A Homily – The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – 2 Kings 4:8-11, 13-16 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-3, 16-19 ©
Second Reading – Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14
Alternative Acclamation – 1 Peter 2:9
The Gospel According to Matthew – 10:37 – 42 ©

(NJB)

The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Read the ancient texts with an ear bent toward discernment. The historical books especially, they are replete with myths that do little to elucidate the way, and they often confuse it.

Such is the case for the reading from the book of Kings for today.

Know this:

God does not interfere in our lives, not in the lives of individuals and not in the course of nations.

The future is not fixed because God, the creator of the universe, God made us and the whole of creation free from divine coercion.

Listen!

The sacred texts are no place for nationalism and jingoism, do not follow the path of the psalmist. God does not favor one person over another, one family, one tribe or one nation.

God is a God of love and mercy, not a God of palace intrigues, not a God of battles.

Be mindful.

The apostle overstates what is at stake in the sacrament of baptism.

Baptism is intended to be filled with symbolic power, Saint Paul articulates this well, and that symbolism is meant to instill in us the same faith by which Jesus willingly went to his death, but this is the exception, it is not the rule.

We are not called to this same fate, Jesus went to his death to save the lives of his family, friends and followers, not to set the stage for their demise.

Jesus was not raised to new life for an extraordinary reason, but for the ordinary reason that God intends to raise all people to life; God restores the whole of creation because God loves us.

Eternal life is not the reward that a Christian should seek, as if it were payment for having lived a just life.

We are called to the exhibition of grace and mercy because that is the way to an authentic life. We are living truly when we are faithful to the way and live well.

We defeat death when we stop fearing it, when we free ourselves from the fear of death we are able to live for what is good and beautiful and true, this is the way that Jesus followed, the way of justice and humility and peace.

Ask for wisdom, God will hear you, God is with you, as God is with us all.

Know this!

The Apostle is wrong. Saint Peter errs when he suggests that some people are set apart and excluded from the divine plan for mercy.

There are no people set apart, there are only people who set themselves apart. All people are the people of God, there is no chosen race, no consecrated nation. God, the creator of the universe, God is looking for prophets not priests. God is calling all people, God desires us to represent the divine voice in the world, and to repeat the call.

Remember!

All people are the subjects of God’s loving mercy, no-one is left outside of the gate, the table has been set for everyone, and the feast will not commence until we have been gathered together as one.

Be mindful.

Faith and the rewards of faith must not be constructed in transactional terms. Faith is trust, it is the simple belief that the things we hope for will come true.

Christian faith is rooted in the hope for and belief that we can live in a just society, one founded in love, a society that exhibits mercy in the furtherance of justice, one which cares for all people.

There are many circumstances in which a Christian may be called to reject the structure of their family or their culture, if those structures are unjust they should be rejected. We cannot simply hold onto them because our parents lived unjustly or because we are concerned for the inheritance of our children.

We cannot cling to systems of injustice for the sake of tradition, that is antithetical to the way.

Matthew speaks truly when he speaks to this point, but the point he makes in this Gospel reading requires further exposition.

A Christian is not called to reject their family for the sake of rejecting their family, they are called to walk away from their family if an only if their family is engaged in the institutionalization and promotion of injustice, and Matthew goes too far, he fundamentally misunderstands the way when he suggests that Christians must make the strong commitment strong, a commitment unto death, for the sake of their faith.

If Jesus had desired this he would have called his disciples to die with him in Calvary. That was not what he desired, he gave his life so that they might live.

Know this!

Salvation is not transactional. Faith and the rewards of faith are not a quid pro quo.

Remember Saint Peter!

He rejected Jesus, he denied him three times on the night Jesus was arrested. He fell apart in the grip of fear even though he was not a man of a cowardly disposition. Nevertheless, he refused to follow Jesus to the cross. Then, after Jesus was killed he continued the ministry, his faith led him through the rest of his days, eventually he gave his life for the sake of his ministry, for bringing good news to the poor, and caring for the widow.

The rewards of faith are not transactional they are emergent.

Trust engenders trust, as love deepens love, and hope fosters hope. One does not purchase the other, but rather they grow with each other like seedlings from seed whose roots bind together to sand fortify the garden.

In the seed the whole is contained in the part, and the potential is infinite.

Be mindful, welcome the prophet, welcome the holy person, and just as important, welcome the sinners, the outcasts, even those who have persecuted.

This is the way of Jesus, and the way of faith.
First Reading – 2 Kings 4:8-11, 13-16 ©

This is a Holy Man of God; Let Him Rest Here

One day as Elisha was on his way to Shunem, a woman of rank who lived there pressed him to stay and eat there. After this he always broke his journey for a meal when he passed that way. She said to her husband, ‘Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God. Let us build him a small room on the roof, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there.’ One day when he came, he retired to the upper room and lay down. He said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Call our Shunammitess. Tell her this: “Look, you have gone to all this trouble for us, what can we do for you? Is there anything you would like said for you to the king or to the commander of the army?”’ But she replied, ‘I live with my own people about me.’ ‘What can be done for her then?’ he asked. Gehazi answered, ‘Well, she has no son and her husband is old.’ Elisha said, ‘Call her.’ The servant called her and she stood at the door. This time next year,’ he said ‘you will hold a son in your arms.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):2-3, 16-19 ©

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord;
through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth.
Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever,
that your truth is firmly established as the heavens.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

Happy the people who acclaim such a king,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
who find their joy every day in your name,
who make your justice the source of their bliss.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

For it is you, O Lord, who are the glory of their strength;
by your favour it is that our might is exalted;
for our ruler is in the keeping of the Lord;
our king in the keeping of the Holy One of Israel.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.
Second Reading – Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 ©

When We Were Baptised We Went into the Tomb with Christ, So that We too Might Live a New Life

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.

But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – 1 Peter 2:9

Alleluia, alleluia!

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a people set apart to sing the praises of God,
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew – 10:37 – 42 ©

Anyone Who Loses His Life for My Sake Will Find It

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows:

‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.

‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Pentecost) Year A

First Reading Genesis 11:1-9
Psalm – Psalm 32(33):10-15 ©
Second Reading – Exodus 19:3-8, 16-20 ©
Canticle – Daniel 3:52-56 ©
Psalm – Psalm 106(107):2-9 ©
Fifth Reading – Romans 8:22-27 ©
Gospel Acclamation
The Gospel According to John 7:37-39 ©
Sixth Reading – Acts 2:1-11 ©
Psalm 103(104):1-2,24,27-30,35 ©
Seventh Reading 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12, 13 ©
Sequence – Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Gospel Acclamation
The Gospel According to John 20:19-23 ©

(NJB)

The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Pentecost) Year A
It is the feast of Pentecost, and the beginning of the Apostolic Age.

Christians throughout the world celebrate this day; tradition tells us that on this day we commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus of Nazareth (Joshua son of Joseph), to the nascent Church that was founded in his name.

For the Church, this moment marks the beginning of a new era. Jesus has gone and care for community of believers is now in the hands of his disciples.

