Category Archives: Sundays

Mortal Sin

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today in the gospel, we see that Our Lord encounters this funeral procession. The people are walking through the streets of the town, carrying this coffin of a dead man. I was thinking about this and reading in a book, of what the saints say about this gospel; the saints always have interesting ideas.
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St. Bede[i] interprets this scene in spiritual terms; he says, ‘the dead man who was carried, is a sign of a person whose soul is dead in mortal sin.’ Now it is true, that in the scriptures, sickness and disease are signs of sin; when Our Lord cures people, it is also a sign of his ability to heal us of our sins; naturally therefore, death is a sign of the worst: mortal sin.
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The word ‘mortal’ refers to death. Humans are called mortal, because we all die. If we suffer a mortal wound, it means he won’t recover from it. So a mortal sin, refers to death in the soul by which we lose grace, and we estrange ourself from God’s love. Mortal sin is worse than physical death. It would be better to get cancer, than to fall into mortal sin. If a person dies in mortal sin, if they do not repent, they go straight to hell. This therefore, is the worst thing that could happen to us.
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Referring to this, St. John Vianney[ii] says, sin is the executioner and assassin of the soul. It snatches us away from heaven to bring us to hell, and yet we love it. He says, the Good God wishes to make us happy, yet we turn from his law and give ourselves to the devil. We turn from our Friend, and go to our murderer, who murders our soul.
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Now there are two ways that mortal sin can wound us: temporarily, or more permanently. We can be wounded temporarily, if, when we commit a mortal sin, we immediately turn back to Christ, ask for mercy, and go to confession at our earliest opportunity. Jesus wants to heal us of our wounds, especially mortal wounds, and this is signified in the gospel today, when Jesus felt pity; he touched the coffin and said: ‘Young man, I tell you, arise!,’ and he came back, alive.
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This is why Our Lord gave us the ‘rescue sacrament,’ confession, so that if we repent and are sorry, he will touch us, and bring our soul alive. And this is exactly how people feel when they have their great sins forgiven in confession, they are really alive again.
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The other way that mortal sin can wound us, is much more dangerous. It is when a person does not repent, but instead, sort of ‘makes peace’ with his sin, and continues to live his life without holy grace. A person in this state is in danger of having a hard-heart, of accepting the state of his sin. This is impenitence.
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I read of a man who had accepted a habit of sin and no longer resisted it; he was told by his friend, ‘change your ways unless you wish to go to hell. He simply replied: ‘Well, I may indeed go to hell for it!’ And he certainly did, because shortly thereafter he fell sick and suddenly died.
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St. Alphonsos[iii] tells of another man who was in an adulterous relationship with a neighbor. One day, her husband caught them, and so forced the man to drink a poisonous liquid. He went home and told his brother, who urged him to confess before he died. ‘No, he said, I do not wish confession, but tell the lady that I love her.’ This, is blindness!! It is the madness, in which a person prefers his sin to heaven.
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If we commit a grave sin, we must get out of danger as quickly as possible so that we don’t ‘make peace’ with our sin – become hard-hearted. If we skip Mass, we should not delay in confessing lest it become a habit and we become lost. Even in the time of St. Paul, he warned of this danger. In Hebrews, he says, don’t be like some people who neglect to come to our Assembly, as is the habit of some. [For them,] there is no longer a sacrifice for their sins, but only judgment and the fury of fire.[iv]
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So too, it is one thing for example, to fall into impurity, but confess and try again to be pure – it is quite another, for a person to make peace with his sin, and move in with a fellow fornicator. At some point, a person may not be able to leave their sin at all.
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A vulture, rather than abandon the carcass on which it feeds, would rather be shot by the hunter than give up the dead remains. We must not become vultures, attached to a sinful way of life.
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St. John Vianney says, for those who are on an evil path, whether in lies, blasphemy, impurity, theft, or whatever – he says, ask them – ask the drunkard, ‘What have you been doing? You have been crucifying Our Lord again.
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But the Good News is, the Lord does not give up on anyone; as in the gospel, he wishes to raise a person back from the dead, if they are willing, if they repent. The saints also tell us, that in this gospel, the widow who weeps for her dead son, represents the Church. The Church being a widow on account of the death of Christ – she weeps over her children who are dead in sin, with the hope that Christ can bring them back to life.
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And the widow is also Mary. Mary prays for her children who are in trouble. And how many stories are there, of Mary saving people by her intercession? In Valencia, a priest met a dying sinner in a hospital who had not gone to confession for 55 years. He had however, prayed a little each day to Mary, asking that she would help him at his death. He told the priest, I was attacked, and at the moment I would be killed, I prayed, ‘Mother of sinners, help me.’ The attack ceased, and there in the hospital he made a good confession and died in peace. Mary, pray for us to be faithful to Jesus, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Nicholas]

