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2015-2016 Gospel Reflections

20160410 - Third Sunday of Easter

posted Apr 5, 2016, 7:17 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:37 PM ]

Gospel of John 21:1-19

Alfred's Reflection

Jesus asked: “Do you love me?”

Jesus asked Peter that question three times to parallel the three times that Peter denied knowing Jesus before Jesus was crucified. Jesus didn’t doubt Peter’s love. Jesus asked the question three times as a form of forgiving, healing, and penance.

As we prepare for our last class before the Confirmation Ceremony, I imagine that Jesus is asking each one of us that very same question: “Do you love me?”

In the Gospel, it was not enough for Peter to just to say: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus passed his mission to Peter by telling him to: “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” In the past, I missed the significance of Jesus passing his mission on to Peter. It’s important for Peter and the other disciples to take on that challenge to build the church that we are a part of 2000 years later.

For us today, we cannot just hit a like button on Peter’s “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” comment and think we are done. There is a reason that we’ve had 13 class meetings plus the retreat: we had to learn what it’s like to be a member of our Catholic church. There’s a reason why three of those class meetings were with sponsors or parents: we support each other in our church community. There’s a reason why we went to St. Anthony’s and Fairyland for our service projects: if we really love Jesus, we will get out of our homes, our church buildings, our comfort zones and touch the lives of others in this world. We wanted to prepare you for the real world of being a practicing Catholic, full of faith and mercy and holiness.

A lot of us are like Peter. We love Jesus and want to prove it. But shrink away when it’s hard to do what we are supposed to do or when it is inconvenient or when we have other things we want to spend our time and money on. Jesus could have given up on Peter for punking out on Good Friday.

If Jesus asks us today, “Do you love me?”, our response in words should be, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Will we take the next step and respond with actions by accepting the mission that Jesus gives us to be an active member of our church community and everything it means to be his follower?

20160313 - Fifth Sunday of Lent

posted Mar 8, 2016, 9:14 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:37 PM ]

Gospel of John 8:1-11

Chrystallynn's Reflection

As one of the more common flaws of being human, it seems that it may come easier for us to judge others for their sins than to see people for who they are as just being human. This week's gospel not only models that we should be more understanding of each other, but it allows us to reflect on the idea that the finger that you are pointing at someone else who sins, also has three fingers that point right back at you as well. As much as someone else may have their own faults, we have our own individual faults also. Let us not focus on the sins and imperfections of others, but rather reflect that we may also have our own sins and imperfections too.

During this Lenten season, I challenge you to fast on judging others, and to feast on the Christ dwelling in them.

Jeffy’s Reflection

The Gospel talks about being compassionate towards others who have sinned and us too. Often as human beings, we are quick to judge those who have done wrong to us and to others. But as people of “faith”, we are taught to be compassionate and forgive those that have sinned against us. God too will be compassionate to us when we recognize our own guilt and stand shamed and exposed just like the woman and the others who have sinned.

20160228 - Third Sunday of Lent

posted Feb 23, 2016, 9:03 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:37 PM ]

Gospel of Luke 13: 1-9

Maricel's Reflection

This week's gospel speaks of hope. The fig tree symbolizes hope and faith. There are many times when we feel impatient or barren like the fig tree. When am I going to have a boyfriend/girlfriend? When am I going to figure out my major? Why do I have to wait for what I want? We are bombarded with questions. However, what are we doing to change the situation? The gospel speaks of "cultivating" and "fertilizing" the soil. In our lives, we have the opportunity to take action and believe that God will make our lives fruitful!

Alfred's Reflection

“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?”

I used to spend a lot of time reading news websites and a good amount of time was spent reading the comments that people made. After a catastrophe with a tragic loss of life, there often are comments like the one above that suggested that the people who died deserved it. I could feel the negative energy build inside me as I read those comments. Earthquake, flood, blight? Sent by God to strike down sinners! That was the common thinking in Jesus’ time and apparently some number of people in our time feel that way.

Jesus teaches us to stop worrying about other people, to stop judging how much other people are sinners, to stop thinking we are more worthy of God’s favor. Stop paying attention to others and focus on how you can make yourself better and more ready for our lives in Heaven. Fill ourselves with love and not with hate.

In my day job, we often try to do things better: continuous improvement. If we have a business process, let’s find a do it faster, cheaper, better, and/or with fewer mistakes. Jesus is calling us out in the Gospel to seek to continuously improve our faith lives. He’s telling that God has given us some extra time, so we should make the most of it to make ourselves better. That is part of what the season of Lent is about: shedding all distractions and making ourselves better people of God.