The departure of Jesus marks the beginning of the age of prophecy for the Christian community. It is a time of discernment in which the Church evolves, becoming a new creation. From this point forward Christianity is no longer merely a sect of Judaism. It becomes an international movement, transcending Palestine as it spreads throughout the Mediterranean region, North Africa and the Near East, all the way to India and around the world.

The Church becomes responsible for teaching the way of Jesus, the new way, preached in new languages, in every tongues, told through new stories shaped by every culture, and in this stories Joshua son of Joseph becomes something new, a myth, a man of power, godlike.

In Christian doctrine Jesus becomes God’s own self, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the creator of the universe in whom all things exist, without whom not one thing comes into being.

In his time and throughout his life Jesus preached the way of love, of service, of caring, of justice, of mercy of humility.

Remember this always keep it in the forefront of your mind when you are reading scripture:

God is a God of law and order. God, the creator of the universe, God is not a purveyor of magic tricks, God does not dabble in the supernatural or trade in miracles.

The narrative in The Book of Acts from the reading for today must be understood as a metaphor.

The meaning is this:

The Church had grown to include a great number of people from all parts of the Roman Empire, from Egypt and North Africa, from Arabia and Persia, from all around the Mediterranean Region, and from North and South of the Black Sea.

In the company of believers there were speakers and translators capable of sharing the Good News in every tongue that was known; from Ethiopia to Brittania, from Carthage to India.

The gift of tongues is to be understood as the blessing of a multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural blessing. An individual possessing the gift of tongues, was someone who had the ability to interpret between one language and another, so that everyone gathered to hear the Gospel and the Scripture expounded on, would be able to understand them.

The myth of Pentecost, as related here in the Gospel of Saint John, narrates some of the struggles of the early Church. It was written more than one hundred years after the death of Jesus, and decades after the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. It was written for the Church, for John’s community, in an era when the differentiation among Christians and Jews had concretized, when the leaders in the new Christian movement were trying to establish their bona fides, as the true heirs of Jesus’ ministry.

These new Christians imagined the gift of the Holy Spirit as something that was released in a breath of ritual remembering, they imagined it as something new, something new to them, but they were wrong.

The Holy Spirit had always been with them, has always been with humanity, the Holy Spirit did not suddenly come to the world with Jesus’ death and subsequent ascension.

Listen to Jesus!

Jesus said: let the thirsty come, your thirst will be relieved.

Do not be confused on this point; belief is not the coin you exchange for access to God, simply come if you are thirsty. Drink and be restored.

Jesus call us to follow the way, and the way is life, trust him and keep to the way.

Do not muddle around in the rhetoric of John, do not let John’s confusion stop you from understanding. When John attempts to qualify the hopeful message of Christ, to circumscribe it, then John deviates from the way.

Remember this!

The spirit has always been with us, all things come into being in the spirit of God, are sustained by God’s spirit and to God’s spirit all things and beings will return, just as the rain falls to the sea.

Reflect on the teaching of Paul:

God is the creator of the universe; the eternal God is the first source and center of all things. The infinite God engenders all potentialities and yet interferes with none of them, having created the universe in freedom.

God does not coerce creation, and yet the entirety of what is moves according to God’s eternal purpose, and there is no contradiction in this mystery.

The Spirit of God animates all beings, sustains all of creation throughout all time. Pentecost is a feast that celebrates the acknowledgement of this reality, not its instantiation at this point in time.

The mission and ministry of Jesus is passed on through this revelation, it is heard in the calling to love and care for, to serve those in greatest need, to love justice and be merciful in the face of the world’s horrors.

It is wise and good to anticipate the coming of God. It is wise and good to desire to be in the divine presence. Anticipate that moment, relish it, cherish it, but remain present to the people and events that are actually occurring in the world.

When you are in prayer, and your thoughts are unformed, when your feelings are unclear and no words come to your mind, or when the words that do come are inappropriate for prayer; then be silent, quiet your mind, still the murmurs in your heart, let go of the voices; be silent and listen.

Remember this and be mindful: the prayers we pray for ourselves, we are called on to pray for everyone, even our adversaries, including our most bitter enemies.

If you pray for light and understanding, if you pray for life and peace, if you pray for solace and grace, if you pray for healing and guidance, if you pray for any blessing at all, make that prayer for everyone, knowing that all who call on God will be saved.

Remember the wisdom of Isaiah who says: in the end every knee shall bend, and every tongue confess the name of God.

Remember what the Psalmist wrote: Let us affirm our trust in God; that God, the creator of the Universe is good, that God is not a partisan, that God made us in this world, and that God made us free, God made the world itself is free from coercion.

It is impossible to hide our sins, our guilt, our anger, and our self-loathing from God.

All sins are forgiven by God, though for us to forgive ourselves and for us to forgive each other, that is a much more difficult task.

We experience misery in our guilt until we admit our faults and ask forgiveness, until we give up our anger and forgive those who have hurt us, we are bound by it.

Have faith, trust: the death of the body is not an impediment to God’s salvific will. God will go beyond any threshold to save God’s children, including the veil of death.

There is nothing done that cannot be undone, nothing is impossible for the omnipotent.

If you follow the way Jesus encouraged then you are on the path of love and mercy, seeking reconciliation, you are forgiving and the forgiven.

God, the creator of the universe, God does not require or even desire our praise and exaltations, except insofar as those praises take the form of mercy expressed toward our fellow human beings.

Serve God through the love and kindness you show one another. God’s salvation is close.

Have no fear.

The glory of God does not come and go according to our deeds and merits.

Have no fear; God’s salvation reaches everyone.

God, the creator of the Universe, the God of Jesus Christ, God is the God of all people, and Pentecost reveals this.

All of those things which we imagine, which we hold in hearts and minds, the things that divide us one from another, these are illusions born of fear, a lack of trust (faith) in our neighbors, in ourselves, and in God.

We are all the children of God, of the living God who dwells in our beating hearts.

God speaks with the voice of love.

Remember this!
First Reading Genesis 11:1-9 ©

The Tower of Babel

Throughout the earth men spoke the same language, with the same vocabulary. Now as they moved eastwards they found a plain in the land of Shinar where they settled. They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them in the fire.’ (For stone they used bricks, and for mortar they used bitumen). ‘Come,’ they said ‘let us build ourselves a town and a tower with its top reaching heaven. Let us make a name for ourselves, so that we may not be scattered about the whole earth.’

Now the Lord came down to see the town and the tower that the sons of man had built. ‘So they are all a single people with a single language!’ said the Lord. ‘This is but the start of their undertakings! There will be nothing too hard for them to do. Come, let us go down and confuse their language on the spot so that they can no longer understand one another.’ The Lord scattered them thence over the whole face of the earth, and they stopped building the town. It was named Babel therefore, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth. It was from there that the Lord scattered them over the whole face of the earth.
Psalm – Psalm 32(33):10-15 ©

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

He frustrates the designs of the nations,
he defeats the plans of the peoples.
His own designs shall stand for ever,
the plans of his heart from age to age.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth,
he sees all the children of men.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

From the place where he dwells he gazes
on all the dwellers on the earth;
he who shapes the hearts of them all;
and considers all their deeds.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.
Second Reading – Exodus 19:3-8, 16-20 ©

Moses Led the People Out of the Camp to Meet God

Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Say this to the House of Jacob, declare this to the sons of Israel:

‘“You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. From this you know that now, if you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all the nations shall be my very own, for all the earth is mine. I will count you a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation.”

