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2014-2015 Gospel Reflections

20160327 - Easter - The Resurrection of the Lord

posted Mar 25, 2016, 7:12 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:32 PM ]

Gospel of John 8:1-11

Jim's Reflection

The Folded Linen Cloths

To believe that Jesus rose from the dead is to believe in something that never happened before. Our minds have to adjust to seeing things differently. Old ways of thinking have to be thrown out and new ways of thinking brought in. The Resurrection happened…I didn’t see it, but I believe it. Jesus is the Messiah, and the only remaining trace of death is the folded linen cloths in the tomb. From then on, everything changed!

Jesus tomb was empty. It had even been cleaned up. The napkin and linen cloths were folded and rolled up neatly. Everything was left in order and taken care of. Jesus was obviously done with this grave. No more of this “death business” for him. He left it totally behind and was fully alive, never to know the sufferings of death again. Have you ever made a transition in life…taking a step and knowing that a part of your former life was totally behind you? Did you find yourself trying to take care of things or leave things in order in any way?

Easter says you can put Truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. Happy Easter!

April 26, 2015 - 4th Sunday of Easter

posted Apr 24, 2015, 10:08 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:28 PM ]

Gospel of John 10: 11-18

Tine’s Reflection

In this week's gospel, Jesus says that he is the shepherd. When he states this, He claiming that Messiah has come and in Him God himself has come to shepherd His people. When I think of a shepherd, I think of someone who has a distinct call, which the sheep recognize and follow. Jesus had a distinct calling, and we are have answered it with our love and faith in Him. A line that stood out to me in this reading was “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Jesus has done that for us. He is our shepherd and has laid down his life for us and died for our sins. Everyday, people sacrifice parts of themselves and become advocates for others. They becoming the living God by continuing the work He started. When I think about my own life, I can see myself as a type of shepherd, especially when I am teaching in my classroom.

In my classroom, I am the shepherd my students follow. I create the schedule, teach the lessons, set the routine, and make sure everyone is learning and growing in a safe and loving environment. Some people think this is an easy job. I go to work, teach from 8am to 2pm, and then my students go home. What people don't realize is that I, like Jesus, metaphorically lay down my life for my sheep. I am the advocate for students who need one. When a student is struggling in a specific subject, I am the one who works with them, pushing them to try new strategies and find ways to make the content relatable. When a student is having problems with another student, I am the one who holds conversations with all students involved, trying to get to the bottom of the issue and sort through all of the drama. Students often get hurt or sick at school, so I do what I can to make them feel better. I think about the socioeconomic status of my current students and the things that they are facing. Many of the problems they battle in their young lives are things that shouldn't be happening to them. I have had students come to school hungry because they have no food at home. Now, I keep extra snacks and cereal bars in my classroom in case one of my students didn't get enough to eat before the school day started. I have had students struggle with their parent's divorce. Once, a student went as far as writing about how the divorce was causing him to die inside because he didn't know how to handle all of the fighting and name calling. I went and spoke to both parents, letting them know how their actions were affecting their young 3rd grader, in hopes that any future fights wouldn't be in front of him. I currently have a student struggling with severe social anxiety because of physical bullying that happened to her at a previous school. Now, I check in with her everyday, walk with her to the cafeteria because the sounds and messiness triggers something within her, and have helped her seek out ways to express her feelings. I have had students who were homeless, moving from hotel to hotel, family member's couch to family member's couch. She wasn't always able to make it to school because of their situation, so I worked with her to come up with extra lessons and ways she could keep up with the curriculum on the days her family was struggling. I have had students whose parents I suspected were drug addicts, and sought the correct services to protect that child and their siblings. Lastly, I have seen a student brandish a large knife at school, and herded all of the students I saw nearby into my classroom. I treated it as a lockdown because the knife was huge, and made all of the nearby students run into my room for safety. I locked the door, called the office, and kept a close watch as to what was going on right outside of my door because I did not want any students walking by or have anyone get hurt before the student was disarmed.

Jesus stated that “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." In my life, I think that I am a good teacher, and I lay down my life for my students. I would do anything for them, whether that be teach them to the best of my abilities, feed them when they are hungry, console them when their emotions run heavy, or protect them from physical dangers are present in their lives. I can and will continue to be a shepherd that protects my sheep because Jesus has continued to protect and lay down His life for me. I will continue to be a sheep in Jesus' flock, doing his will and serving Him in any way I can.

