EASTER III [B] (April 18) SUNDAY (Eight-minute homily in one page)
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the challenge to adjust our lives to the living presence of the risen Lord as we grow daily more aware of the presence of His Holy Spirit within us and surrounding us. This awareness should strengthen our hope in His promises, bring us to true repentance for our sins and the renewal of our lives, and lead us to bear witness to Christ by our works of charity. The readings also remind us that the purpose of the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Jesus was to save us from our sins.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, gives us Peter’s second sermon addressing the Jewish assembly at the Portico of Solomon in Jerusalem. Peter forcefully shows how the messianic prophecies have been fulfilled in the crucified and risen Jesus and challenges the Jews to repent and turn toward God so that their sins may be wiped away. In the second reading, John answers doubts raised by the heretics of his time, asserting the fundamental Christian doctrine that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice offered as expiation for our sins. Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ appearance on the evening of His Resurrection to his apostles who were in the locked Upper Room, the Cenacle. We see Jesus remove the doubts of his apostles about his Resurrection by inviting them to touch him and by eating a piece of cooked fish. Jesus explains how the prophecies have been fulfilled in him. Then he commissions them to bear witness to him and preach “repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name” after receiving the Holy Spirit.
Life messages: 1) We need to share the apostles’ “Upper Room Experience” in the Holy Mass: The same Jesus who, in the Upper Room, the Cenacle, prepared the disciples for their preaching and witnessing mission, is present with us in the Eucharistic celebration. In the “Liturgy of the Word” of God, Jesus speaks to us. In the “Liturgy of the Eucharist,” Jesus becomes our spiritual food and drink. Thus, today’s Gospel scene is repeated every Sunday on our parish altars. Like the early disciples, we come together to repent of our sins, express our gratitude for blessings received, listen to God’s word, and offer our lives to God along with our petitions and His gifts of consecrated Bread and Wine. We also consume the spiritual food Jesus supplies, thus gaining the strength necessary for sharing Christ’s message with the entire world, mainly by living transparent Christian lives. 2) Jesus needs us as witnesses to continue his mission. Jesus needs Spirit-filled followers to be his eyes, ears, hands, and feet, to bear witness to his love, mercy and forgiveness by our interactions with our brother and sisters. 3) Our daily lives are meant to serve as a means for us to experience and share the risen Lord with others. Just as the disciples experienced the risen Lord in their community, let us learn to recognize the presence of Jesus in our own homes, social service centers, nursing facilities, hospitals, workplaces, and schools. Jesus wants us to be a community which shares and cares, a community which knows how to recognize Jesus in the poor, the marginalized, the sick – that is, in everyone.
EASTER III [B] Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; I Jn, 2:1-5a; Lk 24:35-48 (L/21)
Homily starter anecdotes # 1: The ghost story! There is a true story in Ripley’s Believe It or Not about a judge in Yugoslavia who had an unfortunate accident. He was “electrocuted” when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. She called for help. Friends and neighbors, police–everyone showed up. He was pronounced dead and taken to the funeral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it all over the air. In the middle of the night, the judge regained consciousness. When he realized where he was, he rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. The first thought of the judge was to phone his wife and reassure her, using the funeral home phone. But he got no further than, “Hello darling, it’s me,” when she screamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors, but they all thought it was some sort of a sick prank. He even went so far as to go to the homes of several friends, but they were all sure he was a ghost and slammed the door in his face. Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn’t heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive. — Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had to convince the disciples that he wasn’t a ghost. He had to dispel their doubts and their fears. He showed them his hands and his feet. He invited them to touch him and see that he was real. And he even ate a piece of cooked fish with them — all to prove that he was alive and not a ghost or spirit. He stood there before them, as real and alive as he had been over the past three years. (The Autoillustrator). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
# 2: “What in the world happened to you?” A man showed up at Church with both his ears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked “What in the world happened to you?” The man replied, “I was lying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ball game on TV and my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued to the television, I grabbed for the phone, got the iron and put it to my ear.” “So how did the other ear get burned?” the pastor asked. “Well, I had no more than hung up and the guy called again.” [Bill Tewels, “Overheard at the Country Café,” Country (Oct-Nov 1994), p. 45.] — Here is a man who was focused! He was so caught up in watching the game, he didn’t know what he was doing. In our Gospel lesson for today the disciples of Jesus have lost their focus. They are confused and weary. They need a break. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
# 3: Recognizing Our Sinfulness: It was Monday morning, August 19, 2013, when Fr. Antonio Spadaro, editor of an international Jesuit magazine, approached the Santa Maria guesthouse where Pope Francis lives. He was there for an interview with the recently elected Pope, and found him standing there, with a broad, welcoming smile. He had his first question ready but decided not to use it. Instead, he found himself boldly asking the Holy Father: “Who is Jorge Bergoglio?” For a moment, the Pope stared in silence, though he assured the priest that he was not annoyed with the question. But, he explained, “I do not know what the most fitting description might be …” Then he went on: “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech…. I am a sinner.” After a few further comments, he reaffirmed that the best summary he could give of himself, the one that felt nearest to the truth, was this: “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon. “In the sermon recorded in today’s first reading, St. Peter, the preacher, reminds his hearers that they are all sinners. (Quoted by Fr. Joseph Parekatt).
