St. Francis of Assisi Weekly Reflections

Seize THIS DAY to grow closer to GOD

02-28-2016Weekly Reflections

Carpe Diem! (Seize the day!) was a Latin saying I learned in high school. It called us to be open to the opportunities life brings—for doing good, for making the world a better place, for enjoying the day's blessings. Moses heard a voice from a burning bush telling him to go down to Egypt. He was given a brief introduction to God and a call to help free the Hebrew slaves. Moses seized the day, obeying the call to act, now. Jesus calls on his fellow Jews to seize the day by repenting. Life is short. People die tragically, unexpectedly. Look to your own life, Jesus tells them. God has given you these days, so bear fruit, now. Paul calls on the Corinthians to seize the day. Not just our actions but even our desires can mislead us. So don't be complacent. Take care, now. Baptism lays a foundation, but we have to build on it. Baptism gives us the Spirit and the virtues of faith, hope, and love. We renew our baptismal promises in a few weeks. Act now; seize this day to grow closer to God.

What opportunity does this day offer to you?


Our Citizenship is in Heaven

02-21-2016Weekly Reflections

Every so often life gives you a glimpse of glory—the beauty in a sunset, goodness in a person, truth in words spoken, peace and well-being in a friendship. Sometimes it comes suddenly; other times it's been there but you haven't been paying attention. Still, it is real. This happened to Peter, James, and John. Jesus often went off to pray, to be in the presence of his Father. On this particular occasion, while praying, his glory shone through and his disciples saw it. They also saw Moses and Elijah, speaking with him about his coming death, his passing over into full glory. Jesus will go on to speak to his disciples about his coming suffering and death. But for now, they are given a glimpse of the glory awaiting them at the end of the road. We too need a reminder of our destiny, that "our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). Our Savior has promised he will come and "change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body" (3:21). For now, hear the Father's words: "This is my chosen Son; listen to him" (Luke 9:35). Our ultimate glory may depend on it.

Do you think of yourself as destined for glory?


Who do you trust?

02-14-2016Weekly Reflections

Food, fortune, fame—the temptations sound like categories from TV's Jeopardy. "Feed yourself, you're starving," Satan said. After forty days of daytime heat and nighttime cold, Jesus could not have had much energy. But it wasn't physical strength that was needed; it was strength of spirit. Jesus was not lacking that. The Spirit had come upon him at his baptism, had driven him into the wilderness, and did not abandon him now. First temptation: Use your power to feed yourself. Jesus' answer: God's word is my food. There I find strength. Second temptation: Bend the knee to me in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus' answer: Only God deserves worship; the only kingdom worth having is God's. Third temptation: See if God is with you by throwing yourself off the temple. Jesus' answer: You don't test God; you trust God. As Israel was tested in the desert, tempted to turn from God who delivered them from Egypt, so Jesus is tested. But Jesus, the new Israel, the beloved Son, trusts his Father. That Spirit who was with Jesus during his testing is with us today.

Where do you place your trust?


Fear of the Lord

02-07-2016Weekly Reflections

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). Being in the presence of God is not always a comfortable experience. Today's readings tell us it makes us aware of our sinfulness. Isaiah has a vision of God on "a high and lofty throne," surrounded by angels, smoke swirling up, and cries out, "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:1, 5). When Jesus points out where the fish are to be found, Peter responds, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8). Even Paul, remembering how Jesus appeared to him, writes that he himself is "not fit to be called an apostle" (1 Corinthians 15:9). Do we live in a time when people are more awestruck by rock/movie/TV stars, sports figures and political leaders than by the living God who created, redeemed, and continues to sanctify ("to make holy") us? Many times we hear the words "Do not be afraid" in scripture. But perhaps fear is like cholesterol; there is a healthy and an unhealthy version. One can lead to paralysis before God, the other to joining confidently in God's work.

How does fear play a part in your life? Is it paralyzing or does it have a positive effect on your actions?


