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Advent – Season of Hope, Journey of Faith

Advent – Season of Hope, Journey of Faith

On all Sundays of Advent, the first reading is from the Prophet Isaiah; he constantly announces the coming of salvation, often using poetic images.  Today we hear that “a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”  The wolf will be the guest of the lamb; the cow and the bear will become neighbors; the baby will play by the cobra’s den!  Yes, there is hope; yet, you might ask: What is genuine, realistic hope?

Insights of Pope Benedict XVI.  In late 2007 as Advent approached, Benedict released a new encyclical on Christian Hope, Spe Salvi (SS) [Hope Saves].  It is a deep reflection, a challenging meditation.  The text reads smoothly, the tone is cordial, the content emerges from the insights of one who himself seeks to be a minister of hope.

Contemporary Models of Hope.  The pope provides several examples of contemporary Christians who lived with deep hope.  He mentions the Vietnamese Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, who was a prisoner, often in solitary confinement, for thirteen years and left the precious little book entitled Prayers of Hope.  Benedict writes: “… in a situation of seemingly utter hopelessness, the fact that he could listen and speak to God became for him an increasing power of hope, which enabled him, after his release, to become for people all over the world a witness to hope—to that great hope which does not wane even in the nights of solitude” (SS 31).

The pope also offers the example of the African Saint Josephine Bakhita.  At the age of nine, she was kidnapped by slave-traders, beaten until she bled, and sold five times in the slave-markets of Sudan.  Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant and brought to Italy.  Eventually, she received religious instruction, was baptized, and joined the Canossian Sisters.  Benedict writes: “Now she had ‘hope’—no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: ‘I am definitely loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love.  And so, my life is good’” (SS 3).   

Living Hope.  This writer appreciates how the pope links faith, hope, and life.  Three times in the encyclical (2, 4, 10) Benedict asserts the importance of “performative faith.”  The Christian message is “not only ‘informative’ but ‘performative’” (SS 2).  The pope asks: “Can our encounter with the God who in Christ has shown us his face and opened his heart be for us too not just ‘informative’ but ‘performative’—that is to say, can it change our lives, so that we know we are redeemed through the hope that it expresses?” (SS 4).

Mary, Model of Hope.  The final prayer of Spe Salvi is addressed to “Mary, Star of Hope.”  During Advent and always, we pray: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you” (SS 49).    

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

O Mary, Morning Star of Hope,

Rise and shatter the gloom of night

And shine through the clouds of despair

To lead me to the one, true light of Christ That I and all may walk in his truth.

O Dawn who announces Christ’s coming,

Fill my mind with his peace,

My soul with his hope and

My heart with his love

That wherever I go and whatever I do

My words and actions might reflect

The glory of Christ come to earth.

Into your hands of mercy I commend

All my worries, concerns and problems,

Confident that with you by my side

Leading me ever closer to Christ, your Son, There is nothing that can separate me From the love of Jesus, my Lord And my God.

Amen

Mary’s Faith-filled Song: The Magnificat, Journey of Faith

Mary’s Faith-filled Song: The Magnificat, Journey of Faith

Advent and Christmas form a unique “Marian Season.”  Christians recall that it was Mary (along with Joseph), awaiting the birth of her son, who celebrated the very first advent.  Mary made a unique faith journey, preparing for Christ’s nativity for nine full months.  During this time Mary can be heard singing the Magnificat, a song of praise, the same canticle she probably sung repeatedly during the nine months of her pregnancy, the original advent season.

An Advent Hymn.  “The song of Mary is the oldest Advent hymn,” preached Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.  “It is at once the most passionate, the wildest, one might say, the most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung.  This is not the gentle, tender, dreamy Mary whom we sometimes see in paintings; this is the passionate, surrendered, proud, enthusiastic Mary who speaks out here.”

Bonhoeffer Continues. “This song has none of the sweet, nostalgic, or even playful tones of some of our Christmas carols.  It is instead a hard, strong, inexorable song about collapsing thrones and humbled lords of this world, about the power of God and the powerlessness of humankind.”  Yes, Mary sings a song that proclaims God’s gracious, effective compassion and liberation!

