New Blog Location

This will be my last blog post at this location. After this please find my weekly blog posts at resurrectionchurch.org. Once you get to the home page click on the Blogs tab in the upper right hand corner and click on Deacon Mike.

The direct location is http://resurrectionchurch.org/blogs/deacon-mike

Once at my blog you can get my blog posts automatically by clicking on the RSS Feed and signing up.

I ask you to take part in the New Evangelization by encouraging your relatives and friends to sign up for my blog posts and also to follow me on Twitter for daily inspirations @ michealpartida1

In Christ Jesus,
Dcn Mike

Advertisements

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 4th Sunday of Lent 2014 – Spiritual Blindness

The 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday from the Latin meaning “Rejoice.” We rejoice because we are half way through the Season of Lent and as we read in the ORDO, “Laetare Sunday sets a tone of joyful anticipation of the Easter mystery.” The 4th Sunday of Lent is also a good time to check ourselves to see how we are doing in our Lenten observances and if need be to get back on track. As a sports fan I liken it to the 1st half of a basketball or football game. Even though the team may not have had a good 1st half they can always turn it around in the 2nd half. Make your 2nd half of Lent better than your 1st!

Our readings again this week, like last week, are geared toward the RCIA Elect and Candidates preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. However, we can and should all take them into account in our own lives no matter how long we have been Catholic.

The readings speak of blindness and spiritual sight. In the 1st reading from 1 Samuel the scripture tells us, “Not as man sees does God see” as the Lord chooses David, the youngest son of Jesse to be king of Israel. David is anointed with oil and the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, a foreshadow of the anointing with oil in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

In the Gospel Jesus heals the man born blind by telling the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam, a foreshadow of Baptism. Siloam means “Sent”. Jesus is the one who is sent to heal us and make us whole.

As disciples what do these readings mean to us? We need to look into our lives and see how we are blind. Are we blind to our own faults and shortcomings? Are we blind to the needs of others and to the needs of the Church? When we realize and acknowledge we are blind in certain ways, then we can come to Christ, the one who was sent to heal us and make us whole. For those of us who already have been baptized we can wash in the waters of Baptism once again through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through a good confession we can be washed clean, as clean and pure as we were on the day of our Baptism.

That is something to rejoice about!

In the 2nd reading Jesus calls us through St. Paul, “To live in the light…Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Let us go to Christ so he can heal our blindness and allow us to see in his light.

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 3rd Sunday of Lent 2014 – Life-Giving Water

On the 3rd Sunday of Lent we hear the readings that are usually proclaimed at the 1st Scrutiny for the RCIA Elect & Candidates preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist. The theme is life-giving water pointing to Baptism. But as disciples of Christ we are all also called during Lent to “scrutinize” our faith lives and discern where and how we can experience conversion in our hearts to grow closer to God.

In the 1st reading from Exodus we hear of the Israelites grumbling that they are thirsty for water out in the desert. The Lord God tells Moses, “Strike the rock, and water will flow from it.” That rock is a foreshadow of the Christ, the Rock of our Salvation, which from whom life-giving water would flow.

In the Gospel, in the story of the “Woman at the Well”, Jesus is shown as the fulfillment of the foreshadow from Exodus. The woman comes to draw water from the well but Jesus tells her and us, “Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

As disciples the question for us is, “How thirsty are we for life-giving water?” Are we complacent and satisfied with the things around us, things that the world has to offer? Or do we have a tremendous thirst for the water that only Christ can give?

Have you ever been so thirsty that you had to have a drink of water or you felt like you would die? As disciples that’s how we should thirst for Jesus. We should be so thirsty that we cannot get enough of his Word, the sacraments, his real presence in the Blessed Sacrament and his grace that he offers us. The world cannot satisfy, only the Rock of our Salvation can satisfy.

And after we drink from the well of Christ, we need to go out like the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus and we need to evangelize as she did. She went back to town and told everyone who would listen about this experience she had with the one who can satisfy. We need to do the same and make disciples of all nations.

In the words of the most interesting man in the world, “Stay thirsty my friends!”

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 2nd Sunday of Lent 2014

In the first reading for the 2nd Sunday of Lent we hear the call of Abram (later renamed Abraham) to trust in God and to leave everything he knows and loves, “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” God promises Abram that because of this act of faith and obedience he would bless him, his people and all peoples. This act of faith and obedience was not easy with many difficult situations but God promised to be with him. St. Paul tells us in the 2nd Reading, “Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

In the Gospel we see the fulfillment of the promise of God to Abram, the account of the Transfiguration, as Jesus is revealed once again as the Light of the World, the fulfillment of the Law (represented by Moses) and the prophets (represented by Elijah). Jesus was and is “the blessing” to the nations promised to Abram.

