St. Justin & St. Michael Parishes
 
M E S S A G E  F R O M  T H E  P A S T O R

  

 

WEEKLY REFLECTIONS & PRAYERS

 

December 8, 2019

In this second week of Advent, we reflect on the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. How she was conceived without original sin in order that she may be a fitting vessel, the mother of the Savior. This celebration is in perfect harmony with the message of John the Baptist in today's gospel, and the overarching theme for the season: Prepare, make ready, stay awake for the coming of the Lord. By divine appointment, Mary was set apart and preserved from any stain of original sin so that she who would become the mother of the Redeemer; would also be as spotless as her son and  maker. She lived her life in the eternal awareness of her mission as she ensured to constantly magnify the Lord who has done great things for her. From his mother's womb, John was assigned a special role also to be the precursor of Jesus; a role which he performed with inspiring devotion. Both understood what a privilege they were blessed with and each made sure to make Jesus the center and focus of their lives. ‘That I may    decrease so that He may increase' was John's inextinguishable desire as was Marys’. In this second week, as we make room in our hearts for the birth of the savior, we pray that pride and ego may decrease, that envy and jealousy may diminish, that anger, mean spiritedness and unforgiveness may have no room in our hearts. Instead, that we may be a people of compassion, of generosity and of love. In doing so, we would have lifted the gates of our hearts so that the king of glory may enter and dwell within us, Amen

 

December 1, 2019

The Prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, speaks with such longing for the house of the Lord. Same sentiment is re-echoed in the Psalm of today: 'Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.' This longing for the Lord and for His holy place is completely in line with the Advent season which begins today. Advent celebrates the birth of the son of God in the flesh. It is also a celebration and a reminder of the eventual and glorious coming of the son of man to judge the living and the dead. Either way, Advent calls our attention to the need for sober reflection and for prayer. Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading that our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Hence, he strongly warns that we must cast away the works of darkness, put on the armor of light and indeed live like the children of light. We must stay awake, Jesus reminds us in the gospel. It is a call to stay awake in righteousness, pursuing justice, embracing kindness and living in love. Jesus the Emmanuel is inviting to throw open the doors of our hearts that he may be born in us and to dwell in us. As we begin this holy season we pray: Loving God, come and be born in us. Come and bring us your peace. Come that your love may dwell within me, Amen.

 

November 24, 2019

In today's first reading, we hear about the anointing of King David that ushered in a forty year sovereignty over the kingdom of Israel. As lengthy and vast as his sovereignty was, it still came to an end. The story of King David reminds us of several of such rulers who wielded such enormous powers over peoples, kingdoms and empires that are no more. Saint Paul, in the second reading, invites us to give thanks to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son. In this new kingdom, we have redemption and we are promised an inheritance. For this king and through Him, all things were made and indeed to him all principalities and powers surrender Jesus' kingdom, unlike the kingdoms of this world, is an eternal kingdom and His reign is without end. It is a kingdom of justice of peace and of truth. As we come to the end of the liturgical year and ready to begin a new one, the church finds it fitting to celebrate Christ our king to whom we owe our lives.  The 'good' thief in today's gospel was clear eyed about who Jesus was and he prayed to be admitted to an eternal inheritance with Him. The goal of every living creature is to strive to be admitted to His kingdom where there is joy without end. Loving God, grant us the grace to know you, to love you and to seek you always; our one true and eternal God, Amen.

