Monday, December 28, 2015

A Christmas Reflection

A Christmas Reflection
December 25, 2015
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
   for he has come to his people and set them free"  Luke 1:68

These words begin the Canticle of Zechariah, which is said as part of the Liturgy of the Hours Morning Prayer every day and which is part of the opening words of today's Gospel for the Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord.  In these words we are reminded of God's love for us, that while we continually enslave ourselves to sin, God is always there to free us.

Advent is over; let the celebration begin! But, just as after the birth of a child there is a need for rest and quietness, so should it be in our lives as we enter into the Christmas season.  It is a period of joy, but it should also be one of awe.  God has come to us - not as a powerful commander but as a helpless infant, a spark of life, incarnate.  For those of you who have had a child or who were present when a sibling was born, you know of the hushed fascination, the sense of love, that you had when you gazed upon that child.  So should it be now as you contemplate the birth of Jesus.

Until we meet again, I ask that you pause each morning and recite the two lines above. Then, spend a moment in quiet contemplation of the God-child Jesus, and how, every day of your life, He comes to you, ready to free you from the burdens and cares which you may face during that day. Make room for the silence.  Make room for God.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Encountering Jesus

Encountering Jesus
December 20, 2015    Fourth Sunday of Advent - C
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the land,
   People were worried, wringing their hands.
What should I buy, what should I get?
   Will my expectations of Christmas be met?
Mom in her apron, in a very foul mood,
   Worried about cooking, would there be enough food?
Dad, too, was cranky, showing ill-will,
   Worried about paying those after-Christmas bills.
And the children were impatient – the girls and the boys,
   As they thought only of presents: the gifts, the toys.
But then, what to my blood-shot eyes should appear,
   But an angel of God, with good tidings to share.
“A child will be born in just a few days,
   That, if you will let him, can change all your ways.”
“The gifts He will bring are joy, mercy and love,
   Sent by the King of Kings from above.”

What kind of gifts do you want for Christmas this year? Are you hoping for a Big Gift?  An Expensive Gift?  Maybe LOTS of Gifts?

Or are you the gift-giver?  Well, there’s less than a week to go – I hope you got your shopping done. 

In today’s first reading and in Luke’s Gospel, we see that God’s gifts come from sources that would be considered insignificant by human standards: 
•  Bethlehem - The smallest of the clans of Judah
•  Elizabeth - An old woman beyond child-bearing age, and
•  Mary - A young girl, not much more than a child, married to a carpenter

And yet, none are as unimportant as they may seem.
•  Bethlehem - Who will be the source of a great ruler.
•  Elizabeth - Who will have a son that will be a great prophet.
•  Mary - Who will be the mother of the Son of God.

But more than gifts, today’s Gospel is about an ENCOUNTER.  An encounter With JESUS.  Through MARY.

Let’s look at the Gospels from last week that lead up to today.  We began the week with various passages focusing on the encounters between the Jewish leadership and John the Baptist, as seen through the eyes of Jesus.  Then we began to shift focus, to Joseph’s and Zechariah’s encounters with the angel Gabriel.  And today we witness the FIRST person to encounter Jesus – Elizabeth.

Elizabeth knew her child was special in God’s plans, and yet at first she hid herself, going into seclusion – Why?  To avoid questions about a “baby bump” appearing?  After all, she was well past child-bearing age.  And with Zechariah now a mute – he couldn’t help explain what was happening. 

Or maybe it was because at her age she might have needed the time to adjust to her unexpected situation?  She was only secluded for 5 months so maybe she didn’t want to build false hopes.  After all, they didn’t have the tests to confirm early pregnancy like we do today.  Maybe she just wanted to make sure everything went according to a normal birth.  Interestingly, it’s at about 5 months  that the baby begins to move.  Or maybe she just didn’t want to see anyone while she suffered from morning sickness.

In any case, by the time Mary encounters the angel Gabriel and receives the Good News that she will bear a child, Elizabeth has just returned home.  Mary will spend the remainder of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with her.  Interestingly, it doesn’t say that Mary was there at the time of John’s birth, although the timing given would suggest that she was there right up to that point.

So today, we see an important encounter between four people:  Elizabeth; her soon-to-be-born son, John; the Virgin (yet pregnant) Mary; and her newly-conceived son, Jesus.  And what an encounter!

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit by the mere presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb.  She breaks out into spontaneous prayer and knows immediately that Mary is carrying the Messiah, her Lord.

John responds to the presence of Jesus, “leaping for joy” in Elizabeth’s womb.

Yet, it has been only a couple of weeks at the most since Mary conceived Jesus.  He’s barely there, physically.

For those who don’t believe that life begins at conception, or that it has to “develop” enough to be “viable”, they should read this Gospel passage.  The preciousness and the power of God’s gift of any life begins the instant that God sends that gift to Earth.  The gift of life IS an encounter with God – from the very moment of conception.

And an encounter with God – with Jesus – is what Christmas is all about.  Elizabeth accepts the gift of a new life – a son – who will prepare the world for an encounter with God.  Mary accepts the gift of Jesus, an encounter with God Himself, who will open the doors of mercy and restore our ability to encounter God for all eternity.  Mary brings Jesus to Elizabeth and John in an encounter which rocks them with enlightenment and joy.

There’s a lesson here for us today.  Like Mary, we are called to bring Jesus to others.  But first we must encounter Jesus.  And like Elizabeth and John, we can encounter Jesus through His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Through her example and intercession, she shows us the way and helps us when we fail. 

If we do – if we help others to encounter Jesus through our words and actions – then they too will be filled with the Holy Spirit and leap for joy.

Today’s Gospel ends with Elizabeth proclaiming: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  Jesus told us that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, He is there with them.  Jesus is here, with us, now, waiting for us to encounter Him.  This Christmas, let us believe what He has said to us.  Let us seek to encounter Him. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us accept the gift of mercy He offers us, and also share that gift with others – a gift more precious than anything wrapped and placed under a tree.

Will you encounter Jesus at Christmas?  Will you bring Jesus to others?  I hope so.

And so let us exclaim, as we prepare for this week,
   Merry Christmas to all; Christ comes, whom we seek
– and who seeks us.