Faith and Service.  It is helpful to recall the context of Mary’s Magnificat hymn.  Mary has generously said fiat [yes, let it be] to the invitation to become the Mother of God through Gabriel’s Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38).  Her deep faith and willingness to serve have prompted her to make the arduous journey to Ain Karim, a trip of over sixty miles from Nazareth. 

Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-45) is a generous act of service; though pregnant herself, she does not hesitate to be of service to another much older Jewish woman, six months pregnant with her first child.  What a scene of great joy!  Mary and Elizabeth, both faithful women of Israel, have been uniquely blessed by the Most High.

In Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s Magnificat is the long and beautiful prayer-poem she uttered on this emotion-filled occasion. 

Joining Mary’s Song.  The Magnificat, which the entire Church says daily during Vesper prayer, must remain a challenge for us—at Christmas and always.  Christians need to constantly integrate prayer and praise of God (worship) with commitment to social transformation (justice).  To glorify God demands striving to be anawim, opting for the poor, the hungry, the powerless.  To be Christian demands a reversal of values; one must become “counter-cultural,” challenging the status quo

We join with Mary in both praising God for his loving-kindness and in generously embracing the poor of this world.  Indeed, it is only in this two-fold way that our celebration of the Advent-Christmas season will be authentic!  May you, your loved ones and family enjoy a “Magnificat Advent-Christmas,” filled with both singing God’s praises and serving our needy neighbors.  I will already wish you a “Mary Christmas”!     

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

First Sunday of Advent

Fill our hearts to overflowing with your love

O Blessed Virgin Mary that we might join you in praising

the wonderful works God is doing in this world through you with Jesus.

Behold, the mighty fall from their thrones even as God raises up the lowly.

The poor are filled with good things even as the rich are sent empty away.

In and through you, O Blessed Mother, God’s word took flesh and was born

to turn our world upside down that we might seek and find your Son

not in palaces and mansions but in the lowly and humble dwellings

of the poor and oppressed.

Teach us, Mother Mary, to rejoice ever in the wonders of God-With-Us,

Emmanuel! Promised from of old now born in the fullness of time

to dwell among us who have no power save in the Name of Jesus, our Lord.

Come, Lord Jesus, return soon that we might live with you forever.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

Christ: Our Crucified King, Journey of Faith

Christ: Our Crucified King, Journey of Faith

If asked what movie I have seen most frequently in my whole life, I would have to reply: A Man for All Seasons.  This 1960s film was based on a striking play written by Robert Bolt.  In explaining his choice of Thomas More for the drama, Bolt gave this rationale: “A man takes an oath only when he wants to commit himself quite exceptionally to the statement, when he wants to make an identity between the truth of it and his own virtue; he offers himself as a guarantee.” 

Profound Vision.  Thomas More was martyred in 1535 at age 57.   Reflecting on More’s life, Bolt affirms that “a clear sense of the self can only crystallize around something transcendental.”  Thomas More explains this radical self-awareness, faith and commitment to his daughter Margaret when she visits him in prison: “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands.  Like water.  And if he opens his fingers then—he needn’t hope to find himself again.  Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathe to think your father one of them.”  Indeed, More exemplifies “a Christian saint, as a hero of selfhood.”   

Christ the King Feast.  Coming at the end of the liturgical year, this feast is a wonderful opportunity for reflection on the depth of our acceptance of Christ as our King, our Crucified King.  Thomas More gave his answer—with his life.  Jesus had truly become his King!  In deep faith, More could even say to his executioner: “Friend, be not afraid of your office.  You send me to God.” 

More’s Example.  I distinctly remember the 2010 visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.  As an aside, I recall the vivid image of the Pope and Queen Elizabeth, standing side by side—both with full heads of white hair!  One of the pope’s speeches was given in Westminster Hall; the trial of Saint Thomas More occurred in that very place; he was condemned to death for refusing to follow the rebellion of King Henry VIII against papal authority on divorce.  Thomas More adhered to God and his personal conscience; his final words on the scaffold were: “The King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

More’s Faith.  More’s convictions are vividly revealed in his letters from prison in the Tower of London; they manifest a deep devotion to the suffering Christ.  For More, Christ was his suffering-crucified King.  More is truly a “man for all seasons.” 

