Welcome Friends!

A Catholic blog about faith, social issues, economics, culture, politics and poetry -- powered by Daily Mass & Rosary

If you like us, share us! Social media buttons are available at the end of each post.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Christ's Kingship is Perfect; Others Are Not

Let Jesus Be King of Your Lives!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Solemnity of Christ the King, 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov. 20, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen!

Today our Church celebrates the solemnity of Christ the King. Today’s celebration marks the end of the liturgical year, and is therefore a very good way to end the liturgical cycle because the very fact that Jesus is king of the world is the culmination of Biblical revelation.

Today, we are reminded that Jesus is the one and only king that we should honour with deep devotion. It is only through the kingship of Christ that we will arrive at the eternal kingdom that is to come.

We hear of many kings throughout the Bible. Ever since the beginning of salvation history God has sought out leaders and kings to rule the world according to His purpose. Yet, none of these kings were able to fulfil role of king as He desired for humanity. None could establish the perfect kingship God has planned for His creation. 

In today’s first reading (2Samuel 5:1-3), King David is anointed king of Israel. The Lord says of David,
"You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel." Although King David accomplished many things for God, he too was unable to fulfill God’s plan of eternal Kingship.

Therefore, God would send His Son into our world. Our Lord Jesus is not simply king of this earth, but He is king of the entire universe, and He is coming again to establish His Kingdom in its fullness. 
Fr John Paul Shea

My brothers and sisters, today’s celebration calls us to acknowledge the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

In today’s second reading (Colossians 1:12-20), Saint Paul teaches us that Jesus Christ is
“the image of the invisible God” and that through Him, God [delivers] us from the power of darkness and [leads] us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

Let us therefore keep our hearts focused on the power of Our Lord and His eternal kingship that is offered to each one of us who repents and lives our lives according to His plan of life! 

“in [our Lord Jesus] was created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together!”

My brothers and sisters, Our Lord Jesus is

king of the universe. He is the most perfect King. 

He has entered into our world to prepare us to live under a completely different rule than the kingdoms of this world today. Our Lord knows that the kingdoms of this current age are going to fail. He knows that this world as we know it is going to pass away. 

You may recall in the Gospel last Sunday that Our Lord spoke about the signs that would point to the end of the times in which we live today and when our Lord would come to establish His Kingdom on earth. Our Lord spoke about wars and insurrections. He said that
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." (Luke 21:10) Therefore our Lord reminds us that the kingdoms of this world today will never be in peace until His kingdom comes, and the closer we come to the end, the worse things will become.

We have had many kingdoms that have arisen and fallen since Our Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth. Yet, unlike any time, we now have a globalized world. We not only have nations that rise against nations, but we now have the technology to literally destroy nations. 

Our Blessed Mother warned us at Fatima 100 years ago that our societies are entering into difficult times. She told us that we need to pray and make sacrifices for the salvation of souls! She told us to pray the Holy Rosary! 

My brothers and sisters, we are living in a pivotal moment in human history. We do not know the immediate future, but what we do know for sure is that our Lord is coming again soon to establish His Kingship on earth, and the kingdoms of this world today will be broken down and humbled. Everything that is not of Our Lord’s kingdom will be done away with! 

Today our Church marks the end of the Year of Mercy. God is very merciful. Yet, we must keep to heart that our Lord is coming again to judge heaven and earth. Every thought and action of our lives will be brought into the eternal light and we will have to make recompense before our Lord! 

Therefore, what is most important for each one of us today is to keep our hearts focused on the kingdom that is to come. We need not to get too caught up in our world that we lose sight of the hope Our Lord has in store for us.

For this world is passing away!
Seek conversion. Repent of your sins and strive to sin no more because sin cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. If we want to live with and in Our Lord for all eternity then we must first be purified of all that is not of Our Lord’s Kingdom!

For if we think we can live a life that contradicts Our Lord and His Church then we are fooling ourselves and the devil will have the last laugh. 

As we come to receive our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, let us acknowledge Who it is we are receiving. We are receiving the King of the Universe into our bodies and our souls!

