God prepares us for his ministry…
The fourth Sunday reading reminds us that we are called to live out our faith. Through our baptism we received a call to be his ambassadors of Christ. The first reading from the book of Jeremiah tells his own story. God called the prophet from the womb and equipped him with courage to face the challenges. Jeremiah faced opposition in his ministry and people tried to kill him. We see a similar experience for Jesus in the Gospel reading. He faces the opposition in his hometown.
The meaning of the name Jeremiah is “The Lord will restore.” He served as priest and prophet during the dark time of Israel which led to the invasion of Judah by the King of Babylon and destruction of Jerusalem and Temple. According to tradition, Jeremiah took the Ark of the Covenant from the Jerusalem Temple and hid it in a cave on Mount Nebo, before Babilonian came and destroyed the Temple. Jeremiah and his ministry went through several significant and tragic events.
This Sunday Gospel from Luke is a continuation from last Sunday. Last Sunday we saw Jesus read from the Book of Isaiah 61:1-2 and gave the shortest sermon, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” This Sunday Gospel starts with this shortest sermon of Jesus. We all were amazed by his words and authenticity, at the same time there was opposition, and drove him out of town. They demanded arrogantly for the external sign. That point Jesus quotes from the Old Testament to tell them their lack of faith. He said, in the days of the prophet Elijah and Elisha, the Israelites were unfaithful that God gave his blessing to the gentiles. Elijah took care of a Gentile widow in Sidon (IKing 17:9), and Elisha healed a leper from Syria (2King 5:10-14). Jesus criticized their lack of faith.
The second reading from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians brings a core message for this Sunday. Paul talks about love. One of the well-known chapters in the New Testament. Paul emphasizes the significance of love (charity) as the greatest of all gifts. Any other gift exercised apart from charity is empty. Therefore charity must inspire every virtue. Look at Jesus he emptied himself, left his glory and came to be with us out of love. We see the culmination of love on the Cross. His love continues to touch us through Sacraments, especially through the Eucharist, so we can go out and continue the ministry he entrusted us through our baptism.
Survey: Thank you everyone who participated in the survey. We want to hear from everyone. I would encourage you to fill out the survey and ask you to print your name. Whatever your consideration for the future of our school building, you have the right to voice it out. But before you fill out the survey please have a moment of prayer and ask for guidance of the Holy Spirit. As I mentioned in the letter, we have two options: reopen the Catholic school or give it away to the building for $1. January 30 - February 5, we are celebrating Catholic School Week. Isn’t it a great thing if we could come with a plan for our school building. A good number of the desire to reopen the school, and are ready to make a commitment by sending children or financially supporting (over a million dollar) if we have a viable plan. It is a good start but not enough. There are people supporting the idea to give away the building for $ 1. Please fill out the survey and don’t forget to print your name and address. Thank you.
The Sunday of the Word of God
On September 30, 2019, on the Feast of St. Jerome, Pope Francis declared the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as Sunday of the Word of God. On this day he published an Apostolic Letter, Motu Proprio "Aperuit illis" which also marks the 1600 death anniversary of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin. St, Jerome said: "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ." The Sunday of the Word of God is dedicated to the celebration, study, and dissemination of the Word of God.
The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum was solemnly promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965. Pope Francis quote Dei Verbum, 21 in his Apostolic Letter, “Aperuit illis,” “the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she has venerated the Lord’s body, in that she never ceases, above all in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the word of God and the body of Christ.”
Pope Francis says in his Apostolic Letter that regular reading of sacred Scripture and the celebration of the Eucharist makes us realize that we are a single people who make a pilgrimage through history, in the presence of God who speaks to us and nourishes us.
The reading for this weekend is about the importance and power of the Word of God. In the first reading from the book Nehemiah, Ezra reads the Book of the law of God. the great covenant renewal after the exile on the Feast of the Tabernacles after completion of the walls. King Cyrus of Persia liberated Israelites, who were in Babylonian exile for seventy years. They rebuilt the ruined Temple (Ezra 6:15-17), finished rebuilding the walls under Ezra, their spiritual leader and Nehemiah, their Governor. Ezra came to the Water Gate and proclaimed the Word of God and led the people in the covenant renewal. Then gave instruction to the people.
In the Gospel, Jesus proclaimed God's Word in the Synagogue. The passage Jesus received to read was from the Book Isaiah 61:1-2. This passage was widely discussed among the Jews because it was the prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah. They were expecting a powerful leader to liberate them from Romans. Christ instead offers them liberation from sin and death. He read, Good News to the poor; to prisoners, freedom; to the sorrowful heart, joy. After reading this passage, Christ, the anointed one of God, said, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” This sermon inaugurates the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection are the fulfillment of the scripture. We see in Gospel of Luke chapter 25, Jesus walks with the two disciples after his resurrection and explains the scripture. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures” (25:27).
Through our Baptism we are called to continue Jesus ministry: bringing the Good News; freedom; joy to the people around us. May the Lord nourish us through his Word and the Body and Blood of Christ and send us out to proclaim the Good News.
Survey: You might have received a letter and survey to remind you that we need to hear from everyone to make the best decision for our school building. Please respond before February 3rd. Thank you!
