Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Salvador da Bahia (Brazil) turns 80, ceases to be a Cardinal-elector

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Today, Saturday, 19 October 2013, Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Cardinal-Priest of S. Gregorio Magno alla Magliana Nuova, the Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Salvador da Bahia, of Brazil, turns 80, and therefore, according to the rules written in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, he loses his right to vote in any future conclave.

Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo was made Cardinal-Priest of S. Gregorio Magno alla Magliana Nuova by Pope John Paul II in the 2001 Consistory of Cardinals on 21 February 2001, the eighth of his pontificate. He was also the once the Secretary of Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 1991, prior to his appointment as Metropolitan Archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia in 1999. He retired in 2011.

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http://www.gcatholic.org/hierarchy/data/cardJP2-8.htm#1

May God bless His Eminence Cardinal Agnelo, with a blessed old age and health. May he remain strong in the faith and hopefully can perhaps still carry out the mission God had given him in an active retirement and old age.

The College of Cardinals now stands at 201 members in total, with 109 Cardinal-electors and 92 Cardinal non-electors. There are now vacancy of 11 Cardinal-electors as compared to the maximum number of electors allowed in the Conclave of 120, although Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI had sometimes surpassed this limit.

Next Cardinal-elector to age out (80) will be Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the current Metropolitan Archbishop of Koln (Germany),  on 25 December 2013.

Sunday, 20 October 2013 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is our guardian, and He is our fortress. He will cover us with the power of His wings. He will not let harm to come upon us, and we will not know suffering or pain. All these, if we remain righteous and stay true on His ways, and do not stray into the path of evil. The Lord will listen to our call and our needs, because He loves us so much, that He certainly cannot ignore the suffering of His children.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have in fact no need at all to fear about ourselves, or about our wellbeing and safety. That is because the Lord our God, as the readings today assert, is a great and loving God, and He will stand by us at all times, especially when we are in our most difficult times. God does not wish to see His children suffering, be it temporal or eternal, as how it is in hell for those who did not repent their sinful ways.

The Lord had protected all of His beloved all this time, and today we heard now the Lord gave the people of Israel a complete victory against those who opposed them, namely the vicious and pagan Amalekites. The Lord fought with His people and triumphed against the forces of evil arrayed against them, no matter how powerful they were. Thus God loved and provided for His children throughout generations, one after another.

Yet, the people of God were not faithful, and as fast as the Lord had made them a great nation, blessed in terms of all things imaginable, they too forgot about the Lord and all of His might and love for them. They began to sin again and hurt the Lord with the depth of their sinfulness and transgressions. This is what the Lord wanted us to emulate.

Today, brethren, the Lord reminds us and highlights the nature of our salvation, in Jesus. He promised to all of us, life eternal in God. We are preoccupied with our own lives and our joy in this world, that we fail to see the great role that God had played in the lives of each and every one of us. We often demand many things from God and want Him to immediately answer our prayers and our demands, as unreasonable as they are.

To us has been revealed the full nature of God’s saving power, the love that God had for us, and yet many of us still have little faith in God. It is very often that we trust more of our own strengths and material possessions rather than trusting in God and in His divine providence. That was why when He indeed came into this world in Jesus Christ, He was disappointed at how little faith mankind had for Him, especially that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who, out of all people, should have had the greatest faith.

That is because those people had a high sense of pride and self-righteousness. They may be seen as pious and holy externally, through their actions and devotions, but inside, they had no real and true love for the Lord, and that was what the Lord rebuked them for, for their false uprightness and righteousness. They were truly wicked and yet tried hard to justify themselves.

It is not that we cannot devote ourselves the way they had done, brothers and sisters, that is through prayers and dedications, and sacrifices. They are important, and indeed we are expected to keep a good and healthy prayer life at all times. What is important, however, is that we must keep the Lord at the centre of our lives, and we must uphold the love He has and He preached to all of us, at all times.

