Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 28th, 2019:
Today, we celebrate “Divine Mercy Sunday” in the Roman Catholic Church. Holy Mother Church has wisely placed this special Sunday one week after the celebration of Easter. Why? Because of what is happening to the infant church after Jesus has lived, died, and rose from the dead. Acts of mercy break out.
“Mercy” is defined as: “compassion or forbearance shown to an offender, clemency”; “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion”; and “compassion shown to victims of misfortune.” In the first reading from Acts, “compassion shown to victims of misfortune” applies very well. The reason is that the Twelve had a charismatic power to heal the sick. In Jesus’s name, the Apostles demonstrate extraordinary power over death, demons, and disease. The response of the Jews in verses 15 and 16 prove it. Healing is an act of mercy.
In Psalm 118, the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Jesus Christ uses this prophecy to refer to Himself. The Jewish nation and religious authorities reject Him as Messiah but God exalts Him. Quite frankly, it is the same with Jesus’s Apostles. They were selfish and self-seeking. Jesus could not have chosen a more uninspiring group of men as His Apostles. But after Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit on them to begin this church, that same Holy Spirit that Jesus sends to them elevates them and gives them this charismatic gift of healing. They become living, Spirit-filled stones attached to the cornerstone of Jesus’s Mystical Body, the Church.
In the gospel reading from John 20:19-31, Jesus appears to the Eleven. Thomas is not there. Jesus “…breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound”(John 20:22-23). Holy Mother Church points to those verses as proof that the sacrament of Penance, Reconciliation, or Confession is scripturally based. Jesus also recreates God’s people in this believing community of His Apostles. Then, Jesus makes His Mission their Mission too. The apostles’ mission is to reveal God, who is love, in their words and their deeds.
In the readings from Acts and John’s gospel, the deeds that the Apostles perform are works of mercy. The Catholic Church, in her wisdom, classifies these works, which we can and must do. The healing acts of mercy are called the corporal works of mercy. They include: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, shelter the homeless, visit prisoners, bury the dead. Those are corporal acts of mercy. In John’s gospel, forgiving sins is a spiritual act of mercy. Holy Mother Church, in her Spirit-filled wisdom has identified these acts as spiritual works of mercy: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish the sinner, comfort the sorrowful, forgive injuries, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and the dead. Those are spiritual works of mercy that we, in this same church that the Apostles led two-thousand years ago, can perform. We will now ask Jesus Christ to send us His Holy Spirit to sharpen our efforts to perform these merciful works. We will now pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Please take out your rosaries and kneel down….
Easter Sunday Homily ©, April 21st, 2019:
The Easter Sunday readings today all speak “past tense” about Jesus Christ’s life, passion, death, and resurrection. Their effect is unification of all peoples to the cornerstone, which was first rejected by the builders.
In Psalm 118, the author writes a thanksgiving hymn after a victory. This psalm was recited or sung upon entry into the Temple. The key is verse 22: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. Then verse 23 continues: “By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.” What is insignificant has become great through divine election. Some bible commentators say the stone is the Hebrew nation, which the Gentiles scorned. But God raised Israel to conspicuous glory, during King Solomon’s reign. The queen of Sheba came to Israel to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. The temple was built through the help of King Hiram of Tyre. He was an ally of Solomon and Solomon’s father, David. Hiram supplied money, materials, and masons to help build the temple that would house God’s presence. So Gentiles had their fingerprints on God’s House in Jerusalem by helping the Jews build it. That is important. Jesus Christ Himself uses this psalm to describe Himself. Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah. He applies this verse to His own rejection by the Jews and His exaltation by God His Father. The victory has been won. Jesus Christ has lived, died, and has risen from the dead. Jesus is our Savior.
St. Paul tells the Colossians that they have been resurrected too with Christ at baptism. In their baptism, they died a mystical death and have been raised to new life. They are free but St. Paul tells them to use their newfound freedoms responsibly. To live in Christ means to act, to love, and to think and not to be enslaved to worldly, material matters. You are free of them. St. Paul tells the Colossian church that they will be revealed in glory when Christ is revealed in glory at the judgment. St. Paul says that the Christian church hopes for Jesus’s return in glory. This is part of Christian belief. St. Paul writes all of this past tense because Jesus has already lived, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and has sent the Holy Spirit on His Church. St. Paul says the Colossians’ new life should be one long lifting up of their hearts to the Lord, until they are united with Christ at His revelation in glory.
