Set Yourself apart. become a saint

Reflection on the Solemnity of All Saints

The Solemnity of All Saints honors those whose love for God knows no limits.  The Church has set them apart as examples of God’s transformative love. The occasion is an opportunity for all Christians to reflect on our lives as baptized children of God and our efforts here on earth to become saints in the next.

In my bathroom mirror, there is an index card that I see every day. The card has three powerful yet straightforward words written on it: “Become a Saint.” Those words are like bright lights that I cannot ignore. They are a reminder that by my baptism, God calls me to be holy. “Become a Saint” is a challenge because I am a sinner. Every day is an intentional fight to stay on the mark, near God. Most of all, “Become a Saint” is an aspiration of hope. Despite my frail humanity, I know that God loves me as I am. Through His forgiveness, nourishment, and the examples of the saints, He gives me the strength to believe that to “Become a Saint” is possible despite myself.

How can one become a saint? The Book of Revelations gives us one clue: “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress” (Rev 7:14). If a way to be a saint is to overcome distress, then many people today act like saints. They are doing so by imitating Christ, living the beatitudes (see Matthew 5:1-12). Among other things, they are merciful toward those suffering from unemployment, hunger, illness, and homelessness. They are fostering peace in our communities. They are protecting the sanctity of life equally from its conception to natural death.  They are enduring insults and persecution because of their efforts to be Christlike.

Some people may argue that there is no need to behave like saints or believe in God to be merciful, make peace, or tolerate insults. To them, being friendly and caring for others is common sense; no religion is needed. Those are valid points.  However, there is a difference. Those who practice kindness without faith are like people who play recreational sports in their backyards. For them, compassion is more of a hobby, something to do for fun on weekends or holidays or when time allows it.

On the other hand, Christians who act kindly because of their love for God are like professional athletes. To them, charity is a vocation. To be merciful, make peace, or tolerate insults define them as beloved children made in the image of God. However, they know that they are not perfect, but they strive to become saints despite it. Therefore, though their humanity is fraught at times, they continue to persevere. They do not let their shortcomings distract them from their ultimate victory: “To Become a Saint.

Most of all will never be recognized as saints by the Church. Like most people, I am still finding my way in the labyrinth of life. Darkness is as part of my life as light. I fall short as much as anyone else. The Solemnity of All Saints reminds me, however, that I am not alone in my struggles. That as long as I am breath left in my body, I believe in the transformative love of God. I can continue to strive to “Become a Saint” in His eyes.

May God bless you.

St. Michael the Archangel, Prince of the heavenly hosts and victor over rebellious spirits, pray for us.

Letter to the Year 2020

In memory of #chadwickboseman

Year 2020,

I’m angry at you for all that you represent: despair, pain, anxiety, division, death. You suck!

You have brought out the worst in us. You have pinned the healthy vs the unhealthy, police vs community, insured vs uninsured, landlords vs renters, young vs old, pro-mask vs anti mask, science vs politics, law vs mercy.

Under you, our children have lost their innocence. Countless people have die, lost their jobs, homes and their way of life. Our community is suffering. We are unable to work, school, communicate or worship as we like. We have lost our seasons. We are prisoners in our homes. Our politicians have failed us.

I am here to tell you, however, that we, not you, will have the last word. That we the people are stronger than you. You have witnessed it already in our health care workers and essential employees whose courage, ingenuity and determination have saved countless lives and kept our society functioning. You have seen it in those searching for a vaccine, fighting racism, caring for the sick and the poor, creating news ways to educate, entertain, and socialize.

We are wounded, but we are resilient; people of faith, hope, and love. We took your best punch and still standing. Now get ready for ours. You suck!

Lean on Me

Reflection on Matthew 14: 22-33

“You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on”

The fourth verse of Lean on Me by Bill Withers is an appropriate reflection on Jesus’ exhortation to his disciples: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (MT 14:27). Mr. Withers’ and Jesus’ exhortations speak of the power of asking for help in troublesome times and the assurance that the hearer will lend us a hand.

Fear and anxiety are as part of life as courage and serenity. Most us experience all four of them at different points and degrees in our lives. Those experiences are brought about by the environment and people around us or by our own doing. In the case of the apostles, the combination of the waves tossing their boat and them about and their vision of a “ghost” produced anxiety and fear. They had no control over the wind and their fear interfered with their clarity. Peter, however, created his own anxiety and fear. He could have stayed in the boat to wait for Jesus. However, he decided to do otherwise. Some may called him courageous for doing so. Others may called him unwise. Regardless, Peter found himself in dire straits, in need of a helping hand. Finding himself drowning, he did what most of us would do at a time like that, he prayed: “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14:30). “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him” (MT 14:31) thus answering Peter’s prayer. Then, when Peter and Jesus “got into the boat, the wind died down” (MT 14:33). Like the apostles, our life experiences were filled with fear and anxiety as well as with courage and serenity.

