by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 29, 2018
Jesus tells His disciples that He is the great “I AM.” That is the name God calls Himself when Moses asks God to identify Himself to the Israelites in Exodus. In this Easter season, Holy Mother Church gives us gospel readings in which Jesus expresses Himself as the great “I AM”. Jesus then attaches an image, an allegory to His “I AM” name. In this gospel, Jesus identifies Himself by saying, “I AM the vine.”
The central point of this allegory is that if the disciples remain in Jesus through love, they will bear much fruit. If they don’t, they will become dry, withered branches who will be good for nothing except fuel for a fire.
To remain in Jesus as fruitful branches, there are three words that are very useful to live by. They are “connect,” “in,” and “remain.”
To “connect” means to join or link together. It also means to attach by personal relationship and association. So, a connection is a relationship in which a person is connected to others. We are connected to the true vine of Jesus by relationship and association. That relationship and association is our obedience to Jesus’s graces and teachings. We become likenesses of Jesus, as taught to us in Sacred Scripture and in the teachings of Holy Mother Church. We configure ourselves to Him.
“In” means to be in its proper place and in a position of assured success. To “remain” means to be a part that is not destroyed, taken, or used up. It continues. In this case, the disciples bear fruit and operate as designed by Jesus.
Jesus also calls the Church His vine. As members of His Church, we are part of Jesus and He is part of us. We are branches of Jesus, the True Vine. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.
A fruitless vine, like Judas Iscariot, is pruned, lopped off the vine, and burned in fire.
The disciples, and you and I, must keep vital immanence with Jesus Christ. Immanence is to dwell in nature and in the soul. We must allow Jesus to dwell in our very being and our very soul. It is there that Jesus gives us the vital sap of His life, eternal life. We remain connected to Jesus through faith, hope, charity, and Eucharist. There is no fruit in our lives without our immanent adhesion to Jesus. Union with Jesus secures fruitfulness in us. What is required in us is actual grace, the grace that we act out in our lives.
Jesus assures us of His connection to us. To be vital branches of Him, we must be connected to Jesus. If you remember last Sunday, when Jesus told us that He is the Good Shepherd, Jesus said His Sheep know His Voice, and they follow Him. They know His Voice because they actively listen to it. They/we attune ourselves to His Voice. We have to do our part to be connected to the True Vine, Jesus Christ.
“Connect,” “remain”, “in”: those three words help us to be the vital, fruitful branches of Jesus Christ, who is part of us through His Church, this Church. In doing so, we become part of a church that is at peace, that is being built up, walks in the fear of the Lord, receives the consolation of the Holy Spirit, and experiences growth.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Fourth Sunday of Easter Homily, April 22, 2018
In today’s gospel, Jesus calls Himself “the Good Shepherd.” Jesus does this to differentiate Himself from the hireling. Jesus says that the Good Shepherd will lay down His Life for His sheep. That is how much the Good Shepherd loves His sheep. Jesus says this in a conversation with the Pharisees. That is who He is talking to in today’s gospel. It is the Pharisees whom Jesus calls, “wolves.” The Pharisees are spiritual enemies of the “sheep,” who are Jesus’s own people, members of His Church, sons and daughters through the grace of divine generation-baptism.
The whole root of this conversation is the fact that the Jewish religious authorities fail to see and to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah and the Son of God. The Pharisees reject the Messiah God gave them. The Pharisees also reject being the religious leaders that God wanted them to be-good shepherds. So therefore, God will shepherd His own people, Himself. He does so through Jesus Christ, His Own Son, the Good Shepherd. Since they reject the Messiah, God has rejected the Pharisees, and their religious leadership.
Jesus will act in certain ways to be the Good Shepherd of His Church. Jesus will lead His flock away from spiritual danger. Jesus will lead His flock into safe pastures. Quite frankly, those safe pastures are the authority and teachings of this Church. Those safe pastures include Holy Mass, where Sacred Scripture and Jesus in the Eucharist unite to protect us and to save us. Those safe pastures include obeying the Ten Commandments.
