Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

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Trinity Sunday

 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32­-34, 39­-40

Resp.: Psalm 33:4­5, 6, 18­-19, 20, 22
2nd Reading: Romans 8:14­-17

Gospel: Matthew 28:16­-20

The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery. We cannot possibly come near to understanding it completely but we do know some things: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are madly in love with each other ­­ three Divine Persons but One God. God wants to share this love with each and every one of us. It is God who revealed this to us at the Baptism of Jesus when God the Father's voice was heard and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the bodily form of a dove. While the word "trinity" is not in the Bible, our Church teaches us that God is indeed triune: Three in One – the Holy Trinity.

In the Holy Trinity is no subordination. All are equal. The Father is not number one, Jesus number two and the Holy Spirit number 3. However, a key to understanding the Holy Trinity is that the Holy Trinity is about relationship: Fathers and sons have relationships, which is why God reveals Himself this way. Its like if someone is a male, he can be a father and a son and a brother all at the same time. The difference comes in how he relates to others as a father, son or brother – nevertheless he is still the same person. The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son and again we are invited to partake in this relationship.

St Elizabeth of the Trinity, OCD experienced the indwelling of the Holy Trinity inside her. Her writings are quite sublime: in other words, there ARE no words to sufficiently describe such an Indwelling. Suffice it to say that God is love and what we experience here on earth is just a mere introduction of the love we will be part of ­­ in Heaven.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Ascension Sunday

1st Reading: Acts 1:1­-11
Resp.: Psalm 47:2­3, 6­7, 8­9(6) 2nd Reading: Ephesians 1:17­-23 Gospel: Mark 16:15­-20

Jesus gives today what is called the Great Commission. He tells his apostles to go out through all the world and tell the good news. He asks them to do great things for his kingdom, but one day he will return the same way they saw him leave.

So instead of God doing all the work directly, he now works through his ministers. His Church will not be destroyed despite all the trials and tribulations to be endured in the future. This is what helps us to put our faith in God. Jesus Christ established one Church that can never err. People in the Church make mistakes and can sin grievously but she is still the spotless Bride of Christ that cannot err in her teaching, a guarantee of the Holy Spirit.

Some may ask – where are all the miracles of the past? Why don't we see the accompanying signs that Jesus mentioned at the end of today's Gospel? They're still there – but do we perceive them through all the negativity of today's world? Most of the news we get is negative and base. We must put on the mind of Christ as St Paul says. Pope St. John Paul II said that the new springtime is here – do we not perceive it? Its not a matter of wearing rose­-colored glasses, it's a matter of doing, seeing and hearing things God's way. Friendship with God.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Fifth Sunday of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 9:26­-31
Resp.: Psalm 22:26­-27, 28, 30, 31­-32 (26a) 2nd Reading: 1 John 3:18­-24
Gospel: John 15: 1­8

There are times that I've asked – why are we doing things this way? And the usual answer was ­ because we've always done it this way. There are at least two responses to that: if its working, lets continue but if we can do better, we need to change. This takes discernment. In the first reading, the disciples were afraid of Saul because of his past. They were used to avoiding him but now he is different and its taking time for him to be accepted.

The same is true for us when we change for the better. Some will begin to shun us while others will befriend us. God's grace in our lives necessitates changes. God is dynamic, which means we need to be changing quite often for the better. Change is usually what we avoid because it draws us out of our comfort zones – it causes anxiety. But if we trust, we do not need to fear.

In other words, we need to be pruned in order that we will bear more fruit. If change is difficult then pruning hurts. The problems is that we don't seem to mind when others are pruned but when it is me myself, then we have difficulties.

Its okay to hurt, its part of life, and we need to ask God to bring good out of all our pains. Its not okay to sin because of our hurts but we should allow God to make us stronger despite them. St Paul preferred bad treatment because he saw the benefit: when we suffer for being good, we are being like Jesus.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD


Fifth Sunday of Lent

1st Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-­34

Responsorial: Psalm 51:3-­4, 12­-13, 14­-15
2nd Reading: Hebrews 5:7-­9
Gospel: John 12:20­-33

Jesus goes before us to show us the way. He told his disciples about the grain of wheat that must die if it is to bear much fruit. But why do we have to die? Because of the Sin of Adam and Eve. So Jesus takes us to a new level – if we die to our earthly desires, we will reign with Him in Heaven. Before, we were promised Paradise, the Garden of Eden. Now we can go to Heaven if we follow Jesus.

