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This Sunday and Beyond    Weekly Reflection:


Always Confident

This Sunday's Reflection - June 16, 2024
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Where does trust and confidence come from? Obviously the naive nature we are all born with does not last long in our lives.

Unfortunately our experiences throughout the years teach us that not all the people we come in contact with are to be trusted. There is so much deceit and cheating in this world!

But life also teaches us that there are some people who really love us and we can put our trust in. Those are the people who have proved to us with their attitudes and behaviors that they have a genuine desire to share the very best in their lives with us, and feel great joy in making us happy.

Parents and other close relatives, spouses, and real friends can be among those we put our trust and confidence in. It would be really hard to live our lives if we felt there was no one we could really trust.

But the first and foremost source of trust for all Christians is Jesus Christ Himself, and His and Our Heavenly Father, through the mediation of His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who sustains us and defends us against all the deceits in this world.

This trust and confidence that as followers of Christ we possess does not come from a blind and naive belief, as some have maliciously suggested. Jesus’ words and actions, which He Himself declared to come from His Father, are the ultimate proof of the genuineness of His love for all humankind, and for all of creation.

No deceiver would ever live a life of self-giving love, even to the point of self-sacrifice on a cross. People can deceive others with beautiful words and feigned love, but when it comes to real self-sacrifice, only the true lovers of souls remain.

So we trust in Jesus’ words because He showed His followers, without any trace of doubt, that He is God’s incarnate Word. And what He taught His disciples and has been handed down to us throughout the centuries, thanks to the four Gospel writers, those who wrote the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation, is the greatest news of all for humankind.

This is the Good News of everlasting and abundant life for all--the news that this ordinary mortal life is but the shadow of the real timeless and abundant life we are all gracefully given by our Creator, if only we are willing to be partakers of this wonderful gift.

The God who has life in Himself and has given His Son this life, has also promised to make us partakers of the true life if we follow His Way of Love, which is the only true Way of Life.

What we, as Christ’s followers, ultimately learn by imitating Christ’s Way of Love, is that this is the only genuine way in which life gets real meaning and purpose, and true joy. When we live our lives following the world’s fads and ways, we live in mutual distrust and lack of confidence, always trying to overstep others so as to gain recognition and amass wealth, and we deceive ourselves thinking this will bring us true joy.

Once we realize how useless and empty this self-centered way of living is, and turn to Jesus’ Way of Love, we can then start to live the real life of self-giving love, and have a foretaste in this mortal life of the true life we are all called to inherit, together with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Although while we are in this mortal body this real timeless life is not visible to us, and we can only dimly imagine its splendor and wonder, we, as St. Paul says in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

In any case, whether still in our mortal bodies or already clothed in immortality by the Lord, as St. Paul also states in the same letter, “we make it our aim to please Him (the Lord).” For to please the Lord is not to be subservient to a whimsical ruler, but to follow the only way we know for sure that will lead us to everlasting, true, and abundant life.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Renewal Day by Day

This Sunday's Reflection - June 9, 2024
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Renewal is what makes biological life possible. All living organisms must constantly be renewed if they are to survive. When renewal is no longer possible, death ensues.

Although our bodies are always being renewed, the law of gradual decay is also at work from the very moment we are born. In some people this decay progresses faster than in others, depending on genetic or other environmental factors, and in our case—as human beings—also depending on our conscious choices. In the end, however, we all waste away, and die.

Our faith, which is based on Scripture, speaks of a different kind of renewal though. It is the renewal which our resurrected life in Christ brings us, and is totally independent of the natural law of biological decay and death.

As God has life in Himself, so does His Son Jesus Christ; and as He has promised us, so will we be partakers with Him of this resurrected and glorious life in full communion with our Creator, with one another, and with His whole creation.

The resurrected life we Christians believe in is not just a resuscitation from biological death. This has been done in the past, by some of the prophets like Elijah, and by Jesus Christ Himself. It is done quite often nowadays when people suffer cardiac arrest, and there are numerous testimonies of people who have had near death experiences and have been brought back to life.

But these people’s bodies continue to deteriorate with time, and they eventually die. Although in many cases these near-death experiences have had a great impact in their lives, making them reevaluate its meaning and purpose, and giving them a totally new perspective, the inevitable biological death takes place for everyone. These people, nevertheless, may experience spiritual renewal.

Renewal from a spiritual perspective has a totally different meaning. It means that our lives are transformed from within in such a way that the things that seemed of the greatest importance now seem insignificant, and what we really value is our relationship with the Source of All that is—our God—and our mutual loving relationships, which include not only our fellow human beings, but all the beings on this planet.

In this new perspective, as St. Paul points out in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen, for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

We may experience this spiritual renewal as a result of our spiritual awakening when we let Christ’s life become our lives. What happens to our lives while we are still in our mortal bodies—which are subjected to the laws of biological decay—is like a foretaste of our true resurrected life in Christ. In fact, it could be seen as a sort of resurrection in our lives.

Our true and final resurrection, however, will take place when we are gloriously raised to the new incorruptible form of life, where God is all in all, and we are one with Christ, with one another, and with the whole of creation.

In such hopeful expectation, as we spend our days in our mortal bodies, as St. Paul also stated in the same letter, “even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.” So, do not lose heart.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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A Treasure in Clay Jars

This Sunday's Reflection - June 2, 2024
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Clay was a common material to make jars and many other vessels in ancient times. It is still used nowadays in many parts of the world. Its great advantage is its almost ubiquitous availability. Its great disadvantage is the fragility of the containers made with it: they can break easily if they fall from a certain height, or are struck by a heavy object.

In biblical literature we find clay as a symbol of all the elements of earth, in the image of humanity being made by God out of clay. Even the name Adam is taken from the same root as earth (or clay). This image reminds us of our common origin with all that exists on our planet, and it also reminds us of our physical finitude and fragility.

The Bible also tells us from the very start that we have been created in God’s image and likeness, which points to the indwelling divinity in our nature. It sound puzzling, but the Hebrew Scripture recognized and embraced this apparent contradiction gracefully, although the Book of Genesis points out that God’s first intentions were to create us as immortal beings, and decay and death only crept in as a result of sin.

Jesus Christ’s great mission on this earth was to lead the way back to God’s first intention through reconciliation with Him, with one another, and the rest of creation. He not only showed us the way through His teachings, but through His own life, which epitomized God’s Way of Love.

He gave Himself in loving sacrifice, and experienced a terrible form of dying, thus defeating the powers of evil, and arising from physical death in a glorified new embodiment, which is the resurrected life.

In this way, Jesus Christ embodied the abundant and real life of which, we, as His followers, can also be partakers.

It is a glorious and enlightened form of life in Christ, but Jesus Himself also taught us that we should not boast of attaining it, because it is not something we earn through our merits, but a wonderful grace granted to us freely, just because our Creator loves us infinitely.

As followers of Him who gave Himself in loving sacrifice, in this mortal life we should also be ready to face trials and hardships, decay and death. We have the greatest of all treasures that God has given us freely through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us: true and abundant life in our resurrection, but as St. Paul reminds the converts at Corinth in his second letter to them, this treasure is given to us in our mortal decaying bodies, “in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”

St. Paul also points out in this same letter how Jesus’ true followers should endure all these afflictions, which are the result of the clash with the dark powers that oppose being reconciled with God’s Way of Love. In their fearful blindness and ignorance the followers of such powers perceive this Way as a threat that will deprive them of the illusory treasures they cling to.

As we gradually come to value the real treasure that God has given us in Christ our Lord, it will shine more and more in our hearts, and as St. Paul also says, we will be given “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Reflecting on Our Common Heritage with the Son

This Sunday's Reflection - May 26, 2024
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Trinity Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pentecost, always reminds us of God’s Son—Jesus Christ Our Lord—as coeternal with the Father, and God’s Holy Spirit.

We know that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was a gradual development in the history of the Christian Church, and although some New Testament texts give us some glimpse of it, we cannot be sure that these references were not a further addition after the fourth century, when the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople finally settled the disputes about Christ’s nature.

The fact is that it is now an essential part of our common belief as Christians, although any attempt to rationalize it will always fall short, simply because it is one of the greatest mysteries of our faith: one God that becomes known to us humans in three Persons.

Efforts have been made to label each Person with one main feature: the Creator, the Redeemer, the Comforter, but as has been noted by several scholars, in reality we can see each of the Persons acting out any of these three features interchangeably in God’s plan of salvation.

The most controversial aspect in the history of Christianity has always been the Son’s nature: equal or not equal to the Father?

We might think that not recognizing the Son’s nature as equal to the Father’s is but a nonsensical heresy, but the fact is that for centuries this controversy raged on, and there was a time when those who did not recognize it were represented a significant percentage in the Christian Church.

Even nowadays there are certain believers who see themselves as Christian—although Trinitarian Christians do not acknowledge them as such—but do not believe in a Trinitarian God.

This doctrine has become part and parcel of our common belief in most mainline Christian denominations, and its public confession is now seen as a sign that a person is a true Christian.

But confessions of faith—as important as they may be to keep the unity of the Church—unless they have real impact on people’s daily lives, will not do much to transform us into what God has always meant us to be: His image and likeness.

Proclaiming that Jesus Christ was God’s Son meant for the Jewish people that He and God were the same. When a father publicly said, “this is my son” in that society, he was not simply referring to an offspring of the male sex, he was acknowledging that this person was like himself, and he was proud to proclaim it. Sonship was not recognized until the male offspring came of age.

