April 17, 2016
P. Rafael Alonso Reymundo
This homily was given by Father Rafael in a Mass with the community just a little while after receiving the news of the earthquake in Ecuador. They were worried about the sisters who live there.
The audio is in Spanish, but the English text translation is below the player.
Well this is good…you can´t see me and that is a good thing, in case I start crying. We are especially sensitive today because firstly we’ve slept little because we’ve been up all night in all the communities praying the rosary…as we are united in the Lord and his charity and the suffering of some sisters is suffering for all the sisters, and for the brothers and of course for me. The news isn’t so good right now because we still haven’t found the sisters yet. We’ve found three, who are bruised and beaten up, and Sr. Clare hasn’t been found. Unless Mother Ana has heard something…No….and we don’t know anything about the 5 candidates, but we’ve found Guadalupe and Mercedes and we’re still missing Jazmina, Mayra, Maria Augusta, Valeria and Catalina. Now we are waiting for the sun to rise, so they can see well to search. Though we don’t know what we’ll find. Having said that, our great consolation is the Word of God. In the first reading we hear St. Paul preaching to the Jews and the Jews resisting him. So St. Paul receives the message from the Lord to go and preach to the Gentiles. He shook the dust off his shoes and left. Because instead of receiving the Good News, at least willing to listen and think, they had their own interests. What is really happening here is a game of power and money. We have to be very careful with this. Because the Lord warned his followers to be careful with the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod. Herod’s yeast is being attached to pleasure and partying. And the yeast of the Pharisees is above all the incredulity….many times because they have their own interests of money or power that they want to defend. This is serious. If you go to the history of the Pharisees, they were chosen from amongst the Sadducees, and it was a question of power many times because they had to pay the Roman government so that the Romans would approve their appointment as a Pharisee. And so what they did was scheme to become High Priest, and once they became High Priest…and if every Passover they sacrificed a million lambs…you can imagine how much money was involved. This is what was going on. A question of power, money and prestige… all covered up as religion. Because the problem was, and that can be ours, is not really living in the presence of God. But living with other desires and with other interests. And use religion to get something else. The Lord warned us about this. It is not surprising that St. Paul who had received the grace of Christ and conversion on the road to Damascus. And he had received the Gospel of Jesus Christ…and the experiences of St. Paul were amazing, really amazing. It is not surprising the Jews opposed this divine form of life. Because there was a network of interests…It is not an isolated case but a network of interests. That is the problem—the network of interests. And so they understood: we were supposed to preach the Gospel to you…and if you don’t accept it, we are going to concentrate our efforts of the Gentiles. The Gentiles were the pagans, they weren’t Jews, but especially because they were pagan they were more open to hearing the truth, and to receiving the teachings of Jesus Christ. So that is what they do. The fruit of this is the growth of the Kingdom of God. In the souls of so many who hearing it will believe…and so salvation comes to them by having believed in what has been preached to them. This is very important because like we said…”Pharisee-ism” is incredulity, disguised as piety. But it is incredulity. The Lord warns us be careful with the yeast of the Pharisees. Be careful with the attitude of the Pharisees. That is why we have to have faith in Jesus Christ, that only in him we find salvation. Now they are saying that all religions are almost the same, just different paths of salvation. You go to St. Paul and to Jesus Christ…and that is not what they say. What is said is: “For there is no other name by which we may be saved but that of Jesus the Son of God.” And by “name” it refers to his very self. There is no other name but his. Jesus Christ who is the mystery of the God-Man…True God and True Man. He is the Savior of all Humanity. Until death and death on the cross. That is why we can trust that the cross of Our Lord is our life and salvation. And through the cross comes the resurrection. Because we can’t just stay with the cross but move forward to the resurrection. Like Jesus said “I give them eternal life and this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” This is precisely what causes great joy. The great joy that we see when it says that the disciples where filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. They