‘Those are the words you are to speak to the sons of Israel.’

So Moses went and summoned the elders of the people, putting before them all that the Lord had bidden him. Then all the people answered as one, ‘All that the Lord has said, we will do.’

Now at daybreak on the third day there were peals of thunder on the mountain and lightning flashes, a dense cloud, and a loud trumpet blast, and inside the camp all the people trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the bottom of the mountain. The mountain of Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. Like smoke from a furnace the smoke went up, and the whole mountain shook violently. Louder and louder grew the sound of the trumpet. Moses spoke, and God answered him with peals of thunder. The Lord came down on the mountain of Sinai, on the mountain top, and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain.
Canticle – Daniel 3:52-56 ©

To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.

To you glory and praise for evermore.
Blest your glorious holy name.

To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest in the temple of your glory.

To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest on the throne of your kingdom.

To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest who gaze into the depths.

To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest in the firmament of heaven.

To you glory and praise for evermore.
Third Reading – Ezekiel 37:1-14 ©

A Vision of Israel’s Death and Resurrection

The hand of the Lord was laid on me, and he carried me away by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley, a valley full of bones. He made me walk up and down among them. There were vast quantities of these bones on the ground the whole length of the valley; and they were quite dried up. He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘You know, Lord.’ He said, ‘Prophesy over these bones. Say, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says this to these bones: I am now going to make the breath enter you, and you will live. I shall put sinews on you, I shall make flesh grow on you, I shall cover you with skin and give you breath, and you will live; and you will learn that I am the Lord.”’ I prophesied as I had been ordered. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a sound of clattering; and the bones joined together. I looked, and saw that they were covered with sinews; flesh was growing on them and skin was covering them, but there was no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man. Say to the breath, “The Lord says this: Come from the four winds, breath; breathe on these dead; let them live!”’ I prophesied as he had ordered me, and the breath entered them; they came to life again and stood up on their feet, a great, an immense army.

Then he said, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They keep saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope has gone; we are as good as dead.” So prophesy. Say to them, “The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this – it is the Lord who speaks.”’
Psalm – Psalm 106(107):2-9 ©

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Alleluia!

Let them say this, the Lord’s redeemed,
whom he redeemed from the hand of the foe
and gathered from far-off lands,
from east and west, north and south.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Some wandered in the desert, in the wilderness,
finding no way to a city they could dwell in.
Hungry they were and thirsty;
their soul was fainting within them.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Then they cried to the Lord in their need
and he rescued them from their distress
and he led them along the right way,
to reach a city they could dwell in.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.
Let them thank the Lord for his love,
for the wonders he does for men:
for he satisfies the thirsty soul;
he fills the hungry with good things.

O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Alleluia!
Fourth Reading – Joel 3:1-5 ©

I Will Pour Out My Spirit on All Mankind

Thus says the Lord:

‘I will pour out my spirit on all mankind.

Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions.

Even on the slaves, men and women, will I pour out my spirit in those days.

I will display portents in heaven and on earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.’

The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord dawns,
that great and terrible day.

All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, for on Mount Zion there will be some who have escaped, as the Lord has said, and in Jerusalem some survivors whom the Lord will call.
Fifth Reading – Romans 8:22-27 ©

The Spirit Himself Expresses Our Plea in a Way that Could Never Be Put into Words

From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free. For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved – our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were – but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet – it is something we must wait for with patience.

The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.
Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 7:37-39 ©

‘If Any Man is Thirsty, Let Him Come to Me!’
On the last day and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood there and cried out:

‘If any man is thirsty, let him come to me!

Let the man come and drink who believes in me!’

As scripture says: From his breast shall flow fountains of living water.

He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive; for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Sixth Reading – Acts 2:1-11 ©

They Were All Filled with the Holy Spirit and Began to Speak

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’
Psalm 103(104):1-2,24,27-30,35 ©

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

Alleluia!

Bless the Lord, my soul!
Lord God, how great you are,
clothed in majesty and glory,
wrapped in light as in a robe!

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.
Bless the Lord, my soul.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

All of these look to you
to give them their food in due season.
You give it, they gather it up:
you open your hand, they have their fill.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

You take back your spirit, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came.
You send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

Alleluia!
Seventh Reading – 1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13 ©

In the One Spirit We Were All Baptised

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
Sequence – Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow

Thou in toil art comfort sweet
Pleasant coolness in the heat
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew
On our dryness pour thy dew
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will
Melt the frozen, warm the chill
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend:

Give us comfort when we die
Give us life with thee on high
Give us joys that never end.
Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Alleluia!
The Gospel of John 20:19-23

As the Father Sent Me, So Am I Sending You: Receive the Holy Spirit

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’
The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Pentecost) Year A

A Homily – The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension

First Reading – Acts 1:12-14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1,4, 7-8 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 4:13-16 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18
The Gospel According to John 17:1-11 ©

(NJB)

The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension
Be mindful!

Prayer is good, though it is nothing without charity.

Go out and do good, love one another as Jesus did.

That is what we are meant to take away from the reading from the Book of Acts.

God is good.

Open your eyes and you will see God’s goodness, you will see the goodness of God even in the faces of your adversaries.

See them.

God is good.

Open your ears and you will hear God’s goodness, even in the voices of your opponents.

Listen to them.

God is good.

God loves you, and God loves all people.
Open your heart to the people, even your enemies, invite them to your table

Share with them.

Be mindful!

If you share in the sufferings of Christ, know that you are on the side of justice and mercy.

And know this, if you are suffering and it is not because of the love you bear to all people, then your suffering is not the suffering of Christ

One way or another, do not boast of your suffering, it is unseemly and arrogant.

Be humble!

You will get nothing extra for your service to God, your share in God’s blessing will be the same as that of anyone and everyone else.

Remember the laborers in the vineyard.

We may have faith in this, because God loves all people equally, and the spirit of God, of God who created the universe; that spirit rests on all people without distinction, we share in it the same.

Good and bad, we are the same.

God, the creator of the universe, God abandon’s no-one.

God will leave no orphans, no-one shall be left apart, stranded in the throws of sin.

Not one of us will be lost.

Consider the Gospel for today.

Consider how the apostles get it wrong…again

Be mindful of how the writers of John’s Gospel reveal their fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus and mission.

Strive to be more patient than they were.
Listen!

The ministry of Jesus was centered on real people, actual people living real lives, facing real hardship in the real world.

His gaze was focused toward us on Earth with him, not on the heavens, or some imagined and ephemeral glory.

Jesus was not here to seek glory, or power, or dominion over mankind.

Jesus was selfless and meek; he gave everything away, including his life.

There is a kind of power in this, but it is not power in the sense of force or energy, or miltant might. Our word power, comes from the Latin potens, potare, meaning ability.

Jesus possessed power insofar as he possessed the ability to love.

