Archive for the ‘Lent/Easter Homilies’ Category

Homily – 3rd Sunday Easter MMXXII 4/22/12

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

 Homily – 3rd Sunday Easter MMXXII 4/22/12

About a month ago, the School had a lock-in on a Friday night, and so I went over to visit the kids who were having fun playing games in the cafeteria and gym.

The school has in the cafeteria about four new Foosball tables, and I never really paid much attention to them since they were purchased, but I went up to a group of kids playing at one of the tables and noticed that instead of little soccer players, they were star wars characters – Jedi Nights and Storm troopers I think.

I said to the kids “Wow, a Star Wars Foosball Table.

The Foose be with you!”

And one of the kids answered and said “And with your Spirit!”

Luke Skywalker knows the New Translation of the Mass!

In the New English Translation of the Creed, we now all say “I believe . . . . Jesus . . . rose again on the Third Day

in accordance with the Scriptures”

The old translation was

“He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures.”

While we certainly believe Jesus rose again in fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures, that the Old Testament predicted the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, the Latin word secundum doesn’t mean that. It means “in accordance with” or better yet: “according to”.

Its actually the same exact word as when the priest says A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

So in the Creed when you and I say “I believe He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures” we are saying that Jesus Rose again just as the Scriptures say He did, not only in accordance with the Old Testament prophets, but also in accordance with, according to, the New Testament writers.

And so in that part of the Creed, we are professing not only our belief in the Resurrection, but also our belief in the Scriptures as telling us the truth about the bodily Resurrection of Jesus.

The Tomb was really empty on Easter Sunday, just as the Scriptures say it was, and Jesus of Nazareth was truly seen, Risen Body and Soul from the Dead, by his disciples, just as the Scriptures say.

In looking over today’s Gospel, and all of the other appearances of the Risen Jesus mentioned in the Four Gospels, one similarity about all of them jumped out at me that I had never noticed before until this Easter: I noticed for the first time that the Risen Lord Jesus asks the disciples a heck of a lot of questions.

In almost every one of his appearances to them, Jesus is posing questions to His disciples. The first recorded words out of the Risen Lord’s mouth are “Why are you crying? Who are seeking?”

The first words out of His mouth at His second appearance on the Road to Emmaus: “What are you guys talking so excitedly about? What’s been happening around here anyway?” “Don’t you realize Christ had to suffer so as to enter into his Glory?”

And in today’s Gospel, after saying “Shalom – Peace” to them, the Risen Jesus says: “Why are you afraid? Why do doubts, questions, arise in your hearts?” “Got anything to eat?”

And finally, at the Third appearance to the Apostles early in the morning at the Sea of Galilee, he says “You guys catch anything the last eight hours? No?” and then when they get on shore, the Risen Jesus says “Peter, do you love me more than these? Do you love me? Do you at least like me?”

Before His Passion and Resurrection, Jesus gave them many teachings. But after His Passion, Jesus became Socratic, drawing out of them the seeds He had planted in them.

And the Risen Lord Jesus does the same with us, asking us the same questions so that we might come to an awareness of His presence in our lives. (Perhaps He does so even more after we have experienced the Cross in our lives.)

Why are you sad? Its all right if you are, but tell me why?

Who are you seeking, deep down inside?

What are you excited, passionate about? Do you understand why you are passionate about that, that it is pointing to me, to my passion and resurrection, that I wish to purify and fulfill those passions and desires?

Why are you afraid (to give yourself to me)?

Why do doubts arise in your heart? I’m not upset that they arise, I just want you to think about why you doubt – to make vocal your doubts, bring them to the light.

Do you got anything to eat? Will you eat and drink with me, at the table of the Eucharist, and we can have a nice long talk over candlelight dinner?

Have you been at it for a real long time and have nothing to show for it again? Do you feel like giving up? Tell me about it.

And one last question: Do you love me more than these?

Do you love me?

Do you at least like me?

May we mull over and over those questions that the Risen Lord asks us. Maybe in our prayer time this Easter, we can verbally answer some of those questions, or write our answers to them in our prayer journal.

In every one of the his appearances in the Gospels, the disciples didn’t at first realize the Risen Jesus was with them, until he started posing questions.