As disciples of Christ, we also are called to trust in God, to leave behind the things we know and are comfortable with, to “go forth” and live our lives in accordance with the plan God has for us. It will not be easy at times but we also are called to “Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” If we trust in the Father to do his will, many blessings will be poured upon us and upon others. If we trust in God we cannot even imagine the great things the Lord can do through us!

As disciples, especially during this Season of Lent, let us allow God to lead us and guide us, trusting him in every step of the way.

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 1st Sunday of Lent 2014

On this First Sunday of Lent, as we begin our climb of the holy mountain of Easter, we hear in the first reading about Adam who was tempted and sinned; and in the Gospel we hear of Jesus who was tempted but did not sin. St. Paul tells us in the 2nd reading, “Just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” Through disobedience sin came into the world (through Adam). Through the cross the second Adam (Jesus) brought forgiveness of sin.

We might say that if it wasn’t for Adam and Eve’s disobedience sin would have never entered the world. But think about it, we do the same thing almost every day – sin through disobedience. That is what Lent is about, to help us remember that we are sinners and we often fall short. But the good news is that through repentance and coming to the cross of Christ, we can be made clean again. Lent is to help us get back on track, to help us return home, to help us realign ourselves once again with our merciful God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

As disciples of Christ we are called to holiness. G.K. Chesterton once said, “A saint is someone who knows he’s a sinner.” Lent helps us “know” that we are sinners and helps us get back to striving for holiness.

As disciples during this season of mercy, strive for holiness by taking to heart what we were told on Ash Wednesday, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014 – “Seek First the Kingdom”

The readings for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time convey the message to the disciples of Christ that the Father loves us and will always provide for us. But as disciples something is required of us in return.

In the 1st reading from the Prophet Isaiah we hear that God’s love for us is compared to a mother’s love for her child. We know that there is no stronger love on this earth than a mother’s love for her children yet God says his love is even more perfect, “Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” The Father is saying no matter what I will always love you.

The Gospel for this Sunday is one of my favorites because it speaks to me loud and clear. The Lord is saying do not worry, I will take care of all of your needs. He tells us in a beautiful way not to worry about what we will eat or drink, or what to wear. He points out how he feeds the birds of the air and clothes the wild flowers so beautifully in splendor and tells us, “Will he not much more provide for you? And, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” But in the very next verse he tells us what is required of us, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you.”

This is the key to the whole message for today. As disciples, followers of Christ, we must make Jesus and his will for the Kingdom our top priority and then all will be provided for us. He starts off the passage with, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon.” In the Aramaic “mammon” meant money or possessions. Jesus is saying as his disciples we can only have one master, either it will be him or it will be the material.

If we trust in Jesus, if we seek his will in our lives above all else and as St. Paul says in the 2nd reading if we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” by sharing of our time, talents and treasure for the sake of others, we will not have to worry about our daily needs because he has given us his word that he will provide.

This is one of my favorite passages because in my younger days I was a real worrier. But since I allowed Christ to be my master and Lord I have a peace that passes all understanding. I know that if I seek first the Kingdom all will be provided for me and my family.

Disciples of Christ, trust in God, seek first his Kingdom, and all will be provided for you, he guarantees it!

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014 – “Be Holy”

The readings on the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time are another lesson in living as a disciple of Christ Jesus. The main message for us this Sunday is proclaimed in the 1st reading from the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” The word “holy” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia means “separated from the profane (world) and directed towards God.” In other words to be holy is to be separated from worldly things that are not of God. Holiness is living our lives in union with Jesus. The last part of the 1st reading shows us what holiness looks like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Gospel directly follows the Gospel passages from the past two Sundays from the Sermon on the Mount. Again Jesus shows us how his disciples are to live in striving for holiness. He tells us that we must go beyond the Law by turning the other cheek, by going the extra mile and by loving not only our neighbor but also our enemies! Then to confirm his teaching he tells us what seems like the impossible, “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The original meaning of “perfect” in Aramaic is “completeness” or “wholeness” – not lacking in what is essential. God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to carry out his will and to live as his children. We know in our flesh we will never be perfect but we are called to strive for perfection, we are called to strive for holiness with the grace given to us in Jesus.

