Introduction: Our Scripture lessons for today have one common, encouraging theme: No matter what happens in our lives, the risen Jesus is always with us. God is always near to those who seek Him and who want to live in His presence, doing His will.
Scripture lessons:The first reading, from Acts, is taken from the beginning of Peter's first public proclamation about Jesus and how God raised Jesus from death, thus fulfilling the Messianic prophecies about the promised descendant of David. In the second reading, Peter exhorts the early Christians to place their Faith and Hope in God Who has saved them through the precious Blood of His Son and Who has raised Jesus from the dead. The Emmaus incident described in today’s Gospel is the story of a God who will not leave us alone when we are hurt and disappointed. The message of today’s Scripture readings is that the followers of Jesus are to maintain contact with their Risen Lord through the Eucharist and the Bible. The readings also remind us that our belief in Jesus’ presence in the consecrated Bread and Wine should help us to understand better his presence in the Bible and in the believing and worshipping community. Putting the two appearances (to the Emmaus disciples and to Peter), together, it is clear that the risen Jesus wanted Peter to act as spokesman for him and that the faithful who seek to follow Jesus should seek his company in the Eucharist and in the Bible under the direction of Peter and his successors.
Life messages: 1) Jesus meets us on our Emmaus Road. The risen Lord meets us on the road to our Emmaus in the ordinary experiences of our lives and in the places to which we retreat when life is too much for us. We, too, have hopes and dreams about better health, healing, financial security and better family relationships. These often get shattered. The story promises us, however, that Jesus will come to us in unfamiliar guises to support and strengthen us when we least expect the risen Lord. Emmaus moments come to us when we meet the risen Christ on our life’s journey through rough times.
2) We meet Jesus on a daily basis in our life’s journey. The Church instructs us to hear Jesus on a daily basis through the faithful reading of, and meditation on, the Bible and to experience Jesus through our participation in the Eucharistic celebration where the risen Lord gives himself to us, through our personal and family prayers and through our family meals. When we meet Jesus through the Word of God, we commune with him. We renew our relationship with Jesus through prayer. These two meetings will enable us to meet the risen Jesus living in all the people we meet and to offer them humble, loving and selfless service.
3) Do our hearts burn when we listen to the risen Lord in the Bible? Christ comes to us most clearly in the Word. Vatican II (Dei Verbum 21) tells us that Jesus is to be equally venerated in the Eucharist and in the Bible. Therefore, we need to study the Bible, learn the Bible, memorize the Bible, meditate on the word of God with burning zeal and practice what the Bible teaches.
EASTER III Acts 2:14, 22-33 1 Pt 1:17-21, Lk 24:13-35
Anecdotes: 1) Bad news and good news: "I've got some good news and some bad news to tell you. Which would you like to hear first?" the farmer asked. "Why don't you tell me the bad news first?" the banker replied. "Okay," said the farmer, "With the bad drought and inflation and all, I won't be able to pay anything on my mortgage this year, either on the principal or the interest." "Well, that is pretty bad," said the banker. "It gets worse," said the farmer. "I also won't be able to pay anything on the loan for all that machinery I bought, not on the principal or interest." "Wow, is that ever bad!" the banker admitted. "It's worse than that," the farmer continued. "You remember I also borrowed to buy seed and fertilizer and other supplies. Well, I can't pay anything on that, either principal or interest." "That's awful," said the banker, "and that's enough! What's the good news?" "The good news," replied the farmer with a smile, "is that I intend to keep on doing business with you." [John C. Maxwell, “Developing the Leaders Around You” (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers), p. 71.] I don't know if that was good news for the banker or not. Two of the disciples of Jesus were on the road that leads to Emmaus. They were as low as that farmer because their Master had been crucified like a common thief. But now they have heard reports that their Master is not dead at all. Reliable sources have told them that He has appeared to some of their most trusted friends. Is he really alive? The disciples are troubled and afraid. Should they believe the good news or the bad? And that's our dilemma, isn't it? DO WE BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS OR THE BAD? The Good News is that Christ is alive. The bad news is how little impact that event is having in the world today.
# 2) Broken dreams: Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton, in his book Horns and Halos in Human Nature, tells of one of the weirdest auctions in history. It was held in the city of Washington, D.C. It was an auction of designs, actually patent models of old inventions that did not make it in the marketplace. There were 150,000 designs up for auction. There was an illuminated cat to scare away mice. There was a device to prevent snoring, which consisted of a trumpet reaching from the mouth to the ear. One person designed a tube to reach from his mouth to his feet so that his breath would keep his feet warm as he slept. There was an adjustable pulpit which could be raised or lowered. You could hit a button and make the pulpit descend or ascend to illustrate a point dramatically. Obviously, at one time somebody had high hopes for each of those designs which did not make it. Some died in poverty, having spent all of their money trying to sell their dream. One hundred fifty thousand broken dreams! Is there anything sadder? Today’s Gospel describes the shattered dreams of two of Jesus’ disciples at the tragic and unexpected death of their Master whom they trusted as their promised Messiah.
Introduction:Our Scripture lessons for today have one common, encouraging theme: No matter what happens in our lives, the risen Jesus is always with us. God is near to those who seek Him and who want to live in His presence, doing His will. The Emmaus incident is the story of a God who will not leave us alone when we are hurt and disappointed. As Francis Thompson put it, He is TheHound of Heaven Who relentlessly follows us when we try to escape from His love. The message of today’s Scripture readings is that the followers of Jesus are to maintain contact with their risen Lord through the Eucharist and the Bible. The readings also remind us that our belief in Jesus’ presence in the consecrated Bread and Wine should help us to understand better his presence in the Bible and in the believing and worshipping community. Putting the two appearances (to the Emmaus disciples and to Peter), together, it is clear that the risen Jesus wants Peter to act as spokesman for him and that the faithful who seek to follow Jesus should seek his company in the Eucharist and the Bible under the direction of Peter and his successors.
The first reading (Acts 2:14, 22-33) is taken from the beginning of Peter's first public proclamation about Jesus and how God raised Jesus from death, thus fulfilling the Messianic prophecies about the promised descendant of David. The reading is taken from the first and the longest of Peter's five discourses preserved in the Acts of the Apostles. During his speech, Peter refers to Israel's beloved King David, quoting Psalm 16 (ascribed to David), and asserts that David, "foresaw and spoke of the Resurrection of the Christ." Today's reading tries to describe a time before the earliest Christians realized that God was calling them to embrace all people. At this stage, they acted as though they were only the first few Jews to have caught on to the Messianic identity of Jesus, and their goal was only to convince other Jews of what they had realized.
The second reading (1 Peter 1:17-21): Peter exhorts the early Christians to place their Faith and Hope in God Who has saved them through the precious Blood of His Son and Who has raised Jesus from the dead. Peter repeats the assertion made in Acts that Jesus' death and Resurrection was part of God's plan from all eternity. Hence, Jesus' sufferings and subsequent glorification by God should serve to center the Christian's Faith and Hope in God Who has accepted those sufferings as an act of Redemption for all mankind. From this reassuring truth, Christians should sense God's providence in their own situation and the whole of their lives, and should understand the place of their present struggles in broader history. The root of our Faith must be the Resurrection of Jesus, and Peter argues that it is essential for everyone in the Christian community to have the experience of the risen Jesus in his or her life.
Exegesis: Luke's Emmaus Gospel is a beautiful, theological dramatization of one of the encounters of the disciples with their risen Lord during those wonder-filled days after the discovery of the empty tomb (Mk 16:12-13). It is the story of how on Easter Sunday two disciples of Jesus, discouraged and devastated, set out on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus -- a distance of about seven miles -- and were met by a Stranger going along the same road. They began to speak to Him about all that had occurred in the Holy City during the previous week. Most probably, Cleopas and his companion were husband and wife, residents of Emmaus and disciples of Jesus who had witnessed His crucifixion and burial. The two disciples chose to leave Jerusalem on the third day after the death of Jesus – the very day they had received news that the tomb was empty. They were “prevented” from recognizing the Stranger, Jesus, perhaps partly by preoccupation with their own disappointment and problems. As they journeyed on, Jesus showed them how the Scriptures had foretold all that He had done and suffered, including his death and its purpose. His coming to them and walking alongside of them illustrates the truth that the road to Emmaus is a road of companionship with Jesus Who desires to walk with each of us. "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). The incident further illustrates that Jesus is with us even when we do not recognize him.
Encounters with God: The Old Testament describes how the Chosen People encountered God in unexpected ways. Gen 18:1-15 describes how Abraham, at Mamre, entertained angels unaware. Running from his troubles,Jacob laid his head on a stone while he slept and saw a stairway to Heaven. He is presented as wrestling all night with a manifestation of God in the flesh. Moses turned aside from his flock of sheep to see why a bush would burn and not be consumed and heard the Voice of God from it. Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up in the Temple. Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and Jesus got Saul's attention by knocking him to the ground and striking him blind. God’s Self-disclosure to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus was unexpected, but in a radically different way from the encounters mentioned above.
Invitation accepted: The Jewish custom required that Cleopas and his companion invite Jesus to dinner. Hence, they invited Jesus for a night’s rest in their house--and Jesus accepted the invitation. During the meal, when Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them, the disciples realized that this stranger was Jesus, the risen Christ, and Jesus immediately vanished. Later they said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us when he opened up the Scriptures to us?” Since they could not keep the Good News to themselves, the Emmaus disciples walked back seven miles to Jerusalem to share their story with the other disciples. The Fathers of the Church note how well the details of this Emmaus episode match our process of coming to faith in Jesus Christ. First, there are questions and a search for answers. Then comes a moment of discovery when our eyes are opened and our hearts within begin to burn with longing. Finally there is the desire to tell the story to all who will listen.
Liturgical setting: Luke’s Gospel, written toward the end of the first century, was mainly meant for Christians who had not witnessed Christ in the flesh. Luke tells us that we can meet and experience the risen Lord through the reading and interpretation of Scripture (v. 27), and the “Breaking of the Bread,” as the Lord's Supper (vv. 30-31) was known then. The story of the encounter on the Emmaus Road is presented in a liturgical fashion using liturgical language such as the commentary: "he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them" (v 30); "the Lord has risen indeed" (v. 34). Thus, the risen Christ is revealed through the telling of the story, the interpretation of Scripture, and the Breaking of the Bread. Jesus began revealing himself through the Scriptures (vv. 25-27) and completed the revelation through the Eucharist (vv. 30-31). This means that Christ still reveals himself to us through Word and Sacrament. The word "companion" derives from two Latin words, "cum" meaning "together with," and "panis" which means "bread," implying that companionship is the result especially of eating together, breaking bread together, something which is at the heart of the Eucharist.
Lessons from Emmaus: Luke’s Emmaus story teaches us that (1) Jesus' death and Resurrection fit God's purpose as revealed in the Scriptures; (2) the risen Jesus is present in the Word of God and especially in the Breaking of the Bread; 3) suffering is necessary for the Messiah "to enter into his glory;" and 4) we have a risen Savior, One Who personally walks with us in our daily paths, talks with us through His Word and with Whom we can talk through prayer. He is the One Who opens our minds to understand and respond to His Word. (The bishops at the Second Vatican Council recorded these compelling words which are still deeply relevant to the Church today: 'The Church has always venerated the Divine Scriptures just as it venerates the Body of the Lord, since from the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of Christ it unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the Bread of Life. It has always regarded the Scriptures together with sacred tradition as the supreme rule of Faith, and will ever do so” (Dei Verbum 21). Jesus is with us and is concerned about us and provides for us regardless of what life may bring. Further, the Father, as Jesus’ request, has given us the Holy Spirit so that we may teach others about Him. Let us, therefore, with the perception of His presence, walk with Jesus, talk with Him, depend on Him, worship Him, and tell others about Him.
Life messages: 1) Jesus meets us on our Emmaus Road. The risen Lord meets us on the road to our Emmaus in the ordinary experiences of our lives and in the places to which we retreat when life is too much for us. We, too, have hopes and dreams about better health, healing, financial security and family relationships. These dreams often get shattered. The story promises us, however, that Jesus will come to us in unfamiliar guises to support and strengthen us when we least expect our risen Lord. Emmaus moments come to us when we meet the risen Christ on our life’s journey through rough times.
2) The road to Emmaus is a road of companionship. Jesus, now freed from the space-time limits of his earthly life, is present in our midst and wants to be our Friend. The risen Lord desires that we walk with Him and with one another: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flamescorch you.For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3). He wants to join us in our travels of life: “I am a Companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts” (Psalms 119:63). “Where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
3) We meet Jesus on a daily basis in our life’s journey. The Church instructs us to hear Jesus on a daily basis through the faithful reading of, and meditation on, the Bible and to experience him through our participation in the Eucharistic celebration where Jesus gives himself to us, through our personal and family prayers and through our family meals. When we meet our risen Lord through the Word of God, we commune with him. We renew our relationship with Jesus through prayer. These two meetings will enable us to meet the risen Jesus living in all the people we meet and to do them humble, loving and selfless service.
4) Do our hearts burn when we listen to the Risen Lord in the Bible? Christ comes to us most clearly in the Word. Our tradition teaches us that the reading of the Scriptures, the study of the Scriptures and the proclamation of the message of the Scriptures are the primary ways in which we meet God. Vatican II (Dei Verbum 21) tells us that Jesus is to be equally venerated in the Eucharist and in the Bible. Therefore, we need to study the Bible, learn the Bible, memorize the Bible and meditate on the word of God. We know that Christ lives in the Bible, and so we need to spend time in the Bible to have a deep, intimate, loving, caring, long-term relationship with Jesus Christ. We know we are to brush our teeth every day. Likewise, we are to read the Bible every day. We need to read the Scriptures daily to meet and converse with Jesus Christ. It should be a daily habit because people either read the Bible daily or almost never. Abraham Lincoln, whom many consider the best President of the United States, said: “The greatest gift that God gave to human beings is the Bible.” Another President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, said that it was a principle of his to read the Bible through each and every year. Yet another great President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, said, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” Goethe, the great German philosopher, said that the beauty of the Bible grows as we grow in our understanding of it.
