Introduction: Today’s readings show us the effects of the abiding presence of God in His Church and of His indwelling in each one of us. Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how the Holy Spirit, indwelling in the Church, helped the apostles to solve a major doctrinal problem about the Gentiles becoming Christians, which shook the very foundation of the early Church. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) prays that all the nations on the earth may recognize their God and praise Him. The second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, describes the Church as the Heavenly Jerusalem which replaces the holy presence of God in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. This New Jerusalem is a city united in love, with the victorious Jesus residing in it and in each of its members. The Gospel passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit, abiding within us, is our Teacher, Advocate and the Source of peace and joy. The passage offers a vision of hope as well. Jesus promises his followers that the Holy Spirit will come and instruct them in everything they need to know.
Life messages: 1) Let us be aware of the abiding presence of God within us: We live in the New Covenant of Jesus, daily facing uncertainty, conflict, and temptations. It is the abiding presence of God within us that enables us to face the future with undying hope and true Christian courage. The Holy Spirit Whom the risen Lord asked His Father to send upon His Church prompts us to turn to His Holy Scriptures for support and encouragement, enables us to learn the Divine truths, and grants us His peace at all times. However, to be able to receive these gifts, it is necessary for us to spend a little time each day in personal prayer, talking to God and listening to Him. We must deepen our relationship with Jesus, learn to get in touch with him, and sincerely love him. When we listen to the Holy Spirit, we will know His plan for our life and His solutions to whatever problems we face. We will be able to love our fellow human beings, and there will be a core of peace within us. The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Scriptures and preaching during the Holy Mass. Jesus loves us and comes to us in Communion. When the Mass is ended, we go forth in the peace of Christ — all this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2) We need to have the conviction that we are not alone: One of the great social and ethical problems of our time is isolation. Today approximately 25% of all adults live alone. Spouses, parents and children often live as virtual strangers to one another. This is unfortunate because we never need to be alone. Jesus can always be present to us. He shares his joy with us and replaces the burden of our guilt with the freedom of forgiveness. He takes our grief and turns it into joy. We need only allow Jesus into our lives to be rid of this loneliness. Oneness with Jesus is the greatest gift we can give our children, our friends, or those who see no purpose in life. We can help to bring people to unity with Jesus, a unity that will change their lives. As we celebrate this Eucharistic meal, our Mass, let us celebrate in a special way the price Jesus paid for our redemption. May this Eucharistic celebration empower us to lead a true Lif
Easter VI (May 26): Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rv 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29
Homily starter anecdote # 1: “You were walking with Mary Susanna Brown, a child of God, always carrying Him in her heart”: Retired Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1902-1935) (retired at 90) was walking down a street one day. A little girl joined him. When the girl started to turn back home, the famed jurist said, “When your mother asks you where you’ve been, tell her you’ve been walking with Oliver Wendell Holmes.” To which the little girl replied confidently, “And when your folks ask you where you’ve been, tell them you were walking with Mary Susanna Brown, a child of God, always carrying Him in her heart.” There’s a little girl with a healthy sense of who she is! She was taught about the indwelling God by her mother. Psychologists tell us that a healthy sense of identity is one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children. We are God’s children and our God is an indwelling God. That is what Jesus teaches in today’s gospel. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/
# 2: Temples of the Triune God: St. Francis of Assisi was an ardent advocate of the doctrine of the indwelling of God in man. It enabled him to love everyone equally whatever his status in life. One day he met a fellow who had no love for God. As they walked along, they met a man who was blind and paralyzed. St. Francis asked the sightless cripple: “Tell me if I were to restore your eyesight and the use of your limbs, would you love me?” “Ah,” replied the beggar, “I would not only love you, but I would be your slave for the rest of my life.” “See,” said Francis to the man who maintained that he could not love God, “this man would love me if I gave him his sight and his health. Why don’t you love God who created you with eyesight and strong limbs?” That is what Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel. If we love Jesus because of the countless blessings he has given us, and so keep his word as the center of our life, he will start dwelling within us in the company of his Father and the Holy Spirit, making us the temples of the Triune God. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
# 3: Helen Keller’s indwelling God? The story is told that after Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name “God.” Much to Miss Sullivan’s surprise, Helen spelled back, “Thank you for telling me God’s name, Teacher, for He has touched me many times before.” How could Helen Keller have known about God? Although she was blind and deaf, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is the “revelation” of an indwelling God about whom today’s Scripture readings speak. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
# 4: “The most unpromising boy in my class:” A schoolmaster in France was discouraged with one of his students. He wrote in his roll book concerning this student: “He is the smallest, the meekest, the most unpromising boy in my class.” Half a century later, an election was held in France to select the greatest Frenchman. By popular vote, that meekest, smallest, most unpromising boy was chosen. His name? Louis Pasteur, the founder of modern medicine. When he was seventy-three, a national holiday was declared in his honor. He was too weak to attend the ceremony in Paris, so he sent a message to be read by his son. The message read: “The future belongs not to the conquerors but to the saviors of the world” [Edward Chinn, Wonder of Words (Lima, Ohio: C.S.S. Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), p. 18.] Louis Pasteur was driven by a great purpose. Your name and my name may never be a household word like Pasteur’s, but we, too, can be driven by a great purpose. Christ can give us that purpose. But there is one thing more Christ gives us. He gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit as promised in today’s Gospel. A healthy sense of identity and a driving purpose are not enough in themselves. One thing more is needed. It is the in-dwelling Spirit of the living God. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
Introduction: Today’s readings show us the effects of the abiding presence of God in His Church and of His indwelling in each one of us. The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the Church, helped the apostles to solve a major doctrinal problem, which shook the very foundation of the early Church. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) prays that all the nations on the earth, not just Israel, may recognize their God and praise Him. The second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation describes the Church as the Heavenly Jerusalem, a city united in love, with the victorious Jesus residing in it and in each of its members replacing the holy presence of God in the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Gospel passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit abiding within us is our teacher and the Source of all peace. The passage offers a vision of hope. Jesus promises his followers that the Holy Spirit will come and instruct them in everything they need to know.
The first reading: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29, explained: The first major controversy in the infant Church was about “what one should do to be saved.” For the first 15 to 20 years of the Christian era, all Jesus’ followers were Jewish. During that period, any Gentiles who wanted to become Jesus’ disciples were expected first to become Jews. They had to attend Sabbath synagogue services and keep the 613 Torah laws. This situation began to change when a few “liberal” Christian communities like the newly founded Church of the Gentiles in Antioch, began to admit Gentiles into their number without demanding that they first be converted to Judaism. Some of the Judeo-Christians from Judea and Jerusalem argued that the new Gentile converts must observe the Mosaic Law of circumcision, dietary regulations, purification rituals, etc. The issue couldn’t be settled on a local level, although Paul and Barnabas tried that at first. Hence, they had to go to Jerusalem to consult the apostles. The apostles convened the first synod at Jerusalem and, with the clear leading of the Holy Spirit, decided that the Gentiles need not become Jews first, to be saved as Christians. The decision was momentous for two reasons. First, it marked a significant break of Christianity with Judaism. Second, it put the burden of salvation on God rather than on man. In other words, it is God’s love and His gift to us of Faith in Jesus that save us when we receive it and live it out. Our prayers, sacrifices or keeping of the Law, are only expressions of our gratitude to God, which foster our Faith. We see Saint Paul wrestling with this question, first in Galatians, then, in a more polished way, in Romans.
The second reading, Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23, explained: The Book of Revelation was written to bolster the Faith of the persecuted early Christians. Everything John described via symbols, signs, numbers, etc. has already happened except, of course for the second advent of Jesus in glory John’s vision of a new Jerusalem should be understood as a description of the Church, rooted initially in time and space, but growing and evolving toward an eschatological future. It describes the Church as the Heavenly Jerusalem, a city united in love, with the victorious Jesus residing in it. While the earthly Temple was often thought of as a reflection of the Heavenly Temple, there will be no Temple in the New Jerusalem because the Almighty and the Lamb will be the Temple. They will provide all the light that is necessary, so there will be no need for the sun or the moon. Ancient Jerusalem had long been for the Jews a token of God’s presence with them. God had aided them in capturing and holding it, in making it their capital, in building the Temple there, and in returning to it after their exile in Babylon. Within the holiest chamber of the Jerusalem Temple, they kept the stone tablets of the Law, given by God, in an enthroned chest known as the Ark of the Covenant. God dwelt in a particular way in the space above the ark. This is, in the end, a metaphor for the Church, which is called to reveal to the human race God’s presence among us.
Gospel exegesis: John (Chapter 14) continues to recount Jesus’ farewell discourse after the Last Supper. Today’s Gospel passage explains the doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the human soul, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
1) The abiding presence of God in the human soul: The promise of God’s abiding presence must have been of great comfort to John’s community who knew that the Temple in Jerusalem — the symbol of God’s presence with His people — had been destroyed by the Roman army. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus tells us that the one thing in life which we can always trust is God’s presence. God inhabits our hearts so deeply and intimately that we become the visible dwelling place of God. His living and life-affirming Presence is always with us, yet ‘”hidden” in the very things we so often take for granted. Thus, we are invited to look for and encounter — “God-with-us,” yet “hidden” — in the person sitting next to us, in the words we speak, and in the songs we sing at worship.
2) Condition for the indwelling of the Holy Trinity: Jesus teaches us the condition for this indwelling of the Holy Trinity, namely, we have to show our love of God by keeping his word. And this keeping of his word will be facilitated by the Holy Spirit, God’s Holy Breath.
3) The role of the Holy Spirit is twofold: a) to “teach” the disciples and b) to “remind” them of what Jesus has already taught them” (v. 26). “At work since creation, having previously ‘spoken through the prophets,’ the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them ‘into all the truth’” (CCC #243). Jesus affirms that even though He will no longer be visibly with them, he will continue to be present among them through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of truth will continue teaching them and helping them to understand and to build on what Jesus has already taught them. The Advocate will bring no new revelation because God has already revealed Himself in Jesus. But the Advocate will deepen their understanding of the revelation given by Jesus.
4) Jesus gives his followers four gifts: First, he gives them his love, which will enable them to keep his word. Next, he gives them the Holy Spirit, who will teach them everything they need to know. The Holy Spirit is the abiding love of God available to us, enabling us to accept the friendship of Jesus, while imitating Him, the Master. Third, he gives them His peace to strengthen them against fear in the face of trouble. Here “peace” is not just the absence of conflict, but also the far wider concept of shalom, the total well-being of the person and community. The promise of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will bring a peace that will quell their fears of the unfolding darkness ahead. “In Johannine language, peace, truth, light, life and joy are figurative terms reflecting different facets of the great gift that Jesus has brought from God to the world. ‘Peace is my gift to you,’ is another way of saying, ‘I give them eternal life’ (Jn 10:28) (Raymond E. Brown). The Holy Spirit is available as Comforter and Guide to those who believe in Jesus and follow in his way. The One God — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – is pure Love. This Love, the Triune God, comes and lives in us, takes up residence in us and lives in our body. When God’s love lives in us, and we live in Him, there is much more peace in our families, our Churches, our offices. Fourth, Jesus rewards them with the assurance of his second coming.
Life messages: 1) Let us be aware of the abiding presence of God within us: We live in the New Covenant of Jesus, daily facing uncertainty, conflict, and temptations. It is the abiding presence of God within us that enables us to face the future with undying hope and true Christian courage. The Holy Spirit, sent upon the Church by the Father at the request of the risen Lord, prompts us to turn to His Holy Scriptures for support and encouragement, enables us to learn the Divine truths, and grants us His peace at all times. However, to be able to receive these gifts, it is necessary for us to spend a little time each day in personal prayer, talking to God and listening to Him. We must deepen our relationship with Jesus, learn to get in touch with him, and sincerely love him. When we listen to the Holy Spirit, we will know His plan for our life and His solutions for whatever problems we face. We will be able to love our fellow human beings, and there will be a core of peace within us. The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Scriptures and preaching during the Holy Mass as well as in our prayer and our private reading of Scripture. Jesus loves us and comes to us in Communion. When the Mass is ended, we go forth in the peace of Christ — all this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2) We are not alone: One of the great social and ethical problems of our time is isolation. Today approximately 25% of all adults live alone. Spouses, parents and children often live as virtual strangers to one another. This is unfortunate because we never need to be alone. Jesus can always be present to us. He shares with us his joy and replaces the burden of our guilt with the freedom of forgiveness. He takes our grief and turns it into joy. We need only allow Jesus into our lives to be rid of this loneliness. Oneness with Jesus is the greatest gift we can give our children, our friends, or those who see no purpose in life. We can help to bring people to unity with Jesus, a unity that will change their lives. As we celebrate this Eucharistic meal, our Mass, let us celebrate in a special way the price Jesus paid for our redemption. May this Eucharistic celebration empower us to lead a true Life in the Spirit.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
1) Here is an Irish lyric: “Paddy Murphy went to Mass, never missed a Sunday. But Paddy Murphy went to hell, for what he did on Monday.”
2) Don’t lose your mental peace: The Sunday school children had all been photographed with pastor sitting in their center. The pastor was trying to persuade the children to buy a copy of the group photo. “Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, ‘There’s Jennifer; she’s a lawyer,’ or ‘That’s Michael; he’s a doctor.’ A small voice at the back of the room rang out, “And there’s our pastor; he’s dead.”
3) Peace and Relaxation: Did you know that…..If you can start the day without caffeine, if you can get going without pep pills, if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles, if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, if you can take criticism without resentment, if you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him, if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend, if you can conquer tension without medical help, if you can relax without liquor, if you can sleep without the aid of drugs, …Then you are probably the family dog!
