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 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

Easter – A Holiday Reflection

When I was a child Easter always came in conjunction with a week off from school; Spring Break we called it, and we still do.

Spring Break always came with Eastertide, but in the public schools we were not allowed to call it Easter Break, on account on account of the separation between church and state, a separation that we are wise to maintain.

I am not sure when it happened, but at some point those conventions began to change, school boards stopped planning the spring break to coincide with the Christian holiday.

Maybe this was due to a sensitivity that had begun to develop in the broader culture, or a desire to cohere more closely to such constitutionally required demarcations, or maybe it was just because the Easter festivities follow an erratic cycle, because it does not follow the solar calendar.

Easter, like Passover, follows Selene, the wandering Titaness, the silvery-moon.

Sometimes Easter comes as late as my birthday, April 22nd, Earth Day, other times it is as early as my sister Raney’s birthday, March 28th.

In the years when Easter fell on our birthday we were able to experience the sense of being overlooked that other kids feel whose birthdays fall on holidays like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July or Halloween.

In one sense Easter is all-about the palette of pastels, donning spring garments, hats and dresses for the ladies, pressed suits for the boys, it is about greening lawns and budding trees, and it is about hard-boiled eggs died with bright colors and then hidden around the house. It is about jelly beans and chocolates and other candies.

There is an Easter feast, ham being the most common thing we put on the table in America.

For many people Easter has little to do with the commemoration of the risen Christ, which is at the root of the holiday. Jesus, the new lawgiver leading the people to a new promised land in a new Passove, leading the poor and downtrodden to a world beyond the veil of time and space, one that is free of pain and anguish.

When we were young my brothers and sisters and I would always watch the Cecil B. De Mill epic, The Ten Commandments, featuring Charlton Heston as Moses, and we watched him transform from prince to exile as he discovered his identity and lead his people away from a life of bondage.

It was a tradition that more clearly connected the Christian holiday to its Jewish roots than any sermon I ever heard in church.

My family rarely went to church on Easter, we hardly ever went to church at all.

For many folks, Easter marks the equinox, a celebration of the change in the arc of the sun, the angle of light, the change from the dark days of winter, to the bright days of spring.

The Christian tradition is a celebration of the risen Christ, it is a celebration of the power of life over death, and the expectation of summer, the season of planting and of hope for the future.

This Easter came at the median, falling just about in the middle of its shifting arc.

This Easter is different from any other Easter that has come before as the whole world experience a devastating pandemic, and we are all shuttered in our homes.

In America twenty-thousand people have died from it in a matter of weeks.

Church bells are ringing above empty halls. Families dine with one another by teleconference.

This Easter, as with every Easter since the murder of Jesus, there is good reason to mourn the terrible state of humanity, and some reason to hope for its betterment.

It is a day that we can ask ourselves how best we can return to life?

How can we be restored in ourselves, in our families, in our communities, and how we can share that hope with the world.

Blessings, and peace be upon you…may the force be with you, always!

b8cc6991a17a4f120bc6cb83163f826e

A Homily – The Sixth Sunday of Easter

First Reading – Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©
Alternative Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
The Gospel According to John 14:23-29 ©
Alternative Acclamation – John 14:18
Alternative Gospel Reading – John 17:20-26 ©

(NJB)
Listen!

Salvation is not earned.

It is a gift. It is the fulfillment of God’s intention for you and the whole of creation.

Salvation is not linked to our rites and rituals, to the way we mark ourselves as belonging to a group or not, to whether we are in the Church or out.

Our ultimate salvation has nothing to do with the things we eat, with our good deeds or our bad ones.

Our Salvation comes from God. We are saved together, and until we have arrived at its fullness and completion, we are not saved at all.

Be mindful.

The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all peoples and all nations; to have pity and to be merciful.

The psalmist is right to ask for the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Know this:

God is not confined to one place, neither is God confined to one time, nor does God belong to one people.

God, who created the universe, God is the God of everyone, whether they know of God or not. God is still God.

Praise the fairness of God. Ask for God’s blessing; not just four yourself, but ask for it on behalf of everyone.

When we visualize the fulfilment of God’s promise, when we reflect on the heavenly worlds and the paradise to come, bear this in mind:

Let all the talk of precious metals, and precious stones fall away; forget the talk of gold, and gems.