$ 4: “We’re walking proud!” Each year the Irish National Tourist Board invites marching bands from home and abroad to take part in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade. The band from Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester accepted in 1982. It was the eighth parade trip to Dublin for the “Marching Kings,” and they had won the major Irish awards in 1979. But a win in 1979 did not guarantee a win in 1982. In three years the band membership had changed almost completely, and they were in competition against over eighty international quick-stepping units. Flying to Ireland a bit early, the Kings marched in some smaller parades. At Galway their concert and jazz bands carried off first honors. Judges of the Limerick parade voted them the top school band. These awards were encouraging but second-class. Band Director Ray Shahin would not let his team relax. At Dublin, he warned them he would simply not let them beat themselves. Well, the big parade took place on March 17 on Dublin’s O’Connell Street. Traditional Irish rain mixed with hail didn’t make the high stepping any easier. The Marching Kings did their best, but the prize winners were not to be announced until evening. They all went to an official dancing party tired and tense. Finally, at 8 PM Mr. Shahin came in with the verdict. Color Guard and Twirlers category, first place: Bishop Kearney. Best overseas band category: Bishop Kearney. And finally, over-all best band category: Bishop Kearney. Pandemonium broke loose. The 140 winners sprang to life again, cheering, hugging, weeping. Two days later their schoolmates welcomed them back to Rochester with a banner inscribed “We’re walking proud!” — God permits us all occasional moments of unexpected delight. “Pinch me,” we say, “I think I’m dreaming.” Thrills like these can help us to appreciate the far greater joy of the disciples at Easter. The Jesus whom they had seen hurried off to death stood live again before them. “They were incredulous for sheer joy and wonder.” (Luke 24:41 Today’s Gospel.) -Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
# 5: The “miracle principle”. The great promoter of positive thinking, Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (died, 1993 at 95), believed that one of the most wonderful principles known to man is called the “miracle principle”. Six words describe the principle: Expect a miracle – make miracles happen. According to Peale, if you keep your eyes open expectantly every day for great and wonderful things to happen, great and wonderful things will tend to happen to you. If one expects great things from God, one will receive great things from God. How then, can one go about expecting miracles and causing miracles to happen? According to Rev. Peale, the number one thing is to have a tremendous Faith, a deep Faith – a Faith that is so positively strong that it rises above doubt. He asserts that if we train ourselves to have faith in depth, it will release an astonishing power in our life to produce miracles. –Indeed, there are some people who are figuratively swimming in a sea of troubles. They are so discouraged and dismayed by so many things that it is impossible for them to believe that a life-giving miracle could ever happen in their lives. The disciples of Jesus who were devastated by the event of their Lord’s passion and death were similarly troubled with doubts, fears and despair. An Easter apparition was necessary to assure them of the reality of a stupendous miracle: The Lord’s Resurrection. To the frightened and troubled disciples who were incredulous of the beautiful reality of the “miracle”, the Risen Christ revealed himself anew, opening their minds and hearts, instructing them about the Paschal event of His death and Resurrection, and its implications in their life as Easter witnesses. (Lectio Divina) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is a challenge to our Faith in the living presence of the risen Lord. That Faith should strengthen our Hope in His promises, call us to true repentance for our sins and lead us to bearing witness to Christ by our works of Charity. Does our Faith do that for us? The readings also remind us that the purpose of Jesus’ death and Resurrection was to save us from our sins. Hence, they invite us to make our bearing witness to the risen Lord more effective by repenting of our sins, renewing our lives, and meeting Jesus in the Word of God and at the Eucharistic Table. The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how Peter fulfills the mission of preaching Jesus. In this second sermon, Peter goes on with the preaching mission begun on Pentecost in Jerusalem, and again presents Jesus as the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. He also asks the Jews to “repent” (= think again), and turn toward God so that their sins may be wiped away. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 4) we declare our trust in God, asking, “Lord, let the Light of Your countenance “ – the Risen Jesus –“shine upon us,” and declaring, “You alone, O Lord, bring security to my dwelling” (vv 7, 9). In the second reading, John tells us that true knowledge and love of God consist in acknowledging that Jesus is the expiation for our sins. We make that acknowledgement daily by bearing witness to Him in our lives and by obeying His commandments. Today’s Gospel leads us to reflect on Faith, doubts, and crises. It shows us how Jesus convinced his disciples of his Resurrection and then commissioned them to be his witnesses throughout the world. Jesus prepared them to receive God’s power through the coming descent of the Holy Spirit upon them, and commanded them to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
The first reading: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19, explained: Saint Luke wrote for an audience of cosmopolitan, middle-class Gentile converts, living in a skeptical society, yet committed to a religion with long, historic, Jewish roots. This new religion reached out to all humankind. To tell that story, to ground his audience in their adopted religious heritage, and to keep them focused on the new religion’s mission, Luke needed to show how the story of Jesus continued in His Church in a second book, the Acts of the Apostles. Today’s lesson is taken from the earlier part of the second of five discourses preached by Peter. This forceful address astonished the crowd gathered at the Portico of Solomon in the Jerusalem Temple after a healing miracle. In it, Peter speaks of the Jewish heritage of Christianity, reminding his hearers, and us, of how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sent His Son Jesus as the Messiah to save the world and of how His chosen people rejected their Messiah, manipulating the Romans to execute Jesus. Peter also reports how Jesus was raised from the dead and fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies. This portion of the sermon concludes with the admonition to the Jews, and a reminder to ourselves: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19). Although we were not part of that crowd demanding Jesus’ death, it was our sins that Christ carried to the cross, and it was for those sins that Christ asked the Father’s forgiveness from the cross. Hence, we also need to reform our lives and turn to God with repentant hearts. Since we believe that Christ has forgiven our sins, we must forgive the sins of others.
Second Reading, 1 John 2:1-5, explained: In liturgical year Cycle B, we read from the First Letter of Saint John on the Sundays of Easter. This Letter was addressed to the early Christian community beset with many problems. Some members were advocating false doctrines. These errors are here recognized and rejected. Although their advocates had left the community, the threat they posed remained. They had refused to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who came into the world as a true man. They had been difficult people to deal with, claiming special knowledge of God but disregarding the Divine commandments, particularly that of love of neighbor. Likewise, they had refused to accept Faith in Christ as the source of sanctification. Thus, they denied the redemptive value of Jesus’ death.While neither today’s reading from Luke nor the reading from Acts explains how Jesus’ death and Resurrection frees us from sins, John in his letter provides an explanation, calling Jesus the “expiation for our sins.” This presupposes that the death of Jesus was a sacrifice, like the sacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament (Numbers 5:8). The sacrifice of Jesus makes up for sins, and so offers an opportunity for their forgiveness. Jesus continues to remain our advocate when we encounter the harsh reality of our sins in our lives. Hence, John advises true Christians to approach Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and to lead true Christian lives by obeying his commandments.
Gospel exegesis: The context: This apparition of Jesus took place on Easter evening, after Jesus had appeared to the two disciples of Emmaus who immediately hurriedly back to Jerusalem to report the glad news: they had met Jesus, alive! He had seemed to be stranger who had explained to them the Sacred Scriptures, but when he “broke the bread” they had recognized Jesus. The Emmaus disciples discovered that the apostles were already convinced of the resurrection of Jesus because Simon had seen him as well. While they were discussing these things in the still-locked Upper Room, Jesus appeared in their midst, shocking and terrifying them. Refuting the rumor that Jesus had not actually died on the cross but had been taken down and hidden by his friends, Luke shows that the risen Jesus could now suddenly and wondrously appear in their midst (v. 36).This story was told and retold and recorded by Luke for at least three reasons: (1) Jesus’ death and Resurrection fit God’s purpose as revealed in Scripture; (2) the risen Jesus is present in the breaking of bread; and (3) the risen Jesus is also physically absent from the disciples.
The facts emphasized: 1) The reality of Christ’s Resurrection. By inviting his apostles to look closely at him and touch him, Jesus removed any fear that they were seeing a ghost. He instilled confidence in them that he loved them by greeting them: “Peace be with you.” By eating a piece of broiled fish before their eyes, he convinced them that they were not dreaming or having a mere vision or hallucination. Jesus wanted them to be authentic witnesses to the reality of his life as their risen Lord with his glorified soul and body. “The resurrection community that had experienced Jesus’ dying now experienced his risen presence. And it was, quite insistently, an embodied one. This is a Jesus of sight and sound, of memories and relationships, of love and tenderness. He would take food and allow himself to be touched. Even his wounds could be examined. It was a recognizable and identifiable Jesus, a realization of his bodied existence.” (Fr. John Kavanaugh; Center for Liturgy).
2) The necessity of the cross: Jesus explained that his death on the cross had not been the result of a failed plan. Instead, it was part of God’s eternal plan to show His love for His people by subjecting His Son to a willing, sacrificial, suffering and death.
