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On this page, you will find homilies preached by the priests who celebrate the English Mass in our church. Homilies will usually be posted a few hours after Sunday Mass.  For the Homily Archive in other years, open a tab above.

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

Reading I: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Responsorial: Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Next week we begin Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas. Therefore, in today’s liturgy, the Church reminds us that Christ is the King of the universe. She reminds us that there will come a day when Christ will judge all the tribes, all peoples and nations. He will judge each of us: “then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:24-26). This will be the final day of His triumph, the triumph of His Kingdom. This is the kingdom we pray for every day when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”

Christ is King! However, He is very different from the kings and rulers we have around us, but not because He has a golden crown, a costly robe, earthly power, or an army. Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” We can say that this is a strange kind of King. He is a King who washed the feet of his disciples and said: “I did not come to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28) He is a King who was crowned with thorns, mocked with a scarlet cloak and a reed for a scepter. He is a King who was beaten and spat upon. He is a King whose throne of glory was the wood of the Cross at Calvary.

Jesus is a King who does not have His own land, for His Kingdom has no borders. His Kingdom is among us; He is the King of our hearts. He is not the king of a nation, but for 2000 years, billions of people have followed Him like sheep follow their shepherd. He does not lead an army, but over the centuries, millions of Christians have given their lives for Him, bearing witness to the truth of His promises, His Kingdom. Today, every five minutes a Christian is murdered, because he made Christ his King. Christ did not write a Constitution; He only preached the Gospel, the Good News. At the center of His Gospel, He commanded love of God and neighbor: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:37, 39).

For Christ’s power is love. Jesus reigns especially in the hearts of those who need love. He identifies himself with the hungry and thirsty; the stranger and the homeless; the naked, sick and imprisoned. He came especially to those who would be scorned and despised by earthly rulers. He taught: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners”(Mt 9:12-13).

This is how Jesus exercised his kingly authority. Christ the King wants to show us that His love is stronger than the evil that attacks us on all sides and seeks to destroy us. He overcomes our misery with his mercy.

He is a strange kind of King: because of His love, we follow him; because of His love, we want to love him in return.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Today, on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we need to think about how we follow Jesus. Is He really our King? Do we really serve Him? Jesus says: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). To follow Jesus, to imitate Him, is to live in love, to put into practice the commandment to love God and neighbor. And when our lives are ruled by love, then we will hear our King say to us: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…. For I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:34, 40). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
Responsorial: Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Gospel: Matthew 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents in today’s Gospel is well known to us; we have heard it and meditated on it before. We see God in the image of the property-owner, who distributed talents according to his own discretion. God gives to each of us what we are able to receive. Every human being is given gifts from God.

We have been blessed with different talents, skills, capabilities, and vocations. And these gifts are ours. We cannot bury our talents, or hide them, because then we lose everything. We can say that if we bury our talents, we lose our lives.

Our gifts have to be developed, both for our own good and for the glory of the One who gave us these gifts. We can’t be afraid to realize and develop our gifts, instead burying and hiding them from the world. As Christians, we are in fact sent to the world. Our Lord clearly tells us: “You are the salt of the earth,… the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14). And in today’s second reading we heard the beautiful words: “all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober” (1 Thes 5:5-6).

What does “watch and be ready” mean? It means that Jesus wants us to do good, so that we may live in love. Our reward is not measured in money, but in the greatness of our love. Because “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). And clearly, love is a talent that each of us has, and each of us can increase it every day. We may not have any other talents, but everyone can love!

St Thérèse of Lisieux was a French Carmelite nun who died in 1897 at age 24. John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church. In her autobiography, St Thérèse wrote that she did not possess the talents that St Paul mentioned in his letter to the Corinthians. Nevertheless, she wanted to serve the Body of Christ in the Church as well as she could. She realized that love was the key to her vocation. She wrote:

Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation…. I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realised that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.

Then,… I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.”

Saints don’t wait. They know God, know that they are beloved by Him and His love compels them to act. The love of God makes them mad with love. For the love that God has given to us has to be reciprocated in love for our fellowman.

An example of this is given to us today in the first reading. This text is probably one of the greatest compliments to a woman in all of literature. In Scripture we find a lot of praise for the valiant women who are models for the vocation to love. They show us how to develop the talents that the Lord gives us, how to fulfill God’s will in our lives. Among them, Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the best role model for us. She is called the first true Christian, and also the Mother of Fair Love. It is also she who shows us how greatly we can increase the gift of love in our lives.

Beloved in Christ! We have only one life here on earth and it is very fragile and short. That is why we have to live well and beautifully. We must not waste life. St. Josemaría Escrivá warns us against the danger of wasting our talents and our lives. He wrote in a homily:

What a shame it would be to have as one’s occupation in life, that of killing time which is a God-given treasure! No excuse could justify such behaviour. Let no one say, ‘I only have one talent, I can’t do anything.’ Even with just one talent you can act in a meritorious way. How sad not to turn to good account and obtain a real profit from the few or many talents that God has given to each man so that he may dedicate himself to the task of serving other souls and the whole of society! When a Christian kills time on this earth, he is putting himself in danger of ‘killing Heaven’ for himself, that is, if through selfishness, he backs out of things and hides away and doesn’t care” (Friends of God 3:46).

Let us remember that at the end of our lives, we will have to give an accounting of how we used God’s gift of love. In this life we can always love and do more. For, as the poet wrote: “We still love too little and always too late” (Fr. Twardowski). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Reading I: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12
Responsorial: Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17
Gospel: John 2:13-22

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the first Christian church, the Basilica of Saint John, in the Lateran district of Rome on November ninth in the year 324. The Lateran Basilica is the most important Catholic church. On its facade you can see the inscription Omnium Ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis Mater et Caput. The inscription means: the Mother and Head of All Churches of the City and the World. St John Lateran is called the Mother and Head of all Churches because it is the cathedral of the Pope, who is both the Bishop of Rome and the head of the whole Church. The building next door to St John Lateran was the first official residence of the Pope.

We know from history that people have always worshiped their gods in special places. Also, we know from Scripture that God himself appointed the places where the Chosen People were to worship him, and where he granted special graces there.

In 1984, the beginning of the period of “Perestroika,” the Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze made a film called Repentance. The film is about how the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union tried to destroy religion and belief in God. It shows how churches were torn down and believers were persecuted. The final scene is profound:

An old woman with a bundle on her back is walking along a street. She sees a young woman in a window and asks her, “Does this street lead to the church?’ because in the past, there had been a church at the end of the street. The young woman replies that unfortunately, the street doesn’t lead to the church because there is no longer a church in that town. The old woman replies, “Who needs a street that doesn’t lead to the church?”

Today we can say that if we want to live our faith, if we want to be Christians, if we want to remain human, we must have churches. History teaches us that wherever churches are destroyed, man loses his humanity. Unfortunately, today more and more churches are being destroyed in countries which for centuries were the bastions of Christianity.

In today’s Gospel, we read about the purification of the Temple. Our Lord’s action shows us the uniqueness of the Temple, its holiness; He calls it his Father’s house.

In 2002, in Kraków-Lagiewniki Pope John Paul the II consecrated the Basilica of Divine Mercy. At the dedication, he said: “As we dedicate this new church, we too can ask the question which troubled King Solomon when he consecrated the Temple of Jerusalem as the house of God: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less, this house which I have built!” (1 Kg 8:27). Yes, at first glance, to bind certain “places” to God’s presence might seem inappropriate. We can never forget that time and space belong to God in their entirety. Yet even though time and the entire world may be considered his “temple”, God has chosen certain times and places to enable people to experience in a special way his presence and his grace. Impelled by their sense of faith, people journey to these places, confident that there they will truly find themselves in the presence of God” (John Paul II, Homily at the Dedication of the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Kraków-Lagiewniki, 17 August, 2002, nr. 3).

Thus, “the temple of God is holy.” The church is a place of meeting in prayer with the One who is our Father and those who are our brothers and sisters. The church must be a place we go to, not from compulsion, but from the heart. We come to it in order to gaze at the face of the Most High, to be with Him, seek Him, adore Him and thank Him. We come to receive the graces and blessings we need. We come to unite ourselves with God through the sacraments, to receive healing and deliverance — especially from sin. That should be the vision of the temple of the Lord from the perspective of a Christian.

Today, however, Jesus also says that there is another temple, not made by human hands from wood or stone. Pointing to the temple of His body, Jesus also speaks of the temple of our human body – which are living temples!

In the second reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians we heard: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?… the temple of God, which you are, is holy” (1 Cor 3:16-17).

Often we do not realize just how much dignity we have. We destroy the temple of our body. In the living temple of the heart often there is evil and sin. Today the Word of God warns us: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person” (1 Cor 3:17).

For God still wants us to be his dwelling-place. Therefore, He calls us to purify ourselves, to become holy – “Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Lv 19:2).

St. Caesarius of Arles so once taught: “When Christ came, he banished the devil from our hearts, in order to build in them a temple for himself. Let us therefore do what we can with his help, so that our evil deeds will not deface that temple. For whoever does evil, does injury to Christ…. My fellow Christians, do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple? Then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. I shall speak clearly, so that all can understand. Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be. Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins. Do you wish this basilica to be full of light? God too wishes that your soul be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us, so that he who dwells in the heavens will be glorified….” (Caesarius of Arles (469/70-542): Sermon 229, 1-3, taken from the Office of Readings for the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran on November 9).

Dear Brothers and Sisters! “Who needs a street that doesn’t lead to the church?” As we follow our life’s path, may we always choose the way that leads us to the temple of God in heaven. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day)

Reading I: Wisdom 3:1-9
Responsorial: Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
Reading II: Romans 5:5-11
Gospel: John 6:37-40

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

In the first days of November, the liturgy of the Church reminds us of the truth of our faith which we profess when we say the Apostles Creed: “I believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

This means that we believe in the inter-relationship of the faithful living on earth with the saints in heaven, and with those who are waiting, preparing, or in other words are being purified in purgatory before entering into the glory of the saints in heaven. We refer to these three communities as the pilgrim Church, the Church triumphant and the Church penitent.

