On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, nailed 95
theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg Germany, listing
his complaints against the Catholic Church and the
Protestant reformation was born.  In his attempt to reform the
Catholic Church, Luther chose to follow the Jewish bible, meaning
the Jewish faiths belief that the Old Testament canon,contained 39
inspired books.  In making this choice, Luther revised the bible, because
the bible he was reading at the time had 46 Old Testament books.

Changing the Word of Salvation, the inspired Word of God presents a
two fold problem: first of all, Luther now puts himself and all those
who followed him, into direct opposition with the very Church that he
was ordained in and that he knew had the divine authority to bind and
to loose such essential matters faith, Matthew 16:19; 18:18, because
for centuries, the Church had been reading, praying, proclaiming, the
Greek version of the Old Testament, the bible used by the ancient
Christian Church to evangelize the world, including all the
evangelists and St. Paul, called the Septuagint or the LXX, and this
Greek Old Testament bible contained 46 books, not 39.

The second problem with Luther’s decision is as follows: how can a
Christian’s source of revelation, their Word of God, be based on the
authority of a religion that does not believe in Jesus Christ as God
and Savior?  For example, can the Muslim faith canonize the Quran as
Christian scripture? The Jewish faith, at the time their scriptures were
canonized, at the Council of Jamnia in A.D. 90, just as today, did not
believe in Jesus as Messiah, as Savior, as God.  Therefore, just as
the Quran is inspired scripture for all Muslims, the Jewish canon is
100% correct and inspired in all her 39 books, for the Jewish people
and faith, but not for me, I am not a Jew, I am a Christian, and therefore
my Sacred Scripture can only be that which the Church founded by
Jesus Christ proclaims it to be, namely the 46 books of the LXX and the
27 New Testament books.

The Jewish faith, rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah,
therefore they did not receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit as a
Church teaching salvation in the name of Jesus Christ only to make
binding decisions on the true canon of the bible for those of us
who do believe in Jesus as the only source of salvation, Christians.  The
only Church that has the authority to make such decisions is the one
that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church, again please read Matthew 16:
17-19, 18:18.  That is why today, over 300 million Orthodox Christians
and over a billion Catholics Christians, read the bible of the ancient
Christian Church, with an Old Testament containing 46 books.

Today we will read one simple but powerfully inspired verse from the
Wisdom of Sirach, one of the books in the bible, excluded by Martin
Luther, in his choosing to follow the Hebrew canon. The other six
books in the Catholic Old Testament, not included in the Hebrew nor
Protestant Old Testament are: Book of Wisdom, 1 and 2 Maccabees,
Tobit, Judith, and Baruch.  Interestingly, there are also two chapters
in the Book of Daniel, not included in the Hebrew bible and therefore
neither in the Protestant bible, I would encourage you to read these
excellent and inspired chapters, as well as the rest of Sirach, Wisdom,
Judith, Tobit, Baruch, and 1 and 2 Macabees.

Know also that although Martin Luther sought to remove the Book of
Revelation and the Letter of James from the New Testament but his
wishes were not followed. Today the vast majority of the other 30,000
Christian denominations agree with the Catholic and Orthodox Church,
that there are 27 books in the New Testament and that is why the
Protestant New Testament is the same as ours, meaning they follow the
authority of the Catholic Church as to what is revealed by God in the
Word of the New Testament.

This brings up another interesting point: If the Catholic Church was
right about the New Testament, as evidenced by the fact that today all
Christian bibles contain 27 New Testament books then she cannot
be wrong about the Old Testament.  Being wrong about the Old Testament
would call the validity of the New Testament canon into question, meaning
that if the Catholic Church had the authority to say these and ONLY these 27
books are divinely inspired, the Word of God, and not any other of the
many letters
and Gospels written in the first few centuries, then she cannot be
wrong about the 46
Old Testament Books.  If the Chruch is right about the canon of the
NewTestament, she is also right (Spirit inspired) as to the canon of
the Old testament.

In my mind, this one verse that I am going to share with you,
from the Book of Sirach, will authenticate to you, that your Church,
and not a man, Martin Luther, got it right.  This one simple but
powerful verse reveals the authority bestowed upon the Catholic Church
to bind and unbind, and the truth that the Book of Sirach is the Word
of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to enlighten all believers, and
call all the world to salvation through faith in the Father’s Lamb,
Jesus Christ.

This is Sirach, chapter 2:1, “My son, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials.”  The Word of the Lord.  Thanks be to
God. Are you smiling?  Your spirit, just like the Virgin Mary's "my soul
proclaims the greatness of the Lord," should be smiling and saying, “Yes
sir, that is 100% true, I can testify to that.”  That is my walk, that
is my experience. That is the Word of God.  Trials and sufferings are
a part of every human beings life, Christians and non Christians alike
and not just those who have faith in Jesus, those who choose to serve
Jesus, however, all mathetes know from personal experience that when they
gave their lives to Jesus, surrendered to him in metanoia, the enemy became
enraged and began to try new tactics to get them back to his realm, to live
again with his ugly spirit.  Yes, and at the same time,every mathetes can
witness to the truth that faith in Jesus Christ and the receiving of
the Holy Spirit
gives believers new hope, courage, guidance, and peace of heart and
mind to deal with all these trials, spiritual realities they never had
until they
came to know, love, and serve Jesus.

Yes, there is also a new spiritual reality that the Word of God
reveals in Sirach, namely that when we lived for ourselves, when we
walked in our own vineyards, without the Holy Spirit, our enemy satan,
kept us sedated by feeding us more and more of the world.  Now that we
serve Jesus Christ and live in and with his Spirit, the enemy will
begin to use any tactic in his vast arsenal to get us back, the trials all
human beings face (depression, lost jobs, illness) and the trials of
persevering in faith.  So the Word reveals that there will be many different
trials in life, and we are not to believe the false preaching that when we
have faith in God, when we know, love, and serve Jesus, that all our trials
will go away.  No they will not go away, in fact in some spiritual ways, as
the Wisdom of Sirach and the Word of God reveals, they will increase,
the big difference is that by receiving the Holy Spirit, through faith in Jesus
as Lord and Savior, as the Lord of Mercy and the Forgiver of my sins,
we are prepared for and able to battle every trial we face, in
a way we never could before, because before we lived without the
power of the Holy Spirit, a power today we know we are spiritually
dead without.

In the long history of the Catholic Church, anyone who has sought to
serve God, can testify to the truth of this Spirit inspired
revelation.  When you serve Jesus, be aware that trials will come, and
how we deal with them, will prove the depth, the character, the maturity
of ones faith.  Persevering through trails and testing, will serve as your
personal testimony to the power, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ.  Let
me give you one example of an individual and family, who gave their
lives to Jesus, and then had to endure a series of trials that would
have shaken the faith of even the strongest of believers.

Brandon and Nury Vargas are members of our ministry called the Sower.
Brandon was, in his own words, a “typical Catholic,” meaning he was
raised Catholic, but really knew nothing about what the Church
teaches, and certainly had never met the person of Jesus Christ, and
did not lead a life in the Spirit.  Brandon went to Church because his
wife, Nury, who did know Jesus and lived in the Spirit, was serving in
the Church and made his life miserable if he did not attend Mass with
the family. Brandon, as he has testified to, went to Church on Sunday
because of Nury and his chidren, not because he want to worship Jesus,
to say thank you and praise Jesus for his life and all his blessing,
so his faith
was based on routine and ritual on and not on metanoia, a surrender of
the self and a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

Because of this spiritual reality, Mass for Brandon was boring, he
could not wait to leave and get back to his Sunday routine of watching
sports on TV.  In 33 years of attending Mass, because he never really
wanted to be there, Brandon never made one friend. That is a telling
sign.  He did not even know the readings being proclaimed on Sunday
were coming from the Bible.  One day, Nury asked him to attend a Sower
retreat with her, and he reluctantly agreed.  At the retreat, Brandon heard
powerful testimonies and the Word of God proclaimed in a way he never
had before, he heard things about the Church that had remained hidden
from him for years.