Ignore the jingoism, the fetish with Israel and with Jerusalem, with the apostles of Jesus, they are not relevant to these reflections. Every reference we find in scripture to these material things, is in a real way a distraction from the central message of the gospels and the good news they are meant to convey.

Where God is there is God, God who created the universe and sustains all things in it. God who is the parent of every being; where God is there is no temple, there is no altar, there is no edifice or anything we would recognize as the structure of a church; there is no cathedral, there is no basilica…where God is there is light, and love and peace.

The light has no limit, the light shines forever and there is no darkness in it; in God’s embrace all people are welcome, and no one will come to it who has not been prepared for it.

God prepares us all.

Where God dwells there are no gates. People will come having passed through every plane, they will come from all directions.

Listen!

The promise of the revelation is this:

Every person will receive what they deserve…as the children of God they will receive God’s love, they will be forgiven just as Jesus prayed when he was dying on the cross. We will all receive mercy.

We will be cleansed and made well, healed and made happy.
We will be whole.

The hungry will be fed, and the thirsty will drink, the gift is free, and that is the promise of God.

Understand this:

God, the creator of the universe, God is present in all of God’s children, and where God is present God is present fully.

There is no division in the divine. The divine is inclusive of all reality, of every living being that is it.

No-one is excluded.

Every person who ever was, who is, who will ever be, everyone is present in the divine, as such they are present within each of us, for each of us carries the divine within ourselves.

Jesus was the son of God, as each of us is a child of God; a son or daughter.

Love one another, as God loves you. This is the great commandment.

Do not be afraid, life on Earth is merely a passage to another world, it is the unfolding a mystery.

Listen to your sister, to your brother, they have something important to say. Each one of us has the potential to speak for God, to be God’s prophet, to be the advocate of Christ,

Everything, and everyone, returns to the creator, in so doing we come to the understanding that we never apart.

God, the creator of the universe, God will abandon no-one. God will leave no orphans, no-one will be left stranded in the throws of sin.

Not one of us shall be lost.

Listen!

There are passages in scripture, and there are many of them, in which the Gospels provide the reader, or the listener, with only a tangled and confused set of words and concepts that do little to shed light on anything good or meaningful.

The Gospel for today is one of those passages.

It is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on its meaning.

Set aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, has the least concern for historical accuracy of the four. The Gospel was written more than one hundred years after his death. It is likely that the event portrayed here never happened, that Jesus never spoke these words in this way.

He may have said something like it, but that is neither here nor there.

What this meandering passage represents is the thoughts and feelings of John’s community at the end of the first century CE. It fully represents the mystical and mysterious way in which Christians had come to see the life of Jesus, and Jesus’s relationship to God, the creator of the Universe. It does this in terms that have a connection to some of the prevailing philosophical beliefs regarding the metaphysical structure of reality, but does nothing to explicate the system of beliefs it is specifically engaging.

It is poor theology.

This type of thinking has been a burden on the faith over the centuries and millennia, and should be struck from the cannon. It is impossible for us to know what the Gospel writers meant, what the limits of their thinking was, never mind the fact that the philosophies of the ancient world, their metaphysical systems, were false, they were wrong, they were errant, there is little in those thought systems that can help us understand ourselves, the world we live in, or our relationship to the divine.

What truth we can glean from today’s passage is this:

Jesus prayed to God on behalf of his followers, he prayed that they would understand both his mission and the mission that he was passing on to them.

He prayed for their unity.

He prayed that they love one another, and that the message they carried forward in his name was one of love.

This Gospel passage has the appearance of being directed specifically to Christians, and that is unfortunate because the mission of Jesus crosses all boundaries; sectarian, national, ethnic and gender.

This Gospel passage is overly concerned with the message regarding the identity of Jesus, it is dogmatic, it pushes the message of who John’s community believed Jesus was, over the mission to preach the love of God. That was not what Jesus himself taught. In this way the Gospel deviates from the faith.

Who Jesus was in the world, and what we believe about that is not germane. Such beliefs have no bearing on the way that is meant to be the Christian life.

As followers of the way, rather than concerning ourselves with who we believe Jesus was, we need to concern ourselves with how Jesus was in the world, with how we are able to live a loving life according to the standard Jesus set.
First Reading – Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©

It Has Been Decided by the Spirit and by Ourselves Not to Burden You with Any Burden Beyond these Essentials

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©

He Showed Me the Holy City Coming Down Out of Heaven

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.
Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©

Come, Lord Jesus

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.
The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.
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 14:23-29 ©

A peace the world cannot give is my gift to you Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.

