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
Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection: We are in the last couple of days of Ordinary Time and the Gospels have been about the end of times. The disciples want to know when this will happen and what warning will they get when this happens. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells them to look at the fig tree and when they see the buds burst open, they will know that the Kingdom of God is nearby. For us today, we should not really be concerned with when the end times will be or what warning signs will accompany them. We will probably be dead before then. We should be concerned with building up the Kingdom of God here and now while we are alive. We should be busy with carrying on the mission of the Church. Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does his Father’s will. This means we should not be standing around gazing up to the heavens waiting for the end. We are called to serve our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than us. A good way of doing this is practicing the corporal works of mercy, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the imprisoned. Not all of us can do everything, but all of us can do something. As Mother Teresa says, “NOT ALL OF US CAN DO GREAT THINGS. BUT WE CAN DO SMALL THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE.”
This same Jesus who will come back at the end of time is the same Jesus that is present to us every day. Jesus is present in each of us. He is present at the mass, especially in the Eucharist. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we are called to GO out and be Jesus to others.
Action for the Day: Pray for the grace to help us recognize the kingdom of God around us, to recognize Jesus in others, and for others to recognize Jesus in us.
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
REFLECTION: Today, we honor one of the Apostles: Saint Andrew. Andrew and his brother Peter were fishermen who would soon take on a new form of fishing. They would soon become “fishers of men,” as Jesus said. But prior to being sent on this mission by our Lord, they had to become His followers. And this happened as our Lord was first the fisher of these men.
Notice that in this Gospel, Jesus was simply walking by and “saw” these two brothers working hard at their occupation. First, Jesus “saw” them, and then He called them. This gaze of our Lord is worth pondering.
Imagine the profound truth that our Lord is continually gazing at you with divine love, looking for the moment that you turn your attention to Him. His gaze is perpetual and deep. His gaze is one that yearns for you to follow Him, to abandon all else so as to hear His gentle invitation not only to follow Him, but to then go forth and invite others on the journey of faith.
As we begin this Advent season, we must allow the call of Andrew and Peter to also become our own calling. We must allow ourselves to notice Jesus as He looks at us, sees who we are, is aware of everything about us, and then speaks a word of invitation. He says to you, “Come after me…” This is an invitation that must permeate every aspect of your life. To “come after” Jesus is to leave all else behind and to make the act of following our Lord the single purpose of your life.
Sadly, many people pay little attention to this calling in their lives. Few people hear Him speak and fewer respond, and even fewer respond with complete abandonment of their lives. The beginning of Advent is an opportunity to evaluate your responsiveness to the call of our Lord once again.
ACTION OF THE DAY: First, ponder the question of whether you have said “Yes” to Him with all the powers of your soul. Second, reflect upon those whom our Lord wants you to invite on the journey. To whom is Jesus sending you to invite? Who, in your life, is open to His call? Who does Jesus want to draw to Himself through you? Imitate these Apostles as they said “Yes” to our Lord, even though they did not immediately understand all that this would entail. Say “Yes” today and be ready and willing to do whatever comes next on this glorious journey of faith.
Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
REFLECTION: What made you decide to follow Jesus? If someone enters your home, will it reflect a Christian home? Are you embarrassed to pray in public places before you have a meal? These can be places and signs when we may have the opportunity to show our Christian colors as a follower of Jesus Christ. Whatever is your lifestyle as a follower of Christ, one thing we know, it is getting harder and harder for Christians around the world to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
The pain and the tragedy that occurs by being a follower of Christ are not the whole story. In the Book of James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Jesus Christ never promised it was going to be easy to follow Him. Or that it would be a life free from problems and worries from this world. It is not easy to follow Jesus, as a matter of fact, it involves great sacrifice to stay firm in Him.
It involves deep humility; it involves giving up some of our family time. My wife and I did our share of that, as well as others, in the Diaconate formation. Personally, my wife and I missed two family member’s weddings, our nice wedding and our nephew’s. We also missed other big and important family gatherings that fell on the dates we needed to be during our five-year formation classes.
To follow Jesus even involves making unpopular stand on family and societal issues such as abortion, immorality, and other issues alike. Our lives will be shaken to follow Jesus, but we must persevere, we must sacrifice and carry our own cross. Yet everything that we do for Jesus is well worth it. For He says it in the last sentence of today’s Gospel; “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Let us therefore always be faithful, courageous, and firm in our decision to follow Jesus whatever it may cost us.
