Friday, April 20, 2012

3rd Sunday of Easter Year–B 2012

I would like to look at three  profound truths of our faith found in today’s readings.

First of all the today’s readings remind us that God’s plan to save our world always involved suffering love.

The cross was not a mistake. It was not something forced on God. Suffering love was God’s choice and God tried to prepare humanity for this choice throughout salvation history.

In the first reading from Luke the author of the Acts of the Apostles  tries to explain this to his readers.

In the Gospel Jesus explains once again for the umpteenth time that the  Messiah had to suffer and die.

Jesus submitted to the Cross because it was the will of His Father and with His suffering love on the Cross Jesus paid the price of our sins.

No matter how many times Jesus had explained this to them and no matter how clearly Moses and the prophets and the psalms had foretold this profound truth, the disciples and the people of Jesus’ time just did see the cross coming.

Jesus’ followers and the people of His time held on to their misconception for dear life. They thought that salvation was just about getting their political independence back, they were convinced that the messiah was sent simply for the restoration of Israel’s political independence, not the salvation of the world.

This misconception proved a serious stumbling block to their faith.
I would almost say a grave stumbling block for their faith in Jesus.

The second profound truth of our faith is this.
The Cross was not the end of the story.
Jesus rose from the dead.

Death did not win, sin did not win, evil did not win.
The tomb was empty indeed and Jesus was alive.

In today’s Gospel passage Jesus went out of his way to make sure that the disciples and those who would follow them knew this profound truth.

He presented himself to them and interacted with them and went so far as to eat something to prove that he was not a ghost or a spirit but rather had indeed risen from the dead.

Next He showed them his hand and his feet, and the scars of the cross to prove he was not someone who looked like Jesus.
If Jesus had not risen,
and If the tomb was not empty,
if the early Church had not been absolutely convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead we would not be sitting here now.

The power of  resurrection faith transformed the disciples and gave them new hope and new courage.

After the resurrection they were no longer afraid, rather they boldly proclaimed that what Jesus said and what Jesus did was true
Tradition teaches us that their faith so transformed them that all but one of the Apostles chose suffering love over life and died martyrs for their faith.

The third and last truth I would like to mention is this.
Jesus had every right to be hurt or angry or disappointed in his dear friends

He had walked with them and laughed with them.
He had depended on them and they had depended on him.
He knew and loved their families
He had worked miracles in their sight and gave them incredible insights into God’s love for them and God’s plan for them.

But they all abandoned him.
It is important to notice that the first words out of His mouth after the resurrection were not words of reproach
or even disappointment
rather they were words of encouragement and hope.

“Peace be with you” he said.

Dear friends good people.
The people of Jesus’ time were not the only ones burdened with misconceptions about God and his presence in our lives.

So often we look on God as some kind of slot machine where if we ask long enough or pray long enough or play long enough we will get what we ask for.

Many people think that our faith is about our own little needs and our own little wants rather than the salvation of the whole world.
Quite frankly I’ve heard people say I prayed and God didn’t give me what I asked for so I don’t believe anymore.

People in this boat don’t see God as Father and source of all life
People who think this way don’t understand that every moment of our life is a gift from God.

They just don’t see that God is to be thanked and praised rather than peppered with our wants and desires.

Next as followers of Jesus
If we think that we can go through our lives somehow spared from suffering we are sadly mistaken.

God was willing to give his life away
and so must we be willing to surrender to suffering love.
Love is God’s call for us and suffering love is the Highest form of love,
suffering love is the way that God loved us.

When suffering love comes our way we must not run and hide like the Apostle but we must embrace it like Jesus, God Himself, accepted it.

Holy ones our entire faith rests on the resurrection…
After the resurrection the faith of the Apostles changed.

We are the post resurrection followers of Christ yet quite frequently we act like the pre resurrection disciples afraid to give any public witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.

Our love for the world
and the proclamation of our faith must be bold
we must live our lives, and profess our faith,  without fear but rather filled with hope.

For when Jesus said
“You are witnesses to these thing”

He wasn’t only speaking to the Apostles he was also speaking to us.

Let us meditate on God’s place in our lives

Let us embrace the cross and accept the suffering love which comes our way.

Let us be bold and confident post resurrection Apostles of our Lord Jesus.

For we are indeed witnesses to these things.
How we love your word O Lord.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

2nd Sunday of Easter–Year B 2012

Divine Mercy

Two moments stand out in today’s Gospel.

The first is what Catholics believe is  the institution of the sacrament of Confession.

“Jesus breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you hold bound are held bound.” (John 20:21)

We  believe that with these words Jesus gave the Apostles and those who follow after them the power to forgive sins.

All of us are sinners.
all of us make mistakes.

There have been moments in each of our lives when we have chosen not love not to share not to give.

Many of us carry the burden of our mistakes for a long time.
I have met women who mourn their children lost to the plague of abortion for years and year and years.

I have met men who live with the regret of past sins and try as they might can never seem to get beyond them.
Sometimes they seem doomed to repeat them over and over again.

Jesus understand us,
he understands that we need an clear and infallible way of knowing that our sins are forgiven.  

So many people pray and pray and pray for forgiveness in the silence of their heart but remain burdened and broken.

And so when Jesus  rose from the dead he gave the Church the power to heal and the power to forgive.

Confession is not something that the priest made up to hear people’s secrets.

Believe me there are only so many variations on a theme.

