The Holy Family

12-26-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi, V.C.

This weekend, the Church presents us with the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as a role model for all Christian families. The scripture readings today give some practical examples of the roles children and parents have and how each can help create a holy family and home. We hear some key words that describe the nature between each relationship within the holy family such as love, respect and obedience. This goes beyond the interrelationships within the family...it also pertains to our relationship with God and others in society. The Gospel reading presents Joseph and Mary as being obedient to the Jewish tradition and God. Ordinarily, Mary has no physical reason to present herself for purification. A lamb is to be offered for the ritual sacrifice of atonement, but in the case of a poor couple, two turtledoves and two pigeons would do. The first child to be born is sacred and presented to the Lord, because that child opened the womb.

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

12-19-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, our scripture readings are focused on the “Temple of God.” Our First Reading today tells us the story of King David who wanted to build a Temple for the Lord in appreciation for God’s favor to him and his nation. We are told that God sent Prophet Nathan to tell David that his plan was rejected. Nathan explained to King David about the implication of his intention and why God rejected his plan. Ordinarily, King David’s plan to build a house for the Lord was a wonderful idea, however the motive behind his intention was that he was trying to reward God for his goodness and blessings towards him, which is a sin of pride. We learned from King David’s mistake that no matter how blessed and how grateful we are, no human being can reward God and God does not bless us in exchange for our loyalty to him or our good behaviors. God generously bestows his blessings upon us, unconditionally.

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Rejoice!

12-12-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

As we observe Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday this weekend, we may ask ourselves, “What is there to rejoice about in the midst of the pandemic?” In our Second Reading today, St. Paul reminds us to rejoice always in all circumstances. Even in the midst of the pandemic and other challenges, we have many reasons to rejoice this weekend and always. Our reasons to rejoice go beyond the need for physical health or protection from harm. It is the Joy of the Lord, the joy that the world cannot give us. In the First Reading, Prophet Isaiah describes his reasons for rejoicing in the Lord. We too can share with him in rejoicing that the spirit of the Lord is upon us, that the Lord has anointed us, that the Lord has entrusted us with the opportunity to announce the Good News, to heal the broken-hearted and to set the captives free. In the Gospel Reading today, John the Baptist also rejoices that he was given the honor of announcing the arrival of Jesus Christ. He saw the light of Jesus Christ, he testified to the Light, he pointed at the Light and in doing so, directed people to follow Christ.

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Announcement Sunday

12-05-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

If we were to give a nickname to the liturgy this weekend, it would be “Announcement Sunday.” This is because the First Reading and the Gospel are quite similar; both Isaiah and John the Baptist announce the need for preparation for the arrival of the Messiah. The First Reading from Prophet Isaiah begins with, “Comfort my people.” What a beautiful message! God gave the Prophet Isaiah the privilege to see the future events that preceded the arrival of the Messiah. He heard the voice of someone crying out in the desert, calling people to repent, preparing them for the coming of the Messiah.

His prophecy was clearly fulfilled more than 700 years later in the person of John the Baptist. As foretold, John the Baptist did not only call people to repentance in preparation for the coming of the Lord, he also had the honor of baptizing the people to wash away their sins in the River Jordan.

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The First Sunday of Advent

11-28-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

Welcome to the new Liturgical year (cycle B) and also the beginning of the Advent season! The season of Advent is a four week period of preparation and hopeful anticipation for the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day. The scripture readings within Advent generally focus on the Incarnation (Jesus coming as flesh for the world, fully God and fully human) and the second coming of Christ.

Our scripture readings today remind us to stay awake and alert. The parable Jesus gives in the Gospel forewarns us that his second coming will take many people by surprise. Our whole lifetime is given to us to prepare for a journey into eternity. If He comes and finds us ready and actively preparing through service to others and prayer, then we will join Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. However, if He comes and finds us spiritually asleep with the doors of our hearts firmly closed to Him, then we will face the consequence of rejecting Him, which is an eternal separation from God in hell.

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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

11-21-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

This weekend, as we come to the end of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to reflect on the kingship of Jesus Christ. Pope Pius XI established the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 as a declaration of the Christian belief that the reign of Christ must be felt, not only in our private lives of Christians, but also in the public domain. The Feast originated as an objection against the rise of modern secularism right after the First World War (1914 -1919). At that time, there was a rise in the ideology of the power of humanity to rule itself. This led to a cultural superiority and leadership struggle among powerful world leaders with Hitler proposing himself as the dominator of the known world and other leaders striving for dominance over the whole world. The Church introduced the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe to send a message to the world leaders that no individual person can have control over the whole world except Jesus Christ who has ultimate power over the universe.

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Reflection on the Readings

11-14-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

Our Scripture readings this weekend focus on the theme of “Spiritual investment.” The First Reading from the Book of Proverbs speaks of a virtuous wife that bears fruit in all things. She is very creative, using every opportunity presented to her to make her family a happy home.

In the Gospel, Jesus gives us a parable to illustrate how we can invest our talents spiritually. In this parable, we see that the man who went on a journey represents Jesus, who ascended to heaven after his resurrection. The servants represent you and me. The money symbolizes our God-given talents. In his absence, Jesus expects us to use our talents to build up his kingdom. The emphasis in this story is on the man with the least amount of money, or talents. He made no effort to trade with his talent for fear of losing it. He probably thought that he had so little in comparison to the others that he could be excused.

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Reflection on the Readings

11-07-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

Over the next three weeks, the readings will focus on “being prepared.” This is because we are approaching the end of the Liturgical Year A. The story of wedding preparation in the Gospel today may not make any sense to us in the Western Culture. However, the point of the story is not so much about the wedding ceremony itself but on the need to be prepared so the Lord will fi nd us ready when he comes.

Today’s second reading contains a reference to an event sometimes called “the rapture.” St. Paul explains that when the trumpet sounds, there will be two groups of Christians: “those who have fallen asleep” and “we who are alive.” St. Paul states that those who are living will have no advantage over those who have died. Jesus will raise the dead and then those who are le[ behind; that is, Christians still alive will be caught up in the air with them. We will meet Christ who will transform us along with those whose bodies now rest in the ground.

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Solemnity of All Saints

10-31-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

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.”

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Gospel Reflection

10-24-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

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.

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Gospel Reading

10-17-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

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:

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Reflections

10-10-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

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.

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Gospel Reflection

10-03-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. James Aboyi

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.

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