Stay connected to the vine!

Fifth Week of Easter Wednesday

Acts 15:1-6

 John 15: 1-8

 

One who is a “disciple” is one who learns from the teacher. There is much to learn today from the “teacher.”

 

In our Gospel, we are told that Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. In teaching us this, we do know that apart from Jesus Christ, we can do nothing. When we are connected to Him, we can do anything because our power comes from Him. Jesus makes it very clear that when we stay connected to Him, we can bear much fruit.

 

So what is our destiny? Jesus gives us this image of a vine because his hearers would readily know what a vine looks like and could hold this image in their minds. At my home, there is a neighbor down the block with a chainlink fence. Growing all through this fence is a grapevine that has been growing for years. The vine is all tangled up through the fence, and now it would be tough to take the vine down from the fence. As Christ disciples, our challenge is to know that we are one in Christ, we profess that at every Mass. We are to live in community with one another, but we know it is messy as we are all tangled up together. No matter what, we are all in this together, and there is no pulling us apart. In the tangled up mess of a community everyone matters and we are less without one of us.

 

As we gather in this Eucharist may we be reminded once again of staying grafted to the vine of Christ, because the only fruit worth sharing is what we produce together?

 

Advertisements

Peace I leave you; my peace I give you!

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Acts 14: 19-28

John 14: 27-31

 

We are all seeking some kind of peace somethings work, and something does not work so well. After the children or the grandchildren leave, we might say, “I just want some peace and quiet.” We pray often for world peace. However, I think our readings are challenging us to seek a deeper kind of peace, a peace that comes only knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul must have learned what true peace means to him because he is stoned and dragged outside the city walls presumes to be dead. The disciples come to him thinking they are going to have to do a burial and Paul gets up and goes back with them into the city. The following day, Paul and Barnabas travel to Derbe and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. As they make many disciples there, they return to where Paul was stoned and the two of them beginning preaching the Good News all over again. The story of all of this is told so simply, but yet the underlying message is when you know Jesus Christ true peace is available to face anything.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is at the Last Supper, and he knows he will be leaving soon, so he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give it to you.” He goes on to say, “I am telling you this, so when I am gone, you will know peace.”

 

We gather today in this holy place to know the truth about everlasting peace. As I understand true peace, it comes when we spend time in prayer and frequent reception of the Eucharist. The promise given to the apostles and us at the Last Supper is peace.   

 

May we know God’s peace this day!

 

The Command to Love!

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 14:21-27

Revelation 21:1-5

John 13:31-35

 

It is the time of year when many people are graduating from school if it is kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college. At all of these graduations, there will be people advising these graduates of what to do. Today our readings come to us with a bit of advice that has the potential to change our lives.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is getting ready to leave and go to his death, and he wants to impart to his disciples, his graduates some advice that will go with them as he is leaving them. One might think that Jesus would give them an escape plan because once he is gone; they know that many hardships are coming their way! Jesus does not provide them with an escape plan but a straightforward commandment, “Love one another, as I have loved you; you also should love one another.” The problem with this message is that it is so simple a child can understand it, yet it is so difficult to do as Jesus is commanding us to do!

 

One of the reasons it is so hard to graduate with this understanding of love is because Jesus is commanding us to love outside of our usual circle of family and friends. Another reason this becomes hard is that we have to make ourselves vulnerable, and we do not like to do that with others. We want to appear strong and powerful. The last reason it becomes hard is that we make love a choice, and Jesus wants it to be the next best thing we do. It is hard, but our other readings shed some light on us to help us understand what to do.  

 

In our first reading, Paul and Barnabas have graduated with this understanding and what they know that to love in this way will cause some pain and suffering, because it is very hard. The two of them have experienced lots of hardships because of love.

 

In our second reading, John has a vision of a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ and the reason he sees this is because of this command to love as Jesus loved. When we learn to love in this manner God will be wiping away all the tears from the people’s eyes.” My friends, this is only possible when we follow this command to love as God has loved us.  

 

So how are we to live this commandment of God? I want all parents when you go home today to line up all of your children up and say, “I command you to love one another!” Is that going to work? The best we can hope for in raising our children is that they share their toys, they don’t beat each other up, and they use kind words in speaking to each other. We teach our kids how to love by the way we love. Jesus is commanding us to love does the very same thing as he says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Jesus is giving the formula to follow, which is to love as he did when he was here on earth and left us so many examples of how to love.

 

We gather in this Eucharist to know the love of God for us may we learn to love as he loves us.

I will always have a chair for you!

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Acts 13:26-33

John 14:1-6

 

Before Mass have six chairs from the multi-purpose room in the middle aisle of the church.