This is the reason why for some Jews who followed the orthodoxy of Judaism, Jesus calling himself God’s Son, especially when He used the familiar term “Abba” to refer to God, sounded extremely offensive.

Sonship in the society in which Jesus lived, and in later times, could also be achieved through adoption. When someone affirmed that a person who was not their offspring was their son, they were publicly adopting that person, and this person had the same rights as a natural son.

In this sense, the New Testament writers refer to Jesus’ true followers, as God’s adopted children, and though it may sound as “second-class children” to modern ears, this was not the case in those times.

As St. Paul points out in his letter to the Romans, if we are true followers and have received His Spirit, we call God “Abba”, just like Jesus did, and “if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

The suffering does not necessarily refer to Jesus’ crucifixion—although some of Jesus’ followers were in fact crucified—but to the persecutions and sacrifices that being a true follower of Jesus’ radical Way of Love implied then, and still in many cases imply nowadays.

Reflecting on what it really means that we have become God’s children, and acting on what this statement implies, can help transform our lives more and more into Christ’s likeness, so that we can genuinely call God “Abba”, and also become one with the Holy Trinity in whose name we have been baptized.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Variety for Unity

This Sunday's Reflection - May 19, 2024
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When we think of what happened in the Tower of Babel, what comes to our minds is that the variety of languages that was produced at that point caused confusion, so that people could no longer understand each other, and they were thus dispersed throughout the earth.

Dispersion is not necessarily a bad thing though, and it must have been in God’s plan that humankind should be dispersed and occupied different parts of the planet, and that a multitude of different rich forms of civilization would emerge from this dispersion.

The fact that different people spoke different languages and made it harder for different nations to communicate with one another was not so positive, but it also contributed to enrich the cultural heritage of humanity.

And people found their way to learn other languages and cultures, so as to enable communication among the different nations.

As a linguist and a person who has been able to learn other foreign languages and cultures, I can say, based on personal experience, that this has greatly expanded my horizons, and made me more empathic to other cultures.

The Pentecost phenomenon insofar as languages are concerned clearly shows that variety does not necessarily mean confusion, but it can serve the purpose of unifying people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

The people who attended the Feast of Pentecost were all probably able to understand the languages that were used as the main means of communication in that part of the world at that time: Koine Greek, and Aramaic. Most learned people spoke Koine Greek, but Aramaic was probably the language all the disciples could speak. If the disciples had used either of these most of the people present would have understood at least the essence of what was said.

But what the Holy Spirit enabled them to do was to use a variety of languages, the local languages of all those present, so that the message would go straight to their hearts. As a person who can speak a second language well, I can attest to the fact that what is said in my mother tongue still resonates deeper into my heart and mind.

The Holy Spirit is one, just as God Himself is one, even though He is known by us in three persons. This Spirit of Truth teaches us to be one with one another, with God, and with the whole creation. Unity is its main goal. But the way this unity is achieved is not through uniformity, but through a wonderful variety of gifts.

As Jesus’ followers, are all members of Christ’s Body—the Church—but for a body to function properly it needs different members with specific tasks working harmoniously with a common goal.

This common goal, as St. Paul points out in his First Letter to the Corinthians, is the common good. And from the Christian standpoint, the common good is that we may all be brought to the communion of the Saints, where there is no longer “Jew or Greek, slaves or free”, but all with their unique gifts contribute to make up the Holy Assembly in which God is one in all, and all are one in Him.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Having the Son’s Life

This Sunday's Reflection - May 12, 2024
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The Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter is Ascension Day, and what the Church Universal celebrates on this day is Christ’s full and ultimate perfect communion with the Creator, which constitutes also a pointer to our hoped-for full communion with Him and all of creation.

This common union (communion) with God, with one another, and the rest of the creatures on the planet in our Christian faith is not seen as the obliteration of our own uniqueness as individuals, but as a voluntary loving obedience to do God’s will, which is the greatest good for all of His creatures.

In fact, as the Apostle Paul has pointed out in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Christ’s body on earth, known as the Church, is made up of distinct and unique members—each of us—which put together in harmony can carry out Christ’s reconciling mission in this world.

Life in the Christian sense—particularly in the sense that John the Evangelist gives it—is much more than breathing, eating, and reproducing. It is even much more than any temporary self-gratifying pleasure can give. True and abundant life, also called eternal life in the gospels due to its timelessness, is above all a life characterized by the abundance of unconditional love. Such was the life that Jesus lived on this earth, with the intent to show us God’s life and love in human form.

Jesus life was not only the perfect image of God’s love incarnate; He is also, and above all, the Way to follow to attain such life, both at a personal and communal level.

During His ministry on earth one of Jesus’ main goals was to train disciples who would in turn train others to be His followers in His Way of Love. This training involved not only the oral teaching of principles, but also experiencing this love-giving life with Him, and ultimately witnessing His self-sacrifice on the cross, and His victory over the powers of evil and death.

His disciples were also witnesses of Christ’s Ascension to the Father, and though the physical separation from their beloved master afflicted them, they were soon overwhelmingly filled with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus Himself had promised them, and they began to bear witness of Jesus’ very life in their own lives, working out powerful signs of His life-giving love.

These powerful signs, together with the outstanding mutual love they showed to the world, brought about the conversion of thousands in a really short time, who in turn became new witnesses of the Son’s life for others.

Christ’s life as the perfect image of God’s life, is the life we—as Christ’s followers—long to have with all our being. If by being born anew as true sons and daughters of God we also become His children, then we also have the Son’s life in us.

As John the Evangelist states in his First letter, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” We certainly want to have this life.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Abiding in God's Love

This Sunday's Reflection - May 5, 2024
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“See how much love they have for one another.” This is what those who witnessed the rising of the first Christian communities said in astonishment, and what made this movement grow and develop tremendously.

The love they perceived went beyond family or even national ties. It showed even among people from different races and nations, and made no distinctions based on sex, age, or origin of any kind. It even showed slaves and owners, circumcised and uncircumcised alike.

How did this genuine love show among the true followers of Jesus’ Way? It showed in the way they treated one another, with kindness and mutual respect; it showed in how the ones who had more wealth gave significant portions of what they had so that no one in their midst would be in need. It showed in how they tended the sick, the vulnerable, the ones who were suffering. It showed in how they prayed fervently for one another and for the world, and in their gathering together for worship, prayer, and breaking the bread, as Jesus Himself had commanded them to do through the Apostles.

Such was the characteristic way of life of the first Christians, and the most evident distinguishing trait of these communities was authentic love.

John the Apostle, the Evangelist, was also known as “the beloved disciple”. He was the youngest of the twelve. For some special reason that will always elude us, Jesus felt some special affection for him. He was one of Jesus’ closest three disciples, and at the end of his gospel, in the exchange between Peter and Jesus, when Peter asked Jesus what would happen to him, Jesus replied that he would stay alive until He returned, which did not mean he would not die, but probably that he did not suffer martyrdom.

It is not a mere coincidence that John’s writings, particularly his First Letter, is so filled with the notion of love. He describes himself in his gospel as “the disciple that Jesus loved.” That clearly shows he was totally aware of Jesus’ love for him, and of God’s love shown to him through Jesus in particular.

In his letters he always exhorts the converts to abide in God’s love, and makes it clear that real love is much more than a mere word. He urges the recipients of his letters to live out their love in mutual actions of loving care and service. Not doing so, he points out, would make them liars, for “anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

But just as he himself felt Jesus’ love, and God’s love through Him in his own life, he is also aware that abiding in God’s love is first and foremost determined by the assurance of God’s love for us.

This is how John the Evangelist defines God’s love: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

And he concludes this part of the letter in this way: “We love because He first loved us…And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Loving in Truth and Action

This Sunday's Reflection - April 28, 2024
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So much has been said about love, the different expressions of human love, what true love consists of, etc., that there is hardly anything original that could be expressed about this concept.

Jesus’ teachings were mainly based on God’s love for us all, and our mutual love, as we all know. Being a Jew, however, Jesus never meant to open a philosophical discussion about love as a concept. He was not intending to say anything new. In fact, his summary of the Law, in which love sums it all, is taken from two passages of Scripture, one from Leviticus, and the other from Deuteronomy.

Jesus was a man of prayer and contemplation. On several occasions, according to the Gospels, He was found in solitude praying to His Father, but the way He understood love was certainly totally pragmatic in nature.

For Jesus, loving God meant doing God’s will. He spoke of Himself as “being one with the Father”, but that statement was much more pragmatic than ontological. The way Jesus proved to His followers that this statement was much more than mere words was by doing His Father’s will, by putting God’s love into practice, and by teaching His followers that this is the only way to true life in Him.

Jesus not only healed, comforted, brought back to life, and fed people throughout the years of His active ministry on earth, but showed His boundless love for all by giving Himself in sacrifice, thus showing His disciples how true love may sometimes even demand that we be willing to give our physical life for others.

In His prayer on the night He was arrested, Jesus asked His Father that His followers might be one in Him and with one another as He was one with the Father. The basis for this oneness was the love that His followers should have for Him, for the Father, and for one another. But this was in no way meant to be a beautiful abstraction.

During the last supper with His disciples, Jesus washed their feet, and asked them to do the same for one another. This was a concrete loving action, but it was also used by Jews as a symbol of all loving acts of service that they—and all those who wanted to follow His Way of Love—should do for one another.