Rejoicing in the Big Picture

Rejoicing in the Big Picture
Homily for December 13, 2015    Third Sunday of Advent - C
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

One of the top-selling items, if not THE top selling items during Black Friday sales, were large-screen flat-screen TVs.  They’ve been top-selling items year after year, and the sets just keep getting bigger and bigger.

And yet, just because they have a bigger picture, it doesn’t mean that we can SEE the bigger picture on them.  Images may seem bigger than life, but the messages they convey are often narrow and misleading, even destructive to our very soul.

What did all four prophets in today’s readings – Zephaniah, Isaiah, Paul and John the Baptist have in common?  They all saw the bigger picture.  And their message?

REJOICE in the Lord Always!  I shall say it again: REJOICE! The LORD, our God, is in our midst even now; He has not abandoned us to our troubles and tribulations but extends His Love and Mercy with the promise of better things to come.

Today we celebrate Gau-de-tay’ Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent.  Gaudete means Rejoice!, and so we should, as we have passed the half-way mark of our journey toward Christmas.  We pause in our Advent preparations to remind ourselves of the promise of joy that is to come. We light the rose-colored candle in our Advent wreath, and we don festive rose-colored vestments.  (Yes, these are ROSE, not pink. Like in that old 80’s movie, girls may be “Pretty in Pink”, but not clergy.  Besides, have you ever heard of “pink” wine?)
So, this may be a good time to ask ourselves – are we still excited about the coming of Christmas?  Are we joyful?  Or are we being worn down by the minutiae of our preparations and the false messages of despair that seem to come to us from every direction?

If we are not careful, we can lose the joy of what we should be anticipating.  After all, we are surrounded by evil in the news – so why should we rejoice?  We know of friends and family members who have died and we miss those who cannot share the holidays with us – so why should we rejoice?  We cannot afford to celebrate the holidays in a matter that is being emphasized in the commercials we see and hear – so why should we rejoice?  We have so many things that are pressing in upon us – challenges to our health, our families, our well-being – so why rejoice?

Because God IS with us.

In our first reading, the prophet Zephaniah encourages Israel to sing for joy and to rejoice in anticipation of God’s mercy.  Written around 650 to 600 BC, Zephaniah had previously prophesized that Israel, by rejecting God, were going to suffer the Assyrian invasion, but that God remained with them and would restore their kingdom.  God loved them, He would show them His mercy.

St. Paul is even more insistent.  REJOICE ALWAYS!  And yet scholars are pretty certain that Paul himself was in prison when he wrote this, either in Rome, or possibly in Caesarea or another city of his travels.  In any case, Paul tells the Philippians that he was fairly certain that his execution was close at hand, yet he was at peace with the Peace of Jesus Christ, which surpasses all understanding, and that through Jesus he had no anxiety over the problems that he faced.

And then in the Gospel, we listen to John the Baptist tell us about how we should prepare for the presence of Christ in their lives – to continue to live our lives and to carry out our jobs in honesty and integrity, with a charitable heart.  And despite his exhortations about what NOT to do, John continued to preach the “good news” to the people that Christ is coming – God is with them.

Last Tuesday, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis opened the Door of Mercy at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, beginning a Jubilee of Mercy, a year for us to encounter and share in the Divine Mercy of God.  THIS is something worth rejoicing.  God’s Mercy has always been there for us; God’s Mercy will always be there for us.  God’s Mercy is infinite.

The people that Zephaniah spoke to couldn’t see what the future held for them. In the responsorial for today the prophet Isaiah spoke to a people in exile.  The Jews that John the Baptist preached to were oppressed by the Romans, and St. Paul was headed to his death.  But all preached an attitude of joy in the LORD, and all looked to the big picture of God’s infinite mercy.  The evils of this world WILL pass away.  The troubles we face today we do not face alone.  Emmanuel, God with Us, is here, offering us love, mercy and peace.  During this Year of Mercy, may we accept that God loves us, cries with us, laughs with us, rejoices with us.

I shall say it again.  Rejoice!  Christ is near – let us go out and welcome him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Thousand Blessings (StVdP)

A Thousand Blessings
Reflection for St. Vincent de Paul Meeting, November 16, 2015
Dcn. Bob Bonomi

The Gospel for last Wednesday was Luke’s story of Jesus healing the ten lepers, and how only one came back to him giving thanks to God.  The reflection in the Magnificat that day, written by Ann Voskamp, included a challenge:  count a thousand gifts – a thousand graces – that you had received from God.  With Thanksgiving coming next week it got me to thinking – could I name 1000 things – a thousand blessings – which I had received from God?

A thousand of anything to me is a lot.  The first 100 or so, though, I thought would be easy: family, health, job, a roof over my head ….  Then I thought of all of the material things that I had: a car, my TVs, my computers, my hobby equipment – I’m still a long way from counting to one hundred.  If I count each family member individually – that helps. And I do own more than one car, even if one isn’t running and so isn’t MUCH of a blessing…

Try this: go around the room and each of you name something that you have that is a blessing to you, without repeating anything anyone else has said.  For example, if the first person says “family”, then no one else can say “family”.  I figure that with about twenty people there the last ones to answer may begin to find it challenging to come up with something not previously mentioned.

You get the idea.  It’s hard to count even to a hundred, let alone a thousand, if I limit myself to just the material things I own.

And yet, if I expand my boundaries beyond just the physical possessions that I have and look at the true gifts that I have received from God, then the counting gets easier: the dozens of beautiful sunrises and sunsets that I’ve seen during the last year; the many friendships and coworkers that I see every day; the encounters that I have had with people that I didn’t even know but who were blessings to me; even the miracles of life that I see in the trees and the flowers around me.  Then there is also freedom I have to worship God and the precious gift of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, and the moments of peace I experience from His Presence in my life, especially during times of prayer.  The thought of a thousand, while still a challenge, doesn’t seem so daunting.

So I’m issuing you a challenge tonight.  You have 10 days to go before Thanksgiving. See if you can list 1000 gifts or graces that you have received from God before then. In your count, include the times you have been a gift or blessing to others, too.  And unlike the TVs or cars you own, count each encounter you have with another as unique and special.  If you do that, then come Thanksgiving, you will truly be able come before God like the Samaritan leper and give glory to Him.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Of Zombies and Apocalypses

Of Zombies and Apocalypses
Homily for November 15, 2015    33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - B
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

I remember one of the first times I was in downtown Dallas I heard a street preacher shouting out how the “end of the world was near” and to repent.  Looking back, I’ve come to realize that the “repenting” part was pretty good advice, but the part about the end of the world – eh, maybe not so good.  Maybe.