Jesus was not a Gnostic, but the writers of John would make him out to be one.

He did not teach a secret doctrine.

He himself wrote nothing down.

Jesus taught by the word of his mouth, and more significantly through his actions.

He proclaimed justice and promoted love; through healing and sharing, and community work.

Jesus prayed, but he only gave us one prayer, in that prayer he prayed for bread to feed the people, he asked for mercy, and the strength to be merciful.

Know this

If or when the Church is finally able to emulate the life and teaching of Jesus, then and only then will Christ have risen within it.
First Reading – Acts 1:12-14 ©

The Apostles All Joined in Continuous Prayer

After Jesus was taken up into heaven the apostles went back from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1,4, 7-8 ©

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

Alleluia!

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
‘Seek his face.’

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 4:13-16 ©

It is a Blessing for You When They Insult You for Bearing the Name of Christ

If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you. None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18

Alleluia, alleluia!

I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you,
and your hearts will be full of joy.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 17:1-11 ©

Father, It is Time for You to Glorify Me

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.

And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was. I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give me.

They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.

I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.’
The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A) The Ascension

A Homily – The Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

First Reading – Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 65(66):1-7, 16, 20 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 3:15-18 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
The Gospel According to John 14:15-21 ©

(NJB)

The Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Be mindful!

Faith in God cannot be predicated on magic and miracles.

God, the creator of the universe, God did not make the world such a place that God’s children become the victims of demons; reject this ideation.

Jesus is not a lord, all people were created in the divine image, each of us bears a seed of the Word within us, we dwell in the spirit of God, without whom we would not exist.

It is boastful and dishonest to proclaim that God, the creator of the universe; that God has shown any one of God’s children, any family, any tribe, any nation…any favor over and above any other.

God does not intervene in human affairs on behalf of individuals, the creator of the universe does will not reach into the world to change the course of a person’s life. God does not break chains, or crush rebellions; we do.

Listen!

It is proper to give reverence to Jesus, yes; listen to the apostle when he asks for this, more importantly, listen to Jesus.

Give reverence to everyone. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect, walk humbly, love justice and seek mercy all the days of your life; this is the way.

Do not concern yourself with slander, not if you are living the good life, do not concern yourself with slander if you are a blessing to your family and friends and neighbors, do not concern yourself with any gossip, not if you show love to a stranger.

Know this:

Jesus did not die for the guilty and the sinful. His death was a political murder, he gave his life so that his friends and family, his followers would be spared from persecution.

Be Mindful.

The grace of God is not transactional. Love fosters love, but there is always love and God is always with you.

God, the creator of the universe, God abandons no-one. God will leave no orphans, no-one will be left behind or stranded in the world.

Not one of us shall be lost; this is the gospel.

God’s spirit dwells in all people, it permeates the whole creation, God is not, not present in any space, be mindful of this at all times.

All people dwell within God, without whom not one person, thing or being would exist; this is our faith, keep it!

God is with us!

Be mindful of this at all times, the Church is not the gatekeeper or the mediator, granting access to the presence of God, our salvation is not transactional, it happens simply because God wills it, and God wills it because God loves us.

God loves each and everyone one of us.
First Reading – Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 ©

They Laid Hands on Them, and They Received the Holy Spirit

Philip went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves. There were, for example, unclean spirits that came shrieking out of many who were possessed, and several paralytics and cripples were cured. As a result there was great rejoicing in that town.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, and they went down there, and prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet he had not come down on any of them: they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 65(66):1-7, 16, 20 ©

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

Alleluia!

Cry out with joy to God all the earth,
O sing to the glory of his name.
O render him glorious praise.
Say to God: ‘How tremendous your deeds!

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

‘Before you all the earth shall bow;
shall sing to you, sing to your name!’
Come and see the works of God,
tremendous his deeds among men.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the river dry-shod.
Let our joy then be in him;
he rules for ever by his might.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

Come and hear, all who fear God.
I will tell what he did for my soul:
Blessed be God who did not reject my prayer
nor withhold his love from me.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 3:15-18 ©

In the Body He Was Put to Death, in the Spirit He Was Raised to Life

Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander you when you are living a good life in Christ may be proved wrong in the accusations that they bring. And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong.

Why, Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus said: ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 14:15-21 ©

I Shall Ask the Father and He Will Give you Another Advocate

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If you love me you will keep my commandments. I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.

I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you. In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see me, because I live and you will live.

On that day you will understand that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him.’
The Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

A Homily – The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

First Reading – Acts 6:1-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 32(33):1-2, 4-5, 18-19 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 2:4-9 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:6
The Gospel According to John 14:1 – 12 ©

(NJB)

The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Take these lessons from the readings on the function of the Church, the purpose it is meant to serve, and the challenges to the members and leaders that crop up along the way.

Remember hat Jesus taught and keep it always in the forefront of your mind, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Let the distribution of food be done by the leaders of the community who are members of the community, let it be done by those charged with the care of their neighbors, by those who look out for their interest and are appointed by the community itself due to the trust and faith the community has in them.

Let the leaders of the Church, those women and men on the world stage, those who may be visiting local communities, let them concern themselves with prayer and the more ceremonial functions of worship when they are the guests of smaller churches.

Good government requires local control, even though it is balanced by direction from the top.

A general commands the overall strategy of a campaign, but the commanders in the field execute the tactics that lead to victorious engagements.

Be mindful of this, today’s reading provides a record of problem solving in the early church, but prior to the resolution of conflict it tells us the story of a divided community.

Christians have never fully gotten over these divisions, and because we are human beings we will always have them.

Consider the words of the psalmist:

The psalmist is correct; it is fitting to praise God.

It is wise to trust in the counsel of God, to have faith in God’s mercy; though do not expect God to rescue you from danger, and do not believe that God loves any one of God’s children more than another, or that God prefers you over your sister and brother.

God knows all things and understands all things; you have heard this said.

God’s knowledge is not an abstract knowledge of the particular details of individual events, God understands our person, our choices, our lives; God understands us even as we understand ourselves, only with a clarity and objectivity that we could never possess for ourselves.

Trust in God’s plan for you and for creation, but do not wait for salvation. Salvation is already yours, go out and share the good news.

Let me tell you again, Jesus was not a Lord and Christians are not priests. The only sacrifice that God ever wanted, both before and after Jesus’ time on earth, were sacrifices of love and mercy, sacrifice of compassion and justice; yes these are spiritual sacrifices, but Jesus did not “make them acceptable,” God did, and God desires that we perform these sacrifices without end.

Perform rituals of love and caring, make these your sacrifices; offer them in the real world, away from the temple and the altar, make them outside of the church.

Make your sacrifices such that they have a real and beneficial impact in the lives actual people, make them happen in the real world, not in some pageant where men and women play dress up and pretend to have magic powers, doing only what is easy and convenient.

If Jesus was the key stone, as the letter from peter says, if he was the corner stone of the Church, I tell you this, he did not lay his life down to set an example so that any person would stumble and fall. God did not bring people into being simply for the sake of casting them down.

God loves everyone, and the same fate awaits us all.

Consider the Gospel for today.