At the retreat, the Word of God and the testimonies of the Sowers
began to change his mind about the Church and his faith.  Brandon
began to open his heart to Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit came into
his heart.  For Brandon, as for many, his transformation was not a
one day event, but a gradual awakening of the heart and mind, the
Sower retreat was the beginning, an opening door to the Holy Spirit,
yes, his metanoia had begun, and soon his mind and heart began a
transformation away from  himself to a life of service, a life
oriented to others, based on his new personal relationship with Jesus
Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after surrendering his life to Jesus and becoming an integral
part of the Sower ministry, Brandon went back to the Church to study
his faith and receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist, sacraments
which beforehand he never cared to know anything about let alone
receive. This is evangelization.  Evangelization is not just for
unbelievers but also for uncatechized and spiritually dead Christians

This is what the Sower as the English family of the el Sembrador
ministry does.  Through radio, TV, retreats, congressos,
(coming soon in English!!) our Friday praise and worship of Jesus
Christ and our daily personal walks of faith and witness to others,
we invite Christians and non Christians alike to surrender their lives
to Jesus in an authentic way, the way of the heart and not the lips.
In this surrender, they encounter their risen and living God and
Savior and enter into to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now, in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God we encourage
them to begin to learn the majesty of the Catholic faith, and become
involved in their home parishes.

Soon after his metanoia, receiving of the sacraments of Confirmation
and Eucharist, and getting involved in his local Catholic Church,
Brandon and Nury began to go through some very difficult trials.  It
is important to note that the mother of the family is the “heart” of
the family and but the father is the “head” of the family, and when
the “head” of a family gives his life to Jesus Christ, the family will
go through many of these trials with him, because now he is beginning
to be a spiritual blessing upon the family, in a way he never was
before and the enemy will attack his will, trust, courage, and faith
so he will stop believing in Jesus and go back to the person he was

After his metanoia, Brandon and Nury’s first major trial was the
illness of their son Ryan.  In 2008 Ryan was diagnosed with a rare
bone disorder called perthes.  Doctors recommended surgery, however
the day before the surgery was supposed to take place, Ryan became ill
and it was postponed.  All this time friends, family, Church, and
ministry were praying for a miracle, for God’s intervention.  When the
surgery was delayed, the family consulted another doctor.  The new
doctor said there was no need for surgery because the bone was growing
back, the family asked if he had ever seen this before, and he said
no.  Amen to the Blood, Jesus had intervened, a miracle had taken
place, and today Ryan is healthy, happy, and running all over the

Brandon and Nury’s next trial is one that millions of Americans have
gone through in this latest recession, namely financial and housing hardships.
One day, a guy shows up at their door, and says, “This house has been foreclosed
on; you have three days to get out.”  They were renters and had no
place to go, again God intervened, someone at Church heard about their
situation and said, “I have a home nearby that you can rent.”  Turns
out that the rent was cheaper than before and the new house was bigger
and nicer too.  God’s presence in their trials was again manifested.

Brandon and Nury’s next trials, again like so many families these
days, were financial.  On the foolish advice of a new accountant,
Brandon filed for a tax refund for the year 2007.  When the IRS got
involved, as usual, they said, “No you do not get a refund, in fact as
we audited your books, we found out you owe us $5,000.00.  Ouch.
Around the same time, literally out of the blue, his employer began to
take money out of his check, saying they had been “overpaying” him in
the past, they took so much money out, he was unable to pay the bills.
Up to this point, making money had not been a problem, things were
OK, rent and car payment were always on time, kids and wife had most
of the things they needed, and life seemed to be good, rolling along
as expected, then this happens, and it made Brandon scramble to find a
way to make ends meet.

