Third Sunday of Easter (Year B)

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter – on the Gospel

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

Sharing the Faith

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

1 John 2:1-5

Luke 24:35-48

If the point of last Sunday’s gospel was on experiencing the risen Lord, the point of today’s gospel seems to be on sharing our faith with others. Christ wants his followers to be his witnesses. Witnessing, like a coin, has two sides. One side has to do with seeing an event, having knowledge of something through personal experience and not on hearsay. The other side has to do with being able to give an account of it before others. That we are called to be witnesses of Christ means that we are called first to have a personal experience of Christ and then to share this experience with others. Many Christians, unfortunately, only go halfway as they focus on knowing Christ more and more without a corresponding interest in sharing the knowledge. Yet, faith is like a flame: the more a piece of wood passes the flame to others the more brightly it burns, but if it refuses to pass on the flame, it stands in danger of losing even its own flame.

The grandfather of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber was lame. Once day they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. The old man rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how his master did it. From that moment he was cured of his lameness. When we tell the story of Christ, we achieve two things. We enable others to experience him and we ourselves experience his power even more. We can see that happening in today’s gospel.

Two disciples met the risen Lord on the way to Emmaus. They came back to Jerusalem to share their experience with the apostles. We read that “While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (Luke 24:36). Christ makes himself present in the process of sharing their faith experience with the other unbelieving disciples. Now the eleven apostles and their companions are in turn enabled to experience the risen Lord. And it takes no stretch of the imagination to see that for the two who shared their experience this would be a big strengthening of faith, a big empowerment.

What does Jesus do to those who experience him? First, he communicates peace to their troubled hearts. Then he tries to convince them that the same Jesus of Nazareth who suffered and died the shameful death on the cross is the very one who is now alive in glory with God. He goes as far as eating broiled fish which, of course, he does not need, in order to make the point. Then he opens their minds to understand the Scriptures and how they point to him. Finally he commissions them to be his witnesses. “You are witnesses of these things“(Luke 24:48). This is what Jesus did when he appeared in the gathering of the disciples that Sunday morning 2000 years ago. And this is what he does when he appears in the Sunday gathering of the faithful here today.

Notice how active Jesus is. He is the one who gives them his peace. He is the one who strengthens their faith and takes away their doubts. He is the one who opens their minds and explains the Scriptures to them. He is the one who declares them his witnesses. The disciples do not do much in the encounter except open their eyes to see him, their hearts to let in his peace, their minds to receive his instruction. And in the end when he says, “You are witnesses of these things,” they would be expected to respond, “Yes, Lord,” and then go out and try to be just that.

How do we witness to Christ? Here many wayside preachers get it wrong. It is not by threatening people with eternal hellfire. It is not by arguing with them on controversial theological issues. It is simply, as the two disciples on the way to Emmaus did, by telling the story of our personal encounter with Christ. It is sharing with them why we are Christians. As St Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

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Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter – on the Epistle

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

Christian Inclusiveness

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

1 John 2:1-5

Luke 24:35-48

Sin is a very serious affair, for John. How seriously John takes sin can be seen in today’s 2nd reading. Earlier in his Gospel, John had told us why he wrote. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). In today’s 2nd reading from 1st Letter of John, he again tells us why he wrote. “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin” (1 John 2:1). If we take these two statements of purpose as two sides of the one coin, we can see that, for John, to believe in Christ means to stop being a sinner. As John sees it, being a child of God and being a sinner are a contradiction. This he states more forcefully in 1 John 3:

No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. … 8 Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. … 9 Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God (1 John 3:6, 8-9).

For John, this is as it should be. This is the ideal to which every believer should aspire. Yet John is realistic enough to admit that, in fact, most Christians do not measure up to this ideal. In reality many Christians still succumb to sin occasionally, if not habitually. Some modern-day preachers would consign such sinful believers right into the bottomless pit of hell fire. But not John. For John, there is hope even for the sinful believer. The same Christ who is the strength of the upright believer is also the remedy for the sinful believer. “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the expiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2)

John’s open-mindedness and inclusiveness does not end with the incorporation of sinful believers. The sacrifice of Christ is universal in its effects. John, therefore, sees Christ as the expiation of the sins of all humankind, believers and non-believers alike. “He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (verse 2).

In this short passage, John appears to be challenging popular, narrow-minded Christianity of his time. In the English translation of the passage, we notice that the word “but” marks each point where John challenges the traditional view and introduces his own more inclusive viewpoint. Attention to the “but’s” in this passage is a good way to highlight the inclusive teachings that John is giving here. There are three or four occurrences of “but” in this passage, depending on the translation one is using:

(1) “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (verse 1). Here John challenges the view that believers who sin are lost forever without any hope of reconciliation with God. This view, which came to be known as Donatism, was rejected by the universal church, which maintained John’s view that the grace of Christ is sufficient to restore a repentant sinner to a state of full reconciliation with God and the Church. No wonder Christ gave us the Sacrament of Penance!

(2) “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (verse 2). Here John challenges the view that the atonement and salvation won by Christ is applicable only to Christian believers. This does not mean that the believer and the unbeliever have equal chances of salvation. The believer certainly has wider access to God’s grace through the word of God and the sacraments. Nevertheless, God’s love in Christ cannot be limited to the confines of the Church. Non-believers might be groping for truth in the darkness of their unbelief, yet if they search for truth with sincerity, the grace of God will find them even in the dark.

(3) “He who says I know him but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected” (verses 4-5). In some translations, “but” occurs in this sentence only once; in others it occurs twice. Here John challenges those who claim that they know God and love Him but make no serious commitment to keeping God’s commandments. What John is saying here is that the degree to which one keeps God’s commandments is a true measure of the degree to which one knows and loves God.

These teachings of John to the Christians of his own day apply equally to us Christians today. With regard to others, we need to be more understanding, knowing that noone, absolutely noone, is outside the orbit of God’s love and mercy. With regard to ourselves, we need to be more demanding in so far as observing God’s commandments is concerned.

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3rd Sunday of Easter – Cycle B

 Homily # 1

Wouldn’t it be most interesting to be there when the disciples who had seen him on the road are describing their encounter and to suddenly have Jesus there in your midst?  What would your response be? Oh, don’t worry, it is okay to have an initial sense that what is happening is scary and confusing.  The macho fishermen were scared, so it would be okay to be scared.  After all, everyone had run off and hidden when he was taken away and crucified, so who would have expected this reappearance to happen?  And who would have been so brave now at to not be scared? And how do they know it is him?  He is still hungry.  Once they see he is hungry and eats they settle down and then he hits them with their responsibility out of all of that has happened.

I wonder if just maybe his journey after the resurrection could be like a segment of the current TV program “Ghost Whisperer”.  Here the deceased, who would happen to be resurrected, Jesus, is trying to complete his journey and go on to the Father, but there are some people who must come to understand what has happened and what needs to happen so he can complete his journey. In the TV program the ghost is often struggling with the fact that it cannot complete the journey without having someone know it is okay that he or she is gone or to know the tragedy of why.  And there is always peace when the living person knows what the life situation was which kept the ghost from leaving and going to follow the bright light. Besides the reality of resurrection, which we still don’t understand fully, another difference in this segment is that more people than just the show’s seer manage to be able to see him. In this segment Jesus seems to be trying to have the necessary people know that what he said alive in the flesh is what they must now live. When it is accomplished, when they know as best as he can have them know from his time with them, Jesus goes to the light.  We have the Ascension.  His “Peace be with you” is his greeting and his farewell in resurrected visible life. And what should he want us to take from it today?

Perhaps we can use some sense from Fr. John Dear who uses the movements of the spiritual life to travel through today’s Gospel and perhaps that is a good process for us to not just consider in our heads, but to understand and take on as real for people present to the resurrected Jesus.

First of all, any spiritual experience or awakening brings about some initial fear on our part. Why is this happening? What is going to be the outcome of such a happening? Is it real? Is it holy?  It is new, it is unexpected. Such could be our response to something in a retreat. I remember my experience at the crucifixion part of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and what happened out of that. It was scary. (a preacher needs to put his own experience in here) It could be the same with Cursillo or other prayerful retreat.   In the Gospel it was His being among them in a most unexpected way and at an unexpected time which was the scary moment.

When we understand the experience there is great joy, sometimes just out of relief that everything is still okay, maybe just different, maybe very different.  Spiritual growth is like that, we become different, often very different. And with the difference there is great joy. When they knew it was him they were able to move to great joy. They moved from being upset to being at peace, from doubt to faith. And their joy and amazement was great.

When all is settled with them, he sends them out as witnesses, the third movement in spiritual life. He did not come to show them himself for their own consumption only, but that they could be sent out to share what happened.  Jesus sends them into the world as his witnesses.

When we read Luke today, in Gospel and  in the Acts of the Apostles, Luke says we are all supposed to be “witnesses of the resurrection.” “You are witnesses of these things,” Jesus says. “You are to go into the world and announce resurrection, forgiveness and peace to all the nations.

We come to hear the word, to participate in the Eucharist and to experience fear, amazement and joy and the call to be witnesses to what we have seen and heard.  We come to give thanks that we have seen and heard and our felt thankfulness for the mystery becomes us. We are sent to share it, to be witnesses so that others may come and hear and know the resurrected Lord still in their midst.


Homily # 2

In today’s second reading, John’s words outline to us how Jesus meant for us to live.

Listen again to his words. “My children, I am writing to you so that you may not commit sin.” That’s a simple, straightforward statement. However, we might respond, “That’s easy for you to say! In today’s society that’s a very difficult request.”

Here we are, in this wonderful church, praising our God, listening to His words and following His commandment, “Keep holy the Sabbath day.” But let’s be honest. When we leave this church, many of us will go back to a society that doesn’t believe in the commandments that God gave to Moses and Jesus Christ repeated on many occasions when He was on this earth.

