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Welcome!

We are glad that you found us, the DEACON-5! Here, we will be posting daily Gospel reflections, Mondays through Fridays, each day written by a different permanent deacon in our group. We pray that you find inspiration and a touch of God’s love for sharing some time with us. Please feel free to leave a comment or a prayer request for us!

Blessings to you all!
Deacon Ray Gallego, Deacon Mike Hidalgo, Deacon Paul Machuca, Deacon George Mora, Deacon Carlos Porras, Deacon Ray Emnace and Deacon Chuck McDaniels

Reflection June 7th, 2023

The Gospel According to Mark 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants. So, the second married her and died, leaving no descendants, and the third likewise. And the seven left no descendants. Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.”

Reflection: Today the Sadducees come to Jesus and question him. They begin by quoting Moses, who wrote, “If a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the brother must marry the widow who then is to bear his children and raise up descendants for his brother.” Then the Sadducees give Jesus a specific scenario to which they wanted him to respond.

This is the scenario they proposed: There was a family that had seven brothers. The oldest brother married and after a few months of their marriage, he died. Now, the custom at that time was that if a brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the second oldest brother was to marry his brother’s widow. This was the custom because the Sadducees only believed in what they could see. They could not conceive of heaven, nor did they believe in an afterlife. They simply were trying to trap Jesus.

However, Jesus does not fall into the Sadducees’ trap. He realizes that they are testing him. Ask yourself: do you ever try to trap Jesus by asking him “a trick question?” At times, do you ask Jesus for a “sign” so that you will know that Jesus is at work in your life?  I suspect that all of us do this at times.

The question for all of us is: Do we trust Jesus? Do we truly believe that He only desires the best for us? Do we trust that He is always with us, regardless of how difficult life is at times, or do we only believe that Jesus is present to us when something good or wonderful happens? Do we need a sign of his presence, or do we trust (most days) that Jesus is with us always and He will grace us with all we need?

Action of the Day: The next time you are tempted to test Jesus, stop for a moment and remember how many times and ways that Jesus has been with you in the past.  If we remember that Jesus is trustworthy, this will help us to trust that He is with us now and always. Jesus will not let us down. May we wholeheartedly believe and trust this reality today and always.

Audio Reflection:

June 6th, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (12:13-17) 

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent
to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech.
They came and said to him,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion.
You do not regard a person’s status
but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?
Should we pay or should we not pay?”
Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them,
“Why are you testing me?
Bring me a denarius to look at.”
They brought one to him and he said to them,
“Whose image and inscription is this?”
They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
They were utterly amazed at him.

Reflection:

Today’s Gospel features an encounter between Jesus and those who the evangelist says were trying to “ensnare him in speech”.  They clearly did not have the most positive motives, no matter how they tried to flatter Jesus at the start.  And, the writer of the Gospel clearly accounted for Jesus seeing through their false flattery.  The question, though, still applies to us even in our modern times.  The question really is about how do we live as followers of Christ in a world that is increasingly turning away from Him?

I’ve mentioned in various of my reflections of how I’ve watched the online series “The Chosen”, which provides an interesting perspective on the stories from the Gospels, and the people that Jesus chose for His disciples.  The one thing that I’m a little envious of is how the characters are shown living their faith very openly.  I remember the episode with the miracle at the wedding in Cana, and how the “master of the feast” got everyone’s attention and led them in a prayer of thanks to God.  Nowadays, it’s even less frequent that God even gets a mention in social gatherings and celebrations.  Well, except for those who do live out their faith more openly.

Jesus did not promise that living a life according to His law of love would be easy.  But, He did promise that it would be worth it, and that we would receive blessings along the way, just for acting in a way that shows we put others if not first, at least right level with ourselves.  That’s how we “render to God what is God’s”. 

We are also called to “render to” the civil authorities what belongs to them.  What does that mean?  One way to look at it is to be a good citizen, a good neighbor, and to use our power at the ballot box to express our belief that all deserve dignity.  It may not seem to make a difference, but these small acts are truly the only ones that do make a difference.  And if we think no one notices, we should think again.  God notices, and God remembers the good that we do.  The hard part is not losing heart, but if we ask that same loving Lord to help us, believe that He will not disappoint, and then just keep at it, one day at a time, one encounter at a time, one good, kind act at a time!

Action for the Day:

Ask God for the grace to truly render to Him what is His, and to be the best neighbor and friend you can be.  This may mean not asking your neighbor to return the tools he borrowed a long time ago, even though you would really like to have that tool back!

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below! 

Reflection June 5th, 2023

The Gospel of Mark (12:1-12) 

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and left on a journey. At the proper time he sent a servant to the tenants to obtain from them some of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another whom they killed. So, too, many others; some they beat, others they killed. He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture passage: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” They were seeking to arrest him, but they feared the crowd, for they realized that he had addressed the parable to them. So they left him and went away.

Reflection: To understand this parable, you need to understand who represents whom. The religious leaders of Israel were the tenants, the vineyard was the Jewish nation, God the Father was the man who planted the vineyard, the many servants sent to gather the produce were the prophets of old, and Jesus was the Beloved Son Who was killed. The parable concludes by saying that the owner of the vineyard (God the Father) will put the tenants to death and give the vineyard to others. In other words, the scribes, Pharisees, chief priests and elders would soon have their religious authority taken away from them, and it would be given to the Apostles and their successors.