Our Prayer.  Each day as we Christians say the Our Father, we pray: Your

Kingdom come!  And, what kind of kingdom do we work, pray, and suffer for?  As stated so beautifully in the Preface of today’s Mass, we ask God to establish “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.”  O, crucified-risen Lord, may your kingdom come!   

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

 

Solemnity of our Lord Jesus, Christ the King

Jesus, my Lord, my king, my God, my all,

I kneel before your throne of grace

and ask only that you give me the courage

and strength to be true to my baptismal vows

to know, love and serve you above all

with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.

May your kingdom come upon this earth

that your justice, truth and peace

might prevail. Help all to seek and find

holiness and love in everyday

things and ordinary actions.

May your reign embrace all peoples

nations and cultures, that your Gospel

might be preached, received and

believed around the world in every place

and in every heart.

Grant that I might drive from my soul

any obstacle or distraction to my

answering your call to follow you

no matter where your Spirit takes me

knowing full well it ends at the Cross

where at length I offer my life to you.

Amen

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

Reading the “Signs of the Times, Journey of Faith

Reading the “Signs of the Times, Journey of Faith

Today is the second-to-last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year.  Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King; then we begin the season of Advent.  Our readings today, especially from the prophet Malachi and the evangelist Luke, are not easily understood.  They are a type of writing known as “apocalyptic literature.”

The readings capture our attention through a variety of images.  The prophet Malachi writes that “the day is coming, blazing like an oven” and it will set all evildoers on fire.  Jesus says that “the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”  These dramatic images are not meant to overwhelm us with fear.  Rather, they are a clarion call to profound faith in God.

Living in Turbulent Times.  If we are honest, we must admit that we do live in uncertain times.  There is the ongoing war in Ukraine.  Recent typhoons and hurricanes have brought unbelievable destruction.  I recall the consoling words of the Philippine bishops during a time of national unrest in 2018; they wrote: “we are often so easily overcome by fear and panic….  There is nothing that can calm us down in these turbulent times, except the quiet recognition of Him who assured us of His abiding presence: ‘Be not afraid; it is I’” (Mt 14:27).

Interpreting Life’s Events.  In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis exhorts us to an “ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times” (EG 51).  This task of examining current realities in the light of Christian faith is “a grave responsibility” (EG 51).  Francis proposes using “an evangelical discernment” which is “the approach of a missionary disciple” who is guided by “the light and strength of the Holy Spirit” (EG 50).  Christian faith demands “recognizing and discerning spirits” and ultimately “choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil” (EG 51).

“Signs of the Times” Approach.  This Christian approach to “faith-reflection” on current realities was promoted by the Second Vatican Council.  In its document Gaudium et Spes, we read: “The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel” (GS 4).  We are to give a “faith-reading” to life’s events, engaging in “the theological interpretation of contemporary history.”  All Catholics are to respond to the signs of the times.  This “social engagement” is essential to the Church’s evangelizing mission in the contemporary world.

Following Pope Francis.  Our Pope is deeply involved in a “faith-reading” of the signs of the times.  He asks us to examine the many challenges present in today’s world.  “Let us look upon them as challenges which can help us to grow” (EG 84).  “Challenges exist to be overcome!  Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment” (EG 109).

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

 

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord of all times and seasons,

You Who are the Alpha and the Omega

the Beginning and the End of all time,

space, things visible and invisible,

send forth your Spirit of wisdom

and understanding that I might

read the signs of the times aright.

You, for whom a thousand years

pass like a single night and

a single day passes like

a thousand years, may we look

at this passing world and realize

all things pass away but

you alone last forever.

In these uncertain times and confusing

events, let my faith in you never waiver.

You Who alone are the still point in

an ever-changing world, grant that

I put my faith in you alone and trust

in your promise to remain ever

at my side till the end of time,

amen and come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

The Roots of Ecological Mission with Fr. Larry Radice, M.M

The Roots of Ecological Mission with Fr. Larry Radice, M.M

On this episode Among The People, we are joined again by Fr. Larry Radice, M.M. who discusses his experience and importance of alternative energy sources. Solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal heating have both positives and negatives that should be part of every discussion because they can provide major benefits for communities.

From growing up on a small farm in Colorado to serving on mission after his ordination in 1985 in Tanzania, Africa, Fr. Larry has had a sensitivity to and keen interest in the Care of Creation.