3) The Resurrection of Jesus gives meaning to the Old Testament prophecies. Bible scholars cite 324 Messianic prophecies scattered throughout the Old Testament, especially in the prophets and in Psalms. Jesus explained to his disciples how these prophecies had been fulfilled in him so that they might become witnesses to their risen Lord in Jerusalem and to all the nations.
4) The commissioning of the disciples with the missionary task of preaching the Good News of salvation through repentance and Faith in Jesus. Jesus told the disciples what they were to preach, namely: a) that the Son of God was crucified and died on the cross as expiation for our sins; b) that he rose from the dead and conquered death; and c) that all people must repent of their sins and obtain forgiveness in his name. In this Gospel passage, Jesus also commanded His disciples to remain in Jerusalem, waiting and praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Life messages: 1) We need to relive the “Upper Room Experience” in the Holy Mass: The same Jesus who, in the Upper Room, prepared his disciples for their preaching and witnessing mission, is present with us in the Eucharistic celebration. He invites us to share in the “Liturgy of the Word” and in “The Liturgy of Eucharist.” In the first part of the Mass, Jesus speaks to us through the “Word of God.” In the second part, He becomes our spiritual food and drink. Thus, today’s Gospel scene is repeated every Sunday on our parish altars. Like the early disciples, we come together to repent of our sins, express our thanks for the blessings we have received, listen to God’s words and offer ourselves to God on the altar along with our gifts of bread and wine. We also share in the spiritual food Jesus supplies, and we are sent to share his message with the entire world.
2) Jesus needs us as witnesses to continue his mission. Witnessing to Jesus is testifying by our lives that the power of the Risen Jesus has touched us and transformed us in the most remarkable way imaginable. Witnessing to Jesus is letting Jesus speak through us to other people. Jesus needs Spirit-filled followers to be his eyes, ears, hands and feet so that we may bear witness to his love, mercy and forgiveness by exercising these gifts in our compassionate loving service of all our brothers and sisters. The Church desperately needs dedicated witnesses: priests, deacons, Brothers, Sisters, parents, teachers, doctors, and nurses – all of us. The essence of bearing witness is to testify by our lives that the power of the risen Jesus has touched and transformed us. In other words, Jesus is to speak to other people through us. In Calcutta, a dying old woman with her head in the lap of St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), looked at her for a long time, and, in a feeble voice, asked: “Are you the God Jesus who loves the poor and the sick?”
3) Our daily lives need to become the means of experiencing and sharing the risen Lord with others. Just as the disciples experienced their risen Lord in their community, let us learn to recognize the presence of Jesus in our own homes, social service centers, nursing facilities, workplaces, hospitals, and schools. These are also the places where we have the opportunity to convey our peace and joy to others.
4) We need to become agents with Jesus in the establishing of the Kingdom in our world: Jesus wants us to be a community which shares and in which everything is shared; a community which knows how to recognize Jesus in the poor, in the marginalized, and in the sick; a community to bring healing into people’s lives; and a community of peacemakers and not makers of division or conflict.
JOKE OF THE WEEK: A man dies and goes to heaven. As St. Peter shows the newly arrived man around the heavenly city, they hear singing coming from a nearby building. When the man asks Peter what’s going on, Peter says, “Ssshh! That’s the [name your least favorite Christian group]. They don’t know the rest of us are here.” (It’s a tired old joke, but it says a lot about Christian disunity).
The Websites of the Week:
1) Roman Missal chants (Recorded music of the revised missal with texts): http://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/roman_missal_chants
3) American Catholic radio: http://www.franciscanradio.org/ACRepisode.asp?EpisodeNum=264
4) Catholic tube: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/CatholicTube
5) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:
6) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://lectiotube.com/
19 Additional anecdotes:
1) A man at the Super Bowl. A man bought the very last seat for the Super Bowl. It was a rotten seat, closer to the blimp than to the field, but early in the first quarter, he noticed an empty seat on the 50-yard line. He scrambled down and somewhat furtively sat in the seat. “Excuse me,” he asked, “is anyone sitting here?”
“No,” said the man on his right.
“That’s incredible. Who in his right mind would pass up a seat like this for the Super Bowl?”
“Well, actually,” said the man, “the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to be here with my dear wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super bowl in twenty years that we haven’t been together.”
“How sad!” said the other fellow. “But couldn’t you find someone to come with you, a relative or a close friend?”
“No,” said the man, “they’re all at her funeral!”