Jesus will also die for His sheep, His own people. He will lay His Life down for them and He will pick it back up again. That means Jesus will undergo His Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection to save His sheep, His own people. Only God can lay His Life down and take it back up again.
Jesus tells this to the Pharisees to contrast His own faithfulness as the Good Shepherd to their failure to be good shepherds.
Jesus will speak to His sheep and they will know His voice and follow Him, not the Pharisees.
Jesus does one more thing as Good Shepherd. Jesus shares His Office with His apostles and disciples, in varying degrees. Jesus needs priests in this Church, His Church, to continue Jesus’s work. Priests are needed to heal the sick, perform signs and wonders, to drive out demons, and to baptize-to beget more children of God through His Son and Our Savior, Jesus Christ. So please pray that Jesus will continue to select good men to follow in His Footsteps as Good Shepherds as priests. Please encourage good men to consider priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, to be open to it, to pray about it, and to follow Jesus’s lead, into whatever vocation He calls them. Please pray for priests today, that they follow Jesus as the Good Shepherd and strive to exercise their priestly office with faithfulness, grace, love, and zeal for souls.
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. It is His Nature, His Makeup, His DNA, His Identity, and His Very Soul. That is what His Church is to be like. It requires priests to make it so.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Third Sunday of Easter Homily, April 15, 2018:
Today’s readings tell us that Jesus Christ is recognized as the Lord and Messiah, the Son of God, and Savior of the world in two bodies which people can see and touch.
The first is the lame man in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter and John heal this lame man so he can walk again. He does, into the Temple with Peter and John. The Jews are astounded. They knew this man was lame from birth. He was brought up to the Temple gates to beg for alms. Peter says to him, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk.” He does. God healed him through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John tell the people the lame man was healed by faith in the name of Jesus, whom “you handed over and denied.” The Jews in the Temple see this lame man now healed. St. Peter points to Jesus as the messianic Servant of the Lord whom God exalts and lifts up. St. Peter says God is vindicating His Servant, Jesus Christ. St. Peter addressed the lame man in Jesus’s name and he was healed. In this act, God showed that He had raised Jesus from the dead and was honoring His Name. St. Peter’s speech convicts those Jews of wrongdoing but does not condemn them. St. Peter gives them the chance to repent. If the Jews repent, they can be forgiven of their sins. St. Peter uses God’s healing of this lame man to illustrate that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, who was killed and is now resurrected. Jesus is God’s Son and faith in Him and in His Name saves us from sin and death.
The second body is that of Jesus Christ Himself. St. Luke’s gospel reading today tells of the two men who saw Jesus Christ Himself “in the breaking of the bread.” That is an important phrase. Jesus Christ gives Himself to the Church in word and sacrament. Then, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Jesus says “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). The marks of the crucifixion authenticate Jesus’s risen body as the same one that was crucified days earlier. It is important that recognition of the risen Lord Jesus Christ comes “in the breaking of the bread.”
It takes faith, a new set of eyes, to recognize the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts can burn within us in this Church, in Holy Mass, in Eucharist, Jesus’s own Body and Blood. The body that the disciples touched is the same body that Jesus says is in Eucharist, which He instituted at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. The breaking of the bread was the first description of Holy Mass, the Liturgy. Jesus explains to His Apostles and Disciples that He had to suffer, die, and rise on the third day. Jesus’s Resurrection raises our souls to new life in grace and will later raise our bodies in glory. Jesus is recognized by the eyes of faith. When we see Jesus with eyes of faith, we recognize Jesus’s Body and Blood in Eucharist, in Sacred Scripture, and in this very Mass, which reveals Jesus in both. With eyes of faith, we can repent of our sins and be guaranteed of Jesus’s forgiveness. We can also be guaranteed of the graces He gives us in both. Those two bodies, the one of the healed lame man, and the other of Jesus Christ Himself, give us forgiveness, love, mercy, and eternal life.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter-Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8, 2018:
Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Jesus Christ now appears to His Apostles and disciples after His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Jesus Christ has now successfully accomplished the mission He was placed on earth to perform. His mission is to atone for our sins by His sacrifice of Himself, to defeat evil, sin, and Satan, to destroy death, and establish everlasting life. So now that Jesus Christ has accomplished all of this, what is the point? There are two. The point is unity. The point is mercy.