If, when we arrive at our homes, we pick up a newspaper, turn on the television set, go to our internet connection or read many of the current magazines, we are bombarded by invitations to get involved in practices that God asks us to avoid. In some of our public schools it is suggested to students that some actions that have been considered sinful for generations may now be proper conduct. Even some Catholic schools (and I’ve experienced this situation) teach that some actions are sinful but one has to make up one’s own mind about about the seriousness of any offense.

Well, let’s listen to John once again. “The way that we know Jesus is to keep His commandments. Those who say, ‘I know Him’ but do not keep His commandments are liars.”

Those are very strong words! But they are the words of Jesus Christ! So, how do we react to this modern society in which we live. We must make a number of decisions. First, we have to know what His teachings are .. what are sins and what are not sins.

The commandments are pretty explicit. They really don’t leave much room for shading what is right or wrong and Jesus certainly did not say, “make up your own mind about right and wrong.”

Don’t most families, the parents and the children, want to be happy .. to do what’s right. If that’s the case, would it not be a good idea to have a family discussion about the commandments?

“What? Talk about sin?” Well, is it better to never mention the word? In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we hear the words, “As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully to sleep, for you alone O Lord, bring security to my dwelling.” With all the drugs that are advertised on television promising to help one get a good night’s sleep, it would seem that God’s advice is still the best.

I know, some here might be saying, “Why talk about sin? Coming to Mass is supposed to be a happy experience?” Well, I’m not the one talking about sin …. Jesus is. If we want to be happy we can follow the advice we also hear in the Psalm today. “O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us! You put gladness into my heart.”

Our society also promises “gladness”. The commercials we hear tell us how to be happy, the movies and the TV shows are supposed to make us happy but as I look at our society, there seems to be a great number of people who are not happy. The divorce rate is sky high, alcoholism and drug abuse are very real problems, there are over a million abortions each year and so I say, “Where’s the happiness?”

Happiness is right here where we are this morning. This is the house of God and He tells us, “You can’t be happy unless you follow My commandments.” He loves us and promises so much more than our societycan ever deliver. But the bottom line is still, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” We can’t change reality.

Is He cruel or vindictive? Not at all. No one is perfect. But listen again to the words of John: “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the expiation of our sins.” Later we will once again experience that love as we receive His body and blood. His sacrifice for us is with us for all time.

No matter what we see on television or at the movies, no matter that some so called “experts” tell us about “doing our own thing”, no matter how many people scoff at us for our belief in God and in His commandments, we know, this morning, that the “Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” That’s His promise to us and it beats any thing our modern society has to offer.

Talk to each other about it. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”


Homily # 3

(This homily may not be appropriate for each Sunday Mass. If it is a Mass attended by predominately older parishioners, all of it may not be applicable. The question is often asked, “Do you preach to certain sections of the congregation at certain times? My response would be, “Yes.” Surveys by our Church indicate young people are leaving the Catholic faith. WE must direct message to them. This homily will be very well received by parents and grandparents – they will thank you for it.)

This morning (evening) I would like to direct my first comments to the young people in the congregation: grade schoolers, those in high school and to the young adults. Jesus’ two disciples were terrified when He appeared to them. They thought He was a ghost. They thought they had lost Him.

As we become mature we often go through times like they experienced .. we think we have lost God … Jesus is no longer relative. When that happens we must turn to His words in this gospel, “Why are you troubled? Touch me and see because a ghost does not have bones.” In our lives, also, Jesus is no ghost. He is real. We are not too far removed from Easter and His resurrection should be still be fresh in our minds. Jesus Christ rose from the dead … He proved that He was God. He told these two men in today’s gospel, “That everything written about Me in the law of Moses, by the prophets and in the psalms must be fulfilled.”

Well, what did He say? He promised each of us, young and old, eternal salvation and happiness in Heaven if we believe in Him and follow Him. However, there’s a problem. It is my opinion that never before in the history of our civilization has it been more difficult for young people to follow Jesus. When many of the older people here were young the world moved at a much slower pace. We lived in smaller circles where families were more tightly knit because we didn’t have the transportation nor the temptations you have today.

I really feel sorry for our young people. Think about it! Today you are bombarded by the television, the internet, the movies and, yes, even in some of your schools, with a message that says to you, “God … Jesus Christ … THEY ARE GHOSTS. Don’t pay attention to what you have heard about them.” When some of the older people here were growing up, we never heard of drugs, didn’t have any temptation to use them. Alcohol was somewhat difficult to obtain and, if you want to go back far enough, your parents usually knew where you were 90% of every day. In the schools we attended, public and private, payers were said and there was mention of God in the classroom. Some, today, might cry, “That’s illegal!” Well, if Jesus Christ was God and if He rose from the dead some may consider discussing Him illegal but unless we do, we may never attain eternal salvation.

In the second reading, He puts it very clearly. “The way we may be sure we know Him is to keep His commandments.” But, then He adds, “Those who say, ‘I know Him’ but do not keep His commandments are liars.”

No matter what our modern society preaches to us, if we know His commandments we know that drugs, excessive use of alcohol and sex outside of marriage are all actions contrary to His words. That applies to all ages and the young here today are now old enough to be responsible for the actions they take. Jesus Christ is real, the commandments are real and we all have the responsibility to obey them

Some might say, “My friends don’t pay any attention to religion or to the commandments. Why should I?” Well, you don’t have to. But you must determine whether the words of your friends are as powerful as the words of Jesus Christ. If you feel they are, then you’ve made your decision but, remember, there are consequences.

Your Mom and Dad won’t have to pay the price for you. It’s your life.

There’s one other commandment I’d like to mention. This one may really be old fashioned…. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER …OBEY THEM.

One mark of growing up, of maturity is to recognize what others have done for you. Many of the young people here live in a fine house but have never made a mortgage payment. You eat fine food but never pay the super market, You receive a fine education but you never pay taxes or tuition.

Why? Because your parents love you. Where do all these blessings come from? First, you received a great gift from God when you were placed in your family and not half way around the world in a nation where 75% of the population is starving today. Secondly, your mother and father have loved you so much.

A question a reasonable person might ask could be, “It’s difficult to keep the commandments. What do I get out of it?” Well, for young and old, the rewards are without compare. Listen to the words of the Psalm in today’s reading:

As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep,
for you alone, O Lord,
Bring security to my dwelling.

Can one have real peace while living outside the influence of our God? So far, it doesn’t seem to be happening in our society. The divorce rate, the number of abortions, the violence and the widespread use of drugs seems to indicate that living the life we see on television, in the movies and, yes, maybe even the life of some of our friends is not the answer to our individual happiness. Listen to another Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,
In verdant pastures he gives me repose,
Beside restful waters He leads me, He refreshes my soul.

We can only find peace and happiness by knowing, and following, the word of God.

So, in closing, I’d recommend we all remember the joy felt by the young men in today’s gospel who, once again, found their Savior.

I would also ask that the young people tell your parents, today, that you realize what they have done for you and say the words, “I thank you and I love you.” Also, give some thought this coming week to the fact that Jesus Christ is not a ghost. He is real and He loves us, even more than our friends love us or our parents love us. But He did say, “If you love ME ….. you will keep my commandments.” Think about it.


Homily # 4

“You are witnesses of these things.” How many times have you questioned your faith? Or, how many times have you been troubled by not being able to understand someone you know, especially a friend or family member, who just cannot seem to believe as you do?  Christianity, like any faith, is difficult to understand, much less believe in. we are told that faith is blind trust in the unbelievable. How in heaven did we get to where we are today?

The answer is as simple as it is complicated. Simple in the fact that Jesus knew he had to do something extraordinary if he wanted his followers to carry his message of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth. It is important to remember, that all through Jesus’ public ministry, the apostles never seemed “to get it.” How many times was Jesus frustrated with them in their lack of understanding? Here they were, they just finished witnessing the Last Supper in which Jesus instituted the words of the Eucharist that was to be repeated till the end of time. Jesus had just ordained them to carry on his ministry to the end of time. All this and they still could not stay awake while he prayed his agonizing prayer in the garden. He asked them to, but they could not. Here are the same people who loved him as a man and still when the time came for him to be arrested, they ran for their lives. How in the world were these seemingly weak and thick-headed followers ever be expected to convince the world that this Jesus, whom they couldn’t understand, was the Son of God?

The answer—Jesus had to instill in them prove positive that he had truly risen from the dead! The Gospel story today is filled with wonder and awe. We are told that they “were startled and terrified.” They thought they “were seeing a ghost!” Jesus makes the most out of this visit. He shows the disciples his hands and feet; he eats with them. Not only were they incredulous for joy and amazed, they were at that moment, infused with the astounding truth of the divinity of Jesus. For the first time, all their doubts and concerns were laid to rest. If there was ever a doubt, it no longer held any water. Jesus Christ was the Messiah! Can you imagine the motivation you would have if you were such an eye-witness? If you’re a golfer, what are you telling people about Tiger Woods after seeing some of his miracles? It is no wonder that when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on Pentecost, they were more than ready to give their lives for what they now knew to be the truth.

What is complicated about our faith is that we are still followers of Jesus after 2000 years of human intervention. Church history shows us just how human we can be. If it were left to us, I am afraid that our church would no longer be in existence. It took events like the reformation to get us back on track. But, even with all the things we may have done wrong over the centuries, we have been blessed to be able to successfully hand down the truth of Jesus’ love for us and of his unending mercy. If it were not for the Holy Spirit, we could not have survived. God is with us, and like the song says, “Who can be against?”

Our job as Catholics is to study Sacred Scripture in such a way as to try and rekindle in ourselves the wonder and awe the early Christians must have had. But, equally important is to study and understand church history. For in doing so, we can reduce the complicated part of believing to the simple part of being caught up in the marvel of it all. Many times we are impressed by the zeal of our converts. We could say of them what Jesus said of his apostles, “You are witnesses of these things.”