But from that moment on, things simply began to unravel financially,
the new job was not covering all the bills, he had to give his car
back and try to find a way to buy another car with his credit now
taking a big hit, there was less money available for necessities and
the entire family was suffering and having to sacrifice in ways they
never had before Brandon had given his life to Jesus. At this point,
many believers connect the dots, look for someone to blame, and turn
away from Jesus, as we will read shortly in the Parable of the Sower.

The next trial however was by far the worst.  Brandon and Nury have
two children, Tiffany and Ryan.  Tiffany began to experience a sharp
pain in her legs and back, and at first the doctors could not diagnose
the illness.  Finally one doctor took a blood sample and found out
that Tiffany was in the late stages of leukemia.  The leukemia had
already entered her spinal fluid and therefore also her brain, she was
immediately admitted into the hospital, where as of this writing, she
is back home, recovering from bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy,
and radiation treatments.  She will have many more visits to the
hospital, however today Tiffany’s hair is growing back, she is smiling
and putting on precious weight and is being homed schooled by Nury and
praise the name of a Jesus Christ the doctors believe she will make a
full recovery.

In all their suffering, in all their trails, Brandon and Nury never
turned their backs on Jesus Christ; they never “blamed” Jesus for
their financial woes or for the cancer that tried to take the life of
their only daughter.  They cried, beggged for God's mercy, asked for
prayers of intercession from friends, family, ministry, and Church, but they
never "blamed" God.  Blaming God is easy to do in times of stress,
suffering, and trial. God is an easy target.  He does not take revenge
nor fight back, no, he is patient and loves back.  In the parable of
the Sower, Jesus prophesied that many who once believed in him, in
times of trial, would turn away, “Those on rocky ground are the ones
who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root,
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial.” Luke

In their suffering and trials, Brandon and Nury did not curse nor
abandon Jesus because their faith did have roots, it was built on a
solid foundation, a Rock, on “rich soil…bearing fruit through
perseverance.” Brandon’s testimony is that without the presence of
Jesus Christ in his life, he is certain that he would not have been
able to withstand all these trials and sufferings and that only
through his trust in Jesus was he able to be obedient to the Word of
God in a way that only a true mathetes could, yes, and I am a witness
to this truth, in all their suffering, in spite of all the tears and
trials, Brandon and Nury never turned their backs on Jesus, they
prayed, trusted, and hoped, and continued to praise and thank Jesus in
all circumstances.  1 Thessalonians 5:18.

As we learned a few weeks ago: the bible reveals, as all mathetes can
testify to, that satan, our spiritual enemy can thwart plans, close
doors, and use other people as his ministers of deceit and division,
“We decided to go to you—I, Paul, not only once but more than once—yet
satan thwarted us,” 1 Thessalonians 2:18 and “For even satan
masquerades as an angel of light.  So it is not strange that his
ministers also masquerade at ministers of righteousness.”  2 Cor.

But we also learned that the enemy, does not have God-like power,
satan did not have the power to cause Brandon to lose his job or give
leukemia to Tiffany, for if that were true, we would all be out of
work and in the hospital.  As we taught and teach again, the greatest
power satan has is what you and I choose to give him.  He does have a
memory, he knows our past, he knows what has worked in the past, if
those temptations do not work, he will try something new, the fool is
a diabolic 7-Eleven, open for business 24 hours a day seven days a

So what the enemy does is he tries to use the trials that come from
everyday life: illness, loneliness, financial woes, natural disasters,
and turn them into hate, revenge, depression, division, slander,
divorce, idolatry, and apostasy.  What Brandon and Nury,
countless Sowers, and millions of other Christians have testified too is
that through faith in Jesus Christ, in times of trial, an authentic
believer has the
spiritual strength not to listen to the voice of the enemy, they have
the strength not to despair, they have the strength through grace, to
trust Jesus, and even to be able to rejoice in suffering, persevere
through it, bearing fruits of patience, joy, and love which glorify
our Heavenly Father.  This is a life and strength that is not present in
the lives of every human being, only those who have received the
Holy Spirit through and authentic surrender of the self, metanoia,
faith in Jesus Christ.