The first two readings, from Acts and from First John, emphasize unity. To “unite” means to come together to form a single unit. In this case, that single unit is “church.” That church is the new worship society Jesus is forming as He promised when He made Peter the rock on which He would build His Church. It replaces the Temple. St. Peter is its earthly head. The essence and soul of this Church is the Holy Spirit. The works of the Holy Spirit in this Church are charity and miracles. The sharing of goods in this Church is because of unity it embraces due to Holy Spirit. This is not a Marxist church, nor will it ever be that. In the first letter of St. John, he writes that faith and love unite us to God and to each other. We must believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior before we can be baptized. In Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirt, are born of God, and become God’s children. We love God and we love others who are begotten of Him. We end up with three dispositions or characteristics that are united in us: love God, love God’s children, and obey His commandments and teachings. It is faith which empowers us to do all three in a world that is hostile to His Church, THIS CHURCH. God loves us so much that He wants to unite us with Him, His Son, and each other IN HIS CHURCH, THIS CHURCH, THE ONE HE FOUNDED ON THE ROCK OF ST. PETER. But we are sinners. We are good but our natures are fallen and we are prone to disobedience and sinfulness, even with the love we share with Jesus and each other. That is where mercy enters. Quite frankly, that’s where Jesus enters.
It is Jesus Himself who dispenses mercy to us through a sacrament. That sacrament is “confession,” “penance,” or “reconciliation.” In today’s gospel, we see the scriptural basis for it. This glorified, risen Jesus gives His Apostles the same mission God gave Him, forgiveness of sins, MERCY. The Apostles will exercise this mission in the name and authority of Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus breathes His Holy Spirit on each of them. The meaning is clear: Jesus has given His Apostles the authority to remit and retain sins in a church, a judicial tribunal, if you will. Jesus tells His Apostles “Peace be with you”; and breathes on them. This remittance of sins is Christ-given. Jesus clearly intends to do this to His Apostles. So when St. Thomas is absent, Jesus does do the same thing to him that second week, when Thomas was with the Apostles. Confession, penance, or reconciliation, is a scripturally-based sacrament of this Roman Catholic Church for our benefit, to unite us with Jesus, in His Church, with each other.
Jesus gives us His Divine Mercy in a wonderful sacrament, confession. Jesus does this to unite us to Him in love, unity. Jesus does this in anticipation of that day, when we come before Him and hope to be united with Him forever in heaven. Unity and mercy are united on this Divine Mercy Sunday. That is what Easter is all about. That is why we should care about this to the point where we will declare, like St. Thomas, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018
“He saw and he believed.” The big scene is the empty tomb: initially. Quite frankly, now that Jesus has risen from the dead at Easter, the big scene shifts to a believer: John the Evangelist. Peter is perplexed by what he sees. John sees and believes, with very little evidence. Jesus’s body is gone. They see the burial wrappings and the face napkin rolled up neatly to one side, and nothing more than that. John chooses to believe while seeing very little. John believes with little evidence.
There is a reason why John believes with little evidence. It is because of his intense love for Jesus Christ. Intensity of love leads to instant belief, instant faith. That same love will enable John to recognize Jesus when others do not. Body snatchers had not removed Jesus from His tomb. John perceives the truth immediately. John the Evangelist is the shining example of how we must love Jesus Christ. What a great opportunity we have to do that by coming to Holy Mass and receiving Jesus Christ lovingly into our souls by Holy Eucharist-His Body, His Blood, His graces, His Sacred Heart, in each of us because we love Him so much we will obey Him and become like Him.
