You shall love your neighbor as yourself

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."–Mark 12:29

In the Gospel we find one of the rare meetings between Jesus and a teacher of the Law which is not confrontational. The man seems genuinely interested in Jesus’ answer to a question that was often asked by interpreters of the Law. Again, rather unusually, Jesus answers the question directly. In answering Jesus does not give just one commandment but two: Love your God with your whole heart and soul and Love your neighbor as yourself. Both answers are taken from the Law of Moses (Dt 6:4-5 and Lv 19:18 respectively).

First, in answering a question about which is the most important commandment, Jesus gives two commandments which, in His view, are quite inseparable; one cannot be kept without the other. We cannot say truly we love God and then refuse to love our neighbor. Jesus will make another modification. He will extend the meaning of ‘neighbor’ to include every single person and not just the people of one’s own race, religion, or family (cf. Lk 10:30-37). As Christians, we are called to Love God. We do that in a variety of ways, but perhaps the best way to demonstrate our love for God is by doing what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, to “Love Thy neighbor.”

Speaking at the Last Supper, Jesus says to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” A few verses later he says the same thing in a slightly different way, “Whosoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.” In other words, Jesus wants us to express our love for him by being obedient to his command­ments. These gospel statements should absolutely clear up that there is absolutely no dichotomy whatsoever between loving God and obeying God. There is no disjunction at all between having a love relationship with Christ and keeping his commandments: Love your neighbor as yourself. That is, the commandment to love is more important than the commandments which concern the worship and sacrifices of the Temple. The Prophets of the Old Testament already had affirmed this (Hos 6:6; Ps 40:6-8; Ps 51:16-17). Today we would say that the practice of love is more important than novenas, promises, political party, sermons, and processions. The love that Jesus commands and that He showed his disciple was not a matter of sentiments and opinions, but rather a matter of action and decision. For Saint Gregory the Great “The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.” What Jesus did, He now asks and commands us to do.

Jesus accepts the stranger, the outcast, forgives sinners, and accepts your faults. The love that God shows for humanity is a love without bounds. We are called to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which enables us to more fully see God’s presence in the world. Because if God is truly our Father, we are all brothers and sisters, and we are challenged to show this in practice by loving unceasingly. We, disciples, should keep this law in our mind, in our intelligence, in our heart, in our hands and feet, because one cannot reach God without giving oneself entirely to one’s neighbor!

In fact, loving others as oneself can be difficult but the advocate—The Holy Spirit— will be the voice of God, of Jesus directing our action of loving—and we will never be alone. But why do you suppose we have been ineffective in loving our neighbor? The answer is simply, because we have truncated the good news to a sentimental and sloppy notion of love. We instead need to tie in biblical love. And until we restore obedience to our understanding of the Christian’s love relationship with Christ, we will continue to lose our voice in our city, home, and the world. As Saint Catherine of Siena once said “Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."

—fr. Peter Damian, O.P.

Solemnity of St. Martin de Porres

October 28, 2018

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

On Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the 12:05 Mass, we will celebrate the Solemnity of St. Martin de Porres, the Patron of the Southern Dominican Province in the United States. This Mass will include the celebration of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for the members of the parish who are in need of healing in their lives. It is a way to celebrate one of the gifts that St. Martin de Porres received from the Lord: the gift of healing. This weekend's Gospel reading is precisely about a story of healing: that of Bartimaeus, a blind man (Mark 10:46-52).

This account from the Gospel is particularly important especially at this time in the history of  the Church and of the world, when there is so much need for healing. As a Church - a people of faith in need of healing -we are invited to cry out "Son of David, have pit y on me" (Mark 10:47b), even when many others or the circumstances try to quiet us down. We need  to remember that Jesus himself  is the one who hears our cry and the one who calls us. In moments of darkness and blindness, as members of a wounded Church, we are called to support one another by echoing the words the blind mind heard: "Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you." (Mark 10: 49). In the midst  of  our blindness, wounds, and pain, we need  to hear Jesus asking us: "What do you want me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51). This is a very important question for us as a Church, what do we want the Lord Jesus to do for us in this particular moment of the history of the Church? Do we want to see? What are the physical, spiritual, . psychological, and emotional wounds that need to be healed in our lives?

As we continue moving forward in our journey of life and faith, and as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of St. Martin de Porres, we are invited to continue praying for the healing of the Church. Through the intercession of St. Martin de Porres, may the Lord Jesus, brings us out of darkness and set us free to continue serving him and one another as St. martin de Porres did. We look forward to see you joining us in prayer for the healing of the members of the Church this coming Saturday.

St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!

-fr. Jorge Rativa, O.P.

A letter from the Cardinal

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October 1, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Annually, the next-to-last Sunday  of October marks the Church’s Eucharistic celebration for the Missions, World Mission Sunday.

In his message for this year's celebration on October 21, Pope Francis explains that "life is a mission." "Each one of us is called to reflect on this fact: 'I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world' (Evangelii Gaudium 273)," he writes. Focusing on young people, he notes: "In speaking to you, I also address all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their life as children of God."

I invite all of us in this archdiocese to see World Mission Sunday as a special moment to live out the mission we share as God's children, the mission to bring the Gospel to the whole world. I encourage you to be a "voice for mission" through your prayers and through the help that you are able to give in supp01i of the priests, religious and lay pastoral leaders who work tirelessly, day in and day out, proclaiming the Gospel, building the Church, and serving the poor in more than I ,I 00 mission dioceses in Asia and Africa, the Pacific Islands, and parts of Latin America and Europe.

The prayers and material aid generously given to the collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith on World Mission Sunday, the Pope explains, continue to suppo1i the "preaching of the Gospel to every nation,'' thus "contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth."

"Mission revitalizes faith,'' Pope Francis reminds us, quoting Saint Pope John Paul II in Redemptoris Missio (#2). May your commitment to the Lord's continuing mission renew your faith and be a blessing in your life. And may you know of my personal gratitude for your generous response on this unique day for the entire Church, and throughout the year, as you are able.

Gratefully in the Lord

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

Archbishop of Galveston-Houston

“Good Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?”

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we have the story of a rich man, that is, a man who believed that his material wealth brought him happiness. No doubt he was a well-meaning man. “Good Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?” “You know the commandments,” says Jesus and then proceeds to list only those commandments which involve our relations with others, omitting those relating directly to God: not killing; not committing adultery; not stealing; not bearing false witness; not defrauding; respecting parents.

However, the young man was not gratified. He tells Jesus that he has observed the commandments since he was a child. The young man desires to do more than to simply observe the commandments; he yearns for something lasting and deeper. Mark tells us that: “Jesus looked at the man and loved him.” What a commanding and yet gentle statement! This young man seemingly wished to surrender all to God and to truly live out the commandments of God. Clearly, Jesus is surprised by this young man’s deep and sincere desire and suddenly His heart was completed with love for this young man who hungers wholeheartedly for God.

Jesus turned and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Obviously, this was not the response the young man was hoping for. After understanding what Jesus was truly asking of him, he became befuddled.

We can fully sense the young man desires truly to follow Jesus; however, he never expected to give up or surrender all including family and friends in order to be a true follower of Christ. So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he walked away, sad and dismayed. He finds the price of discipleship was too unreasonable. He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money could not buy him. Jesus spoke to the trouble of his heart. The one thing kept him from truly giving of himself whole-hardheartedly to God. Whilst he lacked nothing in material goods, he was however possessive of what he had. He placed his hope and salvation in what he possessed. The command of Jesus to give up everything and follow Jesus is a challenge that seems daunting. What about us? Are we willing to give up everything we have to follow Jesus?

Jesus is challenging us today to make God our one true possession and treasure, and not to be dismayed. Treasure has a special connection to the heart. Make Jesus the center of our heart. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. The Lord himself is the greatest treasure we can ever possess. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. He alone can satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true joy with Jesus? Selling all that we have could mean many different things--our friends, our job, our "style" of life, what we do with our free time.

Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was selfish. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had. Those who are generous towards God and neighbor find that they cannot out give God in generosity. We are told in the Gospel of Matthew “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44).

Let us pray through the grace of God that, like the rich man, we realize that our “wealth” (or whatever it may be that is holding us back) is costing us a life lived in the kingdom of God. Jesus offers the way that guides our steps, the truth that enlightens our minds and the life that gives love which lasts forever. Our happiness lies in how we answer these questions! We have a choice. What will we choose?

