The Feast of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons

Irenaeus served as the bishop of Lugdum (now Lyons), in France. He was born c. 130 CE and died c. 202 CE, serving during the Apostolic era, and he is listed in the ranks of the martyrs of the Church, though the details of martyrdom are unknown.

Irenaeus was a prolific writer. He was connected to the Bishop Polycarp who was himself connected to the Apostle John, making him only three steps removed from the ministry of Jesus.

Irenaeus’ surviving works show how he was deeply committed to the unity of Christian doctrine. He ardently opposed the heretical sects of groups like the loosely affiliated Gnostics, as well as the Montanists, and he was among the first to argue for the doctrine of apostolic succession, positing that a bishop of the church should stand in an unbroken line of succession that goes back to the first apostles.

What is most important about Irenaeus’ work is something referred to as the Irenaean theodicy, this is why I lift him up and write about him.

Theodicy is the specific field of theological work devoted to understanding the problem of evil, and its ultimate resolution by God.

The Irenaean theodicy was the leading doctrine in the church up until the time that it was supplanted by Augustine’s teaching on original sin, three centuries later, after which Saint Augustine’s teaching became normative throughout the Christian world.

St. Augustine suggests that creation was made perfect and without blemish, and then there was a fall into sin, which came from nowhere and nothing resulting in a degree of chaos and disorder which completely separates creation from God. Whereas Irenaeus posited that the though the world is fallen it is not wholly fallen, making it so that the breach is not irreparable, putting forward that God’s plan for the resolution of evil is to slowly draw all things to the divine.

For saint Irenaeus the perfection of the created order happens as a process of assimilation, which he calls recapitulation, imagining that each individual-being is on a journey, coming ever closer to God; as we draw near our imperfections fall away.

Irenaeus’ theology, which was never condemned, provides a strong theological grounding for the theology of universal salvation which has persisted as a teaching among Christians from the very beginning of the Church, though only among a stark minority.

Irenaeus

The Feast of Saint John, the Baptist

A Homily

John came, and john bore witness to the light
John, born in darkness as all of us are
John saw the light, shing in the deep night
Comforted by its warmth, John felt it first
Feeling it while he was still in the womb
Kicking in the waters, as the light dawned

John was not a man prone to vanity
You would not have seen him chasing the wind
Like a servant, John harvested honey
Faithful to the way, not puffed up with pride
John was a friend and brother to Jesus
The elder cousin of the messiah

Herald and prophet, man of the desert
John turned to us, saying reflect, repent
He came like an angel, with a pure heart
A divine messenger, pointing the way
The way is not in stillness or silence
The way is a path of service and love

He took on the burden and paid the price
John showed us how to stand against power
He came into the world ahead of Christ
Drawing breath while he listened in the womb
The breath he drew was ruha, the spirit
Holy Sophia filled John with wisdom
.
John lived and breathed, washed in the divine flame
Dipping his cup in the fountain of life
Walking with him, by whom all things were made
John’s path was the way of humility
Obedient, unphased by paradox
Born first, and the first to be sacrificed

He lived by the Jordan, serving the light
Not perplexed, or tempted to turn away
He saw in his cousin the end of night
He made a place for him in the desert
He prepared the way as God’s own herald
Ministering to the sick and grieving

Jesus and John. the Son and the herald
Working together in the name of God
Baptizing all into the way of peace
Bathing their flock in the way, in the light
Keeping to their mission even to death
John showed us the way, turn and be blessed!

John the Baptist

 
From the Gospel According to Mark – 2018.06.22

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

First Reading – Jeremiah 20:10-13 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 68(69):8-10, 14, 17, 33-35 ©
Second Reading – Romans 5:12-15 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 1:14, 12
Alternative Acclamation – John 15:26, 27
The Gospel According to Matthew 10:26 – 33 ©

(NJB)

The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Reflect on the readings for today.

Do not ask God to administer the justice you desire. Rather have faith in God and know that God will move all things toward a just end. Know that God’s justice is patient, it is loving and it is kind; God’s mercy comes to fruition in eternity.

Do not look to God for help in this world.

God, the creator of the universe, God will not help you.

You must help yourself, rely on you family, your friends and your neighbors, yes, even the stranger; you must rely on the alien to help you.

God has given you the strength to persevere any hardship. God has given you hope to lead you through whatever darkness lies ahead. God has given you the freedom to participate in the furtherance of justice, or to impede it, or to do nothing at all.

If your family and friends have turned against you; look to yourself and ask why.

Consider the wisdom of the psalmist and know the truth of their words. The psalmist is right, God desires praise and worship more than animal sacrifices, but both of those things are next to nothing compared to God’s desire for justice and compassion, for love and mercy.

Be mindful!

The scope of the creature’s actions and the consequences that flow from sin, cannot exceed the scope of divine intention and the power of grace to heal.

Listen!

Do not repeat the errors of John, each and every person is born a child of God. We are not made into God’s children by any power that comes from within us, neither are we transformed by a power external to us. We come into being as children of God, in the Word, by the Word and through the Word, the rational and divine principle that is at the root of God’s creative purpose in the world.

God made us this way and our status as children of God is as unconditional as God’s love for us.

Remember this and know that there is no deception in God, no falsehood, no fabrication, no prevarication.

The divine parent does not lie. Those who claim to speak for the divine must not lie or mislead, cover-up or hide anything in the pursuit of their mission.

Know this:

All human beings are prone to error, we are prone to error, but there is no error in God.

When those who have ascended to positions of leadership in Christian communities lie to you, you must reject them.

