St. Dorothy Catholic Community Orlando/Winter Park, Florida
Fr. Jim's Corner will consist of pictures, homilies and thoughts from Fr. James F. Profirio-Bond, OFJ, B.S.Ed, M.Ed, C.A.G.S., Associate Pastor in Team Ministry at St. Dorothy's. He was ordained to the transitional deaconate on January 23, 2010, by Most. Rev. Lionel J. White, OSB in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and ordained to the Priesthood on January 15, 2011 in Winter Park. Fr. Jim has been involed in Church life since the age of 7 as an altar boy; in 1969 he started his ministry as Director of Music & Liturgy for several parishes in New England,. He has conducted many choirs, bands and orchestras in the liturgical setting. He has also been Principal of several Catholic and public Schools across the country and was the founding Principal of Ave Maria Catholic School in Parker, Colorado. He was professed as a Third Order Franciscan in 1969 at St. Anthony's Shrine in Boston, MA. He began his journey to Priesthood in 1972 studying at St. John Seminary.
Psalms 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10
First Corinthians 12:4-11
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - January 20, 2019
Does God really want us to be happy?
Of course we all know what we should say. But do we really believe it?
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that Christianity is opposed to joy. Many people today would probably say the same thing.
Is it true? Does God really want us to be happy? What does the Bible tell us?
Today in the gospel we just read the miracle at Cana. Isn’t it interesting that in the gospel of John, Jesus’ first miracle is at a wedding? You might expect it to be in the temple – after all, He is the Son of God. But it’s at a wedding.
Let’s unpack the scene. Jesus is at a small party. And the wine runs out. Bishop Fulton Sheen used to joke that maybe the reason the wine ran out was because Jesus and the apostles had crashed the party after tramping around Galilee for a few days.
But in any case, Jesus’ mother Mary tells him the wine is gone. And then she tells the headwaiter “Do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus tells the waiter to fill up 6 ceremonial jars with water.
We’re all familiar with what happens next. Actually, maybe we’re too familiar with it. Sometimes it’s good to step back for a minute and consider what the Bible actually says.
Jesus turns the water into wine. But remember the context. It’s probably a relatively small party. People have already been drinking freely. You might expect Jesus to make a few more gallons of wine and then tell everyone to call it a night.
Do you know how much wine he makes? Somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of wine! That’s close to 900 bottles! God is not stingy. Jesus is saying that this celebration is good.
John also tells us that this miracle revealed Christ’s glory. God glories in our joy. God is overwhelmingly generous.
St Thomas Aquinas has a phrase: “Goodness is diffusive of itself.” This means that goodness spreads by its own power. And since God is all good, he can’t contain his generosity.
It overflows into every corner of our lives.
So does God actually want us to be happy? Does He want to fill our lives with joy? Yes.
In his novel The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky offers the following reflection on the miracle at Cana.
The saintly monk Father Zossima has just passed away, and young Alyosha is praying by his coffin.
A priest is reading aloud from the gospel, and he comes to the wedding at Cana.
As he listens to the words, Alyosha is struck by the following thought.
"Ah, yes, I was missing that, and I didn't want to miss it, I love that passage: it's Cana of Galilee, the first miracle.... Ah, that miracle! Ah, that sweet miracle!”
“It was not our grief, but our joy Christ visited. He worked His first miracle to help our gladness....'He who loves us loves our gladness, too'...”
God is generous. He desires our happiness.
As we just saw, God himself is generous. Very generous. Now is a good moment to ask ourselves how we can grow in generosity.
The Church offers us the corporal works of mercy to do exactly that. Let’s run through them. Pay attention to what resonates – perhaps Christ is showing you where he’s leading you to a greater generosity with others.
To feed the hungry. Volunteering at a soup kitchen can be a good way to do this.
To give drink to the thirsty. Ditto.
To clothe the naked. What does this mean? One meaning is that it refers to those whose dignity has been taken away. For example spend some time with a homeless person. Look him in the eyes. Learn his name. Listen to his story. You’re helping him to recognize his own dignity.
To welcome the stranger. We all know someone who seems a little bit alone or out of place. How can I reach out?
To visit the sick. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Maybe this is a relative or someone who lives in a nursing home.
To visit the imprisoned. Do I know someone in prison? If not, I can always pray for those who are imprisoned.
To bury the dead. Presence at wakes and funerals is so important. And so are prayers for the dead.
Just pick one of these. Let’s allow God’s generosity to change our lives, and, through us, to change the lives of others.
Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10
Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 15
First Corinthians 12:12-30
Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jan 27, 2019
The event described to us in today's First Reading is truly amazing, if we stop to think about it. It took place around 450 BC. The people of Israel had returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile in Babylon. And then an entire generation had spent decades rebuilding the ancient Jewish Temple and reconstructing the protective walls around the holy city. The walls were finally completed under the leadership of Nehemiah, the Jewish adviser to the king of Persia who had become the official governor of Jerusalem. To celebrate, Nehemiah and Ezra, his top religious adviser, arranged for a special liturgy.
That's when all the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding area gathered for a public reading of the Old Testament, as described in today’s Reading. Why is this so amazing? For two reasons.
First of all, it is amazing that God's Chosen People, the Israelites, had survived as such a tiny nation for 1500 years (since the time of Abraham) in the most war-torn zone of the ancient world. They had been enslaved by Egypt, embattled by the Philistines, invaded by Assyria, and, finally, almost obliterated by Babylon. And through it all, God had somehow managed to preserve them. He had also managed to inspire them to hold on to their religious faith and keep safe the Old Testament - the sacred scriptures.
God guided them through all their trials and even their rebellions, preparing them to give the world its Savior. But it is amazing for another reason too. 2500 years after that gathering in Jerusalem, here we are, gathered as God's Chosen People in his Church, still listening to the inspired Word of God. We are part of that same story of salvation that reaches back to the dawn of civilization. This is our amazing identity in Jesus Christ.
Everyone likes to be part of a venerable tradition. When pilgrims and tourists visit Vatican City, in Rome, one of the first things they notice are the Swiss guards. They are particularly noticeable because of their brightly-colored, Renaissance style uniforms, which were designed under the influence of the famous painter, Rafael. With slight alterations, that same uniform, made up of sixteenth-century breaches and doublets, utilizing fine cloth arranged in alternating folds and stripes of deep blue and vibrant gold, has been worn by these papal guards ever since they were first hired in 1506. Since then, the Swiss guards have faithfully protected Vatican City and numerous popes through five hundred years of turmoil. More than once, the guards laid down their very lives to be true to their mission.
Few military institutions can trace their service directly back more than five centuries. And today, when the new Swiss guards receive their uniforms each year, they are rightly proud to be joining the ranks of such a venerable tradition.
Most of us have had an experience at least remotely similar, when we received a family heirloom, for example, or when we look at the portraits of our ancestors, or when we sing our national anthem. To be part of a story that is bigger than just our own short, solitary, individual life-journey strikes a chord in our heart. And yet, all of those other stories, as good as they are in themselves, are just tiny blips in history when compared with the amazing story of salvation, the history of God's saving action in the world, the sacred adventure in which each and every one of us has been intimately involved since the day of our baptism.
Being part of such an amazing, truly supernatural story should fill our hearts with enthusiasm, energy, and joy. But in our secularized world, it is hard enough, at times, just to survive, just to make it to Sunday Mass. Is there anything we can do to increase our share in the supernatural enthusiasm that God wants us to experience?
Today's First Reading reminds us of one practical tactic.
After reading from the scriptures, Ezra told the congregation not to be sad and not to weep, "because today is holy to the Lord." He instructed them to "eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared." He was telling them to keep holy the Lord’s Day, to celebrate and enjoy themselves as a way of thanking God for his gifts of salvation, mercy, and meaning. He doesn't want them to just go through the motions, he really wants them to make the Lord’s Day different, because, he goes on to say, "rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!"
The strength to live our faith with enthusiasm comes from God, and when we rejoice in God, thanking him and celebrating his goodness to us, we tap into it.
And that's what Sunday, the Lord's Day, is meant to be: a day in which we come together to worship the Lord and be fed with his Word and Sacrament here at Mass; and then a day in which we gather as families to enjoy and share God's gifts. This is why we avoid unnecessary work on Sundays; this is why we should strive to make Sundays really different, not just going through the motions. This isn’t always easy in a busy, secular world, but it's well worth trying, because "rejoicing in the Lord" is the secret source of our supernatural strength.