22 Additional anecdotes
1) The ‘Butterfly Effect’ “Today’s real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated. Today no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another. Scientists tell us that the world is so small and interdependent that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon forest can generate a storm on the other side of the earth. The principle is known as the ‘Butterfly Effect.’ Today we realize more than ever, that the world of human activity also has its own ‘Butterfly Effect’ for better or for worse. The classical example is the history-making growth of Christianity in the first century by the Spirit-transformed lives of the apostles and early Christians. (Kofi Annan –“Excerpts from Nobel Prize acceptance speech”) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
2) Two loves in our lives: Jimmy Carter, in his book, Sources of Strength, tells about interviewing Eloy Cruz, an admirable Cuban pastor, who had tremendous rapport with poor immigrants from Puerto Rico. “What is the secret to your success?” asked Carter. Pastor Cruz replied, “Señor Jimmy, we need to have only two loves for our lives, love for God and love for the person who happens to be in front of us at any time.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
3) “You were walking with Mary Susanna Brown, a child of God”: Retired Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was walking down a street one day. A little girl joined him. When the girl started to turn back home, the famed jurist said, “When your mother asks you where you’ve been, tell her you’ve been walking with Oliver Wendell Holmes.” To which the little girl replied confidently, “And when your folks ask you where you’ve been, tell them you were walking with Mary Susanna Brown, a child of God.” There’s a little girl with a healthy sense of who she is! Psychologists tell us that a healthy sense of identity is one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children. We are God’s children and our God is an indwelling God. First, however, we need that gift ourselves. And if we did not receive it from our parents, we will need to look to God. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
4) Head and tail fight of bulldog ants: The philosopher Schopenhauer once compared us to a Bulldog Ant. If we cut a Bulldog Ant in half, the front and rear segments will enter into a savage fight. The head will seize the tail with its teeth, while the tail will sting the head with fury. The fight might last for hours. That is the way some of us are on the inside. There is part of us that wants to move ahead and a part that wants to stand absolutely still. There is a part of us that wants success and recognition. There is another part that wants to sit on the river bank and while away the hours. There is a part of us that wants to serve Christ. There is another part that says, “No, I’ve enough to do right now. Let someone else take their turn.” There is a fierce battle going on within many of us. Few of us know what it is to live lives of contentment and peace. Jesus said to his disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” What a promise! What a gift! Peace of mind and heart. He can give it to us. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
5) Love as Jesus loved: Jesus said, “I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love.” (John 13:9). During World War II, a prisoner escaped from a labor detail in Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. The camp commander announced that if he were not found in 24 hours, 10 of the 600 men in Block 14 would be picked at random to starve to death. Next morning the prisoners were lined up and stood all day in the burning heat of the sun. At 6 pm, 10 were selected at random. One was the father of a family. As they were being marched off, a Franciscan priest among the prisoners, St. Maximilian Kolbe, offered to take his place. The Nazi officer in charge was stunned, but he regained his composure and said, “Accepted.” The priest’s heroic act of love for a fellow prisoner is a faint reflection of Jesus’ love for us–and of the Father’s love for Jesus. Can I recall a time when I went out of my way and offered to help someone in need? The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. (John 15:13). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
6) “Are we shot down?” A commercial airline pilot on one occasion made a particularly bad landing. The wheels of the big jet hit the runway with a jarring thud. Afterward, the airline had a policy, which required that the pilot stand at the door while the passengers exited. He was to give each of them a smile and say, “Thanks for flying with us today.” In light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment, but no one seemed annoyed. Finally everyone had gotten off except for one little old lady walking with a cane. She approached the pilot and asked, “Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?” “Why, no, Ma’am, what is it?” said the pilot bravely. “Did we land,” she asked, “or were we shot down?” — Maybe you’ve had days like that, days when it felt like you were shot down. Even worse, maybe things are going quite well for you, really. Your friends and your family tell you how fortunate you are. But you don’t feel fortunate. In fact, your life is somewhat tortured by a nagging fear that you cannot even define. It is at those moments that God wants us to turn to Him. He is our Peace, always. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
7) “Mommy, are you there?”: I recall the story of a little girl who, when trains were popular transportation, was taking her first train ride with her parents. As night descended, the mother took the girl, who was clearly quite anxious, and placed her on the upper bunk of the sleeper. She told her little one that up there she would be nearer to God and that God would watch over her. As silence enveloped the young lady she became afraid and called softly, “Mommy, are you there?” “Yes dear,” came the response. A little later, in a louder voice, the child called, “Daddy, are you there, too?” “Yes dear,” was the reply. After this had been repeated several times one of the passengers sharing their sleeper car finally lost his patience and shouted loudly, “Yes, we’re all here, your father, your mother, your brother, and all your aunts and cousins; now settle down and go to sleep!” There was a moment of silence and then, in hushed tones a little voice asked, “Mommy, was that God?” Jesus, in offering peace, does not say, “I’m here, the Holy Spirit’s here and God is here, now be at peace!” The peace that Jesus offers cannot be had simply by desiring it. The peace of God is a gift; it can only be received as a by-product of Faith. That’s why the world is largely a stranger to it. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
