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

 

 

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.

 

September 27, 2019

Prophet Amos was one of the champions of social justice. From the Judean town of Tekoa, where he enjoyed his quiet life of a shepherd, God called him to be the shepherd and spokesperson for His people. This took place under the reign of Uzziah, also called Azariah, king of Judah and Jeroboam, king of Israel. These were some of the most oppressive regimes that human history has ever known. As the first of the literary prophet of ancient Israel, Amos wrote strongly against the dictatorship and oppression of the poor by the wealthy. The ministry started by this prophet should still be alive in each one of us; fighting for the defense of people’s rights, for peace and for the common good. The fight for social justice is one that requires the investment of every resource at our disposal. While we must do all the is humanly possible, Saint Paul strongly enjoins us, in today’s second reading, to pray for those in public offices and positions of authority whose actions and policies can either help or hinder the fight. No matter what the circumstances may be, we are reminded, in today’s gospel, of our collective obligation to act kindly and compassionately toward one another. The love of God which we receive in boundless measures and His grace which is superabundant, compels us to do no less for our brethren. As we celebrate our cultural diversity and cultural richness today, may God continue to give spiritual and material prosperity to our community while we work for the good of all, Amen.

 

September 15, 2019

The people of Israel offended God by worshipping idol and God threatens to punish them. All the years of favor went unappreciated by a people whom God had made His own by a special covenant. Yet, rather than lend himself as an instrument of punishment, Moses became an instrument of mercy praying God to relent His anger. ‘For He is gracious and merciful slow to anger abounding in love’. Psalm 145:8. In the Second reading, Saint Paul acknowledges his sinfulness but much more so he acknowledges the abundant grace of God who pardons all our sins. The story of the prodigal son in today’s gospel belongs among those parables that reveal the heart of God So full of mercy, love and compassion for His own. Sin brings us to a life of shame separating us from God. It grieves the heart of the father who loves so much. One of the highlights this story however is that this lost son realizes his sinful life and makes a conscious effort to return to his father. The fathers loving response demonstrates that God is never far away from the reach of anyone in need and in search of His mercy. Loving God, we have all strayed away from your ever provident love and have become submerged in sinfulness and iniquity. Grant us the courage to arise and return to you our true home and lasting inheritance, Amen.

September 8, 2019

In His inscrutable wisdom He has made all things and He watches over them. The designs of His heart are so beyond our reach and yet so perfect for they are made in love. The Psalmist in today’s readings lauds the untiring providence of God who, from generation to generation, remains our refuge. And we are admonished: to never forget how meaningless our lives are without Him who could put an end to it at will. In his letter to Philemon, Saint Paula advocates for Onesimus his servant with a love so compassionate that it manifest all the trappings of the love that God bears for us .And yet it is only a copy and indeed a poor copy of God’s incomparable love for us. This sort of love comes with an invitation to become disciples, hence, to make sacrifices for the most sacrificial love know to humanity. The invitation to hate in order to love, as we hear in the gospel, sounds like an inconceivable paradox quite uncharacteristic of Christ. Indeed the true meaning is that everything must be loved less in order that God may be loved more. We cannot afford the cost of loving anything or anyone more than God, period. He is the highest Value, the greatest price to which we MUST all strive to gain. Loving God, teach us wisdom, teach us love for you above all else, Amen.

September 1, 2019

For the Lord exults the humble and the haughty he pulls down from their lofty heights. This statement summarizes the readings of today. In a world where the exultation of the ego is commonplace, where humility is regarded as the morality of the weak, the writer of the first reading invites us to a life of meekness: ‘my child conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than the giver of gifts’. The scriptures speak of the life of Jesus as one of exemplary humility to the will of the father: even though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not count equality with God’. Philippians 2:6. In His life and ministry Jesus so espoused the virtue of humility that He strongly enjoined His disciples to emulate Him: “learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart’. Matthew 11:29. As human beings pride begins to creeps in when we start believing that by our own merits alone we have accomplished all our feats. We fail to recognize the all provident God who has granted us all a share in His riches. We begin to feel like some type of god and to live under the illusion that everyone else is below us. It is grossly mistaken to think that the world revolves around us. So the sacred passages for this week invite us once again to reflect and to pray: Loving God Grant us the grace to embrace a life of humility and, to acknowledge and show gratitude to you the source of all our blessings, Amen.

