All posts by Tony Kadavil

May 30- June 4 weekday homilies

May 30- June 4: May 30 Monday: John 16: 29-33: His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. 30 Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.”* 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? 32 Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered* to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 3I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world

Context: Jesus is speaking to his apostles after the Last Supper.

Scripture lessons: In this Last Supper discourse, Jesus explains his Divine origin and his relationship to God his Father in clear terms without using any metaphors. The apostles acknowledge that they understand the Divinity of Jesus. But Jesus prophesies that they will soon desert him and seek their own safety, while he will be arrested, brought to trial and crucified. Our Faith is tested every day when we live in a world filled with agnostics, atheists, and pleasure-seekers who see true believers as superstitious people and hate them. That is why Jesus gave his apostles and all his future disciples the assurance of the anointing of the Holy Spirit Who would strengthen them and guide them. The Second Vatican Council teaches in connection with this passage: “The Lord Jesus who said `Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33), did not by these words promise complete victory to his Church in this world. This sacred Council rejoices that the earth which has been sown with the seed of the Gospel is now bringing forth fruit in many places under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, who is filling the world” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 22).

Life messages: 1) Our Faith is firmly rooted in the Divinity of Jesus demonstrated by his Messianic miracles, most of which were foretold by the prophets. The Resurrection of Jesus is the Miracle of miracles proving Jesus’ Divinity beyond doubt. 2) We need to get our daily infusion of spiritual strength by recognizing the presence of God – the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit — living within us wherever we are, and by communicating with our indwelling God in prayer. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)L/22

May 31 Tuesday: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/visitation-of-the-blessed-virgin-maryLk 1:39-56: Visitation: 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, …45 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: The mystery of the Incarnation comes to ordinary people living ordinary lives, who have the willingness to respond to God’s call and the openness and generosity to do God’s will. Luke, in today’s Gospel, tells us how two seemingly insignificant women met to celebrate the kindness and fidelity of God. In the Gospel, one definition of discipleship is to listen to God’s word and then carry it out. Mary did both, to become the most perfect disciple. The incident also shows us how sensitive Mary was to the needs of Elizabeth, her older cousin, who had miraculously become pregnant in her old age.

Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. There is a saying, “One who is on fire cannot sit on a chair.” Mary, carrying Jesus and filled with the empowering fire of the Holy Spirit, hurried to the mountain country where Elizabeth lived, thereby conveying the Holy Spirit to her cousin and her child. Like all good Jews, Mary was prompted in everything she did by her commitment to God’s word in her life.

The paradox of blessedness. Blessedness confers on a person both the greatest joy and the greatest task in the world. Nowhere can we see the paradox better illustrated than in Mary’s life. Mary was granted the blessedness and privilege of being the mother of the Son of God. Yet, that very blessedness was to be a sword to pierce her heart: one day she would see her Son hanging on a cross. So, to be chosen by God is often both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. God does not choose us to give us a life of ease and comfort, but in order that we may respond to His love by accomplishing His purposes.

Life messages:1) We should recognize the real presence of Emmanuel (God Is with Us) and say “yes” to Him: The Visitation of Mary reminds us that, through his holy ministry, Christ continues to be present among his people. Let us recognize and appreciate the truth that the same Christ “dwells among us” in the Bible, in the Sacraments, in the praying community, and in our souls. 2) We should convey Jesus to others as Mary did to Elizabeth. We can make a real difference in the lives of others today by carrying Jesus to them. For that, we must be filled with the spirit of Christ, allowing his rebirth within us. Then Jesus will enable us to share his love with all whom we encounter, offering them humble and committed service, unconditional forgiveness, and compassionate caring service. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 1 Wednesday:St. Justin, Martyr:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-justin-martyrMay 19 Wednesday: John 17:11-19: 11 And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

In today’s Gospel passage, taken from Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, Jesus prays in particular, for those disciples who are sharing the meal with him. Jesus prayed for the victory, unity, protection, and consecration of his disciples. (i) Jesus prayed that they might find victory by living out their Christianity in the rough-and-tumble of life. The disciples must win the world for Christ by living out their Christianity within the world. They must bear witness to Christ through their transparent Christian lives, reflecting Christ’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and spirit of humble service. (ii) Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples. The world cannot be evangelized by competing Churches, and that is why Jesus prayed that his disciples might be as fully one as He and the Father are One. Christian unity is determined by whether and how well we love one another, and whether we reflect the love of God in Christ for the world. (Eph 4:4–6: … one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call; d5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e6one God and Father of us all, Who is above all and through all and in all).(iii) Jesus prayed for His Father’s protection for his disciples from the attacks of the Evil One. If the disciples of Christ fall, it is because they try to meet life with their own strength alone, and do not remember the presence of their protecting God and seek His help. (iv) Jesus prayed that his disciples might be consecrated in the truth. (a) ‘Consecrate’ means to set apart for a special task (Jer 1:5; Ex 28:41). (b) ‘Consecrate’ also means to equip a man with the qualities of mind, heart, and character which are necessary for that task. God has chosen us and dedicated us for His special service of loving and obeying Him ourselves and bringing others to do the same. He has not left us to carry out that great task with only our own strength, but by His grace He fits us for our task, if we place our lives in His hands.

Life message: 1):We need to understand, appreciate, cooperate with, and pray with and for each other: The denominations are a reality.There is no use in our blaming each other for the historical events which caused these divisions in Christ’s Body. What we can do is to learn sympathetically about the doctrinal similarities and differences among the members of our Christian community and learn to love each one and cooperate with the members of all denominations in all ways possible. 2) Let us pray fervently that God may show us how to proceed in building true and lasting Christian unity without sacrificing the basic Christian principles and teachings. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 2 Thursday: St. Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-marcellinus-and-peterJn 17:20-26 20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. 24 …26Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the concluding part of Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” in his Last Supper discourse. Here, Jesus prays for true unity among his followers who accept him as their Lord and Savior.

Divisions in Christianity: The first major division in Christianity, which took place in the fifth century, was the schism caused when the Eastern Orthodox Churches under the patriarchs separated themselves from the Western Church under the Pope. Next, the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century separated its followers from unity with the Church centered in Rome and freed them from her Authority. During the following five centuries, this separation resulted in the formation of more than 30,000 Protestant denominations. According to Pope St. Paul VI [canonized October 14,
2018 by Pope Francis] “the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which he prayed is indefectibly one in Faith, in worship and in the bond of hierarchical communion” (Creed of the People of God, 21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity: In his prayer for unity among his disciples, Jesus mentions that the basis and criterion of unity must be the Unity of God in His Three Divine Persons among Whom there is eternal, mutual love and Self-giving. The unity of Jesus and his Father is a unity of love and obedience and a unity of personal relationship. Another reason for Christian unity is the union of the faithful with Jesus Christ in His Mystical Body by Baptism, and through Him with the Father (verse 23). This means that the fullness of Unity is attained through the supernatural grace, which comes to us from the Father through Christ (cf. Jn 15:5). Jesus declares that unity among the believers is essential if the world is to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, because the disunity among Christians acts as the biggest block for evangelization, as it offers living, constant counter-witness to the Good News of Redemption.

Life messages: 1) Since Jesus Christ himself left us his final wish for unity through his prayer to the Father: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (Jn 17:21), it is our duty to pray and work for meaningful unity among Christians. 2) Let us learn to appreciate each other’s common beliefs and enter into genuine dialogue and cooperation with members of other Christian denominations, instead of accusing each other of heresy. We need to remember that the present non-Catholic Christians are not responsible for the historical events and actions from which the various denominations originated in the past. . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 3 Friday: St. Charles Lwanga and companions, Martyrs:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-charles-lwanga-and-companionsJohn 21:15-19:15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would;..19 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: This is a post-Resurrection apparition scene. After miraculously providing breakfast for his apostles who had been fishing all night, Jesus conferred on Peter the Primacy in his Church, which Jesus had promised as a reward for Peter’s profession of Faith (Mt 16:16-19).

The triple question: As if to give him a triple chance to atone for his triple denial, Jesus asks Peter, three times, "Simon, son of John, do you love me (agápe love) more than these?" Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than he loves his boat and fishing equipment, occupation, family, and friends. Jesus is also asking whether Peter loves him more than the other Apostles do. Instead of boasting of his own fidelity, strength, and greater love, as he had done before his triple denial of the Master, Peter humbly puts everything in Christ's hands. “Lord, You know well that I love (philia love=love of a friend) You."
The dual reward: 1) Primacy of jurisdiction over the Church was formally defined by the First Vatican Council (Vatican I) in the First Dogmatic Constitution “On the Church of Christ,” (Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1) declaring, "We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ our Lord. [...] And it was upon Simon Peter alone, that Jesus, after his Resurrection, bestowed the jurisdiction of chief pastor and ruler over all his fold in the words: ‘Feed My lambs; feed My sheep (Jn 21:15-17).’” 2) Peter was also given the promise of a martyr’s death because real love involves responsibility as well as sacrifice. According to Tradition, St. Peter followed his Master to the point of dying by crucifixion -- head downwards, because he felt unworthy to die as Jesus had done. This happened during Nero's persecution of the Christians, which took place between the years 64 and 68 in Rome. 

Life messages: 1) We need to pray for the Pope, the successor of Peter, and for the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and to support them in their ministry. 2) Jesus is a God of second chances Who gives chance after chance to sinners to return to his love, as is made clear by Jesus’ conferring primacy in his Church on he repentant Peter. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 4 Saturday:Jn 21:20-25: 20 Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” 23 The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

Context: Today’s Gospel passage describes the role of Peter as the chief shepherd of Christ’s people and of John as a long-lived witness to Christ in the early Church. The last part of the passage was intended to correct the false notion in the early Church that John would not die until the much-expected, imminent “second coming” of Jesus.

Jesus’ reply: Jesus’ response implies that what is important is not to be curious about what the future will bring but to serve the Lord faithfully each day, keeping to the way He has marked out for one.

John’s testimony about his Gospel: The passage concludes with John’s testimony about the truth of the content of his Gospel. It also explains the purpose of John’s Gospel: to strengthen our Faith in what Jesus did and taught. In addition, it tells us that the written Gospels contain only a fraction of what Jesus taught and did, implying that we have to depend upon the Sacred Tradition of the early Church handed down to us by the early Fathers of the Church to complete the truth of the written testimony.

Life messages: 1) Just as Peter and John each had his unique role in Christ’s Church, so each believer, as a member of this Mystical Body of Christ, each of us with our different talents, strengths, weaknesses, and limits, has one’s own particular work to do in bringing the task of the Body – to bring the world to Christ and Christ to the world – to its completion. Hence it is our duty to bear witness to Christ by surrendering our lives to Christ on the altar of service for the people of God and by offering ourselves as humble instruments in the hands of Christ. . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Pentecost Sunday homily (June 5)

Easter IV to Pentecost uploaded: Pentecost [June 5) Sunday (8-minute homily in one page) 

Pentecost literally means 50th. It is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover feast by the Jews and a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the feast of the Resurrection of Jesusby Christians. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving feast. Later, the Jews included in it the remembrance of God’s Covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai

The event: On the day of Pentecost: 1) The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary as tongues of fire. 2) The frightened apostles were transformed into fiery preachers and evangelizers and were given the gift of tongues by a special anointing of the Holy Spirit. 3) The listeners experienced a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through the apostles’ gift of tongues: they heard Peter speaking in their native languages. 4) The early Christians became powerful witnesses and brave martyrs for their Faith in Jesus.

The role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life: 1) As an indwelling God, the Holy Spirit makes us His Living Temples (I Cor 3:16). 2) As a strengthening God, He strengthens us in our fight against temptations and in our mission of bearing witness to Christ by our transparent Christian lives. 3) As a sanctifying God, He makes us holy through the Sacraments: a) Through Baptism He makes us children of God and heirs of Heaven. b) Through Confirmation, He makes us temples of God, warriors, and defenders of the Faith. c) Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, He enables us to be reconciled with God by pardoning our sins. d) Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, He gives us spiritual nourishment by changing bread and wine into Jesus’ Body, Blood Soul, and Divinity, through Epiclesis. e) Through the Sacraments of the priesthood (Ordination) and matrimony (Marriage), He makes the Church community holy. 4) As a teaching and guiding God, He clarifies and constantly reminds us of Christ’s teachings and guides the Magisterium of the Church in presenting Christ’s teachings correctly. 5) As a listening and speaking God, He listens to our prayers, enables us to pray, and speaks to us, mainly through the Bible. 6) As a Giver of gifts, He gives us His gifts, fruits, and charisms, thus enriching the Church.

Life messages: We need to permit the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives: 1) by constantly remembering His holy presence and behaving well; 2) by praying for His daily anointing so that we may fight against our temptations and control our evil tendencies, evil habits and addictions; 3) by asking His daily assistance to pray, listening to God through meditative Bible reading, and talking to Him by personal, family and liturgical prayers; and 4) byasking the help of the Holy Spirit to do good for others and to be reconciled with God and others every day.

Pentecost (June 5) Acts 2:1-11; I Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23 (or Jn 14:15-16, 23b-26)

Homily starter anecdotes:

1) “Well, Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore.” It happened in Galveston, TX. A woman was cleaning the bottom of the cage of her parrot Chippie with the canister vacuum cleaner. She was not using an attachment on the tube. When the telephone rang, she turned her head to pick it up, continuing to vacuum the cage as she said, “Hello,” into the phone. Then she heard the horrible noise of Chippie being sucked into the vacuum. Immediately she put down the phone, ripped open the vacuum bag, and found Chippie in there, stunned but still alive. Since the bird was covered with dust and dirt, she grabbed it, ran it into the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held the bird under the water to clean it off. When she finished that, she saw the hair dryer on the bathroom sink. She turned it on and held the bird in front of the blast of hot air to dry him off. A few weeks later, a reporter from the newspaper that originally published the story went out to the house to ask the woman, “How’s Chippie doing now?” She said, “He just sort of sits and stares.” — Today’s Gospel tells us that was what happened to the apostles. They all were traumatized by the arrest and crucifixion of their master and bewildered by his post-Resurrection appearances and his command to prepare for the coming of his Holy Spirit. Many of us can identify with Chippie and the apostles. Life has sucked us up, thrown cold water on us, and blown us away. Somewhere in the trauma, we have lost our song. Hence, we, too, need the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit to keep us singing songs of Christian witnessing through agápe love. http://www.biblestudyresources.com/devotionals/jesus/he_keeps_me_singing.htm

2)  Treasure within: An old beggar lay on his deathbed. His last words were to his young son who had been his constant companion during his begging trips. “Dear son,” he said, “I have nothing to give you except a cotton bag and a dirty bronze bowl which I got in my younger days from the junk yard of a rich lady.” After his father’s death, the boy continued begging, using the bowl his father had given him. One day a gold merchant dropped a coin in the boy’s bowl and he was surprised to hear a familiar ring. “Let me check your bowl,” the merchant said. To his great surprise, he found that the beggar’s bowl was made of pure gold. “My dear young man,” he said, “why do you waste your time begging? You are a rich man. That bowl of yours is worth at least thirty thousand dollars.” — We Christians are often like this beggar boy who failed to recognize and appreciate the value of his bowl. We fail to appreciate the infinite worth of the Holy Spirit living within each of us, sharing His gifts and fruits and charisms with us. On this major feast day, we are invited to experience and appreciate the transforming, sanctifying, and strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit within us. This is also a day for us to renew our promises made to God during our Baptism and Confirmation, to profess our Faith, and to practice it.

 3) “Lower your bucket– taste and see”: More than a century ago, a great sailing ship was stranded off the coast of South America. Day after day the ship lay there in the still waters with not a hint of a breeze. The captain was desperate; the crew was dying of thirst. And then, on the far horizon, a steamship appeared, headed directly toward them. As it drew near, the captain called out, “We need water! Give us water!” The steamship replied, “Lower your buckets where you are.” The captain was furious at this cavalier response but called out again, “Please, give us water.” But the steamer gave the same reply, “Lower your buckets where you are!” And with that they steamed away! The captain was beside himself with anger and despair, and he went below. But a little later, when no one was looking, a yeoman lowered a bucket into the sea and then tasted what he brought up: It was perfectly sweet, fresh water! For you see, the ship was just out of sight of the mouth of the Amazon. And for all those days they had been sitting right on top of all the fresh water they needed! — What we are really seeking is already inside us, waiting to be discovered, waiting to be embraced: the Holy Spirit of God Who has been living within us from the moment of our Baptism. The Holy Spirit is saying to us at this very moment from deep in our heart, “Lower your buckets where you are. Taste and see!” Come, Holy Spirit! Fill our hearts and set us on fire! Amen.

# 4: Babel Tower of confusion and the Pentecost Spirit of unity: The people used language to promote a human agenda (Gen 11:3-4). So, God confused tongues into many different languages (Gen 11:7). The result was disunity (Gen 11:6-7). At the Tower of Babel, God scattered the human family across the face of the earth in judgment (Gen 11:9). But on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit used language to announce the mighty works of God (Acts 2:14-41). Thus the Holy Spirit caused people speaking many different languages to understand one Gospel message (Acts 2:5-11). The result was unity (Acts 2:41). Pentecost was the beginning of the reunification of the human family as God sent men and women to gather into the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ redeemed people from across the face of the earth (Acts 1:8; 2:37-41). (Rev. Michal E. Hunt) & https://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/05/pentecost-babel-and-the-ecumenical-imperative/

Introduction: The Jewish Pentecost: Both the Jews and the Christians now celebrate Pentecost. Along with the Feast of the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost was one of the major feasts of the Jews. During these three great Jewish festivals, every male Jew living within twenty miles of Jerusalem was legally bound to go to Jerusalem to participate in the feast. The word Pentecost is Greek for pentecostes which means “fiftieth.” The feast received this name because it was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of the Passover. Another name for the Jewish Pentecost is Shebuot or “The Feast of Weeks“ (the “week” of seven Sabbaths between Passover and Pentecost). It was originally a day of thanksgiving for the completion of the harvest. During Passover, the first omer (a Hebrew measure of about a bushel), of barley was offered to God. At Pentecost, two loaves of bread were offered in gratitude for the harvest. Later, the Jews added to the Feast of Pentecost the element of Yahweh’s Covenant with Noah, which took place fifty days after the great deluge. Still later, they made this feast an occasion to thank God for His Sinaitic Covenant with Moses, which occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt.

The Christian Pentecost: Pentecost marks the end and the goal of the Easter season. For Christians, it is a memorial of the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Virgin Mary in the form of fiery tongues, an event that took place fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus. The Paschal Mystery — the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of Jesus — culminates in the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father (at the request of His Son), on Jesus’ disciples. The feast also commemorates the official inauguration of the Christian Church through the apostolic preaching of St. Peter, which resulted in the conversion of 3000 Jews to the Christian Faith. Pentecost is, thus, the official birthday of the Church. But years ago, This Rock Magazine reported that there were 34,000 Protestant denominations which means that, on the average, more than sixty-nine new denominations had sprung up every year since the Reformation began in 1517. So whose birthday is it anyway? We say Pentecost is the birthday of the Church Jesus established nearly 2,000 years ago. — Today’s Scripture readings remind us that Pentecost is an event of both the past and the present. The main theme of today’s readings is that the gift of the Holy Spirit is something to be shared with others. In other words, the readings remind us that the gift of the Holy Spirit moves its recipients to action and inspires them to share this gift with others.

The first reading (Acts 2:1-11):The selection from Acts for today describes in detail the miraculous transformation that took place during the first Pentecost, thus fulfilling Jesus’ promise to his apostles that they would receive “Power from on high.” There was first “a noise like a strong driving wind.” Then there were “tongues as of fire” resting on the disciples, and each of them was filled with the Holy Spirit. The first manifestation of their reception of the Holy Spirit came immediately, as the formerly timid, frightened apostles burst out of doors and began to proclaim the Good News of Jesus! Then, everyone there (regardless of their many different native languages), was able to understand the Apostles’ proclamation of the Good News of the salvation of mankind, “in his own tongue.” The Jews in the crowds came from sixteen different geographical regions. The miracle of tongues on Pentecost thus reverses the confusion of tongues wrought by God at the Tower of Babel, as described in Genesis 11. Later, the Acts of the Apostles describes how the Holy Spirit empowered the early Christians to bear witness to Christ by their sharing love and strong Faith. This “anointing by the Holy Spirit” also strengthened the early Christian martyrs during the period of brutal persecution that followed, as it has done through the centuries and as it does today for the thousands of Christians presently under attack for their Faith who hold fast to it, drawing on the Power of the Holy Spirit as they live and as they die.

In theRefrain for the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 104),we pray, “Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth,” asking God for a “fresh anointing” of the Spirit for all of us.

In the second reading (I Cor 12:3-7, 12-13), St. Paul explains how the sharing of the various spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit enriches the Church. He refers to the varieties of gifts given to the Church as coming from the same Spirit Who activates all of them in Christians for the common good. They are described as the gifts, fruits, and charismsof the Spirit. They may take different forms like prophecy, teaching, administration, acts of charity, healing, and speaking in tongues; they may be granted to and reside in different persons like apostles, prophets, teachers, healers , and so on. Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in his Letter to the Galatians: “What the Spirit brings is … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (5:22-23a). He continues, “Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit” (5:25). Paul insists that thesespiritual gifts are to be used in the present time for the benefit of others, for the common good, and for the building up of the Body of Christ.

In today’s Sequence, the Church repeats her payer of invitation to the Holy Spirit (Veni Creator Spiritus), asking Him to come to us all now and detailing the effects His presence and His gifts will have on all of us, if we choose to receive them.

Today’s Gospel relates how the Risen Jesus gave his apostles a foretaste of Pentecost on the evening of Easter Sunday by appearing to them, sending them to carry on the mission given to Jesus by his Heavenly Father, then empowering them to do so by breathing upon them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” On the day of Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send the Advocate or Paraclete. The gift of the Spirit would enable the Apostles to fulfill Jesus’ commission to preach the Gospel to all nations. Today’s Gospel passage also tells us how Jesus gave to the Apostles the power and authority to forgive sins. “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (Jn 20:23). These wonderful words, which bind together inseparably the presence of the Holy Spirit with the gift of forgiveness, are referred to directly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But they have a much wider meaning. Those words remind us of the Christian vocation we all have, to love and forgive as we have been loved and forgiven in the world of today, which is often fiercely judgmental and vengeful.

Exegetical notes: Role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and of the Church: How beautiful is the thought that the Holy Spirit lives within us! Saint Paul reminds the Corinthian community of this fact when he asks, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16). It is the Holy Spirit who develops our intimacy with God. “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba! (Father!’)”(Gal 4:6). “God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (I Cor 12:3). Moreover, we know that it is the Holy Spirit Who teaches us to pray (Rom 8:26). By the power of the Spirit, we also know the Lord Jesus through His Church. Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of the Church, for it was the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and Mary that brought the Church into full active life on earth, and is the Holy Spirit Who still enlivens, enlightens, guides, and sanctifies the Church; the Holy Spirit will continue to do these things and more until the end of the world, the Judgment of all humanity, and the presentation by the Father of the Purified Church, the “Bride of the Lamb” to Jesus, His Son and our Lord. The Psalm refrain for this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 104) says it so well: Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” We know Jesus through the Sacramental Mysteries of the Church, and Holy Spirit is at the heart of the Sacramental life of the Church. Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders are the Sacramental Mysteries through which people receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. It would be impossible for us to receive Jesus in the Eucharist without the descent of the Holy Spirit at the Epiclesis of the Divine Liturgy. Even the forgiveness of sins comes through the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:21-23). The Holy Spirit both confirmed the apostles in Holy Orders as priests and empowered them to forgive sins by His Power, a work which He continues today in each of our priests.

The action of the Holy Spirit in the daily lives of Christians: The Spirit is that Paraclete (a Greek word that is translated Counselor, Comforter, Helper, Encourager, or Enabler), Who quietly works in us and through us every day behind the scenes in the basic activities of our lives and the lives of the people around us. He is there in all His fullness wherever people worship and pray in the Name of Jesus. When we believe and trust in Jesus, we have that Faith through the Holy Spirit’s work in us, filling us with Himself and His Gifts. The Holy Spirit leads us to turn away from our self-worship and sinfulness and reassures us that we are still loved in spite of our sin, and that Jesus died on a cross just to remedy the effects of those moments when we rebel against God’s Way. It is the Holy Spirit Who confronts us and urges us to take a good look at ourselves and where we are heading, to make a U-turn, to leave the old behind and to try something new. The Holy Spirit is not afraid to challenge us and stretch us to go and do things for Christ – things we have never done before or ever imagined ourselves doing. He’s the One Who says to us, “Stop being so self-focused. Stop looking into yourself all the time and being depressed by what you see or fooling yourself into thinking that what you see in yourself is enough to get you through! Look up, look away, look to Jesus and let Him turn your around; let Him take control!” “The feast of Pentecost celebrates the unseen, Immeasurable Presence of God in our lives and in our Church – the Ruah Who animates us to do the work of the Gospel of the Risen One, the Ruah Who makes God’s will our will, the Ruah Who IS God living in us and transforming us so that we may bring His life and love to our broken world. God “breathes” His Spirit into our souls that we may live in His life and love; God ignites the “fire” of His Spirit within our hearts and minds that we may seek God in all things in order to realize the coming of His reign.” (Connections). Through Baptism and Confirmation, and in the presence of the believing community gathered in prayer, we are “indelibly sealed” and “empowered” by the Holy Spirit, who now dwells within us (CCC #698).

The Holy Spirit, the Helper is quietly at work everywhere in our lives. We meet Him: in the sincere concern of a friend for our health; in the generosity of those who give us so much help; in the inner strength we discover in times of crisis; in those moments when we admit that we have been wrong; in the making of a tough choice; in the resilience of people who face one bad thing after another; in times when we have dared to love even though it was hard to do so. The Holy Spirit, the Helper, is quietly at work. We find Him: in our taking on responsibilities that we once thought beyond us; in our refusing to let the greed of society take over our soul; in our giving thanks always, even though times have been hard; in our rising above past failures and putting past hurts behind us; in our finding the Central Core of Peace in the midst of turmoil; in an adult patiently teaching a child self-esteem and self-control; in the person sitting quietly beside a hospital bed; in a parent praying for a troubled son or daughter. The Spirit calls us to repent, that is, to turn our lives around. We hear Him as He calls us to Faith and invites us, again, to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. Whenever we look to the Holy Spirit, He is within us as our Helper, always assisting us to be what God made us to be. The Holy Spirit helps us to be truly great by becoming servants to one another. Likewise, the Spirit deepens our awareness of Jesus loving us as He lives in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit Who gathers us around the cross of Jesus; Who changes our lives, helping us to be more patient and forgiving; Who enables us to seek new beginnings in our relationships with one another; Who urges us to let the power of God’s love have the final say over the conflicts and difficulties we get into. He is available to us every moment of every day as we face the choices between remaining self-centered or becoming the God-cantered people, the Spirit is calling us to become in Christ.

Life messages:  1) We need to permit the Holy Spirit to direct our lives:  a) by constantly remembering and appreciating His Holy Presence within us, especially in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation;  b) by fortifying ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit against all types of temptations;  c) by seeking the assistance of the Holy Spirit in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and in the breaking of our evil habits, substituting for them habits of Goodness and Love;  d) by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the Bible and through the good counsel of others; e) by fervently praying for the gifts, fruits, and charisms of the Holy Spirit; f) by renewing our lives through the anointing of the Holy Spirit; and g) by living our lives in the Holy Spirit as lives of commitment, of sacrifice, and of joy.  We are called to love as Jesus loved, not counting the cost. As Saint Paul exhorts us, “Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16, 25). 

2) We need to cultivate the spirit of forgiveness.  The feast of Pentecost offers us the chance to look at the role which forgiveness should play in our dealings with others.  Thus, we are challenged to examine our sense of compassion, patience, tolerance, and magnanimity.  Learning to forgive is a lifelong task, but the Holy Spirit is with us to make us agents of forgiveness.  If we are prepared on this day of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit into our lives, we can have confidence that our lives will be marked by the Spirit of forgiveness.

3) We need to observe Pentecost every day.  “It will always be Pentecost in the Church,” affirmed Saint Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, on Pentecost Sunday 1978, “provided the Church lets the beauty of the Holy Spirit shine forth from her countenance.  When the Church ceases to let her strength rest on the Power from above which Christ promised her and which He gave her on that day, and when the Church leans rather on the weak forces of the power or wealth of this earth, then the Church ceases to be newsworthy.  The Church will be fair to see, perennially young, attractive in every age, as long as she is faithful to the Spirit Who floods her, and she reflects that Spirit through her communities, through her pastors, through her very life” [The Violence of Love, (Farmington, PA: The Plough Pub. Co.,  1998).] [Archbishop Oscar Romero was beatified May 23, 2015 by Pope Francis who canonized him October 14, 2018, the same day he canonized Pope Paul VI] Archbishop Romero’s declaration reminds us — as does today’s Gospel — that Pentecost is not just one day, but every day.  Without breath, there is no life.  Without the Spirit, the Church is a field of dry, dead bones. The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen once said about the Church, “Even though we are God’s chosen people, we often behave more like God’s frozen people–frozen in our prayer life, frozen in the way we relate with one another, frozen in the way we celebrate our Faith.” [Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in June, 2012.] Today is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle in us the spirit of new life and enthusiasm, the fire of God’s love.  Let us repeat Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman’s favorite little prayer, “Come Holy Spirit:

“Come Holy Spirit
Make our ears to hear
Make our eyes to see
Make our mouths to speak
Make our hearts to seek
Make our hands to reach out
And touch the world with your love.  AMEN.” 
 

[Cardinal Newman was beatified September 19, 2010 by Pope St. John Paul II; he was canonized October 13, 2019 by Pope Francis]

4) We need to be Spirit-filled Christians: Spirit-filled people acknowledge their weaknesses, ask for the strengthening, anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit every morning, ask for His forgiveness every evening, and pass on that forgiveness to those who sin against them. Spirit-filled people are praying people. Paul encourages us, “Pray on every occasion as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray for all God’s people” (Eph 6:18). Spirit-filled people are praying and worshipping God in their families and parishes. They try to grow continually in their Faith, and they seek out every opportunity to discover Christ and what it means to be children of God. Spirit-filled people are people who allow the Spirit to change their lives through their daily reading of the Bible and their frequenting of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.  Spirit-filled people speak words that heal, restore, make people happy and build people up, instead of tearing them down. Spirit-filled people pass on the love of God to the people living around them by their acts of kindness, mercy and charity. Hence, let us ask the Holy Spirit for a spirit of love instead of hate, a spirit of helpfulness instead of non-cooperation, a spirit of generosity instead of greed, and a spirit of gentleness in place of our spirit of ruthlessness.

Joke of the week: 1) The seven gifts in day-to-day life:

  1. a) The gift of wisdom: 1) Four-year-old Amanda was taken to the doctor’s office with a fever. The doctor looked in her ears and asked, “Who’s in there?  Donald Duck?” She said, “No.”  He looked in her open mouth, “Who’s in there?  Mickey Mouse?” Again, she said, “No.”  He put his stethoscope on her heart and asked, “Who’s in there?  Barney?” Amanda replied, “No, Jesus is in my heart.  Barney is in the pocket of my underwear.”

2) There is an old joke about a man who asked his pastor whether it was okay to smoke while he prayed. His pastor said, “Absolutely not! When you pray, you should be completely devoted to prayer!” So the man went to another priest, but he changed his question, “Would it be okay to pray while I smoke?” “Yes, of course” was the answer.

3) Several years ago in Germany, while giving the Sacrament of Confirmation, a bishop was questioning the children who were about to be confirmed: “Who can administer the sacrament of confirmation?” he asked. A young girl answered: “Any bishop, once he’s attained the age of reason!”

  1. b) The gift of understanding: 1) A kindergarten teacher was observing her the children in her classroom while they drew pictures.  She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s artwork.  As she came to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing the girl replied, “They will in a minute.” 

2) “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the Church, would that get me into Heaven?” I asked the children in my Sunday School class. “NO!” the children all answered. “If I cleaned the  Church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?” Again, the answer was, “NO!” “Well, then, if I were kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my wife, would that get me into Heaven?” I asked them again. Again, they all answered, “NO!” “Well,” I continued, “then how can I get into Heaven?” A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!”

  1. c) The gift of counsel:Just after receiving his driver’s license, a Lutheran minister’s son wanted to talk about using the family car.  “I’ll make a deal with you,” his father said.  “Bring your grades up, read your Bible more often, and get a haircut.  Then you may use the car once or twice a week.”  A month later the question came up again.  “Son,” the father said, “I’m proud of you.  I see you studying hard and reading your Bible every day.  But you didn’t get a haircut.”  After a moment’s pause, the son replied, “Yeah, I’ve thought about that.  But Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair.”  “True,” the father replied, “but maybe you noticed that they walked wherever they went?”
  2. d) The gift of fortitude:  A mother refused to permit her little boy to go for a picnic with his classmates.  On the day of the picnic, however, she changed her mind and gave him permission.  But he sighed and confessed, “It’s too late Mummy, I’ve already prayed for rain on the school picnic day!”
  3. e) The gift of knowledge: 1) The story is told of a man who went to the priest and said, “Father, I want you to say a Mass for my dog.” The priest was indignant. “What do you mean, say a Mass for your dog?” “It’s my pet dog,” said the man. “I loved that dog and I’d like you to offer a Mass for him.” “We don’t offer Masses for dogs here,” the priest said.  “You might try the denomination down the street.  Ask them if they have a service for you.” As the man was leaving, he said to the priest, “I really loved that dog.  I was planning to give a five-thousand-dollar stipend for the Mass.” And the priest said, “Wait a minute!  Why didn’t tell me that your dog was Catholic?!”

2) A little boy wanted $100 badly and prayed for two weeks, but nothing happened. Then he decided to write a letter to the Lord requesting the $100. When the postal authorities received the letter addressed to the Lord, USA, they decided to send it to the White House so the President could have a look at it. The President was so impressed, touched, and amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $5.00 bill, as this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy. The little boy was delighted with the $5.00, and sat down to write a thank-you note to the Lord. He wrote: “Dear Lord, Thank You very much for sending me the money. However, I noticed that for some reason You had to send it through Washington, DC, and those jerks deducted 95%.”

3) The Two Ushers: Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together in Church. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had had enough. “You’re not supposed to talk out loud in church” “Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, ”See those two men standing by the door? They’re ‘hushers.’”

  1. f) The gift of piety: A pious man, who had reached the age of 105 suddenly stopped going to synagogue. Alarmed by the old fellow’s absence after so many years of faithful attendance, the Rabbi went to see him. He found him in excellent health, so the Rabbi asked, “How come after all these years we don’t see you at services anymore?” The old man lowered his voice. “I’ll tell you, Rabbi,” he whispered. “When I got to be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then 100, then 105. So, I figured that God is very busy and must have forgotten about me, and I don’t want to remind Him.
  2. g) The gift of fear of the Lord: Do not ride in automobiles: they are responsible for 20% of fatal accidents.  Do not stay home: 1% of all accidents occur in home.  Do not walk on the streets or sidewalks: 14% of all accidents occur at such times.  Do not travel by air, rail, or water: 16% of all accidents happen on planes, trains or boats. Only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in Church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders.  Hence, the safest place for you to be at any time is at Church!!!                                                                                  

YouTube Videos on the Pentecost

         5) Fr. Don’s video homily collections: https://sundayprep.org/prep-videos/  

         6) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: 

             https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066    

          7) Who is Holy Spirit? Jimmy Akins:  https://youtu.be/obfFIIjJ3t4

          8)Bishop Barron on the Holy Spirit: https://youtu.be/1INut0Gi09Q

31 Additional anecdotes for Pentecost Sunday

1) The Spirit of God is the melody that energizes the Church: In the last years of his life, the great cellist and conductor Pablo Casals suffered greatly from rheumatoid arthritis and emphysema.  At 90, he was badly stooped, and his head pitched forward; his breathing was labored.  He needed the help of his wife, Marta, to get dressed in the morning.  Marta would then help him shuffle into his studio where he would, with great difficulty, arrange himself on the piano bench.  Casals would then manage to raise his swollen, clenched fingers above the keyboard. A visitor describes what he saw next one particular morning: “I was not prepared for the miracle that was about to happen.  The fingers slowly unlocked and reached toward the keys like the buds of a plant toward the sunlight.  His back straightened.  He seemed to breathe more freely.  Now his fingers settled on the keys.  Then came the opening bars of Bach’s Wohltemperierte Klavier [Well-tempered Clavier], played with great sensitivity and control . . . He hummed as he played, then said that Bach ‘spoke to him here’ – and he placed his hand over his heart. Then he plunged into a Brahms concerto and his fingers, now agile and powerful, raced across the keyboard with dazzling speed.  His entire body seemed fused with the music; it was no longer stiff and shrunken but supple and graceful and completely freed of its arthritic coils. Having finished the piece, he stood up by himself, far straighter and taller than when he had come into the room.  He walked to the breakfast table with no trace of a shuffle, ate heartily, talked animatedly, finished the meal, then went for a walk on the beach.” (From Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration by Norman Cousins). — Like music that inspires and exhilarates, the Spirit of God is the melody that energizes the Church, uniting our many different voices into the song of the Love of God.  God has formed us into a community, or Church, an instrument for bringing His life and love into our world.  But what makes our Church more than just a gathering of good people is His “Breath” infusing the Church with the music of His Divinity.  Today we celebrate that presence.  In Jesus’ breathing upon the assembled disciples on Easter night the new life of the Holy Spirit, the community of the Resurrection — the Church — takes flight.  That same Holy Spirit continues to “blow” through today’s Church giving life and direction to our mission and ministry to preach the Gospel to every nation, to immerse all of humanity into the music of God’s love and the symphony of the Resurrection.   

2) Paderewski immortalizing a boy’s music: Once, a mother took her five-year-old son with her to a concert by Ignace Paderewski, the great Polish pianist. The mother and her son got their seats close to the stage. Then the mother met her old friend and got involved talking with her. She failed to notice that her son had slipped away to do some exploring. At the right time the lights dimmed and the spot light came on. Only then did the mother see her five-year-old son on the stage, sitting on the piano bench, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little star.” Before she could retrieve her son, Paderewski walked on to the stage. Walking over to the piano, he whispered to the boy, “Don’t stop! Keep playing.” Then, leaning over the boy, Paderewski reached out his left hand and began to fill in the bass. Later, he reached around the other side of the boy and added a running obbligato. Together, the great maestro and the tiny five-year-old mesmerized the audience with their playing. —  The image of the great maestro and the tiny five-year-old at the piano makes a fitting image of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples. On the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit whispered encouragement to the disciples. The Holy Spirit transformed the feeble efforts of the disciples into something powerful. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted byFr. Botelho).

3)  Why are the Swiss watches gone? If in 1968 someone had asked which country would dominate watch-making in the 1990s, most people would have said Switzerland. This is because Switzerland had dominated the world of watch- making for the preceding sixty years. They had led the search for new ways to manufacture better and more durable watch parts. They had developed the best waterproofing techniques. In fact, in 1968 the Swiss made 65% of all watches sold in the world, and laid claim to 90% of the profits. However, by 1980 in Switzerland, watchmakers had been laid off by the thousands and the Swiss controlled a paltry 10% of the watch market. Why? The Swiss had ignored an important new development, the Quartz Movement. Ironically, it was  a Swiss who invented the Quartz movement, but the innovation was rejected because the resulting watch had no mainspring or knob. That was too much of a paradigm shift for them to embrace. It was too new and too strange. –Today’s text from Acts tells of a powerful paradigm shift in the people of God demanded by “God’s deeds of power,” the miraculous activities that accompanied the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church.

4) Speaking the same language: In 1887, Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof, a Polish linguist, constructed a new language that could be shared by people throughout the world.  The artificial language Dr. Zamenhof created is called Esperanto, “the language of hope.”  The name signifies hope for humankind that a common language might heal the divisions that exist among the different peoples of the earth. — The feast of Pentecost is the Church’s celebration of her unity and universality in the Holy Spirit, and so some of the readings used express this in terms of language.  Dr. Zamenhof’s invention of Esperanto as a universal language has been followed by the establishment of the United Nations Assembly and simultaneous translation, by Summit meetings of the heads of nations, by cultural exchanges, and by the revival of the Olympic Games. But Pentecost is more than a work of human creation, more than a work of art and music. Pentecost is a new outpouring of God’s Spirit into our hearts to kindle in us the fire of his love (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds).

5)  All Mr. Yates needed was suddenly provided. During the Great Depression, a man by the name of Yates owned a sheep ranch in West Texas. Day by day he grazed his sheep and wondered how he was going to pay his bills. It was in the middle of the Depression, and even government subsidies would not give him enough income to break even. Then one day an oil company came to town. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well on Mr. Yates’ land. At 1,115 feet, they struck oil to the tune of 80,000 barrels a day. All Mr. Yates needed was suddenly provided. — When I read that old story, one that Bill Bright tells, I wondered if it might be a parable of our spiritual life. “All I have needed Thy hands have provided,” sings the hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness. That is a parable of our spiritual life. The power we need to become what God intended us to be is already in our souls in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

6) “Oh, it sleeps about eighty.” A family driving a large camper pulled up in front of the Church just as the pastor started toward home. Desiring to be friendly, the pastor introduced himself and expressed his admiration for the camper. The man of the family told him rather proudly: “This camper sleeps eight people.” Then he asked: “What is the capacity of your Church, Pastor?” The beleaguered pastor replied rather glumly, “Oh, it sleeps about eighty.” — It is embarrassing sometimes how little the modern-day Churches resemble the Church that first Pentecost: the sound of a wind-storm, tongues of fire, disciples speaking in different languages, thousands being added to the Church and lots of excitement – excitement everywhere!

7) “I’m gonna run her through that thing one time.” Two brothers grew up on a farm in a rural area near Cairo, Georgia. One brother took to education like a duck to water. He graduated from Georgia Tech and became a renowned engineer in Chicago. The other brother was content to stay home and farm. Some years later, the learned brother was invited to give a speech in Atlanta at the Peachtree Plaza Hotel. He had not seen his brother in a long while so he invited him to bring his family to the hotel and spend a little time with him. The rural brother had never been in a town bigger than Cairo. He and his wife and son piled into their pickup truck and headed for Atlanta. After a fearful experience on the interstate highways, they pulled up in front of the Peachtree Plaza. The farmer left his wife in the truck. He and his son went inside to check in. Just inside the entrance were a number of elevators. The farmer had never seen one before. He watched a large, very plain, middle-aged lady step inside one of those little rooms. The doors closed. After about a minute, the doors opened and out stepped a young lady who was a vision of loveliness. The farmer’s eyes bugged out. Quickly he punched his son and said, “Boy, go get your Maw. I’m gonna run her through that thing one time!” —  At Pentecost, a ragged aggregation of misfits was transformed into a disciplined cadre of spiritual storm troopers. The wimps became warriors!

8) Wilma Rudolph winning Olympics gold medals: Neil T. Anderson, in his book Victory over Darkness, tells a thrilling story about a little girl born with major health problems which left her crippled. She had a large, wonderful Christian family. Her mother used to tell her. “If you believe, God will make it happen. You will be able to run around like your brothers and sisters.” She took her mother’s counsel to heart and began to believe that God could heal her. She practiced walking without her braces with the aid of her brothers and sisters. On her twelfth birthday, she surprised her parents and her doctors by removing her braces and walking around the doctor’s office unassisted. She never wore the braces again. Her next goal was to play basketball. The coach only agreed to let her play as a means of getting her older sister on the team. One day she approached the coach and promised him if he would give her an extra 10 minutes of coaching each day, she would give him a world-class athlete. He laughed, but seeing she was serious, half-heartedly agreed. Before long her determination paid off. She was one of the team’s best players. Her team went to the state basketball championships. One of the referees noticed her exceptional ability. He asked if she had ever run track. She hadn’t. He encouraged her to try it. So after the basketball season she went out for track. She began winning races and earned a berth in the state championships. At the age of 16, she was one of the best young runners in the country. She went to the Olympics in Australia and won a bronze medal for anchoring the 400meter relay team. Four years later in Rome she won the 100-meter dash, the 200meter dash and anchored the winning 400-meter relay team “all in world-record times.” Wilma Rudolph capped the year by receiving the prestigious Sullivan Award as the most outstanding amateur athlete in America. Her faith and hard work had paid off. [Neil T. Anderson, Victory over Darkness (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1990), pp. 107-108.] — In a sense, that is what Pentecost is about. People opened themselves to the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit empowered them to do things they never dreamed possible. Pentecost is about empowerment: “a small group of folks turned the world upside down.”

9) In yachting, no wind means no race!  Rev. Alan Walker of Australia often tells about the race of the sailing yachts in which Australia finally defeated the USA for the prized America’s Cup. For 132 years, the cup was kept and defended by the United States. Again, and again there were challenges for the cup, but each time it was retained by the USA. Finally, in 1983 Australia mounted a serious challenge. The event took place as scheduled, and after six races, the two yachts were deadlocked at three wins each. Now the whole world seemed to take notice. Australia was alive with anticipation. The sporting world was focused on the race. The day came for the final race. After more than 100 years, the United States was in danger of losing its very precious cup. Thousands of people came to watch the race. Television cameras were ready to beam the race by satellite around the world. The crews were ready. The boats were polished. The yachts pulled into place at the starting line. All was ready, but there was no race! There was not enough wind. In yachting, no wind means no race!” — In the life of the Church, as in yachting, no wind, no race. Who would deny that the Church today lacks power, life, energy, excitement? The Church today needs the power of the Holy Spirit.

10) Torch and Bucket: There is the story of a person who saw an angel walking down the street. The angel was carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. “What are you going to do with that torch and that bucket of water?” the person asked. The angel stopped abruptly, looked at the person and said, “With the torch, I’m going to burn down the mansions of Heaven, and with the bucket of water, I’m going to put out the fires of hell. Then we’re going to see who really loves God. — The angel’s point is that many people obey God’s Commandments out of fear of punishment of Hell or hope of reward in Heaven. They don’t obey him for the reason Jesus gives in today’s Gospel: they don’t obey them out of love. “If you love me,” Jesus says in today’s reading, “you will obey my commandments.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies). 

11) Do you belong to a Pentecostal church? During the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in the days of Mussolini, Christian believers suffered considerable persecution. In his book, Fire on the Mountains, Raymond Davis tells of the love demonstrated by believers for each other during this period of affliction, which in turn made a major impression on unbelievers. For example, no provision had been made by the invading army to feed the prisoners they had taken. This was the responsibility of relatives and friends. Christians in the prisons had no problem, though. They were well cared for by friends and family. In fact, so much food was brought them by fellow believers and Church groups that enough remained to feed the unbelieving prisoners also. This observable love, vibrant though nonverbal, brought many to seek the Lord. Such love had previously been unheard of. As a result the word spread far and wide. Non-believers sought out believers to learn more about the Christian Faith. When prisoners who had come to know Christ while in jail were released, they went back home and attended the nearest Church. [Leslie B. Flynn, You Don’t Have To Go It Alone, (Denver, Colorado: Accent Books, 1981).]   — It is only right, then, that we should pray that we might be a “Pentecostal Church,” if we understand what that means.

12) “I need to know if you are Pentecostal.” The well-known author and preacher, Fred Craddock, tells a rather funny story about a lecture he was giving: A few years ago, when he was on the West Coast speaking at a seminary, just before the first lecture, one of the students stood up and said, “Before you speak, I need to know if you are Pentecostal.” The room grew silent. Craddock said he looked around for the Dean of the Seminary! He was nowhere to be found. The student continued with his quiz right in front of everybody. Craddock was taken aback, and so he said, “Do you mean do I belong to the Pentecostal Church?” He said, “No, I mean are you Pentecostal?” Craddock said, “Are you asking me if I am charismatic?” the student said, “I am asking you if you are Pentecostal.” Craddock said, “Do you want to know if I speak in tongues?” He said, “I want to know if you are Pentecostal.” Craddock said, “I don’t know what your question is.” The student said, “Obviously, you are not Pentecostal.” He left. — What are we talking about this morning? Is the Church supposed to use the word Pentecost only as a noun or can it be used as an adjective? And so I ask you: Are you Pentecostal? If the Church is alive in the world, it is Pentecostal. The Church is alive if we are in one accord, if we are sharing our blessings with the less fortunate ones, if we are joined together in prayer, and if we are repenting people asking forgiveness from God and others every day.

13) “It was the Holy Spirit.” Fr. Bob Spitzer, a Jesuit priest who was the president of Gonzaga University for 12 years tells about a powerful prayer to the Holy Spirit. It involves asking for the healing of hurts and memories, not just for one’s own self, but for those one has harmed, always seeking forgiveness. He tells the story of making an offhand comment that afterwards he regretted. Unable to call the man, he went to the chapel and asked the Holy Spirit to heal any harm he had done. A few days later, something extraordinary happened.  Fr. Spitzer ran into the man walking on the campus, and the man said, “You know Father, I’ve been thinking about what you told me.  At first I was kind of angry, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized what you were getting at.  You actually helped me a great deal.”–  As Fr. Spitzer remarked later: “It was the Holy Spirit.” (http://www.magisreasonfaith.org/files/pdfs/spitzerbio.pdf).

14) The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of communication:  There have been numerous books written on the difficulty that men and women have in communicating. It has been estimated that women say something like 6,000 – 8,000 words a day and that men utter 2,000 – 4,000 words a day. At the end of the day the man has spoken his 4,000 words and doesn’t want to communicate any more. He simply wants to sit quietly, watch TV and go to bed. A woman most likely won’t have spoken her 8,000 words for the day yet. She may have 2-3,000 words to go and uses them to share every event of the day. This conversation may sound familiar. Wife: Hi darling …it’s good to see you home. How was your day? Husband: Good. Wife: I heard that you were going to finalize that big deal today. How did it go? Husband: Fine. Wife: That’s good. Do you think the boss will give you a raise? Husband: Maybe. Wife: Hey! Today I found out that I’m pregnant. Husband: That’s good. and so on… and then she goes on to tell everything that happened in her day. — The Holy Spirit communicates with men and women equally through the Holy Bible and inspires them and guides them in their communication with God. May God’s Spirit guide and help us as we go out from here today and give us the courage and power to speak his Word to others.  (Rev. Gerhard)-

15) Together they finished the race. Derek Redmond ran in a semi-final of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Halfway round the track this British athlete collapsed with a torn hamstring. For some strange reason, he wanted to finish the race, and he struggled to his feet. Derek’s Dad got up out of the stand, and he broke his way through security. His Dad picked up his crying son, and together they finished the race. — That man did what the Holy Spirit does for us. It’s when we are spiritually exhausted, when we find ourselves giving into the spirit of slavery again and again, when we can’t pray, when we don’t want to pray, when our Faith is just not strong enough –-  when there is no way we can finish the race — that is when the Spirit picks us up and drags us to the finish line. (Rev. Gerhard). 