St. Paul explains this in his letter to the Colossians. He says the Christians there have been raised with Jesus Christ. They’re freed from serving cosmic and pagan powers. But this freedom brings responsibility. They have duties and responsibilities to uphold. One major one is to seek what is above, not what is below. Jesus Christ is above, seated in a place of honor at God’s right hand. St. Paul wants Christians to install Jesus in the place of honor in one’s soul. Another is to avoid concerns about worldly, non-spiritual matters. In baptism, they have died to all of that. They arise, a new creation with a share in the risen life of Christ. Do not become lost in earthly occupations.
In the first reading from Acts, St. Peter is the leader of this Church of Jesus Christ. He speaks to the household of a Roman centurion, Cornelius. Cornelius is a Gentile and a pagan. Peter’s message to them is the Good News. Jesus Christ is a Savior. That is authenticated by Jesus’s words and deeds. And God accepts both Jews and Gentiles who act rightly. God is impartial. The one who fears God and acts uprightly is acceptable to God. Jesus Christ is Lord of all and all who believe in Jesus will receive forgiveness of their sins and salvation. The apostles are witnesses to this, to Him. All who are in the right dispositions are acceptable and are capable of receiving God’s gifts and God’s forgiveness. This is true regardless of nationality.
This is God’s saving plan. Jesus Christ, God’s Own Son, brings us salvation through everything He did during this Easter Triduum. Holy Mother Church, in Her infinite wisdom, points out that all of Jesus’s acts from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday unite to save us. If there is no Eucharist, there is no Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to restore us to sanctifying grace. If there is no death on the Cross, there is no atoning sacrifice for our sins. If there is no blood shed, our sins are not washed away by His corresponding graces. If there is no resurrection, there is no eternal life.
So therefore, what should we know? That God loves us so much that He sacrificed His Only Begotten Son on Calvary to save us. He gave us eternal life in Jesus’s Resurrection from the dead. Jesus has given us His Body and Blood in Eucharist, to unite us with Him in sanctifying grace. All of this is in the Easter Triduum and in God’s salvific plan. What must we do? We must develop a deep, intense, personal love for Jesus Christ. Do attend Holy Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. Do receive Jesus Christ’s forgiveness of sins in Confession and all of the graces He wishes to give you in Eucharist, Holy Communion, His very own Real Presence. Set our souls on the spiritual priorities which are above and turn away from the material and sinful concerns which are below. And why should we care on this Easter Sunday? We should care because God the Father has loved us so much that He has actually lavished His Forgiveness, His Love, and His Mercy on us. God the Father has indulged us with salvation by the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, His Own Son, His Only Begotten Son, in whom He is well-pleased, Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ loves us so much that He accepted lovingly His part in this salvific plan, which has been completed. Nothing else is needed. Satan, sin, and death are defeated. God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, love us so much that they are absolutely convinced that each one of us, no matter how wretched, how sinful, how horrible we are, is worth saving. He refuses to believe anything else.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Homily for Good Friday, March 30, 2018:
Cardinal Robert Sarah said “The Cross is the center of the world, the heart of mankind, and the place where our stability is anchored.” He is right. The Cross is the altar upon which Jesus Christ offered His Own Body and Blood as the sacrifice for our salvation. It was on the Cross that Jesus Christ poured out His Most Innocent Blood for our redemption. It is on the Cross that Jesus’s very own Temple was nailed, His Own Body. The entire world has seen His Sacrifice in the Temple of His Body, on the Cross. It is on the Cross that Jesus Christ died His most bitter death. Then, after His death, Jesus rose and became immortal. He entered the holy of holies in heaven and showed His Sacrifice to His Father on behalf of us who are subject to sin. Jesus’s sacrifice is sufficient and it is eternal. God’s sacrifice of His Son gives us a new beginning.
For us, all of us who pursue true contrition and penance for our sins and who are determined to not commit them again and who pursue virtue are forgiven through this one, holy, and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ, on the Cross. God’s sacrifice of His Son has given us forgiveness of our sins.
