An incredible encounter!

Friday of the Sixth Week of Season of Easter

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Romans 12:9-16

Luke 1:39-56

 

On Monday, I took a plane out to Maine to visit my favorite brother, as I arrived; he was anxiously waiting for me in the hallway. We had a great time fishing and watching the Bruins hockey games.

 

Who has anxiously waited for someone to arrive, and when they did come, you were filled with excitement? Or let’s turn it around maybe someone was anxiously waiting for you to arrive and when you did they were filled with great joy.

 

On this Feast Day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, we celebrate Elizabeth anxiously waiting for Mary to visit her and when Mary arrives, Elizabeth is filled with great joy. Proof of this excitement is John the Baptist, the baby in her womb leaps for joy. These two women have great news to share as God has acted incredibly in both of their lives. Mary, the young virgin, barely old enough to conceive and she does by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth the elder, past her childbearing years yet she also is with a child.

 

Our 8th graders have anxiously waited for this day as they prepare to graduate on Monday. We are grateful for their leadership in our school as we will send them off with a blessing later in this Eucharist celebration.

 

It is our challenge our we as excited as Elizabeth to receive the body and blood of Christ?   

 

 

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I give you peace!

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23

John 14:23-29

 

“The Lord be with you. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now go in peace, to love and serve the Lord in your life!”  Now before any of you who already leave early and you think you hit the jackpot on this Memorial Day weekend by leaving now let me invite you to stay for the full Mass. I wanted to begin this way because I want to focus on the word, “peace” because it rolls off my tongue so quickly, but do we go out in peace and how long does that peace last? I was really at peace earlier today, and then I got out of bed! The word “peace” is mentioned a minimum of 11 times in our scared liturgy, but do we believe what we pray? Our scriptures challenge us to peace right now.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is saying his farewells to his disciples, and there is one thing he wants them to know for the rest of their lives as he says, “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives, but as I give. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” The disciples will need to come to know this peace as they will all die a martyr’s death. The apostles needed something had to keep them going to preach the word of God and I believe it was knowing the peace of God.

 

On a scale of one to ten, what number would be your “peace” number? Whatever number we would give ourselves it has nothing to do with whatever we are going through that adds stress to our lives. The peace I am talking about is based on the fact that God dwells in us, and no matter what comes our way God is already doing all he can to bring us peace. It is a true gift, and nothing can take it away from us. Ok, I will admit yesterday, I was feeling a bit stressed as I was trying to write my wedding homily and this homily and I was struggling for ideas. I went out to greet the school children as they left school and God overwhelmed with peace. I went back in filled with God’s peace and the homilies came pouring out of me. I needed to be reminded of Jesus also says, “I have told you this before it happens, so when it happens, you may believe.” It is about knowing peace right now.

 

My friends, we come here today asking for peace in our lives. As we gather, God wants to give us his peace let us come to know God’s peace in the breaking of the bread. Let us know of this peace and let us be people of peace in the coming days.

The command to love!

Fifth Week of Easter Friday

Acts 15:22-31

John 15: 12-17

 

On Wednesday, I called my best friend. We have been best friends since second grade at St. Timothy’s. Over our 55 years together, we have done many things together, he has been my fishing buddy, my hunting partner, and we have taken vacations together. He is the most awesome man as he is selfless and caring. He has taught me many things about loving people. As soon as he answered the phone, I could tell there was something very wrong. He told me he was in the hospital in Traverse City because he was having what felt like a heart attack, so he called his doctor, and his doctor told him he would meet him at the hospital. He told me he was going to have a heart procedure on Thursday afternoon. I did not tell him I was coming, but as soon as I was done with morning Mass, I drove to Traverse City. I am so glad that I did and he was happy that I was there also.

 

  1. Who has a best friend? What are some things that are required as you look for someone to be your friend?

 

  1. What are the requirements to be a friend of Jesus?

 

  1. Jesus tells his disciples that he has chosen them to be his friend because he has told them everything, and he wants them to go and spread the Good News by loving others.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus gives a new commandment; to love another. Jesus continues by saying, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for their friend.” I love the reason that Jesus gives for us to do this as he says, “Because it was I who chose you.”

 

As we gather in this holy place, may we be reminded that God has chosen us to lay down our lives for one another? As we gather in this Eucharist, Jesus gives us the gift of himself.

 

 

Remain in my love!

Fifth Week of Easter Thursday

Acts 15:7-21

John 15: 9-11

 

At times life can be very complicated, and we long for a simpler way of life. Today we get a simple message, and it is left to us to keeping it simple.

 

In our first reading today, we get the biggest crisis in the Church, and that is, will these new converts to the faith, the gentiles need to look like and be like the Jews who have their boys circumcised? Paul and Barnabas have been telling the new converts of Antioch that they do not need to be circumcised while the new converts in Judea have been told they have to be circumcised. The disciples hold what is known as the First Council of Jerusalem to decide this case. After much discuss and debate, Peter stands and declares that the new converts do not need to be circumcised. Of course for Jews, circumcision means a total dedication in service to God. So, if it is not circumcision, then there must be something else that shows our dedication to Christ?

 

In our Gospel, Jesus says here is what you need to know and believe, “As the father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love. I have told you this so that you will know joy.”

 

Let’s not overcomplicate the message of Jesus Christ as we keep his commandments and know of his love. We are receiving that love right now in this Eucharist, may we share what we know with others.

 

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?

 

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.