Those who do not love me do not keep my words.

And my word is not my own: it is the word of the one who sent me.

I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.
Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.

If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe.’
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 17:20-26 ©

Father, May they be Completely One

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me.

May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.

With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.
6th Sunday of Easter

A Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

First Reading – Acts 13:14,43-52 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):1-3,5 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 7:9,14-17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14
The Gospel According to John 10:27-30 ©

(NJB)
Be mindful!

We do not preach the good news to save people, we preach the good news that they are already saved.

We are not the actors in the drama of salvation, God is, and we are the subjects of God’s love.

Remember, grace is not a trust that we are given, it is not a thing of value, like a talent of silver or a measure of grain. The grace God has poured out on you, God has poured out on everyone.

As Christians we are called to have faith in that grace, to trust in it, to trust in God’s plan for the salvation of everyone.

Leave no one outside of your prayers.

The apostles were motivated to adhere to the norms of their society, going first to the Jews because they had relationships with them already, and so the preached to them first, and through them they reached out to others in the community, people who did not know the laws of Moses, or the tradition of the prophets and they made converts among them.

The apostles presented themselves as instruments of God’s will, spreading the good news, to all the nations, and so they slipped the bounds of their society, because God’s proclamation of love is to great to be confined to a single group.

Their message of hope and lovee was welcome among the people. The people wanted to hear, that no matter what their class or station God knew them, God loves them and has selected each of them for eternal life.

Nevertheless there was resistance among the leading Pharisees and their allies in upper classes. There is always resistance to the gospel from among those who feel like the path to salvation is something for them to protect and control.

In the face of that resistance, the apostles recognized that they had reached the end of what they could accomplish there, and so they moved on, carrying the good news with them.

Be mindful!

God is with us wherever we are.

Wherever God is, there is God’s temple.

Enter the temple with hope and joy, there are no prerequisites, the entrance is there. You are standing at the threshold.

Serve God, by serving your sisters and brothers, look into the face of your neighbor and see the face of God shining back at you.

When the scriptures tell us we are God’s people; those words are not directed to the audience who first heard and read them, nor to us as we are reading them now. The scope of those words is not so narrow, the scope of God’s work is infinite. God’s word is directed toward every living being that ever was, ever has been and ever will be.

The good news applies to the whole of creation, in a world without end; we belong to God and God’s mercy lasts forever,

Remember this!

God is not a king.

God does not sit on a throne.

The multitude that John witnessed in his vision is numberless, their number is without measure.

Their number is without end.

It is the full number of those who have experienced the persecution of the living, of long the sojourn of time and space.

The multitude is all of us, all of God’s children gathered together as one, and none are lost, the good shepherd has ensured it.

Be mindful!

We do not arrive in this place by the blood of the lamb, not the literal blood, this is a poor metaphor is a metaphor (one we should abandon), we are not sanctified by animal sacrifice. We never were.

We come into God’s presence when we have let go all of our enmities, when we have forgiven all who have wronged us and accepted the forgiveness of those we have wronged.

It is then and only then that we stand in the presence of the fullness of God.

To stand in God’s presence before we are prepared, is to face God as a purifying fire.

Listen!

There is wisdom and truth in the reading for today. There is also folly, misconstrual, fear, and lies.

Separate them!

Remember the beginning of Joh’s Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word
All things came to be through the Word
Not one thing came to be with the Word
In the Word was life, and light

Jesus is the Word of God, and the Word is the Good Shepherd, every sheep belongs to him. There is not one sheep that is not a member of God’s sheepfold.

It is sad and unfortunate that the priests and the bishops of the Church, the hirelings who put themselves in positions of management forget this. They have done great harm to the People of God because of their fear, their greed and their shortsightedness.

They believed that were only responsible for a few of the sheep, when in reality that were tasked with protecting the whole.

Many of them, even from the earliest days of the Church, presented themselves as Sheep and Shepherd to the community, both; but they were really rustlers and wolves who came to devour the flock, consuming it and wounding it in their ravenous hunger.

Remember, God does not love the shepherd because the shepherd laid down his life, but rather the Shepherd laid down his life in recognition of God’s love that was already present, a love so great that the Shepherd trusted in it completely.