The Cross of Jesus Christ is powerful. The condemnation of the sins of the world is present on it, in the form of the body of Jesus Christ, God’s Own Son. We see Jesus’s condemnation and God the Father’s compassion. God sent His Son into the world to die for wicked sinners. Jesus died on the Cross. He atoned for our sins. And, furthermore, Jesus died on the Cross and rose from death in the tomb. Jesus has destroyed the permanence of death. “As all die in Adam, so all will be brought to life in Christ.” God’s sacrifice of His Son has given us eternal life.
The Cross of Jesus Christ unites all people in His Salvation. We are a new people of God. We are the new Israel, the Church of Christ. He has acquired us with His Own Blood, filled us with His Holy Spirit, and enabled us to be unified.
Jesus has done all of this for us by being the great high priest, who has offered the sacrifice of His Own Body and Blood, in the Temple of His Own Body.
That is what has happened on Good Friday. And God the Father Himself in the first reading has said that His plan to save us will succeed. It has. The upshot of all this is that we have a “great high priest” present in the heavens, Jesus. He intercedes for us with His very own sacrifice of His Own Body, His very self. It happened on Good Friday, two thousand years ago, on the Cross, the center of the world, the heart of mankind, and the place where our stability, our salvation, is anchored.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, March 25, 2018:
The hour has come. St. Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus Christ enters Jerusalem. Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly. The people welcome Jesus as the Messiah who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus is the king who will restore the kingdom of David. By the end of the week, many of these same people will reject Jesus, call for His Crucifixion, and accept a murderer and insurrectionist named Barabbas in Jesus’s place. Jesus will be betrayed and crucified and He knows it. Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem is a mark of complete obedience to His Father. Jesus will suffer and die to enact the New Covenant God has promised. Jesus will be the source and summit of our salvation.
To do all of this, Jesus assumes the identity of a suffering servant. In Isaiah’s reading, God reassures His Suffering Servant that He will persevere and succeed in carrying out His Mission. So Jesus, the Suffering Servant, will persevere in adversity and betrayal, and ignore His own personal welfare. God will uphold Him. Jesus will be so abandoned, betrayed, and rejected that He will cry out from the Cross Psalm 22-“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” This psalm literally refers to Jesus Christ. No one else has suffered like Him. The outcome of Jesus’s suffering and death will be the universal salvation of Jew and Gentile alike. St. Paul writes that Jesus freely empties Himself of the rights and status He deserves as Son of God. Jesus assumes Adam’s state of corruption and slavery to sin. Jesus then humbles Himself all the more by undergoing a public, shameful, and wretched death, forsaken by everyone.
It is easy to say “Jesus suffered;” “Jesus died, nailed to the Cross;” “Jesus was abandoned;” and “Jesus was betrayed.” Jesus forgives everyone from His Cross: those who had plotted His death, those who abandoned Him for their own personal safety, and others who turned on Him after waving palms and laying cloaks before Him as He enters Jerusalem. Perhaps some of us have experienced some of that same betrayal and rejection in our lives. If so, you understand to a deeper degree Jesus’s suffering as a servant. That depth of forgiveness and mercy that we are called to transforms us in the same way that Jesus will be transformed on Easter Sunday, which is the culmination of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on this day, two thousand years ago.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Fourth Sunday of Lent Homily: March 11, 2018
“Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place.” This verse from Second Chronicles describes God’s love for Judah. God warned the people and the priests of Judah “early and often” of their unfaithfulness to Him and the abominations they practiced in His Temple. God lovingly called them back, urged them to stop, and desired them to repent. God seeks to reconcile with them and to put them on the right way. That is God’s nature, to have compassion on his people.
That Old Testament passage mirrors the verse in John’s Gospel today: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” That passage describes God’s nature today, towards us. God loves us. We need redemption. Redemption comes exclusively from God’s Son, Jesus Christ. So therefore, we need Jesus Christ. Why? We need Jesus because Jesus’s Incarnation is united to His Redemption of us. Jesus will redeem us by offering up His Body as a sacrifice. His sacrifice will atone for our sinfulness. Jesus will lift up His Body as a sacrifice on the cross. “Lifted up” means crucifixion.