Continuous improvement in the business world is never about settling for good enough. In our spiritual lives, most of us know we have a lot of improvement to make. In the Gospel, Jesus is also calling those who think they are good to also examine themselves and make themselves better as well.

20160214 - First Sunday of Lent

posted Feb 10, 2016, 12:05 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:37 PM ]

Gospel of Luke 4:1-13

Teddy's Reflection

This Sunday marks the first Sunday of Lent this year. The gospel is about the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, and how he rejected the three temptations of the devil. When I hear this reading, I ask myself, “How does this relate to modern day life?” I think this Gospel is Jesus setting the example of how we should live our lives, especially during the season of Lent.

During Lent, it is very popular for people to “give up” things or “do something extra”. Lent is all about fasting, praying, and almsgiving, and “giving something up” or “doing something extra” can help us to focus on these themes of Lent. However, an important question to ask is, “How will ‘giving this up’ or ‘doing this extra thing’ improve my relationship with God?” People can easily give up a food they eat a lot of, or vow to exercise every day during lent, but how does our faith fit into that? I used to eat chocolate all the time. I mean, I could finish an entire bag of almond kisses in one sitting. One year for Lent, I gave up chocolate. It was difficult, but I honestly cannot tell you how that strengthened my faith or my relationship with God. It was something I chose to do just because my friends were giving up things, too. After learning more about the meaning of Lent, one year I privately messaged someone I was grateful for each day of Lent. Our faith teaches us to always be thankful, and to express that gratitude. That Lent, I definitely felt that what I was doing made a difference in my faith life. The focus of these things we do during Lent should always be on God.

Near the end of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, the devil tempted Jesus with things that would damage his relationship with God. Each time Jesus denied the devil, he chose God. In our lives today, we are surrounded by temptation. Temptation can present itself in a variety of ways: alcohol and drugs, online shopping for things we don’t need, someone homeless and hungry, a parent or child we argue with, a friend with issues that we don’t want to deal with. Lent is the perfect time to take temptations in our lives and create opportunities for us to become closer to God. Consider fasting from things like gossip, negative vibes, and spending money on things you don’t need. Consider doing extra things like giving food to someone who is hungry, reconnecting with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or spending quality time with family members. It can be easy to give in to temptation, but let’s make God the center of our decisions this Lenten season, and follow Jesus’ example.

20160124 - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Jan 20, 2016, 9:03 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:36 PM ]

Gospel of Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Kat's Reflection

This Sunday's gospel tells us that the words from the prophet Isaiah have now come true with the coming of Jesus Christ. It was written in the scrolls that someone was there to "proclaim liberty to captives, recover the sight of the blind and let the oppressed go free". They've heard that before in other scripture readings at the synagogue. Did they believe it or were they just words to be heard? Would they have known it was Jesus? Right there, He told them that the Scripture passage they had just heard has been fulfilled.

When I was a young teenager; acting up and doing my own thing, my mom would always say to me, "Just wait until you have your own kids." I remember looking at her with a smirk on my face and thinking she had no idea what she was talking about or that she was crazy. I laugh to myself now because a lot of what she said to me growing up has happened or is coming to fruition.

Once, I tried to leave the house with my hair a mess and my clothes all wrinkled. She stopped me at the door. She told me that I should take better pride in the way I looked; put some make up on, fix my hair and iron my clothes. She said that how I looked outside of my house was a direct reflection of her and how she kept her home and family. She was really warning me to be better in my ways and actions. Now that I have kids of my own, I am placed in my mother's shoes of years past. The wisdom that is now being heard from words of the past is eye-opening. Today I find myself saying the same thing to my teenager and pre-teens. I hope they are better than I was and "hear" what I'm telling them and hope they believe me...at least some of it.

I also think of all the people that I have encountered throughout my life. I have learned from them, both good and bad. When I have a positive or great moment in my life, it's very easy for me to share the happiness and hope to make everyone around me feel what I'm feeling. However, how I rise, or fail and work to rise from my most difficult challenges is just as important to me as how I am when I have a wonderful and awesome moment. I believe that God placed certain people, events and circumstances in my life's journey so that I can grow and be the very best person God intended me to be. What did I learn from this person? What can I learn from this experience? If something doesn't go my way, do I sulk and turn my back on others? Or do I change my way of thinking and try to make the space around me a better experience for the next person. There is a saying, "It can either make you bitter or better." How will you learn to be the best you God created?