St. Peter preaches the Christian message to Cornelius. Cornelius is a Roman centurion, a Gentile. St. Peter preaches to this Gentile and his household that Jesus Christ is lord of all, both Jews and Gentiles alike. St. Peter tells Cornelius about Jesus’s ministry, death, resurrection, His commissioning of His Apostles. St. Peter finishes his speech by recalling the Old Testament prophets who proclaim that all (Jews and Gentiles) who believe in Jesus Christ will have their sins forgiven in His name.
St. Peter tells Cornelius that God is impartial. God’s choice of Israel as His chosen nation does not mean that God has withheld divine favor from other men. St. Peter says that God’s plan for mankind’s destiny is wrapped up in Jesus Christ. Jesus’s ministry is integral to our salvation. Jesus’s ministry is so important that we bear Jesus Christ’s presence in the seven sacraments that He has revealed in our church, for the salvation of each and every one of us, Jew and Gentile alike. That is the important message. We are all unified in the person of Jesus Christ, who has risen from the dead, seated at God’s right hand, from there He shall come in glory to judge the living and the dead. His mystical body is the new temple, not made by human hands. He is the cornerstone and on this Easter Sunday, we are to be living stones in faithful contact with Jesus’s Temple, His mystical Body, the Church. This is the new life we lead, thanks to Jesus Christ’s personhood, mission, and ministry. Jesus unifies us, Jew and Gentile alike in love. Now sin will not reign in our hearts. Jesus will, if we let Him. Praised by the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Today the primary human problem, the core issue that defeats human history, is both revealed and resolved. It is indeed a “good” Friday. The central issue at work is the human inclination to kill others, in any multitude of ways, instead of dying ourselves—to our own illusions, pretenses, narcissism, and self-defeating behaviors. Jesus dies “for” us not in the sense of “in place of ” but “in solidarity with.” The first is merely a heavenly transaction of sorts; the second is a transformation of our very soul and the trajectory of history.
Cain has forever been killing Abel, the pattern is revealed from the very first children of Adam and Eve. Yet, thank God, and usually unnoticed, even Cain is “marked” for protection as he wanders East of Eden (Genesis 4:16). That marking became for Christians “the sign of the cross,” our vaccination against killing—and being killed by our killing! But our vaccination did not always take; we who “worshiped” the Scapegoat usually became scapegoaters too. Always the problem was “elsewhere” than in ourselves, or merely outside instead of inside.
The soul needed one it could “gaze upon” long enough to know that it was we who were doing the “piercing” (John 19:37) and we who were being pierced in doing it. Jesus’ body is a standing icon of what humanity is doing and what God suffers “with,” “in,” and “through” us. It is an icon of utter divine solidarity with our pain and our problems. It is both an external exposing and an eternal holding of the Great Mystery. It is our central transformative image for the soul. Whenever you see an image of the crucified Jesus, know that it is the clear and central message unveiled. It reveals what humanity is doing to itself and to one another. Don’t lessen its meaning by making it merely into a mechanical transaction whereby Jesus pays some “price” to God or the devil. The only price paid is to the intransigent human soul—so it can see!
Humanity hates and attacks what it has every good reason to love—itself, God, and the rest of creation. It cannot say with Jesus, “Father, forgive them all, they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). None of us really knows what we are doing until the outer crucifix becomes the inner revelation of every act of human barbarism, war, torture, starvation, disease, abuse, oppression, injustice, early death, and absurd lives “from the blood of Abel the Holy to the blood of Zechariah whom you killed” (Matthew 23:35)! These are the first and last murders in the Jewish Bible of Jesus’ time, and Jesus seems to see them as one collective. It is the same and consistent human blindness since the beginning of time.
On the cross, the veil between the Holy and the unholy is “torn from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51), the “curtain of his body” becomes a “living opening” (Hebrews 10:20) through which we all can now walk into the Holy of Holies, which on different levels is both our own soul and the very heart of God. Nothing changed in heaven on Good Friday, but everything potentially changed on earth. Some learned how to see and to trust the contract between God and humanity. God has always and forever loved what God created, “It was good, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). It was we who could not love and see the omnipresent goodness. We were trapped outside the veil.
