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Sunday, October 16, 2016

When Christ Returns, Will He Find Faith on Earth?

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 16, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

In today’s Gospel passage, Our Lord Jesus teaches us of the need to persevere in prayer. As we come to receive Our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this morning, let us take to heart our desperate need to listen to His words on the importance
of praying constantly and consistently for our salvation and  the salvation of souls in these godless times in which we live today! 

In His example of prayer, Our Lord emphasizes the need to pray particularly for justice.

Our Lord gives the example of a dishonest judge pestered by a widow who sought justice against her adversary. Even though the widow was dealing with an unjust judge, she would not give up! She persevered in getting an answer to her situation in what was true, right, and just. (Luke 18: 1-8)

Our Lord says, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out 
to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.” (Luke 18:6-8)

As we reflect on this example, we are reminded that God’s justice will always be given to those who sincerely call upon Jesus in time of need. Today’s example teaches us that if even the unjust judge will grant justice for the poor widow, then God will certainly do so for those who call upon Him.

God’s justice has been emphasized throughout salvation history.  We have all heard the story in the Book of Exodus where the Israelites were enslaved by the governmental leaders of their time in Egypt. God heard their cries of oppression, and He led them out of slavery to worship Him in peace and truth.

Ever since the time of the Exodus, God’s faithful people have continued to be harassed, rejected, and persecuted for their desire to serve the One True God.

God has sent His Son to save us from the corruption of this world so we might live in His Promised Land for all eternity. 
Yet, as we await the day of fulfillment of Our Lord’s Kingdom on earth, we need to persevere in prayer. 

We are in a battle between the children of evil and the children of light, and as we come closer to the second coming of Christ, this battle will get even more intense! Christians will be persecuted as our society continues to make laws that oppose the coming of the kingdom of God.

God is looking for people who pray. God is hearing the calls of those who long for an end to the immorality and corruption of this society. God is hearing the cries of those who want to live in Truth.

At the end of today’s Gospel our Lord Jesus asks a serious question for each one of us as we seek to prepare to live in the eternal kingdom to come. Our Lord says, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

We should reflect on this last line of today’s Gospel. God is seeking hearts who call out to Him day and night for justice!

The devil is alive and active in our world today more than any time since our Lord Jesus walked this earth. The devil knows his time is short. Therefore, we need to pray constantly to stand strong as faithful Christians in spite of the pressures of the world.

We must pray for our country, especially as we await the coming  election. It's a horrible election. Yet, we are getting what we deserve because we continue to turn away from God and His plan of life.

There is much disgrace in both candidates. But what is important is the policies the candidates support. There is nothing worse than a party that supports abortion and expanding its availability. God hears the cries of over 59 million martyrs in the womb!

As long as abortion continues, we will never have peace and justice. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. in 1994. Hillary Clinton was present.  "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another, but to use violence to get what they want,” she said. This is why “the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. If we accept that the mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

My brothers and sisters, God always has mercy on any person who repents of the sin of abortion or sin of any kind.
Fr. John Paul Shea
God hears the cries of our heart. But  we will not have peace as long as we allow the murder of children in the womb. And one of the political parties in this upcoming 2016 election promotes abortion even up to the last moment before birth.  

The sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage are under attack. Our Blessed Mother told Fatima visionary Sister Lucia that the final battle between Our Lord and Satan will be over marriage and the family.  “Don’t be afraid because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue,” Sister Lucia said. However, “Our Lady has already crushed its (Satan's) head.”

If we want to be strong in our faith in these godless times we need to persevere in prayer! Our Lord is coming again, and He will put an end to the governments and policies of our world  that are not of His Kingdom.

Therefore, as we long for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven, let us not become discouraged. God is hearing the cries of all who want true justice, and His justice will come!

Yet, the question we must ask ourselves, when Our Lord Jesus comes again, “will He find faith on earth?” Will He find faith in our hearts?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

CAMP AT HIS DOOR: Persist in Prayer

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct.16, 2016
St. John the Apostle Awasi Catholic Church, Kisumu Archdiocese, Kenya

Camp at God's Door
 As Moses led God's people from slavery in Egypt through the desert to the Promised land they encountered numerous threats to their lives: the army of Pharaoh, the Red Sea to be crossed, the lack of water in the desert. 

One such threat was opposition from those peoples whose lands they were going through. Today's reading (Exodus 17:8-13) is an attack by the Amalekites. But as we see in our reading, after kneeling and becoming weak we rise full of power. Prayer has enormous power, it can influence the outcome of events and it can change the lives of people. 

So just like Moses went up the hill and extended his arms in prayer until the victory was won, it is an encouragement to us to be persistent in our prayer. To good Christians,

prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the night. As no one can run marathon without training, so no one can live a proper Christian life without prayer. But to experience the power of prayer we must camp at His door.

When we persevere at God's door praying, He will come. But our problem nowadays, is that we have become an "instant" society -- instant coffee, instant tea, instant food, instant cures with the result that we expect God to take our calls instantly. Too many people pray like a little boy who knocked at the priest's house and ran away after the priest opened the door. 

The dishonest judge in today's Gospel (Luke 18:1-8) neither feared God nor any human being. He had ignored the plea for justice of
The unjust Judge and the Widow
the old widow many times but she never gave up. She kept making new trips to the judge's office until the wicked judge relented and gave her justice.

Many of us tend to give up easily after only a few attempts. God's time is not our time. God's plan is not our plan. God may delay our answer in order to purify our motives, so that we will learn to ask Him for what we need and not what we want. 

He may delay in order to intensify our desire. With an intensified desire, we may have the courage to scale the heights of excellence instead of remaining mediocre after having our desire granted easily. 