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17
First Corinthians 12:31--13:13
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Feb 3, 2019
Are we successful Christians? It is not an easy question to answer. What is the measure of success for the followers of Christ? Is it enough to avoid really big sins and make it to Mass on Sundays? That wasn't the criteria that Christ gave us.
He put the bar higher, because he loves us, and when you love someone you always seek the very best for them. You are not satisfied with mediocrity. Christ didn't command us just to go to Church and be nice. It doesn't stop there. Christ commanded us to love one another as he loved us, and to go out and make disciples of all nations. That's what Christ did. He was successful at it. And what did his success bring him? Misunderstanding, persecution, rejection, unpopularity and finally, death.
He went around doing good, tiring himself out healing the sick, casting demons out of the possessed, comforting the troubled, giving himself to others out of love, and what did he get for it? All the influential and powerful people - the Pharisees and Sadducees - started calling him a rabble-rouser and spreading rumors that he was a drunkard and an agent of the devil. He went around preaching the truth, the truth about sin and salvation. He preached it fearlessly, eloquently, lovingly, with his words and with his example. And what did he get for it? His own townspeople rejected him; they tried to throw him off a cliff!
Christ fulfilled his life mission, but it didn't make him popular. If we are to fulfill our life mission we need to be ready to suffer similar consequences. We can measure our success as Christians not by how comfortable our faith is making us, but by how uncomfortable it is making us.
Christ loves us too much to be satisfied with us becoming Christian couch potatoes. He knows we're made for more, and he is always leading us forward and onward. St Paul in his letters says that Christians should be like athletes, striving to win the race.
All athletes, in order to reach their full potential, need the help of a good coach. For us Christians, the Holy Spirit is our coach. Like any coach, he pushes us beyond our comfort zone. He is always encouraging us to strive harder, to take another step closer to Christ, to discipline our selfishness a little bit more, to sacrifice our comfort for the good of others and of Christ's Kingdom. A coach who doesn't push is a coach who doesn't care; the Holy Spirit cares, so he pushes. So healthy Christians, smart Christians, like smart athletes, the ones who obey their coach, are never satisfied. They are always asking God what more they can do to follow Christ better.
This is the meaning behind the traditional name "The Church Militant." The Church Triumphant consists of the angels and saints in heaven, who have already triumphed over sin and selfishness. The Church Suffering consists of those Christians in Purgatory, who are still rehabilitating their souls from the damage of selfishness, but with our prayers to help them, they will soon be in heaven too.
The Church Militant is us - Christians who are still on this battlefield of earth, who still face temptations every day. We are Christ's soldiers, given the mission of building his Kingdom in our own hearts and in the world, in spite of the many enemies and obstacles we constantly face. For athletes and soldiers, and therefore for Christians, comfort is a low priority.
Jesus wants us to live life to the full, and so he invites us out of our comfort zones. He invites us to move forward, to grow, to push ourselves, out of love, to become better Christians, better human beings, better ambassadors of Christ's Kingdom. Jesus is interested in many fields of "uncomfortableness." I would like to remind you of one: spreading the faith. As Christians, we have been given the greatest treasure on earth: we know the meaning of life, and we know how to achieve it. If we aren't eager to share this knowledge with others, something is seriously wrong. It could be that we haven't let this knowledge sink in to our own lives.
On the other hand, it could be that we are afraid of what people will think of us if we bring up the faith over a cup of coffee, or if we invite a neighbor to come to Mass. Being afraid of what other people think in this way can be a guillotine for our spiritual lives. That fear is natural; it comes from vanity.
But our mission in life is supernatural, and that will always make us a little bit uncomfortable. The Catechism emphasizes the importance of this aspect of our mission: "Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation".
Jesus wants us to be courageous, to overcome laziness and vanity with love. He knows that it will give our lives deeper meaning, deeper happiness. He just needs us to make the decision.
During this Mass, when he comes to renew our strength and to show his love, let's give him the joy of trusting him, of saying yes to whatever he is asking. Let's let God make us a little uncomfortable, so that we can become the saint He made us to be.
Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8
Psalms 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
First Corinthians 15:1-11
5th Sunday in Ordinary TimeFeb 10, 2019
For Simon Peter, the humble fisherman from Galilee, this was the first day of the rest of his life. From this day on life became meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling. On this day there was a revolution in his life. It's the revolution we are all thirsting for. And if we follow Peter's example, we can have it.
This revolution had two ingredients: First, Christ had to knock Simon Peter out of his comfort zone. Second, Peter had to step into Christ's comfort zone.
Jesus does his part masterfully.
Jesus tells Simon Peter to "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Now, Peter was the expert at fishing, not Jesus. The boat belonged to him; he was the CEO of a fishing company. Peter knew that you don't catch fish in broad daylight, especially after a night without any catch at all. But Jesus just looks right at him, inviting him, challenging him: he is pushing Peter out of his comfort zone, into the deep water of the lake, and into the deep spiritual water of faith. That's the first ingredient in the revolution: Jesus knocks Peter out of his comfort zone. Now comes the second ingredient.
Peter actually obeys. He doesn't obey because he understands. He doesn't obey because he can figure it out. No. He obeys only for one reason: because Christ is the one issuing the command: "Master... at your command I will lower the nets." Peter lets Jesus push him out of his own comfort zone; he takes the risk of stepping into Christ's comfort zone: "Master, at your command, at your word, because you want it, Lord, I will do it..." That's the formula for Christian revolution, the revolution that brings meaning to life.
A few years ago in Mexico, a wealthy executive was kidnapped his name is Bosco Gutiérrez Cortina. The kidnappers wanted to extort a large amount of money from his family. They kept him in a room with no windows and no clocks; they piped in the same hour-long music mix repeatedly; they communicated with him only through written notes. After a few days of this, his nerves were completely raw.
Then they gave him a note asking if he would like a drink - whatever kind he wanted. He couldn't believe it. A ray of hope. He wrote down his favorite cocktail. Then he waited. All he could think about was the drink. He started to fantasize about it, to dream about it. It became his idol. When they finally brought him the drink, he held it in his hands like a treasure. He smelled it. He gazed at it. He imagined what it would taste like, building up his anticipation to the maximum. When he was about to take his first sip, a strange thing happened. He heard a voice in his interior. Somehow, he later said, he knew it was God's voice. It said, "Give me the drink. Offer it up."
He couldn't believe it. All of his energy and attention and hope had been focused on that drink. He just stared at it, wanting it. He heard God's voice again: "Offer me the drink." He battled with himself interiorly. Finally, he realized that if he took the drink, he would be giving in to the kidnappers. If he gave it to God, he would be asserting his own dignity and integrity. He gave it to God. He didn't drink it. He poured it out.
From that moment on, he began to recover his interior strength. Eventually he actually escaped. When God asks us to step out of our comfort zone, he knows what he's doing. Just as he knew what he was doing when he asked Peter to put out into deep water.
What has God been asking you to give him? What area of your comfort zone has God been trying to expand? Our comfort zone is made of three main sectors. our relationship with God our relationships with other people our own character, our own inner integrity
Usually, Jesus asks us to put out into deeper water in one sector at a time. Which is he pointing to now for you? Is it your relationship with him? Maybe you have had a thought in the back of your mind for a long time that you should pray more, or better. Maybe God has been nudging you to come to grips with your sins and ask for forgiveness, and you have been ignoring him. Maybe he has been gently inviting you to study your faith more, to get to know him better, and you have been resisting.
Is it your relationships with others? Maybe there is someone you need to forgive, or ask forgiveness from. Maybe you need to cut off or pull back a relationship that's dragging you down. Maybe you need to renew your commitment to someone you've been neglecting or taking for granted.
Is it in your own character and interior integrity? Maybe you need to leave behind a hidden habit of dishonesty or self-indulgence. Maybe God is asking you to discipline a particular area of your life. Maybe you need to leave behind mediocrity and strive again for excellence in one of your responsibilities.
