Even though we say that we believe, there is a part of us that doesn’t. There are many times in our lives when we experience death, whether it be the physical death of someone we love, a failed relationship, the loss of a job, or a broken dream. As we are going through these death experiences, we can easily find ourselves reaching out to God to make it better and fix it! We think that the proper order of life is to maintain the things of this world, especially those things that are essential to our sense of wellbeing and security. We do not like change. The grieving that comes from our death experiences can keep us stuck and in despair. If we have lost something or someone of great value, the very meaning and essence of life is lost with them. We need gentle companions to lift us from despair and that is precisely who God desires to be in our life as well.READ MORE
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus wants to motivate each one of us to see the truth. After developing a relationship with Jesus, the blind man “sees” as someone very special. The Pharisees, due to the blindness caused by their ignorance, prejudice, and need for self-preservation, still remain blind. Presuppositions, prejudices, assumptions, and our needs can easily blind us to truth. We see what we want or need to see and not what is really there. In addition, our stubbornness continues to convince us that we are right and that our vision is perfect. Only God can complete the picture.READ MORE
We give the definition of ourselves over to so many things. We allow our society, friends, family, work, social groups, ethnicity, and even institutions define, classify, and color how we perceive ourselves. When we listen predominantly to the voices of others, we lose touch with what is happening within our own inner voice. If we listen carefully within, we can easily discover that we are in want and need. We know our incompleteness and also know that loneliness, sadness, and self-images can propel us outward in attempts to fill those gaps. We can become not only victims of our own prejudices but can find ourselves overly self-indulgent in things that can only satisfy for a short time, if at all. It is no wonder that money and power are things that are so fervently sought after. As long as we can keep a steady supply going, the illusion of fulfillment and satisfaction can falsely persuade us as craftily as a master magician’s act. We live with illusions not truth.READ MORE
Psychology has taught us a great deal about family dynamics and how we have come to be the person we find ourselves to be. We are comprised of such a mixed bag of blessings and obstacles with their graced moments and sinful ones. Think back on the journey of your life and how the many different and varied choices that you made influenced the direction your life. If you didn’t go on that first date with your spouse, who would be beside you today? If you chose to be in one place rather than another, what would have happened to the course your life has taken? We are on such a wonderful, exciting journey. What is most incredible and awesome is that we are not alone! God is with us. He inspires, heals, opens doors, and calls us every moment of our lives. The very life we have is due only to Him.READ MORE
“Be Holy for I the Lord am Holy!”
Written by Father Carota and modified by Fr. Reynoso for OLPH Parishioners
The Gospels continue to challenge us to the core. This is especially true in the way our social relationships have developed. Feeling safe and secure in the world are not things that come easily these days. Actually, we may find ourselves feeling more reservation, caution, reluctance, and fear than ever before. In a moment’s notice, life can drastically change. When someone has been intentionally and violently hurt, especially someone we love, we can all too easily find ourselves very attracted to the Old Testament philosophy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Intellectually, we know this is not what Jesus wants us to do. But on some level it just seems to make practical or even political sense. After all, why should we allow someone to get away with a heinously violent act? Yet, Jesus cannot be any clearer than he is with this! Offer no resistance to one who is evil. Turn the other cheek as well. When pressed into service, go two miles. Do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. Love your enemies. Now, take a moment to reflect on all of this. Consider a horrible act of violence committed against someone you love. Listen. Think. Be honest. Can you do as Jesus directs?READ MORE
People are not property. We cannot exchange them at will or simply use them for our own designs and purposes. What does the word “commitment” mean to you? We can begin to understand its meaning by looking at some synonyms: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, and bond. Commitment is primarily about relationship, and Jesus is all about relationships. How our lives affect others, how we treat our brothers and sisters, how we resolve conflict, and how we view the vows of marriage. Jesus’ teachings on obeying the commandments, murder, reconciliation, marriage, divorce, and adultery all stem from the sacredness of commitment. All of this has a God connection.READ MORE