Homily # 5

Have you ever have walked into a conversation at the end of a long story and heard only the least few lines?  You probably felt left out, or wondering what the whole story was about.  Or, have you have walked up in time to hear the punch line of a joke, and had no idea why everyone else was laughing so hard, for the punch line alone made no sense, and you were  embarrassed to stand there looking unamused?  Sometimes, though, we can see the whole action and yet not know what exactly is happening. As parents we have seen that happen as we see kids fighting,  but we may not know what led up to the fight. How would you have liked to be the parents of the Primeau brothers, members of opposing hockey teams, whose fight during a game was carried tv news broadcasts a few years ago? The commentators wondered aloud what childhood battles might still be being fought. I am sure the parents would like to have known,  too.

It is always frustrating to witness an event without knowing what it really means. There is a big difference between having an experience and knowing what it means, between being part of an event and understanding its significance. Jesus comments on those who see and hear and those who perceive and understand. Being present at event is no guarantee of understanding the event.

Today’s gospel feels sort of like both ends of the story, we hear the end of the disciples return from their walk toward Emmaus, and without the context of the whole story, the starting lines make little sense. By themselves, they do not ties us to anything. And from there we jump into a new story, Jesus is back among them, back from the dead in only three days. He is a mirage, a ghost.  He can’t be for real. And so, he says come here and touch me, come here and give me some food.  Come and begin to understand through human actions. The appearance of Jesus, alone, does not compel them to believe his return is a reality. Jesus must draw them out of their confusion. Finally, after hearing him and touching him, they recognize him with great joy. And as in the story from John’s gospel, where he sends them out, he says they are to be his witnesses in the world, witnesses to the fact that he came, died, rose and returned to his father.

These discipled people are sent not just as court eyewitnesses to what they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears. They are send as witnesses to the change in their lives, witnesses to change in the meaning of life because of what has happened. Luke gives us an example of what that witness would mean, in his writing we seen in acts today, where Peters is showing the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Luke shows us that the understanding of the early Church is firmly based on the teaching of the risen Jesus. That is the unique authority of the Church.

Our understanding of Church today is based in the unique experience of the first disciples. We will always be indebted to them for their insight and courage. Happily they did not keep their new experience to themselves, they did not hoard their new insight. They shared it with anyone who would hear them. They made it good news for all.

Scripture gives us a picture of real people meeting a risen lord, and they did not do it readily.  They had no point of reference for such a happening, only his words to them that this would happen, only his promise and then it does happen. But how does it happen? How does it happen that they can let this new truth in and then go out and share it with others? How is it the story has continued for nearly 2000 years? It has indeed become almost lost during the 2000 years the church has been charged with carrying it. It has become almost lost in the myths of other tribes taking the message and mixing it with their own stories. It has become lost in rigid application of the story by those who were threatened by others having a different story.  And for all this, it is a simple story to be carried to all others on the face of the earth.

We face the same story today, we have only heard the last few years of the 200 year old story, even though we have heard the whole history. We have heard only our 10, 25, 50, 70 or so years of the story. And if we heard it a while ago, before Vatican II, the story was told with far less joy, far less community sense of people coming to meet him on the road than we hear now.

But we still miss the message. We still forget to go out and witness outside these walls, outside  the time of prayer. We often still wait for him to come and show us himself miraculously, in the ghost form, so we might have “real” proof, instead of seeing him in the person struggling next to us. Whenever someone is struggling in life, what we, people who come together in Eucharist ought to see is that it is Jesus struggling and we can touch him or her to bring Jesus to them.

We are in the middle of the whole story, the whole life-death resurrection act of salvation. We have been called as disciples and are now sent as were Andrew and the rest, to bring the joy of the kingdom already and still coming, to all who journey along dusty, muddy, paved or unpaved roads.


Homily # 6

The liturgy this Sunday continues to highlight the spirit of Easter, the spirit of the Risen Christ.  Saint Luke, in our Gospel Reading, describes what seems to be the beginning of a normal day in the life of the Apostles during those first few weeks after the Resurrection Of Jesus.  He had appeared to the women, to Peter and to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  Today the Gospel tells us how he appeared to the eleven.  It was Sunday and they were gathered together.  They had heard what the two disciples had told them about how they had talked with Our Lord on the road to the town called Emmaus and how they had known it was Jesus when he broke the bread.

It was then that they heard the words, “Peace be with you.”  When they heard these simple words, this very common Jewish greeting, the apostles understood that Jesus was in their midst and they were afraid.  That was why he said to them, “Don’t be afraid. It is I.”  He wanted to show them that he was not a ghost so he invited them to touch him.  He showed them his hands and his feet and immediately sat down with them to share the meal they were having.  During those days after the triumphant Resurrection of Our Lord it was simple gestures, like these, that were important.  By sitting down to talk with his disciples as they shared a meal together Jesus wanted to show them that any person who wants to discover him anew must look for him in the simple, little occurrences in life.  And this is the great lesson that this Gospel Reading teaches us this Sunday.  Jesus invites us to look at our every day world, those events that occur daily, through the eyes of faith.  And he tells us that we should not be afraid.  He promises us that he will always be a faithful friend to those who are faithful to him.

Throughout of the history of salvation God has show that he is faithful.  He keeps his promises, even when his people do not keep theirs.  He promised to send us a Messiah who would save us from our sins and he kept his promise by sending us his only Son, Jesus Christ.  At times, in our relationships with others and with God we do not show the true love that Jesus asks us to show.  It is difficult for us to see Jesus in the members of our family or in the brother or sister who has offended us or who has failed to live up to the trust we placed in him or her.  We are used to testing others, and even God himself, constantly demanding that they show us through extraordinary deeds that they are worthy of our friendship and our love.  Nevertheless, our liturgy today teaches us that, even as we celebrate the triumphant Resurrection of Our Lord, it is in the ordinary events in life that we really discover the Risen Christ in our lives.  We should always try to remember that the Resurrection of Our Lord may not change our daily lives, per se, but it should show us how to look at life differently, how to live our life in faith and with faith.

In every celebration of the Holy Mass, simple things, like the bread and the wine, help us to discover the presence of the Risen Christ among us.  For, in spite of our infidelity, Our Lord tells us that he is present here among us in the Holy Eucharist, that he believes in us, that he trusts in our love, and, also, that he knows we have faith.

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Word Alive

Ghost, faith in hard times

By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD

April 24, 2009, 9:29pm

MEXICO CITY — I’m here in Mexico serving as chaplain to a group of pilgrims visiting the miraculous shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and other destinations.

* * *

Walking home from a party, two men decided to take a shortcut through a cemetery.

Halfway through, they are startled to hear a tap-tapping noise coming from the misty shadows. Shaking with fear, they are relieved to discover an old man with a chisel, chipping at one of the headstones.

* * *

“You scared us almost to death,” said one of the men. “We thought you were a ghost. What are you doing working here so late at night?”

“Those fools!” the old man grumbled. “They spelled my name wrong.”

* * *

In the gospel of this 3rd Easter Sunday, two men also thought they were seeing a ghost when they encountered the Risen Lord (Lk 24,37).

Jesus tried to dispel their doubts saying He was not a ghost: “Touch me, and see that a ghost does not have flesh and bones as I do” (v. 39). He even ate some barbecued fish with them to prove that he really had a body.

* * *

What kind of body did the risen Christ have? In his article “Who Would Want to Go to Heaven?” Jim Auer writes that Christ’s glorified body was different than before. Neither was it a ghost or disembodied being.

The Risen Lord could eat and drink, but he wasn’t limited by material objects like walls and doors. He appeared and disappeared whenever he wanted. Perhaps this is a hint of what our own risen bodies will be like.

* * *

The appearances of the Risen Lord served to bolster the drooping faith of his close followers after He died. “Was he really the expected Messiah?” they asked. “Did he really rise from the dead as reports circulated?” These were the questions bugging the minds of the disciples.

* * *

Jesus took the opportunity to open their minds on the truth of Himself as the true Messiah quoting from the Scriptures.

For us Christians believing in the Risen Lord is not very much a problem today. But in practical life, the disciples’ attitude of doubt and misgivings may be ours, too, when we encounter adversities, failures and difficulties.

* * *

For instance, we pray desperately for something, say, the cure of a sickness or turn-around of a moribund business, but the response is a deafening silence.

Or, we’re badly hurt or misunderstood in serving the church or parish, or turned off by the bad example of a church leader, or feel bitter and resentful over a broken family and we take it against God.

* * *

We should remember that faith is accepting God not only in good times, but also in bad.

When some misfortune befall us, we say “Why me, Lord?” But when good things come, why don’t we also say “Why me, Lord?”

* * *

It has been said that there are three kinds of faith: one that is without trials and temptations is childlike, one that is tested but overcome by doubts is immature, one that is able to overcome doubts is ADULT faith.

Which of these do you have?

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Moments
In God’s heart

By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:10:00 04/25/2009

MANILA, Philippines – The story is told about a man who figured in an accident. So distraught about his wrecked Jaguar, he kept shouting “My Jaguar! My Jaguar!” The policemen tried to calm him down, pointing out that he lost his left arm in the accident. At this point, the injured man shouted: “My Rolex! My Rolex!”

* * *

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 24, 35-48), the Risen Lord appears to His disciples again with His comforting greeting “Peace be with you,” asking them: “Why are you troubled?”

As you read this column, let the Lord comfort you with His words, “Peace be with you,” and let Him ask you, “Why are you troubled?”

* * *

All too often, we focus on the things and events around us, and we forget God’s presence within us, and among us. The biggest paradigm shift is that of putting on the eyeglasses of faith and seeing the world as God sees it. From this vantage point, a lot of things fall into place, and the world, with all its “sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,” finds new meaning. So if life is getting too hazy, blurred or dark, it is time to put on your eyeglasses called faith.

* * *

In today’s Gospel, the Risen Lord opens the minds of the disciples and makes them understand. It’s just that there are so many things we cannot explain nor understand in this world. This is where prayer comes in. A person who prays has a wider lens and a deeper depth-of-field than one who sees everything from the human point of view. Faith is a gift. It is available for all of us, anytime, anywhere. All we need is to take time and allow the intervention of the Divine.

