Baptism of the Lord ReflectionsBy Fr. Gary Spencer
The Gospel reading we heard on Sunday from the Gospel of St. Mark has so much meaning I really don’t know where to begin. But instead of trying to jam everything into one short article, allow me to focus on just one aspect of this reading.
This Gospel passage is another one of those glimpses into the life of Jesus that causes many Christians to scratch their heads in bewilderment, wondering, in this instance, why Jesus would need to be baptized. We all learn in catechism class that in the Sacrament of Baptism we die to ourselves and are reborn in Christ. And in this process we are cleansed of our sin. Now we all know that Jesus was and will always be sinless, and He is God the Son. So, what’s the point of Jesus getting baptized?
Well, many scholars contend that Jesus, being God, knew that what happened to Him during His ministry on earth would impact the lives of Christians for thousands and thousands of years. Jesus knew that it was important for Him to be baptized in order to make it crystal clear that He is associated with; that a big part of His message is; repentance and renewal.
When we receive the sacrament of baptism we must repudiate, or put down, all sin, and promise to do our best to avoid sin in our lives. That’s the repudiate part. Now I know there are at least a few of you thinking about babies being baptized. You’re thinking, ‘How does a baby repudiate sin. These tiny angels don’t even know what sin is! Well, that’s why they have God-parents. The duty of a God-parent is more than just holding the baby during baptism, speaking on the baby’s behalf, and getting lots of pictures taken with their God-child. Their duty is to make a ‘profession of faith’ during the baptismal ceremony for the one to be baptized, and from the baptism on, to assume perpetual guardianship over the baptized and instruct them in the obligations of Christian life, and insure the fulfillment of the baptismal vows if the parents neglect to do so, or if the parents die. That’s quite an obligation. We baptize babies too in order to make them members of Christ’s body, the church. And, we baptize babies because that’s what the Apostles did. For instance, we find in the 16th Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles that St. Paul baptizes a woman named Lydia along with her whole household. Now because the occupants of the household where not identified individually, it must have been a pretty big household, spanning the gap from babies to senior citizens, and every one of them were baptized!
As I stated previously, when we are baptized we are reborn, or born again, in Christ. We die to ourselves, and are reborn in Christ. We become part of Christ’s body, the church. We are supposed to live for Christ, and by doing so we revitalize our lives.
For Christians, the very first sacrament we receive is baptism, and along with it, sanctifying grace. Grace, especially sanctifying grace, is so important because it is through God’s grace, and God’s grace alone, that we are saved. Of course, we need to show our appreciation by truly believing in God, and by doing good works. God knows we need help getting to heaven, and that is why in Jesus we have the perfect example to follow.
Along with this perfect example, God revealed Himself to us as in all His persons at Jesus’ baptism. God the Father spoke, telling us that Jesus is His Son, and God the Holy Spirit descends from heaven like a dove. The Holy Trinity! Now while the word Trinity does not appear in the NT, we have this, and other examples of the Trinity, found in its pages.
We can all reaffirm our baptismal vows. We do this to reinforce them in our minds, and to show our thanks to God for the grace we received when we were baptized. And please do not forget to thank Him again when we are nearest to Jesus/God during Holy Communion. When we receive Jesus into our bodies, or when we come forward for a blessing, there is no better time to ask for the grace to keep our baptismal vows, and follow the way of our God who is with us Body, Blood, soul, and divinity.
This week, if you have done so, please do not hesitate to tell your friends, family, workmates, or even total strangers that you renewed your baptismal vows in church on Sunday, that you are in communion with Jesus, and that Jesus loves you and everyone, and wants us all to join him in heaven when our time on earth is through. Each time you do this you will be empowered by the HS and will grow closer and closer to Christ Jesus – the one who renews and saves.
Humble Shepherds ReflectionsBy Fr. Gary Spencer
Sunday’s Gospel reading was a continuation of the Gospel we heard at mid-night Mass. How the angel of the Lord came to some lowly shepherds tending their flocks in the still of the night and told them of the birth of a Savior in the little town of Bethlehem, Christ the Lord.
