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This Sunday and Beyond    Weekly Reflection:

Manifestations of the Spirit for the Common Good

This Sunday's Reflection - May 28, 2023
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The Feast of Pentecost brings to mind the exuberant manifestation of the Holy Spirit among the first followers of Jesus after His resurrection and Ascension. Most pictures depict the tongues of fire over each of the disciples gathered in one place, and the disciples proclaiming the message of salvation to all who listened to them.

This depiction follows what the Book of Acts says in chapter 2. The narrative tells us that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, “as the Spirit gave them ability.”

The speaking in tongues here is not the same phenomenon that Paul mentions in some of his writings, which is characterized by speaking in unintelligible tongues (the so-called Angelic tongues) which need to be interpreted if others are to benefit from the message.

What happened on Pentecost Day, according to the Book of Acts, was that the people gathered in Jerusalem from different nations were all able to hear the disciples speak “about God’s deeds of power” in their own languages. The phrase “God’s deeds of power” is not explained here, but it is only logical to assume it refers to God’s plan of salvation for all through Jesus Christ, which was obviously the disciples’ main preaching theme.

The Pentecost event has been described as the antithesis of what happened in the Tower of Babel. In the Babel narrative the people who spoke a common language started to speak different tongues and were no longer able to communicate with one another. It is as if the disconnection with God’s loving purpose—symbolically shown in their ambition to build a tower reaching the heavens—had also brought about the same disconnection among them, thus creating chaos and confusion.

The plurality of tongues in the Babel story is a synonym of disunity and chaos.

However, the plurality of tongues in the Pentecost experience is just the opposite. It is this plurality that enables each of the listeners to hear God’s wondrous deeds of salvation in their own languages. We can assume the most of these people were able to understand Aramaic or Greek, which served as common languages in the region at that time, but hearing the divine things spoken in the language of one’s heart is a totally different experience!

The speaking in tongues was not given by the Spirit to the disciples as a gift to attest that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. It was not a mere show off. It served a specific purpose. It served the common good.

One of the Spirit’s gifts mentioned by St. Paul to the Corinthians in his First Letter, chapter 12, is the discernment of spirits. Just as it was then, it is nowadays essential also to discern the spirits. People claiming to be inspired by the Holy Spirit abound now more than ever, even in social media.

One good test of authenticity for the Holy Spirit is the question, “Does it serve the common good?” As St. Paul himself states in this part of the letter, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

It is One Spirit that sustains all of Christ’s followers, and this One Spirit gives each of us particular gifts that are to be put to the service of the common good.

When someone manifests a gift that serves only self-centered interests, we can immediately discard that the Holy Spirit is at work in this person. God’s essential feature is unconditional and all-inclusive love, and His Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, enabling us, through His inspiration, to make ourselves useful to pursue the common good.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Something Strange Happening

This Sunday's Reflection - May 21, 2023
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Bad things have always happened to everyone, including good people, but when someone decides to become a faithful follower of Him who is Love incarnate, and this person lives according to the rule of love, it is somehow “logical” to expect that mostly good things will happen to this person. But is this really so?

The Old Testament writers in general insisted on the law of retribution. God would give those who followed His commandments a good and prosperous life, with offspring and many years to live. Not receiving these was seen as a sign of someone who had not followed the commandments, of someone who had sinned.

It was only during the Hellenistic period (particularly in the Wisdom books written during this time) that this premise was not so much taken for granted, and some of these books (Job, for instance) contain reflections on the paradox of how people who live according to God’s Law also suffer. But there is a sense of final retribution if these suffering persons remain faithful to God.

The first followers of Christ lived under the rule of the Roman Empire. This empire was content with letting each nation follow its religion, as long as they would not interfere with the emperor’s authority and standing, which included worshipping him as a deity.

The Jews were a particularly hard bone for the Romans to swallow. They were really adamant in their belief in the only God, which could not be represented by any images. So any worship of a human Emperor was out of the question. Even so, the Jewish authorities tried to compromise by respecting the Emperor’s authority and complying with their taxes.

Although there was always a tension between the Jewish authorities and the Romans, the former tried to make sure that no uprising took place, in the hope that they could sustain their ruling positions among the population.

When the Jesus movement started to gain force among the people, the Jewish authorities panicked. Jesus’ followers clearly understood Him to be the Messiah, the King that would bring about God’s Kingdom and would rule the nations.

Apart from the fact that the Jewish authorities did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, they were also afraid that the Roman authorities would turn against them if the people followed someone whom they proclaimed as king. So they decided to turn Him over to the Roman authorities and have Him crucified.

They hoped this would put an end to the Jesus’ movement, but obviously it did not. After Jesus was raised from the dead, the movement gained tremendous strength, and the number of converts multiplied each day. The movement then began to expand out of Judea, to the neighboring regions, and beyond, into the pagan world.

Now the Jewish authorities had a greater fear. They saw how many of the Jews were being converted to the new movement. And the Roman authorities also suddenly faced this new movement, born within the Jewish religion, but with a totally radical uncompromising sense of faithfulness to Jesus Christ, and to one another within the community of faith.

They could not accuse this new movement of any mischief or misconduct, or of trying to promote revolts and overturn governments. But obviously these followers of Jesus’ radical Way of Love would not compromise with any unjust behavior or yield to false worship, and this became a problem for the Empire.

So the first Christians easily became the victims of slander and false accusations of all sorts. They were persecuted by both the Jewish authorities and the Romans. Some of them were imprisoned and others were martyred.

Following the logic of retribution, strange things were happening to those who never ceased to do good to others.

As it was then, it continues to be even to this day. We may not suffer the kind of persecution that the first Christians were subjected to, but being a true follower of Christ will bring us the scorn and opposition of those who would rather follow the law of self-centeredness, and ruthless ambition of wealth and power.

The Apostle Peter, in his First Letter, deals with this issue in chapter 4. He begins verse 12 by stating, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Then he continues by affirming, “But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when His glory is revealed.”

Suffering has no merits in itself. No one should seek suffering per se. But when one suffers for faithfully following Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, it is more than worthwhile going through the ordeal!

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


An Unknown God

This Sunday's Reflection - May 14, 2023
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In his zeal to fulfill Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, the Apostle Paul goes even to Athens, the city with the most shrines and temples dedicated to the pagan gods of the Greeks, but also the city where classical Greek philosophy had flourished in ancient times.

The story in the 17th chapter of the Book of Acts tells us how St. Paul found a way to address the Athenians about the true God. He found an altar with an inscription saying, “to an unknown god”.

Not wanting to leave any possible deity out of their worship, the Athenians had gone this far. But this is the opportunity St. Paul uses to talk to them about the only God.

He starts by exalting their rigorous religiosity in the fact that they did not even leave out a possible unknown god. He then identifies this god they do not know with the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In fact, the true God is unknown in the way Athenians “knew” their gods. They had carefully crafted stories about the origin of each of their gods and goddesses, and knew their names well. They even had images to represent them that portrayed their relevant features. The God of Israel, on the other hand, could not be represented by any image of anything in creation. There were no stories related to His origin, and His name, which was sparsely used by the true worshipers out of great respect, simply meant “I am (who I am)”.

The Hebrews “knew” their God in a totally different way. Their God was the creator of all that exists in all possible visible or invisible realms, and the stories they told and retold about Him were those of His mighty acts of salvation in favor of His chosen people.

They also “knew’ their God in a personal way, through their devotion and prayers, and in a communal way, through their celebrations throughout the year. All their lives were centered around the worship of the true God. Even so, God still looked more transcendent than immanent. There was no right balance between these two dimensions of God.

Jesus came to show them that the transcendent God was also close to them, inside and among them, and that His unconditional love, shown in human form through Jesus Christ, is the very essence of our being, and is to be manifested in our everyday lives when we get to “know” Him in the only way God can be known to us humans—through the manifestation of His infinite love.

To show this true knowledge of God to the Athenians, St. Paul uses a phrase that some of the Greek poets had already used when referring to the deity (probably the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus—a contemporary of St. Paul): “in him we live, and move and have our being.” And also, “For we too are his offspring.”

In this way, St. Paul makes clear to the Athenians what our relationship to the true God is, and how it is totally ignorant to try to represent Him “like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the imagination of mortals.”

He then takes the boldest step, and tells them about Jesus Christ, “a man whom He has appointed, and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.”

On hearing this, according to the Book of Acts, many turned away and told Paul they would hear him about this on another occasion. But some did believe and turned their hearts to the true and only God who can save.

Talking about the resurrected life is also bold nowadays, when so many people find it contrary to logic and science. But as true followers of Christ, we should imitate St. Paul in his shrewdness to find the right occasion, and his boldness to tell the truth of our faith.

