Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday July 26 The Divine Word Missionaries from Bordentown, NJ celebrated Mass with us.


(A biblical reflection on the 17th Ordinary Sunday, 27 July 2014)
Gospel Reading: Mathew 13:44-52 (short version: Matthew 13:44-46)
First Reading: 1Kings 3:5,7-12; Psalms: Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-130; Second Reading: Romans 8:28-30
The Scripture Text
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:44-52 RSV)
What is your “treasure”? What do you consider the most valuable thing you could possess? Throughout scripture, we see that God our Father wants to give us a treasure beyond all price if we but ask Him. King Salomon was called the wisest man on the earth because he asked God for wisdom and good judgment (1 Kings 3:5,7-12). Jesus’ parables frequently highlighted the “treasure” that God offers those who seek Him. The Psalms also direct us to seek treasure in God’s word, which is finer than gold (Psalm 119:127).
images (3)The man in the parable of the treasure hidden in the field eagerly set out to sell everything. Why? Because he found something worth possessing above all his other possessions. Fortunately, he only needed enough money to buy the field – not the whole treasure. In a similar fashion, God offers us the treasure of His Kingdom at a price we can afford!
We can’t pay the full price for the life God wants to give us. That treasure is the Lord Himself and life in His Kingdom, a Kingdom of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). In baptism we are united with Jesus in His death and resurrection. We become adopted children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. This is something far beyond our ability to produce, let alone maintain. Only God can make us into a new creation.
Today at Mass, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the value of the treasure that God offers each and every one of us. Let’s set aside our earthly interests for a while – concerns about our friends, our jobs, our families, and what we will do with our free times – to spend time with the Lord. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with heaven’s treasure: life and communication with Jesus forever!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are my treasure and joy, my hope and consolation. Free me from all that would keep me from You. May I always find strength in Your word and delight in Your presence. Amen.
Jakarta, 25 July 2014 [Feast of St. James, Apostle]

A Christian Pilgrim

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Divine Word Missionaries International Visit

The Divine Word Missionaries who have a residence in Bordentown had visitors from different countries and Father Flor brought them over to celebrant Mass for us.
From left to right
Brother Emmanuel from Haiti who is taking a group of young adults to the UN, Father Flor , who is a resident at Bordentown and is original from the Philippines, Father Paul, originally  from China and will be stationed in Antigua and Father Johann who is from Indonesia. Father Johann is secretary to the Provincial and came to the United States to learn English at Epworth.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


(A biblical reflection on the 16th Ordinary Sunday, 20 July 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:24-30 (long version: Matthew 13:24-43)
First Reading: Wisdom 12:13,16-19; Psalms: Psalm 86:5-6,9-10,15-16; Second Reading: Romans 8:26-27
Another parable He put before them, saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds? He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30 RSV)
How do you treat other people when they fall short of your expectations? Do you find yourself turning against them – maybe in your mind and heart, if not outwardly? It’s a tempting reaction but not one that Jesus recommended. In fact, His parable of the weeds among the wheat tells us not to write anyone off as hopeless. Just as the householder refrained from having the weeds pulled up for fear of uprooting the wheat (Matthew 13:29), we must refrain from dismissing others, in effect throwing out the “wheat” in their lives along with whatever we perceive the “weeds” to be.
Who are the “weedy” ones in your life – those you have given up on, those you don’t treat so well because they have pulled away from God? Look closely at your list and ask yourself whether perhaps your judgments might be contributing in some way to their bondage. Is it possible that you have a beam in your eye, something that prevents you from seeing the beauty and promise – the wheat among the weeds – within them? Even in their sin, God sees their potential and gives them opportunities to realize it through the power of His Son. He invites you to take on this attitude, too.
Today at Mass, take some time to reflect on God’ invitation to patience. Let the readings show you God’s heart and help you embrace that heart for yourself: “Although You are sovereign in strength, You judge with mildness, and with great forbearance You govern us. ... You have taught Your people that the righteous must be kind” (Wisdom 12:18-19). “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26). Having experienced God’s mercy in your own life – and who hasn’t? – you can be patient with the imperfections of others, with the Spirit’s help. And amazingly, the more you learn to see people through the eyes of Jesus, the more you will draw them to Him. They will change. So will you.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for having written some people off as beyond help. Knowing Your love and patience toward me, I am compelled to pray that every “hopeless case” will make it into Your Kingdom. I pray for an abundant harvest of the finest wheat. Amen.
Jakarta, 18 July 2014