5) Find Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread. In the Gospel story for today, we learn that we find Christ is in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When we kneel at the altar to receive the Sacrament, we see and receive Christ. In John 6, Jesus says, “Whoever eats My Body and drinks My Blood shall live with me eternally.” The Eucharist is true "soul food," the Bread of life for eternity. It feeds us and fulfills our spiritual needs. It is a pity that often we don’t realize what is happening during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the sacred banquet of all believers. In this meal, we are in communion, not only with Jesus, but also with our family and friends who have preceded us in death. The Eucharist is not simply Bread and Wine for today, but a banquet for all eternity.
Jokes of the week
1) Risen Lord in the train. On her first train trip, a little girl was put into an upper berth by her mother. The mother then assured her that Jesus would watch over her during the night. As the lights were switched off the girl became alarmed and called out softly: "Mom, are you there?" “Yes dear,” her mother replied. A little later the child called in a louder voice: “Daddy, are you also there?” “Yes”, was the reply. After this had been repeated several times, one of the passengers lost patience and shouted: “We’re all here. Your father, your mother, your brothers and sisters and cousins, your uncles and aunts – all are here. Now go to sleep!” There was silence for a while. Then, in a hushed voice the child asked: "Mom, was that risen Jesus traveling with us?”
2) The Risen Lord is watching: Up at the head table in the cafeteria, one of the nuns had placed a big bowl of bright red, fresh, juicy apples. Beside the bowl, she placed a note which read, "Take only one. Remember, Jesus is watching." At the other end of the table was a bowl full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven. Beside the bowl was a little note scrawled in a child's handwriting which read, "Take all you want. Jesus is watching the apples!"
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
The beginner’s guide to life of faith: http://www.beginningcatholic.com/
Catholic Community Forum: News, reflections, homilies, patron saints (http://www.catholic-forum.com/)3) Focus On the Family: http://www.family.org/4)The Catholic Internet Directory: One of the most complete sources of Catholic information available on the Internet. A must visit! http://www.catholic-church.org/cid/
. (prepared by Fr. Tony Kadavil (st.johngrandbay.org) and published by CBCI
Introduction: The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith and the need for the forgiveness of sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as "God of everlasting Mercy." In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “His mercy endures forever!” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, by sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord by His suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments, instituted to sanctify us.
Scripture lessons:The first reading (Acts 2:42-47) tells us how the early Church grew every day because of the acts of mercy and sharing, the sacrificial agápe love practiced by the early Christians. In the second reading (1 Peter 1:3-9), St. Peter glorifies God, the Father of Jesus Christ, for showing us His mercy by granting Resurrection from the dead and glorious Ascension into Heaven to His Son, Jesus, thus giving us the assurance of our own resurrection.Today’s Gospel vividly reminds us of how Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament of Divine Mercy. The risen Lord gave his Apostles the power to forgive sins with the words, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20:19-23). Presenting the doubting Thomas’ famous profession of Faith, “My Lord and my God,” the Gospel illustrates how Jesus showed his mercy to the doubting apostle and emphasizes the importance of Faith.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept God's invitation to celebrate and practice mercy in our Christian lives: One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive and give thanks for Divine Mercy. But it is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment. 2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to God and that leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service. The spiritual Fathers prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic faith of St. Thomas the Apostle: a) First, we must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) Next, we must strengthen our Faith through our personal and communal prayer. c) Third, we must share in the Divine Life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
EASTER II [A] (April 23)Acts 2:42-47, I Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31
Anecdote#1: Divine Mercy in action:A TIME magazine issue in 1984 presented a startling cover. It pictured a prison cell where two men sat on metal folding chairs. The young man wore a black turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and white running shoes. The older man was dressed in a white robe and had a white skullcap on his head. They sat facing one another, up-close and personal. They spoke quietly so as to keep others from hearing the conversation. The young man was Mehmet Ali Agca, the pope’s would-be assassin (he shot and wounded the Pope on May 13, 1981); the other man was Pope St. John Paul II, the intended victim. The Pope held the hand that had held the gun whose bullet tore into the Pope’s body. This was a living icon of mercy. John Paul’s forgiveness was deeply Christian. His deed with Ali Agca spoke a thousand words. He embraced his enemy and pardoned him. At the end of their 20-minute meeting, Ali Agca raised the Pope’s hand to his forehead as a sign of respect. John Paul shook Ali Agca’s hand tenderly. When the Pope left the cell he said, “What we talked about must remain a secret between us. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.” This is an example of God’s Divine Mercy, the same Divine Mercy whose message St. Faustina witnessed.(http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0308.asp)
# 2:Edith Zierer the Jewish holocaust survivor: “Pope saved me from death:”Edith Zierer, a Holocaust survivor now living in Israel, recalls how Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II, carried her to safety after she fled a Nazi concentration camp when she was 13 years old. Polish-born Zierer was 13 when she ran away from the Nazi camp at Czestochowa in Poland after the Soviet army liberated it in January 1945, five months before World War II ended in Europe. She was heading towards her hometown in Poland to find her parents, who, she would later learn, had died in the Holocaust. Exhausted, she reached a train station and sat there for two days without food or water while people ignored her. "Suddenly, there he was," Zierer said, referring to Wojtyla, the seminarian, in his priestly robe. "He brought me some tea and two pieces of bread with cheese and then carried me to a train carriage. He sat with me and put his cloak on me because it was freezing. We came to Krakow and then I ran away because people started to ask why a priest was walking with a Jewish girl." After spending, a few years in orphanages in Poland and France, Zierer emigrated from Europe to British-mandated Palestine, where she later married and bore a son and daughter in what became Israel. She now has five grandchildren. She wrote to Wojtyla after he became Pope in 1979, saying she was the little girl he had saved at the train station in Poland decades ago. After a correspondence ensured, the Pontiff invited her to the Vatican in 1998. She last met him in 2000, when he visited Israel on a millennium pilgrimage and met several survivors at the VadVashem Holocaust museum. She said she and the Pope kept up their correspondence, writing mostly during Christmas and before birthdays. "I received a letter from him last year and I knew it was the last," she said. "He included a picture from his private collection and his handwriting was very shaky. I wrote to thank him for the memory that never left." Edith Zierer, 84, mourned the death of her former savior, and remembered the warm look in the seminarian Karol Wojtyla's eyes in the railway station years ago and God’s mercy expressed in his actions. "He was a kindred spirit in the greatest sense -- a man who could save a girl in such a state, freezing, starving and full of lice, and carry her to safety," she told Reuters. "I would not have survived had it not been for him." (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3067156,00.html). Pope John Paul made mercy the core of his priesthood. He saw mercy as a light against darkness. And has the world known darker times than when the Nazis and Communists oppressed millions of people? On April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, John Paul II, along with Pope John XXIII, was officially recognized as a Saint. It is no accident that Pope St. John Paul who was instrumental in spreading the observance of Divine Mercy Sunday was canonized on that Feast.
# 3: St. Faustina and the Image of Divine Mercy: St. Faustina of Poland is the well-known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April, 2000, at 10:00 AM on the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday, the Feast requested by Jesus in His communications with St. Faustina), His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. [John Paul himself would be canonized on this same Feast Day – April 27 in 2014 – by Pope Francis.] Saint Faustina invites us by the witness of her life to keep our Faith and Hope fixed on God the Father, rich in mercy, Who saved us by the precious Blood of His Son. During her short life, the Lord Jesus assigned to St. Faustina three basic tasks: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God's incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God's generous Mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God's Mercy. At the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope St. John Paul II said: “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks, and never ceases to speak, of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. ... Believing in this love means believing in mercy." “The Lord of Divine Mercy,” a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with his left hand on his heart from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message, "Jesus, I trust in You!" (JezuufamTobie). The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the Blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls and white for the water of Baptism which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness and love of God.
Introduction:The readings for this Sunday are about God’s mercy, the necessity for trusting Faith and the need for God’s forgiveness of sins. The opening prayer addresses the Father as "God of Mercy." In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 118), we repeat several times, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever.” God revealed His mercy, first and foremost, by sending His only-begotten Son to become our Savior and Lord by His suffering, death and Resurrection. Divine Mercy is given to us also in each celebration of the Sacraments. The first reading (Acts 2:42-47), shows us how the early Church grew every day because of the acts of mercy and sharing, the sacrificial agápe love practiced by the early Christians. They expressed their love and mercy by sharing what they had with everyone in need.In the second reading (1 Peter 1:3-9), St. Peter glorifies God, the Father of Jesus Christ, for showing us His mercy by granting Resurrection from the dead and glorious Ascension into Heaven to His Son, Jesus, thus giving us the assurance of our own resurrection.Jesus’ Resurrection, in turn, gives us a guarantee for our own resurrection and entry into Heaven and “imperishable and unfading" Heavenly bliss.In today’s Gospel, as we recall Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles on that first Easter evening, we are vividly reminded of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – the power to forgive sins which Our Lord gave to His Apostles, saying, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (Jn 20-23). Today’s Gospel also emphasizes the importance of Faith in the all-pervading presence of the risen Lord of Mercy. To believe without having seen is every later Christian’s experience. We are invited to receive liberation from doubts and hesitation by surrendering our lives to the risen Lord of Mercy. Let us ask God our Father to open our hearts so that we may receive His Mercy in the form of the Holy Spirit.
The first reading (Acts 2:42-47) shows us how the early Church grew every day because of the acts of mercy and sharing, sacrificial,agápe love practiced by the early Christians. They expressed their love and mercy by sharing what they had with everyone in need. Some of them even sold their property and entrusted the money to the Church so that the poor might be helped and supported. We are told that they got the inspiration and good will for the practice of love and mercy because of their sense of being one believing community. They were strengthened by their punctual and active participation in the “Breaking of the Bread”– the Eucharistic Liturgy. They became single-minded and merciful because of what they learned from the apostles and because of their fellowship and prayer life.
In the second reading (1 Peter 1:3-9), St. Peter glorifies God, the Father of Jesus Christ, for showing us His mercy by granting to His Son, Jesus, Resurrection from the dead and glorious Ascension into Heaven.Jesus’ Resurrection, in turn, gives us a guarantee for our own resurrection and entry into Heaven and “imperishable and unfading" Heavenly bliss. St. Peter encourages the early Christians by assuring them that their sufferings under the Roman emperor, the Jewish authorities and their own pagan family members will be amply compensated by the Heavenly reward waiting for them.
Exegesis:Today’s Gospel:The first part of today’s Gospel (verses 19-23), describes how Jesus entrusted to the apostles His mission of preaching the “Good News” of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation. This portion of the reading teaches us that Jesus uses the Church as the earthly means of continuing His mission. It also teaches us that the Church needs Jesus as its source of power and authority, and that it becomes Christ’s true messenger only when it perfectly loves and obeys Him. The risen Lord gives the apostles the authority to forgive sins in His Name. He gives the apostles the power of imparting God’s mercy to the sinner through the gift of forgiving sins from God’s treasury of mercy. In the liturgy, the Church has proclaimed the mercy of God for centuries through the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel text also reminds us that the clearest way of expressing our belief in the presence of the risen Jesus among us is through our own forgiveness of others. We can’t form a lasting Christian community without such forgiveness. Unless we forgive others, our celebration of the Eucharist is just an exercise of liturgical rubrics.
The second part of the Gospel (verses 24-29), presents the fearless apostle St. Thomas in his uncompromising honesty, demanding a personal vision of, and physical contact with, the risen Jesus as a condition for his belief. Thomas had not been with the Apostles when Jesus first appeared to them. As a result, he refused to believe. This should serve as a warning to us. It is difficult for us to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers. When the Lord appeared to Thomas later, He said: “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.” Thomas was able to overcome his doubts by seeing the risen Jesus. Modern Christians, who are no longer able to "see" Jesus with their eyes, must believe what they hear. That is why Paul reminds us that "Faith comes from hearing" (Rom 10:17).
The unique profession of Faith: Thomas, the “doubting" apostle, makes the great profession of Faith: “My Lord and my God.” Here, the most outrageous doubter of the Resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of belief in the Lord Who rose from the dead. This declaration by the “doubting" Thomas in today’s Gospel is very significant for two reasons. 1) It is the foundation of our Christian Faith. Our Faith is based on the Divinity of Jesus as proved by His miracles, especially by the supreme miracle of His Resurrection from the dead. Thomas’ profession of Faith is the strongest evidence we have of the Resurrection of Jesus. 2) Thomas’ faith culminated in his self-surrender to Jesus, his heroic missionary expedition to India in A.D. 52, his fearless preaching, and the powerful testimony given by his martyrdom in A.D. 72.
Life messages: 1) Let us accept God's invitation to celebrate and practice mercy. One way the Church celebrates God’s mercy throughout the year is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finding time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another good way to receive Divine Mercy. The Gospel command, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful," demands that we show mercy to our fellow human beings always and everywhere. We radiate God's mercy to others by our actions, our words, and our prayers. It is mainly through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we practice mercy in our daily lives and become eligible for God’s merciful judgment.
2) Let us ask God for the Faith that culminates in self-surrender to Him and leads us to serve those we encounter with love. Living Faith enables us to see the risen Lord in everyone and gives us the willingness to render to each one our loving service (“Faith without good works is dead” James 2:17). It was this Faith in the Lord and obedience to His missionary command that prompted St. Thomas to travel to India to preach the Gospel among the Hindus, to establish seven Christian communities (known later as “St. Thomas Christians”), and eventually to suffer martyrdom. The Fathers of the Church prescribe the following traditional means to grow in the living and dynamic Faith of St. Thomas the Apostle. a) We must come to know Jesus personally and intimately by our daily and meditative reading of the Bible. b) We must strengthen our Faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through our personal and communal prayer. c) We must share in the Divine life of Jesus by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) presents it this way: “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve. Only then we put our love of God into action.”