16) Come, Holy Spirit: There was, in Europe, a period of human history called the Dark Ages. It started in about the fifth century and continued for the next 600 years. You might say it was a 600-year depression – food was scarce, people lived hand-to-mouth – and Western civilisation barely hung by a thread. The one bright spot was the local Cathedral. Building Cathedrals, even in small towns, gave work to thousands of people. These buildings became the cultural, social and spiritual centres of life. Murals, stained glass windows, sculptures, and pageantry helped teach the great stories of the Bible at a time when very few people could read. With this in mind, some of the cathedral builders chose to impress on the people the meaning of Pentecost. In the great domed,  richly painted ceilings were a number of small carefully disguised doors. During worship on Pentecost when the whole town was gathered in the cathedral, some unlucky parishioners were drafted to climb up on to the roof. At the appropriate moment during the liturgy, they would release a live dove through the one of the small doors. This dove would swoop over the congregation as a living symbol of the presence of the Holy Spirit. At the same time the choir boys would make whooshing noise, the doors in the ceiling would be opened again and this time rose petals would be showered on the congregation, symbolizing tongues of flame falling on the worshippers below. —  You can imagine the impact that this had on those medieval Christians whose lives were drab and hard. They might not have been able to read about Pentecost from the Bible but nevertheless this visual demonstration must have left a lasting impression. (Rev. Gerhard).

17) Some Pentecost traditions: Some parishes have begun the tradition of encouraging people to wear red clothing on Pentecost, since red is the liturgical color of the day. — This reflects the old custom of decorating homes and churches with colorful flowers on this day. In Poland, for example, and among the Ukrainians, Pentecost is sometimes called the “Green Holiday,” and in Germany the “Flower Feast.” In some Latin countries, there is the term Pascha Rosatum, Latin words that mean “Pasch [“Easter,” we would say] of Roses.” And in Italy there is the name Pascua Rossa, meaning “Red Pasch [“Easter,” again],” inspired by the red vestments worn on Pentecost. Medieval Christians liked to dramatize the Pentecost symbols of the dove and flames of fire. Historical accounts tell us, for example, that in France, when the priest intoned the words “Come, Holy Ghost,” trumpets would blow, signifying the violent wind of which the Scriptures speak. In other countries, choirboys would hiss, hum, make odd noises with wind instruments, and rattle their benches. Then from a hole in the wall above, called “The Holy Ghost Hole,” a great swinging disk with a beautiful image of a dove would descend, and remain suspended above the middle of the church. From the same opening in the wall would follow a shower of flowers, representing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and water symbolizing Baptism. In the thirteenth century, French cathedrals would release white pigeons inside the buildings, and drop roses from the Holy Ghost Hole. Some towns in central Europe even dropped pieces of burning straw, representing the flaming tongues of Pentecost. This last custom eventually found disfavor, as more and more churches and worshipers caught fire, spiritually and literally. (Fr. Hoisington).

18) Did you and Grandma ever get into any fights?” A little girl asked her grandfather, “Did you and Grandma ever get into any fights?” The grandfather replied: “We don’t talk about it very often, but there was a time when we were not getting along very well. We seemed to be picking on each other a lot and finding all kinds of things to argue about and really getting on one another’s nerves. Well, one day I came in from the garden and I heard a voice upstairs. I went to the stairs and heard your grandmother telling God what she could not bring herself to tell me.” “Well, what did you do?” asked the granddaughter. “I quietly walked up the stairs,” he replied, “and knelt down beside her and told God my side of the story. And from that day to this, we have never had a problem which we couldn’t resolve by talking it over with each other and with God.”– Do you think the Holy Spirit was active in that couples’ marriage? There can be no doubt. Conflict will always remain part of every relationship. The fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control – will always remain critical for happy relationships with others.

19) The Holy Spirit clean-up job: The Holy Spirit not only gives life but even brings dead bones to life. In Greek mythology, we read about the demi-god Hercules, son of Zeus and Alcmena. He was noted for his strength and was commanded by the King (whom he was serving in expiation of a crime), to clean the stables of Augeas, which housed 3000 oxen. The stable had not been cleaned for 30 years and Hercules was told to do the job within a day. This was a herculean job to complete. He could not do it by his own enormous power, so he directed the river Alpheus to run through the stable and so completed the task. — The apostles themselves did a great job of cleaning and giving life to people by serving as conduits for the Holy Spirit Who moved through the Apostles and into all who were willing to listen to their words and receive Him into their lives.  (Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families).

20) Unseen Guest: Rossini was a great composer of beautiful music,  and the King of France, in gratitude and to honor him,  presented Rossini with a watch which he kept in his showcase with great pride. One day he showed it to his friend. His friend was surprised to know the real worth of the royal watch. He touched a button on the watch and a beautiful photograph of Rossini popped up. All stood in awe! — Rossini had had the watch for several years and but had never realized its value and importance. Many people do not know much about the Holy Spirit and His importance in our lives. (Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families; quoted byFr. Botelho).

21) “Life after Delivery?” In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course! There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”  The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouth. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.” The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.” The second insisted, ”Well I think there is something, and maybe it’s different from life here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.” The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes  us nowhere.” “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.” The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists, then where is She now?” The second said.” She is all around us. We are surrounded by Her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”  Said the first: “Well I don’t see her, so it is only logical that she doesn’t exit.” To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and listen, you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” — Today is Pentecost: The Church’s birthday! “Before Pentecost, the disciples were unsure of what they were to do next, and spent most of their time in hiding. After Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit, they understood their mission to spread the Good News of Jesus, and they had the courage to come out of their hiding and speak openly about who Jesus was, and what he had accomplished by his dying and rising. (http://www.staugustinechurch.net/homilies/pentecostSundayhomily.htm

22) The Shakespearean Advocate who saved a life: One of the popularcomedies of William Shakespeare   is The Merchant of Venice.” Antonio, a successful merchant of Venice, got into trouble because of his generosity. His friend Bassanio asked Antonio for a loan. Antonio agreed, but, as all of his assets were tied up at sea, the two went to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender. Shylock agreed to lend them 3000 ducats, but only if Antonio would sign a bond offering a pound of his flesh if the loan was not repaid in three months’ time. Antonio assented to the arrangement. Unfortunately, Antonio was not able to keep his word. The case reached the court. Shylock refused Bassanio’s offer of 6,000 ducats, twice the amount of the loan. He demanded his pound of flesh from Antonio. Everyone present at the scene pleaded for the life of Antonio. But Shylock was adamant that he wanted the will to be carried out. Thus, the court must allow Shylock to extract the pound of flesh. At that very moment, a young  Advocate arrived offering to serve as Defense Lawyer for the case of Antonio.  In due course, the Defense Advocate argued that the bond allowed Shylock to remove only the flesh, not any drop of “blood”, of Antonio. Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio’s blood, his “lands and goods” would be forfeited under Venetian laws. — The young  Advocate stepped in at a moment when Antonio was in utter hopelessness. He was sure that he would lose his life. But the Defender’s arguments and reasoning brought hope to Antonio who began to be reassured. In this crisis, the presence of an Advocate brought great change to the troubled life of Antonio. The disciples of Jesus, too, were in great hopelessness after the Ascension of Jesus. The message of Resurrection gave them hope and courage. However, that lasted only for forty days. After the Ascension they  waited in Jerusalem following Jesus’ instructions, and they prayed. Then came the great miracle. They found the Great Advocate in their midst.  The Holy Spirit descended upon them like tongues of fire, confirming their hopes and igniting their courage. It was the Holy Spirit Who transformed the ignorant men into possessors of Divine Wisdom. It transformed the cowards into heroes and desperate men into dreamers. (Fr. Bobby Jose)

23) Carnal versus Spiritual: There was once an Eskimo who used to take his two dogs for a bet-fight in the town square. One was a black dog the other was white. The people gathered week after week to see the dogs fight and bet heavily on the outcome. On some days, the black dog won, and on others the white prevailed. No matter which dog won, the Eskimo made money. The secret behind his duping of the people was that he would feed well the dog which he wanted to win. — Do you feed your spiritual self and keep it strengthened by the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit to win over the carnal person? “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Daniel Sunderaj in Manna for the Soul; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

24) Film: Being John Malkovich: In the very strange 1999 surrealist movie, Being John Malkovich, someone discovers a portal into Malkovich’s mind, enabling visitors to see and experience things through his body and to influence his actions. He becomes aware of what’s happening and finds the portal himself. At the climax of the movie, there is a bizarre but powerful scene when he enters the portal, being swept down a dark tunnel with a roaring sound to emerge as a participant/observer in his own world. He discovers that everyone has his face and his voice, and every word spoken is in his name.– Connections with the Pentecost story: the paradox of the Creator entering his own creation by an unexplainable power; the potential of the portal to connect people in an unprecedented kind of indwelling. But the exploitation of the portal by those who find it — selling access, allowing it to be used to violate someone’s integrity — reminds me of all who abuse the gift of the Spirit for their own ends or to manipulate others. Seeing the face of Malkovich everywhere reminds me of the Spirit making Jesus present through us in a new and all-encompassing way. We are recognizably Christ-like, though still ourselves, and all we say and do is “in his Name.” It’s a frightening moment in the movie, because Malkovich has no wish to become omnipresent as a Christ-figure, but the image is powerful. (Marnie Barre, “Film insights” in The Text this Week; quoted by Fr.  Botelho).

25) Holy-Roller Service: A little girl was visiting her grandmother in a small country town in the Southern United States. They attended a very emotional religious service, where people expressed their feelings by jumping about and shouting; it was what we might call a “Holy Roller” service. The little girl asked her grandmother if all that jumping meant the Holy Spirit was really there. Her grandmother said. “Honey, it don’t matter how high they jump up! It’s what they do when they come down that will tell you if it’s the real thing!” — It would be good if we were a little more enthusiastic about our religion, but what matters is what we do in everyday life. Does the Holy Spirit have a practical effect on our daily life? In what way? (Gerard Fuller in Stories for all Seasons; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

26) High tide of the Holy Spirit: A ship strayed off course near San Diego some years back. It became stuck in a reef at low tide. Twelve tugboats were unsuccessful in their attempts to budge it. Finally, the captain instructed the tugs to go back home. He sighed, “I’ll just be patient and wait.” He waited until high tide. All of a sudden, the ocean began to rise. What human power could not do, the rising tide of the Pacific Ocean did. It lifted that ship and put it back into the channel. — Something like that happened to the early Church on the Day of Pentecost. They were all together in one place,  waiting, wondering,  praying, when suddenly the tide of Holy Spirit rolled in and they were transformed.

27) Niccolo Paganini on one string:  The renowned Italian violinist, violist, cellist, guitarist, and composer, Niccolo Paganini, was due to perform one night in a very prestigious Concert Hall in Paris. Even as he walked on to the stage, the audience stood up and cheered with irrepressible excitement and heart-warming esteem. Resting his violin under his chin, the celebrated musician began to play with such dexterity and brilliance that the audience listened with spellbound silence. Suddenly one string of the violin snapped. But the consummate professional was not deterred. On the contrary, he continued to play with three strings, and the music was just as fascinating and impressive. Moments later a second string snapped; and minutes later the third. The audience gasped in stunned disbelief. What was Paganini going to do? Would he bow and leave regretfully? Without losing his cool, the famous maestro raised his hand, called for silence and announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to hear Paganini on one string.” What followed thereafter literally took everyone’s breath away – the performance was flawless, the music exquisite, the entertainment heavenly and just on one string! Such is the incomparable touch of the Master’s hand. –This extraordinary story aptly describes the singular and marvelous role of the Spirit in our personal lives. (J. Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

28) Why Isn’t the Holy Ghost Included?  A woman wrote to Reader’s Digest. She wanted to tell about an experience that she had when she took a young girl from India to Church with her. It was the eleven-year-old girl’s first exposure to a Christian worship service. The young lady’s parents were traveling on business and had left her in the care of their American friends.  The little Hindu girl decided on her own to go with the family to Church one Sunday.  After the service was over, they went out to lunch. The little girl had some questions. She wondered, “I don’t understand why the West Coast isn’t included,  too?”  Her Christian friends were puzzled and asked, “What do you mean?”–  She responded, “You know. I kept hearing the people say, ‘In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the whole East Coast.’”

29) Different gifts, the same Giver: Max Herr, aged 75, retired in March, 1981 after 52 years as the official Vatican clock-winder. Pope St. John Paul II received this German-born clockmaker and his family in a special audience at the time of his retirement. There are some 50 pendulum clocks in the Vatican. Since 1929, Herr had made the rounds every Friday winding and resetting them. When they or the many non-pendulum clocks needed repair, he would clean and overhaul them. Six popes had been his friends, and he had many “professional” memories of them. Pope Pius XII used to have him set all the clocks fifteen minutes ahead. Pope Paul VI found ticking clocks a distraction, so he kept only one timepiece in his rooms: a small alarm clock he had used since seminary days. American friends gave John Paul II a grandfather chime clock when he was installed as Pope. — Max Herr was certainly not the most important figure in the central offices of the Catholic Church. But the role he played in the Vatican, however humble, was expert and indispensable. The popes are called by God to save eternal souls, but they must do their work in a world where time rules. In a sense for 52 years this German clockmaker had kept the whole Church going! — That is what St. Paul meant when he said, “There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same Lord.” Whether great or small, we should all be happy to use our God-given talents for the benefit of others. “To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7. Today’s second reading). –(Father Robert F. McNamara.

30) “Now you know where God lives.” (In a Reader’s Digest’s article, quoted by Fr. Simplicio Apalisok in his homily book, an author tells how as a child, he was captivated by the sight of an old man prayerfully peering into an old cistern. Intrigued about what the old man was looking at, the boy edged up to the cistern and tried to see over the ledge. The old man held him with his shovel-like hands helped him over the ledge of the wheel. “Do you know who lives there?” the old man asked. The frightened boy shook his head. “God lives there. Look!” but the boy only saw his reflection in the still water. “But that’s me,” said the boy. — “That’s right,” said the old man. “Now you know where God lives.” (https://justmehomely.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/pentecost-sunday-year-b/)

31) Teilhard de Chardin , Karl Rahner and Hans Küng  on Pentecost: “The day will come,” said Teilhard de Chardin, “when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.” — In a sense the annual feast of Pentecost is another opportunity, placed in the path of the believer, for discovering and participating in the ever-present fire which is God’s love. Pentecost rounds out and climaxes the Easter event. All that we have remembered and celebrated, viz., Jesus’ saving death, His Resurrection and His Ascension to glory, all of these sacred events took place so that the Holy Spirit might be unleashed upon the world. As Karl Rahner (The Great Church Year, the Crossroad Pub. Co., New York: 1994), once explained, “Pentecost calls us to the realization that the Center of all reality, the innermost Heart of all infinity, the Love of the all-holy God, has become our Center, our Heart. God is ours. God has been given to us as gift, without reserve. God has made our own the joy, freedom, knowledge and peace of the Divine life” Hans Küng (Why I Am Still a Christian, Abingdon Press, Nashville TN: 1987) suggests that before the power of the Holy Spirit can truly take hold, all contrary spirits must be exorcized… to “… make room for the Spirit who is both tender and strong, who reconciles and unites.” (Sanchez Files). (L/21)

32) Aggiornamento:  Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1881-1963) was the third of the 13 children born in a poor Italian family in 1881. As he was very intelligent, after being consecrated as a bishop in 1925, he served as a papal delegate in Bulgaria, Turkey, and France. In 1953 he became the Patriarch of Venice as well as a cardinal. When Pope Pius XII died on October 9, 1958, Roncalli was elected pope at  the age of  77 under the name John XXIII. He was considered a transitional pope, and nobody expected much from him. — However, he surprised the world by convening Vatican Council II and asking the faithful to pray for a new Pentecost. He believed that only with a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit could the Church be renewed and updated (aggiornamento). That was why he asked the people to pray for a second Pentecost like the first one. (Fr. Jose P CMI) .

33) Poor diocese became rich  by revenues from donated land: Sara Tracy was born on December 6, 1827 in New York City. She was the heiress to the vast fortune of her brother, Edward Tracy. While on a trip to Rome in 1899, she happened to meet Bishop Patrick James Donahue on the ship by which they were traveling to Italy. Tracy spoke with Donahue during their trip on a personal matter. As they disembarked the ship, Tracy handed a check of $5,000 to Donahue for the needs of the diocese. She would continue to support the diocese during her lifetime and would, at her death, leave her entire estate to Bishop Donahue. The proceeds from this estate bequest allowed the establishment of Wheeling Jesuit College (later Wheeling University), the building of numerous facilities across the diocese, as well as the establishment of numerous outreach ministries. The investments were especially valuable for the lands that produced oil and natural gas revenues over the years. Bishop Mark E. Brennan was the first bishop to fully disclose and list the value of the investments from this fund. As of 2020, the investments from securities and mineral rights exceeded $286 million dollars, annual royalty revenues were $13.9 million dollars, with total revenues from investments exceeding $15 million dollars for the year, 2020. (Wikipedia). — The Holy Spirit indwelling  in each baptized Christian makes him or her richer and holier than what any worldly deposit can give.

The sequence for Pentecost, the “Veni, Sancte Spiritus”

Come, Holy Spirit;

shine in us with the heavenly light of Your own radiance.

Come, Father of the poor, come, Gift-giver,

come, Light of hearts.

You, gentle Guest of the soul, are the surest Consoler,
cooling our fever-heat.

You are Rest when we labour, relief in searing heat,

Solace when we weep.

O most blessed Light!

Fill the secret inward spaces

of the hearts that turn towards You.

Without Your mysterious glory,

nothing in human spirits is free from poison.

Wash what has become soiled in us;

moisten what has dried out;

heal whatever is wounded.

Make supple what has stiffened,

melt what is frozen in us,

straighten what has become bent.

To us who believe in You, who trust in You,

give Your seven-fold gifts of healing.

Grant, as Your gift, the fruits of virtue;
grant, as Your gift, salvation at the end;
may Your gifts bring undying joy.

Amen, alleluia!

In simple and powerful imagery – Mexican poet Amado Nervo, puts it as follows:

 Alone we are only a spark, but in the Spirit we are a fire.

 Alone we are only a string, but in the Spirit we are a lyre.

 Alone we are only an anthill, but in the Spirit we are a mountain.

 Alone we are only a feather, but in the Spirit we are a wing.

Alone we are only a beggar, but in the Spirit we are a King. L/22

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No 36) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://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 akadavil@gmail.com. Visit also https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony’s homilies and  under Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in  for other website versions.  (Vatican Radio website: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html uploaded my Cycle A, B and C homilies in from 2018-2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .

May 30- June 4 weekday homilies

May 30- June 4: Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: May 30 Monday: John 16: 29-33: His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. 30 Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.”* 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? 32 Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered* to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 3I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world

Context: Jesus is speaking to his apostles after the Last Supper.

Scripture lessons: In this Last Supper discourse, Jesus explains his Divine origin and his relationship to God his Father in clear terms without using any metaphors. The apostles acknowledge that they understand the Divinity of Jesus. But Jesus prophesies that they will soon desert him and seek their own safety, while he will be arrested, brought to trial and crucified. Our Faith is tested every day when we live in a world filled with agnostics, atheists, and pleasure-seekers who see true believers as superstitious people and hate them. That is why Jesus gave his apostles and all his future disciples the assurance of the anointing of the Holy Spirit Who would strengthen them and guide them. The Second Vatican Council teaches in connection with this passage: “The Lord Jesus who said `Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33), did not by these words promise complete victory to his Church in this world. This sacred Council rejoices that the earth which has been sown with the seed of the Gospel is now bringing forth fruit in many places under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, who is filling the world” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 22).

Life messages: 1) Our Faith is firmly rooted in the Divinity of Jesus demonstrated by his Messianic miracles, most of which were foretold by the prophets. The Resurrection of Jesus is the Miracle of miracles proving Jesus’ Divinity beyond doubt. 2) We need to get our daily infusion of spiritual strength by recognizing the presence of God – the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit — living within us wherever we are, and by communicating with our indwelling God in prayer. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)L/22

May 31 Tuesday: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/visitation-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary Lk 1:39-56: Visitation: 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, …45 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/, & https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: The mystery of the Incarnation comes to ordinary people living ordinary lives, who have the willingness to respond to God’s call and the openness and generosity to do God’s will. Luke, in today’s Gospel, tells us how two seemingly insignificant women met to celebrate the kindness and fidelity of God. In the Gospel, one definition of discipleship is to listen to God’s word and then carry it out. Mary did both, to become the most perfect disciple. The incident also shows us how sensitive Mary was to the needs of Elizabeth, her older cousin, who had miraculously become pregnant in her old age.

Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. There is a saying, “One who is on fire cannot sit on a chair.” Mary, carrying Jesus and filled with the empowering fire of the Holy Spirit, hurried to the mountain country where Elizabeth lived, thereby conveying the Holy Spirit to her cousin and her child. Like all good Jews, Mary was prompted in everything she did by her commitment to God’s word in her life.

The paradox of blessedness. Blessedness confers on a person both the greatest joy and the greatest task in the world. Nowhere can we see the paradox better illustrated than in Mary’s life. Mary was granted the blessedness and privilege of being the mother of the Son of God. Yet, that very blessedness was to be a sword to pierce her heart: one day she would see her Son hanging on a cross. So, to be chosen by God is often both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. God does not choose us to give us a life of ease and comfort, but in order that we may respond to His love by accomplishing His purposes.

Life messages:1) We should recognize the real presence of Emmanuel (God Is with Us) and say “yes” to Him: The Visitation of Mary reminds us that, through his holy ministry, Christ continues to be present among his people. Let us recognize and appreciate the truth that the same Christ “dwells among us” in the Bible, in the Sacraments, in the praying community, and in our souls. 2) We should convey Jesus to others as Mary did to Elizabeth. We can make a real difference in the lives of others today by carrying Jesus to them. For that, we must be filled with the spirit of Christ, allowing his rebirth within us. Then Jesus will enable us to share his love with all whom we encounter, offering them humble and committed service, unconditional forgiveness, and compassionate caring service. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 1 Wednesday: St. Justin, Martyr: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-justin-martyr. May 19 Wednesday: John 17:11-19: 11 And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/, & https://www.epriest.com/reflections

In today’s Gospel passage, taken from Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, Jesus prays in particular, for those disciples who are sharing the meal with him. Jesus prayed for the victory, unity, protection, and consecration of his disciples. (i) Jesus prayed that they might find victory by living out their Christianity in the rough-and-tumble of life. The disciples must win the world for Christ by living out their Christianity within the world. They must bear witness to Christ through their transparent Christian lives, reflecting Christ’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and spirit of humble service. (ii) Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples. The world cannot be evangelized by competing Churches, and that is why Jesus prayed that his disciples might be as fully one as He and the Father are One. Christian unity is determined by whether and how well we love one another, and whether we reflect the love of God in Christ for the world. (Eph 4:4–6: … one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call; d5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e6one God and Father of us all, Who is above all and through all and in all).(iii) Jesus prayed for His Father’s protection for his disciples from the attacks of the Evil One. If the disciples of Christ fall, it is because they try to meet life with their own strength alone, and do not remember the presence of their protecting God and seek His help. (iv) Jesus prayed that his disciples might be consecrated in the truth. (a) ‘Consecrate’ means to set apart for a special task (Jer 1:5; Ex 28:41). (b) ‘Consecrate’ also means to equip a man with the qualities of mind, heart, and character which are necessary for that task. God has chosen us and dedicated us for His special service of loving and obeying Him ourselves and bringing others to do the same. He has not left us to carry out that great task with only our own strength, but by His grace He fits us for our task, if we place our lives in His hands.

Life message: 1):We need to understand, appreciate, cooperate with, and pray with and for each other: The denominations are a reality.There is no use in our blaming each other for the historical events which caused these divisions in Christ’s Body. What we can do is to learn sympathetically about the doctrinal similarities and differences among the members of our Christian community and learn to love each one and cooperate with the members of all denominations in all ways possible. 2) Let us pray fervently that God may show us how to proceed in building true and lasting Christian unity without sacrificing the basic Christian principles and teachings. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 2 Thursday: St. Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-marcellinus-and-peterJn 17:20-26 20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. 24 …26Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/, & https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the concluding part of Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” in his Last Supper discourse. Here, Jesus prays for true unity among his followers who accept him as their Lord and Savior.

Divisions in Christianity: The first major division in Christianity, which took place in the fifth century, was the schism caused when the Eastern Orthodox Churches under the patriarchs separated themselves from the Western Church under the Pope. Next, the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century separated its followers from unity with the Church centered in Rome and freed them from her Authority. During the following five centuries, this separation resulted in the formation of more than 30,000 Protestant denominations. According to Pope St. Paul VI [canonized October 14, 2018 by Pope Francis] “the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which he prayed is indefectibly one in Faith, in worship and in the bond of hierarchical communion” (Creed of the People of God, 21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity: In his prayer for unity among his disciples, Jesus mentions that the basis and criterion of unity must be the Unity of God in His Three Divine Persons among Whom there is eternal, mutual love and Self-giving. The unity of Jesus and his Father is a unity of love and obedience and a unity of personal relationship. Another reason for Christian unity is the union of the faithful with Jesus Christ in His Mystical Body by Baptism, and through Him with the Father (verse 23). This means that the fullness of Unity is attained through the supernatural grace, which comes to us from the Father through Christ (cf. Jn 15:5). Jesus declares that unity among the believers is essential if the world is to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, because the disunity among Christians acts as the biggest block for evangelization, as it offers living, constant counter-witness to the Good News of Redemption.