We need Jesus because Jesus’s direct mission is salvation. The motivation to save us from sin is God’s and Jesus’s love for us. That is why God delivered His Only Son to death. He did it with a view to the salvation of every believer from sin and to bring everyone to an eternal life of happiness with Him in heaven.
Jesus asks us to believe in Him. Mankind makes its own judgement by their attitude toward Him. He who believes, repents, is changed for the better, and incurs no damnation. But he who refuses to believe is already damned because he chooses to make himself an unbeliever in the name, mission, and divinity of Jesus Christ.
We need Jesus because God has made us, and we have made ourselves sinners. This Lent we are urged to destroy what we have made, sin, through repentance and belief in Jesus. By doing that, God can save what He has made: us. Repent from sin and love God’s work in you. How can we do that? By going to confession. The beginning of good works is the confessing of bad works. Salvation is belief in Jesus accompanied by deeds done in God. May we cooperate with the truth and come to the light. That way our works can be seen as done in God. We have been made in Jesus Christ for good works. Salvation is from Jesus and good works are an integral part of the Christian life.
Our disposition must be completely opposite from the people and priests of Judah. Our disposition must be completely opposite from one who does wicked things and hates the light, in order to preserve his sinfulness.
So what must we know? That Jesus Christ is God’s Son and is going to be lifted up on the Cross to atone for our sins and save us. What must we do? Have a right disposition towards God. Good will and a right heart will help us to repent from our sins and welcome Jesus Christ in us. Be open to His Grace and act on His Grace through faith. Continue going to confession, continue prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to strengthen your right disposition towards Jesus. Why should we care? Because the people of Judah in the Old Testament rejected God and incurred His punishment. That is completely opposite what God wanted to do for them. We should care because God cares, that much.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Third Sunday of Lent Homily: March 4, 2018:
Jesus Christ gives us a stunning revelation in today’s gospel about the Temple. Jesus loves the Temple. That’s why He kicks out the merchants and money-changers. The stunning revelation for you and me is what Jesus says about the Temple. Jesus says: destroy it and in three days He will raise it up. Jesus is referring to His Own Body as the new Temple. This stunning revelation makes perfect sense if you remember last Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus is transfigured as He prays on the mountain. He is glorified. He is changed. In today’s gospel, Jesus purifies the Temple. 40 years later, Roman legions will destroy it. It remains destroyed today. So therefore, the Temple, as a center of worship and sacrifice is destroyed. The Temple, as a site of God’s abiding presence, is destroyed. The Temple, as a visible sign of God’s faithfulness, is destroyed. The Temple, as a visible expression of all three of these major points, is replaced by the Risen Body of Jesus Christ. Today’s gospel reveals to us that Jesus’s body will be transfigured into the new Temple.
This New Temple of Jesus Christ is the center of our worship. It is Church. It is a new worship society that replaces worship in the Temple. Our love, our salvation, our values, our very existence, spiritual and physical, are all grounded in a Person, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Jesus Christ will also be transfigured into His Church. This Church, the only one He established, is the Mystical Body of Christ. The Church is where Jesus Christ dwells in the midst of His People. Jesus’s Body in the Church centralizes our worship of Him. We offer ourselves to Jesus in this Church. We worship Jesus Christ here in this Church. We become part of His Body in this Church. Coming to this Church to offer ourselves, our love, our fidelity, and our worship to Jesus is very inclusive. We are drawn to this by Jesus Himself. We are drawn to Jesus Christ the Person. We are drawn to Him because of our love for Him. It is Jesus Christ Himself who is the center of our worship. Those who refuse to come here exclude themselves. They, themselves, do something that is very exclusionary. They reject coming here to worship Jesus by their own choice. They say they don’t get anything out of it. They say that they can worship Jesus anywhere. We come here to receive Jesus’s forgiveness of our sins and Jesus’s salvation. We come here to safeguard the purity of our faith in Jesus. The Church can never live together with idolatry of any kind.