Christmas season is over and we are in Ordinary season. Last two weekends we celebrated Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord: God the Fathers revealed his son, Jesus, the Messiah. This weekend we see Jesus at the wedding of Cana. The Church sees it as another epiphany because Jesus first revealed his divinity to his disciples. In the book of Deuteronomy 11:3 and 29:3 we see Israelites recalling the signs and favors God has done in Egypt. God revealed to his people in different stages. Pope St. John Paul II gave us a beautiful gift when he introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. The second mystery is the subject of today’s Gospel, the Wedding Feast at Cana where Jesus changed water into wine. The miracle at Cana is the first of seven “signs” in John’s Gospel - miraculous events by which Jesus showed forth his Divinity.
Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the Covenant relationship between God and His chosen people. God is the faithful Groom and humanity is His beloved bride. The first reading and Gospel we have the same theme: marriage. God is like a bridegroom who rejoices in his bride. Israel is God's bride. In the first reading the prophet addresses Zion, announcing the reversal of her fortune, and visualizes it as a wedding between God and Jerusalem. The Prophet tells them that God is faithful and beyond their infidelities, he is always with them. Jesus takes up the theme of divine marriage. He begins his public ministry by calling himself "the bridegroom." And in today's Gospel, Jesus the divine bridegroom attends a human wedding feast. He performs his first miracle on behalf of a young bride and groom.
The presence of the Lord at this marriage feast has resulted in our associating Cana with Catholic marriage. But this miracle is more about the sacrament of the Eucharist than marriage. The first sign, Cana, points to the Final Sign in the Gospel of John, the crucifixion when Jesus is raised upon the Cross. First of all, today’s Gospel passage points to the extraordinary transformation of the world begun at Cana. At Cana Jesus turns water into wine, at the Last Supper, Jesus turns the wine into His Blood. And on Good Friday the completion is at Calvary. Every reception of the Eucharist is a union with the crucified Savior whose blood has defeated the power of evil and transformed our world. Mary’s instruction is very important, "Do whatever he tells you."
Jesus teaches us in the changing of water into wine about sacrifice. This miracle or sign was the beginning, but the culmination was on the Cross. Those who are preparing for marriage, the Church invites them to do preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage, prepare for the Real Presence of the Lord in their marriage uniting His love to their love for each other. The wedding at Cana teaches to love as he loved us, the sacrificial love. In the marriage it lived beautifully when the husband put the needs of his wife before himself and vice versa. When parents put the needs of their children before their needs. Every one of us is called to live out sacrificial love in our daily life.
The miracle at Cana invites us to become Jesus and Mary. The question is how? Let us look at tragedies around our lives. Most of the time we wonder where we are heading, and try to find an answer. Mary at Cana invites us to perform another miracle by giving a helping hand through our thoughts, prayers, and action. Jesus breaks and shares with us at every Mass and we send out to do the same. When our hearts move towards the needy, a miracle happens, this celebration becomes meaningful…the celebration will continue in our life. Mary told Jesus, “they have no wine”…. a thought for the other!
The Baptism of the Lord!
Last weekend we celebrated Epiphany, the revelation of the Lord. This weekend we celebrate that God the Father reveals his Son at the Baptism. We can see a beautiful painting in the Gospel: the Baptism of the Lord. We can see here all three persons of God were present. Jesus Christ, the second person of God, standing at the Jordan River. We hear the voice of the Father from heaven and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.
Last weekend I mentioned at my homily, God revealed his identity in different stages. First, prophecy of the prophets. Then an intimate revelation to Mary and Joseph to bring Jesus to this world. When Jesus was born, shepherds and magi received the revelation and they came in adoration. Late John the Baptist received the revelation and we see in the Gospel for today, and he prepared the way for the Lord. He proclaims about the mightier one. Finally the disciples witnessed the fulfillment of the revelation and passed it on to us.
In the first reading prophet Isaiah made a prophecy that the return of the Israelites to their homeland. The prophet reminds them to turn away from their sin and prepare the way for the Lord for a grand procession from Babylon to Jerusalem. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy took place in John the Baptist. On the second Sunday of Advent we read from the Gospel of Mark 3:1-8, John the Baptist’s invitation to prepare the way for the Lord. This weekend, for the Baptism of the Lord, we read from the Gospel of Luke, John the Baptist to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord through the baptism of repentance. At Jesus’ baptism he was praying and the heaven opened and confirmed his divinity and revealed the three persons of the Trinity.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord concludes Christmas and begins the meditation on the ministry of Jesus. Why baptism for Jesus? God’s love was so generous to humble him for us. The Son of God humbled Himself to such a degree that He was born in a manger. He humbled Himself accepting the baptism of John even though He was sinless. When Jesus was baptized, a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased." The same thing happened to us on the day we were baptized. At that moment God said to us, “you are my beloved son/daughter.”
On the day of our baptism, as in St. Pope John Paul II’s writings, "We were anointed with the oil of catechumens, the sign of Christ's gentle strength, to fight against evil. Blessed water was poured over us, an effective sign of interior purification through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We were then anointed with chrism to show that we were thus consecrated in the image of Jesus, the Father's Anointed One. The candle lighted from the paschal candle was a symbol of the light of faith which our parents and godparents must have continually safeguarded and nourished with the life-giving grace of the Spirit." The baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity. It reminds us of our mission, the mission of the Church.
St. Anthony Catholic School Survey: Thank you to all those who filled out the survey. If you didn’t fill out one please fill out as soon as possible. Whatever your answer is, we would like to hear from you. You can do it online or this past week we celebrated two great saints: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann, who started the Catholic School and parochial school system. I would like to invite you all to join me to ask for their intercession.