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

Be mindful of this! Remember it always!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

Jesus, the Christ, the Word of God; in whom all that is comes to be, Jesus is the shepherd and his flock is the whole of humanity, he has chosen all of us, and everyone belongs to him.

As Christians we hold that Jesus is the shepherd and the shepherd is God; God, the creator of the universe.

There is just the one shepherd; and the Shepherd has just the one sheepfold, and whether it make sense to us or not, that is immaterial, we belong to the Shepherd, he has called us each by name.

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, how the shepherd speaks to your sister or brother, to your neighbors or the stranger.

The shepherd is speaking to them too, and they are listening as they are able (or willing). In this same way the shepherd speaks to you. You are no different from them.

Everyone that is, everyone in existence, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way.

Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey any other person is on, God is guiding them, as God is guiding you.

Your failures are your own, as theirs belong to them. God has accounted for them all.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, as God waits for everyone.

For God, Jesus, the shepherd, their ministry is a ministry of love, they are love, and love is as patient; as it is kind.

Do not doubt it.

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us, because there is not place, not a single place where God is not.

To the end God is with us, and the end is God.
First Reading – Acts 13:14,43-52 ©

‘We Must Turn to the Pagans’

Paul and Barnabas carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the Sabbath and took their seats.

When the meeting broke up many Jews and devout converts joined Paul and Barnabas, and in their talks with them Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them.

The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. ‘We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’

It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.

But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):1-3,5 ©

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the sheep of his flock.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Indeed, how good is the Lord,
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 7:9,14-17 ©

The Lamb Will be their Shepherd and Will Lead them to Springs of Living Water

I, John, saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. One of the elders said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and because they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb, they now stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’
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 10:27-30 ©

I know my sheep and they follow me

Jesus said:

‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.

The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’
The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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

First Reading – Acts 5:27-32,40-41 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 29(30):2,4-6,11-13 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 5:11-14 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 24:32
The Gospel According to John 20:1-19 ©

(NJB)
Be mindful of how you read the scriptures, consider the reading for today from the Acts of the Apostles, the sentiments expressed by the Apostle are wrong.

Pay attention.

In the most literal sense it was the Romans who executed Jesus not the Sanhedrin or the leadership of Israel in Jerusalem, the may have set him up, but he was betrayed by one of his disciples and put to death by the Romans.

In the cosmic sense it was not the Jews who executed Jesus, or the Romans, it was the whole of humanity, our collective spirit, our sinful nature was the cause of Jesus’ death.

We do not need to look for anyone else to blame.

The forgiveness we seek for that crime, and for all of our sins must come from us, from one another to one another. It must come from us as much as from God if we are to have peace in this world.

To prepare ourselves to be forgiven we must first accept responsibility for our role in those tragic events.

Be mindful of this!

Jesus is not the conduit of the forgiveness we seek, neither was his death. He was a facilitator.

Remember it.

We are one creation. All people are held together in the embrace of the Holy Spirit.

Do not be afraid to speak the truth about this. It is the duty of all Christians to speak the truth.

Speak the truth especially to the powerful, but do not allow yourself to be puffed up with pride on account of your experience of doing it, as the apostles often were. If you do, you risk shrouding the truth with vanity, and the gospel will become lost behind its shroud.

Always keep this in front of you; God, who created the universe, will not intervene in your affairs. God will not lift you up, God will not strike you down. God will not be angry with you, but God does love you, and God’s love is endures forever.

Be mindful!

Jesus was not a sacrificial victim.

God has never desired animal sacrifice, God always prefers mercy over the blood feast at the altar, the burning fat that feeds the greed of priestly class.

Jesus was not the Lamb. His killing was a political murder.

Jesus accepted death at the hands of his persecutors for the sake of his friends and family, and the broader community of his followers. If had had resisted, if they had followed him into resistance, the consequences would have been terrible for them.

Jesus said this; “No greater love can a person have than that they give their life for the sake of his fellow another, or others.”

Jesus did this, in the ordinary sense, though it was an extraordinary deed. He did it for ordinary reasons, he did it for love. And though love itself has a cosmic scope, that moment in time was singular, its dimensions were ordinary.

What has made the narrative of Jesus’ death extraordinary was the way in which it was remembered, and how that memory has been carried on from generation to generation all around the globe, even though its natural and ordinary meaning has been lost to myth.