–The widower in the story was missing something in head and heart. Emotional crisis can blur our vision of reality as happened to the apostles in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
2) “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” A train was racing for Paris. In one of its compartments two men sat opposite each other. The first was a young medical research student who was bored by the long journey. The other was an old man reciting his rosary with closed eyes. The young researcher began to ridicule the old man for his superstitious beliefs. He then went on to tell of the wonders of medical science. The old man just nodded, smiled and continued his prayer in spite of the humiliating comments of his fellow passenger. When they reached the Paris station, the old man enquired where the youngster was going. The young man proudly announced that he was going to attend a lecture by the world-famous scientist, Louis Pasteur. The old man took out a visiting card from his pocket, gave it to the young man and bid him farewell. The card read: “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” — Pride and prejudice often blur our vision and occasionally blind us to reality, leading us to wrong judgments as it happened to the apostles in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
3) “We can see your love and loyalty in your hands.” Tolstoy once told a story of a Czar and Czarina who wished to honor the members of their court with a banquet. They sent out invitations and requested that the guests come with the invitations in their hands. When they arrived at the banquet the guests were surprised to discover that the guards did not look at their invitations at all. Instead they examined their hands. The guests wondered about this, but they were also curious to see who the Czar and Czarina would choose as the guest of honor to sit between them at the banquet. They were flabbergasted to see that it was the old scrubwoman who had worked to keep the palace clean for years. The guards, having examined her hands, declared, “You have the proper credentials to be the guest of honor. We can see your love and loyalty in your hands.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the unbelieving disciples: “See my hands and my feet…” They were invited to remove their superstitious doubt that he was a ghost. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
4) Witnessing with power: The grandfather of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber was lame. One day they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. The old man rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how his master did it. From that moment he was cured of his lameness. — When we tell the story of Christ, we achieve two things. We enable others to experience him and we ourselves experience his power even more. We can see that happening in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
5) The Godfather In the early 70s, the Mafia, especially in New York City, was washed up and worn out. Then the movie, The Godfather, came out. More than anything else, it was that movie that brought the Mafia back to life. The Godfather movie energized them and told them who they were. They weren’t thugs. They were just like every other ethnic group: trying to get their piece of the pie, trying to make the dream of the American Promised Land come true. And that was the beginning of their comeback.– This morning, we are like the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion: washed up, worn down, bummed-out creatures. Then Jesus changed everything. It was Jesus’ appearance and assurance that energized them and reminded them of who they were and could be. This morning, Jesus appears to us in his Word, we who are washed up, worn down, bummed-out creatures, energizing us with the mission of who we are and who we can be—if only we “Trust and Obey.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
6) “Run for your lives! Run for your lives!” The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once told a story about a circus that caught fire. The flames from the circus fire spread to the fields surrounding the circus grounds and began to burn toward the village below. The circus master, convinced that the village would be destroyed, and the people killed unless they were warned, asked if there was anybody who could go to the village and warn the people. The clown, dressed in full costume, jumped on a bicycle and sped down the hill to the village below. “Run for your lives! Run for your lives! A fire is coming, and the village is going to burn!” he shouted as he rode up and down the streets of the village. “The village is going to burn! Run for your lives!” Curious, the villagers came out of their houses and shops and stood along the sidewalks. They shouted back to the clown, laughing and applauding his performance. The more desperately the clown shouted, the more the villagers cheered. The village burned to the ground and the loss of life was great because no one took the clown seriously. After all, he was just a clown. [Soren Kierkegaard, Parables of Kierkegaard (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press 1978).] — It’s startling the amount of influence we don’t have when we look like clowns and don’t live like Jesus. And when we don’t live our Faith, we’re startled when our Faith is challenged or when it comes under attack, even though Jesus said this would be normal for Christians who truly lived their Faith. But the most startling thing of all is that this startling Savior, Jesus, still reaches out in startling encounters and changes lives. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
7) Like the story of Luiqi Tarisio who, some years ago was found dead one morning with hardly any creature comforts in his home, except the presence of 246 exquisite violins. He had been collecting them all his life. They were all stored in the attic. The best violins were found in the bottom drawer of an old rickety bureau. The greatest of his collection, a Stradivarius, when it was finally played, had had 147 speechless years. In his very devotion to the violin, he had robbed the world of all that exquisite music. — How many of Christ’s people are like old Tarisio? In our very love of the Church we fail to give the glad tidings to the world; in our zeal for the truth we forget to publish it. When shall we all learn that the Good News needs not just to be cherished, but needs to be told? Don’t bury God’s Good News of Easter at the bottom of a rickety old bureau. Let the people hear the great sound of the music: “He is Risen!” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
