chapter Jesus specifies more precisely: “If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. And this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15,10.12)

It is very easy to talk about love of God, it is not even very difficult to participate quite regularly in Sunday Masses, but it is much more difficult to keep God’s commandments in our daily lives. Maybe it is necessary to ask, first at all, a more basic question: “Do I know the commandments? How do I understand them? Did I not create my own easy understanding of the word of God?” In today's Catholicism we very often accept God, we profess His love towards us, but at the same time –contradictorily (or "in contradiction") - we reject His commandments or we create our own easy interpretation of them. In this way we create our own, private religion, or mild version of the moral law, and so, finally, we worship not God, but idols created by us, idols who are compassionate and kind enough not to ask too much from us, not to overdo requirements and restrictions especially those affecting our private lives.

It is very easy to talk about love of God, but it is much more difficult to love others (be it a wife, a husband, a fiancé, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a neighbor, companions at work) like Jesus loves them (á la manière de Jésus). When we talk about love, we very often think in terms of sexual love. Is this the same as what Jesus is commanding us in today’s Gospel?

In "My Fair Lady" Eliza Doolittle tells Professor Higgins, "Don't talk about love - show me!" This is the same idea we can find in the latest Encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI “Deus Caritas est”, but this love we have to show is certainly not the same as that of pop songs.

Once Francis of Assisi, chanced upon a woman who told him she did not love God. She had no intention of ever obeying Him, because God is too demanding. As he and she walked along together, they passed a man who was both blind and crippled. Francis asked him, "Were I to give you sight and enable you to walk, what would your response be?" As you might imagine, the man said eagerly, "I would both love you and be your servant forever." Il Poverello turned to the woman and quietly queried, "You just heard him. He would both love me and obey me. Why then do you not cherish and obey the Almighty who has so generously allowed you to both see as well as run if you choose?"

God does ask us the same question every day. "Why do you not both love and obey me? Consider all I have given you all your life." On the face of it, there is no one of us who can be offended by the question.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Did God Create Evil?

Did God create everything that exists? Does evil exist? Did God create evil?
A University professor at a well-known institution of higher learning challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists?

A student bravely replied, Yes he did!

God created everything?  The professor asked.

Yes sir, he certainly did, the student replied.

The professor answered, If God created everything; then God created evil.
And, since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works  define who we are, then we can assume God is evil.

The student became quiet and did not respond to the professor's hypothetical definition.
The professor, quite pleased with himself, boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, May I ask you a question, professor?

Of course, replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked,
Professor does cold exist?

What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?

The other students snickered at the young man's question. The young man
replied, In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 F) is the total absence of heat; and all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.

The student continued, Professor, does darkness exist?

The professor responded,
Of course it does.

The student replied, Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light.
Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact, we can useNewton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.

Finally the young man asked the professor, Sir, does evil exist?

Now uncertain, the professor responded,

Of course, as I have already said. We see it everyday. It is in the daily examples of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.

To this the student replied, Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light.

The professor sat down.

The young man's name -- Albert Einstein

A true story.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

5th Sunday of Easter “C”

There is an old Irish prayer – maybe you’ve heard it before.

May those who love, love us;
and those who don't love us, may God turn their hearts;
and if He doesn't turn their hearts,
may He turn their ankles,
so we'll know them by their limping.

This is surely not exactly the type of love that Jesus is talking about in today’s gospel is it?

In today’s Gospel Jesus gives us a new commandment.

All of God’s commandments can be summed up in that one commandment —the New Commandment of love. This one commandment contains all the law of the Church. This one commandment to love is in fact the one distinguishing characteristic of all Christians.

You see, anyone can bless themselves with the sign of the cross of Christ: anyone can answer 'Amen' ; anyone can sing Alleluia; anyone can be baptized, anyone can enter the church, anyone can build great basilicas. But the one thing that distinguishes the children of God from others is love.

Those who practise charity are born of God; those who do not practise charity are not born of God. Love is the most important sign, the most essential difference.

No matter what you have, if you do not have this one thing, everything else is useless;

If you have spent your whole life working for peace and feeding the poor, but you do not have love for others in your life then you have failed.

On the other hand if you lack everything in your life, and have nothing else but charity, then you have kept the law.

The words "even as I have loved you” give this new commandment a new content - a new meaning: It means that Christian love is measured not by one’s own heart but rather by the heart of Christ. (cf. Mt 5:43-48).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us His little children, telling us that shortly He will leave this world and become present to us in a new way after His Resurrection.

I give you a new commandment, replacing the old covenant, that you love one another as I have loved you.

That is the new covenant, loving one another just as Jesus loved and continues to love us by giving His life for us and being with us always in a new way.

“By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

You know, people will only accept our wit­nessing to Jesus' presence when they see us loving one another with Jesus' own love. Only then, are we credible witnesses.

We need not only be practicing Christians but also be seen to be Christian – for sure in our daily lives but most certainly in a way that people can see that we love one another. We must bear fruit where we are planted.

The story is told about a little fruit tree. Once upon a time a man planted a fruit tree in a forest. At first this little fruit tree felt lost in the midst of so many great trees.

The sight of all those mighty trees surrounding it made it feel insignificant. Those other trees were so tall, strong, and use­ful. While the little fruit tree was so small, so weak, and felt so useless.