Based on what we see in our movies, it does appear that we have a fascination with the end of the world, and we have created all sorts of apocalyptic visions of it – world destruction by earthquakes, floods or asteroids; nuclear destruction; epidemic or pandemic disease outbreaks; or my favorite – zombie invasions – well, you get the picture.  It’s no wonder that we are one of the most neurotic generations to have ever come along. Almost all of the scenarios are the result of our own actions or inactions and few, with the exception of the “Left Behind” series, even mention God.

And the reality of the horrendous events unfolding in our world today doesn’t give us much confidence, does it?  It seems like a pretty hopeless world, bent on its own destruction.  Is the world the worst it has ever been?  Is it the End Times?   Probably not.

Did you know that, starting about the time of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, there has been dozens of different predictions of the impending end of the world. We average a new prediction on the average of every ten to fifteen years.  One list I saw listed almost 175 different predictions, based on things like the alignment of the planets, global conflicts, natural disasters, and plagues. They included predictions based on “secret” numbers in the Bible and prominent calendar dates.  The turn of a century is popular, especially if it is also the end of a millennium. Remember the Year 2000 doomsday scenarios? Same thing occurred at the end of the first millennium, although they couldn’t blame it on computers.  Almost all of these dire predictions throughout history have one thing in common, though, except for the very latest portents of doom.  All of those who predicted them are DEAD. They’ve all met their personal “end of the world”.

Jesus makes it clear.  "But of that day or hour, NO ONE knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  You cannot predict the Second Coming of Jesus.

So why do we place such an emphasis on these apocalyptic scriptures at this time of year?  We’re nearing the end of the liturgical calendar, and in two short weeks we will begin a new church year with Advent. The first Sunday of Advent we’ll hear the same theme again – this time from St. Luke. Why?

Because these passages and others like them throughout the Old and New Testaments remind us that we will not, nor should not, expect an idyllic world here.  There will be wars and famine and natural disasters and evils brought about through the action of men.  And we will face challenges to our health and well-being and to the health and welfare of those we know and love.  But, more importantly, they remind us to NOT GIVE UP HOPE in the face of what seems to be the end of the world.  God IS with us.

I am constantly reminded of that whenever a person close to me or to someone I know passes away.  Earlier this week a young mother and teacher that I knew passed away from a brain tumor.  It was discovered a little over 8 weeks ago when she started suffering from headaches that her normal medicine didn’t help.  Her funeral was yesterday.

Yet, even with her passing there were signs of God’s presence and love.  The community outpouring of love for the family was inspiring.  The tenderness of her co-workers towards her children and students to help them through their time of grief was amazing.  And God sent a visible sign - a rainbow of colors in the sky, God’s reminder of His covenant of love for us - at a moment when it was needed the most.

Let’s face it. Life can be tough.  But we do not have to wait until the end of the world to experience the “Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”  St. Stephen had the vision of Jesus coming for him as he was being martyred.  We hear stories of those who see visions of our Blessed Mother Mary or of guardian angels coming for them as they come to the end of their life.  And I’ve seen the smile on the face of those who are at peace when they meet Jesus.

God IS with us, here and now.  We share His peace with each other at Mass just before we share in His Body and Blood.  Let us take His peace, His Holy Presence, with us as we leave today and do not let the terrors of the night and of the world scare us.  Let us be prepared.  Let us have Faith and trust in the Love of Christ for us.  And when our end time comes for us, let us be ready to experience the Glory of God.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Paradox of the Beatitudes (StVdP)

The Paradox of the Beatitudes
Reflection for St. Vincent de Paul Meeting, Monday, November 2, 2015
By Dcn. Bob Bonomi

As we celebrate All Soul’s Day today, let us pause and ponder the paradox that is reflected in the Beatitudes as we look at our earthly goals here and now, and compare them to our goals for eternal life in the hereafter.

The Beatitudes from yesterdays’ Gospel sounds so – foreign – when we compare them to what we’re told by our commercialized society: “You cannot be happy if you do not own a new car.  You need a bigger house.   Your TV isn’t big enough, or your computer isn’t fast enough, or your smart phone isn’t smart enough …”.  The list goes on.  And yet, merely owning these or other earthly things cannot guarantee happiness either.  If they did, then why does it seem that so many people who “have it all” often end up dependent on drugs or other addictions, live extreme lifestyles, fight depression, or are even suicidal?

Therein lies the paradox:  the Beatitudes tell us that blessedness – and thereby happiness – comes from NOT having the “good things” of life, and that it is in the struggles that we share with others less fortunate than ourselves that we can discover the hidden happiness that comes from being a child of God and a member of the Body of Christ.

Which brings us to All Souls Day, where we pray for and honor those who lived less than perfect or saintly lives but believed in their faith and who now await those heavenly rewards promised by the Beatitudes.  (Unlike those we recognized on All Saints Day as those living lives of heroic virtue.)  They may not have experienced the earthly treasures that our society says they needed to have in order to be happy, but they remained faithful in their trust in God and so are worthy in God’s eyes of the greater blessings to come. 

As Vincentians, you all are part of the Body of Christ that serves those who are the “Blessed” in the eyes of God.   It is through your efforts on the behalf of your clients here on earth that YOU a share in those heavenly rewards.  But as important as your work here is, we should not forget that no less important are your prayers for those who have gone on to God before us and have no need of material aid, but who continue to need spiritual aid.  Your prayers continue to bring forth those bound for heaven and who are becoming “pure” by their time in Purgatory. 

So tonight, and this week, take time to pray not only for those you serve here on earth but also for all our “dearly departed”, and remember that as you do, you are indeed also praying for yourselves.  For we all part of the Communion of Saints, and so are one in Christ – Vincentians, your clients, and our loved ones both living now and those awaiting heaven.
May God continue to bless you in your ministry.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Overcoming the Darkness

Overcoming the Darkness
October 25, 2015    Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time - B
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

Once Upon a Time…
Let me begin with a story of a lovely lady that I’ll call, “ROSE”.  Rose was Catholic, and when I met Rose for the first time she was sitting in a wheelchair in the front row of a communion service at a local nursing home.  She seemed attentive to my preaching, I thought, although sometimes she would nod off.  (I’m sure it was because of her age and not a reflection on my preaching skills.  She was in her 90’s.)  At the sign of peace she would smile and say, “Thank you”, and she’d receive communion, and after the service she’d usually go to her room.