8) “I don’t really belong here, I’m simply staying here.” Malcolm Muggeridge died in the fall of 1990. He was a highly intelligent man who served at various times in his life as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor, editor of Punch magazine, and well-known television personality in Great Britain. It was as an adult, rather late in his life, that he finally became a Christian. He wrote of his dilemma as a journalist-turned-believer in his works such Jesus Rediscovered, Christ and the Media, Something Beautiful for God, and his multivolume autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time. The “wasted time” he wrote about were those wasted years before he knew Christ as his Savior. Muggeridge frequently spoke and wrote of “feeling like a stranger” in the world. In an interview a few years before his death, Muggeridge was asked if he would be willing to explain that feeling. His answer is worth repeating: “I’d very gladly do so, because I’ve thought about it often. In the war, when I was in North Africa, I heard some lieutenant colonel first use the phrase ‘displaced person.’ That phrase was very poignant to me, but it’s also a very good definition of a person who’s come to see that life is not about carnal things, or success, but is about eternity rather than time . . . I don’t really belong here, I’m simply staying here.” (Charles Swindoll, Maybe It’s Time to Laugh. Cited by Dicky Love in Parables, etc.) — Have you made that discovery yet? There is no joy in half-hearted Faith. Many of us have just enough religion to make us miserable. But Christ wants to make our lives a miracle. Those early disciples had trouble believing, first for fear, and then for joy, but when they did believe, it turned their lives and their world upside down. The point is that Muggeridge experienced a radical change in his life after he came to the realization that Christ is real and that Christ is alive. But what he discovered much to his amazement was that his new life was so far superior to his old life that he in no way would ever turn back. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
9) “What is the first name of the woman who cleans this building?” A nurse in training went to one of her classes one day. The professor announced that there would be a pop quiz. She breezed through the questions, until she came to the last question. The last question was this: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans this building?” She thought it must be some kind of a joke. Whoever heard of that kind of a question on a test? She had seen the cleaning woman. She could describe her physically, but why should she know her name? She handed in her test, leaving the last question unanswered. She asked the professor, “Are you going to count that last question on the final score?” “Absolutely,” said the professor, “In your careers you are going to meet many people. Each one is significant. Each person deserves your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” —Today’s Gospel reminds us that for the risen Lord, each of his apostles was important. (From Buzz Stevens). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
10) “That’s It!” There is another beautiful love story. It concerns the love of Paul Tournier, one of the world’s most beloved and respected Christian doctors, for his wife Nelly. In one of his books, Tournier describes how he and Nelly were able to talk about death after her first serious bout with coronary thrombosis while they were in Greece. She knew how gravely ill she was and that a second attack could leave her severely handicapped or could even be fatal. Their last month together was a time of intimate sharing. On the last day she said to him, “Perhaps it would have been better if I had died of my heart attack a month ago.” Tournier responded, “And yet my Greek colleagues have done a good job. They saved your life. You are glad of that.” “Yes, of course,” she said, “if I can get back to Geneva and see my children and grandchildren.” She was silent for a moment, and then added, “But if I had died, I should be in Heaven now, and I should be meeting your parents.” Tournier was touched by this. He writes, “You see, she also married my expectation of Heaven!” He replied to her, “Well, when you arrive in Heaven, my parents will thank you for having been the wife that you have been for their son.” It was to be Tournier’s last words to her. A moment later she put her hand on her heart and exclaimed, “That’s it!” He asked, “Are you sure?” She answered “Yes.” And she was in Heaven. [Paul Tournier, A Listening Ear (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984).] — The world simply cannot deal with that kind of expectation. Without the Easter Faith, not only death but life itself is ultimately meaningless. What value is there in love that ends beside a grave? Father Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
11) “They would not use the same rope that had been used by the ‘untouchables.’” Some years ago the papers were full of a story about the death of seventy-eight people in New Delhi, India. There had been a bus accident and, in the bus, had been two castes of Indians. A man tied a rope to a tree, and all eleven “untouchables” climbed out to safety. But seventy-eight Indians died because they would not use the same rope that had been used by the “untouchables.” [George F. Regas, Kiss Yourself and Hug the World (Waco: Word Books, 1987).)] — How outrageous are the claims of the Gospel! The Divine Creator of all that lives and moves and has its being came down to earth and suffered and died to say to us that no one on this earth is untouchable. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
