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God is our last hope because we are God’s first love.

7th Sunday after Pentecost Year A

Processional Hymn:

A Reading from the Book of Genesis 28:10-19
10Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. 11At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. 12As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.
13At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
16Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
18The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. 19He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz.
The Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24
Responsive at the half verse (italics)
1O LORD, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.
5You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Epistle Hymn:

A Reading from the Letter to the Romans 8:12-25
12Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father. 16For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
18Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sequence Hymn:

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
24Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
28“‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
36Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”
37Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. 38The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one.39The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.
40“Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Christ!

Commentary:
The scope of the parable of the seed sown, is to show that the beginnings of the gospel would be small, but its latter end would greatly increase; in this way the work of grace in the heart, the kingdom of God within us, would be carried on. In the soul where grace truly is, it will grow really; though perhaps at first not to be discerned, it will at last come to great strength and usefulness. The preaching of the gospel works like leaven in the hearts of those who receive it. The leaven works certainly, so does the word, yet gradually. It works silently, and without being seen, Mr 4:26-29, yet strongly; without noise, for so is the way of the Spirit, but without fail. Thus it was in the world. The apostles, by preaching the gospel, hid a handful of leaven in the great mass of mankind. It was made powerful by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, who works, and none can hinder. Thus it is in the heart. When the gospel comes into the soul, it works a thorough change; it spreads itself into all the powers and faculties of the soul, and alters the property even of the members of the body, Ro 6:13. From these parables we are taught to expect a gradual progress; therefore let us inquire, Are we growing in grace? and in holy principles and habits?

Story Time.
I’m going to tell you the story of God and a Nazi Solider.
It was 1945, World War II had drawn to a close, and a young man sat broken inside a POW camp. He had been a reluctant soldier in Hitler’s army and here, inside a prison in Scotland, he had months to contemplate what had been and what was to come. The cities of his homeland had been reduced to rubble and the people impoverished. His sleep was filled with repeating nightmares in which the terrors of warfare were lived over and over.
And then came what was for me the worst of all. In September 1945, in camp 22 in Scotland, we were confronted with pictures of Belsen and Auschwitz. They were pinned up in one of the huts, without comment… Slowly and inexorably the truth filtered into our awareness, and we saw ourselves mirrored in the eyes of the Nazi victims. Was this what we had fought for? Had my generation, as the last, been driven to our deaths so that the concentration camp murderers could go on killing, and Hitler could live a few months longer?… The depression over the wartime destruction and a captivity without any apparent end was exacerbated by feelings of profound shame and having to share in this disgrace. That was undoubtedly the hardest thing, a stranglehold that choked us.
An unshakeable shame saturated his being and the only future he could see stretching out before him was one that filled him with despair. Yet it was in the midst of this shame and despair that God found him. A visiting chaplain gave the soldier a Bible and, with little else to do, he began reading it. In the lament Psalms he heard resonant voices, the agony of people who felt God had abandoned them. In the story of Christ crucified he encountered a God who knew what it was to experience suffering, abandonment, and shame. Feeling utterly forsaken himself, the German soldier found a friend in the One who cried “my God my God why have you forsaken me”.
In 1947 he was given permission to attend a Christian conference that brought together young people from across the world. The Dutch participants asked to meet with the German POWs who had fought in the Netherlands. The young soldier was one of them. He went to the meeting full of fear, guilt and shame, feelings that intensified as the Dutch Christians spoke of the pain Hitler and his allies had inflicted, of the dread the Gestapo bred in their hearts, of the family and friends they had lost, of the disruption and damage to their communities. Yet the Dutch Christians didn’t speak out of a spirit of vindictiveness, but came to offer forgiveness. It was completely unexpected. These Dutch Christians embodied the love the German soldier had read about in the story of Christ and it turned his life upside down. He discovered despite all that had passed “God looked on us with ‘the shining eyes’ of his eternal joy”, that there was hope for the future.
That German soldier was Juergen Moltmann, who would go on to become one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century. Years later, with the message of the loving, crucified God still indelibly printed on his heart, he penned these beautiful words.
But the ultimate reason for our hope is not to be found at all in what we want, wish for and wait for; the ultimate reason is that we are wanted and wished for and waited for. What is it that awaits us? Does anything await us at all, or are we alone? Whenever we base our hope on trust in the divine mystery, we feel deep down in our hearts: there is someone who is waiting for you, who is hoping for you, who believes in you. We are waited for as the prodigal son in the parable is waited for by his father. We are accepted and received, as a mother takes her children into her arms and comforts them. God is our last hope because we are God’s first love.

