Showing items filed under “The Rev. Fabian Villalobos”

Getting Ready for Sunday by the Rev. Fabian Villalobos

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Eight Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12 Year A

Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

This is the reassurance that God is always there for us; He is really the Emmanuel, God with us, who maintains His promise and supports our prayer life to keep us in communion with Him in a way that no words can express.

These verses are also a reminder that we humans are weak and have moments of weakness. That there are moments in life when we don’t know how to pray and yes, it is in those moments when the Spirit intercedes for us.  God searches and knows the heart of all.

Perhaps now that we know the faithfulness of God and His presence from these verses, we are able to accept and understand better this verse from Romans Chapter 8,  

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Circumstances and situations we dislike or don’t want to accept; moments in life where pain, sorrow, discomfort, or despair take over our lives; moments where we search without finding meaning or blessed moments we can’t explain- we know everything that occurs is connected in one way or another with the divine providence of God.

All things, all moments, all events and people, all that happen, work together for good. “Even the hairs of your head are all counted” (Mt 10:30).  God is always in control. Things we understand or are beyond our understanding, at the end, will find purpose and reason to be in the eyes of God.

The fact that God helps us in our weaknesses and that all things work together for those who love God prove His involvement and compassion for us and our human history. When we continue reading Paul’s letter to the Romans for this Sunday, we hear that our faith and communion with God in Jesus is guaranteed.

If God is for us, who is against us?Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The only obstacle God could find is our closed heart; from God’s perspective He is always going to offer us a communion. There is a permanent place for us in His sight and nothing that happens outside ourselves could break the covenant of love in Jesus that God has establish with us.

God’s faithfulness and compassion is a disarming offer in front of our human weakness of sin and limitations. His presence in our lives represents the truth that our heart is constantly seeking.

His Kingdom is well above all we can imagine or understand, as Jesus mentions in today’s Gospel:   

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard like like treasure like a merchant in search of fine like a net that was thrown into the sea...

All these images of the Kingdom confirm what Paul had stated before, “all things work together for good for those who love God.” A Kingdom of possibilities and opportunities is accessible for us through our Baptism; not only we are children of God; we are also heirs of His Kingdom.

The Rev. Fabian Villalobos
Rector, Christ Church, Dallas

Getting Ready for Sunday by the Rev. Fabian Villalobos

"It is the Lord!”

In the immediate Sundays after Easter, the Gospels that we hear, preach, and share, are those of the resurrection of the Lord. The joyful celebration of Easter continues for seven Sundays until Pentecost.

This Gospel begins with a clear mention that the resurrected Lord has appeared before to his disciples, “Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.” Again” and “in this way,” proves to us that He manifested himself in previous occasions.

The author mentions seven disciples being together when Peter decides to go fishing. The disciples go with Peter; however, they did not catch any fish. Seven men, some of them experienced fishermen, fishing all night long, and yet, they caught nothing.

Throughout this long night, the disciples are aware their net remains empty, and yet “after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach” asking for fish, something they do not have, something he is going to provide them with. As we can learn from many other Gospel stories, Jesus asks first, and then later, he tells us what we need to do. He respects our freedom, while he requires our cooperation. “He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." With Jesus present, the disciples pass from nothing in their net, to a net full of 153 large fish. This is the same in our lives; Jesus has the capacity to transform our nothing, our own empty nets, into the fullness of God’s grace.

At this part of the Gospel story, we also confirm that in order to recognize the resurrected Lord, the disciples need to have a personal and loving relationship with Jesus. “That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” The beloved disciple has the capacity to recognize the Lord, and this is not the first time that the beloved identifies Jesus’ presence. This is a clear reminder that in order for us to recognize the presence of Jesus in our lives, we need to truly love him.

Peter’s reaction reflects his natural desire to hide the human nakedness from God. “When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.” He remains there until Jesus tells them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." At Jesus’ command, Peter receives the restoration of his dignity.

The resurrected Lord invites his friends, the disciples, to eat with him. He provides them food Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord.” This meal is the memorial of another meal; they understand who this person is; and as happened in the Last Supper, “Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” Jesus, the suffering Messiah, is now the Resurrected Lord who shows himself in the breaking of the bread, “This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

This story of the Gospel confirms the presence of the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread that we celebrate each Sunday. We like the disciples know, "It is the Lord!” Even if we don’t understand how, or dare not to ask Him questions, we recognize also, "It is the Lord!” Let us enjoy His presence and His love each and every day of our lives.

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia. Alleluia.

The Rev. Fabian Villalobos
Rector, Christ Church, Dallas

This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.