It is astounding that God didn’t first proclaim the Wondrous news of the birth of the Messiah, or the Christ in Greek, to the noble class of the day. To the kings, princes, land barrens, or the Sanhedrin. But then, God knows everything, and He knew what was best for His Son. After all, when Herod heard about the birth he ordered that all male children under the age of two years be put to death. You see, God knows people, and He knows that people can be jealous and egocentric, so instead of the rich and famous hearing the news first, it was the ordinary people. People who were on the bottom rung of society, the humble shepherds. These were people who lived off the land, who cared for and slept under the stars keeping watch over their sheep. Men and women who sought out the babe in swaddling clothes sleeping in a manger, and when they found Him they fell on their knees and praised and adored Him. A sweet, tender little baby they found in seeming poverty sleeping in a manger instead of a crib, surrounded by his parents and farm animals changed the shepherds lives. After finding the babe they became, in addition to being shepherds, evangelists. St Luke writes: "the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
God chose these humble folk to not only be the first witnesses of the child that would save the world from its sin, but, as I stated, to become evangelists telling everyone they met about the angel, the angel’s message, and the fulfillment of that message in a stable in Bethlehem.
You know, most of us are like those shepherds. No! I don’t mean that we tend sheep and live outdoors. I mean we are just ordinary people living ordinary lives. Just the kind of people God uses to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
This is something we all can do, but here’s the thing. We have to go ahead and do it!
We have to tell our friends, workmates, and especially people we meet who are un-churched, de-churched, or never knew Jesus, about the blessings we have received from God, and what God means to us. We have to spread the Good News how Jesus, God the Son, died on the Cross so we might live forever, and tell them how Jesus is all about love. Tell everyone that Jesus is present in our Mass and wants more than anything to be in communion with us. In addition to telling people about the teachings and commands of Jesus, there is another important thing we must do: we have to live the word we spread. We have to love God, love one another, always be ready to forgive offenses against us, and help the needy in any way we can. By doing these things we can set an example that will compel others to join our parish community – Christ’s parish community. St. Francis once said, “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.”
So let us take a cue from the humble shepherds and glorify and praise God every day of our lives for all we have heard and seen telling everybody what God has done for us. Happy New Year!
The Christ Child is Born!By Fr. Gary Spencer
I have good news of great joy. Today a savior has been born! I see many of you are smiling. You’re smiling because you know the importance of this day, and you feel comfortable because you’re hearing this message from me, your pastor. But imagine if you were one of the shepherds out in the fields on a calm, starry night – nothing like tonight I might point out. But there you are tending your sheep herd with some of your fellow shepherds when all of a sudden an angel appears out of nowhere to proclaim a most wonderful message. I don’t know about you, but I probably would have been shaking in my sandals.
Meeting face to face with a being from the spirit world in the dead of the night I wonder if I would have froze, or ran. According to the scripture the angel calmed the shepherd’s fears and then told them the good news that a savior has been born. So there you are; assured by the angel that you are in no danger, and you are told about a baby born in Bethlehem who would save humanity from its sins. OK, so now I’m standing there out in the field feeling pretty good after hearing this joyful proclamation, when just as suddenly as the angel appeared, there appears “a multitude of heavenly hosts with the angel.” So not only does an angel appear to you, but then the whole night time sky probably lit up with this multitude of heavenly hosts praising God. It’s no wonder that when the shepherds finally locate the stable where the Savior was lying in a manger that they fell to their knees in prayer and adoration. I wonder what their lives where like from that moment on?
