January 29, 2023 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend at Mass, we hear the Gospel passage of the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12a.
One of my favorite beatitudes is “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”
One day in seminary, I was taught that the word “purity” in Matthew 5 is better translated as “without mixture” according to the Semitic mindset. The pure of heart ones, therefore, are those who live “single-heartedly” and, that is, without mixture of motives and intentions in their hearts.
Sometimes, it so happens that someone says one thing, while you can tell their heart is somewhere else; God placed in us the capacity to perceive duplicity in ours or someone else’s words and actions. The Lord uses such awareness on our part, however, to call us to ‘purity of heart’ so that “all may be one” (cf. John 17:21), as was his wish for all those who would come to believe in him.
God is one and simple. Therefore, those who live simply and singleheartedly can see God and find him in all things and people.
The Lord Jesus taught us a way to purify our motives and intentions and thus grow in purity of heart when He said, “let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no’” (cf. Matthew 5:37).
May Jesus help us reach the places where He calls us.
January 22, 2023 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
“In the deserts of the heart Let the healing fountain start, In the prison of his days Teach the free man how to praise.”
W.H. Auden, In Memory of W.B. Yeats
Having celebrated Christmas and New Year, we return to these Ordered days in time, already anticipating the feast of Easter on April 9. But our Gospel this Sunday points out that we have some work to do: the repentance John the Baptist called us to and the call to more fully enter the mission of Jesus, similar to the call Jesus gave as he chose our ancestors in the faith to follow him.
Repentance and call to mission! In the desert of the world, we are to bring healing, life, joy and hope! It is tough. We live in hard times. But the only answer is personal repentance and a commitment to be like Jesus in all things: Kindness, kindness, kindness in all that we do.
Let’s pray for each other, that we will never let pass an opportunity to bring Jesus to the world, to the praise and Glory of God!
Sincerely, with love,
January 15, 2023 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
After the holidays, we are back to our daily routines and schedules, and we are faced with the gift of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time is also a time to let Jesus draw close to us.
In the Gospel for this weekend (John 1: 29-34,) Jesus goes to John the Baptist, asking to be baptized by him. Now, John the Baptist’s baptism was known to be a ‘baptism of repentance.’ Asking to receive John’s baptism was the same as confessing publicly, “I have done evil, but I want to repent.” One can imagine people walking by the Jordan river, paying attention to who was in line to be baptized by John and saying, “Oh, look at Stephen and Lucy, they are in line… I wonder why they are there and what they have done! I am not inviting them over for dinner anymore, lest I be considered a friend of sinners!”
Now, why would Jesus ask for John’s baptism? Not because he was a sinner, but because he wanted to become close to the sinner, the wounded and the weak. It must have taken people a lot of courage also to admit that they had sinned and to wait in that line for their turn to be baptized by John. Jesus must have admired their courage and, not caring what people would think or say about him, he too joined the line and made conversation with those around him. He wanted to be close to them, to tell them that he loved them and that he was willing to go through any baptism, shame or pain to prove it.
This weekend, we learn that the Lord Jesus also wants to join whatever line we are in today to converse with us and to let us know that he loves us. He does not mind being seen in this or that specific line, speaking with you and me. Jesus is showing us this much love, however, patiently waiting for our free response, hoping that we will say yes to his friendship.
Ordinary Time (and every time) is an opportunity to let Jesus draw close to us, inviting us into a personal relationship with him. My prayer is that we all may say yes to such a good friend, or at least that we may say yes to conversing with him while we wait in line.
January 8, 2023 – The Epiphany of the Lord
“ There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice. ”
(St. John Paul II)
As we celebrate the Epiphany when the Magi encounter the Holy Family and have their lives changed forever, I wonder what it must have been like returning home, as the Scriptures say, by another way.
Perhaps we are being encouraged to see our lives in another way than what the world has been presenting us as the only way, a way of selfishness, ego, anger, envy, division, consumption, worry, addiction, abuse, loneliness and a host of other sad preoccupations and deadly sins.
Perhaps the Christ, the Word made flesh, helps us to see in the very limited flesh which we are, the unlimited possibility of self. Perhaps the New Year gives us a chance to put ourselves on the sweet regimen of love for others, and as the Christ Child grew to the fullness of a life in total love and service to others, a chance to glimpse eternity a step at a time, we too can find glimpses of eternal happiness in singular acts of unselfish love. Eternal happiness in a moment!
St. John Paul II gives us one more dose of encouragement:
“The person who does not decide to love forever will find it difficult to really love for even one day.”
And so let us begin!
Blessed days to you — love and happiness, now and forever
January 1, 2023 – The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Happy New Year! This weekend, we celebrate the beginning of a new calendar year. We bring before God the memories we have from the year 2022, and we entrust to the Lord the memories we will make in the new year 2023. We don’t know yet what these new memories will be like, but we ask God to be present in all of them just as he was present to us all in the warmth and also messiness of the manger in Bethlehem where he was born.
On January 1, we also celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Right from the get-go, we celebrate that God is and will always be on our side. God could have chosen many ways to come into this world, and yet he chose a human person, a woman, to become a human person himself and to live amongst us. God loves humanity to the extent of choosing one of us to have the crucial and indispensable role of being the Mother of God!
I am sure we have many projects for the new year, and all of them aim at the goal of every human heart: happiness. Meaning, fulfilment, eternity is what our souls are ultimately longing for, and God obtained all of that for his Mother already, as a sign and a promise that he is willing to give each of us the same glory, joy and happiness that Mary enjoys today.
“… my spirit rejoices in God my savior […] all generations will call me blessed. The Almighty has done great things for me…”
We begin this new year 2023 celebrating that God is on our side and wants to be ever closer to us to offer what our hearts are longing for.
Our pastor, Fr. Tim, all of our great staff and I here at the Family of Four would like to wish you a blessed, wonderful New Year to enjoy and celebrate with your family and loved ones.