Friday, September 23, 2011

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

One word that is always incompatible with our Christian faith is “fatalism”… to believe that my destiny is already written… We, as Christians believe that the future is a book that is not written yet, a book in which we have the right to write our own pages in the book of our lives.

The readings today go in that direction. They invite and oblige us to recognize that it is possible to change the direction in our lives. Every decision can transform you into a different person. It means not only that we can change, but we can also get better and improve the direction that we choose. Catholicism always brings a positive message: CONVERSION IS POSIBLE. Today you can come to your senses; the rest of your life doesn’t exist yet… you are going to participate in you existence.

Change your mind, change your heart and your life and the results will be amazing”

In the first reading we are receiving a very strong invitation: “If the wicked repent… he shall not die, he shall preserve his life” (Ez 18:25-28). That person is someone that has done many bad things and has made many bad decisions and most of the times we consider him bad in himself, in his nature but even that nature doesn’t have the last word. The message is simple but powerful: nobody is tied to a bad past. Not even the bad words that you have said have the power to enslave you. The second son in the parable today was the one that said in a loud voice: “I will not go” (Mt 21; 28-32) yet a word with wisdom can be more powerful than a bad, negative and pessimist word.

I don’t want to finish by giving the impression that what we need is simply “good intentions” we have enough proof of how weak we are. Christ gives us the grace to not only accept and recognize that we where wrong but also not to feel the strong desire to repeat it. The action of Christ in us, don’t forget, changes the heart. We have the Gospel filled with stories that prove this.

This reason is exactly why Saint Paul exhorts us with these words: “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:1-11). It is so hard to do things like Jesus if we are not His. My brothers and sisters, because of our Faith in Him, because we believe in His message, because we are still building St. Marks Church as He commanded us in Mt. 28:19; because we are using all the tools He has placed in our hands to bring more brothers and sisters to love His Church from where we receive His Holy Spirit.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

God calls, God invites. That is the message this Sunday. Our God is not on vacation; He is not absent in our lives. If God calls it is because He loves us and because we matter to Him. The first call of God was for our existence. We are created free to accept or reject His voice. That is why we need to hear His voice as a guide. His voice talks to our entire being, not only to what we were in the past, to denounce our sins, but to all our being, to all we can become (Is 55: 6-9).

Why don’t we understand His plans? We have a narrow vision, limited in many aspects. If we can only make it broader… not limited only to the past and present… Like God we’ll be able to see in Saul the persecutor of Christians, Paul, the great apostle, in a common young guy the great Francis of Assisi and in a simple fisherman the first Pope and fisher of men.

Even more than that… If we see like God, we will see that there is beauty not only in not making mistakes, but also in finding forgiveness. It is precisely that beauty that is so hard for us to find and it is so essential if only we try to understand the immensity of the love God has for you and me.

“The last will be the first”.  When we do not agree with this principle it is because we fear in many occasions. It contradicts our conception of what fear is. 

The "first ones" in the case of the Gospel (Mt 20, 1-16) were the ones hired in the beginning of the day. The "last ones" were the ones that were hired late in the day. For all of them the possibility to work was in itself a gift, because all of them were without doing anything, without direction in their lives. But that gift stopped appearing as a burden in the mind of the early birds. The gift became tedious, another common task to which we normally respond with lack of thankfulness. It gave them the capacity to criticize and too much sensibility to their own pain and lack of comfort.

Dear Lord, I sometimes see things from a very human and selfish point of view. Sometimes I find myself getting angry because others may have more than I do. Help me understand that the most important thing to be truly happy in my life is to be aware of the need I have of your grace. I love you because you have loved me without my deserving your love. Lord, help me to appreciate and be grateful for your grace.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?

 St. Catherine of Siena once was praying in front of a Crucifix and with the help of the Holy Spirit Holy Spirit said: Lord How come, I am the thief and you are condemned? My brothers and sisters the art of forgiving others lies in knowing and acknowledging that we are forgiven. We are mistaken when we start to take count of the circumstances, motives and intentions of the one that harmed us... this is just going to add more resentment and hatred will seep into our soul for the one who offended us. Forgiveness won't come from there.

 Jesus will show us a different way: "Others have debts with you; I know...but let's talk about your debts. Let's talk about the love that I had and have for you when I die on the cross. From there you'll be able to bring the capacity for and the grace to pardon and forgive". That, my brothers and sisters is what we need to pray for today.

 The man in the Gospel Mt 18, 15-20; couldn't pay, yet God forgave him. The total amount that he owed was what Galilee owed Rome in 15 years. People knew what Jesus was saying. We can't pay and yet there is someone that pays for us with the infinite price of His own blood. Lord, God, teach us the value of the Blood of Christ and captivate us, so that our bitterness may find the right proportion.

 The man in the Gospel knew that his debt was forgiven, but he couldn't see who paid for it.  Maybe that is why he was not compassionate with the person that owed him less. We know, my brothers and sisters, who paid our debt, 1 Peter 18, 19.  If someone were to really acknowledge the price that was paid, they would not pay much attention to other offenses and problems. God wants us to have a balance between being realistic and merciful. Why? Because this is the way He acts with us.

 What if we make this Eucharist a fount of pardon? What if someone has something against his brother, husband, wife, Dad, Mom, co-worker?  Ask God for the grace to better understand the price of the blood that is going to be offered on this altar. Ask for the grace to love the Life we will receive. Now, notice the disproportionate debt you have and the huge debt you are about to be forgiven if you approach the Sacraments that we have, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Heavenly Father, I believe you are watching over me during this time of prayer, and I thank you for your constant protection. I trust in you because you are a loving Father who loves me at every moment. I know you are always ready to forgive my small and great offenses.
Lord Jesus, I thank you for your infinite goodness and mercy. You know I am a sinner in such need of your forgiveness. Instill in my heart the desire to be merciful to those around me and to be always ready to forgive them as you are always ready to forgive me.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Welcome to St. Marks All of you College Students in the Neighborhood

To all of our friends at Saint Mark's,

My name is Daniel Carr; I recently graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in political science.  This past Easter season I became engaged to my future wife Rebecca Theisen and recently returned from a summer abroad in Italy.  During our years at St. Thomas we have really enjoyed attending Mass here at Saint Mark's.  It is a beautiful Church that holds a lot of promise for the future and the community.

We have been impressed by the work of Father Humberto and the brothers. It is very exciting to see how passionate and dedicated they are to the future of this Parish.  In talking to them, we have seen that they have an incredibly positive outlook for the future of Saint Mark's and the Church and have many great ideas about how to further expand the mission of Saint Mark's and evangelize the community.

With that said, the work here is far from over. Although the life of the Parish is coming alive again, it is just in the process of being revived and revitalized. There is much work that still needs to be done. So, always continue improving and making the Saint Mark's family stronger and more united through prayer and community outreach. Give back to the Parish and the community selflessly, and serve first and foremost for others and the personal rewards will come along with that. Reach out to the outside community, continue fighting the good fight, and the great Parish of Saint Mark's will continue to grow stronger and stronger.

Rebecca and I consider ourselves blessed to be a part of the Saint Mark's family, no matter where we are geographically. We ask for your prayers as we prepare for our marriage next fall and that we may continue to grow in our journey and remain followers of Christ.

Daniel Carr and Rebecca Theisen

Last Chance Mass:

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

My brothers and sisters the readings today talk about a healthy community and how to bring back a community that is lacking of good health. What can we do when evil or sin comes to our community. What can we do when we see error, sin, problems, and darkness in the lives of others?

Saint Augustine once said: ”We are not merciful if we don't correct the bad in others when we can do it”. Individualism sometimes unauthorized us to talk to others. There is a wrong idea that nobody should say anything to anyone that is doing wrong.
“Mind your own business” is a very common expressions at work, with friends (even with good ones), and even with family members. It is getting so difficult to be able to give advise or correct co-workers, friends and even to members if your family. Will you say to one of the ones that work with you: "hey David, I really think that the alcohol is destroying your life" or "I really think that you affective disorder is not going to lead you to success or joy"

My question is if the gospel we have heard is going to be well received from anyone in today's individualistic society in where everyone has their own private and untouchable world. Who wants to be corrected and who wants to correct when there are so many chances to be rejected or sometimes even sued?

Having said all of this, I will make a suggestion to all of us. Now that we realize that there are few that are willing to accept a fraternal correction. What if we try to be those who are willing to receive corrections. Those that are willing to change the way they see things and accept the will of God.

If you are like me and we have stony hearts, lets ask the Lord with His grace, to open our hearts so that when He speaks and corrects may we can remember that at the same time He consoles and teaches.

Lord, make me a person that can receive corrections. Help me to listen to the voice of my parents, son, daughter, wife… the word that I didn’t want to hear, the question that I didn’t like specially from the ones that I think have less knowledge than me.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, help me to be attentive to the inspirations of your Holy Spirit. This day may be filled with many challenges and activities but throughout them all I invite you to be with me. Lord, you taught us to gather together in prayer. Grant your Church greater unity and charity. Help us to help each other. Give us the humility to be open to correction. I believe that your love will triumph