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The God of Plenty

We hear two stories today of multiplication of food. The first reading from 2 Kings describes the Prophet Elisha providing a meal for the people from a gift he had received as first fruits. No words of multiplication are given, yet the food is enough for the people in spite of his servant’s objections and doubts. The Gospel of John describes Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes for the crowd of five thousand men. In each of these readings there are fragments to be gathered. We see the overabundant graciousness of God in these readings.

These readings should make us pause and give thanks for the bounty God has provided us. We live by pretty high standards compared to many parts of the world. We typically have to be on a continuous diet so we don’t gain weight because we have so much food. Now that is not to say everyone here has an abundance. We must always be aware of the poor among us and do our best to assist them through charitable giving to Operation Bootstrap and other food banks or assisting them in other ways. But we must admit most of us have more than we need. Thank the Lord today for all His blessings.

Now the Gospel of John’s description of this miracle is also a typology of the Last Supper and of our Eucharist. This story points to the Last Supper using some of the same actions: Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them. Listen during the Eucharistic Prayer for these same action words. Give thanks for God’s gracious manner and contemplate this week just how blessed we are. Read the gospel passage again and imagine you are there next to Jesus as he breaks bread, because we really are there; at the Mass.

Deacon Ray

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Our Source of the Truth

In the first reading today, the Prophet Jeremiah warns those who were leading the people astray. “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, say the Lord.” Jeremiah lived in a tough time for Judea, the southern kingdom. Israel, the northern kingdom had been destroyed by Assyria and Judea stood alone as the country of God’s Chosen People. However, they too were worshiping false Gods and Jeremiah, one of the Old Testament major prophets, warned of what would happen. He warned the people against the false prophets who were worshiping false gods. Unfortunately for Judea the people did not listen and they too were overtaken by Babylon in 587BC.

In spite of this tragedy, God did not leave the people alone or abandon them. Jeremiah has a message of hope included in the reading today; “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David…” We can learn from history what happens when we abandon God and place our faith in things of this world. God, a gracious and loving God, provides for us and has given us laws to live by for our own good. But all too often we rebel against these laws and we find ourselves lost, seeking inner peace but unable to find it because we are void of the truth, God.

Mark’s Gospel message today recalls the return of the Apostles from their mission. They reported to Jesus all the mighty works they had done, through the power of Jesus. Jesus, knowing they needed rest, tries to lead them to a deserted place, but once again the crowd, longing to be with the Master, finds them and they have no time for rest. The Gospel writer describes the people as being like sheep without a shepherd.

We see in Jesus someone who hold the truth within and is generous in sharing it. People seek Him because He models His Father. Jesus has an inner peace everyone longs for. I know people who possess this peace and they too are generous in sharing it. I’ll bet you know someone like this too.

We live in a world that hungers for peace, the inner peace only God can provide. However, this world seems to seek this gift in worldly things, possessions, power, fame. We, like the people of the time of Jeremiah the Prophet, have many false prophets trying to lead us astray, away from God, so beware. Some of the false prophets today work within our own Church! We received a subscription to the National Catholic Reporter as a Christmas gift. I have been shocked at the content of this “Catholic” newspaper and would not recommend anyone to support or purchase this paper. It is truly unfortunate these false shepherds have a voice in our world. The truth lies in the teachings of the Catholic Church, in those who teach the orthodox teachings, not their own version of the “truth”. So be careful how you form your conscience, using God’s message, not that of the world!

-Deacon Ray

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Eucharistic Adoration

We, Catholics believe and we are taught in the Catechism that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. The existential presence of Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer, in the Eucharist even after the celebration of the Holy Mass, is a great blessing for us. Besides maintaining His promise that He will be with us till the end of the world, Jesus offers us an opportunity to come before Him and unload the life’s burden and be filled with inner peace of mind and heart. It is very easy to say that we don’t have time to go to the Adoration, just like some people say that they don’t have time to go for Sunday Mass. We give to ourselves such excuse, because we forget the truth in the Words of Jesus: “I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever … Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6: 51, 53 & 54).