As disciples of Christ called to be separated from the world and directed toward God we know that we CAN imitate Christ in love because St. Paul reminds us in the 2nd reading, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” With the Spirit of God dwelling in us we are tabernacles of the Living God. With the Spirit of God dwelling in us we CAN be holy, we CAN be complete and we CAN be whole if we cooperate with the grace we are given.

Let us show the world what holiness looks like as true disciples of Christ by loving God, by loving our neighbor and yes, by even loving our enemies.

Thought of the Day – Twitter

My beautiful wife has encouraged me once again to step further into the New Evangelization. Not only do I post a weekly blog, now I am active in Twitter. I resisted until now but her and my daughter helped me get started with my first tweet last night. You can find me @MichaelPartida1. I will be tweeting inspirations as I receive them from the Lord.

God bless you all.

In Christ,
Dcn Mike

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

The readings for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time are a straight forward lesson in discipleship. The 1st reading is from the Book of Sirach, one of the Wisdom books. The first verse we hear is, “If you choose you can keep the commandments…he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.” In other words, discipleship is a CHOICE. Even though we have been baptized and are members of the Body of Christ we have a free will to choose discipleship or not, we have a free will to live out our baptism as a disciple in imitation of Christ or not. God gives us grace but we have the choice to respond to his grace. The 2nd verse is even more powerful, “Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” It is our choice.

The Gospel immediately follows last week’s Gospel where Jesus tells his disciples they must live as salt and light. In this week’s passage Jesus tells those who choose to be his disciples how they must live. From his Sermon on the Mount he instructs his followers that they must go beyond the “Law” and live the Gospel from their heart in the way they act, speak and treat others. In other words those who choose to be his disciples must do as Jesus does in all aspects of their lives.

And in the 2nd reading St. Paul preaches the reward for those who choose and live as disciples of the Christ, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” Those who choose and live as his disciples will be blessed beyond comprehension in this life and the next.

But the only way we can live as true disciples of Christ is by his grace. We must continue to seek and to receive his graces in prayer, his Word, in the sacraments and in fellowship with other disciples. We must continue to grow in our spiritual lives by seeking Jesus in further knowledge of our faith.

The choice to live as a disciple is not a onetime thing but an everyday thing. Every day the choice is set before us, “Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” It is our choice.

Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Salt & Light

I created a new Blog category called “Sunday Readings in the Light of Discipleship.” I will still post an occasional Thought of the Day but I created the new category because the Church’s main mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s it! And the Sunday scripture readings are a key part to this mission.

A disciple of someone or something is one who follows a person or certain teaching, who accepts that teaching, and who spreads that teaching, imitating the one they are following. A disciple is also a student who continues to learn and to grow under that particular teaching. As Catholic Christians, we are disciples of Jesus Christ, called to accept him and his teachings, to continue to learn from him and to imitate him by spreading his teachings in our everyday life.

The readings from the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014 are a beautiful lesson in discipleship and how we are to imitate Christ. From the 58th Chapter of Isaiah we hear, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” In other words, as Disciples of Christ, we are to imitate him as we think of the needs of others. We are to put the Gospel into action by practicing stewardship with our many blessings, sharing them with others with a joyful heart. Isaiah says when we do this, “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”

Jesus says in the Gospel, “You are the light of the world…your light must shine before others.” As disciples, the light of Christ in us lights up the darkness of the world as it is shone through us in our actions that imitate Christ.

Jesus also said in the Gospel, “You are the salt of the earth.” When the Gospel was written, salt was a very valuable commodity. It was used in 3 ways: (1) for taste, (2) to preserve, and (3) as a unit of exchange. Jesus is telling us as his disciples, as his followers, we are to improve the flavor of this world, we are to preserve souls for the Kingdom of God and we are to be used as a unit of exchange to exchange the darkness of the world to the light of Christ.

The added bonus for us as disciples of Jesus is indicated in the last line of this Sunday’s reading from Isaiah when we do give of ourselves unselfishly, “Then light shall rise for YOU in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for YOU like midday.” In other words, the Lord is telling us when we imitate Christ as his disciples and give of ourselves for the sake of others the darkness and gloom in OUR lives will be dispelled. This is because when we give and we serve, we are uplifted with a joy and a peace that we cannot explain. When we give and we serve it is the Spirit of God welling up in us dispelling any darkness or gloom that may be present in our lives.

As disciples, let us continue to learn and to grow in Christ. Let us be more and more the “salt” and the “light” in the world. When we do imitate Christ we will fulfill the last verse of today’s Gospel, “That they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”