If God had granted all the silly prayers and desires I had made in life, where would I be now? True prayer is not about manipulating God into granting us our requests, but surrendering to His ways. We need to experience His Presence even without His presents. Hence we often need to pray for God Himself to come and fill our emptiness with His own fullness.

Fr. Joe Mungai
Brethren, whatever we pray let us believe that God will eventually answer us. When faith sets prayer to work, prayer sets God to work. Fix a time for prayer in your daily routine. The demands of modern life are such that unless we schedule a regular time to pray we probably wont pray at all. Ralph Martin in his book "Hungry for God" says, " A real estate man I know gets up early in the morning to pray; an aerospace engineer prays and reads Scripture on his lunch break; a production manager of a computing firm prays after his children are in bed at night."

We should keep in mind that when something becomes important to us, we schedule it right into our daily life. We don't leave it to chance. For example if we want to deepen a friendship with someone, we schedule times and places to meet with that person. The same is true of God, if we want to deepen our friendship with God, we need to plan for times and places to meet Him in prayer. 

We not only need to persevere not only during the period of prayer as Moses did, but
also from day to day and week to week as the widow in Jesus' parable did. Yes prayer is the oil that keeps the lamp of faith burning brightly. I know of no better thermometer to the temperature of faith than the measure of the intensity of prayer. 

Lets us conclude our reflection with this thought:
I pray because I am a Christian and to do what a Christian must do, I need help. I pray because there is confusion in my life and to do what is right, I need light. I pray because I must make decisions; but the choices are not always clear, so I need guidance. I pray because I have doubts and to keep growing in my faith, I need help. I pray because most of what I have is given to me, so I ought to give thanks. I pray because Jesus prayed to His Father, and if I considered it important so should I. Amen.

Have a Blessed Sunday.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

God Reminds Us to Be Patient

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 2, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Fr. John Paul Shea 
As we reflect on the readings for this 27th Sunday in Ordinary time we are once again given the opportunity to meditate on the importance of faith.

In today’s first reading we hear from the prophet Habakkuk. The particular concern for Habakkuk in this reading was the rise of Babylon. Babylon had emerged at that time as a great regional power and was threatening Judah, and the prophet doesn’t get why God isn’t doing anything.

Habakkuk cries out to God saying, “How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene… Destruction and violence are before me.”

If we listen to these lines, it sounds similar to what many of us can relate to in our time today. We watch the nightly news and our stomachs become sick. We hear constantly of such things as terrorism, murder, killing in our streets, and financial problems… All these sorts of things can weigh heavily on our souls. And, like Habakkuk, we find ourselves saying, “How long O’ Lord?” How long will these things go on? 

However, we are reminded from today’s reading that God’s plan takes time for its fulfillment and that we therefore need to have faith as we await God’s plan and His will to unfold. 

As the prophet Habakkuk cries out to the Lord in today’s first reading, God reminds him to be patient. God says to Habakkuk that His plan still has its time, and will not disappoint; it will surely come, it will not be late.

My brothers and sisters, today’s readings call us to reflect on the importance of faith. Faith is an act of trusting in God. To have faith means that we are open to what God will do in His time and His way for the greater good of our lives and the world around us. To have faith means that we realize that we are not in control of our lives and what takes place around us and that we therefore need to rely on God.

In today’s Gospel we hear the disciples ask Our Lord to increase their faith. Our Lord responds by reminding the disciples of the

power of faith. He says, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Yet, our Lord does not stop there. Our Lord goes on to teach His disciples and us that we need to have an attitude of humility if we want to live in faith. Our Lord speaks about a servant and his master. Our Lord says, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’?” 

Our Lord says, “So should it be with [us].” Our Lord says, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

My brothers and sisters, the real issue in the scene of today’s Gospel is not that the

disciples need more faith. The real issue is that they need to exercise the faith they have by recognizing that faith is a gift from God!

Therefore, if we too, want to grow in our faith then we too must have the attitude of a servant. If we want to grow in our faith than we must humble ourselves before God acknowledging that He alone is our master and that we are nothing without Him! 

When we do things on our own without God then we become faithless, proud, and disobedient. This is how it has been since the fall of mankind, and it is what we see around us today as we wait for our Lord Jesus to come again in glory. 

Our society today follows not the revelation of truths given to us by Our Lord. Our society today instead teaches us the lie that we are the master of our lives and that there are no external truths.

Even many Catholics today are conforming their hearts not to the revelation of our faith but instead toward the ways of the world. Instead of acknowledging that we are Our Lord’s unprofitable servants, and instead of striving to do all we are obliged to do in light of the faith handed down to us, many in our Church today instead act as if we are the masters of our faith and that our faith should conform to our will. 

A few weeks ago, for example, one of the vice presidential candidates for the upcoming election who claims to be a devoted Catholic stated publically that he believes that our Church will change its views on same sex marriage. This sort of thinking does not come from divine faith. The Church can’t change its teachings on marriage and sexuality because marriage and sexuality was given to us by God according to His design for His plan of life.

My brothers and sisters, the bottom line is that our faith does not come from human origin. Faith is not about trying to please the culture or about seeking to get the Church to revolve its teachings around the human person. No, faith is when a person accepts God’s revelation and strives to live according to God’s revealed truths. If we want to be strong in our faith than we must strive to serve God by following His plan of life as His unprofitable servants, recognizing that everything we have and are is a gift from God! For, when we surrender our lives to God and His revealed truths, than no difficulties, hardships, or influences of the world will

break apart the rock of salvation that has been planted in our hearts through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As we come to receive our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this evening, let us set our hearts on the gift of faith. No matter what may be going on in our lives today, no matter the difficulties in our world and society, no matter who becomes president in the upcoming election, God is in control, and His grace will prevail! For, the world with its sin and hardships will pass away, but our faith in our Lord Jesus and His Truth will live forever. Amen!