3) We need to meet the challenge for a transparent Christian life -- "I will not believe unless I see." This "seeing" is what others demand of us. They ask that we reflect Jesus, the risen Lord, in our lives by our selfless love, unconditional forgiveness and humble service. The integrity of our lives bears a fundamental witness to others who want to see the risen Lord alive and active, working in us. Christ’s mercy shines forth from us whenever we reach out to the poor, the needy and the marginalized, as St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) did. His mercy shines forth as we remain open to those who struggle in Faith, as did the Apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel. We should be able to appreciate the presence of Jesus, crucified and raised, in our own suffering and in our suffering brothers and sisters, thus recognizing the glorified wounds of the risen Lord in the suffering of others.
4) Like St. Thomas, let us use our skepticism to help us grow in Faith. It is our genuine doubts about the doctrines of our religion that encourage us to study these doctrines more closely and thus to grow in our Faith. This will naturally lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus through our prayer, study of the Word of God, and frequenting of the Sacraments. However, we must never forget the fact that our Faith is not our own doing, but is a gift from God. Hence, we need to augment our Faith every day by prayer so that we may join St. Thomas in his proclamation: “My Lord and my God."
5) Let us have the courage of our Christian convictions to share our Faith as St. Thomas did and to recognize the “nail marks.” We are not to keep the gift of faith locked in our hearts, but to share it with our children, our families and our neighbors, always remembering the words of Pope St. John XXIII: “Every believer in this world must become a spark of Christ’s light.” “We all have scars from our own Good Fridays that remain long after our own experiences of resurrection. Our ‘nail marks’ remind us that all pain and grief, all ridicule and suffering are transformed into healing and peace in the love of God we experience from others and that we extend to them.The ‘nail marks’ of Jesus are all around us in the lives of those walking their own Calvarys. Jesus calls us to be willing to place ourselves in the pain and struggle of others and bring the joy and peace of Easter into hearts entombed in winter cold and darkness.” (Connections).
JOKE OF THE WEEK: 1) Traffic cop’s mercy: A priest was forced by a police officer to pull over for speeding. As the officer was about to write the ticket, the priest said to him, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." The police officer handed the priest the ticket, and said, "Go, and sin no more."
2) Photographer’s mercy: The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a picture, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back to the man's studio and screamed at him: "This picture does not do me justice!" The photographer replied, "Sir, with a face like yours, what you need is mercy, not justice!"
3) "Law v Mercy” In Reader’s Digest, Jim Williams of Montana, writes: "I was driving too fast late one night when I saw the flashing lights of a police car in my rearview mirror. As I pulled over and rolled down my window of my station wagon, I tried to dream up an excuse for my haste. But when the patrolman reached the car, he said nothing. Instead, he merely shined his flashlight in my face, then on my seven-month-old in his car seat, then on our three other children, who were asleep, and lastly on the two dogs in the very back of the car. Returning the beam of light to my face, he then uttered the only words of the encounter. 'Son,' he said, 'you can’t afford a ticket. Slow down.' And with that, he returned to his car and drove away.” Sometimes mercy triumphs over law. So it is for sinners who call out to Jesus.”(Sent by Fr.email@example.com on March 1, 2013)
(10 additional homilies are appended to the attached homily)
Divine MercyOfficial website:1) http://divinemercysunday.com/
7)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYKwqj5QViQ&feature=player_detailpage (Fr. Ray Kellysurprised a bride and groom by singing a custom-made cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at their wedding, demonstrating divine mercy).
“Scriptural Homilies”Cycle A(No. 24)by Fr. Tony:firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our website:http://stjohngrandbay.org/for previous Cycle A & C homilies, 56Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 188 “Question of the Week.” Contact me using my IDakadavil@gmail.com. For the Vatican version of this homily,click onhttp://en.radiovaticana.va/news/Features/asia-liturgical-reflections or copy & paste on Google Search http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/Features/asia-liturgical-reflectionsand click Enter button.Fr. Anthony. Kadavil,St. John the Baptist Church, P. O. Box 417, Grand Bay,Al, 36541
Introduction: Significance of Easter: Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church for three reasons: 1)The Resurrection ofChrist is the basis of our Christian Faith. It is the greatest of the miracles, for it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your faith is in vain”(I Cor 15: 14). “Jesus is Lord, He is risen!” (Rom 10:9), was the central theme of the kerygma (or 'preaching'), of the apostles, because Jesus had prophesied His Resurrection as a sign of His divinity: “Tear down this temple and in three days I will build it again” (Jn 2:19). The founder of no other religion has an empty tomb as Jesus has.
2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the Resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live even though he dies” (Jn 11:25-26). 3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragementin this world of pain, sorrows and tears. It reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal as well as our communal prayer, strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.
Life Messages:1) Let us live the lives of Resurrection people: Easter gives us the joyful message that we are a “Resurrection people.” Thismeans that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits, dangerous addictions, despair, discouragement, or doubts. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the living presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives and amid the boredom, suffering, pain and tensions of our day-to-day life.
2)We need to live new, disciplined lives in the Risen Jesus.Our awareness of the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord in and around us, and the strong conviction of our own resurrection, helpus to control our thoughts, desires, words and behavior. This salutary thought inspires us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits and addictions. Our conviction about the presence of the Risen Lord in our neighbors and in all those with whom we come into contact should encourage us to respect them, and to render them loving, humble and selfless service.
3) We need to become transparent Christians: We are called to be transparent Christians, showing others through our lives the love, mercy, compassion and spirit of self-sacrificing service of the Risen Jesus living in our hearts.
4) We need to live lives of love in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection: Let us recall that, each time we try to practice Christian charity, mercy and forgiveness and each time we fight against temptations we share in the Resurrection of Jesus.
EASTER SUNDAY: ACTS 10:34a, 37-43; COL 3:1-4; JOHN 20: 1-9
Anecdote: # 1: The phoenix:The late Catholic Archbishop of Hartford, John Whealon, had undergone cancer surgery resulting in a permanent colostomy when he wrote these very personal words in one of his last Easter messages: "I am now a member of an association of people who have been wounded by cancer. That association has as its symbol the phoenix, a bird of Egyptian mythology. The Greek poet Hesiod, who lived eight centuries before Jesus was born, wrote about this legendary bird in his poetry. When the bird felt its death was near (every 500 to 1,461 years), it would fly off to Phoenicia, build a nest of aromatic wood and set itself on fire. When the bird was consumed by the flames, a new phoenix sprang forth from the ashes. Thus, the phoenix symbolizes immortality, resurrection, and life after death. It sums up the Easter message perfectly. Jesus gave up His life, and from the grave He was raised to life again on the third day. New life rises from the ashes of death. Today we are celebrating Christ's victory over the grave, the gift of eternal life for all who believe in Jesus. That is why the phoenix was one of the earliest symbols of the Risen Christ. The phoenix also symbolizes our daily rising to new life. Every day, like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes of sin and guilt and are refreshed and renewed by our living Lord and Savior with His forgiveness and the assurance that He still loves us and will continue to give us the strength we need."Archbishop John Whealon could have lived in a gloomy tomb of self-pity, hopeless defeat, and chronic sadness, but his faith in the Risen Lord opened his eyes to new visions of life.
# 2:Bright light in the “black holes” of life:Have you ever heard of a "black hole"? If you have ever watched movies or TV programs about travelling in outer space, like the TV series Star Trek, you will know what a black hole is. Roughly speaking, it is a spot in the vastness of space, which astronomers believe is like a giant vacuum or whirlpool sucking everything around it into the hole. Using Newton’s laws, scientists first theorized black holes in the 1790s but it wasn't until 1994 that the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a massive supersized black hole – fortunately a long way from our own galaxy. There is also a black hole in our galaxy, the Milky Way. What if scientists said that it was not beyond the realms of possibility that one day our sun and everything around it would be sucked into this "black hole," and everything would be gone? "Black holes" are symbols of hopelessness, and the message of Easter tells us that there is something beyond those "black holes". Maybe this "black hole" includes grief for a loved one, anxiety over a work situation or what is happening in our family. Maybe it is a "black hole" of depression and stress, and we feel there is nothing we can do to change what is happening. Maybe it’s the "black hole" of sickness and pain. Maybe it’s the "black hole" of guilt and failure. Whether those "black holes" are right here and now or show up at some time in the future, Easter tells us there is hope, there is a living Saviour and Friend who will help us when we feel as if we have been sucked into the deepest darkness. Easter tells us that there is nothing to fear. We have a Risen Saviour who promises never to leave us, to love us always, always to brighten our darkest paths, and to guide us from death to eternal life in Heaven. Even when we are in the middle of something deep and dark, our Risen Saviour will always be there with us. “I am the Living One! I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I have authority over death and the world of the dead" (Revelation 1:8).
# 3: “He is not here.” Egyptian pyramids are world-famous as one of the “seven Wonders” of the ancient world. But they are actually gigantic tombs containing the mummified bodies of Egyptian Pharaohs. Westminster Abby is famous, and thousands visit it because the dead bodies of famous writers, philosophers and politicians are entombed there. But there is a Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and pilgrims from all over the world visit a tomb there which is empty with a note at its entrance which says, “He is not here.” It is famous because Jesus Christ Who was once buried there rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb, as He had told his disciples he would. Thus, He worked the most important miracle in His life, defying the laws of nature and proving that He is God. We rejoice at this great and unique event by celebrating Easter. (Fr. J P)
Introduction:Significance of Easter: Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church. It marks the birthday of our eternal hope. "Easter" literally means "the feast of fresh flowers." We celebrate it with pride and jubilation for three reasons:
1) The Resurrection ofChrist is the basis of our Christian Faith. The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles -- it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your Faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, then your Faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins… But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep”(I Cor 15:14, 17, 20). If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then the Church is a fraud and faith is a sham. But if Jesus really did rise from the dead, his message is true!Without the Resurrection, Jesus would have remained forever a good person who had met a tragic end. People would remember some of his teachings, and a handful of people might try to live according to them. All the basic doctrines of Christianity are founded on the truth of the Resurrection. “Jesus is Lord; He is risen!” (Rom 10:9) was the central theme of the kerygma (or "preaching"), of the apostles. There is a story of two women who stood before Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. One asked, "Why can't we build structures like this anymore?" Her friend answered, "The people who built this had Faith. Today we have only opinions. And you can't build a cathedral with opinions."
2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies” (Jn 11:25-26). Christ will raise us up on the last day, but it is also true, in a sense, that we have already risen with Christ. By virtue of the Holy Spirit, our Christian life is already a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1002, #1003).
3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragementin this world of pain, sorrows and tears. It reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers. Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears. The prayer of St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, reads: “Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ within me, never to part.”
4) Reasons why we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus; (a) Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead (Mark 8:31; Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22). (b) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday(Luke 24:3). Although the guards claimed (Matthew 28:13) that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body, every sensible Jew knew that it was impossible for the terrified disciples of Jesus to steal the body of Jesus from a tomb guarded by a 16 member team of armed Roman soldiers. (c) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in his Resurrection, in spite of his repeated apparitions. This serves as a strong proof of his Resurrection. It explains why the apostles started preaching the resurrected Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. (d) The transformation of Jesus’ disciples:The disciples of Jesus were almost immediately transformed from men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19) into men who were confident and bold witnesses of the Resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:2). (e) The Jews and the Romans could not disprove Jesus’ Resurrection by presenting the dead body of Jesus. f) The apostles and early Christians would not have faced martyrdom if they were not absolutely sure of Jesus’ Resurrection. (g)The Apostle Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians into a zealous apostle, preaching the Good News of Jesus throughout much of the Gentile world supports the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection (Galatians 1:11-17, Acts 9:1, Acts 9:24-25, Acts 26:15-18). (h)The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian Church, bravely facing three centuries of persecution, supports the truth of the Resurrection claim. (i)The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers. The apostles and the early Christians were absolutely sure about the Resurrection of Jesus.
Exegesis: The Resurrection of Jesus had certain special features. First, Jesus prophesied it as a sign of His Divinity: “Tear down this temple and in three days I will build it again” (Jn 2:19). Second, the founder of no other religion has an empty tomb as Jesus has. We see the fulfillment of Christ's promise on the empty cross and in the empty tomb. The angel said to the women at Jesus’ tomb: “Why are you looking among the dead for One Who is alive? He is not here: He has been raised” (Luke 24:5-6). The third special feature is the initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in his Resurrection, in spite of his repeated apparitions. This serves as a strong proof of his Resurrection. It explains why the apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Proclamation and witness-bearing are the main themes of today’s readings. In the first reading, St. Peter shares his own experience of Christ’s Resurrection and its joy with the newly baptized members of Cornelius’ family. In the second reading, St. Paul bears witness to his experience of the risen Lord on the Damascus Road, which converted him from a persecuting Pharisee into a zealous apostle of Jesus. Today’s Gospel explains the empty-tomb Resurrection experience of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. Mary Magdalene proclaims her personal experience: “I have seen the Lord.”
Life messages:1) We are to be Resurrection people: Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, gives us the joyful message that we are a “Resurrection people.” Thismeans that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions. It gives us the Good News that no tomb can hold us down anymore - not the tomb of despair, discouragement, doubt or death itself. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad”(Psalm 118:24).
2) We need to seek our peace and joy in the Risen Jesus: The living presence of the Risen Lord gives us lasting peace and celestial joy in the face of the boredom, suffering, pain and tensions of our day-to-day life. “Peace be with you” was Jesus’ salutation to his disciples at all post-Resurrection appearances. For the true Christian, every day must be an Easter Day lived joyfully in the close company of the Risen Lord.
3) We are to be transparent Christians:We are called to be transparent Christians, showing others, through our lives of love, mercy, compassion and self-sacrificing service, that the Risen Jesus is living in our hearts.
4)We need to live new, disciplined lives in the Risen Jesus:Our awareness of the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord in and around us, and the strong conviction of our own coming resurrection, helpus control our thoughts, desires, words and behavior. This salutary thought inspires us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits and addictions. Our conviction about the presence of the Risen Lord in our neighbors, and in all those with whom we come into contact, should encourage us to respect them and to render them loving, humble and selfless service.