Living and Dying for One’s Faith, Journey of Faith

Living and Dying for One’s Faith, Journey of Faith

Today’s first reading narrates the inspirational story of seven martyr brothers and their brave mother who endured a fierce religious persecution from the pagan Seleucid kings two centuries before the birth of Christ.  They remained faithful to their monotheistic religion; they noted that it was their choice “to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him.”  This is an early expression of “resurrection faith,” a central theme of today’s Gospel.

Have you ever asked yourself: Would I be willing to die for my faith in Christ?  Probably, we will never have to face this choice.  A more realistic question is: How can I truly live my faith commitment on a daily basis?  If we practice our faith well, serving our needy brothers and sisters, then a faith-filled death will almost naturally follow.  Here we can draw inspiration from one of the Church’s contemporary saints, Oscar Romero.

Saint Oscar Romero.  As Archbishop of San Salvador in Central America, Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980 as he was celebrating Mass in the Divine Providence cancer hospital where he lived.  On February 3, 2015 Pope Francis officially declared Romero a martyr of the Catholic faith, the first declared martyr after Vatican II!  He was beatified on May 23, 2015 and canonized on October 14, 2018 (only four years ago)!  Romero was known, respected, and loved as a defender of the poor during one of the most difficult periods in El Salvador (1970s-1980s), during which five priests, numerous catechists, and countless Catholic laity were assassinated. 

The living example of Romero is always relevant: “The hope we preach to the poor is in order that dignity be restored to them, and to give them courage to be themselves, the authors of their destiny.….  The Church has not only embodied herself in the world of the poor, giving them hope, but she is firmly committed to their defense.”  Pope Francis never tires of repeating: “I want a Church which is poor and for the poor” (Evangelii Gaudium 198).

Romero’s Faith Vision.  Romero has eloquently expressed his deep faith in Christ and resurrected life after death: “If God accepts the sacrifice of my life, may my death be for the freedom of my people.  A bishop will die, but the Church of God, which is the people, will never perish.  I do not believe in death without resurrection.  If they kill me, I will rise again in the people of El Salvador.”  Undoubtedly, Romero’s words clearly echo the same resurrection faith expressed in today’s scripture readings.

Reflection.  What should “living our resurrection faith” and “remembering Saint Oscar Romero” mean for us today?  This means to become active, to witness to our resurrection faith, promoting social justice.  As a martyr of the Church’s “option for the poor,” Saint Oscar Romero is truly an inspiring “contemporary icon” for us, members of Christ’s servant-Church.          

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

 

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

O most merciful God of life and love

in each generation you raise up saints

who show us in various ways how to live

their faith in our ever-changing world.

By their example give us courage

to live our faith daily in the face of failures,

opposition and even persecution asking

only that our small sacrifices may

give glory to you as we witness to your truth.

In this month of all souls, as we pray for

All the faithful departed, may they, in turn

intercede for us who still struggle here below.

We pray, too, for all those who have died,

especially for the souls of those who have

no one to prayer for them.

Grant them Eternal peace and joy in your presence

as we enter into the communion of saints

and the community of all souls.

Above all, God of power and might,

grant me the grace to live the gospel

in small things no less than great,

in hours of sadness no less than joy

and in disappointments no less

than triumphs and success

that whatever I say or do

may be for your glory

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

Authentic Change of Heart, Journey of Faith

Authentic Change of Heart, Journey of Faith

Today’s Gospel story of Zaccheus, the “short guy in the sycamore tree,” is both well-known and popular.  Who is this man, what is his identity?  He was a chief “publican” and a corrupt man.  Publicans were Jews who worked for the foreign Romans; they betrayed their own homeland and people.  As a tax collector, Zaccheus sought money in customs tariffs and various illegitimate means.  He exploited people, benefitting himself instead of helping others.

As Jesus approaches, Zaccheus becomes curious.  Zaccheus thinks to himself: I would like to see him, just to satisfy my curiosity.  Then, he takes a surprising action; he does a foolish thing; he actually climbs a tree!  As Jesus approached, he spotted him and said: “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”  We can only imagine Zaccheus’ astonishment!