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[i] Cataena, p. 240

[ii] The Little Catechism, p. 51

[iii] Dignity and Duties of the Priest, p. 116

[iv] Hebrews 10:25

Stargate to heaven

Corpus Christi
Beloved in the Lord Jesus, when we read through the Old Testament, we see there many unique events connected to a special bread. We see Melchesidech offering bread and wine in this mysterious sactifice; we see the Bread of the Presence in the temple, there with wine, changed by the priests every week. And the miraculous manna, that kept the people alive daily in the desert journey. These and many other references, all pointing forward to something new that the Lord would give us. Jesus himself says that he is the New Manna, the true Bread from heaven, and that in this form, he will give us his Flesh to eat.
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One evening I was at a gathering with the Knights of Columbus, and there was a priest visiting, Fr. Thomas McCarthy. When I saw him, although I had never met him before, I immediately asked him: ‘Father, tell us about it. What was it like?!!’ Though he was very old, he smiled, because he knew what was on my mind.
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In 1996, Father McCarthy was visiting a chapel in Worcester Massachusetts. He was offering Mass with a small group of people, and two other priests. But that day was different. As he prayed those sacred words of Consecration over the Host: ‘This is my Body,…’ a pool of blood appeared on the Host. He looked down to see the bleeding, wounded Host on the altar, and saw there, the reality of the crucified Lord Jesus, made visible. The other priests at the altar saw it; he showed it to the people, and as a hush of excitement swept through the chapel, he motioned to them for quiet; and they continued the Mass. I knew of this, because by coincidence, that mass was being filmed!
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Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, in which we especially honor the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. So today we speak of this great miracle of the Mass, when, under the appearance of bread and wine, the True Body, and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ appears on earth, and the bread and the wine are no more – only appearances remain.
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2000 years ago, the little body of Jesus was born to Mary. And Mary went and offered this Divine Child in the Temple to God. For those who did not know or have faith, that child seemed a mere human baby. But for Mary and Joseph and those of Faith, even before seeing all of the miracles Christ would do, they believed that that Child was truly God, who had taken on humanity, who had clothed himself in our human nature.
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Today is no different. This same Jesus is born into the womb of Holy Mother the Church, not by the word of the angel, but by the words of the priest. Not in the appearance of a child, but in the appearance of bread and wine. And then this Divine Child, is offered by Holy Mother church, in the Temple of God, which is heaven. Only persons of Faith know this and accept this. To be a Catholic, is to believe that this is indeed the miraculous truth.
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When we receive Holy Communion, we are really renewing our Covenant with the Lord. It’s like in marriage. Vows are made at the altar, and then each time the spouses give themselves to each other in marital love, they are renewing their vows, their covenant. Holy Communion is called a ‘Wedding Banquet,’ because here we are joined in a union with our Beloved, a one-flesh union with Our Lord. And so we say, I give myself to you, I swear my love to you, my faithfulness.
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If there is a small rift between spouses, a tiff, they still give themselves to each other. But if there is a wound to their relationship, a bad argument, they do not give themselves to each other, not without a reconcilation.
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Same with Jesus in Holy Communion. If we are not ready to receive the Lord in Holy Communion, if we have not been faithful to him in the way we live, then we don’t receive him until we have been reconciled in Confession. But if we are ready, at a given Mass, to approach the Holy Table, and receive into our soul, the dear Christ, to love him, and cherish him, all the days of our life, then let us receive Him with great reverence. ‘Lord, I love you, I praise you, I adore you!
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Years ago there was a movie called STARGATE, and I think a tv show, I never followed it, but there was an idea there, that was interesting: a person could go through this Stargate, and come out in a vastly different place, another world, billions of light years away. Well, Jesus is like the Stargate. He’s come to prepare us to enter into a different world. Christ is the gate to heaven. He brings the power of God to us, in little doses each Sunday, preparing us, so that we can survive the journey through the Stargate to a new world.
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It is only the glorified Body of Jesus which can make us ready for the new dimension of heaven, into a transcendently higher order of existence. The first Christians used to say that the Holy Eucharist is the Medicine of Immortality. Of course, if we receive Communion in mortal sin, it is not a medicine, but a terrible poison. Then it becomes the kiss of Judas. St. Paul speaks of this when he says that those who receive in an unworthy manner bring condemnation upon themselves. ‘This is why, he says, many of you have become ill and died.’[ii] – because of sinful Communions.
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But by receiving the Lord worthily, Communion becomes a medicine, that in effect, is preparing us for a new type of world. The world ahead is called the New Creation. It is resurrected life. At Holy Mass, we partake, a little bit, in something that has come over to us from the New Creation. Little by little, we are being prepared to live in the New World.
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May the Blessed Virgin help us, that we will swear our life to Christ, and always receive him with purity and love and faith.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Therese]