John the Evangelist, in his First Letter, equated God to love, not as a definition of God, but to express the best possible way in which we human beings can perceive God’s nature, and show ourselves as God’s true image and likeness in this world, by practicing His unconditional love.

For John the Evangelist, love is what makes one alive, and the absence of love equals death. If we know some biology, the statement is found to be true even at the basic level of the definition of life. All living organisms are characterized by some kind of exchange of material with the environment, and with other living organisms. When this exchange ceases to take place, so does life. This exchange can be seen as the basic manifestation of love. Loving means exchanging, a give and take, a relationship of mutuality, in which we not only feel the need to receive, but also to give.

We all need to feel loved and accepted, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. It is an intrinsic trait of our nature. But we also ultimately need to feel that we can give love.

Love, however, can never remain in the realm of feelings and emotions. Feelings and emotions can play a great part in some of the expressions of love—love between the members of a couple, or between relatives and friends—but there has to be a concrete and practical manifestation of this give and take for love to be real.

As John the Evangelist put it in his First Letter, chapter 3, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?… Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Children of the True Law

This Sunday's Reflection - April 21, 2024
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How you ever wondered what the world would be if there were no laws? A total chaos, to be sure. It could have even been destroyed a long time ago. Even with laws being enforced there are so many crimes, killings, and wars being waged in different parts of the world.

The fact is that not everyone likes to be subject to laws. There are those who would prefer to live in lawlessness, following only their whimsical tendencies and desires. It is also true that some human laws can be arbitrary and unjust, particularly when they are devised to uphold a totalitarian and tyrannical regime.

Only God’s Law is perfect, because it is the Law of Love. This is what Jesus pointed out to the Master of the Law who asked Him to mention the most important law of all. Jesus simply referred to the Love of God as first and foremost, and the Love of neighbor as practically equal to it.

Jesus also made clear to His followers that He had not come to abolish the Law, but to give it its true fulfillment. He was aware that God’s Law was only imperfectly reflected in the Commandments and other precepts that the Jews had developed throughout the centuries, but even so these precepts had the indisputable value of making societal life more harmonious, and more aligned with God’s will.

Human laws are needed because we are still not pure reflections of God’s Law of Love. Living harmoniously with our Creator, with one another, and with all of creation is our main aspiration as followers of Jesus’ Way. But in order to achieve harmony we need to grasp its laws and live according to them.

Musical harmony can only be achieved when a singer or musician (or a group of singers or musicians) properly apply the laws of harmony in their performance. If they do not, you can be sure that everyone will speedily flee the place where they are playing or singing. It sounds like hell.

Disharmony is probably the best way to describe what we imagine hell to be. And disharmony is a form of lawlessness (disregard for the laws of harmony, in this case). Sin is the condition of being in total discord with our Creator’s loving will, and with the rest of His created creatures. Selfishly doing one’s whimsical will in total disregard of how it affects the others is being sinful, and lawless.

As true children of our God, followers of His beloved Son, and guided by His Holy Spirit, we are moving towards a state of righteousness—that is, towards a state where we abide in God’s true Law.

Where there is righteousness, sin has no place, and the devil flees. Disharmony and lawlessness are obliterated by God’s perfect Law of Love, and by those who abide in this perfect law.

As St. John the Evangelist points out in his First Letter, “everyone who commits sins is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that He (Jesus Christ) was revealed to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.”

And he aptly concludes, “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Walking in the Light

This Sunday's Reflection - April 14, 2024
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Though the Evangelists never attempted to define God, since they knew our human mind could never grasp the Unknowable, in St. John’s letters we do find these phrases telling us something about God, “God is Love”, and “God is Light.”

These are not attempts at definitions, but rather, ways of expressing how we humans might experience the divine.

Saying that God is Light gives us an image, a perception that is familiar to us, and one that is so dearly loved and cherished by us all.

Physical light is what allows us human beings, and so many other living creatures in this world, to perceive the world which surrounds us. We have other ways of perception, of course, but it is through the sense of seeing—which can only work in the presence of light—that most of our perception of the world takes place.

Throughout the history of civilization the presence of light has been the best ally of humankind. When humans discovered how to make fire and illumine the darkness of the night, that was one giant step forward in human development.

Darkness was for the first humans the worst enemy. Not being able to perceive their surroundings made human beings an easy prey for predators whose sense of sight was much sharper than that of humans. This is why evil was likened to darkness since time immemorial.

In our modern world, so brightly illumined by electrical lights that in some cities it is almost impossible to see the stars, we may have lost some of the significance that light had for our ancestors. But the use of light in a figurative sense, as the agent which dispels the evil in the world—which is in turn likened to darkness—is still easily perceived by contemporary humans.

It is no mere coincidence that in the Bible story of creation, light appears as the first thing that came into existence. Light reflects God’s very essence because it is perceived as a synonym of goodness.

But light is also figuratively perceived as what is true, what is not concealed, as the opposite of devious contrivance and deceit.

In this respect, walking in the Light means behaving with honesty, transparency, and clear purpose in life.

One of the things Jesus spoke strongly against during His earthly ministry was hypocrisy and deviousness.

Walking in the Light, therefore, does not imply that we are sinless or do not need to confess our sins. Just the opposite, if we pretend that we have no sin, we are certainly walking in the darkness, and there is no redemption for us.

When we are authentic in our words and attitudes, when we recognize our faults openly, and genuinely desire to be forgiven and change our ways for the better, we are living in God’s Light and we are walking towards an ever brighter light.

As John the Evangelist said in his First Letter, “If we walk in the Light, as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

May we always walk in the Light, that we may also become the lights which together will illumine and dispel the evil darkness of the world.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Our Incarnate Faith

This Sunday's Reflection - April 7, 2024
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We are now in the week after Easter Sunday known as Easter Week. The whole Season after the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior—which lasts 50 days—is known as the Easter Season.

This is the season of the Christian year when we most emphatically proclaim our faith in the resurrected Christ, and in our own resurrected life as the Christian hope.

The fact that Jesus of Nazareth, a man who lived more than twenty centuries ago in that region of the world, and who proclaimed and lived God’s unconditional love for all, was crucified, dead, and then raised from the dead by God to a new glorified life, is the cornerstone of the faith of His followers, who have come to be known as Christians, and of whom millions are part even in today’s world.

The events that followed Jesus’ resurrection are the main topic of this season of the year, and what the Gospels tell us in several instances looks ambiguous and mysterious. There are cases when Jesus’ followers do not recognize Him at once, and the resurrected Jesus seems to come and go, appear and disappear, sometimes defying the laws of physics.

We will probably never know the exact explanation for these seemingly strange accounts, but they seem to point to a different kind of embodiment in the resurrected Jesus, although the Gospel writers did make it clear that the resurrected Jesus was fully embodied, and not a ghost.

All this may have led some of the first followers to think about the Christ as an entity separate from the man Jesus, and this was the beginning of a movement that developed through the centuries as one of the branches of Gnosticism, in which the Christ is a principle which became partially incarnate in the man Jesus at His baptism, but left Him later on, when He was crucified.

According to some of these theories, this principle then made it possible for Jesus to rise from the dead, and Jesus later on disappeared to live a retired life until His final death.

But this is not the true faith that the Gospel writers and the disciples proclaimed, nor the faith that has been handed down to us through the centuries. Our faith is an incarnate faith. Christianity is the incarnate faith par excellence.

What we believe is what John the Evangelist clearly proclaims in the prologue to his Gospel: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

Jesus is the Christ. They are one and the same person. It is Christ who died for us, and who was risen. It is this same Jesus Christ who ascended to the Father, and whose glorious return we await. This, and no other, is the true Christian faith. In his First Letter, John the Evangelist writes, “This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only, but with the water and the blood.”

The reference to the blood unmistakably points to Christ’s fully human nature, and also to His sacrifice on the cross. John the Evangelist was already clearing up things for those who had tried to separate Jesus the man from the Christ.

Why is it so vital to have a clear conviction about the incarnational nature of our faith? First of all, because it makes clear to us one of the main tenets of our faith. We believe in a God who was made man, who lived as one of us, and suffered as one of us. In fact, He was a God who suffered much more than many of us, giving Himself in sacrifice for our redemption.

And we also believe that one of His main teachings was that we, as His followers, are called to incarnate God’s love in our own lives as well. We must see Christ’s face in each and everyone of God’s children, and also be Christ’s mouth, hands and feet for each of them.

This is how we, as Christ’s followers, best proclaim the resurrected Christ in our own lives.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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From “St. Athanasius Paschal Letter 5,” 1-2 (334)

This Sunday's Reflection - March 31, 2024
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How fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enteron a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed. We feed as on the food of life, we constantly refresh our souls with his precious blood, as from a fountain. Ye we are always thirsting, burning to be satisfied. But he himself is present for those who thirst and in his goodness invites them to the feast day. Our Savior repeats his words: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

He quenched the thirst not only of those who came to him then. Whenever any seek him they are freely admitted to the presence of the Savior. The grace of the feast is not restricted to one occasion. Its rays of glory never set. It is always at hand to enlighten the minds of those who desire it. Its power is always there for those whose minds have been enlightened, and who meditate day and night on the holy Scriptures, like the one who is called blessed in the holy psalm “Blessed is the one who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, or stood where sinners stand, or sat in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

Moreover, my friends, the God who first established this feast for us allows us to celebrate it each year. He who gave up his Son to death for our salvation, from the same motive gives us this feast, which is commemorated every year. This feast guides us through the trials that meet us in this world. God now gives us the joy of salvation that shines out from this fest, as he brings us together to form one assembly, uniting us all in spirit in every place, allowing us to pray together and to offer common thanksgiving, as is our duty on the feast. Such is the wonder of his love: he gathers to this feast those who are far apart, and brings together in unity of faith those who may be physically separated from each other.

