“Amen, amen I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.” John 6:47-48, NAB
These verses are from Jesus’ Bread of life Discourse. The discourse, verses 22-71 signify the revelation of God in Jesus as the source of all life. I have often preached on the reality of the Eucharist as the “body” and “blood” of Christ. There have been miracles that attest to this truth. But in the end, none of this matters if we do not believe that Jesus is the bread from heaven. Just as one must “eat” to live physically; one must eat to live spiritually. Yet, to this day there are many Catholics who do not believe. Though hundreds of thousands have died for this piece of “bread”, yet…many of us still don’t get it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are many who come up to receive, but do we truly understand “what” we are receiving? Do we “recognize” Jesus? Are we in a state of grace to receive Him? The whole idea of Easter is starting fresh and new. All of us are given the opportunity to acknowledge our sinfulness and reconcile ourselves with the Father, before receiving the body of His Son. Why would one want to receive something so holy in a state of guilt and shame? Or worse yet, be defiant in our sinfulness, refusing to acknowledge them and still receive Him. Do we realize when we do this that we desecrate His body and incur judgment? (1 Cor.11: 27-29)
So it all comes down to this…do we really believe in Jesus? Is He truly the bread of our life? And if He is, then are we changing, becoming like Him? Are we loving, forgiving, obedient, joyful in our relationship with Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit…but most importantly, with each other? Do me a favor, if you truly believe and receive Him, then share Him… I’d love a piece.
Until next time…you are what you eat. …luv ya! Deacon Phil
When I was a boy growing up in the Bronx, I was very much in love with this girl who lived in my aunt’s building. She was very beautiful…but she didn’t want anything to do with me. After several attempts of trying to date her, I gave up. The last time I saw her was before I went into the Navy. I growled at her, “You think you’re just too good for anybody.” She shook her head and cried and ran into her apartment. After a few years in the Navy I ran into her again. She walked right up to me and took my hand and asked me to walk with her. I thought I was about to die. Along the walk, we stopped. She looked into my eyes and told me the reason why she never dated me. Love, she said, is about wanting to be near someone more than you want to be with yourself, and allowing that someone to be near you. If you had been humble and not full of yourself, I would have gladly dated you. But there was no room for me…just you. How could I be with someone like that? She had a point and she was right.
God asks us to do the same. He wants us to be near Him, so He can be near us. But the truth of the matter is we get in the way. This verse is just part of a chapter that covers James’ argument that one must be humble to have the fullness of happiness God wants for us. Many of us pull away from Him, rather than grow closer to Him because we’re just full of ourselves and there’s no room for Him. Others pull away because when God starts getting close they think they have to give up their lives. The only thing we need give up is pride and selfishness. That’s it. The closer we draw to God the more we become sensitive to all the things Jesus did. And the truth is we can’t deal with that. But we need to. If we are to become as Christ than we have to empty ourselves and let God do His thing…LOVE. That’s it, love us. No strings, no gimmicks, no contracts…just love. He can’t force us. Just like no one forced Jesus to give up his life, for love of us. You’re probably thinking he was crazy; well love makes us do crazy things. Let God get close to you, I promise…it doesn’t hurt.
Until next time…there are a lot of four letter words, but only one that can change the world…luv ya! - Deacon Phil
“What then shall we say to this? If God is for us who can be against us?”
It’s the holiday season and we tend to get distracted easily. We’re going full throttle and the LAST thing, should be the FIRST thing on our minds. STOP and think about this question, and then think about this season. This season is all about God being for us. So much so He sends an angel to a young girl and tells her the impossible is going to happen. She accepts, and it creates a world of problems for her. But a baby changes everything. The baby’s shadow is not the form of a human, but of a cross. And it will change everything, especially what we believe God thinks of us. He has ALWAYS been for us, but we have not always been for Him. So He comes down to our lowly level, and takes our lowly form, to tell us…I love you. I want to be with you. And if God is willing to go through all this trouble just for us, why would we even think that He would let anything stand against us? It’s a song you know…”A baby changes everything.” So why a baby? Because a baby represents HOPE. A baby represents LIFE. This baby does change everything. What then shall we say of this? If we believe, then NOTHING can be against us. We just need to become babies. You see, they have to TRUST; they have to depend on someone. That someone has loved us from the beginning of time. And with a love like that…what can stand against it? When you see the manger, remember…a baby changes everything.
