Welcoming Fr. Okitafumba; Holy Day this Wednesday; Reflecting on Today’s Gospel

As I mentioned here last week, we are welcoming a new friend I was recently introduced to to St. Raymond this weekend. Fr. Rafael Okitafumba is a priest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He has been studying here in the Bay Area for several years and will soon return to the DRC to serve his people. Fr. Rafael’s home village of Lovilo is midway between two cities and would be a good place to build a medical clinic. In fact, with some help from a generous immigrant couple here in the Bay Area the villagers have been hard at work making bricks and putting up walls for this medical clinic. But much more needs to be done, and I hope we can help.

Fr. Rafael is speaking as Masses this weekend to tell us about himself and his dream to bring basic medical care to his village. I hope you will join me in making a generous contribution for this effort. Thank you sooo much for your consideration!

This Wednesday is the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is one of only 3 non-Sunday Holy Days of Obligation in our liturgical year. We will have Mass at 8:30 am, 12:15 pm and 7:00 pm. Please join us as we remember our Blessed Mother and the singular privilege she received by being assumed bodily into heaven. People sometimes ask me, where does it refer to Mary being assumed into heaven in the bible? Here is the answer: The Book of Revelation chapter 12. St. John, from his imprisonment on the island of Patmos, saw a vision in the sky. “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations.” The woman referred to here is the Blessed Mother, proven in this passage from the same chapter which describes the devil’s “War against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” Want more? Mary revealed to St. Bridget of Sweden that she is with Jesus in heaven, body and soul and she pointed out that she and Jesus are the only ones in heaven now who have glorified physical bodies. Finally, we have the Church-confirmed apparitions of Mary through the centuries; appearing in human form to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, to St. Bernadette in Lourdes in 1854 and to the shepherd children of Fatima in 1917.

Mary’s place is in heaven now. We hope to share that place with her and her son Jesus one day in our own glorified body. Let’s celebrate this hope and this singular privilege of Our Lady together at Mass this Wednesday.

This weekend Jesus goes over the top in his discussion with the Jews from the gospel of John. Jesus explains that he is the bread that came down from heaven. He tells them he was sent from heaven and that he has seen the Father in heaven. He tells them they must believe in him to obtain eternal life. He tells them again that he is the living bread come down from heaven, and that whoever eats this bread will live forever. We who have heard these words perhaps since our youth can grow overly familiar with them. But imagine what it would have been like to hear Jesus say such incredible words in your hearing. They would seem to come either from a madman or from a blasphemer. These words and others like them got Jesus killed.

We know that these words, and all Jesus’ words are true. Jesus came down from heaven; God from all ages made incarnate through the fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary and appearing in human form. Coming from the Father, Jesus can truly say he has seen the Father. And Jesus would make valid for all times that he is the bread of life. We are so privileged to be able to be in the presence and partake in the bread come down from heaven at each celebration of the Mass. God is sooo good to us. Happy are we!

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