So what did it do? It set about gaining a place and a standing for itself in the forest.
How hard it worked and how well it succeeded!

In time its head reared up into the sky so that it was able to hobnob with the tallest trees of the forest. Its branches spread outwards like a giant umbrella, claiming more and more space for the little fruit tree.

Its trunk grew stout and strong so that it was able to laugh at the storms which from time to time roared through the forest.

But then one day the man who planted it made an unexpected appear­ance in the forest. Looking at the tree, he said, 'my, how you've grown! You have the most wonderful branches I've ever seen. And your trunk - it’s like the outer walls of a castle.'

'But I still have many faults,' said the tree, pretending to be humble.

'Just look at all these hollows and knots. If only I could rid myself of them I'd look a whole lot better. But I'm working on them.'

'Those faults don’t bother me”, said the man. “In fact, I don't even see them as faults,' the man replied.

On hearing this the fruit tree began to glow with pride. But then the man added, 'However, there is one thing I'm not happy with.'

'Oh, so you're not happy with me,' the tree responded, suddenly be­coming defensive. 'I don't understand. You can see for yourself how I've prospered.

I can hold my own with the oaks and the elms. I thought you might be proud of me. I've worked so hard to secure the standing I now enjoy amongst the other trees.'

'I don't doubt for one minute that you've worked hard,' said the man.

'Well then, what more do you want from me? Said the fruit tree.'

'The one thing I hoped to find in you is missing,' the man replied. 'You've neglected the most important thing of all — the one thing necessary.'

'What's that?' asked the tree.

'Fruit,' said the man. 'You are not a pine or an oak or an elm. You are something far more precious and rare. You are a fruit tree.”

“I was depend­ing on you to provide wholesome fruit for the many famished little crea­tures who roam the forest. But you have failed to do so because you have forgotten what you are. You have become just another tree in the forest.'

The one thing Jesus has commanded us to do as Christians is to love one another. It is a new commandment only in the sense that it sets a new standard - 'as I have loved you'.

Often we Christians have gone after worldly success, and in many cases have achieved it. But in so doing we have forgotten the one thing Jesus expects from us - namely, love.

'By this all will know that you are my disciples.'

Love makes us instruments of God's providence in the lives of others. Our love becomes the channel through which they will experience the love of God.

An American journalist, watching Mother Teresa as she cared for a man with gangrene, remarked, 'I wouldn't do that for a million dol­lars.' Mother Teresa's reply: 'I wouldn't do it for a million dollars either. How­ever, I do it out of love for God.'

A doctor, who has been privileged to share the most profound mo­ments of people's lives, says that people facing death don't think about what degrees they have earned, or what positions they have held, or how much wealth they have accumulated.

That no longer matters. At the end, what really matters is who you loved and who loved you.

If we do not love one another than we are like the little fruit tree – a strong and proud tree that produced nothing. It might as well not have existed.

Those who choose love open themselves to the possibilities of a greater happiness than they have ever known. Love is well-being. It makes us fruitful. To refuse to love is to begin to die. To begin to love is to begin to live.

While faith makes all things possible, love makes all things easy. Love heals everyone — both those who receive it and those who give it.

”Love one another just as I have loved you.” No one said it was going to be easy.

Think about your family, think about your acquaintances. Think about that particular person perhaps even in this parish whom you would rather not see ever again.

Can you bring yourself to love that person – just as Christ has loved you?

Probably not on your own, but you can, with God’s grace, love that person just as Jesus has loved you.

Today’s gospel challenges us – are we like the little fruit tree in the forest – successful in everything but lacking in the one essential thing?

How do we live our lives? It’s easy to love those who love us in return and who are close to us.

But what about those among us who dislike us or whom we dislike? If we are to be His disciples then we are to love even those whom we dislike.

When people look at us – is it obvious to them that we are Disciples of Christ? Is our love for others obvious to them?

Do they know that we are Christians by our love?

A good example for us is St. Joseph. St. Joseph the Worker who is the patron saint of our Mission in Caroline and whose feast we are happy to celebrate today.

Saint Joseph was the foster father of Jesus and the husband of the Blessed Virgin, Mary.

St. Joseph loved his family. He loved them enough to give up his life for them.

St. Joseph didn’t have many possessions in life. He wasn’t rich by our standards – but he had the one thing that is often lacking in our lives.

He had Christian love. St. Joseph loved his wife and foster child just as God loved him.

Imagine having Jesus for a child and Mary for a wife.

St. Joseph accepted a life of celibacy so that he might feed, protect and venerate this living tabernacle, his wife Mary, the very Mother of God and also to care for and protect his foster child Jesus.

That was his role in life – that was the life that God had chosen for him and he accepted it willingly and lovingly. Foster Father of Jesus and husband of Mary.

St. Joseph gave his life just as many of our priests are asked to give their lives. God asks Priests to give their lives, lovingly and willingly, for the sake of the kingdom.
God asks them to give up their lives and be our spiritual Fathers.

If we all take St. Joseph as an example of Christ-like love then we can do no better in this life.

We know that St. Joseph was a Christian by his love.

That’s what God was asking of him and that is exactly what God asks of us – to love one another just as Christ loves us.

That is our challenge – that is what God is asking us to do. That is our role in this life.

How will we respond?

Deacon Bernie Ouellette