—fr. Peter Damian Harris, O.P.

 

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord… The Mighty One has done great things for me,

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…

The Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.” —Luke 1: 46.49

The visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth ends with the Magnificat (Luke 1:39-56). Mary visited Elizabeth to share with her the good news of her pregnancy. Mary was moved to proclaim the greatness of the Lord because He was fulfilling his promise of giving a Savior to the world and she was the chosen one as the Mother. Certainly the Lord was going great things for her and for us.

As we celebrate the feast of our Patroness, Our Lady Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, we are called to be grateful because as Mary visited Elizabeth to share the good news, Mary still visits us every day particularly when we pray the Rosary, celebrate the sacraments, and come together as a community to share and celebrate our faith. We are witness of the great things God is doing for us in our parish. I would like to mention some of them that have taken place in this past year. After Hurricane Harvey, many people came to offer their financial support and many volunteered with Catholic Charities and other organizations. For this reason, our parish was the recipient of the Charity in Action 2018 given by Catholic Charities this past September. Also, in the last months, the St. Vincent de Paul Society conference received a grant to continue their mission of serving the poor.

This last year we started the Young Adult Group and it is flourishing un­der the leadership of a very dynamic Young Adult Council. We also recently started the AVIV Youth ministry along with the formation of the children’s choir. These ministries have come as a response to the invitation to the Synod: Young people, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. Throughout the year, we have been helping the ministries to improve their presence and action in the life of the parish. This is always ongoing.

We also continue enhancing our Faith Formation Programs, recently we pur­chased an RCIA program to help us teach the Faith to those who want to become Catholic or in full communion with the Church. Some other things to be grateful for are: the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe that came back restored; the lights in the parking lot are working, the cabinets built in the parish offices to provide more storage room, and the improvement of the lighting in the Church. We also added a couple of security cams in different areas of our Church.

We are also striving to enhance the liturgical celebrations in Honor of Mary by adding more music and solemnity to those occasions. This is our way to continue welcoming her and to listen to the good news she brings about her Son Jesus Christ. Her maternal presence and prayerful intercession among us are what have made it possible for us to enjoy the Great things the Lord has done for us for more than 100 years since the Dominicans came in 1913. I am very grateful to all the parishioners and friends of the parish that have com­mitted their time, talent, and treasure to continue making possible the mission to share the Good News as Mary did. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us! Happy Feast Day!

—fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his Spirit on them all!

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his Spirit on them all!

Moses was not that wrong when he  wished  that  all  the  people  of  the Lord might be recipients of the Lord's Spirit. His wish was a prophetic wish unknowingly looking into a distant future, the days of the arrival of the Messiah.

After Jesus' ascension into heaven,  a new age was opened for those who believe in him. Pentecost marks the moment in which the flood gates of the life in the Spirit were opened for all those who believed  and were baptized. The early Christian community was well aware of the many gifts of the Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the faithful. Because of it, history was changed and a new age was opened for those who allowed the Spirit of God to dwell in their hearts.

Two thousand years later, how do we understand and live this happening? Has the life in the Spirit come to an end? Throughout the years of my ministry, I have found people who are scared of the possibility of the life in the Spirit. They would prefer a quiet and established religious reality, without surprises - all under control!

Sadly, those who sponsor such a way of thinking are denying the possibility of the greatest gift. Jesus himself had said to Nicodemus: You must be born from above. The wind blows wherever it pleases; you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from and where it is going. This is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit. The Spirit of God, the soul of the Church, comes and goes according to his own plan and design, pushing the believer in the direction which only he in his divine wisdom has foreseen. The Spirit of God is not, and will never be controlled by human plans and designs. Like the wind, the Spirit blows wherever it pleases. Pentecost was only the beginning of the plan of the Spirit.

However, Pentecost has not finished; and the Spirit of God cannot be domesticated. If you spend some time studying the history of the Church, you will encounter many failed attempts to rein in the impetus of the Spirit. We always pretend to be in control, and we forget that we are fighting against a reality which is stronger than all of us. In today's Gospel reading we heard how the disciples wanted to stop others who were driving out demons in the name of Jesus because they were not part of their group of followers. Jesus stops them, daring them to expand their understanding of the broadness of the power of the Spirit. Whoever is not against us is for us.