August 25, 2019

Strive to enter through the narrow path! This statement is the highlight of today’s gospel being Jesus’ response to a question about who would be saved. The one who would be saved is the one who strives relentlessly, one who is willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. Entering through the narrow gate here could mean a whole lot of different things including the choice of humility over pride, generosity over selfishness, tenderness over mean spiritedness and so much more. The second reading speaks of adversities and punishments encountered by those whom God loves. These adversities, like gold purified in a furnace, become means of pruning and preparation for higher purposes. In line with the gospel, the adversities we deal with could serve as the narrow gates that lead to a glorious inheritance. In other words, what is seen as pain can become gain just as a seeming stumbling block can become a stepping stone. We have to always trust in God’s great plans for us and to see through these difficulties to the immeasurable blessing that await the faithful. Almighty God, teach to trust your will for us and to embrace it fully confident that in your will is our peace, Amen.

 

August 18, 2019

We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. Such witnesses are those who became so by their huge sacrifices in view of the Ultimate price. Jeremiah, in the first reading, witnessed to his faith by enduring untold hardship; including being thrown into a pit. The second reading from the letter to the Hebrews talks about the shame of the cross which Jesus endured and overcame. And, Jesus, in the gospel speaks of a baptism with which he must be baptized and which filled his heart with so much anguish. Yet, he dared to embrace it. And, through this cross came the crown. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, Paul and many more are the cloud of witnesses. Above all, Christ is the ultimate witness who endured all hardships and afflictions because of what lay ahead: The crown of unfading glory. The eternal legacy of their exemplary faith and trust lies in their ability to be unyielding despite all odds and in a God who would never forsake them. Loving God, grant us the wisdom to know where the true treasure lies and the courage to seek after it with a commitment that is total and sincere, Amen.

 

August 11, 2019

Today’s second reading strongly reinforces what we heard last week from Ecclesiastes: All life which is not rooted in God is vanity. Faith in the things of this world alone: In the self, in wealth and riches, is faith without foundation. Abraham, our father in faith, knew this clearly enough that while he lived this material life he looked forward to an eternal destiny. Indeed his faith drew strength from hope in that other worldly inheritance with God. This faith in the Almighty was the reason for his every action and the reason for his apparently reckless sacrifices; like departing his home to live in a land he knew not just because God said so. This for him was a demonstration of faith in the eternal city, a city with unshakable foundation. Jesus reminds his disciples in today’s parable that they must live this life in view of the life to come. This life and everything in it should be at the service of the life we hope to live with God. And when we realize this, all we must do is to act like servants waiting for the return of their master .Ready at all times! Loving God, you give meaning and foundation to all we do, help us to use our every grace and every breath to love and to serve you our one true and eternal treasure, Amen.

August 4, 2019

It is indeed inaccurate to say that all of life is vain and Ecclesiastes is not saying that .What is vain, as we hear in the first reading of today, is any life, any project, any wealth or riches that exults the creature over and above the creator. We build in vain if God is not the foundation and we toil fruitlessly if He is not our ultimate goal. That would be an appropriate interpretation of the mind of Paul as expressed in the second reading of today: ‘to seek the things which are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.’ In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns against greed; which is basically living ONLY for oneself. Seeking to acquire more and more of what we already have enough of without regard or concern for the needs of others. The overflowing supply of food that filled the rich man’s barns could have filled a few empty stomachs. Certainly, his intention was to provide material security for himself except he forgot to recognize that wealth only provides a false sense of security. The Psalm accordingly reminds us of God’s Lordship over our lives. He brought us into being and can take us out of being at will. We owe Him our lives! Dear God, teach us wisdom, teach us humility, teach us generosity. And, may your love be upon us as we place all our hope in you, Amen.

 
 

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

860 246-6897