Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Homily

My brothers and sisters, today's message from the First Reading [Acts 10:34, 36-43] of the Word of God is presented to us by our first Pope, Peter the First. Often, we do not think of Peter as the First Pope. Rather, we think of him as St. Peter. But in reality, it is he who received the Keys to the Kingdom of God and he was in fact the first Pontiff of the Holy Catholic Church. As the spiritual leader of the Church of Jesus Christ that was being established on earth, Saint Peter took his place of authority and began to speak to those who had assembled in the house of Cornelius.

St. Peter said, "You know the message of God sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ - he is Lord of all." For centuries, the people of God had awaited for the coming Messiah who would bring peace to the world to reconcile man with God. Peter affirmed that this had come to pass through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lord of all! Through Jesus, God the Father had fulfilled all His promises that are found in the Old Testament.

In the presence of all, Peter affirmed that he and the disciples of the Lord were witnesses to all what Jesus had done in Judea and in Jerusalem. What was said about Jesus was not fabricated stories. It was the truth. The disciples of Christ lived alongside Him and witnessed everything that He had done and said.

Peter testified that Jesus was indeed crucified and that He had died on the Holy Cross. But God raised Him from the dead on the third day. And, after His glorious resurrection, Jesus appeared to many of the disciples who were chosen by God as witnesses. In all, it is estimated that Jesus appeared to approximately 500 different persons during the days that followed His resurrection.

Now, when Jesus appeared to the disciples, it was not in a dream or in a vision. Nor was it the Spirit of Jesus who appeared to the disciples because a spirit cannot eat or drink. It was the Lord Jesus Himself, He had resurrected from the dead. In His resurrected physical body, Jesus ate and drank with the disciples.

When Jesus came to the disciples, He gave them a command. Jesus commanded the disciples to preach to the people and to testify to all that He was the One sent by God to judge the living and the dead. Jesus was the promised Messiah in fulfillment of the Scriptures.

In today's first reading, Peter finished by stating that all the prophets of the Old Testament spoke about the coming of Jesus. In their inspired writings, they testified that those who would believe in Jesus would receive the forgiveness of sin through His Most Holy Name. As the Holy Bible tells us elsewhere, Jesus gave the authority to forgive sins in His Name to His disciples. "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." [Jn. 20:23]

During today's Second Reading that was taken from the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, [Col. 3:1-4] we heard that if we have been raised with Christ, we should seek the things that are from above where Christ dwells in Heaven. We should set our minds on spiritual things, not on worldly things.

Having been born again through the Church Sacrament of Baptism, we are obligated to God to feed our souls with spiritual things. We are called to spiritually grow in shining virtues and in the fruit of the Holy Spirit so that we may gradually be transformed by the grace of God the Father to become more in the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ.

For many, their participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass on Easter Day is a stepping stone towards returning to their living faith. It is a sincere resolution... but it must not end there.

Jesus is the Lord of all! And we all need Him! On a regular basis, we need to receive the Sacrament of Confession that Jesus has instituted on earth through the apostles for the forgiveness of our sins. We need to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that Jesus has instituted on earth through the apostles as our assurance of salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the Living Bread that feeds our souls once we have been reinstated in a state of grace after having received the Sacrament of Confession.

During today's reading of the Holy Gospel, [Jn. 20:1-18] we heard how Mary Magdalene needed Jesus. She wept when she realized that His body was gone, believing that someone had stolen it. She wept because she missed the Divine presence of Jesus. She missed that inner burning desire to be near the living body of Jesus, to follow Him, to hear Him, to feel loved, to be understood and to be forgiven of sins.

Mary Magdalene was not the only one to have these feelings. All the disciples of Jesus felt that way. That is why they reacted the way they did when they heard some saying that Jesus was no longer in His tomb, that He had resurrected, or that He was appearing here and there to different disciples.

The word, "Jesus is alive!" or "I have seen the Lord!" were enough to instantly create a great spiritual hunger in the soul of the disciples of Jesus where emptiness existed because of His death. The worldly minds of the disciples suddenly became alerted to the truth. Through these words, there was a new hope. Faith was being reinstated in the Words that Jesus had spoken while He lived on earth.

Jesus is the Lord of all! It is the will of God that we all experience spiritual hunger for the Divine presence of the Lord Jesus. It is the will of God that Jesus feed our spiritual hunger so like Mary Magdalene and the disciples, we will never want to leave His Divine presence.

When we set our minds on Jesus, we do what is spiritual. While we are in this world, we are not of this world. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, we have become new creations of the godly seed, called to obey and serve the Lord Jesus in all righteousness.