As we acknowledge Who it is we are receiving, let us allow Him alone to be King of our lives. For, He is the only King who will save us from the wrath that is to come upon this earth. He is the only one who will save us from eternal damnation. For His Kingdom will come, His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Lord Jesus help us to be faithful to You!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Jesus, Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai
Solemnity of Christ the King, 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov 20, 2016
St. John the Apostle Awasi Catholic Church, Kisumu Archdiocese, Kenya

To understand the significance of this solemnity, it is important to keep in mind the circumstances around which Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in the year 1925 AD. This is the time between World War I and II. 

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
Thumbing his nose at the Vatican, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini shed all pretence of democracy. He  clearly was consolidating a totalitarian fascist state. Nazi Germany was in its formative stages, and the wind of secularist nationalism -- that had no place for God -- was gathering all over the world. 

Nations were heavily arming themselves by developing sophisticated war machines, and it’s no wonder that these events degenerated into World War II. This is the war where even Africans were forced to get involved although they had no immediate interests in the war.

In this volatile situation, the Pope fired a shot of grace by reminding the whole world that
Pope Pius XI fired a shot of grace

He instituted the Solemnity of Christ the King
really only Christ is the King of the Universe. This was meant to be a sign of contradiction to the emerging political powers that had no regard for God nor for humanity.

Human beings have to constantly choose between ruling themselves and perish or allowing themselves to be ruled by God and live. In the first reading today (2 Samuel 5:1-3), the people of Israel make a covenant with David, whom the Lord had anointed saying, “I have found David my servant …. a man after my own heart.” 

Remember that the Lord anointed David after rejecting Saul as the leader of his people (1Sam13:9, 15:1-23). The Lord rejected Saul for two reasons. First, out of foolish anxiety and fear of the Philistines, Saul arrogated  to himself the office of prophet and priesthood, which the Lord had not given him. He did this by making a peace offering before the Lord. Only Samuel the Prophet was given the authority to make this sacrifice. Secondly, Saul got carried  away by greed and refused to put the spoils of war from Amalek under the ban as the Lord had commanded. In other words, Saul departed from depending on God in his political royalty and started depending on himself.

God therefore anoints David and establishes  him as a figure of the Kingship of Christ. We know that David is only a figure of Christ because prophet Nathan said to David that his dynasty shall endure forever (2Sam 7). But it is the prophet Isaiah who puts the record straight when says that “a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse." (Is 11:1-9) -- he will be king of Justice and Peace. In other words David became king of Israel and a figure of Christ because of his obedience to the Lord as opposed to Saul’s disobedience.

It is here that a stark difference between the kingdoms of this world and God’s Kingdom stand out. In the kingdoms of this world, men
follow their own designs, but in the kingdom of God, all the children submit themselves in obedience to God out of love. Christ is our first model of love and obedience to the Father. My brothers and sisters, this is the reason why in the Gospel today (Luke 23:35-43), Jesus is given to us as a crucified Messiah.

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And

"Jesus, remember me when you 
come into your kingdom."

indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  
(Luke 23: 39-43)

He is crucified out of love for the Father and love for those given to Him by the Father. He sacrifices himself for His people. While kings and rulers of this world can swiftly force physical submission by guns and tanks, Jesus conquers the heart with love. If guns and tanks do it swiftly and ruthlessly, love does it slowly and soothingly. Therefore the method of Christ may appear inefficient, unreliable and even a disillusionment. The  difference is that the former is short lived and the latter is everlasting. The kingdoms of this world may win one battle buts it's Christ who  wins the war.

People may feel ashamed of identifying themselves with a crucified Messiah, but that is exactly what Paul meant when he told the Corinthians (1Cor1:23) that “We preach Christ
Fr. Joe Mungai preaching to his people in Kenya 
crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks."
Again he says that to those being saved, the cross is an expression of the power of God. 

How do we know that Christ is winning? First, we know it because He is God. Secondly, we have 2000 years of history to look at. We have seen Jesus walk with and deliver His people from numerous clashes with the devil. All those earthly kingdoms that were so mighty  at the time of Pope Pius XI  were hell bent on exterminating the Catholic Church from the face of the earth. But she still stands, and they no longer exist. 

Dear brothers and sisters, it's up to you to chose with whom you want to align yourself.
"Today, you will be with me in Paradise."
Do you want to join those who look glorious today but will wither tomorrow, or do you want to identify yourself with the crucified Messiah
, and say, “I have no king but the Lord”?
Happy New Year ( Liturgical).