Source: Moltmann’s writings. Quotes from The Source of Life.The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life. Fortress Press 1977

This goes to show brothers and sisters that God’s Grace is plentiful for all those that seek Him, love Him and Honor His Commandments. He sent His only Son to be nailed to a tree for us. Now is the time to wake up and live our lives as He asks us to.

Offertory Hymn:

Recessional Hymn:

Remember Thou Art…

ash-wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we begin our 40-day journey of Lent, so with a heart of penance we pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission, and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou return to the ground: for out of it wast thou taken. For dust thou art; and unto dust shalt thou return. Gen 3:19

O my all-merciful God and Lord,
Jesus Christ, full of pity:
Through Your great love You came down
and became incarnate in order to save everyone.
O Savior, I ask You to save me by Your grace!
If You save anyone because of their works,
that would not be grace but only reward of duty,
but You are compassionate and full of mercy!
You said, O my Christ,
“Whoever believes in Me shall live and never die.”
If then, faith in You saves the lost, then save me,
O my God and Creator, for I believe.
Let faith and not my unworthy works be counted to me, O my God,
for You will find no works which could account me righteous.
O Lord, from now on let me love You as intensely as I have loved sin,
and work for You as hard as I once worked for the evil one.
I promise that I will work to do Your will,
my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all the days of my life and forever more.
Prayer of St. John Chrysostom

A reading from the Book of Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near-2:2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. 2:12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 2:13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 2:14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God? 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 2:16 gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. 2:17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'”
Here Endeth the Reading

A reading from the book of Isaiah 58: 1-12
1 CRY, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their wicked doings, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For they seek me from day to day, sad desire to know my ways, as a nation that hath done justice, and hath not forsaken the judgment of their God: they ask of me the judgments of justice: they are willing to approach to God. 3 Why have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded: have we humbled our souls, and thou hast not taken notice? Behold in the day of your fast your own will is found, and you exact of all your debtors. 4 Behold you fast for debates and strife. and strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as you have done until this day, to make your cry to be heard on high.
5 Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? is this it, to wind his head about like a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? wilt thou call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. 7 Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. 8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, end the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not. 10 When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 And the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail 12 And the places that have been desolate for ages shall be built in thee: thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation and generation: and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest.
Here Endeth the Reading.

  A reading from the Epistle of 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

5:20b We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 6:1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 6:2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 6:3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 6:4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 6:5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6:6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 6:7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 6:8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 6:9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 6:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
The Word of the Lord.

I call all Sinners Poor and Needy to hear the Gospel. To repent of your sins and be penitent of heart!

 

 

 

A Reading from the most Holy Gospel According to: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 6:2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 6:18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;

6:20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Gospel of the Lord.

What happened to the Alleluia you may be asking…Guess why you are here today…Today is Dies Cinerum… in other words Lent is upon us and we are gathered to prepare ourselves to die with Christ so that we too may live with Him in Glory.

What is Ash Wednesday? On Ash Wednesday, ashes are blessed, mixed with either holy oil or water, and placed upon the head with the sign of the cross, or sprinkled on the forehead. The ashes are made from burning palm branches blessed the previous year on Palm Sunday. When the priest imposes the ashes he says either “remember man you are dust, and to dust you will return” (see Genesis 3:19), or “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

The ashes serve a dual purpose. First, as the above words imply, we are reminded of our mortality and humanity as we begin the Lenten Fast. Second, the ashes are a Biblical symbol of repentance, sorrow, and humility. There are many cases in the Scriptures of wearing ashes as a sign of penitence, often while wearing sackcloth. In 2 Samuel 13:19, Tamar puts on ashes and tears her clothes as a sign of sadness and repentance. In Esther 4:1-3, after learning of the king’s decree to kill all Jews, Mordecai tears his garments, and puts on sackcloth and ashes. His fellow Jews do the same thing, as well as beginning to fast. The prophet Jeremiah (6:26) urges his readers to “gird on sackcloth and roll in ashes.”