This parable is especially important for anyone who exercises some form of authority. Parents exercise authority within the home. Bishops and priests exercise authority within the Church. Our boss exercises authority over us at work and sometimes with our family life. Some people think they have the authority to say things to the marginalized. The same applies to the rich and famous. And the list goes on. They all think they are better than others. Everywhere we turn there is some level of authority for us. But when we even exercise a certain amount of spiritual authority when we seek to fulfill our unique mission in life.

The lesson from this parable is simple: don’t abuse your authority. In fact, who said we have any authority at all over our sisters and brothers. For instance, the ONLY people that can exercise authority over me is GOD and my wife Connie (and that’s because I don’t like sleeping on the couch). Seriously though, there is a certain amount of respect and obedience that we must maintain in our lives for everyone, but it should never be abused.

Just because you’re a Leader, or a boss, or whatever and possess some level of authority doesn’t mean that you can order folks around with vulgarity. Don’t exercise authority according to your own will; exercise it with humility and humbly only in accord with God’s will. Trust and cooperation, and in turn, authority, are earned through consistent commitment to integrity, service, and love. Authority is earned when your people realize that over time—decision after decision—you are looking out for their best interest and treating them with compassion and respect. 

When a duty of leadership is entrusted to a person, the leader is also entrusted with the spiritual authority to fulfill that duty in accord with the mind and will of God. This requires constant humility so that it is only God’s will that is fulfilled. Seek to exercise all authority in accord with the mind and will of God, and the vineyard entrusted to your care will bear an abundance of good fruit.

Action of the Day: Think about the people that you may have hurt by your authority. Pray for those who are verbally abused and pray for those who are marginalized.

Audio Reflection:

June2nd, 2023

The Holy Gospel according to Mark (11:11-26)

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area.  He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.  Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it.  When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs.  And he said to it in reply, May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”  And his disciples heard it.

They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.  He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area.  Then he taught them saying, Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?  But you have made it a den of thieves.”

The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.  When evening came, they went out of the city.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.  Peter remembered and said to him, Rabbi, look!  The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”  Jesus said to them in reply, Have faith in God.  Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.  When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”

Reflection:  In today’s Gospel, we read about Jesus being hungry and angry, two very human feelings.  We also read about Jesus cursing the fig tree and cleansing the temple, driving out the businessmen and money changers who had set up their tables in the temple.  But I want to concentrate on one verse of this Gospel.  “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”  The temple was a sacred space for people to come and pray.  This sacred space was turned into a bustling marketplace, it’s no wonder that Jesus drove all the merchants away.  When Jesus says, “all peoples” I think he means everybody, including you and me.  He wants us to be able to come to a place to pray, seek the Lord and experience his love.  This is why we go to church.  Church is for all peoples, no matter what our situation in life may be or no matter where we are at.  He invites and welcomes us sinners to his church.  I think of how Pope Francis described Church as a field hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.  Do not think that you are too sinful, not worthy, or not holy enough.  Church is a place where we come to be healed when we are wounded.  Our Lord loves us anyway and wants us to come and meet him in his temple and temple of our hearts.     

Action for the Day:  Other than Sunday mass, go to your local parish during the next week and visit the Lord in his temple.  Maybe go to a daily mass.  Go to visit your Blessed Sacrament chapel to pray.  If your parish has Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, go and spend some time with the Lord.  As Jesus tells us, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 

Audio Reflection:

close up of fresh figs on a tree
Photo by Zaid Ahmed on Pexels.com

June 1st, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (10:46-52)

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Reflection: I have never been without my sight.  Except for the childhood games of pin the tail on the donkey or hitting a piñata requiring a blindfold, I don’t know what it’s like to not see.  I do have to admit I have closed my eyes and walked around my house to see what it would be like.  Imagine not having the gift of sight and living in a world designed and intended for people who have sight.  Isn’t it the same living life without the gift of our faith.  We can be blind to so many good things and blessings.  Worst of all, we are responsible for our own blindness.

Anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus must have made a conscious decision to walk away from the darkness of sin.  However, and unfortunately, we are not able to remain in the light of his grace and forgiveness.  We fall back into sin and repeat our need for healing from the master who will always welcome us back to the light.  I can very much relate to our brother Bartimaeus in today’s gospel.  At times I find myself on the roadside because I have allowed myself to stray from the narrow path.  There, like the prodigal son, I come to my senses and with contrition I call out to Jesus asking for pity, for just a moment of his time.  It is in that moment of desire to be with Jesus that the light begins to pierce through the dark.

Given the choice of darkness or light, sight or blindness wouldn’t it make sense that we always choose the light.  Yet why do we seem to be caught in this cycle of sin and forgiveness.  That is a question that is as old as time itself.  Perhaps one day, when in the presence of Light himself, we will understand more fully God’s plan and how it all works.  In the meantime, we have enough to deal with.  To better avoid the darkness of sin we must persevere in pursuing our faith life.  We must also never doubt the love of our Father.  He sent His son to destroy sin and death so that we may have a path to eternal life.  Let us remember what Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of the light”. 

Action of the day: The light of our faith reveals many of obstacles that lead us back to sin.  Pray for grace that will increase our faith and therefore our ability to forsee and avoid those obstacles.  Pray also for our brothers and sisters who find themselves in a dark abyss.  May our prayers coupled with the light of our faith help illuminate the road for those around us.

Audio Reflection: