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Monthly Archives: April 2015

4th Sunday of Easter – Holy Name & The Good Shepherd

In today’s reading, we read of how Jesus takes care of His own.

The first reading takes place after Pentecost which we will be celebrating soon.  Peter the first Pope is filled with the Holy Spirit. This fisherman who can be called a big coward before receiving the Spirit, now has the nerve and courage to speak before a crowd and speak of Jesus.  He tells the people that the miracles they have seen are all done in the name of Jesus Christ. The name “Jesus” means savior and “Christ” means king or anointed one. It is in this name that salvation can only be reached (Acts 4:12).

This name was given by God so that all may come to Him and bend the knee asking for mercy and salvation (Philippians 2:9-11).  Using the name of someone shows that you have authority in that person. This is why the Apostles relied on Jesus’ name.  It gave them credibility, power and authority (John 14:13, Acts 4:30). The name of Jesus is so powerful that even the demons of hell cry out and run in fear (Mark 16:17, Mark 3:11).  This speaks volumes especially at the time when the people rejected Christ.  The “stone rejected” did become the “cornerstone,” as the reading tells us.  This name of Jesus was the Word that created the universe (John 1:3).

In the responsorial Psalm, we are reminded that the stone that was rejected became the corner stone. We recall how God’s mercy endures forever.  Despite (all of us) putting Christ on the cross, God still has love and mercy for us. He welcomes us to repent and turn from our sinful ways in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38). We recall how it is better to trust in God than in men because in the end, it is God who judges us all and God is the one in control, not man (Psalm 146:3, Matthew 10:28).

The second reading tells us of something very powerful. We are told that God loves us so much that we are His children! Think about this for a minute. We are children of God – the God of the universe, the creator of all things seen and unseen!  If this does not ring of awesome, then I do not know what does.  We are the children of God and can call God, “father” because of Christ who became one of us through the womb of the Blessed Mother Mary and the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:15, Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 4:15). As children of God, we must be of the light, not darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5). This means that we must be free from sin and live as God wants us to live (1 Peter 1:16). Jesus with His authority even taught us a prayer which begins with “Our Father” which should remind us that we are the children of God every time we recite it (Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2). Unfortunately, our friends who share our belief in the Abrahamic God (Jews, Muslims) feel that calling God “father” is blasphemous.  With all respect to them, I find this argument silly. If we are to believe that God created us. Then logically speaking, how are we not going to call God “our Father?” But clearly today’s second reading tells us that the world does not “know us.”  The world thinks we are crazy many times.  This is because they do not understand yet. They have not accepted God’s grace which will illumine their hearts and minds to understand the reason for the faith (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is why we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost which is coming up soon. The Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us understanding so that the “foolishness” that Christianity may come across as to those in the world can make sense to us (John 14:26, 1 John 2:27).

Finally in the Gospel, we read of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus describes Himself as this Good Shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep.  Jesus then tells His parable of a man hired who is not a shepherd. When a wolf comes, the man makes a run for it leaving the sheep at the mercy of the wolf. Jesus tells us that this hired man does this because he works for a salary and does not care for the sheep. He then proceeds to tell us that He is the good shepherd who will stick by His sheep even at the point of dying for them.  “Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?”  Well, not Jesus!  This is a very powerful parable. Here we see how God loves us so much that He is willing to go “through hell” to take us to heaven, metaphorically speaking (John 3:16, Hebrews 12:2).  Furthermore, I cannot help to reflect on our shepherds today in the Church.  It is sad that there are sometimes cardinals, bishops, and priests etc, who forsake God, the Church and the teachings for ulterior motives. They see the priesthood or religious life as a career or a step on the ladder of success and power.  Thank God Pope Francis has been addressing this strongly and condemning clericalism. It has no place in the Church or the priesthood/religious life.  Priests – all clergy – and religious must serve God and the people. They must not be in it for the money or “perks” (1 Timothy 6:11, Titus 1:7-8, 2 Timothy 2:24, 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Peter 5:2).

Lastly, Jesus speaks of having other sheep that are not part of  this main fold. These are those outside of the Church. Those who have not become part of the Church are still the sheep of Christ. They hear His voice from a distance and reply. Christ calls out to them as well. As Catholics, we must avoid triumphalism or the idea that Catholicism is the best and other faiths are inferior.  This is a bad attitude and pride. Some in the so-called “traditionalist” faction of the Church often cite “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” or “outside the Church there is no salvation,” with the intention of shunning those outside of the Church as being condemned.  This is a complete misunderstanding of this phrase. This phrase does not mean, “hey world, we are Catholics and if you are not with us you are going to hell.”  Instead, this phrase is a reminder that the Church (being the Body of Christ) is the ordinary means of salvation.  The catechism states:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (CCC 846)

It is not meant to attack Protestants, other Christians or even non-Christians. The catechism states:

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. (CCC 847)

In paragraph 843, it says of the Church’s respect for other faiths:

The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”332

So clearly, the Church sees the ideas of other faiths as a preparation for the Gospel. God is feeding these people “milk” before giving them the solid stuff (1 Corinthians 3:2).  Christ as the Good Shepherd is calling out to them. Since these sheep are not within His main fold, they hear Him from a distance, so the message may not get fully across which leaves them with the “shadows and images” they rely upon from which to look for God, as the above paragraph of the catechism states.