So know that the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life will not
make you immune to earthquakes, cancer, accidents, trials, temptations,
floods, and famine. Jesus is God, and throughout his life he experienced all
things everyone else in Israel did, just as we do, except sin. So what
is the point of being a Christian and receiving the Holy Spirit, if
faith in Jesus Christ
means we have to suffer just like everyone else?  Salvation/eternal
life, of course.  But what other religion in the world, through their
faith, receives God the Holy Spirit, fruits of patience, kindness,
self-control and love, gifts of prophecy, tongues, mighty deeds,
and are called to and capable of rejoicing in their sufferings? Seriously,
what other faith has the indwelling and guidance of God the Holy Spirit in
such a visible and knowable way?

Who else is able trust in God, through tears of peace as they witness
the sickness of their child, a lost job, and divisions in the family?
You see, being a Christian allows us to live in and see the world and
everything in it in the Light of eternity, the Light of Jesus Christ,
the Light of Life, John 1:9; 3:21; 8:12; 11:25; 14:6; and through his
peace, fruits, and gifts of the Holy Spirit we are able to live through our
earthly trials in a way that others, who do not live with this majestic
faith, with the Holy Spirit, cannot.  This is "Goods News," spread
this news.

As your faith matures, as your capacity to receive grace is built on
your new foundation of love, joy, kindness, and self-control, you will
receive a wisdom from above and not of the world and you will
recognize that many of the trials and sufferings you once lived with
were self inflicted, wounds brought about by our living in and with
the wrong spirit.

Yes, as we make the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the habits of our
hearts, we will find that so many of our “storms,” the sufferings we
lived with were a product of our own misguided thoughts and actions.
This is my testimony, many of the worst things I suffered in life
were a consequnce of my selfishness and bad choices and nothing else.
As we replace anger, jealousy, addictions, greed, pride, and overall
selfishness, with patience, humility, self-control, kindness, and
generosity, namely, a life in this Spirit, the old things that once
made us angry, crazy, and addicted, no longer have the power to do so.
As a New Creation in Christ, this can and will be your experience of faith in
Jesus Christ, surrender your "self" to Jesus and begin to live this new life
in his Spirit.

Know also that as certain trials and temptations fade, new ones will
appear, for example within the ministry in which Jesus through
the Spirit sends you to serve in, there will be times of disappointment
and closed doors, but brothers and sisters, do not be discouraged by this,
trust in Jesus, walk in the Spirit, pray, rejoice, and believe that the Father
has a plan for you, believe that Jesus is there with you in your
trials and that perseverance through our trials, strengthens our
faith, as the Word reveals.

There is a popular Christian Church in the Hispanic community called
Pare de Sufrir, (Stop the Suffering) which proclaims to their faithful
that in this Church, they will be relieved of their trials and
sufferings.  This is foolishness and directly refuted by the Word of
God. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various
trails, for you know that the testing of your faith produces
perseverance, and let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be
perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:2-3.

St. Peter suffered many trials and witnessed to the same truth, “In
this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to
suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of
Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:6-7

The Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Paul, who suffered through trials of
beatings, whippings, shipwrecks, imprisonment, being stoned to death,
saw all these trials and afflictions in the exact same Spirit, “Not
only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that
affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and
proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love
of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
that has been given to us.”  Romans 5: 3-5.  Amen to the Blood of the
Father’s Lamb.

St. Paul also saw his personal sufferings as a time of rejoicing and a
way of building up the Church, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for
your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the
afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church.”
Colossians 1:24. And as we saw in our reflection on discipleship,
Jesus revealed this to those who wished to follow him as mathetes,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross,
and follow me.”  Mark 8:34.

Do you see the power of this Word?   This is Jesus’ command along with
the testimony of some of the greatest and most faithful Christians who
have ever walked this earth.  They suffered tremendous personal
trials, and yet, in all their sufferings their testimony is that by
staying faithful to Jesus Christ and walking with him in the Father’s
vineyard, in a Spirit of victory and joy, rather than defeat and
sadness, they had the final victory, they won, yes, through faith in
the Blood and Resurrection of Jesus Christ all their sufferings and
trials in the end, proved to be for the PRAISE, GLORY, AND HONOR, of
their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Mathetes, Sowers, receive this Word, "When you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials."  Prepare yourself as the Apostles and disciples
did, in the manner Jesus taught them through the sending of the
Spirit, in a way the world thinks of as folly and nonsense, with
rejoicing.  "Rejoicing" in times of trial does not mean you will not cry or
suffer, no, what "rejoicing" means is that you will not condemn, despair,
lose hope, point fingers, and reject Jesus and the majesty of your faith.
What it means is that you will be able to say, "Jesus I do not know why
this is happening, I cannot see it right now, but I do know that you
have a plan,
I do know that I am your son, your daughter, and that you love me, Jesus,
now matter the trial or circumstance, I trust you, I love you, I will take up
my cross and follow you."

Again, everyone in the world suffers in one way or another.  Yes,
because of the sin of Adam, "Therefore, just as through one person
sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to
all, inasmuch as all sinned," Romans 5:12,  trials and suffering are a
part of the reality of all human existence and remains that way until we
enter the kingdom of God, or gets even worse, if we do not!  However
all those with faith in Jesus Christ will receive the peace to see their
sufferings as a time of building up their faith and Church, as a time
of building
endurence, courage, and strengthing of faith, even a time of
rejoicing.  Yes, those who take Jesus Christ as Savior, will receive the
peace to glorify God, reject the enemy, by rejoicing through their trials.

So when you come to serve Jesus as a husband/father, wife/mother,
as a Sower, as a Eucharistic minister, in the ministry of pro-life,
as a Lector, a Guadalupana, in the Knights of Columbus, as a
catechist, in whichever way the Holy Spirit calls you, know for
certain that the enemy is very, very angry and wants you back, this is
a good thing, we want the enemy angry and not happy with us.  At one
time, when we did not serve Jesus, but only ourselves, the enemy was
happy with us and now he will try new tactics to get the old you back,
the one who did not know Jesus, the one who did not live in the
Spirit, and certainly did not serve Jesus or his Church, and he will
do anything and everything within his power to hurt and deceive you.

Praise the name of Jesus Christ, through faith in Jesus, you have the
victory over satan.  Like St. Peter and St. Paul we will have to fight
many battles of trial and suffering, and by rejoicing through them, by
staying joyful through them, boasting through them, you become the
seed that fell on rich soil, who “When they heard the Word, embraced
it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through
perseverance.”  Luke 8: 11-15.

Sowers, and all believers, “When you come to serve the Lord prepare
yourself for trials.” Receive this Word of God with the full assurance that
through faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit you are always
prepared. Through the Word of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is your
armor, helmet, sword, and shield, enabling you to stand firm in battle against
the tactics of the enemy.  Ephesians 6:10-17.

Stay in the Spirit which means you will be in on the Vine and in the vineyard,
build your faith and spiritual foundation through a life of prayer,
Word, Sacrament, and service, knowing that you are the Father’s gift
to his Lamb, his Son Jesus Christ, and that Jesus’ final words in the
Gospel of Matthew to his mathetes, are forever true and efficacious in
your life, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  Matthew
28:20.  Amen to the Blood of the Father’s Lamb.

Grace and peace,