12) “We will raise you up”: The priest (“poojary”) of a small Hindu congregation in a tribal area in India was being proselytized by some energetic Christian missionaries. He listened for a while and then said to them: “Gentlemen, look. I have a proposal that will settle this. I have here a glass of nux vomica, a poison which I use to kill rats. If you will drink this poison and remain alive as your God Jesus Christ promised, I will join your religion – and not only myself, but my entire Hindu congregation. But if you won’t drink the poison, well, then, I can only conclude that you are false ministers of the Gospel you preach because you do not trust that your Lord would not let you perish.” This created a problem for the missionaries. They conferred with each other and said, “What on earth are we going to do?” Finally, they arrived at a plan of action. They came back, approached the Hindu priest and said, “Here is our plan. You drink the poison, and we’ll raise you from the dead by the power of Jesus!” — Our Scripture for this third Sunday of Easter is about believers. But it is also about doubting and wondering and trying to figure things out. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
13) Fresh fish is sold here: To sell fish, a fisherman painted a signboard reading, “Fresh Fish is Sold Here.” To disturb business, his foe said, “You don’t sell stale fish, do you? So, why write ‘fresh’?” Agreeing, the fisherman painted a new signboard with just: “Fish is Sold Here.” Once again, his foe suggested, “Obviously, you’re selling fish here, not there!” Nodding his agreement, the fisherman went back and returned with a new signboard “Fish is Sold.” Now, the foe appeared a third time and said, “Anybody with eyes will see that you’re selling fish, not meat! Wipe off the word ‘fish’! The gullible fisherman was so confused that he wanted to make still another signboard, forgetting that he was selling fish! — If there is something one really believes in beyond doubt, then one must cling to that truth even if people offer advice, suggestions and even threats to change one’s beliefs. I’d imagine predicament of the fisherman in our story as they sought to comprehend Jesus’ life-death-Resurrection, and more importantly, to proclaim Him. Today’s readings help us to trace out their ‘Faith-journey’ from doubt to Faith, from dread to fearlessness. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
14) Same Sermon Repeated: It was his first Sunday in the parish, and the congregation were on full alert to form their initial judgment of their new parish priest. His homily was excellent. This was a great relief to all. The following Sunday the crowds had increased significantly, probably because the good news had gone around during the week. To the surprise of those who were there the previous Sunday, the priest proceeded to give the exact same sermon. They excused this in the belief that there were so many new-comers this morning, which was all very well until the next Sunday, the next Sunday, and, indeed, the following Sunday, the very same sermon! Two or three of the parishioners decided to approach him as diplomatically as possible, to talk to him about how they felt about what was happening. They were extremely diplomatic. “That’s a very good sermon, Father.” “Oh, thank you very much. I’m glad you found it helpful.” “We were just wondering, Father, if you realise that you have given the exact same sermon for the past five Sundays.” “Oh. Yes, I know that,” replied the priest. “Well, Father, without wishing to be offensive, but we have to have an answer for those who sent us in here, do you have any other sermons?” “Oh, of course, I have plenty of other sermons.” “Well Father, you will be going on to one of the other sermons, won’t you?” “Of course, I will,” replied the priest. “When will that be, Father?” “I promise you that I will move to the next sermon— as soon as I see you doing something about the first one!” — If we don’t get the truth of Resurrection, what is the point of any further discussion? (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth! Quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
15) Shattered dream or rebirth of a dream? There was a train driver who drove his train up and down the same line every day. There was this lovely little cottage set in a short distance from the track. Its white walls shone in the sun. In front of it grew the most gorgeous roses he had ever seen. It was like something one imagines exists only in picture postcards. He soon fell in love with it. One afternoon as he was passing he saw a little girl playing on the front lawn. She waved to him as the train swept past. He hooted the horn in response. The same thing happened next afternoon. Thus began an innocent and beautiful friendship between him and the child. Every afternoon she waved to him, and he hooted the horn in response. Sometimes the girl was joined by her mother, and they both waved. It made him very happy, and also made the monotonous journey seem short. Years passed. The child grew up. Only occasionally now was she there to wave to him. Nevertheless, the bond that had been forged over the years was still intact. Then he retired and went to live a distance away. But he could not get the cottage and his two friends out of his mind. So, one day he decided to visit them. When he got there, things were very different from what he had imagined. The walls of the cottage were not nearly as white as he had thought. The roses were not as beautiful as they seemed. But the biggest disappointment of all came when he met the woman and her daughter. They were polite to him when he told them who he was. They led him into a gloomy parlour where they chatted over tea. But he felt out of place. So, he left as soon as he could politely do so. He felt empty. His dream world had dissolved. The friendship which had given so much meaning to his life was shattered.– Is our faith a dream world or the true reality? (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
16) The Four-legged theologian: The sick man seized the doctor’s hand. “I’m so afraid to die. Do tell me doctor, what is waiting for me when I die? What will it be like on the other side?” “I don’t know.” answered the doctor. “You don’t know?” whispered the dying man. Without further reply the doctor opened the door into the corridor. A dog sprang in, jumped up to him and showed in every way his joy at seeing his master again. Then the doctor turned back to the sick man and said: “Did you see how the dog behaved? He has never been in this room before and does not know the people here. But he knew his master was on the other side of the door and so he leapt joyfully in as soon as the door opened. Now look: I don’t know anything exactly about what is waiting for us after death either, but it is enough for me to know that my master the Risen Lord is on the other side. So, when the door opens one day I shall go in with great joy.” (Pierre Lefevre from One Hundred Stories to Change Your Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
