Hear the voice of the Good Shepherd!

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts: 7: 9, 14 – 17

Revelation 5:11-14

John 10: 27-30

 

Lord if you are all powerful, if you are all good, if you are all loving; then speak plainly that I might understand? Stop being so elusive and speak plainly to me! Did you ever have a day, a week, where you have asked those kinds of questions? On this Good Shepherd Weekend, we gather to hear God speak plainly to us because in our hurtful, messed up lives we need to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.

 

Our Gospel today is the answer to the people asking Jesus, “If you are the Messiah just speak plainly to us?” So, I want to back up one verse to verse 26 because I think it sets up his answer a little better. Jesus response in verse 26 this way, “You do not believe because you are not among my sheep.” He continues his response in verse 27 from today with, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

 

I have come to a new insight that I had never gotten before. In the past I always heard the line about the “voice” and preached on hearing the voice of God. My new insight is to be able to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd we need to know that we belong to Him. The key to understanding the Good Shepherd is by belonging to a God-centered community. When we belong to a God centered community God speaks in and through that community. The promise that comes from hearing the voice of God in a God-centered community is eternal life.

 

Our second reading speaks about this promise being fulfilled as John shares his vision of a multitude of people standing before God who have stood the test of time. The thing that unites this “multitude” of people is that they were a community of believers who heard the Good Shepherd speaking to them in their time of distress.

 

On this Good Shepherd weekend, we celebrate being in the right place at the right time, because when we are a community, a welcoming place for all people is when the Good Shepherd speaks to us. How are we going to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd if we are not here? The Good Shepherd is saying to us, “When you gather in my name is when I will lead you, I will protect you, I will let you know of my love.” May we hear the voice of God in this God-centered community and go where He is leading us!

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Ananias the Guide!

Third Week Easter Weekday Friday

Acts 9: 1-20

John 6: 52-59

 

In our first reading, we hear about a man named Saul and a man named Ananias. We know a lot about Saul, because he will become St. Paul, I want to know about Ananias.

 

  1. What was Ananias asked to do?

 

  1. Does Ananias want to go to see Saul?

 

  1. Why is Ananias afraid to go to visit Saul?

 

Ananias is a believer in Jesus Christ. He was called to Saul to lay his healing hands on him. At first, Ananias did not want to go because Saul was persecuting people who believed in Jesus. Ananias is told by God to go to “Straight Street.” I love these directions! God is saying, “Ananias I want you to go straight to Saul and don’t delay!” When Ananias arrives, he says, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me.”

 

What I love about this story is without Ananias we may not have Saul who becomes Paul, who tells us so much about Jesus Christ. God guides Ananias to Saul and Ananias guides Saul to the Lord to become Paul.

 

Our teachers are wonderful guides along the journey of faith. I want all the teachers to stand and look at your students and repeat after me. “Beloved children the Lord has sent me to you to help you grow in faith.” Please be seated.

 

Children, I want you to stand and repeat after me, “Thank you for guiding us on our journey of faith.” Please be seated.

 

Now, where are we being guided by God? We are being guided right here to this holy place and to the this Eucharist so when we celebrate together, and grow in faith.

 

God is drawing near!

Third Week of Easter Thursday

Acts 8: 26-40

John 6: 44-51 

 

Are we aware of the receptacle relationship that as we draw near to God, he is drawing near to us? Actually, I think it is better stated, “Do we believe that God is always drawing near to us and our response is to draw near to him?’ I believe this manifests in so many ways let me share with you what I mean. I have been driving back and forth to my home in Grand Haven for ten days or so because of the poor quality of air that was discovered in the rectory. It is all cleaned up now but for these days that I have been driving back and forth almost every day has been cloudy and overcast. Cloudy days are not normally a blessing to me, but it did help in my driving that I did not have to fight the sun blinding these old eyes as I drove. The other blessing is that I was able to pray two rosaries while I drove. I kept both hands on the wheel! We are to be mindful as we draw near to God; he is already drawing near to us. We see this played out very well in our readings today.  

 

In our first reading, Philip is told to go going west on the road through the desert, and he is not told why to travel this route. Philip encounters a court official coming east who is reading from the Book of Isaiah and he does not understand what he is reading. What is magical about this meeting is you have Philip who is filled with the Spirit and ready to share the gospel message and this court official who is also hungry for the more understanding who meets Philip. The court official asks to be baptized, and Philip baptizes him. A very good lesson from this reading is that when we are aware of this magical relationship many blessings come from this relationship.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus tells the crowd they must draw near to him, and something magical will happen. What is magical is that for everyone who draws near to the Lord they will have eternal life. Jesus tells the crowd, “I am the living bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

 

How can we draw even more closely to God this day?

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!

Tuesday Third Weekday Easter

Acts 7:51-8:1

John 6: 30-35

 

“Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” What a wonderful prayer for us today. I do not envision this prayer as us timidly walking to the Lord with our hands out. I envision this being the old Lipton Ice Tea commercial of the guy falling right into the swimming pool.  Understanding this point in our faith life is of the highest priority!