They led Him to the Brow of the Hill


They led Him to the Brow of the Hill

People seldom welcome prophets. Jeremiah got the leaders so angry when he told them God was going to punish them for their infidelity to the Lord that they tried to kill him. No wonder he wanted to avoid being a prophet, but God told him not to worry. God would deliver him. Jesus' own townsfolk tried to kill him. They got upset when he read from the book of Isaiah and left out the parts they really wanted to hear—how the rich and powerful Gentiles would be their slaves, and they would get all their wealth, and they would be on top again. Instead, Jesus told them that God had other plans for the Gentiles. Jesus reminded them about Elijah feeding a Gentile woman and her son, and Elisha curing a Gentile general who had leprosy. Jesus emphasized how God sent these prophets to Gentiles. That's when the hometown folks tried to throw Jesus over a cliff. Usually we don't realize that a prophet has spoken until later. Looking back, we realize that God was trying to get something across, get people back on the right path, only they did not want to hear it.

How have you been challenged by prophets in your life?

Lo llevaron hasta el Barranco del Monte

La gente rara vez le da la bienvenida a los profetas. Los líderes se enojaron muchísimo cuando Jeremías les dijo que Dios iba a castigarlos por su infidelidad hacia Él, que hasta trataron de matarlo. No es de extrañar que quería evitar ser un profeta, pero Dios le dijo que no se preocupara, Él estaba a su lado. La gente del pueblo de Jesús trataron de matarlo. Se molestaron cuando leyó el libro de Isaías y dejó fuera las partes que realmente querían escuchar-cosas como que los gentiles ricos y poderosos se convertirían en sus esclavos, y ellos recibirían sus riquezas, y estarían en la cima nuevamente. En cambio, Jesús les dijo que Dios tenía otros planes para los gentiles. Jesús les recordó sobre Elías y como alimento a una mujer gentil y a su hijo, y como Eliseo sanó, de la lepra, a un general gentil. Jesús enfatizó cómo Dios envió a estos profetas a los pueblos gentiles. Fue entonces cuando la gente de su ciudad natal intentaron tirar a Jesús en un barranco. Por lo general no nos damos cuenta de que el profeta ha hablado hasta más tarde. Mirando hacia atrás, nos damos cuenta de que Dios estaba enviando una señal, quería que la gente volviera al camino correcto, sólo que no querían escucharlo.

¿Cómo has sido desafiado por los profetas en tu vida?

The Holy Spirit is at Work Through Us


The Holy Spirit is at Work Through Us

A hush must have fallen in the synagogue when Jesus walked forward to do the reading. This was his hometown; they all knew him. What would he choose to read? What would he say to them? They had been hearing about what he was doing—preaching about the kingdom of God being close enough to touch, the crowds coming to listen to him, the healings, the casting out of evil spirits. They were sitting on the edge of their seats. He opened the scroll and went to the place in the book of the prophet Isaiah where an unknown speaker talks about being anointed by the Spirit of God and sent forth to do three things: to preach the Good News, to liberate people who were imprisoned in any way, and to give sight to the blind. Then he looked at them and simply said: All this is happening now! The Isaiah reading continues to define the work of the Church: preaching the gospel, working for justice that frees people from oppression, and reaching out in compassion to all. The Holy Spirit is at work in and through us.

How do you participate in this work?

El Espíritu Santo Trabaja A Través de Nosostros

Un silencio debe de haber caído en la sinagoga cuando Jesús caminó adelante para hacer la lectura. Esta era su ciudad natal; todos lo conocían. ¿Qué iba a optar por leer? ¿Qué les diría? Ellos habían escuchado acerca de lo que El estaba haciendo, sus predicaciones sobre el reino de Dios y su cercanía, las multitudes que venían a escucharlo, las sanaciones, y la expulsión de los malos espíritus. Estaban sentados en el borde de sus asientos. Abrió el libro y se dirigió al lugar en el libro del profeta Isaías, donde un orador desconocido habla acerca de ser ungido por el Espíritu de Dios y enviado a hacer tres cosas: a predicar la Buena Nueva, a liberar a las personas que fueron encarcelados, y dar vista a los ciegos. Luego los miró y simplemente dijo: ¡Todo esto está sucediendo ahora! La lectura de Isaías continúa definiendo la labor de la Iglesia: la predicación del Evangelio, el trabajar por la justicia que libera a las personas de la opresión, y el tocar a todos con compasión. El Espíritu Santo está obrando en y a través de nosotros.