We know that we must give up sinning. But what else? Even good things too, not that they are sinful but if God does not want us to have those things or do certain good things, we shouldn't try. In other words, to be with God in His Kingdom and to die to ourselves on earth, we need to be obedient. Pope St. John Paul II wanted to be a Carmelite but his bishop, when he was in the seminary, did not allow this.

God knows all the hows and whys of life. We certainly don't even though we might be tempted to think we do. God's way is best. We need to trust. Specifically, we need to trust Jesus.

Jesus, I trust in You. All will work out for the best – maybe not the way we might like, but the way that truly is best – eternal life with God.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD

Fourth Sunday of Lent 'B'

Happily once again we celebrate Rose Sunday – Laetare Sunday – the midpoint of  the official Penitential Season of the Roman Church.  Though modestly, today’s liturgy anticipates the joy of Easter.  Its theme is full of the Joy of Holy Hope carried by the inner Life of the Son given us with the Dynamic Spirit of the Eternal Father.

In Cycle B, we just heard from the Second Old Testament Book of Chronicles (2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23).  In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Books One and Two form only one book.  In the Greek version of the OT, the title is PARALEIPÓMENON, i.e.>ITHINGS LEFT OUT”>: historical data not found in the Books of Samuel and Kings.  Second Chronicles records additional data from Israelite history during and after the return from the Babylonian Exile.

Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian Empire in the year 586 BC.  Like in the Prophet Jeremiah’s warnings, the fall of Jerusalem was theologically interpreted by the Second Book of Chronicles as a punishment by God for Israel’s infidelity to the Covenant.  We heard that the Babylonians “burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set its palaces on fire, and destroyed all its precious objects.  Those who escaped the sword were carried away captive to Babylon, where they became servants of the king of the Chaldeans and his sons until the kingdom of the Persians came into power.”

In the light of today’s gospel reading from John 3:14-21, set in parallel with our first reading, we know the focal point is found in the second half of the O.T. text, namely, in the surprising and altogether unexpected liberation of the Jewish exiles by Cyrus, the conquering King of the Persians.  Cyrus gave them New Life!

After about sixty years of exile in Babylonia (geographically modern Iraq) Cyrus the Persian, surprisingly issued and Edict of Liberation in the year 538 BC as stated earlier.  So we listened to the Second Book of Chronicles say: “In the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing:  ‘Thus says Cyrus, King of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth have been given to me by the Lord, God of Heaven; and he also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up there [to Jerusalem], and may his God be with him?

We know that many of the Jews did not return to the Holy Land until a hundred years later, under Nehemiah.  But the imperial decress and the departure of the first wave of exiles were interpreted in the light of Jewish sacred history as a second EXODUS!  IT IS THE SECOND GREAT INTERVENTION OF GOD IN THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL.  CYRUS, THOUGH A PAGAN, WAS CONSIDERED A TYPE OF Messiah, a Savior by the Jews, the instrument of God’s special providence to “let his people go.”  They were free to return to the Promised Land for the restoration of the Holy City of Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the great Temple of Monotheism on Mount Zion.

Our Responsorial Song, Palm 137, sadly sang of the captives’ memories of Jerusalem, so direly missed by the exiles.  They could not forget the Holy City of God’s temple and Judah’s earlier freedom as the People of God.  We prayed that psalm as though it preceded the first reading.  In an inverted sort of way, it reflects the anguish of the exiles, while the reading before it expressed their great surprise and their utter Joy at the Edict of Liberation.

