Weekly Clergy Devotions

 

Our Christian faith is not a blind faith.  We do not simply believe something that has been told to us on no other evidence except that is what our parents believed.  Our faith is established by not only historical witness but also personal experience.  The faith that we hold is a faith that is primarily born out of experience of the love of God in our lives.  This love is conveyed to us at many different levels, beginning with the knowledge that we are created beings, not self sufficient for our own being but dependent upon a loving Creator that sustains us and provides for us.  This love in conveyed in the historical knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus, God incarnate, who became man in order to demonstrate the way we should love each other and our Creator as well as to sacrifice Himself for our salvation. This faith, born out of love is something that we can rely upon in good times and in bad, when we are in the deepest of need or sharing ourselves with another, it is a faith that should be an integral part of our lives.  Yet when Jesus speaks to His own apostles He speaks of how little faith even they have, how even a small amount increase of their faith can accomplish great things.  Indeed after the death and resurrection of Jesus the apostles did do great things in the name of their Savior, healing the sick, the conversion of thousands and starting the Church.  This example of the power of faith gives us hope for ourselves, that if we can only increase our own faith, even the smallest amount, with the help of our Lord and Savior, we to may accomplish great things for the greater honor and glory of God!                                                                                                                                

Deacon Bill Watzek 

 

The Emergency Call.

The other day a friend of mine shared this story with me: I used to ask my students (at the religious education class): “If we have an emergency, who should we call?” The answers from them were unanimous, we must call 911. I told them that is correct. Now, do you know that Jesus has His own emergency contact for us when we need something? The kids said, no what is it? I told them, if you need the Lord’s help say this, “Jesus I need you!” My friends, it is as simple as that, but with very great meaning. Know that when we cry out with this request from the bottom of our heart, with faith, Jesus listens, and answers our prayers in His time.

In today’s readings, especially in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah in the Psalm 145, we have heard this, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call Him while He is near.” Also, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him.” It means that the Lord is generous, gracious and merciful. He is ready to come to our aid, because His love is good for all and compassionate toward all His works. 

Therefore, family of St. Joan of Arc, do not be afraid to call or cry out to our Lord when you are facing: anger, anxiety, a crisis, depression, discouragement, fear, grief, an illness, loneliness, temptation, or when you need: comfort, courage, faith, forgiveness, grace, hope, love, patience, peace, and strength. Because the Lord is near to all who call upon Him. He is present in His Church, in the Sacraments, in the ministries, but above all in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist for you, for me, and for all of us.

“And know that I am with you always, until the end of world!” Mt 28, 20.

Your friend and priest in Christ. 

Fr. Robinson Aza 

 

Today’s second reading reminds us that, “we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).I feel the more & more completely we accept this from our hearts, the less & less we will worry (and in recent days we’ve seen plenty to provoke our worry)!

It is important to first consider how “worry” differs from “concern.”It’s understandable, even necessary and very good at times, to be concerned.It’s obviously great for parents to be concerned about the present and future of their children; it is great to be concerned about doing our very best at all times regarding our relationship with God, our universal vocation as disciples, and our particular vocations as cleric, spouse, employee, student, etc.Instead of, “concern,” “worry” is more akin to the, “senseless anxieties” we used to pray for protection from after praying the Our Father in Mass.

You are already familiar with how easily worries can set-in.You are already familiar with the unhappiness worry causes, and you may already be able to think back to times where the worry turned-out to be over nothing (but so much time was still lost while you worried!).You are already familiar with how worry can make the situation worse as it clouds judgment into making harmful decisions which often create new problems for us to get worried about!So therefore our concern needs to be how to break the cycles of worry!This involves recognizing, and dropping, the harmful tendency to pursue total control to the point where we think that we no longer would need God.We need to be as knowledgeable and active as we can, but we need to trust that after we do our part, God will do His.Next relates to reflecting on the multitude of similar Scripture passages which remind us that “we are the Lord’s,” through the reality of God’s infinite love of us.Therefore we have nothing to truly fear in this world, even when the hardships intensify.Perhaps the most important part, however, is the need for us to pray constantly, pray in our recognition that we will always need God, pray to overcome the temptations to worry through a focus fixed on God, and pray for the courage to live the lives we are called to as an expression of both gratitude and trust of God!

So while there are many good things to be concerned about in our lives, with appropriate action, prayer, and trust we can begin to forever free ourselves from worry, because, no matter what, “we are the Lord’s.”

Fr. Martin Dunne III

The theme of the readings today is that of responsibility, not only our own responsibility of doing right but also the responsibility that we have for helping those around us to turn from their sinful ways.The care that we have for one another should not only be for their earthly lives but especially for their eternal lives as well.We need to care for those we love through prayer, through example and sometimes through fraternal correction as described in the Gospel today.The better we care for our loved ones in this life the more likely we will be able to enjoy their company for eternity in Heaven!

Deacon Bill Watzek

 

Obstacles On The Road

Many of us here in Florida are familiar with two highways such as, 1-95 and the Turnpike among others. These highways allow us to reach our destination quickly whatever it is. For example, when we are going to work, an appointment, the University, shopping and the beach, just to name a few. But there are times where we find some obstacles on the highway such as: pieces of tires, garbage, an accident, damaged cars, dead animals, slow traffic and construction sites, etc. All of these obstacles cause a big delay and great frustration. Well, today Jesus feels an almost similar frustration, to the point of asking Peter to get away from him.

However in the context of today’s Gospel, Peter becomes an “obstacle” in Jesus’ plan of salvation for us. Here one thing is clear, and it is that God’s plans are not our plans. Since God’s plans are better, because he wants our salvation and happiness, to the point that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.” Jn 3,16.