Yesterday, on the Solemnity of All Saints, we rejoiced in the glory of all our brothers and sisters who have already achieved the glory of holiness, who are face-to-face with God in heaven. For “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace” (Wis 3:1-2). Because Jesus says: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me… And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day” (Jn 6: 37.39).

We know from Revelation that after death there is personal accountability for all of our actions. That is why today the pilgrim Church on earth is united in a special way with the suffering Church, with the penitent souls in purgatory. Today, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed; during the octave of All Saints; and through-out the month of November, in a special way we remember the dead — those who have passed from this world into eternity.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1032) we can read: “From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends alms-giving, indulgences, and works of penance under-taken on behalf of the dead.” In the fourth century, the great Father of the Church, St. John Chrysostom, taught: “Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 41, 5).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ! We remember today especially those souls who await our generous assistance. We believe that we can help the souls in Purgatory obtain the fullness of Divine Mercy and attain eternal happiness in the heavenly Jerusalem by our prayers, fasting, Masses, Holy Communions and works of charity offered for their souls.

This is also why today at the end of Mass we will adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the intentions of our dead. Indeed, there is hope that someday in the future we will all meet in the house of the Father in heaven. And that “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5: 5). And “this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:40). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Responsorial: Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus speaks about the relationship that the Jews should have for foreigners living in their homeland. The Word of God reminds them that they were foreigners in Egypt, too, and did not always have an easy lot. That is why God admonishes them to treat the foreigner as their brother or their sister. God’s Word calls for love of neighbor, of every man, and especially the poor, the injured, those who are struggling in life.

These are probably welcome words for many of you, because you are sojourners in a strange land. You have forsaken your homelands, whether by choice or by the force of circumstances.

However, let’s look at the text a little differently. Do not forget that our citizenship is in heaven. In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul writes: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself” (Phil 3:20-21). During one of her mystical ecstasies, St Catherine of Siena experienced mystical death. For a few hours all of her bodily functions stopped so definitely, that everyone thought that she had died. When her ecstasy ended, and she returned to her senses, St Catherine cried for three days in longing for what she had experienced from Jesus – the great love that he had for her soul.

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Beloved in Christ! We are all aliens on this earth. We are all pilgrims through this world. We all wander into eternity, whether we believe in eternal life or not.

That’s why we need to live now as though we have already reached the end of our journey. We need to make our way through this earthly exile in order to make our way to the Father’s house. We have to live with a great longing in our hearts for the love that Jesus has for us.

We can ask – how should we live? In today’s Gospel, Jesus Himself tells us: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22: 37-39b). We need to be open to love. Because “if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1 Jn 4: 12).

Jesus’s answer raises another question: how do we live this life of love? The Lord Jesus Himself – His life – is the answer to this question.

He not only taught us how to live, but his everyday life showed what true love is. He is Love, who made Himself a sacrifice on the altar of the Cross for all of us. Jesus Christ is the most perfect model of the love of God and neighbor. In the history of the world, no one loved more than He loved. So anyone who wants to experience the fullness of love, can find it only in Christ. Anyone who wants to fulfill the law of love, has to follow the Lord. As Christians we are to be like Jesus, our Master and Lord! Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Responsorial: Psalm 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10
Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21

In Jesus’s day, the tax imposed by Caesar was a symbol of political oppression. By their question, the Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus. If he said Jews should not pay the tax, he would be rebelling against the powerful Romans; but if he said they should pay the tax, Jesus would be seen as a collaborator with the enemy.

However, Jesus recognized their perversity, so he did not take the bait. Instead, he went deeper by appealing to fundamental truths and moral principles that govern all relationship between man, God and society. These rules are established by God, so no one can change or break them. They are not open to debate; we must only seek to understand them well.

God, who created the world and man, respects the natural law that governs the world and the freedom that he gave to man. He separated divine and human affairs, because they exist on different levels. But that does not mean that the two are unrelated. It is not possible to separate ‘the things of God’ from ‘the things of man’ because man is a union of the physical and the spiritual. The divine and human intersect in man. We can say that he lives and works in two countries, the natural and the supernatural
– in the realm of Caesar and in the Kingdom of God, the Church.

We often hear demands for a radical separation of church and state. It means that you can go to church and be Catholic there – say prayers and sing songs if you want to. But when you walk out of the church, you must forget about your faith. This is the world, this is the state, and here we have different laws. There is no room for God; he must be satisfied with what happens inside the church. Sadly, there are believing Catholics who behave this way. They are ‘Sunday Catholics,’ but a home, at work, at school – in life – they live as though God does not exist. They don’t start and end the day with prayer; they don’t practice daily scripture-reading; there are no Christian symbols in their homes. Their lives don’t show the action of grace in their honesty, fidelity and charity.

In fact, at all times and in all places we should respect the law of God; we should respect truth, goodness, and beauty – because all of these reflect the glory of God. Only if our lives are oriented toward God, can we be in the fullest sense oriented toward our fellow man. If we live our lives with God, we will live our lives to the fullest. If God reigns in our hearts, we will be “a light to the world and the salt of the earth.” Because we can never completely understand man and serve man without Christ, who said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’

We do not need to be afraid of Christ! Let us open the doors to Christ in our social, political and economic systems. We do not need to be afraid of Christ! Let us open the doors of our hearts and our lives to him.


Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 25:6-10a
Responsorial: Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Reading II: Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Once again we come to church; we participate in the Holy Mass. I suppose it is almost always a special event for us. It is for us a joyful meeting with our Lord, full of peace and confidence. We come to church, as our holy mountain, to the place where the Lord of Hosts reigns. For us, God is Love; He is the One who gives us true life, His salvation. He is the One who invites us to His feast. He is the One who always cares about us as a shepherd cares for his sheep, and so each of us can say, “Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for the Lord is at my side.”

In today’s Gospel we heard Jesus’s parable of the Wedding Feast. A king prepared a wedding feast for his son. However, the invited guests did not go to the feast. They refused, ignored or despised the invitation. What’s more, some even killed the king’s servants. Therefore, the king severely punished them.

It’s a sad — and even shocking — story. It is a parable of those who from the beginning were chosen and called, but were not willing to respond. Surely Jesus is referring to the Chosen People. But on second thought, we can say that today’s gospel refers to the millions of Christians who have forgotten about Jesus —those who have forgotten the Sunday Eucharist; those who put their own affairs or business or entertainment above God.

Today, this gospel refers to those of our brothers and sisters who have silenced the voice of God in their hearts, in their lives; who live in this world as if God does not exist, and they will never die. In the rest of today’s Gospel, we see that the king ordered his servants to invite to the feast whomever they found on the main roads. And so “The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in, to meet the guests, he saw a man there, not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here, without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”.

Probably it is difficult for us to understand why the king expelled a man who was not dressed in a wedding garment. Shouldn’t the king have taken into account the fact that people invited from the crossroads would not be festively dressed, would not be prepared for a wedding feast? But Jesus wants to use this harsh image to warn that it is not enough simply to attend the feast, we must be prepared for it. In the Bible, someone’s ‘garment’ very often refers to the person’s virtue, moral goodness, or a good personal trait. Jesus says that the servants invited both the good and the bad. The bad people who responded to the king’s invitation had time to change their lives and be converted. However, the man who was kicked out, had done nothing to change himself, to be converted. He did not do anything to be worthy to stand before the king at the feast of his son.

Dear in Christ!

Conversion is an important and urgent task for each of us. You cannot put it off for later, in your old age. Conversion is the beginning of true faith, a living relationship with Jesus who redeemed us on the Cross. Our Savior wants us to accept the gift of His salvation, His love. What’s more, He gives us the grace and power to be open to His gift. Today, each of us can say with Saint Paul: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” So we should want to live our lives in friendship with Jesus so that in time He can joyfully welcome us into the house of His Father. “For many are called, but few are chosen.


Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 5:1-7
Responsorial: Psalm 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20
Reading II: Philippians 4:6-9
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

In today’s Gospel we heard Jesus’s parable of the vineyard and the tenants. In the Bible, the vineyard is a traditional image of God’s relationship with the Chosen People. However, Israel, the Chosen People, breaks off friendship with God, does not keep God’s law or the commandments, and does not want to respond with love to Love. But God does everything to renew these broken ties. Through the prophets, God constantly calls them back to himself. The people did not listen to the voice of the prophets; they mocked them, beat and stoned them. So God decided to send his only Son. We may be surprised at the father’s actions in the parable, sending his son to those wicked tenants in the vineyard. For a reasonable father would not send his son to people who have shown many times that they are dangerous and ruthless. However, God our Father loved man more than anything.

It is sometimes said that love is blind. And it does seem that God’s love is blind. God will do anything so that even the worst man can be won for Love, for Himself. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God has infinite patience with man. God was ready to do anything to win back lost souls, even offering himself as ransom on the Cross.

We Christians are people of the New Covenant. And today we have to ask ourselves whether we are better people, if we are faithful to Christ and his Gospel? The Kingdom of God that Jesus preached is a gift to man, like the Old Covenant was a gift. We Christians are responsible for this gift. We are custodians of life. Moreover, in the vineyard of our lives, God’s Son, the risen Lord, Christ the Savior is with us. He expects our lives to bear good fruit. Every day we must respond to God’s love with love. Because there will come a day when God will ask for an accounting of our lives. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Ezekiel 18:25-28
Responsorial: Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Reading II: Philippians 2:1-11
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

Brothers and sisters:

Today’s Gospel begins with a provocative question that Jesus asked the Pharisees: “What is your opinion?” Jesus asked this question to open their minds and make them take the trouble to reflect. His aim was to give them a reply that would correct their behaviour.

