Now it is time to believe!

 

Thursday Octave of Easter

Acts 3:11-26

Luke 24 35-48

 

We are resurrection people. You thought it was hard to give something up for Lent! Now it is the time to truly believe in a way as we have never before done. It’s not enough that we stare into the empty tomb and say, “Christ is risen!” It’s not enough to believe in the resurrection. At some point we have to move from the event of the resurrection to experiencing the resurrection. Experiencing resurrected life begins with recognizing the risen Christ among us. That is the gift of Easter and it is also the difficulty and challenge described in today’s gospel.

In our Gospel, Cleopas and his companion are telling the other disciples how Jesus appeared to them on the road to Emmaus when Jesus, again, shows up out of nowhere, interrupting their conversation. “Peace be with you,” he says. They see him, they hear his voice, but they don’t recognize him. They “thought that they were seeing a ghost.” In their minds the tomb is open but their minds are closed. They are unable to recognize the holiness that stands among them.

As resurrection people, we are to put away our fears, our doubts, and our lack of trust. Christ our God longs and desires to open our minds to understand the scriptures, to understand all that has been written, spoken, and revealed about him in whatever form that happens and has happened.

Think about a time in your life when you lost track of time. I don’t mean you forgot what time it was, but that you were so awake, so present, that you entered a new world. Those are the moments when Christ opens our minds to understand. They are moments of awe and wonder that leave us in sacred silence.

Resurrected living happens in these moments. Let us never lose sight of them. It happens now in this Eucharist, as Christ comes to us in his body and in his blood. Let us live as resurrection people, believing in all of God’s words for us!

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He has Risen!

 

Easter Vigil & Easter Sunday

Romans 6:3-11 Easter Vigil

Acts 10:34, 37-43

Colossians 3:1-4

Luke 24:1-12

I love to have a plan. Every day, I put my plan down on paper for every hour of the day. I list all that I want to do, and at what hour I want to do whatever it is. I get a great feeling of accomplishment from following my plans. I love when a plan works, and comes together. But have you ever had a plan, and it gets interrupted, but something good comes from being interrupted. I was in a nursing home recently, to anoint someone. As, I finished, I made my way to the door where a woman came up to me and said, “Fr. I am so glad that you came so quickly.” She gave me a hug, and then said, “My father is going to be so glad to see you.” I had never seen this woman before, and she thought I was the priest that she had called for. It was not part of my plan that day, to get a hug from this woman and to be there for her ailing father. Today we see revealed God’s plan. How many of you 2 or 3 years ago thought about coming into the Catholic Church? God had a plan, and it included all of you.

In our Gospel, the women have a plan to go and anoint the body of Jesus. As they arrive and discover the stone rolled away, and as they peer in they are puzzled. Their plan is interrupted, until two angels explain God’s plan, which is, “That the Son of Man must be handed over, be crucified, and rise on the third day.” The women return to the others, but the others think this plan is nonsense. But Peter got up at once and ran to the tomb, looked in and was amazed, at God’s plan.

What seemed like nonsense is all part of God’s plan. We need the resurrection for without the resurrection; none of the promises or words of Jesus become true or fulfilled. You know what? I am ok, without proving the resurrection, and here is why. Because it takes faith, and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to believe the resurrection really happened. If we could prove that the resurrection happened, we would not need faith! Our faith is what changes us and the world. I get all the proof I need of the resurrection any time I celebrate any of our sacraments. In the waters of baptism, in the Eucharist, in reconciliation, in the Holy Spirit, in the anointing of the sick, in matrimony and in Holy Orders, what may seem nonsense, makes perfect sense, because God is revealed in our sacraments

The marvelous thing about this Easter plan is that it is still be written, and it includes all of us. What do we see as we look into the empty tomb? Some looked into the empty tomb, and thought, this is nonsense.  How will we respond to God’s plan?

 

How do we know we are loved by God?

Good Friday

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5: 7-9

John 18:1-19:42

 

  1. How do we know Jesus loves us?
  2. We can feel his love in our hearts!

 

  1. But has anyone said they loved us, but behind our backs were cheating on us or betraying us somehow?
  2. We might answer, yes!

 

  1. So, we felt loved, but were we really loved?
  2. No!

 

  1. So, knowing this, how did we feel when we found this out?
  2. We may have felt deceived.

 

  1. So could God be deceiving us?
  2. Well! Let me ask the question again.

 

  1. How do we know Jesus loves us?
  2. We can know Jesus loves us because he says he loves us, and he shows us how much he loves us by stretching out his arms on the cross, and saying, “This is how much I love you!”

If you really want to know how much someone will love us, see how much they are willing to sacrifice for you!

 

We gather to venerate a cross, because Christ was willing to die for us on a cross, because he loves us! As we venerate the cross let us say, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you!”

Will we be ready when the bridegroom comes?