Remember this!

God, the creator of the universe; God who we see in Jesus; God has no desire for power and glory and honor and riches, God does not sit on a throne, God is not a king, and neither was Jesus.

In the light of the liturgy of the church, these truths are easy to forget.

The Gospel writers became confused with questions about who Jesus was, about how they rank among the prophets, about his historical connection to Moses, about the proof of his ministry that was given in the scriptures. They became confused because their vanity led them astray.

In their confusion they began to make up stories to validate their claims, it was unnecessary. And it distorted the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus did not perform miracles to prove to anyone that he was a child of God. He stressed the fact that we are all the children of God, even the leper and the thief, the unmarried woman and the outcast.

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

Know this!

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

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

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

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

In their minds Jesus was dead, and yet the way, which he personified remained, the way is the living witness of God’s intention for creation, this is what Jesus was tasking them to carry forward.

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

They found it in community, in sharing. The found it through the selflessness of love.

Consider this.

What does it mean to be a Christian, to be a member of the body of Christ?
What does it mean to be a disciple, to be a student in the school of faith?

In the reading for today there are miracles and visions, there are portents and prophecies, but most significantly, toward the end; there is a moment of instruction.

Jesus is with Peter; Simon by his given name. They are sitting together after breakfast in a moment of earnest talk. Jesus knows that he is handing over the leadership of his movement to this man with whom he often disagreed. Jesus had rebuked him severely in the past, even calling him Satan, the enemy.

Peter abandoned Jesus when he was arrested and denied him in front of crowds of people, and yet despite those failings, or perhaps because of what Peter had learned from them; Jesus spoke to him in a loving manner.

Jesus beseeched Peter to be in his turn, just as loving toward the community that would grow from the seeds of faith…the seeds of trust that the two of them had planted as Jesus was throughout his ministry.

In the same way that Jesus had rebuked Peter three times, in the same way that Peter had denied Jesus three times, Peter now confessed his love for Jesus three times, and Jesus issued the following commission three times:

Feed my lambs. Look after my sheep, Feed my sheep.

Jesus concern is for the wellbeing of the flock, it is not for riches and power and glory, it is for the care and feeding of the people, and these were to be Peter’s only concern as the leader of the church.

Whoever does these things lives in the way that Jesus taught.
First Reading – Acts 5:27-32,40-41 ©

We are witnesses to all this: we and the Holy Spirit

The high priest demanded an explanation of the Apostles. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’ In reply Peter and the apostles said, ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’ They warned the apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 29(30):2,4-6,11-13 ©

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him,
give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.
For me you have changed my mourning into dancing:
O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 5:11-14 ©

The Lamb that was Sacrificed is Worthy to be Given Riches and Power

In my vision, I, John, heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the animals and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, shouting, ‘The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.’ Then I heard all the living things in creation – everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying, ‘To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.’ And the four animals said, ‘Amen’; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.
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, alleluia!

Christ has risen: he who created all things, and has granted his mercy to men.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 21:1-19 ©

Jesus Stepped Forward, Took the Bread and Gave It to Them, and the Same With the Fish

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’
The Third Sunday of Easter (Year C)

A Homily – Easter Sunday (Year C)

2019.04.21 – (Easter Sunday) C

First Reading – Acts 10:34,37-43 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©
Second Reading – Colossians 3:1-4 ©
Alternative Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
The Gospel According to John 20:1-9 ©
Alternative Reading – Luke 24: 1-35

(NJB)
Listen, and keep this in the forefront of your mind: God does not intervene in creation, or the free choices of human beings.

God does not intervene in our lives, at any point in time and space.

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

Jesus was free to reject the ministry that had been laid before him, but he did not. He was faithful to the end. Setting an example for all of us, demonstrating through his life and death the true meaning of the way.

Few people will be called to serve in the capacity that Jesus served; to be tortured and executed for a cause that 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, anointed with his blood and tears.

If you call yourself a Christian 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, for the stranger among you; the migrant and the refugee, even for your enemy.

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; a source of healing in the world.

This is the way.

Do not forget it.

To the extent that the Apostle deviates from this message, he is wrong, he is perpetrating lies for the sake of politics and propaganda.

This is a tragic disservice to the memory of Jesus.

It was not to Jesus of Nazareth that the prophets gave witness; not to Jesus specifically, but to the spirit of God that dwelt within him, and in every other person who has taken to themselves the mission of divine suffering.

