May 23, 2021

Pentecost Sunday

"El día de Pentecostés (al término de las siete semanas pascuales), la Pascua de Cristo se consuma con la efusión del Espíritu Santo que se manifiesta, da y comunica como Persona divina: desde su plenitud, Cristo, el Señor (cf. Hch 2, 36), derrama profusamente el Espíritu.... La vida moral de los cristianos está sostenida por los dones del Espíritu Santo. Estos son disposiciones permanentes que hacen al hombre dócil para seguir los impulsos del Espíritu Santo... Los siete dones del Espíritu Santo concedidos a los cristianos son: sabiduría, entendimiento, consejo, fortaleza, ciencia, piedad y temor de Dios.”


For forty days after his resurrection from the dead, Our Blessed Lord showed himself, at various times and at various locations, that, not only was he alive, but that his work was not over - his mission would continue

And even though he would enter into heaven to take his place there at the right hand of his heavenly Father, he promised that he would be with us always, accompany us on our journey, until the end of time. How? Having prayed for his disciples, he promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would teach and guide them and keep them united in the truth about God.   

The Holy Spirit we talk about is not a spiritual force. In the same way as we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we likewise acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is God, distinct from the Father and the Son, but of the same God-substance. We address the Holy Spirit as Lord. The Holy Spirit is personal. And as God, we worship the Holy Spirit as we do our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Let’s put the Holy Spirit in Context.

When the earth was formed, He was the breath of God the Father that swept over the first waters of the earth pollinating the great seas with life. The Holy Spirit filled the lungs of Adam and so breathed the first man. And in the gospel we read that Jesus, the New Adam breathed the Holy Spirit into the apostles, so that they might be his presence in the world. 

It is that same Holy Spirit who has been given to us when we were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. What we now call Confirmation, seals us with the Holy Spirit we have received in baptism so that, in this sacrament, we become a new creation. 

And as such the Holy Spirit gives us strength and power to become authentic witnesses to our Catholic and Christian faith. As such, we can identify at least seven supernatural gifts in particular that the Holy Spirit gives us, supernatural gifts that are sealed securely and planted firmly in our Christian character. We identify them from the words of Scripture. The prophet Isaiah spoke of them as the identifying characteristics of the future Christ/Messiah (Isaiah 11) . As these characteristics will be given to you, you will be identified with the spirit of Christ - you will be His witnesses, his representatives to the world.  And what are those 

1. Understanding 2. Knowledge 3. Wisdom 4. Right Judgment 5. Reverence 6. Courage 7. Fear of the Lord.

1. Let me start first with Fear of the Lord. Not every fear is good. But when the Holy Spirit prompts us to turn away from sins because we can see and are afraid of the consequences of sin – that type of fear is holy and good. When we fear losing God, the Holy Spirit is at work in us.

2. The Holy Spirit’s gift of courage.  We need this divine gift of fortitude, of strength and courage to help us battle with sin, with evil and when our faith is tested or attacked. We would be fools to think that we can defeat the enemy of our souls and our faith by our own natural abilities. We need the divine armor of courage so that we might not cave in under intimidation. St. Paul reminds us of this when he boldly states, ‘I can do all things in him who strengthen me”.

3. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of reverence, sometimes called Piety. Reverence is not simply formal respect for what is holy. Anyone can be respectful of sacred buildings and beliefs. Piety can also often be mistaken for attention to detail in religious devotion. This, of course can be self-motivated. Instead this gift of the Holy Spirit allows us to appreciate closeness to God as a son or daughter of our heavenly Father. It is in places such as a Church building we become aware of our sacred relationships with God and others through what we see and sense around us – that God is not distant. This gift allows us to sense the mysterious presence of God. So we give him his place and trust him more and more, even though he is shrouded in mystery.

4. And from this mystery the Holy Spirit can also give us the gift of understanding how God is truly involved in our lives and world. To Understand God, our souls must first be purified from sin so that our view of the world is not distorted. The Holy Spirit allows us to understand why God loved the world so much, why God loves me despite my sinfulness and resistance.

5. With this gift comes also the gift of Knowledge. The Holy Spirit can allow us to truly discern what there is in this world that brings us closer to God and to know also what gets in the way. By this gift, the Holy Spirit as an appraiser of the things we hold on to and teaches us not to be afraid of letting go, to be humble and to accept the true values of the things around us.

6. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of Wisdom. Wisdom does not come from books. It is when God enlightens our mind and we can see the world from his perspective. To be truly wise is to be truly at peace trusting that God’s plan ultimately makes sense.

7. And finally we will also pray that the Holy Spirit will renew in us the gift of right judgment, so that we can make decisions that are right and true, even when doing so demands sacrifice. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us come to the knowledge of the truth through the formation of our conscience so that with the Holy Spirit’s help, our minds will always see clearly in order to make the right decisions about the direction my life must take.


The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit – let us pray that these gifts will be kept strong in your lives, confirmed and sealed with the Holy Spirit!  

May 22, 2021

Vigil of Pentecost

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:1-9


Tonight sees us making the necessary preparations in anticipation of the great day of Pentecost. Taken from the selection of readings, Genesis provides us with great insight into what happens when we try to design and build, shape and form our own lives (cf. CCC 57).


We commonly call this story the one about the Tower of Babel. In fact, the tower is only one component of a much bigger picture. It has to do with the building of a city, within which a tower would be designed. Its height would attempt to scrape the sky - a "skyscraper". What can we learn from this?


When we take into our own hands the power to build ourselves up - to in a way steal the power of the heavens, we will never be able to complete the project, no matter how hard we try. What Adam and Eve attempted to do for themselves, the citizens of Babel, their future offspring attempted to do for the sake of the whole of humanity - that's what we are tempted to go - to capture God, put Him in a bottle and manipulate His will, for the sake of our own glory, not His.


When we try to build ourselves up, God ultimately intervenes and topples our fortress. That's what happens to our little sand castle when the unstoppable tide comes in. God does so for our own protection as the consequences of leaving us to our own designs ultimately leads to greed and an obsession with power and control. Without the Breath of God directing our lives like wind our sails, we would become like animals, pirates, mercenaries, fighting over not just the territories of this world, but even the territory of heaven itself.


The event of Babel reminds us that even with the progress of science and technology rolling back the frontiers of what we thought in the past was impossible to do, there are boundaries. Often our soul's thirst to touch the heavens is confused with our own sense of inadequacy before the universe. Hence, out of fear, the temptation to grab and make ourselves bigger, stronger, faster. But so that we might not die from this virus of sin that we have all inherited from Adam and Eve’s DNA, God comes to our rescue in Christ, 


He calls out and says, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink”, John 7:37-39. We are all thirsty. Too often we fix our own drinks, measure out what we think is good for us. Instead, allow Christ to pour His Spirit into you and have faith that He knows what measure we need at any given time. And at times, our glass like our souls has to be first emptied, cleaned and dried, so that the fullness of God’s Spirit can be poured into a worthy vessel that can unlock all the graces needed to live authentic and credible Christian lives.  


 “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful.”

May 8, 2021

The Point of Love

 6th Sunday of Easter:  


What if you went up to a mother holding with her adorable baby in her arms and told her, “Ma’am, you’re loving your baby the wrong way!”   Imagine telling a father that the way he loves his daughter, his little princess, isn’t right. Or, what would happen if you told a married couple, celebrating their 25th anniversary, “Excuse me, but your love for each other seems inadequate.” What would be the reaction if I told two close friends that their relationship was not based on love? Or telling a priest, it doesn’t seem that he really loves his flock!  

Dare tell anyone that the way they love is wrong, misguided or not healthy, and you risk evoking its opposite - anger, rage and even violence.  So how do we judge our own way of loving, the manner in which we dare love, or how do we define it, and keep ourselves accountable?

The Christian always goes back to Christ himself, not just His words, but His actions.  “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love”. We can not remain in our own love. Why? We are lousy lovers. We mess things up. We exaggerate love, we ignore it, we go from one extreme to another.

A Christian has to be instead grounded in Christ’s love, His manner and His example of loving. He tells us to “remain in HIS love”, he tells to “learn from him”, to “keep his commandments”. And we must, because faith in Christ is also trusting in His way of loving.  We are obedient to Christ because we trust Him over ourselves, better than ourselves - because all of us have been loved poorly in life. Many of us bear the wounds of cheap love and the scars of its many imitations - through broken promises, control, dependency, and even slavery in all its forms.  

Christ is here to show us a love that will set us free - that brings joy and a peace that no other can. I may not think myself worthy of His loving me, and no doubt, I am not. But we have to be reminded, again and again, of His words, “ It was not you who choose me,” He says “but I who choose you.”  He loves me to death. He loves you to death. You are worthy of Christ dying for you, regardless if you wish Him to or not. The fact is He did, not only does it show us how much He thinks of us in His heart, God respects us, give us our dignity, even if all we can see and experience are our wounds.

Maybe, this is why Christ, to save us from our oftentimes crude and confusing experiences of love, does not call us His lovers - He calls us His friends.  Friendship, we understand a bit better than love. Friendship goes beyond feelings, emotions - it is natural as well as born from a duty of the heart - it comes to the rescue and yet it is respectful. It can be as tender as it can be forthright.  Because it concerns itself with our human dignity, it is willing to tell us our faults and suffer loss to help make us what God intends us to be - to be truly and fully human - life to the full, fruit in abundance.

“What a friend we have in Jesus”.

May 1, 2021

Going Under The Knife!


5th Sunday of Easter 2021


As I come to the end of my tenure of twenty years here at St. Margaret’s, the Lord has given me, over time, different models of how to be a pastor. 


Christ the priest has allowed me to bring all your prayers and offer them through sacrifice of His Body and Blood at the Altar during Mass. Christ the Good Shepherd has allowed me to tend and protect the flock leading it safely through dangers and by restful waters. Christ the Prophet has allowed me to choose my words wisely and prudently to offer encouragement, give direction and provide hope of the future. 


Over the years, I have also found myself inspired by another model - that of the example of Christ the Gardener!  After all, it was in a garden it all began. And on Easter Sunday, the place where Christ rose from the dead, was also in a garden - a reminder that all things are made new and begin afresh. 


How has this image of the garden inspired me, and will continue to do so as I will begin my ministry, come July, at the parish of St. Therese, who is providentially called “The Little Flower”?


Listen again to the perennial words of Christ. 


Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.”


A better word used by other English versions of this passage in Scripture (Father John Knox's translation), instead of using the word "prune", they render it "to trim clean". Now let us apply Christ's analogy to ourselves, allowing him to discern the state of the garden of your soul. 


The spiritual life, as our physical bodies, likewise need discipline, nurturing, training. If we are to be rooted in Christ, not just planted in a flower pot, but deeply rooted in Him as the roots of a vine which go deep into the rich soil, we must allow ourselves to be, periodically, trimmed clean.


Nobody likes going under the knife. But the secret of trimming clean a part of a vine or a rose bush that is either growing out of control or getting itself tied up in a knot, the secret is the type of blade that is used.


It's not  a kitchen knife or a pair of scissors from the drawer. The blade has to be carefully crafted, particularly sharp and immaculately clean, and not everyone is gifted as to how to use it with precision and to full effect.  


And so for the disciple - we have to trust this particular blade in Our Lord’s hands.  We even have to be willing to suffer a bit for the sake of heavenward growth and not be afraid of the gardener of our souls. Being trimmed clean by our Lord allows us to become stronger in our attachment to Him and more appreciative of His mercy in our lives.  


And even though at times we might feel spiritually dead or dormant, and at times have to weather sickness or disease or find ourselves all tied up or totally confused at times, always remain planted in His own vineyard. Allow our souls to be trimmed clean by the Sacrament of His mercy through confession and be nourished by his Eucharistic Body and Blood. Then we can be assured that as we travel through the seasons of life, at the proper time, we will rejoice in producing a rich harvest and bear much fruit.

Gardening Kingdom

  We often hear this phrase, “The Kingdom of God ''.  We even pray, “Thy Kingdom Come”.  This “Kingdom” was the hallmark of Our Lord...