5) We need to remember Easter in our Good Fridays: Easter reminds us that every Good Friday in our lives will have an Easter Sunday, and that Jesus will let us share the power of his Resurrection. Each time we display our love of others, we share in the Resurrection. Each time we face a betrayal of trust and, with God’s grace, forgive the betrayer, we share in the Resurrection of Jesus. Each time we fail in our attempts to ward off temptations – but keep on trying to overcome them – we share in the Resurrection. Each time we continue to hope – even when our hope seems unanswered – we share in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. In short, the message of Easter is that nothing can destroy us – not pain, sin, rejection, betrayal or death – because Christ has conquered all these, and we, too, can conquer them if we put our Faith and trust in Him.
6) We are to be bearers of the Good News of Resurrection power.Resurrection is Good News, but at the same time, it’s sometimes painful because it involves death. Before the power of the Resurrection can take hold in our own lives, we’re called to die to sin, to die to self. We may even have to die to our own dreams, so that God can do what He wants to do with our lives. Resurrection is about seeing our world in a new way. Early that Easter morning, Mary did not find what she was looking for, the dead body of Jesus. But she found something better than she could have imagined: the Risen Jesus. Sometimes, the things we think we want most are not granted to us. What we get instead is an experience of God’s new ways of working in the world. That’s the power of the Resurrection. When those moments come, we must spread the news--just as Mary did: We have seen the Lord!
JOKE OF THE WEEK
1) "TA-DA!"A Sunday school teacher had just finished telling her third graders about how Jesus was crucified and placed in a tomb with a great stone sealing the opening. Then, wanting to share the excitement of the Resurrection, she asked: "And what do you think were Jesus’ first words when He came bursting out of that tomb alive?" A hand shot up into the air from the rear of the classroom. Attached to it was the arm of a little girl. Leaping out of her chair she shouted out excitedly "I know, I know!" "Good" said the teacher, "Tell us, what were Jesus first words?" And extending her arms high into the air she said: "TA-DA!"
2) Mother-in-law in Jerusalem: George went on a vacation to the Middle East with most of his family including his mother-in-law. During their vacation and while they were visiting Jerusalem, George's mother-in-law died. With the death certificate in hand, George went to the American Consulate to make arrangements to send the body back to the States for proper burial.
The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law, told George that the sending of a body back to the States for burial is very, very expensive. It could cost as much as $5,000. The Consul continued, “In most cases the person responsible for the remains normally decides to bury the body here. This would only cost $150.” George thought for some time and answered, "I don't care how much it will cost to send the body back; that's what I want to do."
The Consul, after hearing this, said, "You must have loved your mother-in-law very much, considering the difference in price." "No, it's not that!" said George. "You see, I know of a case many years ago of a person, by name Jesus, who was buried here in Jerusalem. On the third day he arose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."
3) See what happens. One lady wrote in to a question and answer forum. "Dear Sirs, Our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.
Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his side...put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens." Sincerely, Charles.
3) Rented for a weekend: Joseph of Arimathaea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the Council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, "Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone to be buried in?" "Why not?" Joseph may have answered. He only needed it for the weekend."
4) Resurrection in election: Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was once asked if he believed in the Resurrection. “Of course, I do,” said Huckabee. “Dead people vote in every election we have in Arkansas. Resurrection is very real to us.”
3) Easter video: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/history-of-easter/videos/history-of-the-holidays-easter-video
22- Additional anecdotes:
1) "The Godfather of Fitness.”You may recall years ago when fitness legend Jack LaLanne celebrated his seventieth birthday by towing 70 boats containing 70 people for a mile across Long Beach Harbor. Amazing! But wait. He did it by holding the rope in his teeth. Why? Well, he was handcuffed and wearing leg shackles! Unbelievable! LaLanne was still going strong in his nineties. But friends, this "The Godfather of Fitness” died on Jan 24, 2011, proving that this world is not our final destination. It is but a prelude to a grander production. This world is a preparatory school. Without the Resurrection, it is simply impossible to explain a world in which people suffer and die. But the Resurrection is real. Christ rose from the dead. Christ is still alive and He is available in our world today
2) The greatest comeback in history: In its November 12, 2001 issue, Sports Illustrated ranked the 10 greatest comebacks in world history. Among those making the list, the following names are to be specially noted.
1. Michael Jordan, 1995. Quits basketball to make his first triumphant comeback.
5. Muhammad Ali, 1974. Seven years after being stripped of his title and his boxing license, defeats George Foreman in Zaire to win back the belt.
8. Japan and Germany, 1950s. They were the former Axis Powers which rose from the ashes of World War II to become industrial superpowers.
10. Jesus Christ, 33 A.D. Defies Jewish critics and stuns the Romans with his Resurrection. It was the greatest comeback of all time. And He’s been specializing in comebacks ever since.
3) “We believe you.” There is a beautiful story told recently about a woman named Rosemary who works in the Alzheimer’s Unit of a nursing home. Rosemary and a colleague named Arlene brought the residents of the home together one Good Friday afternoon to view Franco Zeffirelli’s acclaimed production, JesusofNazareth. They wondered whether these elderly Alzheimer’s patients would even know what was going on, but they thought it might be worth the effort. When they finally succeeded in getting everyone into position, they started the video. Rosemary was pleasantly surprised at the quiet attention being paid to the screen. At last came the scene where Mary Magdalene comes upon the empty tomb and sees that Jesus’ body is not there. An unknown man, in reality the Risen Christ, asks Mary why she is looking for the living among the dead. Mary runs as fast as she can back to the disciples and tells Peter and the rest with breathless excitement, “He’s alive! I saw Him, I tell you! He’s alive.” The doubt in their eyes causes Mary to pull back. “You don’t believe me . . . You don’t believe me!” From somewhere in the crowd of Alzheimer’s patients came the clear, resolute voice of Esther, one of the patients. “WE BELIEVE YOU,” she said, “WE BELIEVE YOU!” [Rosemary Kadrmas in Jeff Cavins, et.al, Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart (West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, LLC, 2003), pp. 211-212.]
4)The killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. A day after the terrible tragedy at Columbine High, CNN journalist Larry King did a live interview with a teenage girl named Mickie Cain, a student who had witnessed the massacre. Mickie was having a difficult time maintaining her composure and was able to blurt out only a few words before lapsing into uncontrollable sobs. Larry King was patient and gave her plenty of time to regain her composure. Mickie recounted the chilling story: “Let me tell you about my friend Cassie,” she said. “[Cassie] was amazing . . . She completely stood up for God when the killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. She spoke up [and said she did] and they shot her for it.” [Franklin Graham, The Name (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002), pp. 14-15]. Such a testimony as Cassie made that day makes our witness look pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? The critical question is, would you make such a sacrifice for something that you knew was patently untrue? Of course not. And neither would those early disciples of Christ. They had met Christ, Risen from the grave, and they would not testify otherwise, even while being tortured. The witnesses are so credible, the change in their lives so dramatic, that their testimony cannot be disregarded.
5) Cape of Good Hope: You may remember a geography lesson from elementary school in which you learned that the southernmost point of Africa is a point which for centuries has experienced tremendous storms. For many years no one knew what lay beyond that cape, for no ship attempting to round that point had ever returned to tell the tale. Among the ancients it was known as the "Cape of Storms," and for good reason. But then a Portuguese explorer in the sixteenth century, Vasco De Gama, successfully sailed East around that very point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was changed from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope. Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the "cape of storms" on which all hopes of life beyond had been wrecked. No one knew what lay beyond that point until, on Easter morning, Jesus arose. The ancient visions of Isaiah became the victory of Jesus over our last great enemy. Like those sixteenth century explorers, we can see beyond human death to the hope of Heaven and eternal life with the Father. More than that, we dare to believe that we shall experience in our own human lives exactly what the Son of God experienced in His, for the Risen Christ says to us, "Because I live, you shall live also." This is the heart of our Faith.
6) “I choose death....by old age." Long ago, there was an exceedingly clever court jester at the court of the Caliph of Baghdad. For years he'd never failed to amuse the court whenever they called him. But one day, in a split second of carelessness, he offended the caliph who ordered him put to death. "However," said the caliph, "in consideration of your many years of fine and faithful service, I'll let you choose how you wish to die." "Oh mighty Caliph," replied the jester. "I thank you for your great kindness. I choose death....by old age." Wouldn't we all! But that just delays the big question: Then what? What comes after you finally die at the age of 110 on the tennis court? Only Jesus has the answer. He says, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, even though he die, will live with Me forever." (Msgr. D. Clarke)
7)He always whistled:Have you heard the story of the man whose hobby was growing roses? When he worked in his rose garden, he always whistled. It seemed to everyone that he was whistling much louder than was needed for his own enjoyment. One day a neighbor asked him why it was that he always whistled so loudly. The man then took the neighbor into his home to meet his wife. The woman was not only an invalid, but was completely blind as well. The man, you see, was whistling, not for his benefit, but rather for the benefit of his wife. He wanted his blind wife to know that he was nearby, and that she was not alone. That story is a wonderful illustration of the significance of Easter Day. The affirmation, "Christ is risen!" reminds us that God is near, and the experiencing of His presence strengthens us in our weakness. (Living the Easter Faith, Donald William Dotterer).
8)And so the Iron Lady wept. Several years ago, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of Britain, a terrorist's bomb exploded in the conference room where many of the government meetings were held. Margaret Thatcher survived this blast, but some of her cabinet members were killed. The following Sunday, Margaret Thatcher went to church as she always did. But that particular Sunday seemed different. As Margaret Thatcher sang the hymns, listened to the message, saw the candles upon the altar and the sunshine streaming through the stained-glass windows, she began to weep. She wept because everything around her had been changed by the loss of her friends. The familiar had now become strange. The goodness and beauty of the world around her seemed almost too much to bear. She knew she would not only miss her friends, but also the wonderful times they had had together. And so the Iron Lady wept. If we can relate to Maggie Thatcher's grief, maybe we can relate to the grief of Jesus' disciples and friends on that first Easter morning.
9)“I want to see your Resurrection!” Father Basil Pennington, a Catholic monk, tells of an encounter he once had with a teacher of Zen. Pennington was at a retreat. As part of the retreat, each person met privately with this Zen teacher. Pennington says that at his meeting the Zen teacher sat there before him smiling from ear to ear and rocking gleefully back and forth. Finally the teacher said: “I like Christianity. But I would not like Christianity without the Resurrection. I want to see your Resurrection!” Pennington notes that, “With his directness, the teacher was saying what everyone else implicitly says to Christians: You are a Christian. You are risen with Christ. Show me (what this means for you in your life) and I will believe.” [(http://www.stjohnslaverne.org/SermonReadingArchive/OmernickEasterSundaySermon20 06.rtf.) Marilyn Omernick.] That is how people know if the Resurrection is true or not. Does it affect how we live?
10) “Do you mean like Elvis?” A father was explaining to his five-year-old son how Jesus died and then, on the third day, rose from the dead. “That’s what we believe,” the father said. “That’s how we know Jesus is the Son of God, because He came back from the dead just as He said He would.” “Do you mean like Elvis?” the boy replied. Well, no. Not exactly like Elvis. This is a new world. People nowadays believe just about everything, except that which is most true. We have to work a little bit harder in this new world to help people
11)From the empty tomb: It was a hot summer afternoon. The famous Hollywood film director Cecil B. DeMille was drifting in a canoe on a lake in Maine, reading a book. He looked away from the book momentarily, down to the lake. There a bunch of water beetles were at play. Suddenly one of the beetles began to crawl up the side of the canoe. When it got halfway up, it attached the talons of its legs to the wooden side of the canoe and died. DeMille watched for a minute; then he turned back to his book. About three hours later, DeMille looked down at the dead beetle again. What he saw amazed him. The beetle had dried up, and its back was starting to crack open. As he watched, something began to emerge from the opening: first a moist head, then wings. It was a beautiful dragonfly. DeMille sat there in awe. Then the dragonfly began to move its wings. It hovered gracefully over the water where the other beetles were at play. But they didn’t recognize the dragonfly. They didn’t realize that it was the same beetle they had played with three hours earlier. DeMille took his finger and nudged the dried-out shell of the beetle. It was like an empty tomb (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies)
12)Easter: surprising or amazing? There is an old story about Noah Webster, who wrote the famous dictionary that bears his name. As you can imagine, he was a stickler for the precise use of language. He was also something of a womanizer. One day he was in the pantry kissing the maid when Mrs. Webster walked in on them. Mrs. Webster said, "Why, Noah, I'm surprised." Noah said, "No, my dear. We're surprised. You're amazed." [Mark Trotter, "Do You Amaze Anybody?" (May 22, 1988).] I think the story is apocryphal. I'm sure Mr. Webster was a stickler for the right word, but when you look in his own Webster's Dictionary he says surprise is a synonym for amaze. Amaze is the stronger word. Easter is both surprising and amazing. Here is God's ultimate act of love and power. It is an act of love that has gone to its limit in Jesus' gift of Himself on the cross. It is an act of power that burst the tomb, and announced to the world that Love is stronger than hate, Good prevails over evil, and Life is triumphant over death.
13)“Suppose he isn't in there!" Two famous Broadway producers were pallbearers at the funeral of the great escape artist, Harry Houdini. As they lifted the beautiful and heavy casket to their shoulders, one of them turned and whispered to the other, "Suppose he isn't in there!" He was, of course. Only one man in human history has conquered the grave, and it is He Whom we call Lord. "Christ has been raised from the dead," writes St. Paul, "the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (I Corinthians 15:20). What deliriously Good News that is! No wonder our Church is full on Easter Sunday. That is news that turns the world upside down. Jesus Christ is risen!