Holy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14

I Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-15

 

On Friday, March 4, of this year, I ate my breakfast, prayed my morning prayer; I greeted the school children, and celebrated morning mass and I went about my day. On that same day, in Yemen, which is small country south of Saudi Arabia, five Missionaries of Charity nuns celebrated morning mass with their pastor Fr. Tom. After mass, Fr. Tom stayed in the chapel to pray morning prayer, as the sisters returned to the covenant for breakfast. After breakfast, they prayed morning prayer and by 8:00 they were off to work at the at home caring for the elderly and the disabled. At 8:30 men with guns came to the compound screaming they wanted to kill the five nuns and the priest. One nun ran to the kitchen where she witnessed two sisters running in one direction and the other two running the other way. She saw them all being caught by the gun man. All four of them were tied to a tree, shot in the head, and then their heads were smashed. As she went to tell Fr. Tom he went to the tabernacle and consumed all the Eucharist, so the criminals would not desecrate it. The one surviving nun hid behind a door in the kitchen and was never found. When the massacre was over, the crucifix, altar, tabernacle, the statues, and anything of religious nature was smashed and destroyed. Any trace of Fr. Tom has still not been found. At the funeral mass for the four sisters, a fellow sister of Charity said, “Because of their faithfulness, they were in the right place at the right time and they were ready when the bridegroom came.”

These five nuns, along with their pastor began their day with the Eucharist. The Gospel that day was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” It was in the Eucharist that they came to know the saviors love. It was in the Eucharist that gave them the strength to love others, and it was in the Eucharist that they gave their very lives.

Tonight we gather, celebrating the same Eucharist, as these five sister’s did with their pastor Fr. Tom. I never heard of these people before, but now I have a connection to them, because they have done what I am unable to do. Celebrating the Eucharist is going to cost us, may we have the same courage to be ready when the bridegroom comes!

 

Those who betray us

 

Wednesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 50:4-9

Matthew 26:14-25

Many of us know what it feels like to be betrayed by someone. Our friends our loved ones and even our enemies stab us in the back and hang us out to dry. It can leave us feeling angry, upset, and frustrated. Our readings are all about being betrayed, and what do we do when it happens.

We will never know the reason Judas betrayed Jesus by handing him over to the religious authorities. Judas could have figured out that Jesus was not going to give him the power he desired by talking about going to the cross, so Judas took it upon himself to put an end to Jesus Christ. Maybe Judas thought if he handed Jesus over, he would be able to slip past them like he had done so many times before. We will never know. We only know the actions of Judas and that for thirty pieces of silver Judas handed Jesus over.

The words of the Suffering Servant give us a bit of comfort and peace.

The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let him confront me. See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong? 

Those of us who know the pain of betrayal are challenge not to live in bitterness and anger, but to find our way to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know how Jesus felt. May we be willing to walk these last three days with Christ?

 

I need to see you, in my suffering!

 

Tuesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 49: 1-6

John 13: 21-33, 36-38

When we pray the Stations of the Cross, on Friday evenings using this version. At the Fifth Station as Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross, we pray “Lord Jesus Christ, help us to see in the sufferings and shortcomings of our lives a share in Your Cross; strengthen and console us in the belief that we bear all things in union with you, who have taken upon yourself even our guilt.” I pray that this is true, but it so hard. This would be the week to make this true in our lives.

I love our responsorial psalm today, which says, “I will sing of your salvation. Lord, I take refuge in you; rescue me, deliver me and save me. Be my rock, my fortress, for my hope is in you.” What a wonderful prayer as we face troubles in our lives.

Our gospel, takes place at the Last Supper, and Judas has just left to hand Jesus over to the religious authorities and eventually to his death. Jesus says, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God glorified.” How can Jesus say this? It is only possible by trusting in a greater plan. In all that, Jesus knew he was going to have to endure; he could see the hand of God and his plan for the world.

In the things that we have prayed that God would take away from us. Can we see the hand of God? In this week, we call holy, may we see in our trials and tribulations an opportunity for God’s hand to work?

 

 

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

 

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Procession with Palms

Luke 19:28-40

 

Readings for Mass

Isaiah 50:4-7

Philippians 2:6-11

Luke 22:14-23:56

In this Year of Mercy, nowhere is mercy more powerfully revealed than in the words of Jesus as he was beaten, scourged, spit upon and jeered at. Jesus now hangs on the cross and says, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus had said “Your sins are forgiven” many times. He would say these words, so the injustices of a sinful person would be forgiven. Now Jesus is saying these words against those who have done him an injustice. Now these words become personal!

Would these same words come from our lips when injustices are done to us?

Come to Holy Thursday and experience the washing of feet. Jesus washed the feet of Judas who would later betray him. We pray for that same strength.

Come to Good Friday where we venerate the cross of mercy and forgiveness.

Come to the Easter Vigil and let the new light of Christ shine in the darkness of our lives so we will be merciful.

Come on Easter Sunday to know the joy of the risen Christ who has come to save us.

Come and know the purpose of forgiveness is reconciliation with God.