He offered a simple scenario: a Father has asked his two sons to work in his vineyard. The first says: “I will not” (Mt 21: 29-30), but then, moved by remorse, he goes out to work. The second answers “Yes,” but in fact he does not go out to work. Jesus asks, “Which of the two did the will of his father?” (Mt 21: 31). It’s not a difficult question, so the answer is easy: “The first son obeyed his father.”

In this interaction the Pharisees brought judgment on themselves. Jesus tells them plainly: “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the kingdom of God before you.” But why? Because they were opponents of the Lord. They belonged to the Chosen People, and what is more, they were the chief priests and elders of the people. They were the first people called to salvation, but they only appeared to answer the call. They were the ones of whom Jesus said, “They say, but do not do” (Mt 23: 3). They heard John the Baptist’s preaching, but they did not believe him. They were too confident in their own knowledge, so they did not feel a need for instruction. They were sure of their own righteousness, and therefore did not feel the need of repentance.

Jesus says to them, “You did not believe him” (Mt 21: 32); they did not accept any teaching — not the teaching of John, and not the teaching of Jesus himself. At the same time, sinful people — tax collectors and harlots — heard the voice of the Lord and believed. They regretted their sins and turned away from “the wickedness they had committed”; they believed and did “what is right and just” (Ez 18: 27). Therefore, God took them into his kingdom. This is the story of the tax-collectors Levi and Zacchaeus; the woman taken in adultery; and the penitent woman, who in the house of Simon threw herself at the feet of the Lord with a heart full of repentance and love.

That is why today we once again thank God for the gift of salvation and the way of love that he shows us. We thank him for His death on the Cross and his Resurrection, and we thank him especially for his mercy to us sinners.

We ask you, Lord, do not remember the sin of our youth or our transgressions, but remember us in your mercy because of your goodness.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 55:6-9
Responsorial: Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Reading II: Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16a

I am sure that while listening to the story of the vineyard owner who hired people to work for a whole day, many of us have a sense of injustice. Why? Because the owner paid everyone the same amount of money, no matter how long he had worked.

It would seem that according to all the rules of economics, common sense and justice, the longer a person works, the more he should be paid. But in this case, the owner paid the same amount to those who had worked and sweated in the scorching heat all day, and those who had only worked for an hour. It naturally makes us suspicious: What were those other workers doing all day? Were they really standing in the market-place looking for a job? Why did they start work only at noon or three o’clock or later? Were they waiting for a job that offered more money or easier work? Did they think they were too good to work in a vineyard?

Naturally the workers who had started in the morning were resentful of those who had done less work. They were hurt by the goodness of their employer, who seemed not to appreciate their contribution to the harvest. That’s what it looks like from our human point of view. But God sees it differently. God’s point of view is always concern for the salvation of man. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is not concerned with principles of economic justice. The main theme of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard is salvation.

In the person of the owner, Jesus shows us the goodness of God, who comes to us and invites us to work ‘in his vineyard.’ The reward for accepting this invitation is always the same: the salvation of our souls and eternal life in the Father’s House. This concern of God for the salvation of man is found on many other pages of Scripture. We remember the parable of the Father of the Prodigal Son, the parable of the lost sheep, the story of the Pharisee and the publican. And we see it most eloquently when Jesus died on the cross, and forgave the repentant thief, promising him, Today you will be with Me in paradise.’

Some might say, ‘If that’s how God’s justice works, then we are free to sin, carouse and cause trouble, as long as at the last moment we repent.’ But the point is not to live a sinful life and repent at the last moment — because it may be too late. We don’t know the day or the hour when the Son of Man will come for us.

But we should not be thinking about ‘soon enough’ or ‘too late.’ The earlier we develop a deep friendship with God, — the earlier we go to work in his vineyard — the better, because our Lord is love, and he “is near to all who call upon Him…who call upon Him in truth.”

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Reading I: Numbers 21:4b-9
Responsorial: Psalm 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
Reading II: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: John 3:13-17

‘Once upon a time, a prince loved a beautiful girl, but unfortunately the girl was very poor. He wanted to marry her, but at the same time he was afraid that she wouldn’t love him, but his wealth. His father, a great king, advised him to dress up as a beggar. If she loved him as a poor man, it would be true love.’

Which of us doesn’t know this story? We have heard it in many versions; maybe we have seen a film with this storyline. But why am I talking about it in a Sunday sermon? Because this story is about Jesus!

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross (Phil 2:5b-8).

Jesus came into the world as an ordinary man, but he was an extraordinary person. He hid his divinity in a human body, and people had to have faith to confess that He is God.

…God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:9-11).

Jesus still comes to us in humble forms: in the form of bread, in the words of the Holy Bible, in other people, in different situations in our lives. We still need to have faith to recognise him. And we should exalt him. Jesus should be in the first place in our lives. He should be exalted above our plans, above our career, above our appearance. As Saint Augustine of Hippo said: When God is first in our lives – everything is in the right place.

Fra Łukasz Gora, OFM Conv.

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Ezekiel 33:7-9
Responsorial: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: Romans 13:8-10
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In today’s Gospel, the thing that struck me the most is our responsibility for the Church, especially in the matter of correcting our brothers and sisters who sin. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. … If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.”

The first thing I want to stress is courage. It means that if someone does something bad to you or someone else, don’t be like an ostrich and bury your head in the sand, but go and tell him his fault.

That’s important – tell him, not other people. The aim is bringing someone back to a good life – or better, bringing someone to Christ — not spreading scandal or making someone feel ashamed.

The second point I want to stress is the process of correction. First, go to the sinner privately and talk to him personally. Then if that doesn’t change his heart, take other witnesses, and again go and talk with him. And if again that doesn’t help, tell the Church: of course, it means go to the priest or the bishop or the pope.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us our responsibility for the holiness of the parish and of the entire Church. So let each of us have the courage to take responsibility for the Church, even correcting our brothers’ faults, in charity and love.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Jeremiah 20:7-9
Responsorial: Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Reading II: Romans 12:1-2
Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of the events of which we heard last Sunday. Last Sunday we read how Jesus made Peter the rock, the foundation of the Church.

In contrast, today we hear about what happened next. Jesus told his disciples that he would have to “go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly…, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” In turn, he said to his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

We hear in the Gospel that the “great” saint, Peter, “took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Dear in Christ! I think that Peter’s response is not alien to us in everyday life. Today we may wonder how Peter could behave that way. But in our daily choices we behave the same way. We are afraid of the cross; we fear suffering. How often do we compromise with the world, forgetting that we are to be witnesses of Christ and that we have to follow the path of radical evangelism? How often we are afraid to give Christian witness! Let us remember that when we only accept the Gospel selectively, we are rejecting the Gospel.
But Jesus said: “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?” (Mt 16:25)

Each of us has to carry his own cross. St Padre Pio reminds us that “The Cross will not crush you; if its weight makes you stagger, its power will also sustain you”. It’s when you don’t accept the cross, that the weight of the cross can crush you.

Today everyone wants the resurrection, but no one wants suffering. Can you win the greatest prize easily, without sacrifice and suffering?

We must remember that we are all guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus. When we commit sins, and especially when we betray our Faith, we fail as Christians. However, Jesus can raise us up and encourage us to continue the fight. If you want to be a Christian, you have to be prepared for the Cross, you have to be willing to give testimony, even at the cost of your life. There is nothing better for me or for you, than to give his life to Jesus Christ!

The cross was and is a challenge for sin! In the cross we look at our Lord’s death, which he suffered for all of us. We must understand, however, as disciples of Jesus, that we have to do what our Master has done; that we have to share his fate. Why did Peter and the other Apostles have to die? Why did they have to sacrifice themselves, when Jesus has already offered his life? And what about our Christian brothers and sisters who are dying now? We cannot be Christians only when things are going our way and we are not lacking anything. In life we make choices all the time. Most people choose evil, but you do not have to. Satan will tempt you and try to separate you from God. However, you are free, and as a Christian you have to remember that freedom does not mean doing whatever you want. Freedom is doing what is right!

Today, many Christians are drowning in a pagan lifestyle. It strips away your desire to be a saint. However, one day we will all have to choose whether we stand for Jesus, or deny him. You will have to make a choice! Each one of us is going to die.
Sooner or later, each of us will stand before the judgment of God. The Christian should be able to approach death without fear, because he has lived a holy life, and God promises heaven to his faithful ones. But we have to do everything to avoid eternal death in hell.

We can not be a part of this corrupt generation. We are not created to fit in, but to stand out.

You must understand that you need Jesus in your life every day. He wants to be a part of you. He wants to be with you all the time. He expects much from you. He wants more from you, and demands more! If you pray every day, then you will understand more and achieve more. God will tell you who you are. Then you will be more and more sanctified. People should see God in you! You must be their light, the salt of the earth.

Jesus tells us today: Be holy, “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48).“Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct” (Mt 16:27) Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 22:19-23
Responsorial: Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8
Reading II: Romans 11:33-36
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus poses a fundamental question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” He wants to know people’s opinions about him. The Apostles give him various answers. However, His question was really intended to stimulate the Apostles to reflect, to think about who Jesus was to them. “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replies, and at the same time confesses his faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This confession of faith leads Jesus to entrust Peter with exceptional power. Jesus called Peter the rock – the rock on which He would build His Church.

We know that Peter was a weak, ordinary, uneducated man. We can even say that Peter was one of the worst Apostles, because when his faith was tested, he denied Jesus three times.
Of course Jesus knew all about this. But Peter’s faith and his love for his Master meant that Jesus could make Peter the foundation of His Church.