How aware are we of the presence of the Spirit in our lives? How open are we to the working of the Spirit in our lives? Are we afraid of where the Spirit might lead us? Are we afraid of where the Spirit might lead the whole Church? Let us break away from the mentality of fear and let us arrive at a mentality of trust -trust in the Spirit who is the soul of the Church.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.


But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

September 23, 2018

But they kept quiet because on the way

they had argued about who was the greatest. - Mark 9:34

In today's Gospel reading, Jesus has to have a discussion with his disciples about humility. When Jesus confronted them about their argument, they were ashamed. Sitting down, Jesus tells them this: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the last, and the servant of all”

- Mark 9:35 Oh, how often we think we are better than everyone else, even though we are not! The easiest way to avoid such an ego is simply to follow this message: Be the servant of all. We must not be preoccupied with who is the best or greatest. Rather, we should think about ways to serve our neighbor, and about how the power Christ is working within and through us. In last Sunday's gospel, we hear how Jesus summoned his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.11- Mark 8:27-35

The path that Jesus was inviting his disciples to share meant total love and self-giving. This kind of racial commitment that Jesus calls us to adopt for the sake of the gospel. Following Christ on the path of self-giving will not bring us worldly success, affirmation or accolades, but give true and complete witness to God's indiscriminate love and mercy to the homeless, immigrants, marginalized, poor, and to those who might not look like us. As a faithful disciple we are to be as concerned for others as we are with their relationship with God. Jesus reminds us in today's gospel that greatness is to be found in loving service of the weaker members of the community. Being a disciple is not the easy option. True discipleship is demanding, it requires our promised commitment to God's mission through self-giving and sacrifice.

Somebody once told Saint Ignatius that Francis Xavier was a very ambitious young man. Ignatius replied, 'He is not ambitious enough'. His later ambitions were gospel ambitions. Lord, we pray today that you may renew our desire to be like and for Jesus in the world.

-fr. Peter Damian Harris, O.P.

Faith and Works.

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Faith and Works

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,

if someone says he has faith but does not have works? (James 2:14)

This question indicates some tensions among the members of an early Christian community. Some Christians understood that only faith was necessary for salvation and therefore works were not important. In his response, James indicates that this is not a question of either/or but both. It is important to understand that in our Christian life, our works are faith in action. It is not necessarily that our works are per se the source of salvation, but that through our works we proclaim the one Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, and participate in his mission.

One of the most important  Christian  works  is  teaching  the  faith  at different levels: children, youth, young adults, and adults. In teaching the faith, there is a mutual benefit for the teacher and the student, they both grow in their understanding of the faith and therefore, in faithful discipleship. We just started our CCE and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programs. These two programs are in need of teachers and volunteers in different areas. If you are interested, please contact Mrs. Eileen Hubbard at faithformation@holyrosaryparish.org or me at pastor@holyrosaryparish.org. Holy Rosary parish will greatly appreciate your time and generosity in passing on the faith to those the Lord is calling to follow him. Thank you!

—fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

Praise the Lord, my soul!

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

An Invitation

Praise the Lord, my soul!


In less than a month, on October 7, we will be celebrating the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, the patroness of our Parish. Even though our parish is named after the Holy Rosary, we celebrate her intercession and presence in our parish. It is very important to be aware of the two precious gifts our parish has received. On one hand, the gift of Our Lady, blessed virgin Mary; and on the other, the gift of the Holy Rosary. Maternal presence and prayer makes Holy Rosary a dwelling place where we can come to know, love, serve, and praise the Lord. This is clearly shown in the reverent celebration of the sacraments and the silence through  which God speaks to each one of us.

The Maternal presence of Mary and the prayer of the Holy Rosary, makes our parish a Marian place where many  people come to honor Mary and worship Christ. For these reasons, we are making an effort to enhance the liturgical celebrations in honor of Mary and of course those that refer to the mysteries of the Lord. As we have done in the past, we will continue inviting our parishioners to come and celebrate with us on these occasions. It is essential to be intentional about this maternal presence and the prayerful spirit that Mary brings with her.