Erin’s Reflection

In this gospel reading, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd. There may be others who claim they are shepherds, but when faced with trouble, difficulty, or fear, they leave their flock. Jesus never leaves his sheep; in fact, He leads them and loves them and lays down His life for them. He does this knowing that God loves Him and leads Him.

When I read this I think about how much the sheep trust in their shepherd and how much love the shepherd gives to his sheep and what the shepherd would sacrifice in order to keep the sheep safe. I see this in my family: my mom and dad as shepherds leading my siblings, nephews and me as their flock. I have always looked up to them for guidance and I have always trusted in them to lead me in the right direction. My parents were always leading us toward good and sacrificed a lot for us because they love us. John 10:18 resonated with me the most: "No one takes it from me, but I give it up because I want to. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it up again. I received this commandment from my Father." My parents could easily NOT lead and guide us, but they do because they want to. They are my Good Shepherds like how Jesus is ours. It is through trust and faith I believe the Good Shepherd(s) (my parents, Jesus) will continue to guide me.

April 12, 2015 - 2nd Sunday of Easter

posted Apr 10, 2015, 5:18 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:28 PM ]

Gospel of John 20: 19-31

Alfred’s Reflection

When I was an undergrad at Cal, I created a student orientation class and that class has been offered by volunteers every fall for over twenty years. A number of people from St. Anne's Youth Ministry have gone to Cal, attended that class, and facilitated that class. The class has grown and thrived over the years in ways that I couldn't imagine when it first started.

Back when I was in grad school to get a master's degree, I helped create student group that was active for a few years. Then, it was gone a few years after the my friends graduated.

What was the difference between the two? People cared enough about the class that they passed on the responsibility to care for it to the next group of students and repeated that for many generations of student. The student group burned brightly for a short time, but came to an end when there was no one to pass it on to.

Two thousand years ago, our young church could have died with Jesus on the cross. The disciples could have so scared, so scarred, by sight of the mobs calling for crucifixion and the rough treatment that the Roman soldiers gave to Jesus on the way to Golgotha that they would have stayed in hiding. (I've watched The Passion of The Christ and I'd need a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit to make me risk torture and death.) The disciples could have failed to recognize the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus and in the locked room.

But, it didn't happen that way. The travelers to Emmaus did recognize Jesus after he broke bread with them. In today's Gospel, Jesus did appear in a locked room to show his wounds, wish peace upon his fearful followers, and to give the disciples the Holy Spirit to help them pass along Jesus' story to others and to the generations to follow. Jesus repeated the act a week later because Thomas wasn't in the room the first time.

For those of us who know today's Gospel well, I think we look down on Thomas. He didn't believe his spiritual brothers and sisters when they told him that Jesus was alive, that Jesus appeared to them and gave them a mission. We think that we wouldn't be Thomas. I think the question for modern-day Thomases isn't so much whether we believe that Jesus was resurrected, but more a question of what action we are willing to take because we believe. Our Roman Catholic Church has been around for two thousand years. What are we doing to pass on the stories, the practices, the traditions so that the Church is still thriving two thousand years from now? (Or to make sure we are ALL in Heaven if Judgement Day comes first?)

Maricel’s Reflection

In this gospel, the first phrase that stands out to me is "Peace be with you." This reminds me that God is always there to put our worries to rest. Upon Jesus' return he told his disciples "as the Father has sent me, so now I send you..." Jesus has always been a model of what he expects, and is one who leads by example. We are called to spread God's word and love just as Jesus did.

Thomas represents many people in our society who have doubts in their faith. He needed proof that Jesus came back. Often times, in today's world we seek evidence, logic and reasoning. However, God's wonder extends beyond that and often cannot be explained. Faith is believing without having to see. There is a constant invitation to stretch ourselves and put our faith in God.

March 22, 2015 - 5th Sunday of Lent

posted Mar 15, 2015, 10:49 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:30 PM ]

Gospel of John 12: 20-33

Kristenne’s Reflection

During the time of Lent, we often ask our fellow Catholics, “What are you going to give up?”