¿Cómo participas tu de este trabajo?

The Miracle at Cana


The Miracle at Cana

The wine runs out. Party's over! A disaster at any wedding, especially in Jesus' day. This would be a great embarrassment for the hosts, a disgrace for the newly married couple. Mary notices, goes to her son, and says quietly, "They have no wine." Jesus' answer is not exactly enthusiastic: "Woman, how does our concern affect me? My hour has not yet come" (John 2:3-4). Even so, he responds, and the contents of six water jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons, are turned into what the headwaiter says is the best he has tasted so far. So what are we to take from this event? Jesus is more than a wedding guest in John's Gospel; he is the bridegroom, sent by God to woo and wed a new bride, the Church, joining Jews and Gentiles into one body, his body. The wedding itself was held at "the hour" when he was lifted up on the cross, drawing all things to himself. The joy that day at Cana was merely a shadow of the joy awaiting us in the kingdom, which we anticipate whenever we drink from the wedding cup of the Eucharist.

How can you bring a glimpse of the joy of Cana to those you encounter this week?

El Milagro en Caná

El vino se acaba. ¡Se acabo la fiesta! Un desastre en cualquier boda, sobre todo en los días de Jesús. Esto sería una gran vergüenza para los anfitriones, una desgracia para la pareja de recién casados. María se da cuenta, va con su hijo, y le dice en voz baja: "Ya no tienen vino". La respuesta de Jesús no es precisamente entusiasta: "Mujer, ¿qué posemos hacer tú y yo? Todavía no es mi hora" (Juan 2: 3-4). Aun así, él responde, y el contenido de seis tinajas de agua, cada uno de veinte o treinta galones, se convirtió en lo que el mayordomo dice es el mejor que había probado. Entonces, ¿qué podemos aprender de este evento? Jesús es más que un invitado a la boda en el Evangelio de Juan; él es el novio, enviado por Dios para cortejar y casarse con una nueva novia, la Iglesia, uniendo a los Judios y los Gentiles en un cuerpo, su cuerpo. La boda en sí tuvo lugar en "la hora" cuando fue levantado en la cruz, atrayendo todas las cosas a sí mismo. La alegría de ese día en Caná era más que una sombra de la alegría que nos espera en el reino, que anticipamos cuando bebemos de la copa de la boda de la Eucaristía.

¿Cómo puedes brindarles un poco de esa alegría de Caná a las personas con quien interactúas esta semana?

Seek the Holy Spirit, He will Guide you


Seek the Holy Spirit, He will Guide you

The Story of Jesus' baptism is another "showing," that is, another "epiphany," of God presenting Jesus to us. Jesus is revealed as God's beloved Son as the Holy Spirit comes upon him. St. Luke's story of Jesus' baptism is different in that nothing happens when Jesus is coming out of the water. Only when Jesus is praying after his baptism does the Holy Spirit come upon him and the Father's voice say, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). From here on the Holy Spirit directs Jesus, leading him into the desert, then into his ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing. Today's feast ends the Christmas season and next week Ordinary Time begins. The phrase Ordinary Time means numbered time. Often we might feel as though we are just counting the hours until the next big event or our next vacation. But the Spirit given to Jesus was given to us at our Baptism to help us continue our mission in the world and to assure us from within our hearts that we truly are God's beloved sons and daughters

Have you asked the Spirit what God wants you to do at this time in your life?