When you go home today, think of the words, "Jesus is alive!" Think of the words, "Jesus is the Lord of all!" He is your Lord as much as He is my Lord and the Lord of all the others, those who are present and those who are not. Remember that spiritual hunger that you experienced so many times in your life, during those moments when you desired that the Lord Jesus could be so close to you... (pause) and He came close to you. You felt His warmth, His joy and His peace.

Awaken your spirits so you may relive those moments, not only for a day or two, but for every day of your life until you appear before the Lord Jesus in person. While you are in this world, be of above. For Jesus is the Lord of all and by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, He can once more ignite your hearts with a burning hunger that will draw you to Him.

Happy Easter!
He is Risen!

Friday, March 22, 2013

How are we saved?

Have you ever been confronted with the question:

- If you died today, how sure are you of getting to heaven?  Scripture teaches that we are saved through faith alone, yet the Catholic Church teaches a false doctrine of salvation by works, which do you believe, the Scripture or the Catholic Church?

Here’s the Catholic response:

1-      Scripture and the Church never contradict each other.  The Church WROTE the Scriptures

2-      The Catholic Church does not, nor has it ever, taught a salvation by works.

3-      The Church teaches a salvation by Grace alone.  Our response to this gift of God is what determines if we are justified in the eyes of God.  Our response must include first the response of faith and the response of works (doing His Will).  But these responses are only possible because of God’s Grace. 

We can’t do anything without God’s Grace.  Both faith and works are preceded by God’s Grace, accompanied by God’s Grace, and followed by God’s Grace.  Both Catholic and Protestant believe in salvation by Grace alone.  We have a common belief there.

The difference is the Protestant believes that God’s righteousness is imputed to us, covers up our sinfulness, we are legally declared righteous through our faith alone.   The Catholic believes that through faith, and the works that perfect faith, God doesn’t just declare us righteous He actually makes us righteous.  Although we believe that works are a necessary part of our salvation, we do not teach a doctrine of salvation by works.

The general consensus in the Protestant world is if one truly accepts Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and repent of their sins…BOOM they’re saved.  They are justified in the eyes of God.  They are born again.

An evangelical site points out that we must be BORN AGAIN!  And this is the way they explained how to do it:

1-      All are sinners, including me
2-      Only God through Christ can save me.
3-      Believe on Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior
4-      Pray to Jesus acknowledging these three points.

If I have prayed honestly believing it in my heart, then I am born again.  There’s only one problem with this understanding of being born again.  It’s not Scriptural.  Jesus defines what it means to be born again in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3 verses 3 through 5.  He says:

unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John3:3)

Not understanding what Jesus meant, Nicodemus asks Him to explain.   Jesus said in answer,

Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

Both the Spirit and water is involved in the process of being born again and yet the Evangelical idea of being born again doesn’t even mention the use of water.  What do you think Jesus is referring to here?  Once done discussing being born again through water and spirit with Nicodemus we see that Jesus “…and his disciples came into the land of Judea: and there he abode with them and baptized.”  (John 3:22)

So, we are saved by being born again, by being baptized.  What else does baptism do?  Peter gives us a great explanation in his speech to the crowds on Pentecost Sunday.  He declared the truth about Jesus and told everyone “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

We receive the remission of our sins, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism.  The Lord God explained to us many centuries ago that He would do this.  He said: “…I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.   A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you… And I will put my spirit within you.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Let’s compare Peter’s explanation with the Lord’s from the book of Ezekiel.
Peter said:                   “Be baptized”

God in Ezekiel said:    “I will sprinkle clean water upon you”

Peter said:                   “for the remission of sins”

God in Ezekiel said:    “and you shall be clean from all your filthiness”

Peter said:                   “you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

God in Ezekiel said:    “And I will put my spirit within you.”


So baptism involves water AND the Spirit while assuming faith is involved because Peter said to REPENT, we can’t do that unless we accept that we have done wrong by God.  This involves some degree of faith in Him.  Being born again means to be baptized and that’s why Peter can also say that “Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 3:21).

We are saved by being born-again through baptism and we are also born-again in the Protestant version whenever we make conscious returns to Christ.  The Biblical definition of being ‘born again’ though simply means being baptized in the faith.

Friday, March 15, 2013

God vs Science

Please read all the way through, you’ll be surprised!!!

 "Let me explain the problem science has with religion."

The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

'You're a Christian, aren't you, son?' 'Yes sir,' the student says. ‘So you believe in God?' 'Absolutely '

'Is God good?' 'Sure! God's good.' 'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?' 'Yes' 'Are you good or evil?' 'The Bible says I'm evil.'

The professor grins knowingly. 'Aha! The Bible! He considers for a moment. 'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?' 'Yes sir, I would.'

'So you're good...!' 'I wouldn't say that.' 'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't.'

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. 'He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?'

The student remains silent. 'No, you can't, can you?' the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. 'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?'