However, we must remember that the foundation of the Church is really Christ himself; Peter is the rock inasmuch as he believes in the divine power of Christ. When Peter began to doubt, that’s when he began to sink under the waves of the sea. When Peter began to rely more on himself than on the power of Jesus, he denied his Lord.

Dear in Christ! Today’s Gospel tells us about the importance of faith in our lives. It tells us that we have to rely on the fact that we have been chosen by our Lord. Therefore, we must nurture our faith; we must seek to develop a mutual relationship with Jesus, who called us. For only with Jesus can we walk on the waves; only by relying on Him, can we tread safely on stormy seas of life.

However, the most important thing in today’s Gospel is the question Jesus asks. Today Jesus asks each of us: “Who do you say that I am?”

Fr Joseph-Marie Verlinde, is the founder of the Community of St Joseph and author of many books [see film below]. Although he was from a devout Catholic family, in his youth he rejected the truth of the Faith. He practiced transcendental meditation. He met a well-known guru and became his disciple. Joseph-Marie spent a long time with the guru in the Himalayas. In his meditation, he reached a state of nirvana. Father Joseph was living in an ashram high in the mountains, in an in-accessible place. One day he met a fellow European. Father Joseph said: “The man asked me if I had ever been a Christian.

“Yes,” I replied.

“And Jesus? What is He to you now?” the man asked.

“When he mentioned the name of Jesus, something strange happened to me. It was as if the name penetrated to my heart and awoke in me the most profound longing for God. In one moment I felt that Jesus was present in all His infinite mercy. Jesus had come looking for me in the Himalayas. I burst into tears of joy and sorrow: joy because the God whom I had been seeking all along had found me Himself, and sorrow because I realised how much Jesus had suffered on my account. With absolute certainty I knew and understood that Jesus lived.

Not only did He live, but He was my whole life. It was enough simply to reach out to Him – my Saviour.”

Dear in Christ! Today Jesus asks each of us, you and me. “Who am I to you? Am I the Lord of your life? Am I a rock for you to lean against when you are weak? Am I the foundation on which you want to build your life?”

We have to answer this question today. We have to be confident that Jesus will not disappoint us, just as he did not disappoint Peter, despite Peter’s human weakness and despite his failures in life. Christ does not limit man; he does not take anything away from man, but gives to him abundantly, making his life beautiful and noble. Today, our lives must be a testimony to the truth: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Responsorial: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Reading II: Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

There are times in our lives when we ask ourselves whether God really hears us. Often we pray about something and it seems that God doesn’t answer our prayer, that he doesn’t hear us. We encounter a similar situation in today’s Gospel.

In the Gospel today, Jesus gives the Canaanite woman a lesson in silence, in refusal. First Jesus is silent, pretending not to hear her, and then he replies, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” However the encounter ends with the fulfillment of the woman’s prayers, and she is praised: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

In the Gospels we see Jesus praise the faith of the Gentiles, but he never praised any of the Jews for their faith. Perhaps the Chosen People thought that because of their favored status, God must listen to them, that it is their due. However, God does not have to do anything for us. None of us has the right to place a claim on God! Our relationship with God is not a business deal, where we exchange our prayers for God’s blessings.

We have to realize that when we pray in church, when we worship the Lord, it is all a gift of grace from our Lord to us, for our good. A demanding attitude builds a wall between God and us, and makes our hearts as hard as stone. We must remember that God loves us, he is our Father. Even when he is silent, He is silent because he wants us to have more trust in him. He wants us grow in our relationship to him like children with their Father.

This relationship has to be a relationship of love, a relationship based on trust that the Father is watching over us because he knows better than we do, what we need. We should always be saying to our Father, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Because the best thing for us is what God has planned for us; his will is what he wants us to be and how he sees our lives. At the same time, we should ask the Lord to strengthen us by his grace, give us his Spirit, so that we may do the will of the Father who is in heaven. God wants to teach us faith, so that we will know and be eager to receive all the good that he offers us in the great love that he has for us. God’s love is the love of a Father who teaches, trains and shapes the character of his children. This love was revealed to us in Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life!” (Jn 3:16). Absolutely everything that Jesus does, he does out of love, from the desire to bring everyone to the Father. So in our lives, when God is silent or says “no” to our requests; when he speaks to us in strong words, we must never forget that he does so with love.

So, Brothers and Sisters, we must not sulk, worry, or be resentful toward God, when God does not meet our expectations. We must trust him to teach us, train us and shape our character. We must trust Jesus Christ to lead us to the Father in love. We can allow ourselves to be formed into sons and daughters of the Father in heaven, because “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he fore-knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the first-born among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:28-30). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven

Reading I: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
Responsorial: Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ!

The Assumption is the greatest feast of the Mother of the Son of God.

The dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was defined on November 1, 1950 by Pope Pius XII. This dogma is the logical consequence of the divine motherhood of Mary and her Immaculate Conception. Because Mary was preserved from original sin, which introduced death, she should also be free from the penalty of sin, which is death. However, to allow Mary to imitate her Son in everything, God permitted the Blessed Virgin to pass through the gate of death.

Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul. She lives in communion with the Holy Trinity, seeing God face to face. As the Mother of the Son of God, she is also the Queen of heaven and earth. The grace enjoyed by the Blessed Virgin is the exaltation of a human being to the limits beyond which shines only divinity.

The 7th-century Doctor of the Church Saint John of Damascus related an ancient tradition about the end of the Blessed Virgin’s life. According to this tradition, Mary’s life ended in the year 48, 15 years after Christ’s Ascension. The Apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to gather in Jerusalem to be with the Mother of the Lord in the last moments of her earthly life. At the time of Mary’s dormition, the Apostles saw choirs of angels and heard them singing. The body of the Blessed Virgin was placed in a tomb at Gethsemane. For three days there was the sound of angelic hymns. At the end of the three days, the Apostle Thomas arrived from India and greatly desired once again to see the face of the Holy Virgin. At his request, her tomb was opened. The tomb was empty, but there was a beautiful aroma issuing from it. From this, the Apostles knew that the Lord, who had taken his human flesh from the Virgin Mary, had not allowed the body of his mother to suffer decay in the grave. They concluded that her Son had taken Mary to heaven, body and soul.

Belief in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin was widespread in the Church from the very beginning. While the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is not recorded in the Scriptures, it is a traditional teaching of the Church. The Feast of the Assumption was already being celebrated in the eastern Church in the 6th century.

Mary’s Assumption has been the theme of paintings and sculptures for many centuries. A beautiful depiction of the Assumption is the altar-piece in St Mary’s Church in Kraków. It is a triptych carved in wood by the fifteenth-century master Wit Stwosz, and you can see it if you visit Kraków.

As early as the year 451, the Bishop of Jerusalem had explained that the body of the Blessed Virgin had been assumed into heaven. In place of her body, the tomb was filled with fragrant flowers. For this reason, it is a long-standing tradition to bless flowers and herbs on the Solemnity of the Assumption.

Altarpiece in the Church of the Assumption, Oswięcim. The Apostles look up as Mary is taken up into heaven; angels drop golden roses - a symbol of graces - down to earth.

Altarpiece in the Church of the Assumption, Oswięcim. The Apostles look up as Mary is taken up into heaven; angels drop golden roses – a symbol of graces – down to earth.

The connection between the Assumption and flowers is also found in religious art. My home parish is the Church of the Assumption in Oświęcim. The altar-piece in my church is a beautiful baroque painting of the Assumption of Mary. The Apostles are shown gathered around Mary’s empty tomb, which is filled with roses. The sky is filled with angels, who are rejoicing and dropping down golden roses. These roses symbolize the graces that Mary obtains for us. Since we can say that the Blessed Mother is the most beautiful flower that has ever appeared in the world, the saints have adopted flowers as a symbol of the Holy Virgin, and so we bless flowers on this, her greatest feast day.

In Poland we honor Mary in a special way in the month of August. Tens of thousands of the faithful make pilgrimages to Jasna Góra and other Marian shrines. We believe and we feel deep in our hearts that Our Mother in Heaven gives us, her earthly children, many graces.

Dear in Christ! Let us, who have a Mother in heaven, resort to her, knowing that she will listen and will come to our aid in the difficulties of everyday life. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Responsorial: Psalm 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
Reading II: Romans 9:1-5
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33

Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to draw your attention to the experience of Peter, who wanted to test the truth of Christ, when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the waves.

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water!”

Yes, it’s me, come…

Peter believed, and began to go…

How great is the power of faith in Christ’s word! For the believer, nothing is impossible! That is what Peter teaches us. But the great power of faith is only for a believer in the power of God, and not for people who believe in their own abilities. In the realm of salvation man alone cannot do anything!

Peter learned about this personally and painfully when in his over-confidence, he set out to walk on the waves. As soon as Peter turned his eyes from Christ — when he lost spiritual connection with the Lord —
that is when he lost faith. His weak human nature overcame him and he began to sink beneath the waves.
Then Christ reproached him: “Why did you doubt, you of little faith?”

Such is always the fate of those who do not place their trust in God, but in themselves. With God you can do all; without God — nothing.

His cold shower immediately sobered Peter up and brought him to repentance: “Lord, save me!”

I could tell you many stories from my pastoral experience, of people who suddenly realize that they need to call on God for help. This happens especially when as a priest, I am called to the hospital. Sometimes I am called to the bed-side of a middle-aged person who has lived a good life, a normal life.

But then, the person is stricken with a serious illness and knows that his or her life is going to end. Suddenly, they realize the value of life, of their loved ones, of friendship with God. So they call the priest. They want to confess their sins. They want to receive Holy Communion for the first time in years.

When someone withdraws from God, he realizes that it is not worthwhile, that his betrayal and infidelity lead to unhappiness, to internal loss, to a guilty conscience — even if in the eyes of the world everything is going swimmingly in his life.