We cannot become empty Christians, by merely saying prayers and devotions without meaning, by attending the Mass without participation and understanding.  Then, we cannot be charitable and loving without first anchoring ourselves in the Lord first. This then shows that, in all the things we say, in all the things we do, and in all the things we believe in, we must always have the Lord and His love at the centre of them all.

Brethren, let us therefore, seek the Lord, with all our heart, with all of our strength and understanding, that we will be able to find Him despite the devil’s temptations and all the distractions provided by the world. Let us open wide our hearts, to allow God to enter us, and transform us with His love. What we need is indeed simply to ask for the Lord and His assistance, and He will definitely provide for us in His own way.

All we need is indeed to ask, and if what we need are what we truly need, the Lord will grant it to us. He is after all just, just as He is loving. The problem is indeed often with us, because too often we are so engaged in our own pride and sense of ‘greatness’, that we ourselves turn away the Lord’s offers to us, trusting more in ourselves and our ‘power’. We judge ourselves better than others, and in there lies our fall. In the same way indeed, as how Satan fell from grace, that is because of his irreconcilable pride in himself.

Therefore, beloved brethren, from today on, let us first doubt no longer the love and dedication that God has for all of us. His care for us is genuine, and He wants us to be with Him again, and that is why, He often knocked at our door, the door of our hearts. Yet often, He knocked, only to be turned away.  We are too immersed and engaged in our pride and worldly desires, that we ignore the calling of the Lord, who whispered softly within our hearts.

Let us hence, commit to deepen our understanding of the faith we have, and resolve to bring ourselves ever closer to God through prayer. May we be able to pray, speak to God, and allow His gentle words to enter into our hearts. That we will become more and more loving children of our God, and be blessed forevermore. God bless and protect us always. Amen!

Sunday, 20 October 2013 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 18 : 1-8

Jesus told them a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, “Defend my rights against my opponent!”

For a time he refused, but finally he thought, “Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Sunday, 20 October 2013 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Timothy 3 : 14 – 2 Timothy 4 : 2

As for you, continue with what you have learnt and what has been entrusted to you, knowing from whom you received it. Besides, you have known the Scriptures from childhood; they will give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, refuting error, for correcting and training in Christian life. Though Scripture the man of God is made expert and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by the hope I have of His coming and His kingdom, I urge you to preach the Word, in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking or advising, always with patience and providing instruction.

Sunday, 20 October 2013 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 120 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – from where shall come my help? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.

Will He let your foot slip, the One watching over you? Will He slumber? No, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

The Lord is your guardian, the Lord is at your side and you in His shade; Sunstroke will not be for you by day, nor the spell of the moon by night.

The Lord guards you from every evil; He will protect your life. The Lord watches over your coming and going both now and forever.

Sunday, 20 October 2013 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 17 : 8-13

When the Israelites were at Rephidim, the Amalekites came and attacked them. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some on our men and go out to fight the Amalakites in the morning. As for me, I will stand with God’s staff in my hand at the top of the hill.”

Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had directed, while Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. It happened that when Moses raised his hands, the Israelites would win but when he lowered them, the Amalekites would have the advantage.

As Moses’ arms grew weary they placed a stone for him to sit on while Aaron and Hur on either side held up his arms which remained steadily raised until sunset. For his part Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the sword.

Saturday, 19 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests and the Mass of our Lady)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is so faithful to all of us, even when we are unfaithful. He keeps His promise even when we stray away from His path and erred before Him. He is truly faithful and devoted to us, that He sent us salvation in Christ, through whom He made this whole world complete once again, in the. Blood of the slaughtered Lamb of God.

He is faithful to the promise He made to man, and to Abraham His servant. Even if He wanted to break that promise, He could not have done so, that is because it is His nature to be faithful and true to the promise, indeed, any promise that He had made to all of us. There is no instance at all, where the Lord had broken any of His promises, that is the covenants He had made with us.

