Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints which allows us to experience the joy of being part of the great family of God’s friends. The liturgy again presents the expression full of surprise of the Apostle John: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).
Yes, to be saints means to realize fully what we already are insofar as raised in Christ Jesus to the dignity of adopted sons and daughters of God. He who believes in Christ, the Son of God, is reborn. This mystery is enacted in the sacrament of baptism, through which Mother Church gives birth to “saints.”READ MORE
With less than two weeks to the General Election, the scripture readings this weekend are very timely. The readings capture the essence of Catholic Social Teaching: to respect human dignity, to care for the poor and vulnerable, and to maintain social justice for all. In the Gospel, Jesus talks about three levels of love we have for God and one another. In the first reading, God gives us a practical example of how we can demonstrate these levels of love for our neighbors by loving and showing compassion for the poor, the immigrant, and all vulnerable people in society. The reading identifies the most vulnerable people in the Old Testament as the immigrants, the poor and the widows. In our own time, the most vulnerables in our society are the infants in the womb, the elderly, the homeless, the poor and the immigrants.READ MORE
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). This Bible quotation from our Gospel reading today is a popular one among politicians. This is because many people consider it as the origin of the idea of separation of Church and State. Surprisingly, many people use this term of separation of Church and State loosely when, in fact, they are actually referring to separation of religion and State. There is a big difference between the two. Many people confuse this to mean that religious leaders have no right to condemn unjust civil laws and practices, or the right to request the government to address injustice in the society. Many people who argue on this do not even bother to check and see what the Constitution of the United States actually says. Here is the actual quote from the Constitution:READ MORE
There has been so much talk about the uniqueness and importance of the Presidential Election this year. What caught my attention is the projection about the impact of religious affiliation in the outcome of the election. The Catholic Church in particular has received more attention than any other religious group in recent times. Religious identity has always been the bedrock and a key factor that determines the core values and direction of any society and culture. Thus, a society either leans toward religious and moral values or is secularized and embraces moral relativism. Looking around the world, we see how the dynamic of religion versus secularism is playing out in different societies.
A recent study conducted by Gallup shows that the percentage of Americans who reported belonging to a church, synagogue or mosque or any religion is at an all-time low. The study further indicated that church attendance has dropped more among Catholics than among Protestants. It is no longer news that the largest “denomination” in the United States today are the “NONE,” that is, those who do not affiliate with any religious denomination at all.READ MORE
The parable of tenants in the Gospel today tells us of God’s patience and justice. It also invites us to reflect on our responsibility to accomplish the mission God entrusted to us in life and the consequences of failing to do God’s WILL. We are told the landowner was patient with the tenants and forgave them several times. However, rather than appreciating this virtue, the tenants took advantage of the owner’s patience. In the end, his judgment and justice prevailed on the tenants.
This passage reminds us that we must all face the consequences of our choices in life at the end time. This parable raises a number of questions for us. We ask ourselves, “How patient am I with other people and even with myself? Do I take God’s mercy and love for granted? Do I ignore or underrate God?” We learn from this story that God gives everyone enough time to accomplish our mission in life. His patience with us is boundless and God is always ready to give us another chance to repent and amend our lives. We must all render an account to God on how well we lived our life and face the consequence of all our actions in life at the end of time. Let us strive to seek the will of God, trusting in his love and mercy, and unlike the tenants, be mindful of his generous blessings.READ MORE
The Catholic radio station, Relevant Radio 1310AM, used to have a program called, Cradle vs Convert. That is, people who were born into Catholic families versus those who experienced a profound conversion into the faith. The Gospel reading today is a good illustration of these two groups of people in the Church. The parable also represents people who experience a sudden growth in their spiritual lives. Like the first son in this Gospel, there are many people who say Yes to God at their Baptism and grow up in the faith, but later abandon their relationship with God or do not take their faith seriously. The second son represents people who do not believe in God early on, but later experience a conversion of the heart and become faithful followers of Christ.READ MORE
The parable of the landowner and laborers in the Gospel today speaks loudly to us with the current unprecedented, high-rate of unemployment as a result of the pandemic. Not having a job or the ability to provide for family needs is one of the most challenging situations in which we can find ourselves. The scripture readings today are centered on the generosity of God and the depth of his love and mercy for us that is beyond our human comprehension. The landowner in the Gospel story represents God. He was not only generous enough to hire people to work in his vineyard, but he personally went out in search of workers and offered them job opportunities. This illustrates how God, in his generosity, sent his son to search for us and gave his life for us. Jesus invites us to serve God in his vineyard, the Church. It is not by our personal effort or merit that we belong to the Church. Everyone of us was invited by Jesus Christ into the vineyard at different times and in different ways.READ MORE