We are blessed, as Catholic Christians, to have Jesus physically with us, body, blood, soul, and divinity, every time we attend Mass, yet I wonder how many of us actually believe He is truly with us? Remember, Jesus told us through the Gospels when he broke and blessed the bread and the cup He said, “This is my body. This is my blood. ((He didn’t say this is sort of like my body, and this is a symbol of my blood. No. He said this is my body. This is my blood. And, because Jesus is the truth, you can rest assured my sisters and brothers He is truly here. And not only Him, but when we celebrate Mass the angels and a multitude of heavenly hosts are here too. They are here right now because Jesus is here with us. But while they don’t manifest themselves visually to us, if we open our hearts to God’s love, we can feel their presence right here among us.
I have a request; an experiment, if you will. Please just close your eyes for a minute. Forget about whatever has been picking at your mind. Try to free yourself from all earthly cares. Now feel God’s love enveloping you. He’s here right now, and He loves you. Can you feel His presence? (OK, open your eyes.) So let us join in with the multitude of heavenly hosts this night and give praise and glory to God. To God who sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die here on earth so we could attain the kingdom of heaven.
And let us pray: Thank you Lord for giving us this babe who was the only babe ever born to die. Born to save all the people of Faith. We thank the Blessed Mother Mary who said yes when the angel ask her to be the mother of our Lord, and who, as a frightened teenage girl, gave birth in a barn with only her husband and some animals to aid and comfort her. We thank St. Joseph who cared for, protected, and loved Jesus as his own. And we thank the angels and the multitude of heavenly hosts who are with us tonight to celebrate this monumental event – the birth of the Wonder-Counselor, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Third Sunday of Advent ReflectionsBy Fr. Gary Spencer
The third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, is a time to rejoice. We are rapidly approaching Christmas and it is a time to be on fire with excitement. We priests wear rose colored vestments on this day because rose is a color of joy and love. Christmas is near and we are experiencing the most wonderful time of the year! – Just like the Christmas song proclaims.
Often, when we think about Christmas we think about Christmas past. In reminiscing about Christmas we get a certain feeling, a good, loving feeling. It’s hard to explain but we all get it. That’s why we enjoy movies like Christmas Story. The movie about the little boy, Ralphie, who wants a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas, but his mother keeps telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Many of us have memories of similar Christmas’ – many of us who were born in the 50’s and before that is – that this movie brings to the forefront of our minds.
Other things that remind us of Christmas past are driving through various neighborhoods looking at houses decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments. When we look at all the houses we get that same loving, Christmas feeling, just like when we listen to all the Christmas and Holiday songs as I mentioned last week.
Last week I also mentioned that we need to get back to the real reason to celebrate Christmas – the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus should be, without a doubt, the main focus of all Christmas celebrations. Unfortunately, our customs have changed and people everywhere are turning more and more to the commercial aspects of what Christmas has become. But even though the commercialism of Christmas has become ingrained in us over the years that doesn’t mean we have to let it rule the way we celebrate Christmas.
That’s the beauty of Advent. It can, if we let it, keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas. In Advent we hear about John the Baptist who, although known most widely as the Holy Man who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, was also a great evangelist. He came to testify to the Light, so that all might believe through him. And the Light John testified to was Jesus Christ – the Light of the world!
During this time of Advent we can use those secular expressions of Christmas, such as houses, trees and businesses decorated with lights, as tools to remind us of the true light – Our Lord and Savior, Jesus. As I mentioned last week, in regards to secular Christmas and Holiday songs, we can use the Christmas lights as triggers to remind us of the true lght of the world, Jesus.
Instead of falling for commercial symbolism…..let us use these commercial symbols to spark our love and enthusiasm for Jesus, and let that spark grow into a roaring fire within us, and remind everyone we come into contact with on Christmas that Christ our savior was born this day.
You know, we Catholic Christians are so very blessed to have the Light of the world with us at every Mass. Jesus Christ is here with us Body, Blood, soul and divinity. Physically present on our altars and in our tabernacles. Our Lord who we come into Holy Communion with whenever we receive the Eucharist.