 

November 17, 2019

As we approach the end of both the calendar year and the liturgical year, the readings begin to speak about the end of all things. It is important to hear these as they serve to remind us of our mission on earth as stewards; entrusted with a gift called life; and who will one day be required to give an account of our stewardship.  Prophet Malachi was one of the Old Testament prophets who wrote about the day of the Lord, a day of reckoning. He paints a picture which is at once tremendous and fascinating.  For evil doers, especially for the proud, it is a day when God's anger will blaze. A day of untold punishment for the unjust. In the Gospel, Jesus speaks about wars and insurrections that must take place before the end approaches. It shall be preceded by the persecution of the just, betrayals, terrible tragedies and calamities; and yet the end does not necessarily follow. In these sacred verses, Jesus reveals two things: 1.) Only the father knows when the end will be; 2.) The best way to wait for the end is not in anxiety and idleness but by diligently going about the master's business in such a way that we may be found ready when He comes. The Psalm reminds us that His coming will be with justice. In other words, there is no fear for the kind, the merciful, the peacemakers, the forgiving and indeed the just. Loving God, grant us the grace to seek daily to do your will and to be found ready and worthy of your grace whenever you may be pleased to call us home to you, Amen.

 

November 10, 2019

'Lord when your glory appears, my joy will be full' This full throated expression of hope in a future glory from today's Psalm, is indeed the message of the first reading. The seven Hebrew brothers faced persecution and imminent death. They watched each other die in the most gruesome way and yet their faith in the God of their ancestors and in the resurrection was unfazed. For heaven's sake they were ready to lay down their lives in hope that resurrection to eternal awaits them. The topic of the resurrection was also at the heart of the conversation between Jesus and the Sadducees in today's gospel. A little bit of background information would be helpful in understanding this dialogue. The Sadducees were chosen mostly from the wealthy class of the Jews. Most of them lived in comfort and were quite satisfied with the existing social arrangement. They were quite upset with Jesus whose message, they thought, was a disruption of the lopsided social order that favored the wealthy. Life for them was so comfortable that they really thought that belief in anything beyond the present life including: angels, spirits and the afterlife was simply ridiculous. Jesus' message of everlasting life felt like such a disappointment; so their goal was to expose the flaws in His teachings. The good news is that eternal truth belongs to God not man. Whether we choose to believe in that truth or not is entirely up to us. If we do believe in it we have life and if we do not, it is at our own peril. The legendary faith of these seven brothers’ help to demonstrate even to the blind where true joy lies. It is found in a life with God. Dear God, grant us the wisdom to forsake all for the sake of the all surpassing inheritance with you in heaven, Amen.

 

November 3, 2019

The Lord loathes nothing that he has made, all things are made in His image and His imperishable spirit is in us all. This is a reassuring statement from the book of Wisdom, our first reading.  Although we are sometimes are rebuked by the Lord, it is only so we can return to Him. Paul speaks of the fulfillment of every good purpose in our lives and the greatest of all purposes is our calling to share in an eternal inheritance with God. Zaccheus, in today's gospel was determined to own that inheritance and nothing would ever deter him from doing so. This purpose, for him, could have been derailed by the seduction of inadequacy arising from his small stature or from his contemptible social status as a tax collector. His ill-gotten wealth too could have been a hindrance as could have been the un-corporative crowd. Instead those became springs in his steps propelling him to a height that could not but attract the attention of Jesus. His desire for Jesus was impressively earnest and his determination unyielding. Unlike the parable of the rich young man, Zaccheus was ready to trade his ill-gotten wealth that withers with an inheritance that is eternal. Today's commemoration Mass for our beloved dead reminds us of that eternal inheritance. While we miss their presence here among us and as we deal with the pain of their departure, we are consoled to know that they believed in, fought for and, now enjoy that eternal inheritance with God in heaven where He lives and reigns forever and ever, Amen.

 

October 27, 2019

In the presence of God who is almighty and all powerful, the only attitude which is acceptable is a humble attitude. 'For the petition of the lowly pierces the clouds'. This humble attitude, comes with the recognition that our best efforts are nothing without His grace. Jesus' parable in today's gospel, which contrasts the prayer of the Pharisee with that of a sinner, makes obvious what pleases God and what does not: 'Whoever exults himself will be humbled and the one who humbles himself will be exulted'. In his second letter to Timothy, the second reading of this Sunday, Saint Paul makes an honest evaluation of his ministry. His evaluation acknowledges the obstacles, the challenges and yes, the successes of his efforts. Paul took pride in his accomplishments which were not few. He had no doubts and therefore not afraid to state that his missionary labors had earned him the crown of unfading glory; as will be the case with all who follow in his footsteps. Yet, most importantly, like Mary in the magnificat, Paul makes sure that God is given the praise that is due to Him as he concludes in the following words: 'To Him be glory forever and ever'. Re-echoing today's responsorial Psalm, we pray that day by day, our mouths shall never cease to praise Him and our souls shall forever glory in the Lord, Amen.