Here Peter and the disciples did not understand the words of Jesus, when he spoke to them about the end of his ministry at that time where the Lord was announcing his passion, death and resurrection and what it means to be his disciple. Peter and the disciples wanted to do things their way not in Christ’s way, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.“ MT 16,22. That tells us that in our life of faith this happens very often. We want to tell God how to do things and we do not let him act; then we become, like Peter, an obstacle in God’s plans. Therefore, we should ask ourselves: what could be those obstacles that block and make us go away from Jesus and his plans of salvation for us?

St. Paul in the letter to the Galatians, indicates that there are only two ways to act; one is according to the flesh, and the other according to the spirit: “My point is that you should live in accord with the spirit and you will not yield to the cravings of the flesh. The flesh lust against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed. This is why you do not do what your will intends. If you are guided by the spirit, you are not under the law. It is obvious what proceeds from the flesh: lewd conduct, Impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, bickering, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissentions, factions envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like.” Gal 5, 16-21.That’s what Jesus meant when he said to Peter, “you are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Again St. Paul tells us how our behavior should be: “In contrast, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity…those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the spirit, let us follow the spirit’s lead” Gal 5, 22-25. Therefore, let us ask the Lord that helps us to take away from our path those obstacles that do not allow us to reach him with a sincere heart, as well to guide us how to act according to his spirit, in order to do his will.

…thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it in heaven, Amen.

Your friend and priest in Christ.

Fr. Robinson Aza

 

Like always, the readings offer the timeliest messages.The 1st reading reminds us “who has given the Lord anything that he me be repaid?”It echoes one of my favorite prefaces to the Eucharistic Prayer: “For, although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness but profit us for salvation through Christ our Lord [our greatest gift!].”

In this most-challenging year (let’s be honest!) it is important to remember our blessings.Thanksgiving is not just one day in November.It is meant to be always in everything we do.We can never repay God for all he’s given us.Nevertheless, God still gifts us the opportunities through each moment of each day to express our gratitude.As if all of that was not enough, God gifts us more each moment to express our thanks with each moment.It’s easier to thank God sitting around the Thanksgiving table surrounded by loved ones and delicious dishes.But it’s heroic to thank God by choosing to love, choosing to not give into temptation, choosing to speak-out to defend the truth when the truth seems more attacked than ever, and choosing to love someone who seems so unlovable … all in hopes that our actions of thanksgiving bring others to the same conclusion … that all we have and all we are is a gift from God who loves us so deeply!

Fr. Martin Dunne III

 

20th Sunday Ordinary Time

How is your prayer life?We all need to ask this question of ourselves from time to time lest we get into a rut of repetitive, trite or disingenuous prayer.Lord knows that if there was a time for prayer in our lives this is it.The Canaanite woman in the Gospel today gives us a very good example of how to approach God with our needs.When the woman approaches Jesus initially, she apparently has heard of his fame as a healer and calls him by the title “Lord, Son of David.”When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray he opened with “Our Father,” just as the Canaanite woman used the proper address for Jesus so we to use the identifier of our relationship to God daring to call Him our Father.The Canaanite woman is also persistent in her plea to Jesus even as she is ignored by Jesus and even when he refers to her as a household pet compared to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, she is still determined in her response.Jesus himself told us to be persistent in our prayers to the Father when he states, “will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night?” (Luke 18:8)The final characteristic of prayer that the Canaanite woman has is that of humility.The worst footing that we can be on with our Creator is the idea that He owes us something, on the contrary it is us who owes everything to our God, and there is nothing that we possess that He has not given us.Just as the tax collector in the Temple we should bow our heads, acknowledge ourselves as sinners before our Father and ask of His forgiveness.Remember there is always time for prayer even if it is a quick “thank you God” so let us imitate the Canaanite woman in the Gospel and pray with all of your heart and soul in humility.

Deacon Bill Watzek

 

The Need to Always Pray

Prayer is for a Christian as is his DNA. It is the essence that allows us to have a special bond with God. Jesus taught his apostles, and he teaches us, to not to be afraid and to not doubt in the face of adversities. In other words, Jesus teaches us about the importance of remaining firm in faith, as well as in the need of prayer all the time, and in doing the will of God.

In this time of the Covid-19 that we are living in, the example of Jesus and his words become alive only trusting in God upon the importance of remaining faithful to him by praying. That necessity of praying is our DNA: “After doing so, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.”Mt 14, 23-24.

Today I want to share with you just a few verses from the Sacred Scriptures, where God had shown us his presence, giving us his love and mercy throughout the history of salvation. Therefore, our attitude or response to God must be the availability to be in dialogue with him, to be related to him, remaining faithful to him and to be open to his will.

In short, Jesus today teaches us that only remaining in prayer, the life of faith of Christians makes sense, because it is he who gives meaning to our life. So here are some of those chapters where I invite you to not just think about it, but pray about it:“Never cease praying, render
constant thanks; such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thes 5: 17-18; “Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.” Phl 4:6; “At every opportunity pray in the Spirit, using prayers and petitions of every sort, Pray constantly and attentively for all in the holy company.” Eph 6: 18; “If anyone among you is suffering hardship, he must pray…this prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him to health.” Jas 5: 13, 15; “He told them a parable on the necessity of praying always and not losing heart.” Lk 18:1; “You will receive all that you pray for, provided you have faith.” MT 21:22; “Be on guard, and pray that you may undergo the test. The spirit is willing but nature is weak.” Mt 26: 41; One day he was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples asked him, “Lord, teach us pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…” Lk 11:1-2.

Once again my friends, nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. That will be our prayer, because God will help us today, tomorrow and always. St Joan of Arc, prays for us.

Your friend and priest,
Fr. Robinson Aza