8) Brendan Behan, an Irish playwright, virtually drank himself to death. His biographer attributes it to an unrelenting sense of guilt. Behan went to England on a mission for the I.R.A. One day he planted a bomb set to go off during rush hour. It exploded as a young woman with her baby was passing by. Both died in the blast! Brendan Behan was overwhelmed with guilt for killing that innocent woman and her baby. And as time went on he increasingly tried to drown his memories and silence his conscience in a bottle, without success! Guilt is a terrible thing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a guide in life a guide that will help us avoid those things that we know are wrong, those things that fill us with regret? Christ has promised us such a guide. That guide is the Holy Spirit. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
9) Loving grandpa and the naughty grandchild: Grandpa walked into the family room and found his little grandson, Jeffy, standing up in his playpen, crying. He looked so pitiful, standing there in his little baseball T-shirt and diaper. His face was red and tear-stained from crying. When Jeffy saw his grandpa, his face lit up in a way that smote the old man’s heart. He immediately reached up his chubby little hands in supplication. “Take me out, Papa, out!” What grandpa could resist such a plea? Not this one! He walked over to the playpen and reached down to lift his little buddy out of captivity and distress. Just then, however, Law and Order stepped into the room. Jeffy’s mother walked out of the kitchen with a dishtowel in her hand and spoke sternly. “No, Jeffy! You are being punished. You have to stay in bed! Leave him right there, Dad.” Oh, fine. Now what’s a grandpa to do? His grandson’s tears and reaching little hands tugged mightily at his heart – but he didn’t want to interfere with a mother’s discipline either. What could he do? Love found a way. Since Grandpa couldn’t take Jeffy out of the playpen, he climbed in with him. “If you’re in the playpen, Buddy, I’m in the playpen. What’s your sentence? How long are you in for?” And finding a big, jolly grandpa suddenly filling his little prison cell, the little boy found comfort even in his captivity. Today’s readings explain God’s indwelling in the Church and in the believers in terms of God’s love for His children. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
10) The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky regarded by many as one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time. His books are classics. The Brothers Karamazov is regarded by many as the greatest novel ever written. His stories all have a similar theme, that our redemption is to be found through suffering, not simply physical suffering, but in the anguish of our selfhood. We become fully human, Dostoyevsky believed, by being tested and being strengthened through it [Pulpit Resource, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Logos Art Productions, Inver Grove, Minnesota) pp. 14-15.] The peace which Jesus gave to the disciples involved very little contentment. They had to endure persecutions, misunderstanding and hardships of every kind. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
11) “But Papa, I love him; he loves me.” In the Broadway play and movie of the same name, Fiddler on the Roof, the chief protagonist is Tevye, a poor Russian Jew struggling to make a life for himself and his family. Economically and politically strapped by the harsh conditions of life prior to and during the Russian Revolution (ca. 1917), Tevye the milkman can hold onto little else except his traditions. However, even these began to crumble when his eldest daughter refuses to acquiesce to an arranged marriage and opts for love amid poverty rather than wealth without love. Further shaken by the marriage of his second daughter to a Russian who favors the revolution, Tevye seems unable to bear anything more. But the final blow comes when his youngest daughter chooses to marry Christian. When Tevye argues with his daughters in favor of the centuries’ old traditions of their people, they counter him on every point with the simple explanation, “But Papa, I love him; he loves me.” Love proved to be a force powerful enough to overcome separatism and the distrust of others and their ways on the grounds that they did not share the same roots, background and beliefs. In Tevye’s family, love began to establish new traditions, though not easily or rapidly. The family which was the early Church also struggled with the tasks of surrendering old ways (as described in the first reading) and of learning and establishing new ones as it grew and developed. Based on love and founded in peace, the Church’s new traditions were inspired, supported and guided by none other than the Holy Spirit. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
12) Conversion: Joshua, a young Jew, fell in love with Mary, a devout Catholic. When Joshua proposed to Mary, she sought counsel from her parents, each of whom advised her differently. “Convert him to Catholicism!” commanded Mary’s dad, but her mum said, “Love him tenderly and God’s Spirit will work wonders!” Mary’s dad wouldn’t give in and ordered her to work hard at converting Joshua to Catholicism. Mary obeyed and Joshua was duly converted. Weeks later Joshua called off the marriage. “What’s up?” asked Mary’s dad. Mary sobbed: “Joshua wants to be a priest!” (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for daily Deeds). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