What does it mean to be salt and light? If we listen carefully to Jesus’ words, we gain some direction. To be salt means to bring taste, zest, and joy to life. We are asked to liven things up a bit by allowing the joy of our faith to spill over into the lives of others. Only a sincere and deep relationship with God can freshen up humanity and set it on proper course. To be light means that our faith must translate into action so that we can be Christ for others and extend the same arm of mercy and compassion that Christ did. Our acts of piety, then, cannot be directed solely at ourselves. Prayer is never about self-benefit but must always be directed toward union with God, deepening our relationships with one another and learning how to be effective stewards of the beautiful universe God has entrusted to our care.READ MORE
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” Very often, having more light is not something we desire as it forces us to confront something we really do not want to see. There can be comfort found in darkness. It has an eerie sense of security to it. We do not have to challenge ourselves or be challenged and can simply exist in some fabricated state of self-fabricated blissfulness. Jesus came to bring light, and it is a light that is resisted by many and hated by some. It is a light that causes us to see things as they really are and not as we would want or need them to be.READ MORE
It begins! Jesus is doing something new. “He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea.” Jesus leaves his family, his profession of carpentry, and everything he has known and loved for the previous 30 years. He goes because it is time. Something new is beginning, and Jesus will not begin it alone. “As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers … he walked along from there and saw two other brothers.” What does he say to these men? “Come after me.” These words are for Peter and Andrew, for James and for John. They are also for all of us.
“Come after me.” The adventure of discipleship will be strange, wild, and unexpected. The Apostles surely didn’t know what they were getting into. But the invitation is accompanied by a promise. “I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus tells the first Apostles. No more will their priorities be limited to this particular village, to the square miles of the Sea of Galilee. Their eyes will be open to the kingdom of God, and their priorities will shift.READ MORE
On the cusp of fame, power, or influence, would you turn it down? Today’s Gospel again features John the Baptist. Controversial but popular, John has gathered quite a group of followers. He has disciples. People come from near and far to be baptized by him. Pharisees and government leaders are drawn to his preaching. If John was another man, a lesser man, he would have claimed his own greatness. Instead, John the Baptist is a witness to humility.
“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God … he is the one of whom I said, “A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me.”… the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known.’” Rather than point to himself, John points to Christ. John could have grasped at what he had accumulated. He could have seen Jesus as a Messianic competitor. Instead, John knows who he is. He knows his place as forerunner. Because John knows who Jesus is. “I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”READ MORE
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives four reasons for the Incarnation, why God became man in Jesus Christ. The third reason is “to be our model of holiness.” All of Jesus’ words and actions model for us what we ought to do. He also shows us how we’re meant to be. Jesus’ baptism ought to remind us of our own baptism and of the importance of baptism in the Christian life.
The Baptism of the Lord reminds us of our Trinitarian identity. When we are baptized, we stand in solidarity with Christ, bathed in the waters he sanctified. There, the Father proclaims our adoption into the family of God. “‘This is my beloved son [this is my beloved daughter], with whom I am well pleased.’” And the Spirit, too, descends. We are filled with the Spirit’s grace and power to continue Christ’s mission on earth. We received these gifts in the sacrament, and they continue to dwell within us through sanctifying grace. We can — and should — invite God to stir up these graces of our baptism and consider them in our own lives.READ MORE
We may walk many roads when we search for God, and He leads us all the while. The men we honor today were not Jews. The Messiah wasn’t coming for them, not in the minds of Jesus’ contemporaries. These men were astrologers. They were adept at reading portents in the sky, a practice condemned in the Mosaic covenant. Still, to the best of their knowledge and awareness, they were seeking the truth. This truth led them to journey from their own homeland to honor a king they’d never met, one they couldn’t be sure truly existed. “‘We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.’” Who do you know seeks God so tenaciously?
“Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,” the Gospel tells us. Who are the seekers in your own life? Maybe it’s your cautiously curious co-worker, the neighbor who unexpectedly found peace on a yoga retreat, or your desperately angry child who has chosen, for now, to go their own way. Perhaps they’re not overtly headed for Jesus now, not yet. But they may well be seekers of truth in ways we didn’t expect. Our invitation is to listen, inquire, and give directions when appropriate.READ MORE