Therefore, in such moments of coming to your senses, you need to quickly reach out to God. He can fix anything; He can put you back on your feet. It is sometimes a little painful, but necessary, to achieve eternal life.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Isaiah 55:1-3
Responsorial: Psalm 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
Reading II: Romans 8:35, 37-39
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish is very well-known to us. But I would like to draw your attention to the question of why Jesus did it. Why did he multiply the loaves and the fish? The answer is very simple: because he knew that the people were hungry. We see here Jesus’s sensitivity to human needs. We can ask if Jesus is able to fulfill every need we have, every hunger.

I’m sure that he can, because he is Lord, he is God. But also Jesus knows what is best for people. And I think it is why not every hunger we have is satisfied. Many people ask, ‘Give me more money; give me success in my career; give me more power.’ But the Lord knows better — that more money, more success, more power will not give you more peace in your heart and more happiness in life.

The best gift that the Lord has given us is himself. He died for our sins and he gave us himself in the Eucharist. He gave us himself under the appearance of bread and wine. We need to give thanks to him for this beautiful gift of the Eucharist.

After communion today we will adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, bringing him our hunger for love, for understanding, for forgiveness, for peace of heart — and offering him our thanksgiving because he is our God, the source of all goodness.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Responsorial: Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
Reading II: Romans 8:26-27
Gospel: Matthew 13:24-43

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

A week ago at Mass we heard the parable of the sower who sows the seed. We remember that Christ is the sower and the Word of God is the seed that should produce fruit in our lives. The seed must fall on the rich soil of our hearts if it is to bear bountiful fruit. This is what the Sower – our Lord – expects from us.

Today, once again, Jesus speaks to us through parables. In today’s Gospel, we hear the parable of the sower, the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast or bread. These parables tell us that the Kingdom of God has already come. Christ tells us that God’s Kingdom is constantly growing. It develops, increases and matures all the time. We, the disciples of Christ, live in this time of growth of the Kingdom of God. This time is the time of the Church. Jesus teaches his disciples realism. He gave us these parables so we will not be afraid to live in a world where good and evil exist side by side. He wants us to remember that there are good and bad people in the world, just as weeds and wheat grow together in the fields.

Often in life we are tempted by impatience to get rid of wicked people in our society, just as we want to root out weeds as soon as we see them! But Jesus tells us to wait. Jesus reminds us that God is the Father of the just and the unjust, the good and the bad, saying: “he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5: 45).

Jesus teaches us patience and gives us hope that everyone can change, anyone can bear good fruit, if he repents from his wicked ways. However, we often judge others, denying them a chance for repentance and self-transformation. We often want our lives and communities to be like perfect fields. We would like to rip out and throw away all the weeds and enjoy our own perfection. But when we feel this way, we are forgetting that Jesus taught, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mt 9: 13).

This temptation to weed out sinners existed in the Church from the beginning, even with the best of Christians. And from the very beginning, the Church opposed this impulse, in order to remain faithful to the teaching of Christ. In this way, everyone can find solace in the Church; everyone can hear about the opportunity for salvation that was won for us by Christ on the Cross. We must remember that the Church is not made up of people who are selected, perfect, holy and sinless. As a community of disciples of Jesus, we must constantly be on guard so that we don’t become proud of ourselves as a perfect field of wheat, so that we hate the weeds. A community like that no longer needs the merciful love of our Lord.

Jesus wants His Church to be full of open and patient people. Jesus wants His church to be comprised of both the beautiful and the warped. Jesus wants His Church to be a people of humility and hope.

Humility makes a man sees his weakness, and helps him see that his strength is in the power of the Lord. Humility allows you to recognize the grace that helps you repent and change. Humility keeps you from rejecting other people because of their faults; it makes it easy to allow them to grow in the Lord, too. Humility makes look at our hearts and actions, to see our sinfulness, weakness and insignificance, and hate those things, while at the same time it shows us patience with other people’s imperfections.

Humility also opens our eyes to hope. Man then sees the vastness of God’s love and the magnitude of the gift of grace. He knows that no one is perfectly clean, and no one is entirely bad. God, the Lord of the harvest, allows everyone to grow together until the harvest, and then everyone has a chance to change; everyone may bear fruit. When others accept us patiently with all our evil, they also allow us a chance to change. When we accept other people despite their faults, we give God a chance to change their hearts, and we leave judgment up to God. Only the Lord of the Harvest can decide who is righteous and who is not. God alone knows where he will dispense his grace to change people’s hearts and lives. For Jesus desires that all children of the heavenly Father will become righteous, so that “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt 13: 43). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Reading I: Acts 12:1-11
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

Dear brothers and sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Today we are celebrating the solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul. These two saints are pillars of the Church, Christ’s greatest apostles; those who carried the good news of the risen Jesus to all the known world.

We celebrate the lives of Saints Peter and Paul on the same day, but in life they only met a few times, and their lives were very different.

St. Peter was a simple fisherman; a St. Paul an educated Pharisee. Peter was one of the first Apostles called by Jesus, while Paul was a persecutor of the followers of Jesus until his meeting with the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus.

The One who united them was Jesus Christ. It is He who called them and gave them their missions in His Church.

Our Lord said to Peter: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” In this way, Peter became the foundation of the Church, the head of the college of the Apostles, and later first Bishop of Rome.

In contrast, about Paul, Jesus said: “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9: 15-16). And to Paul, when he was lying on the ground at the gates of Damascus, Jesus said, “Get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26: 16-18).

These two saints had to completely leave behind their previous lives and follow Jesus. Peter and Paul had to entrust themselves to Jesus and follow Him, who loved and called them, and whom they trusted and loved.

They were united by life in Christ, but also by the martyr’s death they suffered in Rome under Nero between 64 and 67 AD. And to this day, you can find their graves in Rome: one under the altar of the Basilica of St. Peter, and the other under the altar in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.

A few years ago when I was working in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, we organized the annual meeting of Catholics from Uzbekistan. A Russian Orthodox woman, who was a lecturer at the Orthodox seminary, attended our meeting. The local Orthodox bishop was strongly opposed to Catholics and the woman had always considered Catholicism to be a Christian sect. However, this lady had managed to go to Rome, where she saw the beauty of the Roman Catholic Church. But above all, her visit opened her eyes to the fact that the pillars of the Faith – Saints Peter and Paul – rest in Catholic churches. She realized that the Catholic Church continues the tradition and evangelization of the great apostles. From that time she changed her view. She was no longer afraid to meet fellow Christians in the Catholic Church. She understood that the Catholic Church preaches the truth, for which Saints Peter and Paul were killed in Rome; and that the pope is the head of the college of bishops, like St. Peter was the first among the Apostles.

Beloved brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ! In his homily on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in 2001, Saint John Paul II said: “After 2,000 years, the ‘rock’ on which the Church is founded remains ever the same: it is the faith of Peter. ‘On this rock’ (Mt 16:18) Christ founded his Church, spiritual edifice which has withstood the wear and tear of the centuries. Certainly, if it had been built on simply human and historical foundations, it would not have been able to resist the assaults of so many enemies.”

Today, as we celebrate this beautiful solemnity, we realize that we belong to the Church which Jesus Christ founded. We belong to the Church founded on “Kefas – the Rock – Peter”, who is the guarantor of the truth of the Church. We belong to the Church which, without compromise, preaches the truth about Christ and about man redeemed by Him.

Today we should be grateful that we are members of this Church. We should also remember that to be in the Church means to profess Jesus constantly. Like Peter, our lives should be shaped by our faith that Jesus is ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ If we stand firm in our faith, we can be sure that we will be able to repeat with Saint Paul: “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all…might hear it…. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim 4, 17-18).

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Jeremiah 20:10-13
Responsorial: Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35
Reading II: Romans 5:12-15
Gospel: Matthew 10:26-33

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Someone once counted and found that in the Bible the phrase “Be not afraid” occurs over 360 times. It is as if each day, God says to us: “Do not be afraid, do not be afraid.”

We are afraid of different things, different problems. We are afraid of war, disease, suffering, old age, death, job loss, embarrassment, and so on.

Again today, we hear from the lips of Jesus: “Do not be afraid!” It refers to our attitude, as disciples of Christ. We must not be afraid; we have to be bold in our witness to Christ and to Gospel Truth. “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father,” (Mt 10:32) says the Lord. We have to remember that we are disciples of Christ, that He has conquered death, Satan, evil, fear and anxiety. “Even all the hairs of your head are counted” (Mt 10:30). There is nothing bad that can happen to us that God does not allow for our sanctification.

We know that in today’s world, millions of Christians are persecuted for their faith. Statistically, almost every 5 minutes someone gives his life for Christ. Nowadays, there are more martyrs than in the first centuries of the Church. This is true, but it is rarely mentioned in countries where it is safe to profess our faith, where religious freedom is not an issue.

Today’s Gospel speaks of the fears that we experience when we want to live our faith; the fear that can paralyze us when we bear witness to Christ, the Gospel, about faith. Christ wants to strengthen us, to give us courage and faith, so we know that in fact we are not alone, that He is with us until the end of the world.

First, Jesus encourages us not to be afraid to preach the Gospel. Let’s look at how — strengthened by the Holy Spirit – the Apostles were able to proclaim the Risen Lord. The Acts of the Apostles shows the great faith and courage of the disciples of Christ – the confidence and boldness of the early Christians. Today, our world is plunged into crises. The world needs to hear the call of the Gospel. Jesus tells us today: “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops!” (Mt 10:27) Do not be afraid to proclaim the Good News!

In today’s first reading we heard: “The Lord is with me like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion” (Jer 20:11). So we should not be afraid; we should not be ashamed of Christ! The Lord exhorts us and warns us: Whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge him; but whoever denies me, I will deny him.

Second, the words of today’s Gospel make clear, that what is most important to us is eternal life, our salvation, our sanctification. Jesus Christ is speaking to us as well when he says: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Mt 10:28). That warning gives a clear distinction between good and evil fears. The only thing we should be afraid of is being disconnected from Christ, from the source of life and love. The words of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans should resound in our hearts: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

The third important teaching in today’s Gospel is that we have a Father in heaven – a Father who cares for all his creatures; a Father, who loves us infinitely; a Father, of whom Jesus said, not one sparrow “falls to the ground without [his] knowledge” (cf. Mt 10:29-30) He even has all the hairs of your head counted.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ! At the end of this reflection, let us once again accept Christ into our hearts. Let us once again give him our hearts and entrust our hearts to him! “Do not be afraid, open wide the doors to Christ. Do not be afraid! Christ knows “what is in man”. He alone knows it” (Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, for the Inauguration of his Pontificate, 5; 22 October 1978). And only in Christ, is each of us worth more than anything in the world to our Father, because we have been redeemed by the precious blood of his Son. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reading I: Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9
Responsorial Psalm: Deuteronomy 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Gospel: John 3:16-18

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today in the liturgy of the Catholic Church we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit – one of the greatest mysteries of Christianity.

A mystery means something above human reason. Something that man cannot quite understand; something that man never could think of. The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery of God, that He is One, and at the same time, He is in three Persons. This mystery had to be revealed to us by Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God — one of the Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.

For “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16): because God is Love, and out of love He created the world and out of love saved us.

In Jesus, the Father loved the world and human kind!

In Jesus, He loved you and me.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (Jn 3:17).

In our Lord Jesus Christ everybody is a beloved child of God. We are beloved daughters, we are beloved sons of our God! Our God, our heavenly Father is “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Ex 34:6). He “pardons our wickedness and sins, and receives us as [his] own” (Ex 34:9).

God is Love, and Love is God. But for God to be love, He must be a Trinity. If God were not a community of three divine Persons, God would not be Love.

This is easy to explain. Love is possible only in relation to another person. No one can experience love without having someone to love. And that is the essence of the Triune God.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ! “God is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God has given those who receive His Son Jesus as their personal Savior the ability to love as He does, through the power of the Holy Spirit” (S. Michael Houdmann). “You received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father! The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8: 15-17).

Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, “rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Sirach 15:15-20
Responsorial: Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37

The basis of the existence of any community is law — that is, a system of rules that regulate various aspects of human life.

Man-made laws can always be improved. Life demands that we do this. As conditions change, we have revised our laws about things like the environment, for example. The Internet has required us to think in a new way about issues of privacy and free speech.

It is different from the law of God. God’s law is perfect — more perfect than sinful man — and therefore cannot be changed, but must be obeyed.

However, people often want to treat God’s law like man-made rights. They want to change God’s law according to their own weaknesses. They think that life would be easier if God’s law was less demanding and that there should not be any serious consequences when people break God’s law. This is a big mistake. This is the path to the degradation of man; it is the road to the collapse of human society.

Think about it: If everyone were free to lie, we could not trust anyone to tell the truth; if we were all free to steal, everyone we meet could be a thief; if murder was not forbidden, no one’s life would be safe; if there was no punishment for adultery, trust and faith between husbands and wives would be impossible. Life would be hell.

Divine Law helps improve the human heart and normalize life in a spirit of peace in the community. The more people respect God’s law, the more good there is in people’s hearts and in the communities that they create. Faithful observance of God’s law fills man with peace and brings joy to his soul. The sooner a person understands this, the sooner his life is simplified.

In today’s Gospel we heard Jesus’s words: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” If Jesus, the Son of God, had no intention of abolishing the law, certainly no one else can abolish it. God’s law is holy and unchangeable. The law of God is a dependable guide for anyone who wants to order his life wisely.

Therefore, at the end of this brief meditation, let us pray in the words of Psalm 119:

“Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
“Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
“Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.”

Fr. Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

The Second Sunday after the Nativity

Reading I: Sirach 24:1-2, 8-12
Responsorial: Psalm 147: 12-13, 14-15, 19-20
Reading II: Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18
Gospel: John 1:1-18

As usual on the first Sunday of the month, there will be no homily at Mass. Instead, there will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the beginning of Mass (4PM).

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Reading I: Numbers 6:22-27
Responsorial: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Reading II: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today as we contemplate the motherhood of the Virgin Mary on the first day of the New Year and the last day in the Octave of Christmas, our gaze continues to be turned to the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

In his Letter to the Galatians (cf. Gal 4:4), St Paul very simply points out that the Son of God was “born of a woman.” Since the Son of God entered the world through Mary of Nazareth, we therefore call her the Mother of God – in Greek, the Theotokos.

According to God’s plan, our salvation is inextricably connected with Mary. So it is fitting that we begin the new calendar year by commemorating Mary as the Theotokos, focusing on the Mother of God in the context of the salvation won for us by Christ.

On Christmas, during the octave of Christmas and today, on the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, we do not celebrate an abstract idea, but the mystery of a historic event. Jesus Christ, a divine Person of the Holy Trinity, was born to the Virgin Mary at a particular time and place.

In Jesus, each of us receives our personal Redeemer; in Mary, we receive the Mother of the Church and our Mother. Since Mary is our Mother, we can learn from her, and try to be like her. The Evangelist Luke describes Mary as the silent Virgin who listens attentively to God. She treasured every word that God addressed to her, keeping them and “reflecting on them in her heart”. She saw the hand of God and His holy will in all the circumstances of her life. By meditating on God’s Word and contemplating her Son, the Eternal Word, Mary was an attentive and docile disciple of the Lord, Emmanuel, God-with-us.

The example of the Blessed Virgin can help us to sharpen our perceptions so that we may recognize Christ as a divine Person, as the Word made flesh, the living Word, from whom we have received adoption as sons.

Let us imitate our heavenly Mother. With her help, let us commit ourselves in this New Year – which is given to everyone as a providential gift – to reading the Holy Scripture and being guided by Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8).

Thanks to modern technology, it is easy to organize our time in such a way that we can read the whole Bible in 2014. On our website, you will find a link in this homily [see below] that will send you to a page that where you can find a Scripture-reading plan that will take you through the Bible week by week, and day by day in one year. Using this plan, you can even read the scriptures on your smart phone when you are away from home. It doesn’t cost anything and there is no time limit, so if you miss a day, you can simply begin again. At the beginning of this new calendar year, I wish for you all a growth in your ability to hear and fulfil the word of God that you read in the Bible, in accordance to the tradition and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

In today’s first reading from the Book of Numbers, we read the blessing of Moses and Aaron: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you…and give you peace!” (Nm 6: 24, 26). May this blessing remind you to abide in the light of God’s word every day of our lives, from the beginning of each day to its end.

90-Day Bible-Reading Challenge, sent to your inbox daily, starting January 1 (but you can read the archives if you start late).

Read the Catholic Bible in a Year. You can start anytime and get the readings on your smartphone. These readings are like the readings in Mass: Old Testament, psalm and New Testament readings every day.

Read the Gospels in a Year. Sign up with this and you’ll be sent a Gospel text every day along with commentary from the Ignatius Study Bible.

Fr Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Reading I: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Responsorial: Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Reading II: Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Probably many of you do not follow the latest debates in the Polish political arena. If you do, you know that the whole issue of “gender philosophy” has arrived in Poland and is a topic of much debate. However, this is not simply a political issue; it’s a matter of natural law and human morality. As such, it’s an issue that affects all of us as human beings and as Catholics. Already a year ago, during his Christmas meeting with the cardinals of the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that the Church must oppose the “new philosophy of sexuality” which is now aggressively promoted in the media and even in our schools.

The Holy Father explained the central problem of the ideology of gender. This ideology insists that God did not create human beings as men and women, but that “male” and “female” are just roles and functions imposed on us by our environment or culture. Proponents of this ideology insist that “there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed.” This ideology is not a simple matter of “choice” or “freedom.” If there is no natural, pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then the “family as the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence” is seriously threatened. Very simply, this ideology seeks to destroy “the key figures of human existence”: “father, mother, child”. The “essential elements of the experience of being human” are under attack.

In contrast to this unreasonable and unnatural ideology, the teaching of the Church is clear, noble and beautiful: “Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. ‘Being man’ or ‘being woman’ is a reality which is good and willed by God…. In their ‘being-man’ and ‘being-woman,’ they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness” (CCC 369).

Every man and woman who has ever truly loved has experienced what the Church teaches, that “God created man and woman together and willed each for the other…” (CCC 371). Every couple who are discerning marriage has great hopes for their marriage and family. Listen to the Catechism’s beautiful description of what marriage is designed to be:

“Man and woman were made ‘for each other’… God… created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be ‘helpmate’ to the other, for they are equal as persons…and complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming “one flesh,” they can transmit human life…. By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator’s work” (CCC 372).

Dear Brothers and sisters: today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. This is not just a commemoration of the family of Nazareth; it is a celebration of God’s perfect plan for all human families. This is why we pray today, “O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards”.

This beautiful prayer is echoed in the hearts of all people of good will who contemplate the relationships among Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Every family would like to practice the virtues of family life in the bonds of charity, as the Holy Family did. The language of gender ideology, however, aims at erasing the very concept of the natural family – father, mother, child – both from human language and ultimately from human experience.

This attack on our nature as male and female is a metaphysical revolt against the Creator himself. We were created male and female in the image of God. If we deny that, we lose the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which is the mystery of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. If we erase the image of the Trinity in the natural family, we strike a blow against the Incarnation of the Son. There is no room in a gender-neutral world for praying “Our Father,” or for believing in the reality of sin and the need of a savior – born into a human family – to redeem us from our sins.