13) The little mediator, Wee Willie Winkie: John Ford’s superb family action adventure film, Wee Willie Winkie (1937), is loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s popular story from his Tales of British India. The setting of this movie is 19th century British-occupied India. Little Priscilla Williams and her widowed mother travel to India to live with their relative, Colonel Williams. The colonel ruled his British Army base in India with an iron fist making of it an oppressive place. Priscilla is a very curious, precocious child, who gains the nickname of “Private Wee Willie Winkie.” The little girl quickly charms everyone around her, including a tough Scots Sergeant. After a series of adventures, she wins the hearts of everyone by challenging the prejudicial assumptions of both friends and enemies. Her innocent, yet challenging questions are instrumental in helping Colonel Williams and Islamic freedom fighter, Khoda Khan, to see the senselessness of violence. This leads them to a negotiated peace. Today’s Gospel assures us that it is the abiding presence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit within us, with the Risen Lord, which gives us lasting peace. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
14) A New Advocate When the heartbroken Nathaniel Hawthorne went home to tell his wife that he had been a failure and had been fired from his job in a customhouse, she surprised him with an exclamation of joy. “Now,” she said triumphantly, “you can write your book!” “Yes,” replied Nathaniel, “and what shall we live on while I am writing it?” To his amazement, she opened a drawer and pulled out a substantial sum of money. “Where on earth did you get that?” he exclaimed. “I have always known you were a man of genius,” she told him. “I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So every week out of the housekeeping money you gave me I saved a little. So here is enough to last us a whole year!” From her confidence and encouragement came one of the greatest novels of United States literature, The Scarlet Letter. – As a farewell gift Jesus spoke of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate he would give us. On the Divine level, deeper experiences of God do not make Christians immune to human problems and pain, but Jesus showed that his peace can be present even in the midst of insults, persecution, and approaching death. (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen!) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
15) “Padre, padrecito,” he exclaimed, “I knew you would come.” It happened that a missionary priest was visiting his extensive parish, high in the Andes Mountains. The best way to reach certain parts of the parish was on horseback. Once, toward sunset, the priest got disoriented and could not find the way back to his base camp. Rather than risk exposure at such an altitude, he decided to give his horse free rein and hope to find shelter. After a couple of hours of wandering, he saw a welcome sight. In the distance a lamp burned in a hut. This was unusual because the native people went to bed shortly after dark in order to get up at an early hour. When the priest got near the hut, a man ran out, “Padre, padrecito,” he exclaimed, “I knew you would come.” Surprised, the priest asked how he knew that. The man said, “My mother has been praying all day that a priest would come. She is dying.” The priest went inside, heard the woman’s confession, then gave her Holy Anointing and Holy Communion. The woman softly spoke these final words, “Taita Dios heard me.” Taita Dios is not easy to translate. Dios of course means God, but Taita is hard to translate. It is an intimate, affectionate way of addressing one’s father. Taita is like “daddy,” except that a grown-up man could say it with no embarrassment. Taita Dios, my dear Father, has heard me. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that if someone keeps Jesus’ word, “the Father will love him.” He then describes an intimacy impossible for us to imagine. He tells us that he and the Father will dwell within us – by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Phil Bloom). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
16) “I would obey the commandments of God.” When Jimmy Carter was running for President of the United States, one of the more vivid moments in the campaign passed by almost unnoticed. One Sunday morning, candidate Carter had been worshipping at the Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. When the service was over, he exited the church into the swarm of press encamped on the church’s front lawn. Cameras whirring, video lights glaring, microphones thrust forward, the media mavens moved in for interviews, pushing themselves to think of clever questions to ask a presidential candidate on the way out of a Southern Baptist Church. Suddenly, a reporter, probably in a stroke of luck, shouted out a question that genuinely mattered: “Mr. Carter, suppose when you are President, you get into a situation where the laws of the United States are in conflict with what you understand to be the will of God. Which will you follow, the laws of the state or the commandments of God?” Carter stopped, looked up, and blinked into the bright Georgia sun, obviously turning the question over in his mind. Then, perhaps still “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,” perhaps with the Spirit gently whispering the lyrics of the Gospel into his ears, he turned toward the reporter and replied, “I would obey the commandments of God.” Alert aides, alarmed by this candor, unnerved by their candidate’s near-treasonous remark, hurriedly whisked him away from the press and into a waiting car. Carter the politician should have avoided the question, or hewed closely to the law of the land, but Carter the Christian had the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ whispering in his ear, “Do you love me? The world cannot see or know me, but do you love me? Do you keep my commandments?” The reason we need the Holy Spirit murmuring the Gospel in our ears, of course, is that we are notoriously forgetful. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