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[i] 1 Cor 11:27-30

Heaven

The Ascension of the Lord
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord.
Jesus, having completed his earthly life, ascends up to heaven: ‘And he led them out and raising his hands, blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them, and was taken up to heaven.’
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Well, we are supposed to do what Jesus did. Live our earthly life in faithfulness, like our Savior, and then be taken up to heaven like him. Heaven is our goal, it is the only goal worth pursuing; it is the most important goal, because if we do not reach heaven, everything else will be totally useless.
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How valuable is heaven? Jesus Christ has sacrificed his life on the cross for this, so that we can go there. St. Alphonsus says, ‘Most certainly, the greatest of all the torments of the damned in hell, is the thought of having lost heaven through their own fault.’
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In heaven we will have all that we desire; new beauties, delights, new joys. There, all our desires shall be satisfied. Heaven is described by St. John as a great City, it’s streets of pure gold, the walls are jewels, illuminated by the glory of God. Other images: flowers and meadows and streams, secret places to be and to love. Christ calls it ‘Paradise.’
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Once resurrected, our senses will be alive as never before in this life, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting… Our hearing will be alive with the sounds of nature in the New World; our eyes will behold beauty never before seen on earth; smelling will be satisfied by heavenly scents – no doubt scents we never could perceive before. And taste will relish the banquets of heaven, so often referred to by Jesus.
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Greater than the sights of heaven, are the inhabitants of heaven. No bad people there, only very good. Anyone who makes it there, has every fault purged away; hearts will be shared with truly admirable persons, with no limits set to the passing of time. To hear the voice of a saint speak, talk to us – to sit perhaps by a quiet pond, visiting, hearing the voice of the Blessed Virgin speaking to us. St. Francis de Sales says, as the singing of the nightingale in the woods surpasses that of other birds, so the voice of Mary is superior to that of all the other saints. And yet, we will be with her and those we love, in that Paradise.
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But these delights can’t compare to the greatest: and that is to be with God, to see Jesus, to embrace him; to experience the love of God fully in our heart, in ecstasy as we have never experienced love before. Some of the saints on earth briefly experienced union with God. St. Peter Alcantara once experienced such an ecstasy of God’s love that he took hold of a large tree and pulled it up by its roots. When St. Teresa experienced union with God, it was so sweet, she said she could no longer be content with anything but God himself. The experience will be indescribable, and it will be our fulfillment.
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In his Ascension to heaven, Jesus shows us the way, it is what he wants for us; and this is why he spoke so often and forcefully about avoiding hell. The Holy Scriptures tell of the judgment we will each receive, determining whether we go to joy or to eternal misery: The Book of Life will be opened, and each will search anxiously for his name. ‘And scrolls were opened, and the Book of Life; and if anyone was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the pool of fire.’
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The reprobate, not finding their name there, will become hysterical; they will be placed on the left to await condemnation. The devils will say to God, ‘This one now is mine, since in life he was unwilling to be yours.’ On that day the proud will be filled with utter dread; they will say, ‘we regarded Christians as fools who led humble lives, but now, we are really the fools.’
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The Lord will turn to his beloved and point in the Book of Life, their names written there. And to them Jesus says, ‘Rejoice, for your names are written in heaven.’ And he will bless their faith and their prayers and their tears, and receive each into his embrace.
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And he will say to the reprobate, ‘Depart from me you accursed into the everlasting fire. And as St. Ephrem says, these wicked will say farewell forever to their relatives, and farewell to heaven. ‘Goodbye Paradise. Farewell mother and father. Goodbye Mary, Mother of God.’ And a great pit will be opened, and their hideous bodies will descend into it forever, and the doors will shut, never to be opened again.
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Friends, heaven is our hope, and we must get there; we must. In heaven, all hearts will be revealed. There the child will see the true heart of his mother. He will know that it was the tears and prayers of his mother, which brought about his salvation. ‘O mother, he will say. ‘I used to love you because you gave me food and my needs, but now I love you a thousand times more because you won for me eternal life.’ How happy will be, those mothers and fathers who prayed their children into Paradise.
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One day at Mass, St. Augustine was describing the heavenly City to his people. He did so with a voice charged with emotion, with that golden eloquence of his. The people were deeply moved, and felt as if they were transported to heaven. Their emotion was so great, that tears flowed from every eye. The normal silence of Church was broken, each began to speak of the happiness of heaven.
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Hearing all these feelings and sighs, Augustine was surprised. He wanted to continue, but his own emotion stifled his voice. His tears mingled with theirs, as all longed for rest, in that heavenly homeland.
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Friends, heaven is the reason Jesus comes to us; in the end, he wants us there. He really wants us to be there. We must therefore do what he did: live a holy life – faithful – doing God’s will; so that on our last day, we too will Ascend to heaven.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Joseph]

