Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; John 15:9-17
The Vine and the Branches
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from Kyrygma
2014 THE BOOK, THE PLAY AND THE MOVIE: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” – John 15:12
I’ve read the book. I’ve watched the play. I’ve seen the movie.
I’m talking about Les Miserables, a story set in turbulent France. Jean Valjean gets jailed for a long time for stealing bread for his hungry nephews. Freed on parole, he faces discrimination. Desperate for sustenance and shelter, he is rescued from sleeping in a cemetery by the Monsignor who lives nearby. The latter offers hospitality and Jean repays him by stealing all the precious silver in the house. The police apprehend him and bring him back to the bishop for punishment. Instead, the bishop brings out two more candleholders and says, “My son, you have forgotten these.”
This single act of love turns Jean’s life around. He decides to reform, become successful, and provide help to so many people. There is much more to this uplifting story.
In all instances, the central message — that of Christ telling us to love one another, personified by the priest — never fails to grip my heart and soul. Always, I am led to tears. I realize that the reason I love and enjoy making friends is because I see and feel Him in others. Grace Relucio Princesa ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reflection: “And remember, the truth that once was spoken, to love another person is to see the face of God.” (Finale, Les Miserables)
Dear Lord, may we always love one another the way You commanded and taught us, that we may see You in one another.
2014 1ST READING: The Early Church makes it clear that it is led by the Holy Spirit and not just by a human person. Drawing straws is not normally an advisable way to determine the outcome of an important decision. However, I think we can see what it tells us of the nature of the leadership of the early Christian community. There was a fundamental trust that God would manifest His will for the Church despite the sinfulness of its members. Thus, they seemingly left the choosing of Matthias to chance. Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
GOSPEL: For Jesus, the Gospel is all about love. If love is lacking, then what we are doing is not worth doing at all. This is why we need to reflect upon the true nature of love and make sure we are not deceived by the many counterfeit manifestations of love in the modern world. Read through 1Corinthians 13. If our experience of love does not match this description, then we can be pretty sure that it is not true love. John 15:9-17
2014 LOVE IS THE ANSWER: It is stating the obvious, and probably a cliché as well, to say that love is the answer to the world’s problems. However, despite this, it is still the truth. Jesus calls all who follow Him to recognize that the most fundamental expression of our faith is the call to love one another. If we fail in this, we fail to be faithful to the Gospel as He proclaims it. This is the challenge that stands before us every day of our lives.
Love is not an easy thing to grasp today as we use the word in so many different contexts that it is difficult to focus on its truest meaning, which is an unconditional commitment to the other person, always seeking his best interest but never demanding a response. As sinful human beings, we often focus on ourselves rather than the other person. Love has a significant component of trust attached to it — that if I give myself unconditionally to others, I trust that they will respond likewise with me. This isn’t often the case, as sin takes over and we hoard love rather than allowing ourselves to be channels and sharers of love with others.
As we continue to reflect upon the message of Easter and as we celebrate the Feast of St. Matthias, the one who replaced Judas, let us renew our commitment to love selflessly. Christianity does not hold a mortgage on the idea of selfless love but, in my opinion, it does have a far greater consistent witness than any other faith expression. The sheer number of martyrs in the Church is a testimony to this.
This is not to say that Christians and the Church have always been the best possible witness to selfless love. There are many examples of sin that directly contradict this message. However, such examples are relatively rare when taken in the context of the whole. Nevertheless, we must continue to strive, both as individuals and the Church, to root out all contrary witnesses to love and refocus our lives on the imitation of Jesus, who came to give His life — in love — as a ransom for us sinners. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Are you aware of the ways in which you both succeed and fail in bearing witness to love in the world? How can you love more faithfully?
Jesus, help me to receive the love that You are offering me each day and, thus, allow it to transform my life and enable me to love others better.
2015 Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle
CRUISE CONTROL – “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”– John 15:16
Our Mediterranean cruise was cancelled two weeks before its scheduled sailing. All our other bookings for airlines and hotels had been put on hold. What made it complicated was that we had two minors traveling with us who were not related to us and whose parents had gone ahead. Documentation changes would be impossible. We just said we will travel in faith and prayed for our situation.