“Ash Wednesday is not a holiday in the Eastern Church, and developed only in the West. Orthodox Churches begin Lent on a Monday, known as “Clean Monday.” Ash Wednesday as an official fast day dates to at least the 8th century, since it appears in the Gregorian Sacramentary from that period. Originally, Lent began on a Sunday. However, in order to bring the number of days of Lent to 40 (the days Jesus fasted in the wilderness), the beginning of Lent was eventually transferred to a Wednesday.

Originally, Ash Wednesday was the day when public penitents in Rome began their penance. Recall that in the early Church, penance was often public and protracted. It was only later that private confession and penance began, for pastoral reasons. When public penance gradually fell into disuse by the 8th century, Ash Wednesday became a day of penitence and fasting for all members of the Church. Today, Ash Wednesday is a universal Fast day and Holy day of Obligation.

What is Lent? Lent is a period of fasting leading up to Easter. The season is rooted in the 40-day fast of Jesus in the wilderness. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and ends right before the evening Masses of Holy Thursday, although Lenten penance continues through Holy Saturday.

In basic terms, Lent is the season before Easter, in the Western Church, lasting liturgically from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of Holy Thursday exclusive The evening of Holy Thursday begins the The Easter Triduum, which lasts from Holy Thursday to the Evening Prayer of Easter Day. However, Lenten fasting and penance continue until the end of Holy Week, and all of Holy Week is included in the traditional 40 day Lenten fast, despite Lent ending liturgically on Holy Thursday.

The purpose of Lent is to be a season of fasting, self-denial, spiritual growth, conversion, and simplicity. Lent, which comes from the Teutonic (Germanic) word for springtime, can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things which hinder our relationship with Jesus Christ and our service to him.

Thus it is fitting that the season of Lent begin with a symbol of repentance: placing ashes mixed with oil on one’s head or forehead. However, we must remember that our Lenten disciplines are supposed to ultimately transform our entire person: body, soul, and spirit, and help us become more like Christ. Eastern Christians call this process theosis, which St. Athanasius describes as “becoming by grace what God is by nature.”

There are a few basic tasks that traditionally have been associated with Lent. Many of these have a long history. These are fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. In addition, reading the Scriptures and the Church’s Writings can help one grow during the season. 

So that is a crash course on our Lenten Journey. I ask each of you to remember this not only during Lent should we be self-sacrificing it should be a yearlong endeavor. Practice random acts of kindness and show sacrificial love to all you meet. Come all ye an hear the Truth. Participate in the Stations of the Cross, come to confession, pray the Holy Rosary, and make time to reflect on your journey with Christ.

The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our Maker and Redeemer.

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Bless these ashes, and grant that they may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return! All God’s Church Say: Amen!

The First Stone

Leviticus 20:7,10 (New Living Translation): So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the Lord your God. “If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death.”

Revelations 22:14-15,17(New Living Translation): Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

Alleluia:

Holy Gospel of John 8:1-11(New Living Translation): Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Who Can Cast the First Stone?
Rt. Rev. Edward L. Tatro, Jr.

The question of the day is…Who can cast the stone? You may be thinking I’m going to preach on adultery today…Lord knows I should with adultery running rampant in our society today…but think again. The great philosopher and theologian Aristotle said: “Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.”

My brothers and sisters, today more than ever we need to heed the words and teachings of Jesus. We are in a time in this world where people exercise the gift God has given us…that gift being the gift of free will.

It greatly saddens me to see people who profess to be a follower of Jesus in one breath and yet in the next will condemn someone for their sin. This is not the attitude or behavior of a follower of Christ. Jesus said to the crowd: “He without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”

Who in this parish, this city, this country and even in this world, can cast the first stone? My friends, surely not I, for I am a sinner; a sinner redeemed by Christ, but a sinner all the same. I can see the questions forming on your brows; some of you may be thinking “Well what do we do Father?” I tell you this: we need to forgive, understand, be open minded; we need to love each other (and I mean every soul on this Earth, and not just those who sit in these pews), we need to pray and give hope to all. We need to honor the Commandments of our Blessed Savior. For like that crowd we are or should be convicted by our own consciences. For we cannot cast the stone, that alone belongs to our Judge, our Heavenly Father.

Yes we must teach the error of the sin, bring the sick to the hospital which is the Church, for the great physician who is Christ to heal them with the Truth of the Holy Gospel.