The next time you receive Holy Communion feel the Light of Jesus within you. Feel it radiating all through your body., and just let it consume you. And you know what? If we open our hearts to Jesus we can even see that light shining forth from everyone who receives Him in Holy Communion. It’s not hard to do.
There are some drawbacks, however. Sometimes we wear blinders and don’t even realize it. We look at others with what my wife refers to as “Man eyes.” You all know what I’m talking about. It’s when, for instance, a wife or female friend tells the man in her life to get some pickles out of the refrigerator, and the man can’t find them. The woman goes to the refrigerator, opens the door and magically pulls out a bottle of pickles. That’s man eyes. A similar thing can happen when we don’t let Jesus be our light in this world; when we don’t open our hearts to Jesus.
So, instead of looking at others this Christmas with human, or worse, Man Eyes, we need to look at the world with Faith Eyes to see Jesus and His light in everyone we encounter.
Yes, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, so let that special feeling, that loving feeling, enter into your hearts and fill you with happiness. And as we join with family and friends to spread the Christmas cheer, let all those wonderful Christmas lights refocus our minds on the true light – the true meaning of Christmas – the celebration of the birth of the savior of the world – Jesus Christ – and let this Christmas be the one that brings back the best memories of Christmas ever.
Second Sunday in Advent ReflectionsBy Fr. Gary Spencer
It’s Advent, a time of anticipation as we wait to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Wait a minute. I have that wrong, don’t I? Maybe I should have said, “It’s Advent, a time of anticipation as we wait to celebrate the day when we get lots of presents and go to parties. After all, that’s what Christmas is all about according to the television, radio, and newspapers. Christmas trees, colorful lights and decorations, food, drinks, and presents. Lots of presents. Oh ya, and Jesus was born on Christmas too. Boy, I can’t wait to see what Santa left under the tree for me on Christmas morning.
My dear sisters and brothers, as Bill Murray might say, “There’s something wrong with us. Something terribly wrong with us” if this is how we prepare for, and celebrate, Christmas.
We often get distracted from our attempt in preparing the way of the Lord in our hearts even when we do things like listening to all the wonderful Christmas songs many radio stations play all day. Let me explain:
I’m not blaming song writers for what Christmas has become. That’s on us. I love many of those songs, and you do too. Those secular Christmas songs inspire emotions in us, and get us excited about Christmas. So, through what I would say was an innocent attempt to join in with Christmas time joy and celebrations, these secular songs kind of conditioned us to enjoy Christmas outside a religious setting. We became accustomed to celebrating not only the birth of Our Lord and Savior, but a secular Christmas as well. The bad news is that the secular celebration has overshadowed the real and original reason for celebrating Christmas.
Of course manufacturers of toys, jewelry, clothing, and, well, everything have jumped on this bandwagon to make big bucks during this time of anticipation, love, and family gatherings.
Now, I’m not upset with people of all religious backgrounds wanting to get in the Christmas spirit and all. It’s only natural for men, women and children everywhere to want to celebrate just because celebrations are fun. I am upset with Christians who do not seem to acknowledge Jesus at Christmas; Christians who can’t be bothered to attend Mass on Christmas. Christians who have snowmen and Santa images all over the house, yet don’t even have a nativity set under their tree, or anywhere nearby.
What we all need to do this Christmas is put Jesus in the center of all of our celebrations. This may be a solution: This Christmas season whenever we hear one of those feel good Holiday songs - let it touch us emotionally, stirring up memories, but then let us redirect the emotion and all those warm thoughts to the birth of Christ. We need to just ponder His birth and what that meant to humankind. After thinking about Our Lord and Savior for awhile, we should say a little prayer thanking God for giving us His Son. If we do this – place Jesus in the center of all of our Christmas celebrations – then we can sing about white Christmas’ and the weather out side and what have you, along with Silent Night and all of the wonderful religious songs and hymns knowing we are true followers of Christ in whose name we trust, honor, and worship.