And as they thought over the Lord’s questions, and started answering them, they began to realize: It is Jesus asking these things to me, He is Risen, and with me always, alive in my life, making my heart burn with love as He reveals His Word to me.

Homily – Mercy Sunday MMXII 4/15/12

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

 

Homily – Mercy Sunday MMXII 4/15/12

When the Risen Lord appeared to the Apostles that first Easter Sunday Night, St. John says He showed them His hands and his side. And, The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord’s wounds, now glorified in His risen body.

And just as there are Five Glorified Wounds in the Risen Body of Jesus that the Apostles rejoiced over, so today’s Gospel gives us Five Glorious Fruits of the Resurrection which you and I and every believe can rejoice over.

And in the Spirit of the Fathers of the Church, who loved to do such things, and at the risk of making this sound a bit contrived, I’m going to relate each of these Five Fruits of the Resurrection with one of the Five Glorious Wounds of Christ.

The First Fruit of the Resurrection comes from one of the pierced Feet of the Risen Jesus, and this First Fruit is that the Resurrection turns Fear into Joy.

Before the Resurrection, the Apostles ran away from the Cross, ran away from doing God’s will, ran and hid from the hostile outside world, out of fear of all these things.

But after the grace of the Resurrection, the Apostles no longer feared the Cross, no longer feared sin and temptation, no longer feared persecution for the Faith, rather their fear was transformed into Joy that Jesus had conquered all these things.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, who died 7 years ago on the Eve of this Divine Mercy Sunday, was a man who had tremendous Crosses in his life, but because of his great faith in Christ’s Resurrection he would tell people everywhere he traveled “Be Not Afraid! Christ is Risen, and is with us always!”

The Second Fruit of the Resurrection corresponds to the other pierced foot of the Risen Lord, and it is that the Resurrection breaks down all barriers.

We see Jesus in the Gospel taking those two pierced feet of his, and walking right through a locked door so that the people he loved so much could encounter Him.

And just as Jesus back then went through a lock door, so today Jesus can get through a locked heart, a heart imprisoned in sin and sadness, a heart that has rejected God and lock Him out of its life – the Risen Jesus will not give up on that person, no matter what, til their last breath Jesus will touch their hearts with his grace, and patiently wait for them to open wide their hearts again to him.

The Third Fruit of the Resurrection, corresponding to the Pierced Right Hand of Jesus, is that the Resurrection bestows Peace to our souls.

The Risen Jesus lifts up that pierced hand of His (as he does in the Divine Mercy image), blesses us with it, and says ShalomPeace be with you!

The Peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we are reconciled to God; the peace of knowing that God is with us amidst our trials; the peace of knowing that we will be reunited with our deceased loved ones in Heaven.

The Peace that enables us to love our enemies and forgive those who sin against us, that enables us to hold out our hand and shake the hand of a brother or sister, in a gesture of peace and friendship and reconciliation.

The fourth Fruit, corresponding to the pierced left hand of the Risen Lord, is that the Resurrection dispels all doubt and imparts a concrete and lasting Faith on believers.

We see the Risen Jesus in today’s Gospel holding up that pierced left hand of His and saying “Go ahead Thomas, put your finger through the nail marks.”

Many scripture commentators say Thomas wasn’t with the other Apostles that first Easter Sunday, because he took the Cross harder than all the other Apostles did; Thomas was so upset with himself after abandoning Jesus on Good Friday that he didn’t want to face the other apostles.

But while a part of him doubted, another part of him believed enough not to despair like Judas did, and believed enough to come back to the Christian community of believers.

And so, because the Cross weighed heaviest on Thomas, in the end, Thomas’ faith in Christ was the strongest among all the other Apostles, as he is the first to say My Lord and My God, the first person to so explicitly affirm Jesus as not just the Son of God, but truly God Himself.

Lastly, the Fifth and Final Fruit of the Resurrection, which corresponds to the Pierced Side of Christ, is that the Resurrection Floods the World and our Hearts with the Mercy and Love shining forth from the Heart of the Risen Jesus.

Through Faith in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, our hands, our feet, our hearts become the hands/feet and heart of Jesus for others.

For the True believer in Christ, faith without works is a dead faith.

Some influential people in our society have been trying to narrow the definition of what a religious institution is, saying that while a house of worship such as a church or mosque or synagogue is a religious institution, a catholic hospital or jewish school or baptist soup kitchen isn’t a religious institution.