At this time, I am extending an invitation to all our parishioners, friends, volunteers, and staff to join us on Sunday, October 7, to celebrate the Feast of our Lady of the Holy Rosary. On Sunday, October 7, we will celebrate the Masses in Honor of Our Lady; the main Mass for the Parish will be 11:00 a.m. We will also have a parish picnic from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the courtyard. The parish hall will also be available for those who prefer to be indoors. Children are welcome to bring flowers to our Blessed Mother on that day as well.

I appreciate your support, your presence and participation during this celebration. May Our Lady of the Holy Rosary bring us together closer to her.

-fr.Jorge Rativa,O.P

Master, to whom shall we go?

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Master, to whom shall we go?

      There are words and situations in our lives that are hard to take because they are difficult to understand or because they are painful, or both. This is precisely what some of the disciples of Jesus were going through after Jesus had revealed to them that He is the true bread and that they needed to eat his flesh to gain eternal life.  As a consequence, many of Jesus' disciples went back to their former way of life and they did not follow Jesus anymore. Most of us, at some point or another have to face teachings and doctrines that are hard to take and difficult to understand. They can only be embraced in faith, trusting that the Lord does not only want for us what is good but what is best.

      Also, there are painful situations in the Church that discourage us. There are painful moments when we face our own personal sins or the sins of others and like some of the disciples, we also want to leave. This is precisely the pain that many Catholics are experiencing due to the new findings related to the scandals of some leaders of the Church. I ask your forgiveness for the pain that has been caused. I Pray for healing.

      At this time, when we all are struggling with disappointments and doubts, the Gospel invites us to hold fast to the hope offered by Peter in his response to Jesus: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69)

Fr. Jorge Rativa, O.P. 

Watch carefully how you live, not as a foolish person but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Watch carefully how you live, not as a foolish person but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.

In this Sunday's readings we are admonished by the author of the book of Proverbs and by Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians to forsake foolishness. But what is foolishness? The Oxford dictionary defines it as a lack of good sense or judgement. Foolishness, in a sense, impedes us from being able to make the correct decisions in life.

Saint Paul complements this definition by expanding it. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand the will of the Lord. Saint Paul warns us against one of the greatest forces which block our spiritual growth and development. Ignorance, at all levels, separates us from knowing and understanding the will of the Lord.

One of the greatest challenges we face in today's Church is the
reluctance we find in some people who are not willing to grow in their understanding of the Church. When it comes to our professional life, we put ourselves in a process of ongoing formation. We know that if we are not aware and knowledgeable of the latest advancements in our field we are putting ourselves in a position of obsoleteness. Sadly, when it comes to our life of faith, some pretend to live their Christian lives with a First Communion level of formation. They have not come to understand that the Church of Jesus Christ is a living and dynamic reality lead by the Holy Spirit. Throughout the two-thousand years of Church life, we as a community lead by appointed leaders and inspired by the Holy Spirit, have arrived at a deeper understanding of God's mystery and will. As the world changes, we, as a Church led by the Holy Spirit, also have to learn to change so we can respond to the challenges presented to us by the world with the treasures of faith and revelation entrusted to us.

Our faith in Jesus Christ puts us in a process of ongoing formation. Faith formation is not a luxury or a pious endeavor. It is a demand of our commitment to Jesus which we dare not postpone. Christian life is an ongoing battle against foolishness, the foolishness of the world which tries to swallow us by convincing us that the vision of life is obsolete. If we are to follow Christ, we need to listen to the invitation of Wisdom and sit at her table.

—fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

The Bread that Comes Down from Heaven

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

The Bread that Comes Down from Heaven

Elijah was on his way to the mountain of God, Horeb. He had to go through the desert. It was a long journey. At one point he was tired and discouraged. He prayed to the Lord saying "This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers" (1 Kings 19:4b). In the midst of his struggle, an angel of the Lord appeared to Elijah providing food and water for him so he could gain his strength. Elijah fell asleep under a tree. The angel insisted to Elijah: "Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!" (1 Kings 19:7). This is one of several accounts in the scriptures in which God himself provided food to his people. Elijah was able to recognize the divine origin of the food given to him. Elijah obeyed the angel, gained his strength, and continued on his journey.