St. Thomas More, one of the great English saints of the Church is a wonderful saint for those individuals who are undergoing persecution for their Christian faith, something we are seeing more and more in the West and in other areas of the world. But we must all remember that we are ‘God’s servant first.’
In those times of persecution, look to the amazing example of St. Thomas More, that you too may stay firm and persevere to the end in forgiveness, charity, and truth.
ACTION FOR THE DAY: Today, reflect on your stand in your faith and relationship with Jesus Christ and if you think He sees you as a follower of Him. Also, pray to our Holy and loving Father, to please give you the strength you need to stand firm in your faith no matter what outward circumstances may surround you.
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here– the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
This last week of Ordinary Time features some readings that have been interpreted and misinterpreted time and time again down through the ages since they were written. Today’s Gospel is a prime example. It’s important to note, though, that our timeframe and perspective is far different from that of God Himself.
What is likely the case is that the early hearers of these words by Jesus and indeed, many early Christian believers thought that Jesus’ return would be quite soon indeed – within their own lifetimes. By the time the New Testament was formulated in the fourth century, it was clear that God’s timeline was much longer.
Even in my pre-Catholic days, I remember Protestant preachers looking at the Scriptures, such as today’s Gospel from Matthew 21, and pointing to current events to show how close the “end of the world” and Jesus’ “second coming” were. I heard those words some forty years ago now, and those early interpretations have all proven to be wrong.
So, what can we say then? I would suggest this – we should accept that the timeframe that God the Father has in mind for His Son’s return in glory is known to Him alone. None of us can do any more than guess at it. What should we do? What we should do is do our best to live a life of love, mercy, and kindness toward all whom God places in our path each day.
If we focus on doing that each day, and at the end be able to say that we did do our best to follow Jesus’ example, then the “end times” will take care of themselves. And, even more important than that, we will be helping to spread Jesus’ Kingdom a little bit more by our actions. What better thing could be said of us, than that we were one of Jesus’ “good and faithful servants”? I can’t think of anything better!
Action for the Day:
Do your best today to be “in the moment” as much as you can. Notice all those places where you see God’s hand in your day. Try to be thankful throughout your day, and let those “God moments” help you to trust God better.
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Have you ever walked down the street and found money that was significant? And how many times have you walked down the street and saw a penny but walked right by it? This parable is just about these two examples, the wealthy who would probably jump at the chance of finding money on the street but would walk by the penny, nickel, or dime. Or someone who in dire straits would not only accept that penny but would share it with someone else. Imagine this, let’s turn this parable around and think about this. What if that was God, placing money in your offertory basket (wallet or purse) so he could get your attention? He is asking you to pay attention to your sisters and brothers around you. He is telling you, here is $100 so go out and care for someone that is hungry or thirsty.
The offerings of God’s people are measured not by quantity or quality, but by the heart of faith that pours them out. This woman put in more than anyone else because–in relation to them–she was putting in most of her fortune. I do not believe that the takeaway from this encounter is “always give away all of your money.” I think Christ’s approval of this woman springs from something else implied in the words, “all she had to live on.” By giving all that she had to live on, she was placing herself wholly and without reserve into the hands of God. In essence, she trusted God and relied on her faith.
A widow in Jesus’ culture would have been utterly destitute. She would have no husband and–presumably–no children to care for her. This woman is the essence of the “least of these,” she is needy in every way, and yet–precisely because of that need–she has greatly glorified her God by entrusting herself to His sovereign care.
Jesus saw the rich and not so rich people make their offerings. Do you know what’s really important for us to remember? It’s important we give our best gifts to God. It doesn’t necessarily mean monetary gifts but our individual gifts not just to God but his children. This means we offer to God through our talents, our time, and how much of our treasure.
Remember that penny that you passed up on the street? Maybe that’s God saying to you, “Penny for your thoughts”?
ACTION OF THE DAY: This week is the end of Ordinary time for 2023 and the start of our Advent season while we prepare for the coming of Our Lord. Think about what you set out to do last Advent and ran out of time. What is it that you will promise to do this time? It could include charity, praying, assisting someone, volunteering, or helping a family fulfill their Christmas.