Life messages: 1) Since Jesus Christ himself left us his final wish for unity through his prayer to the Father: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (Jn 17:21), it is our duty to pray and work for meaningful unity among Christians. 2) Let us learn to appreciate each other’s common beliefs and enter into genuine dialogue and cooperation with members of other Christian denominations, instead of accusing each other of heresy. We need to remember that the present non-Catholic Christians are not responsible for the historical events and actions from which the various denominations originated in the past. . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 3 Friday: St. Charles Lwanga and companions, Martyrs. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-charles-lwanga-and-companionsJohn 21:15-19:15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would;..19 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/, & https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: This is a post-Resurrection apparition scene. After miraculously providing breakfast for his apostles who had been fishing all night, Jesus conferred on Peter the Primacy in his Church, which Jesus had promised as a reward for Peter’s profession of Faith (Mt 16:16-19).

The triple question: As if to give him a triple chance to atone for his triple denial, Jesus asks Peter, three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me (agápe love) more than these?” Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than he loves his boat and fishing equipment, occupation, family, and friends. Jesus is also asking whether Peter loves him more than the other Apostles do. Instead of boasting of his own fidelity, strength, and greater love, as he had done before his triple denial of the Master, Peter humbly puts everything in Christ’s hands. “Lord, You know well that I love (philia love=love of a friend) You.”

The dual reward: 1) Primacy of jurisdiction over the Church was formally defined by the First Vatican Council (Vatican I) in the First Dogmatic Constitution “On the Church of Christ,” (Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1) declaring, “We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ our Lord. […] And it was upon Simon Peter alone, that Jesus, after his Resurrection, bestowed the jurisdiction of chief pastor and ruler over all his fold in the words: ‘Feed My lambs; feed My sheep (Jn 21:15-17).’” 2) Peter was also given the promise of a martyr’s death because real love involves responsibility as well as sacrifice. According to Tradition, St. Peter followed his Master to the point of dying by crucifixion — head downwards, because he felt unworthy to die as Jesus had done. This happened during Nero’s persecution of the Christians, which took place between the years 64 and 68 in Rome.

Life messages: 1) We need to pray for the Pope, the successor of Peter, and for the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and to support them in their ministry. 2) Jesus is a God of second chances Who gives chance after chance to sinners to return to his love, as is made clear by Jesus’ conferring primacy in his Church on he repentant Peter. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

June 4 Saturday:Jn 21:20-25: 20 Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” 23 The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/, & https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Context: Today’s Gospel passage describes the role of Peter as the chief shepherd of Christ’s people and of John as a long-lived witness to Christ in the early Church. The last part of the passage was intended to correct the false notion in the early Church that John would not die until the much-expected, imminent “second coming” of Jesus.

Jesus’ reply: Jesus’ response implies that what is important is not to be curious about what the future will bring but to serve the Lord faithfully each day, keeping to the way He has marked out for one.

John’s testimony about his Gospel: The passage concludes with John’s testimony about the truth of the content of his Gospel. It also explains the purpose of John’s Gospel: to strengthen our Faith in what Jesus did and taught. In addition, it tells us that the written Gospels contain only a fraction of what Jesus taught and did, implying that we have to depend upon the Sacred Tradition of the early Church handed down to us by the early Fathers of the Church to complete the truth of the written testimony.

Life messages: 1) Just as Peter and John each had his unique role in Christ’s Church, so each believer, as a member of this Mystical Body of Christ, each of us with our different talents, strengths, weaknesses, and limits, has one’s own particular work to do in bringing the task of the Body – to bring the world to Christ and Christ to the world – to its completion. Hence it is our duty to bear witness to Christ by surrendering our lives to Christ on the altar of service for the people of God and by offering ourselves as humble instruments in the hands of Christ. . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Easter VII Sunday (May 29th) when ascension is celebrated on 26th Thursday

Easter VII [C] Sunday (May 29)- One-page summary (L-22)

Introduction: Today’s readings are about people’s bearing heroic witness to Jesus through life and death, and the Source of the inspiration behind such witness-bearing. They urge us to work for greater Christian unity and to consider the power of Christian witness.

Scripture lessons: The first reading describes the martyrdom of Stephen, showing us how he bore witness to the forgiving love of Jesus by his last prayer. In the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, is pictured as having all the forces of Heaven and earth at his disposal, standing ready to help us in our Christian witness-bearing. It is relatively easy to acknowledge our oneness with Stephen and to long for the experience of eternal oneness with “all those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb(Rv 22:14, Douay- Rheims). But to remain truly one with all of our brothers and sisters continues to be a daily challenge. Today’s Gospel is the last part of the “priestly prayer” of Jesus after the Last Supper. This chapter of John has been called “The Testament of Jesus” or “Jesus’ High Priestly (or Intercessory) Prayer.” During that long prayer, Jesus prayed first for himself – for his own glorification (vv 1-5) – as he faced the cross. Then, he prayed for his disciples that they might be unified and protected in the face of opposition from the world (vv 6-19), and finally he prayed for those in distant lands and far-off ages, including ourselves, who would enter the Christian Faith through the witness-bearing of the Apostles and their successors. Thus, this is Jesus’ prayer for each one of us. We have complete Faith and certainty because Jesus put his confidence in God and entrusted us to Him.

Life Messages: 1) We need to pray for unity and serve one another in unity. We must pray for unity and discuss the similarities we share with others as well as our differences. Along with prayer, we must put our words into action. This means that we are to serve one another and to love one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord. What unites us is greater than what divides us. As we move nearer to Jesus Christ, in him we move nearer to one another. Such unity is ultimately a gift of the Holy Spirit and of His guidance. The soul of the ecumenical movement then, is spiritual. Only by a renewal of the spiritual, by common prayer and common listening to the Word of God, can we hope to overcome the present ecumenical impasses and difficulties. In the words of Pope St. John Paul II: “The door to ecumenism is opened only on our knees.”

2) We need to have a clear idea about the Catholic stand on ecumenism. In his encyclical Ut Unum Sint, Pope St. John Paul II warns against compromise for the sake of unity. He states, “the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement is to reestablish full visible unity among all the baptized [77.1].” He adds, “It is already possible to identify the areas in need of fuller study before a true consensus of Faith can be achieved.”

EASTER VII (May 29): Acts 7:55-60; Rv 22:12-14, 16-17, 20; Jn 17:20-26

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Fingerprints and DNA scanners: Fingerprints have long been recognized as a form of personal identification. As far back as the reign of the Babylonian King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), convicts were fingerprinted. In China as early as 246 BC, fingerprints were used to “sign” legal contracts. In 1788 a German anatomist, Johann Christoph Andreas Mayer, published findings which proved that fingerprints are unique to each individual. The idea caught on so fast that by the mid-nineteenth century, data banks of fingerprints were being collected all over the world for identification purposes. Now, as we know, micro-processors race and run at breakneck speed through millions of fingerprints in order to catch the bad guys or exonerate the good guys. Science has revealed other ways we are unique and singular. Our DNA is our own. Each cell of our body is genetically coded just for us. God made us in many ways wholly and totally different from one another. Yet, as Jesus offers up to the Father his own personal “Lord’s Prayer,” as given in today’s Gospel, he closes by praying for “oneness” among all those who follow him as disciples. Does this mean that Jesus prays for us all to be the same? Is this a call for “cloned Christians”? A franchise faith? A lemming life? A monotone mission? Is every follower of Jesus expected to keep the same pace, have the same stride, move to the same rhythm? Jesus was praying for generations of believers. The “oneness” that Jesus prayed for is a oneness of heart and a oneness of love. Oneness for Jesus is a love mark of hearts that have experienced the unity of Divine love – the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they are poured out into the hearts of every disciple. As Christians, our DNA reads the same: we are all part of the Body of Christ. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Unity by humble dialogue and loving interaction: If you have seen the academy award winning film Gandhi, you may remember the scene where Gandhi is caught in the middle of intense conflict between Muslims and Hindus. He defuses the situation by saying, “I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian, and a Jew.” This is a wonderful attitude to take, so long as it affirms the unique identities and contributions of each tradition and so long as it is a recognition of unity amid diversity rather than a superficial homogenizing of the various faiths. As we noted on Ash Wednesday, Christians in particular may need to begin paying more serious attention to the other major religions of the world. Many folks are so ignorant of anything beyond the Judeo-Christian tradition that when they do run into another faith-system they are immediately swept off their feet and become infatuated. In the name of understanding and unity based on the grace of God, we surely need to avoid the attitude expressed by a group of parents who wanted The Diary of Anne Frank banned from the classroom because it seemed to approve of all religions without recognizing the superiority of Christianity. Ghandi’s sentiment is a great antidote to such, no doubt well-intentioned holier-than-thou-ism. The Charlton Heston movie El Cid (“The Lord”), illustrated both the horrible destructiveness of religious conflicts and the possibilities for overcoming religious-based hostility. The story of El Cid illustrates how the desire to win or claim other people for one’s Faith can become a prescription for cruel tyranny. Faith is shared through humble dialogue and by loving interaction, not by making claims and demands, although Jesus didn’t tell us to “Go, therefore, and ‘have dialogue’ with all nations,” but to “make disciples.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: Wrong ecumenism in action? One day, a man was walking across a bridge and saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off. He immediately ran to him and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Well, why shouldn’t I?” he replied. The other said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” “Like what”? “Well … are you religious or atheist?” “Religious.” “Me, too! And are you Christian or Jewish?” “Christian.” “Me, too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “Protestant.” “Me, too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” “Baptist.” “Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?” “Baptist Church of God.” “Me, too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God.” “Me, too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” To which he said, “Die, you heretic!” and pushed him off the bridge. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s readings are about people’s bearing heroic witness to Jesus through life and death, and the Source of the inspiration behind such witness-bearing. They urge us to work for greater unity and to consider the power of Christian witness. The first reading describes the martyrdom of Stephen the Deacon and how he bore witness tohis Faith and the forgiving love of Jesus by his last prayers.In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 97) the Psalmist prays that all creation may rejoice in the Lord Who is King, and that all peoples may see His Glory. In the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, is pictured as having all the forces of Heaven and earth at his disposal, standing ready to help us in our Christian witness-bearing. It is relatively easy to acknowledge our oneness with Stephen, and to long for the experience of eternal oneness with “all those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb(Rv 22:14, Douay-Rheims). But to remain truly one with all of our brothers and sisters continues to be a daily challenge. Today’s Gospel is the last part of the “priestly prayer” of Jesus after the Last Supper. This chapter of John has been called “The Testament of Jesus” or “Jesus’ High Priestly (or Intercessory) Prayer.” During that long prayer, Jesus prays first for himself – for his own glorification (vv 1-5) – as he faces the cross. Then, he prays for his disciples that they may be unified and protected in the face of opposition from the world (vv 6-19), and finally he prays for those in distant lands and far-off ages, including ourselves, who will enter the Christian Faith. because of their witness-bearing. Thus, this is Jesus’ prayer for each one of us. We have complete Faith and certainty because Jesus put his confidence in God to whom he entrusts us all..

First reading, Acts 7: 55-60, explained: One of the purposes of Acts was to introduce Gentile converts to the Jewish roots of their new religion, and at the same time to explain Christianity’s separation from its ancestral tradition, and its openness to non-Jews. The story of Stephen’s martyrdom illustrates the point. Stephen’s vision of Jesus enthroned in Heaven, echoes the theme of the Feast of the Ascension. As in the case of Stephen, the Acts of the Apostles presents Christ’s disciples reproducing in their own lives some of the experiences of Jesus. By A.D. 80 when, some scholars believe, Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles, Christians were almost sure that Christ’s “second coming” would be delayed. The delayed Parousia seems to be why Stephen, the first Christian to die looks up at the moment of death, sees “the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand,” and prays, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” We might see Jesus coming in glory to receive Stephen’s spirit as an indication that each Christian, at the moment of death, will experience his or her personal Parousia. We no longer have to wait for Jesus’ Second Coming to enter into glory. That’s why Jesus, in Luke’s account of the Passion, assures the good thief, “This day you will be with me in paradise!”(Lk 23:43) An aspect of our Faith that is both reassuring and challenging is the fact that it is through us that the glory of the risen Jesus is revealed to others, just as it was in the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen is a good example of Faith in the risen Jesus and of the power of Christian witness. In fact, the word “martyr” derives from the Greek word for witness. Stephen died as the consequence of his bold profession of Christian Faith.

Second Reading, Revelation 22, 12-14, 16-17, 20, explained: The Risen Jesus is celebrated here as the ground of unity and the reason for bearing witness (suffering martyrdom). The first readers of this book were facing life-and-death struggles with persecutors. Hence, the Book of Revelation was given by God to John to encourage them, and all of us when we are persecuted, and to convince them, and us, that the stakes are as high as they can be. What Stephen sees as a mere glimpse in the first reading is more fully described in the vision reported in the passage from Revelation. This crucified, and now glorious, Jesus, the Beginning and End of all things, can unreservedly promise us life because he has conquered death: “Let … the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving waters” (Rv 22:17). Those joined to Jesus will be energized by the very power that flows from him. In promising martyrs that they will have the “right to the tree of life”(Cf Gn 3:21-24), John is telling us that, in Jesus, the ancient obstacle to eternal life has been lifted. John also gives the early Christians the assurance that Jesus is already present in their lives – (“realized eschatology”) to share their joys and sorrows.

Gospel exegesis: 1) Jesus prays for a unity of personal relationship. Unity is the main theme of Jesus’ prayer for the universal Church. He prays three times that all its members may be one as He and His Father are one, asking for the unity of the Church. Note the gradation in the intensity of unity for which Jesus asks:: in verse 21 he prays, “that they may all be one”; in verse 22, “that they may be one even as We are One”; and in verse 23, “that they may become perfectly one.” Christ’s plea does not concern human organizational or institutional unity among the 34,000 Christian denominations. Jesus wants the Church to be one in the very sense that there is oneness between Jesus and the Father. Quite obviously, the Oneness between Jesus and the Father is a oneness of Being, expressed as a complete unity of purpose and love. The mind of Jesus is that we cannot have unity with others unless we first have unity among ourselves as his disciples and, even more basic, that we cannot have this unity unless we have unity with God our Father in Christ by his Spirit. This means that Jesus prays for a unity of love among Christians, a unity based entirely our unity with Him, our living His Life, and on the relationship between heart and heart – God with us and we with each other. Jesus desires that Christian unity transcend all the present denominational differences and unite his followers in love. The Church must be one in the Spirit with its members, one in love and holiness. In addition to real theological and doctrinal differences, a major cause of Christian disunity today is that Jesus’ followers love their own ecclesiastical organizations, creeds, and rituals more than they love Christ. Only real Christian love, implanted by God in the hearts of Christians, can reconcile these real divisions and tear down the barriers that, over the centuries, have been erected among denominations. According to the Scriptures, God’s design for humankind is that we recognize that all of us are the children of God, and brothers to one another. This implies that we live in accord with this Divinely inspired insight—that we live in peace, harmony, and unity. Such a true spiritual unification is possible only through the work of the Holy Spirit.

2) Unity among Christians is necessary to convince the world of the truth of Christianity. Real unity among the Christians would stand as a supernatural fact requiring a supernatural explanation. It would have a strong witness value before non-Christians. Jesus actually makes this unity one of the most important signs of his mission. Faced with the disunity of Christians, the world cannot see the supreme value of the Christian Faith. Hence, it is our duty to demonstrate that unity of love with all our fellow Christians whatever their denominations and in spite of doctrinal differences. God’s glory is to be visible not in magnificent edifices or in structures of power, but in the love that unites Jesus’ followers among themselves and to God.

Jesus’ prayer for love and unity inspired Pope St. John XXIII in his desire to call a Council to help break down divisions among contemporary followers of Jesus. In his encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint (1995), Pope St. John Paul II cites Jn. 17:21-22 at least five times, stressing that the unity “which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people…stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission” (No. 9), and he urges common prayer to overcome the “painful reality” of Christian division (No. 22). In the same encyclical, Pope St. John Paul II also gives three reasons for Christian unity – first, all Christians should be obedient to Christ’s prayer that “all may be one”; second, it is important to honor the call of the Second Vatican Council, and third, the effective evangelization of the world depends on the united witness of Christians, for division among Christian believers damages our credibility. The Pope does warn against the dangers of compromise for the sake of unity, for “compromise is a contradiction with God who is Truth [70.1].”

3) Why all Christian unity attempts failed? Hans Küng has included some of these admissions in his timely work entitled Global Responsibility (Crossroads Publishing Co., New York: 1991). 1-We have failed because we have not borne witness to God’s caring love for each and every creature. 2-We have failed because we have not overcome the divisions between the churches and have often used the authority and power given to us to strengthen false and limited solidarities like racism, sexism, and nationalism. 3-We have failed because we have caused wars or excused them and often too easily justified them. 4-We have failed to be mediators and reconcilers. 5-We have failed because we have not questioned decisively enough the political and economic systems which misuse power and riches, which exploit resources and perpetuate poverty and marginalization. 6-We have failed because we have regarded ourselves and our countries as the superior center of the world. We have failed because we have not borne constant witness to the sanctity and dignity of all life. (Sanchez Files).

4) Requirements for meaningful Christian unity: True union will not be achieved simply by recognizing and admitting failures. This being the first step, the acknowledgement of guilt must be followed by a deliberate and sustained process of radical change, change that begins in the mind and heart and will, and is authentically translated into words, works and daily continuing efforts. To that end, the participants in the meetings in Stuttgart (October, 1988), Basle (May, 1989), and Seoul (March, 1990), proposed that there be: (1) a new social world order in which there is not just freedom for all but also justice. This would require that all men and women would possess equal rights and live in solidarity with one another; (2) a pluralistic world order in which there is not just equality but a reconciled multiplicity of cultures, traditions and peoples, free of discrimination of any sort; (3) a world order in partnership wherein all men and women in church and society share responsibility at all levels and wherein all can freely contribute their gifts, insights, values and experiences; (4) a world order in which mere coexistence yields to authentic peace, mere competitive productivity yields to global sharing and solidarity, and mere tolerance yields to true ecumenism. However, new world orders cannot be imposed from without; any hope of arriving at global transformation must begin with initial efforts at the grassroots level. Therefore, Jesus’ prayer, “that all may be one,” challenges each of us to look, not across cultures, continents and oceans but into the mirror over the bathroom sink. (Sanchez Files).

5) Jesus has given us his glory. In his prayer for his followers, Jesus states that he has given his disciples the glory which the Father has given him. Jesus describes this glory in three ways. a) The Cross is his glory, and the crucifixion is the moment of his glorification by his Father. Hence, a Christian should consider the cross not as a penalty, but as an honor. We must regard difficulties as moments of glory given to us by God. b) Jesus considers his perfect obedience to the will of his Father as his glory. Thus, Christians are expected to find the real glory of life in doing God’s will. c) Jesus’ life is a demonstration of his special relationship with God, expressing God’s love, compassion, and forgiveness, thus giving Him glory. It is our glory when people around us see in us the reflection of Christ. God has given Christ the glory of Sonship, and this has resulted in Their unity. Jesus, in turn, gives to his disciples the glory of becoming the adopted sons of God (Gal 4: 5; Eph 1:5; Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1). Jesus concludes his High Priestly prayer by promising us that if we share his sufferings on earth, we shall share his glory and triumph when our life on this earth is ended. As Paul put it, “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him. If we continue to endure, we shall also rule with him” (2 Timothy 2: 11-12). Jesus prays that we may be with Him, and that when we die we may share his glory.

Life Messages: 1) We need to pray for unity and serve one another in unity. We must pray for unity and discuss the similarities we share with others as well as our differences. Along with prayer, we must put our words into action. This means that we are to serve one another and to love one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Walter, Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, writes: “Much has been achieved over the last decades. Separated Christians no longer consider one another as strangers, competitors, or even enemies, but as brothers and sisters. They have largely removed the former lack of understanding, misunderstanding, prejudice, and indifference; they pray together, they give together witness to their common Faith; in many fields they work trustfully together. They have experienced that ‘what unites us is greater than what divides us.’ Such a change was hardly conceivable only half a century ago; to wish to go back to those times would entail being forsaken not only by all good spirits but also by the Holy Spirit.” In the ecumenical movement, the question is the conversion of all to Jesus Christ. As we move nearer to Jesus Christ, in Him we move nearer to one another. Such unity is ultimately a gift of God’s Spirit and of His guidance.http://www.nccouncilofchurches.org/areasofwork/committees/christian_unity/sermon_mcbriar.htm – _edn9#_edn9. The soul of the ecumenical movement then, is spiritual. Only by a renewal of the spiritual, by common prayer and common listening to the Word of God, can we hope to overcome the present ecumenical impasses and difficulties.http://www.nccouncilofchurches.org/areasofwork/committees/christian_unity/sermon_mcbriar.htm – _edn10#_edn10. In the words of Pope St. John Paul II: “The door to ecumenism is opened only on our knees.”http://www.nccouncilofchurches.org/areasofwork/committees/christian_unity/sermon_mcbriar.htm – _edn11#_edn11

2) We need to have a clear idea about the Catholic stand on ecumenism. In his encyclical Ut Unum Sint, Pope St. John Paul II warns against compromise for the sake of unity. Quoting the Apostle Paul in Galations 3:28, he states that “the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement is to reestablish full visible unity among all the baptized [77.1].” The Pope addresses the areas for study before a true consensus of Faith can be achieved: “It is already possible to identify the areas in need of fuller study before a true consensus of Faith can be achieved: 1) The relationship between Sacred Scripture, as the highest authority in matters of Faith, and Sacred Tradition, as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God. 2) The Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and Real Presence of Christ and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit; 3) Ordination, as a Sacrament, to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate. 4) The Magisterium of the Church, entrusted to the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him, understood as a responsibility and an authority exercised in the name of Christ for teaching and safeguarding the Faith; 5) The Virgin Mary, as Mother of God and Icon of the Church, the spiritual Mother who intercedes for Christ’s disciples and for all humanity [79.1].”

JOKES OF THE WEEK

1) A Catholic cat: A Catholic priest tells the story about receiving a call from a woman who was quite upset over the death of her pet cat, Homer. She wanted the priest to conduct the funeral service for Homer at her backyard. Imagine that?! The priest explained that this was a little out of his line, and he referred her to a friend, a Presbyterian pastor at a church down the street. Later, the priest learned that his Presbyterian friend had referred her to a Methodist minister, who had referred her to a Lutheran minister. About an hour later, she called her Catholic pastor back and she was still upset. The woman said she was at her wit’s end. She couldn’t find a pastor to conduct Homer’s funeral services and didn’t know what to do. Then she said that she was planning to give $1000 to the minister who performed this service for Homer. The pastor said it took him only a moment to mull this over and then say to her, “Well, why didn’t you tell me Homer was a Catholic cat in the first place!” — Ah, ecumenism at its best! In today’s Gospel Jesus prays for an entirely different type of unity of Christians.

2) Catholic crossing:  Paddy was in New York. He was patiently waiting and watching the traffic cop on a busy street crossing. The cop stopped the flow of traffic and shouted, ‘Okay, pedestrians.’ Then he’d allow the traffic to pass. He’d done this several times, and Paddy still stood on the sidewalk. After the cop had shouted, ‘Pedestrians!’ for the tenth time, Paddy went over to him and said, ‘Is it not about time ye let the Catholics across?’