God’s Mission.  Commenting on this Gospel, Pope Francis offers a beautiful insight.  “Why does Jesus say ‘I must stay at your house’?  What duty does this refer to?  We know that his highest duty is to implement the Father’s plan for all of humanity, which is fulfilled in Jerusalem with his death sentence, the crucifixion and, on the third day, the Resurrection.  It is the Father’s merciful plan of salvation.”

“In this plan there is also the salvation of Zaccheus, a dishonest man who is despised by all, and therefore in need of conversion.  In fact, the Gospel says that when Jesus called him, they all murmured ‘He has gone into the house of a sinner.’  The people saw Zaccheus as a scoundrel who became rich at his neighbor’s expense….  They began to whisper: ‘Jesus is going to his house, the house of the sinner, the exploiter.’”

God’s Mercy.  Pope Francis continues: “Guided by mercy, Jesus looks for him precisely.  And when he enters Zaccheus’ house, he says: ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he is also a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’  Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices.  And, this is important!  We must learn this.” 

“Jesus’ gaze goes beyond sins and prejudices; he sees the person through the eyes of God, who does not stop at past faults, but sees the future good….  Jesus does not stop at appearances, but looks at the heart.  And there he sees this man’s wounded heart: wounded by the sin of greed, by the many terrible things that Zaccheus has done.  He sees that wounded heart and goes there.”

God’s Compassion.  “Jesus attitude toward Zaccheus shows us another way: that of showing those who err their value. The value that God continues to see in spite of everything, despite all their mistakes….  It gives people the confidence which makes them grow and change.  This is how God acts with all of us.”  Friends, let us appreciate how our God is both a God of mercy and a God of surprises!

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

 

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

You gaze upon my past, Lord Jesus,

yet still come with me to my home.

You look upon my sinfulness,

Lord Jesus, and still call me by my name with love.

You see beyond my faults and failings

and gently show me what I yet

may still become by your grace.

O Lord, you know I am not worthy

that you should enter my house,

call me by name, or merit your mercy

and yet you deign to be with me

not just because of who I am but more

because of who you are.

Your presence empowers me to repent

and your grace enables me to make

amends for all I have injured or betrayed,

knowing now that your power to save me

is infinitely greater than my power to sin.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

World Mission Day, Journey of Faith

World Mission Day, Journey of Faith

 

Today the entire Church celebrates World Mission Day, an event created by Pope Pius XI in 1926.  Since that time, now nearly 100 years ago, the Pope composes a message for the reflective meditation by Catholics worldwide.  It is intended to deepen the missionary consciousness and commitment of all the faithful.  The title of this year’s message is: “You shall be my Witnesses,” (Acts 1:8).

Pope Francis begins by noting that the celebration of World Mission Day is to remind us that “the Church is missionary by nature” and that “the call of every Christian [is] to bear witness to Christ.”  Just as Christ was the first “missionary” of the Father, “every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ.”  Indeed, “to evangelize is the very identity of the Church.”

A Deeper Look.  If we pay focused attention to Christ’s call, we will appreciate many aspects of “the mission Christ entrusted to the disciples.”  All disciples “are urged to live their personal lives in a missionary key; they are sent by Jesus to the world not only to carry out, but also above all to live the mission entrusted to them; not only to bear witness, but also and above all to be witnesses of Christ.”

“The essence of mission is to bear witness to Christ, that is, to his life, passion, death and resurrection” and to his “love of the Father and of humanity.”  “Missionaries of Christ are not sent to communicate themselves….  Instead, theirs is the supreme honor of presenting Christ in words and deeds, proclaiming to everyone the Good News of his salvation, as the first apostles did, with joy and boldness.”

Further Insight.  Pope Francis goes on to say that “when it comes to Christian witness, the observation of Saint Paul VI remains ever valid.”  Paul VI noted: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he listens to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 41).  It is noteworthy that Saint John Paul II quoted this same insight it his mission encyclical (Redemptoris Missio 42).

Pope Francis goes on to assert that “the testimony of an authentic Christian life is fundamental for the transmission of the faith.”  Yet, the proclamation of Christ’s person and message is equally necessary.  In short, this means that for evangelization

“the example of a Christian life and the proclamation of Christ are inseparable.  One is at the service of the other.  They are the two lungs with which any community must breathe, if it is to be missionary.”