The Easter message is the central message of our faith: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, as we shall also be risen if we are faithful in our proclamation through our words and deeds.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Becoming the Living Stones of God’s House

This Sunday's Reflection - May 7, 2023
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When we hear or read the expression “God’s House” our everyday experience leads us to think of a building or dwelling place. In fact, many of us speak of the church building as “God’s House.”

Holy Scripture uses images that were familiar to the readers of the time to refer to transcendent realities. This is one of the main differences between the Hebrew Bible and classical Greek Philosophy. The latter uses abstractions and archetypes to refer to transcendence.

Even though we find some of these abstractions in the New Testament due to the inevitable influence of the Greco-Roman world—the concept of the Logos, for instance—they are interpreted from a totally different perspective, which is always linked to the everyday reality of the readers and listeners.

The Logos in John the Evangelist’s writings became flesh in the concrete historical person of Jesus Christ, and dwelt among them. He is transcendent and incarnate at the same time.

So when in John’s Gospel Jesus is talking to His disciples about their full participation in God’s Reign of Love, He does not use abstract philosophical language like “you will be partakers and agents of universal love”, but He talks about what the things they were familiar with.

Jesus tells them about God’s house and assures them that there are many rooms in it, where they will have a place. He even uses a figure in which He Himself goes to this house to prepare a place for them. They can relate to this image. Even so, they have trouble identifying the place where Jesus is going.

Thomas is bold enough to ask questions when he does not understand something that Jesus says. He probably asks the questions they all had in their minds, but none of them dares to ask. For this reason, he has come to be known as the one who doubts or questions. But in fact he did his companions a good service in several instances.

When Thomas asks, “How can we know the way?” (to God’s House), Jesus replies with the well-known phrase, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

Jesus was not trying to be enigmatic or even exclusive—as some have unfortunately interpreted. He was simply pointing to what the disciples knew—His person. They had been with Him for almost three years, listening to His teachings, sharing His life experience, witnessing and taking part in healings and other loving life-giving acts. They had all this first-hand experience that was worth much more than any abstract terms Jesus might try to use.

To make this even clearer, when Philip—another bold speaker in the group—asks Him to show them the Father as sufficient proof, Jesus simply reminds him—and the others who did not dare to ask—of all they had lived with Him and of the works of unconditional love He had done in the Father’s name. God was transcendent already in the Hebrew Scriptures. He was not conceptualized or argued about in the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures simply take God for granted and when asked by Moses about His name, God simply replies “I am (who I am).” In other words, it is useless to try to argue about God’s being.

But in the person of Jesus Christ, God can be known to humankind. And by following in His Way of Love we inhabit His house and invite others who do not known Him to come to His house too.

In his First Letter, chapter 2, the Apostle Peter uses a particularly beautiful image to express this idea. He states, “Come to Him (Jesus Christ), a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

May we always be these living stones making up God’s House.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


The Endurance That Pleases God

This Sunday's Reflection - April 30, 2023
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Christianity is undoubtedly a faith that commends endurance. Jesus Christ’s life is the epitome of endurance, and his first followers had to endure slander, persecutions, prison, and even martyrdom.

Through the centuries, Christ’s authentic followers have had to endure a lot, particularly those who have tried to keep the faith pure, and those who have gone on mission to foreign and oftentimes hostile lands. Even nowadays there are Christians who literally give their life for being faithful witnesses of Christ’s Way of Love.

There seems to be a contradiction between the claim made by Jesus that He has come “that we may have life, and have it abundantly”, and being willing to put up with harshness and even pain in our lives to be true witnesses of the faith we profess.

It might look as if our Creator were intent in making us suffer. But that is certainly not the case.

Popular wisdom has this saying, “No pain, no gain.” This reminds us that nothing worthwhile comes to us easy in life. This is undoubtedly true wisdom. If we fall into the habit of avoiding all discomfort in our lives, of never getting out of “our comfort zone”, we will become lazy and conformist people, and this is probably the greatest fault of our modern society. But when it comes to our faith, we are not only talking about making efforts and facing hardships that will make our character stronger. We are literally referring to the possibility of suffering losses and experiencing pain for the sake of our Christian integrity.

What is this abundant life that Christ has promised to give us?

Life can mean different things according to the way we perceive it. Biological life has been defined by science, and we are all familiar with what it means and entails. It is wonderful, and its pinnacle on this planet is human life, but even so it is finite and its decline and end are inevitable.

When the New Testament writers—John the Evangelist in particular—use the terms life and death, they usually mean something other than what we normally understand. True and abundant life is seen as the true expression of God’s love—a life lived in communion with the Creator, with one another, and with the whole of creation. This life transcends biological life. It is not confined by the time-space continuum of our ordinary lives on earth.

This true life is not self-centered, because God’s love is the opposite of self-centeredness. It is all-embracing, unconditional love. This implies that sacrificing oneself for the benefit of others is a common trait of the true life. Just as Christ gave Himself for us, we must be willing to give ourselves to others in love.

Following Jesus’ radical Way of Love entails endurance. The world we live in is not in perfect communion with the law of love. Living our lives in consonance with this law will normally find opposition from many, including those who are in power in our society, and this will make us suffer.

This means we should stand up for justice and promote change in our society. The abundant and true-life Jesus promised us must be our goal, and we must strive to make the changes that bring God’s Kingdom closer to us.

Enduring the consequences of promoting the coming of God’s Reign of Love must not be confused with using violence to follow the political agenda we see fit. There are instances when it may become necessary to overthrow an unjust regime, but the use of violence and death is not normally consonant with Jesus’ Way of Love.

If we suffer for doing wrong to others, as Peter says in his First Letter, chapter 2, “what credit is that?” But then he adds, “But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps.”

Let us follow His steps consistently.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


The Reverent Fear of God

This Sunday's Reflection - April 23, 2023
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In many of the theological reflections we find nowadays (and I do not exclude myself here) fear is seen as opposing to love, especially to Christ’s unconditional love that mirrors God’s love for us and for all creation.

In the First Letter of St. John, Chapter 4, verse 18, the writer states, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

It is a fact that when we truthfully embrace Jesus’ radical Way of Love, our fears of losing that which we imagine will give us security and stability are left behind. We no longer fear losing our money or our material possessions, or our social or academic prestige that will grant us a certain recognition in society. We even lose the fear of losing our physical lives—although the self-preservation instinct was placed in us by the Creator, and it does us a good service—because we realize that God’s love transcends even death, and real and abundant life is our true inheritance.

Why then is the fear of God commended by Bible writers, even by the New Testament ones, like the Apostle Peter, for instance?

There is a reverent fear that comes from the realization of the transcendence of our Creator as compared to our finite and imperfect nature, which should always be commended. It has been called fear but perhaps a better name for it would be reverent awe.

A theology that does not include this reverent fear is actually denying God’s transcendence and our need to always keep it in mind. God is so much greater than us human beings. Even though He created us in His likeness and image, we are still nothing compared to Him who created all that is.

Moreover, we always need to remember our tendency to depart from the right loving relationship with our Creator, with one another, and with creation. This departure is called sin, and we are constantly in need of repenting from it and turning back to God.

Understanding that because Jesus Christ gave Himself up in perfect sacrifice for our sins, we can sin all we want, and everything is fine between God and us, is a fallacy and very poor theology indeed.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross did not take away our responsibility for our transgressions before God.

Christ opened for us a new reconciled life based on His radical Way of Love. His resurrection clearly shows how God’s love and life always overcome the dark forces of evil and death, and that makes us fully trust in God and His promise for abundant and eternal life for us.

Thanks to Jesus Christ’s self-sacrifice in unconditional love for us all, we are now in a new kind of relationship with our Creator and with one another. We have been born anew to a life that is based on our love of God and mutual love, which finds concrete expression in our deeds of loving service and in sharing our goods and talents with those who are in greater need. It also becomes evident in our loving care of Creation.

This is what characterized the first followers of Christ, and we find evidence of this new way of life in the Book of Acts.

But the reverent awe/fear of God is something we should never lose. We will all give account for our deeds before God, who is a just and impartial judge, and sound theology will never lose sight of this fact.

In his First Letter, Chapter 1, the Apostle Peter clearly declares, “If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.” Peter was not referring in particular to people who had been exiled from their homeland, but he considered that our present life in which God is still not all in all is like an exiled life.

And a little further in the same letter he adds, “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”

His admonition is as true for us here and now as it was for those he then addressed.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


An Imperishable Inheritance

This Sunday's Reflection - April 16, 2023
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Easter Day was only last Sunday and what most people in our nation and the world probably remember is the festivities: the meals shared with family and friends, the children having fun with egg hunts and special treats.

Those who are affiliated to a Christian church will likely remember a lovely and memorable service with beautiful white and multicolored flowers and resounding joyous hymns, and, in some cases, an interesting sermon as well.

But is that all there is to Easter?