'Er..yes,' the student says.

'Is Satan good?' The student doesn't hesitate on this one.. 'No.' 'Then where does Satan come from?'

The student falters. 'From God' 'That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?' 'Yes, sir.' 'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?' 'Yes'

'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.'

Again, the student has no answer. 'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?'  The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.'

'So who created them ?' The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. 'Who created them?' There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. 'Tell me,' he continues onto another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?'

The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, professor, I do.'

The old man stops pacing. 'Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?'  'No sir. I've never seen Him.' 'Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?'  'No, sir, I have not.' 'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?'  'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.'

'Yet you still believe in him?' 'Yes'

'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist... What do you say to that, son?'  'Nothing,' the student replies.. 'I only have my faith.'

'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.' The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. 'Professor, is there such thing as heat? '

' Yes.  'And is there such a thing as cold?' 'Yes, son, there's cold too.' 'No sir, there isn't.'

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. 'You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.'

'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?' 'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation. 'What is night if it isn't darkness?' 'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?'

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?'  'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.'

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. 'Flawed? Can you explain how?'

'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains. 'You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought.' 'It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.'

'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student' The student looks around the room. 'Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?' The class breaks out into laughter. 'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so... So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.' 'So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?'

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. 'I Guess you'll have to take them on faith.'

'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?' Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it Everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in The multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.'

To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'

The professor sat down.                                                                                                 (Reference: Anonymous email)

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Friday, March 8, 2013


From what I understand of their belief is that once one accepts Jesus Christ into their hearts and pray the ‘sinners’ prayer then there is no sin, no evil this individual can do so as to keep them from reaching heaven.  They only need to believe in Jesus (John 3:16) and they’ll be ‘saved’.  They have absolute assurance of salvation.  And since works do not gain our salvation, our works cannot contribute to our losing our salvation.  We are now “hid” with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).  There is “no condemnation” for those in Christ (Romans 8:1-2).


In fact some also bring up John 10:27 as proof that they can never lose their salvation since Jesus proclaims that “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”  And yet nowhere do we find that one cannot willingly jump out of His hands through his own choosing.


Re-read 2 Peter 2:20-21. This letter was written to the believing Jews throughout the known world. Here is what he says to those who lose there way:

"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and
overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the
beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known
the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn
their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

These people who escaped the corruption of the world were saved because they escaped the corruption by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! These saved people who became entangled AGAIN in it and overcome...these people are worse off than they were in the beginning because they knew the way of righteousness and they turned their backs on the sacred command passed on to them.

Peter can only be talking about certain saved Jews who turned away from righteousness and now they are worse off than they were before knowing that way of righteousness. They lost their salvation even after finding it.

Jesus also speaks of this loss and promises their acceptance if anyone repents and comes back after rejecting the father.  The Parable of the lost son speaks of a son who rejects his father and asks for his inheritance in advance essentially telling his father that he is dead to him.  The father in the parable is the Lord and He gives us the free will to choose or reject Him.  But even when one rejects Him, our Father in heaven is always waiting for our repentance and return because when we turn away we are dead and when we return to Him we are “alive again” (Luke 15:31). 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Outside the Church

There is no salvation outside the Church.  While Aquinas stressed the necessity of Church membership for entrance into eternal life, he also saw the possibility of people who where unable to be baptized into the faith, “who nonetheless had a desire either to be baptized or at least to be saved and were essentially willing to do whatever God wanted them to do for salvation.”  But being taught a certain truth all their lives, they are unable to see the falsehood of that teaching.  The possibility of salvation for those individuals was called by Aquinas to be through ‘baptism of desire’.

He says that such a one ‘can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of the person’s desire for baptism, which desire is the outcome of faith that works through charity, whereby God, Whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies a person inwardly’ (Summa Theologiae III, q.68, a.2).

God is not bound to the sacraments.  He Who made sacraments is likewise free to bestow His grace in other ways.

Pope Pius IX making this most nuanced statement in Singulari Quadam: “It is known to Us and to you that those who labor in invincible ignorance concerning our most holy religion and who, assiduously observing the natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life can, through the working of the divine light and grace, attain eternal life.”

And finally in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Missio, our Vicar of Christ states also that: “Salvation in Christ is offered to all.  The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church.  Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.  But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church…For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of grace, which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation.  This grace comes from Christ…”

As you well know, a doctrine has growth as our understanding grows and deepens. Although early on our Church Fathers damned people to hell for not being baptized (ie visibly part of our Church), the line where someone can be part of the Church is found to include a much larger group of people than originally thought because Jesus Himself said that an individual will be judged by what he knows and not blame him for his honest ignorance (John 15:22).  Some may not be formally part of it but still inside the Church.



Please read paragraphs 1260 and 1281 of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for more info.