It is a seemingly simple notion, to sacrifice a bit of our indulgences and make room for God. But what happens after the Lenten season is over? Do we just pick up right back where we were before? Or are we changed somehow?

In this week’s gospel, as we approach Easter, we are reminded of how Jesus predicted his death and knew he had to die for us. He relates this to a grain of wheat and how a single kernel is nothing on its own, just a grain. But if that kernel dies and becomes a seed, it is able to produce much more with the nurture and care of its creator.

Our faith is very much like this. We take this journey through Lent and give up a piece of ourselves so that we can open ourselves up to do God’s work. But how do we do that? We know we have these gifts given to us. Our talents, our experiences, our growth. But how do we know what is God’s work?

The gospel says, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”

I think that part of the gospel really lays it out for us. It reminds me of the quote Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And I would add, that above all, to do those things with love.

It is a scary thing to not have control of your own life. To be lost, to be told/forced, and in Jesus’ case, to face death. But I think that every year we go through Lent, we lose a little of ourselves and gain a better part that we can use to serve the others around us.

We try at least. Whether it be serving food to the less fortunate, spending an extra hour to help younger ones with homework, or choosing a career where you serve others instead of yourself. We are transformed little by little and we become that seed that grows and spreads it to others, even after Lent.

Ali’s Reflection

This week’s gospel reading speaks to me as a message about our purpose in life. Jesus tries to tell his disciples that he is to die for the People and that “the Father will honor the one who serves me.” Essentially, I think Jesus is telling his disciples that they, too, will eventually live out their own lives for the purpose of being with God. The example Jesus uses of the single grain of wheat, is such a simple, yet profound symbol of this and of our faith because it’s one main purpose is to die in order to grow into new life. This, I believe, is the essential message of Lent and how each one of us tries to live our life.

When I think about my own purpose in life, I’m reminded of how hard it was trying to figure out who I was as a teenager. Trying to fit in with friends and trying to fulfill the expectations of my parents by doing well in school. I often felt lost but always knew that turning to God and my faith was a direction to help me find my way.

It’s one week before Holy Week. How have I taken the opportunity to reflect on my purpose now? What meaning can I make out of what’s been given to me, no matter how small or simple those gifts may be, even as little as a grain of wheat? How do I persist to daily be like Jesus and give myself to others for the sake of having a newer and better life?

March 8, 2015 - 3rd Sunday of Lent

posted Mar 4, 2015, 9:03 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:30 PM ]

Gospel of John 2: 13-25

Samantha’s Reflection

The Jews doubted Jesus when he said that he could raise the temple in three days after it is destroyed. While he was alluding to his own death and resurrection, it made me think about how all things are possible through God. As human beings, we doubt things when they don’t seem realistic for us, and may end up dismissing certain thoughts and dreams because they sound so far-fetched.

This Gospel can be a reminder for us that with prayer, persistence, and passion, we can accomplish great things. I remember in college, a friend talked to me about possibly training for a half marathon. I cut him off saying, oh I can’t even run two miles right now, I could NEVER do a half marathon. A few years later, I was inspired to start training for my first half- I was scared- what if I didn’t make it past the finish line? It would be so embarrassing to have to tell my family and friends that I couldn’t do it! It may sound weird, but completing my first half marathon truly showed me that all things are possible through Christ (Phil 4:13). I used a lot of positive self-talk while running and would often pray for the Holy Spirit to be with me, to run with me, to give me strength when my legs felt weak. God carries us and shows us that the impossible is possible through Him.

Do you ever think about something in particular that you would like to accomplish one day, then think, nah, I don’t know if I can do it- too much competition, too many obstacles, I’m not smart enough, I’m probably not good enough. Just as God showed us that life conquers death through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He will show us that faith and hope will always overcome doubt and fear.

February 22, 2015 - 1st Sunday of Lent

posted Feb 19, 2015, 7:07 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:28 PM ]

Gospel of Mark 1: 12-15

Jeffy’s Reflection

In the Gospel of Mark 1:12-15, it talked about how Jesus was driven into the desert for forty days. While in the desert, there were wild beasts and satan tempting jesus. But Jesus was being watched over by angels making sure that he stayed true to God’s ministry.