Friday, November 18, 2016

I AM the Light of the World; He Who Follows Me Does Not Walk in Darkness

The Theme of Light in the Gospel of John 

by Lawrence Fox
Author Lawrence Fox
"Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the Dawn from on high will break upon us, to shine on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."  (Luke 1:78-79)

Sacred Scripture often uses images from created nature and human relationships to explain who is God. In the Psalms and the Prophets, the Lord God is associated with the themes of Rock (Ps. 95), Light (Ps. 26), Shepherd of Israel (Ezek. 34:15), Israel’s Husband (Isaiah 54:5) and the Vine Dresser (Isa. 5:7)

In the Gospel according to John, Jesus Christ is associated with the theme of light no less than twenty-eight times. Usually when words and themes are repeated within Sacred Scripture, something important is happening. With the abundance of "light" associations in John's Gospel, the author is emphatically calling disciples “to see and understand” the significance of the Person of Jesus Christ. During this time of Advent waiting (starts Nov. 27, 2016), it is good to reflect on the Light of

Christ Who comes into the world and "shines on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death."

We will respond to John’s invitation to "see and understand" the theme of light and Christ's weighty words,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Scripture's use of "light" stands above the notion of simple metaphor or figure of speech. It instead literally reveals the Person of Christ Jesus within Whom dwells the fullness of Divinity. (Col. 2:9)

Light and Sacred Scripture

Scripture opens with the revelation of created light and closes with the revelation of un-created Light. Light 
Two bookends with "light" sabers
effectively acts as two book ends for the pages of the Written Word of God. Genesis opens with God saying,
"Let there be light.” (Gen. 1:3) This is the first reference to light in Sacred Scripture. God’s spoken light breaks upon a darkness that covers the surface of the deep while the earth was still empty and without form. This light precedes the creation of the stars, sun, moon, and an event identified within Sacred Scripture as the separation of light from darkness. The apostle John opens the 4th Gospel with a similar theme stating,
“In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:4)

The Eternal Word of God – through Whom and for Whom all things exists - became flesh so as to bring the life of light to men walking in the darkness of sin. God who dwells in unapproachable light becomes visible through the Incarnation of His Eternal Word. God was made man an dwelt among. The author John emphasises this truth by writing, “for the life was made visible, we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us.” (1 John 1:2) The apostle John demonstrates the literal meaning of those words by introducing the man named Nicodemus who visits and listens to Jesus’ words at night.

Teacher of Israel Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, visited Jesus under the cover of darkness. (John 3:1) Like a moth
Nicodemus visiting Jesus

attracted to the light shining in the dark, he is seeking to understand the nature of Jesus’ teaching. He fulfils in himself the promise made by God through the prophet Isaiah,
“Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” 

Later on in John’s Gospel, the Pharisees are recorded as saying to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him.” (John 12:19) This fulfilment begins with Nicodemus who comes so as to avoid being seen by his fellow council members. Jesus explains to Nicodemus that he must be born anew in order to enter the Kingdom of God. 

Nicodemus considers the words of Jesus solely on a natural level, prompting Jesus to reply,
“You are Israel’s teacher and do not understand these things?” Jesus is offering Nicodemus, who represents the dark spiritual condition of the shepherds of Israel in Jesus’ time, the hope of the long-awaited coming of the Kingdom of God. Ezekiel prophesied: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.” (Ezek. 36:25)

Without the Gift of Water and Spirit (John 3:5), a darkness remains within Israel which hounds Jesus all the way to Calvary. Nicodemus represents Israel’s natural search for God in law and temple sacrifice. Jesus is calling Jacob to a New and Everlasting Covenant where Israel worships the Father in Spirit and Truth within a temple not made by human hands. (Acts 7:48)

In Genesis, the Lord God said,
"Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day
from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years.” (Gen. 1:14) The descendants of Adam and Eve worshipped God within the cosmic temple by observing the presence of created light. 