* * *

Note that it was when the two disciples “recounted what had taken place” on the way to Emmaus that they experienced the presence of God in their midst and in their hearts. This act of “recounting” is simply an act of remembering; and isn’t prayer simply a remembering? A remembering that there is someone greater than you and I. A remembering that there is a big picture. A remembering that there is a master plan, and that there is someone in control.

* * *

I often forget my cell phone, my keys and reading glasses. I then have to go back to my room—if I had not been locked out already!—to get these important and necessary gadgets. How did I solve this problem? At the end of the day, I place all these in a basket in the little altar in my room where I pray whenever I enter or go out of my room. In life too, if we know how to place everything in God’s heart, we will not forget those that are really necessary and important.

* * *

Place everything—blessings, loved ones, plans, hurts, worries, fears—in God’s heart, and everything will be in place. By doing so, we remove the burdens from our hearts, and we are also assured of God’s help. This act of placing everything in God’s “basket” is one of the most rewarding and liberating lessons I have learned in life. Yes, let man be man, and let God be God. It is all about letting go, and letting God.

* * *

Speaking about letting go and letting God, I can’t help but be edified by Kaye Etong, the 22-year-old daughter of Ted Failon and Trina. In spite of her pain, she was there for everyone, so calm and strong, so real and spontaneous, so loving and caring, especially for her father and little sister Karishma. Kaye is one daughter that any parent can be very proud of. The secret of her strength? She is deeply anchored on God.

* * *

We welcome the news that Mercy Tuason has been designated as the new Philippine ambassador to the Vatican upon consultation with Church leaders. We wish Mercy, a devoted daughter of the Church and the Blessed Mother, all the best in her new assignment. She has been very helpful in our work for world mission all these years. We pray for her and for her very important mission. One with you!

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to learn to place everything in your heart, and have peace. Amen.

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Word Alive

Risen Christ Boosts Our Faith

By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD

April 20, 2012, 5:21pm

MANILA, Philippines — At dawn of March 18, 1994, the day my late father was to be interred, I was awakened at four o’clock. My table lamp, switched off then, suddenly started to go on and off. It stopped for a while, then it happened again. I could no longer sleep afterwards.

In the evening, after returning home from the funeral, I placed the black handbag I used for blessing on top of a table. While taking a nap, I heard a loud noise that hit the floor. I got up, looked around, and saw the black bag on the floor, its contents spilled out. Was my just-interred Papa making his presence felt? In local parlance, nagpaparamdam.

The experience was so real that it reinforced my belief in immortal spirits.

* * *

The gospel of this 3rd Easter Sunday relates about “ghost” after Christ had resurrected from the dead. His disciples, who were overcome by doubts and misgivings, thought they were seeing a ghost (Lk 24:37).

Jesus tried to dispel their doubts saying: “Touch Me, and see that a ghost does not have flesh and bones as I do” (v. 39). He even ate some barbecued fish with them to prove that He really had a body.

* * *

What kind of body did the risen Christ have? In his article “Who Would Want to Go to Heaven?” Jim Auer writes that Christ’s glorified body was different than before. Neither was it a ghost or disembodied being.

The Risen Lord could eat and drink, but He wasn’t limited by material objects like walls and doors. He appeared and disappeared whenever He wanted. Perhaps this is a hint of what our own risen bodies will be like.

* * *

FAITH BOOSTER. The appearances of the Risen Lord served to bolster the drooping faith of His close followers buffeted by doubts and misgivings. “Was He really the expected Messiah?” “Did He really rise from the dead?” were the questions bugging the minds of the disciples.

The disciples’ attitude represents our own at times. Yes, for us Christians, believing in the Risen Lord is not very much a problem. But in practical life, our faith sometimes wavers when assailed by doubts, failures, and difficulties.

* * *

For instance, we pray desperately for something, say, the cure of a sickness or turn-around of a moribund business, but the response is a deafening silence.

Or, we’re badly hurt or misunderstood in serving our parish church or feel bitter and resentful over a broken family and we take it against God.

We should remember that faith is accepting God not only in good times, but also in bad.

* * *

It has been said that there are three kinds of faith: One that is without trials and temptations is childlike, one that is tested but overcome by doubts is immature, one that is able to overcome doubts is ADULT faith.

Which of these faiths do you have?

mb.com.ph/articles/357580/risen-christ-boosts-our-faith

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MULTO (Reposted & Revised) : 3rd Sunday of Easter Year B – April 22, 2012

Naniniwala ka ba sa multo? Kung ako ang tatanungin ay hindi ako naniniwala sapagkat hindi pa ako nakakikita at sana ay wag na silang magparamdam pa dahil takot ako sa kanila! Hehehe. May kuwento tungkol sa dalawang magsiyota na sobra ang pagmamahal sa isa’t isa. Sa katunayan ay nagpalit pa ng sim card ang babae from smart to globe para lang pareho sila ng network ng kanyang bf ng sa gayon ay makagamit sila ng unlitext sa umaga at unlicalls naman sa gabi. Sobrang mahal ng babae ang kanyang cellphone kung kaya’t hiniling niya na kung siya man ay mamatay ay isama ito sa kanyang libingan. Matagal na panahon ang lumipas. Nag-abroad ang lalaki. Nagkaroon ng trahedya, nabundol ng isang sasakyan ang babae na kanyang ikinamatay. Walang kaalam-alam ang kanyang nobyo sa nangyari. Kaya pag-uwi niya ay excited siyang pumunta sa bahay ng kanyang nobya. Mabigat sa kaloobang sinabi ng mga magulang ang nangyari. Hindi makapaniwala ang lalaki. Ang sabi niya, “Wag n’yo na akong biruin, hindi siya patay! Sa katunayan ay kakatext niya lang sa akin ngayon.” Kinilabutan ang mga magulang ng babae lalo na ng biglang tumunog ang cellphone ng lalaki at ng tingnan nila kung sino ang tumatawag at nakita nila ang pangalan ng kanilang anak! Naghanap sila ng espiritista at tinanong kung ano ang ibig sabihin nito. Ito ang kanilang konklusyon: “Globe has the best coverage, wherever you go, their network follows… Ang lakas talaga ng globe… kahit nasaan ka man! Kahit sa libingan. Sa lakas ng globe… posible! Kaya’t mag-globe na kayo!” Hehehe… Si Hesus, hindi lang nagparamdam pero nagpakita pa sa kanyang mga alagad. Normal lang na matakot ang mga alagad. Baka nga naman multo ang kanilang nakikita at nagpaparamdam lang sa kanila. Saksi silang lahat sa pagkamatay ni Jesus. Kitang-kita nila ang kanyang paghihirap sa krus! Sila ba ay namamalikmata lamang o isang multo ang nagpakita sa kanila? Ngunit nais ni Jesus na itama ang kanilang maling haka-haka. Ipinakita niya ang kanyang katawan at mga kamay at nagpakuha siya ng makakain sapagkat ang multo ay wala namang katawan kaya’t imposibleng kumain. Nais Niyang maniwala sila na Siya ay muling nabuhay! Nais Niya ring ituwid ang kanilang maling pag-aakala tungkol sa Mesiyas, na ang lahat ng nangyari ay naaayon sa plano ng Diyos maging ang kanyang paghihirap at kamatayan. Kung minsan, ang hirap tanggapin ng Kanyang plano lalo na’t kung iba sa ating nais. Kapag hindi nasunod ang gusto natin para tayong batang nagmamaktol, nagtatampo at nagagalit! Sabi ng isang katagang nakita ko sa retreat house: “RELAX… GOD IS IN-CHARGE!” Tama nga naman, kung naniniwala tayo na buhay si Hesus ay wala dapat tayong katakutan! Siya ang dapat na magdikta sa ating buhay at hindi ang multo ng ating lumang sarili. Mas angkop na simbolo ng pag-ibig ang KRUS kaysa PUSO. Sapagkat ang puso ay maaring huminto sa pagtibok, samantalang ang namatay sa krus ay patuloy na nagmamamahal! Patuloy sapagkat Siya ay buhay at hindi patay. Ang Kanyang muling pagkabuhay ay pagpaparamdam ng Kanyang pagmamahal sa atin! Aleluya!

kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com/2012/04/multo-reposted-revised-3rd-sunday-of.html

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MULTO NG NAKARAAN ; Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Easter Year B – April 19, 2015 – YEAR OF THE POOR