But one day, Rose wasn’t there.  Her husband had passed away a few weeks earlier, and I was told that she didn’t want to come to the service anymore.  So I went looking for her.  As I came up to her, she immediately said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to go to the service.  I don’t believe in God anymore.”  She went on to say that she had always been a good Catholic, even when she was young, but she grew up poor and she used to beg for bread for her siblings.  She said that she was sure that the Catholic Church did a lot of good with their money, but that no one helped HER family.  She said it was hard, but that they managed OK.  But now she didn’t believe in God anymore and she was sorry, but didn’t see any reason to believe anymore. 

She wasn’t angry or ranting, or anything like that.  She just patted my hand as I held hers and even smiled, and she kept apologizing and saying that it was OK for me to believe because I was young, but she didn’t see any reason for her to believe anymore.  She said that she was old, and although she knew she was in a nursing home, she didn’t know where she was and she didn’t want to be there; her husband had died and she was alone.  She’d cry a little bit when she’d say that her husband had died or that she didn’t believe anymore, but it was just a tiny sob, nothing more. She kept repeating over and over how she was sorry but life was hard and nobody could help her and she didn’t believe anymore.  Not angry, but calmly and with a sad smile or a small sob.

I tried to talk with her, to try and console her, but she looked at me, apologized again, and told me that she was deaf and couldn’t hear me.  I was totally helpless.  I knelt in front of her for a few more minutes before she smiled one last time and dismissed me.  I’d see her periodically after that but she wouldn’t come back to the service.

There are some striking similarities in Rose’s story to the one we hear in today’s Gospel about Bartimaeus.  Like Bartimaeus, Rose suffered the loss of a key sense – hearing.  Like Bartimaeus, Rose had been a beggar in her earlier days and now depends on the charity of others to care for her.  Bartimaeus needed help to see where to go; Rose needed help to move her wheelchair. Similar hardships; but here is where their stories diverge.  Rose thought she had lost her faith.  Bartimaeus did not.

Deafness.  Blindness.  We are so dependent upon our five senses, that the loss of any one of them can isolate us from others.  But especially the loss of sight or of hearing, for these two senses are the ones we use most for relating to another person.  The loss of either one places an invisible barrier around us – one that takes an effort to cross.

Bartimaeus made that effort.  It begins with him hearing the crowd passing by.  As a beggar, Bartimaeus knew that the more people nearby, the better the chance that someone would give him something, so he began to call out for alms.  At first, people tried to shut him up.  After all, to be blind in Judea at the time of Jesus indicated that you must have been a pretty bad sinner, and therefore you were an outcast, dependent upon the mercy of others.  The first of the barriers Bartimaeus had to cross – society’s segregation. 

But as he continued to beg, he heard from the crowd that it was Jesus who was coming!  Bartimaeus must have heard of Jesus, and despite his blindness he must have known a fair amount of the Jewish faith – possibly taught to him by his father, Timaeus.  The fact that his father is mentioned by name would indicate that Bartimaeus had been part of the family.
Although he was blind, Bartimaeus could “see” that Jesus was the Messiah, the son of David.  Maybe it was because when you’re blind you learn to perceive things that others might miss?  In any case, Bartimaeus needed the help of others to steer him to Jesus once Jesus called to him.  And in order to go to Jesus, Bartimaeus had to take a risk.  He left behind his spot on the road.  He left behind his cloak, which would have been his protection from the elements.   He takes the chance.

And Jesus, in reply to Bartimaeus’ efforts, recognizes his faith and restores his sight.  Bartimaeus can now see more than just the road ahead; he sees the Messiah and follows him.  He is no longer isolated.

So, what about us?  If we are not blind or deaf, what do these stories have to do with us?  Those of us who appear perfectly healthy?  Those who have full use of their senses? 

There was a picture on the Internet not long ago about a young lady who had the words, “I’m Fine” tattooed on her leg.  They were in a kind of flowery script, in big, bold, black letters. Kind of tacky looking to me, but then again, I’m not really into tattoos. No offense to those of you who are into tattoos – my son loves them.  Different generation.

Anyway, this young girl had these words tattoo on her thigh where everyone could see them.  But, if you looked at them upside down, from her viewpoint, the words read, “Save Me.”  You see, this young girl suffered from depression and this was her way of telling her parents, the world, that she was crying out for help, that sometimes you cannot see the struggles one suffers.

Look around you.  The loss of a physical sense is not the only thing that can isolate us from others. 

Do you know what the #1 illness in this country is?  LONELINESS.  Did you know that according to a recent survey published in the American Sociological Review, it is estimated that one out of every four people in this country have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or triumphs? 

Are you lonely? Do you feel isolated, cut off from the rest of the world? If not, then it is possible that a person sitting in front of you, or behind you, or on either side of you might be.  And that loneliness, that sense of isolation, can be as crippling to them as Bartimaeus’ blindness or Rose’s deafness was to them. 

Even if we do not suffer from that sense of isolation, it doesn’t mean that we, too, are not blind.  For the last 3 days I have been attending the University of Dallas Ministry Conference in downtown Dallas.  It was a WONDERFUL experience!  Three days of presentations on how to draw closer to God – through prayer, through music, through encounters with others.  Each day I’d hop onto the train – with all the rain, I wasn’t about to fight the traffic – and I’d plug in my earbuds and close my eyes, listening to prayers or whatever and shutting out the world around me.

But Saturday morning I left really early in the morning, so that I could go to the morning Mass that was being held there.  As I got off of the train at the convention center station, I noticed that it was COLD.  And WET.

I also noticed the homeless.  There was a person asleep under a plastic bag, trying to stay dry, there was another one sleeping with his head on a battered suitcase.  I thought to myself that I hoped they wouldn’t call out to me, and they didn’t.  I made it safely inside and went to Mass, and received Jesus and experienced a wonderful day.

But when I left, those people were still there.  It was still cold, and I didn’t have a jacket, and I was thinking to myself about getting quickly to the train and avoiding those people.  But one of them stopped me and asked me if I could help him – he needed $7 for a place to stay.  I only had a few dollar bills readily accessible – I had some more stashed but not where I could get to it easily.  I pulled out two dollars and gave it to him, and then I said that I had to keep a couple for myself.  What a hypocrite I was!