Every lenten season, Catholics around the world prepare themselves for the forty days leading into Easter and Jesus being risen but it starts with Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday reminds us of the sins that came before us and the sins that we have done. Right before we receive the sign of the cross drawn by ashes on our foreheads, these words are said to us, “Turn away from sin, and be faithful the Gospel”.

Jesus said some similar words when he arrived in Galilee, “...repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

In today's society, we are like Jesus going into the desert. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by evil, tempting us at any chance it can get. Evil comes in many forms, and so does the good. God said to have faith in Him. If we do that, then we know that God is there for us and will show us the right way.

Kat’s Reflection

Whenever I think of Lent, I think about sacrifice.

The Gospel on this first Sunday of Lent truly spoke to me. I put myself in Jesus' place and wondered what I would do for 40 days in the desert while also being tempted by Satan. I figured that this would be easy, since everyday life in our society is our "desert". Over and over again, we face temptation. For me, I've realized that I'm addicted to sugar. It may seem silly to someone, but for me, it's a true evil. I'll eat and drink any type of sugar knowing that it's bad for me. I can eat an entire BIG bag of candies and I not even think about it. In the beginning, I would just do it and then I'd feel bad or guilty for having done so. I'd tell myself that I will change and for some reason, I just can't get myself to do it. I've enabled all the excuses. For example, I would buy ingredients for my daughter to make a pie knowing that I will probably eat most of that pie. Buying the ingredients for her was an excuse since no one else in the family was asking her to make pies. I would buy cookies and other sweets and say that they are for the kids, but if they are on the table, I tend to eat them too. The devil is strong with his temptations and my will power is very weak. I've succumbed to MANY temptations and its come to a point that I don't even feel *that* bad about it anymore. I'm starting to not feel guilty about it. I'm sure my example sounds childish or not substantial, but I ask you to insert your own weakness, bad habit or personal flaw and think about all the excuses (or not) that we make to justify what we do is ok.

The story of Jesus in the desert for 40 days with Satan tempting him reminds me that we can be like him. We need to listen to the Gospel and try to follow Jesus more closely. As we enter this time of self reflection and penance, let's be reminded that He died for our sins; even the ones we haven't committed yet. Because of this, we can have the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be one with God again. I remind myself...it's NEVER TOO LATE and I have another chance. He loves me for who I am even though I know I can be better.

February 8, 2015 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Feb 3, 2015, 5:44 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:29 PM ]

Gospel of Mark 1: 29-39

Chris’ Reflection

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus goes to a house and heals Simon’s mother-in-law. Afterwards he goes to a synagogue and draws the attention of many people in town. There were people who were ill and others who were “possessed by demons.” He heals all of them and reveals to his disciples that his purpose is to go around healing as many people as he can.

There was one part of the Gospel that initially confused me. After Jesus drives out the demons he doesn't let them talk “because they knew him.” Why would he know these demons? Why does he silence them? I looked online for some explanations. I read explanations about how this shows Jesus has power over all things, including these demons. Another explanation was that the demons might reveal who Jesus was and Jesus didn't want people to know exactly who he was yet. When I first read this passage, I thought about something a little different.

Jesus healed a lot of people and they all had different “demons” inside them. It reminded me that we all walk around with our own demons, sometimes we reference them as the “crosses we bear.” For me, one of those demons is about keeping appearances. I often feel pressured to be a strong and calming presence because other people are counting on me. It’s a pressure I often put on myself, even if others don’t ask for it. Whether it’s with family, friends, and especially my students, I need to reassure them that they can trust my guidance. Even if I may doubt myself, I don’t want them to see it. In a way, that’s a demon that I deal with.

Even though we all have demons and it feels like we deal with them on our own, that’s not true. Jesus knows our pain and our struggle just like he knew all those demons he drove out. He knows our pain because he is fully God and fully human. His godliness lets him know all things and his humanity lets him experience all things as well. There were many times when Jesus had to be strong for others and give them confidence when they turned to him. I’m sure he felt fear, nervousness, and doubt while so many looked to him for guidance too.

When Jesus doubted himself, he turned to God and prayed. That’s something I constantly have to remind myself to do as well. God gives us challenges in life, but it’s us that turn them into demons. We have to keep faith that things will be ok, turn bad into good and turn to God when we can’t do that on our own.