Covenants are made between two parties, brethren, and if one side break their part of the covenant, that covenant is broken. That is precisely what had happened, we and our ancestors are the ones who had broken the covenant the Lord had made with us, through our rebelliousness, stubbornness, and sinfulness, beginning from Adam our forefather and Eve, his wife, tempted by Satan to disobey God, right down to us sinners, who sin daily and do things abhorrent in the eyes of God.

Yet, the Lord who punishes those who has done evil, is also loving, and despite us having trespassed against Him, in His love, He continues to embrace us, and hope for us to return to Him. That is why, through Christ His Son, He willed to reconcile us to Himself, and reestablish the covenant that had been broken, and at the same time fulfill the promises He had made to us and our ancestors.

Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all God’s promises to mankind, and the One who marked the ultimate and infinite nature of God’s love and the perfection of the divine covenant. God promised man that He will send a deliverer through a woman, a descendant of Eve, the first woman, and the promise that while the snake, the deceiver would bite the children of the woman, that is Satan, will have power over mankind for a time, but the woman, from whom the Saviour came from, will crush the head of the snake, that is Mary, through whom Christ was incarnated into Man, will end the tyranny of Satan, through the death and resurrection of her Son, Jesus, God incarnate into Man.

God also fulfilled the promise to Abraham, by truly making his children as innumerable as the stars. The descendants of Abraham spread wide and numerous, and then, He also fulfilled it through Jesus, in making the descendant of Abraham great, everlasting through Christ, the descendant of David, and therefore of Abraham, through Mary His mother and Joseph, His foster-father.

To David, God had promised that He would establish his descendant on the throne of Israel forever, and that is fulfilled completely through Jesus, the son of David, and at the same time, the eternal and Almighty God. To Jesus will be given the eternal kingdom of glory, and He will be exalted by all creation, by all the angels, for He had broken the power of death, overcome it, and through His resurrection, He had made the whole world pure once again, from the taints of original sin, and bring mankind back towards the Lord.

Yet, many of us spurn and reject this expression of pure and unadulterated love. We prefer to mingle and linger in our sinfulness rather than opening ourselves to God’s infinite mercy and love. We love the darkness of Satan more than we love the Lord who is light and the true guide of our lives. That is because we perceive the lies of Satan as things good and enjoyable, while fearing the anger of the Lord because of our sinfulness. That anger however, is precisely because we refuse to turn away from evil, and continue committing what is evil in the eyes of God. If only that we turn ourselves back towards Him, He who is faithful and loving will surely welcome us back into His embrace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the holy saints and martyrs of the Universal Church. We commemorate today, the feast of St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf, and their companions, who were martyred in North America, during a time of great evangelisation and missionary work in that country. At that time, most of North America, as was the rest of the New World were still largely populated by the natives of the continent, who looked suspiciously on the activity of the missionaries like the two saints.

Yet, St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, together with many of their missionary companions, most of which were Jesuits, continued to work hard for the sake of the Lord, gaining converts among the pagan native populations. The hard work of the saints gained the conversion of even the entire Huron native American nation after long years of work in the bitter cold of Northern American winter conditions.

But rivalries between the native American tribes were common at the time, and the saints and their companions were caught in the midst of a vicious and terrible inter-native American tribal rivalry, which saw the Iroquois pagan natives completely defeating and eradicating the Hurons whom the saints had converted to the cause of the Lord. The saints were captured, tortured and mocked for their faith. Yet, they remained firm and devoted to the Lord, and they met their end at the hands of their torturers.

Therefore, brethren, we ought to be inspired by their example, the example they have made in their deep faith and devotion in God, that is in the One who has been promised to us mankind, to be our Saviour and salvation, as the deliverance freeing us from the tyranny of death and evil. Let us not be fearful to express our faith in God, and rather, as St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues, and their companions had done, show that faith through our actions, through our love and dedication to both our fellow men, as well as to God our Lord and Father.
May the Lord strengthen our faith, empower us, and bless us with His Holy Spirit, that our faith in Him will ever grow strong and never grow dim. Amen.