Whenever you receive the Eucharist during this Advent season tell Jesus how much you love Him and promise Him that you will keep Him front and center in everything you do, say, and celebrate this Christmas. Oh, and don’t forget those who have little to nothing this Christmas. Feed them. Clothe them. Shelter them. Quench their thirst, and visit them to the best of your ability and I promise you will know, and experience, the true meaning of Christmas this year.
I wonder how Jesus feels on this, His birthday. Think about how you would feel if you were treated on your birthday the way most of us treat Jesus. There you are, waiting in anticipation for your special day, and finally it arrives. You discover that there is going to be a big party because it’s your birthday. Everyone arrives at your house, but you sense something is wrong. All the people that arrived carried gifts into the house, but instead of giving them to you, they give them to one another. As a matter of fact, no one pays any attention to you. The people are all laughing and having a good time, yet no one even knows you’re there. That’s probably how Jesus felt.
"Prepare Ye the Way"Reflections of Advent, By Fr. Gary Spencer
This past Sunday, the first Sunday in Advent, and for the past few weeks, we have heard warnings from Jesus telling us to be prepared for the end because we never know when it will come. Jesus is not necessarily warning us that the end of the world is coming, although that may be true, but rather He is warning us in general that we could die when we least expect it. It’s sad to say, but we probably have all known someone who died, or was killed unexpectedly. Maybe it was a car accident, or a heart attack. Maybe the person was a casualty of war, or died of a brain aneurysm, or some other form of sudden death. Whatever it was that caused the death, it is always a shock. (Our response is usually something like, ‘You’re kidding me,’ or ‘Wow, he or she was so young,’ or we reaffirm who exactly it was that died. Maybe we bless ourselves and say a prayer. Sometimes we are too shocked to do anything except stare off into space.
However, we react to devastating news, it tends to remind us that we are very fragile mortal beings whose end could come without warning, like a thief in the night, or, as Sunday’s Gospel says, like the master of the house returning unexpectedly from a long trip.
We just never know when we will meet Jesus. Jesus tells us again and again to be prepared, and He does this so that we can live our lives without fear of death and dying. Basically Jesus is telling us that if we are prepared, then death is nothing more than a transition from this life of work, and pain, and disappointment, and occasional bliss, to a life of total bliss, in paradise in the presence of God.
But being prepared is no easy task. There are so many distractions in our busy lives: family matters, our jobs and the interactions we experience with our bosses and work mates, school responsibilities, and the ever present lure of the forbidden, made so alluring by television, movies, video games, and certain reading materials.
As a result of all of this, we sin. And the sad thing is, for the most part we don’t even care that we sin. It seems now-a-days worrying about committing a sin is for losers. The current mind-set seems to be to look out for number one, do what you please, and as long as it appears that no one gets hurt, anything goes. People act as if God does not even exist. And if He doesn’t exist you can’t offend Him.
My sisters and brothers, it amazes me that there are people just about everywhere who will look at something as simple as a piece of paper and it is obvious to them that someone made it. Yet they will look at the heavens with all the stars and planets, or look at the structure of DNA, and believe that it was chance that created these things, just some random act of nature that happened. No need for God to be involved. But you know by denying the existence of God they can justify their actions, or inactions. They can put their mind at ease because there are no consequences for what they do or don’t do. They respect civil law, but disrespect God’s law. Fortunate for them, and us, that God is a merciful God who happily forgives those who ask for forgiveness.
You know, today begins Advent, and for many of us it is a time of anticipation when we get ready to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. A baby, born in a stable among farm animals, who, through His sacrifice, saved humankind from the neither word, and opened wide the Gates of Heaven for everyone!
For others it is a time to prepare for Santa and plan a party or something along those lines. And you know, Advent can be all those things, but there is more. Advent is a time when we should not only think about the birth of the Christ child, but also a time to think about, and prepare ourselves for the return of the King of Kings. The King who, after examining the lives of the flock, will invite His sheep into paradise.
