Thursday, January 5, 2017

8 de enero de 2017 - Solemnidad de la Epifanía del Señor - Isaías 6:1-6, Mateo 2:1-12

     “No hay institución en América que haga más por los migrantes que nuestras comunidades cristianas. Estamos enfrentando la inmigración latina la cual afecta a muchas diócesis. Más que como Pastor de Roma, les hablo como un Pastor del Sur de la necesidad que siento en agradecerles y motivarles.” - Esos son las palabras del Papa Francisco en una oración con los obispos de los Estados Unidos en Septiembre de 2015.
      Hoy, celebramos la solemnidad de la Epifanía de nuestro Señor, la visita de los tres reyes magos al niño Jesús.  Es la manifestación y la revelación de Dios vino como hombre a las naciones del mundo.  Hoy, también, empezamos la Semana Nacional de Migración en nuestra Iglesia Católica.  
      Nosotros conocemos muy bien que los migrantes que vienen a los Estados Unidos son la población mas vulnerable.  Cuando somos vulnerables, tenemos miedo a veces para hablar por nosotros mismos.  Entonces, es importante por nosotros en la Iglesia para hablar sobre los derechos y la dignidad que cada ser humana tiene, inclusivo de los migrantes. Nuestra tradición moral nos llama a toda la gente de fe y de buena voluntad para defender la vida y la dignidad humana. Esta es una llamada fundamental para nosotros como Católicos. 
      Cuando el Mesías vino al mundo, el pueblo judío pensaba que él vino solamente por los judíos.  Con la visita de los reyes magos, tenemos el mensaje que Cristo es un don para todos las naciones del mundo, no solo por los ricos y los privilegiados y los judíos.  En nuestra tradición, los tres magos son de culturas diferentes, de Europa, de África, y de Arabia.  Son extranjeros en el mundo de los judíos.  La Sagrada familia de María y José y Jesucristo es una familia de migrantes también.  Ellos huyeron de Herodes y eran refugiados en una tierra extranjera.  
      Ustedes conocen que nosotros en la parroquia de St James en Tupelo tenemos mucho respecto por la comunidad hispana como una parte integral de nuestra parroquia.  Tengo mucho respecto por su cultura, y las otras culturas que existen en nuestra parroquia.  Es importante para colaborar juntos y para aprender en medio de nuestras diferencias.  Es importante que no solo nos identificamos con las cosas que nos separan, en las divisiones que existen en nuestra sociedad.  Debemos respetar la dignidad humana en nuestro prójimo. Siempre estamos llamados a seguir el camino de Dios y seguir el ejemplo de Cristo.  
    Los reyes magos vinieron a este pesebre humilde y ofrecieron regalos preciosos de oro, incienso y mirra.  Podemos recordar que Cristo siempre estaba con los pobres y los oprimidos del mundo.  Y Cristo nos da un mandato, que cuando hagamos un banquete no debemos invitar a nuestros familiares o a los vecinos adinerados, sino a los pobres, a los inválidos, a los cojos y a los ciegos. Vivimos en un mundo con muchas divisiones, sin duda.  Podemos reflexionar sobre la manera que invitamos a los extranjeros y los pobres que están con nosotros.  Estamos obligados a ayudar y cuidar a los pobres y desamparados.  Con la energía y el entusiasmo que tenemos con este retiro de ACTS, podemos vivir este mandato en su plenitud.  

     La lectura de los Tres Reyes Magos no solo en una parte de la historia del nacimiento de Cristo.  Esta solemnidad de la Epifanía nos da la oportunidad de reflexionar sobre nuestra fe y la responsabilidad que tenemos como discípulos de Cristo.  