 

In our first reading, Stephen is unafraid to speak the truth about Jesus Christ to a stiff-necked people. Stephen knows the truth about “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit” as he is the first to be martyred for the faith.

 

The last line of this reading is also worth mentioning as we are told, “Now Saul was consenting to his execution.” Saul is relying on earthly power to condemn Stephen. Soon Saul will become Paul he and to will know the truth about “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” 

 

The surest way to fully living, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit” is by daily receiving the Eucharist. People with no hunger do not need bread; those who do hunger are able to buy the bread they need. It is those who hunger for something more beyond physical bread that will know lasting peace. The bread we eat and the cup we drink is real food that will nourish us for a lifetime.

 

May we pray this day, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

 

 

Come to the feast!

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 5: 27-32, 40-41

Revelation 5:11-14

John 21:1-19

First Communion

May 5, 2019

  

 

We have lots of events that have a meal planned with the day. We have Memorial Day and Labor Day that have barbeques, we have Thanksgiving where we have turkey, we have our birthdays when we have cake and we have Christmas and Easter that have big meals associated with these celebrations. Which is your favorite one because of the meal that you eat at that time?

 

Having a meal with his loved ones was very important for Jesus. He had meals with people all the time, he had a meal with his disciples before his death and now after he has risen from the tomb he is once again inviting his disciples to a meal.

 

Today you are being invited by Jesus to a very special meal because now when you come to Mass, you are no longer a spectator you become a very active part as you receive Jesus Christ in his body and his blood in a very special meal.  

 

I want to extend to you my congratulations on receiving Jesus Christ for the first time. I would also like to thank you, parents and grandparents, for staying true to their baptismal vows and raising these children in the Catholic faith.

Do you love me!

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 5: 27-32, 40-41

Revelation 5:11-14

John 21:1-19

 

In our Gospel Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” The answer to this question is life changing. The answer to the question is true as we begin our Kick-off weekend for the “Our Shepherds our Future Capital Campaign.” Bishop Walkowiak wants from the Diocese the opportunity for all men who hear the call from God, “Do you love me?” to have the resources available for them to discern their way to priesthood.

 

The “Our Shepherds our Future Capital Campaign” for our Diocese is to raise 29 million dollars for the training of seminarians and 2 million for the Retirement Fund of our priest. The dioceses presently have money for all of our seminarians, but it will be all gone by December of 2019. CSA raises money for 14 seminarians, and presently we have 30. So after December half of our seminarians will not be funded.

 

Now let me address the question that I have already heard in response to this campaign, and that is people are not for this campaign because of the priest sexual abuse crisis that we are dealing with at this time. I am just as hurt, angry and confused as you are over this crisis, but it does not negate the fact that we need good priest moving ahead! When I was discerning a call to the priesthood, it was back in early 2000 when this whole sexual abuse crisis was starting. As I shared with people what I was discerning, I was told by my sister-in-law that I was joining a group of pedophiles. I was told by my doctor who is a good Catholic man that I was an idiot. I kept saying, “All I want is to be part of the solution not part of the problem.”  I believe this campaign gives that same opportunity to a man who wants to discern a call to the priesthood.

 

Let’s watch the video which will give us more information.

 

This week all registered members of Holy Spirit Parish will be receiving in the mail a packet of information from the Bishop, and there will be a pledge card in your packet. All of us will be given an amount that is being asked of us; it will be in the packet. It will be a big number, a really big number, but we are being asked to prayerfully discern and amount by making a sacrifice. I am praying on how I will be able to make my amount. I want you to do the same.

 

I don’t know how we can’t support this Campaign; it means future priest for our children and grandchildren. Please help us reach our goal! There will be information meetings in the coming weeks for you to attend and ask any of your questions. God bless and thank you!

 

The name of Jesus Christ!

Thursday Second Week of Easter

Acts 5:27-33

John 3:31-36

St. Athanasius

 

One of the places I go to talk to God is the Grand Haven Pier. I had a very stressful day yesterday, so I decided after I was done with work to drive to the Grand Haven Pier and have a little chat with God. As I arrived and began to walk out on the pier I was saying to myself, “How am I going to get through all of this?” As I was walking on the pier a very dense fog enveloped me so I could not see the end of the pier and I could not see the shore. All of a sudden it hit me. I am not going to be able to do anything without Jesus Christ! I then started to pray, “Jesus Christ, how are you going to see me through all of these things.” It was then that I became very peaceful!

 

The background of our readings is the Old Testament theology that God gave a portion of his spirit to the prophets of the Old Testament.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, “You can believe everything I say because I am filled with the Holy Spirit and I come speaking in the Holy Spirit.”

 

In our first reading the apostles have been arrested twice and put in jail, and now is standing trial before the Sanhedrin. The  Sanhedrin tell the apostles they are no longer to ‘speak in that man’s name.’  Did you notice that they do not use the name of Jesus? The apostles have been preaching, teaching, heal ing and baptizing people all in the name of Jesus. The apostles respond, “We are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are not able to stop speaking the name of Jesus.” 

 

Can we imagine a world where the name of Jesus Christ is not spoken? As we gather in this Eucharist may the name of Jesus Christ be on our lips, as we go throughout our day.