So, let us live our lives the way He taught us. Love God with every fiber of our being, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Eat the bread of life, spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and perform the corporal works of mercy. My sisters and brothers, if we do these things the kingdom of God will assuredly be ours.
Yes, we don’t know when the end will be for us, but if we are prepared it doesn’t matter. Our bodies are temporary vessels for our eternal souls, and by living as Christ prescribed, eternal bliss will be ours. So my sisters and let us REJOICE. Rejoice and prepare not only to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but also prepare for that day when we meet Jesus face to face and feel His embrace. Amen.
Sharing Your Catholic FaithFr. Gary Spencer’s blog
Why is it that Catholics seem to find it difficult to share our Catholic Faith? That is a question we Catholics, and especially we National Catholics, need to ask ourselves. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for Protestant Christians, however. They can be seen on street corners handing out pamphlets, flyers and other reading materials to passersby, or shouting questions such as, “Have you taken Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?!”, or “Are you saved?!” or some other type of in your face question or statement. But we don’t see Catholics doing the same.
I don’t know about you, but I am turned off by this type of evangelism. I think, ‘Of course I have taken Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have also taken Jesus Christ into my very being through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.’ To me this is a personal relationship with Christ that I need not shout to the world on a street corner. And as for the question of 'am I saved?' well, I’m working on it. You see, I don’t believe Jesus ever told us that once we take Him as Our Lord and Savior that’s it! We are saved and cannot be denied entry into heaven no matter what sins we commit? A reading of St. Matthew’s Gospel says otherwise.
So, how do we Catholics spread the Word? Well, I read an interesting article in an issue of St. Anthony’s Messenger magazine from a few years back by Father Martin Pable that dealt with what he called “Relational Evangelism”. Relational Evangelism is a simple method of sharing our Catholic faith through three guiding principles: Listening; Sharing; and Inviting.
Father Martin explains that we Catholics need to learn how to evangelize in a whole new way. First and foremost, Fr. Martin states that we Catholics must continue to be prayerful people, and we must nourish our faith through scripture study and participating in the Sunday Eucharist. We must treat people with dignity and respect; we must share our time and resources with the less fortunate; we must not gossip or backstab; and we must be peaceful and positive.
Next, we must know who our target audience is. Basically, there are two groups: the UNCHURCHED and the DECHURCHED. The unchurched are those people who have never really known God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The dechurched are those people who used to attend Mass and have fallen away.
Once we zero in on our targets all we have to do is three things: First, we LISTEN. Most people encounter problems in their lives. Problems that cause them much stress or anguish, and just talking about these problems gives some people comfort. They just need someone to listen to them. By listening carefully, and responding to them in an empathetic, non-judgmental way the person feels understood and a little bond of trust grows between that person and you.
Next, we need to SHARE our own story. Most of us have had a spiritual experience of being in the presence of God. At some point in our lives God has touched us by guiding us, or healing us, strengthened us by the Holy Spirit, or opened our eyes to some truth. If we truly look at our lives, we will find a time when God was with us.
Finally, we need to INVITE. For instance, if someone shares their troubles with you ask them if they ever considered turning to God for help. If they seem receptive to what you say to them offer to say a prayer for them, and even ask them to join you. Some people are reluctant to pray, so invite them to pray in their heart while you pray aloud. Explain to them how prayer is a beautiful way to build a relationship with God. We can also invite that person to an activity at the parish, or, better yet, invite them to Mass with you on Sunday. The author mentions, however, that you must promise to meet that person outside of church before Mass as some people are uncomfortable going into a strange place on their own.
The author concludes by saying that Catholics need to break the habit of keeping our faith to ourselves!
The beauty of this approach is that it is simple and can encourage others to seek God. If you feel unsure of attempting to evangelize in this manner the next time you receive the Holy Eucharist ask Jesus to help make His word like a burning fire in your heart, and to empower you with courage and confidence to tell others about His Good News.