STATISTICS ON WORLD RELIGIONS AND CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS

  1. Christianity: 2 billion (Christian denominations=over 34000)
  2. Islam: 1.3 billion, Hinduism: 900 million
  3. Secular/Nonreligious/Nones, Agnostic/Atheist: 850 million
  4. Buddhism: 360 million, Chinese traditional religion: 225 million
  5. primal-indigenous: 150 million, African Traditional & Diasporic: 95 million
  6. Sikhism: 23 million, Juche: 19 million, Spiritism: 14 million
  7. Judaism: 14 million, 8-Baha’i: 6 million, 9- Jainism: 4 million, 10-Shinto: 4 million

11-Cao Dai: 3 million, 12- Tenrikyo: 2.4 million, 13-Neo-Paganism: 1 million

14-Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand, 15- Rastafarianism: 700 thousand

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org

 2) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

3) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-c)      

4) http://www.searchingthescriptures.net/ (Non-Catholic)

10– Additional anecdotes:

1) “I know where to hide it.” This is a story by the Bombay-born, English writer, Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). Once upon a time, when the gods were so new that they had no names and the first man was still damp from the clay of the pit from which he had been dug, he claimed that he too was a god. The gods weighed the evidence and decided that man’s claim was good. Having conceded man’s claim, the gods came by stealth and stole away his divinity, intending to hide it where he could never find it again. Various gods made various suggestions as to an appropriate hiding place, but they could not come to an agreement.  Finally, the wisest of the gods said, “I know where to hide it, give it to me.”  He closed his hand upon the tiny light of man’s stolen godhead, and when he opened his hand again, the light was gone.  “All is well,” said the god, “I have hidden it where man will never dream of looking for it.  I have hidden it inside man himself.” –Although Kipling’s fictional god was certain that the light of humanity’s godhead was hidden forever, ours is a God who wills that we know and rejoice in the wondrous discovery of the Godhead within us.  Today, Jesus reminds us that it is this light of Divinity within us that will enable us to receive and maintain the unity among the Christians for which he prayed. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “They think they’re the only ones here.” There’s a story which many of you have heard and it is a fitting introduction for our text. A group of new arrivals in heaven met Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. He began to show them around, pointing out areas of interest and filling them in on the rules of the kingdom. There were many “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd, and they were obviously enjoying themselves immensely. Suddenly Saint Peter stopped a short distance from a massive building which was miles-wide, -long and -high, having no doors or windows. “While we pass this building,” he said, “you must walk quietly and utter not so much as a sound.” So the entourage tiptoed obediently past the monolith without a word. Once they were past, however, an inquisitive soul inquired, “Why did we have to be so quiet when we passed that building?” Saint Peter responded, “God put the Catholics [put your denomination here] in there. They think they’re the only ones up here.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) One with God and one with one another: It is reported that Mahatma Gandhi, in his younger days, was impressed with Christianity. One Sunday in South Africa he went to a church, planning to ask the minister afterwards for instructions in the faith. But as he entered the building the ushers refused to seat him. “Why don’t you visit the colored peoples’ church?” he was asked. Gandhi never became a Christian. “If Christians also have differences, I might as well remain a Hindu,” he explained. —  Yes, we have differences — but in God’s strange math 1 + 1 + 1 = One. For those who believe that, their eyes look upon their neighbor in a whole new way. For those who believe that, their arms cannot help but reach out to join those who know the same math. For those who believe, God touches and blesses and makes them (us) one with him and with one another. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) Denominational traditions: At a large ecumenical gathering of religious leaders the fire alarm sounded. The Methodists gathered in a corner and prayed while the Baptists yelled “Where’s the water?” The Quakers quietly praised God for the blessing fire brings, while the Lutherans posted a notice on the door declaring fire to be evil. Catholics took pledges to cover the expenses. Christian Scientists agreed among themselves there really was no fire at all. The Pentecostals praised God and shouted “holy smoke.” Presbyterians appointed a committee to look into the matter and make a formal report at their next session meeting. In the meantime, the Episcopalians formed a procession and marched out of the building in decency and order. — It was the building maintenance man who brought the fire-extinguished and put out the fire. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) Opening of ourselves to God’s indwelling presence. Group magazine did a survey among junior high young people in youth groups across the U.S. They asked these young people to “describe the God you believe in.” These Junior High kids said things like: “He’ll always be there even when you don’t think he is . . . He’s not a man or woman he’s a spirit, a light that’s everlasting . . . Strong, powerful, loving, caring, forgiving, mysterious . . . The God who loves us no matter what we do the one, true God . . . Awesome. God is a 100% guarantee of a problem-free life.” (Don’t you wish!) Others said things like, “I believe in the God that sent his only Son to die on the cross . . . He loves all people even me . . . Kind, just, merciful, stern . . . Fun has a sense of humor . . . He wants me to obey him. (“Insight,” Sept./Oct. 1996, p. 16.) Those Junior High young people have a pretty good grasp on Who God is. — Certainly, God is all those things and more, and all of these are wrapped up in God’s glory. When the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, our bodies house the living God. If God dwells in your life, then you have the glory. You see, the mistake we make is the assumption that glory comes from something we do, that glory is something we accomplish. That may be true in terms of what the world calls glory. But what God calls glory is simply the opening of ourselves to God’s indwelling presence. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) “Abide with Me” (hymn): Every January, the city of Delhi, India honors its president and government leaders with a ceremony called Beating Retreat. The centerpiece of the ceremony is an impressive marching display by the members of the military. The marching is highly stylized, and performed to the accompaniment of instruments, especially drums. However, everyone waits in eager anticipation for the finale of the Beating Retreat. Instead of a traditional Indian song, or a military tune, the finale of the Beating Retreat is a Christian hymn. In tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, the musicians play his favorite hymn, Abide with Me. Although most of the spectators, participants, and honorees in the ceremony are Hindu, Buddhist, or Sikh, the climax to the Beating Retreat is this sacred hymn, and it is played with respectful fervor. (Simon Winchester, “The Legacy,” August 1997, p.55.) –Gandhi knew that the glory did not belong with him, but with God. That is why he could sing, “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide! When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.” Glory is not something we can accomplish. It is a gift. All we can do is open our hearts to it. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Let’s go get it straightened out right now.” Jim Cymbala is the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, a dynamic church in New York City. He started out with about 10 people and now there are over 6,000 people there. For 20 years now, Jim has been saying to every group of new members “Now I charge you that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism, or slander against anyone — myself, an usher, a choir member, anyone else — stop that person in mid-sentence and say ‘Excuse me, who hurt you? Who slighted you? Let’s go get it straightened out right now,’ so God can restore peace and harmony to this body.” — Is it any wonder that he has 6,000 people in his Church now? God honors that kind of unity of spirit. God honors that kind of witness to the world. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) “It’s pretty tough being famous when nobody knows who you are.” Tony Campolo says that some years ago when his children were in their preteen years, he took them with him on a speaking engagement. When they drove into the parking lot adjoining the auditorium where, in just a few minutes, Tony was to speak, there were only three cars parked there. “Dad!” exclaimed his son, Bart, who at that point of his life was somewhat impressed with Tony’s role as a public speaker, “Nobody’s come to hear you! And you’re so famous!” “Come on, Bart,” responded his sister Lisa, who, Tony says, has always been the realist in the family, “if Dad is so famous, where are all the people?” “Knock it off, Lisa,” Bart answered back. “It’s pretty tough being famous when nobody knows who you are.” [Tony Campolo, Everything You’ve Heard Is Wrong (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1992), pp. 164-165.] —  That’s where most of us are. “It’s pretty tough being famous when nobody knows who you are.” Jesus didn’t promise that everybody would know our name. He just promised us glory. Evidently, what Jesus called glory was not what the world calls glory. And, maybe that’s just as well. Jib Fowles, a college professor and author, did a study of 100 stars from all fields of Hollywood entertainment, sports stars, musicians. He discovered that celebrities are almost four times more likely to kill themselves than the average American. “It’s . . . enormously stressful . . . ,” Fowles says. “There is unrelenting pressure coupled with diminishing private lives. They have to be on every time they step out their front door.” In fact, he found that the average age of death for celebrities, overall, was 58. The average for non-celebrities is 72 [Mary Loftus, “The Other Side of Fame,” Psychology Today (May/June 1995), p. 74.).] Is the world overlooking you? Maybe you are fortunate! (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) We need people who can speak the language of the heart. Harold S. Kushner tells of an incident from his youth that made a distinct impression on him. A business associate of his father’s died under particularly tragic circumstances. Kushner accompanied his father to the funeral. The man’s widow and children were surrounded by clergy and psychiatrists trying to ease their grief and make them feel better. They knew all the right words, but nothing helped. They were beyond being comforted. The widow kept saying, “You’re right, I know you’re right, but it doesn’t make any difference.” Then a man walked in, a big burly man in his eighties who was a legend in the toy and game industry. He had escaped from Russia as a youth after having been arrested and tortured by the Czar’s secret police. He had come to this country, illiterate and penniless, and had built up an immensely successful company. He was known as a hard bargainer, a ruthless competitor. Despite his success, he had never learned to read or write. He hired people to read his mail to him. The joke in the industry was that he could write a check for a million dollars, and the hardest part would be signing his name at the bottom. He had been sick recently, and his face and his walking showed it. But he walked over to the widow and started to cry, and she cried with him, and you could feel the atmosphere in the room change. This man who had never read a book in his life spoke the language of the heart and held the key that opened the gates of solace where learned doctors and clergy could not. [Harold S. Kushner, When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough (New York: Summit Books, 1986).] — We need people who can speak the language of the heart. We need persons within the community of Christ to whom we feel especially close. There will come a time when we will need to reach out to them for comfort. There will be times they will need to reach out to us. Jesus’ first prayer is for our unity with one another. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10)  “Get me to the Mustangs’ playoffs. No matter what.” In Yakima, Washington, some time, back a dying man made a strange request. On his deathbed, Grant Flory said to his family: “Get me to the Mustangs’ playoffs. No matter what.” He was referring to his old high school team, The Prosser Mustangs. So in early December, when the Mustangs played in Seattle’s Kingdome, Flory’s cremated remains were in attendance. His son Dwight approached the stadium gate wearing a camera bag that contained his father’s urn. He was stopped by a guard who asked what was in the bag. “It’s my dad,” he replied. The guard looked puzzled but allowed the ashes inside. Family members said anyone who knew Grant Flory wouldn’t be surprised by his request. He was a real football fan. — It is the dream of every pastor to have a congregation filled with people who are that determined to be at the Eucharistic celebration every Sunday to recharge their spiritual batteries, to pray for and realize Jesus’ dream of Church unity as he expressed in today’s Gospel. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) A young man named Saul: When St. Stephen the deacon was arrested by the Sanhedrin for preaching that Jesus was the Messiah, he was stoned to death for “blasphemy”. Though Saul threw no stones, he volunteered to watch the cloaks of the executioners, and thus became an accomplice in Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 7: today’s second reading). Not long afterward, however, Our Lord appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus and called him into His service. Thus, Saul the lyncher turned into St. Paul the Apostle.

Paul was not the only terrorist in history who had a radical change of heart. Joseph Picot de Limoelan (1768-1826) was a Frenchman who attended the Royal Military School in Paris and received his military commission just before the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. Being a royalist by conviction, he resigned from the French Army and joined as a Major-General the insurgent army that battled the revolutionary government. When Napoleon Bonaparte became head of the revolutionary government, Joseph did not hesitate to conspire to assassinate him. On December 24, 1800, he and his fellow conspirators rigged up a cart full of explosives intended to kill Napoleon when he came by. This “infernal machine” did explode, but Bonaparte was untouched. Limoelan then took flight to Savannah, Georgia under the name of Joseph Picot de Cloriviere. As an exile, Joseph began to realize that violence solves nothing, and that he was called to higher things. So he entered the seminary at Baltimore, and on August 11, 1812, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. His first assignment was a difficult one. He had to hold at bay the Irish leaders of St. Mary’s, Charleston, S.C. who were battling their archbishop. In 1818 Archbishop Marechal finally appointed the 51-year-old priest to a quieter post – the chaplaincy of the Visitation Convent at Georgetown. Here he was able to do solid priestly work. He spent much of his own money on Georgetown Visitation Convent, the oldest Catholic girl’s school in the original United States. He also helped found St. Joseph’s School in Washington. The lion had indeed become a lamb, as Saul had become St. Paul. (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/22

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 34) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141                   Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit also https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony’s homilies and  under Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in  for other website versions.  (Vatican Radio website: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html uploaded my Cycle A, B and C homilies in from 2018-2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .

The Ascension of the Lord (May 26th Thursday or 29th Sunday) homily

THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD [C] (May 29) 8-minute homily in one page

Introduction: Today’s readings describe the Ascension of the Lord Jesus his Heavenly glory after promising to send the Holy Spirit to the Apostles as the source of Heavenly power and commanding them to bear witness to Him through their lives and preaching throughout the world. But the ascended Jesus is still with us because of His promise, “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28-20). He is with us at all times and in all places, releasing a new energy upon the earth, the energy of the Holy Spirit.

The Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, presents the scene of Jesus’ Ascension, the promise of the Holy Spirit, his instructions to the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the Power from above, and the missionary command to the apostles to bear witness to him. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 47) suggests that, by his Ascension, the risen Lord “mounts his throne” in glory. In the second reading, Paul teaches us that God revealed His might in the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ and in exalting Him over all angelic forces. Jesus remains accessible to us now in the life-giving Holy Spirit, assuring us that one day we, too, will be ascending to Heavenly glory, provided that, with His grace, we live out our Faith in Him through the mission of loving service He entrusts to us. Today’s Gospel tells us that, with his return to the Father, Jesus completes his mission on earth. But just before his Ascension, Jesus entrusted to the disciples the mission of preaching the Good News and evangelizing the whole world by bearing witness to him through their lives. It is in his Ascension that we see Jesus entering fully into the life and glory of God. In the descriptions of Christ after his Resurrection, we are given a hint of what life will be like in Heaven. The prospect of sharing that glory should be the driving force of our lives.

Life messages: 1) We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. We preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives. Let us ask the guidance of the Spirit of God to bear witness to Jesus by our transparent Christian lives.

2) We have a teaching mission: Jesus taught us lessons of Faith, Hope, Love, forgiveness, mercy, and salvation by his life and his preaching and gave us the same mission for our brothers and sisters. Hence, let us learn about Jesus and his teachings through our daily study of the Bible and the teachings of the Church, experience Jesus in personal prayer, our reception of the Sacraments and our works of charity, and convey to others Jesus whom we experience with the help of the Holy Spirit. 3) We need Jesus as our source of strength and encouragement in doing His will: We will be able to overcome doubts about our Faith and baseless fears, anxieties, and worries by meditating on Jesus’ Ascension and the lesson it teaches — that we, too, are called to share his glory in Heaven.

Ascension of the Lord  (May 29): Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Lk 24:46-53

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: The Unfinished Painting: Leonardo da Vinci had started to work on a large canvas in his studio. For a while he worked at it – choosing the subject, planning the perspective, sketching the outline, applying the colors, with his own inimitable genius. Then suddenly he stopped working on it. Summoning one of his talented students, the master invited him to complete the work. The horrified student protested that he was both unworthy and unable to complete the great painting which his master had begun. But da Vinci silenced him. “Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?” — Jesus our Master began to spread the Good News some two thousand years ago by what he said and did, and supremely by what he suffered. Jesus illustrated his message and left us to finish the picture. Will Jesus’ life not inspire us to finish the picture? This is the message of the Ascension (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 2: The disciples who completed Puccini’s opera Turandot. The Italian composer Giacomo Puccini wrote La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, and Tosca. It was during his battle with terminal cancer in 1922 that he began to write Turandot, which many now consider his best work. He worked on the score day and night, despite his friends’ advice to rest, and to save his energy. When his sickness worsened, Puccini said to his disciples, “If I don’t finish Turandot, I want you to finish it.” He died in 1924, leaving the work unfinished. His disciples gathered all that was written of Turandot, studied it in great detail, and then proceeded to write the remainder of the opera. It was completed by Franco Alfano. The world premier was performed in La Scala Opera House in Milan in 1926, and Arturo Toscanini, Puccini’s favorite student, conducted it. The opera went beautifully. When Toscanini came to the end of the part written by Puccini, he stopped the music, put down the baton, turned to the audience, and announced, “Thus far the master wrote, but then he died.” There was a long pause; no one moved. Then Toscanini picked up the baton, turned to the audience and, with tears in his eyes, announced, “But his disciples finished his work.” The opera closed to thunderous applause, and to a permanent place in the annals of great works.

# 3: “I have no other plan — it must work.” A beautiful old story tells of how Jesus, after his Ascension into Heaven, was surrounded by the Holy Angels who began to enquire about his work on earth.  Jesus told them about his birth, life, preaching, death, and Resurrection, and how he had accomplished the salvation of the world.  The Archangel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on earth?”  Jesus said, “While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me.   They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed.  “You mean Peter, who denied you thrice and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified?  You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn’t work?”  Jesus said, “I have no other plan — it must work.” — Truly, Jesus has no other plan than to depend on the efforts of his followers!  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 Introduction:  Today’s readings describe the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into Heavenly glory, after promising to send the Holy Spirit as the source of Heavenly power for the apostles and commanding them to bear witness to him through their lives and preaching throughout the world.  What we celebrate today is Jesus’ exaltation and the end of his earthly existence, as a prelude to the gift of the Spirit.  The ascended Jesus is still with us because of his promise, “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:20).  He is with us at all times and in all places, releasing a new energy upon the earth, the energy of the Holy Spirit Who enables us to preach his Good News of salvation and to bear witness to him in living out His word.  Hence, today’s feast is the celebration of Jesus’ glory after his suffering and death – the glory in which we also hope to share.  The Ascension and Pentecost, together, mark the beginning of the Church.  The feast of the Ascension tells us that the Church must be a community in mission, guided by the Holy Spirit and confident of God’s protection even amid suffering and death. Today’s liturgy communicates the Ascension’s significance for us: “he ascended, not to distance himself from our lowly state but that we, his members, might be confident of following where he, our Head and Founder, has gone before” (Preface I of the Ascension of the Lord).

The Scripture lessons summarized:  The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, presents the scene of Jesus’ Ascension, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the instruction to the apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the power from above, and the missionary command to the apostles to bear witness to him. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 47), the Psalmist sings, “God mounts His throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord,” celebrating God’s universal Kingship. This Psalm was originally sung in connection with a cultic procession honoring the Ark of the Covenant. By his Ascension, the risen Lord likewise “mounts his throne” in glory.  In the second reading, Paul teaches us that God revealed His might in the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, thus exalting him over all angelic forces.  Jesus remains accessible to us now in his life-giving Holy Spirit, assuring us that one day we, too, will be ascending to Heavenly glory, provided that, with his grace, we live out our Faith in him through the mission of loving service he entrusts to us. Today’s Gospel tells us that, with his return to the Father, Jesus completes his mission on earth.  But just before his Ascension, Jesus entrusted to the disciples the mission of preaching the Good News and evangelizing the whole world by bearing witness to him through their lives. It is in the Ascension that we see Jesus entering fully into the life and glory of God.  In the descriptions of Christ after his Resurrection, we are given a hint of what life will be like in Heaven.   The prospect of sharing that glory should be the driving force of our lives.

The first reading (Acts 1:1-11) explained: The event of Jesus’ Ascension, recorded in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, serves as today’s first reading. Before ascending to the Father, Jesus instructed the apostles to “remain in Jerusalem and wait for the baptism by the Holy Spirit” so that they might become Jesus’ “witnesses to the ends of the earth” by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then “a cloud took Jesus from the sight” of the disciples, and two heavenly messengers in white garments gave them the assurance of Jesus’ coming return to earth in glory. “Luke will note that [the disciples] number about 120. This numeric note is more than mere census; the multiple of twelve underscores Luke’s conviction that this Jerusalem community of “Jews for Jesus” begins to fulfill the ancient expectation that “The Age to Come” would entail the restoration of Israel. The list of eleven disciples is conspicuous for the absence of Judas. The first agenda item for this post-Ascension community will be the restoration of the core group to the number twelve, showing the apostolic concern for restoring the number to the very meaning of Jesus’ original choice of a symbolic Twelve.” (Fr. Dennis Ham).

The second reading (Eph 1:17-23) explained: [alternate Hebrews 9: 24-28; 10: 19-23]: The first part of our passage prays for the Church’s growth in wisdom and knowledge and looks to the risen and ascended Christ for the power to foster this growth. The hymn then goes on to elaborate on the exaltation and kingship of Christ. (Fr. Reginald Fuller). St. Paul got a glimpse of this post-Ascension glory on the road to Damascus. (CCC #659). In Ephesians, Paul explains the theological meaning of Jesus’ exaltation by saying, “May God enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we may know the great hope to which we have been called.”  Our great hope is that one day we too will be ascending to Heavenly glory, provided that, with His grace, we live out our Faith in Him through the mission of loving service He entrusts to us. Our mission is to preach the Good News of salvation to the whole world by word and deed. We continue to receive the Divine assistance and spiritual gifts necessary for our Christian witnessing through the Holy Spirit Whom the risen Jesus, after His Ascension, asks the Father to send on the Church.

Gospel exegesis [Note: This Sunday’s Gospel is made up of the last six verses of Mark’s Gospel, which are not found in the earliest and best ancient manuscripts of Mark. Many Biblical scholars today believe that they may have derived from a second-century source which included accounts of post-Resurrection appearances. Nevertheless, they are considered canonical and inspired by the constant tradition of the Church, and by the Church’s teaching authority. (Gerard S. Sloyan, Preaching from the Lectionary: An Exegetical Commentary, p. 329).]

  1. A) The Ascension: Each Sunday we profess through the Creed, “He ascended into Heaven.” Christ’s Ascension was the culmination of God’s Divine plan for Christ Jesus – his return to his Father with his “Mission Accomplished.” His Ascension is the grand finale of all Jesus’ words and works done for us and for our salvation.  It is a culmination, but not the conclusion.  As Jesus is now with God in glory, so Jesus is with us now in Spirit: “Lo, I am with you always…”(Mt 28:20). The feast of the Ascension celebrates one aspect of the  Resurrection, namely Jesus’ exaltation.  Jesus did not wait 40 days to be glorified at God’s right hand. That had already happened at his Resurrection.  The focus of this feast is the Heavenly reign of Christ.  The Lord is now “seated at the right hand of the Father” as we profess in the Nicene Creed, meaning He alone is in control of the continuing plan of salvation through the Holy Spirit, unrestricted by time, space, or culture.  Thus, in the Paschal Mystery, Jesus’ passion, death, Resurrection, Ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit form one unbroken reality which is to be understood by Faith. The Ascension means that Jesus, His salvific suffering for our Salvation completed, is with his Father in glory. Being seated at the right hand of the Father is the fulfillment of “the prophet Daniel’s vision concerning the Son of Man: ‘To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed’” (CCC #664).
  2. B) The Ascension account and its significance: The Biblical accounts of the Ascension focus not so much on the details of the event as on the mission Jesus gave to his disciples.  For example, in the accounts narrated in Luke and Acts, the Ascension took place in Jerusalem.  In Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, the event occurred in Galilee. All accounts, however, agree that the Ascension took place on a mountain.  In Luke and Acts, the Ascension happened forty days after the Resurrection, a period during which Jesus appeared repeatedly to his followers.  In Matthew and Mark there is no indication of the time period between the Resurrection and the Ascension.  The Gospel writers apparently were not aiming at accuracy of historical detail but were more concerned with transmitting Our Lord’s message. Christ’s Ascension or going up to heaven completes his Incarnation or coming down to earth. Christ has opened the way to heaven for us. (CCC #661). “Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever” (CCC #666). “Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit” (CCC #667).

  3. C)
    The Ascension message: Preach the Good News and be my witnesses:” Matthew, Mark and Acts record Jesus’ last words differently: 1) “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  2) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  3) “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation(Mark 16:15).  All are in agreement that (a) Jesus gave the disciples a mission of bearing witness to everyone by preaching and living the Good News. They are to tell and re-tell the story of Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and Resurrection. (b) He assured them of the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit in the carrying out of this mission. (c) He instructed them to baptize the believers: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 16:19-20).  “In the earliest community and for some time, Baptism was administered in the name of Jesus. It is only in this passage of Matthew and in the Didache, a Christian writing probably dating back to the end of the first century, that we hear of the threefold formula.” (Fr. Reginald Fuller).
  4. D) Christmas and Ascension: The Ascension is most closely related, in meaning, to Christmas. In Jesus, the human and the Divine become united in the Person and life of one man who is also True God. That’s Christmas.  At the Ascension, this human being – the person and the resurrected living body of Jesus – became for all eternity a part of who God is.  It was not the Spirit of Jesus or the Divine Nature of Jesus that ascended to the Father.  It was the Risen living Body of Jesus: a Body that the disciples had touched, a Body in which He Himself  had eaten and drunk with them both before and after His Resurrection, a real, physical, but gloriously restored Body, bearing the marks of nails and a spear.  This is what, and Who, ascended.  This is what, now and forever, is a living, participating part of God. That is what the Ascension, along with the Incarnation, is here to tell us – that it is a good thing to be a human being; indeed it is a wonderful and an important and a holy thing to be a human being.  It is such an important thing that God did it.  Even more, the fullness of God now includes what it means to be a human being.

Life messages: 1) We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives this mission to all the believers: “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” This mission is not given to a select few but to all believers. To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. “We preach with words but we proclaim with our lives.” As we celebrate the Lord’s return to His Father in Heaven – His Ascension — we are being commissioned to go forth and proclaim the Gospel of life and love, of hope and peace, by the witness of our lives. On this day of hope, encouragement and commissioning, let us renew our commitment to be true disciples everywhere we go, beginning with our family and our parish, “living in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received.”

2) We need to live a life of Christian joy in the presence of the ascended Lord. According to Luke, the disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy”(Mk 16:15). Apparently Jesus’ exaltation and final blessing gave them, as it gives us, the assurance that, though absent, Jesus is still present, present even in the pain and sorrow we undergo. That is why St. Augustine, in a Homily on the Ascension, assures us, “Christ is now exalted above the Heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his Body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ and when he said: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food.’ While in Heaven he is also with us; and while on earth we are with him. He is here with us by his Divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in Heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love”(Eph 4:1-6). (https://dominicanfriars.org/the-feast-of-the-ascension/)

3) We have a teaching mission:  Jesus taught us lessons of Faith, Hope, forgiveness, mercy, redemption, and Love.  We cannot put these lessons on a shelf and ignore them.  They stand before us in the person of Jesus.  Although no longer visibly present in the world, Jesus is present in his words, and we must make these words real in our lives as well as in the lives of others. Christianity was meant to be a Faith in which Jesus’ followers would help and care for others, just as Jesus had done.   But the spreading of the Good News to all nations is not a goal that can be attained by human might and craft.  This is why Jesus promises to empower the Church with His abiding presence and that of the Holy Spirit.   The challenge of sharing the Good News with all mankind should, therefore, begin with our admission that we have often been arrogant and overbearing.  We must learn to be humble and let the Holy Spirit lead the way.