1/8/2017 - The Epiphany of the Lord - Isaiah 6:1-6, Matthew 2:1-12

      The Epiphany of the Lord - the Three Wise Men - the Magi - the Three Kings - today’s celebration near at the end of the Christmas season has many different names. In most places in the Catholic world, Epiphany is celebrated on January 6.  However, in the United States, we Catholics always celebrate Epiphany on a Sunday, so that more of the faithful can be a part of this celebration.  Raquel and I were interviewed by the religion reporter from the Tupelo newspaper about our celebration of Epiphany.  He had a lot of questions about it, since this celebration is not recognized in most Protestant churches. Our word “epiphany” comes from a Greek word that means “manifestation.”  With the celebration of the Magi’s visit to Jesus, we celebrate the revelation of God in his Son Jesus Christ born in the humble manger in Bethlehem.  In the West, the Epiphany of the Lord has been celebrated since the 4th century, so it quite an ancient celebration in the Church.  Like many things in the Bible, the gifts that the Magi bring the Christ child have symbolic meaning.  Gold, a very valuable metal even in our modern world, symbolizes the kingship of Jesus. Frankincense, an incense that was used in religious ceremonies in the Temple in Jerusalem, represents the priesthood of Jesus.  Myrrh, a spice that was used to embalm bodies for burial, foreshadows Christ’s passion, suffering, and his death on the cross.  Matthew’s Gospel does not say how many wise men visited Jesus, but the number of three wise men has been traditionally assigned to them corresponding to the three gifts they brought the baby Jesus. 
     What does it mean when we call them Magi?  “Magi” is the Greek word used for them in the Gospel. The term “Magi” could refer to astrologers or magicians or dreamers or star gazers.  Since the wise men trace their journey by following a star, the term “Magi” makes sense to us.  We could also call them Wise men. The Roman philosopher Cicero referred to them as “wise and learned men from among the Persians.” In fact, the Hebrew word wise men is used in the Old Testament to designate this class of astrological advisors.  We often think about them as “Kings,” don’t we?  Our Three Kings at mass today wear crowns to identify themselves.  Are everyone knows the Christmas carol “We Three Kings.” The Christian author Tertulian from the 2nd century saw the Three Kings as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah that we hear in our first reading today: “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn…and all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”  So, there is indeed some truth in calling these three visitors to Jesus as Wise Men or Kings or Magi - all of these labels describe some aspect of their mysterious identity. 
     The most important thing is not the title we give these men who visit the Christ child - what is most important is what this story of the Wise Men tells us.  Whether these visitor are seen as coming from the Orient or seen as representing Europe, Africa, and Arabia, the fact that these men came from outside the nation of Israel from a faraway place, recognizing the Christ child as someone special, shows us that Jesus is meaningful beyond the confines of Israel.  Jesus is a gift to the whole world.  Jesus brings salvation to all races and all cultures and all nations.  While these men bring Jesus precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, may we bring our own gifts and treasures today to honor Jesus our Lord as we the Catholic faithful celebrate Epiphany today.    

Sunday, January 1, 2017

1/6/2017 - Friday of the Christmas season before Epiphany - 1 John 5:5-13

       Today, in many Catholic countries, January 6, the feast of the Epiphany is celebrated and it is considered the 12th day of Christmas, the end of the Christmas season.  In the US, we always celebrate Epiphany on a Sunday, so it is a date that changes each year.  This year, our Christmas season ends with the Baptism of the Lord on January 9.  We love receiving and giving gifts on the Christmas season.  It is so much identified with this time of the year.  According to the first letter of John, Jesus allows us to achieve victory over the things of this world, Jesus is the very best gift we can receive, the gift that brings us eternal life.  It is a good message for us to meditate on during this Christmas season.  I was reading an article on the internet last week about how the members of the Generate X who were born in the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s have really started to contemplate their mortality this year since many stars and celebrities that they grew up with since as Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars and Florence Henderson as the mother of the Brady Bunch have passed away this year.  We know that life is not always a fairy tale, that we have twist and turns and ups and downs on our journey, that death and change are the one things that are constants in life. Yet we have our faith in Christ and the salvation we achieve in him, in the eternal life we receive once our earthly life comes to an end.  In Advent, in that time of preparation and waiting, we placed our hope in the coming of Jesus in the nativity in Bethlehem, in his second coming, and in the enteral life we will receive at the end of our days here on earth.  We received Christ born in that humble manger on Christmas day.  We wait for his second coming. We wait for our eternal life in Christ.  We wait in hope and trust.  

1/5/2017 - Mass for the Thursday in the Christmas season before Epiphany - St John Neumann - John 1:43-51