But now, as our Second Reading says today, we can “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor” (Hebrews 4:16). The curtain is, and always has been, wide open, as we see dramatized in the naked body and bleeding heart of Jesus, which we Catholics call “the Sacred Heart.” It seems we needed an image that shocking, dramatic, and compelling or we just could not get the point, see ourselves, or trust the Great Love.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured. . . He was pierced for our offenses, and crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole.” [Now do not think of this as an act of suffering for nearly as much as an act of suffering with. It makes a major difference.] —Isaiah 53:4–5
“‘Now it is finished.’ [The lie is over.] And he bowed his head and gave up His Spirit.’” [The truth was handed on to history.] —John 19:30
“Crucified Jesus, you are not a stranger to my soul, you are not foreign to our history. You have revealed, resolved, and forgiven it all on the cross. I join the whole world today in thanking you. This is indeed a good Friday.”
it is the holy sacrifice of jesus christ on the cross and in the mass that will unify the world in one faith
Homily for Holy Thursday, April 18th, 2019:
If you want to be united in a strong, Catholic faith, attend Holy Mass faithfully. It is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which will unite all of us and bring all of us, regardless of our faith, back into the fold of one faith, one church, one union, just as Jesus and God His Father are one (John 17:22).
St. Paul explains this in his first letter to the Corinthians. St. Paul has seen the Corinthians abuse the celebration of the liturgy/mass. So he informs them how to celebrate it. St. Paul inserts in these instructions the institution of the Eucharist. He emphasizes Jesus’s repetition over the bread and the cup the words “Do this in remembrance of me”(Luke 22:19;1 Cor 11:24). St. Paul argues that Jesus’s self-offering and His death are proclaimed in the liturgy and they are antidotes to the splits and factions that plague the Christian church in Corinth. He argues that Jesus’s life and death are more than simple memories. They are unifiers! The Eucharistic celebration is significant and timeless. St. Paul writes that when Christians share Jesus’s Body and Blood, they recall Jesus’s command to do this “in remembrance of me”(Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24). They also recall Jesus’s death and look forward to His Second Coming in glory. In this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, three stages of time unite: the past (the original Last Supper), the present (our celebration here today), and the future (Jesus’s Second Coming in glory). This is a life-changing event that only Jesus Christ can do, and He does, in His Real Presence in Eucharist. St. Paul also says something else that is very important: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me’”(1 Cor 11:23-24). It is those words “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you,…(1 Cor 11:23) that are important. St. Paul celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because it has been handed on to him in his ordination to the priesthood. This was handed on to him, indirectly by the Apostles. He did not take this upon himself. He was commissioned/ordained for it. St. Paul tells the Corinthians the new covenant is ratified in Jesus’s blood, shed for sinners.
St. John’s gospel reading places Jesus and His disciples at the Last Supper before Passover. But St. John doesn’t describe the Eucharistic dimension as the other gospel writers do. St. John emphasizes union. He emphasizes the union of Jesus Christ with God His Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus’s union with His disciples, and the disciples’ union with each other. The uniting force is love, love for each other and love for Jesus Christ. Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. He washes Judas’s feet too, even though Judas is the unclean one. Jesus then tells them to wash each others’ feet too. St. John emphasizes Jesus’s and our humility in order to perform this menial task, on our knees, for God’s people. It is a lesson in humility. Humility is needed to perform a service of charity. They do this after eating and drinking at the liturgical celebration of Eucharist. Jesus promises that they will be happy if they perform these menial duties for others.
Union is the result of all of this: liturgy, service. These acts unify because of love. And it is love that Jesus demonstrates through this incredible self-offering of Himself on the Cross, in His Real Presence of His Body and Blood in Eucharist, and in performing the menial tasks of humble Christian service.
Palm Sunday Homily ©, April 14th, 2019:
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, described Jesus Christ as “a mighty savior, born of the house of His Servant, David”(Luke 1:69). Jesus is also a humble and loving Savior, who offers Himself to His Father to reverse everything Adam did in disobedience.