Give Him your heart

4th Sunday of Easter 
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today is Good Shepherd Sunday in which we are reminded that Jesus is this Shepherd, seeking the good for his sheep. Regarding his faithful disciples, Jesus says: ‘My sheep hear my voice and they follow me, and no one can take them out of my hand.’
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In all the Holy Gospels, Our Lord uses many different images and parables to illustrate his relation to us. He is seen as a Shepherd, who searches for the lost sheep and brings it safely home. Our Lord compares himself to a father, whose son goes off and get’s into bad trouble; but when that son changes his heart, the father is waiting to receive him home. Our Lord says he is like a doctor, who wishes to cure we, who are sick; he uses many images to convey his relation to us, but he speaks most directly in chpt. 15 of the Gospel of St. John, when he directly calls us his ‘friends.’ ‘No longer do I call you slaves, but I call you friends.’
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This dear Lord loves us even before we loved him. As St. John says, ‘We love – because he first loved us.’ (John 4:19) Fr. Joseph Schryvers says, Jesus is concerned about each individual soul, each person, more than the whole world. In fact, Christ on that cross, had – has, each and every individual person in his heart, in his concerns.
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Well if this is the case with everyone, what about the person who chooses to give their whole heart to Christ, who lives for him, tries to please him in their daily life – what about this person? If we think of a true friend, we will see that if we pour ourself out for that friend, the other will return the affection all the more.
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St. Catherine of Sienna had a number of mystical conversations with Jesus; on one occasion, he said to her: ‘Catherine, think of me, and I will think of you.’ By this he meant, if you give yourself to me, I will never fail you, I will be with you in sickness and in health, I will guide you on the path to salvation and to greatness. I will never leave you.
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This is the Lord’s attitude when one gives oneself totally to him; Jesus immediately assumes the obligation of helping this person, and he showers his favor on him. God is not miserly in returning love, he is way-generous!
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Speaking of those who give themselves to him totally, he says; ‘give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap.’ In the parable of the talents, the person who did the most with his talents – who gave his all for God – his talents were multiplied, and the master even gave the talent of the miserly man to him. The heart of God is wounded with love, when he sees that we give him our heart.
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A little boy had a game that was the most precious thing to him, and everyone knew it; but when he heard that his uncle was in trouble and very sad, he went to him and said: ‘I want to give you a present,’ and he gave him his game. I needn’t tell you the affect this had on the uncle’s love for his nephew. When someone gives their all to us, they then have our heart. But it takes trust to give our heart.
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During the time of famine, when the old widow gave Elijah the last morsel of her food, God made sure she never went hungry again. While we should be prudent and make plans in life, we should be reckless in our trust and love of God, because he will reward us.
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When Jesus was walking on the sea, Peter immediately wanted to do the same, and with child-like trust he did it, it was only after doubting, that he began to sink. For those who show confidence in the Lord, he feels bound to defend them. Against the envious, he shielded the new convert Zacheus; against cruelty, he defended the repentant adulteress; when his hungry disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath, he stood up to the Sadducees to defend them; and above all, he protected Mary Magdalene, the sinner.
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This woman of sinful fame, having decided to give her heart to Christ, enters a stranger’s house, goes to the dinning room, and in front of all the important guests, kneels down and washes the feet of Christ. For this humble act, this conversion of her heart in front of all, Jesus would never fail her. He would defend her against Martha who said she was lazy; he would defend her against Judas who said she was wasteful. And for her love, Magdalene would have the privilege of seeing him in the resurrection, even before the apostles. Jesus will always protect and reward those who give him their heart.
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Giving oneself to Christ means doing his will in every moment; as it is written: ‘this is love for God: to keep his commands.’ St. Augustine said[i]: All who do not love God are strangers and antichrists. They might come to the churches, but they are not among the children of God, the fountain of life does not belong to them. A bad person can have baptism, a bad person can receive Holy Communion, though unworthily; a bad person can have the name of Christ and be called a Christian. But to have love and be a bad person is impossible.
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Friends, it is not so popular to give away one’s heart these days; a type of cynicism has entered the world, a lot of distrust. But there is one Person who will never let us down. He is worthy of our heart, because he has already given His to us.
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We conclude by going to Mary. O dear Blessed Virgin, pray for us, that we will never count the costs, but give our heart entirely to Jesus Thy Son.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Margaret of Cortona]

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[i] Homily 7 on the 1st Epistle of St. John