St. Athanasius (ca. 298-373) was a bishop and theologian, the great defender of the Nicene confession of Christ’s true divinity. He was the primary spokesman for the orthodox cause at the Council of Nicaea and became Bishop of Alexandria several years later. He also played an important role in finalizing the canon of New Testament books. He issued a Pascal Letter to the faithful most years of his 45-year episcopate, declaring the date of Easter and summoning them to keep the feast. He is commemorated on May 2 by Western Christians, on May 15 by the Coptic Church, and on January 18 by the other Eastern Orthodox churches.


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A New Kind of Relationship

This Sunday's Reflection - March 17, 2024
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The way we relate to our Creator, to one another, and to the rest of creation is what determines where we are in Christ’s Way of Love in our pilgrimage to God’s Home—our true Home.

We are all walking on the way, and God is always placing signposts and cheering and encouraging us all along, so that we do not give up or go astray, because He longs for us to be in His presence and be partakers of the same glory that His only-begotten Son now shares with Him in His glorious Kingdom.

There are different ways to relate to God, to our fellow human beings, and to His whole creation, As we mature as God’s true sons and daughters, there is a shift in this kind of relationship, which goes from the mere sense of forceful obedience out of the fear of punishment—which resembles the way children were traditionally brought up to obey their parents and elder family members—to a deeper sense of loving communion with the Source of all life—the Creator—, with all humankind, and with all other forms of life in this creation.

This is, in essence, the kind of relationship that God’s incarnate Son—Jesus Christ our Lord—has taught us; this is what we know as His Way of Love, but it was already present in the Old Testament prophets’ teachings. We could say that some of these prophets—like Jeremiah—foresaw the time when this new type of relationship, or New Covenant, would be established.

It is no mere coincidence that the whole body of Holy Scriptures that was written after Christ’s glorious Resurrection and Ascension is known as the New Testament (or New Covenant). All of Christ’s teachings are based on this new kind of loving relationship, which implies the forgiveness of all our past sins, and an intimate and inner way of relating to a loving God, whose only demand is our total willing acceptance of His love for our lives.

Now we would no longer be referring to “God for us”, as the Israelites who were freed from the bondage in Egypt and led to the promised land conceived their Lord. Not even as “God with us”—Emmanuel, which is the God envisioned by the prophets when they longed for their God to make His dwelling among His people, and be with them at all times. It is now time for “God in us”—a most intimate inner and loving communion with the Source of all that is, so that we become an integral part of this source and of all that has been created.

This is what Jeremiah already foretold when he said, speaking in the Lord’s name: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Knowing, for the Israelites, had much more to do with intimate relationship than with intellectual activity. In fact, the same verb is used in Hebrew for having sexual intercourse as for getting to know something. This gives us a clearer picture of what the prophet actually meant when he said, speaking in God’s name: “for they shall know me.”

In this new kind of relationship obeying God’s law comes, not as a result of fear of punishment, but as an inevitable result of this intimate loving communion with God’s very being and will.

This is the kind of relationship that we, as followers of Christ’s Way, aspire to attain in our own lives, and this is also the wondrous Good News we cannot help but sharing with the whole world.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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By Sheer Grace

This Sunday's Reflection - March 10, 2024
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Our understanding of what God’s Law is may vary, but it obviously refers to the superior order of harmonious workings by which God creates, recreates, and maintains His creation, including us, who have been created in His image and likeness.

Can we, as finite beings, have a full grasp of God’s Law? Hardly so, unless it has been revealed to us by God’s messengers and prophets, and above all, by His only-begotten Son and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can have an intuitive inkling of what should be in accordance with God’s will, and what not, but even so, we can never have a comprehensive understanding of His Law.

The Jews were given the basic Ten Commandments by Moses, who received God’s inspiration to write them, so that the people might have a general guidance on how to relate to their Creator, and to one another as a people who would reflect God’s will in the world, so that they would also serve as a good example to be imitated by other surrounding nations.

In time, there was an expansion of these basic ten, so that they might more accurately guide the people in their daily lives.

Our understanding of what God’s Law is may vary, but it obviously refers to the superior order of harmonious workings by which God creates, recreates, and maintains His creation, including us, who have been created in His image and likeness.

Can we, as finite beings, have a full grasp of God’s Law? Hardly so, unless it has been revealed to us by God’s messengers and prophets, and above all, by His only-begotten Son and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can have an intuitive inkling of what should be in accordance with God’s will, and what not, but even so, we can never have a comprehensive understanding of His Law.

The Jews were given the basic Ten Commandments by Moses, who received God’s inspiration to write them, so that the people might have a general guidance on how to relate to their Creator, and to one another as a people who would reflect God’s will in the world, so that they would also serve as a good example to be imitated by other surrounding nations.

In time, there was an expansion of these basic ten, so that they might more accurately guide the people in their daily lives. If we take a look at the Ten Commandments it is easy to realize that their nature is mainly prohibitive. They warn the people about what actions they should avoid doing. By following them strictly, one could become a person who does no harm, but not exactly a person who cares for the others, or who really manifests love for the Creator and their neighbors.

When Jesus was asked about the most important commandment, He did not refer to any of these ten, but put together two commandments, one found in Leviticus, and the other in Deuteronomy. One refers to loving God with your whole being, and the other to loving your neighbor as yourself.

When Jesus declared that on these two hang all the Law and the Prophets, He meant that it is the Law of Love which really comprises all other commandments. When someone is guided by God’s unconditional love, they are not prone to do anyone harm in any way, and they are constantly driven to compassion, justice, and good works towards those they come in contact with, as an expression of God’s love in their lives.

Recognizing that this Law of Love is the best expression that we, as finite beings, can have of God’s Law is one thing; being guided by it all the time is something else.

Our nature is both spiritual and earthly. And our earthly nature tends to follow our individualized human nature. This nature still adheres to self-preservation instincts in a similar way as animals do, but takes them to a “rationalized” manifestation in our self-centered tendencies, which even try to justify our selfish ways of neglecting others’ needs, and climbing in the social scale at the expense of the suffering and misery of others.

Recognizing that we, by our own means, are inadequate to overcome these tendencies, is actually the first positive step towards overcoming them. We need to realize that we need God’s help in overcoming our sinful nature.

Sin is addictive. It is enslaving. Recognizing its addictive and enslaving nature is already a good beginning. But then we need to recognize that only a higher power, something other than ourselves, can help us out of it.

This is what alcoholics do all the time in their AA meetings and daily practice. Originally they mentioned God as the only one who could help them out of their terrible addiction. Nowadays, they talk about a “higher power”, in case some unbelievers also want to benefit from their program. But which “higher power” could it be, other than God Himself, after all?

The Apostle Paul recognized this fact in himself, as he clearly stated it in his letter to the Romans, when he expressed, “For I delight in the Law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law in my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

May God’s Law always be our greatest delight but let us also ask our Lord and Savior for help in making His Law of Love rule our lives!


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Delighting in God’s Law

This Sunday's Reflection - March 3, 2024
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Our understanding of what God’s Law is may vary, but it obviously refers to the superior order of harmonious workings by which God creates, recreates, and maintains His creation, including us, who have been created in His image and likeness.

Can we, as finite beings, have a full grasp of God’s Law? Hardly so, unless it has been revealed to us by God’s messengers and prophets, and above all, by His only-begotten Son and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can have an intuitive inkling of what should be in accordance with God’s will, and what not, but even so, we can never have a comprehensive understanding of His Law.

The Jews were given the basic Ten Commandments by Moses, who received God’s inspiration to write them, so that the people might have a general guidance on how to relate to their Creator, and to one another as a people who would reflect God’s will in the world, so that they would also serve as a good example to be imitated by other surrounding nations.

In time, there was an expansion of these basic ten, so that they might more accurately guide the people in their daily lives. Our understanding of what God’s Law is may vary, but it obviously refers to the superior order of harmonious workings by which God creates, recreates, and maintains His creation, including us, who have been created in His image and likeness.

Can we, as finite beings, have a full grasp of God’s Law? Hardly so, unless it has been revealed to us by God’s messengers and prophets, and above all, by His only-begotten Son and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can have an intuitive inkling of what should be in accordance with God’s will, and what not, but even so, we can never have a comprehensive understanding of His Law.

The Jews were given the basic Ten Commandments by Moses, who received God’s inspiration to write them, so that the people might have a general guidance on how to relate to their Creator, and to one another as a people who would reflect God’s will in the world, so that they would also serve as a good example to be imitated by other surrounding nations.

In time, there was an expansion of these basic ten, so that they might more accurately guide the people in their daily lives. If we take a look at the Ten Commandments it is easy to realize that their nature is mainly prohibitive. They warn the people about what actions they should avoid doing. By following them strictly, one could become a person who does no harm, but not exactly a person who cares for the others, or who really manifests love for the Creator and their neighbors.