Finding time to go to Adoration can be difficult; but if one would commit himself/herself to set apart time to go for Adoration regularly with a determined mind and heart, that person is not far from finding inner peace.

In today’s culture, the concept of inner peace, which is spiritual, is undervalued; sometimes it is considered a waste of time. Hence many people seek for peace and happiness through material possession and things which satisfy the senses. I agree that this would give certain happiness; yet it would be colored with a fleeting occurrence. Whereas the inner peace is what transforms the whole life of the person, both internally and externally. This is the reason, why we seek God. The Eucharistic Adoration is the best time, one can sit before The Lord and experience the inner peace.

God bless you ,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The month of June, in the Catholic Tradition, is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On June 8th we celebrated the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Remembering and reflecting on the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus means reflecting on the love of God. Yes, in the burning and wounded Sacred Heart, we see that God’s heart is consumed with love for us, so much so that he was willing to suffer and die for us in the most gruesome manner. The deeper we grow in reflecting on God’s love, the more we realize that it is not our love for God but God’s passionate love for us that has been precious and very valuable. He has revealed His love for us in many ways. Hence a month is dedicated to remind us of the depth of God’s love for us.

Pope Pius XII said, “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature, is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men”.

Many of us are not able to understand the value of love, because our culture has confused us with mistaken definitions of love, referring love to mean passing infatuation or sexual attraction. It is not the true definition of love. Rather, true love is sacrificial and self-giving, so as to lay down one’s life for the good of another.

I would like to suggest some ways, in which we can thankfully honor the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Consecration: The image of Jesus exposing His Heart reveals to us the depth of God’s sacrificial love for us. He proved His love by sacrificing Himself on the Cross. He continues to show the same love, every time when we participate in the Holy Mass and receive the Eucharist. One of the ways we could show our love for Him is to consecrate ourselves. The prayer of consecration can be found in most of the prayer-booklets.

Enthronement: An important way of our devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is to recognize the authority of Jesus Christ over the family, as the King of the family. Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is an excellent way to acknowledge the Kingship of Christ. A blessed image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is placed prominently in our home, reminding the members of the family that Jesus is our King and that all in the family should love and serve Him with our whole hearts.

Reparation: On several occasion and several times the name of Jesus is abused in the media or in literature or in conversation. Each time, His name is so dishonored, the loving heart of Jesus is wounded. Hence, one way to show our love and repair the dishonor is to make reparation by reciting a prayer of reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

First Friday Devotion: When Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, he asked her to foster the practice of the First Friday devotion by participating in the Mass, going to make a confession, receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist and if possible by participating also in the Eucharistic Adoration. The First Friday devotion is to remember the Passion and death with which Jesus manifested His immense love for the humankind. This devotion is a reminder of His love and a reminder to imitate His love.

Prayers for enthronement and reparation can be found in Catholic prayer books or online. When the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is fading, it would be a very good practice of our faith to grow in acknowledging the love of the heart of Jesus.

May God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V

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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

This Sunday the Church celebrates this solemnity to honor Jesus and to remind us of what we receive in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not a symbol of Jesus, it is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord!

The change that takes place in the bread and wine is simply a miracle. This miracle is the gift of God which changes the very essence of these two common items, bread and wine, into the extraordinary. While this miracle takes place before us we do not see the effects of it; the bread and wine, now the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus remain visible to us in their previous form. This is truly amazing, yet we may become oblivious to what happens at every Mass. This happens when we allow ourselves to fall into a routine where we “go through the motions” of attending Mass, but not really participating in the Mass through our prayer and attentiveness. We fall into a state where perhaps we zone out, our mind wanders and we drift away from the most important moment in our whole week.