Today in most Polish parishes a letter from the Polish Bishops’ Conference is read instead of a homily. The bishops encourage all of us to be aware and to counter this ideology in our society. You can read the entire letter online. I’d only like to quote part of it here. The bishops write:

“We meet with different attitudes towards the activities undertaken by the followers of gender ideology. The vast majority of people do not know what this ideology is, so they do not sense any danger. A small group of people – especially teachers and educators, including catechists and pastoral workers – are trying on their own to seek constructive ways of preventing it. Finally there are those who see the absurdity of this ideology and believe that the Poles will reject the proposition of this utopian vision. Meanwhile, without the knowledge or consent of Polish society, for many months gender ideology has insinuated itself into various structures of social life: education, health, activities of cultural and educational institutions and non-governmental organizations. In the media, gender ideology is presented positively as preventing violence and achieving gender equality….

“On the feast of the Holy Family we make an urgent appeal to Christian families, to the representatives of religious movements and ecclesial associations and all people of good will to boldly take action that will serve to disseminate the truth about marriage and the family. More than ever, today education is needed….”

Dear Brothers and sisters, in today’s second reading, Saint Paul encouraged the Colossians, praying that “the peace of Christ” would control their hearts. If we are truly open to Christ controlling our hearts and minds, he will teach us what it means for wives to be subordinate to their husbands and for husbands to love their wives. Guided by the example of the Holy Family, we will learn how children are to obey their parents, and how fathers and mothers can avoid provoking their children, and live in harmony and peace. If each member of our families prays and strives to follow the model of the Holy Family, then gender ideology cannot corrupt our relationships or distort the image of God in our marriages and families. Let us pray for ourselves and for all families, so that by our example, we will “disseminate the truth about marriage and the family.”

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

The Nativity of the Lord

Reading I: Isaiah 52:7-10
Responsorial: Psalm 98:1, 2-3,  3-4,  5-6
Reading II: Hebrews 1:1-6
Gospel: John 1:1-18

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Many people do not notice that the Christmas decorations we see in the shops and in the streets of our cities give no hint of the Incarnation of Christ – no hint that Christmas is a holy day with profound significance in the lives of every human being. We are used to the commercialization of Advent and Christmas. It may bother some of us, but we don’t do anything to fight it.

When we step into a church, we are comforted by the sight of a beautiful nativity scene with the Child Jesus, with Mary and Joseph, and the angels and shepherds in attendance on the Holy Family. It reminds us of our childhood, of how a good, old-fashioned Christmas is supposed to be.

But is Christmas only about nostalgia for a past event? Are all the decorations in the church just an elaborate illustration of something that happened 2,000 years ago? Is the anniversary of the Nativity simply a day for eating ham and cake and chocolate? Is Christmas just a sentimental tradition?

No. The birth of the Messiah is the central event in the history of humanity. Death entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and from that moment, the world awaited a savior, one who would free us from eternal death and open heaven to humankind. As Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life” (1 Cor 15:21-22). This is what we remember and celebrate at Christmas: the Incarnation of the Son of God, “whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word” (Heb 1:2-3). Christ came to accomplish “purification from sins”, and so today we sing, “The Lord has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice…. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God” (Ps 98: 2, 3b). The birth of the Messiah is the great turning-point in human history; everything begins again with the birth of Christ.

Consider what it means to you that the Son of God became man. How different would your thinking, your way of life and your personality be if you were not a Christian? How different would the world be, if there was not the promise of salvation, and the hope of heaven?

Christ didn’t change the world through the decorations and the carols and the rich food that we use, to commemorate his Incarnation. Christ changed the world through those who believed in Him and loved Him – God – who became one of us and lived among us. It is not easy to accept this truth and respond to the Incarnation as we should. It’s much easier to prepare a special meal, have a party, visit friends and maybe give something to the poor once a year at Christmas. But to live every day, in constant faith in Christ living among us, is not so easy.

The Jesuit priest Anton Luli is an example of what it means to live in constant faith in Christ, every day. Father Anton was a parish priest in Albania in the 1930s and 1940s. When he was 37 years old, Father Anton was arrested. The charge against him was anti-government propaganda. In other words, he dared to speak out, against the evils of communism. Six days before Christmas, 1947, Fr Anton was locked in a small, cold room – a WC – with frozen excrement on the floor. The room was so small he could not lie down. On Christmas Eve, guards took Father Anton to another bathroom in the prison. He was forced to remove his clothing and was told to stand on tip-toes while guards put a rope under his armpits. They threw the rope over a beam across the ceiling and hoisted him up, leaving Father Anton to hang there for more than an hour. As the bitter cold crept through the priest’s body and reached his chest, Father Anton cried out in agony. His guards rushed in, pulled him down and began kicking him. Father Anton recalled, “That night in that place, and in the loneliness of that first ordeal, I experienced the true meaning of the Incarnation and the Cross.” In the midst of his suffering, Fr Anton felt “the real and true presence of the Lord,” which filled him with an extraordinary sense of joy and consolation.

Father Anton remained in that prison for 17 years, followed by decades of forced labor. He was finally set free in 1989, when he was 79 years old. One day, not long after his release, while he was walking down the street, the priest met one of the guards who had tortured him. Father Anton bore the man no grudge, but felt only compassion for him. He went to the man and embraced him.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the real Christmas was not a sweet, sentimental story. Joseph and his pregnant wife were not welcomed anywhere. No family or friends helped them or gave them shelter when Mary gave birth. Apart from the shepherds, no one rejoiced with them because of the birth of the Child. Shortly after the visit of the Magi they had to flee to a foreign country. The baby Jesus as well as Mary and Joseph felt the cold of the stable, knew the murderous malice of Herod, and experienced the hardships of homeless refugees.

The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is a cause for joy and gratitude. But it is also an occasion to meditate on the sacrificial nature of Jesus’s life from the very beginning. As we go deeply into the mystery of the Incarnation, we find strength in times of suffering and bitter persecution. Father Anton Luli was imprisoned and tortured for speaking out against the evils of communism. In our time, we are called to speak out against other evils: the destructive ideologies of gender politics and neo-modernism; abortion, euthanasia and militant atheism.

We believe that Christ took on human nature and came into this world to live among us and redeem us from our sins. From his birth in poverty and obscurity, to his suffering, death and resurrection, he showed us how to live the fullness of our humanity. Let us see him in the suffering of our neighbours, and do everything to relieve them. May he give us the courage to oppose everything that is not grounded in truth and built on love, so that with him we may build a culture of life, in which every person is respected as the image of God, the icon of the Holy Trinity.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

The Fourth Sunday in Advent

Reading I: Isaiah 7:10-14
Responsorial: Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Reading II: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Two weeks ago on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we heard the Gospel story of the Annunciation. The angel’s greeting showed that Mary was afraid and also that she was not aware of her status as the woman chosen to be the Mother of the Son of the Most High.

In today’s Gospel we can see how difficult it was for Joseph to accept Mary’s pregnancy. He was surely aware of Isaiah’s prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (Is: 7, 14). Perhaps he wondered if Mary was that virgin. Nevertheless, he must have been shocked and confused: How could this have happened? How could Mary have disappointed me when I have entrusted myself to her so much? The very idea that Mary could disappoint him in anything must have been incomprehensible to Joseph.

Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was in a quandary. He knew that Mary was a pure and chaste virgin; he knew that although they were formally married, Mary had been and intended to remain a virgin. Joseph was unable to imagine a supernatural explanation for Mary’s pregnancy. He simply could not make sense of what had happened.

Joseph was a just man. He didn’t want Mary to be put to shame. But he didn’t know how to deal with the astonishing fact that Mary was pregnant. He was looking for “an answer to this unsettling question, but above all, he sought a way out of what was for him a difficult situation.” “But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Mt 1:20-21)” (Redemptoris Custos, 3).

Today’s Gospel is described as “Joseph’s Annunciation” because it parallels the angel’s annunciation to Mary. In Joseph’s Annunciation, “The divine messenger introduces Joseph to the mystery of Mary’s motherhood. While remaining a virgin, she who by law is his ‘spouse’ has become a mother through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Redemptoris Custos, 3). As Mary’s spouse, Joseph is entrusted by the angel with the responsibilities of an earthly father: he will give the name “Jesus” to the Son who will be born to the Virgin of Nazareth.

In his Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, Blessed Pope John Paul II meditated on the events surrounding Mary’s miraculous pregnancy. Her cousin Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed is she who believed.” John Paul explained that, “in a certain sense, this blessedness can be transferred to Joseph as well, since he responded positively to the word of God when it was communicated to him” (Redemptoris Custos, 4). At the crucial moment when he had to make a decision, Joseph “‘did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife.’ He took her in all the mystery of her motherhood. He took her together with the Son who had come into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way he showed a readiness of will like Mary’s with regard to what God asked of him through the angel” (Redemptoris Custos, 3).

Joseph’s faithful and trusting response to the angel “united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary” (Redemptoris Custos, 4). With Mary, Joseph became the guardian of the divine mystery of the Incarnation of the Redeemer. “Together with Mary, and in relation to Mary, he shares in this final phase of God’s self-revelation in Christ and he does so from the very beginning” (Redemptoris Custos, 5).

As John Paul II pointed out, Joseph acted in “obedience of faith” (cf. Rom 1:5; 16:26; 2 Cor 10:5-6). “Obedience of faith” means that Joseph made a “‘full submission of [his] intellect and will to the God who reveals’ and willingly [assented] to the revelation given by him” (Dei verbum, 5; quoted in Redemptoris Custos 6).