20160110 - The Baptism of the Lord

posted Jan 4, 2016, 4:17 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:36 PM ]

Gospel of Luke 2: 41-52

Maricel's Reflection

In this gospel, John is idolized and the people are unaware that someone greater is coming to bless them with the Holy Spirit. The word that comes to mind is contentment. At times, we think that what is in front of us will suffice or that it's enough for us. However, this gospel reminds us that we are meant for more and that Jesus will bless us with more than we expected! Believe in more! Believe in what God can give and not what people can give because He will always give you more!

Alfred's Reflection

A question that I ask myself when I read this reading: Why does Jesus need to be baptized? He is the Son of God, born from a woman without original sin.

I think His baptism is one of many examples of Jesus choosing to do things with his people. This helps us better relate with Jesus and to help God more fully understand us (though I think God understood us without that).

This isn't a good example, but I think of the times when I was in Emmaus. Sometimes, early on, the peer leaders would get into groups and chat during youth ministry meetings. Jim would come over and break it up with a gentle reminder that we should sit amongst the participants. We should be present with them, not a separate elitist or clique-ish group.

Maybe a better example would be how you fully understand being a parent until you become a parent yourself. You can experience having a parent when you're young. You can observe other parents. You can read books on parenting and talk to people about parenting. It's different when you first hold your newborn baby in your arms. When you feed the baby. When you put that baby to sleep. When you're responsible for raising that child and guiding the right way. You have to experience it to fully understand it.

I often think about how God could have chosen to save us without ever leaving Heaven, without sending Jesus to earth. I don't know if that would have been possible. But, I am thankful that Jesus came to be with us, to walk among us, to be a child like the rest of us, to be baptized like us, to experience all the little things that it means to be human. When I pray to Jesus about my day-to-day struggles, I imagine that He understands my prayers better and is able to be more deeply sympathetic towards me.

20151227 - The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

posted Dec 22, 2015, 1:22 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:36 PM ]

Gospel of Luke 2: 41-52

Ali's Reflection

When I reflect on the Gospel, I ask myself two questions: Who do I consider to be my family? and How do I know that I am a member of my family?

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to take part in helping provide a unique experience for the students of our Confirmation program at their retreat in Scotts Valley, Missions Springs. Each year, I always come away feeling this bittersweet memory of the retreat experience soon after we leave that special place, and this year was no different. I know that it has a lot to do with the chance to share stories with our young faith community and to break bread with them in an intimate and real way. There is something so awesome about the opportunities that lend themselves to allowing our young people to open up about their experiences and connect with their peers as well as their trusted guides at this retreat. I think that what the youth got a chance to experience that weekend was no different than what Jesus had to do when he was away from his parents.

Sometimes a retreat away from the world that we are accustomed to—the world of our close friends and families—is necessary for us to grow even stronger to discover more about ourselves, and once reunited with our worlds, we are able to strengthen the bonds that are developed with our loved ones.

So, in response to the questions I asked, well, I think they were answered, yet again, in the experience of that retreat. My family, for me, is not only my immediate family members, but the family of faithful brothers and sisters who believe in and follow our Father. I know that I am a member of my family because despite our own unique journeys, each person in my family shares with me a struggle that is similar, because it is deep, personal, and impacts me just by the mere fact that someone has opened themselves up to sharing their pain with me, for as St. Paul wrote, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”.

We are reminded this time of year, more than any, to live out the message that God gives us about how to be Christ for one another and especially with our families. He challenges us to share not just our material gifts, but the gifts of time, patience, and love. He gives us every opportunity to reach out to other members of our family, through acts of service, generosity, and story sharing. My hope is that this season of Advent urges many more opportunities like those experienced at the Confirmation retreat—opportunities for understanding and growth, as well as opportunities for giving of kind words, charity, or merely just the presence of listening to another person’s struggles and joys.

Kristenne's Reflection

Understanding. This is the word that comes out to me in this week's Gospel. Not only because it's a theme throughout the reading, but it shows up more than once in the text.

When Jesus is talking amongst the teachers of the church, they are amazed at his understanding of religious teachings, especially for one so young. Conversely, when Mary and Joseph find him, they can't understand why he is there when they were worried looking for him and why he responds with "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

As young people of the church, we can often be judged by the way we practice our faith and live our lives as Christians. If one young person dresses a certain way, it would be generalized that all youth dress inappropriately. Or others might say that we are too young to understand the traditions of the church. And even when we aren't in the church, it can feel like no one understands us. Not even our own family.