Tine’s Reflection

As I was reading this Sunday's Gospel, a line that stood out to me was "they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons." I was confused as to why they would bring him both sick people and those possessed by demons. It seems like two very different, unrelated things. One has to do with those who were sick, while one deals with a negative presence in life. I didn't see how they connected. I didn't understand why Jesus would call upon those who were dealing with two very different things at the same time.

I started thinking about the word "demon" and I realized there are a lot of inner demons people deal with in every day life. I thought about depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, mental heath issues, substance abuse, and a plethora of other demons that people are plagued with. These inner demons are illnesses that people confront every day. At times, we don't even realize those around us are suffering. I started thinking about celebrities we see in the news. Brittany Spears suffered from poor mental health, which led to a very public breakdown. Michael Phelps suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which caused him to do poorly in school. Drew Barrymore also had bipolar disorder, suffered from panic attacks and has battled alcohol and drug addiction. Amanda Bynes was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder after bizarre behavior put her in the spotlight. Most recently, Robin Williams battled depression and lost his life because of it. These are all demons that these very public people dealt with in the spotlight. People have mocked or made fun of the antics Brittany Spears or Amanda Bynes played out in front of cameras, but the reality of the situation is it is no laughing matter. All of these people (and more) need help.

After rereading the gospel a quite a few times, I see that there is a connection between the sick and those possessed by demons. To me, both are illnesses that people need help recovering from. If you don't feel well, you have your parents call you in sick or take you to the doctor. When your body feels weak or out of whack, you usually slow down to take care of it. You take naps, take medicine, eat soup, and drink liquids. You basically take care of yourself to the best of your ability. The same should go for your mind. I have seen people deal with depression. I have seen people deal with substance abuse. I have seen people deal with bodily mutilation and contemplate suicide. These are inner demons that are illnesses as well. Jesus went into Galilee and drove out the demons, so if you or someone you know suffers from these inner demons, do you best to help them be rid of those demons too. Finding help for sickness in the mind is just as important as curing sickness in your bodies. Get them help. Give them support. Talk to someone you trust. In the end, whether your body or mind are sick, Jesus is there, ready to care for those who are in need of His healing powers and saving grace... but we can also be like Jesus and support them with love and care too.

January 25, 2015 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Jan 21, 2015, 8:27 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:30 PM ]

Gospel of Mark 1: 14-20

Rita's Reflection

Have you ever heard a message so irresistible that it made you drop everything you were doing and you followed it with the biggest hope in your heart?!? I have. I was only a kid then, but I knew that pure happiness was so close to me. I would have to leave my parents' side, but the reward was definitely worth it. Unfortunately, I had no money, and the ice cream man continued to drive away -- and with him, my Mickey Mouse ice cream bar. It wasn't meant to be.

So, what IS meant to be? God's Kingdom. We need only answer the call. Jesus' call to follow requires no money -- only trust -- and yet, how often are we too caught up in our own lives that we don't let Jesus catch our hearts?

I often struggle to stop. I get excited about new opportunities and challenges. I am a serial multi-tasker and saying "no" is difficult for me. In the midst of the packed schedule I've created for myself, it's easy to forget Jesus' call to repent, believe, and follow. It is easy for me to lose sight of what's ultimately the most important use of my time -- building my relationship with God. Second to that would be my service to others to spread the good news. This gospel encourages me to reassess the paths I've chosen to follow. I pray that I'm able to manage my time more wisely in order to find harmony in my work life, faith life, family life, etc. I pray that I'm able to make myself more available to God, to hear his calling, and to serve more faithfully.

This gospel also reminds me that the best way to bring others to Christ, is to bring Christ to them through our actions. Someone once said, "God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called." The fishermen of this gospel heard the call, stopped, and put their faith in a new vocation. Jesus teaches them to be "fishers of men", and they were successful in building the early Church. How courageous of the first apostles to leave their nets and follow their beliefs!

When I was younger, I was happy to give my time and talent to the Church -- following in the example of my parents. I look up to them as "fishers of men" for God. As an adult, I continue to be involved in many aspects of parish life. I hope to instill this passion for parish & community stewardship in my own kids one day.