       We here in the US have a Catholic Church that is relatively young compared to the countries of Europe and some other parts of the world, so it make sense that we do not have a huge number of American saints, although that number has been increasing in recent years.  Today, we celebrate one of our American saints - St John Neumann.   He was born in the early 19th century in Bohemia, a country we don’t really think about in our modern world.  It is now a part of the Czech republic.  When he decided that he wanted to become a priest, he was told that his diocese in Bohemia had a overabundance of priests, so he decided to immigrate to the US and become a priest there. Neumann was very skilled at languages, so he was a very useful priest to the Catholic immigrant population in the young United States.  He eventually joined the missionary order of the Redemptorists, where he became provincial.  Neumann became the 4th Bishop of Philadelphia.  He established the first system of Catholic schools in the US, which thrived in the parishes of his archdiocese.  He died at the young age of 49.  Here is a quote from St John Neumann that I really like:  “As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also.”As Jesus called Philip and Nathaniel in the Gospel today to follow him, as he called John Neumann and each one of us to be his disciples, let us respond to that call with joy and enthusiasm and creativity.  St John Neumann was an immigrant himself who ministered to a primarily immigrant population.  Next week, we recognize National Migration Week in our Church, which we have none for nearly 50 years.  We think of immigrants, refugees, and those caught up in human trafficking. The theme of this week is Creating a Culture of Encounter.  Pope Francis states that since our faith is an encounter with Jesus, we are called to do what Jesus does: to encounter others. 

J.  Let us reflect on how this call to encounter is calling us in our faith. 

1/4/2017 - Wednesday of the Christmas season before Epiphany - John 1:35-42

       John the Baptist was a witness to the Gospel of Christ in so many ways.  He baptized the people of Ancient Israel in the River Jordan, calling them to repent for their sins, preparing the way of the Lord. John also recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God, as the Messiah, before Jesus started his public ministry.  In our own ways, through our words and our example, we also can prepare the way of Jesus in the world.  This Thursday, we celebrate an American saint who came to the United States as an immigrant from Bohemia and who became the influential Bishop of Philadelphia, where he established the first diocesan school system in the US - St John Neumann. Today, we celebrate a saint who was born in America two years before the US colonies declared independence from England - St Elizabeth Ann Seton.  Seton grew up in a prosperous Episcopalian family in New York.  She traveled to Italy with her husband, where he died, staying there where the example and compassion of the Catholic faithful there inspired her to convert to Catholicism.  Returning to the US, she found a lot of opposition to her Catholic faith in her family, her friends, and society in general.  She was invited by a priest in Baltimore to start a parish school. She is the foundress of the first religious order formed in the US - the Sisters of Charity of St Joseph.  She and her order ran many schools and orphanages.   She became the first native born American saint when she was canonized in 1975.  Elizabeth Ann Seton once said:  “The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will.”  The American Catholic Church has a lot of great examples of faith that we have given the world.  We thank the Lord for saints such as St Elizabeth Ann Seton and St John Neumann, for the examples of faith that they give us, helping us to prepare the way for the Lord.  

1/3/2016 - The Most Holy Names of Jesus - Luke 2:21-24

     Today, on January 3, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. The Church reveals to us the wonders of Jesus as the Incarnate Word by singing the glories of his holy name. The name of Jesus means Savior.  The name Jesus had been revealed to Joseph in a dream and to the Virgin Mary when the Angel Gabriel announced the Good News of Jesus birth to her in the Annunciation. Devotion to the Holy Name is deeply rooted in the Sacred Scriptures and in the Early Church as recored in the Acts of the Apostles. Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus was popularized by Church leaders  such as the Cistercian Abbot St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. John of  Capistrano, and the Franciscan Order. This feast was first extended to the entire Church in 1727 under Pope Innocent XIII.  In fact, the entire month of January has traditionally been dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.
    Luke’s Gospel states that 8 days after Jesus was born, at the ceremony of his circumcision, Mary and Joseph officially announced that the name of their baby would be Jesus.  This tradition is similar to the way that Christian parents announce in the Church the given name of their child in the Sacrament of Baptism. Franciscan missionary St. Bernadine of Siena, whose missionary expeditions helped revitalize the faithful in Italy in the 15th century, carried a banner with the Holy Name of Jesus on it that he used in his sermons. He wrote extensively on the Holy Name, asserting that it can bear much fruit for beginners in the faith and for sinners, as it shows them the immense mercy of God.  According to St Bernadine, the Holy Name of Jesus enables a devout man to gain a victory in all conflicts: with the devil, with the flesh, and with the world, having the power to heal. In Scripture, St. Peter stated that "through His name, all receive remission of sin who believe in Him”.  St. John stated "Your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake”.  Jesus’ name is the summary of his character and his office, of Jesus as God and King, as Redeemer and Mediator, as Savior and High Priest, as Intercessor and Captain, as Teacher and Shepherd, as the Giver of Law, Light, and Life.  Lord Jesus, no matter where we are on our journey of faith, may we always honor your Most Holy Name.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

