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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.

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

Reading I: Deuteronomy 7:13-14
Responsorial: Psalm 93:1, 1-2, 5
Reading II: Revelation 1:5-8
Gospel: John 18:33b-37

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today is the solemnity of Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. This title tells us about Jesus and about our duty toward him.

In the Gospel, we see Jesus standing in court before Pilate. He is standing there, because the Jews arrested him and turned him over to the Romans. The Jews were forbidden to execute anyone themselves. To have Jesus executed, they needed the Roman authorities to pronounce judgment on him.

Why did they want to have Jesus killed? In his ministry Jesus attracted many people, but he did not teach the same things that the scribes and elders taught. He also attracted many people by his miraculous healings. Jesus was a threat to their authority with the people.

The Jews had two options: they could do nothing and wait for Jesus’s popularity to wane, or they could put a stop to him completely by having him killed. But they needed a decision from the Roman court to have him put to death. They had to accuse him of a capital crime. Accusing Jesus of setting himself up as a king was the same as accusing him of treason against Caesar.

Pilate knew the charge against Jesus, so he asks Jesus for his testimony: ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’

Jesus didn’t answer directly. He turns the question back on Pilate: Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?

Pilate wasn’t interested in squabbles among the Jews. He just wanted to know if Jesus had committed a crime.

However, Jesus wanted to teach Pilate, and us, something about his kingdom. “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews…. [M]y kingdom is not here.”

From this, Pilate draws his conclusion: Then you are a king. Jesus replies that it is true. He is a king; he is the king of truth, and he came to testify to the truth.

Truth is central to our relationship to Jesus. If we are in the truth – if we live according to God’s word and a well-formed conscience – we are citizens of God’s kingdom.

We have to know the truth about ourselves, and find the truth about God. Then we have to follow God’s truth. The more truth reigns in our life, our thoughts, and our actions, the closer we are to Christ.

It is difficult to know the truth about ourselves. Often we think of ourselves as being better than we really are. We live in a state of denial.

When we accept the truth about ourselves, and confront what is wrong with us, we begin the process of changing and healing. This is hard work. It’s hard to confront what is weak in our character, to acknowledge what is good and accept that we need to change.

Alcoholics Anonymous has an interesting prayer: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

When I was a seminarian, I went to a couple of AA meetings. People there said that it’s very difficult to admit the truth about themselves. Alcoholics live in denial, telling themselves that they can give up drinking any time they want to. They usually have to hit rock-bottom in life before they can start to change. Being in denial about ourselves is like trying to live under water. We can float on top of the water and we can breathe the air and live. Or we can hit the bottom of the sea and push off with our feet and go to the top. But we cannot simply exist floating under water. And we cannot truly live if we are in denial about ourselves.

Today, Jesus shows us that He is the king of the truth, and he invites us into his kingdom. To live in his kingdom, we must put on truth and follow God’s commandments.

His truth will heal us and set us free.

Fr Lucjan Szymański

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Daniel 12:1-3
Responsorial: Psalm 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
Reading II: Hebrews 10:11-14, 18
Gospel: Mark 13:24-32

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The liturgical year is coming to a close. At this time, the readings focus on the second coming of Christ, the King of the universe. This time of year is a good time to reflect on the Second Coming and the end of the world as we know it.

Most people aren’t very interested in the Second Coming of Jesus. But if someone gives a date when the end of the world is supposed to happen, lots of people get excited about it. On the other hand, people who don’t have faith often fear the end of the world through nuclear war or environmental destruction. Everything will change when Jesus comes to this world again. But the end of the world for each of us personally, will be the same, because our lives will end, and we will face Jesus.

Jesus compared the end of the world to our observation of trees. We look at trees for signs that summer is coming. In a similar way, there will be signs of the Second Coming of Christ. The very cosmos will change; the sun and moon and stars will not be the same as they are now. This is the sign that the end of this world is coming. But the exact date and hour, we don’t know. Only the Father in heaven knows. If we knew the date of the Second Coming of Christ, it would be easy to prepare for it. But since we don’t know the hour or the day, we must be prepared every day, all the time.

For each of us, the end of the world is when we die. No one knows the moment when he will die, even if he is close to death from illness. But death will come for all of us, so we have to think about it. We have to think about what will come after death. And we have to prepare ourselves for the moment when we leave this world, face our personal judgment, and – we hope – enter eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

Every day I visit the sick in the oncology hospital near Sky Tower. When I am in the chapel, praying with the patients, we can see Sky Tower through the window. It’s like two different worlds. In the hospital, there are sick people who are very aware of how short life is. And there are people living and working in the tallest, most expensive building in Wrocław; people who are so deeply involved in work and business that it’s hard to imagine them pondering the meaning of life, or thinking about the ultimate end of their lives. People who are close to death, savour life in a more intense way than people who assume they have forty or fifty years to live.

When we are busy with work, work seems to be the most important thing. When we are with family, family is most important. When we’re having fun, enjoyment is what we value most. But when we are dying, we find out what is truly most important.

When we have good health; when we are surrounded by friends and family and we have a good job, we tend to think of these things as coming from us, our achievement. Sometimes we don’t appreciate these things because we compare ourselves to others, who seem to have something better. We forget to thank God for the goods that we have in life. But when you have only a few days to live, and you are very sick and in pain, you realize how much you have been blessed, how much you have to be grateful for.

Saint Paul told us that we should thank God for everything. Life is a gift we have received from God. Sometimes our quality of life is better; sometimes it is not so good. But every life is a gift and has value. No matter what the quality of our life, it is our duty to give thanks to God for the gift of life.

When I visit someone who is close to death, I don’t know what to say to the person. I suggest that the person reflect on his whole life – not just his illness, but his whole life. In every life there are some wonderful days and some unhappy days. But for most people, when they look back over their whole lives, they see that it was good, and they are grateful.

We must remember that our life is a gift from God. We are not ‘owners’ and ‘masters’ of our lives. We owe thanks to God for our lives every day. If we cultivate an attitude of gratitude to God, we will know the good of our lives, and we will be ready to give an accounting to God for the use we have made of the life he has shared with us. We will be inspired to make the best of our lives, and we will have no fear of the moment when Christ comes for us at the end of our lives.

Fr Lucjan Szymański

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: 1 Kings 17:10-16
Responsorial: Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Reading II: Hebrews 9:24-28
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the first reading today, we heard about the widow and Elijah the prophet. The prophet met the widow under very bad circumstances. She didn’t have anything for her son and herself to eat. She was collecting fuel to prepare the last meal for herself and her son. At the same time, the prophet wanted her to give him something to eat. The widow had a dilemma: to feed the prophet, or to feed herself and her child.

In answer to the widow’s problem, the prophet repeated God’s promise to Israel: ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’

Now the widow’s dilemma has shifted: she can trust the word of God and feed the prophet, or doubt God’s providence and feed herself and her son.But she is open to the word of God, and she entrusts herself and her son to God’s abundant providence.

In today’s Gospel, we have another widow, who went to the temple to put some money in the treasury. Jesus and the Apostles were watching people make their donations. Many rich people put in large sums, but the widow put in only two small coins. Her donation was less than anyone else’s. But Jesus said that the poor widow put in more than all the other contributors, because they gave from their surplus wealth.

It’s very important for us to understand the relative value of a gift. Someone who has a lot of money, can afford to give people extravagant, expensive gifts. But someone who is poor may have to make a big sacrifice to give a gift. The true value of a gift depends on how much you have to give. If the giver has plenty of money, the gift is not worth as much. But if a person has little money, the gift is worth more.

In Jesus’s time, the situation for widows was very hard. Widows were not valued in society. Her word was not valid in court. When her husband died, she had no material support. If she had no adult children; if she was child-less or had small children to support; her poverty was dire.

We don’t know the family situation of the widow in the Gospel, but Jesus knew that she gave all the money she had to live on. We can see by her actions that the widow had great trust in God’s providence. She must have thought, ‘I have nothing. I must trust in God, and he will provide for my needs.’

Sometimes in our lives we don’t have any idea what will happen next; we seem to be stuck in a bad situation. In these cases, the Word of God opens a door for us. It provides us with something new. Our duty is to place our hope in God’s word and to be ready to go in the direction God is leading us.

I remember one story from when I was a seminarian in Cracow. I went to a museum and got to talking to a docent who told me his story. Many years before, his financial situation was very bad. He had children to support, and was unemployed at the time.

The man had a beautiful Bible in his home. He was thinking about how to solve his financial problems, and thought about selling the Bible to someone. The question was, Who would want to buy an especially beautiful edition of the Bible?

His first thought was to go to a monastery and ask if they were interested in buying the Bible. He went to two monasteries. In one, they said that they didn’t need another Bible — they had plenty of Bibles. In the second monastery, he met a big, fat monk who told him the same thing.

Then he went to the Franciscan friary. He met a priest, who took the Bible, looked through it, and said, ‘We don’t need your Bible, but I want to help you.’ The Franciscan gave him some money. The man was very happy, and when his financial situation improved, he put the same amount of money in the church’s donation box.

The priest who originally helped the man had no way of knowing if it was wise to give him money or not. He could not predict that the man would return the money as a donation later. But the poor man was grateful that the friar had responded to him personally, with compassion.

Perhaps this goes to show us that even if we don’t read the Bible, the Word of God can lead us to the help we need.

In our lives, we will face many difficult situations. We may go from place to place and person to person asking for help, and nothing comes of it. In such cases, it’s good to know that we have a Father in heaven who is always concerned with our needs. We can depend on the words of Jesus to Saint Faustina: ‘Your duty will be to trust completely in My goodness, and My duty will be to give you all you need. I am making Myself dependent upon your trust: if your trust is great, then My generosity will be without limit’ (Diary 548).

Fr Lucjan Szymański

The Solemnity of All Saints

Reading I: Revelation: 7:2-4, 9-14
Responsorial: Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
Reading II: 1 John 3:1-3
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12a

Because it is the first Sunday of the month, in lieu of a homily, we will have Adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass.

During Adoration, we will meditate on the wisdom of the saints:

“When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.”
-St. Josemaria Escriva

“Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.”
-Pope St. Pius X

“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.”
-St. Augustine of Hippo

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
-St. Jerome

“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.”
-St. Francis de Sales

“Our Lord loves you and loves you tenderly; and if He does not let you feel the sweetness of His love, it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes.”
-St. Pio of Pietrelcino

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
-St. Augustine

“You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all.”
-St. Therese of Lisieux

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”
-St. Pio of Pietrelcino

Fr Lucjan Szymański

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Jeremiah 31:7-9
Responsorial: Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
Reading II: Hebrews 5:1-6
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we are looking at the blind man who was sitting at the roadside. His situation was very bad. As a blind person, he had no job or money to live on. He had to ask other people for everything that he needed. Unlike today, in those times, it was impossible for a blind person to make a living. Maybe he had some family to help him; maybe not. We don’t know. If he had family or friends, begging would have been part of his income. But if he was alone, then he had to meet all his needs by begging.

One day, he heard the news that Jesus would be passing by. He had certainly heard about Jesus. He knew who Jesus was and the things he had done. He called Jesus ‘Son of David,’ a messianic title. People around him weren’t interested in helping the blind man meet Jesus. In fact, they rebuked him for trying to get Jesus’s attention. Other people were a barrier to the blind man trying to meet Jesus.

The same kind of thing happens in our lives. There are people who are a stumbling block to us on our path to God through their bad example and their life-style. But Bartimaeus refused to be discouraged or prevented from meeting Jesus. Jesus heard his voice and called Bartimaeus to himself. And the same people who tried to prevent the meeting, were now the ones who told Bartimaeus to ‘take courage’ and approach Jesus.

Then Bartimaeus did a strange thing: He threw aside his cloak and left it behind. His cloak was his only covering from cold and rain; it was a valuable garment. As a blind man, it would be hard for him to find his cloak again if he simply left it behind in the road. But Bartimaeus was thinking of only one thing: his encounter with Jesus. All his hope was in Jesus.

Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted. For a blind man, the answer is obvious: he wanted to have normal vision. If God asks us the same question, we can give the same reply: I want to see, because we are all looking for something in our lives, but we can’t see the whole picture; we don’t have God’s perspective. We can’t see the future; we don’t know our spiritual needs; we tend to focus on our material life only. We need to see our lives the way God sees them.

I remember a story from Tashkent in Uzbekistan. There was an attractive young lady who was a sportswoman. When she was about nineteen years old, she was at a sports camp. She was preparing water for tea, and she made a mistake with the electrical element for heating water. She took the element out of the water without unplugging the element first. The heating coil exploded, and the shards of metal flew into her face and her eyes, leaving her blind. When she was thirty-five, she said that she thanked God for her blindness, because if she had not had that accident, she would not have found faith in God.

Our lives are filled with all kinds of experiences. Sometimes, a situation that seems to be very bad, turns out later to be a blessing. On the other hand, some things that seem to be very good, turn out to be stumbling blocks to our faith. In every situation in our lives, we have to be open to how Jesus is trying to reach us, what he’s trying to teach us through our experiences. Sometimes he closes one door in order to open another.

After his healing, Bartimaeus had a new life: he started to follow Jesus and maybe he became one of his disciples. God gives us many gifts, but we must make sure that we use these gifts to become closer to Christ. And we must give thanks to God for all of his gifts. If we thank God for something with real gratitude, it helps to humble sinful pride.

In today’s Gospel, there were many people who were just part of the crowd around Jesus. There were even some who wanted to prevent others from getting close to Jesus. But Bartimaeus had a real encounter with Jesus and became his follower.

In our lives, some of us may choose to keep our distance from Jesus. There may be people who try to keep us away from Jesus. But Jesus knows what we need before we ask. He gives us people who help us to stay close to him, and as his disciples, we can encounter him again and again in prayer and the sacraments.

Fr Lucjan Szymański

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Isaiah 53:10-11
Responsorial: Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Reading II: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel: Mark 10:35-45

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel, James and John go to Jesus because they want to sit, one at his right and one at his left when he enters into his glory. They wanted to have higher status than the rest of the Apostles and other people.

As Apostles, they were chosen from thousands of Christ’s disciples. They were already special, set apart, closer to Jesus than other people. But they were ambitious, wanting to be set above all the other Apostles.
The other Apostles resented the ambition of James and John, because they were one community, and they were all Apostles of the same Divine Master. James and John introduced a spirit of competition into their communal life. Instead of being like brothers, now they would be fighting for positions among themselves.

It’s normal that we want to improve and be better; even children want to be older and wiser. There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement. But prideful ambition wants to be better in order to lord it over others, to treat them as being less important than you are. When we are driven by prideful ambition, we have a false idea of our true worth, and we want other people to perceive us as being superior to them.

But there is a big difference between the truth about us and who we pretend to be. Also, we harm our relationships with others, because we set ourselves in opposition to them as we strive to attain a higher position than theirs. It is better when our opinion of ourselves comes not from our pride and ambition, but from other people’s true impressions of our goodness and value.
Once in the Soviet Union, some young communists approached an old man who was leaving church. They attacked the old man for his faith, saying he was a fool for following an out-dated ideology and believing in God, instead of following the modern, up-to-date ideology of communism.

The old man was not disturbed by their scorn. He calmly replied that not everyone could be as wise as those young men.

What those proud young men did not know, was that the old man, with his crazy, old-fashioned ways, was a highly respected scientist who was famous throughout the Soviet Union for his brilliance.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus wants to show us how to live in good relationships with other people. If we put ourselves above others, and try to show off that we are great, and special and the best, other people will resent us and compete with us.

But if we put ourselves in the last place, other people will see our humility. They will admire us and think that we are special and great. They will find it easy to approach us, and they will want to be close to us.

Humble service of others is the shortest path to God, because when we are humble and serve others, we imitate Christ himself.

Fr Lucjan Szymański

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Wisdom 7:7-11
Responsorial: Psalm 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
Reading II: Hebrews 4:12-13
Gospel: Mark 10:17-30

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In today’s gospel we see a meeting between Jesus and a rich young man. The young man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. He wanted to lead a perfect life according to God’s commandments.

Jesus told him, ‘You know the commandments; follow them.’

The young man replied that he had followed the commandments from his youth.

Jesus looked at him with love, and said to him, ‘You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven: then, come, follow me.”

The young man went away sad, because he had many possessions.

Jesus wanted something more from the young man than following the commandments. He wanted the young man to trust him.

It is difficult for a rich person to trust in God, because he tends to trust in his money. If he has enough money, he feels he can solve all his problems on his own.

I remember a story from my time in Russia. I was watching a quiz show with an elderly couple. The winner of the quiz show would get one kilo of gold. I asked the woman, ‘If you won a kilo of gold, what would you do?’

She replied, ‘I don’t need it. I’m old. I have everything that I need. My door is unlocked all night. I’m not afraid of robbers, because there’s nothing here that they would want. If I had a lot of money and I bought a car, my husband would go off driving in it, and I would always be worried about him. I don’t need that. Or if people knew that I had a kilo of gold in my house, people would want to break in and steal it. I don’t need the trouble. I don’t want to be rich.’