Jesus is asking each one of us to put out into deep water, to step out of our comfort zone, not in order to torture us, but because he loves us. We may not understand, but it's OK, because we're not alone. He is in our boats, as he was with Peter, strengthening us. He will never leave us, as he will prove once again in this Mass. Let's trust him. Let's give him whatever he asks. Let's let his command to each of our hearts revolutionize our lives.
Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
First Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 17, 2019
This is Jesus' first big sermon in the Gospel of Luke. His inaugural address. And it's shocking. The topic is happiness being blessed, and in a total reversal of ordinary standards, Jesus links true happiness with struggle, hardship, suffering and opposition, not with the prosperity, popularity, and pleasure that we normally associate with happiness.
What does he mean by this?
Jesus isn't saying that the good things of life are evil - not at all. They are God's gifts and we are meant to enjoy them. But he is saying that they cannot satisfy our desire for happiness. And so, if we put our trust in them, as Jeremiah says in the first reading, our lives will wither and harden, like tumbleweeds in the desert. No roots, and no fruits.
Rather, Jesus is teaching us that the true path to happiness in this fallen world is paved with life's challenges and hardships. These remind us that this world is passing and imperfect, that the only dependable thing in life is our friendship with God. Hardships and challenges teach us to root our lives in the rich soil of knowing, loving, and serving him; then our lives will be like a flourishing tree, with strong roots and luscious fruits.
This lesson has to be re-learned continually. Because of our fallen nature, we always tend to think we can find heaven on earth by putting together just the right combination of possessions, praise, and power. But we can't, as our Lord makes perfectly clear.
St Luke tells us that a great crowd had gathered, from all over Palestine.
It must have been like the World Youth Day gatherings with the Bishop of Rome: a whole stadium full of people: rich and poor, the suffering, the curious, the young, the old - all looking hopefully up at Jesus. And Jesus "fixes his eyes on them", St Luke tells us. The eyes of God looking into the eyes of regular people just like you and me. What was in Jesus heart? How glad he must have been that they were there to hear him!
And what is his message? Blessed are you who are poor, who are hungry, who weep... For to you belongs the Kingdom of heaven. He tells them that he is at work in the midst of their sufferings. That he knows about them, and that they have a purpose.
Every saint learns this lesson.
St Theresa of Avila was the great reformer of Carmelite Order. She spent the last years of her life traveling extensively, as she laid the foundation for seventeen discalced Carmelite convents throughout sixteenth century Spain. On one of these trips, as she was getting out of a carriage after a long, tiring journey in the rain, she slipped and fell in a large mud puddle. Her nice clean habit was soaked and dripping with mire. Exasperated, she prayed, "Lord, why do you do these things to me when I'm only trying to help you?" Jesus answered her prayer, saying, "This is how I treat all my close friends." Teresa retorted, "Then it's no wonder you have so few!"
But it's true. Jesus loves us too much to let us deceive ourselves into thinking that we can have heaven on earth. He is always trying to remind us of our true destination.
It takes faith to accept this teaching of Christ. Faith is for our Christian lives what natural intelligence is for our natural lives. We received natural intelligence when we were given life. It enables us to know, understand, and learn things about the world around us. It enables us to write poems and read books, unlike animals and plants, which don't have this kind of intelligence.
When we were baptized, God gave a new kind of intelligence - faith. This enables us to see things from God's perspective. Faith allows us to perceive God's love behind the beauty of a sunset, God's presence in the Eucharist, God's wisdom at work in suffering. And just as we need to exercise our natural intelligence if we want it to grow and mature, we have to exercise this gift of faith too.
The hardships of every day are the best opportunities to exercise our faith. When things go our way, we don't have to exercise faith to accept them - natural intelligence is enough. When they don't go our way, then natural intelligence is not enough. We have to say: I don't know where you're taking me, Lord, but I know you're still in charge.
Sickness, betrayal, accidents, money problems, rejection, being made fun of because of our Christian standards - these things make us blessed, because in them we can exercise our faith in Christ. They make us more like Christ, who saved us by suffering all these things himself.
In this Mass, then, let's renew our faith. Let's remind ourselves that earth is not heaven. Let's ask Jesus to teach us to live by this supernatural intelligence, so that it can be a sturdy lighthouse guiding us along this earthly road heaven. Lord, increase our faith!