Naniniwala ka ba sa multo? Kung ako ang tatanungin ay hindi ako naniniwala sapagkat hindi pa ako nakakikita at sana ay wag na silang magparamdam pa dahil takot ako sa kanila!  At sino nga ba ang hindi?  Kagagaling ko lang sa Spiritual Retreat na kung saan ay laging akong kinakabahan sa tuwing pumupunta ako sa lugar na iyon.  Paano ba naman ay sinasabing may nagpaparamdam sa mga kuwarto ng Retreat House na tinutuluyan namin.  Tinanong ko yung kwartong kung saan may nagpaparamdam… 1206 daw!  Tiningnan ko naman ang susi ng akong kuwarto… 1212!  Limang kuwarto lang ang pagitan sa tinutuluyan ko, kaya naman ilang araw akong natutulog na bukas ang ilaw at bukas ang aking mga mata. Mabuti na lang walang bumisita!  Kahit ang mga alagad ay nakaramdam din ng pagkatakot sa inaaakala nilang multo.  Si Hesus, hindi lang nagparamdam pero nagpakita pa sa kanyang mga alagad. Normal lang na matakot ang mga alagad. Baka nga naman multo ang kanilang nakikita at nagpaparamdam lang sa kanila. Saksi silang lahat sa pagkamatay ni Jesus. Kitang-kita nila ang kanyang paghihirap sa krus! Sila ba ay namamalikmata lamang o isang multo ang nagpakita sa kanila? Ngunit nais ni Jesus na itama ang kanilang maling haka-haka. Ipinakita niya ang kanyang katawan at mga kamay at nagpakuha siya ng makakain sapagkat ang multo ay wala namang katawan kaya’t imposibleng kumain. Nais Niyang maniwala sila na Siya ay muling nabuhay!  May mga “multo” rin tayong kinakaharap sa ating buhay.  Ang tawag ko d’yan sa ay “ghosts of the pasts”.  Kung minsan ay may mga pangyayari sa atin sa nakaraan na hanggang ngayon ay hinahayaan nating multuthin tayo sa kasalukuyan.  Minsan ay may mga sugat na kung tutuusin ay magaling na naman ngunit ang peklat ay nagbibigay pa rin ng kirot sapagkat hindi natin tanggap na naghilom na ito.  Sabi nila “forgive and forget”.  Hindi totoo yun!  Kailanman ay hindi tayo maaaring makalimot sapagkat mayroon tayong pag-iisip na laging bumabalik-balkik sa mga masasakit na ala-ala ng nakaraan.  Marahil mas tamang sabihing “Forgive then remember… with healed memories!  Wala ng sugat! Magaling na!  Ang peklat ay kabahagi na ng nakaraan.  Wag nating hayaang multuhin pa rin tayo nito.  Dapat ay matuto tayong mag “let go and let God!”  Hayaan nating ang Diyos na magtrabaho sa atin.  Lagi nating sundin ang kalooban ng Diyos at ang lahat ay maaayon sa Kanyang kalooban. May mga sandali sa ating buhay na kailangan talaga nating dumaan sa paghihirap at pagdurusa.  Ito ang nilinaw ni Jesus sa kanyang mga alagad, na ang “Anak ng Diyos ay dapat magbata ng hirap, mamatay, ngunit pagkatapos ng tatlong araw ay muling mabubuhay!”  Sa ating buhay, kinakailangan din nating maramdaman ang “pagkamatay” kung nais nating madama ang biyaya ng “Muling Pagkabuhay!”   Ang pagbati ni Jesus ay sapat na upang panatagin ang ating mga takot at pangamba.  “Peace be with you!”  Ang kapayapaang hatid ni Kristo ang magbibigay sa atin ng lakas ng loob at pag-asa upang mapagtagumpayan ang mga “ghosts of the past” sa ating buhay.  Hayaan nating hilumin nito ang takot sa ating mga puso.  Ang kapayapaan ni Kristo ay nangangahulugan ng pakikipagkasundo sa Diyos, sa ating kapwa, sa ating sarili at sa mga pangyayari sa ating buhay.  Sumainyo ang kapayapaan ni Kristo!

Nais Niya ring ituwid ang kanilang maling pag-aakala tungkol sa Mesiyas, na ang lahat ng nangyari ay naaayon sa plano ng Diyos maging ang kanyang paghihirap at kamatayan. Kung minsan, ang hirap tanggapin ng Kanyang plano lalo na’t kung iba sa ating nais. Kapag hindi nasunod ang gusto natin para tayong batang nagmamaktol, nagtatampo at nagagalit! Sabi ng isang katagang nakita ko sa retreat house: “RELAX… GOD IS IN-CHARGE!” Tama nga naman, kung naniniwala tayo na buhay si Hesus ay wala dapat tayong katakutan! Siya ang dapat na magdikta sa ating buhay at hindi ang multo ng ating lumang sarili. Mas angkop na simbolo ng pag-ibig ang KRUS kaysa PUSO. Sapagkat ang puso ay maaring huminto sa pagtibok, samantalang ang namatay sa krus ay patuloy na nagmamamahal! Patuloy sapagkat Siya ay buhay at hindi patay. Ang Kanyang muling pagkabuhay ay pagpaparamdam ng Kanyang pagmamahal sa atin! Aleluya!

Ipinaskil ni kalakbay ng kabataan

kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com/2015/04/multo-ng-nakaraan-reflection-for-3rd.html

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Do We Want To Live In The Truth? Luke 24:35-48 (3rd Sunday of Easter- Year B)

Homily:

(Given at Our Lady of the Snows: Westwood CA, and Christ the King: Chester CA)

by Deacon Pat

Once again in the Gospel today, we have to be somewhat fascinated by the response of the disciples. Jesus had appeared to the holy women, He had appeared to Saint Peter, He had appeared to these two disciples along the way, the present topic of their conversation is the rising of Our Lord from the dead and how they did not recognize Him at first and that He made Himself known to them, and then He appears to them and they all think they are seeing a ghost.

They panicked and they are terrified even though the very topic of their conservation has been the resurrection of Our Lord from the dead! We can see that even though they had evidence of His Resurrection, there was no understanding of what it meant; just that it had happened, but they did not understand as yet.

But as we hear in today’s Gospel, then He opened their minds to be able to understand the Scriptures and how everything written about Him had to be fulfilled: that He had to suffer, that He had to be put to death, that He was to rise on the third day, and that then from Jerusalem, faith in Him would be preached throughout the world.

We know that Jesus has been raised from the dead. We know that He is God. We know that He is glorified at the right hand of the Father. We know the promises that He has made.

What lacks is not knowledge, but faith. Not the generic faith that says, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is God and He was raised from the dead,” but the faith that says, “In His Holy Name I will be healed.” And not necessarily healed of all the physical ailments because sometimes it gives God greater glory that we would suffer with these things.

We all know too well for our own selves that if we are plagued with some particular physical ailment, it keeps us down, and if we did not have it we would probably be out doing something really stupid. Therefore, God in His mercy allows us to suffer with whatever physical ailment we might have in order to keep us from being out doing foolish things.

So it is a gift, not a curse.

But far more important than any kind of physical healing that anyone might have is the spiritual healing. The forgiveness of sin is to be preached in His Name so that our souls can be healed, so that we would be able to be in the state of grace, so that we can do the Will of God – which includes the acceptance of the struggles, the pains, the difficulties, the illnesses (whatever they may be) that God has allowed in our lives, to unite those with His suffering and offer those to the Father.

It is this, then, that not only brings greater healing for us but also obtains the grace for others to be able to be healed as well. We must, of course, acknowledge that it is not through anything that we have done. What we have done on our own is to sin, pure and simple. That is the only thing we can truly take credit for in our lives. We can say that we cooperated with God, but most often that is begrudgingly.

The only thing that we can actually stand up and say, “I did this,” is to sin.

And so any holiness that we may have, any healing, any forgiveness, any positive growth, any virtue, all of this we must acknowledge has been done by the power of the Lord’s Name and by the power of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us and Who is working in us to unite us with Christ. We have to be humble as we approach these truths, as we look at what happens within ourselves. We have to be willing to acknowledge the truth.Unfortunately, like the disciples, most of us are too afraid of the truth to want to even face it or admit it. So we run away from it. We are terrified of it and we never face it. Consequently, by never facing it we remain in our crippledness, in our brokenness, in our paralysis, in our illness, whatever it may be, because we do not want to face Jesus.

What He is looking for is faith, the faith that says, “I believe in Him, in Who He is and what He has taught. I believe that He will heal me, that He will forgive my sin,” and then we are to put that faith into practice, to live it.Far too often, we are embarrassed to bring our faith out into the world.

We have fallen into the trap that the two things you do not talk about are politics and religion, but these days it is only religion because politics gets talked about all the time.

Yet the thing that is most important and the only thing we are going to talk about for all eternity is Jesus Christ. So why are we afraid or embarrassed to talk about Him now?

How many people do not have their sins forgiven, how many people are not healed spiritually because we do not have the courage to bring the Name of Jesus and the Person of Jesus out into the world?

We have to be the first ones to acknowledge the Faith, to acknowledge the Person of Christ, to be able to bring Him out into the world by the way we live and by the way we speak so that others,

not through any power or piety of our own, but only through the power of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ – will be converted, will repent, and will be healed.

deaconpathomily.blogspot.com/search/label/Living%20In%20The%20Truth

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3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER: RECOGNIZING JESUS CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

Lk 24:35-48

WHEN CHRIST HAD RISEN from the dead, the truth of his resurrection has not sunk in yet on the part of his disciples. For them, Christ’s resurrection does not seem to be real. Thus, Christ tried to find ways on how the disciples could understand the resurrection event. The link between the earthly Jesus and the risen Christ can be found in the “breaking of the bread.” Through this, the disciples were able to recognize him. Likewise, Jesus opened their minds in understanding what the Scriptures has said about him.

Let us try to reflect upon the theme on recognition because this also appears as a problem to modern-day believers. Some Christians do not find meaning in what they practice in the Church because it is not clear to them what these religious practices mean. For instance, going to Church on Sundays could not be felt as something meaningful because it appears monotonous, repetitious, and predictable. I remember one lady who remarked, “Why do I need to go to the Mass every Sunday, when rites are all the same, and even homilies of the priest are the same?” There could be no meaning in these practices because Christ has been hardly recognized in the liturgical celebration.

The Holy Eucharist is very dear to us, Catholics, because, in this sacrament, we experience the “real presence” of Christ through his sacred body and blood. But the question here is: What do we need so that we could recognize Christ in this sacrament?

First, we need to be heedful and reflective on the Word of God. Remember that the disciples had a hard time figuring out the resurrection of Christ. Consequently, Christ has “opened their minds” to understand the Scriptures. The word of God has been with them but, they failed in understanding it. I would say that our present problem in relation to the Word concerns our attitude. Most of us don’t have the ability to listen to others who need to be listened to, and this sort of attitude affects our relationship to the Word of God. We likewise don’t care to listen to it.

Another problem could be that the Word of God does not appear to us as something appealing. It appears as a kind of “other-worldly.” There are matters in this world that we want to listen and there are also we hate to listen. We love to listen to new ideas, new technologies… but we hate to listen to personal and family problems. In the same way, the Word of God is not appealing because often it brings discomfort when it hits us.  But this is the nature of the Word. In it, Christ tells us the truth, and in fact, He is the Truth. The disciples were unable to recognize Christ in the Scriptures. Perhaps, they failed in heedfully listening and reflecting upon it. We need to realize that Christ is in the Scriptures. In fact, He is the Word, the Word of God made flesh. If we want to know more about him, we need to read or listen to the Word of God.