While we will never fully realize and understand this great mystery here on earth, we must realize the importance of the Mass in our faith life and carry this love into the world. It takes a “leap of faith” to believe the Eucharist is really the Precious Body and Blood of Christ. It also takes a strong relationship with God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to carry the love poured out at the Mass into the world. This is difficult because we face many unbelieving people who mock us or make fun of our beliefs. No one wants to be seen as “not fitting in.” Our Church calls us to be “in the world, but not of the world.” Meaning we need to be in the common day to day work, school, and leisure world, showing the world what it means to be Catholic; to live the law with love. To rise above the often low standards and norms of the world and live as God desires. Yet, we are not of the world; we are to recall always that Jesus is our Lord and King and this is not our home. We are meant for greater things than what we find here; we are called home to Heaven! We are closest to Heaven at the Mass, where we reach up to Heaven and God comes to dwell with us.

In essence, it all boils down to a relationship; with God and each other. If we believe we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we must put into action the love He gives us. Perhaps not easily done, but done with the grace we receive from this most precious sacrament.

God bless you,

Deacon Ray

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Memorial Day

On Monday, May 28th we observe the Memorial Day in US. On this special day we remember the more than one million American combatants, who have died in many wars through the history. According to the available data, since 9/11 approximately 7000 U.S. troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan; over 50,000 wounded and about 7000 U.S. military contractors have also been killed. Besides the loss of these great men and women combatants, we should remember that well over one million innocent civilians were also killed in various wars.

Now approximately 200,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in most countries around the world; of these about 26,000 are in war-torn countries of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The world is at war. While trillions of Dollars are spent on wars, very little is spent on ending global problem of hunger, poverty and the homeless.

We may not be able to do much to stop the war. But we have one powerful weapon at hand with us. It is the weapon of prayer. While praying for those who have died in various wars, let us also pray that those in authority, instead of sending more combatants, take measures globally to a peaceful way of life walking in the light of Christ.

Please remember that I will be celebrating the Holy Mass at 9:00 a.m. on the Memorial Day at the Guardian Angel Cemetery. Let us gather at the Guardian Angel Cemetery and pray for all.

May the souls of the great men and women, who have died in wars through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Love and Forgiveness

We hear a theme of love in today’s readings. Jesus gives His command to us at the Last Supper; “love one another.” We know how difficult this can be in this fallen world. We may have the best of intentions, striving to love everyone, but things get messed up. At times it is our fault. We may have said or done something hurtful that has caused pain for others. We too can be the recipients of harmful behavior, and we know how hard it is to forgive. Yet it is not impossible to heal, to forgive and seek forgiveness, we just need to ask for the assistance of God. God’s mercy and grace are always at hand!

I read the book “Left to Tell” recently. The author, Immaculee Ilabagiza is an example of living Jesus’ command to love one another. Her story is an inspiration to everyone; that with God’s help we can forgive, we can love, even those who hate us. Her story is about the extreme violence in Rwanda back in 1994. While the world watched over a million Tutsi’s were killed, simply because they were of a different tribe than the Hutu’s. This violence had been brewing for a long time, with other acts of brutality in the country’s past. The trigger to this holocaust was the killing of the Hutu president. Those who remained in power blamed the Tutsi resistance forces for this assassination and called for the extermination of all Tutsi’s.

Immaculee tells her story of survival, hiding out with six other women in a pastor’s home for three months. They faced narrow escapes from the violence all around them. It was during her time of confinement in the very tiny bathroom where they hid that she had an intense interaction with God. She would pray for up to twenty hours a day using the only thing she had from her family; her father’s rosary. It wasn’t easy for her as she faced the same temptations as we do from Satan; he tried to get into her head and lead her to hatred for those who were killing. But with God’s grace Immaculee was able to overcome these thoughts and was able to forgive, to love those who were seeking her life. Truly an amazing story!

I encourage everyone to read this book because of the powerful message she gives. A message of love and forgiveness that we can use in our lives. A message of Jesus’ command lived out; love one another.

Deacon Ray

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Keeping the Day of The Lord Holy

One of the parishioners asked me why we should go to Church every Sunday. This prompted me to think that perhaps, many others have the same thought. If anyone has such a thought, let me answer their question:

First of all, the obligation of observing the Day of The Lord falls on all the baptized Christians, because it is the third of the Ten Commandments of The Lord. It says: “Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it, you shall not do any work…” (Deuteronomy 5:12-14).