This shows the mercy of God. He is not a dictator in the sky demanding that we follow the rules or else.  He gives us many opportunities to change our ways and seek Him. We must trust in Jesus the Good Shepherd and remember that we are Catholics and live as such in His name, not our own.  We must not boast about our faith and scare others away (2 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Corinthians 9:16), nor should we believe that we are perfect, holy or “God’s favorites” just because we are Catholic. Instead, we must be humble and share the faith with love; giving a reason for the hope that is in us (Philippians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 1 Peter 3:15).  By doing this, we will win back our brother imitating the Good Shepherd and can proudly call God “Our Father” (Matthew 18:15, James 5:19). May the Holy Name of Jesus Christ be praised forever!

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042615.cfm

March for Marriage 2015

Tomorrow the third annual March for Marriage will take place in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.  Religious leaders and others who support traditional marriage will be expected to participate.

See a post from last year’s march here: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2014/06/march-for-marriage.html

I will update this as I learn more of what went on since I was not able to participate myself.

Update**  April 26, 2015

An estimated 10,000 + people participated in the march.  Attendees were mostly of African American and Hispanic descent which speaks much as to which ethnic group is concerned with marriage and which one is not.  African Americans and Hispanic Americans, for the most part, adhere strongly to their religious upbringing which is mainly Catholicism and Protestantism. Moreover, their cultures put great emphasis on the family and values.  Unfortunately, some of them get pontificated to with liberal Caucasian views which force them to adopt these progressive ideas in order to “fit in.”  Their culture is seen as archaic, misogynistic and homophobic.

The march had people holding up signs that read “A Child Needs a Father and a Mother” as well as “March for Truth.” This march is special this year because on Tuesday the Supreme Court of the nation will begin hearing a case that may make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.  The stakes are high which the LGBT lobbying strongly for their agenda.  Marchers at the march were met with LGBT supports some of which actually ran on stage to disrupt the event.  D.C. police stood idle and did nothing.

This disruption shows clearly how the LGBT claim to want freedom for themselves but at the expense of the freedom of others.  They cry “bigotry” and “hate” when those who defend marriage speak out, but then go and attack marchers who were merely exercising their freedom of speech.  The lack of response by police is disturbing.  I believe the time will come when they will deny permits to the March for Marriage.  This may be soon if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage.  As expected, there was a media blackout on the event. To my knowledge, none of the major networks even mentioned the march. Online publications chose to mislead readers on the intention of the march by calling marchers “anti-gay.”  None of the marchers are “anti-gay,” they are pro-marriage.  The march is FOR MARRIAGE, not anti-gay.

On Monday April 27, 2015 at 11:30 P.M. I will be holding a live Sacerdotus Hangouts event where I will discuss why same-sex marriage is dangerous for society.  Note* there may be a delayed start due to my schedule.  event: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/coj9bcklilcvs5f228o9js5adqg






Vicarious Learning & #kyliejennerchallenge

Just when you think you have seen every stupid thing out there, something new comes along. The hash tag #kyliejennerchallenge has been trending on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I must be honest, out of curiosity I clicked it to see what was the buzz.

I have never heard of this “Kylie Jenner” and thought it was something to raise money like that ice bucket challenge-thing that was popular last year.  Well… after clicking it, I found  myself viewing selfies of people with bloated lips. Apparently, this “Jenner” character is known for her pouty lips. Someone on the internet decided to start some stupid thing of using shot glasses or bottles to make the lips swell.  They insert their lips into these objects and create a suction so strong that it causes trauma to the lips and swells them up.

Doctors are advising against this as it does cause damage to the lips. The pressure causes bruising,
tissue scarring and possibly cuts that may need stitches.  The “pouty” effect only lasts about a week. This challenge is being taken mostly by teenage girls, but some boys as well have joined in on the stupidity.

Why do people do these stupid things?

Vicarious Learning
This type of learning is also called Observational learning. Human beings learn via many means. One of those means is by mirroring the behavior they have experienced. Have you every wonder why sometimes you may start to sound or say things like your friend?  This is vicarious learning. It is part of how human beings learned to adapt to their environment.  Psychology Alber Bandura provided evidence of this learning ability via his “Bobo doll” experiment. In this experiment, adults were told to beat the heck out of a doll while children watch in another room. The children were then left alone with the doll and within a few minutes, they too began to beat up the doll.   I am sure my CUNY psychology of learning professor, Vincent is probably using this in his class now as a discussion starter!

It is no wonder why the people taking this “challenge” with the lips are children or young people. They are extremely impressionable and taught from an early age to look up to authority figures. Since in today’s world celebrities have an authoritative presence via their popularity, abilities and money, they are often imitated by people, especially young people. This can prove to be dangerous as some people can harm themselves and others.

In light of this, parents must instill in their children strong values and an appreciation for themselves.  Whoever started this challenge clearly has self-esteem issues.  He or she believes that having a certain form of lips is what is “sexy.”  That is not true. To quote a phrase often used by religious African American women, “ya’ll need Jesus.”  How true are this works!?  The youth today need Jesus.  Only Jesus can help restore the image of God in these people who are damaging their lips just to imitate someone they look up to.  The only one we should look up to is God, no one else.  I applaud Jenner for taking to social media to condemn this challenge and remind people to be themselves and love the skin they are in.