Second, we need to be sensitive to the signs we see in the liturgy. Remember, the risen Christ was not instantly recognized by his disciples, but as soon as He “broke the bread,” there the disciples came to recognize Him. Moreover, he asked “have you anything to eat” in order to show to them that He was the Jesus whom they have been with, the Jesus who loved to eat with his disciples and with the known public sinners. It was through this action or sign that the disciples came to recognize Jesus. The action of Jesus was indeed powerful. This could be the redeeming moment of the disciples. Yes, they failed to understand the Scriptures, but they have clearly recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.

Now, as soon as we go in a Church for a public liturgy, we are entering into the “world of signs.” Therefore, we must be attentive to the gestures, actions, language, and prayers which are part of the liturgy. Like for instance, if we listen attentively to the prayer to the Holy Spirit which transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, then we can easily recognize Christ there. This is the meaning of “real presence” of Christ. This is something that we could not find in the liturgy of some other Christian denominations. This is something that we, Catholics, treasure. If we have the awareness and the recognition, then the Holy Eucharist would become even more meaningful in our lives. It is something we always look forward to. It is something that we cannot afford to miss every week, or even every day of our lives.

msp.org.ph/homilies.do?id=20203

************************************************************

Seeing ghost, faith in trials

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
April 17, 2015

At dawn of March 18, 1994, the day my late Papa was to be interred, I was awakened at four o’clock. My table lamp suddenly flickered on and off, then stopped, and it happened again. I could no longer sleep afterwards.

* * *

In the evening of the same day, after returning home from the burial, I placed the black handbag I used for blessing on top of a table. While taking a nap in bed, I heard something loud that hit the floor.

* * *

I looked around and saw the black bag on the floor, its contents spilled out. Was Papa making me feel his presence (nagpaparamdam) or asking for prayer?

The experiences were so real that it reinforced my belief in immortal spirits.

* * *

The gospel of this 3rd Easter Sunday talks about ghost. The two disciples, who were overcome by doubts about the risen Lord, thought they were seeing a ghost when Jesus dined with them in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24,37).

Jesus tried to dispel their doubts saying: “Touch me, and see that a ghost does not have flesh and bones as I do” (v. 39).

* * *

OUR RISEN BODIES. What kind of body did the risen Christ have? In his article “Who Would Want to Go to Heaven?” Jim Auer writes that Christ’s glorified body was different. It was neither a ghost nor disembodied being.

* * *

The Risen Lord could eat and drink, but he wasn’t limited by material objects like walls and doors. He appeared and disappeared whenever he wanted. Perhaps this is a hint of what our own risen bodies will be like.

* * *

The appearances of the Risen Lord served to bolster the drooping faith of his close followers buffeted by doubts and misgivings. “Was he really the expected Messiah?” “Did he really rise from the dead?” were the questions bugging their minds.

* * *

FAITH TESTED. The disciples’ attitude represents our own at times. Yes, for us Christians believing in the Risen Lord is not very much a problem. But in PRACTICAL LIFE, our faith sometimes wavers when assailed by doubts and adversities.

* * *

For instance, we pray desperately for something, say, the cure of a sickness or turn-around of a moribund business, but the response is deafening silence.

Or, we are badly hurt or misunderstood in serving the church or parish, or turned off by the bad example of a church leader, or feel bitter and resentful over a broken family and we take it against God.

* * *

However, we should remember that faith is accepting God not only in good times, but also in bad. Life is like a roller coaster with its ups and downs.

When some misfortune befall us, we say, “Why me, Lord?” But when good things come, why don’t we also say, “Why me, Lord?”

* * *

It has been said that there are three kinds of faith: one that is without trials and temptations is childlike, one that is tested but overcome by trials is immature, one that is able to overcome adversities is ADULT faith.

Which of these faiths do you have?

mb.com.ph/seeing-ghost-faith-in-trials/

*****************************************************

Apr 19, 2015, Third Sunday of Easter (B)

Lesson 1: The Peace of the Resurrected Christ Is What We Need (Gospel)

Jesus’ favorite word after his resurrection is “peace.”

  • It is almost always the first word on his lips when he appears to his apostles, as in the passage we just listened to: “Peace be with you.”
  • Every time we celebrate Mass, we hear these same words, spoken to us in the here-and-now of our lives, right before we receive the living, resurrected body and blood of our Lord in Holy Communion:
  • “Lord Jesus Christ,” the priest says, “you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you.”

He didn’t give this peace before his resurrection, but afterwards he does give it, and he gives it because we need it.

Christ’s peace is the antidote to most endemic diseases of modern, secular society: stress, depression, and anxiety.

We have all been affected by those diseases.

As our friendship with the resurrected Lord grows deeper, we are gradually healed of those diseases, because he brings us his three-fold peace.

  • First, peace for our mind.
  • When we look at his wounds, which he still bears in his glorified body, we know for certain that his forgiveness is everlasting; once he forgives our sins, we are truly forgiven; our conscience can be at rest.
  • Second, peace for our heart.
  • When we see the spike marks in his hands and feet, we know for certain thatwe are loved with an undying, unconditional, personal, determined love – Christ’s love.
  • Third, peace for our soul.
  • Christ is alive, and he is ruling and expanding an everlasting Kingdom, and he has invited each one of us to help him do that by building up the Church.
  • We have work to do that matters, that is worthwhile, that will satisfy our thirst for meaning.

The peace of the resurrected Christ is what we really need.

The Psalmist put it well: “As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep, for you alone, O LORD, bring security to my dwelling.

epriest.com/homily_packs/build/128

Applications:

St Marcellus’s Tough Decision

One reason only Christ can give us the peace we long for is because only Christ can offer us a friendship that is solid and everlasting.

Everything else in the world is passing and limited – even good, faithful relationships are vulnerable, because sickness and death can snatch them away from us.

St Marcellus [march-ELL-uhs] the Righteous figured this out at a fairly young age.

  • He lived in the fifth century and came from an aristocratic family in the Middle East.
  • He received a top-notch education and had a very bright future.
  • Then his parents died, leaving him a large fortune.
  • He had to make a decision about what to do with it.
  • His friends and relatives told him not to be stupid, but just to enjoy it.
  • But Marcellus wasn’t so sure, and so he went on a personal retreat to think, pray, study the faith, and seek God’s will.
  • Gradually, he became convinced of the passing nature of what most peopleardently desire in life.

He considered the following analogy:

  • Little kids make a big deal out of their toys, but adults recognize the paltriness of toys.
  • They, instead, make a big deal out of money, success, and pleasure.
  • But, reasoned Marcellus, what do such things look like from God’s perspective, if not foolish toys?

And so, in pursuit of lasting values, he moved to Ephesus (in modern day Turkey) and put himself under the direction of some well-known Christians.

  • He grew in holiness and wisdom, and eventually felt called to the monastic life.
  • Eventually, Marcellus was named abbot of a gigantic monastery near Constantinople (modern Istanbul).
  • It flourished exceedingly under his leadership, and he became a valued adviser to Church councils, bishops, and emperors.

St Marcellus found and spread the peace of Christ, because he built his life on the onlysolid foundation.

epriest.com/homily_packs/build/128

St Ammon Comes to the Rescue

Christ’s resurrection enables us to grow in this triple peace because in the middle of this stormy, turbulent world, it gives us a firm anchor: our hope for life everlasting.

We renew this hope every Sunday, when we pray the Creed.

This has been exemplified through the centuries by the saints, and in a special way by the martyrs.

  • St Ammon and his four companions were martyred back in the third century.
  • They were Roman soldiers at the service of the Roman governor of the great city of Alexandria, in Egypt.
  • Their martyrdom happened during the wave of persecution started by the emperor Decius [DEH-chee-oos], who forced all Christians to worship Roman gods under pain of death.
  • Ammon and his companions, who were secretly Christians themselves, were on duty during a trial of prisoners accused of being Christians.
  • The judge’s interrogation was harsh and intimidating, and at least one poor Christian seemed to be wavering.
  • The five soldiers saw what was happening and were afraid that their brother in Christ was going to deny his faith, thus putting at risk his eternal salvation.
  • So they began to make encouraging signs to him, gesturing, nodding, bulging their eyes – anything they could do without putting themselves into too much danger.
  • But their efforts were so energetic that the judge couldn’t help but notice.
  • And when he inquired as to what was going on, the five soldiers broke ranks anddeclared themselves Christians.
  • This disturbed the Roman officials and caused quite a ruckus, but it alsorenewed the courage of the prisoners.
  • In the end, both the prisoners and the Christian soldiers stayed faithful to Christ, suffering martyrdom instead of denying their Lord.

The stormy persecution didn’t steal their interior peace and lead them astray, because their anchor was firmly attached to the risen Lord.

epriest.com/homily_packs/build/128

Don’t Forget!

Remember, some of the most effective illustrations or images or anecdotes that come from your own personal experience. Sometimes finding just the right one is only a matter of doing some brainstorming for a matter of minutes

Applications:

Removing the Main Obstacle to Peace (linked to Second Reading)

We all want to experience this peace more deeply – peace of mind, heart, and soul.

And Christ wants the same thing – that’s why he suffered, died, and rose.

But if that’s so, why do we still find ourselves so easily overrun by stressanxiety, and discouragement?

Many obstacles can inhibit the flow of Christ’s peace in our lives.

The most obvious one is sin.

  • [Optional link to Second Reading: St John puts it clearly in today’s Second Reading: “Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them.”]
  • Sometimes we fall into sin out of weakness.
  • Those falls are easy to confess and repent of.

But other times we allow subtle habits of sin to take root in our lives.

  • For example, we refuse to accept some part of Church teaching on faith or morals – like Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, abortion, or gay marriage.
  • Sure, we find plenty of reasons to justify this resistance – all the arguments we hear on the news, for instance.
  • But at heart, to reject official Church teaching on these issues (which we find in the Catechism), is to reject Christ’s saving truth.
  • It’s like telling God that we trust him a little bit, in some things, but we trust CNN more in other things.