had to flee because of the persecution facing them. However, there in Iconium, before going to Antioch of Pisidia, there remained established a group of believers, filled with great joy and filled with the Holy Spirit. When they say filled with the Holy Spirit, it means that the Holy Spirit filled them with his 7 Sacred Gifts. One of the gifts that is so necessary, is the Gift of Fortitude. That is to say, in the midst of a pagan world, a pagan environment, the disciples live a Christian life. And because of that, their life is so completely different than those in the pagan world. This also happens to us today. When we allow the Lord to enter into our soul to reaffirm our Baptism and our Confirmation and we begin to live true Christian lives, it is then that we are filled with joy. However, we have to understand clearly, that we will not be accepted by the world. . . we won’t be accepted by the man who lives in sin, in impurity, in vainglory, in the desire for power or esteem, in envy, in cruelty. Because to kill one’s children is cruelty. . . it is a cruelty, it’s horrible. And even though someone my not have done this, they could still be living in cruelty by justifying in their minds the killing of those who are most innocent, that is the child in the mother’s womb who is completely dependent on their mother. The Christian lives a new life. St. Paul would say many times to the Gentiles, “You used to live that life, but not anymore.” So now you must sing a new song and fill yourselves with joy and thanksgiving to God who has saved you from that situation which is so perverse, so evil, so horrible. And then the Lord comes and tells you in the Gospel, “My sheep hear my voice.” We no longer hear any other voice. We hear the voice of God. And this is the case in any situation no matter how difficult it may be. The voice of the Lord is that which allows us to conserve our serenity and joy in the midst of any suffering, like that we are facing now. This is the apparent pedagogy of we Christians: that we could live with great joy and happiness in the depths of our heart while at the same time have a heart that is greatly hurt because of suffering. Isn’t it right that we love each other, that we care for each other in the Lord? Well of course! And that love brings us to participate in our brother’s suffering, to worry for them. How much did they suffer from the cold? Oh what calamity! Are they hungry? Are they hurt? Did one of our sisters die? We can also think about all those who knew and love the sisters. What a most difficult situation. We’ll have to rebuild the school. Could it be rebuilt, or could it not be rebuilt? Will we have to suspend the upcoming school year because of the situation we are facing? Thus, we unite ourselves to our brother’s situation because we love them in the Lord. All of us are desiring to be there, but the Lord leads our life. We don’t lead it, he leads it. Knowing that our two sisters arrived just a few hours ago to Guayaquil, Ecuador, makes us really reflect and think. If they had gone just a few days beforehand, Sr. Sara Maria would have probably been in that situation . . .(in Playa Prieta). The Lord didn’t allow it, and we don’t know why. Never forget what Our Lady told me one day, “My Son, do you think it’s you who leads your life? It isn’t you, it’s the Lord. Let yourself be led by Him.” That’s exactly what we have to remember. Right now our sisters are there, but we’re not sure if while they’re there, there will be a social revolution and they’ll club their door down and a battalion of people from hell will run into the house to finish off with the sisters. We’re not sure. Perhaps the Lord won’t allow it, or maybe He will allow it. However, when the Lord allows something to happen, it is always for a greater good. God has that ability that human institutions don’t have. God takes good out of evil. And we have to learn that. We have already learned it. And that is why more than ever what we have to do now is make an act of trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ. We have to abandon ourselves in his hands saying: “You want it, Lord? Well so do I. Here I am Lord to do your will.” And meanwhile do as Jesus: “He went about doing good.” We haven’t been able to do more than to pray the rosary, and it is no small thing, ….the brothers, the sisters in all the communities, because we were able to contact them all. Well nothing more…may the Lord give you that joy and that invasion of the Holy Spirit that the disciples experienced when St. Paul preached. And in this way we are going to conquer the world. Because we are going to conquer ourselves and also lead other souls to Jesus Christ. And He will illuminate them, give them strength, and lead them like a good shepherd who leads his sheep. His sheep hear his voice and he gives them what they need. We have to work in that trust…because we are collaborators...like Benedict XVI’s motto…collaborators in the truth. Amen.