Congratulations to all of you on our performance in the Offertory Matching Opportunity! I am so excited to inform you that we exceeded our matching goal of $29,700 by 152%. The total new offertory increase donation is $45,231. This means that $29,700 of this amount will be matched, dollar for dollar, making a total of $74,931 increased donation to our parish within the months of July and August. The new increase in Offertory ($45,231) within July and August represents an average monthly increase of $23,000 in offertory and we expect this trend to continue. This is all from 172 of our parish families (84 new online givers and 88 increased givers) that participated in the matching appeal. The matching gift check from the donor will be mailed to us in the month of October. I understand that a few families participated right before the deadline on August 31st. I will give you more updates next week to include those new gifts.READ MORE
The Scripture Readings this weekend invite us to examine our prophetic roles as individuals and as a community; specifically, our responsibility in reconciliation and fraternal correction within our families and in the community. In the First and Second Readings, we are told the responsibility of correcting a member who strays away from the faith is not a choice, but an obligation placed on us by God. This is countercultural to our generation, o[ en characterized by the attitude of, “Who am I to judge?” The overall goal as explained in the Readings, is that we are not called to judge a member who strayed from God or condemn them, but rather help them heal and restore their relationship as a member of the Body of Christ.READ MORE
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus invites us to reflect on how we handle the challenge of pain and suffering in our lives. We are told that when Jesus informed his disciples of his impending passion and death, they were worried and afraid. Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him for looking forward to his passion. Peter was thinking in a worldly way when he saw suffering and crucifixion as something to be avoided at all costs.
Our Christian life is like two sides of a coin: the cross and the crown. Jesus reminds us today that we are not his true followers if we try to embrace only one side, the glorious side, and reject the other, the suffering side. “If any want to become my followers, he must deny himself, take up the cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)READ MORE
The Gospel reading this weekend focuses on the theme of “identity.” In particular, the identity of Jesus and the identity of the Church. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am, and who do you say that I am?” In applying this question to our lives, we need to ask ourselves, what have I learned from others about God, and what is my personal conviction about the identity of God and my relationship with him? This is very crucial because it is one thing to know about God, it is another thing to have a personal relationship with God. Every Christian is called to be an evangelist, to preach the Good News of the Gospel to others. The challenge is, we cannot preach effectively to others about God if we do not have a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. The disciples and early Christians did not have a complete Bible or organized theological doctrines like we do today. They evangelized by simply sharing stories of their personal experiences and encounters with Jesus Christ, and brought others closer to God by committing their whole life to him. This is what we are also invited to do today, to share with others our personal experiences and encounters with God.READ MORE
Our scripture readings during the Liturgy this weekend are very timely. They all address inclusivity and exclusivity, and specifically the issue of discrimination against foreigners. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah talks about how foreigners who believe in God are to be received. The reading ends with this final message, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” In the second reading, St. Paul addresses the problem of the division between the Jews and Gentiles, and in the Gospel we hear how Jesus granted the prayers of a foreign woman who refused to give up in spite of rejection.READ MORE
Several images are used in the first reading and Gospel today to describe how God can appear to people in need in unexpected ways under the least expected circumstances. God is always present, even in places we may not think to experience him. It takes faith and persistent prayers to discover his divine, hidden, presence. In our first reading, when God appeared to Prophet Elijah, he did not reveal himself out of thunder, lighting, fire or earthquake as expected. Rather, God appeared in a gentle breeze. Through all of the chaotic signs, Elijah remained patient and faithful, waiting for the Lord. His patience and persistent prayer pays off . After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound and the Lord passed by.READ MORE
The Gospel reading this weekend invites us to reflect on the reality of hunger in the world, especially with the current impact of the pandemic. Recent studies have shown that more than enough food is produced to feed the global population, yet more than 690 million people, that is one in nine, go to bed on an empty stomach every night, and an estimated 821.6 million people are considered undernourished or starving globally. WHO and UNICEF reported in 2019 that an estimated 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water and over half of the global population, or 4.2 billion people, lack safely managed sanitation services. Recent statistics indicate that after steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise globally. This is compounded even more by the current impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.READ MORE