You know, Jesus is calling to us!  He IS there, waiting for us, even if we cannot hear him or see him or feel his presence.  He is there, waiting for us.  But we need to make a choice.  Do we abandon our faith and fall into despair, like Rose?  Or do we reach out to Jesus, like Bartimaeus? It can be hard, if you don’t have someone to show you the way.

I’d like to leave you with this thought:
If you are one of those who feel that sense of isolation, for whatever reason – do not be afraid to call out like Bartimaeus for help.  Do not be afraid to take a chance and leave the comfort of your darkness behind.  Jesus is waiting for you.  Have faith.

And if you are not one of those suffering from that sense of isolation, open your eyes to those who are.  Be aware that there are those who are seeking Jesus, who need His Love and His presence, and you may be that presence of Christ for them.  Do not be afraid to leave the comfort of your shelter and answer someone else’s call for help.  Share your faith.

Oh, one final comment.  After several months, Rose returned to the communion services, at least for now.  She is still sad, and she still carries her cross – her deafness will probably never go away.  But she will take your hand at the sign of peace and smile, and thank you for being there for her.  And she receives the Eucharist – Jesus, the Christ, the great healer.  What we cannot do for her, Jesus can.  Jesus will not leave her alone.

And as we continue with this Eucharistic celebration and you come forward to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, remember that He is there for you too.  He will not leave you alone.  Ever.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Love Is Our Mission

Love Is Our Mission
Homily for October 18, 2015    Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time - B
World Missions Sunday
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

The theme of Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States was, “Love Is Our Mission”, and what a great message for us today as we celebrate World Missions Sunday.  Created by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as a day of prayer for missionary work around the world, World Missions Sunday is, as Pope St. John Paul II said on the occasion of its anniversary in 1992, a day to make a “renewed commitment to everyone’s responsibility for the spread of the Gospel message.”  

And it is no small task.  Did you know that according to recent statistics released by the Vatican, there are over 7.1 Billion people in the world.  7.1 BILLION.  Of those, about 2.2 Billion are Christians, and over half of those, 1.25 BILLION, are Catholic – or at least they claim to be.  That’s over 17% of the WORLD population. And that is an increase of 25.3 MILLION Catholics from last year!

That’s a lot of people.  That’s a lot of Catholics. Yet that leaves a lot of people who have not heard or accepted the message of the Gospel.

And we all have the same mission – the mission of Love.

In his message for this World Missions Sunday, Pope Francis says that “since Christ’s entire existence had a missionary character, so too, all those who follow him closely must possess this missionary quality.”

He further states that “Those who follow Christ cannot fail to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus “walks with them, speaks to them, breathes with them.” 

But it isn’t easy being a missionary, is it?

In today’s Gospel from St. Mark, we pick up right after Jesus has told his disciples for the THIRD time that they all were going to Jerusalem where Jesus was going to be turned over to the authorities, mocked, tortured and killed.  Yet James and John still thought that they were going to be part of a new order that would be one of earthly glory and honor, and they wanted to be right there in the thick of it, when Jesus came into glory, one on his right, and the other on his left.

Jesus challenges them: Can you drink of the cup from which I drink?  Can you accept the baptism of which I will be baptized?  Will you be missionaries like me?
They answer YES, but without fully understanding what it was going to mean. The Glory of Jesus would be revealed when he was lifted up on the cross; the place of “honor” on his left and right was reserved for two thieves.

Yet after it became clear that after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension that His mission had to be carried on, Jesus’ disciples did not shrink from it.  They embraced it, and the result was a world set on fire with the faith of Christ.

Pope Francis continues in his message with an appeal to us, especially to those who are capable of courageous witness and generous deeds, to proclaim the Good News of the Gospels even when the message is countercultural: “Do not allow others to rob you of the ideal of a true mission, of following Jesus through the total gift of yourself.”  In the full range of the Church’s missionary activity, all the faithful are called to live their baptismal commitment to the fullest, in accordance with the personal situation of each.

So, do not be afraid to embrace the mission of the Church. Pope Francis concludes his message with an exhortation for us all:  Dear brothers and sisters, a true missionary is PASSIONATE for the Gospel.  Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians said: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”  The Gospel is the source of joy, liberation and salvation for all men and women.”

There are many ways that we can give witness to our faith in God.  Each of us has been uniquely created by God and entrusted with gifts for the good of all people on earth.  We have a purpose in life.  We have a mission.  And as St. Catherine of Sienna said, “Be who God created you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

I’d like to close with a prayer to help us be better missionaries: Lord you left your Mother in our midst that she might accompany us. May she take care of us and protect us on our journey, in our hearts, in our faith. May she make us disciples like herself, missionaries like herself. May she teach us to go out onto the streets. May she teach us to step outside ourselves.  May she, by her meekness, by her peace, show us the way.  Amen.

Let us go and proclaim the Gospel with our lives!

Friday, October 16, 2015

How's Your Prayer Life? (StVdP)

How's Your Prayer Life?
Reflection for St. Vincent de Paul meeting, Monday, October 12, 2015
By Dcn. Bob Bonomi

How's your prayer life?  It seems like I pray a lot, and although there are many types of prayer - blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise & adoration - it also seems that most of my prayers are either petitions or intercessions: I always want something for myself or for someone else. That can be especially true for volunteers like those of us with St. Vincent de Paul. We want so badly to help those who come to us, and when their needs are greater than our ability to help, we pray that God would some way intervene or cause a miracle to happen for them.  I imagine that the sense of helplessness and frustration that comes with not being able to do more for our clients or that our prayers for them aren't being heard can affect our prayer life.

I started thinking about this earlier today as I read a reflection asking, “What do you do when you have trouble praying?”  I'm sure we all have had days like that - no matter how hard we try, that sense of talking with God isn't there.  We may want to pray, but the words just won’t come forth.  So, what do YOU do?

For me, I often resort to the Rosary.  The repetitive prayers and reflection on the mysteries, even if I’m doing it half-heartedly, serves to distract me from other thoughts and forces me to focus on God.  I saw a cartoon earlier today which was called, "The First Rosary".  In it, we see the Virgin Mary standing beside a very young Jesus with him saying, "Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom..."  That's US! In the Rosary, we stand before the Blessed Mother - our Mother – calling out like a child, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom..."  We don’t know what else to say.

When we hit those periods of dryness, we should ask ourselves a question: why do we pray? Or maybe more importantly, how do we pray? Is our prayer life "balanced"?  How often in our prayers are we conscious of the need to pray in ways beyond just asking God for something?

Even in our dryness, we need to try and reach out to God with more than our hat in our hands. We need to talk with Him with praise and adoration in our voice – or at least with recognition of our dependence upon Him.  It forces us to recognize the good things in our lives and helps us remember those times when our prayers were answered.

So, the next time when you feel frustration that your prayers are not being answered as quickly as you like or in a manner that you want, or you’re just experiencing dryness in your prayers, find yourself a “praise and worship” song and sing it to God.  Then say a Rosary and ask Mary for help.  You may be surprised by what happens next.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Joy of St. Francis of Assisi (StVdP)

The Joy of St. Francis of Assisi
Reflection for St. Vincent de Paul meeting, Monday, October 5, 2015
By Dcn Bob Bonomi

Last Sunday was the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi, and although many places didn’t celebrate the feast as it was a Sunday, it is worthwhile to think a little bit about Francis’ life and the insight he can give us into the ministry of St. Vincent de Paul.

Most of you know the story of St. Francis:  how his father was a wealthy cloth merchant who wanted his son to be a businessman like him, how in his early years Francis lived the good life but he wanted more than to be rich – he wanted a life of glory and dreamed of being a noble warrior – a knight!  And we know that eventually he felt God call to him and slowly he underwent a conversion of spirit.

His spiritual journey led him into a confrontation with his father, resulting in the famed stripping off of all his clothes, donning only a hair shirt as he walked through the town.  He renounced everything, becoming a beggar.  And this is where most of us will find it difficult to understand or identify with Francis:  in giving up everything that he owned so that he had to beg for even the rags on his back or the scraps of food that he ate and turning to God, he claimed a rare and most precious gift – the gift of true happiness, the gift of joy from God.

So what does that have to do with our ministry at St. Vincent de Paul?  I think it is important that we recognize that no matter how much we help those we serve, how much we give to them, they will never be truly happy until they open their hearts to the gift of joy which can come only from God.  That is why it is SO important that, as we minister to the physical and financial needs of our clients, we also always maintain a focus in OUR minds and hearts on the need for God in their lives, and pray that GOD touches them with love and mercy.  We do not force God upon them, but rather open ourselves to let the Holy Spirit work through us.

Pope Francis’ words during Sunday’s Angelus address to the participants of the upcoming synod on the family are important to us in our ministry, too: we must keep our “eyes fixed on Jesus, in order to identify the best ways to respond to the needs and challenges of families today.”  Keep your hearts open and your eyes fixed on Jesus, and He will show you how to best respond to the needs of your clients.  And bring a smile and God’s joy with you as you serve His people.  As those who encountered St. Francis discovered, God’s joy IS contagious.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope Francis and the Least Among Us (StVdP)

Pope Francis and the Least Among Us
Reflection for St. Vincent de Paul meeting, Monday, September 28, 2015
By Dcn Bob Bonomi

Now that Pope Francis has returned home after his whirl-wind tour of Cuba and the US, we should take a moment and reflect on what kind of impact his visit had on each of us personally.  I hope that you had an opportunity to see and hear him at one of his stops.  The love, the energy and the joy that radiated from him everywhere he went is a living testimony to what happens when you center your life on Jesus.  Although I was fortunate to see some of his presentations being broadcast live, I’m still working through the rest of the ones that were broadcast and recorded by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  I encourage you to take some time and listen to his homilies, his presentations, and his off-the-cuff remarks that are still available through the USCCB website.  They are inspiring – and humbling – especially since many of them are from his “going to the streets” and practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy: for example, visiting the sick and imprisoned, praying for those who died at the 9-11 memorial, listening to those who suffered abuse from those they trusted.

It seems appropriate to use his own words for our reflection today.  They are taken from the Magnificat reflection for last Sunday, October 27th:

“Therefore following Jesus on the path of charity, going with him to the existential outskirts … For the Good Shepherd what is far, what is on the margins, what is lost and unappreciated is the object of greater care, and the Church cannot but make her own this special love and attention.  The first in the Church are those who are the most in need, humanly, spiritually, materially, the neediest.” – Pope Francis

From today’s Gospel from St. Luke: “For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”  These are the clients of St. Vincent de Paul that you serve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015



Heavenly Father, who bestows on your children gifts of love and truth, we thank you for giving us Pope Francis to be our holy shepherd.  As he visits us in the United States, keep him safe in his travels. Grant him wisdom, understanding and prudence in his interactions with other world leaders, and help us to truly hear his messages with open minds and hearts.  Before we judge, let us pray that we will discern Your will in his words and actions, and give us the grace and courage so we can embrace the challenges that are presented to us.  As our heavenly Mother, the Virgin Mary, said “YES” to Your call to her, strengthen us to say “YES” to your call to us, too.  We ask all this through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.

-    Deacon Bob Bonomi ©2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Who Do YOU Say That I Am?

Who Do YOU Say That I Am?
Homily for Sunday, September 13, 2015    
Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time - B
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

“Who do you say that I am?” 

With these words, Jesus puts his disciples on the spot.  How would you answer?

Picture yourself as one of the disciples.  In fact, picture yourself as Peter. You have been traveling with Jesus for some time now, and up to this point (at least in Mark’s Gospel), you would have heard Jesus:

• Teach about fasting and proper respect for the Sabbath
• Select you and 11 others to be his Apostles and to share in his mission
• Preach many parables and explain them to you
• Rebuke the wind and calm the violent sea

And you would have seen Jesus:
• Cleanse a man of an unclean spirit in the synagogue at Capernaum
• Cure Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of her illness
• Cleanse a leper
• Forgive a paralytic his sins AND then heal him of his paralysis
• Cure a man with a withered hand in the synagogue
• Free the Gerasene demoniac from the demons that possessed him
• Heal a woman who had been afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years
• Raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead
• Feed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish
• Walk on water and calm the winds
• Heal a Syrophoenician woman’s daughter
• Open the ears of a deaf man and remove his speech impediment
• Feed another 4000 men with seven loaves and a few fish, and just recently
• Open the eyes of a blind man.