The celebration of Christ’s resurrection is and will always be the most relevant one in the Christian year, simply because the whole Christian faith is dependent on the Easter event.

Had it not been for Jesus Christ’s resurrection, history would perhaps remember a master of philosophy and religion who was born in Judea more than 2000 years ago, who left a valuable legacy of sage sayings and good advice to live a virtuous life, and who gave a great example of virtue in his own life, by showing his great love for humankind.

Thanks to Jesus’ resurrection, however, there was a total transformation in the world of His time, which has had the greatest impact in the history of humanity even in our days.

By being raised from the dead by God, Jesus Christ proved to His followers that the victory of the dark forces of evil and death over Him, who had given Himself up in unconditional love for all, was only temporary, and that God’s powers of life and love always have the last word.

Moreover, it showed to all of His followers then, now, and in the future, that we can all be partakers of His victory, so that death and evil are no longer to be feared, because He has already conquered them for us.

Peter, the disciple who denied his beloved master three times during His arrest and trial, but whom Jesus Himself restored to a loving relationship with Him after His resurrection, boldly proclaimed to all the truth about His risen Lord, in the face of great opposition from the Jewish authorities.

In the Book of Acts of the Apostles we find some of Peter’s eloquent addresses to the Jews, and we also read how he and the other apostles were threatened and imprisoned on several occasions for proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection and His saving power.

In his First Letter, chapter 1, verses 3 to 9, Peter refers to the impact that Jesus’ resurrection has had on them and on those who would follow on His Way of Love, in these unmatched clear terms: “By His great mercy He (God) has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

So according to Peter it was the Easter event (Jesus’ resurrection) that has brought about this new birth for all who follow Him in faith. Without it, none of this would have been possible.

Peter was also aware that, like him and the other apostles, all those who genuinely decided to follow the resurrected Jesus in faith would experience trials and persecutions at the hands of those who opposed God’s love and truth.

He compares these trials with the testing by fire that gold has to undergo, but declares that the faith of those who follow Jesus’ Way is even more precious than gold.

He ends this passage by describing what it means for Jesus’ followers to believe in Him, even if they can no longer see Him with their physical eyes. In Peter’s words, the true believers “rejoice with an indescribable joy”, for they are “receiving the outcome of their faith, the salvation of their souls.”

May we truly believe in Jesus’ resurrection—the foretaste of our own resurrection—and also receive the salvation of our souls.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church offers Easter Message

This Sunday's Reflection - April 9, 2023
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“We are here in a world struggling to find its soul, but the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not, cannot, and will not overcome it,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in his video message. The festive day of Easter is Sunday, April 9.

This is a different Easter message. I’ve shared Easter messages from Jerusalem some years ago, and I have shared Easter and Christmas messages from a variety of locations. Last year for Christmas, we were in San Diego. Today I’m in Paris, part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. We just finished a revival—over 50 young people and some 300-400 people from all over Europe who came for this revival service. It was a remarkable thing to behold and be part of.

The Convocation here in Europe is engaged in incredible ministries, with some joining together with Episcopal Relief & Development to make it possible for resettlement of those who are refugees from war and famine, particularly those who are refugees from Ukraine.

Thinking about it—I realize not only with this view—but with the reality of Easter looming on our horizon, John’s Gospel opens: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then there is a point in which it says, of Christ coming into the world, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.”

On that early Easter morning, John says in his 20th chapter, that early in the morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and some of the other women went to the tomb. They went to the tomb after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. They went to the tomb of their world having fallen apart. They went to the tomb of all their hopes and dreams having collapsed.

But they got up and they went anyway. They went to perform the rites of burial, to do for a loved one what you would want to do for them. They went, following the liturgies of their religion and their tradition, and, lo and behold, when they went, they discovered that, even in the darkness, the light of God’s love, the light of Jesus Christ—the light of Christ, as we say in the Great Vigil—in fact, was shining in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Jesus had been raised from the dead. He was alive, and darkness and evil and selfishness could not stop him. Love—as the old song says—love lifted him up.

We are here in Paris, this wonderful city. While there are protests going on in the city—garbage has not been collected, and it’s all over the city—we are here in Paris, in Europe, with refugees streaming into this continent from all over the world, impacted by changes in weather pattern, impacted by war and famine. We are here in a world struggling to find its soul, but the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not, cannot, and will not overcome it. Jesus lives. He has been raised from the dead. That is the message of Easter, and that is the good news of great tidings. From Paris, I’m Michael Curry. God love you. God bless you, and the light shines in the darkness, wherever there is darkness. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Amen.


Where the Wild Things Are

This Sunday's Reflection - April 2, 2023
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By Christopher Yoder Maurice Sendak's classic children's book evokes St. Mark's account of the temptation of Jesus, where Christ makes peace with predators and begins to undo the damage of sin. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. — Mark 1:1 In Maurice Sendak’s delightful children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, the boy Max makes mischief and his mother sends him to his room without his supper. And in Max’s roomy imagination a forest grows, and he travels across an ocean “to where the wild things are.” Read on


The Right Obedience

This Sunday's Reflection - March 26, 2023
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Obedience has always been a trait of civilized societies. There can be no true civilization without the people obeying certain laws and regulations that make human interactions possible in a climate of peaceful coexistence.

Moses gave the Jewish people the Ten Commandments as the premise of the new relationship that through the Covenant they were establishing with their Creator and with one another. These Commandments set up the basic rules for being faithful to their God, and for living in a way that would show that the real God of the World was their ruler.

Even more primitive societies had some kind of intrinsic rules taught to the young so they knew how to behave in that society.

When certain individuals decide to rebel against the established necessary rules, they only create chaos and confusion in the society, and these individuals are normally restrained by the law.

Unfortunately, throughout history some rulers have used the right to establish obedience in the wrong way, exacting from their subjects submissive behaviors that ensure their personal benefit and their stay in power.

This has given rise to justified rebelliousness, which in turn has given rise to the wrong idea that obedience in itself must be rejected,

As a result, rebels have been idolized by society, particularly in the last decades.

The sad truth is that, by refusing the right sort of obedience, so-called rebels are only being obedient to the wrong causes.

The word obey in English is ultimately derived from the Latin oboedire, which means “in the direction of + to hear.” In other words, to obey is to move in the direction of what you hear and act accordingly. If you choose not to hear what is right and good for the rest of society and for yourself, you will only do so by choosing to hear what opposes this good obedience.

Does unjustified disobedience actually give you any real freedom? Not in the least. It is the worst form of slavery possible, because it makes people slaves of sin, and the result of sin is real death—being separated from the living God, the source of true life.

Modern society has grown suspicious of good obedience, especially when it comes to obedience based on biblical authority.

It is true that many a false pastor and prophet has made a wrong use of the Bible to justify their personal interests and gains. May the Almighty have mercy on them!

But overgeneralizations are never good. There are still religious leaders and followers of Christ who truly believe in what they preach and use God’s inspired Word for the good of the people they serve.

But let us see what the Apostle Paul himself said in relation to the topic obedience to God’s will.

In his letter to the Romans, in chapter 6, he addresses the issue of the pretended freedom of those who oppose God’s will in these terms:

“When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is certainly worthwhile to cling firmly and obediently to this free gift, isn’t it?

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Imitators of God

This Sunday's Reflection - March 19, 2023
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Does it look like an unattainable goal if someone says that we should imitate God? After all, how can we humans imitate the Almighty, the one we cannot even comprehend with our finite minds?

And yet, this is precisely what as followers of Christ we are called to do.

When the First Book of the Bible tells the story of creation, it states God created us in “his image and likeness”, so the thought of us imitating the Creator is not alien to the Old Testament thinking, and it is certainly a vital part of the New Testament writings.

After all, it is not so much about us trying to make an effort to resemble the one who created us, but simply remembering who we already are—His likeness.

Mental constructs could never grasp the idea of God. If it were possible, then our Creator would simply be a product of our minds, as atheists would have us believe.

Precisely because God is infinite and we are finite, we as part of creation can reflect his image on this plane of existence, but we are not able to comprehend His very essence.

What we do understand, because we can live it out and make it a vital part of our existence, is love. Love is what makes us essentially human, and we can also see it reflected in the rest of the living beings, particularly in the more advanced species of animals.

Love is the highest expression of the principle of affinity, which is expressed throughout the universe even at the atomic level, and which has made the manifestation of the material world possible.

Human love, however imperfect it still is, is the highest manifestation of this principle which pervades all of creation, and points to the Creator Himself.

In the person of Jesus Christ, this human love is shown in its highest manifestation— utter self-sacrifice. In his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5, the Apostle Paul puts this into words in a touchingly beautiful way. He says, “be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

So for Paul imitating God is essentially living in the love that most resembles God’s love, the one that Christ showed for us all, as the true Son of God.

To make clear what this imitation of God’s love consists in, Paul contrasts the behavior that Christ’s true followers must exhibit with the “unfruitful works of darkness”. He encourages the converts at Ephesus to “live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and true.”

Light has always been the symbol for all that is good and true, as opposed to the darkness. In the Genesis story, light is what God first made manifest in creation, before everything else came into existence, as if to signal that His creation was essentially filled with goodness.

Taking part in the unfruitful works of darkness, which oppose life and goodness, is like being essentially dead. When our lives stop reflecting the pure light and love of our Creator, they make no sense at all.

Unfortunately, to a lesser or greater degree, our lives have departed from the light, and we have all sinned by not showing God’s pure love in our lives.

But as followers of Him who is the light of this world, Jesus Christ our Lord, we have the greatest of hopes because He has shown us the way back to being imitators of our Heavenly Father.

As Paul told the Ephesians, we should all heed the call that says,

“Sleeper, awake!
Rise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


A Good Reason for Boasting

This Sunday's Reflection - March 12, 2023
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Boasting does not look like a good habit. When someone is always boasting about personal traits or achievements, or about possessing big amounts of money or material wealth, it may be irritating indeed!

It is even worse when someone boasts about spiritual achievements or moral stature. That is often accompanied by bigotry and judgmental attitudes which hide themselves behind the guise of making others better if they only rise to the “heights” of the boaster (but the boaster has already secretly decided that they hardly ever attain this goal).

A boaster will always attribute whatever achievement they boast of to their own efforts—or good luck if they are boasting of inherited wealth or winning the lottery.

However, when you feel genuinely joyful and grateful for attaining something that has been freely given to you, out of pure love, and not because you believe you have earned it, then your boasting can be legitimate, and it will surely be appreciated as something positive to be emulated by all.

This is the boasting St. Paul is referring to in his letter to the Romans. In chapter 5, he affirms that because we have been justified by faith, and through Jesus Christ obtained access to His grace, we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

Notice that Paul is making it perfectly clear that what we have obtained is not the result of our own doing, but is the outcome of God’s unconditional love expressed through the self-sacrifice of His beloved Son.

Furthermore—and this may seem paradoxical—Paul states that we also boast in our sufferings.

Why should anyone boast in their sufferings?

It is not a matter of idealizing suffering and making it a goal in our lives. We have not been created for suffering, but for joy. Nobody should strive to suffer. But in Paul’s time many who followed Jesus’ Way—including Paul himself—were suffering because of their convictions and relentless proclamation of Jesus’ Good News of salvation.

Suffering for the best of causes; that is, for sharing in God’s glory, is more than worthwhile. And this suffering, as Paul says, produces endurance, which in turn produces character, and this character produces hope.

Paul is not talking about a vainly invented hope, but about the hope that does not disappoint us, “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

As we journey into the Season of Lent this year, we need to go deeper into the understanding of the real dimension of God’s love for us all. In the chapter of the letter to the Romans we have referred to he gives us a picture of the greatness of Christ’s loving sacrifice for us in the following way:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

In other words, we are the recipients of undeserved, immeasurable, grace filled love!

This is a good reason for boasting. It is the only good reason for boasting, and the most legitimate one!

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Faith in God's Loving Grace

This Sunday's Reflection - March 5, 2023
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Rationalism made faith outdated to a great extent. In the eyes of rationalists, faith was perceived as something irrational, based on belief only, with no basis or foundation.

Even so, humanism somehow conceded that it was positive to have “faith in humankind”, but this was mainly as a result of the evidence of what humankind had been able to achieve in the field of science and technology, even if these advances were not always ethically commendable.

Our faith—the Christian faith—is not purely rationalistic. It is based on the premise that our loving God has created all that exists—including us, and that He not only created us but cares for us and all of creation, and is continually calling us back to a harmonic relationship with Him, with one another, and with the whole of creation.

This faith simply cannot be rationalistic, because the God we believe in transcends all human concepts on which reason is founded, However, we do not consider it to be irrational, because we believe our God endowed us with reason so we can make good use of it throughout our proper discernment. Even so, pure rational logic cannot always lead us to the understanding of God’s plans filled with loving grace.

Think of Abram, who later became known as Abraham—meaning the father of many nations. Was God’s command to him logical? God was telling him to leave the land he was familiar with, the culture he belonged to, the people he called his own, with a promise that God would make of him a great nation, and he would be a blessing for all.

Had Abram used pure logic, he would have rejected this command hands down. How could he at the age of 75 be thinking of having offspring with his elderly wife? But Abram had faith. He somehow knew this to be the truth, since it came from God.

Why would Abram consider that what was being promised to him would be granted to him? Was he deserving it in any way for something outstanding or special he had done? But he was sure it would be granted to him if he only obeyed, and so he did.

This was given to Abram not because he had earned it in any way, but out of loving grace. True faith, based not on pure logic but in a deep conviction that God’s promises will become a reality, is hard for many. Even harder is the acceptance that we will be granted the most wonderful graces out of pure love, simply because He is love.

In chapter 4 of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul deals with the issue of faith as the basis for justification, as opposed to the Law. It is clear that Abraham’s earthly life preceded the Law given to Moses by centuries, so it is clear that what was counted as righteousness for Abraham was not his subjection to the Law, but his faith in God’s plan, so that he did not hesitate in carrying it out.

Paul uses this argument to defend the view that it is not through the flesh that we are all Abraham’s descendants (as the Israelites used to believe and so boasted of being God’s only chosen people) but through the righteousness of faith.

He writes, “For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the Law but through the righteousness of faith…” “For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents to the Law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham.”

So the promise of becoming the true children we were always meant to be, sharing in God’s loving presence, and in true harmonious life with one another and creation, stands firm for all, and the foretaste of what this really means has already been revealed and manifested to us in the life and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How irrational does this sound? Can any rationalistic logic defeat this graceful loving faith?

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


God’s Free Gift for All

This Sunday and Beyond - February 26, 2023
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As we start the Season of Lent, many of our thoughts go to our transgressions, and the need to repent, to turn to God, to transform our lives so as to align them better with God’s will.

However, we should never miss the main point of our faith, which has to do with God’s loving grace.

Grace is a gift. It is freely given to all those who willingly take it. It does not depend on our merits or what we deserve, nor can it be bought or negotiated in any possible way. It is simply given out of pure and all-embracing love. But it cannot be forced upon us either. God’s amazing grace was epitomized in the person of Jesus Christ, His beloved Son.

After giving His people the commandments that would help them order their lives in accordance with His will, after all the calls and warnings to turn to Him through the prophets, after all the wisdom shared with His people through writers inspired by His Holy Spirit, God became incarnate in the person of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, to reveal Himself to us in the most tangible form.

What Jesus revealed in His perfect humanity was God’s divine unconditional love for all. He showed in His person the perfect obedience to God’s will, which is, in turn, the greatest of freedoms, because it casts away all fear, and all bondage to sin.

Jesus’ Way of Love is God’s will for all His creatures. God cannot be defined in human terms because He transcends all human concepts. The only way we can somehow get to know God is through loving Him and showing His love to the others in our own lives. That is why John the Evangelist simply says in his First Letter, “God is Love.”

As we enter into this Lent Season, a season calling us to repentance, to become a better version of what we already are essentially--true children of our loving God--we should always keep in mind that God has loved us first, with His infinite and all-inclusive love, whose most tangible expression is Jesus Christ Himself. God’s immense love and grace is hard for us humans to understand because we have been made to believe that love needs to be earned and deserved (except for the love that good parents feel for their children). We have also been made to believe that for someone to be loved or appreciated more, someone else has to be loved less. So we spend our lives trying to fit into others’ expectations about us, competing with others to gain people’s acceptance.

But real love, the one that God showed us through His beloved Son, goes against all human logic. In our logic, when something is given out it diminishes as it is divided into more and more people. So the more people receive something, the less each one receives. But it is just the opposite with God’s loving grace. It multiplies and grows as it is given out to all who willingly accept it. And so it happens when we imitate Our Lord in giving out love to the rest of the world.

In his Letter to the Romans, chapter 5, which is quite a complex comment about sin, death, the Law, and God’s grace, the Apostle Paul says, “for the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.” Apart from the fact that following Paul’s thoughts here is quite a challenge, the main point he is making is that God’s free gift (His Grace) greatly supersedes all the condemnation that sin can entail.

Let us joyfully embrace this free gift in our lives, and make it known to the rest through our loving words and deeds, so that all can embrace it and have their lives transformed into their real identity in God.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Pressing on towards God's Heavenly Call in Christ Jesus

This Sunday and Beyond - February 19, 2023
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This Sunday, the last Sunday after the Epiphany, is known as Transfiguration Sunday because the Gospel reading is always about Jesus’ Transfiguration on the Mount and is also known in the Episcopal Church as World Mission Sunday.

The Transfiguration narrative in the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) is quite similar, with few differing details. It is a truly impressive transcendent and mystical event which has inspired several artists to depict it in paintings, and a good number of theologians to write about it.

The theme is really spiritually profound and calls for the analysis of allegories and symbols, such as the mountain, the dazzling pure white light, the presence of Moses and Elijah, the cloud, and the voice heard in the cloud. All of these have their Old Testament antecedents and the New Testament readers were certainly familiar with them.

But what can be the relation between Jesus’ Transfiguration on the Mount and the World Mission of the Church?

Transfiguration in the original language it was written (Koine Greek) is metamorphosis, which means a total transformation, giving rise to a new kind of being with new and improved features, as in the case of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

The Transfiguration event is mainly described as a vision, rather than as something permanent. It is a glimpse of the glorious divine image, full of splendor and pure light, of inexpressible beauty and fullness, that God’s children are meant to be.

More than Jesus’ own transfiguration—which is ultimately enacted by God Himself—the purpose of the vision is to enable these three disciples to perceive the true being of the one they had been following, as one who recapitulates both the Law and the Prophets (represented by the presence of Moses and Elijah) and embodies God’s true glorious image in Himself.

More than that, it was a glimpse of the ineffable goodness of God’s presence with His human creatures—a goodness that makes Peter exclaim, “it is good for us to be here” and also want to remain in this presence for eternity.

But the clue to the whole purpose of the event is given in the words heard in the cloud, “This is my beloved Son in who I am well pleased; listen to Him.”

The voice is addressed to the three disciples. It is a mandate to keep on doing what they had done so far and persevere to the end. The Transfiguration event precedes Jesus’ passion by a few days. These will be days when the disciples’ faith and loyalty will be put to the test to the greatest extent.

To listen is not merely to hear, but to hear and heed what is said. Jesus will give His followers final instructions that they prefer not to hear. They would rather not hear about the horrible suffering and death of their beloved master, but Jesus knows this is coming and must be faced. He knows that the transformation mission that He started needs to go on, even when He returns to the Father after His resurrection and ascension.

The disciples went through moments of despair and doubt for sure. But the glimpse of Jesus’ true nature they witnessed, and the understanding that by following Him they would also be likewise transformed into God’s true image, must have been a good source of support during this great ordeal and beyond, even to the end of their days on earth. St. Paul the Apostle was not part of the original group of twelve, and certainly did not witness Jesus’ Transfiguration, but he had a totally transforming encounter with Him when he was persecuting His followers.

In his letter to the Philippians, referring to attaining total transformation by becoming like Christ in the sharing of His suffering and death and partaking in the power of His resurrection, he stated, “I do not consider I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to the prize of the heavenly call of God in Jesus Christ.”

The Mission of the Church Universal has been and will always be to enable the greatest possible number of people in the world to be transformed into their true identity in God. This is God’s saving plan for all, made possible through Jesus Christ’s self-giving love, and through all those who have followed and will follow after Him.

In a world full of so much injustice, indifference, greed, hatred, disharmony, diseases, and lack of love, it would seem that there is no hope for this transfiguration to take place. But the Christian faith is precisely this transforming hope in the midst of all hopelessness, carried out by ordinary humans like you and me, who are convinced that beyond all this seeming ugliness and despair lies the dazzling beautiful and pure image of our true being in harmonious unity with God, with one another and with the whole of creation.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Mature In Christ

This Sunday and Beyond - February 12, 2023
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Discipleship for followers of Christ involves a lifetime of learning and maturing in our faith, in Jesus’ radical Way of Love, which is the perfect reflection of God’s all-embracing love for all His creatures.

From the moment a person embraces this faith, a new path opens up for this person to grow and mature, to become more Christ-like, and to be the pure image of the Creator that they have always been meant to be.

Regaining our true identity as God’s children can only be achieved in a gradual and persevering process, and each person travels this path in their own unique way.

One thing is certain though, we cannot achieve this goal by our own efforts only. We need God’s help and grace, which He is willing to give to us, if our desire for Him is genuine.

This process requires that we become obedient to God, that we follow what God commands, and do His will through our words and actions, which stem from our thoughts. Obedience is one of those qualities which has lately been disregarded as something positive for humans in the last decades. It has been equated to subserviency, which is a great mistake.

One should certainly not be obedient to those who demand something from us for their own sake. Tyrants demand obedience from those under their governance, but their only concern is how to get the most out of those they govern.

When parents ask their children to obey them, in most cases they do so out of love, because they know their children are still not capable of making mature and sensible decisions for themselves, and want to protect them as much as they can.

Our heavenly Father, likewise, guides us through commandments that help us to avoid unnecessary suffering and mistakes in our relationships with Him and with one another. This is why commandments were given to the people through leaders like Moses.

But our God also wants and needs us to mature. When parents see their children grow in physical stature and strength, they also want them to grow morally and spiritually. They have already instilled in them valuable principles that will guide them throughout their lives, and let them make their own choices based on them. This is how a person matures and becomes independent.

In the same way, our Father in heaven loves to see His children mature in spirituality. As Jesus Christ Himself taught, all the commandments can be summarized in the Law of Love, because when we are guided by true unconditional love, which is the perfect expression of God’s love, nothing can go wrong.

In the Book of Ecclesiasticus, 15: 11-20, the writer clearly expresses the idea of how it would be totally absurd to blame our Creator for our wrong choices. Having been created free in His infinite love, we are free to choose to follow God’s loving commands or not, but it will be up to us to face the consequences.

As the writer of Ecclesiasticus puts it, “He has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose. Before each person are life and death, and whichever one chooses will be given.”

Referring to the immaturity shown by the converts in Corinth when they claim to belong to one Apostle or another, instead of acknowledging their belonging to Christ only, the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3, “Brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food.”

So let us pray that, through His infinite grace and help, God’s Holy Spirit enables us to grow and mature in our faith, each passing day, so that we may eventually reach Christ’s stature, and partake of His graceful love in our thinking, which will show forth in our words and deeds.

The more we mature in Christ, the closer heaven is brought to earth for all.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Presenting Ourselves to God

This Sunday and Beyond - February 05, 2023
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This Thursday (February 2nd) the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, also known as Candlemas.

Within the Season after Epiphany, which stresses the manifestation or revelation of our Lord to the world as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, Candlemass is a specially fitting feast to celebrate, since it brings out the baby Jesus being presented at the temple as the “light for the Gentiles and Glory to your people Israel” as Simeon proclaimed Him to be.

The presentation of the male infants forty days after their birth to God in the temple, together with the rite of purification for the mother, was the ritual custom of the time, so what Joseph and Mary did was just what was required of them by the Law.

They probably just expected to go about the required ritual, present the offerings, and then simply return to Nazareth.

But they were met by two characters that changed the expected course of events.

First, Simeon, a righteous and devout old man who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before being granted the wonderful grace of meeting the Messiah personally. At that point he is granted this grace.

Here is what St. Luke the Evangelist tells us that Simeon told Mary, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own heart also), that thoughts out of many hearts will be revealed.”

What Simeon perceived in the child that he held in his arms was a revelation, not only of the fulfillment of the Messianic promise, but of how He would be a channel of the revelation of the true character of many who would come in contact with Him, both those who would follow His Way of Love, and those who would oppose Him.

So Simeon was predicting that Jesus would make possible that many would be authentically present to the moment of their encounter with Him, and would have to make the choice of embracing God’s Way of Love or rejecting it.

Simeon was truly present to the moment he was offered by God and embraced it with all his being. He also embraced the fact that his earthly years were almost over and did it with the joy of having been granted the tangible vision of God’s salvation for his people. His words are well known because through the centuries they have been put together in a canticle known as the Nunc Dimittis, which is the Latin for Now you let depart.

The other character Joseph and Mary encountered was the prophetess Anna, whom St. Luke refers to as “a widow who did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.”

Anna gave thanks to God for the grace of seeing the Christ, and “spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Anna was present to God all the time, and God granted her the great grace of meeting God’s Savior personally. Then she continued to be present. She would now be present to the people, to all those who were willing to hear the wonderful news of their redemption that she had witnessed firsthand.

Some commentators have said that the Feast of the Presentation is also about Simeon and Anna being present to God and to His Christ.

Simeon’s words to Mary also remind us that it is also about us being genuinely present, even if the presence pierces our souls like a sword in suffering, or if it brings out our painful contradictions and brokenness. Hiding from the confrontations that God and His Christ bring to our lives will do us no good.

It is so delusional to think that because we live in the era of globalization, we are more present than ever to reality. Global reality is accessible through the social media, but at the same time there are innumerable ways of manipulating it, and so many unreal and confusing stories available on the web that it is easy to be alienated from reality all the time.

Our modern society does not encourage one-to-one contacts anymore. People are made to believe that it is normal to live apart from everyone else that are not part of their close circle of family and friends, and that the rest of the interactions can be virtual.

So being genuinely present to our Creator, which inevitably implies being present to our neighbors, and to the rest of creation becomes more fiction than reality each passing day.

Being truly present means getting to know the others as they really are (not as they may appear on a Facebook page), their needs and plights, their struggles, their feelings, and how our presence with them can make a change for the better in their lives.

All through His ministry on this planet, this is what Jesus did and taught His followers to do. Will we heed His call?

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Walk Humbly with Your God

This Sunday and Beyond - January 29, 2023
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True humility is one of the greatest virtues any human being can possess. It is not commonly found, and it can be misrepresented and misunderstood, confusing it with lack of self-esteem, false modesty, or being subservient to those in higher social positions, expecting to be favored by them.

True humility recognizes our intrinsic values as God’s beloved children, in our uniqueness, and with boundless possibilities open to us when we follow in God’s Way of Love.

Being created in God’s image and likeness, we human beings have a considerable creative potential, which can work wonders when put to the right causes. We only have to look at the tremendous achievements of civilization throughout the centuries to realize this truth.

Unfortunately, this same creative capacity, when put at the service of greed, selfishness, and false pride can also generate war, mass destruction weapons, and unjust systems of oppression.

False pride is the most dangerous of feelings. It can be confused with self-esteem or the recognition of one’s true values. But it is nothing of the sort. It is the very essence of all evils, and the root of what has caused humanity to stop walking humbly with God, with one another, and with the whole of creation.

False pride is what makes us think that we are superior to others, deserving more than others, even deserving to have the same power as a god, and to use others and creation as stepping stones to achieve our self-centered goals.

This false pride can be nurtured by economic or academic achievements, or both, or by a certain social standing, entailing the right to rule over others.

The worst form of this pride, and one that can even be confused with virtue, is spiritual pride, which leads us to believe that we are spiritually superior, due to our “righteousness”, and that we can condemn others who are not as “spiritual” as we are.

As we enter this new year, we can still recall the Christmas story with its great lesson in humility, starting with Joseph and Mary humbly accepting God’s plan despite the great disruptiveness it brought to their lives; then God’s beloved son being born in the humblest of ways, and becoming manifest to the humblest of people, according to Luke’s narrative.

Matthew’s narrative, in turn, brings us the Epiphany, the humble worship of wise men coming from other lands and another religious background, but whom the Holy Spirit inspired to acknowledge God’s beloved Son in a humble baby living in Bethlehem.

Then we had the story of Jesus humbly coming to John to be baptized by him at the Jordan, and His divine filiation being revealed at that very moment.

At the same time, in this time-space continuum where our mortal lives develop, in this State of California at the start of 2023, wanton mass shootings have taken place, fueled by hatred and rage, which are mainly the result of false pride, of believing that we have the right to do away with the most sacred of God’s works: the human life.

If only we understood, not only with our minds, but above all in the depth of our hearts, how useless and destructive false pride is, maybe we could heed what the Prophet Micah said, “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

And referring to Christ crucified, which he defines as “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”, Paul in 1 Corinthians 1, 18-31, concludes by affirming, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Boasting in the Lord’s Way is the only acceptable way of not being humble. Even so, if one truly follows the Lord’s Way, there will be no boasting at all.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Diversity Is Not Division

This Sunday and Beyond - January 22, 2023
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Diversity has become a fashionable term in the last decades, especially in democratic societies like ours, and it has always been a foundational principle of this nation, expressed in the Latin motto “e pluribus unum”, meaning “out of many, one”.

The faith we profess is based on the One and Only God in three Persons, which also reminds us of diversity in unity, but at the same time we are constantly reminded that it is One and the Same Spirit that bestows all the diverse gifts on the believers, and that Christ is One and the Same yesterday, today, and always.

As Paul himself points out in his letters, particularly in 1 Corinthians 12, there is a vital need for the diverse gifts that the Spirit gives to different members of Christ’s church, because only through this wonderful diversity can the different ministries be carried out efficiently for the proper growth and development of Christ’s body on earth.

To make this idea clearer, Paul uses the image of the human body with its different parts, and how all these parts work together in harmony to make it up and enable it to function properly. He somewhat hilariously points out how inadequate and absurd it would be if the whole body were made up of only one part.

In the same way, we as church members need to understand the blessing of diversity, and how vital it is to have people with varied gifts, vocations, and talents, so that the different tasks can be carried out harmoniously and efficiently for God’s glory and the good of His people.

But diversity and disunity should never be confused. Diversity leads to an abundance of ministries and blessings. Disunity and division lead to the weakening, and eventually the death of a congregation.

To keep our unity, we must first and foremost clearly understand who our Great Shepherd is, and who we must turn our eyes to and keep our eyes fixed on, at all times: Jesus Christ our Lord. If we forget that, we are prone to fall into the traps of disunity.

For a good reason the name of the evil one (Satan) literally means “the adversary”, “one who is opposed”. His main strategy is always to divide us from God and from one another, to split us apart so that harmony ceases and chaos ensues.

Disunity has subtle ways of creeping into congregations. The evil one is sly indeed and does not often present division as a clear goal, but as a way of defending a certain position or idea, which may look good indeed, even from the Christian standpoint.

One of the ways in which disunity is created is through the exclusive following of certain leaders, who seem to us as the ones who are doing things in the right way, or whose personalities are more in sync with ours.

One of the reasons why it is healthy for a congregation to change priests after a certain number of years is precisely that. It teaches them to look at things from different perspectives from time to time, and it also teaches them who the real shepherd of the flock has always been, is, and will be: Christ Our Lord.

Priests come and go, but the church remains, because it is Christ’s church, not this or that leader’s church.

The danger of division has been with the Church since its earliest times. In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul addresses this problem in the recently founded church at Corinth.

Starting at verse 10 he addresses the Corinthian converts with these words: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose…” And then he uses some good irony when he says, “What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or “I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

Diversity is great, but divisiveness can totally destroy a congregation, and even worse, become an obstacle for the spreading of Christ’s News of Salvation.

If those who have not received the Good News see that we, who present ourselves as the proclaimers of this News, are divided among ourselves, will they even consider listening to us? Think.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Illumined by the Light to Be Light

This Sunday and Beyond - January 15, 2023
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On the Second Sunday after Epiphany, the Collect asks God to grant that His people (and this includes those of us who claim to be Jesus’ followers), illumined by Christ’s Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of His glory, that He may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.

In other words, the Collect reminds us that He who is the light of the world, and whose manifestation we are reminded of during the Epiphany season, is pure and shining light, glowing with His Father’s glory, which is also His, and that we are called to let His radiant light shine through us to dispel the darkness in this world.

Christ’s Word and Sacraments, of which the Church universal is the custodian and dispenser, are the main means of grace through which this light illumines the lives of those who open their hearts and minds to Jesus’ Way of Love, and let Him be the ruler of their lives.

Unlike the blinding lights that are used to focus attention on stage stars, Christ’s light is not meant for us to shine so as to be filled with worldly fame and vainglory, but to share Christ’s light with others, so that the light multiplies and expands infinitely, until all the darkness that the forces of evil bring about in the world are dispelled, and Christ’s light becomes all in all.

As the prophet Isaiah says, speaking in God’s name and referring to God’s anointed One, “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

How can we, as God’s faithful people, contribute to make salvation reach the ends of the earth?

The Apostle Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us clear hints as to how this can be made possible.

He gives thanks to God for this community of followers of Jesus’ Way in Corinth “because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus.”

Then he proceeds to explain how this grace has been made manifest in this community: “for in every way you have been enriched in Him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you.”

So it becomes clear that the spread of the Good News of salvation to others—what we call evangelization—depends, first and foremost, on Christ’s grace, and on His grace only, and that the grace that has been bestowed upon us is then enriched by abiding in His love and strengthening our mutual ties in the community.

It is then our duty to grow in our faith by getting to know God’s Word and His teachings, by being nourished through His Sacraments, so that both our words and our lives can reflect His light ever more closely, and our testimony can bring others to the true light as well.

No one can make Christ’s light shine for others if they do not carry this light in themselves. We have been called to be Christ’s light so that others can find their way and become His light for others in turn.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Rebirth for All

This Sunday and Beyond - January 08, 2023
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This Sunday—the first Sunday after Epiphany—the Church universal celebrates the Baptism of our Lord at the Jordan by John the Baptist.

The event is told by the four evangelists in slightly different terms, which clearly shows how relevant this was for the early Christian communities.

A lot has been written and commented about this event from a theological perspective, since it sounds contradictory that a baptism of repentance was taken by Him who was sinless. It is precisely Matthew’s Gospel which makes this contradiction explicit in the words of John the Baptist trying to oppose Jesus’ intention: “I need to be baptized by you and you come to me?”

But John the Baptist consents when Jesus replies, “let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.

As to the right interpretation of these words, quite a lot has also been discussed and written by theologians and Bible commentators, the most common interpretation being that Jesus showed great humbleness in making Himself equal to sinful mankind to open the way for us all to the status of God’s true children.

The other really relevant point in the different narratives of Jesus’ Baptism has to do with His true nature, which is expressed both in visual and auditory images. Most narratives tell us that the heavens were opened for Him when He came out of the water, and the Holy Spirit lighted on Him in the form of a dove.

This can be interpreted as sudden illumination, a revelation of His divine filiation with the Father as His true nature. To corroborate this divine filiation, a voice is heard from heaven saying, “this is my Son, the Beloved, with Whom I am well pleased.”

It is logical to believe that God’s pleasure in Jesus has to do with the fulfillment of His mission on earth. After all, there is no linear time for God, and He certainly knows the future as well as the present and the past.

The fact is that this statement is heard from God before Jesus has started His intensive three-year ministry, so we can also interpret that Jesus needed to be reassured by His Father of His true nature, of His caring love for Him, before starting His extremely challenging mission that would lead Him to the agony of the cross.

Henri Nouwen, the well-known writer of books on spirituality, in Life of the Beloved interprets these words said to Jesus as the words that our heavenly Father says to each and every one of us during our baptisms, and throughout our lives.

It may sound a little presumptuous at first, but if we consider the fact that Jesus’ plan for us is precisely to enable us all to become partakers of His kingdom of Love, becoming true children of God, this makes a lot of sense.

Peter was a strict follower of the Jewish Law when it came to conversion to Jesus’ Way of Love, so for him only those who embraced Judaism fully could be partakers of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. But God had a surprise for him. Through a vision God led him to Cornelius, a Roman believer in Jesus’ Way, and then Peter came to clearly understand “that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”

So even Peter, who at first contended with Paul for his inclusion of the Gentiles in Jesus’ Way of Love, finally understood that Jesus has opened the way to rebirth for all, with no exclusion, so that every human being who makes Jesus’ Way of Love their own is, undoubtedly “God’s beloved child, in whom He is well pleased.”

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


The Name above Every Name

This Sunday and Beyond - January 01, 2023
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Coming from a country where Spanish is spoken (Cuba) it has always called my attention that in English-speaking countries it is not the custom to name anyone Jesus, while in Spanish-speaking countries Jesús is an extremely common name.

It seems that the rationale behind not naming anyone Jesus in English-speaking countries has to do with the recognition that this name is the holiest of names, and no one is deserving of it. This comes from the Christian tradition, of course, but even nowadays it has been perpetuated by custom.

The fact is that in Jesus’ time this was a common name. It was actually the same name of the sixth book of the Bible (Joshua), which means God saves. To be sure, our Savior shared his name with many other people in the region, though perhaps not with so many in Nazareth, which was a rather small town, and for this reason he became popularly known as Jesus of Nazareth.

Names for the Jewish people were not just a way of identifying persons and distinguishing them from others. They were supposed to define the person, to specify the character and even the mission of that person in life. We can see examples of this throughout the Bible, when God even changed a person’s name for the new mission that person was to accomplish: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel.

Though traditionally names were repeated within families, to signify that the persons in that family had similar traits and missions in life, there were times when the tradition was broken, mainly when it was God’s given mission for that person. Everyone was surprised in Zechariah’s family when Elizabeth and Zechariah insisted on naming the child John (graced by God), because that was not a name that ran in that family. But this name had been given to the child by God Himself through an angel that appeared to Zechariah before Elizabeth got pregnant.

Our Savior also got His name before He was born, when the angel appeared to Mary before she had conceived from the Holy Spirit and announced to her what her mission and this child’s mission would be. The angel reiterated this name to Joseph when he appeared to him in a dream and assured him that he should marry his betrothed one because what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit.

The name given to our Savior clearly showed His main mission—to save us all from the slavery of sin and death—but it is obvious that in His time this name was not exclusive to His person.

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul, in chapter 2, refers to Jesus’ name in different terms. He says that God gave Him “the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

It is evident that Paul is not referring to the mere meaning of the name—God saves—but is using the word name with a deeper meaning, pointing to the very essence and being of Jesus as God’s beloved Son.

And in pointing to this essence, Paul is exhorting Jesus’ followers to imitate Jesus’ attitude. The passage we have as the second reading for this Sunday (Philippians 2: 9-13) begins with the word therefore, so in order to fully understand why the writer states that God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name it is essential to read what comes before.

Here, Paul writes this about Jesus’ attitude:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

This is the essence of Incarnation, what we celebrate at Christmas time. In theological terms it is known by a Greek term—kenosis—which means self-emptying. In other words, it means that God poured Himself out in love for us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Apart from all other linguistic considerations, this is the real reason why Jesus’ name is the holiest of names, and why, according to Paul in this same text, we need to “continue to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in us, enabling us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


The Grace of God for All

This Sunday and Beyond - December 25, 2022
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Christmas is coming, and although the media and the decorations and articles for sale in all stores try to push us to believe that it has been Christmas right after Thanksgiving Day, the fact is that the Christmas season consists of twelve days, from December 25 to January 5.

There is nothing wrong, many would argue, with entering the Christmas spirit beforehand, especially when the world has gone through so much suffering during the last two years, and it seems that this year we are able to celebrate without so many restrictions at last!

Granted. There is nothing wrong with a certain anticipation of the Christmas celebrations. After all it has always been the case to prepare for Christmas by decorating, by putting up a Christmas tree, by preparing for the main celebrations. And Advent is the season that puts us into the mood of entering into the joy of Christmas by preparing ourselves properly.

It is well known by all that Christmas is essentially a Christian celebration, and some people even enjoy the beauty of the Christmas carols and songs, that tell the story of Jesus’ birth and our salvation through Him, even when they are not even religious people.

But unfortunately for many Christmas has become just one season of partying and exchanging presents, of showing off with the most expensive decoration in the neighborhood, of dazzling our relatives and friends with the finest of all celebrations, and sometimes attending the local church, especially when our children or grandchildren are performing, to show them our support.

It is urgent that we Christians rescue the true Christmas for all!

While I was still in Cuba, and for several decades the government decided that the Christmas celebrations had no place at all in an atheist country, I remember one Episcopal priest once say from the pulpit that he was glad it was so, because then those who celebrated Christmas really celebrated it with its true sense, even if there were no presents to exchange, or no Christmas trees to buy.

I was not so sure that this priest was right at that moment. I really regretted that Christmas Day was not even a holiday in the calendar in Cuba, and unless it fell on a Sunday we had to go to work during the day and have our celebration at church in the evening.

Nowadays I see a lot of truth in what this priest said then. Of course I am not in favor of abolishing the Christmas celebrations from our calendars, but I do think that going back to the true sense of Christmas is a must.

So what is the real sense of the Christmas celebration?

It may seem obvious. Anyone—even someone who is not Christian—will readily tell you that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and they will probably add, “although we know that Jesus was not really born on December 25.”

But there is a much deeper sense in the Christmas story. It is a story about incarnation, about God with us, God made man by the power of the Holy Spirit through a virgin. God that came down to us to in human form to show us what His love is like, by His infinite grace, and not by any merits of ours. By becoming perfectly human, in the humblest of ways, God has revealed to us how infinitely great His saving grace is. In Jesus Christ God revealed Himself as the One who loves us unconditionally, and gives Himself for us in sacrifice, so that we may live abundant, everlasting, and real lives in His love.

In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul expresses this truth eloquently in these words, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

So this is the true message of Christmas, the one we need to rescue for all. It is the most joyful of messages because God has made Himself known to us, and has come to live with us that our lives may be transformed back into the image and likeness of what we have always been meant to be—the resemblance of our loving God—and be partakers of the wonderful glory of His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


What Good News?

This Sunday and Beyond - December 18, 2022
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Christians, and probably a good number of non-Christians who are familiar with Christian terms, have heard a lot about the Good News of salvation that we Christians proclaim. Many are also quite familiar with the fact that Good News is the equivalent of the term Gospel in English, although this latter word is also understood by plenty of people to refer to a particular musical genre.

When the Advent season is well on its way, practically coming to its end, proclamation of the Good News becomes a must in every church and every Christian circle. People are willing and more than eager to hear good news, especially in times when almost 99% of what you hear, read, and see in the media is terrible news.

There is even a modern trend to exacerbate the morbid side of news and to make catastrophic predictions about the near and far future of humankind. And media owners are happy to provide us with this kind of information regardless of its objectivity.

So we come to the question at the title of this article: What Good News are we proclaiming amid all this chaos?

We may think that the times we are living are the worst in the history of humankind. Opinions may vary in this respect, and probably everyone has said the same about the times they lived in. The fact is that the world has been chaotic for centuries now, and the situation did not look particularly promising to the people living in Jesus’ time or a few years after his life time on Earth.

Paul’s times were particularly convoluted. The Roman Empire was conquering and keeping more and more territories under its dominions, but there were revolts and unrest everywhere. People lacked freedom and were subject to unjust taxation, which made life miserable for a great part of the population.

The new converts came from different religious and social backgrounds, but they all had the most important thing in common: they had been born anew in Christ, and the way they related to one another, and to the rest of society and creation was based on the practice of Jesus’ Way of Love.

These converts had made radical changes from the way they lived before, when their lives were stuck in self-centeredness: the poorer keeping the little they had to themselves to survive, and the richer selfishly clinging to their wealth. They had now learned the true meaning of abundant life—a life based on sharing, on giving to the other, on letting God’s abundant life in love flow like an unstoppable flood.

This change was not an easy one. In some cases it might have taken place more promptly and smoothly than in others. Many might have still clung in part to the old ways, and were struggling to adopt Jesus’s Way in their new lives,

As it happened then, it still happens nowadays, and we must be constantly reminded and urged to leave the old selfish ways behind and embrace Christ’s radical Way of Love.

No matter how hard we may struggle, this has been, is, and will always be the greatest of news in all times. Paraphrasing the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, we can proclaim “the Good News concerning God’s Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and been sent to bring about the obedience of faith among all the peoples of the world for the sake of His name, including ourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

Belonging to Him whose immeasurable love created us is the greatest of news always. When in our stubborn self-centeredness we forgot the joy of true living, and were enslaved to the stagnation of lack of love and indifference, He even gave Himself to us in sacrifice to bring us back to real and abundant life.

But if we keep this Good News to ourselves we have not grasped its gist. The gist of the Good News of Jesus Christ, as Paul reminds us, is that we become apostles—sent out—to spread out this faith among all nations for the sake of His name. This news is so good that not spreading it out to the world would be unthinkable. Like the overflowing river of love that runs in our lives when we belong to Christ, the Good News flows out to all, and cannot be contained.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Joyful Patient Wait

This Sunday and Beyond - December 11, 2022
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It probably strikes you as odd that there may be anything joyful in waiting. This world of ours has accustomed us so much to impatience, to getting things done ASAP, that we feel uneasy and even angry when there is a need to be patient and wait.

Long waits look like a waste of time to most of us. Time is money as the well-known slogan has it. When it comes to making money, this may be true in most cases, but when it comes to God’s Kingdom, things need to be considered from a totally different perspective.

In this Sunday’s first reading in our lectionary, we have a text from the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35: 1-10) in which the idea of joy appears eight times in different ways, all in reference to the coming of a time of restoration, justice, harmony, and great gladness to which the Prophet was pointing in his time.

It is clear that the Prophet was not referring to the time he and the people were living at that moment. Brokenness, injustice, great inequity, and all sorts of evils were to be found wherever the Prophet and his fellow citizens looked. But it was his total conviction that this joyful time would come because the wait was on God’s promised time, and God never deceives.

Centuries have gone by, the new era has already been inaugurated by Christ’s coming to the world, but the total fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a kingdom of fullness in God’s love and life is still to come.

Does this prove the Prophet wrong by any means? Absolutely not. It simply reminds us that God’s time of fulfillment is not our time and is certainly not compatible with our impatience. It is, however, the most joyful of all times, because it waits in the Lord’s sure promise of total redemption and complete fullness of life.

In his letter, the Apostle James in chapter 5 encourages his readers to be patient until the coming of the Lord, and makes a comparison with the way a farmer waits for the precious crops of the earth, “being patient until it receives the early and the late rains.” Surely the farmer awaits these crops with great joy, and with assurance that this will normally be the outcome.

The farmer knows from experience that there is nothing he can do to get the crops more speedily. If he tries to get them before due time, he will only get half-formed crops that will be good for nothing.

Waiting patiently is a virtue that is not easy to attain, especially not in the times we are living. For some people it may come more naturally than for others. But waiting patiently must not be confused with quietism or sloth.

James, the very writer who insists on the importance of waiting and puts the patience of the prophets as an example, is well-known for being the New Testament writer who makes it clear that fruits of good works must necessarily accompany the true faith of believers.

Even in this chapter where he insists on patient wait, he encourages his readers to strengthen their hearts, and that is a goal that requires really active inner work!

Advent is the season of patient waiting, but not the season of inactivity. The readings constantly remind us of the inner work of repentance that this preparatory time entails, and of the fruits of good works that must show forth that we are prepared to receive Our Lord in our lives. And it is certainly the season of rejoicing, because in God’s time His Kingdom is at hand!

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Hope Through Repentance

This Sunday and Beyond - December 4, 2022
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Repenting—turning to God—and preparing the way for our salvation are the two main themes of this week’s readings, summed up in the Collect for this Second Sunday of Advent.

The prophesy in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 11: 1-10) tells us about a ruler whose lineage would come from Jesse (King David’s Father) who would establish a kingdom of real righteousness, justice, peace, and harmony, not only among the inhabitants of Israel, but in all the world, including not only humans, but all the creatures of the earth as well.

It will necessarily be the time of judgment, in which the meek and the poor will receive righteousness and equity, and the wicked shall be destroyed. There can be no real equity and harmony while the wicked rule the world.

The prophets’ call throughout the Bible has always been clear. It is a call to repentance, to a total change of mindset which entails a total change in our way of acting.

God loves all His creatures, including His special creation: us human beings. He does not want the destruction of His beloved creatures, but greed and injustice, cruelty, lack of love and indifference have to be wiped out and transformed into a new and loving kind of relationship among all creatures so that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”, as Isaiah proclaims.

As verses 4 and 6 of Psalm 72 put it, referring to this righteous ruler: “He shall defend the needy among the people; He shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.” “In His time shall the righteous flourish; there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall be nor more.”

And referring to God’s teachings through Holy Scripture, and our true salvation through Jesus Christ, in his letter to the Romans, chapter 15, Paul says, “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus…”

And later on Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So the Christian hope of a life filled with joy and peace comes about as a result of true repentance—turning to God’s Way of Love—which can only be achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Preparing the way to receive Him in our lives is, as John the Baptist openly stated, a call to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

The total realization of our Christian hope—a complete state of harmonious living—may seem far away from us in this world of ours, but each and every one of us is called to make the difference—no matter how small we may believe it to be—by becoming active agents of this greatly needed transformation.

However, no one can be an efficient agent of positive transformation unless they have undergone their inner transformation first. This is where so many “systems” have failed by trying to change society from the outside, without considering the inner transformation of each person first.

The Christian faith firmly proclaims justice and equity, harmony and the care for the needy and the oppressed. These have always been its tenets. But the only true transformation that will bring God’s Kingdom closer is repentance, a true turning to God’s rule, that can only take place through our willing acceptance of God’s Spirit of Truth, and Christ’s Way of Love in our lives.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector


Putting on the Armor of Light

This Sunday and Beyond - November 27, 2022
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On the First Sunday of Advent the Collect urges us to “put on the armor of light in the time of this mortal life…”

Armors were familiar to everyone in the Roman Empire of the time, and St. Paul often made use of images referring to what soldiers wore to refer to the way Christians should be spiritually vested to defend themselves from the attacks of the evil and dark forces of the visible and invisible worlds.

The second reading for this Sunday is Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13, verses 8 to 14, and in this excerpt of the letter the Apostle declares, referring to the times the converts to the New Way are living, “let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Paul refers to that time as “it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.” Notice the use of now to refer to the precise moment to be aware of the need to make the radical change from a life lived in darkness to a life illuminated by Christ’s living light.

The now of Paul’s addressees in this letter may be chronologically far from our now, but Paul’s injunction to turn to the new life in Christ’s light and love is not bound by time; it is as essentially present today as it was then.

In the preceding paragraph of this letter Paul had clearly reaffirmed what is said in the Gospels about the commandment to love your neighbor. He says that all commandments are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

So when Paul talks about the armor of light, he is clearly referring to putting love of your neighbor into practice.

The way he exemplifies how this putting in the armor of light is translated into practice is this: “let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.”

Living honorably implies living a life devoted to the love of God, which implies loving your neighbor as yourself, and not giving in to the selfish ways of self-complacency, which not only corrupt our bodies and minds, but make us self-centered and oblivious of (even sometimes contentious against) our fellow human beings.

At the end of this excerpt of the Letter to the Romans, Paul uses an image that sums up and brilliantly clarifies what he means by the armor of light.

He says, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

Putting on our Lord as our vestment, putting on the Light of lights, the Love of loves. This is the total transformation of our lives into His life, the real turning to God, and the most powerful armor against all evil.

Fr. Carlos Expósito, Rector