1/1/2017 - la solemnidad de María, Madre de Dios - Lucas 2: 16-21

      Hoy celebramos el fin del año 2016 y el comienzo del Año Nuevo. En el primer día del Año Nuevo, celebramos siempre la solemnidad de la Santísima Virgen María, la Madre de Dios - María, como el Theotokos, la portadora de Dios por quien Jesús vino al mundo.  En Lumen Gentium, la Constitución dogmática del la Iglesia del Concilio Vaticano Segundo, se declaró que Dios no empleó a María de manera
pasiva, sino que ella cooperó libremente en la obra de salvación humana a través de su fe y su obediencia. Las palabras de San Ireneo dice eso en Lumen Gentium sobre María: "Siempre obediente, María se convirtió en la causa de la salvación para ella y para toda la raza humana".  María es la nueva Eva, como declaró San Ireneo : "El nudo de la desobediencia de Eva fue desatado por la obediencia de María; Lo que la virgen Eva enlazó a través de su incredulidad, la Virgen María se aflojó a través de su fe ".  Al Papa Francisco, le gusta mucho esa imagen de María que ella nos ayuda a desatar los nudos que nos impiden en el camino de fe.  En nuestra relación con Dios, cuando desobedecemos su voluntad, cuando no le escuchamos, cuando nos falta confianza, un tipo de nudo se crea en nosotros.  Estos nudos nos quitan la paz,  la serenidad, y la esperanza.  Estos nudos pueden enredarnos.  Sin embargo, sabemos que nada es imposible con Dios.  María abrió la puerta a Dios para deshacer el nudo del pecado original, la antigua desobediencia.  María, la Madre de Dios y nuestra Madre, nos lleva con paciencia y con amor a Dios para que pueda desentrañar los nudos de nuestras almas.  María concibió por primera vez a Jesús en la fe y lo concibió en la carne siguiendo la voluntad de Dios en su vida. Lo que pasó en la Santísima Virgen María también puede colocarse dentro de nosotros en un sentido espiritual.  Cuando recibimos la palabra de Dios en nuestros corazones con sinceridad y humildad, cuando ponemos su palabra en práctica, Dios toma carne dentro de nosotros y viene a habitar en nosotros.  De esta manera, María como Madre de Dios y como el primer discípulo es nuestro mayor ejemplo de fe, es nuestra Madre que nos guía y conduce a Cristo.  Podemos llevar a Jesús a la vida en un sentido espiritual, de la misma manera María lo trajo a la vida.
      Celebramos el comienzo del Año Nuevo con María, pidiendo sus oraciones e intercesiones por nuestro camino, por nuestra nación y por nuestras familias.  El 1 de enero de este año se celebra el quincuagésimo aniversario del Día Mundial de la Paz, que fue establecido por el Papa Pablo VI.  El tema de este año es "La no violencia: un estilo de política para la paz".   La declaración del Consejo Pontificio sobre Justicia y Paz dice: "La violencia y la paz son el origen de dos formas opuestas de construir la sociedad. La proliferación de focos de violencia produce las consecuencias sociales negativas más graves. La paz, por el contrario, promueve consecuencias positivas y permite el logro de un progreso verdadero ".  El Papa Francisco nos llama a negociar siempre formas de paz en nuestras vidas y en el mundo, incluso cuando la paz parece difícil y poco práctica.   Al trabajar por la paz, debemos traer esperanza al mundo.  El Papa defiende que las disputas se resuelvan mediante negociaciones pacíficas sin disolverse en la violencia, la guerra o el conflicto armado.
      Para mí, la oración que ejemplifica el llamado del Papa a la paz es la oración de la paz de San Francisco de Asís. Con las intercesiones de María y de todos los santos, unamos nuestras oraciones por la paz y el fin de la guerra, el terrorismo y la violencia.  Oremos:  

Señor, haz de mi un instrumento de tu paz.
Que allá donde hay odio, yo ponga el amor. 
Que allá donde hay ofensa, yo ponga el perdón. 
Que allá donde hay discordia, yo ponga la unión. 
Que allá donde hay error, yo ponga la verdad. 
Que allá donde hay duda, yo ponga la Fe. 
Que allá donde desesperación, yo ponga la esperanza. 
Que allá donde hay tinieblas, yo ponga la luz. 
Que allá donde hay tristeza, yo ponga la alegría. 

Oh Señor, que yo no busque tanto ser consolado, cuanto consolar, 
ser comprendido, cuanto comprender, 
ser amado, cuanto amar. 

Porque es dándose como se recibe, 
es olvidándose de sí mismo como uno se encuentra a sí mismo, 
es perdonando, como se es perdonado, 

es muriendo como se resucita a la vida eterna.  AMEN.