Until next time…with God, nothing can be against us…luv ya!
So what’s up? Stewardship Committee...If you haven’t considered it, please think of joining. Just in case you didn’t know, stewardship is at the heart of being a Christian. I can hear the sighs already…”Oh no, he’s going to talk about money.” Stewardship is not just about money…it’s about being good care takers of all that God our father has blessed us with. My friends, this includes Mother Earth and all life on this planet, wild as well as human. I refer you to the book of Genesis, chapter 1. We can’t save the world by ourselves, but we can help try, and I’m sorry, this is one of those things where ACTION is just as important as prayer and faith. Here we go!
Time: Have you ever heard someone say, my time is precious? Time is a blessing. Some of us seem to never have enough, and some of us seem to have too much. You will see this distinction with all things that God blesses us with, especially talent and treasure. It is very rare that one hasn’t been blessed with at least one of these, if not all three. There’s a reason for this. Just as the father, so too can Jesus and the Holy Spirit know and understand what lies in someone’s heart, what and how much we can deal with, what and how much we can be trusted with. Things we don’t even know ourselves. This is where prayer, faith and enlightenment come in, driven by the Holy Spirit. One of its many jobs is discernment and direction. Now you’re probably saying, “Now hold on Deacon, my time is my business not God’s”. Really? Once again I refer you to sacred scripture and to writings of the Saints. God pays attention to time, serious attention. Remember what Jesus said to Peter, James and John in the garden? “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37). Hmmm…there’s the question to ask about going to Mass on Sunday! You see, He doesn’t ask for much. Whether it’s at Church, or in prayer He just wants some. When a woman he was advising was apprehensive about the amount of time she had to spend in court as concerning her prayer and spiritual time, St. Francis De Sales said this, “For if you are faithful to God, he will never fail you; even though he has to stop the sun and the moon, he will give you enough time to perform your exercises and all else you must do.” Wow, isn’t this awesome? When are we going to realize that when we give Him something, we get more of it back? Yes, that includes time. So remember, we give Him the best of what we have, He continues to bless us with more of it…including time.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always take the time to pray for our Pastor.
“Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!” Psalm 18:2, NAB
And so begins our Psalm of thanksgiving for victory. Psalms of thanksgiving are in essence reports of divine rescue. What would we need divine rescue for? It could be a number of reasons. Here’s one: When I was of the ripe old age of 14, I got into some serious trouble. One night two friends (twins) and I were on our way home from the subway in the Bronx. (At this time, street gangs were rampant throughout the city. I lived in the Fort Apache area of the Bronx, where gang colors hung like trophies in the local precinct. As I mentioned many times, I wasn’t an angel growing up.) We decided to pull a prank on a stranger. Not a good idea. The stranger happened to be a gang member, and not just anyone…he was a Warlord. These guys were extremely dangerous. So we did what you normally do when you prank someone, we ran. Problem was, this guy could run, and he caught my friends. I had hid. Now mind you I looked a lot older than 14, and he thought the same too. I stepped out of hiding and offered myself for my friends. He let them go. He blindfolded me and took me down into a basement, where I was interrogated by other gang members. Although I was a little scared, I wasn’t afraid. They thought I had lied about my age, and that I was from a rival gang. They wanted me to beg for my life. They hit me and put a gun to my head, but I just couldn’t do it. I just wasn’t afraid of them. One of the guys joked, “Hey, he looks like he wants to pray. So pray little baby,” and I did. Since I wasn’t afraid, they decided to kill me. As they took me down to the Bronx River, my whole