In a similar way in the Gospel Jesus identifies himself as the true bread that has come down from heaven. Nevertheless, some of the people were not able to recognize the divine origin of this bread and they were murmuring. In response, Jesus ordered them to stop murmuring among themselves. He insisted to them to believe in Him! Jesus is the true bread that leads us to the Father.

The journey of life can be long and overwhelming. Sometimes, our prayer is that of Elijah and we cry out to the Lord “Enough is enough!” The Lord will hear our prayer and provide for us bread from heaven, a divine food that will help us to gain our strength and to continue our journey. In times when our prayer is “Enough is enough!” it is important to also stop for a moment to listen to the Lord and allow him to feed us with heavenly bread. In other words, in prayer, we need to ask ourselves what is the divine help we are receiving from the Lord himself.

This divine help comes to us usually through the efforts of the community of faith. It is the mission of the Church to continue providing the bread that comes down from heaven through the works of mercy and the sacraments. We have two options: to continue murmuring against the one who provides or to recognize what he is giving us and be grateful because we can taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

—Fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

If humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

In the last decades, televangelism has propagated an interpretation of the Gospel which has been closely related to wealth and prosperity. This interpretation is a religious belief among some Christians who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to
religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.

This interpretation is in conflict with what we hear in today's
Gospel reading. Jesus challenges those Jews who were looking for him for their selfish motivations in their search. Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. They are challenged on their materialistic
approach. Moreover, Jesus specifies what they should be looking for. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

Our faith in Jesus and his message is not a contract situation in which God is obliged to provide for our material well-being and
welfare. Our attention is to be centered in the one who came down from heaven and gives life to the world. It is not that God does not care and provide for us, but our belief in Jesus and his message is not a contract to provide security and welfare. Let us not forget a very fundamental element of our faith: the reality of the cross and our imitation of Jesus in that reality. The gospel of the cross is a rejection of the gospel of wealth and prosperity.

In today's Gospel, Jesus presents himself as the bread of life. He states that whoever comes to him will never hunger and whoever
believes in him will never thirst. However, Jesus is not speaking about bodily hunger and thirst, he is speaking about our spiritual hunger and thirst; realities which are essential to our spiritual fulfillment and
welfare. Jesus and his Gospel are not a magic wand to resolve our
material needs, God has empowered each one of us with the ability to provide for our needs and the needs of others through our daily struggles and efforts. There is no magic in Christianity. We do not tie God down with a contract through our faith. On the contrary, our faith spurs us to work for the building of God's kingdom on earth as a
foreshadowing of our share in the heavenly kingdom. We are to work for the food that endures for eternal life.

—fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

In Times of Scarcity: Trust and Be Generous

Dear Parishioner and Visitors,

   Scarcity of food can give rise to great social conflicts. This is because the lack of food can create a lot of uncertainty in anyone's life. Sometimes, scarcity of food is the result of the lack of resources due to natural causes such as the lack of rain. In other cases, the lack of food is a last minute situation in a given circumstance like that of the Gospel today where there were a lot of people but not enough food to feed them. Also, the lack of food can be the result of political and economic policies created by certain groups who are interested in manipulating the use and distribution of goods in the market. These are groups of people who keep accumulating wealth and trying to control the power of the nations. This need to control comes from the desire to accumulate even more and sometimes from the fear that there is not enough for everyone.

    In today's Gospel, we can see that Phillip was afraid there would not be enough food to feed the big crowd. Andrew was also afraid that whatever they had-five pieces of bread and two fish- would not be enough. Those were two valid and real fears. Nevertheless, given the situation, Jesus invites his disciples to trust him and to be generous. This was the real test for his disciples as it still is for us. By multiplying the bread and the fish, the little they had, Jesus invites them to fully rely on him. Jesus is the one who makes abundant the little we have.

    In the present time, many countries, like Venezuela, Nicaragua, and others, are experiencing scarcity not only of food but also of dignity and justice. As Christians, like Jesus' disciples, we are called by him to trust that whatever little we have we must share it with those who are hungry. Jesus will make it abundant and satisfying. Only Jesus Christ, the Lord, can offer what no other person or institution can: safety in the midst of uncertainty, calm in the midst of storms, peace in the midst of war, and true freedom in the midst of confinement.

