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Daily Reflection: July 18, 2019
My Dear Friends in Christ:
Today’s gospel is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. In it, Jesus offers hope to the hopeless and rest to those who labor and are burdened, if they are willing to accept His easy yoke and light burden.  A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox or oxen. It is attached to a piece of equipment the oxen are to pull in order to till the ground for cultivation.  The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. The yoke of Jesus is light because it is given with love. It is simply the commandment to love others as Jesus Himself did. This yoke of Christ is not just a yoke from Christ but a yoke with Him. So we are not yoked alone to pull the plow by our own unaided power. We are yoked together with Christ to work with Him using His strength. By saying that His yoke is easy, Jesus is saying that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and abilities exactly. Jesus also makes a claim about His burden: “my burden is light.” This does not mean that His burden is light and so easy to carry. It rather means that the burden is laid on us in love. And because this burden in laid on us in love, it is meant to be carried in love, and love makes even the heaviest burden light. Mother Teresa once said, do everything good but do it with great (amazing) love. There is an old story which tells how a man came upon a little boy carrying a lame and paralyzed smaller boy on his back. That’s a heavy burden for you to carry, said the man to the little boy. That’s not a burden, replied the little boy, he is my wee brother. He is my brother and I love him. And because he is my brother and I love him, I can carry him for all I care and he isn’t going to be heavy on me. A burden that is given in love and carried in love is always light and easy. 

Dear friends, as we face God this day, we are obviously burdened with so many things: business concerns, jobs, marriage, family, money, finances, health, sickness, children, security, old age, and a thousand and one other things. Jesus is asking us to give Him ALL our burdens and worries because He is interested in lifting off our back all the burdens that drain and suck life out of us. He wants to replenish our lives and grant us new life, new energy, new zeal, new strength and new joy. When our lives are centered in God, when we follow God’s commandments, we have no heavy burdens on our shoulders. This is especially true when we unload the burdens of our sins and worries and evil addictions on the altar and offer them to God during the sacrifice of the Holy Mass.  

May you have a grace filled and magnificent day! 
God loves you and so do I
 
 
Daily Reflection: July 20, 2019
My Dear Friends in Christ:
In today’s gospel passage, we read how the Pharisees withdrew from following Jesus and started plotting how to destroy Him by putting Him to death. The Pharisees were angry because Jesus had overruled their authority and had exposed their evil attitudes and behavior in front of the whole people who gathered in the Synagogue to pray. Jesus showed that the Pharisees were hypocrites who were more concerned with loyalty to their religious system and rituals than to God. As a result of this grievance and anger in the hearts of the Pharisees, Jesus decided to withdraw from the area. He however healed so many people of their sickness and infirmity and warned them not to reveal His identity to anyone. Jesus knew for certain that His time was not yet up, so, He forbade those who were following Him from giving Him unwanted recognition. Because, if the idea got around that someone with marvelous powers had emerged, obviously, a political rebellion will arise and lives will be needlessly lost. The long-awaited Messiah did not come to crush the powers and authorities that have already been put in place, but only to serve. His Messiah ship is not the type that rule from thrones but from a cross. Jesus did not want His miracles and healing publicized to avoid people coming to Him for the wrong reasons. That impression would hinder His teaching ministry and bring about false hopes about an earthly kingdom. But the more He warned them, the more the news of His miracles and teaching continued to spread everywhere drawing people to come and see for themselves. The people expected that the Messiah will be a king who will destroy kingdoms and set up Israel as the headquarters of the world. Today’s gospel acknowledged Him as a King but illustrated what kind of King He is—a quiet, humble, loving, kind, and gentle ruler who brings justice and peace to the nations. 

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, may we be reminded once again, that Jesus Christ is indeed our King, sent by God to redeem us from slavery to sin and from shackles of death. He is the only one that can show us who the Father is and how best to reach Him in eternal life. In His teaching and preaching, He has shown us how to love God and how to manifest our love for God to our neighbors. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But His kingdom is not of this world—His Kingdom where He reigns supreme and eternally is in heaven even though He reigns in the hearts of those who believe in Him. Let us humbly invite Him into our hearts, our lives and our homes. Invite Him as the unseen guest in your home. He is our Lord, our God, our Messiah, our Savior, our Redeemer, our King, and our Shepherd—above all, He is our Brother and our Friend. Call on Him today in your need because with Him, nothing is impossible. 
 
God loves you and so do I.
 
 
Daily Reflection: July 22nd
My Dear Friends in Christ:
Today is the memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene. She was from Magdala, a small fishing town on the Sea of Galilee, between Capernaum and Tiberias. She was known to be a “great sinner,” a woman of the streets who heard Jesus speak of the mercy and forgiveness of God and changed her life completely. She was the first recorded witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, His most ardent and loving follower. She stood with Mary at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday and had been by the side of Mary during these difficult hours. Her matter-of-fact witness to the Resurrection moved Peter and John to go and see the tomb for themselves. Jesus had chosen her to bring the news to them and she simply told them what had happened. The message of Mary to the apostles, “I have seen the Lord,” became the basis and essence of later preaching and perfect evidence for Christians who later believed and preached about the risen Savior. She has always been the example of great love and great forgiveness, one of those close to Jesus who grasped the truth of God’s love for human beings and spent her life bearing witness to that love. 

In today’s gospel passage, we read how the risen Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene. When Mary saw Jesus, she did not recognize Him at first. Her grief blinded her that she couldn’t see him because she didn’t expect to see Him. Then Jesus spoke to her and called her by name and immediately she recognized Him. She was overcome by so much joy when she heard her Savior calling her by name. Jesus conquered death and Satan because death had no power over Him. The resurrection of Jesus is the key and indeed the center of our Christian faith. Because He rose from the dead as He prophesied, we ourselves can as well be confident that He will definitely accomplish all He has promised. The resurrection of Jesus is the complete evidence to us that the risen Savior and not a fake prophet or an impostor is the ruler of the eternal Kingdom of God. Since He has risen as He said, we too can be certain of our own resurrection—death is not the end. There is hope of future life in Christ. The same divine power that brought Jesus back to life is equally available to us and will definitely bring our spiritually weak bodies and selves back to life. 

Dear Friends, as we face God this day, may we always remember that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the center and basis of the Church’s witness to Christ in the world. Mary Magdalene whose memorial we celebrate today is a perfect example of what Christian discipleship means and entails. Because she was forgiven so much, she loved so much and did so much to merit the wonderful opportunity of being the first disciple to see the risen Lord. She became the first to see, the first to announce and the first to witness to the truth and the miracle of the resurrection. Her life is a perfect example of what we often hear today: “Every saint had a past and every sinner has a future.” Reason why we should not be condemning others even if we think they are the worst sinners because the grace of God is always at work in the universe. Even when the apostles ran away and deserted their Master, she stood by His side at Calvary; she woke up very early on the first day of the week and courageously went to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ. May we be courageous enough to be preachers and witnesses of the risen Lord in our world today and may we love Him so dearly in loving our neighbors even to the point of laying down our lives for them. 
 
God loves you and so do I