14) Resurrection Bay: In the movie The Hunt for Red October, the opening scene was filmed in Resurrection Bay, Alaska. This dramatic setting received its name in 1792 when the Russian trader and explorer Alexandr Baranov was forced to find refuge there during a vicious storm on Easter Sunday. Resurrection Bay has the distinction of remaining ice-free even in the dead of winter. Even in squalls and storms, it provides safe harbor. As Christians, we anchor our souls in Resurrection Bay. The world may be caught in a thousand tempests, and storms may arise from all directions. But the empty tomb assures us of tranquility and a passageway to Heaven that will never ice over. Jesus died and rose again to give us peace with God and the peace of God -- life both eternal and abundant. We anchor our souls in the haven of rest.(Turning Point)
15) Many infallible proofs: Albert L. Roper was a prominent Virginia attorney, a graduate of the University of Virginia and its law school, who eventually became mayor of the city of Norfolk. He once began a thorough legal investigation into the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ, asking himself the question: "Can any intelligent person accept the Resurrection story?" After examining the evidence at length, he came away asking a different question: "Can any intelligent person deny the weight of this evidence?" Even those who traveled for three years with Jesus experienced disbelief over His Resurrection, but Jesus showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs. We don't base our Faith on legends, myths, or fairy tales. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is well-documented, and many critics have been silenced (and even converted) when they've carefully investigated the evidence [Albert L. Roper, Did Jesus Rise From the Dead (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965), foreword.] We have a Risen Savior! He offers Himself to us today with many infallible proofs.(Turning Point- 3/29/13)
16) Joke Saturday: According to an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition, the day before Easter was devoted to telling jokes. Priests would join the people in telling their best jokes to one another (presumably “clean” jokes!!) The reason was to reflect the joke God pulled on the devil in the Resurrection. Satan thought he won on Friday, but God had the last laugh on Easter Sunday.
17) "He is risen indeed!": You probably do not remember the name Nikolai IvanovichBukharin. Many years ago he was one of the most powerful men on earth. A Russian Communist leader, he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He was the editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda and was a full member of the Politburo. His works on economics and political science are still read today. There is a story told about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge assembly of Communists. The subject was atheism. Addressing the crowd, he attacked Christianity, hurling insults and arguments against it. When he had finished, he looked out at the audience. "Are there any questions?" he demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium, but then one man approached the platform and mounted the lectern. After surveying the crowd, he shouted the ancient greeting of the Russian Orthodox Church: "CHRIST IS RISEN!" The crowd stood up and shouted in a thundering voice: "HE IS RISEN INDEED!" Amazed and dejected, Bukharin left the stage in silence. Perhaps he had learned the lesson that Faith in Christ’s Resurrection was deeply rooted in his Russian Orthodox Communist followers!
18) He is no longer in the grave:In 1887, twenty-two years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, his coffin was dug up and opened because there were constant rumors that his body was not in the grave. So they dug it up and the body was there. The rumors continued so 14 years later they had to dig it up again. Both times witnesses were present who testified that Lincoln was still in the grave. Three days after the death of Jesus Christ, similar rumors began to spread throughout the land of Israel. Only this time there were no witnesses who could say that they had seen His body. In fact, to the contrary, many witnesses claimed to have seen him out of His grave and even talked with Him after the Resurrection. As great a man as Lincoln was, there were witnesses to prove he was still in the grave. If one of our Presidents or another leader in our government were to cry out today to Lincoln for help, there would be no response. If a scientist were to cry out to Einstein for help today there would only be empty silence. If someone were to call out to Mohammed or Buddha or Gandhi today there would be no help. But if you and I call out to Jesus Christ there is instant power available to us... power to change lives ...why? Because He lives! (Rev. David Henderson).
19 ) The parable of the butterfly: As a butterfly soared overhead, one caterpillar said to the other, "You'll never get me up in one of those things!" Yet for every caterpillar the time comes when the urge to eat and grow subsides and he instinctively begins to form a chrysalis around himself. The chrysalis hardens and you'd think for all the world that the caterpillar was dead. But one spring morning the life inside the chrysalis will begin to writhe, the top will crack open, and a beautifully-formed butterfly will emerge. For hours it will stand stretching and drying its wings, moving them slowly up and down, up and down. And then, before you know it, the butterfly will glide aloft, effortlessly riding the currents of the air, alighting on flower after gorgeous flower, as if to show off its vivid colors to the bright blossoms. Somehow, the miracle of the butterfly never loses its fascination for us. Perhaps that is because the butterfly is a living parable of the promise of Resurrection.On Easter morning, the disciples saw Jesus' grave-clothes on the cold slab empty, but still lying in the wrapped folds that had gone round and round the corpse. Only the corpse was gone, much like an empty chrysalis deserted by a butterfly which has left it to soar free. "He is risen as He said," an angel told the incredulous disciples.
20) “Which one would you ask which way to go?'" Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, it's like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'"
21) A real Easter egg: A small chick begins the long journey to birth. The not-yet-a-bird weighs little more than air; its beak and claws are barely pin pricks. The bird-to-be is in its own little world: protected by the rigid shell, warmed by the mother hen’s body, nourished by the nutrients within the egg’s membrane. But then the chick begins the work of life. Over several days the chick keeps picking and picking until it can break out from its narrow world — and into an incomparably wider one. But for this to happen, the egg has to go to pieces. New life demands shattering the old. That is the real Easter egg. Not a complete egg dyed and painted with so many designs and colors. Not an egg that has been hardboiled, impossible to shatter. Not an egg made of chocolate. The real Easter egg is shattered and destroyed. The real Easter egg exists in broken pieces. The real Easter egg is cracked and opened, yielding new life that has moved out to live in the open. For centuries, the world has marked the Resurrection of the Lord with eggs. But the Easter meaning of the egg is found in the struggle of the chick to free itself from its confines so as to move into much bigger world beyond it. We struggle to break out of a world that we perceive is going to pieces; we pick away at an existence that leaves us dissatisfied and unfulfilled. The promise of the Easter Christ is that we can break out of our self-contained little worlds and move into a world where peace and justice reign, a world illuminated by hope and warmed by love, a world that extends beyond time and place into the forever of God’s dwelling place. [From a meditation by Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.].
22)Yes, There Is Hope(Rev.Bill Self): In the early part of World War II, a Navy submarine was stuck on the bottom of the harbor in New York City. It seemed that all was lost. There was no electricity and the oxygen was quickly running out. In one last attempt to rescue the sailors from the steel coffin, the U.S. Navy sent a ship equipped with Navy divers to the spot on the surface, directly above the wounded submarine. A Navy diver went over the side of the ship to the dangerous depths in one last rescue attempt. The trapped sailors heard the metal boots of the diver land on the exterior surface, and they moved to where they thought the rescuer would be. In the darkness they tapped in Morse code, "Is there any hope?" The diver on the outside, recognizing the message, signaled by tapping on the exterior of the sub, "Yes, there is hope." This is the picture of our dilemma as we worship this glad Easter Day. Humankind is trapped in a dreadful situation. All around we are running low on hope, and we look for a word from beyond offering it to us. This world in which we live is plagued with war and famine, mounting debt and continual destruction. The more we try to rescue ourselves the more we seem to fall behind. We wonder.L/17
Scriptural Homilies”Cycle A(No. 23)by Fr. Tony:email@example.com
Fr. Anthony. Kadavil,St. John the Baptist Church, P. O. Box 417, Grand Bay, AL 36541
Visit our website:http://stjohngrandbay.org/for previous Cycle A & C homilies, 56Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 188 “Question of the Week.” Contact me using my IDakadavil@gmail.com. For the Vatican version of this homilycopy & paste on Google Search http://en.radiovaticana.va >> Features >> Asia Liturgical Reflectionsand click Enter button.Fr. Anthony. Kadavil,St. John the Baptist Church, P. O. Box 417, Grand Bay,Al, 36541
Introduction: On Holy Thursday, we celebrate three anniversaries: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass, 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners and preach the Good News of salvation, 3) the anniversary of Jesus’ promulgation of His new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Today we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover. The Jewish Passover was, in fact, a joint celebration of two ancient thanksgiving celebrations. The descendants of Abel, who were shepherds, used to lead their sheep from the winter pastures to the summer pastures after the sacrificial offering of a lamb to God. They called this celebration the “Pass over." The descendants of Cain, who were farmers, held a harvest festival called the Massoth in which they offered unleavened bread to God as an act of thanksgiving. The Passover feast of the Israelites (Exodus 12:26-37) was a harmonious combination of these two ancient feasts of thanksgiving, commanded by the Lord God and celebrated yearly by all Israelites to thank God for the miraculous liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery, their exodus from Egypt and final arrival in the Promised Land.
Scripture lessons: In the first reading, God gives the Hebrews two instructions: prepare for the moment of liberation by a ritual meal and make a symbolic mark on your homes to exempt yourselves from the coming slaughter. In the second reading, Paul suggests that the celebration of the Lord's Supper was an unbroken tradition from the very beginning of the Church by which Christians reminded themselves of the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration. After washing the feet of his apostles and commanding them to do humble service for each other, Jesus concluded the ceremony by giving his apostles his own Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine as spiritual Food and Drink, in addition to serving the roasted Paschal lamb.
Life Messages: 1) A challenge for humble service. Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another, and revere Christ's presence in other persons. In practical terms, that means we are to consider their needs to be as important as our own and to serve their needs, without expecting any reward. 2) A loving invitation for sacrificial sharing and self-giving love. Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us His own Body and Blood and who enriches us with His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. It is by sharing our blessings – our talents, time, health and wealth - with others that we become true disciples of Christ and obey his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” 3) An invitation to become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyers: "Go forth, the Mass is ended," really means, “Go in peace to love and serve one another.’’ We are to carry Jesus to our homes and places of work, conveying to others around us the love, mercy, forgiveness and spirit of humble service of Christ Whom we carry with us.
HOLY THURSDAY (April 13): EVENING MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER (Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15) [Bishop’s Chrism Mass: Is 61:1-3a; 6a, 8b-9; Rv 1:5-8; Lk 4:16-21]
Anecdote: # 1 "What did you have for breakfast today?" President Nelson Mandela of South Africa is one of those rare politicians who has the common touch even when the cameras are not rolling. When he speaks at banquets, he makes a point of going into the kitchen and shaking hands with every dishwasher and busboy. When out in public he often worries his bodyguards because he is prone to stop to talk with a little child. Typically, he will ask, "How old are you son?" Then his next question is, "What did you have for breakfast today?" In that strange, wonderful company called the Kingdom of God, even the bosses wash feet. Have you allowed Jesus to give you a servant's heart and servant's hands? Be servant leaders in a serving community.
# 2: The Stole and the Towel is the title of a book, which sums up the message of the Italian bishop, Tony Bello, who died of cancer at the age of 58. On Maundy Thursday of 1993, while on his deathbed, he dictated a pastoral letter to the priests of his diocese. He called upon them to be bound by "the stole and the towel." The stole symbolizes union with Christ in the Eucharist, and the towel symbolizes union with humanity by service. The priest is called upon to be united with the Lord in the Eucharist and with the people as their servant. Today we celebrate the institution of both the Eucharist and the priesthood: the feast of "the stole and the towel," the feast of love and service.
# 3: Communion on the moon: The Lord's Supper ensures that we can remember Jesus from any place. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Most remember astronaut Neil Armstrong's first words as he stepped onto the moon's surface: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." But few know about the first meal eaten on the moon. Dennis Fisher reports that Buzz Aldrin, the NASA astronaut had taken aboard the spacecraft a tiny pyx provided by his Catholic pastor. (Aldrin was Catholic until his second marriage, when he became a Presbyterian. (See the Snopes citation given below). Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of the day and give thanks. Then, blacking out the broadcast for privacy, Aldrin read, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit." Then, silently, he gave thanks for their successful journey to the moon and received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, surrendering the moon to Jesus. Next he descended on the moon and walked on it with Neil Armstrong [Dan Gulley, "Communion on the Moon," Our Daily Bread (June/July/August, 2007)]. His actions remind us that in the Lord's Supper, God's children can share the life of Jesus from any place on Earth — and even from the moon. God is everywhere, and our worship should reflect this reality. In Psalm 139 we are told that wherever we go, God is intimately present with us. Buzz Aldrin celebrated that experience on the surface of the moon. Thousands of miles from earth, he took time to commune with the One who created, redeemed, and established fellowship with him. (Dennis Fisher) http://www.smithvillechurch.org/html/body_remembering_jesus_on_the_moon.html https://www.rbc.org/devotionals/our-daily-bread/2007/07/20/devotion.aspx, http://www.snopes.com/glurge/communion.asp
# 4: Why is the other side empty? Have you ever noticed that in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper everybody is on one side of the table? The other side is empty. "Why's that?" someone asked the great artist. His answer was simple. "So that there may be plenty of room for us to join them." Want to let Jesus do his thing on earth through you? Then pull up a chair and receive him into your heart, especially in the Holy Week (Fr. Jack Dorsel).
Introduction: On Holy Thursday, we celebrate three anniversaries: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass, 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners and preach the Good News of salvation, 3) the anniversary of the promulgation of Jesus’ new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Today we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover. In its origins, the Jewish Passover was, in fact, a joint celebration of two ancient thanksgiving celebrations. The descendants of Abel, who were shepherds, used to lead their sheep from the winter pastures to the summer pastures after the sacrificial offering to God of a lamb. They called this celebration the “Pass over." The descendants of Cain, who were farmers, held a harvest festival called the Massoth in which they offered unleavened bread to God as an act of thanksgiving. The Passover feast of the Israelites (Exodus 12:26-37), was a harmonious combination of these two ancient feasts of thanksgiving, commanded by the Lord God and celebrated yearly by all Israelites to thank God for the miraculous liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery, their exodus from Egypt and final arrival in the Promised Land.
Scripture lessons: The Jewish Passover was an eight-day celebration during which unleavened bread was eaten. The Passover meal began with the singing of the first part of the “Hallel” Psalms (Ps 113 &114), followed by the first cup of wine. Then those gathered at table ate bitter herbs, sang the second part of the “Hallel” Psalms (Ps 115-116), drank the second cup of wine and listened as the oldest man in the family explained the significance of the event in answer to the question raised by a child. This was followed by the eating of a lamb (whose blood had previously been offered to God in sacrifice), roasted in fire. The participants divided and ate the roasted lamb and unleavened Massoth bread, drank the third cup of wine and sang the major “Hallel" psalms (117-118). In later years, Jews celebrated a miniature form of the Passover every Sabbath day and called it the “Love Feast.”