The word “Sabbath” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “day of rest”. “To keep it holy” means “consecrate” or “set apart” or “sanctify”. As a steward of God’s gifts, abilities, resources and opportunities, we have six days to use all of them for our good. The seventh day is reserved to engage ourselves for God.

There are good reasons why we need to refrain from regular work on the sabbath day: From a human point of view, first of all, we often say that we don’t have time to pray or to spend time with the family or to spend some time with a friend or to relax. This commandment of The Lord solves these problems. Secondly, from the point of view of our faith, we are called to glorify, honor God and exercise our faith by going to the Church and participate in the Mass.

It is important to know the historical shift in observing the third Commandment. Before the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, the last day of the week, Saturday, was the Sabbath day. But after these glorious events, it was no more the last day of the week but the first day, Sunday, which was observed as “The Day of The Lord”. The change was made because The Lord rose from the dead on the first day of the week.

At the present age of Catholic laxity, many have lost sight of the fact that it is a grave or mortal sin to skip Mass on Sunday or on a holy day of obligation when one is able to attend. Next week, I will share, why it is a grave sin to miss the Mass on Sunday and on the holy day of obligation.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Why should I pray?

God knows me and knows what I need. If so, “Why should I pray?”

Prayer basically enables a person to relate himself/ herself with God. We pray to God because of our relationship with Him, sharing what is weighing on us in life, our feelings and thoughts of our daily life. In fact, even if our family members and our friends would know what is happening in our life, we still share about it and they listen to us with love and affection. The same is true with prayer.

Prayer neither changes what God knows nor does it change what God does. Instead, prayer changes us. Prayer is about being in relationship with God and pouring out our hearts to God. Prayer is about God receiving all that is in our hearts in love. Prayer is about not being alone. Prayer is about being with God, the Emmanuel, that is, God who is with us in our darkest and hardest moments. Prayer is about Jesus crying out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” God is with us in those moments of feeling abandoned. We pray because God created us to be in relationship, and relationship requires communication and communion. We pray to be with God.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Jesus Cleanses the Temple

In John’s Gospel, the cleansing of the temple occurs early in the story, whereas in the synoptic gospels, all place this much later in their accounts. Perhaps John wanted to show the radical change Jesus desired in all aspects of life; our cleansing. Jesus, filled with justifiable anger makes a mess of the area of the temple where merchants sold animals for sacrifice and money changers did their business. This is a picture of Jesus we may find difficult to accept; He seems so gentle and peaceful in the gospel stories, and we may ask; where did this attitude come from? If we only had this small passage to work from how would we view Jesus? Likely much differently than how we understand Him, because we have four full views to come to know Him. We are blessed to have all four gospels, each with a different perspective, each written for a different audience, yet each describing the same God man.

We hear in the passage today that Jesus understood human nature. This is comforting and at the same time it makes us squirm. We are comforted knowing that Jesus, in His human nature, experienced the same things we do; hunger and pain, desires and passion, concern and caring. He understood human nature through living it, observing how we treat each other and the foibles each person has. This is what makes us squirm; that He knows our frail characters as well as what we are capable of. He was tempted, yet was able to endure and rise above. He was rejected but did not seek revenge. He was mocked and scorned but asked for forgiveness for them.

We have good reason to squirm. If we reflect on our lives honestly, we must admit we have fallen short in many ways. We have not lived up to our potential, the potential God knows we have. This is the time of year, especially during the holy season of Lent to lay bare our shortcomings and to seek forgiveness, to call upon the God of mercy for the strength to overcome our weaknesses and strive once again to become the daughter or son He desires. We cannot do this without His help. He is essential in our journey.

Take the time to sit quietly with the Lord this Lent and contemplate His greatness with awe and ask Him what He desires of you. This is the key to conversion and forgiveness. What kind of radical change does Jesus desire for you?


Deacon Ray