The Devil in God’s Trap

Easter Sunday!
Beloved in the Lord: Jesus Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!
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Today is Easter, and if Good Friday was a day of sorrow, then today is a day of Victory. Christ has won the victory for mankind; for you and for me. This victory in which we bask today, is a victory over sin, and death, and Satan, and the story of this victory goes back to the dawn of the human race.
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The first man and woman were created in a state of happiness. But then came temptation by that fallen angel: ‘Follow me,’ he says, I will make you happier.’ So our race fell into the trap, and we became slaves to the Ancient Serpent. ‘You are mine now, you fools,’ ‘you are under my power,’ he says. and the devil was happy about it.
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Originally, death had been unknown to us, but now our race is subject to death. Satan became prince of this world, he is a heavy taskmaster. But the Good God did not give up on us. He promised a Savior, who would bring us back, out of this slavery. The Lord had a master-plan to overthrow the devil. And so he sent his own Son secretly into the world as one of us.
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From the moment Christ was born, the Ancient Enemy was suspicious: This Christ, just might be the promised Messiah, and that meant all out warfare. So he tempted the Lord in the desert – tried to figure out who he is. He whispered to King Herod: ‘kill the child. He whispered to the Pharisees: ‘he is a threat to you.’ To Judas: ‘get rid of him.’
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The devil was determined to destroy this Messiah, so that his slaves would be his forever. To Pontius Pilate, and to the crowds he whispered: ‘Jesus must die! And so Christ on Good Friday was nailed to the Cross. That day it seemed to be a defeat for Christ, but actually, it was a trap for the devil.
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An artist once painted the famous Merode alterpiece in Belgium. And in this painting, we see St. Joseph. Now St. Joseph in the scriptures, is a symbol for God the Father. And in this painting, St. Joseph, who is a carpenter – who works in wood – he is depicted, as making a special mouse-trap. He is making this mousetrap out of wood – to catch the Mouse. Who is the ‘Mouse, that he will catch? It is the devil.
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And so Joseph, or really, God the Father, is making a trap, to catch the Mouse. St. Augustine says this: ‘What is this trap, made by a Carpenter – who works in wood? ‘God’s Trap for the devil, is the Cross.
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And who is the bait, placed on the Trap? It is Jesus, he himself becomes the bait. As St. Anselm says, Jesus is the ‘sweet bait, by which He will catch the devil.
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And so, intoxicated with pride, the devil makes a huge mistake; he became reckless, and in his frenzy to condemn Christ, he put the sins of the entire world onto an innocent man – but he had no right, he had no rightful authority over the innocent Son of God. The devil took the bait. Hook, line, and sinker.
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At the death of Christ, the devil jumped for joy. ‘I’ve won! ‘I’ve won.’ ‘The Christ is beaten, and these slaves are mine forever.’ But he would have a great surprise, on the 3rd Day – that is today. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. And the stone is rolled away! ‘What is this, says Satan?’ ‘Something is wrong.’ And Mary looks into the tomb – and no body. And the angel says: he is not here! He is risen!!
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‘Risen?’  And that word rings in the devil’s head: ‘Risen? That’s impossible? He was brutally crucified, I saw to that! ‘Risen? Then I have been defeated.
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Yes says Jesus. You have lost. Sin, and death, and you, have been conquered Now give me what I want!   –   What do you want? He wants us. ‘Give me now, my children!! All of them!’
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And as it is written… ‘The great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who leads astray the whole world; and he was cast down, and I heard a voice in heaven say, ‘Now has come the salvation, and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of Christ; for the accuser of our brethren has been cast down. And they overcame him through the blood of the Lamb. Therefore rejoice O heavens. Rejoice.’ (Rev 12:9-12)
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Our sins are forgiven, and Christ has saved the world. So let us love Jesus and Mary and become saints for Christ; praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.   +

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Paul]

He comes in peace

Palm Sunday
Friends in Christ, today is Palm Sunday.  
Today with our palms, we walk with Jesus as he enters the city.  Jesus comes into the City hailed as king, as the Messiah.  
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Now it is true, that in those days the Jewish people probably thought Jesus would be a warrior Messiah,  who would raise an army against their enemy, the Romans.  But Christ was trying to teach with signs,  that they might understand what kind of Messiah he is.  Riding the donkey was a sign of peace.   
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St. Matthew tells us: ‘This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey.’ The King of heaven is coming in peace, he is not coming for war.  
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In the ancient Jewish Talmud a question asks:  ‘Why doesn’t your Messiah come riding a horse?’ The answer:  the horse is a sign of war, the donkey is a sign of peace.  Therefore, it was said that a king came riding upon a horse when he was planning war, and upon a donkey when he was coming in peace.  
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In the Talmud it was also written, that the Messiah would appear as a poor man on a donkey  only if the people were not worthy of salvation.  The truth is, that none of us are worthy of salvation, and so Christ came on a donkey.  
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In the Book of Revelation, that last book of the bible, we see images of the final judgment, the end of the world, when Christ will return, not in peace, but to judge, and definitively crush his enemies, at the final trumpet.  ‘And I saw .. a white horse, and he who sat on it called Faithful and True, and .. he judges and wages war .. and the armies in heaven .. were following Him on white horses ..’  When Christ appears at the end of the world, it will be to judge,  to vanquish his enemies;  but today, the Lord comes on a donkey, which means he comes in peace.  He is coming to die for you and for me.   
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This is what we will remember in the coming days of Holy Week. Let us therefore walk with the Lord in his Passion, that we may celebrate his victory on Easter. The victory of all of us, and the hope of our own resurrection in the world to come.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. John of God]

