Ash Wednesday comes from the Jewish practice of doing penance wearing “sackcloth and ashes.” The Old Testament tells us how the people of Nineveh, the Syrian King, Queen Esther and others fasted wearing sackcloth and ashes, Also, in the early Church, Christians who had committed serious sins were instructed to do public penance wearing sackcloth and ashes. The prophet Joel in his Old testament book insists that we should experience a complete conversion of heart, and not simply regret for our sins. We are invited to assimilate the true spirit of fasting and prayer. We need to purify and renew our lives during the period of Lent by repentance, which means expressing sorrow for sins by turning away from occasions of sins and making a right turn to God. We need to express our repentance by being reconciled with God daily, by asking for forgiveness from those whom we have offended and by giving unconditional forgiveness to our neighbors who have offended us. Continue reading Ash Wednesday reflection
„You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth the crucified. He has been raised, he is not here” (St. Mark) Easter Day has come at last, Jesus is risen. We have prepared for this day through Lent. We suffered with Christ on Good Friday and waited uneasily while He was in the tomb. For those who believe in the Risen Savior, Easter Sunday is the high point of the year—YEAR OF FAITH. The Resurrection of Christ Our Lord not only guarantees us on immortal life, but it tells us of a new life and higher kind of life. By His Resurrection, Christ gives us His own divine life. It is the beginning of the life we shall enjoy to its fullest extent in heaven. It is in truth the beginning of heaven on earth. So the accent of the Christian message is always on life, not on sin, punishment and death. Continue reading HE IS RISEN. . . – reflection
Today we are in the middle of a paradox. On the one hand, we are filled with joy. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, throngs of people rejoice. The promised Savior has finally come! The Messiah is here! Redemption is at hand! But then, on the other hand, we turn towards the sorrowful narrative of our Lord’s rejection, suffering, and death – with his passion. Palm Sunday is also Passion Sunday.It is a solemn, silent moment.
How can a day of triumph be filled with both joy and sorrow? Because what seems to be Christ’s defeat is actually his victory, the victory of everlasting love. "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Continue reading Palm Sunday
Today is the second day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was one of the seven deacons who helped the apostles; he was "filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit," and was "full of fortitude." The deacon Stephen, has always been the object of very special veneration by the faithful. The account in the Acts of the Apostles relating his arrest and the accusations brought against him emphasize the parallel with our Savior’s trial; he was stoned outside the city wall and died, like his Master praying for his executioners. Continue reading St. Stephen’s day – reflection
Today Jesus will come to us again in the Eucharist. Just as he came into the world on the first Christmas, quietly, gently, helplessly, entrusting himself to Mary’s care, so he comes to us in Holy Communion, quietly, gently, helplessly, entrusting himself to our care. God wants to rule our hearts, because he knows that he is a better king than we are. But he is not a tyrant – he won’t force his way in. Instead, he invites us, he reaches out to us, he trusts us, he makes himself weak so as to become our strength. Whenever we receive him in Holy Communion, he looks at us with the same generous and eager eyes that he used to look at his mother Mary on the first Christmas. Continue reading Christmas reflection
Each one of us has experienced God’s action in our lives in some special way, at least once. Maybe through a truly uncanny coincidence, or through an answered prayer, or through the providential intervention of a friend or loved one. I must admit that I too have experienced such God’s interventions. There were times when I was almost mad at God that he had ruined my plans I had for my own sake. When I was ready to proceed with my plan suddenly, something strange happened. A person or an event had changed my plans. Once I was in a hurry for a train to go to an important meeting. Then, suddenly, it happened that I had to take a stranger to a hospital. And of course, I was late for the train.
Advent, which starts today, is sometimes understood as a waiting period – waiting for Christmas to arrive. That’s what the prophecy in today’s First Reading calls to mind. From that point of view, this waiting period between Advent and Christmas is also supposed to make us think deeply about another waiting period. The one between now and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who will bring history to its fulfillment, judge the living and the dead, and put a definitive end to evil. This second waiting period is what our Lord refers to in today’s Gospel passage. Continue reading Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent
During the month of November, we walk pensively along silent aisles at tranquil cemeteries. We stop for a brief moment, when our attention is directed toward a grave marker of an old tomb covered by fallen leaves. On this damaged tooth that pierces the gravesite, we find an appropriate inscription: "Time is running out; eternity waits." Death is inherent in our lives, as it is the end of our journey on this earth.
With the first cry of an infant’s life, the clock hands mark his progress on the road to eternity. At that instant this new person receives his life’s calling – a call to holiness. Furthermore, he is given a free will, which can be used to shape his holiness.
The word Epiphany, which means appearance or manifestation, marks Jesus’ first appearance to the Gentiles. "Epiphany" refers to God’s self-revelation as well as the revelation of Jesus as His Son. It is a celebration older than the feast of Christmas, having originated in the East in the late second century. The feast commemorates the coming of the Magi, Three Wise Men, as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
More than 500 years before Christ’s birth, God had promised, through his prophet Isaiah, that he was going to lead all the nations to Jerusalem to share in the light of salvation. He even promised that they would bring gold and incense. And through a different prophet, the Psalmist, he made the same promise in different words "the kings of Tarshish and the coasts will pay him tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts".