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 Steve Hillmann, Deacon Paul Machuca, Deacon George Mora and Deacon Chuck McDaniels
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Reflection: “Totus Tuus” (Totally Yours).
Prior to entering Diaconate Formation, I vowed to attend mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels every Thursday morning which required for me to wake up at 4:00 and catch the 5:20 train from Upland that gets me into Los Angeles about 6:20 and to the Cathedral at 6:40 and to prepare myself for mass at 7:00. There is a shrine that is in the plaza that I just adored. It was the Shrine of Our Holy Mother and within this shrine, it had these words in Latin, “Totus Tuus” (Totally Yours). Every visit before mass I would visit the shrine of the Holy Mother. During this time, I met many people that did the same thing such as Sister Joanne Mendez; Fr. Jack; Andrea, and so many other wonderful people. I did this for almost 7 years until COVID shut the church down.
Fast forward to my ordination day, I recall on that morning my classmates, Connie and I processed from the meeting rooms on the other side of the plaza towards the Cathedral. And when I passed the shrine, I began to quiver. Connie looked at me and asked me if I was ok? My response was “No” because I was becoming an emotional wreck. In an instant, I was remembering all the wonderful things that happened in that spot before my Blessed Mother. I was recalling all the blessings and all the prayers that were answered over the years. I remember praying there with Sister Joanne. We prayed to Our Holy Mother about my wife Connie’s bout with cancer. We prayed for her niece that was struck by a train in Columbia and a couple of months later I understand that she was walking. We prayed that I would be blessed to become ordained as a deacon and prayed for so many other things. I started to understand what “Totus Tuus” meant in my life.
Mothers are our blessing here on earth. They are always there when you need them, no matter what you did. They could be “dog tired” from a very tough day but yet they will get up to do something for you. Mothers are willing to do anything for their children. They’re there when you’re sick and risk their own health. Mothers hold this strong aspect of loving their children in any phase of life or situation. A mother’s love is unconditional and eternal—a lifelong bond that unites two bodies and souls from the instant the child is born. For a mother, a child always remains her baby even if he is 62 with grey hair and chubby. Mothers vow their life with these words “Totus Tuus”. This unconditional love of mothers is what makes them so special for every child. Isn’t this the definition of Our Holy Mother? Isn’t this what she did with Jesus? And isn’t this what Jesus did when he was here on earth? Isn’t this what He is doing now to us?
Our Blessed Mother is Immaculate and perfect in every way, from the moment of her conception to the moment she was taken body and soul into Heaven to reign as Queen for all eternity. The Immaculate nature of our Blessed Mother may be hard for some to comprehend. That’s because her life is one of the greatest mysteries of our faith. As I am writing all this, it reminds me of the following prayer:
Fall in Love: Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. – Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ
Action of the Day: Think about Our Blessed Mother. Do you understand the role she plays in your life, and do you continually seek her motherly care? She is your mother if you choose to live in the grace of her Son. Embrace that fact more deeply today and choose to make her an even more important part of your life. Jesus will be grateful you do!
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Reflection: This is a great gospel and topic for today! Rose and I have been married for over 46 years. As like every married couple we have had ups and downs at times and yet here we are pressing in on 50 years! Truth is, we have had an amazing life together. We both were blessed with fabulous parents that also had been married for many years.
So what is marriage anyway? Well, men and women from a young age sense a certain draw to each other. It’s part of human nature to experience this. “From the beginning the Creator made them male and female…” Therefore, from the beginning, God intended the sacred unity of marriage.
Marriage is truly mysterious. Yes, husbands may think their wives are “mysterious” and wives may think the same of their husbands, but in truth each person is a sacred mystery and the unity of two people in marriage is an even greater mystery.
As a mystery, one’s spouse and marriage itself must be entered into with an openness and humility that says, “I want to know you more each and every day.” Spouses who approach their marriage with self-righteousness will always look down on the other and always fail to respect the holy mystery of the other.
Each person you get to know, especially your spouse, is a beautiful and glorious mystery of God’s creation whom you are not called to “solve” but are called to meet on a deeper and deeper level each and every day. There must always be a humility that enables spouses to be open to the other in a new way every day so that they can continually discover a greater depth of beauty in the other. It is this humility and respect for the other in marriage that enables spouses to fulfill their joint mission of becoming one. Think about it, “they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Very few truly understand what this means and even fewer live the beautiful depths of this glorious and high calling of marriage.
Action of the Day: Reflect, today, upon the mystery of the people you are called to love, especially if you are married. To call the other a “mystery” may at first lead to a smile as you acknowledge you cannot figure him/her out. But humbly recognizing the beautiful meaning of “mystery” will lead you to appreciate the uniqueness of others and help you to embrace the call to human unity, especially within your own marriage!
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan.
Reflection: When my 20-year-old grandson was about 3 or 4 we had a classic stand-off, a war of the wills. His mother was off doing errands and he was at home with me. I do not remember the reason he got in trouble, but I will never forget how I sat him on a one of our steps and told him he could not move until he apologized. We sat on that step for what seemed like an hour. Eventually he relented but I could not believe the tenacity in holding his ground at such an early age.
Isn’t this how we are when it comes to forgiveness? We can hold onto grudges forever! Unfortunately, sometimes for our entire lives. We may even forget the offense but not the thoughts and feelings that justify the punishment we impose on those responsible. I once heard Father Greg Boyle say that injured people injure people. That made a lot of sense. Why else do we keep repeating the same vicious cycle of hurting someone or getting hurt, move on, then do it again… We keep collecting all the big and little hurts and become and injured soul who is sensitive and quick to jump to conclusions.
Today’s Gospel can be very difficult because we can all relate to the servant who showed no mercy to his debtor. But I invite us to focus on the mercy of God. The first servant owed his Master ten thousand bags of gold. An amount that makes one think his debt can never be repaid. He, on the other hand is owed a miniscule amount, in comparison. Yet the Master forgives the servant who does the opposite when given the chance to be merciful like his master. Sounds all too familiar, yes. Although the unmerciful servant did eventually face the consequences for his actions, we must not forget the Master’s initial mercy. To forgive such a massive debt required a mercy born of a deep and passionate love, the source of all grace.
Action of the Day: Forgiveness isn’t about forgeting, it’s about letting go of the hurt so it can do no more damage to you or anyone. Today is the day to forgive. There is some little or big hurt that needs to be released. God’s grace will help us do what may seem impossbile. Be merciful, forgive and allow the peace that surpasses all understading to heal us.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
“Why you should hate your life!” is a good title for a today’s reflection – because Jesus said that we should do it! To do it, you’ve got to think carefully about what it means and work at it daily. It’s not a “do it once and you’re done” kind of thing. Also, Jesus said that if I hate my life in this world, I will keep it to life eternal. So this isn’t just some self-help advice about how to have your best life now. It’s about your eternal destiny! So we need to be clear on what Jesus meant and how we should apply it!
When Jesus repeats a message often, we really need to pay attention. He gives us a “heads up” when He begins (12:24) with, “Truly, truly ….” That means, “Wake up! Don’t miss this! Think carefully about this because it’s important!” He is the grain of wheat that dies so that it will bear much fruit. But in that, Jesus is also our example. We are to die to ourselves so that we bear much fruit.
Jesus’ words apply to everyone who wants to follow Him. He assumes that we all want to save our lives. But He tells us that the way to save our lives is to lose them for His sake and the gospel’s. And, He’s talking about saving or losing our lives eternally.
You should hate your life in this world because you want to follow Jesus, serve Him, and be with Him forever.
Today is the Feast of St. Lawrence, the patron of Deacons – he is the example of how deacons serve God.
1. The servant’s model: By laying down His life on the cross, Jesus bore much fruit (12:24).
2. The servant’s mandate: To follow Jesus, you must hate, not love, your life in this world (12:25).
To “hate” our lives (John 12:25) is the same thing as denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). It means living for God’s glory and His purpose by submitting every thought, word, and deed to the lordship of Jesus. It means moment by moment seeking to love God and love others for Jesus’ sake by saying no to my inherent selfishness and pride.
Action of the Day
Consider this: By “hating this life,” Jesus is referring to the daily, lifelong process of dying to self as we live for Him. We need to fully engage in the daily battle of fighting our own selfishness and pride.
Taking up your cross is a daily activity that you choose to embrace. The cross was an instrument of tortuous, slow execution. Jesus’ hearers knew that a man who took up his cross was, for all practical purposes, a dead man. A man bearing his cross gave up all hope and interest in the things of this world, including self-fulfillment. He knew that in a very short time he would be leaving this world. He was dead to self. Jesus’ death on the cross was the supreme act of love. And love is the supreme mark of the Christian, the first fruit of the Holy Spirit.
The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
As many of you may know, I’m a grandpa! I have two grandchildren – a girl named Elaine, who is almost 3 and a boy named Rohan, who is just six weeks old. I had a chance to visit with them and their parents this past Saturday. As any of you who read or listen to these reflections will probably agree, being a grandparent is the best job ever. The joy on Elaine’s face when her dad opened the front door and she saw us was something I will reflect on in my heart forever!
I had, of course, heard of how great it would be to be a grandparent, from friends and others who had grandchildren before Linda and I were blessed that way. But, I don’t think I really thought a lot about how *I* would feel. I can attest that those “veteran” grandparents were absolutely right. To me, it also reminded me (or maybe taught me) something that relates to today’s Gospel – there is nothing like the innocence of little children.
Little ones (those up to pre-school age, I would say) have an earnestness about them, a complete lack of duplicity or fakery, an ability to love with abandon – all of these are qualities that are in far too short a supply in our world today. If adults could be totally honest, seek to say exactly how they feel, and consider everyone worthy of love, what kind of world might we have?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells His followers that all should be like a little child. He means it in the ways I just described. We should see ourselves before God as fully known, fully loved children of the Creator. There is no getting anything past God. And, even more, blessed are we when we don’t try to get anything “past” God – when we love Him with abandon, when we have the biggest smiles on our faces when we are in His presence (when He opens the door of your heart and we see Him). Today, can we try to become more childlike, and allow God to reach us with that kind of joy? What a wonderful day it will be if we can!
Action for the Day:
No surprise here – take time today to pause and see God at the door of your heart, and have that childlike joy at Him being there with you!
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!