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Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

God is First

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah…’. ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon…. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overpower it’.“ (Matthew 16: 13-18)

Jesus’ question to his disciples about people’s opinion of Him seems as recent as the surveys constantly made in our society, subordinated to the dictates of what most think. But, in reality, what God wants to know is what each one of us thinks of Him.


Jesus asks us directly: “Who am I to you?“. And he is not satisfied with an answer by the book, theoretical and rhetorical. It is useless to say: “You are first in my life”, if afterwards, in practice, television is more important—judging by the number of hours spent in front of it versus the limited number of minutes devoted to be with God by praying—or work or fun. Only when we recognize, with deeds not words, the rule of God in our life, only then God can entrust us with the task of evangelizing, to bear witness, of being solid rocks on which to build its Church. Meantime, regardless our qualities or the need there may be, He cannot count on people for whom God is just one more thing and sometimes even less. God needs of you, but to be able to entrust you with the work He has assigned you He wants to take first place in your heart. If He cannot do it, it is your fault.

Intention: This week compare the time devoted to prayer and charity with that which you spend watching television. If God is first, pray more and go more to Mass.

The Rock

Peter was Jesus’ choice to lead the fragile band of apostles. In today’s Gospel, Simon is given a new name—Peter, the “rock.” In John’s Gospel, Peter is called to be a shepherd. He is expected to lay down his life for his sheep. And tradition tells us that he did just that. But today we think about the durable rocklike quality that Jesus needed in a leader. Peter was appointed to his leadership position for reasons we are not able to fathom. God knows, and Jesus knew well, that Peter was flawed. We cannot mistake his enthusiasms, though, his manifest love, and his great, exuberant faith. Those virtues saw him through. They are durable, tough, beautiful virtues. They make Peter a sympathetic and lovable person. They provide us with the balance and humor that we need as we consider our own roles in the universal church.

Living God’s Word

We pray that our loving Father will bring us to a deeper knowledge and understanding of his Son Jesus. We ask that this understanding will lead to a deeper commitment on our part to the work of Jesus to bring about in our own day the reign of God in our world.

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Readings for the Week

Monday: 2 Thes 1:1-5, 11-12; Ps 96 (95):1-5; Mt 23:13-22
Tuesday: 2 Thes 2:1-3a, 14-17; Ps 96 (95):10-13; Mt 23:23-26
Wednesday: 2 Thes 3:6-10, 16-18; Ps 124 (123):1-2, 4-5; Mt 23:27-32
Thursday: 1 Cor 1:1-9; Ps 145 (144):2-7; Mt 24:42-51
Friday: 1 Cor 1:17-25; Ps 33 (32):1-2, 4-5, 10-11; Mc 6:17-29
Saturday: 1 Cor 1:26-31; Ps 33 (32):12-13, 18-21; Mt 25:14-30
Sunday: Jer 20:7-9; Ps 63 (62):2-6, 8-9; Rom 12:1-2; Mt 16:21-27

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twentieth-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Monday: St. Louis; St. Joseph Calasanz
Wednesday: St. Monica
Thursday: St. Augustine
Friday: The Passion of St. John the Baptist
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary

“La paciencia es la compañera de la sabiduría.” — San Agustín

Most Amiable Mother

After last week’s discussion regarding what the Church teaches us about the Virgin, beyond contention –though not all that it teaches–, in other words, regarding the Marian dogmas, during this and the following months I wish to focus on another type of revelation, which the Holy Spirit has been depositing in that felt by the people of God. They are not dogmas, but are expressions that have been building throughout the centuries and that reflect quite well what the simple person feels and believes regarding his/her Mother, the perpetually virgin Mary. I am referring to the litanies, which are the most beautiful prayers that I know of and which I delight in praying. The living tradition of the Church with regard to Our Lady can be said to be expressed in such prayers. Though certainly not all is contained in such litanies, the greater part, including the before mentioned dogmas, is. We need but to focus on some of the prayers it contains in order to know why, in addition to all that already stated, we must thank God for Mary. Let us take a look at some of them.

Etymologically, the term “amiable” means “worthy of being or deserving to be loved”. Mary is no doubt worthy and deserving. And she is, among others, because the other sense of this term, “a likeable, affable, friendly, educated, well-mannered and easily approached person” can also be applied to her. Mary is amiable because her relationship with us always offers us a friendly face, full of tenderness. When we resort to her, we do not have the impression that we are met with eyes full of wrath, no matter how frequently we deserve it. She is all kindness, the hand reaching out to us when we are still knocked down by the weight of our sins so as to stand up towards grace. Mary, undoubtedly, is “God’s smile”, “God’s caress”, not in the ontological sense, for she is not God, but in the sense of representation, of she sent by God, given that she is His mother, as she is ours, to show us the divine tenderness, the maternal dimension of God. Let us give thanks to the Lord for this and thank Him also because, when we pray this litany, we become –or should become—aware that we also, like Mary, kike God, must be amiable: worthy of being loved and bearers of the divine smile and tenderness before others.

Purpose: Be thankful to God because in Mary He has shown us his “maternal face”, His affability, His tenderness to have given her to us as our Mother and try to imitate the Virgin.