A Christian Pilgrim

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th If You Want Peace Work for Justice

ew post on Breaking In The Habit

If You Want Peace… Community Organize

by friarcasey
Of all the many accomplishments of organizations like this, the biggest is that these students develop confidence in themselves and in each other.
Of all the many accomplishments of organizations like this, the biggest is that these students develop confidence in themselves and in each other.
A few years ago, I wrote a post entitled “If You Want Peace, Work For Justice” that made this distinction between social charity and social justice: charity identifies a need and fulfills it while justice asks why there was a need in the first place and then attempts to change the system that caused it.
While both charity and justice are integral aspects of Catholic Social Teaching, and understanding that neither can fully work without the other, I find myself stressing justice over charity. Don’t get me wrong. Charity is desperately needed and I wouldn’t want to downplay the life work of someone like Mother Theresa. There are times, though, when charity is nothing more than a bandaid on a fatal wound: it prolongs life but it never allows those in need the freedom of authentic human development. As the adage goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.” Justice looks to the future, treating the problem not just the symptoms. In practical terms, it means being a voice for the voiceless by demanding quality education, safe environments, and equal treatment under the law so that all people may be able to feed themselves instead of relying on others to feed them.
In my time so far in Camden, however, I have learned that there is actually another layer to this distinction. While justice (as I have defined it) gives a voice to the voiceless, community organizing helps those without a voice find their own. While traditional means of justice may eliminate a systemic problem in order to make life better for many people, (something I obviously DO NOT want to downplay), there is still a sense that it is a form of charity because it is done for someone without enabling them to do it themselves. Not only that, there’s no denying the fact that movements are more vibrant and longer lasting if they come from the people and for the people directly affected by injustice. Thus, in the case of feeding a man from above, community organizers might say, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; show a man that he can fix his hunger by hiring a fishing teacher and he will know how to find solutions for a lifetime.” Through effective community organizing, people gain the confidence and skills to take control of their lives without relying on wealthy donors or educated activists to do everything for them.
A great example of this is the Student Leaders’ Von Nieda Park Task Force at St. Anthony’s school. Comprised of 6th-8th grade students, this group meets each week to identify problems in their neighborhood, research who has the power to make changes, and elicit the skills needed to professionally approach those in power. These students chair a monthly meeting at the park, attend city council meetings, organize cleanups, and travel to Washington, D.C. each year to give a presentation. In the past two years, they have transformed what was once called “the nation’s most depressing park,” into a comfortable neighborhood park for the whole family. How? They saw a need in their area, worked together, and convinced local officials to help make it happen. In two years, the city has installed new basketball nets, trashcans, fences, and now, brand new lights, a project that cost the city and county $365,000. I’d like to remind you that these are 6th-8th graders… When people come together around an issue, great things can happen.
That’s not to say that it’s easy to do or that it’s without setbacks. Community organizing requires tremendous patience and perseverance, thick skin and a short memory. The friar responsible for the Student Leaders here reminds us often of the women who once told him, “Father, ain’t nothing ever going to change in Camden.” This is a common response, and it’s understandable. If you had been rejected and lied to by powerful people your entire life, wouldn’t you be a little hesitant to get excited too? The key is building confidence with small victories, showing people that hope is not useless; change can happen.
More importantly, and much more difficultly, community organizers must not let impatience or frustration move them to act on behalf of the community. Sure, the community organizer may be able to do something successfully on her/his own, but how has this helped the community find its own voice? The sign of a great basketball player is not the amount of points s/he scores, it’s how much better the others players play around her/him. It’s about building the team, not just the tasks. It requires relying on others and giving people the chance to succeed. This might mean being a little less efficient, dealing with a few more frustrations, and even accepting more frequent setbacks than doing something on one’s own. It’s a type-A personality’s nightmare. But what good is it to go about it alone? More importantly, what good is it if we always treat those around us like children, never showing them how to lead themselves?
As brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s not about winning the race, it’s about making sure everyone is able to make it to the end. Community organizing does just that. By focusing on local issues with local people, it involves those closest to the issue and gives them ownership over their lives. While it may not effect the sort of large-scale systemic changes that other forms of justice can, what it does is build community and build confidence. It does not hand people a better life, it helps them work for it themselves. If you want peace in your neighborhood, community organize.
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