4) The ascended Jesus is our source of strength and encouragement: Perhaps some of the nagging doubts which inevitably accompany the journey of Faith could be lessened by our meditating on the Ascension and its implications. When we are too far from Faith to pray on our own, let us remember that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous, praying for us. When the trials of life feel too heavy to bear, we must remember that Christ will come again in glory, the same glory in which Jesus arose from the tomb, the same glory to which Jesus ascended, and the same glory in which Jesus currently abides. Though our limited perception might find him absent, Jesus is fully present, participating in every moment of our lives. By His Ascension, Christ has not deserted us but has made it possible for the Holy Spirit to enter all times and places. In this way it is possible for each of us to be transformed by the power of the Spirit into agents or instruments of Christ. We become enlivened, and our actions become animated in a new way by the Spirit of the God we love and serve. We have become other Christs in the world.

JOKE OF THE WEEK

# 1: The Ascension mission to preach the Gospel: After attending a convention led by Billy Graham a woman wrote to him. “Dear Sir, I feel that God is calling me to preach the Gospel. But the trouble is that I have twelve children. What shall I do?” The televangelist replied: “Dear Madam, I am delighted to hear that God has called you to preach the Gospel. I am even more delighted to hear that He has already provided you with a congregation in your own home.”

# 2: Ascension walk-out: There was a long-winded pastor who preached salvation history from Genesis to Revelation in every sermon. On the feast of Ascension as he reached Isaiah, he remarked that the prophet said nothing about the ascension of Our Lord. He asked his audience, “What shall we do with him?” One old man in the front seat said, “He can have my seat, Father, I am leaving.”

# 3: And after death ascend or descend? At the end of school what do you want to do?  I want to do my Senior Certificate. After your Senior Certificate what do you want to do? – I want to go to college. After college what do you want to do?
– I want to get a job. Then what do you want to do? – I want to make big money.  What do you want to do after making money? – I want to build a big house. After that what do you intend to do? – I want to get married. What will you do after getting married? – I will have a family. What will you do after having a family? – I will retire.  What do you want to do after you retire? – I want to take a rest. What will you do after taking a rest? – I don’t know. Will you die? – Oh yes, I will die too.  What will happen after death? I am not sure!

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org

 

2) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

3) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-c)      

4) Fr. James Farfaglia website: http://fatherjames.org/about/

5) Catholic Online Directory: http://www.catholic.org/newsearch/

6) USCCB Daily reflections videos: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/ For video homilies, copy and Paste the U R L http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/  on to the Address Bar and press Enter.

21 Additional anecdotes:

1) Solar Power: One of the national coordinators of Sun Day held early in May every year is Denis Hayes. He worked as researcher at a Washington D.C. ‘think-tank’ and has written a book on solar energy entitled Rays of Hope: The Transition to a Post-Petroleum World. Hayes claims that we are at the crossroads of making a critical choice for mankind – the choice between going solar or going nuclear for a power source. Hayes opts for the sun because it is “the world’s only inexhaustible, predictable, egalitarian, non-polluting, safe, terrorist-resistant, and free energy source.” We’ve already learned to use the power of the sun to grow food, make wine and operate greenhouses. All we need to do is develop better technology to harness solar energy to heat houses, drive our cars and run our industry. People like Hayes are looking at the sky with its sun as the main source of our future energy supply. — Today we turn our attention to the sky for another reason – to commemorate our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. In the first reading, from Acts, Jesus makes a promise: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you” (Acts 1:8). That Spirit is the power source that can give all the energy we need to live our lives to the full. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “Is this thing working?” There is the funny story of the raw army recruit standing at attention on the drill field. The Drill Instructor yells, “Forward, march!” And the entire ranks begin to move, all except this one raw recruit. He’s still standing there at attention. So the Drill Instructor strolls over to him and yells in his right ear, “Is this thing working?” “Sir, yes, sir!” The recruit yells. Then the drill instructor walks around to the other ear and yells, “Is this thing working?” “Sir, yes, sir!” The soldier says. “Then why didn’t you march when I gave the order?” “Sir, I didn’t hear you call my name.” —  Some of us are like that soldier, standing around waiting for God to call our names. But the great commission given by Jesus on the day of the Ascension is a blanket order. It has everyone’s name on it. And you can be sure that  when the Man in Charge says, “Go! Make disciples! Teach!” it is your mission and my mission. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 3) Passing the Baton: The critical moment in a relay race is the passing of the baton from one runner to another. More relays are won or lost at that moment than at any other. — The feast of the Ascension might be compared to the passing of the baton in a relay race. On this day over 2,000 years ago, Jesus passed the baton of responsibility for the Kingdom of God to the Apostles. Jesus commissioned them to complete the work he had begun. Practically, what does this mean? How do you and I, in the 21st century, carry out Jesus’ commission to be Jesus witnesses to the world and teachers to the nations? There are as many ways to do this as there are Christians. We can do what two 25-year-old university graduates did recently. After completing their degrees, one from Georgetown and the other from Marquette, they entered the Seminary. We can do what Albert Schweitzer did. At the age of 30 he abandoned his music career in Europe to study medicine and became a missionary doctor in Africa. We can do what the baseball coach of Spring Hill College, Alabama, did a few years back. At the age of 35 he resigned his position and began his studies for the priesthood. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted in Net for Life).  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) Great commissions: Actually, there have been many persons given exciting commissions in their lifetimes. There was Michelangelo’s commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Sir Christopher Wren’s commission to re-build St. Paul’s Cathedral in London after the Great Fire of London in 1666, Walter Reed’s assignment to stop yellow fever at the “Big Ditch” in Panama, Chamberlain’s orders to stop the Confederates at Little Roundtop in Gettysburg, and most recently the mission of the U.S. Navy Seals to get the terrorist master-mind, Bin Laden, dead or alive. — But I tell you, in my life and yours, there is an even greater commission. It is found here in Mt 28:18-20 where Jesus Christ turns to his disciples and says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 5) “Torpedo evangelism.” Rebecca Pippert, the author of Out of the Salt Shaker: Into the World, tells of a time she was sitting in her car at a traffic light with her window rolled down. As the light turned green a car drove by and its occupant threw something into her car hitting her on the cheek. It didn’t hurt but she was so startled that she pulled over immediately. When she unrolled the paper, she discovered it was a Gospel tract. — She says she was the apparent victim of what she refers to as “torpedo evangelism.” I’m sure the torpedo-er meant well. At least I hope so, but he or she did the wrong thing for the right reason in the wrong way. We can engage people in conversation about their Faith and their relationship with God in a non-judgmental manner. We can encourage. We can invite. We can offer counsel. But we leave the hard work, the heart work, up to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. You see, we are not on some sort of spiritual mugging mission. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Reaching Peak Performance: One of the superstars on the professional speakers’ circuit is a man named Charles Garfield. He is a psychologist from San Francisco. He makes up to 150 speeches a year, he says. Actually, if the truth were known, he makes one speech 150 times. He began his career as a mathematician for NASA. He was part of the Apollo Project that put a man on the moon. He left NASA to study psychology. He became interested in what motivates people to reach their highest possible achievement in this life. He went to Berkeley and got a PhD in psychology. Then he interviewed 1,500 people on how they achieved what he called “peak performance.” He published that result in a book, and then he started on the lecture circuit. He said the one thing that all peak performers have in common is a sense of mission. “What you need in this life if you want to have fulfillment is a sense of mission.” — It is giving yourself to something that is greater than yourself. That is what a mission is. That mission is found at the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”(Mt 28:18-20). Not only does the Church have a mission to perform in this world, but everybody in the Church is supposed to have a part in performing that mission. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “They don’t drink no water.” The chief warrant officer was brought before the provost marshal and asked if he had received the general’s order. “Yes, Sir.”
“Then why didn’t you comply?” roared the provost.
“Well, Sir, I didn’t think it applied to us.”
“And why not?”
“Because, Sir, when my men go to town, they don’t drink no water.”[Robert L. Jamison, “Humor in Uniform,” Laughter, the Best Medicine, (New York: Berkley Books, 1981), p. 29.] —-Fortunately, those men who first heard the ascending Lord’s orders did not look for ways to get around them but did what they were told. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Nietzsche and Hitler: Nietzsche, the German philosopher, said, “God is dead and the stench of his corpse is all across Europe.” He advocated humanism and proposed the development of a “superman” of Aryan heritage, protected by selective breeding and superior education. The Nazi Party picked up his idea, and men like Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Mengele, Himmler, and Rommel set about building such a society in Germany’s Third Reich. But it all ended with bullets and bombs, chaos and suffering such as the world has seldom seen. — The Christian Faith has no less a plan. But it involves a higher order. Hitler would have renewed man by his own efforts. We seek to renew the human race by the work of God. Our mission as given by the ascending Jesus is not to make converts or Church members, but baptized, receptive, obedient disciples! (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Three-step Baptism:  In one of the great cathedrals of Europe there is a baptistery that tells the story. The water flows through it, reminding us that Jesus says he is the Living Water. To be baptized, a person walks down three steps, each one marked by a word: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Descending the steps, the convert is plunged beneath the water to die to sin and then is raised from the depths to newness of life in Christ. To leave the baptistery now he must climb three steps, each one marked by a word: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So it is that a new creature is born, a new breed of man, a citizen of a new Kingdom, a breed apart.  Dead to sin, he is alive to God and sent forth to grow and love and give light to a lost and dying world. — He doesn’t do it alone. He does it in the Church, in little communities. In these, people demonstrate, in their way of being together, God’s eternal kingdom come upon them. It took Michelangelo over ten years to paint the Sistine Chapel. Our missionary commission lasts until the job gets done, until life is over, “until the close of the age.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) “Alter your course 10 degrees north.” Have you heard the story of a sea captain who was guiding his ship on a very dark night? He saw faint lights in the distance and told his signalman to send a message, “Alter your course 10 degrees south.” A prompt message returned, “Alter your course 10 degrees north.” The captain became angry because his command had been ignored, so he sent a second message, “I command you to alter your course 10 degrees south!” Again a message promptly returned, “Alter your course 10 degrees north.” Infuriated, the captain sent off a third message: “I am the captain and this is a battleship. Alter your course 10 degrees south!” Once again a prompt reply came, “Alter your course 10 degrees north – I am a lighthouse.” — These last words of Jesus are the signal we are to obey. No wonder we label the call “the Great Commission.” The tragedy of the Church – our great sin – is that the Great Commission of Jesus is our “great omission.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) Plus Ultra = “More beyond!” In Fourteen Hundred Ninety-two/Columbus sailed the ocean blue!” In 1992, the world marked the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ adventure in the Santa Maria. As we all now know, Columbus did not end up where he was headed, which is why some native Americans are now called Indians. This man from Genoa believed, “God granted me the gift of knowledge … (and) revealed to me that it was feasible to sail … to the Indies, and placed in me a burning desire to carry out this plan.” Columbus set out with a belief that he had tested with his mind, and with a Faith to which he was willing to give his life! How many of us can walk in Columbus’ shoes? When, on Friday, August 3, 1492, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, eased away from their moorings at Palos, in southern Spain, Columbus was putting his beliefs and his Faith into the realities of life. Before the reports of his trans-Atlantic travel penetrated the Old World, Spanish coins had stamped upon them an outline of the Straits of Gibraltar. Underneath the outline of the Straits was the Latin inscription Ne Plus Ultra. It translates, “No more beyond.” It meant that the world ended in the great expansive voids of water beyond the Straits. There was nothing more. But once Columbus returned home and told of what he had seen, of what he had discovered, and once that report was widely shared, new coins were minted. The inscription was changed to Plus Ultra. It translates, “More beyond!” — That is the mountaintop affirmation which came to the disciples in Galilee and the word that ends Matthew’s Gospel. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Wellington defeated: Wellington and Napoleon were fighting the battle of Waterloo. It was a decisive battle. Life for many, many persons hinged on its outcome. At last, word was transmitted to London by means of semaphores – a visual code with reflected sunlight spelling out the message letter by letter. A sentry picked up the message from his post atop a great cathedral. Letter by letter he passed on the message to London. The first word was “Wellington.” The second word was “defeated.” Suddenly a very dense fog settled in upon the cathedral, making it impossible for the light to penetrate the mists and allow the message forwarded on. The fog grew more dense, and its darkness was mirrored in the hearts of the Londoners who had received the word, “Wellington defeated.” It meant that Napoleon had won. The English of London were a conquered people. Hope was gone. Liberty was no more. England was ruled by another. But as suddenly as it had come, the fog lifted. The sentry returned to his tower, and went back to his duties, feverishly attempting to transmit the whole message. And London saw it – the good news breaking upon the city and telling the full story: “Wellington defeated the enemy!” — Whether the semaphores’ message to London is history or fiction, it does convey the truth of Christian Faith! That truth, “He is not here. He has risen!” was spoken by angels in Joseph’s garden as the earliest followers of Christ made the discovery. It is the victory message of Jesus’ word to his disciples upon that Galilee mountaintop, and it is the shout heard through the centuries as human life has been understood as life lived in two worlds – one temporal, the other eternal. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “I am the smartest man in the world”. A ridiculous story with religious significance has been making the rounds lately. It is about a pilot and three passengers a boy scout, a priest, and an atomic scientist in a plane that develops engine trouble in mid-flight. The pilot rushes back to the passenger compartment and exclaims, “The plane is going down! We only have three parachutes, and there are four of us! I have a family waiting for me at home. I must survive!” With that, he grabs one of the parachutes and jumps out of the plane. The atomic scientist jumps to his feet at this point and declares, “I am the smartest man in the world. It would be a great tragedy if my life were snuffed out!” With that, he also grabs a parachute and exits the plane. With an alarmed look on his face, the priest says to the Boy Scout, “My son, I have no family. I am ready to meet my Maker. You are still young with much ahead of you. You take the last parachute.” At this point, the Boy Scout interrupts the priest, “Hold on, Father. Don’t say any more. We’re all right. The world’s smartest man just jumped out of the plane wearing my backpack!”  — For such smart people who do not believe in an afterlife, today’s feast of the Ascension seems a myth. But it is the guarantee of their resurrection and ascension to heaven for Christians. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Are we going to them? 95% of North American Christians will not lead a single person to Christ in their lifetime and I cry, “Lord, help us!” Some of you know the story: 36 million Americans (14% of the population) live in poverty. Of those, the portion living in our urban centers has increased from 30% in 1968 to about 47% today. Are we going to them? And are we going to the 57% of the 36 million poor who remain in rural America? Seventy million individuals in the United States are under the age of 18—are we going to them? Nearly one million foreign-born people immigrate to this country every year. Are we going to them? Thirty-two million people in America speak some language other than English as their primary language. Are we going to them? We have more unsaved and unchurched people in our nation than ever before in our history—172 million. Are we going to them? Ninety percent of the population of the United States now lives in urban settings. Are we going to them? — Over 150 million people in America claim to be “born-again Christians.” We have to question what that means. And we wonder if people are not interpreting the Christian Faith as mere mental assent to correct doctrine, accepting forgiveness and professing Christ as an insurance policy – a way to get into Heaven when we die and leave this earth – missing the whole notion of discipleship, growing into the likeness of Christ. If all born-again Christians were disciples, would there not be greater signs of the transforming power of Christ at work in the world? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “The City of the World increasingly oozes its decay.” Peter Kreeft, professor at Boston College, has perceptively noted, “The City of the World increasingly oozes its decay.” We saw signs of it in the half-time show of the 38th Super Bowl. One hundred million people – how many children were among them? – saw Justin Timberlake rip off a portion of Janet Jackson’s upper clothing, exposing a private part of her body. We cringed at that and the media talked about it for days. But not much was said about the “dirty” dancing and lewd lyrics, including words about getting a woman naked before the song was done. Other singers through lyrics and dance displayed sexual lust as they gyrated with female dancing partners. — The truth, friends, is that halftime show is not the exception in television fare. In fact, it was rather tame compared to what constantly flows from television and the Internet. “The City of the World increasingly oozes its decay.” But what about disciples of Jesus? What about the Church? What about the City set on a hill? What are we doing about “the fact that all the septic tanks on the hill are backing up”? We need disciples with a passion for shedding the light of Christ into every dark corner of the world. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

16) Gaze heavenward but go worldwide! Nicky often boasted about his deep Faith. Once, a storm arose and the rains threatened to flood Nicky’s house. A fireman rushed in and said, “Come, I’ll carry you away!” Pointing upward, Nicky exclaimed, “Jesus is the way!” The downpour continued and the waters reached Nicky’s waist. A fisherman rowed by and screamed, “Jump in, I’ll steer you to safety!” gazing heavenward, Nicky retorted, “Only Jesus saves!” Later, rising rainwater forced Nicky to climb onto the roof. The pilot of a helicopter hovering overhead shouted, “I’ll help you!” Nicky replied: “I trust in God alone!”–  Nicky drowned in the raging waters. In Heaven, he complained: “Lord, I trusted You, but You abandoned me!” God replied, “No, I didn’t! I tried to save you as fireman, fisherman and pilot! Why didn’t you do anything besides gazing heavenward?”  (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for daily Deeds; quoted in Net for Life) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 17) He is the same yet different……Lech Walesa worked for years as an electrician in the Gdansk shipyards. During those years he and his fellow workers founded the movement which came to be known as “Solidarity.” Walesa became its leader. This brought them into open conflict with the Communist leaders. Eventually the workers won out. The Communist regime collapsed and democracy returned to Poland. Then on December 9, 1990 something happened which a few years prior would have been unthinkable. Walesa the shipyard worker was elected first president of a free and democratic Poland. It was a great honor for Walesa. His fellow-workers were delighted. They, too, felt honored because of their association with him. However, there was sadness too. They knew that it would change forever the way they related to him. They knew they were losing him. However, they were hoping that he would not forget them and that he would help them from his new and more influential position. –The illustration may go some way in helping us to understand what we are celebrating on this great feast of Ascension (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted in Net for Life). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) The power within: A Jesuit priest, Walter Ciszek by name, was in Russia for 23 years, five of which were spent in the dreaded Lubyanka prison in Moscow and ten of which were spent in the harsh Siberian slave labour camp. He was finally released from Russia in 1963, in exchange for two Soviet spies held in USA. He died in 1984 at the age of 84. After release he wrote a book “He Leadeth Me.” In this book he tries to answer the question: ‘How did you manage to survive in Russia?’ he says: “I was able to endure the inhuman conditions in which I found myself because I experienced somehow the presence of God. I never lost my Faith that God was with me, even in the worst of circumstances.” — What was true of Fr. Walter Ciszek is true of each of us. Jesus is with us; God is with us in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Vima Dasan in His Word Lives; quoted in Net for Life) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Footprints: In the familiar story entitled “Footprints,” a man at the end of his life wanted to know why in tough times there was only one set of footprints in the sand. After all, the Lord had promised to walk with him all the way. The Lord replied by telling him that He never left him in times of trial. When the man saw only one set of footprints, it was then that the Lord carried him.  — The Lord was with Fr. Ciszek for twenty-three years of hardship in Russia. The Lord was with the man walking in the sand. May the risen Lord be with us all the days of our life! (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted in Net for Life). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Run the race well: Many years ago, a great Arctic explorer started on an expedition to the North Pole. After having spent two years in the freezing and lonely place, he wrote a message, tied it to the leg of a carrier pigeon, and let it loose to make the two thousand miles journey to Norway. The bird circled thrice, and then started its southward flight in the freezing cold for hundreds of miles; it travelled and crossed the icy frozen oceans and wastelands until it reached and dropped into the lap of the explorer’s wife. The arrival of the bird proved that everything was well with her husband in that deserted, lonely and frozen arctic North. — Likewise, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost proved to the disciples that Jesus had entered the Heavenly sanctuary after His Ascension as He had promised. Now He was seated at the right hand of God the Father, for His redemption work was over. The coming of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of the promise of Christ. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted in Net for Life). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) “Let me see your hands, your feet, and your side.”  The early Church Fathers told a much-loved story of Christ’s arrival in Heaven after his Ascension from the earth. The devil, they said, still smarting from Christ’s descent into hell, was furious that Christ had defeated him and robbed him of his power to shape the lives of men and women. So, masquerading as Jesus Christ himself, the devil rushed ahead of Jesus into God’s presence and, holding his hands up high in a greeting of triumph, approached the Divine Grace, saying ‘I am here, I have done the work you gave me to do, I have offered my life for the salvation of the world. Give me the seat of honor at the right hand of your majesty and let me share you power.’ ‘Let me see your hands, your feet, and your side,’ God answered, ‘for those dreadful wounds suffered in love are the proof of your faithfulness, and they alone can gain for you access to my majesty and power.’ — Of course, the devil had no such wounds to show, as all in Heaven could see from his uplifted hands. At that very moment Christ appeared–See! He lifts his hands above! Alleluia! See! He shows the prints of love! Alleluia! Of course, the devil was exposed for the fraud he is and once again cast into outer-darkness, while Christ was welcomed by the Divine Grace to sit at God’s right hand, there forever to intercede for the world he loves for which he died a cruel and agonizing death.” (Rev. Bruce Jenneker). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).  L/22

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 35) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141                   Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit also https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony’s homilies and  under Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in  for other website versions.  (Vatican Radio website: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html uploaded my Cycle A, B and C homilies in from 2018-2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .

May 23-28 weekday homilies

May 23-28: Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes May 23 Monday: John 15: 26–16:4 : 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 16) 1 “I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Context:In his final discourse with the apostles at the Last Supper, Jesus assured them that he would not desert them. Instead, a powerful Divine Helper, the Holy Spirit, would come to them from Jesus and the Father in order to guide them and to strengthen them.

The role of the Holy Spirit as outlined in today’s Gospel: 1) As the Counselor or Paraclete or Advocate, the Holy Spirit would coach, defend, and strengthen the apostles in their sufferings and persecution and would guide them during their trials before the civil authorities. 2) As the Spirit of Truth, He would bear witness to Jesus and enable the apostles to bear witness to Christ heroically before the pagans. The Holy Spirit would give them an experiential knowledge of Jesus and an in-depth knowledge of Jesus’ teachings. “The mission of the Church is carried out by means of that activity through which, in obedience to Christ’s command and moved by the grace and love of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes itself fully present to all men and peoples in order to lead them to the Faith, freedom, and peace of Christ by the example of its life and preaching, by the Sacraments and other means of grace” (Vatican II Decree, Ad Gentes 5). Then Jesus foretells the nature of the persecution: 1) Excommunicating Jesus’ followers from synagogues; 2) Establishing the murder of Jesus’ followers (“heretics”), as a religious duty in defense of Judaism and, so, pleasing to Yahweh.

Life messages: 1) As the Divine Advocate, the Holy Spirit, living within us, continues to help us bear witness to Christ by assisting us to live transparent Christian lives. 2) He also gives us courage and perseverance when we meet adversities and challenges. 3) As the Divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit, through our daily study of the Bible, helps us to know Jesus thoroughly, to love him personally and to experience him intimately, so that we may live the ideals of Christ and convey them to others through our genuine Christian lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)L/22

May 24 Tuesday: John 16 :5-11: 5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tries to console his sad and disheartened disciples at the Last Supper, for they are at a loss, hearing the news of their master’s imminent departure. So, he assures them that they will not be left alone. He will send the Holy Spirit upon them as a friend, guide, consoler and teacher. Then Jesus explains the three different roles of the Holy Spirit in their lives. First, He will convince the world about the seriousness of sin. Thus, the Holy Spirit will lead us to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness from Jesus. The Divine Advocate will demonstrate that not believing in Jesus is the real sin. It is the Holy Spirit Who would prick the hearts of the Jews on the day of Pentecost, convicting them of their sin of crucifying their Messiah. In the same way, He convicts us of wrongdoing and convinces us of God’s truth. Second, the Spirit convinces us of the righteousness of Christ, which means that that Jesus was right in his teachings and promises, as proved by God His Father Who granted him Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. Although Jesus was condemned to death, it was actually Satan, the ruler of this world, who was condemned through Jesus’ death. Third, the Holy Spirit gives us the inner and unshakable conviction that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. When we heed God’s judgments, we find true peace, joy, and reconciliation with God.

Life message: We need to allow the Holy Spirit to do what He wishes in and through our lives so that He may release us from the grip of sin and set us ablaze with the fire of God’s love. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

May 25 Wednesday: (St. Bede, Venerable, Priest, Doctor of the Church),https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bede-the-venerabl, St. Gregory VII, Pope, https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-gregory-vii St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin: (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-mary-magdalene-de-pazzi) . ): Jn 16:12-15: 12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is taken from the Last Supper discourse in which Jesus instructed his disciples on the role of the Holy Spirit and His relationship with Jesus and God the Father.

1) First, as the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit is the Gift of God Who is the Possessor and the Giver of all truth. It is the Spirit’s role to make the disciples fully understand the truths revealed by Christ. Vatican II teaches that Our Lord “completed and perfected Revelation and confirmed it…finally by sending the Spirit of Truth” (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 4).

2) By bringing to their minds and clarifying everything Jesus has taught them, the Holy Spirit will also enable them to render glory to God by glorifying His Son Jesus.