When Jesus was asked about the most important commandment, He did not refer to any of these ten, but put together two commandments, one found in Leviticus, and the other in Deuteronomy. One refers to loving God with your whole being, and the other to loving your neighbor as yourself.

When Jesus declared that on these two hang all the Law and the Prophets, He meant that it is the Law of Love which really comprises all other commandments. When someone is guided by God’s unconditional love, they are not prone to do anyone harm in any way, and they are constantly driven to compassion, justice, and good works towards those they come in contact with, as an expression of God’s love in their lives.

Recognizing that this Law of Love is the best expression that we, as finite beings, can have of God’s Law is one thing; being guided by it all the time is something else.

Our nature is both spiritual and earthly. And our earthly nature tends to follow our individualized human nature. This nature still adheres to self-preservation instincts in a similar way as animals do, but takes them to a “rationalized” manifestation in our self-centered tendencies, which even try to justify our selfish ways of neglecting others’ needs, and climbing in the social scale at the expense of the suffering and misery of others.

Recognizing that we, by our own means, are inadequate to overcome these tendencies, is actually the first positive step towards overcoming them. We need to realize that we need God’s help in overcoming our sinful nature.

Sin is addictive. It is enslaving. Recognizing its addictive and enslaving nature is already a good beginning. But then we need to recognize that only a higher power, something other than ourselves, can help us out of it.

This is what alcoholics do all the time in their AA meetings and daily practice. Originally they mentioned God as the only one who could help them out of their terrible addiction. Nowadays, they talk about a “higher power”, in case some unbelievers also want to benefit from their program. But which “higher power” could it be, other than God Himself, after all?

The Apostle Paul recognized this fact in himself, as he clearly stated it in his letter to the Romans, when he expressed, “For I delight in the Law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law in my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

May God’s Law always be our greatest delight, but let us also ask our Lord and Savior for help in making His Law of Love rule our lives!


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Conquerors Through Christ's Love

This Sunday's Reflection - February 25, 2024
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It may be true that suffering has the effect of making us more sympathetic towards those who suffer in the world. However, what Jesus’ Way of Love teaches us is that we should always, as bearers of His Good News, give hope to the hopeless, strive to heal the infirm, and restore wholeness of life to the broken ones.

In this view, suffering as such has no merit in itself. We should not seek suffering for its own sake. That makes no sense at all if we believe in an all-loving God. But we must be willing to undergo suffering for the sake of love.

Many who oppose or simply do not follow the Christian faith have objected that an all-loving God could not have delivered His own Son to a shameful and horrible death to save others. The omnipotent God could surely have found another way to save us from our sins. But there is a lot of confusion here.

It is not that God relished in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. If we believe that Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, then God Himself suffered in the person of Jesus Christ. He suffered rejection, betrayal, and physical torment. He suffered a cruel death. But this suffering had a saving purpose. It was not useless. Through His sacrificial death, Christ conquered the powers of evil, and death itself. And He did not conquer them only for Himself, but for all who would follow His Way of Love.

What made this conquering possible? Unconditional and sacrificial love. There is no power stronger than this purest form of love. God is love. He is all-powerful because He is all-loving, He does not spare His only-begotten Son (Himself in the dynamic of the Trinity) for the sake of His love for humankind. So, this opens for us all the doors to real and abundant life in His self-giving love.

But as His followers in this loving life-giving way, we must also be willing to make sacrifices. We do not live in God’s fulfilled Kingdom as yet. This Kingdom has been inaugurated by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has already shown us, in His words and deeds, in His way of life, the signs of God’s Kingdom of justice, harmony, healing, and love. But we are not there yet.

Our reconciling mission as the Body of Christ—the Church—is to keep on making these signs visible to the world, so that through the conquering power of love the day may come when we can finally truly state,“Thy Kingdom HAS COME”.

In the meantime, notwithstanding, the opposing forces of evil of this world and the dark spiritual realms are still acting against this saving purpose. And they act with formidable slyness and cruelty. As followers of Christ we need to be aware of this fact. We will encounter great suffering in this world, not only because of our still unredeemed mortal nature, but mainly because of these opposing forces of evil in the world.

Evil cannot be fought with greater evil. It would be like trying to put out a fire by adding more fire. Unfortunately, such an obvious conclusion has still not been reached by the main leaders of the world. And wars and conflicts continue to be waged, even in this 21st century. The only thing that can conquer something is its opposite. The antidote of evil is goodness, or unconditional love. As unpractical as it may seem, this is the only way evil will ever be conquered and defeated in the world.

No unjust evil that we suffer in this world, as St. Paul clearly stated in his Letter to the Romans, can ever separate us from Christ’s love.

Here is what he wrote to the Romans, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loves us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And St. Paul was not speaking in abstract terms, he had been suffering and would suffer all those, and even death, for Christ’s sake.

Oh, that our conviction today might be just half as strong as his!


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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“Lent as Transfigured Disciples” By Mother Miriam, CSM

This Sunday's Reflection - February 18, 2024
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As we journey through a second Lent under the COVID-19 pandemic, the synoptic Gospels’ story of Jesus’ Transfiguration provide a fruitful opportunity for growth as disciples of the living Word and Lord. In the Transfiguration Jesus momentarily shows his true figure. His recognizable human appearance is his emptying of himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:5-9). The Transfiguration fills in the implications of Peter’s Confession “You are the Christ.” He is not a new Elijah, nor a new Moses radiant with a borrowed glory. He is the manifestation of the living God himself. But even that statement is too simplistic.

Michael Ramsey gets the balance right between God and man: “The vision of Christ is the transfiguration of man.” If we are not always, continually, exquisitely sensitive to the other person, that statement looks like this: ‘My vision of Christ is my ultimate transfiguration.’ And in so doing, we lose the grace of seeing that the Transfiguration of Christ is just that, the transfiguration of Jesus; and mine only as I become enfolded and incorporated into Christ. In thinking about the “in-Christness” of the Transfiguration, I cannot help but be reminded of Paul’s frequent encouragement of those whom he made disciples: “We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). “In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles” (Rom. 15:17-18).

I am indebted to Reginald Somerset Ward, a great spiritual director in England during the early 20th century, who reflected deeply on this mystery of the Transfiguration and saw two successive phases in the disciples’ growth in knowledge and faith in our Lord. First, there was the gift of knowing who Christ really is, Emmanuel, “God-with-us,” and then came the second gift of the deepening of human faith and knowledge as experience of being with God. The revelation of Christ is by far the more concrete. The experience of God is much more abstract and formless, but very relevant to us as well as Peter, James, and John.

Have you ever used a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a piece of paper or start a fire on a bright, sunny day? Think about the process. The glass focuses a narrow light beam, a form of energy, which by its greatness defies human inspection and is unapproachable by human eyes. If you look directly at the sun, you will be blinded. But the brilliant spot beneath the magnifying glass is, in truth, the actual light of the sun, gathered together and possessing the properties of the sun, and yet so limited that both it and its effects can be observed by human beings without harm, or at least can be controlled so that you don’t get burned! The magnifying glass stands for the Incarnation; the spot of light, God-made-man, Jesus Christ; and the sun, the majesty of the Godhead. Here we have the beginning of an orthodox Christian understanding of the Incarnation.

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Mother Miriam, CSM, is the ninth Mother Superior of the Eastern Province of the Community of Saint Mary.

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A Lamp Shining in a Dark Place

This Sunday's Reflection - February 11, 2024
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Never is the light of a lamp—no matter how faintly it may shine—more welcome and cherished than when it shines alone in a dark place. Light is almost always welcome, except when people do things they would rather not have others see. But when we have several lights making a place bright, no particular light receives our concentrated attention as much as when there is only one light in a dark place.

The prophecies that were communicated to the Israelites throughout the centuries were like a lamp shining amidst their darkened lives. Sometimes the prophets spoke harshly about the injustice and the lack of compassion that those who ruled, and those who followed the rulers were characterized by, but in the prophets’ messages there was always hope of a new kind of relationship with the Creator and with one another—one based on justice, peace, and love—if peoples’ hearts turned to the Lord.

The season after the Epiphany is the season of Light. What the readings selected for this season bring us is a message of light in our own darkness, beginning with the manifestation of God’s Light to the World—Jesus Christ Our Lord—to the magi from the East, and culminating in the dazzling light of the transfigured and glorified Jesus, manifested to His three closest disciples, as a foretaste of His final glorification after His death and resurrection.

The message of salvation we have received through our faith in Christ Jesus has been handed down to us through the conduit of His first followers, who put it in writing themselves in some cases, and in other cases handed it down to others who put it in writing for us to read nowadays, more than twenty centuries later. But even during the time of Jesus’ first followers the forces of darkness tried to put out the Light, by confusing the first converts, and making them doubt the authenticity of the sources.

At all times there have been those who have doubted the message, and those who have even attacked it ferociously, because they cannot bear the Light in their lives, nor want the Light to reach others.

During Jesus’ time and after His death and glorious resurrection there was a multitude of religions and philosophical trends in the world, and it was common for people to think of a new message simply as some new fad that someone had made up.

This is why the Apostle Peter, in his Second Letter, clearly states, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of His majesty.” And here Peter makes reference to the voice they heard during Jesus’ transfiguration, which he, together with James, and John, were direct witnesses of.