Your Savior

5th Sunday of Lent
Beloved in Jesus Christ,
Today we read in the Holy Gospel, about this woman caught in adultery. Obviously there was also a man involved, but he seems to have sneaked away. Adultery is a poison, it is a sickening attack on holy marriage, on the other spouse, and on the children. Some of us have seen it’s cruel work, it’s ability to change a happy family into bitter tears.
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The ancient Jews and even today some Muslim societies prescribe stoning to death for this sin, because this crime is a horrible blow to family life. We may think that stoning is too harsh of a punishment, but actually, if the adulterer dies without repentance, his punishment will be much worse than stoning: Eternal Damnation; the bible is quite clear about this.
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But God, in his Providence, did not want sin to have the last word. In the new dispensation, Jesus Christ comes to show us that sin – even very serious sin – can be overcome.
By his bitter Passion – by God’s suffering on Calvary – he redeems us from sin, making it possible for a repentant sinner to be healed, and making forgiveness possible.
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When I was a young and naïve priest, an older couple asked if I could bless their marriage, since they’d been married for 60 years. I said, ‘Marvelous!, 60 wonderful years.’ But the man stopped me: ‘It was not all wonderful father,’ ‘There was infidelity, I was unfaithful, but I repented;’ and – as he looked at his wife he said – there was forgiveness.’ Holding hands, they tightened their grip, and she said: ‘Our love is stronger now, than ever before.’
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It is the Passion and death of Jesus Christ that makes it possible to conquer evil, that sin will not have the last word. Soon we will be in Holy Week, and we will walk with Christ in his Passion. This is really the reason that Jesus came into the world, to die for us, to save us, to change everything.
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Once upon a time, there was a great king, who had one, only son, so beautiful, so holy, so good, that he was the delight of his father who loved him as much as himself. Now this son of the king cared very much for one of his servants; so much so, that when that servant had committed a crime and was condemned to death for it, the son offered to die in the place of that servant.
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The father was sad, but he agreed, and allowed his son to be condemned to death in order that that servant might be free from the punishment he deserved; and so the son of the king died the miserable death of a criminal, out of love for that servant.
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Now this story is ridiculous and has never happened in the world and never will, but it is told to us in the Gospels; there we read that the Son of God, seeing that man was condemned to death as punishment for his sins, chose to take upon himself human flesh, and thereby, pay by his death, the penalty that we owed. This is the love of Jesus Christ for us; it shows us how much he has sought us out.
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Our Lord is called the good shepherd. One of those sheep goes straying off where it should not be; – that’s us – driven by curiosity and temptation, into sins of all kinds. Yet this dear shepherd leaves the beauty of heaven to search and search, until he finds us. Seeing that the wolf will kill that little lamb; he gives his life in exchange for the lamb, so the lamb may live. The heart of Jesus is so full of love that he never gives up on us.
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So what then must be our response? We must love Him with our whole heart. We must repent of our sins. We must forgive those who have trespassed against us. And above all, we must unite ourselves to Him daily; speaking to this dear Savior every day in our prayers.
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When we rise, we offer the day to God. We pray at meals and before bedtime: that’s 5 times. We should speak to Jesus often during the day, in our work and in our play. Read a little from the Holy Bible or a spiritual book. In this way, we remain united to the God who has died for us.
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St. Zeno says that Jesus Christ wanted to have for his earthly father a carpenter; he wanted this, so that he could learn carpentry, and thereby handle wood and nails. He says: ‘The Son of God took delight in carpentry work, which, by often using wood and nails, was reminded of the cross, by which he would save mankind.’
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Why did Jesus suffer scourging, thorns, mockery, and death for we ungrateful sinners? It was because he loves us. He saw us spoiled with sin, and made for us a bath in his own blood that we might be cleansed and become dear to God. Christ came upon the earth principally that we might know his love, be forgiven, and ourselves forgive. We then, must return that love by living the Gospel and by praying every single day of our life….. and praying to Mary too!
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The Blessed Virgin was at the cross at the moment of our redemption.
The soldiers, taunting Jesus, ‘Come down from that cross!’
But not Mary: ‘O Jesus, stay on the cross, and save us.’
When we get to Holy Week, let’s stay at the cross with Mary, and pray: ‘Lord, help me; help a sinner who wishes to love you.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Nicholas]

On the need for Confession

4th Sunday of Lent
Friends in Christ, today we hear Our dear Lord tell this parable of the prodigal son. Here is this son, who took his inheritance and left, to find his own way in the world.
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‘And he gathered up all his wealth, and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his fortune in loose living.’
This young man went to try out all the pleasures that the world has to offer; he thought he would find happiness. Jesus tells this parable 2000 years ago, but it still applies today.
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We, still today, try to find happiness in many of the wrong things, and they leave us empty. We think that if we commit this or that sin, we will be happy; if I indulge in this lifestyle or that – after all, everyone else is doing it, ‘God just doesn’t understand, his commandments don’t apply to me.’
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So we often take the easy way out, or we follow the crowd; we may do something wrong to try to make our life easier or happy. But in the end, sin always makes us unhappy and guilty. Then we are like that young man in the gospel:
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‘And after he had spent all, there came a grievous famine over that country, and he began himself to suffer want. And he went and joined one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his farm to feed swine. And he longed to fill himself with the pods the swine were eating, but no one gave them to him.’
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That young man in the gospel had experimented with the promises of the world. But now he was empty and sad. He could only find a job to care for the pigs. He is each of us – when we commit sin, we feel deep down, that we have betrayed Someone. Someone who is very important to us. Someone who loves us – who created us. We wish to turn to God and say: ‘Lord, I feel lost. I need you in my life – please Help me.’
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The devil lures us all the time with his promises: ‘Go ahead, do this – you will be happy. Then we do it. Then the devil says: ‘Look at what you’ve done. Now you are no longer part of God’s kingdom.’ As St. Paul himself said: ‘We end up doing the very thing we didn’t want to do.’ So our sin makes us feel disgusted with ourself, and we don’t even want to pray.
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One of the teachers in school reminded the kids that they would be going to confession this week. We go once a month at St. John’s school. One little boy just blurted out: ‘Awesome!,’ he said. The teacher asked: ‘’you like to go to confession?’ The boy said, ‘I really need to apologize to God for some things; I need to get some things off of my chest.’
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You know, that prodigal son in the gospel – he wallowed in his sins for a long time, his empty life. He hated himself. He felt estranged from God. Then he realizes what each of us knows: There is one thing I have to do. It is difficult, but I have to do it. I have to swallow my pride, and admit my sin. How many times does scripture say that a broken, humbled heart is what God really wants. In other words, he wants us to be sorry, and repent, and throw ourselves into his merciful arms.
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‘And coming to his senses he thought, I shall arise and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am not even worthy to be called your son.’
This is exactly what each of us must do. As that boy said in class, ‘we must go and apologize to God.’ We must kneel down and admit our sins to God’s ambassador, the priest: ‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned – and we name our sins.’ There is no happier person on earth, than the one who has gone to confession, who is freed from the burden of his guilt. We are required to go to Confession at least once a year, but really, going every month is best.
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Dr. Carl Jung was a very famous psychiatrist from years ago; Dr. Jung was not a Catholic at all, but he observed in his time, that fewer Catholics had mental disorders. (Of course in those days most Catholics were practicing their faith.) Now for years, he had searched for a way to help his patients resolve their guilt. Late in life, he noticed that one of his clients showed no signs of guilt or bitterness. He asked her how this could be, with all that she had done. How she could be at such peace?
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She said she was a Catholic, and that Jesus had died for her sins; and that he gave the power to forgive sins to His priests when he said: ‘Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.”
He looked at her with great amazement and said, ‘You’ve found the pearl of great price for which I’ve searched diligently for more than 30 years! Please never stop going to confession.’
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Jesus is the world expert on the human heart, because he made it. He made us. He knows what we need. He knows that we need to get things off our chest, to begin again.  
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Friends, we are all the prodigal sons and daughters. We have in the past, and continue, to fall into sin – But love is most often discovered only after it’s been lost.
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‘And while he was yet a long way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion. And he ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him.’ This father was overjoyed to receive his son back, and this is how it is with Our Heavenly Father.
‘Let us celebrate, he says, because my child has come to life again; he was lost, and is found.’
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So let us conclude by going to Mary. This dear Blessed Virgin will always help us, even if we are discouraged. Mary pray for us, that even if we find ourselves far from God, we will always arise, and return to our Father’s House.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Joseph]

