Entrusted

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I would like to call to mind the word, “entrusted,” a key word in today’s gospel reading. When we trust someone, we have faith that the person will do as they should. If you trust someone with money or property, you’re essentially saying that you don’t believe that this person would cause you or your property harm. You believe that they will not steal what is yours, destroy it, or cause injury with it. The word “entrust” goes several steps farther. Not only will the person not cause harm with it, but that they will do good with it. When you are entrusted with something, you not only safeguard it, but you also use it with your gifts for holy purposes. With that in mind, let’s look at today’s gospel reading.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” What does this mean? Let’s take a look at who is entrusted with what. We are all entrusted with something, such as our call to build the kingdom. Some of us are teachers, some are police officers, some are doctors. To the world, these are careers, but when God calls you to do a particular type of work for His kingdom, He blesses you with gifts in order to do that work well. This is what we mean by the word, “vocation.” God is not going to call you to do something that He has not equipped you to do. Does everyone have a vocation?

I believe that we do. The Lord blesses each of us in so many ways. He has written His law on our hearts. That alone is quite the gift. This is the foundation of our morals. This is how we intuitively know right from wrong. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we act appropriately. It just means that we’ve been entrusted with this gift to build up the kingdom in our vocation as a Christian. Others are entrusted with more, such as being a parent, a teacher or catechist, a priest, a bishop, a pope. The Lord gives you the gifts you need for each of your vocations. He equips you to do the jobs that He as entrusted you to do. As a catechist, you are entrusted with teaching the faith and you’re equipped to do so. As a doctor, you are entrusted to heal the sick by learning biology, anatomy, chemistry, and math. As a priest, you are entrusted to be the confessor and spiritual director of the faithful. As a pastor, you act with apostolic authority to occupy the seat in your parish. As a married person, the Lord has written love on your heart and has entrusted you to raise your family in the faith. As a parent, you’re entrusted to raise your children to be faithful servants of God. Of all of these examples, I would argue that the parent is entrusted with the most. As Jesus cautions us 

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!

Matthew 18:6-7

Quite a vivid image, isn’t it? At my own particular judgment, I hope to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Therefore, I must act according to what God has planned for me by utilizing the gifts he has given me to build up the kingdom of God. I have been entrusted with much and I will be judged accordingly. When we accept this reality, we are capable of doing the work God has called us to do by using the skills and talents he has gifted us.

Another thing to keep in mind is that God does not judge us on our successes or failures, he judges us according to our efforts. People will believe what they allow themselves to believe. We don’t fail to convert people; people fail to accept conversion. But that topic is for another day.

I hope this helps to bring this lesson into perspective. May God bless you abundantly.

Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP

Office of Readings Reflection

2 Corinthians 7:2-16 and a homily on the second letter to the Corinthians by St. John Chrysostom

24 July 2022

I was struck by the theme of the opening psalm in today’s Office of Readings, “There are two ways a man may take.” In the Didache, the very first lesson is that there are two paths: one that leads to life and one that leads to death. There is a great difference between the two. The path that leads to life is the way of the cross. We must die to sin and to this world by choosing to repent of our sinful ways. We do that by ordering our lives to all that Jesus taught us in the Gospels; that God should be our very first priority in life. This isn’t easy to do because it involves making radical changes in our behavior, in our habits, in our priorities. These are fundamental changes that must take place. This leads to the next part: the sadness.

This sadness isn’t for the life that we leave. It’s a different kind of sorrow; it’s deeper, more terrifying. As St. Paul states, being filled with a sorrow that comes from God, leads to repentance. Now the choice is to accept that the sorrow that we feel so deeply in our souls… or not. When we realize that this sorrow is aligned with our Father’s sorrowful pity for His child, we ought to rejoice that we have contrite hearts, the sacrifice that God will not spurn. The sorrow that we have for leading a sinful life is shared with God; it turns to consolation, because those who mourn will be consoled. This leads to a radical conversion. This powerful experience is something that we desire for others. It leads us into a spiritual unity with St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. He rejoiced at their repentance and conversion.

St. John Chrysostom explains to us that the consolation that we feel for another’s change for the better is so strong that our tribulations become meaningless. Imagine loving so intensely that we are consoled at another’s repentance. This is the kind of love that Jesus commands of us: Love one another as I have loved you. Jesus’ passion and death on the cross is more extreme tribulation than we could ever endure. Yet, He willingly gave His life for us, that we may have eternal life with Him. He rejoices exceedingly when we repent of our sins and amend our lives; so much so, that His awareness of the suffering that He endured for our benefit has been extinguished by the surpassing consolation that our repentance effected. Indeed, we are called to this depth of love, and it begins with choosing the path that leads to life.

Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP

The Good Samaritan

Sunday, July 10, 2022

“Go and do likewise.” There are a couple very important points in our Mass readings today. The first comes from Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy. Recall that Moses is a prophet, meaning that God speaks to His people through Moses, so these are God’s words to His people (you and me). This entire reading tells us how and why to be the “Good Samaritan.” God wrote His commandments on our hearts. He wrote natural law on our hearts. These are our morals. When we turn from our morals, we turn away from God. When we accept God’s will as our own, we can’t help but follow His commandments with all our hearts and all our souls. It comes naturally. Jesus illustrates this lesson in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Recall who the Samaritans were. They were once Israelites, united under King David. After David’s death, his son Solomon became King; when Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became King. A man named Jeroboam went to the new King to redress the issue of the place of worship.  Rehoboam refused to alter the place of worship designated by his father Solomon. This ultimately split the kingdom of Israel into the Northern Kingdom (10 tribes) and the Southern Kingdom (2 tribes). The Samaritans are part of the Northern Kingdom, all who turned away from the House of David. They built altars to false gods, namely Baal. See 1 Kings chapter 12 for the secession and the errors of the Northern Kingdom. This is important to understand how the Jews viewed Samaritans in this reading today.

Jesus reiterates that God has written His commandments (our morals) on the hearts of all humans. By using a Samaritan, He illustrates for us that even those who are far from God can heed the call for moral stewardship because God has written that on our hearts. Moses says that we don’t need any external training or formation (someone to go fetch this knowledge for us) to hear and heed this commandment, and Jesus sums up that point in the character of the Samaritan.

We might also take a cue of who this Samaritan could be by the phrase, “I shall repay you on my way back.” Samaritans were foreign to the Judeans, just as Jesus was foreign to the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They tried to kill Him on many occasions because he was a threat to their authority, since they worshipped the law more than God. They often missed the opportunity to show mercy because they loved the law so much. Thus, Jews would purposely travel around Samaria as though it were a leper colony. Recall John chapter 4, the story of the Woman at the Well. Jesus often used hyperbole to accentuate his points, so this is not really a stretch when you really think about it. Double meanings are another tool that Jesus used, especially in parables, to drive home an important message. The point is to ask yourself how far are you from God? Do you trust Him enough to allow His will in your life or to yield your will to His?

So, in order to “go and do likewise,” we must let go of self and let God’s ways flow from our hearts naturally. Act according to the morals that God has written on our hearts, without anxiety over what others will think or say about it. We don’t need special training or formation to do what’s right. And God’s will is always the right thing to do.

Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP

Reflection for Sunday, July 3, 2022

In today’s first reading, Isaiah says “As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.” This poignantly reminds us of what Jesus said “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matt 23:37)

Psalm 66 talks about the mighty deeds of the Lord. The last strophe says, “Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me.” Do we declare and proclaim what the Lord has done for us? Grace is given us in our trials to overcome temptation, anxiety, anger, all the things that keep us “out of peace” with God and neighbor. Have we shared events in our lives with others that demonstrate God’s goodness to us?

The Gospel in the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians (6:14-18) teaches that God gives us the power through the Holy Spirit to love others. When we are a “new creation” in Christ (Gal.6:15), we have the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26) to move away from our own self-centeredness and to think of others.

Mrs. Peggy Brechtel, OP

Are we following God or man?

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in ordinary time.

26 June 2022; by Ms. C. A. Riley, OP

Are we taking the time when confronted with options to discern whether the choices we are making is our own will or the will of God? How many times do I just go about my day and make choices without first asking if its God’s will that I am doing, or do I get caught up in all the commotion and make a quick decision because I know what is best?

We see in the Gospel when Jesus asked the man to follow him, he quickly and selfishly replied: “Lord let me go first and bury my father.” Now most would say that Jesus’ answer was a bit harsh, but sometimes we need more than a gentle reminder, we need that proverbial shove into reality. “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” this was Jesus’ way of saying that God’s will is more important than any matter of the flesh and we should always strive to follow God and not try to be God.