Subtle habits of sin can also take other forms:

  • like slacking off in our life responsibilities – just doing enough to get by, but not really giving our best;
  • or wasting inordinate amounts of time on hobbies, entertainment, or gossip.
  • Sinful habits can also take not-so-subtle forms, as financial corruption and pornography statistics make clear.

If we are not experiencing the peace of Christ’s resurrected life a little bit more each season, maybe we need to do some spring cleaning in our souls.

For that, the best disinfectant is confession.

As Christ renews his hope in us during this Mass, let’s renew our hope in him too, and ask for the grace to receive his peace.

Plugging Up Our Leaky Souls (with optional quotation from Pope Benedict XVI)

We all want to experience this peace more deeply – peace of mind, heart, and soul.

And Christ wants the same thing – that’s why he suffered, died, and rose.

But if that’s so, why do we still find ourselves so easily overrun by stressanxiety, and discouragement?

  • Many obstacles can inhibit the flow of Christ’s peace in our lives.
  • One of the least obvious but most insidious is our mouth.
  • St John reminds us in today’s Second Reading that unless we are following Christ’s commandments, God’s truth cannot take root in our souls.

And Christ’s main commandment was that we love our neighbors as ourselves.

And one way we easily break that commandment is with our words.

  • Our mass media culture encourages us to be careless with what we say – weather face to face, via cell phones, or through email, texting, and tweeting,
  • Since our newscasters and bloggers spend much of their time judging and criticizing people, our popular culture has come to accept that as normal.
  • But it is not normal – not for the followers of Christ.
  • We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether they are politicians, bishops, movie stars, or the person one office cubicle over.
  • And that means we don’t go around talking carelessly about their struggles, failings, faults, and sins.
  • Would we want them to do that to us?
  • Lying about people is the sin of calumny or slander.
  • But unnecessarily disclosing people’s weaknesses or sins is also a sin – the sin of detraction or tale-bearing.

If we have fallen into the habit of using our words to hurt instead of help, we have a leak in our souls, and Christ’s peace may be spilling out.

As Christ renews his hope in us during this Mass, let’s renew our hope in him, and ask for the grace to and receive – and keep – his peace.

[OPTIONAL QUOTATION FROM POPE BENEDICT XVI]

“Dear Brothers, during the days when I first had the idea of  writing this letter, by chance, during a visit to the Roman Seminary, I had to interpret and comment onGalatians 5:13-15. I was surprised at the directness with which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: ‘Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another.’ I am always tempted to see these words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in Saint Paul. To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this “biting and devouring” also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians? That at the very least we are threatened by the same temptations? That we must always learn anew the proper use of freedom? And that we must always learn anew the supreme priority, which is love?”

Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to Catholic Bishops concerning the  remission of the excommunication of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, 10 March 2009.

Lesson 2: The Resurrection Gives Us a Fresh Start (First Reading, Gospel)

St Peter shows amazing courage in today’s First Reading.

  • That passage is taken from his Pentecost sermon.
  • In that sermon, he preached the gospel to the Jewish leaders and residents of Jerusalem – the very same group of people who had conspired to condemn Jesus to death by crucifixion.
  • And Peter doesn’t sugar-coat his message; he reminds of that: “The author of life you put to death.”

But then he moves on from their sin, weakness, and ignorance.

  • He lifts their gaze to something much more important.
  • He tells them that God can handle it, that God took the evil of Christ’s sufferingand death and turned it into the definitive victory over evil, suffering and death:
  • “God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”
  • And as he said, “we are witnesses,” certainly he was thinking of those times, as we heard in today’s Gospel, when Jesus appeared to them, letting them see and touch his wounds, proving that he was no ghost or illusion stemming from wishful thinking.

It is Christ’s resurrection that has made all the difference.

  • It has dissolved the bonds of original sin and opened the door to a new life, a life in which each of us can truly leave behind the chains of sin and selfishness in all their forms.
  • The Resurrection is the key that opens the treasure of hope for each of us, no matter how mediocre, hypocritical, or self-absorbed we have been and tend to be.
  • The Resurrection puts all good things within reach: wisdom, patience, joy, fortitude, self-control – in short, it makes holiness and lasting happiness possible for us.

That is what Peter is telling the crowds, and that is what the Church is telling us: hope in Christ, leave everything aside to follow him, and he will work wonders in your life.

Illustrations:

St Maria Goretti’s Murderer (with optional quotation from Alessandro Serenelli)

Most of us have heard the story of St Maria Goretti, the 11-year-old girl who died as a martyr in 1902.

  • She was mortally wounded when her neighbor, 20-year-old Alessandro Serenelli [seh-reh-NEHLL-ee], attacked her with intent to sexually abuse her.
  • When she resisted and admonished him not to commit this sin, he became enraged and stabbed her 14 times.
  • The doctors tried to save her, but after 20 hours of agony, during which Maria forgave and prayed for Alessandro, she died.
  • She was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII, the youngest officially recognized Catholic saint ever.

We know that story, but have we heard the story of the murderer, Alessandro?

  • Imprisoned and put on trial, Alessandro vehemently denied his guilt, but finally broke down in the face of overwhelming testimony.
  • As a minor, he was sentenced to only thirty years hard labor
  • A priest came to see him soon afterward, and he turned on the cleric in rage,howling like a maniac and lunging at him.
  • Soon afterwards, Alessandro lost his appetite and became almost excessively nervous, almost neurotic.
  • After six years of prison, he was near the brink of despair.
  • Then one night, Maria appeared to him in his cell.
  • She was surrounded by lilies, and smiled at him.

It was the beginning of the rest of his life.

  • He began to experience interior peace and a desire to do somethingconstructive.
  • After serving his sentence, Alessandro asked pardon of Maria’s mother and accompanied her to Christmas Mass in the parish church where he spoke to the hushed congregation.
  • He acknowledged his sin, and asked for forgiveness from God and the community.
  • Alessandro took up residence at a Capuchin monastery, working faithfully and productively as a gardener until his death in 1970.

The risen Christ, through the prayers and goodness of St Maria Goretti, gave this brutal murderer a fresh start, and turned him into a wise and happy Christian.

[OPTIONAL QUOTATION FROM ALESSANDRO SERENELLI]

A few years before he died, he wrote a short spiritual testimony. What he wrote is an astounding witness to the transforming power of Christ’s grace to give us a fresh start, no matter what.

“…Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I’ve been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.

“I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life.”

[Information for this Illustration was taken from http://www.mariagoretti.org/alessandrobio.htm.]

St Nicholas Owen’s Odd Expertise

There is a beautiful analogy for this in the work of St Nicholas Owen.

  • St Nicholas Owen was one of the forty English martyrs killed during the anti-Catholic persecutions in seventeenth century England.
  • During those years, Catholic priests and sacraments (especially the Mass) wereoutlawed.
  • If you attended a Catholic Mass or harbored a Catholic priest, it was a capital crime.

This was the atmosphere in which St Nicholas Owen grew up.

  • He was trained as a carpenter and joined the Jesuit order as a lay brother when he was about thirty-years-old.
  • He was never ordained a priest.
  • Instead, he spent the next twenty-six years using his carpentry skills toconstruct hiding places in houses for priests.
  • These hiding places enabled outlawed priests to continue their ministry in secret, while avoiding capture during police raids.
  • St Nicholas brilliantly designed his closets and cubby-holes, tucking them behind walls and under false floors.
  • Sometimes priests would have to spend two or three days crammed into those hidden closets, waiting until the coast was clear.
  • Then they would emerge, like Christ from the tomb, and move on to anotherCatholic household.
  • One contemporary said that it was difficult to find any priest who did not often owe his life to Owen’s hiding places.
  • Owen was arrested three times, and eventually he was tortured and executedfor treason.
  • You can still see some of his brilliantly designed hiding places today.

Christ’s resurrection guarantees that Jesus is a safe spiritual hiding place for every Christian:

  • if we unite our sufferings to his,
  • if we hide our sins in his Sacred Heart,
  • if we take refuge in him during life’s hardships and temptations’ attacks,
  • he will keep us safe from our enemies, and we will emerge victorious, just as hedid.

[This Illustration uses information taken from Cynthia Cavnar’s “The Saints from A to Z.”]

 Applications:

Two Ways to Activate Our New Life (linked to Second Reading)

We all want to experience more deeply the newness of life that Christ’s resurrection promises us.

But it’s not something that happens automatically; we have to let his grace penetrateand transform us.

At least two things are necessary for that to happen.

First, as St Peter stressed in the First Reading, we must “repent, and be converted.”

  • Today’s Second Reading echoes that: “… Whoever keeps his word [i.e., avoiding sin], the love of God is truly perfected in him.”
  • If we want to put fresh honey in a jar, first we have to clean out the smelly old leftovers that we have been keeping there.
  • The life of wisdom, courage, and joy that Christ brings us is the fresh honey, but to experience it, we have to confess our sins and renounce our selfish tendencies – not just once, but constantly.
  • This is why the sacrament of confession should be a regular part of all of our lives.

Second, we need to give God room to work in our souls through prayer.

  • During Lent many of us spent more time in prayer, came to Mass more often, or made a point of reading good spiritual books.
  • Those spiritual disciplines gave more substance and strength to our daily lives.
  • It can be a temptation to leave that behind during the joyful Easter season.
  • That’s exactly what the devil wants.
  • He wants us to be back at zero again by the time the next Lent rolls around.
  • But God wants us to keep growing!
  • [Here you may want to mention specific devotions or resources – personal favorites or parish opportunities – that can help your parishioners continue growing in their prayer life. Good ideas can be found at the online prayer book at vocation.com.]

In a few minutes Jesus will once again share with us his new life, his glorified, resurrected life, in Holy Communion.

When he does, let’s thank him for it, and let’s ask him to help us put it into action this week.

Three Ways to Flourish (linked to Second Reading and Psalm)

We all want to experience more deeply the newness of life that Christ’s resurrection promises us.

At least three things are necessary for that to happen.

First, as St Peter stressed in the First Reading, we must “repent, and be converted.”

  • Our selfish tendencies can choke off this new life.
  • We must constantly keep watch over them, so that they don’t lead us into sin.