She was a prayerful, pious woman who trusted in God. She was happy with what she had, and she didn’t want anything more. She was content with her life, because she trusted in God.

Of course, we have to work and earn money. Sometimes we will have more; sometimes we will have less. But it’s only money; only paper.

Our trust must be somewhere else – not in people, not in our friends, not in our money – but in God. He must be first in our hearts, in our minds. He must be first in our lives. God was, is and always will be our treasure. The things of this world will pass away; they are temporary. God is eternal.

Our aim is eternal life with God. So in this life, it is better to be with God than to have many possessions. Jesus wanted the young man in today’s gospel to be with him, to follow him, and he wants the same thing from us.

We will know that we trust God and we are truly with him, when we know that everything we have is from God and we trust that he will always be with us and always provide for us.

Fr Lucjan Szymański

The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Reading I: Sirach 50: 1, 3-7
Responsorial: Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-8, 11
Reading II: Galatians 6: 14-18
Gospel: Matthew 11: 25-30

Because it is the first Sunday of the month, there will be adoration in lieu of a homily.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Numbers 11:25-29
Responsorial: Psalm: 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
Reading II: James 5:1-6
Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Our celebrant and homilist this Sunday is Fr Adam Klag, OFM Conv., a missionary in Munyonyo in Uganda. He told us about life in Uganda and the needs of the Catholics there. You can read about the Franciscan missions in Uganda on their website, which is in English.

Fr Adam told us that it is often very difficult for poor parents in Uganda to send their children to school. For only US$140 (about 400PLN), you can pay for a child to go to a school run by the Church. The missionaries also build hospitals and drill wells so that the people can have free access to water. These needs simply cannot be met by the government, so the missions are a source of health, education and hope for many Ugandans. This is real Christian charity in action. We can be part of it with our donations, prayers and spiritual offerings.

If you would like to help the missions in Uganda financially, you can send them money by automatic bank transfer. Your donation will go to a bank in Poland and then be collected with other donations and passed on to the missions for their work.

To help Fr Adam’s mission, your bank transfer requires the following information:

The account (konto) is with Pekao S.A.
The account number: 31 1240 4432 1111 0000 4732 4970
The name on the account: Prowincja Św. Antoniego i Bł. Jakuba
The address: 31-539 Kraków, ul Żółkiewskiego 14.
Tytułem: Uganda o. Adam Klag

If you want to make a donation for work in Uganda in general (there are several missions), the information is almost the same. You can find it on the missionaries’ contact page.

And don’t forget to pray for the missions and missionaries, and to offer up your fasts and sacrifices for this important work of evangelization and charity.

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
Responsorial: Psalm: 54:3-4, 5, 6 and 8
Reading: II James 3:16-4:3
Gospel: Mark 9:30-37

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We all have or have had contact with young children. In my case, I have got two younger siblings, whom I took care of for many years. Now I find that experience to be a very useful life lesson, among other reasons, because I know children’s behaviour better. For example, when children are very quiet, you can be pretty sure that they are getting into mischief.

There is a lot of silence in today’s Gospel. Firstly, when Jesus revealed that he would be betrayed into the hands of men and killed, no one dared to ask him what he meant. Secondly, when the Lord asked his followers, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ they remained silent.

Jesus probably knew full well what they were discussing, but as good teacher, he wanted to enter into dialogue. The Apostles’ silence reminds me of the behaviour of guilty children. Why? Because they were embarrassed that they had been arguing over who was the greatest. Despite the fact they had lived intimately with Jesus for more than two years, heard all his preaching, and seen his daily example, they still had not discovered what it means to be great in God’s eyes. Are we similar to them? Yes, we are. We want to be appreciated, praised, respected. We secretly dream of personal greatness. We like our relatives’ compliments, the envious glances of our neighbours, nods of recognition from people in the street.

Jesus knows our hearts. He understands our lack of response. He knows that we often want to be the first, the best. He asks us, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ not to embarrass us, but as an opportunity to show us that each of us is precious in his eyes as his son or daughter. Our limitations and weaknesses help us to discover our childlikeness in relationship to God. Children are absolutely dependent on others; they can’t do anything for others. This kind of childlikeness is hard for us. It’s natural to look for other people’s admiration; to want to be successful in life. But will we find peace and fulfilment in that?

Jesus tells us where true greatness lies: ‘If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all’. This is the example of Christ himself. He followed a path that was the way of the Cross. In his supreme sacrifice on the Cross, he was as helpless as a child. He looked like he couldn’t do anything; but he was doing everything.

St. Therese of Lisieux wrote: To remain a child before God means to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God. It is not to become discouraged over our failings, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much.

In today’s Gospel Jesus wanted to move his Apostles from one kind of silence to another. The first silence was their embarrassment at being caught in their pride. But Jesus offers them – and us – a deeper, more profound, silence. In this deeper silence, we rest in God’s arms. Our minds and hearts are no longer filled with the noise of ambition and anxiety. In this silence, we can pray with the psalmist:

LORD, my heart is not proud;
nor are my eyes haughty.
I do not busy myself with great matters,
with things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul,
Like a weaned child to its mother,
weaned is my soul
(Ps 131:1-3).

Br Arkadiusz Żelechowski, Deacon

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Isaiah 50:5-9a
Responsorial: Psalm: 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Reading II: James 2:14-18
Gospel: Mark 8:27-35

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

“Who do people say that I am?” Jesus asked his Apostles.

Jesus is asking the same question today. He’s not asking so much about what other people think, but about what you think: Who do you think I am? What am I to you?

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask myself, Who is Christ for me? How much does he mean to me? What does he mean in my life?

These are questions that every man must ask himself. Our whole life depends on how we answer. This question demands that we make up our minds about God. Either I believe and trust in Him, and He is my Lord and Saviour; or I do not want to have anything to do with him in my life, and I live without God, religion and the Church.

It seems that today many people are afraid ask questions about faith and their relationship to God. This attitude seems to be more comfortable. You can create your own rules, with no reference to the values that come from faith. Many people who call themselves believers live their faith superficially, being satisfied with doing only the minimum required to practice their faith.

But faith is so much richer than that. When human life is permeated with faith, it is expressed in works that are a beautiful testimony to authentic faith. As Saint James tells us, faith without works is dead.

We can see truly living faith in the lives of many saints: Mary’s ‘Yes’ to God’s will was the fruit of her living faith. Look at St Maximilian Kolbe, who sacrificed his own life to save the life of a man with a wife and children. Remember Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and the beauty of her loving service to the poor. Think of Saint Pope John Paul the Second, forgiving the man who tried to murder him. The young Franciscan missionaries Father Michał and Father Zbigniew, who were faithful to Christ to the end of their lives. They will be beatified in December in Peru. They were ordained in this very church.

We meet holy saints every day: the mothers and fathers who lay down their lives in service to raising godly children; the people who welcome refugees to a new country; those who nurse the sick, feed the hungry, and teach the faith by the example of holy lives of service, sacrifice and love. Your presence here at this celebration is also a beautiful testimony to your faith.

May God, by the Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith, so that our faith will bear fruit in good works, and be a beautiful testimony of our love for God and people. Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Isaiah 35:4-7a
Responsorial: Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Reading II: James 2:1-5
Gospel: Mark 7:31-37

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Be strong, fear not! Here is your God…he comes to save you” (Is 35:4).

These words from today’s first reading from the Book of Isaiah most fully express the message of today’s Liturgy of the Word.

It expresses hope in God, the Savior. Amidst the hopelessness and tribulations of exile, Isaiah calls on Israel to look for their salvation only in God: “Here is your God…he comes to save you!”

Isaiah presents God’s salvific work in two ways.

First, it is a miraculous healing that will restore human physical health: “the eyes of the blind [will] be opened, the ears of the deaf [will] be cleared; the lame [will] leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”

There will also be a transformation in the natural world: “streams will burst forth in the desert.”

These are symbols of the profound transformation that Christ will bring about in man and in all creation. It will be completed at the end of time, when everything will be perfectly renewed in Him.

The Gospel today shows the fulfillment of the messianic promises. Jesus’s miraculous healings caused the people to proclaim, “The deaf hear and the mute speak.” These miracles attest that the prophecies of Isaiah were not empty words.

We also heard the words of today’s Gospel at our baptism, the beginning of our personal transformation in Christ. The priest touched our ears and our mouths and prayed that they would be open to hear God’s word and to proclaim it and to praise God the Father.

In this way, we are part of the fulfillment of the messianic promises. Baptism freed us from sin and opened our ears to hear God’s word. It loosed our tongues to confess and praise God.

The second reading is connected with the other readings. It shows us that Christians have to build their lives on the example of God. Day by day, we have to become more perfect in following Christ, who in his work of salvation did not make distinctions among people. If Jesus had any preferences, it was for the humble, the poor and the needy.

So brothers and sisters, let us rejoice in the salvation which we received from Jesus, and let us live with the love which we received from the Lord.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
Responsorial: Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5
Reading II: James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27
Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

We come to the church for the Eucharist, to meet with our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One to whom we entrust our lives; He is the one we follow. We believe that He alone has the words of eternal life. “We believe and know that [he] is the Holy One of God” (Jn 6: 69). We come to hear His word, and to be nourished by His Body, the Eucharist. We believe that we need this food not only for eternal life, but here in this world, in our daily life.

In today’s Gospel, we heard a complaint, or a grievance, that the Pharisees directed at Jesus’s disciples. They noted that “some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.” In their scrupulosity, they ask Jesus, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders, but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

This question is an indictment of Jesus, that He and His disciples were breaking the tradition of the elders.

In response, they hear from the mouth of Christ, that “nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile” (Mark 7:15).

Today, we can also consider how these words of Jesus refer to the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the most holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine, is a unique food. When we eat normal food, the food becomes part of us. But when we receive the Eucharist, we are transformed into the food we eat – we are transformed into Christ.

It is through the Eucharist that we become the Body of Christ.

And not just in a spiritual sense, as a community of the Church, but also each of us is conformed to Jesus when we worthily accept these most holy gifts.

We must also remember that when we are committed to Christ, everything that comes out of us – our words and deeds – have the mark of Christ, the mark of His merciful love.

But without the Eucharist, without nourishing ourselves with the true Bread from Heaven, we are weak, more exposed to evil spirits, and more likely to fall when we are tempted. This is because “from within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

Thus, the best way to guard against this danger is to let Christ live in your heart, to be “filled up” with Christ and to be “turned into” Him, thanks to the Eucharist.

The Irishman Matt Talbot lived from 1856 to 1925. From a young age, he was an alcoholic. After sixteen years of drinking, he wanted to escape from his deadly addiction, but came to the conclusion that he could not do it on his own. He decided that he would fight his battle for sobriety before the Blessed Sacrament.

He started to attend daily Mass. After work, he avoided his drinking buddies, and went to a church to pray for perseverance in sobriety. He said that “It is easier to bring the dead back to life, than for an alcoholic to stop drinking.”

Today Matt Talbot is called “the apostle of sobriety” and is a candidate for sainthood.

There are many people like him, even here, among us.

Today’s Gospel should be a warning for all of us, that like the Pharisees and scribes, we often meet Jesus through Mass and the sacraments, but we go on living our own lives, not changing, not repenting.

This is why we all need a living relationship with Jesus; we need to cling to him with all our hearts, so we do not hear him say about us, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me….” (Mk 7:6).

The process of being transformed into Christ, being filled with him through the Eucharist, is not easy or immediate, but it is possible. To be a Christian is to have Christ dwelling within you, and then demons cannot approach you.

Finally, let us pray together the prayer of the Servant of God, Matthew Talbot:

“O Most Sweet Jesus, mortify within me all that is bad – make it die.
Put to death in me all that is vicious and unruly.
Kill whatever displeases Thee;
mortify within me all that is my own.
Give me true humility, true patience and true charity.
Grant me the perfect control of my tongue. Amen.”

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Reading II: Ephesians 5:21-32
Gospel: John 6:60-69

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

When the Lord Jesus taught at the Lake of Gennesaret, he often stayed in Capernaum. It was a fairly large fishing village in which St. Peter had his own house. Near Peter’s home there was a beautiful synagogue, in which Jesus often taught. To this day we can see the ruins of the synagogue and admire its grandeur. It was in this synagogue where Jesus taught about the Eucharist, in the Bread of Life Discourse, recorded in chapter 6 of the Gospel of John.

We read the last part of this discourse in the Gospel today. John tells us that “Many of Jesus’s disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

Jesus performed many signs and miracles to confirm his words, to show who He is, and to show who sent Him. However, many of his disciples doubted Jesus, when he taught, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

In His teaching on the Eucharist, Jesus asserted that He is “the living bread which came down from heaven.” This teaching caused many of his disciples to abandon Him, for this teaching requires faith. Only with the eyes of faith can we understand and accept the teachings of Jesus on the Eucharist.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus turns to the Twelve and asks, “Do you also want to leave?” Jesus was prepared for even his closest followers to abandon Him. However, He did not change His teaching or retract a single word of what He said.

Jesus is not a populist!

The truth cannot change; it cannot be adapted to fit new circumstances or manipulated to suit our personal preferences. We can only live the truth and defend the truth, even if we have to pay a great price.

Jesus has said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me ” (John 14: 6). St Peter knew that. That is why he said to Jesus: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Today, Jesus is asking each one of us, “Do you also want to leave me?” He expects us to make a decision. We must remember all the good that God has done for us, and we have to understand that only the teaching of Christ leads to the fullness of life. It is easy to make the decision to follow Jesus; but really following him requires fidelity to the full truth of the Gospel.

Anyone who wants to be called a disciple of the Master of Nazareth, must remember that being a disciple is a vocation from God to live the entire, radical truth of the Gospel of Jesus.

In today’s second reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, we get a lesson about marriage. Saint Paul considered married love in the context of the love of Christ for the Church. This love is beautiful, but also difficult and demanding. Today many Christians respond to this teaching about marriage the same way Jesus’s followers responded to the teaching about the Eucharist: “It is too difficult! Who can follow this teaching?”

This is why in today’s society, marriage and family are no longer a normal model for human life and development. Individuals and even entire cultures prefer relationships based on comfort and pleasure. Modern people don’t want to attempt marriage, which requires sacrifice, hard work and dedication.

But only Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life. All other ways of trying to satisfy the longings of the human heart for happiness turn out to be short-sighted, and lead us on a false path.

It’s true that Christ’s requirements in regard to marriage are not easy. But Our Lord gives us a high standard because He respects the dignity of human persons whom He created in His image and likeness.

Jesus has high standards for us. But He also gives us grace and comes to our aid, so that we can fulfill our vocations. That is why the Church celebrates the sacraments, such as Holy Matrimony and Holy Communion which we heard about in today’s readings.

The Sacrament of Matrimony enables spouses to fulfill the vocation to marriage. The Eucharist is our daily bread on our path through this world. It strengthens us daily in fidelity to our vocations, and leads us to eternal life. For only by walking with Jesus can we overcome all the difficulties of our lives and reach our eternal destiny.

Therefore let us affirm that Christ alone has the words of eternal life, and declare with conviction, “Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God” (Joshua 24, 18).
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Proverbs 9:1-6
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Reading II: Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel: John 6:51-58

Brothers and sisters,

The words that we have heard in today’s Gospel are probably the most difficult teachings in the whole Bible: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood…’? Had Jesus just called his followers to commit cannibalism? Many of his disciples interpreted his words that way, and left him.

All they needed was more trust, more patience and more understanding.

Jesus spoke of His Body, His Blood and eternal life, which is salvation. To gain eternal life, you have to be nourished by His Body and Blood. This is not about satisfying physical hunger by swallowing the Host.

Holy Communion is much more than just ‘swallowing’ the Lord Jesus. Holy Communion is primarily a spiritual union and a communion with God; abiding in God.

We know that merely ‘going to Communion’ is no guarantee of salvation if you lack faith and a spirit of openness.

Similarly, the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, cannot be made present even through the most devout prayer over the best and freshest bread, if there is no priest, whom Jesus empowers and sends in His name to transform bread and wine into His Body and Blood. This is an ineffable mystery!

This is what the disciples didn’t understand before they turned away. They lost patience and faith; they preferred to trust their own logic, rather than the word of Jesus.

Today, there are many people who do not trust God and the Church, to whom Jesus entrusted the Eucharist.

I am not only talking about our brothers and sisters from Protestant churches, but also Catholics who have turned away, who even on Sunday do not participate in the Eucharist, who do not want to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

Why? It is probably not because of malice, but because they are not conscious that the Eucharist is our daily bread, for us to eat, not just to look at it. If you are in a state of grace, and you want to have strength and life, then go ahead – take and eat! The Bread of Life is for all those who want to live,
not for those who are worthy. The bread of life is not a reward for finishing the journey, but our food for the journey. If you do not take it with you on the journey,
and you do not eat, you will not reach your heavenly destination.

Let us stand now and thank God for the gift of the Eucharist as we sing the great prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas in praise of the Blessed Sacrament:

At the last great Supper lying,
Circled by his brethren’s band,
Meekly with the law complying,
First he finished its command,
Then, immortal Food supplying,
Gave himself with his own hand.

Therefore we before him bending,
This great Sacrament revere,
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.

Glory let us give and blessing
To the Father and the Son
Honor, might and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who from both with both is one.
Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

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

Today the Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We believe that Mary, the mother of the Son of God, did not die, but she was taken body and soul into heaven, and rejoices in the full glory of the resurrection at the side of her Son. This dogma was solemnly defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

What does the Assumption mean to us, and how are we to understand it? We, who do not understand death, and who fear it; we, for whom life after death is so difficult to imagine, we stand before Christ, who says to us: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will never die”

Christ, in the power of his death and resurrection, has provided that even though we die, we will be resurrected in the flesh, and together with Mary, will praise the Good Lord, enjoying the closeness of family, friends and people whom we will meet in heaven.

The Assumption of Mary shows us our own destiny: we are not in this world to suffer and die, so that our bodies are degraded forever, and our relationships with loved ones ending with death. No – Mary, who has been assumed into heaven, shows us that our destiny is eternal life with Jesus, with the Holy Mother and all the saints, and all the faithful departed among our loved ones.

It is not important for us to completely understand the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. This teaching is given to us for contemplation and celebration.

When we contemplate and celebrate the Assumption of Mary, we praise God, who wanted to take his mother into heaven, body and soul. Contemplating and celebrating the Assumption of Mary transforms us. It eases our fear of death — both our own death, and the death of our loved ones. Faith in the Assumption of Mary strengthens our conviction that heaven, the state of eternal happiness, is real.

In today’s Gospel, Mary is a simple young Israelite girl who believed God when she was told that she was to be the mother of His Son. She went to her cousin Elizabeth, to whom God had given the gift of a child, even though she was advanced in years.

For Mary and Elizabeth, pregnancy was not just a biological state, but an event of saving grace.

In her hymn of the Magnificat, Mary is full of elation; she praises God and rejoices in Him, because she believes that through her pregnancy, her Son — God —will bring salvation to all men. In His humility, God himself became incarnate in a human body in order to save us.

When we consider the intimate union of Jesus with Mary in the period before His birth, we have to ask, if it is possible that the Risen Christ could will the decomposition of the body of the Mother who bore Him in her womb.

Certainly not! Mary’s Assumption, body and soul into heaven, is a participation in the Resurrection of Christ; for Mary it is a return to the communion she had with her Son when she was blest to bear him in her womb.

Brothers and sisters!

Together with Mary, let us adore the Good Lord for the gift of our life and salvation. Let us rejoice in heaven, our ultimate salvation, the culmination of every bit of good we have done on earth. Let us rejoice in heaven, where we will know a closeness with our loved ones that far surpasses the power of death. Amen

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: 1 Kings 19:4-8
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: Ephesians 4:30-5:2
Gospel: John 6:41-51

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Sunday is the Lord’s day, a holy day, the day when we go to church. Sunday is the day when we celebrate the Eucharist. We participate in an assembly of our brothers and sisters, with whom we journey through this world to the promised land of heaven and eternal happiness in the House of our Father.

Today we listen to the Word of God, which will encourage our hearts, lift up our thoughts and inspire our actions; the word of God, who is our Father, and who desires our good, our sanctification. He wants us to be like Him, because we were created in His image and likeness.

Today He says to us: ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma’ (Ephesians 4:30-5:2).

We must desire to be imitators of Christ, to follow the path of love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us in sacrifice.

Our Lord Jesus not only offered Himself as a sacrifice on the Cross; He also offers Himself to us as the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. Whoever believes in Jesus, and eats His Body and drinks His Blood, has eternal life. Just as ordinary food nourishes us for life in this world, Christ’s Body in the Eucharist nourishes us for eternal life in heaven.

Dear in Christ! Today we hear from the mouth of Jesus: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever’ (Jn 6: 51).

Saint Pope John Paul II said that ‘we should desire to witness to these words in our own communities. We should want to tell everyone that the journey of man is a journey to eternal life. In our daily lives, the buildings where we live and work, in all the activities of everyday life, we should openly talk about the sacrament of eternal life in the Body and Blood of Christ.

We should be eager to bear witness to the Covenant — the Eucharist — the sacrament of the covenant of the Body and Blood of Christ — the eternal Covenant. It is a covenant that embraces everyone. The Blood of Christ was poured out for the salvation of all. To those who have forgotten, to those who are indifferent, to those who are hostile, we need to cry out, “How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me?”

Above all the intricacies of history, above the dangers of modern times, above the trials and tribulations of human hearts, minds and consciences — the Church raises up the cup of salvation — the Eucharist.

Our desire is to proclaim the Eucharist to the world, as a sign of the eternal covenant that God made with man through the Body and Blood of His Son. His Body was offered in His passion and death. He shared in man’s fate after original sin. His Blood was poured out to seal the New Covenant between God and Man; a Covenant of grace and love, holiness and truth. We are participants in this covenant even more than the people of the Old Covenant.

Today we should give testimony to all people that God became man for all people. Christ died for all people, and was raised from the dead. And finally, all people are called to share in the eternal banquet in heaven. Here on earth, God invites everyone: ‘Take, eat…’ ‘take and drink…’ so that we have strength to continue on our journey. How worthy of adoration is our God! Our minds cannot comprehend it, and we are incapable of adoring Him as He deserves. There is no heart in this world that can love God as He loves us. It is amazing that He wants us to approach Him, to love Him and worship Him, in our human capacity, under the appearances of bread and wine!’ (John Paul II: Komentarz do Ewangelii, Kraków 2013, pp. 312-313, my translation).
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Responsorial: Psalm 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54
Reading II: Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Gospel: John 6:24-35

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

A moment ago we sang in the psalm: “The Lord gave them bread from heaven.” These words refer to the journey of the Chosen People of Israel to the Promised Land.

The Jews who wandered in the wilderness were plagued by hunger and thirst. That’s why they murmured against Moses: “Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!” (Ex 16:3).

At the request of Moses, God sent His people manna and quail to eat, which became their daily food on their forty-year trek through the desert.

This food not only satisfied the Israelites’ hunger, it was a sign of the bread that would be given to the children of the New Covenant. Immediately after the miraculous multiplication of loaves, Jesus said in the synagogue at Capernaum, “it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven”…. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (Jn 6,32.35). So the manna foreshadowed the Bread of Life, which is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, giving us His body for food.

The manna was given to the Jews by God so they could make their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. In a similar way, the Eucharist is the daily bread of all who are bound for the heavenly homeland. In the Eucharist, Christ is the true bread of life.

Joseph Fadell was born Mohammed al-Sayyid al-Moussawi in 1964. He is a convert to Catholicism from Islam. He wrote a testimony of his conversion and how he came to believe in Jesus.

One night while Fadell was sleeping, he had a dream in which he was standing on one side of a narrow stream. A man was standing on the other side of the stream. Fadell was very attracted to the man’s infinitely kind expression, and wanted to cross the stream to him. In the dream, he leapt over the stream, but found himself suspended in the air. The man on the other side of the stream, stretched out a hand to Fadell, and slowly spoke a single sentence to him: “To cross the stream, you must eat the bread of life.”

The next morning, a Christian friend brought Fadell a New Testament that Fadell had asked for several months earlier. Fadell opened to the Gospel of John and began reading. When he got to chapter six, he read, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger” (Jn 6:35).

Immediately an extraordinary feeling of well-being and warmth filled Fadell, and he had an almost violent desire to know Jesus Christ, and to be able to feed on the Bread of Life, which is Jesus Himself. After several years of efforts, many sacrifices and much persecution, Fadell was baptized a Catholic. He now lives in France, witnessing to the truth that only Jesus is the Savior.

Dear in Christ!

Bread is a symbol of life. Jesus is our bread! Only Jesus is our life. This Jesus, the Son of God, is the bread of heaven, which God gives to his people. Do not be afraid; do not hesitate, to satisfy this great desire, this longing for God, for union with Him who has become for us the food of eternal life. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: 2 Kings 4:42-44
Responsorial: Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
Reading II: Ephesians 4:1-6
Gospel: John 6:1-15

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

In today’s Gospel, we heard how Jesus miraculously fed the crowd of his hungry disciples. Jesus asked the Apostle Philip: ‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?’ (Jn 6:5). But Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do. He knew how he was going to feed the hungry crowd.

Jesus’s miracle was not only about feeding people. The miracle was to be a sign for the people gathered there, that Jesus was the true prophet who was to come into the world and be a king for his people (Jn 6:14-15). Clearly these words show that the crowd had faith in who Jesus was.

Above all Jesus wanted his disciples to realize who he is, and the great power that his disciples would have if they believed in him and followed him. When Jesus asked, ‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?’ (Jn 6:5), he wanted his disciples to learn that they would take part in building the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus did not want his miracles – such as the multiplication of the loaves – to end when he ascended into heaven. He wanted the Twelve to have faith and to trust that they could work miracles, too.

Today we take part in the Holy Mass, the Eucharist. The greatest miracle, which Jesus has given us through his priests, the successors of the Apostles. Today he doesn’t feed thousands of people with ordinary bread, but millions of the faithful with the true bread of heaven – his Body under the appearance of bread.

We have been going to church and receiving communion since we were children, and sometimes we can miss the sacredness of what we are doing, that we are taking part in a great and true miracle. We can forget that we receive the true Body of Jesus, that we are united with God himself, that our heart is the dwelling-place of the Lord. In Holy Communion, God comes to us; he unites himself with us; so that each person can be united with God. God gives himself as a gift, as our daily bread, the bread of life, the source of life for our souls.

The French mystic Marthe Robin, who died in 1981, lived entirely on weekly reception of Holy Communion for more than 50 years. Apart from Holy Communion, she did not take even a sip of water. She spoke about the Eucharist this way: “Yes, this is all my food. They moisten my mouth, but I cannot swallow anything. The host is absorbed into me, but I do not know how. The Eucharist is not ordinary food. Every time [I receive it] new life is poured into me. It seems to me that Jesus is in my body, that he is my body, as if I were resurrected. Communion is something more than a unification: it is melting into one…. I want to say to those who keep asking me if I really do not eat, that I eat more than they do, because I feed on the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus. I would like to tell people that they themselves block the effect of this food…”

Dear in Christ! Today, when we leave the church after Mass, strengthened by the Word of God and nourished by true bread from heaven, remember that we have participated in a true miracle of Jesus. Let us remember that He is still with us every day and every moment, because he has become for us the food of eternal life.
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Responsorial: Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Reading II: Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When I read today’s Gospel, one thing especially strikes me: when people come to Jesus,
they want to see him, to hear him, to touch him. Jesus tried to get away with the Apostles, to rest a little bit. But the people saw them leaving, found out where they were going, and went there before Jesus and his Apostles arrived. This means that the people desired to be with Jesus, to hear him.

These events happened before Jesus’s greatest miracles: the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, His resurrection, and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

So we can ask, What were they looking for? Why did they want to meet Jesus? What were they hoping to hear or see? Maybe they wanted to hear wise parables or to see a miracle; maybe some were sick and wanted to be healed or recognized that they were sinners and wanted to be reconciled; maybe some were in trouble and despair and wanted words of hope and encouragement. Whatever they hoped to find in Jesus, the people followed him like a deer that longs for water, or sheep looking for a shepherd.

Did they find what they were looking for? I think they did. And the fruit of their search was faith: the decision to follow Jesus as their Messiah.

I remember from my priestly service in Russia, a woman from a Buddhist family came to our church. She asked for confession. She asked me because in Buddhism, they don’t have confession. I explained that confession is a sacrament for Christian people. She said that she understood, but that she needed to confess her sins and to hear that she was forgiven. We talked for a long time, and for her, this meeting was the beginning of her relationship with Jesus, which ended in her conversion and baptism.

In our time many people seeking an intimate encounter with Jesus. They want to experience his grace and mercy. But at the same time, they are afraid. Looking at the lives of Christians – at our lives – they are not sure if Christianity is a true way of meeting God. Or maybe for them, it is difficult to live up to the moral standards of Christianity.

It is up to us, to help people who are looking for spirituality, who want to meet the living God, to show them the way to Jesus, our Good Shepherd. By our good life, let us be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Let the light of our love, guide them on the way to Jesus.

Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Amos 7:12-15
Responsorial: Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Reading II: Ephesians 1:3-14
Gospel: Mark 6:7-13

In today’s brief meditation, I would like to start from the end — namely, the words which conclude the celebration of the Mass: “Go in the peace,” or “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

It sometimes seems that people who come to Mass await these words like a tired soldier waiting to be told he can stand “at ease.” Immediately after hearing these words, people hurry out of the church, relieved that they have fulfilled their obligation to participate in Sunday Mass.

However, the word “go” here does not so much signal the end of the Mass, but the beginning of our mission to go forth and bear witness to the world. When Jesus used the word “Go” he was usually commanding someone to perform a task, especially sending people out on a mission, for example, when he sent the Apostles out to preach to all nations (Mt 28:19).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus first summons the Twelve before he sends them out into the world. We cannot go out into the world to spread the word of Jesus, unless we have first been summoned by him. Jesus calls us here to the Mass, nourishes us with his Word and his Body, and then sends us out, saying, “Go in peace. Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”

Personal contact with Jesus is necessary before he can send us out to announce the Good News. This contact increases our love and deepens our faith. Our encounter with Christ gives us courage and zeal. That is how it was with the Twelve Apostles, and that is how it is with us in the Church today.

There are different ways to go out on mission, to announce the Gospel, but the most important is by witness of how we live our lives.

A good example of this is Blessed Charles de Foucauld. Foucauld was a convert to the Catholic faith. He became a monk and a priest, and later lived in southern Algeria, sharing the life and hardship of the local people, who were not Christians.

This is how Foucauld described his mission: “Every Christian must be an apostle, this is not a counsel, it is a commandment. My apostolate must be an apostolate of goodness. On seeing me people should say to themselves, since this man is so good, his religion must be good. And if I am asked why I am so gentle and good I must reply, because I am the servant of the One whose goodness is still greater.”

Brothers and sisters, at the end of the Mass, when we hear the words, “Go forth!” we should take it as a commandment. We have been filled with God’s word, and inspired by Jesus to go out on a mission, to proclaim our faith in Jesus by our good, honest, lives. Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Ezekiel 2:2-5
Responsorial: Psalm 123:1-2, 2, 3-4
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Gospel: Mark 6:1-6

Since today is the first Sunday of the month, there will be adoration at the end of Mass in lieu of the homily.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Responsorial: Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

It is true to say that from the moment we begin to exist, we begin to die. From the moment of his conception, man meets with suffering and death. And so from the beginning of his existence in the world, man feels pain, fear and the dread of death. Socrates was right in believing that all through our lives we should be preparing for our death.

However, we must remember that “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” “For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it”
(Wis 1:13; 2:23-24).

Scripture tells us about Jesus Christ, God’s Son: “it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured” (Is 53:4). “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases” (Mt 8:17). “[H]e 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 2:6-8).

Christ the Lord took upon himself the consequences of original sin, which are human sin, suffering and death. Having taken them all on himself, he was nailed with them to the Cross. “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:14, New Living Translation).

The whole Gospel shows us Jesus’s love and compassion for humankind. Jesus showed great mercy to people afflicted by illness or other misfortune. That is why Jesus’s miracles, which are a confirmation of his teachings, are often referred to as the “visible Good News.”

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read that “Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that ‘God has visited his people’ (Lk 7:16) and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand” (CCC 1503).

Today, the Gospel tells us of the miraculous healing of two people. Jesus healed the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue official. He also healed a woman with a hemorrhage. We see how Jesus has compassion for human suffering, heals the sick body, and even resurrects the dead daughter of a distraught father.

However, “Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: ‘I was sick and you visited me’” (CCC 1503; Mt 25:36).

As disciples of Jesus, we must remember that Jesus came to heal the human heart, and above all, to give us salvation. He urges us to believe in Him, because only He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). Only Jesus is “the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in [him], even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in [him] will never die” (Jn 11: 25-26).

That is why in today’s Gospel, we read that when Jesus heard that Jairus’s daughter had died, he said to the synagogue official, “‘Do not be afraid; just have faith’” (Mk 5:36). Then he led the girl’s father to where his daughter lay and exclaimed, “‘Little girl, I say to you, arise!’ [And] the girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around” (Mk 5:41).

When the woman with the hemorrhage was healed, Jesus said to her: “‘Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction’” (Mk 5: 34). The woman not only received healing, but her faith is emphasized, praised and strengthened. We should note the fact that hundreds of people bumped into or touched Jesus, but her touch was different. She reached out to touch Jesus in faith, while others simply brushed against him in passing, indifferently.

It’s possible to be externally close to Jesus, but without commitment, without faith. Such proximity, however, is not very fruitful. It is not enough only appearing to be close to the Lord Jesus. You have to be near to him in faith, trust and love.

Dear in Christ!

Reflecting on Jesus’s miracles in today’s Gospel, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth taught that “These two stories of healing invite us to go beyond a purely horizontal and materialistic vision of life. We ask God to heal so many problems, our practical needs, and this is right, but what we must ask him for insistently, is an ever firmer faith — so that the Lord may renew our life — as well as [asking for] firm trust in his love, in his Providence that never abandons us” (Angelus Message, 1 July 2012).