The first reading from Exodus, gives us an account of the origins of the Jewish feast of Passover when the Israelites celebrated God's breaking the chains of their Egyptian slavery and leading them to the land He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, establishing a covenant with them and making of them his own beloved people. God gave the Hebrews two instructions: prepare for the moment of liberation by a ritual meal [to be held annually in later years] and make a symbolic mark on your homes to exempt yourselves from the coming slaughter. This tradition continued in the Church as the Lord’s Supper, with the Eucharist as its focal point. In the second reading, Paul identifies a source and purpose for the communal celebration of the Lord’s Supper beyond that was passed on to him upon his conversion, namely that he had received this "from the Lord.” This suggests that the celebration of the Lord's Supper was an unbroken tradition from the very beginning of the Church. Paul implies that another purpose of this celebration was to “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again.” Paul may simply mean that Christians, by this ritual act, remind themselves of the death and Resurrection of Jesus; he may also mean that Christians prepare themselves for the proclamation of Christ to the world at large. Addressing abuses and misunderstandings concerning the “breaking of the bread” in the Corinthian church, Paul gives us all the warning that if we fail to embrace the spirit of love and servanthood in which the gift of the Eucharist is given to us, then “Eucharist” becomes a judgment against us. In harmony with these readings, today’s Gospel describes how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration. First, he washed His Apostles’ feet - a tender reminder of his undying affection for them. Then he commanded them to do the same for each other. The incident reminds us that our vocation is to take care of one another as Jesus always takes care of us. Finally, he gave his apostles his own Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine as Food and Drink for their souls, so that, as long as they lived, they'd never be without the comfort and strength of his presence. Thus, Jesus washed their feet, fed them and then went out to die. This Gospel episode challenges us to become, for others, Christ the healer, Christ the compassionate and selfless brother, Christ the humble “washer of feet.”
Exegesis: Jesus’ transformation of his last Seder meal (Last Supper) into the first Eucharistic celebration is described for us in today’s Second Reading and Gospel. (John in his account of the Last Supper, makes no mention of the establishment of the Eucharist because his theology of the Eucharist is detailed in the “bread of life” discourse following the multiplication of the loaves and fish at Passover, in chapter 6 of his Gospel.) Jesus, the Son of God, began his Passover celebration by washing the feet of his disciples (a service assigned to household servants), as a lesson in humble service, demonstrating that he “came to the world not to be served but to serve.” (Mark 10:45). He followed the ritual of the Jewish Passover meal up to the second cup of wine. After serving the roasted lamb as a third step, Jesus offered his own Body and Blood as food and drink under the appearances of bread and wine. Thus, he instituted the Holy Eucharist as the sign and reality of God’s perpetual presence with His people as their living, Heavenly Food. This was followed by the institution of the priesthood with the command, “Do this in memory of me." Jesus concluded the ceremony with a long speech incorporating his command of love: “Love one another as I have loved you”(Jn 13:34). Thus, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at a private Passover meal with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-30; Luke 21:7-23). He served as both the Host and the Victim of a sacrifice. He became the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist had previously predicted (John 1:29, 36), who would “take away the sins of the world.”
The transformation of Jesus’ Passover into the Holy Mass: The early Jewish Christians converted the Jewish “Sabbath Love Feast” of Fridays and Saturdays (the Sabbath), into the “Memorial Last Supper Meal” of Jesus on Sundays. The celebration began with the participants praising and worshipping God by singing psalms, reading the Old Testament Messianic prophecies and listening to the teachings of Jesus as explained by an apostle or by an ordained minister. This was followed by an offertory procession, bringing to the altar the bread and wine to be consecrated and the covered dishes (meals) brought by each family for a shared common meal after the Eucharistic celebration. Then the ordained minister said the “institution narrative” over the bread and wine and all the participants received the consecrated Bread and Wine, the living Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Jesus. This ritual finally evolved into the present day Holy Mass in various rites, incorporating various cultural elements of worship and rituals.
Life Messages: 1) We need to render humble service to others. Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another and revere Christ's presence in other persons. To wash the feet of others is to love them, especially when they don't deserve our love, and to do good to them, even when they don't return the favor. It is to consider others' needs to be as important as our own. It is to forgive others from the heart, even though they don't say, "I'm sorry." It is to serve them, even when the task is unpleasant. It is to let others know we care when they feel downtrodden or burdened. It is to be generous with what we have. It is to turn the other cheek instead of retaliating when we're treated unfairly. It is to make adjustments in our plans in order to serve others' needs without expecting any reward. In doing and suffering all these things in this way, we love and serve Jesus Himself, as He has loved us and has taught us to do (Mt 25:31-ff).
2) We need to practice sacrificial sharing and self-giving love. Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us his own Body and Blood and enriches us with his Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. It is by sharing our blessings – our talents, time, health and wealth - with others that we become true disciples of Christ and obey his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
3) We need to show our unity in suffering. The bread we partake of is produced by the pounding of many grains of wheat, and the wine is the result of the crushing of many grapes. Both are thus symbols of unity through suffering. They invite us to help, console, support, and pray for others who suffer physical or mental illnesses.
4) We need to heed the warning: We need to make Holy Communion an occasion of Divine grace and blessing by receiving it worthily, rather than making it an occasion of desecration and sacrilege by receiving Jesus while we are in grave sin. That is why we pray three times before we receive Communion, "Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us," with the final "have mercy on us" replaced by "grant us peace." That is also the reason we pray the Centurion's prayer, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” (Mt 8:8). And that is why the priest, just before he receives the consecrated Host, prays, "May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life," while, just before drinking from the Chalice, he prays, "May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life."
5) We need to become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyers: In the older English version of the Mass, the final message was, “Go in peace to love and serve one another,” that is, to carry Jesus to our homes and places of work, conveying to others around us the love, mercy, forgiveness and spirit of humble service of Christ whom we carry with us. That message has not changed, though the words are different.
1)Jesus has no desire to be cloned: That night in the upper room Jesus knew what it would take to change the world -- not strife and revolution, not warfare and bloodshed, but love, sincere, self-sacrificing love on the part of his people. Last November, Dr. Avi Ben-Abraham, head resident of the American Cryogenics Society, told an audience in Washington, D.C., that several high-ranking Roman Catholic Church leaders had privately told him that despite the Church's public stance against research in genetics and gene reproduction and experimentation in artificial life production, they personally supported his way-out research. According to Ben-Abraham, those Church leaders hope to reproduce Jesus Christ from DNA fibers found on the Shroud of Turin. If Dr. Ben-Abraham is right, somebody’d better tell those venerable church leaders that Jesus has no desire to be cloned -- except in the lives of those who love him and follow him. That's why He takes bread and wine and gives us Himself in Holy Communion, to bring us forgiveness and to strengthen us to love one another. “This is My will -- this is My commandment for you -- love one another” (Jn 13:34).
2)“Jesus Christ gave a lasting memorial”: One of his Catholic disciples asked the controversial god-man Osho Rajneesh about the difference between Buddha the founder of Buddhism and Jesus Christ. Rajneesh told a story to distinguish between Buddha and Christ. When Buddha was on his deathbed, his disciple Anand asked him for a memorial and Buddha gave him a Jasmine flower. However, as the flower dried up, the memory of Buddha also dwindled. But Jesus Christ instituted a lasting memorial without anybody’s asking for it by offering his Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine and commanding his disciples to share his Divinity by repeating the ceremony. So Jesus continues to live in his followers while Buddha lives only in history books. On Holy Thursday we are reflecting on the importance of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood. [Osho Rajneesh claimed himself to be another incarnation of God who attained “enlightenment” at 29 when he was a professor of Hindu philosophy in Jabalpur University in India. He had thousands of followers for his controversial “liberation through sex theology,” based on Hindu, Buddhist and Christian theology.]
3) "Now she's ready for living--in this life and the next." TV pastor Robert Schuller tells about the time Bishop Fulton Sheen spoke at the Crystal Cathedral. Fulton Sheen was one of the most effective religious communicators of his time. In the early 1950s, his weekly television broadcast was the most popular program in the country. Because he was so popular, thousands of people came to hear Sheen at the Crystal Cathedral. After the message, he and Robert Schuller were able to get to their car only because a passageway was roped off. Otherwise, they would have been mobbed. Along both sides of the ropes, people were reaching out in an attempt to touch the bishop. It was as if the pope himself had come to town. As Sheen was passing through this section on his way to his car, someone handed him a note, which he folded and put into his pocket. Then, as he and Schuller were on their way to the restaurant where they were going to eat lunch, Bishop Sheen pulled out that note, read it, and asked Schuller, "Do you know where this trailer park is?" Schuller looked at the note and said, "Yes, it's just a couple of miles from here." The bishop said, "Do you think we could go there before we go to lunch?" "Sure," Schuller answered. "We have plenty of time." So they drove to this little trailer park, and Bishop Sheen went up to one of the trailers and knocked on the door. An elderly woman opened the door, and seemed surprised--flabbergasted, really--when she saw who had come to visit her. She opened the door and the bishop went in. After a few moments, he came out, got back in the car and said, "Now she's ready for living--in this life and the next." [Robert A. Schuller, Dump Your Hang-ups (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1993).] Bishop Sheen showed the Spirit of Jesus on Holy Thursday.
4) A president in servant’s role: "When I try to tell people what Ronald Reagan was like," says Peggy Noonan, former White House speechwriter, "I tell them the bathroom story." A few days after President Reagan had been shot, when he was able to get out of bed, he wasn't feeling well, so he went into the bathroom that connected to his room. He slapped some water on his face and some of the water slopped out of the sink. He got some paper towels and got down on the floor to clean it up. An aide went in to check on him, and found the president of the United States on his hands and knees on the cold tile floor, mopping up water with paper towels. "Mr. President," the aide said, "what are you doing? Let the nurse clean that up!" And President Ronald Reagan said, "Oh, no. I made that mess, and I'd hate for the nurse to have to clean it up." [Pat Williams, The Paradox of Power (New York: Warner Faith, 2002).]
5) Waiting and remembering: One day the professor of Eucharistic theology came in carrying a brown paper bag, and declared that his theology students were going to learn the significance of the Lord’s Supper. As he began to talk he reached into the bag and pulled out a hand full of Buckeyes, and began throwing them, one by one, to each member of the class. (If you are not familiar with the Buckeye, it is the large, shiny brown seed of the Horse Chestnut tree. It is especially abundant in Ohio, which is the reason Ohio is known as the Buckeye State.) The professor then reached into his own pocket and removed a small, brown, shriveled up something. Holding it between his two fingers for all to see he said to the class, “See this? This is a Buckeye like you have. I have been carrying it around in my pocket since 1942. I had a son who went off to the war that year. When he left he gave me this Buckeye, and told me to put it in my pocket and keep it there until he came home. That way each time I reached in my pocket I would always remember him. Well, I have been carrying that Buckeye in my pocket since 1942. And I have been waiting. Waiting for my son to come back, and each time I reach in my pocket I remember my son.” Eucharistic celebration is about waiting and remembering. Each time, we, as a community of Faith, gather around the table to take the consecrated Bread and Wine we are remembering, and we are proclaiming that we are waiting for our Lord to return. (Jerry Fritz, http://leiningers.com/waiting.html).
6) "You don't recognize me, do you?” There is an old legend about DaVinci's painting of the Last Supper. In all of his paintings he tried to find someone to pose who fit the face of the particular character he was painting. Out of hundreds of possibilities he chose a 19-year old to portray Jesus. It took him six months to paint the face of Jesus. Seven years later DaVinci started hunting for just the right face for Judas. Where could he find one that would portray that image? He looked high and low. Down in a dark Roman dungeon he found a wretched, unkempt prisoner who could strike the perfect pose. The prisoner was released to his care and when the portrait of Judas was complete the prisoner said to the great artist, "You don't recognize me, do you? I am the man you painted seven years ago as the face of Christ. O God, I have fallen so low."
7) "I am among you as one who serves." One of our most famous Memphians is the brilliant soprano, Kallen Esperian. We swell with pride as we see her recognized as one of the world's most talented vocalists. But when I think of Kallen, something else comes to mind. Almost two years ago a member of our Christ Church prison ministry had the nerve to invite Kallen to go along to the city jail and to sing as part of the worship service there. She did it. Here was a world-class talent, the toast of concert halls around the world, singing a Gospel song for free in the Memphis city jail. She imbued the real spirit of Jesus. After washing the feet of the apostles Jesus said, "I am among you as one who serves."
8) “Neither is your best good enough for Almighty God." There was once an old retired Methodist bishop who never missed an opportunity to say a word for his Lord. One day he was in the barbershop receiving a haircut from the young man who was his regular barber. There was enough conversation in the shop to allow him to speak with his barber privately, so he said, "Harry, how are you and the Lord getting along?" Rather curtly the young man replied, "Bishop, I do the best I can and that's good enough for me." The bishop said no more. When his haircut was finished, he got up and paid the barber. Then he said with a smile, "Harry, you work so hard that you deserve a break. Sit down, rest, and have a coke. I'll cut the next customer's hair." The barber smiled and said, "Bishop, I appreciate that but I can't let you do it." "But why not?" asked the Bishop. "I promise to do my best." "But," said the barber, "I'm afraid that your best wouldn't be good enough." Then the bishop added the obvious, "And son, neither is your best good enough for Almighty God."
9) Precious gift: We are all familiar with the situation of the little boy who wants to give his father a birthday present but does not have any money to buy one. His father, realizing his son is too young to be able to earn any money, slips him five bucks so that he can do some shopping the next time they are in town. The big day comes, and the little boy proudly presents his father with a beautifully wrapped, birthday gift. He is so very happy and proud of himself. So is his father - proud and happy to have such a loving son. God gave us his Son so that we could give him back as a gift and become once again his sons and daughters. Jesus Christ was placed in our hands so that we could have a gift, the best of gifts. During each Eucharistic celebration we give this precious gift back to God the Father. Today we celebrate the feast of the First Mass (Fr. Jack Dorsel).