The Gospels are replete with stories that depict the ignorance of Jesus’ twelve male disciples. They were human beings and like all of us they were flawed, confused, and ignorant. Jesus goes so far as to refer to Saint Peter as “Satan,” the enemy, and on the night of Jesus’ arrest Peter denied having known him.

In the generations that followed the death of Jesus, the early Christians did not gain any more clarity, as John’s Gospel show us in the readings for the today.

Jesus is not “The Way,” though he demonstrates the way through the quality of his life. He showed us the “way of God,” which is to love, furnish hope and engender trust.

The good news is not that God has prepared a place for you, for the Jewish people that were the brothers and sisters of Jesus, or for the Christians who came later, but that God has prepared a place for everyone.

No one is left apart from God’s plan.

Following the way of Jesus does not require you to believe or know anything about him, it asks you to do all in your power to live a life of kindness and loving service to your fellow human beings. The way demands no more of you than you are able to do, knowing that you will fail, time and time again.

The good news is this: even in your failure you will be accepted and forgiven.
First Reading – Acts 6:1-7 ©

They Elected Seven Men Full of the Holy Spirit

About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’ The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 32(33):1-2, 4-5, 18-19 ©

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
Alleluia!

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.

For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 2:4-9 ©

Christ is the Living Stone, Chosen by God and Precious to Him

The Lord is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house. As scripture says: See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen and the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed. That means that for you who are believers, it is precious; but for unbelievers, the stone rejected by the builders has proved to be the keystone, a stone to stumble over, a rock to bring men down. They stumble over it because they do not believe in the word; it was the fate in store for them.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:6

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 14:1-12 ©

I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
Jesus said:

‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you know me, you know my Father too. From this moment you know him and have seen him.’
Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’

‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him ‘and you still do not know me?

‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father, so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.

You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.

I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.’
The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

First Reading – Acts 2:14,36-41 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 2:20-25 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14
The Gospel According to John 10:1 – 10 ©

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Remember this!

We are not saved for the things we do. We are saved because God loves us. The creator of the universe loves every single one us, and in the superabundance of God’s love everyone is saved.

Be mindful.

Baptism does not mark you as one of the elect, it marks you as someone who elected to follow in the teaching of Jesus, to follow the way. Keep to it.

Be mindful of this and be humble.

Everyone has received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we were created in the divine image and from the moment of our inception we are blessed by God.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

God, the creator of the universe, God is shepherd to us all.

If we walk in the way of God, then we will be a shepherd to our sisters and brothers.

Know this, our time in this world is not the end of all things. It transitory.

If we are hungry, we are hungry only for a moment, if we thirst, or experience any other lack, know that it is temporary.

Trust in God, there is peace in faith.

The power of death and sin are temporary, it is only God that endures forever, and we are the children of God.

If your table is full then share it with the world, when you open up to those in need, you generate an opportunity to turn enemies into loved ones.

If you are able to live up to the example of Jesus, to bear insult and injury, even if you are called to endure torture that leads to death, make sure that you do so for a good reason.

Jesus endured what he endured for the sake of his disciples, his friends and family, for those who followed him and listened to his teaching. He submitted to the ordeal because he loved them.

Jesus did not go to his death to satisfy some cosmic imperative, or pay some debt that God owed to the Devil. Set aside those childish notions, they are fantastical and unreal.

Jesus accepted his fate at the hands of the Romans and the Sanhedrin so that those around him could live.

If anyone one of us should find ourselves in the same position, then we would be a blessing to our people if we were able to follow the his example, but few can do this, and God does not look askance on those who fail to meet the measure..

There is wisdom and truth in the readings for today. There is also folly, misconstrual, fear and lies…there are many lies.

It is sad and unfortunate that the priests and the bishops of the Church, the hirelings who put themselves in positions of managing the way, it is sad and unfortunate that they forget this. They have done great harm to God’s children because of their fear and their greed, and their shortsightedness.

The self-appointed leaders of the church believed that were only responsible for a few of the sheep, when in reality that were tasked with protecting the entire sheepfold.

Many of them, even from the earliest days of the church, presented themselves as both sheep and shepherd to the community, but they were really rustlers and wolves who came to devour the flock; they wounded and hurt it.

Remember, God does not love the shepherd because the shepherd laid down his life, but rather it is in recognition of God’s love and trust in God’s plan that the shepherd laid down his life.

Love preceded the sacrifice; the sacrifice did not engender love.

Consider the Gospel for today.

The writers of John’s gospel lived generations after Jesus. They lived in a period of time when the Church was under persecution. It was persecuted by the Roman State, the early Church was in an existential conflict with traditional Judaism, communities which stridently sought to differentiate themselves from the early Christians before the law and the Roman state. Through their protestations they sought to deny the Christians among them access to the historical protections that Rome had always afforded its Jewish citizens, a significant demographic which made up about ten percent of the population of free Romans.

The early Christians were also beset by the rise of various popular movements that sought to trade on the rapid spread of the early Church to communities outside of Palestine.

The writers of John made every effort they could to stand against these types of persecutions, and corrupting influences, like those of the Gnostics or the practitioners of the Qabalah, which was the foundation of Gnosticism.

They became protectionists, and their protectionist ways had their own corrupting influence on their presentation of the ministry of Jesus.

Be mindful.

Jesus gave to everyone, with the only qualification being that they trust in his vision of the way. He encouraged their faith as a means of promoting charity among them, charity and mercy, love and forgiveness.

The authors of John get it wrong when the write about gates, and gatekeepers, thieves and brigands.

They gates of heaven are always open. The table Jesus set, he set for everyone.
First Reading – Acts 2:14, 36-41 ©

‘God Has Made Him Both Lord and Christ’

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 22(23) ©

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Alleluia!

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 2:20-25 ©

You Have Come Back to the Shepherd of Your Souls

The merit, in the sight of God, is in bearing punishment patiently when you are punished after doing your duty.

This, in fact, is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow the way he took. He had not done anything wrong, and there had been no perjury in his mouth. He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was tortured he made no threats but he put his trust in the righteous judge. He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross, so that we might die to our faults and live for holiness; through his wounds you have been healed. You had gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my own sheep and my own know me.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 10:1-10 ©

I Am the Gate of the Sheepfold

Jesus said:

‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’

Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.
So Jesus spoke to them again:

‘I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold.

All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them.
I am the gate.

Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’
The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

A Homily – The Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)

First Reading – Acts 2:14, 22-33 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-11 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 1:17-21 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 24:32
The Gospel According to Luke 24:13 – 35 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Listen!

It is a disservice to the memory of Jesus and to the way he taught, the way he would have us live by, to make of him a figure of mythic power and a demi-god.

Be mindful.

Jesus was a man, as Peter says; he was a Nazarene. His preaching was a sign of God’s goodness, he spoke the truth and lived a humble life, he called us to the path of justice, and demonstrated what justice was through his constant humility, compassion and kindness.

His life itself was a miracle; he performed no feats of magic.

Remember this:

Jesus’ death was a political murder. He was crucified by the Romans, on behalf of the Herodians and the Sanhedrin. Upon the death of his body he entered into eternal life with God, as all of God’s children do.