Relationship of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son: Jesus also reveals the mystery of the Blessed Trinity in today’s Gospel passage, saying that the Three Divine Persons have the same nature: “everything that the Father has belongs to the Son, and everything the Son has belongs to the Father” (cf. John 17:10), and that the Spirit also shares the same Divine Essence with the Father and the Son.

Life message: 1) We need the daily guidance and strengthening of the Holy Spirit in our mission of bearing witness. We should remember that Faith is a gift. Hence, we do not gain converts by argument or eloquence, but by praying for them and by radiating, through our living, the Good News that Jesus has died for our sins, has risen for our justification, and offers us a share in his glory. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

May 26 Thursday: (Feast of Ascension of our Lord)or  St. Philip Neri, Priest)https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-philip-neriJn 16:16-20: 16 “A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, `because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by `a little while’? We do not know what he means.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In the Last Supper discourse, Jesus tells the Apostles about leaving them in order to return to his Father and about coming again at the end of time to usher in the new age of God’s kingdom. When they start asking each other the meaning of these statements, Jesus explains to them the hardships they will have to face after his departure and the glorious reward waiting for them in his Second Coming. But as he had consoled them earlier, promising to send a Paraclete, now Jesus assures them that his absence is only temporary.

A little while: Jesus is speaking about a three-level disappearance and reappearance. The first level is Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The apostles will no longer see Jesus when he dies. But they will see Jesus again in three days as their risen Lord. The second level is the mystical level: They will lose sight of Jesus physically when he ascends to the glory of the Father. But they will see Jesus again in many ways by Faith when the Holy Spirit comes (e.g., in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible, in the praying community, and in people we meet). There is also a third level. Jesus is not now visible physically to the world but will manifest his glory to the whole world when he comes again in glory for the Last Judgment. In the light of eternity, a few thousand years are but an instant, a very short while.

Life messages: 1) Let us try to recognize the presence of the living Lord in our midst here and now. 2) Let us ask Him to help us adjust our daily lives accordingly, so that we, too, may inherit the eternal joy prepared for us. Fr. Tony (frtonyshomilies.com) L/22

May 27 Friday: (St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-augustine-of-canterbury; Jn 16:20-23:: 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: After foretelling his imminent departure following the Last Supper, Jesus tried to boost the morale of his sad and dispirited disciples. First, he consoled them, promising them to send his Holy Spirit as their Paraclete — Consoler, Guide and Advocate (Attorney). Then, Jesus assured them that his absence would only be temporary.

Contrast between present sorrows and future glory: Jesus compares the temporary pain, sufferings and persecutions of his disciples to the passing, though intense, labor-pains of a woman giving birth to her child. The moment she hears the cry of her child and sees his or her face she forgets all her pain. In the same way, the “other-worldly” joy waiting for his disciples will transcend all types of earthly joys.

Life messages: 1) Let us see our pains and suffering as God’s means to strengthen our will and form our character. The conviction of the temporary nature of our suffering and of the glory waiting for us if we accept pain and suffering graciously, converting them into willing acts of reparation for sins, will help us to face them heroically. (Fr. Tony) L/22

May 28 Saturday:Jn 16. 23-28: 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. 24 Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 25 “I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Jesus used parables and metaphors, both in teaching the general public and in explaining teachings to the apostles. Today’s Gospel passage is taken from Jesus’ last discourse with his disciples at their Last Passover Supper together. Here, too, Jesus uses metaphors of a vine and its branches and the simile of a woman giving birth. Now Jesus tells them that he is going to tell them about God, his Father, in plain language. Jesus explains the mystery of his Incarnation in plain language saying, “I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” Then Jesus corrects the Jewish misconception of God, his Father, as a judging and punishing God, telling the apostles that God the Father is a loving and forgiving Father, to Whom they can pray directly (“Abba!”) in Jesus’ name, and that their prayers will be granted because the Father knows that they love His Son, Jesus, and believe in His Divinity. To pray in Jesus’ Name is not a magic formula or password. It means that we come to God the Father in the merit and righteousness of His Son Jesus. In other words, I come to the Father depending on the perfect merit of Jesus which gives me standing before the Father. It also means that I pray to Father as Jesus’ representative, asking that God the Father’s will be done and that His name be glorified. In other words, praying in Jesus’ name means praying with Jesus’ authority and asking God the Father to act upon our prayers because we come in the name of His Son, Jesus. This is the pattern of prayer in the Liturgy. The Eucharistic prayer is invariably addressed to the Father, “through Him (Jesus), with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit” All our prayer has the pattern of the Trinity stamped on it. This does not mean that we should never pray to anyone but the Father. We are free to pray to Jesus, Mary, and the saints, but always in the full knowledge that the Father is the ultimate Recipient of all prayer – just as the sea receives every stream.

Life message: 1) God our Father is a loving, merciful and providing God who wants His children to approach Him directly and through His Son and our only mediator, Jesus. 2) Hence, let us make our prayers of adoration, praise, thanksgiving, contrition, and petition more effective and fruitful by offering them to God our Father through His Son Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Easter VI Sunday (May 22) homily

Easter VI [C] (May 26) Homily Jn 14:23-29 (One-page summary) L/22

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: 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, our Advocate, and the Source of our 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 into 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 of the Spirit!

Easter VI  (May 26): Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rv 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-21

Homily Starter Anecdotes:#1) “Temples of the Holy Spirit”: 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). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 2: 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. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

#3: “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 household words as is 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. (https://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 must 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 Cburch Council 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 New Covenant was sealed not with the blood of circumcision, but with the blood of Jesus Christ (CCC #610, 613). This and other dogmas are examples of the exercise of authority given to the Church Magisterium by Christ. Belief in — acceptance of — such dogmas is obligatory since they are truths contained in divine Revelation or have a necessary connection with them (CCC #88).

(A question on dissension answered: The early Church seems to be embroiled in dissension less than one decade after the Resurrection of Jesus. Can the Holy Spirit really be at work in those circumstances?Perhaps the question could be rephrased this way: “Is there a place for both controversy and peace in our Church?” There are a lot of ways to nuance the meanings of “dissension” and “debate,” but the underlying thrust is the same: disagreement over a matter of importance, at least to the parties engaged in debate. The year is only about 49 or 50 AD when this occurred, which shows that lively arguments were arising whenever “changes” occurred that would alter or even threaten to modify “established” rituals and practices. The answer is a resounding “YES.” The Church grew and still grows in understanding its Faith through lively discussions and debates among qualified theologians. Those discussions have been going on ever since the vision of St. Peter (Acts 10) which led to the baptism of the first Gentiles (Cornelius’ household), around 43 AD. It is important to recognize the wording of the Apostles’ decision regarding the waiver of the former discipline of circumcision: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit AND to us to lay upon you no greater burden than…necessary things…” (Acts 15:28). Clearly, the dietary laws, variations in certain rituals, and similar disciplines were deemed eligible for change as circumstances warranted. Every suggested change creates healthy discussions and is preceded by healthy discussions. Closure is then brought to the discussion at some point in time, when the Apostles (or their successors, the united Bishops) reach a decision. Cultural conditioning plays a large part in some decisions (e.g., Paul insisting that women had to wear hats in church), as it does today; these are also identified as matters of “discipline.” ( Fr. Robert F. McNamara).

The Catechism on healthy debates: Perhaps it is better to leave the debates in the hands of the theologians, who are schooled in the ways of theological research (CCC #94), and who know the difference between debate and dissension. At some point in time, the Magisterium — the official and recognized teaching office of the Catholic church — reaches a decision on a subject, and to that decision we owe the obedience of Faith (CCC#144, 85, 88) or assent of Faith (optimally), or as a minimum the religious respect of intellect and will; and the Christian faithful are called upon “to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching” (Canon Law #752).

The second reading, Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23, explained: The Book of Revelation was written to bolster the Faith of the persecuted Christians of all ages. 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!

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org

 2) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

3) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-c)    

20 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.’” (Kofi Annan –“Excerpts from Nobel Prize acceptance speech”). — 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. (https://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.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

3) “You were walking with Mary Susanna Brown, a child of God: Retired Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, (the eldest son of Boston physician, poet, and polymath, Dr. 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. (https://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”(Jn 14:27) What a promise! What a gift! Peace of mind and heart. He can give it to us. (https://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. (Jn 15:13). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

6) “Were 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. (https://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. (https://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 Who 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. (https://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. (https://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. (https://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 in 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. (https://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). (https://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 with God the Incarnte Risen Son in the Holy Spirit within us,  which gives us lasting peace. (https://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!) (https://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). (https://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. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

17) The 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.” (Jn 14:1) Amen. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

18) Peanut in our pocket:  There is a story told  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 had made every effort within her power to raise Sally right. Now Sally 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. (https://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.” . (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).  — 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. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

20) The City Sparkled Like a Diamond: We pray for the dead, “May perpetual light shine upon them”. Have you ever wondered what sort of light perpetual light would be? Soft and white, perhaps, like the light of a frosted bulb? Piercing, like the headlight of a motorcycle? Scary electric blue, like a flash of lightning? Too dazzling even to look at, like the glare of the summer sun? It might resemble any of these. But somehow, I believe that the light in heaven will be more gracious. — Today’s second reading suggests what I mean. St. John had a preview of the “new Jerusalem” to be sent down by God. He says, “The city had the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkled like a diamond.” In other words it shone with a glittering, amiable, transparent light. John used similar descriptions elsewhere in the Book of Revelations: “The city was of pure gold, crystal clear” and “The streets of the city were of pure gold, transparent as glass. The floor around (God’s) throne was like a sea of glass that was crystal clear.”  Centuries before St. John’s days, the prophet Ezekiel had described the sky above God, whom he too saw in a vision, as shining “like glittering crystal.“ From 1915 to 1917 the three children of Fatima, Portugal – Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta – had several visions of Our Lady and of angels. They, too, described the light in these visions as something you could see through. Lucia has recorded that the angel they saw in 1916 “was a young man, about 14 or 15 years old, whiter than snow, transparent as crystal when the sun shines through it.” And when Our Lady appeared to them on May 13, 1917, Lucy said “she was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated with a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water when the rays of the burning sun shine through it.” I think I would like that sort of light. (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)       L/22

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 33) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141                   Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit also https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony’s homilies and  under Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in  for other website versions.  (Vatican Radio website: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html uploaded my Cycle A, B and C homilies in from 2018-2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .

  

May 16-21 weekday homilies

May 16-21: Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: May 16 Monday: Jn 14:21-26: 21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Additional Reflections:( https://youtu.be/db4dRureCVs?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DA8uaxE25BlBvINntS5bWpi) Click onhttps://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections(Copy and paste these web addresses on the Address bar of any Internet website like Google or MSN and press the Enter button of your Keyboard).

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is taken from Jesus’ Last Super discourse. It was commonly held by the Jews that when the Messiah came, he would be revealed to the whole world as King and Savior. Hence, Judas Thaddeus asks why Jesus is revealing himself only to his disciples. Jesus does not answer that question directly. Instead, He continues his work of preparing his disciples for his imminent departure from them by assuring them that he is not leaving them alone. Instead, Jesus is going to live in them along with God his Father and God the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Father can be experienced through the experience of love. It means that the criterion of the Father is always the same: love. “If anyone loves Me, he will observe My word, and My Father will love him and We shall come to him and make a home in him.”

Jesus promises the abiding presence of the Holy Trinity in his disciples who express their responsive love for him by keeping his commandments, especially his commandment of love, because only this type of loving will open them and make them receptive to the Divine Indwelling of the Trinitarian God. Jesus is referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul renewed by grace. God repeatedly revealed Himself in the Old Testament and promised to dwell in the midst of His people (cf. Ex 29:45; Ez 37:26-27; etc.). But here Jesus speaks of the presence of God in each person. We are each a part of the Divine chain of love. God loves man. He sent His Son to prove it. After Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, God the Father continues to live in us with His Son and the Holy Spirit. This abiding God gives us the Father’s protection and providence, the Son’s redemption and forgiveness of sins, and the Holy Spirit’s sanctification and guidance.

Life messages: 1) Let us live in constant awareness of the abiding presence of the Trinitarian God within us and behave well in His presence. 2) During moments of doubts and temptations, let us seek the active guidance and strengthening of our indwelling God. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

May 17 Tuesday:  Jn 14:27-31a: 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence. Click onhttps://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In his Last Supper discourse, Jesus gives two gifts to his disciples, namely, the gift of peace and the gift of the cross leading to glory. Today’s passage refers to the gift of peace. Wishing a person peace (Shalom), was, and still is, the usual form of greeting among the Jews and the Arabs. Shalom is a right relationship with God and with others. Arabs wish each other saying “Islam Alikum” in Arabic, meaning peace be with you. And the response is “alikum Islam” (and also with you). Moses instructed the Israelites to bless others with God’s peace: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Nm 6:22-26). “Peace be with you!” is the greeting which Jesus used, and which the Apostles continued to use. Hence, the Church uses it several times in the liturgy. Peace is one of the great Messianic gifts. St. Paul tells us that it is it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Jesus repeats his promise saying, “My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you.” Pope St. Paul VI (canonized October 14, 2018), said: “True peace must be founded upon justice, upon a sense of the untouchable dignity of man, upon the recognition of an indelible and happy equality between men, upon the basic principle of human brotherhood.”

Life message: 1) We are invited to live in the peace wished by Jesus. This requires that we be reconciled every day with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with our God. Reconciliation with God demands that we obey His commandments, repent every day of our sins, and ask God’s forgiveness. Reconciliation with others demands that we forgive others for their offenses against us, and that we ask for their forgiveness for our offenses against them in words and deeds. Reconciliation with ourselves comes from our grace-given humble recognition of our weaknesses and failures and our grateful acceptance and use of the Holy Spirit’s loving gifts to us of deepened love and trust that God loves us in spite of these weaknesses, forgives us our sins when we repent, helps us to do better, and uses our weaknesses to bring us closer to Him, and to demonstrate His own Love and Power working through us for His glory. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22.

May 18 Wednesday: (St. John I, Pope, Martyr): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-i; John 15:1-8: 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples:. Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/;https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: During his Last Supper discourse, Jesus uses one of his favorite images, the vine and the branches, to help his disciples understand the closeness of their relationship with him and the necessity of their maintaining it. Jesus assures them, using the parable of the vine and branches, that the Life-giving Spirit, Whom Jesus will send them, will be present and active among his disciples and their successors. This Gospel passage also emphasizes the need for Christians to abide in Christ as an essential condition for producing fruits of kindness, mercy, justice, charity, and holiness. Paul further clarifies this idea in Colossians 1:18 using another metaphor, that Christ is the Head and Christians are the different members of His Mystical Body. Pruning is an essential part of growing fruit-producing branches. In the vineyards in Palestine, dead branches were pruned to save the vine. Fruitless, leafy branches draining life sap from the main trunk were also pruned away leaving only fruit-bearing branches. Jesus tells his apostles that they have already been pruned by the words he has spoken to them. Eventually, they will be pruned of all attachment to the things of this world so that they may be ready to attach themselves to the things of Heaven.

Life messages 1) We need pruning in our Christian life. Pruning, which cuts out of our lives everything that is contrary to the spirit of Jesus and renews our commitment to Christian ideals in our lives every day, is the first type of self-imposed pruning expected of us. A second kind of pruning is accomplished by practicing self-control over our evil inclinations, sinful addictions, and aberrations. A third type of pruning is done by our permitting Jesus to prune, purify, and strengthen us as God allows us to face pain, suffering, contradictions, and difficulties with His grace and the courage of our Christian convictions. 2) Let us abide in Christ and let Christ abide in us: Personal and liturgical prayers, frequenting of the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation, daily, meditative reading of the Bible, and selfless, loving acts of kindness, mercy, and forgiveness enable us to abide in Jesus, the true vine, as fruit-bearing branches (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22.

May 19 Thursday: Jn 15: 9-11: 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another. Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/;https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: During the Last Supper discourse, Jesus teaches his disciples that love is the hallmark and the criterion of Christians. Jesus reminds his disciples that he has chosen them as his friends with a triple mission. First, they are to love others as he has loved them. Second, they are to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Third, they are to ask God the Father for whatever they need in Jesus’ name.

The criteria of Christian love: First, Jesus modifies the Old Testament command from “love your neighbor as you love yourselves” (Lv 19: 18) to “love others as I have loved you.” This means that our love for others must be unconditional, forgiving, and sacrificial. Jesus invites each Christian to be in the inner circle of his friends by obeying his commandments including the new commandment of love. Such friends abide in Jesus, and Jesus abides in them, and their prayers in Jesus’ name will be answered promptly by God the Father. We express our love for Christ by obeying his new commandment of love. Jesus further explains that the real source of Christian joy is the certainty that God loves us. We, too, must be ready to express our love for others by our readiness to die for them as Jesus died for us.

Life message: 1) Let us remember that true Christian love is costly and painful because it involves sacrifice on our part when we start loving unlovable, ungrateful, and hostile people with Christ’s unconditional, forgiving, sacrificial love. But our Christian call is to love others as Jesus has loved us, and as Jesus loves them. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

May 20 Friday: (St. Berndine of Siena, priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bernardine-of-siena Jn 15:12-17: 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another. Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/;https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is a part of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse. Jesus reminds his disciples that he has chosen them as his friends with a triple mission. First, they are to love others as he has loved them. Second, they are to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Third, they are to ask God the Father in Jesus’ Name, for whatever they need.

First, Jesus modifies the Old Testament command from “love your neighbor as you love yourselves” (Lv 19:18) to “love others as I have loved you.” This means that our love for others must be unconditional, forgiving, and sacrificial. We, too, must be ready to express our love for others by our readiness to die for them as Jesus died for us. Jesus reminds the apostles that the ultimate expression of love (and especially Christian love, agápê) lies in self-sacrifice for others” Second, Jesus explains that the calling to produce fruits, which the Apostles received, and which every Christian also receives, does not originate in the individual’s good desires but in Christ’s free choice. Third, Jesus concludes his advice by referring to the effectiveness of prayer offered in his Name. That is why the Church usually ends the prayers of the liturgy with the invocation “Through Jesus Christ our Lord….”

Life messages: 1) Let us cultivate an abiding and loving friendship with Jesus: a) The qualities we normally expect from our friends are trust, mutuality, faithfulness, equality, forgiveness, joy, and self-sacrifice. Jesus offers us all these qualities in our friendship with him. b) As a friend, Jesus has trusted us by sharing with us everything that he has heard from his Father. Hence, we have to trust him as a friend by listening to him through the Bible and talking to him by prayer. c) As our friend, Jesus will be always faithful to us. Let us return this fidelity by being faithful to him in doing His will. d) By calling us his friends, Jesus makes us equal to him. Let us be proud of this and lead lives worthy of our unique status. e) As an understanding friend, Jesus is ready to forgive us time and time again. Let us also forgive those who offend us. f) As a friend, Christ has told us everything so that our joy might be complete in him. Let us enjoy Jesus’ Divine friendship. g) Jesus declared that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. He has done it for us. Hence, let us also love others sacrificially.

#2: Let us be persons for others: Jesus demonstrated the love God, his Father, has for us by living for us and dying for us. Hence, as his disciples, we are to be persons for others, sacrificing our time, talents, and lives for others. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22.

May 21 Saturday: (St. Christopher Magallanes):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cristobal-magallanes-and-companions Jn 15:18-21: 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s Gospel passage, taken from the Last Supper discourse, Jesus warns his apostles of what they are to expect from a world which ignores God and His teaching. They will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was. But there can be no compromise between Christ’s disciples and the followers of the powers of darkness. The term “world” in today’s Gospel passage means people who are hostile towards God and opposed to His will. They represent an evil society which “calls evil good and good evil” (Is 5:20). Such a society will hate Christ and his teachings because Christian teaching exposes the evil of society and its false and dangerous doctrines. Since the Church Jesus established stands for truth, morality and justice, it does not support the modern “dictatorship of relativism.” The modern world hates and ridicules everything Christian through its liberal, agnostic and atheistic media.

Life message: Let us ask the Holy Spirit for the courage of our Christian convictions to believe and practice what Jesus taught and what Jesus continues to teach through the Church. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22.

Easter V Sunday homily (May 15, Sunday)

Easter V [C] (May 15) Eight-page homily in one-page (L/22)

Introduction: Today’s readings are about renewal and new things: The New Jerusalem, a new Heaven and a new earth, and a new commandment. Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how the small Christian communities helped the work of renewal in their members by their agápe love, imitating the agápe love of Paul and Barnabas. The second reading, from the Book of Revelation, explains how God renews His Church, the New Jerusalem, by being present in her members, in their parish communities, and in their liturgical celebrations. “See, I am making all things new.” Today’s Gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:35). Jesus has added a new element to the Old Testament command of love by teaching us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us, with sacrificial, selfless, self-giving, unconditional, agápe love. Hence, the renewal of Christian life means a radical change of vision and a reordering of our priorities in life. Such a renewal brings us to embrace new attitudes, new values, and new standards of relating to God, to other people and, indeed, to our whole environment.

Life messages: 1) Let us learn to love ourselves so that we may learn to love each other. The old commandment (Lv 19:1-2, 9-18) says: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We cannot learn to cherish others and care for them if we have never learned to do the same for ourselves. We live in a world that denies our basic human worth. How do we reclaim our basic worth? We can become whole and holy only when we learn to love ourselves properly, acknowledging the fact that we are children of God and that the Triune God resides in our souls, making our bodies the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”

2) Let us love others in our daily lives: We are asked to love as Jesus loved, in the ordinary course of our lives. We love others by responding to their everyday needs with love and compassion. We love others by comforting and protecting those who have experienced loss. We love others by serving others in every possible way, no matter how small, seeing the face of Jesus in them. We love others by forgiving rather than condemning, by challenging rather than condoning. Finally, we love others by sacrificially sharing our time, talents, and blessings with them.

3) Let us demonstrate our love for others in our gatherings and parish assemblies: When we are assembled as a religious or social community, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another. People must see Christians as people who interact with a love and concern for one another that reveals their strong love and appreciation for each other. They should see in us a quickness to appreciate and readiness to forgive, even as Christ has forgiven us.

Easter V [C] (May 5): Acts 14:21-27; Rv 21:1-5a; Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: “Little children love one another:” St. Jerome relates of the apostle John that when he became old, he used to be carried to the assembled Churches, everywhere repeating the words, “Little children, love one another.” His disciples, wearied by the constant repetition, asked him why he always said this. “Because,” he replied, “it is the Lord’s commandment, and if it only be fulfilled, it is enough.” — John knew that the greatest truth was most apt to be forgotten because it was taken for granted. This is one of the greatest calamities in the Christian Church and the one that causes divisions. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” One day, as St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa, 1910-1997) and her Missionaries of Charity were tending to the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta, they happened across a man lying in the gutter, very near death. He was filthy, dressed in little more than a rag and flies swarmed around his body. Immediately, Mother Teresa embraced him, spoke to him softly and began to pick out the maggots that were nesting in his flesh. A passerby was repulsed by the sight of the man and exclaimed to Mother Teresa, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Her response was immediate, “Neither would I!” –Obviously, monetary gain did not motivate the diminutive woman known as the Saint of Calcutta; love did. In her writings, Mother Teresa frequently affirmed the motivating power of love. Quoting Jesus in today’s Gospel, she wrote, “Jesus said, ‘Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other.’” She continued, “We must grow in love, and to do this we must go on loving and loving and giving and giving until it hurts – the way Jesus did. Do ordinary things with extraordinary love: little things, like caring for the sick and the homeless, the lonely and the unwanted, washing and cleaning for them.” Elsewhere, Mother Teresa remarked that the greatest disease in the West today is not tuberculosis, leprosy or even A.I.D.S.; it is being unwanted, uncared for, unloved. That she did her part in trying to “cure” this disease was attested in everything she did and in every word she said. (Sanchez Files) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: Catherine Lawes who transformed a notorious prison with love: In 1921, Lewis Lawes became the warden at Sing Sing Prison in New York state. No prison was tougher than Sing Sing during that time. But when Warden Lawes retired some 20 years later, that prison had become a humanitarian institution. Those who studied the system said credit for the change belonged to Lawes. But when he was asked about the transformation, here’s what he said: “I owe it all to my wonderful wife, Catherine, who is buried outside the prison walls.” Catherine Lawes was a young mother with three small children when her husband became the warden. Everybody warned her from the beginning that she should never set foot inside the prison walls, but that didn’t stop Catherine! When the first prison basketball game was held, she went … walking into the gym with her three beautiful kids, and she sat in the stands with the inmates. Her attitude was: “My husband and I are going to take care of these men and I believe they will take care of me! I don’t have to worry.” She insisted on getting acquainted with them and their records. She discovered one convicted murderer was blind so she paid him a visit. Holding his hand in hers she said, “Do you read Braille?” “What’s Braille?” he asked. Then she taught him how to read. Years later he would weep in love for her. Later, Catherine found a deaf-mute in prison. She went to school to learn how to use sign language. Many said that Catherine Lawes was the body of Jesus that came alive again in Sing Sing from 1921 to 1937. Then, she was killed in a car accident. The next morning Lewis Lawes didn’t come to work, so the acting warden took his place. It seemed almost instantly that the prison knew something was wrong. The following day, her body was resting in a casket in her home, three-quarters of a mile from the prison. As the acting warden took his early morning walk he was shocked to see a large crowd of the toughest, hardest-looking criminals gathered like a herd of animals at the main gate. He came closer and noted tears of grief and sadness. He knew how much they loved Catherine. He turned and faced the men, “All right, men, you can go. Just be sure and check in tonight!” Then he opened the gate and a parade of criminals walked, without a guard, the three-quarters of a mile to stand in line to pay their final respects to Catherine Lawes. — And every one of them checked back in. Every one! They had learned the commandment of love as practiced by Catherine. [Stories for the Heart compiled by Alice Gray (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1996), pp. 54-55.] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s readings are about new things: the New Jerusalem, a new Heaven and a new earth, and a new commandment. In the reading taken from the Book of Revelation, God tells us that His saving and healing work in the world is ongoing: “See, I am making all things new” (Rv 21:5a). The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how the small Christian communities helped the work of renewal in their members by their agápe love, imitating the agápe love of Paul and Barnabas. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145) prays that “Your faithful ones” may “make known Your might to the children of Adam,” not just to Israel. The second reading, taken from Revelation, explains how God renews His Church by being present in her members and in their parish communities and liturgical celebrations. Today’s Gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:35). Jesus has added a new element to the Old Testament command of love by telling us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us. Hence, the renewal of Christian life means a radical change of vision and a reordering of our priorities in life. Such a renewal brings us to embrace new attitudes, new values, and new standards of relating to God, to other people and, indeed, to our whole environment. For most of us, “renewal” is something that comes at different stages in our lives, each time bringing us to a deeper understanding, insight, and commitment.