It is evident that we, 21st-century Christians, are not direct witnesses of any of the things that the first followers said and wrote about Jesus. However, their congruence with the Old Testament prophecies, the deep conviction with which they were written, and the transformational power that they have had throughout the centuries, clearly show us they constitute the Lamp that shows us the way to true Life.

It was no mere chance that in the Transfiguration passage Jesus is accompanied by Moses and Elijah, the major representatives of the Law and the Prophets respectively. Jesus is clearly seen as the recapitulation of the Old Covenant, and the dazzling light that shines on His face and garments is the true Light of the world.

Living in the in-between time as we do, when God’s kingdom has been inaugurated, but certainly not fulfilled, we had better, as Peter instructs his readers to do, “be attentive to this (the prophetic message) as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Divinely Compelled

This Sunday's Reflection - February 4, 2024
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It is unquestionable that the knowledge an average person in the world today has is much greater than what even the most learned people had centuries ago. The advancements in modern science, particularly in the realm of informatics, have enabled the common citizens of most parts in the world to have access to all kinds of information, and this was never heard of until recently.

So nowadays people have a much more accurate idea of what the world and the universe is like, and the laws governing this material universe. Even so, although it is undeniable that civilization has brought about a more humane attitude in most people, wars and cruelty are still rampant in many parts of the world, and the present situation is still far from the Christian idea of universal love as the fundamental law that governs our lives.

As much as general knowledge of the world has developed, it is recognized, even by prominent scientists, that it is always incomplete, and we must humbly admit that there is still an enormous gap between the known and the unknown for us humans.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to attain knowledge. God put us in this world so that we would be its stewards, and no good steward can manage the estate properly without knowledge about it and about the best methods and procedures for proper management.

In this respect, God has certainly enabled us, through the use of intelligence, to become better stewards all the time, but there is one point where humanity has mostly failed: in the way we relate to one another and to the rest of creation.

What God has intended, from the very beginning of our creation, is that we base our relationships in mutual love. But the source of this love is God Himself. It is through the love of God that we are given the capacity to love one another, and to love all of God’s creation.

Attempting to know God with our finite minds has always been a failed attempt. The finite cannot know the infinite. It is as simple as that.

We can have glimpses of God’s infinite wisdom and love by observing His creation, and also by observing how the world, despite all the mismanagement that we, as imperfect, self-centered stewards have implemented, moves forward in terms of general prosperity, knowledge, and even ethical principles.

The only way in which we may have a better knowledge of our Creator is by letting His unconditional love become a vital part of our lives. This is what Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, came to show us in His own life. His way is the Way of Love, and His life is love-centered, instead of self-centered, so much so, that He even gave His own life for the sake of love.

Even in our intimate personal relationships, such as the ones we have in marriage, we become aware of the fact that the more we love the other person, the more we actually get to know the person.

Our relationship with our God is personal, not because the infinite Creator is a person literally speaking, but because this is the only way we, as persons, can relate to Him.

As we are known by God in love, we get to know God, not in an intellectual way, but in a close relationship in which His love becomes manifest in our own lives, and thus, in our relationships with others and the rest of creation.

Knowing something that others do not may make us feel proud, and we may even show contempt towards those who lack this knowledge. Priests and theological nerds may sometimes fall into this dangerous trap and can sometimes even hurt the simple faith of the people.

This happens when, for instance, due to popular religious beliefs, someone comes to a priest with an object they cherish to be blessed. That is not the moment to tell this person that the important thing is that they practice God’s love in their lives, and that the object they bring can do without the blessing, and it makes no difference to God.

Such an attitude will do more harm than good, because, as St. Paul warned in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “knowledge puffs, but love builds up.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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The Knowledge that God's Love Gives

This Sunday's Reflection - January 28, 2024
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It is unquestionable that the knowledge an average person in the world today has is much greater than what even the most learned people had centuries ago. The advancements in modern science, particularly in the realm of informatics, have enabled the common citizens of most parts in the world to have access to all kinds of information, and this was never heard of until recently.

So nowadays people have a much more accurate idea of what the world and the universe is like, and the laws governing this material universe. Even so, although it is undeniable that civilization has brought about a more humane attitude in most people, wars and cruelty are still rampant in many parts of the world, and the present situation is still far from the Christian idea of universal love as the fundamental law that governs our lives.

As much as general knowledge of the world has developed, it is recognized, even by prominent scientists, that it is always incomplete, and we must humbly admit that there is still an enormous gap between the known and the unknown for us humans.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to attain knowledge. God put us in this world so that we would be its stewards, and no good steward can manage the estate properly without knowledge about it and about the best methods and procedures for proper management.

In this respect, God has certainly enabled us, through the use of intelligence, to become better stewards all the time, but there is one point where humanity has mostly failed: in the way we relate to one another and to the rest of creation.

What God has intended, from the very beginning of our creation, is that we base our relationships in mutual love. But the source of this love is God Himself. It is through the love of God that we are given the capacity to love one another, and to love all of God’s creation.

Attempting to know God with our finite minds has always been a failed attempt. The finite cannot know the infinite. It is as simple as that.

We can have glimpses of God’s infinite wisdom and love by observing His creation, and also by observing how the world, despite all the mismanagement that we, as imperfect, self-centered stewards have implemented, moves forward in terms of general prosperity, knowledge, and even ethical principles.

The only way in which we may have a better knowledge of our Creator is by letting His unconditional love become a vital part of our lives. This is what Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, came to show us in His own life. His way is the Way of Love, and His life is love-centered, instead of self-centered, so much so, that He even gave His own life for the sake of love.

Even in our intimate personal relationships, such as the ones we have in marriage, we become aware of the fact that the more we love the other person, the more we actually get to know the person.

Our relationship with our God is personal, not because the infinite Creator is a person literally speaking, but because this is the only way we, as persons, can relate to Him.

As we are known by God in love, we get to know God, not in an intellectual way, but in a close relationship in which His love becomes manifest in our own lives, and thus, in our relationships with others and the rest of creation.

Knowing something that others do not may make us feel proud, and we may even show contempt towards those who lack this knowledge. Priests and theological nerds may sometimes fall into this dangerous trap and can sometimes even hurt the simple faith of the people.

This happens when, for instance, due to popular religious beliefs, someone comes to a priest with an object they cherish to be blessed. That is not the moment to tell this person that the important thing is that they practice God’s love in their lives, and that the object they bring can do without the blessing, and it makes no difference to God.

Such an attitude will do more harm than good, because, as St. Paul warned in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “knowledge puffs, but love builds up.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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The Worst Form of Slavery

This Sunday's Reflection - January 21, 2024
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Slavery as a sanctioned institution is, of course, something of the past that we human beings must feel ashamed of.

There has recently been a trend to revisit the parts of the history of this continent and this nation, where it was common for white people to own black slaves from Africa, as a way to increase our awareness of past injustice, in the hopes that this will prevent such unjust relationships among people to occur again.

As a counterpart, there are also those historians who have pointed out the thousands of white people who were taken as slaves, particularly by the Muslims in past centuries.

Whether white or black, the possession of one person by another is not in accordance with contemporary ethical standards, and in essence it contradicts the Christian principle of the love of neighbor as oneself.

Unfortunately, there are still people in the world that suffer modern forms of slavery, such as the sexual slavery of children, teenagers, and young adults of both sexes. These are illegal, of course, but there are still parts of the world where unscrupulous people profit from such horrible practices.

In Jesus’ time slavery was a common practice. Slaves were obtained as a result of wars, or simply as a result of people not being able to pay their debts to others. There were ways of being redeemed from slavery, especially in the latter case, but not everyone was able to pay for their liberation or find a generous person who would do so for them.

In his preaching Jesus always emphasized that truth would make us free. When Jesus referred to freedom, He did not necessarily mean the state of freedom from slavery. He preached to the masses, in which there were surely a great number of servants or slaves.

Jesus was not trying to promote a slaves’ revolt so that all slaves and servants would be free. He clearly went beyond the mere concept of human bondage, and though we can be sure that Jesus would have preferred that no person would treat another as their possession, He was referring mainly to our freedom from the powers of evil, sin, and death, the one that would make us free to willingly do God’s will in our lives.

Trying to read what someone wrote in past centuries with the eyes of our contemporary perspective is a great mistake. This can lead to undue criticism of people who were simply the sons and daughters of their time, and did not have the means to undo the fabric of the socio-political system they lived in.

St. Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians talks about slaves and slavery. Some critics have called him a defender of slavery, but we must understand the role of slavery as a fundamental productive force of his time, and also what he really meant by his words, which should not simply be taken at face value.

Here is the paragraph that, if taken in a shallow way, and interpreted according to contemporary viewpoints, can lead us to a grave misunderstanding of Paul’s real intentions.

“Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.”

Is Paul favoring the institution of slavery, as some might mistakenly infer from the beginning sentences? Or is he opposing it as could be inferred from the last sentence? Neither. Paul’s main concern here is not the institution of slavery. That was taken from granted in his time. He even says, “even if you can gain your freedom”, so it seems that he thought that should always be a good goal to achieve.

But his concern here is the worst form of slavery. He is warning against becoming “slaves of human masters”, but not in a literal sense. His injunction to the new converts is to follow Christ and His liberating way of life, which is none other than the Way of Love. This is what we must all gladly and willingly become slaves for.