17) The wounds of love: There was a man who was very attached to his father, who had been a labourer all his life. When the father died the son was grief-stricken. As he stood quietly gazing down into the coffin in which he was laid out, he was particularly struck by his father’s hands. Even small things can reveal the essence of a person’s life. Later he said: “I will never forget those magnificently weathered old hands. They told the story of a countryman’s life in the eloquent language of wrinkles, veins, old scars and new. My father’s hands always bore some fresh scratch or cut as adornment, the result of his latest tangle with a scrap of wire, a rusted pipe, a stubborn root. In death they did not disappoint even in that small and valuable particular. It is not given to sons to know everything about their fathers, but I have those hands in my memory to supply evidence of the obligations he met, the sweat he gave, the honest deeds he performed. By looking at those hands you could read a better part of the old man’s heart.” — Jesus said to the apostles: ‘Look at my hands and feet … Touch me and see for yourselves…’ He said the same thing to Thomas: ‘See my wounded hands and side. Cease doubting and believe.’ (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
18) Near death experiences and afterlife: In the movie Resurrection, actress Ellen Burstyn stars as Edna Mae McCauley who suffers near-death. As a result of a car crash, Edna Mae apparently dies in a hospital emergency room. After a few moments of frantic effort, the medics succeed in reviving her. During that interval of apparent death, Edna Mae has a mysterious experience of an afterlife. She is transported through a tunnel of light where she meets family and friends who have already died. When she returns to consciousness, she remembers this peaceful experience very vividly, and she is blessed with the power of healing. — The movie Resurrection reflects what researchers like Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross have learned from people who have had similar near-death experiences. Such glimpses of an afterlife do not prove there is a resurrection after we die. They merely hint at its possibility. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
19) “I had lunch with Jesus”: There was once a little boy who always wanted to meet Jesus. One day he was walking home from Sunday school. As he went through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a park bench. She looked lonely and hungry, so he sat down and offered part of the chocolate bar he had been saving. She accepted it with a smile. He gave her more of the candy, and she shared a can of root beer with him. They sat together in a very friendly manner, eating and drinking and smiling at each other. When the boy got up to leave, he reached over the woman and gave her a big hug. He walked home smiling. His mother noticed his big smile and happiness on his face and asked, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” “I had lunch with Jesus. And she has a great smile,” he said. The old woman returned to the small apartment she shared with her sister. She too was smiling. Her sister asked her why she was so happy. “I just had lunch with Jesus. And he is a lot younger than I expected,” she said. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
20) The invisible Gorilla basketball test to prove “selective attention.’’ Imagine you are asked to watch a short video (above) in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At some point, a gorilla strolls into the middle of the action, faces the camera and thumps its chest, and then leaves, spending nine seconds on screen. Would you see the gorilla? Almost everyone has the intuition that the answer is “yes, of course I would.” How could something so obvious go completely unnoticed? But when we did this experiment at Harvard University several years ago, we found that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the gorilla. It was as though the gorilla was invisible. This experiment reveals two things: that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and that we have no idea that we are missing so much. To our surprise, it has become one of the best-known experiments in psychology. It is described in most introductory textbooks and is featured in more than a dozen science museums. It has been used by everyone from preachers and teachers to corporate trainers and terrorist hunters, not to mention characters on the TV show C.S.I., to help explain what we see and what we don’t see. And it got us thinking that many other intuitive beliefs that we have about our own minds might be just as wrong. We wrote The Invisible Gorilla to explore the limits of human intuition and what they mean for ourselves and our world. We hope you read it, and if you do, we would love to hear what you think. (Christopher Chabris and Daniel Somons) https://youtu.be/vJG698U2Mvo. That is what happened to the apostles when the Risen Jesus appeared to them as described in today’s gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
21) Hiding in plain sight: There was a man who had worked at a factory for twenty years. Every night when he left the plant, he would push a wheelbarrow full of straw to the guard at the gate. The guard would look through the straw and find nothing and pass the man through. On the day of his retirement the man came to the guard as usual but without the wheelbarrow. Having become friends over the years, the guard asked him, “Charlie, I’ve seen you walk out of here every night for twenty years. I know you’ve been stealing something. Now that you’re retired, tell me what it is. It’s driving me crazy.” Charlie simply smiled and replied, “Okay, wheelbarrows!” (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/wheel-of-fortune/). Today’s gospel explains how the apostles failed to notice the real opresecense of the Risen Jesus in their midst. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021. L/21
Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No. 27) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A 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 https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604