The same invitation that was given to Simon, Andrew, James, & John is still given to us today. Repent, believe, and follow. Change your heart and show it in your actions. Perhaps this is easier said than done, but the reward of heaven surely lasts longer than an ice cream bar takes to eat, and certainly doesn't melt away.

Chris’ Reflection

In this week’s Gospel Jesus goes to the Sea of Galilee telling people to “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus then goes about collecting his first disciples, asking them to stop everything and follow Him. He is so compelling that Simon and Andrew literally drop what they are doing, abandon their whole life, and become followers of Christ.

Last year I actually reflected on this same reading. In that reflection I talked about the sacrifice that Simon and Andrew made. I questioned if I would be strong enough to make the same sacrifice if Jesus came to me. Could I leave it all behind? Could I put enough faith in Jesus and walk away from family and friends?

This year I want to take on a different perspective. With a lot of my friends and co-workers starting families soon and my Facebook news-feed getting flooded with baby pictures, it has me thinking about fatherhood. I ask: what about Simon and Andrew’s father? He was just working one day with his two sons and then all of a sudden they leave. They don’t even give him a proper goodbye. I imagine him turning to look at his sons working, only to find some empty nets lying on the floor. Now he’ll have to find other people to work for him. Who will keep him company now that his sons are gone? How will he explain this to their mother?

It must have been so painful to lose his sons so quickly. The faith he must have had to know his sons were doing a very righteous thing by following Jesus. It’s never easy to let go of loved ones, but I’m sure he knew that his sons were destined for great things. He certainly had his faith tested the day his sons left, but I’m sure he stayed strong. That seems to be the big struggle with parenthood, knowing when to let go and having enough faith in Jesus that your kids will be ok. It’s something I’ll probably have to learn the hard way when that day comes.

January 11, 2015 - Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

posted Jan 8, 2015, 11:00 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:31 PM ]

Gospel of Mark 1: 7-11

Tine's Reflection

When reading the gospel for this weekend, a line that stood out to me was "On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.” As he came up from the water, he was filled with faith in God and himself. It is as though His path in life became clear to him once he was baptized. In a single moment, everything changed for the better. In my own life, going on my first St. Anne's Confirmation Retreat was what changed everything. That first retreat brought clarity to my life like Jesus' baptism did for His own life.

Growing up, I went to church every Sunday with my family. I was baptized at St. Anne's, and completed my First Communion and Confirmation at Holy Spirit. I sang in the St. Anne's Youth Choir from 5th grade till I was a senior in high school. I was doing all of this, but didn't feel connected to my faith. I believed in God and I had faith, but it wasn't strong within me.

When I moved away and went to college, I very rarely went to mass. I prayed on my own and knew He was there for me, but I wasn't actively pursuing my faith. I spent a lot of time on the beach, reading my books for my classes. I also spent more time singing with my a capella choir and dancing Filipino folk dances with the organization I had joined. I was so busy living my life that I can honestly say a part of me forgot about Him.

When I moved back home, I joined the Young Adults Choir because I wanted to keep singing. Since I had sung with the Youth Choir, it felt right to join YAC. This time around, singing felt different. What began as another club or organization I wanted to join changed into something more. I started paying more attention to the music and how it related to the readings of the weekend. I started picking up on the lessons being taught through the life of Jesus. I began looking up bible verses and trying to know more about my faith.

My involvement with YAC led me to join Confirmation as an additional member of staff during retreat. During my first retreat at Mission Springs, I feel like I had a moment when everything in my life and faith became clear to me. It happened as we were sharing brown bags. I sat there, learning so much about the students while learning so much about me. I saw how easily they opened up and reflected on their faith journey and I realized I needed to do more, serve others more, and spread the life and work of Jesus to help those around me. I became so emotional during brown bag because it was as though at that moment, Jesus revealed Himself to me though the stories of those around me. I saw God in my small group.

I knew that I had to do more. I knew I had to pursue my faith journey with more passion and energy. I became YAC's co-choir director and joined the confirmation teaching staff. Whenever I plan a class or pick music for mass, I try and remember how one retreat changed everything in my own faith journey. I often tell my small group that it is never too late to find your faith. I had faith my whole entire life, but I felt like I really found it when I was sitting on that carpet in Mission Springs. Going on my first retreat changed my life. It was as though I was being baptized again and feeling God's love surround me.