17) True peace Christ brings us according to St. Francis Assisi: The Little Flowers of St. Francis , composed at the end of the 14th century by a Tuscan is based on Actus beati Francisci et sociorum eius in divided into 53 short chapters. Here is a gripping story told in the book. “Walking one day in the bitter cold with Brother Leo, St Francis began to teach him about perfect joy and perfect peace. He called to Brother Leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him: ‘If we monks were great holy men who edified all those around us, this would not be perfect joy.’ A little further St. Francis called to Brother Leo again: ‘O Brother Leo, if we monks were to make the lame to walk, if we should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if we should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy.’ ….After some two miles of this Brother Leo finally spoke up and said: ‘Father Francis, I pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy.’ Francis then teaches him this: ‘If, when we shall arrive at St Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, “We are two of the brethren,” he should answer angrily, “What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone, I say”; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy. And if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, “Begone, miserable robbers! To the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!” – and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, O Brother Leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy. And if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, “These are but importunate rascals, I will deal with them as they deserve’; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick – if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him, write, O Brother Leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy.”‘” ….I believe that what St Francis was saying to Brother Leo was that the Peace of Christ comes through our acts of obedience especially obedience in times of suffering. We will do well if we remember that true peace is the assurance that one day our Brother Jesus will return to take us back, back to our Father’s house. So, do not let your hearts be troubled neither let them be afraid. Amen. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
18) Peanut in our pocket: It’s like a story that someone tells about a young lady named Sally. Sally was growing up, becoming a woman preparing to go off to college. Her mother had struggled to provide for her education, an especially difficult task since her father had died several years earlier. Her mother made every effort within her power to raise Sally right. Now she would be on her own, an exciting and frightening time. Sally had strong reservations about leaving her mother alone to mind the farm and do the chores. She was also nervous about having to find her own way without her mother’s guidance. As she prepared to meet the bus, bags packed and ready, her mother took her arm and said to her, “You’re gonna see things an’ do things you ain’t never heard of, and you won’t know which way to turn sometimes. You ‘member how you used to tug on my apron string when you wanted something and I’d see to what you was after? You ‘member how when you was too close to the road and I’d holler to you to tell you to get away from there’?” her mother gently reminded her. “Well, I’m gonna be there with you in your heart, but it’ll be up to you to listen to what I told you. I can’t kiss your hurts when you fall down an’ skin your knee or quiet you when the big storms come rollin’ through. But, I’ll be close as a peanut in your pocket when you need me. If you’re afraid, I’ll stand with you. And if you are hurting, you can feel me close, and if you do wrong, I’ll whisper the truth to ya so you won’t do it no more.” The tears came to both their eyes. Her mother opened the dresser drawer and took out a neatly folded handkerchief and placed it in the pocket of Sally’s dress. Upon leaving, Sally felt completely alone. As she fought back the tears, she reached into her dress pocket to take out the handkerchief her mother had placed there. Then she noticed a knot in one corner just like her mother used to tie her milk money in her handkerchief. Upon untying the knot, she found a single peanut. She knew that her dear mother would always be with her in her heart (3. Parables submitted by Ron Alberston). The Good News is that God wants to dwell in our lives. God wants to take up residence in our hearts. God wants to be with us always, as close as a peanut in our pocket. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
19) “Watch Jimmie in chapel:” In his book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Oliver Sacks tells the story of Jimmie, a former sailor, now a patient in a nursing home, whose severe neurological disorder had left him with a profound and permanent amnesia. He simply had no memory of anything from 1945 on. Having no ability to retrieve the past and no ability to construct a meaningful present, Jimmie lacked the continuity that makes for a sense of the self. He was, wrote Sacks, a person who “wore a look of infinite sadness and resignation.” However, when Sacks asked the Sisters who ran the nursing home whether Jimmie had lost his soul, the Sisters were outraged by the question. “Watch Jimmie in chapel,” they said, “and judge for yourself.” So Sacks did watch Jimmie in chapel, and there he observed an astounding transformation. He saw an intensity and steadiness in Jimmie that he had not observed before. As he received the Sacrament, there was “perfect alignment of his spirit with the spirit of the Mass.” There in worship, Jimmie was no longer at the mercy of a faulty and fallible memory. “He was wholly held, absorbed ….” He whose mind was broken was given in worship, “a continuity and unity so seamless it could not permit any break.” Jimmie in his own way is like all of us. In the final analysis, none of us is able to construct a self. We must all be given a story and a continuity not of our own making. Where we have no faithful memory, God remembers, and by the grace of God, the Spirit whispers the lyrics of the saving Gospel in our ears. (The story, from Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, is reported in Craig Dykstra, “Memory and Truth,” Theology Today, XLIV/2, p. 162). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