How do we compare to Joseph today? We have the testimony of scripture about the annunciations to Mary and to Joseph, but even many Catholics do not give “full submission of [their] intellect” to this great mystery. A survey conducted in Poland in 2006 revealed that 40% of adult Catholics in this country do not believe in the virginal conception of Jesus. Instead of submitting their intellects to the revelation of God, such people are convinced that everything that happens in the world has a natural cause. Relying only on their reason and physical evidence, they cannot admit the possibility of meta-physical events. They cannot imagine that the ordinary rules of physical cause and effect may not apply in every situation. They are blind to God’s revelation of a reality that is outside of our ordinary physical experience.

But the birth of Christ is not an event given to us as a riddle to solve with cold logic. The birth of Christ is a gift given to all of humanity. We must approach the birth of Christ as we approach a gift: with good will; with our hearts open to this gift as a brilliant ray of heavenly light falling upon us and bringing us hope and encouragement. The birth of Christ is a new action of God in human history, in which all of us are called to participate.

Jesus is the Son of God, but he is also the Son of Mary and Joseph in a specific and unique relationship to both of them. When we meditate on this, we have to realize that Jesus wants to repeat His Incarnation in a different dimension and in a unique way in our humanity and in our bodies. According to his plan, Jesus wishes to be Incarnate in every human being; as he said to his disciples, ‘Remain in me, and I in you’ (Jn 15:4). Are you ready – like Mary and Joseph – to open your heart to Christ? Through penitential acts, we can prepare ourselves to meet with Christ and to receive into our bodies the One who came from heaven.

Advent is a time of preparation for Christ’s Incarnation in our lives. How have you spent this Advent period? Have you prepared to receive him as Mary and Joseph did? Have you done everything necessary? If you still have not prepared yourself to meet Christ – and you do not want to prepare yourself – then what does Advent mean to you?

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

The Third Sunday in Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

Reading I: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Responsorial: Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Reading II: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Even in prison, John the Baptist was thinking about Jesus. He sent his disciples to Jesus with this important question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” I wonder how many people today are not interested in the essential questions, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ At the same time, they know very well where they can buy the cheapest wine or beer, or when the next sale is on at their favorite shop. John, on the other hand, is a man who is determined to know the truth about himself and his life. Even while he is in prison – which in those days was not a luxury hotel – he was thinking about Jesus and how their lives were intertwined.

In the letter of James which we heard today, the Apostle wrote, ‘Make your hearts firm.’ It is impossible to make our hearts firm by any other means than prayer. Dear Brothers and Sisters, do you pray every day? How much time do you spend in prayer every day? It will not be news to you that there is an increasingly aggressive atheistic movement in our society. It is common for public figures to ridicule Christian believers; Christians are persecuted for wearing a cross or crucifix at work; Bibles and crosses are publicly desecrated; processions and religious conferences are disrupted or forbidden. And in many countries, people are killed only because they are Christian. Patriarch Gregory III Laham, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Syria, reported in December that in the past 30 years, 50% of Christians in the Middle East have been forced to flee their homes – these are Christians who have lived in the Middle East from the times of the Apostles. This is a tragedy of historic proportions, but we don’t hear about it on the news. You have to read the report, ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’ published by Aid to the Church in Need, if you want to know the truth about persecution of Christians in our times. This persecution is coming to Europe under the guide of ‘gender ideology.’ Recently I read about a Polish parliamentarian who suggested that if parents refuse to send their children to sex education classes that teach children that being male or female is a choice, and they can change their sexual nature at will, those parents should lose custody of their children. This is a direct attack on Christian parents who want their children to know the truth about God’s design for men and women and for our sexual nature.

In his first Letter, John the Evangelist warned, ‘Beloved, do not trust every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world’ (1 John 4:1). How can you test every spirit, to see if it is from God or from the world, if not through prayer? In the first reading, Isaiah encouraged the people during a time of persecution, saying,

‘Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication!’ (Isaiah 35:4)

Strengthen your hands – to raise them in prayer.
Make firm your knees – to kneel in prayer.
Be strong in prayer and fear not: your God is here.
He comes with vindication – when we call on him in prayer.

It seems to me that the best Christmas gift you can give yourself is to find 15 additional minutes for prayer. But try to remember that prayer is not only what we say to God, but what we hear him say to us. And therefore we pray when we hear God’s voice in the holy Scriptures – when we read the Bible; when we hear the voice of our conscience; when we quiet the voices in our heads and listen to silence; when we hear those who speak the words of God. When we make time to pray in these ways, ‘then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared’ and we ‘will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee’ (Isaiah 35:5, 10b).

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Reading I:  Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Responsorial: Psalm 98:1,2-3ab, 3cd-4
Reading II:  Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

Dear Brothers and sisters,

As you know, in the Holy Scriptures, we cannot find the words ‘Holy Trinity.’ Nevertheless, we can find biblical evidence that reveals that God is three Persons in one divine nature.

It is not so easy to for the average person to find biblical evidence for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Church did not officially proclaim that Mary was immaculately conceived until 1854. In that year, Pope Pius IX declared what the Church had long believed, that ‘the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful” (DS 2803).

This doctrine is difficult for many modern people to accept, but it is firmly rooted in Scripture. We base our belief in the Immaculate Conception on the words of the angel Gabriel when he greeted Mary, ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you! (Lk 1:28). The angel greets the virgin not as ‘Mary’, but with her true name. In English, we translate it ‘Full of Grace,’ but the Greek New Testament uses a very special word: Kecharitoméne. This word ‘Kecharitoméne’ is never used anywhere else in the Bible. It is also never found in any common Greek writings of antiquity. It is a completely unique word, and expresses a completely unique condition: it reveals who Mary really is.

Kecharitoméne’ means something like ‘Full of Grace,’ but in Greek, the word denotes an action that was completed before the moment of speaking. In other words, when the angel of God addresses Mary as ‘Kecharitoméne’, he is calling her, ‘one who is now and always has been full of grace’. The implication should be clear: one who is now and who already was full of grace, has no room in her for sin, and never had any room in her for sin. She must have been preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception. To put it simply, she who is ‘Kecharitoméne’ is the Immaculate Conception.

In today’s Gospel, we read that Mary ‘pondered what sort of greeting this must be’ when the angel addressed her as ‘Kecharitoméne.’ A few hours before his arrest by the Gestapo, Maximilian Kolbe was pondering the meaning of the title ‘Immaculate Conception.’ His thoughts on the Immaculate Conception are his very last writings; one might say, they are Maximilian’s last written testament.

As you know, Maximilian devoted a great deal of time to contemplation of the Blessed Virgin, so his thoughts are often quite lofty and even surprising. Today, I would like to share with you some of his ideas about the meaning of the title ‘Immaculate Conception.’

In his notes on February 17, 1941, Maximilian asked himself, ‘Who is the Father? What is his personal life like? It con¬sists in begetting, eternally; because he begets his Son from the beginning, and forever. Who is the Son? He is the Begotten-One, because from the beginning and for all eternity he is begotten by the Father. And who is the Holy Spirit?’ The Holy Spirit is ‘[t]he flowering of the love of the Father and the Son…. The Holy Spirit is…the “uncreated, eternal conception,” the prototype of all the conceptions that multiply life throughout the whole universe.’ The Holy Spirit is the ‘thrice-holy conception’, the ‘infinitely holy, Immaculate Conception.’

Maximilian calls the Holy Spirit the ‘infinitely holy, Immaculate Conception.’ If that is so, then how can we also call Mary the Immaculate Conception? It is because of the intimacy of her relationship with the Holy Spirit, an intimacy so deep that Mary – though a creature – can be said to be the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

Saint Maximilian explains it this way: ‘The creature most completely filled with [the love of the Father and the Son], filled with God himself, was the Immaculata, who never contracted the slightest stain of sin, who never departed in the least from God’s will. United to the Holy Spirit as his spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than…any other creature. What sort of union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the “essence” of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, lives in her. This was true from the first instant of her existence. It was always true; it will always be true’.

In today’s Gospel, the angel told Mary that ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’ We tend to think of this movement of the Spirit as happening at one moment in Mary’s life. But Saint Maximilian explains that the ‘eternal Immaculate Conception’, who is the Holy Spirit, produced ‘divine life itself in the…depths of Mary’s soul…. And the virginal womb of Mary’s body [was] kept sacred for him; there he conceives in time the human life of the Man-God.’ The Holy Spirit did not enter into Mary’s life at a particular moment; rather, the Immaculata was ‘grafted into the Love of the Blessed Trinity…from the first moment of her existence….’

Saint Maximilian believed, therefore, that when we speak of Mary as the Immaculate Conception, we are invoking her unique relationship to the Holy Spirit. He wrote, “If among human beings the wife takes the name of her husband because she belongs to him, is one with him, becomes equal to him and is, with him, the source of new life – [then] with how much greater reason should the name of the Holy Spirit, who is the divine Immaculate Conception, be used as the name of her in whom he lives as uncreated Love, the principle of life in the whole supernatural order of grace? (Sketch, February 17, 1941)

As we contemplate and honor the Immaculate Conception today, I would like to close with a prayer from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his Angelus address for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in 2011:

‘Full of grace’, you are, Mary, who, welcoming with your ‘yes’ the Creator’s plan, opened to us the path of salvation. Teach us also at your school to say ‘yes’ to the Lord’s will. Let it be a ‘yes’ that joins with your own ‘yes’ without reservations….

Give us the courage to say ‘no’ to the deceptions of power, money, pleasure; to dishonest earnings, corruption and hypocrisy, to selfishness and violence; ‘no’ to the Evil One, the deceitful prince of this world; to say ‘yes’ to Christ who destroys the power of evil with the omnipotence of love.’

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.

The First Sunday in Advent

Reading I: Isaiah 2:1-5
Responsorial: Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: Romans 13:11-14
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44

Because it is the first Sunday of the month, there will be Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction at the end of the Mass in lieu of a homily.

Fr. Krzysztof Kukułka, OFM Conv.