The second bookend of Scripture manifests uncreated Light as the worship of God within the temple not made by human hands. John writes, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The City does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the Glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Rev. 21:22)

The Triune God who lives in unapproachable light (1Tim. 6:16) is gazed upon by the “pure of heart” now able to see God. (Matt. 5:8) How is this possible except by their abiding in the light and life of God in Jesus Christ? (Jesus of Nazareth - Holy Week p. 58) The
fact that Light is first and last in Holy Scripture reveals Jesus Christ is the “First and Last.” (Rev. 1:17) The theme of light is not simply a metaphor but a substantive revelation of Jesus Christ; one Divine Person, two natures — human (created) and divine (uncreated). The revelation of the Glory of God and the Lamb of God together as both light and lamp closes the pages of Sacred Scripture. 

In between these two book ends, the theme of light flows from the throne of God into the hearts of men and back again in the form of prayer, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 26) and again “Thy word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my paths.” (Ps. 118:105) In these prayers, the theme of light is associated with “life, truth, and way” which now brings this essay to the association of “Light and Life.”

Light and Life

John writes that “in Him was life and that life was the light of men.” (John 1: 4) On a natural level, sunlight enables plants to grow which then provides men with food, oxygen, and the raw materials necessary for constructing tools, shelters, and temples. This relationship between natural light and life from the sun and supernatural light and life from the Son is not a coincidence. The Catholic Catechism teaches, “God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.”(CCC art. 36) By the natural light of human reasoning, man is able to observe the “sign of nature” and in doing so ponders the mind of God. (Rom.1:19-21) 

Jesus marvelled at the peoples’ lack of faith, since they could read the signs of nature but could not read the signs of the times, namely,
the coming of the Kingdom. (Matt. 16:3) The Magi on the other hand observed the lights of created heaven and the lights found in their sacred writings as one divine revelation. The Magi, by being open to the natural light of reason, the light of faith, and the created light of the star, were able to find the light and life of the world dwelling as an Infant in Bethlehem. On the other hand, Herod — who knew neither the signs of the times nor the prophecies of Sacred Scripture (Matt. 2:4) -- only considered things that lead to darkness and the culture of death. He was unable to receive the Light of the world dwelling within the Infant Christ.

Natural light forms a powerful analogy showing man’s absolute dependence upon the supernatural Light of Christ. Jesus said:
“I am the light of the world; he that follows me, does not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Pope Benedict in his book titled, Jesus of Nazareth points out that the term life used here in John’s Gospel is not (bios) meaning material life but (Zoë) which means the life belonging to God. The use of the term Zoë supports a literal understanding of Jesus’ words, “I came into the world that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) We participate in Life to the fullest in God’s own Life. Such participation begins at Baptism (faith in Christ); and bears fruit in disciples who are “pure of heart.”

There is both theological and philosophical significance to the theme of light. Light is something; darkness is the absence of light. Life is something and death is the absence of life. The nature of God is existence and creation depends upon God for its existence. When Jesus states emphatically, “I am the light and life of the world,” he is echoing the Voice emerging from the burning bush on Mount Sinai. Moses asks God to reveal His name and God responds emphatically, “I AM WHO AM.” (Ex. 3:14) Jesus is literally the light and life of God come down from heaven.

Sacred Scripture states that God sustains all things through His mighty Word. John the apostle captures this divine echo by reporting Jesus’ dialogue with the Jews: “You are not yet 50 years old, what do mean Abraham saw your day?” Jesus replies, “Amen, Amen, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58) The Jews picked up stones in an attempt to kill Him for committing the sin of blasphemy, “You being a man make yourself equal with God.” (John 10:33) Jesus’ words “AMEN, AMEN” are meant to convey that Jesus is emphatically the light and life of the world; he is also “the true light which gives light to every man.” (John 1: 9) This brings us to the next association identified in John’s Gospel as “Light and Truth.”

Light and Truth

In Sacred Scripture associates the theme of light with truth. The Psalmist writes, “Send forth thy light and thy truth; they have conducted me and brought me to your holy hill and into thy tabernacles.” (Ps. 42:3) John identifies Jesus as the true Light, which gives light to every man. The existence of the expression “true Light” might imply that a false light exists. A “false light” is akin to a false Gospel, which is no Gospel at all. (Gal. 1:7) In other words a false light is the absence of truth; not a form of truth, which begs the question, “What is truth?”

Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “I came into the world to bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) Pilate responds cynically, “What is truth?” What is revealed in this question is God hidden within Christ’s humanity. St. Augustine of Hippo identifies truth as “what something is versus what something is not.” The Muslim Ibn Sina states that “truth exists when man’s understanding is in agreement with the thing being observed.” Aristotle defines truth as “What something is, is and what something is not, is not.” St. Hilary of Poitiers defines truth as “revealing and making clear what exists.” 

For the classical world, truth was related to being (existence). That which exists is good. Truth exists and is good. Both truth and goodness are beautiful. Jesus came into the world to make clear what truly exists so that men would live in objective truth, that is reality, which is good and beautiful. It is not good to live enslaved by fantasy in one’s subjective imagination. This leads to the murder of truth, the death of goodness, and the path is mired in shamefulness. Jesus came into the world so that men would worship the Father in “Spirit and Truth.” (John 4:23)

The search for objective truth is a search for God since all things which exist do so first in the mind of God, “I knew you before you were born” (Jer. 1:5) and secondly, “God spoke and it was,” (Ps. 33:9) and thirdly, “in God there is no darkness.” (1 John 1:5) Jesus identifies Himself as man’s search for God by saying, “I am the light and truth. He who has seen me has seen the Father.” When God reveals that something is, it truly is. And when God reveals that something is not, it truly is not.

God the Father said to the apostles on Mount Tabor, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”
(Matt. 17:5) This understanding of truth rooted in the mind of God has been lost on the fallen world, which now sees the good as something evil and evil as something good. Jesus identifies this condition as follows: “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil…But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.” (John 3: 19-21)

Again for the classical world, truth was related to being. The modern man understands truth as human facts. The post-modern man understands truth as what is willed and shaped by man. The ultimate darkness is man identifying himself as the creator and God as made in man’s image. Jesus Christ comes as Light to remove the darkness and to fill man with the life of grace. Light and Truth are not metaphors when Jesus uses the terms. They are supernatural realities.

Jesus told Pilate that He came into the world to witness to the truth. In that statement, he first bore witness to God the Father, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing,” (John 5:19) and secondly, “Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent,” (John 17:3) and thirdly, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another comforter to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.” (John 14: 16) 

To paraphrase St. Hilary of Poitiers, Jesus became flesh and dwelt among men to reveal and make abundantly clear the source and revelation of truth itself — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A person searching for light and truth is seeking the Father through the Person of Jesus Christ,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) This brings us to the third association of “light and way.”

Light and the Way

Jesus told his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them. He promised to return and bring them back to where He was. (John 14:3) Jesus says, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas replies that the disciples do not know where Jesus is going and they cannot know the way. Thomas’ question is fundamental with every person who ponders; “Who am I and where am I going?” 

Jesus told his disciples,
“I have come from the Father and I am returning to the Father.” (John 16:28, 29) It is interesting that with these words the apostles respond, “Now you are speaking clearly and now we know you are the Son of God.” (John 16: 29) Each person’s vocation is to return to the Father’s House not as slaves but as children of Light. “While you have the light, believe in the light that you may be children of the light.” (John 12:36) The apostles understood that each created person comes from the Father and in Christ Jesus returns to the Father. Christians are “people on the way” because the light of Jesus Christ guides them. (Acts 19:9; 22:4). The blind (as in the case of Bartimaeus) receive the gift of sight, and thereafter become pilgrims following Jesus “along the way” to Jerusalem. (Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week p.3)

I must admit that apart from any other context the language “children of light” is nebulous. And yet the theme of light guiding the people of God, can be seen in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isa. 2:5). The prophet is encouraging the descendants of Jacob to become children of light. He is reminding them that God guided their forefathers out of Egypt towards the Promised Land by light, “By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.” (Neh. 9:12) Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of God’s Divine Presence in the world separating day from night, and light from darkness. 

Final Thoughts

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) By considering the theme of light alongside these notable words, the thought it expresses is more glorious than a metaphor or figure of speech. It literally becomes a revelation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Person of the Light is the means by which anyone can come to the Father. He is the way to the Father because “no one has seen God except the only begotten of God who dwells in the bosom of the Father.” (John 1: 18) It is only in and through the Person of Jesus Christ that a person becomes “pure of heart” and able to see God. Jesus is light and life since “All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17, 18) As light is the source of life in the natural world, Jesus is the supernatural Light bringing eternal life to men. Jesus is God’s one eternal Word, One in being with the Father. Jesus is “the radiance of God’s Glory and the exact representation of His Being sustaining all things by His powerful Word.” (Heb. 1:3)

Disciples encounter the Light of Christ in many ways. They ponder His Words in Holy Scripture. They study the lives of His saints, who each uniquely modelled Christ’s life in their own time. Disciples remain in communion with His Church,and participate in His Sacraments. They recognise the divine purpose within nature. In all these, the

countenance of God’s Glory is manifested in and through the Person of Jesus Christ, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2Cor. 4:6)

He is the Light; the Dawn from on high, which will break upon us to shine on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death. He will guide our feet into the path of salvation. Come Lord Jesus.