10) “Gone, But Not for Cotton:” There is an absolutely terrible old joke about a bill collector in Georgia who knocked on the door of a client who lived out in a rural area. This client owed the bill collector’s company money. “Is Fred home?” he asked the woman who answered the door.” Sorry,” the woman replied. “Fred’s gone for cotton.” The next day the collector tried again. “Is Fred here today?” “No, sir,” she said, “I’m afraid Fred has gone for cotton.” When he returned the third day, he said sarcastically, “I suppose Fred is gone for cotton again?” “No,” the woman answered solemnly, “Fred died yesterday.” Suspicious that he was being avoided, the bill collector decided to wait a week and check out the cemetery himself. Sure enough, there was poor Fred’s tombstone. On it was this inscription: “Gone, But Not for Cotton.” That’s terrible, I know, but it is a reminder that tonight as we participate in the Lord’s Supper, proclaiming that Christ is neither gone nor forgotten. We assert our Faith that He is present, here with us, as we receive Holy Communion in remembrance of him.
11) “I still think they are wonderful." Dr. Robert Kopp tells of an interview someone did with the great composer Irving Berlin. We remember Berlin for favorites like "God Bless America," "Easter Parade," and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Berlin was asked, "Is there any question you've never been asked that you would like someone to ask you?" "Well, yes, there is one," Berlin replied. He posed the question himself: "What do you think of the many songs you've written that didn't become hits?" Then he answered his own question: "My reply would be that I still think they are wonderful." Then he added, "God, too, has an unshakable delight in what--and whom--He has made. He thinks each of His children is wonderful, and whether they're a ‘hit’ in the eyes of others or not, He will always think they're wonderful." Irving Berlin hit it right on the head. Here is the critical truth about Faith--it is grounded in God's wondrous love for us. We may not feel worthy to be loved, we may even repudiate that love--but we cannot keep God from loving. That is God's very nature. God is love.
12) “Forget-me-not:” There is an old legend that after God finished creating the world, He still had the task of naming every creature and plant in it. Anyone who has ever faced the task of naming a newborn knows this is not as easy as it seems. Thinking Himself finished at last, God heard a small voice saying, "How about me?" Looking down, the Creator spied a small flower. "I forgot you once," He said, "but it will not happen again." And, at that moment, the forget-me-not was born. [The Great American Bathroom Reader by Mark B. Charlton, (Barnes & Noble, New York, 1997), p. 260.] It's just a silly legend--a myth, if you will--but the reason such legends and myths abound is that they reflect the truth about God. God loves. God loves each of us as if God had no one else to love.
The $5,000 battery-less Sky-Eye chip was originally developed to track Israeli secret-service agents abroad. Sold by Gen-Etics, Sky-Eye runs solely on the neurophysiological energy generated within the human body. Gen-Etics won't reveal where the chip is inserted but says 43 people have had it implanted. ["World Watch," edited by Anita Hamilton, Timedigital (Nov. 30, 1998), p. 107.] It is amazing to me that it is easier for some people to believe that technology can track an individual person's movements anywhere in the world, but that somehow we are lost to God. How absurd! We are under the watchful eye of a Heavenly Father Who never forgets us, never leaves us and is always concerned about our well-being.
13) "I missed." Former President Reagan told a humorous story during the last days of his administration. It was about Alexander Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. It seems that Dumas and a friend had a severe argument. The matter got so out of hand that one challenged the other to a duel. Both Dumas and his friend were superb marksmen. Fearing that both men might fall in such a duel, they resolved to draw straws instead. Whoever drew the shorter straw would then be pledged to shoot himself. Dumas was the unlucky one. He drew the short straw. With a heavy sigh, he picked up his pistol and trudged into the library and closed the door, leaving the company of friends who had gathered to witness the non-duel outside. In a few moments a solitary shot was fired. All the curious pressed into the library. They found Dumas standing with his pistol still smoking. "An amazing thing just happened," said Dumas. "I missed." I am amazed how many Christians have been in the Church all their lives and still have missed the Gospel. So many folks still live in the Old Testament, bound by legalisms, restricted by the "Thou shalt nots" without being empowered by "Thou shalts." Some are experts at the Ten Commandments, but absolute failures at the eleventh and most important of all. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another" (Jn 13:34; RSV)
14) He picked it up and returned it to the bench: Many years ago, a sticky situation arose at the wedding ceremony for the Duke of York. All the guests and the wedding attendants were in place. Majestic organ music filled the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey. But something was wrong. As part of the marriage ceremony, the Duke and his bride were to kneel on a cushioned bench to receive a blessing. A nervous whisper spread through the congregation as guests noticed that one of the cushions from the kneeling bench had fallen on the floor. Most of the attendants standing near the kneeling bench had royal blood-lines; at the very least, they were all from the upper crust of British society. To reach down and pick up the pillow would have been beneath them. They all pretended to ignore the misplaced pillow until finally the Prince of Wales, who was a groomsman, picked it up and returned it to the bench. (George C. Pidgeon) That may not impress us very much, but in a society that is as class-conscious as British society is, this was an extraordinary act. No wonder Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
15) The Beloved Captain: Donald Hankey’s The Beloved Captain tells how the captain cared for his men’s feet. After long marches he went into the barracks to inspect the feet of his soldiers. He’d get down on his hands and knees to take a good look at the worst cases. If a blister needed lancing, he’d frequently lance it himself. “There was no affectation about this,” says Donald Hankey. “It seemed to have a touch of Christ about it, and we loved and honored him the more” for it. – Is there a “touch of Christ” about our concern for our brothers and sisters? “Jesus, my feet are dirty…. Pour water into your basin and come and wash my feet. I know that I am overbold is asking this, but I dread your warning, when you said, ‘If I do not wash your feet, you can have no companionship with me.’ Wash my feet, then, because I do want your companionship.” (Mark Link in Daily Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
16) Pope missing: A story from the life of Pope St. John Paul II brings home the profound significance of what we do tonight. Bishop John Magee, who was personal secretary to the Pope, tells about something that happened after Pope John Paul II's election. An official came to Vatican asking to speak immediately with the new Pope. Bishop Magee went to the Pope's room. He was not there. He went to the library, the chapel, the kitchen, even the roof. When he couldn't find the Pope, he began to think about Morris West's novel, The Shoes of the Fisherman. In that novel a newly elected Slavic pope slips out of the Vatican to find out what is happening with ordinary people in his new diocese. That was fiction, but if the new Pope actually did it, it might turn out badly. So Bishop Magee ran to a priest who knew the Pope. "We've lost the Holy Father," he said. "I've looked everywhere and cannot find him." The Polish priest asked calmly, "Did you look in the chapel?" "Yes," said Bishop Magee, "he was nowhere in sight." "Go further in," the Polish priest said, “but do not turn on the light.” Bishop Magee walked quietly into the darkened chapel. In front of the tabernacle, lying prostrate on the floor, was the Pope. The Polish priest knew that, before his election, the Pope often prostrated himself before Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Tonight we commemorate that greatest of all tangible gifts. St. Paul quotes Jesus saying, "This is my Body that is for you." Jesus gives himself to us in a humble form - unleavened bread like that the Israelites ate during their Passover. (Fr. Phil Bloom).
17) Gathering together in His name: A religious persecution in 1980 left a region of Guatemala without priests. But the people continued to meet in various parishes. Once a month they sent a delegate to a part of Guatemala where priests were still functioning. Traveling up to eighteen hours on foot, the delegate celebrated the Lord’s Supper in the name of the parish. Describing one of these celebrations, Fernando Bermudez writes in his book, Death and Resurrection in Guatemala: The altar was covered with baskets of bread. After the mass, each participant came up to take his or her basket home again. Now the bread was Holy Communion for the brothers and sisters of each community. In time the authorities closed all Churches. But the people refused to stop gathering, recalling Jesus’ words, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). [Mark Link in Journey: Life-giving Blood; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
18) Film: Entertaining Angels: Twenty-year-old Dorothy Day was a reporter and a part of an elite Socialist group in New York. Dorothy encountered a homeless man and a friendly nun and followed them to a Church that had opened a soup kitchen for the poor. She often went to the kitchen to help. She began to read Catholic books and was converted. She was urged to start feeding the poor and caring for the sick. During the 1930’s Dorothy became even more socially active. She opened hospitality houses and tried to improve the lives of the poor. Dorothy led a very unconventional life by Catholic standards. Her pre-conversion past and abortion, her decision not to marry and remain a single parent are interesting because she used these unusual circumstances to follow Christ by helping the poor and homeless. She is a twentieth century model of lay holiness. Dorothy Day, like the apostles, was someone who did not have Faith at first. She gradually accepted the gift of Faith and grew in it by serving others. She spent most of her adult life living Jesus’ commandment of love. She personally cared for the indigent and homeless people in many ways, from preparing and serving meals to washing their feet. This was the life of Dorothy Day. An exasperated volunteer agreed to go on working when she wanted to quit because Dorothy had said, “You never know… you might be entertaining angels.” – On this Holy Thursday we are reminded to blend our beliefs and actions into one life lived for God. (Peter Malone in Lights, Camera, Faith; quoted by Fr. Botelho.)
19) Meaningful Explanation: A man came to a priest and wanted to make fun of his Faith, so he asked, "How can bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ?"
The Priest answered, "No problem. You yourself change food into your body and blood so why can't Christ do the same?"
But the man did not give up. He asked, "But how can the entire body of Christ be in such a small host?"
"In the same way that the vast landscape before you can fit into your little eye."
But he still persisted, "How can the same Christ be present in all your Churches at the same time?"
The priest then took a mirror and let the man look into it. Then he let the mirror fall to the ground and break and said to the skeptic. "There is only one of you and yet you can find your face reflected in each piece of that broken mirror at the same time.”
20) A Walking Sermon: Reporters and city officials gathered at a Chicago railroad station one afternoon in 1953. The person they were meeting was the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner. A few moments after the train came to stop, a giant of a man -- six foot four inches -- with bushy hair and a large mustache stepped from the train. Cameras flashed. City officials approached him with hands outstretched. Various people began telling him how honored they were to meet him. The man politely thanked them and then, looking over their heads, asked if he could be excused for a moment. He quickly walked through the crowd until he reached the side of an elderly black woman who was struggling with two heavy suitcases. He picked up the bags and with a smile escorted the woman to a bus. After helping her aboard, he wished her a safe journey. As he returned to the greeting party he apologized, "Sorry to have kept you waiting." The man was Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the famous missionary doctor who had spent his life helping the poor in Africa. In response to Schweitzer's action, one of the members of the reception committee said with great admiration to the reporter standing next to him, "That's the first time I ever saw a sermon walking." Our worship should lead us to become walking sermons. Today’s Gospel about the feet washing by Jesus may be called a washing sermon. (Jeff Strite).
21) Get inspired by the Eucharist: A few months before he died in 1979, Bishop Fulton Sheen gave a television interview. The reporter asked, "Your Excellency, you have inspired millions. Who inspired you? Was it the Pope?” Bishop Sheen responded that it was not the Pope or a cardinal or another bishop or even a priest or nun. It was an eleven-year-old girl. He explained that when the Communists took over China in the late forties, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory. Looking through the window, the priest saw the soldier enter the Church and break open the tabernacle, scattering the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. The priest knew the exact number of hosts in the tabernacle: thirty-two. Unnoticed by the soldiers, a young girl had been praying in the back of the church and she hid when they came in. That night the girl returned and spent an hour in prayer. She then entered the sanctuary, knelt and bent over to take one of the hosts on her tongue. The girl came back each night, spent an hour in prayer and received Jesus by picking up a sacred host with her tongue. The thirty-second night, after consuming the final host, she made an accidental sound awakening a guarding soldier. He ran after her and when he caught her, he struck her with the rifle butt. The noise woke the priest -but too late. From his house he saw the girl die. Bishop Sheen said that when he heard about this, it inspired him so much that he made a promise that he would spend one hour each day before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He always said that the power of his priesthood came from the Eucharist. -Get inspired by the Eucharist. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word).
The Big Triduum
Well tonight we start the BIG three, better known as the Triduum. We
wash feet, break bread, embrace our crosses and kick open the tomb again
to the possibilities of a new life, an eternal life with our God so
passionately in love with us. Here is a litany I found and will use on
Easter. A blessed Easter for all of you.
Lord of Easter promise, I live in faith of the Resurrection, but such is
the nature of my faith, that so much of me remains entombed. Break open
the tomb. Please respond "Break open the tomb" to each of these prayers.
Where I have buried my compassion: Break open the tomb.
Where I have buried my sense of mercy: Break open the tomb.
Where I have buried my sense of humanity: Break open the tomb.
Where I have buried my love for my Heavenly Father: Break open the tomb.
Where I have buried my sense of joy: Break open the tomb.
Where I have buried my willingness to forgive: Break open the tomb.
Lord in you I have found a savior no grave can withstand.
Help me roll away this stone and find the miracle of a new life,
That I may live more fully in your grace.
Can I hear the Church say AMEN!
Be witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ. Amen.(Fr. Stephen Humphrey
fwd by firstname.lastname@example.org) ) L/17
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 23) by Fr. Tony: email@example.com
Visit our website: http://stjohngrandbay.org/ for previous Cycle A & C homilies, 56 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 188 “Question of the Week.” Contact me using my ID firstname.lastname@example.org. Fr. Anthony Kadavil, St. John the Baptist Church, POB 417, 12450 Hwy 188, Grand Bay, AL 36541
(Prepared by Fr. Anthony Kadavil and published by CBCI)
Introduction:The Church celebrates this sixth Sunday of Lent as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. This is the time of year we stop to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. What we commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Him, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption. Attentive participation in the Holy Week liturgy will deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments, one of glory, the other of suffering: the royal welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem and the drama of His trial, culminating in His crucifixion, death and burial.
Scripture lessons: Today's first reading, the third of Isaiah's four Servant Songs, like the other three, foreshadows Jesus' own life and mission. The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of Who Jesus is, and of how His mission saves us from sin and death. The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception Jesus received from His admirers, who paraded with Him for a distance of two miles: from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to the Passion of Christ according to Matthew. We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the Passion story – like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience as he condemned Jesus to death on the cross, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.
Life messages: We need to answer 5 questions today: 1) Does Jesus weep over my sinful soul as He wept over Jerusalem at the beginning of His Palm Sunday procession? 2) Am I abarren fig tree? God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness. Am I a barren fig tree? Or worse, do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness? 3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with his whip? Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit in me by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust and impure thoughts words and deeds; neither does He approve of my business mentality or calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father. 4)Do I welcome Jesus into my heart? Am I ready to surrender my life to him during this Holy Week and welcome Him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior? Let the palms remind us that Christ is our King and the true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in life. 5) Are we like the humble donkey that carried Jesus, bringing Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness and sacrificial service to our families, places of work and communities by the way we live our lives?