Personal Invitation.  Pope Francis requests each of us to become a “consistent and joyful witness of Christ” and a “force of attraction for the growth of the Church.”  “I exhort everyone to take up once again the courage, frankness, and parrhesia [boldness] of the first Christians, in order to bear witness to Christ in word and deed, in every area of life.”

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

 

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Send me your Holy Spirit, O Lord,

that it may in turn send me

out into the world to witness to your love,

your mercy, your justice, and your truth.

Give me your grace, my God,

to love as you love, to be merciful

as you are merciful, to be just

as you are just and to live the truth

that you alone are God, all loving,

all merciful, and all just.

Send me out each day from my room,

my home, my comfort zone

to a world that longs for true peace.

Give me wisdom to proclaim

your good news no less through silence

than through words,

through deeds no less than

through holy patience waiting

for the right time to act.

Above all help me to live your Gospel

in everything I do or say and

find your presence in everyone I meet.

For you alone are the creator of all,

the savior of all humankind and

the redeemer in whose divine image

everyone on earth is made.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

An Urgent Call, Journey of Faith

An Urgent Call, Journey of Faith

 

Only a few weeks ago, we all listened to the reports of the devastation and suffering caused by hurricane Ian, particularly in Florida.  Personally, I still vividly remember that in late September 2009 the Philippines suffered a “double-hit” of two back-to-back typhoons.  Typhoon Ondoy dumped the equivalent of over one month’s rainfall on Manila and the surrounding areas in less than 24 hours.  The situation was urgent.

Solidarity in Suffering.  Many people manifested their solidarity and compassion during these tragic events in Florida and Manila.  I remember Muelmar Magallanes, the 18-year-old construction worker who saved the lives of 30 people in Manila during the height of the storm.  After he had moved his own family to higher ground, he went back to do the same for some 30 others.  A strong swimmer, Muelmar’s last rescue mission was a 6-month-old baby and mother.  He then succumbed to fatigue and the strong currents carried him away.  Time magazine named him one of the top ten heroes of the year. 

Missionary Urgency.  The Church asks all of us to frequently reflect on the urgency of mission.  This theme dominates Saint Paul’s second letter to Timothy, today’s second reading.  Paul exhorts Timothy with the strongest of words: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus … proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” 

Profound Insights.  In his mission encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Saint Pope John Paul II reflects on “missionary urgency.”  Listen to his words: “Mission is an issue of faith, an accurate indicator of our faith in Christ and his love for us” (RM 11).  The pope goes on to say that “in the Church’s history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith” (RM 2).  And again, “The Lord is always calling us to come out of ourselves and to share with others the goods we possess, starting with the most precious gift of all—our faith” (RM 49).

John Paul II is asserting that mission will only flourish if it is built upon “our faith in Christ and his love for us.”  Only when we are deeply convinced of Christ’s personal love for us, will we be energized to tell others the good news.  A sense of the urgency of mission emerges from an awareness of God’s profound love.

Personal Commitment.  To meet the urgent needs caused by natural disasters, all try to do their share; the same principle holds true for spreading the Good News of Jesus.  It is an urgent imperative; all are called to serve the Church’s mission; some are even invited to give heroic service.  Remember Muelmar Magallanes; he gave his life in service.  So did Jesus on the cross.  You and I need to ask: How deep is my faith?  Is mission urgent for me?

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

 

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord, who always hear the cry of the poor

and that all be saved by your truth

may I recognize my neighbor in need

and acknowledge that I may be the answer

to their prayers.

I confess I feel overwhelmed and helpless

in the face of tragedy and suffering.

Let me not refuse to do anything

out of fear I can do nothing

but let my efforts and offerings

no matter how small, by your grace

be multiplied to feed the multitudes.

Accept, then, my Lord and God, my gifts

of time, talents, and prayers as but

the first fruits of my faith in you.

Together with brothers and sisters of faith

may we answer your urgent call to help

that the world may be healed, fed and freed

to build your kingdom here on earth.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

Surprising Model of Virtue, Journey of Faith

 

Today’s Gospel from Saint Luke narrates the merciful action of Jesus in curing ten lepers.  Certainly, to be healed of such a horrible affliction is a great gift, flowing from Jesus’ compassion.  Surprisingly, only one returns to express his gratitude to Jesus.  Thus, Jesus asks: “Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine?  Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  And, as Saint Luke notes: “He was a Samaritan.”