Christ has freed us from all false human doctrine that can lead us back to the way of fear and darkness, which is the worst form of slavery ever. Let us not be trapped by it.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Glorifying God in Our Bodies

This Sunday's Reflection - January 14, 2024
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Photo by Tamra Raven
Even if we may not agree with some of the tenets of the new spiritualities that have arisen in the last few decades, one positive thing we need to acknowledge about them is the concept of the sacredness of the body, including the body of the earth.

Jewish spirituality never divorced the bodily part of our nature from its spiritual part. In the story of Genesis, we read about the Creator of the Universe giving rise to this material world, and every time that He created something He said that “it was good.”

Human beings (represented in Adam, and his feminine counterpart, Eve) were created from the body of the earth (the word Adam itself comes from the Hebrew adamah, which means ground). Hebrew spirituality is not binary in the sense of separating the spiritual from the material, and giving more prominence to the latter.

Jesus’ movement was primarily a movement born in the bosom of Jewish spirituality. The belief in the resurrection (which evolved later in the Jewish thought and cannot be found in the earlier Old Testament writings) clearly referred to a resurrected body, not a disembodied entity.

In St. Paul’s letters we can find the idea of a resurrected body, which he calls “a glorified body” as a new type of body which cannot decay or be corrupted. Nevertheless, it is still a body, and not a disembodied essence, as some later Christian writers have put forward. St. Paul himself sometimes talks about this present corruptible body as being something that we should not overvalue, and there are instances in which talks about the “flesh” as something that hinders the Spirit.

What St. Paul wants to stress in such instances is that if we become the slaves of our natural instincts only, and do not train ourselves to master them through the spiritual disciplines, we can become like mere animals, and we can easily be overcome by the sinful tendencies that instincts may lead us to.

But St. Paul also understands the sacredness of this present human body which is an integral part of our being. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, he warns gravely against the sin of fornication, presenting the argument in this way: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!”

Even if he is aware that these temporal physical bodies will be destroyed, he declares them to be “temples of the Holy Spirit within us, which we have from God and are not our own.”

As St. Paul clearly states, “we were bought with a price” (Christ’s self-giving at the cross), so it is indeed proper and our duty that we glorify God in our bodies.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Being Anointed by God to Do Good

This Sunday's Reflection - January 7, 2024
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We Christians believe in a purposeful world. Contrary to what atheists proclaim about the universe and our place in the universe—as the result of random forces with no ultimate goal in the plane of existence—we believe in a universe whose ultimate goal is abundant life, and whose ultimate guidance is God’s infinite and unconditional love.

God’s love is shown in the intrinsic goodness of creation—in spite of what we may see as flaws and defects from our limited human perspective—but above all, in His plan of redemption for us and the whole of creation through His incarnate Son, who gave himself in loving sacrifice so as to show us how to live the only true abundant life worth living—a life lived in mutual loving care and, consequently, in harmony with our Creator’s purpose.

One thing that Jesus’ disciples may have had a hard time understanding at first was that His redeeming love extended to include not only those of the House of Israel, but the whole world. Though His first followers were Jews and followers of Judaism, and even Jesus Himself expressed to a pagan woman that He had come first to offer salvation to the Jews, in His Great Commission Jesus clearly sends out His disciples to baptize people in all nations, to teach them what they had received from Him, so that salvation could reach the ends of the world.

This is what Peter eventually managed to understand when he was commanded by God in a vision to go to a Roman family of believers in the New Way, and ended up baptizing them all in Jesus’ name at their request. He then clearly understood that “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”

Showing no partiality should never be understood as condoning every evil. There is a dangerous trend to equate inclusiveness to the condoning of every kind of behavior, no matter how contrary to God’s love it may be. We Christians believe in the forgiveness of sins by God’s unbounded love and grace, and we are constantly reminded of the need to forgive others too.

Forgiveness, however, makes no sense if there is no true repentance. What good can forgiveness do if those who do evil do nothing to change their ways and continue to live sinful lives? Our God is a loving God, but there is always a clear loving purpose in all He does. We cannot be reconciled and continue to live in an unreconciled way at the same time. That simply makes no sense at all.

Being baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity implies that we receive a new name by adoption—we are inserted into God’s family, and He gives us His own name. Just as when someone is adopted by a family that person receives the name of the family, we receive the name of God’s family at baptism.

Being baptized literally means being “immersed”. We are immersed into God’s very being at baptism, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and from that moment on we are marked as Christ’s own forever.

As we said at the beginning, we believe in a purposeful world. So baptism has a purpose for us. It is all very well to know that just as when Jesus was baptized He heard God’s voice telling Him that He was “His son, the Beloved, with whom He was well pleased.”, we are also God’s beloved and He wants us to know this every single moment of our lives.

But being God’s beloved son and daughter has some implications. It means that we are called to act as such in our lives.

When Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and power at His baptism in the Jordan, He did not simply lie down in blissful joy for the great blessing and privilege He had been given. According to the Book of Acts, Peter clearly states that Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

When we are baptized God is with us. His Holy Spirit anoints us with power, and just as Jesus did, we are urged to go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed by the powers of evil—whether evil worldly powers, or evil powers from the spiritual realms. He who empowers us will enable us, but we must make it our purpose to set out to do good.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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To Tremble with Glee

This Sunday's Reflection - December 31, 2023
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The Cherry Tree Carol has roots in medieval mystery plays and, ultimately, an apocryphal story about the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, in which a cherry tree bows low so that Mary can gather cherries from its branches. The carol has many variants, both in text and tune. Many Anglicans will be familiar with the arrangement by David Wilcocks. The Cherry Tree Carol I know and love is an Appalachian folk version by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw. This version, uniquely, ends with Joseph asking the unborn Jesus when his birthday will be, with Jesus responding, from his mother’s womb, thus:

The sixth day of January
My birthday will be,
When the stars in the elements
Shall tremble with glee.


“When the stars in the elements shall tremble with glee.” It is a striking image, isn’t it? Stars, like little children, trembling with glee. They can hardly contain their excitement, their little bodies move and pulse with joy. And it is this image — of the stars trembling with glee at the birth of the Lord Jesus — that has prompted these reflections, which I offer on the Tenth Day of Christmas.

“The stars in the elements shall tremble with glee.” We are not accustomed to thinking of stars in this way. Views from the Webb Space Telescope may fill us with awe, but we do not imagine the stars as capable of anything analogous. But what, really, do we know of the stars? They, too, are creatures — why should they not “tremble with glee” at the Nativity of their Lord, or respond in some analogously appropriate way? After all, when the Lord laid the foundations of the earth, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). And day and night “the heavens declare the glory of God,”


Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard,
Their sound has gone out into all lands,
and their message to the ends of the world.
(Ps. 19:1, 3–4)


Must we understand all this language to be merely figurative?

Dante spoke of “the Love that moves the sun and the other stars” (Paradiso 33.145). In speaking thus, he included himself among the creatures moved by the Lord. He wrote:

… my desire and will were moved already —
like a wheel revolving uniformly — by
the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.
(Par. 33.143–45)


If our very desires and our wills are moved by the God who is Love, then why should we imagine the movement Love causes in the stars to be constrained to movements describable by astrophysics? Is it only human creatures who cry out, in the presence of that Love, “did not our hearts burn within us” (Luke 24:32)? Might not the stars, too, burn for Love?

David Bentley Hart has written in his dreamlike Roland in Moonlight (reviewed on Covenant) of a longing “for a world that speaks,” “for a world that feels … that’s conscious and alive” (p. 53). In context, Hart — or, rather, his dog Roland (did I mention the work is dreamlike?) — is describing his “great uncle” Aloysius’s pagan beliefs, which he interprets as a response to the modern view of the cosmos as dead matter. But I think we can also say (as Hart would surely agree) that the picture of “a world that speaks, a world that feels … that’s conscious and alive” — is one closely akin to that of the Bible. Holy Scripture, we have seen, understands the whole created order as revelatory, as filled with the glory of God; a world in which every creature is at least potentially responsive (in its own way) to its Creator. Night and day, “the heavens declare the glory of God.” “The morning stars sang together” at the creation of the world. The psalmist calls on every creature to rejoice in the coming of the Lord:

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea thunder and all that is in it;
let the field be joyful and all that is therein. Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy
before the LORD when he comes,
when he comes to judge the earth.
(Psalm 96:11–12)


In the biblical imagination, the world is full of the speech of non-human creatures. The serpent speaks. The angels speak. Balaam’s donkey protests (Num. 22:21–34). The mountains and the hills are on the verge of singing, and the trees of the fields about to burst into applause (Isa. 55:12). And, if necessary, even the stones will shout out, in praise of Christ their coming King (Luke 19:40). If this is so, might not the stars indeed tremble with glee at the birth of the Lord?

But what do we know of the stars? What matters in the end of these speculations is how we ourselves respond to the coming of our Lord. Whether we tremble before this magnum mysterium(“great mystery”) of the birth of the Lord. Whether our hearts burn within us.

Christopher Yoder
(The Rev. Christopher Yoder serves as rector of All Souls’ Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City. He is a contributor to Living Church’s Covenant blog. Fr. Carlos is on vacation this week.)

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The Mystery That Is Now Disclosed

This Sunday's Reflection - December 24, 2023
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God’s incarnation appears to us Christians as one of the great mysteries of our faith. It is the great mystery of an infinite being—unconstrained by space or time, incomprehensible by the human mind—becoming a human being in the person of a vulnerable baby being born from a woman in the humblest of conditions, and ultimately giving Himself in loving sacrifice at the hands of unrighteous men, and suffering the cruelest form of death on a cross.

This is what theologians have called the kenosis, a Greek work meaning emptying. The idea is that in the act of incarnation God emptied Himself of His divine glory and came down to the level of humanity, being constrained by time and space, experiencing and suffering all that human beings suffer, and even dying in a brutally cruel way.

For many at the time of Jesus this was not only incomprehensible, but even blasphemous. To say that the divine could become human was not and is still not acceptable for the Jews (or the Muslims). In pagan religions there was the idea of the demigods, who were engendered by a divine being and a mortal human, but these were humans with some supernatural attributes, and were not seen as real incarnations of the divine.

But as great as this mystery of incarnation is, it does not seem to be the mystery that St. Paul refers to in his letter to the Romans, when he writes, “and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed,…”

This mystery that Paul says was kept secret for long ages and is now disclosed is closely linked to Jesus’ proclamation itself, according to him. What may St. Paul be referring to?

It seems obvious that to know this, we need to focus our attention first and foremost in what Jesus’ proclamation was mainly about.

What Jesus spoke about and what his deeds pointed to during his time on this planet has to do with giving Himself in loving care for all. He never spoke or did anything for personal gain, not even to obtain personal fame or recognition. The signs of God’s Kingdom that He gave when he healed or brought someone back to life, or fed hungry multitudes, were all driven by a pure loving intention, and were all life-restoring and life-giving acts.

This is what his followers heard and saw Him do. This is what He taught, and if He ever had harsh words for some, it was not out of hatred for any particular person or group of persons, but to show them how wrong and conducive to real death their way was, so that they could change their ways and be saved.

What Jesus taught His disciples and what He also teaches us today, through the things His true followers wrote for all generations to follow, is that His incarnation of God’s loving will is also the aim and goal of our own lives.

God emptied Himself once of His divinity to show humanity, in the person of Jesus Christ, what the Way of His unconditional love is. But Jesus was restored to His original glory—the one He had always had with the Father—once His mission on earth was fulfilled.

In the same way, we need to empty ourselves—not of the divine glory we do not posses, but of the misleading self-centeredness that part of our human nature leads us to—so we can stop believing that we can be our own gods, and also rule over others to satisfy our whims. By so doing, we will be opening our minds and hearts to Christ’s Way of Love in our own lives, and then we will become one in intention and will with the only true and abundant life: the love-giving life that never ends.

When we celebrate God’s incarnation in a few days, let us be joyous, and grateful to God for His willingness to become Emmanuel—God with us, and let us also strive to make it possible that He may become incarnate in each of us—not literally like in the case of Mary, but in intention and will—so that ultimately one day He may become all in all, as has always been His desire from the beginning of creation.


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Do We Have Reasons to Rejoice?

This Sunday's Reflection - December 17, 2023
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Rose Sunday or Gaudete Sunday is here this week. It is the third Sunday of Advent, and the word rejoice or joy appears in all the readings assigned for this Sunday. The liturgical color also reminds us of the joyful expectation whose end—at least in the perspective of God made flesh in history—is drawing near as the Christmas celebration approaches.

But as we look at the world around us, the wars, the conflicts, the injustice, the lack of compassion, the hunger and poverty that plagues so many countries—and even close to home—the homeless and mentally derailed people who roam our own cities, we may wonder if we have reasons to rejoice.

Even if we are lucky enough to be among the well-to-do in this world, at this very moment we may have close relatives or friends undergoing painful diseases, or even dying.

The actual world we live in looks more like the world of Job after he was allowed by God to be tested by Satan than like God’s Kingdom of love and peace. And we may wonder, was it much better for the prophet Isaiah, or for the Apostle Paul, or even the writer of the fourth gospel?

Definitely not.

The prophets never had a smooth time. They were slandered, misunderstood, and mistreated. They did not prophesy to have a more comfortable life, but because they could simply not keep silent when God called them to speak in His name.

We all know how much St. Paul had to suffer after he was called by our Lord to evangelize the Gentiles. He suffered slanders, whippings, shipwrecks, prison, and finally death for relentlessly announcing the truth of Jesus’ Way of Love.

John the Evangelist is believed to have died of a natural death, but even he was deported and confined to an island, and had to suffer much for spreading the Good News of Salvation to all the nations.

No, the world at the time of Isaiah, and at the time after Jesus’ ascension did not look like a rose bed—even if we call this Sunday “rose Sunday”. They were convoluted times, full of suffering people, oppressed people, people who had lost all hope. And yet, Isaiah and St. Paul rejoiced and encouraged their contemporaries to rejoice.

And do they tell us what is there to rejoice for? Certainly.

Isaiah speaks about the new creation that God is about to make. In this new creation there will be no more injustice, or people dying at a young age, and weeping and distress will be no more. It will be a creation which all creatures will live in harmony, and no creatures will hurt or destroy. The image Isaiah uses is one of great poetic beauty: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.”

Isaiah’s main reason for rejoicing is the sure hope of the new creation, so it has a future outlook, but the rejoicing is already a present reality.

St. Paul, however, sets the rejoicing in a present—or even an atemporal—perspective. He calls his readers in the First Letter to the Thessalonians to rejoice always. He is aware of how hard it is for these new converts to face the reality that surrounds them, especially now that they have embraced this New Way, and encourages them to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” And then he adds, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.”

This clearly shows that the rejoicing Paul is depicting has nothing to do with a “do not worry, be happy” superficiality in these converts. He is calling them to stay firm on the right path, but, above all, to let the Spirit kindle their lives with authentic joy.

If only we pondered on Paul’s words and put them into practice today!


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Paving the Way for the Lord

This Sunday's Reflection - December 10, 2023
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The theme of the Second Sunday of Advent is always the preaching of the prophets, calling us to repentance, and encouraging us to prepare the way for our salvation.

Repenting—or turning to God—is not a passive state of being at all. It must start with an overwhelming feeling of regret for our past actions, thoughts, words, or non-actions, accompanied by a sense of self-inadequacy in God’s sight, but it cannot remain there. It must necessarily spur us to a deep transformation of our lives, so that all the harm we have done—whenever possible—is compensated for, and our lives from that moment on become a better version of they are meant to be: God’s image and likeness.

This is what the repentance the prophets called the people to really meant. And John the Baptizer was a faithful follower of this prophetic call. So much so that Mark the Evangelist begins his Gospel with the words of the prophet Isaiah referring to God’s messenger calling the people to prepare the way of the Lord, and then he immediately introduces John the Baptizer and his proclamation of a baptism of repentance.

The fruits of true repentance as a way of preparing the way for the coming of God’s Reign of Love into the world are depicted in beautiful poetic images by the writer of Psalm 85: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring forth from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.”

This powerful image reminds us of two lovers expressing their mutual feelings in their intimate exchange of tenderness, and it is a proper image indeed. It is in our authentic human relationships that our transformation into better versions of God’s image is truly shown.

Isaiah also uses a beautiful and tender image to show what God’s relationship to His people will be when He comes to live with them: “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.”

And in his Second Letter the Apostle Peter reassures his readers that what they see as a “delay” in Christ’s coming to restore all things to God is nothing but His great mercy and His intent to include all in His new resurrected life. Peter states, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”

And he then addresses his readers with the following injunction—which is as valid for us today as it was for those he wrote it for: “Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by Him at peace, without spot or blemish, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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Awaiting in Fruitfulness

This Sunday's Reflection - December 3, 2023
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The first four weeks of the Church Year—the Advent Season—are usually associated with the idea of waiting, expecting, getting ready for what is to come.

The coming of Jesus Christ our Lord--into the world as God incarnate (if we look at Advent from a past-time perspective), into our lives here and now (if we see Advent from a present-time standpoint), and as the King of kings and Lord or lords in the end times (if we use an eschatological viewpoint)--is undoubtedly the subject of this first season of the Church Year.

As in every waiting time for an event, there is always a need to make preparations for what is expected. We have our money or pass ready when we are waiting for the bus. We clean and declutter our houses when we are expecting a visitor to come and stay with us. We mentally review what we are going to say while we wait for a job or other type of interview.

These are only a few examples. Practically no waiting time in this life is inert time—a time when we simply do nothing and just wait for things to occur. Even if there is no outer physical activity, there is usually a lot of mental activity going on.

Advent is meant to be the most active waiting time ever. At least, it should be.

It should be a time of the year when we actively engage in the study of Scriptures and in the prayerful reflection of them. It should be a time when we do more prayer than usual. But it should also be a time when we deeply examine our lives and get rid of all that hinders our fruitful encounter with Christ and with one another, and with the rest of creation. It is a time for making the decluttering of our lives a number-one priority.

This is the perfect time to ask ourselves, “what is in the way of having a loving relation with my Creator and with His beloved Son, our Lord?” And it is also the best time to ponder on how we can be reconciled with those we have been estranged from, due to the hardness of our hearts, and our lack of reconciling will.

The waiting character of Advent should by no means prevent us from putting into practice Jesus’ Way of Love in our lives through active loving service to those in need. On the contrary, this should constitute the best preparation we can ever have to receive Jesus in our hearts, in our whole lives, and to be ready also for the time when His reign of love becomes all in all.

This is precisely what Paul refers to in his First Letter to the Corinthians, when, at the beginning of the letter he states, “for in every way you have been enriched in Him (Christ), in speech and knowledge of every kind—just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gifts as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector

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