First reading: Acts 14:21-27, explained: Each Jewish synagogue served its Faith community year-round as a) a House of Prayer (b) a House of Study and (c) a House of Assembly or Socialization. When Jesus came, acting as a Teacher, a rabbi, he gathered around him a talmudim — a small group of twelve men to travel with him, to share prayer, ministry, Faith, and values. Jesus promised his followers that wherever two or three would gather in his name, he would be present among them. After his death and Resurrection, Jesus’ disciples tried to establish small Christian communities wherever they found a welcome. Paul and Barnabas knew that evangelization and Baptism were but the first steps in a lifelong process of turning to, and being transformed by, Christ. Hence, in their subsequent visits to Christian communities, they continued to instruct their converts. Already in the first Christian century, believers understood that catechesis is a cradle-to-grave endeavor. Paul and Barnabas also considered their mission an extension of the small community’s outreach to the world. Because of this they were accountable to the Christian community that had sent them. Therefore, they returned to relate all that they had done, careful to credit God for their success and the increasingly universal character of the Church, for it was He who had “opened the door of the Faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27). It is a welcome sight to see modern Christian communities, which are criticized for too much structural set-up,returning to their first century roots by establishing congregations that are a network of individual Christians, bound together in prayer, Faith, mutual support, service, missionary outreach, and accountability. We may not be called to the same kind of missionary activity as were Paul and Barnabas, but we must be as unselfish in our service of others as were these early Christians.

Second Reading, Revelation 21:1-5, explained: The Book of Revelation was written to bolster the Faith of persecuted Christians in all ages. Today’s passage begins the final section of the book. The scene is really a vision of the new age of eschatological fulfillment inaugurated by the death and Resurrection of Jesus. The ancient city of 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 His Temple there, and in returning to it to rebuild it after its destruction by their captors and their consequent exile in Babylon. Within the holiest chamber of the Jerusalem Temple, they kept the stone tablets of the Law given to Moses in a chest known as the Ark of the Covenant. God dwelt in a particular way above this chamber. These details give richness to the image of the “New Jerusalem” spoken of in Revelation. The image is a metaphor for the Church, which is always called to reveal God’s presence among us. Today’s passage from the Book of Revelation (21:3) gives us the assurance that “God’s dwelling is with the human race.” It affirms the fact that God is present at every moment of human history, even those most desperate and threatening. Jesus’ death and Resurrection have created a state in which a once-distant God is now present to every person and in every situation. Moreover, Jesus has given us the insight and power to transform everything in our lives by practicing agápe love in our interactions with people. It is through this constant love-centered interaction among us that the “new earth, the new Heaven, and the new Jerusalem” can begin to come into existence – not at some unknown future time and in some other place, but here and now. In this second reading, taken from Revelation, John shares a vision of nuptial love. When all the former things have passed away and sin and evil are completely overcome, God will welcome the redeemed as a husband welcomes a bride. The love and life that they will share will preclude tears, pain, crying out, mourning and death.

Gospel exegesis: Today’s Gospel reading comes from Chapters 13:1–17:26 of St. John’s Gospel, known as “The Last Discourse,” which took place at the Last Supper, on the night before Jesus went to the Cross. In these chapters, Jesus has left urgent messages for his Apostles and for us – things that he wanted to tell us before he went away. This farewell discourse is a powerful and intimate part of Jesus’ teaching on the Christian concepts of glory and love.

The Christian concept of glory: The glorification mentioned in today’s passage refers, above all, “to the glory which Christ will receive once he is raised up on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32). St. John stresses that Christ’s death is the beginning of his victory: his very crucifixion can be considered the first step in his Ascension to his Father. At the same time, it is glorification of the Father, because Christ, by voluntarily accepting death out of love, as a supreme act of obedience to the Will of God, performs the greatest sacrifice man can offer for the glorification of God. The Father will respond to this glorification which Christ offers Him by glorifying Christ as Son of Man, that is, in his holy human nature, through his Resurrection and Ascension to God’s right hand. Thus, the glory which the Son gives the Father is at the same time glory for the Son.” (The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries). As Christ’s disciples, we also will find our highest motivation and glory by identifying ourselves with Christ’s obedience in our daily lives, especially by keeping his new commandment of sacrificial, unconditional, forgiving agápe love.

The new commandment: In the second part of the farewell discourse, Jesus gives his followers a new commandment: they must love one another as he has loved them. They would be known, not by the sign of the fish or even of the cross, but by their mutual love, the fruit of their conversion. Just as Solomon, in the story of the disputed child, was able to discern the identity of the true mother by her love, so will the world be able to identify the true disciples of Jesus by their love for one another. The command of Jesus is both new and old. It repeats the precept of Lv 19:18 to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. What is new is that this love characterizes the new life inaugurated by Jesus and is proof of one’s love for God (1 Jn. 4:7). Jesus’ new commandment calls for love without limits, conditions, or prerequisites. This love opens our eyes to facts that we might otherwise overlook — that the poor in the world belong to our family; that those who live in despair may be saved by God through our care of them; that God’s peace can come to the world through our efforts as we pray and work with Him.

The nature of Christian love: Jesus speaks ofagápe, a love that requires total commitment and trust. It is the kind of love with which God loves us, a love that should be the model of the love we have for others. This love should be more than just a warm feeling toward others; it should be a compassionate gift of ourselves to meet the spiritual and bodily needs of our brothers and sisters. Agápe implies a reaching out to others in a caring attitude for their wellbeing without expecting any favor in return. It is strong, positive, difficult, determined action. Jesus repeats the command to love one another three times, first explaining what it is (“a new commandment”), how it is to be applied (“as I have loved you“), and finally noting that this love would stand as the trademark of his disciples. Not only is this a new commandment, but also, Jesus teaches, it is the greatest. To love, in fact, is to know God—”Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). The early Christians practiced this love literally. That is why Tertullian stated why the heathens held the Christian congregations in high regard: “See, how these Christians love one another!” The fact is that Jesus’ death and Resurrection serve, not just as an example of how to love, but as the agent that actually frees us from our selfish love through His indwelling presence. It was this new kind of love which was manifested by the first disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-45), and in the Churches in Macedonia (2 Cor 8:1-5). It was a love that was attentive to the poor and the needy. During his life on earth, Jesus Himself was lovingly present to those who were not at all lovable. He allowed himself to be moved with pity and compassion when he encountered those in need, and he was moved to tears in the midst of sadness. He openly shed tears at the tomb of Lazarus. He shed tears also over the city of Jerusalem (Lk 19:41-44). Even the anger that Jesus displayed in the Temple was rooted in love — the love for His Father and for His Father’s house. Jesus loved by serving others, by helping them, and by healing others. His was a love that healed and built up, challenged, and inspired people. It was a deeply forgiving and sacrificial love. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

St. Augustine’s commentary on the new commandment of love: Isn’t Jesus asking the “impossible” when he asks his disciples to “love one another” (Jn 13:31-35)? Can anything be harder? St. Augustine also wrestled with the question of love and demonstrated through the life of Jesus that love conquers all. Available on the “New Advent” website is his “Homily 7 on the Epistle of John” which contains the famous phrase, “love and do what you will.” His example contrasts the actions of beating and caressing: which of those two would you rather receive? Which is better: a father chastising his son, or a pedophile caressing his object of lust? Everything depends on what is in the heart of the person before and during the action. Augustine’s point is his interpretation of Jesus’ command to love one another as He has loved us. Some things may have a good appearance, but one’s actions are only discerned by the root of charity. This is why he confidently says, “love and do what you will.” If you have a right relationship with God and with others, then you have nothing to worry about. This kind of love is a sacrificial love, not a selfish love. It only thinks of the best for the other person – even if that “best” means corrective action out of love. If this kind of love is within you, then with Augustine we say “from this root can spring nothing but what is good.”

Life messages: 1) Let us learn to love ourselves so that we may learn to love each other. The old commandment (Lv 19:1-2, 9-18), says: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How do we learn to cherish others and care for them if we have never learned to do the same for ourselves? We live in a culture that devalues life and worships death—a culture in which people drug themselves into oblivion. Women and girls are willing to starve themselves to fit some unrealistic media image of beauty and worth. People and relationships are sacrificed on the altar of “workaholism.” How are we to love ourselves when we are told over and over again that we are unlovable? How do we reclaim our basic worth? We can become whole and holy only when we learn to love ourselves properly, acknowledging the loving presence of the Triune God in our souls, making our bodies the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” Only those persons who are fully convinced that they are themselves lovable because God has loved them and so brought them into being can reach out comfortably and unconditionally to love those who themselves cannot love but can only hurt and hate and destroy. It is through constant love-centered interaction with God and each other that the “new earth, the new Heaven and the new Jerusalem” can begin to come into existence.

2) Let us love others in our daily lives: We are asked to love as Jesus loved, in the ordinary course of our lives. This means that we should love others by allowing ourselves to be moved with pity for them. We love others by responding to their everyday needs. We can show love by materially sharing with those who have less. We love others by comforting and protecting those who have experienced loss. We love others by serving others in every possible way, no matter how small. We love others by forgiving rather than condemning, by challenging rather than condoning. We love others by responding to the call of God in our lives and by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We love others by making sacrifices for them. This is how the world will know that we are the Disciples of Christ.

3) Let us demonstrate our love for others: When we are assembled and have guests, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another. They must see Christians as people who are glad to see one another, who are willing to take the time to visit with each other and who know each other’s names. Our assemblies may be the only time some guests have the opportunity to see Christians interact with love and concern for one another, an interaction that reveals the strong love and appreciation for one another which the members have. Christians will often sin against one another and offend one another. But others should see in us a quickness to forgive, even as Christ has forgiven us.

Joke of the Week: One Sunday a priest was finishing up a series on marriage. At the end of the service, he was giving out small wooden crosses to each married couple. He said, “Place this cross in the room in which you fight the most and you will be reminded of Jesus’ new commandment, and you won’t argue as much.” One woman came up after the service and said: “You’d better give me five crosses.”

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org

 2) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

 https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

3) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-c)      

4) Catholic FAQ http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/a/faq-cc.html: (=Catholic answers to frequently asked questions) & http://www.catholic.com/

5)        USCCB Daily reflections videos: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/

15-Additional anecdotes:

1) The bomber and the victim: Two World War II veterans, a German and an American, were attending a three-day seminar.  As they were washing dishes one evening after dinner, they exchanged stories about the war. The American told of the horror he felt as a young pilot during the particularly savage bombing of a city in Germany.  He had orders to bomb a hospital, which he would know by the huge Red Cross painted on the roof.  The German — somewhat shocked by the story — revealed that his wife had been giving birth to their baby in that very hospital when it was being bombed, resulting in the death of the mother and the baby.  After a few minutes of silence, the two men fell into each other’s arms weeping. —  Imagine being in Heaven, at the end of the world, where we fall weeping upon one another, waves of reconciliation breaking upon us as we adjust ourselves to this dimension of pure love which Jesus demands from his followers in today’s Gospel passage. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

2) Quest for Fire:         In the early 1980s, an unusual film was playing in movie theatres across the nation. It was called Quest for Fire. Its French producer said it fulfilled a lifelong dream. He’d always dreamed of celebrating, in film, the discovery of fire.  For it was the discovery of fire 80,000 years ago that saved people on the planet Earth from total extinction. It was the discovery of fire that made it possible for them to make tools for survival and to protect themselves against the cold. — Today, people on planet earth are beginning to worry again that we are teetering on the brink of global disaster. This time the danger comes not from something basic like the lack of fire but from something even more basic – the lack of human love, the kind of love Jesus preached. This makes us wonder. It makes us ask ourselves a question, a frightening question: ‘Do we love? Have we learned to love?’

(Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

3) Love is the Christian uniform: The renowned French artist Paul Gustave Dore once lost his passport while traveling in another country in Europe. When he came to a border crossing, he explained his predicament to one of the guards. Giving his name to the official, Dore hoped he would be recognized and allowed to pass. The guard, however, said that many people attempted to cross the border by claiming to be persons they were not. Dore insisted that he was the man he claimed to be. “All right,” said the official, “we’ll give you a test, and if you pass it we’ll allow you to go through.” Handing him a pencil and a sheet of paper, he told the artist to sketch several peasants standing nearby. Dore did it so quickly and skillfully that the guard was convinced he was indeed who he claimed to be. Dore’s actions confirmed his identity. — In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the mark of Christian identity: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-5). Love is the Christian’s identity. Love is the Christian’s uniform. Love is the Christian’s habit. If you are wearing the habit of love, you are in. If you are not wearing love as a habit, you are out. (Fr. Essau). Let us remember the words of Shakespeare in Measure for Measure (Act V: Scene 1, l. 263): “Cucullus non facit monachum” [a cowl does not make a monk]. A Christian name or a cross on a chain will not make us Christians, unless we practice Jesus’ new commandment of love given in today’s Gospel. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

4) “This is an Arab bus”: The Reverend Timothy J. Kennedy tells of traveling by bus throughout Israel one summer. On one part of the journey, the bus driver placed a big white sign by the passenger side windshield. Since it was in Arabic, Kennedy asked their guide to translate. The sign said, “This is an Arab bus, owned and operated by Arabs. Please do not throw stones.”  When they got close to Tel Aviv, the driver pulled another sign from behind his seat, and replaced the first sign in the windshield. Since it was in Hebrew, Kennedy asked their guide to translate again.  The new sign said, “This is a Jewish bus, owned and operated by Israelis. Please do not throw stones.”  — How do you tell the difference between an Arab bus and a Jewish bus? A big plastic sign in the windshield. But back to our primary question, how do you identify a Christian? I guess we could wear plastic signs. But would that really do the trick? (1. http://grace-lutheran-church.com/sermons/2006/03/1). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

5) “I missed!”: President Reagan told a humorous story during the last days of his administration. It was about Alexander Dumas. It seems that Dumas and a friend had a severe argument. The matter got so out of hand that one challenged the other to a duel. Both Dumas and his friend were superb marksmen. Fearing that both men might fall in such a duel, they resolved to draw straws instead. Whoever drew the shorter straw would then be pledged to shoot himself. Dumas was the unlucky one. He drew the short straw. With a heavy sigh, he picked up his pistol and trudged into the library and closed the door, leaving the company of friends who had gathered to witness the non-duel outside. In a few moments a solitary shot was fired. All the curious pressed into the library. They found Dumas standing with his pistol still smoking. “An amazing thing just happened,” said Dumas. “I missed!” — I am amazed how many Christians have been in the Church all their lives and still have missed the Gospel of Jesus’ new commandment. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

6) Christian love in action: Comedian Jerry Clower tells a story about Christian love in action. Two Christian businessmen were having lunch in a downtown restaurant. The waitress serving their table dumped a bowl of hot soup right over one of these businessmen. Everybody gasped and stared. As Clower tells it, “They just couldn’t wait for the manager to run out and fire this lady. They just couldn’t wait for this man, standing there, dripping, with his suit ruined, to cuss this waitress out, but the fellow looked at that waitress and said, ‘Young lady, I  am so sorry this happened to you. I know it embarrasses you.”  — How would you have handled that situation? Can you love as the Master would have us love? Can any of us do that? How? [Jerry Clower, Life Ever Laughter (Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill Press, 1988.] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

7) Mother Teresa’s love: One day, as St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) and her Missionaries of Charity were tending to the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta, they happened across a man lying in the gutter, very near death. He was filthy, dressed in little more than a rag and flies swarmed around his body. Immediately, Mother Teresa lovingly lifted him up him, cleaned his body, spoke to him softly and laid him comfortably in her ambulance. A passerby was repulsed by the sight of the man and exclaimed to Mother Teresa, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Her response was immediate, “Neither would I!” — She demonstrated the type of love that Jesus wants from Christians. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

8) “Grandma, please”: In Chicago there is a unique telephone service called “Grandma, Please” that is geared to latch-key kids. “Grandma, Please” provides free number kids can call if they are home alone and need someone to talk to. Senior citizens volunteer their time to answer telephones and talk to kids who are lonely or scared and need a little adult company. The “Grandma, Please” switchboard gets about 800 calls per month. Many of the children want to share the news of their school day with someone. Some will call because they heard a noise outside and got scared. Most call simply for the chance to connect with another human being. They are so lonely.– One volunteer reports that her phone calls often end with the child saying, “I love you, Grandma. What is your name?” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

9) Christian love of a coach: Author James Moore tells about K.C. Jones, the former coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team. Jones became famous for his unique ability to give his players some unforgettable words of encouragement when they needed it most. If a player scored 50 points or made the game-winning basket, Jones would not say much more than, “Nice game!” But when a player was down and really struggling, Coach Jones would be there to comfort and help and inspire. All-star forward Kevin McHale asked Coach Jones about this one day, and K.C. Jones answered: “Kevin, after you’ve made the winning basket, you’ve got 15,000 people cheering for you, TV commentators come rushing toward you, and everybody is giving you high fives. You don’t need me then. —  When you need a friend, most is when nobody is cheering.” (Collected Sermons, King Duncan, Dynamic Preaching, 2005, 0-000-0000-20) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/     

10) The dreadful accident on the battleship USS Iowa:  Do you remember the tale of the dreadful accident on the battleship USS Iowa? It occurred in the spring of 1989. Forty-seven young men were killed in a still unexplained explosion in a gun turret. The investigation showed that the explosion was the result of a significant overrun of the powder bags into the already-loaded guns.  There is much tragedy in the sad story. But also, one can find strong threads of glory. The storyteller reminds us the glory belongs, paradoxically perhaps, not to the survivors but to the casualties. The heroes were not the men who may have kept the battleship afloat after the accident. Rather, the heroes were the sailors who died. They shall ever be numbered among the Navy’s honored dead. Writes the poet, “They shall not grow old…At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.” — As it was for these young men, so it was for Jesus. That is why you will find the word glory mentioned an extraordinary five times in the opening two sentences of today’s Gospel. So can it be for you and me – if, of course, we have spiritual courage and discipline. (Fr. James Gilhooley) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

 11) Love changes everything:   In 1976 a car accident tore open the head of a 21-year-old Chicago young man named Peter. His brain was damaged, and he was thrown into a deep coma. Doctors told Peter’s family and friends that he probably wouldn’t survive. Even if he did, he’d always be in a comatose state. One of the people who heard that frightening news was Linda, the girl Peter planned to marry. In the sad days ahead, Linda spent all her spare time in the hospital. Night after night, she’d sit at Peter’s bedside, pat his check, rub his brow, and talk to him. “It was like we were on a normal date,” she said. All the while Peter remained in a coma, unresponsive to Linda’s loving presence. Night after night, for three and a half months, Linda sat at Peter’s bedside, speaking words of encouragement to him, even though he gave no sign that he heard her. Then one night Linda saw Peter’s toe move. A few nights later she saw his eyelash flutter. This was all she needed. Against the advice of the doctors, she quit her job and became his constant companion. She spent hours massaging his arms and legs. Eventually she arranged to take him home. She spent all her savings on a swimming pool, hoping that the sun and the water would restore life to Peter’s motionless limbs. Then came the day when Peter spoke his first word since the accident. It was only a grunt, but Linda understood it. Gradually, with Linda’s help, those grunts turned into words — clear words. Finally, the day came when Peter was able to ask Linda’s father if he could marry her. Linda’s father said, “When you can walk down the aisle, Peter, she’ll be yours.” Two years later Peter walked down the aisle of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Chicago. He had to use a walker, but he was walking. Every television station in Chicago covered that wedding. Newspapers across the country carried pictures of Linda and Peter. Celebrities phoned to congratulate them. Families with loved ones in comas called to ask their advice. Today, Peter living a normal life. He talks slowly, but clearly. He walks slowly, but without a walker. He and Linda even have a lovely child. —  Today’s Gospel message is to love others as Jesus did. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

12) Boy! I would like to be that kind of brother.”  In the lovely book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, there’s a story about a man who came out of his office one Christmas morning and found a little boy from a nearby project looking with great admiration at the man’s new vehicle. The little boy asked, “Does this car belong to you?” And the man said, “Yes. In fact, my brother gave it to me for Christmas. I’ve just gotten it.”  With that, the little boy’s eyes widened. He said, “You mean to say that somebody gave it to you? And you didn’t have to pay anything for it?”  And the man said, “That’s right.  My brother gave it to me as a gift.” With that the little boy let out a long sigh and said, “Boy, I would really like…”  And the man fully expected the boy to say, “I would like to have a brother like that, who would give me such a beautiful car,” but instead the man was amazed when the little boy said, “Boy! I would like to be that kind of brother.  I wish I could give that kind of car to my little brother.” –Somehow that child understood the secret of the “new commandment” of love, which Jesus gave to his apostles during his last discourse, as described in today’s Gospel: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).  True love consists, not in “getting” something from the lover, but in “giving” something to the loved one.  The most familiar example of this type of love is a mother’s love for her child. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

13) The humble lady:   There is a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner. The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor. The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years. The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions. The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked like the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence. The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: “You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!” —  That woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but she had unselfishly given her life to her pupils. She practiced love as Jesus instructs). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

14) The leader who led the army from the front: In 1336 BC Alexander the Great began his conquest of the world. It was his dream to conquer India, the land of legends. With his army he marched towards India and reached the city of Multan. Alexander saw that the city was well fortified.  He was not ready to give up. He led the assault against the city of Multan. He climbed the fortress and ascended on the top of the city walls. Below he saw a large army aiming their poisoned arrows at him. He did not wait. He jumped into their midst. Two of his soldiers followed him. The great leader of war led from the front and his soldiers followed him. — History presents a few examples of such heroic men who led from the front and others followed him. We do not see any leader other than Jesus admonishing his followers to imitate him. Jesus told his apostles, “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). (Fr. Bobby Jose). V(https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

15) Emperor who abdicated his throne for the realization of his love. Edwards VIII ascended the throne of the British Empire after the death of his father. But his proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American Socialite, led to a constitutional crisis in British Empire. Religious, legal, political, and moral objections were raised. Mrs. Simpson was perceived to be an unsuitable consort to him. But king Edward was not ready to give up his love in exchange for the throne. The conservative leaders and people were unwilling to compromise. Edward abdicated his throne for the realization of his love. — Jesus came down from his heavenly glory and lived like one of us to teach demonstrate how  God loves mankind and gave us his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13: 34). (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

16) God Dwelling Among Men: December 27, 537 AD, was a day of triumph for the Christian Roman Emperor, Justinian I. On that date he attended the dedication of the great church of Holy Wisdom (Sancta Sophia or Hagia Sophia) that is still the chief monument of Constantinople (Istanbul). Justinian had entrusted the design of the building to Anthemius of Tralles and Isodorus of Miletus, and these architects had produced an epochal masterpiece. A vast and subtle structure of many domes, its interior was sheathed with marbles and fine mosaics. King Solomon had built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem, but Justinian boasted, with permissible pride, “Solomon, I have vanquished you!” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/  

— There is an old running debate among Christians whether it is better to spend money on splendid churches or to keep the churches simple and to spend the money on the needy. In one sense, Jesus Himself solved this dilemma. When the devout woman of Bethany anointed His feet with costly perfume, it was Judas Iscariot who said, “This is waste, it would have been better to spend the price on the poor!” Our Lord countered by praising her good intentions, and said she was preparing His body for burial. “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (Jn 12:1-8) It would certainly be irresponsible to spend thousands on a building when the local people were in the clutches of poverty. But a beautiful church is an alms to another sort of poverty – poverty of heart. For ages Christians have had their hearts lifted by the sight of a great cathedral. Its loveliness enthralls them and reminds them that God dwells there in a special way. Surely a beautiful home is becoming to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The more we reverence God’s home the more we will reverence God. By blessing ourselves with holy water on entering, by maintaining a devout silence in church, by doing our best to ward off from it anything irreverent or unseemly, we are saying to God, as in today’s liturgy, “Your house is a house of prayer, and Your presence makes it a place of blessing.” (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/   L/22

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 32) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://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 akadavil@gmail.com. Visit also https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under Fr. Tony’s homilies and  under Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in  for other website versions.  (Vatican Radio website: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html uploaded my Cycle A, B and C homilies in from 2018-2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .