Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

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Baptism of the Lord

1st Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Resp. Psalm Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 9-10
2nd Reading: Acts 10:34-38
Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17 

In the second reading St Peter makes it clear that anyone who fears God and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him. Your past or where you come from or anything else do not matter. We only need to strive to be like Jesus who was pleasing to His Father.

It's best that we try to be like Jesus little by little. It is the devil who tempts us to try to do big things. We should only do big things when God asks us to but otherwise follow the example of St Therese who did the ordinary things of life extraordinarily well as if they were being done directly for Jesus himself. Doing big things tend to be self-serving and temptations to pride and it's hard to keep up the pace.

Jesus's baptism in the Jordan gave water the property to wash away Original Sin when used properly. As the Fathers of the Church state, Jesus made the waters sweet. He was baptized because He wants us to be baptized and to follow His example. At baptism we are/were made righteous. Despite sinning at least 7 times a day as the Old Testament states, we can continue to be righteous by going to Confession regularly. If we do the most we must expect the most. If we only do the minimum, we must expect the minimum. Our final end be it Heaven or hell will be no surprise— to ourselves.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Epiphany Sunday

1st Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6 
Resp. Psalm Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
2nd Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

The Light that has been awaited is now here! Unfortunately there are many who do not want to see the light, Jesus Christ, because now this necessitates change.

It's one thing to change when we feel like it but quite another issue when we are forced by certain circumstances like when the doctor tells us to or when tragedy strikes. But God is always with us helping us through these times and at every time. It's easy to forget this.

When God says stay put and keep on doing what you're doing we need to heed this. But, when He says to change it's easy to get flummoxed. We now have the manifestation of His birth to the world, the epiphany, to announce this news to us. It's time.

We need to be men and women of prayer to be able to accept all this. The Magi apparently knew God well enough to heed His warning. Again, God will take care of every detail of our lives to help us to avoid the Herods in our lives too.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Third Sunday of Advent

Image by Alois Grundner from Pixabay
1st Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Resp. Psalm Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
2nd Reading: James 5:7-10 
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11 
Today is Gaudete Sunday. We use the rose colored vestments and light the rose-colored candle to signify that the darkness will soon be lifted and our Savior will be born. Beginning December 17 through 23 we say the "O Antiphons" which are the different titles of Jesus. Basically this is what we sing in the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel. 
In today's readings, St James tells us to have patience. Patience is sorely needed in our world. When we pray to have patience God does answer that prayer of course, but He usually puts us in situations that require patience. In other words, we tend to learn by doing. Along with patience is timing. God has perfect timing. It's easy to be impulsive in this world. In our prayers we need to also ask the Lord to help us to do the right things at the right time. If God says wait, we wait and when He says to move , let's move. 
It's hard to understand, us being earth-bound people, what Jesus means when He said that as great as John the Baptist is, the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than him. This tells us that St John the Baptist is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets but that the least saint of the New Covenant is greater than him. Graces and blessings are available to us because of Jesus's crucifixion. More is expected of us because more is available.
Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Second Sunday of Advent

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay
1st Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Resp. Psalm Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
2nd Reading: Romans 15:4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

Make straight his paths says John the Baptist. But how do we do this? We make his paths straight for Jesus's rebirth in our hearts by preparing. We do this by praying more, going to confession, that is, repenting, and by doing the good things we have neglected in the past which implies giving up our sinful ways. This sounds a lot like Lent but while Advent is not penitential as is Lent, we are always in need of repentance.

Just as the Father delivered on His promise of sending us a Savior so will He send Jesus again to judge the world and our places will be assigned for all eternity based on how we have lived our lives on earth. There really should be no surprise on our part. As long as we choose God consistently and do the best we can, it will go well for us. When the Master returns, may He find us busy doing our best.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

First Sunday of Advent

Image by Melanie Kirk-Mechtel from Pixabay
1st Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5 
Resp. Psalm Psalm 122:1-9 
2nd Reading: Romans 13:11-14 
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44 
Happy New Year! 
Today begins a new liturgical year. Our Church begins the new year differently from the rest of the world on purpose to show us that God's "time" is different than that of the world. I put time in quotes because God lives in eternity where there is no time. This means that we need to live differently than the rest of the world: kinder, holier. 
This Gospel is misunderstood by many. The ones who are taken are not the ones who are holy. It is the opposite. The key to understanding this is the beginning of the Gospel. In Noah's time the good stayed on the earth — Noah's family. (God created the world good.) The others who were sinning were taken. Jesus mentioned that people were going about their business. And — that their end came suddenly. 
God does not want us to be caught off guard so He warns us. Someone who warns before executing judgement is compassionate. He wants us to be ready, which is the theme of Advent: being prepared so Jesus can be born in our hearts again. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD
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