Repent while there is time

3rd Sunday of Lent
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent; Lent is a time for us to be renewed in our life. It is a time to root out bad habits and sins, personality faults and evil thoughts from our life.
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In the Gospel today, Jesus gives us a warning. In his day, Pontius Pilate had murdered some Galileans, ‘cut down’ in the prime of life; the people were shocked by this. Christ says, ‘Don’t be surprised that this happened to them. He says: ‘What about when that tower fell on all those 18 people at Siloam?’ ‘They weren’t prepared;’ this could happen to any of you at any time.
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Our Lord was warning them, because no one knows how many days we have left on earth; and we DO wish to leave this earth in God’s friendship; therefore, during Lent, Holy Church urges us to repent of our sins.
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St. Bernard says, ‘think of the sins of your youth and be ashamed;’[i] ‘remember the sins of adulthood and weep;’ ‘look at the disorders in your life today and tremble; ‘it is time to repent and turn back to Christ.
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I know many people who are engrossed in things in this life: their work, their hobbies, their romances – but they think little of how their life will end or be judged. St. Camillus was one day looking at a cemetery, and he thought: ‘if those people were alive again, they would do things differently.’ But then he considered himself: ‘What am I doing with the time I have left?’
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There are so-called religious people, who spend their days reading theology or saying a thousand prayers, but they still won’t get along with their neighbor. What are we doing with the time God has yet given us?
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I was reading about a man named Theophilus, the archdeacon of the church of Adana; he was immensely loved and respected by the people, this Deacon. Now it happened that some evil persons made false accusations about him of a crime, and for this, the bishop expelled him from diaconal ministry.
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He was so depressed, that out of desperation he went to a fortune teller who sought help for him from Satan. The devil told Theophilus that if he wanted help, he must renounce Jesus and Mary, and write this down and sign it. In desperation he did it.
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Well, low and behold, the bishop suddenly reinstated him to the Deaconate. Needless to say, Theophilus was full of guilt over what he had done. He was reinstated at the price of his soul!
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He went to a church, and threw himself in tears before an image of Mary and said: ‘O Mother of God,’ you can still help me who have done this traitorous deed. He prayed there for help for 40 days, when suddenly one night Mary appeared to him: ‘O Theophilus, what have you done? You have renounced the friendship myself and my Son, and for whom? For our Enemy.’
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‘O Lady, he answered, you must pardon me and obtain my forgiveness from your Son.’ ‘Mary replied, ‘Be of good heart, I will intercede for thee.’ Days later she announced that he was pardoned; ‘but,’ she said, ‘from this day forward, be grateful to God and faithful.’ ‘But O Mother, he said. The enemy still possesses that wicked document in which I renounced you and your Son.’ 3 days later, he woke up to find the document on his chest.
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Then he went to the church where the bishop was, and in the presence of an immense gathering of people, he cast himself at his feet and with bitter tears related all that had taken place; and then he delivered into his hands the wicked document. The bishop burned it in the flames, and all the people wept for joy and praise of the goodness of God and the mercy obtained by Mary for this poor sinner. This event is attested to by the historian Eutychian, who was an eyewitness.
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Friends, Jesus tells us in the gospel of a little fig tree which bore no fruit; he said, I have been waiting too long for it, ‘cut it down.’ But the gardener asked him for one more chance, and he allowed it. The Lord has already given us so many chances, maybe we are near the end of our chances.
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This Lent, let us Confess our favorite sins and give them up. Let us say with St. Catherine of Genoa: ‘Lord, no more sins. No more sins.’ —
To the praise and glory of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God; in memory of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, be everlasting praise, honor, power, and glory from every creature, and to us forgiveness of all our sins, forever and ever. Amen.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Peter]

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[i] Preparation for Death, p. 33.