Pretty impressive, don’t you think?  Now, after all of these signs, Jesus turns to you and your buddies and asks, “Who do people say that I am?”

I try to imagine how he might have asked those questions.  I mean, you’re all walking along the road, right? Headed for another town, kind of chatting among yourselves? No cell phones or other electronics to distract you?  So would he have asked it in a casual sort of way?  “Hey, tell me – who do people say that I am?  Or, would he have been more forceful: “OK, now, tell me – who do people say that I am?”

In either case, the answers your fellow disciples give echo the comments that King Herod had heard about Jesus earlier in Mark’s Gospel after he had John the Baptist executed:  He was curious about Jesus, and his advisors say that Jesus was John raised up from the dead;or  he was Elijah; or he was just another prophet.

So the rest of the guys, they all say the same thing.  John.  Elijah.  Just another prophet.
But then, Jesus stops and puts you on the spot.

“But who do YOU say that I am?”

What would you say, Peter? How would you answer that question today?  As Peter, in your usual brash and impulsive way, jump right in.  “You are the CHRIST!”  Boldly!  With a sense of pride, maybe?  That sense of privilege that comes from being part of the elite inner circle? In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus even blesses you and promises you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. You’re probably feeling pretty smug about now, right? You, Peter:  the Apostle. 

But now, after all you’ve seen and heard, Jesus begins to teach you about how he has to suffer and die.  He’s being brutally honest with you, not hiding anything or pulling any punches.  He will rise again but he will be murdered. 

At first, you refuse to believe it.  Who would blame you?  After all, think of all the wonderful signs that you’ve seen Jesus do. How could anything happen to him?  He’s the CHRIST!  He can do ANYTHING!  And not only does Peter refuse to believe it, he REBUKES Jesus!

Isn’t there times in our lives that we presume that we know more than those around us, especially to those closest to us, because we do not want to believe what they have to say and so we, in our effort to help them, correct them?

But Jesus is swift to turn on Peter and condemn his attitude of arrogance.  “You are thinking like a creature of earth, not of heaven.  Not as God does.”

Not as God does.  No. We don’t want to think like God; we do not want to face the evils of this world.  We would rather live in denial than admit that something tragic could happen – is happening – to someone we know. To someone we love.  Even to US.  We don’t want the responsibility.

We all have a tendency to develop a false sense of security and confidence when everything is going well, and we often refuse to believe that anything could possibly go wrong.  Jesus senses this in his followers and so he knows he must prepare them for the reality that is coming – his Passion, and the disciples own future trials.  Not a future of earthly kingdoms and treasures, but one of heavenly promises and an eternity with God.

So Jesus turned from his disciples and called the rest of the crowd to him.  He challenged them – he challenges us – with a tough command:  "Whoever wishes to follow me must deny himself and take up his own cross, and bring it to me." Jesus. 

One final point.  When we think about what is “our cross”, we may have a tendency to assume that Jesus means our own personal problems.  That would be thinking as human beings do, but not as God does.  In God’s eyes, in addition to whatever problems that we face personally, the cross we must pick up is the one assigned to us by God as seen through the Gospel:  "Love your neighbor." "Whatever you do for the least of your brethren, you do for me." In other words, we must care for each other.

In the Letter of St. James today, we are given the cross which each of us must bear – the care of our brothers and sisters.  James is blunt.  You cannot have faith in God if you do not act when you see someone in distress and you have the ability to do so.  That is Our Cross, and we must embrace it willingly.

In a message on his blog this week, Bishop Farrell made an impassioned plea about a humanitarian crisis to our faith - a message about the terror caused by ISIS in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, and the refugees fleeing for their lives.  ISIS'[s efforts to cleanse the entire region of Christianity challenges all of humanity. It should call upon you to look deep into yourself and discover how you can, in St. James’ words, “demonstrate your faith from your actions”.  I encourage you to read his message "We Cannot Ignore The Suffering Of Refugees" at:  How we respond will be different for each of us.  But if we are not moved by what we see and hear, if we do not respond somehow and show, by our actions the practice of our faith, then how can we say that we have any faith in God?  What will God say to us, if we ask Him: Who do You say that I am?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Human Precepts vs. Divine Doctrine

Human Precepts vs. Divine Doctrine
Homily for Sunday, August 30, 2015    
Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time - B
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

When I was a kid, I remember distinctly my mom making me wash my hands before dinner.  I wasn’t a big bible reader back then, and that’s probably a good thing – because I’m sure I would have pointed out this gospel passage to her.  And knowing my mom, I probably wouldn’t be here today to talk about it.

But is Jesus really saying that it is not important to wash our hands? Or, for that matter, would Jesus tell us that the precepts of our faith today are not important, either?  I don’t think so.

Listen to the first reading.  Moses says to the Israelites: “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe.”   Moses told them to carefully observe the laws and statutes because they came from God – GOD gave them to us.  They are “just” – a sign of wisdom and intelligence, a sign of a great people. 

So, is Jesus contradicting what Moses said?  Again, I don’t think so.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus did not say that Jewish Laws and Traditions were bad.  He did not say that they were to be ignored.  He did not say that they were not important.  In fact, look what Jesus said in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?  So, why is he chastising the Pharisees and the scribes? He should have been praising the Pharisees and the scribes for pointing out the faults of some of his disciples!

Let’s take a quick look at Jewish law and where it comes from.  (I got this from several Jewish History Websites on the Internet, and we all know that the Internet is trustworthy and accurate.)  There are two main parts to Jewish law: the Written Law, also known as the Torah.  We know it better as the first five books of the Old Testament.  And there is the Oral Law, from which we get the 613 laws that we commonly hear about and which is itself derived from the Torah and from the traditions which were handed down from generation to generation.  The Oral Law was just that - in fact, Jews were forbidden to write it down, for by passing these statutes down orally each generation was forced to memorize the laws, and thereby take them more to heart.  It wasn’t until well after the destruction of the Temple in 70AD and the subsequent dispersal of the Jews that the oral laws were written down in what is known as the Mishnah, in order to preserve them for future generations.