But just as Jesus was so young when knew his calling, we too are called to serve the Lord no matter what age.

Some of us might stay at little bit longer after school to build a class float. Or spend sometime studying with a classmate who just doesn't understand the homework. Maybe some people come early to practice to make sure you get the shot just right. Or maybe you spend extra time before mass to reflect on the gospel. With that extra effort, that passion (and sometimes craziness) we show living out our faith at youth rallies and such, they mean something even if no one understands it.

I am very blessed to be part of a parish that encourages youth to be a part of the church actively. I've seen us do wonderful things. Raising money for charities, feeding the poor, giving back to our communities. We don't need to wait to be older to do good things, we are the young church of today. So how are you answering your call? And what are you doing to help others understand theirs?

20151213 - Third Sunday of Advent

posted Dec 8, 2015, 9:27 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:35 PM ]

Gospel of Luke 3:10-18

Ernest's Reflection

"What Should we do?"

As John preached about treating people with love and fairness, I started to evaluate how I treat people in my life. What Should I do to help others? What Should I do to make a difference?

I think its easy to think about ourselves and what we have and keeping what we have. But i think we need to think more of sharing the gifts that god has given us.

Random thought, Growing up I used to love being compared to my dad or brother. Like, you have your dads sense of humor, or you and your brother look alike! Because these are people I looked up to and wanted to be like. I bet that’s how John felt when people thought he was Jesus, by the way he was preaching.

It’s kinda cool being compared to someone you look up to and follow. =)

20151122 - The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

posted Nov 16, 2015, 9:29 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:35 PM ]

Gospel of John 18:33b-37

Ali's Reflection

Have you ever been questioned about who you are or who you are supposed to be? This is the question that comes to mind when I reflect on Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus in this week’s Gospel.

Sometimes we are challenged by others to prove ourselves to them—about who we are and what we are capable of—which can often cast some sense of doubt in ourselves. I see Jesus challenging this notion and even responding in a way that demonstrates that he really has nothing to prove to Pilate. Jesus shows casts all that doubt aside and challenges back by responding to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. That his kingdom exists “in truth and those who listen to his voice”. He assures him that, though they are labeling him as a king on this earth, his true kingdom is in heaven.

Whether it’s our coaches, teachers, parents, or even our closest friends, we can sometimes feel like we need to own up to a certain way of being, in order to please others, prove ourselves to them or even gain their approval. I can recall countless times growing up, and especially entering into college, how I felt the pressure from my parents and others, including myself, to succeed in school so that I can become whoever they hoped to see me become—a doctor, a computer engineer, an architect. Unfortunately, I cracked under that pressure and fell off track academically, in my early years of college, and I did not become any of those things. It wasn’t until much later, that I came to realize how much I had to accept what others were telling me but not give in. More importantly, I knew that I didn’t have to live up to expectations but ultimately do what I believed to be right for myself.

Jesus is a king unlike any other and shows us that it isn’t necessary to place ourselves high on a pedestal for the sake of others. Instead, by owning and accepting ourselves for who we are and what we really stand for, we more able to realize our true greatness. The throne we sit on is one with a King who loves and cares for His people and who expects us to do the same. Jesus modeled being a King for us in this way, and so we follow suit. Jesus, as our King, is our origin and the only proof we need to show others why we are who we are.

We find the truth about ourselves by listening to the love of God, by listening to others and understanding where we came from. I realized truth about myself after much reflection and prayers, and in doing so, I discovered that my calling and what I believed to be right for me was to become a social worker, which is how I currently devote my energy and gifts for helping others and one way I live out my service in God’s kingdom.

Kristenne's Reflection

This Sunday we celebrate Jesus Christ the King. It's strange to think back then, people ridiculed Jesus because he didn't come as the king they thought of. Someone who would rule the kingdom and persecute those who got in the way. A leader that would be on top and would compete with others.

But Jesus came as a different kind of leader. He showed us that we don't need to be against each other. We don't need to prove ourselves to others who doubt us because God made us who we are.

As we go about our days, we will be judged and we too will judge because we are all human. I think it is how we act on those judgments that decide whether or not we are fulfilling our responsibilities as Catholics.