But such thinking is totally opposed to Catholic thinking. Listen to what our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI says in his 2005 Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”), paragraph 22.

He states (quote): “the exercise of charity,. . . love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to (the Church) as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.”

Good Shepherd School, Catholic Social Services, Fatima Hospital, according to the Pope, are as essential to the Church as the Mass, Baptism, Confirmation, the best Sermons are; these institutions are as Catholic as this Parish is,

and God have mercy on us and on our country if we start thinking they aren’t just as Catholic and start allowing our culture to treat them that way.

And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, may we Rejoice along with the Apostles this Easter Season, that Jesus, who was Crucified, is now Risen Gloriously from the Dead,

and that His Resurrection will enable us to Rise gloriously with him from all our trials, to an ever greater Faith, Hope, and Love in our lives.

Homily — 7th Sunday Easter MMX C 5/16/10

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Homily — 7th Sunday Easter MMX C 5/16/10

The Stoning of St. Stephen by Annibale Carracci (1603-04)

The Stoning of St. Stephen by Annibale Carracci (1603-04)

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, my reward with me.

Jesus, who this past Thursday Ascended into Heaven, is coming soon back to us. On Pentecost Sunday He will come into the hearts of the disciples in the Upper Room, bringing them “His reward”, the Holy Spirit, with Him.

(St. Paul, incidentally, calls the Holy Spirit the “down payment” of that reward given to all who follow Jesus in this life. On judgment day, Jesus will “pay in full” each person according to his or her deeds.)

This time between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday is kind of a mini-Advent for the Church, it is a time of waiting for God to come to us in a more powerful way.

On Ascension Thursday Jesus told the disciples Go and make disciples of all nations . . . .but first, wait. Wait in the Upper Room and pray for the coming of my Holy Spirit.

And this “mini-Advent” period of waiting for the coming of God the Holy Spirit into the world was much shorter and much different than that other more well known Advent period of waiting for the coming of God the Son into the world.

According to Biblical History, which may or may not be literal, God’s People had to wait and pray about 9000 years before Jesus the promised Messiah was finally born for them in Bethlehem.

In contrast, the Disciples had to wait only 9 days for the promised Holy Spirit to come to them.

And furthermore, the Israelites had to wait all those years in darkness, with only the dim, obscure light of the Old Testament to guide them (which is why we wear dark colored, purple vestments the 4 weeks of Advent leading up to Xmas).

In contrast, the Disciples of Jesus waited those 9 days for the Holy Spirit with the blazing light of the Gospel to see by –

while they waited in the Upper Room they reflected and prayed on the teachings and mighty deeds of Jesus, on His Passion and Death, on His Resurrection and Ascension, all of which enlightened their hearts and flooded the Old Testament Scriptures with light, revealing the hidden meaning of the Old Testament. (This is why during this “little advent” we’re now in, we don’t wear dark Purple but bright White Vestments.)

At the end of that 9000 year Advent, Christ was Born in Bethlehem. At the end of that 9 day Advent, Christ was Born again in the hearts of all believers.

And so my brothers and sisters, this mini-Advent time we are in between Ascension and Pentecost is for the Church and for us a time of intense prayer and waiting for the Holy Spirit to be born in a deeper way in our hearts.

I’ll end my homily by suggesting two practical ways you and I can prepare for the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost.

The first way is to pray the traditional Novena to the Holy Spirit I put on a pink sheet of paper at the doors of the Church (I give it out every year so you might have last years copy still as well). The Novena is a mini-course in who the Holy Spirit is and what He does for us as disciples of Jesus, which is everything!

The second way we can prepare for the Spirit’s coming is by imitating St. Stephen in today’s First Reading.

There are two ways we should imitate Stephen. First of all, the reading says Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit, we first need to be emptied of all Unholy Spirits, we need to be emptied of sinful attachments especially, but even non-sinful attachments we need to empty from our hearts, so that we will cling to God alone.

So during this mini-Advent, may we pray Jesus, empty me of any spirit of this world, empty my heart of any vain attachment, so that I may be filled 100% with Your Holy Spirit.

And secondly, the first Reading says Stephen in the midst of all his trials looked up intently to Heaven, never taking His eyes off that vision of Jesus His Lord there at the right hand of the Father.