Lawrence Fox is working on a master's degree in Sacred Theology at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. 

Interested in studying at the International Theological Institute? You can apply here.
Each student at ITI is only charged 6,000 Euros a year in tuition, but the actual cost of the education is 20,000 Euros.
Donate here

Aquinas, Thomas, Selected Philosophical Writings. Translated by Timothy McDermott. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1997.

Ratzinger, Joseph (Pope Benedict XVI), Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration. Translated and edited by Philip J. Whitmore. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

Ratzinger, Joseph (Pope Benedict XVI), Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. New York: Doubleday, 2011.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The World is Engulfed in Trials: Please Pray for Donald Trump

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov. 13, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

In today’s Gospel, we focus on what will take place in the end times. The words of our Lord
Jesus in today’s Gospel (Luke 21:5-19) are words that every one of us need to pay close attention to because Our Lord speaks of the things that will soon affect every person on this earth. 

Our Lord Jesus begins by speaking of the Temple of Jerusalem which would be destroyed in the year 70 AD. Yet, Jesus uses this opportunity not just to speak about the coming destruction of the Temple, but He also reminds us that this world as we know it is going to drastically change. 

He speaks of deceivers who will come in His name. He speaks of wars and rumors of wars. He speaks of nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. We have seen all of these signs in this current generation in which we live today, but Our Lord does not stop there. 

He continues to speak of natural disasters such as earthquakes, famines, and plagues. Yet, He reminds us that at some future point these sorts of occurrences will reach a peak and Mother Nature will wreak havoc on this world in ways that are unprecedented. We will be forced to realize that we are no longer in control over the situations taking place around us. 

We hear a lot in our time today about climate change and our need to take care of the earth in order to prevent future calamities. There is nothing wrong in that, but ultimately we must recognise that God is in control and, in the end, He will take care of the earth.

Fr. John Paul Shea
My brothers and sisters, the bottom line is that this world in which we live today is going to radically change. Our world is going to be renewed. Therefore, as Christians we must anchor ourselves in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus. Our Lord has given us His Church to prepare for this day through its proclamation of repentance and conversion, and He calls us to be faithful to His teachings. 

In fact, He tells us that as the Second Coming approaches, it will be more and more difficult  to practice our faith. It will be hard to stand strong against persecution. The faithful will be handed over to kings and governors because of Jesus'
 Name. Even parents, brothers, relatives, and friends will betray us. Our Lord says that we will be hated by all. 

Child covering her eyes at Gay Pride Parade
We can see resistance against God in our time as secular laws are passed, such as legal same sex marriage and euthanasia. We hear of Christian businesses being threatened for failing to provide non-essential services to same-sex "weddings." We have heard comments through politicians who speak of faithful Catholics as backwards and deplorable.
Marriage Supporters weeping outside U.S. Courtroom where
same-sex "marriage" is legalised. 
The reality is that it will not get easier for faithful Christians to live and proclaim the Truth because societies are rapidly turning away from God’s laws. As we know, we now have a new president of our country. Whether  we like him or not, we need to pray for him.

We need to trust that the Holy Spirit enabled him to be chosen, and we need to pray for his conversion. We need to pray for him to stand strong for religious freedom. We need to pray that he stand firm in his commitment to
Please Pray for U.S. President Donald Trump
uphold the sanctity of life because the number of abortions taking place today is enough to bring judgment upon us! 

Today’s Gospel calls us to keep our hearts and minds focused on the coming of our Lord’s Kingdom. The devil  wants to destroy  God’s plan. He is building his own world order, but his power will be crushed by Jesus Christ through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary.