There is no doubt of it.

Consider the worlds of the psalmist.

Trust in God, faith and confidence are their own reward.

God is good, and all that is good flows from God, as everything flows from God.

Look for the good of God in all creation, in everything that unfolds for you.

There are no alien gods, there are no foreign gods, as the psalmist refers to them, there are only misconceptions of the one God, each and every one of us carries is responsible for our own.

All of our cherished but errant images of God are merely idols, whether they are made of metal, of stone, of wood or of words, whether they are painted on canvass, or merely colored in the mind, they are idols.

Know this:

God calls all of Gods children to God’s self, no one is left out, the true God calls us from the center of our heart, speaking through the masks we use to personify the divine.

Be mindful!

The apostle is right when he tells us to be scrupulous, to be careful; we are to take care, not only when you are away from home, but to be careful and wise in all things.

The apostle is wrong when he says: by the blood of Jesus a ransom was paid for us. There was no ransom, God forgave us all of our sins, God forgave us freely.

In freedom we received it.

Be mindful!

If the example that Jesus gave you was ever alive in you, you must know that it is just as corruptible as anything else in this world. It is easier to turn your baptism toward an evil purpose than it is to turn an evil act toward the good.

Just because you have been baptized does not mean that you are incorruptible, God will not prevent you from sinning, from sinning more and on greater degrees.

But God will forgive you in the end.

Ransom was not paid to free anyone from sin, or any way of life. Jesus was not a sacrificial lamb, the cross upon the hill of Calvary were not analogs of the sacred altar in the Holy of Holies. God, the creator of the universe; God does not desire blood sacrifice or burnt offerings, or the smell of animal fat rising to the heavens, these are human machinations. Such things are wholly ineffectual, and the product of magical thinking, of immature minds, and immature cultures.

Jesus of Nazareth, though he was the Christ; he was a man like any other.

Consider the Gospel for today.

From the earliest days of the Church the apostles and the Gospel writers became confused with questions about who Jesus was, about his rank among the prophets, about his historical connection to Moses, about the proof of his ministry that could be found in the scriptures.

In their confusion they began to make up stories to validate their claims, it was all unnecessary, and the lies they told brought the nascent Church down terrible paths to disastrous ends, completely contrary to the way Jesus taught.

Be mindful.

Jesus did not perform miracles to prove to anyone that he was a child of God, such things never happened. What Jesus did was stress the fact that we are all the children of God, even the leper and the thief, the unmarried woman and the outcast.

The only miracle he performed was to convince his followers that this was true, and to bring dignity to the lives of the unfortunate.

Jesus did not come to work magic, flash signs and show wonders, because that is not how God, the creator of the universe, that is not how God works in the world.

The core truth in this Gospel passage is not the long story about encountering Jesus, or listening to him expound the scriptures, offering proofs and arguments to prove to the disciples who he was.

The signal truth is this, “They recognized him in the breaking of the bread.”

Listen!

The disciples had the opportunity to see Jesus in the man they encountered on the road, but they did not see him in the stranger.

They had the opportunity to see him in the faith of the woman at the tomb, but they could not understand it and they refused to recognize her.

Jesus was dead and yet the way which he personified remained, the living witness of God’s intentions for creation, from the beginning to the end of time.

The disciples were finally able to see the way, they finally saw it when they broke bread with the stranger they encountered on the road.

They found the way in community, they found it once they humbled themselves.

The way is sharing things in common. The way is love.
First Reading – Acts 2:14, 22-33 ©

God Raised this Man Jesus to Life, and All of Us Are Witnesses to This

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.

So my heart was glad and my tongue cried out with joy; my body, too, will rest in the hope that you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.

You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15(16):1-2, 5, 7-11 ©

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

Alleluia!

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Show us, Lord, the path of life.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Peter 1:17-21 ©

Your Ransom was Paid in the Precious Blood of Christ

If you are acknowledging as your Father one who has no favourites and judges everyone according to what he has done, you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home. Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ; who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake. Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 24:32

Alleluia, alleluia!

Lord Jesus, explain the Scriptures to us.
Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 24:13 – 35 ©

They Recognized Him at the Breaking of Bread

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
The Third Sunday of Easter (Year A)

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Easter (Year A) Divine Mercy Sunday

First Reading – Acts 2:42-47 ©
Responsorial Psalm 117(118):2-4, 13-15, 22-24 ©
Second Reading – 1 Peter 1:3-9 ©
Sequence – Victimae Paschali Laudes
Gospel Acclamation – John 20:29
The Gospel According to John 20:19-31

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Easter (Year A) Divine Mercy Sunday
Listen!

The early Christian communities flourished because they believed in one another, they trusted one another, they relied on one another. They held their possessions in common and the lived according to their beliefs. They shared their food, their clean water, their way of life.

Because of their example their communities grew.

It was not their faith in the risen Christ that caused their communities to grow, it was their faith in each other, and the way Jesus instructed them to follow, they were strengthened by this and the example that Jesus set. These are what allowed the early Christians to flourish, even in the face of persecution.

This is not to say that the good news of the resurrection was not a binding doctrine for the early Church, it was. However, what bound the early Christians even more closely together was the living witness they brought to Jesus’ ministry, both during his life and after his death, a witness they shared far and wide.

They bore witness to the fact that God, the creator of the universe, is kind, loving and merciful.

Jesus taught this above all things, and for a few short years it was the principle teaching of the Church he founded. Jesus taught that God is a loving parent, abba, and God approaches God’s children in the spirit of love, always, even when God is exercising judgment and administering justice, there is always love.

The Church, like God, has no enemies.

God does not dwell behind the wall of a city, a temple, a cathedral or a basilica.

There are no gates barring access to God, there are no barriers, in the world or in the mind, or in the true dogma of the Church.

God is in all places, at all times and in the hearts of all people.

God is with us!

God does not favor one child over another.

God is a bringing of life, not death. God loves peace, not war.

Remember!

God is the parent of everyone, the creator of the universe, and everything in it, and the resurrection of Jesus (if you believe in it) is a gift of hope. It is a reason to trust in what had theretofore been unseen, and what has been promised to everyone.

Whether we believe in the resurrection or not, this does not matter, the resurrection is the destiny that God has set in place for every person, God has promised that not one of God’s children will be left in the dark.

All will be saved.

What faith in the resurrection does is this: Faith makes it easier to live the good life. When your belief in God’s love for you is firm, it is much easier to pray for those who persecute you, to love your enemy, to lead a just life, a life of humility and mercy.

What faith in the resurrection is not is this: Faith is not an article of belief that a Christian holds onto, like a golden ticket that will grant them access to paradise.

Faith will not protect you from evil, either from within or from without.

Be mindful of what Saint Peter taught, because Peter was mistaken about a great many things.

Peter praises the faithful for their love and devotion to Jesus, for their belief in Jesus as the Christ, as an object of devotion, as an idea fixe, transforming our image of Jesus into an idol; calling Christians to give their love and devotion to an image, instead of to the way of life that he preached and taught.

Do not tell people to be happy in their suffering, justifying it on the grounds that they are suffering for a great cause.