Our Schengen visa warned that entry could be denied if our original European entry point is changed. Because of the cancellations, we had a different country as our entry point.
Nevertheless, we were able to complete the trip on a different cruise ship without a hitch. Later, a friend told us that they were denied entry in Venice, our original port of entry, because they were very strict with travelers who were with unrelated minors.
In hindsight, we likened our experience with our life journey. Cruise controls in cars make it easier to travel long distances. When we journey through life, we can trust that our Cruise Control, our Lord and Savior, will make our way smooth. Rolly España (email@example.com)
Reflection: Is your life messed up and too complicated? Simplify it. Go to Jesus!
Jesus, You are the wind beneath my wings that make me soar over difficult situations.
St. Matthias, Apostle, pray for us.
2018 Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle
CHOSEN “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” — John 15:16
“J, why don’t you just do what God is telling you to do?” These were Bo Sanchez’s word that literally changed my life. I was then a simple campus missionary who was suddenly invited to the immense task of being a Feast builder in a place I considered far and difficult — Alabang. But I said yes.
It was a blur. In a span of six months, I went from ordinary attendee to worship leader, to Singles head and finally Feast builder of the very first Wednesday Feast in the Light of Jesus Family. Believe me, despite the “anointing of ease,” I still doubted if it was really for me. Until one day, Feast Alabang gave me a surprise birthday party. Arun Gogna, our senior builder, announced that there were two persons who especially wanted to greet me. To my surprise, my parents went up the stage. Some servants went to Baguio City just to fetch them! I was flabbergasted.
But it wasn’t only me who was taken aback when I saw my parents. Bro. Arun said, “You’re the parents of J?”
I found out that years ago, when Bro. Arun went to Baguio for the very first time, a couple took care of him. Their names were Jose and Mercy Yogawin, my parents. Indeed, when God calls you somewhere, He knows where you are going. Jonathan Yogawin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reflect: Is God clearly calling you to go somewhere? Doubt no longer.
Jesus, I trust in You.
2018 A SPECIAL GLANCE OF LOVE I was nine when my mother took me to the old city of Trier where Constantine the Great and Karl Marx were born. At the tomb in front of the main altar of St. Matthias Abbey and Basilica, my mother told me the story of St. Matthias. She wondered how he must have felt to be chosen as Apostle to replace the traitor Judas. As we gather from Peter’s speech, Matthias had followed the Lord from the beginning to the end. But Jesus did not choose him. We don’t know why. Only the gap caused by the loss of Judas enabled him to join the Eleven chosen by Christ Himself. Chosen as an afterthought? Surely not.
In the Kingdom of God, it does not matter when or how one is chosen. What matters is to be chosen as a special witness to Christ’s work of salvation. Tradition has it that Matthias became a great witness: he preached in several countries and, in the end, he gave his life for his Master when he was decapitated for his faith. Have you ever given thanks to God that, out of millions, you have been chosen to be baptized and to receive the apostolic faith? Faith, we realize, is a free gift of God. How do we respond to a great gift? We thank the giver profoundly and try to please the person and show that we are worthy of so great a gift. Yet, isn’t it that we take God’s great gift for granted?
To be chosen by God means He looks at us with special care and love. The Preface of St. Matthias says, “Father, in order that the number of the Apostles would be complete, you cast a special glance of love on Matthias…” No afterthought, no replacement just to make the number Twelve full! This special glance is the cause for us being chosen. This special glance we feel upon us when God forgives us. The special glance touches us when Christ enters our very being in the Holy Eucharist. How lucky are we! How loved! Take a “bath” daily in this special glance; it helps to master life and pass through the difficulties we encounter. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
——– REFLECTION QUESTIONS ——- Do you take your faith for granted? Have you thanked God for the gift of faith?
Loving Father, today I cannot but thank You for all the love You have showered upon me since the moment of my conception in the womb of my mother. I cannot but thank You for the gift of faith I received without deserving it. I will respond to Your love by sharing it with others and being a witness to Your fatherly love for all of us. Amen.
See Today’s Readings: Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle
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