Growing up, my parents had a habit of comparing me to other kids. “Why are you not like so and so…” was something I heard very often. It really pushed me to prove them wrong and I did everything to try and please them. Through all the hard work and missing out on hanging out with friends, I surprisingly found myself accepted into one of the top universities, UC Berkeley. While I was proud of myself, I was not happy and I felt empty. When I finally graduated I thought I finally proved to them I was worthy. I looked for their approval, only to see that I didn’t have it. On my graduation day, my dad said, “That’s good, but now you have to find a job.” And when I did, it still wasn’t good enough.

The times where I felt the most right with myself was when I was in Emmaus as a youth leader. Even then my parents questioned me, but I felt whole. We can spend our lives trying to prove to others that we are worthy, but God already knows that we are. He made us in his image.

And more so when we use the example of Jesus being a different kind of King, one who takes care of the weak and the powerless, we can become better people in this world.

201511108 - Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Nov 3, 2015, 1:43 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2016, 9:34 PM ]

Gospel of Mark 12: 38-44

Sheila's Reflection

A penny for your thoughts...

In this weeks gospel the widow gave her last pennies in alms giving to the church. There is no doubt that her thoughts were on God.

Pretend that your wallet had twenty one dollar bills during Mass. Giving $1 is a relatively no sweat and takes little thought. Don't you think God deserves a lot more thought and maybe even a little sweat?

Giving more money than what we are comfortable with puts our thoughts on God. When we direct our thoughts to God, our thoughts turn into unconditional love. Our love is transformed into faith. Our faith sustains us (in good time and in bad) during our lifelong journey with Christ.

Giving alms is like exercise. It can be very difficult to start. When you finally do start, you feel more energized and better about yourself. You never regret giving just a little bit more. As matter of fact, you walk away feeling good about the effort you made and you (literally) walk away just a little bit stronger.

Exercise more alms giving. Break a spiritual sweat by digging deep. Strengthen your faith by trusting in God and that He will always provide you with what you need.

Kat's Reflection

A common saying is, 'fake it to make it'. Although this can be a positive thing when it comes to building one's self confidence, it can also mean that people dwell in being fake and never try to become genuine in their thoughts and actions.

Today's gospel causes me to reflect on stewardship; time, talent and treasure. My parents taught me that when you give, you give with your hearts because God will give back to you tenfold. Even Fr. Geoffrey tells us to pray about our offering before coming to Mass. We don't do it in the pews before collection. I believe he wants us to do it with our hearts and not just put "whatever" in the basket. The widow in the gospel gave her last pennies and offered them to God. She had nothing and gave everything. Jesus said that she put in more even though she contributed the least. How many times do we do that with our time, talent and treasure?

Growing up in a large family, we always had to try to live within our means. This was hard for me when I was in high school. I went to a private school and while I was there, felt the need to fit in. I recall asking for a dress for the Christmas Ball. I needed a dress that didn't look like everyone else's and it had to be one of a kind. I found my dress, but it was over $250! I begged my parents to buy it for me even though I knew they didn't have money budgeted for something of this amount. Most of the money we had was to feed and clothe us, but not for a dress this expensive at Christmas time. I knew I could've bought or even borrowed a dress that was less expensive. However, I needed to be "in" and show that I too could have new and better things. I wore that dress twice. I don't even recall getting a compliment on that dress. In then end, it didn't matter. I know now, that I just wanted to show off and show that I had more than I really did.

Now, having grown up a few years more, I realize that material, worldly things are not what I'm supposed to be concerned about. I myself can go without the "nicer" things in life. I'm trying to instill this in my children. I'd like them to know that they should be happy with what they have and to offer everything they have up to the Lord. It's easier said than done. We are constantly reminded of the "newer" or "better" through television, radio, magazines and social media. We always want more than what we have. Having said that, I think about where my stewardship is rooted from. Why do I teach Faith Formation and Confirmation? When I give to the church, can I give more? Do I give from my "surplus" or do I give of my whole self? I hope to think that I give of my whole self and from the heart. When I plan my classes, I think wholeheartedly of my class. I think of my students and wonder the best way to get the lesson through to them in the short amount of time we have together. I try not to teach directly from a book. That is too easy...that would be teaching from my surplus. Not saying that it's wrong, but I know I can do more.

The next time we are asked to give of time, talent or treasure, we should ask ourselves; are you genuine in your actions and words? What is your heart's intent? Are our friendships 50/50? Do we give back to our friends what we receive from them or do we just give to expect something in return? Do you contribute from your surplus or can it be more than that? Do you live within your means? Or do you show off and pretend to be or have things you do not so that you aren't looked down on.

I hope to give so much more that. I hope that we can all do so too.

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