The French philosopher Voltaire said: Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men. Jesus spilt His Blood on that Cross for the remissions of our sins; He did not stretch forth His arms to make hypocrites! This is a wakeup call my brethren!

Voltaire also said: “What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.” Some more food for thought, President Woodrow Wilson, who was also a minister of the Gospel, said: “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” Jesus said: This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13 NLT). We must love each other and I mean all of us in this world as He loves us! How do we start…simple be a friend. We must be willing to give sacrificial love to all! We must understand that people will exercise God’s great gift of Free Will and we must leave it to God to call them on their actions!

For who can cast the stone but Jesus and the Father? I say to you the same words Jesus said to the woman: “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” My family I also add the last words of the Rite of the Confessional: pray for me for I am also a sinner.

I close today’s teaching with the words of Mark Twain: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. “ Amen+

Epiphany Sunday

V. Glorious dost thou appear in the sight of the Lord.
R. Therefore the Lord hath clothed thee with honor.

V. Let us pray.
O God the Son, highest and holiest, who didst humble thyself to share our birth and our death: Bring us with the shepherds and wise men to kneel before thy lowly cradle, that we may come to sing with thine angels thy glorious praises in heaven; where thou livest and reignest, world without end.
R. Amen.

V. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall give presents.
R. The kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.

V: Let us pray.
Almighty God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word: Grant that the same light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
R. Amen.

Collect: O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know thee now by faith, to thy presence, where we may behold thy glory face to face; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. R. Amen.

Isiah 60:1-6 New Living Translation:
1“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.
2Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.
3All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
4“Look and see, for everyone is coming home!
Your sons are coming from distant lands;
your little daughters will be carried home.
5Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,
for merchants from around the world will come to you.
They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
6Vast caravans of camels will converge on you,
the camels of Midian and Ephah.
The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense
and will come worshiping the LORD

V. The Word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

Ephesians 3:1-12 Douay-Rheims Translation:
1For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles; 2If yet you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you: 3How that, according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me, as I have written above in a few words; 4As you reading, may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,5Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit: 6That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of his promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel: 7Of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given to me according to the operation of his power: 8To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9And to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things: 10That the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church, 11According to the eternal purpose, which he made, in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
V. Here Endeth The Lesson
R. Thanks be to God.

V. Cleanse my heart and my lips, O thou Almighty God, as thou didst purge the lips of Isaiah the Prophet with a live coal; and of thy sweet mercy vouchsafe so to purify me, that I may worthily proclaim thy holy Gospel; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Alleluia:

V. The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew 2:1-12 King James Translation:
R. Glory be to thee, O Lord.

1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise be to thee, O Christ.

Come and Do Homage Unto Him who is Christ the King!
Rt. Rev. Edward L. Tatro, Jr.

The story of the Magi traveling from the East to see the Christ child appears only in the Gospel According to St. Matthew. The word Magi, in Greek magoi, comes from the Latin word meaning “sage.” These particular sages were possibly Zoroastrian astrologers from Persia. Upon seeing a star rising in the East (the Star of Bethlehem), they realized it was a sign that the king of the Jews had been born. According to St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. AD 107), the star shone with an inexpressible brilliance, and the sun, moon, and other stars all formed a chorus around the special star. The wise men followed the star to Bethlehem of Judea, and to Jesus’ dwelling there. Having arrived, they worshipped the infant Jesus, and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

There have been numerous traditions that have grown up about the Wise Men. Typically we think of there being three wise men because of the number of gifts, but Matthew doesn’t tell us the exact number. Since the 3rd century, Christian writers have referred to them as kings, even though Matthew doesn’t specifically tell us that they were royalty. Their names in the West, Gaspar (or Caspar), Melchior, and Balthasar date to the 6th century. The names mean: Master-of-Treasure, King, and Protect-the-King, respectively. The Syrian Church has given them the following Persian names: Larvandad, Hormisdas, and Gushnasaph.

St. Bede the Venerable fills in a few gaps, providing colorful details about the Magi:
The first was called Melchior. He was an old man, with white hair and a long beard; he offered gold to the Lord as to his King. The second, Gaspar by name, young, beardless, of ruddy hue, offered to Jesus his gift of incense, the homage due to Divinity. The third, of black complexion, with heavy beard, was middle-aged and called Balthasar. The myrrh he held in his hand prefigured the death of the son of Man.