Now, to tie in the excerpt from the Book of Chronicles with John’s Gospel dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus:> Jesus told Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Here we happily recall that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is considered by New Testament writers to be the Third Great Exodus of salvation history. The Exodus from Egypt was the first dramatic intervention of God on behalf of his people.  The liberation from Babylonia was the second.  And the resurrection of Jesus, a corporate person - the New Adam - and the New Israel of God,  is considered the third great Exodus.  Jesus’ resurrection is the flip side of the one coin of the great Paschal Mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord.  The exaltation of the Lord on the cross saves all of us captive sinners who look upon him as our hope and salvation.

In the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been given LIGHT AND LIFE AND LIBERATION FOREVER.  This liberation triumphs even over the grave for all believers.  Greater than the liberation from Egypt, but in continuity with it; greater than the liberation from Babylonia, but in continuity with it, IS THE LIBERATION FROM THE DARKNESS OF IGNORANCE OF GOD, LIBERATION FROM SLAVERY TO SIN, AND LIBERATION FROM THE EXTINCTION OF DEATH by the utterly unique Resurrection of the Messianic Son of God.

For John and his Gospel, the definitive Intervention or EXODUS of God is that Light and Life declare: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.” John calls this mission of Jesus “God’s Light,” a light that triumphs over darkness for those who receive it.  John continues: “Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”  Here we have already the effect of allowing Christ to become one’s personal and communal Savior and Exodus.  Faith in him reaps liberation from pagan darkness and ignorance of God, a darkness that knows no hope, a darkness that squelches hope and dehydrates charity.

In his Letter to the Ephesians,  Ch 2, St. Paul the Apostle celebrates the mercy of God shown to us.  Because of our transgressions we were dead.  But God’s mercy has intervened in Christ and brought us to life again.  We have received the grace won for us by Christ, God’s gift to us.  It is all free gift,  all divine intervention, all initiated by God who waits for our response day by day, year by year, from natural birth to a supernatural death and rebirth in Christ,  the Life of the Father communicated to us by his paschal gift of the Holy Spirit.

The gratuity of this divine intervention is underscored profoundly by Paul.  He insists that we were not justified by our works but by the free gift of faith.  “It is not from works, so no one may boast,” states Paul.  And this gratuity is transforming if received with loving faith.  For as Paul continues: “We are God’s handiwork, crafted in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”  Marvel of marvels, our good works did not merit our liberation.  It was God’s good work done in Christ our Savior that spawned faith in us.  And God’s gift of faith in Christ has prepared in us a response to God the Giver.  For God’s gift establishes the willing  recipient in the good works he gives as a sign of life in him.  To repeat Paul’s words:  “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in [those works].”  This Pauline declaration should serve as a mantra of gratitude for the children of God who recognize his freeing Grace.

Today we renew our insertion into our belonging to the great Judeo-Christian Tradition.  That tradition confesses the fidelity of God’s love for his people.  His interventions in history again and again have shown his ‘hesed’ and ‘emet’ - his ‘faithful love’.  You and I were already present in a mystical way when Israel passed dry shod through the Red Sea around the year 1290 BC.  You and I were already present by spiritual affinity when the Jews came back from Babylon to Jerusalem in and after the year 538 BC.  The reason we can say we were there is that those interventions were our own salvation history moving towards the  great Intervention of all interventions —> the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As the only divine Son, hidden in the bosom of the eternal Father, Jesus the Word was present as God led his people to freedom of old.  Now incarnate and manifested as one of us, Jesus has become our New Moses, our New Cyrus, our new Liberator who brings us into the Light and Life of the truth.  He has been exalted so as to lift us up to a grace-filled meaning in life, in death, and after death.

So, we prepare well for Easter by a sincere Lent.  For Jesus is our Exodus and sure Hope.  He is our rose-hued joy and celebration.  He has set us free.  He has been lifted up so as to “lift us up on eagel wings”.  And to conclude:>  as the New Jerusalem in Christ our Head, we pass in a few minutes into the Eucharistic mystery with today’s entrance antiphon resounding in our hearts ~

“Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her; you who love her.
Rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, [for]
you will find contentment at her consoling breasts.” Amen.

A homily written by Fr. Sam Anthony Morello, OCD

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