Do not tell them this!

If a person is suffering and they have no choice, so be it, but do not tell them it is God’s will; rather boost them up, support them, give them hope, but do not speak to them about the honor and glory of their suffering, and do not promise rewards for their suffering in the next life, do not promise these things in the name of idols.

When Christian faith moves away from the living tradition, and ceases to be way of life, when it stops being about people, becoming a partisan thing, a thing of ideology and doctrine, then the way is lost.

Consider the bankrupt theology present in the sequence from the mass today, it demonstrates much of what is wrong with Christian dogma and doctrine.

Know this:

Jesus did not die on the cross as a sacrificial victim. Blood does not serve to expiate sin, it never has and it never could, that is not the way that the world works, and God has always said that God desires mercy, not sacrifices.

Only love transforms sin, it does so through the power of mercy, and forgiveness both offered and accepted, that is what transforms sin.

Know this:

God is not a general and Jesus is not a warrior, there is no war taking place between Heaven and the forces of sin and evil, there never has been and there never will be.

All the powers of sin and evil are infinitely less than the infinite power of God, there is no contest. From God’s perspective the trauma of sin is a thing to be mourn, not something to fight against, or draw battle lines to countermand.

Sin is not something you cleave with the sword of wrath, but heal with the salve of grace.

God is not a king and Jesus did not seek a royal station, these are human aspirations and we do a disservice to the way by clinging to them.

God comes to us as a loving parent, and Jesus walked with us as a friend, be mindful of this when you are at prayer.

Jesus led an extraordinary life and died at the hands of his political opponents in a rather ordinary way.

Let us reflect on this and reject the lofty language that seeks to make more of it than it was.

Consider the Gospel for today.

On the second Sunday of Easter the narrative moves us away from the ministry of Jesus and into the life of the early Church, into the era of partisanship.

John’s Gospel was written roughly one hundred-twenty years after Jesus died. The reading for today contains some fascinating glimpses into the life of John’s community.

John says that on the night Jesus was crucified the apostles hid in the upper room for fear of the Jews, indicating the deep division that had already taken place between the nascent church and the Jewish people who founded it.

Jesus and the apostles were themselves Jewish.

Ninety years before John’s gospel was written, Saint Paul was active in his ministry to the gentiles, arguing with St. Peter about the notion that gentiles must first become observant Jews before they could join the Church.

St. Paul won that argument.

The church opened to the world, and ninety years later it would come to see the Jewish tradition, from which the Church emerged, and all of its people, as anathema to itself.

There was great concern for the Church and its authority in this time. The Church’s understanding and image of Jesus was changing in dramatic ways. Jesus becomes reimagined as a priest doing priestly things; commissioning the disciples, instantiating their office and empowering them to pass judgement on people, to forgive or not forgive sins as the disciples saw fit.

This flies in the face of the historical Jesus, a man who was not a priest, but a prophet.

Jesus forgave sins, and encourages the disciples to forgive sins, not because they had the special power to do so, but because God, the creator of the universe, forgives sins. When the prophet proclaims absolution, they are not exercising a special power, they are proclaiming the will of God, and announcing something that has already happened.

The Gospel for today encourages the people to respond to mystical deeds and magical happenings; ghostly apparitions and visions, as if the claim that these supernatural events took place lent a greater authority to the work they were engaged in.

Many are taken in by this sort of thing, it is an appeal to magical thinking, but those types of appeals are always fabrications and lies.

In the final passage the gospel writer put forth the notion that the miracles were real, they were performed so that people would believe that Jesus is (in a special way) the son of God, and that through this belief they would become eligible to enter the Church named after him, and thereby become candidates for eternal life.

The construction of this ideology is this: Come to the church where the Gospel is given, learn the name of Jesus Christ, believe that he is the Son of God, receive that belief as an object or an article of faith, present that belief at the gates of heaven, and be rewarded with eternal life.

The scheme of this tradition, which will be familiar to most Christians, this scheme is Gnostic.

The church rejected Gnosticism and these themes in the same era that John’s Gospel was written.

We should also reject them.

This is the meaning of faith: Trust; have faith trust in God.

The meaning of faith is not belief, belief in a proposition or an article of dogma.

Christian faith is not: Believe in Christ so that you can be saved.

It is: Trust God, you are saved already.
First Reading – Acts 2:42-47 ©

The Faithful All Lived Together and Owned Everything in Common

The whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

The many miracles and signs worked through the apostles made a deep impression on everyone.

The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed.

They went as a body to the Temple every day but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.
Psalm 117(118):2-4,13-15,22-24 ©

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
‘His love has no end.’

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

I was thrust down, thrust down and falling,
but the Lord was my helper.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he was my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the just.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
we rejoice and are glad.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.
Second Reading 1 Peter 1:3-9 ©

You Did Not See Christ, Yet You Love Him

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour. You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.
Sequence

Victimae Paschali Laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended:
combat strangely ended!
Life’s own Champion, slain,
yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary:
say what thou didst see
upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ’s glory as he rose!
The angels there attesting;
shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ, my hope, has risen:
he goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!
Gospel Acclamation Jn 20:29
Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus said: ‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

Alleluia!

The Gospel According to John 20:19-31

Eight Days Later, Jesus Came Again and Stood Among Them

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
The Second Sunday of Easter (Year A) Divine Mercy Sunday

A Homily – Holy Week, Easter Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Acts 10:34,37-43 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©
Second Reading – Colossians 3:1-4 ©
Sequence – Victimae Paschali Laudes
Gospel Acclamation – 1Corinthians 5:7-8
The Gospel According to John 20:1-9 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Easter Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Receive the Easter message:

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; be a source of healing in the world.

This is the way of Easter; place your hopes in it and believe in the way.

The way is the law, and the law is life.

God’s law is written in hearts. God speaks to us there, do not doubt it.

This is the good news.

The Creator of the universe, and everything in it, God speaks to us in terms of love and mercy, God instructs us in the way of kindness.

All other versions of the law are merely reflections of the divine law, dim and imperfect.

God’s law is like a living flame. Look into the flames and see the truth shimmering there, wrapping itself around the coals.

It is good to uphold God’s law, to demonstrate mercy and compassion through right living, it is a blessing to everyone.

We are truly alive in the world. Our faith calls on us to live as if we believed that the promise of our salvation were true, as if it were true already accomplished and accomplished full.

This is the meaning of the Gospel, the good news that Christ has risen. To possess Christian faith is trust in this proposition, it is trust in the belief that you, and everyone, will rise as Christ did, not in a transactional way, as an exchange for our “belief,” but merely because God loves us.

Imagine the holy family of God, God who created the universe and everything in it. Imagine the holy family, by which I mean the entirety of creation. Imagine all of us living in the garden now; at peace, without want or enmity, living in that place where we are able to see clearly, that our relationships with each other are more important than gold, political power or any other earthly treasure.

Celebrate the feast of Easter, take part in it and accept the way that Jesus pointed instructed us to follow, the way he showed us through his life, his death and resurrection. It does not matter if any of it is literally true, or not.

Believe in it, even in the dark times, even in times as dark as the first Sunday morning, when Mary Magdala came to the tomb.

