The Call

In the gospel for today, Jesus calls to Nathanael by name and tells him he will see wondrous things. Jesus spoke of the angels coming from heaven to earth. Just as He called Nathanael, Jesus calls each one of us by name, asking us if we believe.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:51

What an incomprehensible promise Jesus is making to us, if we simply believe in Him. As human beings, it is sometime easy to forget the great divine presences that surround us. While we live out our daily lives, angels are all around us, working for our greater good. As Christians, we claim to believe in God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We profess this belief so often; every Sunday in church as we recite the Creed, but how often do we really stop and consider what we are saying? By believing in Jesus and who He truly is–the Son of God–we also acknowledge the majesty and extraordinary components involved in the Kingdom of Heaven. As believers in Christ, we claim our place in the dominion of God. The world we see everyday is only a small piece of what we will actually inherit.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Archangels–the three who are specifically named in the Bible (Michael, Gabriel and Raphael). It is traditionally believed that there are seven archangels, but only three are given names in scripture. Angels and archangels, as well as seven other “orders” of these spiritual beings, are our guardians and messengers of God. Even in these times of uncertainty, their message will remain the same: “love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them.” Rev 12:12. Let this feast day and the message of these archangels serve as a beautiful and powerful reminder that the battle for our souls is already won. Michael banished Lucifer from heaven; Gabriel brought the knowledge that Mary would be the mother of Jesus Christ to her, and Raphael healed the blindness of Tobias. Their heavenly powers are still invoked by us today, especially St. Michael’s, whose prayer is recited after every Mass. As we profess, Jesus Christ is our Savior, and we have inherited the Kingdom of Heaven, where we will one day join the nine choirs of angels in praising Him forever.

What Would Jesus Do?

When I was in early elementary school, there was a very popular bracelet that almost all my classmates wore. It was an inexpensive piece of leather or cloth with the inscription “WWJD” which stood for “What Would Jesus Do?” The bracelet’s popularity made it more of a fashion statement than a reminder of a Christian axiom, and the actual meaning of those words was soon lost or ignored. I think I got the bracelet before I was aware of “WWJD” stood for, but remembered it when I read today’s Gospel.

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Luke 8:21

This Gospel passage can be confusing; it sounds as though Jesus is turning away His own mother and brothers who were waiting to see Him. Of course, that was not His intention. Jesus used His circumstances to serve as an example for the crowd He had just addressed, and also for everyone of us who read His words in this modern age. Not all who hear the word of God believe it, nor do all of us act in accordance with what Jesus proclaimed.

Consider the words of the responsorial psalm and the Alleluia verse: “Guide me, Lord, in the way of Your commands,” and “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

As Christians, we are called to be living examples of the Lord’s words. Only through our testimony will others be able to know Christ and then turn to Him and believe. That simple bracelet worn by my classmates and myself back in the 1990s had a great deal of power if we had taken the time to really consider the true meaning of the initials on it. By choosing to do what Jesus would do, we can bring the presence of Jesus into this world through our actions.

The world desperately needs the example of Jesus Christ in these trying and uncertain times. “What Would Jesus Do” can be words to live by and to cling to as we go forward through what appears to be a difficult period for all human beings alive today.


This world is clearly enduring a great period of sorrow right now. The circumstances under which we live could cause anyone to question whether we will survive all these trials. If we truly believe in Jesus Christ and what He accomplished through His death on the cross, the answer is “Yes.” The crucifixion of Jesus on the cross at Calvary took away all the sins of the world, past, present and future, which means He knew the tragedies we would be experiencing today. The agony Jesus suffered in the garden at Gethsemane was so painful that He sweated blood. The pain of His passion was so excruciating no human being could have survived it, and so we owe our lives (present and eternal) to Jesus. He was the only one who could save us from the sins we have committed and will commit.

Praise the Lord that we have been forgiven for our sins. If not for our faith in Jesus Christ, life in this world would appear completely hopeless. Not only do we have the promise of eternal life given to us through our Savior, however, but we have the example and intercession of His mother Mary, who is also our mother. More than any other human being, she may be the one who can relate to and empathize most with the sorrows plaguing this world at this time.

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” —Luke 2:34–35

The prophet Simeon spoke these words to Mary at the presentation of Jesus when He was an infant. Her sorrow would be so great that she would feel a sword pierce her heart. What must have gone through her mind on hearing those words? The amount of trust she held in God had to continue her whole life. The commitment she made to doing His will exemplifies the kind of trust we need to strive for in our relationship with Him.

We are undergoing undeniable hardships that may appear unbearable, but there is always hope. Our Father in heaven holds all of us in the palm of His hand and He sees our faith. He will not allow this faith to fail. On this day when we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, let us pray to have the same faith she had in our Lord–that amidst all our sorrows, we may receive the grace to accept them and to be made stronger people because of them.

We Can Only Imagine

The readings for today highlight how Jesus Christ came into this world through His genealogy but also through the prophecies foretold in the Old Testament.

“Behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.” Mt 1:22-23

Since there are no readings in scripture that describe Mary’s life before she conceived through the Holy Spirit, these passages for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary seem the most fitting. Nevertheless, Mary’s early life before she gave birth to the Son of God was full of experiences that molded her into the young girl who was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and asked to say “yes” to God’s call to her to become the mother of His son.