 

Homily: Chose seven students to play Musical Chairs and have Joe play music. Play a couple of rounds!

Instructions: There is to be no running or shoving, and you are only allowed to walk.

 

Question: What are the rules of musical chairs?

 

Answer: You walk around the chairs when the music starts, and when the music stops, you find a chair. The one not in a chair leaves the game. Remove one more chair and play again. So the game says, “There is no room for you!”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus says just the opposite of musical chairs, Jesus says, “I will always have a chair for you.” When Thomas speaks up and says, Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”  Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

Jesus is making a place for us in heaven, and he is making a place for us here and now, and that place is being right here at the table of the Lord.

 

May we always know the blessing of our Catholic School and the blessing to be able to worship God in this Holy Eucharist? May we know that the Lord is saving a place for us!

 

 

 

 

A family gathering!

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Acts 13:13-25

John 13:16-20

 

At family gatherings with grandparents, and aunts and uncles, it was common for people to tell stories. The best storyteller was my uncle Charlieas he was raised in the Upper Peninsula in a tiny town in the Keweenaw Peninsula. He would tell stories about the snow in the winter and helping his grandfather on a delivery cart driven by horses. Of course, most stories ended with him giving a big belly laugh. Our readings have a lot to do about telling a story, but what is different is to be able to know the presence of God in that history.

 

In our first reading, Barnabas and Paul are continuing there missionary journey as they travel to Antioch the capital city, which had a sizeable Jewish population. We should always remember that Paul’s first priority was to the Jewish people and to bring them the Good News of Jesus Christ. Barnabas and Paul go to the synagogue on the Sabbath where there would naturally be a large crowd of people. As was the custom as missionaries they were invited to speak, and Paul outlines for them their Jewish salvation history and how it all connected to Jesus Christ.

 

Our Gospel follows immediately after Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus tells them, “If you understand what I have done for you, blessed are you. Now go and do the same, and when you do these acts of charity know that I AM.” Jesus wants the disciples to make history and to do so knowing the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

 

We are making history each and every day of our lives. What kind of stories are we able to tell on how God has intervened in our lives? How will we be remembered when we are gone?

 

Are we ready for the test?

Fourth Week of Easter Weekday Wednesday

Acts12:24–13:5

John12:44-50

 

I was never a good test taker in school. All the nervousness leading up to the test kept me from pulling out the information that I put in. I was so glad that after 25 years of not being in school when I returned to school to go to seminary, we did not take tests, but we wrote papers or did presentations. Our readings today come to us as the teacher getting the students ready for a test as they summarize all the essential material that was covered throughout the year.

 

In our Gospel, the writer John is summarizing all that Jesus has been saying in the previous six chapters. Jesus is expecting his followers to take his words very seriously and to make a personal commitment to him. The main points of Jesus review are: that Jesus and the Father are one, that he is the light of the world, and he only dispels the darkness of the world. The followers of Jesus are to know these things. Jesus does something interesting as he tells them, “If you fail to understand these things and to put my words into action you will not only get a bad test grade you will be liable to death at the time of judgment.” Jesus is hoping his followers will do well on the test.

 

In our first reading, I guess you could say that many must have studied well and passed the test as we see how the church is being structured and how far the Word of God is being spread. At first, we hear of Barnabas and Saul returning from Jerusalem, where they brought food and supplies to the Christian community in Jerusalem that is suffering from a famine. As they return to Antioch, we hear of other prophets and teachers who are organizing the community in Antioch. The community prays over Barnabas and Saul as they are now being sent on the first missionary trip all the way to Cyprus and Perga.

 

We are being tested all the time to share our faith and to do the will of the Father. We have to remember that we have been chosen by Christ, for a purpose and mission, and we have been given all that we need for this mission? The Eucharist is given to us today, to help us study well and to past the test today!

Move from “understudy” to disciples!

Wednesday Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

St. Matthias

Acts 1:15-17, 20-26

John 15: 9-17

 

The main actors in a play always have an “understudy” who do all the preparation needed to step into that role if something was to happen to the main person. Something like an understudy is happening in our readings today. It gives us a model to follow in God’s love.

 

In our first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, we have the apostles wanting to replace Judas Iscariot after his death. Peter proclaims that the new Apostle could not be a newcomer to the role of disciples but was required, “to have accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us.” There are two candidates who have these qualifications and Matthias, is chosen.

 

In our Gospel, the disciples are in an understudy role as Jesus defines them as “slaves.”  However, he then calls them friends as they move from this understudy role to the leading role in his mission of sharing the gospel.

 

As once understudies and now full participants, we need to remember the words of Jesus today, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” In knowing that God has chosen us all that matters are doing the will of the Father, nothing else matters. If we feel resistance to this, then we want to be the understudy.