PALM SUNDAY Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mt: 21: 1-11 (Procession); 27:11-  66 (Mass)
Anecdote: #1: Reminder of Maccabean victory celebration:A key element of understanding the connection between the Palm Sunday reception given to Jesus and Good Friday is to recognize that the actions, words and symbols of Palm Sunday indicated a religious and political Messiah who would save the Jews from foreign rule and regain for them religious and political freedom. The occasion of reception was carefully chosen by Jesus’ disciples to coincide with the Passover feast which celebrated the Jewish liberation from Egyptian rule and slavery. The palms used in the procession and the slogan used (Hosanna meaning save us, God) were those used in the 164 BC Maccabean victory parade to the Temple. That parade took place after the Maccabean army, led by Judas Maccabeus, had defeated the ruling Greek king and his army and liberated both the city of Jerusalem and the Temple which the Greeks had desecrated. In 1 Maccabees 13:51, we read: “On the twenty-third day of the second month, in the one hundred seventy-first year, the Jews entered it with praise and palm branches, and with harps and cymbals and stringed instruments, and with hymns and songs, because a great enemy had been crushed and removed from Israel.”It was natural, then, that the Romans saw the crowds of people carrying palm branches and giving a royal reception to a very popular, miracle-working rabbi, Jesus, as a potential threat to their power and a banner for revolution. Hence, the governor Pilate and his counselors were justified in their concern. They interpreted people’s slogan “Hosanna” as “save us” from Roman occupation. Besides, the Jewish rabbi had been teaching that the final redemption of the Jews would take place with the Messiah’s arrival. With 1½ to 2 million Jews in and around the city for the Passover, the situation was highly volatile, and Jesus’ ride on a donkey as prophesied by Zachariah seemed to have all the signs of producing great trouble and revolt. So the Romans informally made allies of some of the Temple priesthood (largely Sadducees) who were planning to arrest Jesus (the suspected center for the trouble), because these priests were the people most closely allied to Rome, and would lose their power and income in the case of a popular uprising. This collusion between Pilate and the High Priest Caiaphas and their supporters is exactly what we see in the Passion accounts describing the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Given the political, religious and social context, this is hardly surprising. Keeping that in the back of our minds helps us to make sense of certain parts of the action that will follow. (Fr. Murray from Jerusalem).
# 3: Welcome to the triumph and the tragedy of the Holy Week:On Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, General of the Union Army, at the McLean housein Appomattox, Virginia. This surrender ended the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. State against state, brother against brother, it was a conflict that literally tore the nation apart. Five days later, on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, America’s most revered president, Abraham Lincoln, was shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theatre. It was Lincoln who wrote the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in the U.S. forever. It was Lincoln who wrote and gave The Gettysburg Address. Lincoln hated war, but he was drawn into this one because he believed it was the only way to save the nation. On Palm Sunday the war ended. Triumph. On Good Friday, Abraham Lincoln became the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Tragedy. Welcome to Holy Week. Welcome to the triumph and the tragedy of the six days preceding Easter. (Surrender location corrected by Fr. Richard W. Frank, email@example.com)
# 3: Are you a donkey with a Christian name or one carrying Christ? An interesting as well as challenging old fable tells of the colt that carried Jesus on Palm Sunday. The colt thought that the reception was organized to honor him. “I am a unique donkey!” this excited animal might have thought. When he asked his mother if he could walk down the same street alone the next day and be honored again, his mother said, “No, you are nothing without Him who was riding you." Five days later, the colt saw a huge crowd of people in the street. It was Good Friday, and the soldiers were taking Jesus to Calvary. The colt could not resist the temptation of another royal reception. Ignoring the warning of his mother, he ran to the street, but he had to flee for his life as soldiers chased him and people stoned him. Thus, the colt finally learned the lesson that he was only a poor donkey without Jesus to ride on him. As we enter Holy Week, today’s readings challenge us to examine our lives to see whether we carry Jesus within us and bear witness to Him through our living or whether we are Christians in name only.
# 4: Zechariah foresaw it and Jesus fulfilled it:The Greek author Plutarch describes how Kings are supposed to enter a city. He tells about one Roman general, Aemilius Paulus, who won a decisive victory over the Macedonians. When Aemilius returned to Rome, his triumphal procession lasted three days. The first day was dedicated to displaying all the artwork that Aemilius and his army had plundered. The second day was devoted to all the weapons of the Macedonians they had captured. The third day began with the rest of the plunder borne by 250 oxen, whose horns were covered in gold. This included more than 17,000 pounds of gold coins. Then came the captured and humiliated king of Macedonia and his extended family. Finally, Aemilius himself entered Rome, riding in a magnificent chariot. Aemilius wore a purple robe, interwoven with gold. He carried his laurels in his right hand. He was accompanied by a large choir singing hymns, praising the military accomplishments of the great Aemilius. (http://www.sigurdgrindheim.com/sermons/king.html ) That, my friends, is how a King enters a city. But the King of Kings? He entered riding on a lowly donkey. Zechariah envisioned the King of Kings, the Messiah, coming not on a great stallion, but riding on a humble donkey. Zechariah foresaw it. Jesus fulfilled it. (http://www.tosapres.com/sermons.php?sermon=96)
Introduction:The Church celebrates this Sixth Sunday in Lent as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. It is on Palm Sunday that we enter Holy Week, welcoming Jesus into our lives and asking Him to allow us a share in His suffering, death and Resurrection. This is the time of the year when we stop to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. The Holy Week liturgies present us with the actual events of the dying and rising of Jesus. These liturgies enable us to experience in our lives here and now what Jesus went through then. In other words, what we commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Him, which result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption. Just as Jesus did, we, too, must lay down our lives freely by actively participating in the Holy Week liturgies. In doing so, we are allowing Jesus to forgive us our sins, heal the wounds in us caused by our sins and the sins of others and transform us more completely into the image and likeness of God. In this way, we will be able to live more fully the Divine life we received at Baptism. Attentive participation in the Holy Week liturgies will also deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. But let us remember that Holy Week can become "holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week. During this week of the Passion -- passionate suffering, passionate grace, passionate love and passionate forgiving – each of us is called to remember the Christ of Calvary and then to embrace and lighten the burden of the Christ Whose passion continues to be experienced in the hungry, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the aged, the lonely and the outcast. Today’s liturgy combines two contrasting moments, one of glory, the other of suffering - the welcome of Jesus into Jerusalem and the drama of His trial which ends in His crucifixion and death. Let us rejoice and sing as Jesus comes into our life today. Let us also weep and mourn as His death confronts us with our sin. The African-American song asks the question, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they nailed Him to a tree?" The answer is yes, a definite yes. Yes, we were there in the crowd on both days, shouting ‘Hosanna!’ and later ‘Crucify Him!’
First reading, Isaiah 50:4-7: In the middle section of the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapters 40-55, there are four short passages which scholars have called the Songs of the Suffering Servant. Today's first reading is the third Servant Song. These four songs are about a mysterious figure whose suffering brings about a benefit for the people. In the original author's mind, the servant was probably a figure for the people of Israel, or for a faithful remnant within the people. However, Jesus saw aspects of His own life and mission foreshadowed in the Servant Songs, and the Church refers to them in this time of solemn meditation on the climax of Jesus' life. In today’s Psalm, the Psalmist puts his trust in Yahweh for deliverance and salvation. The context of this day's worship also conveys Jesus’ confidence in God’s protection in the midst of His trial and crucifixion.
Second Reading, Philippians 2:6-11is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of Who Jesus is and how His mission saves us from sin and death. It is a message that Paul received from those who had been converted to Christ. “Jesus was Divine from all eternity. But he didn't cling to that. Rather He emptied Himself and became human. He accepted further humbling by obeying [the constraints of the] human condition even unto death by crucifixion. So, God highly exalted Him, giving Him the highest title in the universe.” Christians reading this passage today are joining the first people who ever pondered the meaning of Jesus' life and mission. We're singing their song and reciting their creed during this special time of the year when we remember the most important things Our Lord did.
The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception which Jesus received from His admirers, who paraded with Him for a distance of two miles: from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. Two-and-a-half million people were normally present to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover. Jesus permitted such a royal procession for two reasons: 1) to reveal to the general public that He was the promised Messiah, and 2) to fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah (9:9) and Zephaniah (3:16-19): “Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion…. see now your King comes to you; He is victorious, triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey…” (Zech. 9:9). (The traditional “Palm Sunday Procession” at Jerusalem began in the fourth century AD when the Bishop of Jerusalem led the procession from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Ascension). In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to the Passion of Christ according to Matthew. We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the story like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.
Exegetical notes on part I of today’s Gospel: 1) Jesus rides on a lowly donkey: In those days, kings used to travel in such processions on horseback during wartime, but preferred to ride a donkey in times of peace. I Kings 1:38-41 describes how Prince Solomon used his father David’s royal donkey for the ceremonial procession on the day of his coronation. Jesus entered the Holy City as a King of peace, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. The Gospel specifically mentions that the colt Jesus selected for the procession was one that had not been ridden before, reminding us of a stipulation given in I Samuel 6:7 concerning the animal that was to carry the Ark of the Covenant.
2) The mode of reception given: Jesus was given the royal reception usually reserved for a King or military commander. I Maccabees 13:51ff describes such a reception given to the Jewish military leader Simon Maccabaeus in 171 BC. II Maccabees 10:6-8 refers to a similar reception given to another military general, Judas Maccabaeus, who led the struggle against the Roman commander, Antiochus IVEpiphanes and liberated the Temple from the Romans in 163 BC.
3) The slogans used: The participants sang the “Hallel” Psalm (Psalm 118), and shouted the words of Psalms 25 and 26. The Greek word “hosiana” originally meant "save us now" (II Samuel 14:4). The people sang the entire Psalm 118 on the Feast of the Tabernacles when they marched seven times around the Altar of the Burnt Offering. On Palm Sunday, however, the people used the prayer “Hosanna” as a slogan of greeting. It meant “God save the King of Israel.”
4) The symbolic meaning of the Palm Sunday procession: Nearly 25,000 lambs were sacrificed during the feast of the "Pass Over," but the lamb which was to be sacrificed by the High Priest was taken to the Temple in a procession four days before the main feast day. On Palm Sunday, Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, was also taken to the Temple in a large procession.
5) Reaction of Jesus: Before the beginning of the procession, Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41-42), and when the procession was over, He cleansed the Temple (Lk 19:45-46). On the following day, He cursed a barren fig tree.
Life Messages: 1) Does Jesus weep over me? There is a Jewish saying, “Heaven rejoices over a repentant sinner and sheds tears over a non-repentant, hardhearted one." Are we ready to imitate the prodigal son and return to God, our loving Father, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this last week of Lent and participate fully in the joy of Christ’s Resurrection?
2) Am I a barren fig tree? God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness. Am I a barren fig tree? Or, worse, do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness?
3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with His whip? Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit in me by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust and impure thoughts words and deeds; neither does He approve of my calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God.
4)Do I welcome Jesus into my heart? Am I ready to surrender my life to Him during this Holy Week and welcome Him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior, singing “Hosanna”? Today, we receive palm branches at the Divine Liturgy. Let us take them to our homes and put them some place where we can always see them. Let the palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families, that Christ is the King of our hearts and that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives. And if we do proclaim Christ as our King, let us try to make time for Him in our daily life; let us be reminded that He is the One with Whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded further that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in our confused and complex world.
5) Are we ready to become like the humble donkey that carried Jesus? As we "carry Jesus" to the world, we can expect to receive the same welcome that Jesus received on Palm Sunday, but we must also expect to meet the same opposition, crosses and trials later. Like the donkey, we are called upon to carry Christ to a world that does not know Him. Let us always remember that a Christian without Christ is a contradiction in terms. Such a one betrays the Christian message. Hence, let us become transparent Christians during this Holy Week, enabling others to see in us Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness and sacrificial service.
6) Can we face these questions on Palm Sunday? Are we willing to follow Jesus, not just to Church but in our daily life? Are we willing to entrust ourselves to Him even when the future is frightening or confusing, believing God has a plan? Are we willing to serve Him until that day when His plan on earth is fulfilled? These are the questions of Palm Sunday. Let us take a fresh look at this familiar event. We might be surprised at what we see. It could change us forever.
Jokes of the week: 1) Little Johnny was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from Church with his mother. His father returned from Church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, "Why do you have that palm branch, dad?" His father explained, "You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor Him; so we got palm branches today." "Aw, shucks,” grumbled Little Johnny. "The one Sunday I can't go to Church, and Jesus shows up!"
2) The king on a donkey! Some of you heard my story about the husband and the wife who had quarreled. It had been a pitched battle of wills, each digging heels in to preserve the position each had vehemently taken. Emotions had run high. As they were driving to attend a family wedding in a distant city, both were nursing hurt feelings in defensive silence. The angry tension between them was so thick you could cut it with a knife. But, then the silence was broken. Pointing to a donkey standing in a pasture out beside the road, the husband sarcastically asked, “Relative of yours?” The wife quickly replied, “By marriage!”
WEBSITES ON HOLY WEEK RESOURCES
1) http://www.textweek.com/holyweek.htm2)http://catholicfaitheducation.blogspot.com/2009/04/resources-for-holy-week-and-easter.html 3) http://www.churchyear.net/holyweek.html, 4)http://www.liturgy.co.nz/churchyear/palmsunday.html
Holy Week videos:Holy Week parish mission: https://youtu.be/OlpTFUqOkj0
Various clips from different movies: https://youtu.be/rdyJO-_aAv8
Catholic online video:https://youtu.be/SoujG6h7UGI
20 Additional anecdotes are appended to the attached homily
“Scriptural Homilies”Cycle A(No. 22)by Fr. Tony:firstname.lastname@example.org
Prepared by Fr. Anthony Kadavil and published by CBCI