Today’s Gospel presents the “grateful leper” (Lk 17:15-19).  Recently on July 10, we heard Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Lk 10:29-37).  During the Lenten liturgy on the Third Sunday of Year A, we hear about Jesus and the “Samaritan woman at the well” (Jn 4:1-42).  To Jewish ears during the time of Jesus praising the virtues of Samaritans would be shocking.  Yet, Jesus three times holds up foreign Samaritans as examples to be imitated.

Gratitude.  This beautiful virtue, is not a single, one-time expression; Christians approach life, people, and events with a constant “attitude of gratitude.”  Allow me to propose “ten commandments of gratitude.” 

(1)  Recognize your many blessings.  Recall the copious gifts you have received: family, health, friends, faith, opportunities.  Each moment and stage of life brings new blessings; we are gifted again and again. 

(2)  Reflect on the source of gifts.  We do not earn gifts; God is the source of our richness.  Treasure God’s generosity.

(3)  Recall frequently: gifts are meant for sharing.  All we are and all we have are gifts.  Our person, our talents, our richness are meant for sharing, not hiding or hoarding.  What you have received as a gift, give as a gift (Mt 10:8). 

(4)  Remember, remember, remember.  Continuous remembering is central to making our past graced moments, small or large, present and alive in our lives.

(5)  Be grateful in all seasons.  Gratitude is not only a fair-weather virtue; prosperous times and difficult moments are equally opportunities to give thanks. 

(6)  Guard against the enemies of gratitude.  Self-pity, jealousy, and resentment attack and drive out genuine gratitude.  Be done with asking: Why me?  Is life fair?

(7) Practice acts of gratitude daily.  Express and manifest thankfulness regularly;

develop the habit of manifesting gratitude.

  (8)  Enrich your personality through gratitude.  Grateful people are at peace with themselves, with others, and with what they have.

(9)  Place gratitude at the center of your prayer.  Prayer from the heart is replete with thankfulness.  Grateful persons turn easily to God in prayer. 

(10)  Become a Eucharistic person.  The Greek word, Eucharist, means thanksgiving. Sharing Christ’s love in the Eucharist can transform us into loving, grateful, serving persons, permeated with an “attitude of gratitude.”

Like the thankful leper, we are to constantly praise God for his gracious mercies.  Like Jesus himself, we are to see sincere goodness in other people—even in those we did not expect.  Do we have the eyes of Jesus—eyes of mercy?                           

James H. Kroeger, M.M.

 

Prayer for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fill my soul each morning with your praises,

O Lord, for the gift of another day and may each evening

find my heart overflowing with gratitude

for all your graces and blessings in my life.

For the gift of life, health and love

I give you thanks, O Lord!

for family, friends and neighbors

I give you thanks, O Lord!

for each challenge, each setback,

each failure I give you thanks, O Lord!

for each breath, each step, each day

I give you thanks, O Lord!

Above all, for faith in your providence,

for hope in your promises and for love of your presence

in the Eucharist, In my heart, in my soul, in my life,

and in my world, I give you thanks, O God,

my Lord and my Savior.

Amen.

By Fr. Joseph Veneroso. M.M.

   

   

ABOUT MARYKNOLL

We are a Catholic Society of priests and brothers based in the United States. We are dedicated to missionary work overseas in over 20 countries. Additionally, we animate Catholics in the United States to follow their own baptismal call to share God’s compassion and love with the poor, the sick, and all those in need.

OUR GENERAL COUNCIL

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, Fr. James M. Lynch, Fr. Timothy O. Kilkelly)

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is overseen by our General Council, led by Superior General Rev. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.

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L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Our Co-Founders Father Price and Father Walsh)

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USA

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(Africa) Education and Formation of African Clergy

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region will provide tuition assistance to African clergy, male and female religious at institutes of higher education or specialized training. Read More

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The calling of a lifetime
The life of a Maryknoll missioner is challenging, fulfilling, and deeply rewarding. Follow your baptismal call to mission by sharing God’s compassion with the poor, the sick, and people most in need.