Dear ones, like the woman suffering with the hemorrhage, let us break through the crowd and reach out to Jesus with faith and love, to experience the healing of our hearts and the strengthening of our faith. Let us rise up from our spiritual death, from our sins and addictions, knowing that like the daughter of Jairus, Jesus will take us by the hand and lead us through life to the Father.

Although you may seem to be just one among many, when you are in the presence of Jesus, for him, you are the only person in existence. What are you waiting for? Turn to Him today, and his word will work miracles in your life and in your heart.
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Job 38:1, 8-11
Responsorial: Psalm 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

When I was a child, I liked to look at a mural in my parish church, which depicted a scene from today’s Gospel. Jesus was in the boat – tall, full of majesty, and surrounded by his fearful Apostles. With a raised hand, he calmed the rough waves of the sea, as one who had authority to ‘shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb” (Job 38:8). Looking at that mural, there was no need to ask “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mk 4:41) Anyone who looked at that mural knew that it was the Lord “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17).

However, the rough sea is also an image of human life, through which we sail our own boat. Calmly we sail through life; we feel safe and do not even remember that we are in God’s hands. Then suddenly a storm breaks out. The wind blows; our boat fills with water. With all our might we try to save the boat from sinking and to escape the danger we find ourselves in. We feel abandoned and helpless.

Someone close to us suddenly dies.
There’s a crisis in our marriage.
A dear one falls gravely ill or is in serious trouble or deeply depressed.
Each of us knows best the crisis that could threaten to swamp our own little boat.

For awhile, we try to keep ourselves afloat, but sooner or later we begin to cry out in despair, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). Just like the disciples, we forget that Jesus is in the boat with us as we struggle. We feel abandoned by God. We think that He does not hear our prayers. It seems to us that He does not care about our fate. And maybe sometimes we think that this dangerous storm is God’s punishment.

In the famous poem “Footprints in the Sand” the author describes a dream about his life. He sees the history of his life as two pairs of footprints in the sand along the shore of the sea. The second pair of footprints indicates that Jesus was walking along with him. However, in the most difficult times of his life, he sees only one set of footprints. He asks, ‘Lord, during the most difficult times, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why you would leave me when I needed you most.’

The Lord replied, “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

The popularity of this story not only shows our need for closeness to God, but also how difficult it is to believe that He is with us all the time. And in fact, the Lord Jesus never leaves us alone. He always knows what’s happening to us and what we are experiencing. He cares for us and is never indifferent to our suffering. It is as he promised us: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mt 28: 20).

On 17 September, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland. Thousands of Poles were murdered; hundreds of thousands were deported to Siberia. Ten-year-old Lucy Michalik was among those deported to Siberia, along with her family. Her sister Janka fell ill with typhus and was sent to the hospital barracks. Nobody had ever come out of that barracks alive. Janka’s mother had been sent to work clearing the forests.

One day a woman came to her and said that she had to return to the camp, because her daughter was dying and calling for her. Without asking for permission, the mother hurried to her child. Janka was unconscious and dying. Her mother knelt and started to pray. The guard arrived and began screaming at her.

The mother said, ‘Can you not see that my child is dying?’

The guard demanded, ‘What are you doing?’

‘Praying,’ she replied.

‘To whom are you praying?’ he asked.

‘To God,’ said the mother.

‘And where is this God? I don’t see him.’

The mother replied that God is invisible, but he certainly exists.

The guard demanded, ‘What God is this, that you pray to him on your knees, and he doesn’t answer you?’

The mother got the courage to reply, ‘You’ll see, you Ruskie heathen. God hears me and my child will live.’

The next day, around noon, the same woman came running to Janka’s mother in the woods, and cried, ‘Come quickly, because your Janka is sitting up and saying she is hungry. I don’t have anything to give her to eat.’

Again, she ran to her daughter, along with the shouting guard, but when he saw that the little girl was well, he was stunned.

Her mother said, “See you fool: God heard me and my baby is alive.”

The astonished guard said three times, ‘It’s a miracle,’ and left. He understood that there is an unseen force that rules the world. After that he never forbade anyone to pray. Janka returned to health, and the Russian had found faith in God. (From Ja to wszystko pamiętam [I Remember Everything], by Łucja Michalik)

Dear in Christ:

This is the secret of Christianity: when there is faith, there is everything, and anything can happen; when there is no faith, that’s when we think that God has fallen asleep.

St Augustine taught that “[E]ach one of us is a temple of God, each one’s heart is a sailing boat, [it cannot be] wrecked “ as long as we do “not let our faith lie dormant in our hearts when [we] are buffeted by the winds and waves of this world. The Lord Christ’s power is by no means dead, nor is it asleep.” When we think that Christ is asleep, it means our faith is asleep. It means that we have forgotten his presence. (Paraphrase from St Augustine’s Sermon 63, 1-3: PL 38, 424-25)

Brothers and Sisters, when you look back at the events in your life, can you see that Christ has been walking with you all the way? We can be sure he is always with us, because he is the one who “died for all so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him…” (2 Cor 5:15).
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Ezekiel 17:22-24
Responsorial: Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16
Reading II: Corinthians 5:6-10
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God and the development of the Kingdom. Jesus speaks about grain which is scattered on the ground, germinates and grows almost without our notice, and in the time of harvest yields fruit.

Listening to God’s Word, we must note that it applies primarily to Jesus Christ, who is not only the sower of grain, but the grain itself. Through his incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection, he became the seed that yielded a hundredfold.

Jesus also compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed: “when it is sown in the ground, [it] is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

This, too, applies to Christ, who is the beginning, the head of the Church, his Mystical Body. His church is like a huge tree that started from a small seed. All around the world people find refuge in its shade, even those who do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

St Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church, wrote beautifully about this in the sixth century: “This small seed of grain is for us a symbol of Jesus Christ, who was planted in the garden where he was buried and emerged shortly after his Resurrection, standing tall like a great tree.

“We can say that when he died, he was like a small seed. He was a small seed by the humiliation of his flesh, a great tree by the glorification of his majesty. He was a small seed when he appeared to us all disfigured; and he was a great tree when he was resurrected as the ‘most handsome of men’ (Ps 44.3).

“The branches of this mysterious tree are the holy preachers of the Gospel, whose fame is recorded in the psalm: “A report goes forth through all the earth, their messages, to the ends of the world” (Ps 19:5; cf. Rom 10:18). The birds rest on these branches, while the souls of the just, who have been raised up above earth’s attractions on the wings of holiness, find in the words of these preachers of the Gospel the consolation they need in the hardships and drudgery of this life” (Homilies on the Gospel, Matthew, No. 13).

Today’s Gospel also refers to us, to our faith, its growth and development in our hearts as well as our witness, transmitting the faith to others, sharing the Word of Life with those whom the Lord puts on our path every day.

Every day the Lord comes to us with His grace and power, although sometimes “we do not know how” this happens. This action of the Lord and His grace in our lives is sometimes not only a gift, but also a great mystery.

On October twenty-second, 2000, the cathedral was consecrated in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. A few days later a nineteen-year-old boy who had read about the event, arrived at the cathedral. He came from a family of unbelievers. I met him and invited him to participate in catechesis. He got involved with the youth group, and became a Catholic. Later, his family also converted. After several years, he decided to become a Franciscan, and in 2012, in the same cathedral, at the hands of the local bishop, he was ordained a priest.

A seed scattered on the earth had grown and borne fruit.

Another young student from Uzbekistan told me how faith was born in his heart. He said: “I was a few years old. It was evening. The apartment was dark and very cold, because we did not have windows. We were hungry because there was nothing to eat. My mother, who to this day is an atheist, in an act of desperation, knelt before the icon of Our Lady and with tears begged for help. At that moment, faith and the need to be close to God was born in my heart.” Today he is also a Catholic, studying in Poland, and thinking about the priesthood.

Our Lord has great power!

The Kingdom of God has within it the potential for enormous development, especially in adverse conditions. And faith grows stronger, when the conditions for practicing the faith are more difficult.

Dear in Christ! In the year one-hundred fifty, the Greek philosopher, Celsus, said: “You Christians are crazy if you believe that your religion may be extended to the entire world.” After two thousand years, we see that the Good News has spread throughout the world and is the way of life of more than thirty percent of the human population.

As St Pope John Paul the Second observed, “The Kingdom grows in human history, in the history of nations and societies. It grows organically. From a small beginning, like a mustard seed, gradually it becomes a big tree.”

For centuries Jesus Christ – the Sower – has been sowing his Word in our hearts. He knows that some of our hearts are like fertile soil, some are like poor soil, and others are stony soil. The Divine Sower, however, will not grow tired. He sows his seed in everyone and expects an ample harvest. So let us become the best soil that we can be. Let us make the Word of God sown in us today, bring a rich harvest in the coming days. Let us remember that in this world, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5: 7). Faith is longing, trust and hope that what our Lord has promised us will be fulfilled. For the kingdom of God is… righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). And “our hearts are restless until they rest in God” (St. Augustine). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Genesis 3:9-15
Psalm: 130: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Gospel: Mark 3:20-35

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

In today’s Gospel we see the attitude that Jesus’s contemporaries had toward him. We see people who gather with love and faith to listen to his teachings. These are the Apostles, the disciples of Jesus; those who love him and those who were attracted to His teaching. These are the people who realized that “He has the words of eternal life. And they believe and know that (Jesus) is the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:69).

There are also the scribes who did not accept Jesus as the expected Messiah and said that “He is possessed by Beelzebul” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons” (Mk 3: 22). His mother and other relatives also went to Jesus, for people had been saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mk 3:21b).

Everyone was interested in Jesus. His family, disciples and others who cared about him, were friendly to him and worried about him; they loved him. But there are those who firmly hated him, who were looking for evidence to discredit him.

These two extreme attitudes are present throughout the history of Christianity. However, we must note that it is Christ who ultimately wins, so “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil 2:10).

“Therefore, we are not discouraged…[f]or this momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen, but to what is unseen” (2 Cor 4: 16-17).

St. Justin, philosopher and apologist, martyred in Rome in the second century, wrote about Jesus: “no one trusted in Socrates so as to die for this doctrine, but in Christ…not only philosophers and scholars believed, but also artisans and people entirely uneducated, despising both glory, and fear, and death; since He is a power of the ineffable Father, not the mere instrument of human reason” (Second Apology of St Justyn Martyr, Chapter 10, addressed to the Roman Senate).

We who look at Jesus in today’s Gospel, need to ask in our hearts, “What is my attitude towards the Master of Nazareth?” Where would I take my place in the crowds of people who surrounded Jesus?

The Lord Jesus asks in today’s Gospel: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God, is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3: 33-35).

These words seem to be a distressing reproach to Mary and Jesus’s relatives. However, Jesus’s mother and relatives could not hear them, because they were still outside. These words were addressed to those who were sitting close to Jesus, inside the house, next to him. He was letting them know that for him, they were like his mother, like his brothers, like his closest family.

Dear in Christ! The Lord Jesus says to each of us: “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

We know that nobody in the history of mankind listened to the Word of God like Mary, in whom the Word became flesh. Also no one ever fulfilled the will of God in a more perfect manner than Mary, the Handmaid of the Lord.

Mary, the Mother of our Lord, crushed the head of the ancient serpent. She told us to “do whatever Jesus tells you.” Today, let us ask Mary to help us, so that every day we can listen to and fulfill the will of God, and thus be more intimately united with the family of God.

“For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

The Solemnity the Most Holy Trinity, Year B

Reading I: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Responsorial: Psalm 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
Reading II: Romans 8:14-17
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ!

The Christian religion has many mysteries of faith. And this is a good thing, because if we already knew everything about God, if we could know Him to the end, then God would not be God.

It is the same with our personal faith. If we could know and understand everything completely, we would not have a religion, but only a certain kind of knowledge, a philosophy. It is because of the mysteries of faith that our religion has the elements of holiness, contemplation and mysticism. Mysteries fascinate us, and we want to explore them, learn more and deepen our knowledge.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: One God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This mystery of faith distinguishes Christianity in a special way from all the other religions in the world. It is the basis of everything in which we believe and everything that we profess as Christians. The doctrine of the Trinity tells us about the inner life of God – the unity and love that continually flows among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is not a lonely, isolated deity. A relationship of love is inscribed in His very being. For “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16b).

The mystery of the Trinity permeates our entire life, every day, and we acknowledge this reality, even if we don’t think much about it. Because we begin and end every day by making the Sign of the Cross in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Sign of the Cross made in the name of the Trinity is also the beginning and end of all our prayers. How often we offer praise to God saying: “Glory to the Father and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

This is not surprising.

As disciples of Christ we belong to God in the Holy Trinity, because we have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. That is what our Lord Jesus Christ commanded when he sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel and to baptize in the name of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

We are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity and the Spirit of God leads us. “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8: 15-16). Since we are children of God, we should live and act as those whose Father is God, as children of light. For – as we heard today in the Word of God – “in the heavens above and on earth below…there is no other [God]. You must keep his statutes and commandments ” (Dt 4:39). In the same way, our Lord Jesus Christ commanded his Apostles to “[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20).

Dear in Christ!

A wise man once asked his disciple, “Tell me, what is God?”

The disciple was silent.

The teacher asked again, and received no answer.

Finally, he asked why his disciple didn’t answer.

“Because I do not know,” replied the boy.

“And do you think that I know?” said the wise man.

“I only know one thing: He is definitely here, and apart from Him nothing here is certain. And that is what God is” (Kazimierz Wojtowicz: Ramotki, Wroclaw, 1989, p. 96).

Today, we all find ourselves in the position of that student. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity puts us there. We are looking at the most important and most mysterious truth of our faith. The human mind is unable to comprehend the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore humbly assume the attitude of the wise master, who did not seek knowledge of God, but confessed faith in God’s presence and lived that faith every day. We were baptized in the name of the Trinity; let us always live our lives in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Genesis 3:9-15
Psalm: 130: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Reading II: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Gospel: Mark 3:20-35

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

In today’s Gospel we see the attitude that Jesus’s contemporaries had toward him. We see people who gather with love and faith to listen to his teachings. These are the Apostles, the disciples of Jesus; those who love him and those who were attracted to His teaching. These are the people who realized that “He has the words of eternal life. And they believe and know that (Jesus) is the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:69).

There are also the scribes who did not accept Jesus as the expected Messiah and said that “He is possessed by Beelzebul” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons” (Mk 3: 22). His mother and other relatives also went to Jesus, for people had been saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mk 3:21b).

Everyone was interested in Jesus. His family, disciples and others who cared about him, were friendly to him and worried about him; they loved him. But there are those who firmly hated him, who were looking for evidence to discredit him.

These two extreme attitudes are present throughout the history of Christianity. However, we must note that it is Christ who ultimately wins, so “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil 2:10).

“Therefore, we are not discouraged…[f]or this momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen, but to what is unseen” (2 Cor 4: 16-17).

St. Justin, philosopher and apologist, martyred in Rome in the second century, wrote about Jesus: “no one trusted in Socrates so as to die for this doctrine, but in Christ…not only philosophers and scholars believed, but also artisans and people entirely uneducated, despising both glory, and fear, and death; since He is a power of the ineffable Father, not the mere instrument of human reason” (Second Apology of St Justyn Martyr, Chapter 10, addressed to the Roman Senate).

We who look at Jesus in today’s Gospel, need to ask in our hearts, “What is my attitude towards the Master of Nazareth?” Where would I take my place in the crowds of people who surrounded Jesus?

The Lord Jesus asks in today’s Gospel: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God, is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3: 33-35).

These words seem to be a distressing reproach to Mary and Jesus’s relatives. However, Jesus’s mother and relatives could not hear them, because they were still outside. These words were addressed to those who were sitting close to Jesus, inside the house, next to him. He was letting them know that for him, they were like his mother, like his brothers, like his closest family.

Dear in Christ! The Lord Jesus says to each of us: “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

We know that nobody in the history of mankind listened to the Word of God like Mary, in whom the Word became flesh. Also no one ever fulfilled the will of God in a more perfect manner than Mary, the Handmaid of the Lord.

Mary, the Mother of our Lord, crushed the head of the ancient serpent. She told us to “do whatever Jesus tells you.” Today, let us ask Mary to help us, so that every day we can listen to and fulfill the will of God, and thus be more intimately united with the family of God.

“For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

The Solemnity the Most Holy Trinity, Year B

Reading I: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Responsorial: Psalm 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
Reading II: Romans 8:14-17
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ!

The Christian religion has many mysteries of faith. And this is a good thing, because if we already knew everything about God, if we could know Him to the end, then God would not be God.

It is the same with our personal faith. If we could know and understand everything completely, we would not have a religion, but only a certain kind of knowledge, a philosophy. It is because of the mysteries of faith that our religion has the elements of holiness, contemplation and mysticism. Mysteries fascinate us, and we want to explore them, learn more and deepen our knowledge.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: One God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This mystery of faith distinguishes Christianity in a special way from all the other religions in the world. It is the basis of everything in which we believe and everything that we profess as Christians. The doctrine of the Trinity tells us about the inner life of God – the unity and love that continually flows among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is not a lonely, isolated deity. A relationship of love is inscribed in His very being. For “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16b).