October 20, 2019

Our help shall come from the Lord who made heaven and earth’. This statement taken from today’s Psalm represents a fitting theme for today’s readings. As Jushua engaged in a battle with the Amalekites, he did not simply rely on his military skills. Instead, he relied on the prayers of his spiritual leader and mentor, Moses, who maintained an open channel of communication with God. Mose’s lifted hands symbolized hearts, eyes and minds lifted up to God in supplication. As long as Mose’s hands remained lifted up, victory was theirs. For He provides all our needs. In the parable of the widow and the dishonest judge, Jesus teaches us perseverance in prayer. While it is true that we cannot bully God into submission it is also true that God listens to the confidence behind our prayers. And that confidence is called faith. We pray to a God who is already favorably disposed toward us and who is eager to bless our prayers. ‘Ask for anything in my name and I will do’. That is a blank check that we have all been issue by a supremely gracious and infinitely bounteous God. We must ensure that we cash that check. As we engage the coming days and weeks, we pray: Loving God, when life’s challenges seem to assail us and when our strengths begin to fail us, help us to realize that our help and strength comes from you, our Almighty God, who made heaven and earth, Amen.

October 13, 2019

Today's readings contrast the gratitude of Naaman with the ingratitude of nine out of ten lepers. Naaman was an army commander who was afflicted with leprosy. At the command of the prophet Elisha, he washed himself seven times in the River Jordan and was cured of his leprosy. In the gospel, ten lepers approached Jesus and prayed Him to have pity on them. On their way to present themselves to the priest, as Jesus had ordered them, they realized that they had been made well. One of them, like Naaman, came back to give thanks. The rest of the nine walked away. Perhaps they did not see the need to be grateful. These passages reveal at least two things: 1.] We are all in need of divine healing; 2.] Although we may not be afflicted physically, our souls are constantly under attack from all kinds of spiritual illnesses such as unforgiveness, mean spiritedness and ingratitude. The encounter between Jesus and the lepers reveal that it may be twice as hard to cure the sickness of ingratitude then it is to cure leprosy. Yet, we know that nothing is impossible with God. And so we pray: Merciful God, heal us of all our infirmities, physical and spiritual. Grant us the grace to adore, to honor and worship you our true and eternal God, Amen.

 

October 6, 2019

In the first reading today, the prophet Habakkuk calls our attention to faith as one of the three great pillars of the Christian life. ‘The just one, because of his or her faith, shall live’. The apostles knew as much. Having heard Jesus speak repeatedly about faith and having seen His miraculous works which were pure acts of faith, they prayed Him to increase their faith. This prayer is absolutely necessary given that it is impossible to please God without faith. As Christians, we must always work to grow our faith. The faith that is worthy of the name is one that thrives against all odds and in spite of all challenges. This is the kind of faith that the prophet spoke so strongly about in our first reading: Faith that believes in the realization of God’s words, His promises and His vision, come what may. That God is always faithful no matter what and that He will always come through for those who believe. Jesus assures us that the only way that we can move mountains is to walk by faith. Loving God, when the journey of life becomes arduous, when the burdens of our past seem to overwhelm us and when uncertainty about the future confounds us, grant us the grace of a strong faith in you our true and everlasting hope, Amen.

 
 

St. Justin-St. Michael Parish   230 Blue Hills Avenue Hartford, CT 06112

860 246-6897