Jesus wants us to ask for help, to trust him in time of need. He said to us: “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Peter heeded Jesus’ words. He asked for help and he received it. That should be good news for us, right? However, there are times when we ask: “Why are my prayers not answered?”; “Why did God not save my child, spouse, or loved-one?”; “Why does God allow discrimination, injustice, and abuse?”; “Why is there hunger and homelessness?” Those are painful and normal questions to ask. It is a mystery why God allows certain things to happen in our lives. He is not responsible for their happening though. The environment, the people around us or ourselves are. On the other hand, in His mercy, God sent His Son to die for us to give us hope that one day we will experience joy and peace. In the meantime, Jesus is with us when we experience fear and anxiety. He is with us in our difficult and sorrowful moments. God desires for us to trust in Jesus in time of need, to be His children in faith. Jesus will stretch out his hand and catch us whether in this world or the next.

Mr. Withers tells us in the first verse of Lean on Me:

“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow”

Christians are people of faith and hope, people of a better tomorrow. For Jesus tells us: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peace and Goodness

La Compasión del Señor

Diácono Héctor: La compasión del Señor

¡Buenas tardes!

Antes de comenzar, demos un aplauso al Señor en acción de gracias por este día de vida, por todas las bendiciones, y por recibirnos en su casa.

La multiplicación de los cinco panes y dos peces es el único milagro de Jesus que aparece en los cuatro evangelios. Eso es significativo por que Jesus hizo muchos milagros. El milagro de la boda, la cura de los leprosos, Lazaro etc. no aparecen en los cuatro evangelios, solo el de los panes y pecados.

La iglesia nos dice que eso puede ser por que esté milagro es la anticipación de la eucaristía y el banquete final. En otras palabras de la compasión del Señor realizada en el cuerpo y sangre de Cristo Jesus. (Nota: Mateo 14:13). En el milagro de los cinco panes y dos peces experimentamos el milagro de la compasión de Señor.

Nuestro Dios, es un dios que sufre con nosotros. Un Dios de compasión. La palabra compasión procede del Latín “compati”. “Con” que significa “juntos” y “pati” “sufrir”. A través de su hijo, Jesus, nuestro Señor experimenta nuestras inquietudes y sufrimientos, incluyendo muerte. Su hijo tuvo inquietudes, sufrió y murió. Asumiendo nuestra humanidad, Cristo transformó nuestras inquietudes a tranquilidad, nuestro dolor a alegría, y nuestra muerte a resurrección.  Nuestro Dios es un dios que sufre con nosotros.

El acto de compasión del milagro de los panes y peces es mas que un evento, es una promesa permanente de compasión para todos.  Las promesas del Señor son permanentes. Pablo confirma eso cuando dice:  “nada podrá apartarnos del amor que nos ha manifestado Dios en Cristo Jesus” (Romanos 8:39). Y sus promesas son de compasión para todos. En Isaias, el Señor nos dice: “Todos ustedes que tienen sed vengan por agua; y los que no tienen dinero, vengan tomen trigo y coman; tomen vino y leche sin pagar. Sellaré con ustedes una alianza perpetua, cumpliré las promesas que hice con David” (cf. Isaias 55:1,3).  Y en Apocalipsis nos dice: “Yo soy el Alpha y el Omega, el principio y el fin. Al que tenga sed le daré de beber del manantial del agua de la vida, sin que le cueste nada” (21:6). El acto de compasión del milagro de los panes y peces es mas que un acto, es una promesa permanente de compasión para todos.

Finalmente, las lecturas de hoy nos dicen que aquellos que escuchan y siguen la palabra del Señor, experimentan su compasión.El profeta Isaías nos dice: “Presten atención, vengan a mí, escúchenme y vivirán (Isaias 55:3). Jesus enfatizó eso cuando dijo: “Yo soy el pan de vida. El que venga a mí no tendrá hambre, y el que crea en mí, nunca tendrá sed” (Juan 6:35). Para mi eso hace mucho sentido por que la persona que escucha y sigue a Jesus: 1) Le pide a él por compasión. Ella pide: “Jesus ten compasión de mi. En ti confío. Que se haga tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo.” Segundo, el que escucha y sigue la palabra del Señor, reconoce la compasión del Señor cuando la recibe o la ve. Y dice: “Este es el trabajo de mi Señor misericordioso.” Tercero, el seguidor y escuchador agradece y alaba al Señor diciendo: “Gracias Señor por tu compasión.” Y cuarto, la seguidora reciproca al Señor demostrando compasión a otros preguntándole: “Que necesitas hermano? Como puedo ayudarte? Y sufriendo con esa persona en solidaridad. Aquellos que escuchan y siguen la palabra del Señor, experimentan su compasión .

El milagro de los cinco panes y dos peces sucedió mas de 2,000 atrás. Pero no pierdan fe, por que los efectos de ese milagro siguen siendo manifestados en el sacramento de la eucaristía. También se encuentra en las acciones de caridad que demuestran que hacen con otros en imitación de Jesus. A través de su compasión, con la ayuda del Señor, sostienen los efectos del milagro de los panes y peces: convirtiendo inquietudes en tranquilidad, dolor en alegría y muerte en resurrección.

Que el Señor les de Paz y Bondad.