20) Praying the rosary with the deceased husband: his is a heartwarming story about an Italian couple, members of the Holy Family Institute, founded by Blessed James Alberione. The members of this Pauline Secular Institute are consecrated to God as married couples. Every day, this couple would pray together the Rosary. One day, the husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. They humbly accepted the divine will. Since the husband’s days were numbered, the couple prepared for his departure. They made sure that they would be present to each other even after his death. When the husband passed away, the wife continued to pray their daily rosary by means of the taped voice he left behind. For the loving widow, praying with the taped rosary was a way of experiencing her husband’s “presence”. Their love was deepened by a spiritual “presence” that transcends physical absence. The Italian couple’s experience helps us to understand the Gospel of today about the love of Christ living on in the Church through the power of the Spirit. Jesus Christ, as the glorified Risen Lord, continues to live on, in the here and now of the Church, as a “new” presence. Indeed, today’s Gospel reading (Jn 14: 23-29) is a suitable preparation for the forthcoming feast of the Lord’s Ascension, for it speaks of the love of Christ and his abiding presence through the Holy Spirit. (Lectio Divina). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
21) Playing the played the part of a “paraclete”. Harold Buetow narrates how the wife of the great American author; Nathaniel Hawthorne played the part of a “paraclete”. When the heartbroken Nathaniel Hawthorne went home to tell his wife that he was a failure and had been fired from his job in the customhouse, she surprised him with an exclamation of joy. “Now,” she said triumphantly, “you can write a book!” “Yes,” replied Nathaniel, “and what shall we live on while I’m writing it?” To his amazement, she opened a drawer and pulled out a substantial amount of money. “Where on earth did you get that?” he exclaimed. “I’ve always known you were a man of genius,” she told him. “I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So every week, out of the housekeeping money you gave me, I saved a little. So here is enough to last us for a whole year!” From her confidence and encouragement came one of the greatest novels of United States literature, The Scarlet Letter. The divine Paraclete, sent by the Father in the name of Jesus, not only encourages and gives strength to the disciples. He also teaches them about everything and reminds them of all that Jesus had done and taught. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the “memory of the Church”. (Lectio Divina). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/ )
22) Toddler son to take mom to the Heavenly Jerusalem: The following story about the passing into the heavenly Jerusalem of a remarkable lady illustrates that spiritual realities are mysterious but true (cf. “Mother’s Effort” by Margaret Sitte in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, Jeff Cavins, et. al., West Chester: Ascension Press, 2004, p. 72-72). Although Mother raised two children during the fifties and sixties, there was another child she could never forget. Mark was a beautiful red-headed baby who entered the world prematurely. He struggled to breathe from the beginning. Six hours after his birth, he gasped his last breathe. One of Mother’s greatest regrets was never having held her baby son while he was alive. She was still in the hospital on the day of Mark’s funeral, so my dad carried the little coffin into her hospital room for her to say goodbye. A mother can never forget the love for her child, and so it was with my mother. She got on with her life, but when people asked her how many children she had, she usually answered “three”. So as teenagers, when my brother and I bought her a mother’s ring, we made sure there were three stones surrounding her ruby birthstone; two “diamonds” to represent the April birthdays of her living children and the “aquamarine” for Mark’s March birthday. When my mother was ninety-four, she broke her hip. She stayed in the hospital three weeks, but then returned home, living independently by late April. In early May, she called me one day, her voice full of joy. “Margaret, when I woke up this morning, there was a tall, handsome, red-haired man standing beside my bed”, she said. “I was immediately flooded with peace and joy. I knew instantly it was Mark. He told me, ‘It won’t be long. I will be coming for you.’” She repeated the story to my brother a few weeks later while they visited Mark’s grave at the cemetery on Memorial Day.Mother steadily improved, and I forgot about Mark’s visit. Mother, however, started putting her affairs in order, wanting to sell her rental property, emptying closets, and repeatedly saying she wanted to clean out her house and have a rummage sale. In mid-August, Mother fell and needed hospitalization; in early September she experienced a stroke. When she could not speak, she would often gaze upon the mother’s ring we had given her. On December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, she was humming “Joy to the World” with some carolers as she sat eating supper at 6 p.m. Within the hour, she had passed away.The next day at the funeral home, the funeral director handed me a small black bag containing Mother’s jewelry. As I opened the bag and her mother’s ring fell into my hand, all at once I remembered Mother’s visitor. I realized Mark had come for her. It was a comfort to know she did not leave this world alone. (Lectio Divina). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 29) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit this website: By clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily and https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or in the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text .
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.