God is with us

2nd Sunday of Lent
Beloved in the Lord, 1400 years before Christ, Moses prepared to ascend Mt. Sinai. Before he did this, he sent 12 men to offer sacrifice to God. Then, taking with him Aaron (his ‘right-hand-man), and two brothers, Nadab and Abihu, they went up the mountain along with 70 elders. It says, ‘there on that mountain, they saw God.’
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Today, we read something similar in the gospel. It is not Moses, but Jesus, who goes up a mountain, Mt. Tabor. He takes with him Peter, his right-hand-man, and two brothers, James and John. This is exactly parallel to the events of the Old Testament, where Moses, taking Aaron, and then two brothers, goes up the mountain, and they see God. But in the case of Jesus, with Peter, James, and John – on that mountain, do they see God? Wow! Do they!
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‘And his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white….and behold, from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Today, Christ reveals a little sample of his Divinity. This marvelous, luminous glory of God – the Divine Nature of Christ is allowed to bust forth.
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Now in these events, Our Lord is teaching, not only with words, but with his actions. Since the days of Moses, Israel had organized itself according to it’s founding events. Moses had chosen 12 men to offer sacrifice, i.e., priests; he chose his right hand man Aaron to be High priest. And he took 2 brothers with him, Nadab and Abihu. And then there were the 70 others.
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At the time of Christ, the structure of the governing bodies of Israel were based on this model. There was the High priest and his inner circle; there were his 12 assisting priests in the temple. And there was the governing council of Israel called the Sanhedrin, made up of 70 members. All of this followed the model seen around Moses. These are the key numbers: 12 – 1 – 3- 70
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Now how does Jesus arrange his ministry? First, he chooses 12 apostles. There is that number 12. We see that when he went up Mt. Tabor, he took with him his 3 inner circle: Peter James and John – there is that number 3. Peter, his number one man, who will become the “high priest” of the Church, and two brothers: James and John, just like at Mt. Sinai. Furthermore, after this mountain event, Christ sends out 70 disciples. So there is that number, 70. What is Jesus up to?
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The High priest of Israel, and the Sanhedrin – it is certain, were carefully watching what Jesus was doing, and what do they see? They see him assembling around him, the exact same structure that they have: 12 – 1- 3 – 70. Peter will be the new ‘high priest.’ The 12 apostles are the new leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel just like the 12 priests in the temple. And his sending the 70 to preach, shows that he is replacing the Sanhedrin. Therefore, the leaders were furious.
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Jesus did not need to say one word, his actions told it all. He is building a new priesthood and new leaders; He is forming the New Israel – the Church. But the center of the New Israel is not a dead law nor an earthly temple, nor the memory of Moses, but the Living Jesus, who is God.
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On that mountain, Christ shows us the glory of the world to come; not just in himself, but in us, his disciples; this glorious life of the future resurrection. As St. Paul will say: ‘I consider that the sufferings of this present time can’t even be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’
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But the joy of Mt. Tabor is not only for the world to come; we are to live it now, by anticipation. Why? Because Jesus is living in us; he is with us. As scripture says, ‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?’
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Friends, we are ultimately to be Transfigured in glory as Christ is. We follow him. But that transfiguring of ourselves is already beginning. It began in our baptism, when God took up his life in our soul. And the more that we follow God’s will, live the life of Christ, then the more we are transfigured from glory to glory.
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Let us then, never let the Lord leave us, all the day and all the week; through our work and duties and business, let us always find time to glance to our Savior who dwells within us. This is to keep the Presence of God. No matter the obstacles of life, we should always be able to turn to our heart and say as Peter said on the mountain: ‘Lord, it is good to be here with you.’ This is what the saints tell us is the foundation of a happy life: keeping it in mind: God is here, he is in us.
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St. Paul of the Cross would say: ‘Frequently stir up your faith, when you are studying, working, or eating; when you go to bed and when you rise, make aspirations to God.’[i] Speak to him, who is with you. In this way, our problems are easy and our burdens are light.
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My mother had a favorite passage of Scripture, she kept it written on a little note for herself, from Psalm 27:
‘One thing I ask of the Lord, this I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and behold the beauty of the Lord in his temple.’
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This we can do, today. We can dwell with the Lord all the days of our life.
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May the Blessed Virgin help us to always keep the Presence of God; that in our work and in our play, we may always say: ‘Lord, it is good to be here with you.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Camillus]

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[i] How to Pray always, p. 105