They were at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. It was Mary Magdala who anointed him for burial, she was the first to receive the revelation that Jesus had risen.

It was dark when she arrived at the tomb, but not completely, and in the dim light of morning she saw a hint of the truth that would unfold as the sun rose to fill the day with light.

She saw the stone rolled away from the tomb and found the tomb empty.

At first she assumed that someone had come and removed the body of Jesus, taken him and hidden him somewhere.

She hurried to find the others, to tell them what she had found.

When the other disciples arrived on the scene and explored the empty tomb for themselves, the understanding of what had transpired began to take hold among them.

They saw the empty tomb, the burial garments cast aside, and they understood that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

On that belief, and on the strength of their witness the Church was born

Know this, the Church was not built on the foundation of Peter’s faith, which faltered and failed on the night Jesus was arrested. It was built on the faith of women, like Mary and the others women who never abandoned Jesus, who did everything in their power to make the path that was in front of him smooth.

Throughout his ministry it was the women among his disciples who understood his mission, who fully comprehended the power of his message, including the necessity of responding to it in faith. They responded with trust, not with propositions and creeds, but with actions and their living witness; the women in Jesus’ company were never confused about his mission. They always understood how it would end.

While his male disciples tripped over themselves, doubted him, doubted each other, vied for supremacy, betrayed him, denied him, sold him into captivity; while all of that was going on, the women were steadfast by his side, comforting him, tending to him easing the burden of what lay ahead.

They anointed him, they witnessed his trial, they set aside their fear, they stood by him as he was crucified, they buried him, they waited by the tomb, they prayed for him and they were the first to see him risen.

They followed him to the end, as an example to us all.
First Reading – Acts 10:34,37-43 ©

‘We Have Eaten and Drunk with Him After His Resurrection’

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Second Reading – Colossians 3:1-4 ©

Look for the Things that Are in Heaven, where Christ Is

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
Sequence

Victimae Paschali Laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended:
combat strangely ended!
Life’s own Champion, slain,
yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary:
say what thou didst see
upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ’s glory as he rose!
The angels there attesting;
shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ, my hope, has risen:
he goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!
Gospel Acclamation – 1Cor5:7-8

Alleluia, alleluia!

Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed:
let us celebrate the feast then, in the Lord.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 20:1-9 ©

He Must Rise from the Dead

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Holy Week, Easter Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

A Homily – The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus

First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

(NJB)

The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus
Listen!

God, the creator of the universe, God wants nothing more from us than this: that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly through the length of our days.

This is way Jesus taught us. Listen to Isaiah, who made straight the way before him.

Be mindful.

The savior is the person who brings justice to the nations, you will not hear him shouting for the sake of vanity in the streets or on the airwaves, you will not see her cutting people off from their potential, putting them down or diminishing them.

The savior teaches us that justice is expressed through mercy, and that the law subservient to it.

As Jesus taught in his own day: love God with all your strength, and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the Shema, and it is the first article of our faith.

Be kind to the stranger, be of service to your neighbor, love and forgive even your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and do not do to them what you would not have done to you.

This, Jesus told us, is the whole of the law and the teaching of the prophets.

Keep to this law, keep it as a covenant, keep it as promise between yourself and God. Preach it until the blind see and all those who are the captives of sin have been freed.

Consider the psalm for today:

It wise to believe in the God of creation.

God’s power is infinite and it undergirds everything that exists.

God’s power is present in all times and places.

Truly God is everywhere, there is no place where God is not.

God knows all things, God knows you, even as you know yourself.

Know this: it is not God’s voice we here in the wind above the waves. We do not hear God in the thunder. God does not splinter trees or rend them asunder. God is not active in the affairs of human beings; rather God has made creation, and us in it, free.

God is not a king.

Listen!

God does not intervene in creation, or the free choices of human beings.

God did not so much anoint Jesus, as did Jesus accept the mantle of sonship to God, and the full burden that this entailed, even to the extent that he went to his death and suffered on the cross.

Jesus was free to reject the ministry that was before, but he did not. He was faithful to the end. Setting an example to us all.

Few people will be called to serve in the capacity that Jesus served; few will be called to be tortured, and executed for bearing witness to what is right and good.

Few of us have the capacity to love justice so much that they could humbly endure what Jesus endured, and that is why we call him the Christ.

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; be a source of healing in the world.

This is the way of Christ. Do the best you can, not for the sake of your salvation, but for the good of your sisters and brothers, for all women and men.

Be mindful

The reading for today is a pure distillation of mythological tropes common among the Hebrew people.

It carries forward a set of theological themes that were very important in the first century.

It also situates the early Jesus Movement clearly within Rabbinical Judaism, which is otherwise known as Pharisaical Judaism.

In the reading for today Jesus is presented as a Pharisee, as a Jew of the Synagogue, his followers address him as Rabbi, and the central concern among the actors: Jesus, Peter, James, and John, concerns the foretelling that Jesus will rise from the dead.

Know this.

In ancient Judaism, only the Pharisees taught the resurrection of the dead.

Beyond these immediate concerns the writers of Mark’s Gospel were also interested in conveying the message that their teachings were in total alignment with historical Judaism, therefore they depict Jesus as another Abraham, who was also visited by divine messengers, and they show him changed, as Moses was changed on the mountain; furthermore, they show him being given the endorsement of Moses, and also of the prophet Elijah.

This trope is a concrete expression of the faith of the Jesus Movement that their teaching was in alignment with the tradition of the Patriarchs of the Covenant, with the Law Giver and the Prophets.

The writers of the Gospel wanted to convey the message that In Jesus the whole history of the people was complete.

Know this: the narrative is a fiction, these events never happened, they are a literary invention.

It does not transmit a historical truth about the Life of Jesus, but rather a historical truth about what people believed concerning Jesus, roughly fifty years after his death.
Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

Jesus was baptized by John.

It was the first moment of his public career.

He was baptized, he was purified, he was shriven.

The forms had been obeyed, and the gathered crowds were there to witness, the heaven open, and the Spirit of God, creator of the universe, descending on Jesus like a dove.

John was like Moses at the river Jordan. He was never meant to walk in the promised land. Jesus was like Joshua, he ushered the people in.

John was the elder son, he was not meant to inherit. Jesus was the promised son, in whom the hope of humanity was carried.

John was the goat, at the rite of expiation, Jesus was the lamb taken to slaughter.

High priest and king, they were one with each other.

Believing it does not make it true.
First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©

Here is my Servant, in Whom My Soul Delights

Thus says the Lord:

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights.

I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets.

He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver, nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth, for the islands are awaiting his law.

I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

O give the Lord, you sons of God,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.
Adore the Lord in his holy court.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The Lord’s voice resounding on the waters,
the Lord on the immensity of waters;
the voice of the Lord, full of power,
the voice of the Lord, full of splendour.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders.
In his temple they all cry: ‘Glory!’
The Lord sat enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits as king for ever.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©

God Had Anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

‘It is true, God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men. You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.’
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

The heavens opened and the Father’s voice resounded:
‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

‘This is my Son, the Beloved’

Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’