The mystery of the Trinity permeates our entire life, every day, and we acknowledge this reality, even if we don’t think much about it. Because we begin and end every day by making the Sign of the Cross in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Sign of the Cross made in the name of the Trinity is also the beginning and end of all our prayers. How often we offer praise to God saying: “Glory to the Father and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

This is not surprising.

As disciples of Christ we belong to God in the Holy Trinity, because we have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. That is what our Lord Jesus Christ commanded when he sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel and to baptize in the name of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

We are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity and the Spirit of God leads us. “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8: 15-16). Since we are children of God, we should live and act as those whose Father is God, as children of light. For – as we heard today in the Word of God – “in the heavens above and on earth below…there is no other [God]. You must keep his statutes and commandments ” (Dt 4:39). In the same way, our Lord Jesus Christ commanded his Apostles to “[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20).

Dear in Christ!

A wise man once asked his disciple, “Tell me, what is God?”

The disciple was silent.

The teacher asked again, and received no answer.

Finally, he asked why his disciple didn’t answer.

“Because I do not know,” replied the boy.

“And do you think that I know?” said the wise man.

“I only know one thing: He is definitely here, and apart from Him nothing here is certain. And that is what God is” (Kazimierz Wojtowicz: Ramotki, Wroclaw, 1989, p. 96).

Today, we all find ourselves in the position of that student. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity puts us there. We are looking at the most important and most mysterious truth of our faith. The human mind is unable to comprehend the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore humbly assume the attitude of the wise master, who did not seek knowledge of God, but confessed faith in God’s presence and lived that faith every day. We were baptized in the name of the Trinity; let us always live our lives in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

The Solemnity of Pentecost, Year B

Reading I: Acts 2:1-11
Responsorial: Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Reading II: Gal 5:16-25
Gospel: John 20:19-23

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the Apostles. But when we want to comprehend more deeply the mystery of the Holy Spirit, a question arises in the heart:

Who is the Holy Spirit? Who is he that, in the form of “tongues as of fire,” descended at Pentecost upon the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room? Many speak of him as the great Unknown or the Unknown God.

Despite careful reading of the Scriptures, we still cannot fully understand the mystery of his existence. In fact, we can say more about the actions of the Holy Spirit than we can say about the Spirit Himself. We recognize Him by His sanctifying action, His gifts and charisms. Jesus calls the Spirit the Paraclete, which in Greek means advocate, comforter, counselor, or helper. But these terms refer more to the functions or actions than to the individual himself.

The Holy Spirit is like the soul in a living human body. The Holy Spirit is the source of life and unity. As a community of believers in Christ, the Church is where we come to know the Holy Spirit. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, the Spirit is present in the books of the Old and New Testaments; in the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church; in sacramental and liturgical prayer; in the charisms and offices of the Church; in the signs of apostolic and missionary life; and in the witness of the saints (cf. CCC 688).

The Paraclete was sent into our hearts, that we might receive new life as children of God. According to St. Paul: “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). At another place Saint Paul tells us that “God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6).

Saint Paul is referring to an act of faith. And for every act of faith, we need the participation of the human mind and will as well as the help of God the Holy Spirit. He reminds the Church of everything that Christ taught. Without the help of the Spirit, we are not able to live as Christians. The Spirit accompanies us in the Church and helps us to live in the presence of God. The Spirit helps us to listen to His Word, free from anxiety and fear. The Spirit fills our hearts with the peace of Christ, a peace that the world cannot give. As the fruit of his action, the Holy Spirit gives us stronger faith, love, and hope. He purifies our hearts and gives new life. He comes to our hearts, so that like children of God, we can come to know our Father in heaven.

To believe in the Holy Spirit means to pray to Him as to the Father and the Son. Let us ask the Holy Spirit especially today, generously to give us His gifts to animate our spiritual life, to revive our faith, hope and love. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his presence. Let the fruit of His presence be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (cf. Gal 5:22-23).

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

The Ascension of the Lord

Reading I: Acts 1:1-11
Responsorial: Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: Ephesians 1:17-23
Gospel: Mark 16:15-20

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Time passes very quickly. The Ascension of the Lord is 40 days after the joyous celebration of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus. During this 40 days, Jesus strengthens the faith of his disciples and fills their hearts with peace and joy.

On this day, the Lord issued his last instructions before leaving his disciples. Jesus ascended to heaven, to the Father. For the Father “[raised] him from the dead and [seated] him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way” (Eph 1:20-23).

At the time of the Ascension, the Apostles did not yet understand who Jesus was and what his mission was. That is why they asked him to restore the Kingdom of Israel. But Jesus said to them in reply: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).

Jesus directs the thinking of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit, whom he will send to instruct them, will help the Apostles understand Jesus’s mission and their role in this mission. He will accompany the Apostles as they travel the world, strengthening them to proclaim the Gospel to every creature.

They are to be witnesses to the fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). They are to be witnesses that Jesus Christ, who was crucified and buried has risen and is alive. They are to be witnesses that the Lord Jesus “was taken up into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God” (Mk 16:19).

The Apostles accepted their task. They perfectly fulfilled the missionary command of Jesus. The Good News spread throughout the world; it is preached to every creature.

As a community of believers, we are the fruit of this activity, but at the same time we are heirs to the task. We belong to the Church, whose head is Jesus Christ. The Lord addresses these words to us, as he did to the Apostles: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). We are to be witnesses of the Messiah who died for us, who was resurrected for us, and by whose grace we can overcome sin and be freed from bondage to Satan. We are to be witnesses of Jesus, in whose name is our salvation.

Dear Brother, Dear Sister! Jesus ascends to heaven telling us that we are his witnesses! He calls us to witness to Him and His Gospel. Therefore, in daily life you must be his witness, and you must be a credible witness. You need to confirm by your life – and even by martyrdom – like our brothers who are murdered every day by the Islamic State in the Middle East – that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered for us, died, rose again on the third day, and in him is the only salvation of man. For “there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Reading I: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Responsorial: Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
Reading II: 1 John 4:7-10
Gospel: John 15: 9-17

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

In today’s Gospel we heard Jesus’s words: “I no longer call you slaves… I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15).

Who is a friend?
A friend is someone close, unique, special.
A friend is someone with whom you share joys and sorrows.
A friend is one who stands by you when the whole world turns away.
A friend is someone who knows all about you and does not stop loving you.
A friend is someone with whom you can “think aloud” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
Aristotle said that “true friends are one soul in two bodies.”

A good friend is a great joy and a blessing, and Jesus is the best of friends. He rejects no one and never fails, and you can always rely on him. He said: “No one has greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). And it is he, the God-man, the Son of God, who gave his life for each of us! He gave willingly, out of love! “I lay down my life… No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own” (Jn 10:17-18).

Jesus gave his life, died on the Cross, because He is the Good Shepherd who came so that [his sheep] “might have life and have it more abundantly…. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:10b-11). “God proves his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). How many of you have a friend like that, who would give his life for you?

Asia Bibi is a poor, illiterate farm worker from Pakistan, but she is now known through-out the world for her defense of the Christian faith. She comes from a village which is almost entirely Muslim. Her neighbors constantly urged her to convert to Islam. One day in 2009, while picking berries with Muslim women, Asia took a drink from a well and was accused by her Muslim neighbors of making the water impure. When the other women attacked Christianity, Asia replied, “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” She was beaten, arrested, convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. She is under constant threat of murder by her fellow prison inmates, yet Asia Bibi continues to proclaim her faith in Christ, who “died for her sins and for the sins of the world”!

Dear brother, dear sister! Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, the Lord of the universe, gave his life for you and even calls you his friend! Is that not good news of great joy?

And you? What kind of friend are you to Jesus? Are you truly a friend to him? Consider for a moment today who Jesus is to you. Can you in good conscience call yourself his friend? Today he is speaking in the silence of your heart: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (Jn 15:9-10).

Does it embarrass you to hear God speak to you in this way? Today let him look deeply into the eyes of your soul and do not look away! You belong to him! “For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God…!” (1 Cor 6:20). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Reading I: Acts 9:26-31
Responsorial: Psalm 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32
Reading II: 1 John 3:18-24
Gospel: John 15:1-8

Because it is the first Sunday of the month, we will have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass in lieu of a homily.

Adoration will include the Litany of our Lady (Litany of Loreto) which you can find inside the Bulletin as you enter the church from the main entrance or on the chapel (south) side of the church. Please pick up a Bulletin so you can participate in the litany.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Reading I: Acts 4:8-12
Responsorial: Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29
Reading II: 1 John 3:1-2
Gospel: John 10:11-18

It is already the fourth Sunday of Easter. The Church calls this Sunday, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The liturgy today helps us understand who Jesus Christ is for us, and what his role is.

The image of the Good Shepherd helps us understand the mission of Christ.
In our culture, there are not many people working as shepherds, so for us,
the comparison of Jesus to a good shepherd isn’t very clear. To understand what makes a good shepherd, it helps to compare a good shepherd with a bad shepherd, or a mercenary. A mercenary works just for money. He’s not really interested in the sheep; they are just a means to earn money. Therefore, a bad shepherd doesn’t really care for the sheep; he doesn’t take any risks for their safety because he has no bond with them, no love for them. If there is a threat to the sheep, a bad shepherd leaves them alone and vulnerable. Mercenaries can be ruthless and unscrupulous. They promise you anything, but if keeping their promise conflicts with their personal interest, they quickly break their promise.

A good shepherd, on the other hand, knows each sheep in his flock individually – their needs, strengths and weaknesses. A good shepherd has a caring relationship with his sheep. He loves his sheep and wants what is good for them. He doesn’t limit himself to his most basic duties toward the flock, like a mercenary, but wants to do anything and everything he can for the good of his sheep. And this is love.

So now we can understand the meaning of the name “Good Shepherd” when we use it to refer to God. Like a good shepherd, God knows his people individually; he calls each by name. He knows what each person needs
and what will make them happy. He knows our challenges and weaknesses
and is ready to carry us through our difficulties. Like a shepherd who cares for his sheep, God guides each one of us along the path that will lead us to true happiness in this world, and in the end, to eternal life. And like a good shepherd, if we stray from the path, God will not rest until he brings us home again.

The Church has dedicated this Sunday of the Good Shepherd to prayer for new vocations to the priesthood. The Bishop in his diocese; the priest in his parish, in the school where he teaches or the hospital where he serves the sick is a shepherd. As a shepherd, he calls the people through God’s Word and feeds and heals them through God’s sacraments. So let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood and for the holiness of our priests, so they can shepherd their flocks on the model of Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood:

O Lord, my God, You renew the Church in every age by raising up holy priests, living witnesses of Your unchanging Love.
In Your plan for our salvation, You provide shepherds for Your people.
Fill the hearts of young men with the spirit of courage and love that they may answer Your call generously.
Give parents the grace to encourage vocations in their family by prayer and good example.
Raise up worthy priests for Your Altars, ardent servants of the Gospel,
and worthy shepherds of your people.
Give the Church more priests and keep them faithful in their love and service.
May many young men choose to serve You by devoting themselves to the service of Your people.
Amen

Third Sunday of Easter, Year B

Reading I: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Responsorial: Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
Reading II: 1 John 2:1-5a
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

We have completed two weeks of joyful celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. Perhaps you have already forgotten about the joy that filled our hearts on Easter. However, we see that the joy of the Church still exists, still continues, and is alive in the liturgy.

The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the faith and mission of the Church community.
As Saint Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Cor 15:14).

The Gospel for today, the third Sunday of Easter, shows the disciples gathered together in the Upper Room, with the Risen Jesus standing among them. The disciples had already heard a lot about recent events. They heard what had been related by the women who went to the tomb and the testimony of the disciples who were walking to Emmaus. They knew about the empty tomb; that some had seen the shroud and the napkin that covered Jesus’s head, and that the beloved disciple “saw and believed” that Christ was alive, and had risen from the dead.

However, we see that their encounter with the Risen Jesus created fear and anxiety in the disciples. Those gathered in the Upper Room did not understand what had happened.
But Christ understood their hearts well; that’s why he greeted them with the words, ‘Peace be with you.’ He not only greeted them with peace, but bestowed on them the gift of peace.

This gift of peace is the gift of Jesus himself. It is the same gift that Jesus spoke to them about, when they were walking together in Palestine: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27). With this gift, the disciples experienced Christ, not as a ghost or spirit, but as he really was, as one who is truly risen. Touching the wounds of the Risen Lord and eating a meal with him strengthened their weak, but joyful faith.

Thanks to this meeting in the Upper Room, the Resurrected Lord helped his disciples to understand that he had fulfilled everything written about him “in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms,” and they were to witness to those things.

Thanks to what happened in the Upper Room, in less than two months, St Peter could witness to the Resurrection of Christ and call the crowd of listeners to “repent…and be converted, that [their] sins [might] be wiped away.”

However, we must remember that these events are not merely a historical record. When we ponder these events in our hearts with full faith, they help us to understand that every Eucharist is a real encounter with Christ, “who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25).

We also hear the words “Peace be with you” directed to us during Mass. Like the disciples in the Upper Room, at Mass we meet the Risen One when we hear his word spoken to us and touch him and are nourished by his Body in the Eucharist. In our relationship with Jesus, we also experience fear and anxiety, confusion and doubt as well as the amazement and joy of the disciples gathered in the Upper Room 2000 years ago.

Dear in Christ!

As we listen to the Word of God today and meditate on the disciples’ meeting with Jesus in the Upper Room, we must remember that although we sincerely desire to follow Christ, we are only human, and we will stumble in our weakness and sinfulness. That’s why today’s Gospel is extremely good news for us. The Savior does not leave us alone in our struggle with sin and weakness. Through the Holy Spirit he enlightens our minds, opens our hearts and empowers us to overcome our limitations. He makes clear what is unclear; the impossible becomes possible; what had been our downfall becomes the means of salvation. As he entered the Upper Room in the past, now Jesus enters your heart in the power of the Holy Spirit, saying, “Peace be with you.”

Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Divine Mercy Sunday, Year B

Reading I: Acts 4:32-35
Responsorial: Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Reading II: 1 John 5:1-6
Gospel: John 20:19-31

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Let’s try to imagine the reaction of the disciples when they saw their Master, hale and healthy. Their Master had been crucified, and his disciples and friends were scattered in fear. And now he was again among them – alive and well. Probably no words can describe the surprise and delight of Jesus’s disciples. But his return might also have provoked anxiety and remorse – because his disciples had abandoned Jesus when their faith was tested.

Jesus appeared to his disciples and greeted them with the words, “Peace to you!” It is as if to say: “I know what troubles your heart; I know what happened; I know about your betrayal, but I already forgave you, so let there be peace in your hearts.” Jesus comes to the disciples not with accusations and reproach, but with a message of peace. Jesus understood the weakness of his disciples and forgave them.

This message of peace is important for us, especially today, on this second Sunday of Easter, when the Church thanks God for his mercy, his forgiving love. God has reminded us of his loving forgiveness many times, but most of all through Saint Faustina Kowalska. It is thanks to Saint Faustina that we know and venerate the image of Divine Mercy. Jesus told St Faustina that he wanted people to venerate the image as a vessel through which they would approach the fountain of his Mercy.

Jesus promised great graces to people who would pray at 3 o’clock, the hour of Mercy. He told St Faustina, “as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy…. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others simply by asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world”.

He asked people to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, which we will pray during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass today, the Feast of Divine Mercy, when God promises complete remission of sins for those who approach his mercy in faith and contrition.

I encourage you to read the Diary of Sister Faustina, in which she describes her mystical experiences and the messages she received from Jesus. You can find links to information about St Faustina on our Pastoral Centre website.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Easter Sunday of our Lord’s Resurrection, Year B

Reading I: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Responsorial: Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
Gospel: John 20:1-9

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

Today is Easter – the most important holy day for Christians. Today we rejoice in the fact that more than two thousand years ago, our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, rose from the tomb. The resurrection of Jesus changed everything – changed man, changed the world. Sin was defeated. Satan has been defeated. Death has been conquered by life.

Two years ago, Pope Francis said, “What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons …

“Most of all, I would like [this message] to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen; there is hope for you; you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed; mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs!

“We too, like the women who were Jesus’s disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love God can do this!” (Pope’s message, Urbi et Orbi, 31 March, 2013).

Yes! The resurrection of Jesus is not just an event of the past. It is also a real event happening now. Today is the dawn of a new creation. Today, Jesus is our new Adam.

As Pope Francis said, “Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.”

He is the first of many sons and daughters, who can call themselves children of God. You and I, too, are among them, because “…Easter is… the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil, to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we living men are his glory” (Pope Francis, ibid. Cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4, 20, 5-7).