What was it like for Mary growing up? How was her faith formed? How was she perceived by her family and community? There must have been some indication that she was special. The Catholic church honors the nativity of the Blessed Virgin with a feast day, giving us the opportunity to meditate on the untold story of Mary. We can be certain she was conceived and born without sin. Mary’s birthday is a crucial part of our history, for if she had never been born, Jesus would never have been born. We can use this wisdom and apply it to our own lives. Mary was born with a purpose in God’s plan for humanity, and all of us are born with a purpose in fulfilling God’s plan as well.

“Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

When we are born, it is because God calls us to accept the destiny He has in mind for us, and He is waiting for us to give our “yes” to Him and to His call as Mary did.

New Wine: Thoughts on Stewardship & Renewal

When I first moved to NYC 9 years ago, I often babysat and dog-sat for families to make money. There was always a sense of heightened attention and care for the kiddos and animals I watched, and a sense of knowing how precious they were to their parents (and/or owners). Can you remember a time when something valuable to someone else has been placed in your care? There is a sense of honor knowing someone has entrusted you to take care of and look after someone or something so valuable to him or herself.

The God of all creation has entrusted you, and every baptized and then confirmed son and daughter, with His most precious mysteries. A relationship with His Son, the good news of the Gospel, the sacraments of the Church, the richness of His Word in Scripture – these are just some of the many gifts God has given all of us to be stewards of. Paul says in today’s first reading that we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1). What an honor. Further, God invites each of us individually to be stewards of the gifts He has given us that are unique to our individual life. He has given each of us specific gifts, or charisms, for the building up of the Kingdom – gifts to serve and nourish the church and the world. For some it is a gift of administration, of teaching, of service, of music, just to name of few. For those of us who are married, God has gifted us a spouse to be a steward of – to reverence, to look after, to care for, to help get to Heaven. Our priests are stewards of their parishes, our consecrated religious brothers and sisters are stewards of the others in their communities and the people they serve. Though we may currently feel limited, unable to share our gifts in some of the ways we’d like to, we can always grow in our posture of wonder and awe in God’s presence. And from that posture we can ask Him to remind us, or show us anew, the gifts He has placed in our individual lives to be stewards of.

As a Byzantine Catholic family, my husband, daughter, and I have just begun the new liturgical year on September 1st! (In the Latin Rite, often called the Roman Rite, the new year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. This is just one of many differences in tradition that distinguishes these two rites of the Catholic Church, both beautiful and rich in their own right…or rite…) Growing up Latin Rite, I just learned about the September 1st new year last Sunday from our priest, Fr. Michael. (Also shout out to Fr. Michael, who inspired the vast majority of this reflection with his recent Sunday homily!) This reality and Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel have me reflecting on the gift of renewal. There is an innate sense of refreshment and of hope in a new year. A chance to begin again, an opportunity to refocus, a time to hope for the future. As Christians, we live in relationship with the One who renews us day to day, even moment to moment.

As we ask God to reveal how He is calling each of us to be a steward of His mysteries, let us open ourselves up to something new He wants to do in us. He is the God who makes all things new, and He promises to constantly renew us from the inside out. He is “making new wine…” (see today’s Gospel + song link below). If the circumstances of COVID have made you feel that one day blurs into the next, and months blur into each other, we can find our renewal and hope in our incredible God. He has entrusted Himself to us, and we have entrusted ourselves to Him. He is the greatest steward of all – He is our Good Shepherd. You are precious to Him, and He delights in you. May you grow ever more deeply in this reality and be consumed by His great Mystery.

Lord God, Almighty Father, I come into your presence in awe of you. I desire to know you more and stand in wonder of the depths of you I cannot grasp. Thank you for entrusting me to be a steward of your mysteries. Reveal the gifts you have given me and help me to be a faithful steward of them. Lord, renew me. Purify my heart so I may see you. I place my trust in you. I place my hope in you. I adore and love you, my dear Father.

Song for Reflection — NEW WINE by Hillsong

More info on the Liturgical Year according to Byzantine Tradition:

To Intercede

“Intercession (MEDIATION). –To intercede is to go or come between two parties, to plead before one of them on behalf of the other.” According to Catholic Answers

In today’s gospel, the term “intercede” is used in reference to the intercessory aid of Jesus in curing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a severe fever. The practice of intercession continues this day. We often invoke intercessory prayer on behalf of others and implore the Lord to help or heal our fellow sufferers.

Throughout Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth, He constantly healed the sick and cast out demons. Before He ascended into heaven, He gave us His authority to do what He did. We often forget the power and the strength He has bestowed on us as believers. We fall prey to the lie that we are helpless, and the world’s problems are too insurmountable for us to conquer on our own. This is true; alone we can do nothing, but through Jesus Christ, we can do anything if it is the will of God. The war fought today is not won on a battlefield but through prayer. Using intercessory prayer, we can approach Jesus Christ and ask Him to perform miracles as He did when He lived on earth with us. We have the same authority Jesus gave to the apostles. All we need to do is pray in His name. “In the name of Jesus Christ…” we have the power and can fight any enemy.

“He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Cor 3: 1-9

God is the Master Builder, and He wants us to be a part of His creations. What a blessing that we can enter and contribute to His grand design through prayer.