When we hear the words of Absolution in confessions Confession God is simply telling us I’ll never give up on you.

Confession is God’s way of picking us up and dusting us off.
As you have heard me say so many times... God is reckless with his mercy.

God is reckless indeed.
Please write this on your heart.
When you hear the words of absolution your sins are gone.

The other moment which pops out when you read this Gospel is Thomas’ encounter with the risen Lord.

Some might say oh that’s the doubting Thomas Gospel and I’ve heard that before.

Yes Thomas doubted but tradition tells us that there was more to him than his doubt.

Thomas is mentioned twice in the Gospel of St. John
After the rising of Lazarus from the dead Jesus announced that they would be returning to Judea where the Jews had previously tried to stone him.

The other Apostles were afraid to go but not Thomas.
He said... “Let us go and die with him.”

Thomas was more than his doubt and after his encounter with Jesus his profession of faith was strong and immediate.
My Lord and My God.

Tradition has it that he would later suffer martyrdom rather than renounce his faith in our Lord.

We have to be so careful that we don’t judge people by one moment or one mistake or one action.

We have to be careful that we don’t judge ourselves in the light of one moment or one failure or one action.

Jesus did not give up on Thomas but he encountered him where he was and called him to more.

We can’t give up on people but like Jesus must encounter them where they are and call them to more.

That’s what love demands and that’s what God’s mercy demands.

Pope John Paul II declared today the Second Sunday of Easter Mercy Sunday. It’s fitting the Gospel certainly speaks of God’s incredible mercy.

Mercy Sunday is a day when all Catholic should meditate on and great comfort in the Loving Mercy of God

St. Faustina a religious nun who lived in the first half of the 20 century was gifted by God with the task of proclaiming to world the loving His loving unfailing mercy.

Mercy was Thomas’ for the asking because Jesus knew that Thomas was more than his doubts.

Mercy is ours for the asking...
for Jesus said
“Receive the Holy Spirit who sins you forgive are forgiven them whose sins you hold bound are held bound. “

The World doesn’t need us to re writing God’s law proclaiming this is not a sin and that is not a sin like they used to do in the 70s when I was growing up.

Rather the world needs a greater understanding of God’s law  and a desire to share his mercy with each and everyone of us after each and every one of our sins.


Saturday, April 07, 2012

Easter Vigil 2012

A few moments ago the bells rang out from our bell tower.

They did not toll rather they peeled,
and from the sound that echoed around town,
it was easy to discern that something special was going on at St. Paul’s, something joyous.

Once after a school mass I rang the bells as the kids walked back to school and as the kindergarteners came out of Church I asked them what those bells meant and a little boy responded the “Church is happy.”

Yes the Church is happy and our Church is happy tonight, very happy.

Tonight we gathered in vigil to meditate on the Word of God.

Tonight we will baptize two beautiful children Brittany and Gary.

Tonight after a year of preparation we will welcome Thomas into full communion.

Tonight after a year of preparation we will confirm Sebastian in his Catholic faith.

A very special thank you to Fr. Raymond and the RCIA Team that helped prepare them for these special moments.

And tonight everyone including two more beautiful children Tyler and  Kyle will make their first communions.

Our Church our parish has great reason to be happy tonight.

Someone passing by might ask themselves what are they so happy about at St. Paul’s the economy is bad, gas prices are up... the world’s a mess.

And every once in a while it is also appropriate for all of us to ask ourselves that very same question.
Why are we happy ?
What is the reason for our joy ?

During this beautiful Triduum of prayers,
we have commemorated the institution of the incredible gift of the Eucharist Christ’s living sacrificial presence among us. We have reason to be happy.

For the last few days we have walked with our Lord on his way to Calvary reverenced the Cross and meditated on his passion and death.
God so loved the world. We have reason to be happy.

Many of us have taken stock of ourselves and our own brokenness.

Some even made their Easter duty and went to confession and experienced the healing forgiveness of God’s mercy. We have reason to be happy.

The Church is happy tonight because we know that resurrection confirms everything that Jesus said and did.

Death doesn’t win.
Sin doesn’t win.
Despair doesn’t win.

When all seemed lost in darkness and anger and violence
the Light of our Risen Lord appeared in our world,
just like the light of our paschal candle appeared in the darkness of this church.

We know that the light of faith given to us by our Lord will always sustain us even in our darkest moments.

Holy ones... the Easter message doesn’t take away all of the challenges and trials of this life rather,
Easter reminds us that there is always hope, hope for something better.

As the women made their way to the tomb they were overcome with grief but they were determined to anoint His body because they loved Him.

The Apostles Jesus’ dearest friends were so overcome with grief and fear that they were in hiding and wouldn’t even show their faces.

But once they encountered the empty tomb their lives were changed forever.

Their meeting with the angel changed everything

They understood that the power of Jesus’ suffering love on the cross had conquered even death itself.

The experience of the resurrection took away their fear and challenged them to go out... and share the good news.

“Go and tell the others and Peter” the Angel said
and that’s what they did and the world has never been the same.

And we are sitting in this church right now because they did as they were told.

Filled with hope,
filled with joy,
Guided by the very light of Christ as we go through life
let us go and do the same.

Someone is waiting,
someone desperately needs to hear the reason for our joy.

After this night of prayer and vigil let us leave this Church with a new and certain hope of God’s promise and God’s love.

He is risen