Second, as today’s Psalm reminds us, we must continue to turn to God in prayer:

  • “Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one; the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.”
  • Daily “calling upon the Lord” is not just for Lent; we should be doing it all year long.

Third, we need to share with others the good news of Christ’s resurrection.

  • In the spring, trees put out new leaves.
  • These leaves absorb the sun’s rays, giving the trees new energy, which they transform into growth, flowers, and fruit.
  • Without spreading their leaves, they wouldn’t receive the new energy they need in order to grow.
  • The same goes for our spiritual lives.
  • We are called to be Christ’s witnesses in the world.
  • We are called to pass on to others the faith, hope, and grace we have received, just as we passed on the Easter flame during the candlelight service on Holy Saturday.
  • If we don’t reach out to others in this way, through our Christ-like words, example, and actions, we will be like trees that never put out new leaves – Christ’s new life will wither and die in our souls.

Jesus doesn’t want that; he wants his wisdom, courage, and joy to flourish in and around us.

Today, as he renews his commitment to us in this Holy Sacrifice, let’s promise him that this week we will do our part to make it happen.

Lesson 3: We Need Jesus to Be Our Advocate: Introduction (expositional homily in three parts)

When St John wrote his First Letter, part of which we just listened to, he was an old man.

  • Of the twelve Apostles, he had been the youngest.
  • Most biblical scholars estimate that he was about 16-years-old when he met Jesus.
  • And he didn’t die until he was over 100-years-old, after the year 100 AD.
  • During the first century of the Church, he wrote the fourth Gospel, the Apocalypse, also known as the Book of Revelation, and three New Testament Letters.
  • Most historians agree that he spent the last part of his life as the bishop of Ephesus, a city in what would be today western Turkey.
  • In ancient times, Ephesus was a major commercial city linking the eastern and western Mediterranean; being bishop of Ephesus back then was like being bishop of present-day London or New York.

In general, St John’s writings are full of poetic imagery and blinding theological flourishes.

  • But the section we just listened to is very straightforward.
  • He reminds us that, because Jesus not only died for our sins, but also – and this is the important thing, the thing we emphasize during this Easter season – rosefrom the dead, he is our “Advocate with the Father.”
  • What exactly did he mean by the word “advocate”?
  • If we understand that, we will also understand why what he said is so importantfor us today.

Illustrations:

Part I: An Advocate Is More Than a Lawyer

In modern English, we use the word advocate in a legal sense.

  • An advocate is a lawyer, someone who comes to our defense in a court of law.
  • It had that meaning in the ancient world too, but it wasn’t limited to that meaning.
  • The Greek word was “parakletos” [pah-RAH-klay-tohs].
  • It came from a verb that meant to call someone to your side to help or counsel you.
  • If a king was facing rebellion or attack, he would “call to his side” his wisest and most respected advisors – they became his advocates.
  • If a man was in trouble in any way, he would “call in” someone who was trustworthy, strong, wise, and faithful, so that his trouble wouldn’t destroy him, or so that he would at least receive comfort and encouragement in the midst of his pain and hardship.
  • And so, the word “parakletos” or “advocate,” in the biblical sense, has been defined as “one who lends his presence to his friends.”

St John says in today’s Reading that Jesus is our advocate.

  • By his passion and death he proved that he is “on our side,” in the sense that he was willing to take the punishment for our sins upon himself.
  • He was willing to suffer in our place and forgive us for our rebellions – both big and little – against him and his Kingdom.
  • Then, through the Resurrection and the Eucharist, he proved that he is STILL on our side, that he is alive forever to be our counselor, defender, and comforter.
  • Jesus truly is the “one who lends his presence to his friends,” a presence both powerful and enlightening, both merciful and strengthening.

That’s what the word advocate means.

But why is it so important for us to understand this?

For two reasons.

 

Part II: Because We Have Sinned (with example of St Mary Magdalan of Pazzi)

First, we need Christ to be our advocate because we are sinners.

  • We admit this publicly at the beginning of every Mass.
  • We all have deep selfish tendencies in our hearts – tendencies towards greed, lust, envy, discouragement, impatience, anger, laziness…
  • And when we fall into temptation, letting these tendencies have their way, wedamage our friendship with God and the world around us; we violate God’s wise law that leads to happiness.
  • And so, through our sins and sinful tendencies, we are constantly separatingourselves from God, distancing ourselves from him.
  • But Jesus, although he was tempted in every way that we are, never sinned.
  • And so, when we find ourselves cut off from God, Jesus fills the breach.
  • He comes to reunite us, to restore our friendship with God, to heal our wounds, to bridge the gap and fix the damage, to bring peace of mind to our anxious conscience.

St Mary Magdalen of Pazzi [PAH-tee], a nun who lived in Renaissance Italy, was once praying in the convent chapel.

  • At the same time, in the same chapel, another sister was going to confession.
  • St Mary glanced over to the confessional and was given a vision of what was happening there, spiritually.
  • She saw an angel letting drops of Christ’s blood fall from a chalice onto the sister as she knelt confessing her sins.
  • The blood had scarcely touched her, and suddenly she began to shine like the sun.
  • St Mary Magdalen almost fainted, the sight was so beautiful.
  • Immediately, she got up from the pew and hurried to the confessional herself, praying in a quiet voice, “Sprinkle me, too!”

Christ is our advocate with the Father; washed in his blood, our sins and sinful tendencies have no power to separate us from the grace of God.

As St John put it in the Second Reading: “He [Jesus] is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”

 

Part III: Because We Are Constantly Being Tempted

The second reason we need Christ to be our advocate is because we are constantly being tempted.

At the end of today’s Reading, St John explains that true followers of Christ don’t justbelieve in the Lord, but they also follow him.

  • For Christians, faith and obedience always go together: “The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments.”
  • The old pagan religions and mystery cults, which were so popular in the Ancient Roman Empire, didn’t make this connection.
  • For those non-Christian religions, right and wrong were relative, changeable.
  • What mattered were religious rituals that stirred up divine feelings.
  • Popular culture in our world is going in that same direction.

But our Catholic faith goes much deeper.

  • We do have beautiful rituals and traditions, and often God does grant us a powerful feeling of his presence and goodness.
  • But our friendship with Christ is not based on those feelings; it’s based on loyalty and love.
  • He was so loyal to us that he died on a cross instead of giving up on us.
  • And now he invites us to be loyal to him, to follow his commandments and the teachings of his Church.
  • And he knows that’s not easy, so he himself gives us his strength – through prayer, confession, and the Eucharist.

We are like sailors on the ship of the Church and Christ is our captain.

  • If we truly believe in him, we will follow his orders.
  • And yet, when the journey is hard, we are tempted to mutiny or to abandonship.
  • That’s when we need to be reminded of his goodness and wisdom; we need to be strengthened to persevere and encouraged to weather the storm – we need an advocate.

And we have one – all we have to do is look at the crucifix.

Applications:

Letting Jesus Be Our Advocate

Jesus Christ wants to be our advocate, our protector, companion, guide, and counselor, lending his presence to our lives at every moment.

  • He died to prove how much he loved us, and he rose to prove how powerful his help can be.
  • And we are weak and needy sinners; we are tempted every day to follow our selfish tendencies and tune him out.
  • Will we let him be our advocate?
  • Will we turn to him each morning and evening, thanking him for his blessings and drawing our strength from the burning love of his merciful heart?
  • He wants us to.
  • And I think all of us want to as well.

As we continue with this holy Mass, let’s thank Christ from the bottom of our hearts for all his gifts.

And when he comes to us in Holy Communion, let’s ask him to teach us how to let him be our Advocate.

Nothing would please him more.

epriest.com/homily_packs/build/128

 

 

The PEACE of the Resurrected Christ Is What We Need

  • Jesus’ favorite word after his resurrection is “peace.”; Every time we celebrateMass, we hear these same words; right before we receive the living, resurrected body and blood of our Lord in Holy Communion: “Lord Jesus Christ,” the priest says, “you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you.”
  • He didn’t give this peacebefore his resurrection, but afterwards he does give it, and he gives it because we need it.
  • Christ’s peace is theantidote to most endemic diseases of modern, secular society: stress, depression, and anxiety. We have all been affected by those diseases because he brings us his three-fold peace: First, peace for our mind; Second, peace for our heart; Third, peace for our soul

But there are Obstacles (Balakid) to Peace. Many obstacles can inhibit the flow of Christ’s peace in our lives. The most obvious one is SIN. Habits of sin:

  • werefuse to accept some part of Church teaching on faith or morals
    • we find plenty of reasons tojustify this resistance
    • But at heart, toreject official Church teaching on these issues (which we find in the Catechism), is to reject Christ’s saving truth
    • It’s like telling God that we trust him a little bit, in some things, but we trust CNN more inother
  • likeslacking off in our life responsibilities – just doing enough to get by, but not really giving our best
  • wasting inordinate amounts of timeon hobbies, entertainment, or gossip
  • Sinful habits can also takenot-so-subtle forms, as financial corruption and pornography statistics make clear

For that, the best disinfectant is confession.

And Christ’s main commandment was that we love our neighbors as ourselves.

And one way we easily break that commandment is with our words.

  • Our mass media culture encourages us to be careless with what we say – weather face to face, via cell phones, or through email, texting, and tweeting,
  • Since our newscasters and bloggers spend much of their time judging and criticizing people, our popular culture has come to accept that as normal.
  • But it is not normal – not for the followers of Christ.
  • We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether they are politicians, bishops, movie stars, or the person one office cubicle over.
  • And that means we don’t go around talking carelessly about their struggles, failings, faults, and sins.
  • Would we want them to do that to us?
  • Lying about people is the sin of calumny or slander.
  • But unnecessarily disclosing people’s weaknesses or sins is also a sin – the sin of detraction or tale-bearing.

Christ renews his hope in us during this Mass, let’s renew our hope in him, and ask for the grace to and receive – and keep – his peace.

**********************************************************************

See Today’s Readings:  Cycle B

Back to: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

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