In the PNCC we have wonderful traditions and celebrate a beautiful liturgy, so we all need to ask God to help us become evangelists for Christ and bring others to Him through our Catholic Church. Relational Evangelism isn’t hard, so lets all give it a try. After all, Jesus did tell us to go forth and make disciples of nations, and we can never go wrong by following Our Lord’s instructions.
May God’s blessings be with you all.
"When Our Thoughts And Prayers Are With You Is Not Enough"Fr. Gary Spencer’s blog
A good number of terrible things have been happening in the U.S. and U.S. territories lately: A terrorist attack in Charlottesville, VA., three hurricanes hitting the Southern U.S. and Puerto Rico, tremendous wildfires in California, and a madman gunning down concert goers in Las Vegas, NV. have cost many people their lives and devastated many families. Of course our thoughts and prayers are with them, and in most of the cases our support too.
In the scenarios mentioned above that involve a natural disaster our thoughts and prayers were accompanied by support of some type. An action, or works, occurred following the tragedies. The Federal government sent FEMA in to help with the hurricane recoveries, and PNCC parishes and other organizations gave monetary support through donations collected during Sunday Mass and other types of contributions to help those suffering the consequences of the catastrophes. The terrorist who drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA. was apprehended and is awaiting trial, and the mayor of that city has put stricter guidelines and increased police presence for rallies since that deadly incident.
U.S. citizens and the U.S. government implemented the teachings of Jesus who told us to help those in need, and thank God for that. Good people know that while thoughts and prayers are very important they are not always enough. Granted, for many that is all they can do not having the means or wherewithal to do more. And prayers are always a good and important way to show our care for others and to petition Our Lord for help, so we must always pray for others in need. Novenas and praying the Rosary are, in my opinion, great means of petitioning Our Lord in times of distress. But those that can do more should do more. Yet, whenever a mass murder takes place in the U.S., and they occur more frequently than any civilized nation should accept, all we hear from those that can do something is that their thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the victims families.
Many people apparently think that thoughts and prayers are enough, but I don’t. I am praying and speaking out that those who can do something act on this matter. My hope is that enough people are as fed up with these mass murders as I am, and will pray, and take action, so that some sort of remedy can be implemented. I wonder what Jesus would do in this situation?
May God’s peace and love of God be with you all.
"A Word About the Word"FR. GARY SPENCER'S blog
On Sunday last (the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time) Our Lord gave a mandate for all of His disciples to follow: forgive one another! In response to St. Peter asking Our Lord how often we should forgive those who wrong us Jesus told the parable of the servant who was forgiven a large debt he owed his master, but would not even allow a fellow servant a little more time to pay back the debt owed him. When his master found out how he treated his fellow servant he was very displeased and threw him in jail where he was tortured.
The act of loving and forgiving one another is a basic teaching of Jesus. As I stated above it is more than just a teaching, it is a mandate from Christ. Jesus warns us that if we do not forgive those who wrong us there will be a price to pay. Jesus states that His heavenly Father will treat us the way the master treated his servant unless we forgive one another from our heart. The parable from Sunday’s gospel is not the only warning Jesus gives us regarding how we treat out brothers and sisters either. Each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are asking God to treat us the way we treat others. Think about that for a moment. If we go through life refusing to forgive some offense that was perpetrated against us we are asking God to deal with us in that same manner.
To be good disciples of Jesus Christ we must always try our best to truly forgive those who wrong us, or hurt us or those we care about. Sure it is hard to forgive – it is one of the hardest things Jesus asks of us – yet we must try! Thankfully, we have a loving God who will help us be better Christians. God gave us His only begotten Son who, along with His Holy Spirit, will help us be more forgiving. All we have to do is ask sincerely from our heart and God will give us the strength to forgive and to love. It’s either that, or stop praying the Lord’s Prayer, and calling ourselves Christians. The choice is up to us, but the mandate is from God.