St. Paul tells us that Jesus “…did not regard equality with God something to be grasped”(Phil 2:6). It was Adam (and Eve) who submitted to Satan’s assertion that “…you will be like gods, who know good and evil”(Gen 3:5). To make things right between us and God, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, rejects pride and self-exaltation. Instead, Jesus “…emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,…(Phil 2:7). Jesus empties Himself of His equality with God. Jesus then took on Himself Adam’s slavery to corruption and sin. Jesus then “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross”(Phil 2:8). St. Paul writes to the Philippian church that Jesus embraces humility and selflessness and those two qualities led to His Passion and death. St. Paul then writes that God the Father (of Jesus Christ) then “greatly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,…”(Phil 2:9). Jesus stooped down to pick us up so we could live. Now, those who suffer and die for the faith can expect resurrection and new life when Jesus returns.
In today’s gospel, Jesus offers Himself as the new Paschal Lamb when He declared the bread and the wine as His Own Body and Blood (Luke 22:19-20). The Church understands this as Eucharist. It signifies a new covenant which signifies union between God and man. Once Jesus has done this, He then tells His apostles, His first priests, to do what He has just done in remembrance of Him. To “do this in memory of me”(Luke 22:20), means the priests are to conduct the ritual and the self-gift of Jesus’s Body and Blood which the ritual makes into a sacrament. This is to be done until the end of time to keep us in this new covenant which Jesus so humbly, lovingly, and obediently enacted for us and for God His Father.
Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent ©, April 7th, 2019:
The newness of life in God’s kingdom includes this incredible portrayal of Jesus’s mercy. In that way, this gospel reading is as beautiful as last Sunday’s gospel of “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:1-3,11-32).
The important point from today’s gospel is that Jesus is introducing a new covenant to the Scribes and Pharisees. This “new covenant” is what God promised through the prophet Jeremiah: “See, the days are coming…when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke my covenant, though I was their master….But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days….I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people”(Jeremiah 31:31-33). Jesus doesn’t answer their question directly. He refers their question to their own hearts and souls. Jesus turned on the judgmental Scribes and Pharisees the discomfort of their own hypocrisy. They can neither judge nor punish because they know that they are sinners. Their own consciences accuse them. Jesus sets aside the Law, which the Scribes and Pharisees hold up as the ultimate code of conduct. When He asks her “Has no one condemned you?”(John 8:10), she answers, “No one, sir”(John 8:11). Then, Jesus will not condemn her either. But Jesus does condemn the sin and forgives her of it. He tells her to “Go, and from now on do not sin any more”(John 8:11). This story illustrates forgiveness of sins for baptized Christians.
This is the importance of living in Christ by faith. Our values change completely. Righteousness comes from God through His Son, Jesus Christ. So therefore, placing our faith in Jesus Christ gives us salvation, not a self-gained righteousness by observing the Mosaic Law. Remember that the Scribes and Pharisees want to destroy Jesus’s credibility with the people. They want to sever the people’s allegiance to Jesus. So they sense an opportunity by placing this adulterous woman before Him, in front of a crowd. They hope Jesus will treat her leniently and scandalize Himself in their eyes. They would think Jesus would disobey the Mosaic Law. Instead, Jesus ignores their trap and goes deeper, into their souls. Then the Scribes and Pharisees expose their own hypocrisy by dropping their stones on a pile, and walking away. They won’t stone her because they morally cannot.
The Scribes and Pharisees, and the people who listen to and follow Jesus, are asking themselves this question: Is Jesus the completely unique Son of the Father, with a relationship so close that He and the Father become identical in will, word, and work? And, can and should Jesus be referred to as the divine “I am”? Is Jesus God? Jesus is telling the Scribes and Pharisees and the people following Him that the Father has sent Him. Jesus indicates His divine origin and His obedience and subservience to God, His Father. The Pharisees, Scribes, and religious leaders cannot accept that. This will cost Jesus His life. He knows it too. But the price of this degree of forgiveness and mercy from God will be His death to be followed by His resurrection. St. Paul writes that salvation means participation in the power of Christ’s resurrection and a sharing in Christ’s suffering and becoming like Him in death. This means death to our sinfulness. This too, is part of the newness of life offered to us in Christ’s kingdom.
February 12, 2017
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