As we prepare for the Holy Spirit’s coming, may we keep looking up to the Lord in the midst of trials we face. Too often we can let our eyes and hearts fall from looking at God and we then look only at the problems where in, and the next thing you know, we are drowning in our misery and problems.

Stephen kept his eyes fixed intently on God, and as the Acts of the Apostles said, Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father.

In the Creed and the Gloria we say Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, and in every other New Testament passage but this we see the Ascended Jesus sitting on His Heavenly Throne.

But in this passage, Jesus sees his beloved disciple Stephen filled with the Holy Spirit, looking up intently to Heaven in the midst of great trials and persecutions, and Jesus like a basketball fan jumped up from His seat in Heaven and rooted Stephen on: “way to go Stephen! Keep going, your gonna win! ‘Atta boy!”

Stephen got a standing ovation from the Ascended Jesus, and for a reward, Jesus answered Stephen’s dying prayer and converted the man responsible for his death, Saul of Tarsus, soon to become the great St. Paul the Apostle.

And Jesus wishes to give us a standing ovation also, and cheer us on in fighting the good fight of faith, and answer our deepest prayers, if we only take seriously these 7 or 8 remaining days leading up to Pentecost.

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Come Holy Spirit!

Homily — 5th Sunday of Easter MMX 5/2/10

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Homily — 5th Sunday of Easter MMX 5/2/10

I John, saw a New Heaven and a New Earth; the former Heaven and the former Earth had passed away.

The Book of Revelation, and the Bible itself, ends with this vision of John the Apostle of a New Heaven and a New Earth.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, St. John who was the youngest of the Apostles, wrote the Book of Revelation when He was an very old man, long after his brother Apostles had gone home to the Lord.

Normally, this Scripture passage is interpreted to mean that at the end of time, Jesus is going to make a new world where only justice and peace abides.

While that’s certainly the case, it is equally true to say that, after following Jesus faithfully for so many many years, after seeing all that Jesus had revealed in the Scriptures and Traditions He handed on to the Apostles,

After all that, John now saw a New Heaven and a New Earth – He saw Heaven and Earth from a totally new perspective now that Jesus was in His life. The former concept John had of Heaven and the former concept John had of earth had passed away.

Before coming to know Jesus, John perhaps saw Heaven as a place where only God and the Angels lived. After coming to know and serve Jesus, John saw a New Heaven that was opened to all men and women through the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, a Heaven where the dwelling of God is with the human race, a Heaven where the Angels and Saints worship together around God’s throne.

And before coming to know Jesus, John perhaps saw this Earth as a place filled with only sin and suffering and sickness and war, a place where joy and peace and health and happiness is a short-lived luxury of the few.

But after coming to know and serve Jesus, John saw a new earth, an earth where the Holy Gospel of Christ can turn sorrow into joy, can turn Crosses into Victories, can turn hardened sinners into fervent lovers of God and neighbor.

The one who sat on the throne said: “Behold, I make all things new.”

Jesus our Risen Lord has the power to make all things new and full of life. There is nothing so old or broken that Jesus cannot fix and make new – no old broken marriage Jesus cannot revive, no old sinful habit in us Jesus cannot conquer, no old broken state or country Jesus cannot mend,

But in order for Jesus to make all these things new for us, and in order for us to see Heaven and Earth with the new eyes of faith as John did, you and I must obey Jesus New Commandment which He gave us at the Last Supper: to Love one another as He has loved us.

We must have that Love and Respect for others in our hearts that Jesus had in His heart – a love and respect for the least of Christ’s brothers, the poor, the unwanted, an unselfish, unconditional love and desire to serve all who God brings our way, and a merciful, forgiving love towards those who hate or hurt us.

We also need to have a special love for those close friends of Jesus, the Saints. We need to love and honor the heroes and heroines of our faith as Jesus loves and honors them.

And finally, there is one human being we must love above all others, for Jesus loved her far more than any other creature God created: our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary.

It is through this New Commandment of love that Jesus makes All things New.

I’m reminded of the life of St. John Vianney, the Parish Priest who died 150 years ago this year, which is why Pope Benedict declared this the Year for Priests.

Sent to a town where there was little love for God or neighbor, a town plagued by alcoholism, promiscuity, abandoned children, a town where no one went to Church on Sunday or prayed during the week, a town where children weren’t taught the basics of the faith.

But John Vianney from the start had a vision of a new Ars, where the taverns would go out of business for lack of clientelle, where the Church would be packed with townspeople on Sunday, a town where many young men and women would hear and say yes to a call to enter the seminary or the convent.

A town where children knew and valued their faith and said their prayers, where orphaned children were loved and educated.

And with that vision of a new Ars on Earth, John Vianney also had a vision of a new Heaven, filled with all these former sinners who he would turn to God.

In a land where there was no love, the Cure of Ars put love and in a few years he began to find love, his vision became a reality.

May we too have a vision of a new heaven and a new earth, and by living fully that New Commandment may we see that vision become a reality.

Homily — 3rd Sunday Easter C 4/18/10

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Homily — 3rd Sunday Easter C 4/18/10

In the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Twelve Apostles are dragged into court and are accused of doing three things:

First, they are accused of disobeying the strict orders to stop teaching in Jesus’ name out in public.

Second, they are accused of filling the city with Jesus’ teachings.

And Third, the apostles are accused of wanting to bring Jesus’ blood upon the people they preached Christ to.

When asked by the judge “How do you plead to these accusations?” the Apostles joyfully replied “We are guilty of all three charges, thanks be to God, and we will in the future continue to be guilty of all three things, so help us God!”

And hopefully, you and I, as fellow followers of Jesus, could also be accused of the same three things the Apostles were accused of.

The world should be able to accuse of first of proclaiming Jesus. No strict orders by the powers that be, no peer pressure, no political correctness, nor anything else should stop us from publicly proclaiming Jesus by our words and actions in the world we live and work in.

And should Jesus or any of His teachings become outlawed in our society, we must like the apostles obey God rather than men.

Secondly, as Christians, we should be accused of trying to fill the city with Christ’s teachings.

Not only every part of our being, but also every part of our community we are to fill with the saving teachings of Christ and His Church.

We must bring the teachings of Christ and His Church to our homes and neighborhoods, our schools and our places of work; the Gospel should shape our political views, should permeate the arts and entertainment we surround ourselves with.

As Christians we should be striving at all times to build a Culture that is Catholic in every aspect.

And thirdly, we like the Apostles in the first reading should want to bring Christ’s blood upon all those we come in contact with.

We should want all people – our fellow Catholics in the pews for sure, but also our non-Catholic Christian friends, and our fallen away Catholic friends, our Jewish and Moslem friends, our Hindu and Buddhist friends, our Agnostic and Atheist friends, and even our enemies as well

– we should want all these people and all we meet to know by our words and actions and prayers that Jesus passionately loves them and has shed His blood for them, and that Jesus invites them all to be one in Him and in His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

May the world, may the society around us be able to accuse us of these three things, of proclaiming the Name of Jesus, of filling the world with His teaching, and of wanting His saving blood to be upon all people.

But sadly, how many times do we fail to do these three things!

How many times a day even, does our doubts and fears and fallen nature all get the better of us, and we fail to proclaim Jesus by word and action, fail to bring Jesus into certain parts of our life, fail to love others as Christ calls us to love them?

Jesus said to Peter Before this day is over, you will deny three times you know me. In a way, the same thing can be said of us, before the day is over we will deny Jesus three times, maybe thirty three times.

But Jesus knew that Peter was truly sorry that he denied Him, and so after the Resurrection Christ gave Peter the opportunity to say Three Times that he loved Jesus.

And the power and grace of the Resurrection gave Peter the strength and faith to not deny Jesus publically any more, but to be a great evangelist who attracted many people to Jesus.

This Season of Easter my brothers and sisters, the Risen Lord says to you and me as he said to Peter “Do you Love me more than anything else?”

This Season of Easter, Jesus wishes to strengthen our Love for Him, to strengthen our Faith in Him, so that we may Feed His Sheep, the Hungry and Lost People of the world he wants to send us to.

Jesus, we believe you are Risen and with us in this Blessed Sacrament we are about to receive. Jesus you know that we love you, and that we are sorry for the times we fail to bring you to others.

Jesus by your glorious resurrection, make us strong in our faith, that the world may have no doubts whatsoever that we are truly your followers.