Jesus never encouraged us to believe in him so that we could be saved, but to believe that we are saved; by God, ipso facto, out of love, simply because we are.

Saint Paul never saw the resurrected Jesus, but he did see in himself something that was Christ like, and divine. He taught us to see the same thing in each other, the figure of the risen Christ.

He moved us toward grace.

Listen!

It is true that the God is kind, loving, and merciful.

It is true that God always comes to God’s children in the way of kindness, love and mercy, even when God is exercising judgment, and administering justice.

God has no enemies.

God does not dwell behind the walls of a city.

There are no gates barring access to God.

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

God does not favor one child above another.

God is a bringing of life, not death.

God loves peace, not war.

If you meet victory in battle or in any other conflict or contest, do not confuse this with God’s will.

Be mindful of this.

Let us not pretend that life is waiting for us on the other side of the veil.

True life is the life we live here on Earth. We are called on by our faith to live this life as if we believed that the promise of our salvation were true, and already accomplished.

Imagine the holy family of God, of God who created the universe and everything in it.

Imagine living with the holy family in that garden now, at peace, without want or enmity, imagine that place where we can see clearly that our relationships with each other are more important than gold, and silver, more important than anything.

That is the place of true life, and we are called to live that life openly.

We must make a change, go back to our beginnings, to the simplicity of a child’s heart and grow ourselves anew.

Consider the teaching of the Apostle.
For the Apostle; yeast is an agent of change. It transforms us as it does bread.

We are the bread.

The apostle wants to take us back to a place before we were corrupted by the yeast of worldly influence, by the corruption of sin.

In this metaphor, yeast is the power of sin.

The followers of Christ are asked to reject the yeast and return to a state of purity, returning us to the unleavened state, a place that is simple and good.

Adding yeast to the dough allows the bread to rise, it adds flavor and pleasure, but it also corrupts the loaf.

The Gospel reading for the day does not offer a great deal of theology to engage with. The narrative is brief. And relatively straight-forward.

It was dark on Sunday morning, when Mary Magdala came to the tomb. She had been at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. It was she who anointed him for burial, and she was the first to receive the revelation that Jesus had risen.

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

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, but the Church was not built on the foundation of Peter’s faith. It was built on the faith of women; the women who never abandoned Jesus, the women who did everything in their power to make smooth the path that was in front of him.

Throughout his ministry it was the women who surrounded him, the women who always knew, who always understood the power of his message. They 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. They anointed him, they witnessed his trial, they stood by him as he was crucified, they buried him, they waited by the tomb, and they were the first to see him risen.

God bless these women, and their faith, it was a comfort to Jesus in his final hours.

After all that they had witnessed those same foolish men put the women aside. Took over the narrative, and did their best to wash their names from the Gospel.

The story of the church became less and less about Easter morning, and more and more about the days and weeks that followed.

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 was given in the scriptures/

In their confusion they began to make up stories to validate their claims, and this was all unnecessary.

It was contrary to the Spirit of Truth they were ostensibly committed to serve.

They had learned a great deal from Jesus about the way, but not enough. They continued to fall back on their same mistakes, mistakes that were fueled by fear and ignorance, arrogance and pride.

Jesus did not perform miracles in order to prove to anyone that he was a child of God. He stressed the fact that we are all the children of God, even the leper and the thief, the unmarried woman and the outcast.

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

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

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

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

They had the opportunity to see Jesus in the faith of the woman at the tomb, but they could not understand it, or accept it in the moment

Jesus was dead, and yet the way which he had personified remained in front of them, the way is the living witness of God’s intention for creation.

The disciples were finally able to see the way, when they broke bread with the stranger, they found it in the meal they shared and not the words and arguments that were spoken.

The way is community.

Jesus is found in the trust we give to others.

The way is sharing things in common.

Jesus is present in the hope we kindle in the stranger.

The way is love.

Love has no boundaries, not even death can stop it.
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.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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.
Alternative Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ©

Get Rid of the Old Yeast and Make Yourselves Unleavened as You were Meant to Be

You must know how even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough, so get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be. Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

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.
Luke 24: 1-35

Why Look Among the Dead for Someone who is Alive?

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?’ And they remembered his words.

When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.

Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened.
They Recognised 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.
Easter Sunday – Easter (Year C)