“[O]ur paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5: 7b), so; “now is the time of God’s favor; now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2b). For “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

Jesus reigns victorious from the highest heavens. He sends us out to spread his grace to all people who touch our lives. He wants us to be witnesses of his resurrection in our families and at work, among neighbors and friends, as well as among people who don’t like us. He sends us as his witnesses, and does not call us servants, but friends. The Risen Jesus poured out His Spirit on the whole world. From the resurrection, a flood of grace flows through the world, embracing millions of people, who experience the power of God through repentance for their sins. Our lives, too, are swept up in this flood of grace.

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light” (Eph 5:14).

Sleepers Awake! Today, the Church says this to you: Recognize the Risen Lord!
Awake and follow Christ – the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Arise, you who may be disappointed in the gray reality of everyday life!
Arise, you who may have lost hope for a better day!
Arise, you who do not believe that anything can change in your life!
Rise up and fight for your future!
And after the Good Friday in your life you will know the joy of Easter morning!
For Christ is Risen!
He has risen for you and nothing is the same as it was!
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Easter Greeting from our Priests, 2015

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Year B

Reading I: Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial: Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Reading II: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:47

Because of limited time, there will be no homily at Mass this Sunday.
Please see our announcements page for an explanation of the Palm Sunday Procession. All will be asked to participate in this procession at the beginning of Mass.

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B

Reading I: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Responsorial: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Reading II: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-33

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Welcome to this fifth Sunday of Lent, and let us reflect a little bit on today’s Gospel.

What if I asked you, ‘What would surprise you most in your life?’ You might reply that you’d be surprised if you found a million dollars in your living room, with a note, saying, ‘For you, from me…’.

Maybe you would be surprised if you looked in the mirror and saw that your face looks the way it did when you were twenty years old.

Maybe you would be surprised if you told your children, or students or employees to do something, and they obeyed perfectly.

Now we can try to imagine how surprised people were when they heard Jesus talking with his Father, and a voice from heaven saying, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ They thought that it was thunder or an angel.

Jesus explained that the voice did not come for his sake, but for the sake of his disciples — maybe to stress the importance of the things that Jesus wanted to say. Jesus talked about a time of judgment on this world, and also about his imminent death.

If we try to imagine all these things from the point of view of the listeners, we can understand how surprised they were. Hearing about the death of their teacher, their master, their friend, was difficult, and didn’t sink in. But Jesus prepared them to understand the mystery of his death by giving the example of the grain of wheat: ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.’

Dear brothers and sisters, these words explain the rule of life: for there to be life, first there has to be mortification. Isn’t that true? It is true of the grain of wheat, and it is true in life. When you choose to marry this person, study here or work there, other choices have to die.

This touches also on the matter of faith: when you plant a seed, you have to believe that it will bear fruit. It’s not like pressing ‘enter’ on your computer: you have to wait for the fruits to develop.

Parents understand this rule very well. They have to make many sacrifices for the good of their families, believing that their sacrifices will bear fruit for the good of their children. They have to believe and be patient.

Jesus explained to the people that he, too, would have to die. But his death led to life. And the disciples had to be patient, and had to have faith, that his death would bear fruit. The disciples had to be patient, seeing Jesus dying on the Cross with such great suffering. They had to be patient, seeing him laid in the tomb.

For us, it is easier to understand this, because we know what happened after the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the Cross: the Resurrection – the greatest surprise in human history.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, there are times in our lives when nothing seems to make sense. Maybe we think that our sacrifices in our families, in our work, in our faith, will not bear fruit. Today’s Gospel shows us the way. Don’t be afraid. Be faithful. Be patient. If you offer your life to God, and accept his guidance, he will surprise you.

Jesus will surprise you with a new life, with a peaceful heart, with a joyful life, with a life that only Jesus can give.

Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Reading I: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Responsorial: Psalm 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Reading II: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ!

In today’s reading we heard some of the most famous and probably the most beautiful words of the Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16).

Jesus spoke these words during a conversation with Nicodemus at night. Nicodemus was afraid to go to Jesus during the day, afraid that he would be recognized, afraid to show his faith in the light of day, afraid to show publicly that he was meeting with Jesus. He did not want people to know that he, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, was interested in Jesus’s teaching, and that faith and love for the Master of Nazareth was being born in his heart.

In their night-time conversation, the Lord Jesus said to him: “light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light” (Jn 3: 19).

Jesus came into the world as light, but Nicodemus was afraid to come out into the light. Nicodemus may have feared a radical change in his life. Nicodemus might have realized that if he stood by Jesus, he would have to be “a light to the world.” Perhaps he was not prepared for such a big change in his life and was afraid of getting a negative reaction from the other Pharisees.

However, Nicodemus peacefully and steadily allowed himself to be enlightened by the light of God. The Word of God grew in him, like a mustard seed. The Word of God transformed and enlightened him.
In the story of Nicodemus we see that later he openly defended Jesus. When the Sanhedrin passed judgment on Jesus without a formal trial, Nicodemus strongly protested, saying, “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” (Jn 7: 51).

Nicodemus was most courageous at the burial of Jesus. St. John writes that: “Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom” (Jn 19: 39-40).

And tradition tells us that Nicodemus was baptized by the Holy Apostles Peter and John. He became one of the first disciples of Jesus and his faith was confirmed when he suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Jews.

Nicodemus stepped out into the light! He became a light to the world! The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, released him from fear!

The example of Nicodemus shows us that it is never too late to go to Jesus. Sometimes going to the light will cost us a lot, especially if it means confessing our sins and changing our lives.
It is easy to go to Jesus under the cover of darkness. I think that’s why it’s becoming more common to have churches open at night with night confession rooms. Going to God in the darkness is already a step in the right direction, which could become the first of many steps that eventually lead us out of the darkness of sin and into the light.

Make a change in your life like Nicodemus did; abandon evil and begin to live as Jesus taught us. Then we will really be children of the Light.

That’s how it was for Nicodemus. Step by step, he moved forward until he stood next to Jesus on the Cross at Golgotha, when even the Apostles had abandoned him.

Dear in Christ!

Today Nicodemus says to each of us: “Be brave and take another step forward into the light of Christ. You don’t have to be burdened with shame over your past sins. Just carry them to Jesus and he will set you free. He will fill you with joy and peace. Let him show you the freedom that he won for you on the Cross.”

Perhaps for many of us, as for Nicodemus, it will be a long process.

However, Lent reminds us that we are to “deny ourselves, and take up our cross daily.” And that means giving up the pursuit of our own benefit and convenience, and embracing the daily rigors and demands of the Christian life.

If we are ashamed of Jesus, his teaching and his Cross now, in our times — at home, at school, at university, in the workplace — Jesus will be ashamed of us when he comes in His glory at the end of time.
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Third Sunday of Lent, Year B

Reading I: Exodus 20:1-17
Responsorial: Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Gospel: John 2:13-25

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Today in the Gospel we heard how the Lord Jesus cleansed the temple: “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’”

In history, we hear many times of defiled churches and ruined temples. This happened in the past; it is happening now; and it will happen in the future. We remember the years of communism, when churches were turned into museums, restaurants, clubs or gyms.

The previous rector of the Pastoral Centre, Fr Krzysztof Kukułka, spent almost fifteen years rebuilding the church in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, which was taken over by the Communists in nineteen seventeen, and finally ended up a ruin. Today it is the Roman Catholic cathedral and one of the largest and most beautiful churches in Asia.

In another case, the church in Samarkand, the second largest city in Uzbekistan, was used by the Communists as a sports club and a gym. Today, it is again the local Catholic parish. These are just two examples that I know personally from working as a missionary in Uzbekistan. However, there are thousands of such stories.

The destruction of the temples of God begins when man forgets that he is a living temple of God, that he is created in the image and likeness of God. The temple building, then, becomes a kind of reproach to those who have abandoned the law of God, who reject his commandments and live as if God does not exist.

In today’s world, there are countries where people have been praying for years to be able to build a church, a temple, so they can meet with God in a sacred place devoted to the worship of God. It was like that in Uzbekistan, where for a few years I celebrated Mass in an ‘underground’ community, until our worship was stopped by the police and the Uzbek KGB. For the past ten years, the Bishop in Uzbekistan has been trying to register two new parishes. He has been unsuccessful, so the faithful in those cities have no place to pray together and celebrate Mass.

In contrast, there are countries where Christians have lost their Catholic roots, countries where Christians remember nothing of the Sunday Eucharist, where they are Christian in name only, because their daily lives have nothing to do with the Gospel, God’s commandments, or Christ.

Archbishop Henryk Hoser said in an interview that “In France, someone asked how Muslims see Christians. They answered that Christians are invisible, because they have no distinguishing characteristics. They have no identity.’

It is in these countries, countries that built Christian civilization, that today churches are being demolished, converted into supermarkets and apartments, bars and discos, and sometimes sold to anti-Christian sects who use them to make a mockery of God.

The ‘man who has it all,’ whose gods are money, material possessions and pleasure, thinks that he doesn’t need God. He feels that God sets limits and violates his freedom. But what he calls ‘freedom’ is really slavery to self-will. In fact, freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want; it is an opportunity to do what is right.

Unfortunately, our world, the world of Christian civilization, is increasingly corrupt and threatened with destruction. Archbishop Hoser explained that the mentality of modern Europeans is founded on an erroneous philosophical anthropological concept, which is indeed worrying. It is a slow process of pushing moral boundaries in the name of freedom. But this “freedom” is in fact arbitrary choice without ethical reflection. It is choice against what many people value most: faith, religion, the things that give life meaning. We are constructing a meaningless life, and this is a different, dangerous phenomenon which especially affects young people, who see no meaning in life.

Dear in Christ!

In today’s Gospel we heard the words of Jesus: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus spoke of the temple of his body. St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).

We are all God’s temple; we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ; together we make up a living organism — the Church, whose head is the Lord, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we need to build our lives on fidelity to God and His law. We need to trust our Father and Creator, because He knows best what path leads man to happiness, to self-realization, to fulfillment, and ultimately to salvation.

I would like to close with the words of St. John Paul the second:

“We all know the Ten Commandments by heart. They constitute the necessary links on which personal, family, and social life is based. If these links are lacking, man’s life becomes inhuman. Therefore the fundamental duty of the family, and then of the school and of all institutions, is the education and the consolidation of human life on the foundation of this Law which no one may violate.

“In this way we are constructing with Christ the temple of human life, in which God lives. We construct in ourselves the Father’s house. May zeal for the construction of this house be an element in the lives of all of us present here….”(18/03/1979)
Amen

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Watch the film about Fr Krzysztof rebuilding the church in Tashkent. Even if you don’t understand Polish, it’s a remarkable record of building a church both in stone and in the hearts of the faithful.

Second Sunday of Lent, Year B

Because it is the first Sunday of the month, there will not be a homily during the Mass. In lieu of the homily, we will have our customary adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass.

During Adoration, the people will respond “I adore you” as indicated below. You can use the same prayer for your private adoration of Our Lord.

Priest: Jesus, my God, we adore You, here present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, where You wait day and night to be our comfort while we await Your unveiled presence in heaven.

Jesus, my God, we adore You in all places where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and where sins are committed against this Sacrament of Love.

Jesus, my God, we adore You for all time, past, present and future, for every soul that ever was, is or shall be created.

Reader:
Jesus, my God, who for us has endured hunger and cold, labour and fatigue,
All: I adore You.

Jesus, my God, who for my sake subjected yourself to temptation, to betrayal by friends, to the scorn of Your enemies,
All: I adore You.

Jesus, my God, who for us has endured the buffeting of Your passion, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the heavy weight of the cross,
All: I adore You.

Jesus, my God, who, for my salvation and that of all mankind, was cruelly nailed to the cross and hung there for three long hours in bitter agony,
All: I adore You.

Jesus, My God, who for love of us instituted this Blessed Sacrament and offer Yourself daily for the sins of men,
All: I adore You.

Jesus, my God, who in Holy Communion became the food of my soul,
All: I adore You.

Priest: Jesus, for You we live. Jesus, for You we die. Jesus, we are Yours in life and death.
All: Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

 First Sunday of Lent, Year B

Reading I: Genesis 9:8-15
Responsorial: Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Gospel: Mark 1:12-15

On Ash Wednesday we began Lent and today is the first Sunday in Lent.

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert” (Mk 1:12).  These are the words that open today’s Gospel. These words also introduce us to the period of Lent. What was the desert for, in the life of Jesus? For Christ, time in the desert, was a time to prepare for his public ministry. It was a forty-day period of solitude and prayer.

In the pages of Scripture, we learn that many of the Chosen People had a desert experience. It’s in the desert that God appeared to Moses and called him to the great mission of leading the people of Israel out of slavery. Elijah, the prophet of God, received his call in the desert, in the breeze, in the silence of his heart in prayer. St. Paul was converted in the desert, where he received the revelation of the mystery of Jesus Christ.

At the beginning of Lent the Church takes us with Jesus into the desert. This shows us that imitating Christ is also an experience of being in the desert. Why? Because only the desert experience helps us to understand who we are, and who God is.

Who among us can say that they know themselves, their reactions to everything, and can handle everything that comes up in life? In the desert, people realize that they need the help of God, because the desert is inhospitable to humans. In the desert, people feel unsafe and fearful. They need the help and the support of God. The desert is a place where a person is alone with God, free from the hustle and bustle of the world, able to hear God’s voice.

During this time of Lent, we must listen with special attention to the words of Jesus: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

What kind of conversion is Jesus talking about? The Greek text uses the term “metanoia,” a deep, inner transformation, an on-going process of transformation. So Jesus is not talking about empty penances, but acts of true faith.

The Pharisees excelled in works of penance, but only in order to create a public appearance of being very pious and holy. Jesus wants something else: he wants us to believe in the love of God and humbly accept it. Because love is the only force capable of mobilizing human effort to continually grow into the full measure of human dignity.

So conversion is not a one-time action, but a continual process. We get our strength and our motivation to persevere from faith, which is the knowledge that God loves us and looks after us, that we are safe with him. Our experience in the desert leads us to pray, like Saint Augustine, “Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You.”

The Russian Orthodox theologian Paweł Jewdokimow explained that today, penance is not about wearing a hair shirt or scourging ourselves. Today, penance means setting ourselves free from hurry and noise, drugs, alcohol and hedonism. For us today, the Lenten desert means finding time for peace and silence, so we can focus on prayer and contemplation, even in the midst of our busy lives. Most important, this inner desert means being truly present to other people, our friends. Then the desert will not be about mortifying ourselves, but it will be a joyous rejection of what is not necessary, sharing what we have with the poor, and having a serenely tranquil conscience.

May the Holy Spirit help us to experience the beauty of Lent, and so prepare us to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Responsorial: Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Gospel: Mark 1:40-45

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, ‘No disease, not even leprosy, can distort the human face so much that I cannot recognize in it my brother, sister, and even more, the suffering of Jesus.’

Today in the Word of God, we hear about the disease of leprosy. This disease is terrible, and in the time of Jesus it was incurable. By law lepers were separated from the community, living in isolation. They had to stay away from people and cry out “unclean” if anyone came near. This disease causes not only physical pain, but also mental and spiritual anguish. It terribly humiliates a sick person. To be a leper was to be like the walking dead. Perhaps all the more, since the leper suffered rejection from loved ones because of his illness.

I remember a scene from a film I saw as a child: A man is cast away on an island that is a leper colony. He meets a leper who helps the castaway set his broken leg. The castaway asks him, “Who are you?” The leper replies, “In life, I was a doctor.”

Today’s Gospel shows us a leper who went to Jesus. He went to Jesus, because Jesus was the only one who could help him. Jesus was the only one who could cure him. Jesus was the only one who could return him to human society. Jesus was the only one who could return him to life.

So the leper fell to his knees and said to Jesus, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” The evangelist writes that Jesus, “moved with pity, stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it.’”

Jesus touched the leper before he spoke to him. Perhaps for the first time in many years, the disfigured leper felt a human touch. By His touch, Jesus restored his life; by his touch, Jesus told him, “You’re a man; you’re my brother; you are a child of God.” At this point, the leper might well have cried out with joy in his heart: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.”

Dear in Christ!

Today, that leper shows us what we should do, where we should turn, and from whom we should seek help. The leper shows us that in our time of need, we should turn to Jesus. He invites us to go to Jesus, because only Jesus “has the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:55).

We should not be afraid to talk to Jesus when we are suffering and burdened, about what is difficult for us and what we do not understand. We should not be afraid to approach Him with our leprosy, with all our sins, faults, addictions, and the problems that make our lives difficult.

That is why he came to earth and became one of us, so “that we might have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “It was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured” (Is 53:4). He said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

He is our Divine Physician, and he says to us: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (Lk 5:31-32).

Jesus will never laugh at us, never reject us, never humiliate us. He always has time for us and an open heart. He is always available to us in the sacraments of the Church, which “is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open” (Pope Francis: Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 5:47)

Therefore let us go to Jesus with the same faith and trust that the leper had. Only Jesus can do what seems
impossible to us. Let’s allow God’s grace to enter our hearts so that our hearts are conformed more and more to the heart of Jesus. Today Jesus tenderly touches our hearts and says, “I will” (Mk 1.41). Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Job 7:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ!