Therefore, let us hold firm to the gift of faith. May God give us His help, strength, and perseverance to the end. Amen!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Active Waiting for the End of the World Requires Faith Not Suicide

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nov 13, 2016
St. John the Apostle Awasi Catholic Church, Kisumu Archdiocese, Kenya
Fr. Joe and his smiling congregation 
Many Jews were apathetic about their religious duties and keeping the commandments during the time of the Prophet Malachi, 470 B.C.In our first reading today,(Malachi 3:19-20) he warns his listeners that the day of reward and punishment is coming. Fire is the symbol that represents both the reward and the punishments.

A theme central to Jesus teaching is the kingdom of God with much focus on the "end times." For a period of over 600 years the Jews had suffered under one kingdom after another: the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. As Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom, a question that came up frequently was "When is this going to happen?" Jesus made it clear that no one knows the day except the Father (Mk 13:32). 

Then they asked him,“Teacher, when will this happen?And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”He answered,“See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” (from the Sunday Gospel reading, Luke 21: 5-19)

Yet in every age Christians have come up with predictions on the exact date of the end of the world. Some prophecies ended in utter catastrophe as in the Joseph  Kibweteere 
They were told to expect to see the Blessed Virgin Mary when
they were locked into the Church and burned to death.
case in Uganda in 2000. Expecting the end of the world, followers of the obscure Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God were locked up into a church in the small town of Kanungu. Estimates put the number killed at 778, including children, as sect leaders burned the Church down with the people inside. Afterwards, "Bishop" Kibweteere -- the sect leader -- was reported hiding in Malawi. The people killed had given up all their financial assets to the cult before they were killed. 
Former prostitute Caledonia Mwerinde (left),
one of the sect's leaders, allegedly had visions of
the Blessed Virgin Mary naming the date 
of the end of the world. "Bishop" Kibweteere on the right

All these millennial predictions of the end of the world have been mistaken, yet some people have chosen to be deceived. 

As Jesus was predicting about the end times, he touches on something which the Jews valued most, The Temple. The people of Israel did not have a temple right from the begining. In the desert, they had a tent, and the Ark of the Covenant, containing the two stone tablets of the 10 commandments, some manna and the budded staff of Aaron.

It was David's son, Solomon who finally built the original Temple in Jerusalem on top of a hill called Moriah ( 1 Kings 5-7). According to tradition this was the mountain where Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22). The Temple was first destroyed in 587 B.C. It proved to be a national and religious disaster, and forced Judaism to re-organise itself. 

In today's Gospel, when Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple of His time, the one  re-buildlt  by King Herod I, He speaks of the end of an era, of the end of time. This is a kind of end that forces people to live in a different manner, but still to live. 

Romans destroy the Temple in 70 AD
Since the Temple is so important, its destruction is taken as sign of the end of time. In fact, a world is coming to an end and a new way of facing life has got to be found. The earthquakes, wars and other natural calamities are apocalyptic images -- not to frighten us -- but to encourage us to persevere in hope in times when personal suffering and national tragedies seem to crush us. In this way we will gain our souls. 

Jesus tells his disciples that they will suffer for being his followers and be rejected just like He was. However, God's power and plan of salvation will not be frustrated by dark forces or any catastrophe. The big question now is: How well are we prepared?

Prepare! Try everyday to live your Christian life. If we do our best, a kingdom of peace and justice will take root. We must daily water the seed of love that Jesus has already planted in us, pass on to others the light of faith, act as yeast Jesus has put in the dough,  ferment the world with the Gospel values and  serve as salt to preserve the world from every 
 corruption. All this means that we can't sit down doing nothing, just waiting for the end time. It means that we need to keep ourselves always busy (though not acting as busy bodies) "working day and night even to the point of exhaustion " (2 Thess 3:8), in order to hasten the coming of God's Kingdom.

But such an active waiting for the end calls for patient endurance, because not only problems and pains are part of our every day life but we who walk with Christ must also be ready to lose our life for the Gospel. Until that day we prepare by gathering together in faith and listening to his words, while being nourished by his own body and blood.

Sometimes life is a joy; sometimes it is a great struggle. In the process, God is making something new as the Book of Revelation tells us. In the end for those who have been faithful to God, evil, sickness and death will not have its way with us; we shall rejoice in God's peace and love forever. Amen.
Have a blessed Sunday. And join me in praying for my mum Lucy Nungari Mungai who is not feeling well.