Trinity Sunday

06-12-2022

We have been taught, as children in the faith, the Holy Trinity consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three persons of the same One God. We profess this at Mass each Sunday in the Nicene Creed and in the Apostles’ Creed when we pray the Rosary, Divine Mercy chaplet, and other devotions. I know that a theological topic such as this can be difficult to comprehend, but that is where faith comes in. This truly is a matter of faith.

We know that God is our Father in heaven. He created us and everything else, whether visible or invisible. We specifically profess that fact in the Nicene Creed, which has been our profession of faith since AD 325, the First Council of Nicaea. Yes, for nearly 1700 years, we have been professing the Nicene Creed, which has only undergone only minor revisions since its adoption.

We freely profess that there is only One God, and He is the Father Almighty. Meaning He is above everything and everyone. He is the maker of heaven and earth, and all other things, visible and invisible. We also believe that Jesus Christ is the only Begotten Son of God, that He is consubstantial with the Father. This means that Jesus is the same substance as God the Father. Jesus is divine, yet He was born of the Virgin Mary, who gave Him His humanity. He is fully God and fully man. He suffered and died to pay for our sins, so that we might spend eternity with God in heaven. This is known as the Beatific Vision, beholding God, face to face with our Creator, forever. Jesus also rose again, just as He said He would. He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. Because Jesus came to know us and our tendencies, He witnessed our very real brokenness, in His infinite Love and Mercy, God sent us the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and Confirmation to continue to be with us, in us, so that we may always remember what Jesus taught us.

The Holy Trinity is the Only God, the God who created us and established the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The next time that you profess that truth, think about who you are to God, who he created you to be. It’s a really good practice to ponder what we profess in the Creed from time to time. We are all precious to God and are meant to glorify Him by our lives. We have all of the tools necessary to become living saints. For God, nothing is impossible. Turn to Him for everything.

Lord, we thank You for all that You have done for us. We want to be the holy men and women You created us to be. Send us Your Holy Spirit to enkindle our hearts to desire holiness in our lives, that we may seek You, and glorify You in all that we do. We ask this in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.

Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP

Excellent Video of Our Nuns and Sisters

This video offers great insight to the Dominican charism lived by active sisters and cloistered nuns in the Order of Preachers.

If you or someone you know might be interested in learning more, leave a comment below and I will help you find the right people who can help in the discernment process.

Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP

Sixth Sunday of Easter bulletin Reflection

By Ms. C. A. Riley, OP

22 May 2022

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid, for if you love me,so too, will the Father love you. The phrase “do not be afraid” appears 365 time in the Bible. Why? Are we a people who are afraid all the time and must be reminded of Jesus’ promise that through the Holy Spirit, He and the Father are always with us? When we are afraid, all we need to do is remember that Jesusdied so that we could live without fear, this is where our faith will set us free. All too often I see people worrying over this issue or that problem, instead of giving it up to God. We should always find peace and solace in the knowledge that Jesus gave himself up to death so we would not be afraid of it. He tells us this in the gospel, that He is going to the Father and needs to do this, so that the Father will send each of us the Holy Spirit as our advocate and guide in this life. 

What does it mean to be an advocate for someone? We read so many verses in the Bible of how God sends advocates to help others. Moses, Aaron, Noah, Ruth, Rebecca, Jonah, David, Mary, Jesus, the disciples and apostles. Yes, Jesus was the unblemished lamb sent by God to save us from sin and death. All of us as disciples of God are also advocates of his word, and when baptized we become Priest, Prophet, and King of the Church. It is our place now to be the advocates of those who need us today, so go out and do not be afraid to spread the good news to others.

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 15, 2022

We are told that persecution and hardships strengthen us and help us conform more closely to Jesus. The selflessness and teaching of Paul and Barnabas attract large numbers of Gentiles to the faith. God will use us to bring others to Him if we cooperate with His grace and have the courage to trust His leading and not fear man’s opinion.

Revelation speaks of a new heavenly Jerusalem in which death and sadness will be no more. Jesus’ rule of love makes all things new. Jesus says he will be glorified. Who would think His being tortured and crucified would glorify Him? Yet, the Resurrection gave stark confirmation of Jesus’ divinity.  Isaiah 55:9 tells us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth. So are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Jesus, in John’s gospel, commands us to love one another as He has loved us. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn. 13:35) All today’s readings point to the power of love to transform our lives and influence those around us to seek the Lord. Do we exude the sweetness of His love? Love requires us to consider the welfare of others first. This is a challenge for us to submit our will to the will of God, who is Love itself.

Mrs. Marilyn Pipkin, OP

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