Various customs have developed around Epiphany. In the East, there is a solemn blessing of water. In the West, in the Middle Ages, houses were blessed on Epiphany. Holy water was sprinkled in each room. The whole family was involved. The father led the procession with a shovel of charcoal on which he burned incense and the oldest son had the bowl of holy water. The rest of the family followed along saying the rosary and/or singing hymns. While the father and oldest son were incensing and blessing the house, the youngest child carried a plate of chalk. The chalk had been blessed with a special blessing after morning Mass. The father took the blessed chalk and wrote over every room that led outside: 20 + C + M + B + 17 which stands for “Anno Domini 2017 — Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar” and means “The three Holy Kings, Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar, in the year of Our Lord, 2017” or whatever the year may be. The letters C, M, and B are also thought to stand for Christus mansionem benedicat, meaning “Christ bless this home.” This tradition of blessing the doorways symbolizes the family’s commitment to welcome Christ into their homes on a daily basis through the year.

I ask you what gift do you bring for the King of Kings? How do you pay Him homage? How will you continue to pay Him homage throughout this year?

May Almighty God, who led the Wise Men by the shining of a star to find the Christ, the Light from Light, lead you also, in your pilgrimage, to find the Lord. Amen.

May God, who sent the Holy Spirit to rest upon the Only-begotten at his baptism in the Jordan River, pour out that Spirit upon you who have come to the waters of new birth. Amen.

May God, by the power that turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, transform your lives and make glad your hearts. Amen.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you, and remain with you forever. Amen.

Advent 1

First Sunday of Advent.
Rt. Rev. Edward L. Tatro, Jr.

Prepare Ye The Way of The Lord!
Veni, Veni Emmanuel!

A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Mark 1: 3

Our faith is steep in traditions. We come to the point in our liturgical season to prepare to celebrate the most Holy Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Holy Season of Advent. For centuries Christians used this holy season to prepare themselves spiritually for Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus and means “coming” or “arrival.”

Although people think of advent as a season of joyous celebration, it is actually a season of preparation, it is a mini-Lent, a time for prayer, confession, and self-reflection. If you pay attention to our liturgical colors, you will see that at times I wear either Black or Serum Blue vestments. The reason behind this is to recall that we are in a penitentiary season, to remind us that we need to prepare ourselves to welcome the new born King and make straight his paths!

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:14

Make His home literally means tabernacle. The analogy is that of the Tabernacle in the wilderness when God pitched His tent among the Hebrews and manifested His glory there so Jesus identified Himself with humanity by becoming human! Why did God go so far? A chief reason is this: He wants us to know that He understands us, He gets us. Through a scandalous pregnancy, an untimely trip and an overcrowded inn, God triumphed in the Virgin Mary’s Story. God look on your face in the hope that you would see His!

I want you to take a moment and think of one or two traditions that you and your family use to help you in your Advent journey. Are you preparing your hearts and your minds to kneel at the manager come Christmas Morning or are you to wrapped up in the secular aspect of this Holy Season? I utter the words of John the Baptist again: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

Advent is a season of preparation because it is also a season of anticipation—a glorious gift is coming soon and we want to be ready to receive it! Because God became human, we can see and know God in the person of Jesus. We can also rely on the fact that God knows us. He understands how we feel because He has faced what we face, including weakness, testing and suffering. Author and theologian C.S. Lewis elaborates on the vital importance of this truth: “God could, had he pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape him. Of his great humility he chose to be incarnate in the man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane…. He has faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin. If He had been incarnate in a man of immense natural courage, that would have been for many of us almost the same as his not being incarnate at all!”

What Sacrifice do you make this Advent Season? Name it and own it! The Confessional will be open every day for the Sacrament of Absolution, and Adoration times will be posted.

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord! O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Abortion…

Truth

If you are woman enough to spread your legs and not use protection you are woman enough to carry a child and raise it. Same goes to men, not ready for kids, slap a condom on. Or for both just abstain (ultimately sex should be reserved for a committed marriage)! Abortion is murder and is not birth control!!!

“‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬. http://bible.com/113/jer.1.5.nivuk

“Keep away from fraud, and do not cause the death of the innocent and righteous; for I will not justify the wicked.”
‭‭Sh’mot (Exo)‬ ‭23:7‬ ‭CJB‬‬http://bible.com/1275/exo.23.7.cjb