Jerico's Reflection

“I baptize you with water, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”

When I read this line, I think of ministry and how it keeps going from generation to generation. The best way I can explain it is like this:

We all are called to do great things. Sometimes it takes a situation or another person for us to realize our potential and to realize that we each are called to serve. We answer the call because those around us inspire us. We each are called to inspire others to see their potential and so on and so on.

I remember when I first started to get involved at St Anne. It was all because of an invitation. I was touched by how genuine and sincere it was and how loving a group of people could be. It was contagious! I wanted to be a part of what was going on. It felt like such a rush that I couldn’t help but be a part of what was going on.

I was afraid at first because it was all new to me. It wasn’t something that most people wanted to get involved with. The invitation was like the water ready to baptize me and the feeling I got afterwards was like the holy spirit coming coming into my life.

I never knew that church and ministry would become such a big part of my life. It was like God had a plan all laid out for me. Everything was ready to go.

This is my way of giving back, by giving to others. I baptize people with water, but the feeling they get afterwards is like no other. They get baptized with the holy spirit. Its just like how I felt when someone reached out to me.

Each of us are called love one another. And with that love we invite others around us to share the same feeling with those in our lives.

Erin's Reflection

I left Emmaus to go to college and do college things: meet new friends, go to class, study for never-ending midterms, intern for other youth programs, go to dance practices until very very late at night, and try to fit a social life in-between it all. I tried to attend mass every Sunday, but it was definitely not the same and staying on this faith journey was getting harder and harder than I thought. Change was difficult and being away from my friends, family, and St. Anne made me homesick. In retrospect, I really did enjoy my time at UC Davis, but I knew that I'd be happier to finally graduate and come back home and focus on my relationship with God.

When I moved back home, I started grad school at CSU East Bay. But even though I was inundated with 1000000x more schoolwork, I tried to make more of a conscious effort to attend mass and pray by writing in a daily gratitude journal. I realized that it wasn't that I never had time to go to church and pray, I just never made time for it. I knew that God was there, I just had to keep taking more steps to find him.

I was invited to become a Confirmation teacher this year, and I like to think that Jim and the rest of the Confirmation staff is my John the Baptist. They were the ones who baptized me, washed my sins and guilt (from moving away from God) away by welcoming me into the group and making me feel more connected with the church and God again. I was renewed, strengthened, and healed by all the people surrounding me and ultimately felt God baptizing me with the Holy Spirit.

In lieu of our Confirmation retreat, this was an example of Praying it Forward. The staff made me feel welcome, and I want to continue praying/paying it forward by making others feel welcome in our community. Someday I hope to be a John the Baptist in someone else's life.

December 14, 2014 - 3rd Sunday of Advent

posted Dec 13, 2014, 7:12 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:28 PM ]

Gospel of John 1: 6-8, 19-28

Jim's Reflection

"Back off....who do you think you are!!?"

There were so many times as a teenager that I kept quiet when I really needed to speak up. Or I got angry and verbally attacked people who disagreed with me. This is called the flight or fight response, two reactions that seem built into us for responding to an attack.

More recently we've heard the chants "hands up, don't shoot." I don't write this to debate, just to point out it is a community responding to speak up for what they feel is right.

When you stand up for what is right, there will be people who will try to quiet you with hostile looks or comments. That's what happened to John the Baptist. The people asking questions in this Gospel came from the religious leaders who eventually killed Jesus. They came because John's message, like Jesus' message, threatened them to change, to give up their status, power and privilege. John didn't back off. But he also didn't resort to violence...he didn't attack them. John found a third way that went beyond flight or fight.

This Advent, if you choose to be John the Baptist, you'll face the same thing. There's no way around it. Standing up for what's right, for the weak and vulnerable, almost always angers some people. How will you handle it? Will you follow John's example and stand strong for your Christian beliefs without retaliating.

Sometimes you'll fall short. If so, don't get down on yourself. Pray for the strength to stay firm but peaceful next time. Find the people in your life, both peers and adults, who will back you. God gave them to you for support in tough situations.

Through it all, remember that God believes in you and that you make a difference!

We're off to the Santa Cruz mountains for our Confirmation retreat this weekend...so please keep us in your prayers as we also remember and give thanks for the special people in our lives back home.

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