-Fr. Jorge Rative, O.P.

I Will Appoint Shepherds

Dear Parishioner and Visitors,

                     I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and non shall be missing, says the Lord- Jeremiah 23:4

"I will appoint shepherds,... says the Lord." Today's reading of the prophet Jeremiah shows clearly the divine nature of the call to be a shepherd in times of great need. According to the reading, some shepherds in Jeremiah's time lost sight of the nature and purpose of their call. They were defining their ministry of shepherding in terms of the world and not in terms of God. This led them to shift their call's purpose. They were not taking care of the people, but of themselves. For a shepherd it is crucial to always be aware of the nature and purpose of his call. This awareness is what helps the shepherd to be grateful, to remain centered in the mission, and of course to be generous

We have bore witness to this shepherd's generosity in the last couple of weeks here at Holy Rosary. Several priests from the Archdiocese and from the Dominican Order have been assisting with confessions, the celebration of the Holy Mass, and other pastoral needs. From the Archdiocese- Msgr. James Anderson, Fr. T.J. Dolce, Fr. Luke Millette, Fr. Richard Wahl, Fr. Mitchell Dowalgo, And Fr. Matthew Suniga,. From the Order of Preachers- Fr. Charlie Johnson, Fr. Marty Iott, Fr. Hung Tran, Fr. Juan Torres, Fr. Armando Ibanez, and Fr. Long Tran. For this coming week, Fr. Art Kirwin will also come from Atlanta to help us with our ministires. It is very edifying to see all these priests taking time apart from their regualr schedules and ministries to assist us with the liturgical and pastoral care of the parish. I ask the parishioners to join me in keeping these shepherds in our prayers in gratitude to their faithfulness to their call and for their service to the Church.

-Fr. Jorge Rativa, O.P.

The Power and Grace of the Anointing of the Sick

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

In today's Gospel we heard the words, The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed many who were sick and cured them. In light of these words, perhaps today is a good day to reflect on the power and the grace associated with the Anointing of the Sick. Unfortunately, far too many people have a rather old and tired view of this Sacrament - the last rites. They still look upon its use as that final moment to call the priest before Grandma takes her last breath. Taking this approach has several problems.

First, waiting until the last moment may not give you a realistic opportunity to contact a priest in time, so that he may come and comfort the person who is gravely ill, as well as the person's family. 

Second, too many missed opportunities occur when someone shies away from celebrating this Sacrament of Healing because they do not want to bother Father, who is busy after all, and besides, if it does not take, they think it means they may have to check out of this life early. Finally, it is not something magical, where we get oiled up and all of the dreaded diseases in our body will be gone.

God's grace is real. The Anointing of the Sick is real. May we help those in need of God's healing grace seek out the power found in this often overlooked and misunderstood sacrament within our Church. In it is Jesus himself reaching out to us in our moments of physical weakness, and who does not need the power of God next to him or herself in those moments of pain or anguish.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P

 

 

A Clear Sense of Honor

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors, 

Jesus said to them, 
"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house."

- Mark 6:4

Rejection is one of the most common human fears. Deep down, our honor is hurt when someone rejects us. Sometimes we are rejected because of our race, color, nationality, religious beliefs, the work we do; or just for being a woman or a man. It does not matter what the motives are for being rejected, our identity is in question and the thought that maybe something is wrong with us invades our minds and our hearts. 

Jesus himself was rejected by his own people because of his office as a prophet. He was not honored by the people in his native place. Usually, in the Middle East of Jesus' time, the honor of a person was given by the family of origin. His listeners questioned Jesus' wisdom and actions because they knew he was a carpenter and the son of Mary. They were not sure who Jesus' father was and they could not believe that a carpenter would have such wisdom. They were offended by what seemed to put Jesus in a very low place and still be a prophet. Jesus was not good enough in their eyes! As a consequence, their faith in Jesus was either weak or null. 

Rejection did not become an obstacle for Jesus to continue his mission. It became an obstacle for those who rejected him. They were not able to witness more miracles and to enjoy the graces that Jesus came to offer. Therefore, Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. 