St. John also writes in his Gospel that, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). So Jesus will also transfigure Himself into Eucharist. It is more accurate to say that Jesus transfigures the Bread and the Wine into His Own Body and Blood. Again, in this Church, Jesus Christ is the center of our worship. Jesus Christ is present in this Church. Jesus’s Real Presence is in the Eucharist. He is present in the in-dwelling Spirit of this Church. The Church is the place of God’s presence. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone and unity of this Church.
Jesus Christ is greater than the Temple. Jesus Christ supersedes the Temple. So, what should we know? That Jesus Christ is the absolute center of worship here in this Church. We come here to worship Jesus and to be transfigured into likenesses of Him, to offer ourselves to Him, and to be saved by Him. What should we do? Continue our Lenten observances because we know who this Jesus is. Jesus is God’s Son and the New Temple. Continuing our Lenten observances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving brings us to Jesus. Continue to pray, go to Confession, attend Mass, receive Jesus in the Eucharist, become likenesses of Jesus. Why should we care? Because considering all this means that Jesus Christ, in this Church, is everything. That is exactly who Jesus is and who Jesus wants to be for you and for me.
by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Second Sunday of Lent (B) Homily: February 25, 2018:
Today’s readings are about the sacrifice of a beloved son and its consequences. God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God proclaims His absolute dominion (rule) over every man, woman, and child, each and all of them, His special creation. That means that we have to obey God, His teachings, His values. God revokes His command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. God makes it clear that He does not want His absolute dominion over every human being to be acknowledged and executed by the actual carrying out of a human sacrifice. Think about that when you consider that almost 70 million babies have been aborted in this country since 1973. Think about that when you consider Parkland, Florida, Columbine High School, Sandy Hook, and other school shootings.
This story highlights Abraham’s absolute faith. Abraham obeys, in his heart. Abraham binds his beloved son Isaac, places him on the wood on top of the altar, and raises his knife. St. Paul writes that Abraham thought in his heart that somehow God would raise his son Isaac back to life in order to fulfill His Promise that He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens and the crystals of sand on a seashore. Certainly, this is a preview of God the Father sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Jesus Christ is God’s Son. We know that from today’s gospel, which tells of Jesus’s Transfiguration. God the Father appears in a cloud. He says “this is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” For Peter, James, and John, it means to listen to Jesus, who says He must suffer, die, and rise from the dead. It is difficult for Peter, James, and John to accept that Jesus is going to be a sacrificial lamb, not a geopolitical king. Jesus Christ is a Forgiver and a Savior from sin, not a sword-swinging bad-boy. Jesus offers us salvation from what threatens each of us from inside of us. Peter, James, and John see Jesus in His Glorified Body, post-Resurrection, in the Transfiguration.
There is more. Jesus has died, risen, and ascended into heaven. Those are historical facts. We believe because we have faith. Jesus died and rose to save us. So who will deliver me/you? St. Paul says the liberator is the Holy Spirit. What is that? The Holy Spirit is the force and power of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ, present on earth. We contact that force by living in union with Jesus Christ. Union with Jesus means living like He did, thinking like He thought, serving others like He served, praying like He prayed. We are already united with Jesus in baptism. Finally, that indwelling Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise us up too on that day. To weld that contact with the Spirit in our souls, we must extinguish sin in our hearts, the deeds of the flesh. We must live by God’s Holy Spirit in us instead. If we do so, we become God’s true children. God will give us everything we need spiritually.
God is the only Father who has not withheld His Only-Begotten, Beloved Son from sacrifice. To ransom a slave, He gave away His Son. God the Father loves us that much. God the Son loves us that much. God the Holy Spirit loves us that much. By extension, God’s Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, loves us that much too. So what should we know? This sacrifice is a fact. We are facing the opportunity of a lifetime. What should we do? Believe the Gospel Good News and radically repent of our sins. Change. Go to confession. Go to Mass. Receive Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Love Him faithfully. Why should we care? Because there is no alternative for us spiritually. This is what God has done for us. This is what His love for us has prompted Him to do.
February 12, 2017
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