Busca al Espiritu Santo, El te Guiará

La historia del bautismo de Jesús es otra "manifestación", es decir, otra "epifanía" de Dios. Jesús se revela como el Hijo amado de Dios Padre mientras el Espíritu Santo desciende sobre él. La historia del bautismo de Jesús, según San Lucas es diferente, ya que no ocurre nada cuando Jesús está saliendo del agua. Lucas no nos da muchos detalles sólo dice que, "mientras Jesús oraba", el Espíritu Santo desciende sobre él y la voz del Padre dice: "Tú eres mi Hijo amado; en ti me complazco" (Lucas 3:22). De aquí en adelante el Espíritu Santo dirige a Jesús, lo llevó hacia el desierto, y luego a su ministerio de la predicación, la enseñanza y la sanación. La fiesta de hoy termina la temporada de Navidad; la próxima semana comienza el Tiempo Ordinario. "Tiempo Ordinario" significa tiempo numerado. A menudo podemos sentir como si sólo estamos contando las horas hasta el próximo gran evento o nuestras próximas vacaciones. Pero el Espíritu dado a Jesús se nos dio en nuestro Bautismo para ayudarnos a continuar nuestra misión en el mundo y nos asegura, desde dentro de nuestros corazones, que verdaderamente somos hijas e hijos amados de Dios.

¿Le has preguntado al Espíritu que es lo que Dios quiere que hagas en este momento en tu vida?

Follow your Star


Follow your Star

As our own country becomes more multicultural and multi-religious, the message of today's feast becomes more relevant; Christ came for all people—all men, women, and children, all nationalities, all believers and non-believers. God desires all to live in peace as God's children. The magi were led to Christ by a star, something that got their attention; this is where God's revelation usually begins. But the star alone was not enough; the wise men needed the wisdom of the scriptures to complete the journey. The Epiphany invites us to foster a love for both nature and God's word. Together, they will bring us to Christ, the One who has come to fulfill God's plan, drawing us into one family. God does not force us to become a family. But if we are open to the signs God sets out for us, we will find ourselves arriving at a place where we all can live together in peace. We pray today that all the division and hatred that continues to plague our planet will cease. We pray for an increase of wise men and women who will work for this peace.

Who or what has led you to Christ over the years?

Sigue tu Estrella

Como nuestro país se vuelve más multicultural y multi-religioso, el mensaje de la fiesta de hoy se hace más relevante; Cristo vino para todas las personas, todos los hombres, mujeres, y niños, todas las nacionalidades, todos los creyentes y no creyentes. Dios desea que todos vivamos en paz como hijos de Dios. Los Reyes Magos fueron guiados hacia Cristo por una estrella, algo que le llamó su atención; aquí es donde la revelación de Dios por lo general comienza. Pero la estrella por sí sola no era suficiente; los sabios necesitan la sabiduría de las escrituras para completar el viaje. La Epifanía nos invita a fomentar el amor por la naturaleza y la palabra de Dios. Juntos, van a llevarnos a Cristo, Aquel que ha venido a cumplir el plan de Dios, nos lleva a ser una sola familia. Pero si estamos abiertos a los signos que Dios establece para nosotros, llegaremos a un lugar donde todos podemos vivir juntos en paz. Oremos hoy que toda la división y el odio que siguen afectando a nuestro planeta cesen. Oremos para que aumente el número de hombres y mujeres sabios que trabajarán por esta paz.

¿Quién o qué te ha llevado hacia Cristo?

The HOLY Family


The HOLY Family

Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the Savior of the world, was born into a family. He had a mother and a foster father, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was part of community of faith, a member of village. He grew up and matured and was taught about the God of his ancestors. Today's Gospel can be a comfort to every parent who has struggled through a child's adolescence. But it is more than a story capturing a moment of tension within the family. There was probably more than one time that Joseph said to him, "Make sure you…," or Mary asked, "How many times do I have to tell you…?" Jesus grew up, as any human being does, passing from infancy to childhood to being a tween, then a teen. The Gospel reminds us that he "advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man" (Luke 2:52). Jesus gradually became aware of his Father's call. This is what every parent raises their child to do to listen for God's call in their lives. We are called to be a holy—not perfect—family.

What does it mean to be a holy family for you today?

La SAGRADA Familia

Jesús, el Hijo de Dios, el Verbo hecho carne, el Salvador del mundo, nació en una familia. Tenía una madre y un padre adoptivo, tías, tíos y primos. Formó parte de la comunidad de fe, un miembro de la aldea. Él creció y maduró y fue enseñado acerca del Dios de sus antepasados. El evangelio de hoy puede ser un consuelo para todos los padres que han tenido dificultad con un hijo adolescente. Pero es más que una historia de la captura de un momento de tensión en la familia. Probablemente había más de una vez que José le dijo: "Asegúrese de que ...", o pidió a María, "¿Cuántas veces tengo que decirte...?" Jesús creció, como cualquier ser humano hace, pasar de la infancia a la adolescencia. El Evangelio nos recuerda que "crecía en sabiduría, edad y gracia ante Dios y los hombres" (Lucas 2:52). Jesús poco a poco fue consciente de la llamada de su Padre. Esto es lo que todos los padres esperan de su hijo; escuchar el llamado de Dios en sus vidas. Estamos llamados a ser una familia santa-no perfecta.

¿Hoy día, qué significa para ti ser una familia sagrada?

Your Gift for God


Your Gift for God

What kind of Christmas gift does God want? Have you ever thought about that? We spend the weeks before Christmas looking for gifts for our loved ones. We do this to express our love. But have you thought about what gift you might give to God in gratitude for God's gift to us—Jesus? Today's second reading can be hard to understand at first, but spend some time with it. The message is: When Christ came into the world, he recognized that God did not want a sacrifice of animals, which only signaled an external obedience to the Law. What God wanted was that Jesus sacrifice his body, which signaled an internal obedience to God's will. And because Jesus did the Father's will, we have been made holy. Similarly, the elderly Elizabeth announces that Mary and the child in her womb are blessed, and Mary in particular is blessed because she trusted that the Lord's word to the would be fulfilled. Mary dedicated her life to doing God's will.

What gift, then, can give God that would be pleasing? Hint: You won't find it in a mall! Perhaps something to do with discovering God's will?

Tu Regalo para Dios

¿Qué tipo de regalo de Navidad querrá Dios? ¿Alguna vez has pensado en eso? Pasamos las semanas antes de Navidad en busca de regalos para nuestros seres queridos. Hacemos esto para expresar nuestro amor. Pero ¿has pensado en qué regalo le puedes ofrecer a Dios en gratitud por el regalo que Dios nos dio a nosotros—Jesús? La segunda lectura de hoy puede ser difícil de entender al principio, pero pasa un tiempo reflexionándola. El mensaje es: Cuando Cristo vino al mundo, reconoció que Dios no quería un sacrificio de animales, lo cual significó una obediencia externa a la Ley. Lo que Dios quería era que Jesús sacrificara su cuerpo, marcando una obediencia interna a la voluntad de Dios. Y debido a que Jesús hizo la voluntad del Padre, nosotros hemos sido santos. Del mismo modo, Isabel anuncia que María y el niño en su vientre son bendecidos, y María, en particular, ha sido bendecida porque ella confío en que la palabra del Señor se cumpliría. María dedicó su vida a hacer la voluntad de Dios.

¿Qué regalo, entonces, puedes ofrecerle a Dios que sería agradable? Sugerencia: ¡No lo vas a encontrar en un centro comercial! Tal vez algo que tenga que ver con encontrar y seguir la voluntad de Dios?

Jesus, Savior


Jesus, Savior

I remember a wedding homily that offered three words of advice to the couple: share, care, be fair. Perhaps the priest was inspired by John the Baptist's advice in today's Gospel, because those three words summarize John's advice to three different groups. To the crowds John says, "Share your clothes and your food" (cf. Luke 3:11). To the tax collectors, who often profited by overtaxing people, he advises, "Care for these people" (cf. vs. 13). And to the Roman soldiers, who could be oppressive, he warns, "Be fair. Don't abuse your power" (cf. vs. 14). These three words remain good advice in our own day. When people share with each other, especially those in need; when they care that all are justly treated; and when they are fair in seeing that all have what is necessary to live a human life; then God's kingdom truly comes into the world. But John brought more than good advice. He was the herald of good news about One coming whom they had long awaited: the Anointed One, the Messiah. John saw him as one coming in judgment and in fire, but when Jesus did come, he came as Savior.

What does it mean to call Jesus Savior?

Jesús, Salvador

Recuerdo una homilía de boda que ofrecía tres palabras de consejo a la pareja: compartir, cuidar, ser justos. Tal vez el sacerdote fue inspirado por el consejo de Juan el Bautista en el Evangelio de hoy, porque esas mismas tres palabras resumen el asesoramiento de Juan a tres grupos diferentes. Para las multitudes Juan dice: "Comparte tu ropa y tu alimento" (Lucas 3:11). Para los recaudadores de impuestos, que a menudo se beneficiaban por sobrecargar a la gente, aconseja, "No cobren más de lo establecido" (cf. vs. 13). Y a los soldados romanos, que podrían ser opresivos, les advierte, "Sean justos. No abusen de su poder" (cf. vs. 14). Estas tres palabras siguen siendo un buen consejo en nuestros días. Cuando la gente comparte con los demás, especialmente con los necesitados; cuando cuidan de que todos sean tratados con igualdad; y cuando son justos en velar de que todos tengan lo necesario para vivir con dignidad; entonces el reino de Dios, en verdad, viene al mundo. Pero Juan trajo más de un buen consejo. Él era el heraldo de las buenas noticias sobre El que habían esperado: el Ungido, el Mesías. Juan lo vio como alguien que viene a traer fuego y a juzgar, pero cuando Jesús vino, vino como Salvador.

Qué significa llamar a Jesús Salvador?

How are you DRESSED today?


How are you DRESSED today?

Getting "dressed up" does not seem to happen so much these days. No matter where you go, the dress code seems to be casual, weddings and funerals excepted—usually! But today's readings use the idea of "changing our clothes" to capture Advent's invitation to put on a new way of living. Baruch calls on Jerusalem to take off her robe of mourning and misery, donned when her children were carried off into exile, and put on something radiating splendor and glory, a cloak of justice, because her children are coming home. John the Baptist calls for putting on work clothes of repentance so his listeners can build for God a highway that will reach into their hearts; then, when God arrives there, God will dress them in the glorious garments of salvation. And St. Paul tells his beloved Philippians—and us—to put on love to see what really matters and so be ready when Christ returns and takes us into the heavenly banquet.

So what are you "wearing" now, and what do you need to change into as you move toward Christmas and toward eternal life with God?

¿Como vas VESTIDO hoy?

El "vestirse elegante" no es muy común en estos días. No importa a donde vayas, el código de vestimenta parece ser casual en todos los lugares y eventos, exceptuando bodas y funerales. Las lecturas de hoy utilizan la imagen de "cambiar nuestra ropa" para capturar la invitación del Adviento de "cambiar" nuestra manera de vivir. El profeta Baruch le pide a Jerusalén que se quite el manto de luto y de aflicción que llevan puestos sus hijos por el exilio, y en cambio se vista con el esplendor y la gloria de Dios, un manto de justicia, porque sus hijos van a regresar a casa. En el evangelio, pareciera que, Juan el Bautista llama a ponerse la "ropa de trabajo" del arrepentimiento para que sus oyentes puedan construir para Dios un camino, pues Él va a llegar a sus corazones; entonces, cuando Dios llegue, los vestirá con la ropa gloriosa de la salvación. San Pablo le dice a sus amados Filipenses— y nos dice a nosotros—que nos "vistamos" en el amor para ver lo que realmente importa y así estar listos cuando Cristo regrese y nos lleve al banquete celestial.

Entonces, ¿cómo estás "vestido" hoy? Y, ¿qué necesitas cambiar a medida que nos acercamos a la Navidad y a la vida eterna con Dios?