As Americans and as Catholics, it is very important to have a clear sense of honor in our lives. For Jesus, it is very clear that honor does not come from family of origin, profession, or social status. For a Christian, honor is rooted in Jesus himself, who is God. It is the honor of having a Creator that cares for each human person to the point of giving his own life for us. It is the honor of been created in the image and likeness of God.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

 

God Formed Us to be Imperishable

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.

It is not unusual to find people holding God responsible for all kinds of disgraces: failures, rejections, sickness, even death. Why do people blame God for all of these afflictions? Behind these assertions we can easily discover a corrupted image of God. An image of God made after our own. We create in our minds a God after our own weaknesses, evils, and limitations. We create the image of a God who is vengeful, a God who is like a policeman always trying to catch us in our failings so that he can punish us with all kinds of afflictions. However, that is not the image of the real God nor the image of God that Jesus taught us to believe in and love. God did not create us to fail and suffer.

For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. We were created in the image of God, not the other way around. God, who is the source of all goodness created us to reflect that goodness into the world. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world. All the pain and sorrow which surround us are the consequence of sin in our world. Sin corrupted God's creation and brought sorrow, pain, and death into the world. We were like animals entrapped into an endless circle of tragedy and death.

When humanity thought there was no way out of its tragic situation, God sent his only begotten Son to bring healing into the world. And not only temporary healing, but an enduring healing that would conquer even our worst enemy-death. By the merits of his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus destroyed the power of death and gained for us the possibility of eternal life. The plan God foresaw at the moment of creation was restored by the loving and obedient actions of the eternal Son. It is in Jesus where we rediscover God's eternal intention for us: God formed us to be imperishable. In Jesus we were granted again the right to eternal life.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P

A Christmas Prelude

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors, 

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" 
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. 
(Luke 1:66)

A prelude is an action or event that serves as an introduction to some­thing more important. In music, a prelude is an introductory piece of music. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. The celebration of this Solemnity is the prelude to Christmas. Today's readings and the liturgy in general serves as an introduction to what we will celebrate six months from now: The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this prelude, we hear the prophet Isaiah proclaiming a description of the Servant of the Lord who was chosen and formed in the womb of the Mother by God himself. Isaiah describes also the mission of the Servant: "I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 41:6). This is precisely how John the Baptist served the mission of God. Saint Paul reminds us "John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, 'What do you suppose that 1 am? Lam not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet"' (Acts 13:24-25). John the Baptist knew that his mission was a prelude to Jesus'.

In our journey of faith, we can see that there are people and circumstances that serve a greater purpose. It is important for us to be able to see if who we are and where we are might be the prelude to the greater work of God: Salvation. As John the Baptist, this awareness will help us to fulfill our mission to the extent that we are called, and to serve the Lord with the joy of having the honor to be part of it.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

We Walk by Faith

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

We are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home
in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

We are all aware of the incident between Jesus and the apostle Thomas. Thomas was not present when Jesus appeared for the first time to the disciples, and when told about it he manifested his doubts about all of it. He said, "Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe." Thomas wanted to see and touch in order to believe. He had what we would call today a scientific mind. He needed proof that he could experience in order to accept and believe.

We all share some of Thomas' skepticism. We want to see, we want to touch in order to believe. The values of our secular society have slowly seeped into the mindset of many Catholics. The fear of risking in believing paralyzes many. Some search for proof that cannot be found; and spend their lives sunken in chronic skepticism. Others, sadly, take a fundamentalist approach to the faith, and move into a universe of black and white, where there is no possibility for gray. Their faith becomes rigid and intolerant and they feel secure in their literalism. They live in fear of others and change. They isolate themselves. They develop a sect-like mentality.

In today's second reading, the apostle Paul dares us to be courageous. To rely on a faith that empowers us to walk through the darkness of life. We might not have the consoling and comforting presence of Jesus among us as the apostles did, but we have his words and his promises. And more importantly, we have one another to help and support us in our pilgrimage of faith. We are dared to walk by faith, not by sight. We are challenged to keep moving in our faith journey even when all seems dark and impossible. We are not to stay frozen in a place of safety, but we are to continue our pilgrimage supported by our sojourners. We might not see clearly and may have doubts, but we trust the promises of the Lord. We are to keep advancing in our pilgrimage of faith, knowing that at the end of our lives the Lord who is a just judge will see that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.