neighborhood showed up. It seemed God had softened the heart of the gang leader, and after a brief discussion with my parents, they let me go. Both groups left in peace. I asked my mom how they knew, and she said she felt something was wrong. She prayed and that’s when the twins banged on the door, screaming I was in trouble. To this day we talk about my “divine” rescue, for surely it was. All I can tell you is that throughout the rest of my life that calm and peace I experienced that night, has always been with me. God is all the things above, and much, much more. Until next time…please pray for deliverance for all those suffering under Satan’s oppression...Luv ya! Deacon Phil
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
I was 16 years old when I asked some Christian guys I knew what I needed to do to be saved. They said I needed to confess my sins to God, be baptized with water and the Holy Spirit. Well I was already baptized, but I had never gone to confession, nor had I ever experienced the Holy Spirit. Spiritually I was suffering and I knew I needed help. They told me I needed to confess my sins to Jesus, for He alone could forgive me. The next evening I went to Church. I did not feel comfortable confessing myself to a man. I mean, why did I need to do that? Why not go directly to the source? I did not understand yet about God or Jesus given authority. So, I stood outside the doors and I prayed to God. I confessed every single sin I had ever committed to him, the tears flowed. You may not think that there’s much a sixteen year old can confess, but when you’re growing up in the South Bronx and you’re sixteen, going on twenty five, well you can get into a lot of bad things. I waited, but I didn’t hear anything. I felt a little better, but where was the closure? I said the words, but now I wanted to hear His words. Nothing. I sighed, took a deep breath and went in. In the confessional I told the priest the same thing I said outside. You could hear a pin drop. After some time the priest asked, “Child, what’s your name?” “Phil,” I said. “Phil, I am not Jesus Christ, I’m a priest, a representative of Christ’s Church, but I truly believe if the Lord himself was sitting here He would forgive you, since you poured your heart out to Him, and so you are forgiven.” I got chills, how did HE know I poured my heart out to God? But I felt peace and the weight of the sins lifted. The surprise didn’t stop there though. “Phil?” “Yes father?” “I sense you have a desire to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, am I right?” “Yes,” I whispered. How did HE know I wanted baptism by the Holy Spirit? “Let’s see about getting you confirmed, and getting you invited to the supper table of the Lord.” Only Jesus can save us from the paralyzing power of sin, as we learned in last Sunday’s Gospel. We don’t have to go it alone, come, the Father is waiting.
Until next time…please take advantage of the sacrament of Reconciliation; that’s what mercy is all about, reconciling ourselves with the Father…luv ya! Deacon Phil
“The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.” Psalm 121:8, NAB
We now come to the conclusion of our psalm, but not the conclusion of our journey. So let’s put it all together:
I raise my eyes to the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God will not allow your foot to slip; your guardian does not sleep. Truly, the guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. By day the sun can’t harm you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all evil; will always guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.
There you have it. So what about the last verse? How does God guard our coming and going? Deuteronomy 28:6 states: “May you be blessed in your coming in and going out!” So we are guarded through God’s blessings. As we continue our journey through life, let’s try to remember that God is willing to extend mercy to us and in that mercy, blessing. Not for a moment but forever. We have the Sacraments, especially, Reconciliation; we have prayer and we have each other. God’s blessings can come from even the most unlikely of sources; but they come…as we come and go. We can ensure that by repenting from sin and having faith in Him. Just remember, He guards every moment of our lives.