But during the time of Jesus, these Oral Laws were exactly that – handed down orally, with their foundations based on the teachings in the Torah.  They derived from the Word of God, and so the Jewish people should have known them and followed them.  It was one of the jobs of the Pharisees and scribes to pass on these oral laws. So why does it seem that Jesus was condemning them?

St. James gives us a clue: “all good giving and every perfect gift” is from God, and that we need to be “doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding ourselves”.  He goes on to say, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Therein lies the key.  It’s not just that we need to follow the traditions of our faith – we need to understand WHY we do.  We need to know what it is that motivates us to be doers of the Word, to follow the law.

And that has to be LOVE.

Remember when Jesus was asked about what was the greatest commandment?  His reply was: “Love God”.  He said that the second greatest commandment was “Love Your Neighbor”.  He went on further and said that all of the laws and the words of the prophets were based on these two commandments. 

The problem faced by the Pharisees and the scribes, and in fact what many of us face today, is that we lack understanding of how everything that we are commanded to do by God has to be based on love.  If we strip away love, then we risk stripping away the divinity in God’s laws and we replace it with our own personal interpretation of the meaning of the law. 

Those of you who work with your hands understand this.  We all “know” in our heads that it is better to wash our hands before eating, otherwise something unpleasant may occur – the food may end up contaminated; it might end up tasting bad; or worse, it might make us ill.  

But sometimes it is impossible to take the time or find the soap and water to wash with before we eat.  A friend once told me about how, when he was younger, he had to work in the fields of his father’s farm.  When lunchtime came, there wasn’t any water to wash with, so all they could do was wipe their hands on their clothes and eat.  It was either that, or go hungry.
I used to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and come lunchtime we might only have hand sanitizer to clean our hands.  But all it would do is make mud out of the dust and dirt so we’d just skip it and eat with unwashed – “unclean” – hands.  If we had refused to eat unless we washed – well, a couple of things might happen.  First, we’d go hungry.  But more importantly, we could be insulting the very people who had gone out of their way to provide food for us!  We would not be acting out of love, but out of a misguided notion of being “right”.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus points out to the Pharisees and the scribes that they have taken the good and perfect gifts given to them by God – His statutes and decrees – and have defiled them by stripping away love and compassion from them and replacing them with a self-righteous judgment that ignored the greater commandments of God.  And it concludes with a command to the crowd – to all of us – to hear and understand; to think about WHY we do what we do, and why we believe what we believe.    Do we take particularly difficult teachings of the Church and impose a self-righteous attitude to condemn others who fail to follow them, even as we struggle with them ourselves?  Do we take the moral laws given to us by God, all good and perfect in themselves, and twist them into signs of hate and condemnation, defiling them in the process?

We must understand that the Divine Doctrine of love underlies ALL of the precepts of our faith.  We cannot pay lip service to them and treat them as being mere human precepts that we ourselves created.  When we deal with others who may have problems understanding or following them, we must allow the goodness of the Lord to flow through us to help them.  We must live those divine precepts with love. Otherwise, we risk defiling them and us by the evils which lie in our hearts.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Creed as a Prayer (StVdP)

The Creed as a Prayer
Reflection for St. Vincent de Paul meeting, Monday, August 24, 2015
By Dcn Bob Bonomi

Each Sunday after the homily we express the tenets of our faith by reciting either the Nicene Creed
– or especially during certain Mass celebrations, or when we recite the Rosary – the Apostles’ Creed.  These creeds are less a prayer than they are a statement of our beliefs.

But it can be helpful to profess those beliefs as a prayer, as they present to us an opportunity to tell God directly that we believe in Him and His Church.  By putting the creed into a prayer we enter into a conversation with God where we can ask for understanding and guidance as we try to understand the great mystery that is our faith.

Here's an example of the Nicene Creed as a prayer.  Read it slowly, as you would if you were talking with God face-to-face. 

The Nicene Creed as a Prayer           

I believe in You, God, the Father Almighty. You are the maker of Heaven and Earth - of all things visible and invisible.

And I believe in You, my Lord Jesus Christ. You are the Only Begotten Son of God, born of God the Father before all ages.

You are God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.  You were begotten, not made, of the same substance as Your Father.  Through You all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation, You came down from Heaven, and by the Holy Spirit You were incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became a man like us.

For our sake You were crucified under Pontius Pilate. You suffered death and were buried, and You rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

You ascended into Heaven, and You are seated at the right hand of Your Father.  You will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and Your kingdom will have no end.

And I believe You too, O Holy Spirit.  You are the Lord, the giver of life. You proceed from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son You are adored and glorified.  You have spoken through the prophets.

I believe in Your one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  I confess to You one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come with You. 


Monday, August 17, 2015

An Encounter with Jesus (StVdP)

An Encounter with Jesus

Reflection for St. Vincent de Paul meeting, Monday, August 17, 2015
By Dcn Bob Bonomi

In today’s Gospel, we see an encounter between a young man and Jesus that leads to the young man having to make a choice: continue to live his life as he has, in pursuit of what he believes to be best for him, or radically change it to pursue the perfection offered by Jesus.

Isn’t that the story of our own lives?  On the one hand, we try to live holy lives in accord with what we believe are the requirements of our faith: we pray, go to Mass, contribute to the upkeep of the Church and its mission – and of course, volunteer our time and talents to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and/or other ministries.  But, on the other hand, we also live our lives pursuing the desires and demands that we believe will lead US to a happy life – a successful career; a nice home; a new car; travel and leisure opportunities – things that represent the “good life.”

The young man, although he had many possessions, by all appearances was living his faith.  He observed all of the commandments and, in Mark’s version of the events, Jesus looked at him and “loved him” so we can tell that he was honestly practicing his faith.  But merely practicing his faith wasn’t enough to lead to perfection because he allowed his possessions to have a priority in his life.

Jesus loves us, too.  But we need to ask ourselves: are we, in our efforts to practice our faith, merely meeting the legal obligations of our faith?  Or are we truly seeking to follow Jesus?

It is a hard choice, to give up everything that we have for Christ.  And not all are asked that; Zacchaeus only offered half of what he owned and it was enough to please Jesus.  But it is the attitude that God looks for – a contrite spirit, a sacrifice of the heart.  If we truly want to follow Jesus, then that must be the priority of our life, to the potential sacrifice of all else.

Are we merely satisfied with where we are in the practice of our faith?  Or are we prepared to radically change it in response to our encounter with Jesus?