We often talk about Jesus, and everybody has an image of him in their minds. Usually we imagine him busy, always in motion. We see him on the road, among crowds of people, teaching, healing and working miracles. We seldom see Jesus at home with his family. And yet he grew up in a family in Nazareth. He had contact with many families as a child and a young man. He must have stayed in the homes of his relatives, Zechariah and Elizabeth and their son John near Jerusalem, when he made a pilgrimage to the holy city with his parents, Mary and Joseph. The Gospels tell us that he often visited the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary in Bethany. We know that he was a guest at a wedding in a home in Cana in Galilee. And today’s gospel says that he was in the home of Peter and Andrew in Capernaum. In that house, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. He certainly must have felt at home there, during his frequent visits to Capernaum.

Today’s Gospel shows us something else, however.

The evangelist writes that “Rising very early before dawn, [Jesus] left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed” (Mk 1:35).

Jesus did not just teach, heal the sick and free people from evil spirits; and he did not only spend his free time with his closest friends in their homes. Every day he took time to have a private meeting with his Father. Even during the busiest day, he found time for prayer alone, for a personal conversation with his Father. All of the Gospels record Jesus praying at different times, sometimes even through the night.

We often say, ‘I don’t have time to pray; I hardly ever pray.’ We are busy with duties at home, our jobs and countless responsibilities that fill our days. Our busyness seems to make us think that we are exempt from the need for daily prayer.

Then there are those people who claim that prayer is a waste of time. It is absurd that today we do not have time for him who is the Lord of time, from whom we get this time.

Saint Angela of Foligno wrote, ‘If you want faith, pray! If you want hope, pray! If you want love, pray! If you want true obedience, pray! If you want purity, pray! If you want humility, pray! If you want gentleness, pray! If you want courage, pray! If you want to possess any virtue, pray! Pray, read the Book of life, it is the life of the God-man Jesus Christ, who was poor, who suffered, who was scorned and who was truly obedient. And when you enter on this path of perfection, you will be harassed and tormented with many afflictions, and temptations of Satan, the world and the flesh. But if you want victory over them, pray!’ (Anthology of Franciscan mystics. Volume 2: Age XIII-XIV, Warszawa 1986, n. 714, p. 230).

‘Through prayer you experience enlightenment! Through prayer you free yourself from temptation! Through prayer you become purified! Through prayer you are united with God! Because prayer is nothing else than to see God and to see yourself. (Anthology of Franciscan mystics. Volume 2: Age XIII-XIV, Warszawa 1986 n. 715, p. 231)

Dear in Christ the Lord!

Like the crowds in today’s Gospel, we are also among those who are looking for Jesus, who want a more profound union with Our Lord.

Therefore let us look to Jesus, who was united in prayer with the Father and who taught his disciples how to pray.

Let us pray daily.

Let us find time every day to meet with Our Lord in the silence of our hearts.

When we pray, we are more open to God’s guidance and we see His wonderful effect in our lives.
Through prayer, it will be easier for us to know the holy will of God and to obey it in the lives that we have received from him. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Responsorial: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Our Lord Jesus Christ:

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which we celebrate on the second of February, is also the World Day for Consecrated life in the Church. This year, this day is special, since Pope Francis has declared the current liturgical year to be the Year of Consecrated Life in the Church.

Each of us, by virtue of our baptism, participates in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ. However, the Church needs people to fulfill this mission in a special way. Therefore we need priests, religious and consecrated persons, to be a sign to the world. They are a sign of contradiction, because they show the world that our true citizenship is in heaven.

An Austrian Bishop (Klaus Küng) argues that at the root of the vocations crisis is a loss of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, that same Christ who offered himself on the Cross for us. He says that in its history the Church has sometimes resembled “a neglected garden,” but it is always being freshly “planted and watered.” Christ the Lord always calls and sends people to rebuild his Church.

Today, more and more people reject Christ. Prompted by an evil spirit, they ask: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” As Christians, we can not be subject to this great wave of anti-Christian ideology, which has been sweeping the world for centuries. As Christians, we believe and confess that Jesus alone is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

We are now participating in the Mass, the Eucharist. After Holy Communion will remain for awhile to adore the Lord Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. We always have to keep in mind that the Eucharist is the source of life and the beating heart of the Church. All the Church’s activities flow from it and are embraced by it. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council called the Eucharist the source and summit of the Christian life.

Dear in Christ!
May you be both worthy and pleased to remain in Christ, strengthened by the Eucharist, so you may walk in the power of the Holy Spirit among modern men. May you announce by the witness of your life that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Let us remember that not only consecrated persons, but every Christian has to be a sign to the world. Each of us has to witness that we are pilgrims here on earth, bound for our homeland in heaven.
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Responsorial: Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Today’s Gospel shows us how Jesus called his first Apostles: Peter and his brother Andrew and the sons of Zebedee: James and John. Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw them, and said: “’Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Then they abandoned their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:17-18). They were the first, and the most privileged of the Apostles. They were the ones who over the next three years accompanied Jesus almost everywhere.

In Greek, “follow me” also means “be with me; be my companion.” And therein lies conversion.
Conversion is not only the result of our own effort and willpower; it is the result of being with Jesus. Conversion is the fruit of entrusting ourselves and our whole lives to Jesus, regardless of the circumstances. Effort and will are necessary to persevere with Jesus, not being afraid of having to give up our own plans, projects and ideas. Only Jesus can make us change, change our way of thinking, and bring us to repentance. “To be converted” means, therefore, that Christ becomes for us all, the centre of our lives!

Throughout history, there have been many people who have experienced a dramatic conversion. This was the case of St. Paul, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Francis, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Edith Stein and many others. Perhaps you have heard of such a conversion in our own times, since you can read about them and hear about them every day in the mass media.

Like those others, we too are on the path of conversion. Our hearts are being changed, though perhaps our conversion is not as extraordinary and miraculous as some others. Jesus’s cry, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) is also addressed to us.

We must remember that being a Christian, is not just about reciting prayers, going to Mass. and trying not to break the commandments. Being a Christian is primarily about following Christ. To be a Christian is to be a disciple of the Master of Nazareth! To be a Christian is to have faith in the One who says to us, “You believe in God. Believe also in me” (Jn 14:1).

We have to believe in Jesus, because only then can we follow his will for us. We have to believe that he alone has the words of eternal life, and that life with Him is the greatest adventure. Such was the belief of Peter, Andrew, James and John. And though their life was not easy, they were happy, and when they faced death, they rejoiced that they could lay down their lives for Him who called them when they were mere fishermen on the Sea of Galilee.

Dear in Christ!

Life with Jesus is a glorious adventure. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should hinder us from listening to Jesus and devoting ourselves to Him above all else. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should prevent us from speaking about Jesus to those who live among us, from “fishing” for His people. The Gospel is the Good News. It is worth believing the Good News and joining with Jesus in proclaiming it to the world.
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Reading I: 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
Responsorial: Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Gospel: John 1:35-42

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

A week ago, the liturgical season of Christmas ended. Today’s Gospel brings us to the events that took place thirty years after the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. The evangelist shows us the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, when Jesus chose his first disciples. This event was described beautifully by Pope Benedict XVI:

The meeting takes place on the banks of the Jordan. The very presence of the disciples there tells us something about their spiritual life. Like Jesus, they came from Galilee to experience the baptism of John. “They were men awaiting the Kingdom of God.” They desired to know the Messiah, whose coming had been announced as something immanent.

For them, “It was enough that John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God” (cf. John 1:36)….” They wanted a “personal meeting with the Teacher. Jesus’s conversation with his two first…apostles is very expressive. To the question: ‘What do you seek?’ they replied with another question: ‘Rabbi…where are you staying?’ Jesus’s response is an invitation: ‘Come and see’ (cf. John 1:38-39). Come so that you can see.

“Thus, the apostles’ adventure began as a gathering of persons” who were both open to one another. “A direct knowledge of the Teacher began for the disciples. They saw where he lived and began to know him. They would not have to be heralds of an idea, but witnesses of a person. Before being sent to evangelize, they would have to “be” with Jesus (cf. Mark 3:14), establishing a personal relationship with him.” (Church, Presence of Christ Among Men: “The Individualist Jesus Is a Fantasy,” March 15, 2006)

These two disciples of Saint John the Baptist, who immediately followed Jesus, certainly felt honored and chosen. They could be with Jesus in private, away from the crowds. The only thing that mattered was they had been invited to follow the one John the Baptist had pointed out as the Messiah, the Lamb of God. From that moment their lives would never be the same. From that moment their lives changed radically.

Dear in Christ! Every day, Jesus invites each of us to follow him. He really wants to meet with each of us alone. He wants us to be like those disciples who asked him:

Teacher, where are you staying?
Teacher, where can I find you?
Teacher, how can I get to know you?
Teacher, how can I follow you?

Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior is waiting for each of us to say, like Samuel, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” We must open our hearts to hear His voice – a voice full of friendship and love; a voice that will change our lives; a voice that does not allow us to be complacent, while all around us are people who do not know the Lamb of God.

After meeting Jesus, Andrew’s heart prompted him to go first to his brother Simon Peter to tell him: “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41). He knew that in this situation it was not enough just to tell his brother about it, so he brought Peter for a personal encounter with Jesus.

Each of us has an obligation to meet Jesus personally and confess in our hearts: “I have found the Messiah.” As Christians, we have to be a witness to Jesus. And only as witnesses of Jesus, will we help others to meet with the Lord, and awaken in them the desire for a personal encounter with the Savior.
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Reading I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial: Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Reading II: 1 John 5:1-9
Gospel: Mark 1:7-11

Many of you have heard of C.S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis was also a famous Christian apologist. However, his faith was tested in middle age, when his wife was dying of bone cancer shortly after they were married. It was so difficult for Lewis to see his wife suffering, that he prayed to take her suffering onto himself. A kind of miracle occurred: his wife’s body began producing the calcium she needed to rebuild her decayed hip-bone. Meanwhile, Lewis was losing calcium from his body as fast as his wife was gaining it. Lewis ended up with osteoporosis and a weakened spine; his wife had a remission of her cancer and lived for 2 more years (See C.S. Lewis’s Case for the Christian Faith, by Richard L. Purtill, p. 76; and Companionship in Grief: Love and Loss in the Memoirs of C.S. Lewis [and others], Jeffery Berman, p. 37).

This story shows us how strong human love can be. But there is a love that is greater than human love, human weakness, human sin and even greater than death. It is God’s love, given to us in Jesus Christ, His beloved Son.

In the Gospel, we read about Jesus’s Baptism in the Jordan by St John. John called people to conversion. Crowds of people went out to him to be baptized. John’s baptism didn’t forgive sins. It had symbolic meaning. People who were immersed in the water wanted to change their lives. John prophesied that “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.”

In today’s Gospel, the “mightier one” stood before John and asked for baptism. Jesus’s action has deep meaning. His immersion in the Jordan River signifies his immersion in human sin. He wanted to take human sin onto himself, to set people free from their sins. He wanted to give us freedom, peace and joy.

Jesus’s intention was confirmed by His Father with signs from heaven: heaven was opened, the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus like a dove, and a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” It seems like the Father wants to tell us, “Give your sins to my Son; let Him carry your sins. If you do this, heaven will be opened for you.”

On today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we thank God for the day of our baptism. On that day, heaven was opened to us, and we became beloved children of God. But baptism is just the beginning of our relationship with our heavenly Father. We have to persevere in our struggle against our human weakness and sin, always keeping our eyes on our heavenly destination.

Think about your current life situation. What are you holding in your heart? What is difficult for you? Do you have a problem that seems impossible to solve? Is there a weakness or sin that you struggle with, but it never seems to get better?

Do you believe that Jesus is mightier than all of these things? He really is. In His humility, Jesus is as immersed in your life and your difficulties as He was in the River Jordan – but not as a critic or a judge. He promised that “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.” He is immersed in your weakness, your fragility, and he wants to carry your burdens with you.

So tell Jesus about your troubles, and believe that nothing is impossible for Him.
Amen

Fr Dariusz Sowa, OFM Conv.

The Solemnity of the Epiphany

Reading I: Isaiah 60:1-6
Responsorial: Psalm: 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Reading II: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

In Jesus’s day, thousands of people visited Jerusalem. Some went on business. Others went to listen to the learned rabbis, Or to advance their careers at the court of Herod. Most went to the temple to make an offering to God, to pray. Among the crowds were the Wise Men. But they has a different purpose.

They were looking for the Savior, the Messiah. They declared their mission at the court of Herod, announcing to him the birth of the New King of all Israel. But the amazing thing is that no one else in Jerusalem was looking for the Messiah! The chief priests and the scribes told the Wise Men, ‘Go to Bethlehem; you can find him there.’ But they did not go themselves. In that big city, among the hundreds of thousands of people, only the Wise Men genuinely desired to find the Messiah.

Today, as we celebrate the Epiphany, we need to ask: What does this day mean to us? On the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Church thanks God for the gift of faith, which was and still is confessed by so many people. The three Wise Men from the East were among the first to witness to this gift and to carry it to others.

Like the Wise Men, today you have come here to meet Jesus, our Savior. But many people are indifferent to the newborn Messiah. People are wrapped up in their concerns and don’t feel they need God. They do not have a hunger for God. Sometimes, even people who come to church to pray, do so more out of habit than out of a real desire for an encounter with God.

One of the basic conditions of our spiritual life is a desire, a hunger to meet the Savior. Can you say, ‘I need God’? ‘I have a hunger for him’? ‘So I put aside business and the pursuit of wealth; I put aside worldly wisdom; political debates and pious habits – everything: I need God’? This hunger forces you to search, makes you restless, calls you to prayer, to a personal meeting with the loving God. A happy man is hungry for God.

Today is a special day of prayer for the missionary Church. Fr Staszek, Fr Krzysztof and I have been missionaries. I would like to share with you the testimony of a woman I met in Russia. The woman was a doctor, about forty-five years old, the mother of three or four children. My parishioners told me that she lived about 85 kilometers away, and every Sunday she travelled by bus, with her children, to attend Mass. It took her about three hours to get to the church and three hours to go back. I was very surprised. I told her, ‘You don’t have to travel to Mass every week. It is enough if you can come once a month.’

She told me, ‘But I want to participate in holy Mass, to meet Jesus, to hear the word of God and to receive Holy Communion. It’s very important to me. It helps me to live.’
Later I found out her whole story. She had been born into a Muslim family, but she belonged to an ancient tribe of people who had once been Christian. She was searching for God, and went from one faith community to another, before finding her spiritual home in the Roman Catholic Church. Once she had a living relationship with God, she was ready to make any sacrifice to meet with him.

I could tell a story about the living faith of people in this community, who generously offered their help to a young man who was in difficult circumstances. Everyone who heard about this situation, responded with an open heart.

Often I meet people who say, ‘I believe in God, but I don’t go to church. It’s too hard; it takes too much time.’ But a person who has a living faith has a hunger for God, a hunger to meet with him, to speak with him in prayer, and the strength to testify to him, living in friendship with God and with others. Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

Second Sunday after the Nativity, Year B

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

Because it’s the first Sunday of the month, in lieu of the homily, there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, 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

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Today is the first day of the New Year. A few hours ago, we said goodbye to 2014. It was a year of various impressions – for some joyful, for others sad; some will remember it well, and others have already forgotten it. But we all wonder what the New Year will bring for us.

On the first day of the New Year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. The Church entrusts herself and each of us to the one who gave birth to the Son of God: she, who in the silence of Nazareth, surrounded with maternal love the One, Who out of love for man came into the world to redeem it.

We have just heard the beautiful words of St. Paul, who writes on this topic: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons…. So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.” (Gal 4:4-7).

A French theologian once wrote; “One sole thing is necessary: to listen to the Word of God and to live so as to save one’s soul” (Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life).

Today the Church shows us Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and tells us: Look at her, imitate her, and live each day as she did. That is the only thing we need to have a good beginning for the New Year.

Mary is in fact the first real Christian. She knows best how to carry out God’s will in the struggle of everyday life. Today in the Gospel, we heard that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” The Gospel says the same thing about Mary at various times, in various circumstances. Mary listened to the words of God, pondering them in her heart and living by them every day. Mary saw the work of God in the events of her life. She reflected on them in her heart, and considered not only the Word of God, but also the events through which God spoke to her.

God speaks to us as well, when we hear the Word of God in scripture, but also through the events of our daily lives. So it has been in the past and so it will be in the New Year. That is why we need to take on the attitude of Mary, the attitude of listening and reflection.

Dear in Christ!

In his homily a year ago, Pope Francis said, “Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying: “Behold your Mother!” (Jn 19:27).

These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother! When the faith of the disciples was most tested by difficulties and uncertainties, Jesus entrusted them to Mary, who was the first to believe, and whose faith would never fail. The ‘woman’ became our Mother when she lost her divine Son. Her sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women — all, whether good or bad — and she loves them as she loved Jesus. The woman — who at the wedding at Cana in Galilee gave her faith-filled cooperation so that the wonders of God could be displayed in the world — at Calvary kept alive the flame of faith in the resurrection of her Son, and she communicates this with maternal affection to each and every person. Mary becomes in this way a source of hope and true joy!” (Homily of Pope Francis on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, January 1, 2014).

Therefore, let Mary intercede for us in each day of the New Year, so that we will know how to listen to God, who always speaks to us. May she also assist us, so that like her, we can accept the Word of God, live by it, and thus fulfill God’s will that we be saved.

May we never lose the hope and the true joy that our Lord gives us at the beginning of the New Year. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, 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: Luke 2:22-40

On the first Sunday after Christmas, the Church commemorates the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us above all, that Christ was born and grew up in a family – one of the many billions of families that have lived on the earth. The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us of God’s wonderful plan for man; a plan in which the family is not only man’s basic living environment, but the basis of his moral formation, where he learns, works and above all, is loved. Man cannot live in a vacuum suspended somewhere, lost and alone in a faceless crowd. A person must have a family, a community of love, as Jesus had.

Therefore, today we thank God for the gift of the family. We remember our parents with gratitude. We thank them for the gift of life, for their efforts in forming our character, for their care and love. Today, especially, parents think of their children with prayers of thanksgiving to God for the gift of their lives, because children are God’s blessing and the fruit of their conjugal love.

When we reflect on the family, we cannot ignore the many threats to the modern family. We cannot remain silent about the plague of divorce. Why do people who have vowed their love, loyalty and fidelity in marriage, after a few or several years together, split up, with quarrelling and mutual injury?

Threats to the family can be external or internal. One external threat may be a lack of work and the emigration of one spouse to find a job. So many marriages and families are broken up by the emigration of one of the spouses.

Another external threat may be a lack of housing. One of the most dangerous threats today is certainly the ideology of gender, which relativizes marriage as a union of a man and woman and introduces the concept of a partnership between two men or two women.

The greatest threat to marriage, however, seems to be internal – that is, a spiritual threat. Lacking a relationship with God, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life — with God who is Love — makes the relationship between husband and wife break down and eventually become unbearable.

I remember the testimony of one couple, the parents of five wonderful children. On their wedding day, they promised each other that in their daily prayer, they would repeat their wedding vows. When they were together, they would do this looking into each other’s eyes. When they were apart, they would repeat their vows while looking at a picture of their spouse and children. They have been doing this for twenty-five years. They are so happy! They can’t imagine it any other way.

We pray today thanking God for the gift of our families and asking him for the gift of true love, as we entrust them especially to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And we should remember that here in our parish, we have the joy of being able to pray at the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, Protectress of Marriages and Families. Let us commend our families to her care.

And now, brothers and sisters, let us join together in praying for our families. You will find the prayer on the slides.

Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, we bless you and thank you for our family.
We want to live united in love.
We offer you the joys and sorrows of our lives; in you we place our hopes for the future.
God, the source of all good things, so we do not lack our daily bread, keep us in good health and peace, guide our steps towards the good.
Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we beseech Thee, O God, for blessing and protection of our homes.
Give us happy lives in our homes, until we are united in the happiness of heaven.
Amen.

Fr Andrzej Kulczycki, OFM Conv.

The Nativity of the Lord: Christmas Day

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 our Lord Jesus Christ!

A moment ago, in the Gospel acclamation, we heard:

“A holy day has dawned upon us. Come, you nations, and adore the Lord. For today a great light has come upon the earth.”

Today we celebrate Christmas, the birthday of the Son of God, the day the Word of God was made flesh.
Today we rejoice that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). We rejoice because “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

St. Gregory of Nazianzus describes the historic moment this way: “The flesh-less one is made flesh, the Word becomes material, the invisible is seen, the intangible is touched, the timeless has a beginning, the Son of God becomes the Son of Man — ‘Jesus Christ yesterday and today and the same for all ages’” (Hb 13:8 in Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 38.2).

Likewise, St. Augustine says of this incomprehensible event: “[O]ur Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal creator of all things, today became our Savior by being born of a mother. Of his own will he was born for us today, in time, so that he could lead us to his Father’s eternity. God became man so that man might become God. The Lord of angels became man today, so that man could eat the bread of angels” (Sermo 13 de Tempore: PL 39, 1097-1098).

Dear in Christ!
Today, God became man so that man can fully recover his original dignity. Saint Pope John Paul II taught that “the birth of the Son of God is the sublime gift, the greatest grace for man’s benefit that the human mind could ever have imagined” (Pope John Paul II, Urbi et orbi, Christmas Day, 1999).

Christmas is a time of meetings with family and friends. Above all, however, it should be a meeting with Jesus. Only an encounter with Jesus gives meaning to our celebrations. Without meeting Jesus, the holiday is just an empty tradition.

And Jesus came to all people — to those who were waiting for him, like Mary and Joseph; but also to those for whom His birth inspired fear, like Herod. Jesus came also to those who didn’t care either way — for example, the owner of the inn of Bethlehem.

Today, he also comes to us all, is born for each of us. Jesus comes to all with the same message: “I am your Savior; I was born for you; I will never reject you. Even if everyone else abandons you, I’ll always be with you, because I have loved you to the end.”

Saint Pope John Paul II expressed this beautifully: “Jesus, the Incarnate Word, entering into human history, assures us God’s presence in it, and His providence, His love and mercy.   God has a ‘plan’ of salvation for all, and he awaits our response” (address at the Papal University of St Thomas Aquinas, as quoted in L’Osservatore Romano, 26 November 1994; translation mine).

Our response, as Mother Theresa of Calcutta tells us, is relatively simple: “Always, whenever you smile at your brother and put out your hand to him, it is Christmas.  Always, when you are silent in order to listen to him, it is Christmas.  Always, when you give a little hope to ‘prisoners’, those who are overwhelmed by the weight of physical, moral and spiritual poverty, it is Christmas. Always, when you humbly recognize how small your abilities are, and how great your weaknesses are, it is Christmas. Always, when you allow God to love others through you, always it is Christmas” (attributed to Mother Theresa of Calcutta; translation from Polish mine).

Dear in Christ! With a heart full of gratitude for the miracle of the holy night in Bethlehem, I want to end this meditation with the words of a missionary in Chad, in Africa: “If God had not come down from heaven, I would not have come from Poland. If he had not been born in Bethlehem, I would not find myself in Africa. If he had not died on the cross, I would be living only for myself. God was born, and now nothing will be like it was, before his birth.”

My brother, my sister! God was born for you in Bethlehem, so you might come out of this Mass reborn.
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Reading I: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial: Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
Reading II: Romans 16:25-27
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Today’s Gospel presents us with the scene of the Annunciation. Gabriel comes to Mary to present to her a proposal from God. She is to be the Mother of the Son of God, because the fullness of time had come, and the moment for the Son of God to be conceived had arrived. It was a turning-point in history.

The Bible records the angel’s greeting to Mary — words which have been repeated in the daily prayers of Christians for generations: “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you ” (Lk 1:28). We can imagine how all of heaven paused for a moment, holding its breath, waiting for Mary’s response. Will God’s chosen one agree to God’s proposal to be the Mother of God?

Mary — full of trouble, perhaps mixed with fear and certainly with surprise and curiosity — ponders the words of the angel. What kind of greeting was this, she wonders (Lk 1:29), and she asks, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Lk 1:34). Nevertheless, the one whom God preserved from the stain of original sin has the trust and humility to respond: “Behold, I am the hand-maid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). From that moment — the moment Mary responded with a joyful, “Yes” — she is the Mother of the Son of God, the Incarnate Word. She is the mother of the Redeemer, who came to deliver us from sin, the slavery of death and the snares of the devil.

Christ the Lord, who enters into our human world, is not the kind of Messiah that was expected by those who were awaiting him. The Chosen People expected a triumphant Messiah, but he came in the silence of the night, and in all the simplicity and poverty of human birth. He did not have an enthusiastic welcome; on the contrary, he was born in a humble shepherds’ grotto, because the door of the inn was closed to Him. The most profound mystery is the fact that God took human flesh from the Virgin Mary, and became man. God entered into Mary’s life and appointed her to a unique place in the history of mankind. God has entered into our human destiny.

Dear in Christ! Today, as we contemplate the Annunciation, we need to realize that through this historic event, God entered into the life of each of us. For each of us, Jesus was conceived. For each of us, the Son of God became man, became our brother.

We must remember that, as for Mary, so for us — God has a mission to fulfill. He has a plan for each of us and is waiting for our joyful “Yes!” Though our vocations are certainly not as important as the vocation of the Blessed Mother, God loves each of us, and our lives are very important in his eyes. He takes delight in every one of his children, and He wants to build His kingdom in this world — the Kingdom of truth and life, the Kingdom of holiness and grace, the Kingdom of justice and love, the Kingdom of forgiveness and peace. So we must constantly give God our “Yes” and proclaim the joy that the Lord is near. We must remember that the Christian vocation is to bear Christ, to give Christ to the world, to witness to him with our lives and words, so that he will always be greatly glorified. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Third Sunday in Advent: Gaudete Sunday

Reading I: Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Responsorial: Psalm Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
Reading II: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!.

This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” means “joyful,” because the Lord’s coming is near. We are halfway through Advent, the time of waiting for the coming of our Savior. The Word of God speaks of the joy with which the promises of the prophets were fulfilled: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (Is 61:10).

Today once again the figure of Saint John the Baptist is presented to us. He is the last of the prophets, the one who pointed to Jesus and said: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).

The character of the great Prophet fascinates us, just as he fascinated his contemporaries. The crowds went out to see him. People listened to him and received the baptism of repentance. St. John the Baptist was and is a witness living in truth. He called good and evil by name. He was not afraid of anyone, because he served God alone! No one dared to question his authority. He was the voice of God. Even Herod, who imprisoned John and then killed him, “liked to listen to him” (Mk 6:20). The witness of John the Baptist’s life and the power of his words were so great that the crowds thought he was the Messiah, Elijah or one of the ancient prophets. Jesus Christ himself explained this, saying, “among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist….” (Mt 11:11).

Saint John inspired many people. John pointed out Jesus, the Lamb of God, to his disciples and inspired the Apostles Saint Andrew and Saint John to follow the Master of Nazareth. For John “came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him” (Jn 1:7). He knew that he had come to prepare the way for the Lord. That is why he said of himself, “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord”’” (Jn 1:23). The saint knew his calling, and so he said about Jesus, “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).

St. John the Baptist was certainly an exceptional man, gifted with many talents and an extraordinary personality. However, his greatness is due to his relationship to God, to Jesus Christ. In the person of John and in his life we can see the workings of God. His story shows us how God can use a man who hears the voice of God in his heart and heeds the call to follow him. In Hebrew, the name John means “God is gracious” or “God is mercy.” Even his name tells us that all John was, was due to God — God’s grace from the moment of his conception until his martyrdom in the dungeons of the palace of Herod.

In one of his novels, the French writer Albert Camus has a character ask, “Is it possible to be a saint without God?”

The answer is, Of course not. Holiness is a gift of God, which He wants to bestow on His children.

Today, as we look at St. John the Baptist, we must be aware that God is always coming to us; we cannot live in the old way, we need to be prepared for the Lord’s coming. When Jesus comes again, we must be prepared, so we do not hear these words as a reproach to us: “Among you stands one whom you do not know….”

Dear in Christ!

I would like to conclude with the words of Pope Francis in a homily on the birth of St John the Baptist this year. Pope Francis said that “a Christian does not announce himself, he announces another; [he] prepares the way for another: the Lord. A Christian must know how to discern; [he] must know how to discern the truth from what seems to be the truth but is not. [A Christian must be] a man of discernment. And a Christian must be a man who knows how to humble himself [so] that the Lord may increase in the hearts and souls of others” (Vatican, 24 June, 2014; the translation from the Polish is my own).
Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

Second Sunday in Advent

Responsorial: Psalm 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14
Reading I: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Reading II: 2 Peter 3:8-14
Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Today’s Gospel shows us the figure of St. John the Baptist. John lived in the desert, but aroused wide-spread interest: he was an exceptional man, “clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey” (Mk 1:6). Crowds gathered at the Jordan, where John was teaching and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. St. Mark says that “People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.”

These people were not looking for sensationalism; they went to see and hear a prophet. They wanted to listen to the teaching of a man through whom the Spirit of God spoke. His teaching was so convincing that many in the audience immediately asked to be baptized, confessing their sins and deciding to change their lives.

Jesus said that “among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11), yet the great prophet was full of humility. He was aware that he was just a voice crying in the wilderness. So he said: “I am not the one you are looking for” (Acts 13:25). “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Despite the passage of centuries, the voice of John in the desert is still current. He still calls us, crying out, “Repent… Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

What is a call to repentance? It is, in fact, a call to fall in love with God again. When the human heart is filled with love, life becomes more beautiful, more joyful and takes on a new dynamism.

A perfect example is one of the greatest saints of the Church – St. Francis of Assisi. Francis made the Gospel the program of his life and the life of his brothers. At the heart of the Gospel is the greatest commandment: the command to love God and neighbor. The entire life of St Francis confirmed that life without love does not make sense, that a lack of love enslaves us. St Francis called people in the past and he calls us still today, to love God, who is Love. Because only God, who is Love, is able to give us back our lost freedom, give us a sense of wealth in poverty, to liberate us from all the fears that plague us. Only Jesus can make our lives meaningful, happy, beautiful and full of peace

At the beginning of Advent, we need to take to heart the call to conversion and allow Christ to come into our lives with His healing power. First, however, we should prepare the way for Jesus, straighten the path of our lives for Him. To straighten our path means to abandon the road of sin, to give up a life of compromise and live the Gospel radically. It also means to exchange unworthy, sinful relationships, for pure and beautiful love. To prepare the way for Jesus is to replace unfair profits with fair and honest work. To straighten the path for Jesus is also a desire to be free from the bad habits; to keep the Lord’s Day holy, and to avoid gossip. Preparing the way of Jesus in our lives means being filled with a desire for freedom, holiness and truth.

So let us now join our voices to “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Only in this way will we prepare the way for the coming of God. Only through our faithfulness and courage in proclaiming the truth of God’s Word, through the testimony of a Christian life, can we make the crooked path straight, and the rough, smooth so that all flesh may see the salvation of God.

“Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace” (2 Pt 3:14).

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.

First Sunday in Advent

Reading I: Isaiah 63: 16b-17; 19b; 64:2-7
Responsorial: Psalm 80:2-3; 15-16; 18-19
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel: Mark 13:33-37

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Once again in our lives we begin Advent. In Latin, “adventus” means “coming”. Advent is the time of joyful expectation of the coming of Our Lord.

First, in Advent we remember the time when the chosen nation awaited the birth of the Messiah, the Redeemer, whose coming was first announced by God in Paradise. For centuries, God confirmed his promise through the prophets of Israel. For God is a loving Father who wants our good, as we heard in the first reading:
“O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands” (Is 64:7).

Second, Advent is the time when we are waiting for Christmas; when we remember the coming into the world of the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary “when the fullness of time had come” (Gal 4:4). We commemorate this historical fact every year, and we rejoice that more than 2000 years ago Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, and that He is with his people until the end of the world.

Third, we recall that one day our Lord will come once again to this world, what we call the end of the world. St. Paul speaks to us about this in the second reading today: “you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8).

So Advent is a time for us to worship Christ who is continually entering into our world and our lives, from his first coming in the silent night in Bethlehem to his glorious coming at the end of time. Advent reminds us that Jesus came; Jesus will come again; Jesus is coming. He comes at every moment, here, where we are, in whatever we are doing.

However, we have to ask if we are ready for this meeting: Is my heart watchful? We have to ask if we are vigilant, as today’s Gospel calls us to be: “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming” (Mt 13, 35).

Pope John Paul II explained the deep significance of Christian watchfulness:

“The evangelical call to vigilance [is] repeatedly echoed in the liturgy, especially during Advent ….
It has [an] eminently eschatological sense and invites the faithful to experience every day and every moment in the presence of Him “Who is and who was and who is to come” (Rev 1: 4). His is the future of the world and man. This is our Christian hope! If we did not live with this prospect, the whole of our existence would be only existence in order to die” (source unknown; translation mine).

And also in 1991 at Jasna Góra during the Sixth World Youth Day, the Holy Father asked: “What does ‘I watch’ mean? It means that I try to be a man of conscience; that the conscience is not deadened and is not distorted. I call good and evil by their proper names…. I try to improve what is good in myself, and to overcome what is bad. This development of conscience is a basic thing which can never be set aside for later. No, it is always and everywhere at the forefront. It is all the more important when circumstances contribute to tolerance of evil, leading us to absolve ourselves from sin. Especially if others do so….

“‘I watch’ – that is to say further: I see another…. ‘I watch’ means love of neighbor, which is basic human solidarity” (translation mine).

Dear in Christ! We just sang in the Psalm: “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved” (Ps 80).

May this time of Advent be a time for us to return to God, a time of renewal and change of heart. Let this be a watchful time – a time in which we will take up the fight for good in our lives, for a better tomorrow, with openness to our brothers and sisters. Let this be a time to put off the old way of life; a time of profound prayer, reflection on our lives and return to God in the Sacrament of Confession.

Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our guide in Advent, to accompany us in this watching. May she obtain for us the grace needed to make this holy season truly a time of joyful expectation. Amen.

Fr Stanisław Rochowiak, OFM Conv.