Until next time…the Lord guards us because He loves us, don’t get too wrapped up on how, just be grateful and say thanks ...luv ya! Deacon Phil
“The Lord will guard you from all evil; will always guard your life.” Psalm 121:7, NAB
I admit this verse is a toughie. With all the horrible things happening to people why would we believe this? The answer is complex and not the same for every individual. This time I must admit that it’s not quite that simple, nor “easy” to answer. We may or may not agree with today’s Beacon…all I ask is that we pray. Remember that this psalm is about a dangerous journey, or a trip to or from the temple in Jerusalem. OUR dangerous journey is this life and our destination is the everlasting presence of God. We need to try to understand what God will actually “guard”. Unfortunately, it’s not what we may think. Life, to God is every aspect of it. As I mentioned before, the soul is much more important to Him. Since it is what will live on forever. The body will eventually die. I would suggest reading Job. Sometimes things may happen to test our faith; other times it’s to bring glory to God, as with Jesus in the gospels. The “evil” here is Satan. We need to understand that Satan asks for children of faith to test, and God may allow it…as he did with Job, and Peter. And he will “take” others who reject God. Although He may “allow” Satan to test us, He will guard our lives by not allowing Satan to test us beyond our strength. We have hope in Jesus. I suggest also reading the Acts of the Apostles. We can see God guarding Paul’s life from all evil and then guarding his “life” for all eternity. If He can do all that for Job and Paul, He can certainly do it for us through Love. By the way, don’t forget about Jesus, He’s our best example, just read your bible.
Until next time…God guarded Jesus’ life and He’ll guard ours, just have faith...luv ya! Deacon Phil
“The Lord your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. By day the Sun can’t harm you nor the moon at night.” Psalm 121:5-6, NAB
As we travel this journey of Life we sometimes forget that God is by our side. Whether it is He himself, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or an angel…the Lord our guardian is with us. This image of our Father as shade is apt: God as shade protects us from the harmful effects caused by the sun and the moon. Effects of the sun can be deadly; we can be burned, dehydrated, or even get cancer. Being out in the open in the moon’s light can expose us to wild animals along our journey. But our guardian also shades us from the harmful effects of sin. Satan wanted to sift Peter like flour, but Jesus would not allow it. The thing is if we truly trust in God and believe in Him then He will shade us from the harmful effects of sin. But it’s not all on Him; we have to want to repent. He can shade us, but it’s us who have the choice. Just as going to the beach with sun screen or some type of protection can help against the harmful effects of the Sun; praying and fasting can help us against the harmful effects of sin. Oh, and don’t forget the sacrament of Reconciliation…it can provide some serious protection from the burden of sin. We all feel good after we get something off our chest, why not sin?
Until next time…Our guardian walks with us...luv ya!
“Truly, the guardian of Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” Psalm 121:4, NAB
One evening, while in the Navy; I was making my rounds onboard ship. I rarely slept since from 5am- 4pm, I ran the electrical division, from 4pm- 8pm I was the Command Chief, and from 8pm-1am, I conducted my ministry as a Catholic Lay Minister. The next couple of hours I had to myself. One evening, while making my rounds I chanced upon an armed guard. He had fallen asleep on watch. I went and found his Chief. His first thought was that I would wake the young man and have him put on report which would lead to captain’s mast and even a court martial. The seriousness of his post warranted it. I had a better idea. I slid up next to him, pulled his weapon, checked to make sure it was clear, removed the safety, put the gun to his head and whispered…”good bye”. He startled awake and I pulled the trigger and he screamed, then started to cry. You may think that this was a very harsh way to teach a lesson, but if I told you what he was guarding you wouldn’t think so, and the point was made…he never did it again. My point is that very, very bad things can happen when one falls asleep. Planes, boats, cars and trains crash; people get hurt, and people die. God is watching, not napping. Can you imagine if He did? If scripture is true and He controls the order of the cosmos…what would really happen if He was to just lie down and…sleep? My head is hurting just thinking about it. Remember when Jesus was taking a nap on the boat? Umm hmmm…..
God is not just the guardian of Israel; He is the guardian of all. Remember the Garden of Gethsemane? What Jesus asked the apostles? “Could you not stay awake for a moment?” Just saying…
Until next time…Children of light, instead of napping, we should be praying...luv ya!