Some will commit errors because they are honestly confused, but many other commit errors that are willful. They know they are lying to you and they do it anyway; they do it for wealth, they do it for power, they do it to hide from their shame…for whatever their misdeeds are.

These people have abandoned Jesus, maybe not in the whole of their lives, but in their lying they have, and every time they repeat their lies they do.

Know this, we have all forsaken God at one time or another, but God has never forsaken us, and God, the creator of the universe, God never will.

This is the truth.

Consider the gospel reading for today:

The Gospel authors should has left this passage where Jesus left it, with the exhortation to not be afraid.

Allow me to repeat this exhortation and take it to heart…Do not be afraid.

The Gospel of Jesus is not a weapon of fear, it is not secretive, it is not cryptic, it is not a demarcation point delineating for the church and its members those who belong to the flock and those wo do not, the insiders from the outsiders, the living from the dead.

The Gospel of Jesus, the good news that we have been called to preach, that Gospel is built on a foundation of love and hope and trust.

Jesus called everyone to the table, he did not ask for membership cards when he did, or membership dues at the door, he did not ask anyone to punch their ticket, he just said come.

Do not be afraid; come without fear or reservation, come as you are without shame.

The body passes and the spirit lives on. God, the creator of the universe, God did not create us for the purpose of destroying us, God brought us into life so that we may live and each one of us is precious to the divine.

God’s love flows equally to all people, not one of God’s children is outside of God’s plan for salvation.

Declarations and oaths, these are things for human beings, take none, make none, either for against Jesus, rather do as Jesus commended us to do, and follow the way.

Serve God, through the service you provide to one another, love goodness, seek justice, and exercise mercy in all things. It is through action, not words, that Jesus desires us to express our faith.

Remember this always.
First Reading – Jeremiah 20:10-13 ©

He Has Delivered the Soul of the Needy from the Hands of Evil Men

Jeremiah said:

I hear so many disparaging me, ‘“Terror from every side!”

Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’

All those who used to be my friends watched for my downfall, ‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error.

Then we will master him and take our revenge!’

But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, mastered, confounded by their failure; everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.

But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice, who scrutinise the loins and heart, let me see the vengeance you will take on them, for I have committed my cause to you.

Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for he has delivered the soul of the needy from the hands of evil men.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 68(69):8-10, 14, 17, 33-35 ©

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.

It is for you that I suffer taunts,
that shame covers my face,
that I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother’s sons.
I burn with zeal for your house
and taunts against you fall on me.

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.

This is my prayer to you,
my prayer for your favour.
In your great love, answer me, O God,
with your help that never fails:
Lord, answer, for your love is kind;
in your compassion, turn towards me.

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.

The poor when they see it will be glad
and God-seeking hearts will revive;
for the Lord listens to the needy
and does not spurn his servants in their chains.
Let the heavens and the earth give him praise,
the sea and all its living creatures.

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.
Second Reading – Romans 5:12-15 ©

The Gift Considerably Outweighed the Fall

Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given. There was no law and so no one could be accused of the sin of ‘law-breaking’, yet death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even though their sin, unlike that of Adam, was not a matter of breaking a law.

Adam prefigured the One to come, but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift.
Gospel Acclamation – John 1:14, 12

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Word was made flesh and lived among us:
to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God.

Alleluia!
Alternative Acclamation – John 15:26, 27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Spirit of truth will be my witness;
and you too will be my witnesses.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 10:26 – 33 ©

Do Not be Afraid of those Who Kill the Body

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.

‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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

First Reading – Exodus 19:2-6 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):2-3, 5 ©
Second Reading – Romans 5:6-11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27
Alternative Acclamation Mark – 1:15
The Gospel According to Matthew 9:36-10:8 ©

(NJB)

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Listen!

We must always be diligent when reading scripture and participating in the rituals in the church, and expose the false theology that lingers in the fables and myths.

If we took these stories seriously we would have to uphold the traditional view that human beings need an intermediary, like Moses, to pass messages back and forth between the of humanity and God.

We would have to accept as vital and necessary the institution of a priesthood.

We would have to accept the idea that God, who created the universe, has chosen one tribe out of the whole world, to represent God’s will to the people.

We would have to lie to ourselves, and to the world if we were to support this doctrine, for this doctrine is false.

Let us reflect on the psalms for a moment:

God is with us wherever we are.

Wherever God is, that is God’s temple.

Enter the temple with hope and joy.

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 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, they are directed toward every living being that ever was, ever has been, and ever will be.

This is the way, follow it; follow it to the world without end, where we belong to God and God’s mercy lasts forever.

Know this!

Jesus was not a sacrificial victim; his blood did not have magic powers.

God, the creator of the universe, God does not love holocausts and burnt offerings. God loves mercy, the humble spirit, the contrite heart, and justice.

Jesus acted mercifully and with full regard for his followers when he allowed himself to be taken to the cross. Many would have died if he had not. Jesus gave his life to save them in their own time and place, he did not die as a cosmic sacrifice for the sins of the world.

The Apostle is wrong when he describes our relationship with God as one of enmity. We were never enemies with God. Though in our ignorance of God we have rejected God, but God, the creator and sustainer of all being, God has not rejected us. God loves us, and that is the way.

Listen!

The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather, it is the shepherd who chooses the sheep. God, the creator of the universe, God is our shepherd. In God there is no lack or want.

There is one shepherd, one sheepfold, we are all in this together.

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. Do not be jealous of how the shepherd speaks to your sister or your brother, to your neighbors or the stranger.

The shepherd speaks to everyone; those who are willing, listen.

Everyone is beloved by God, each and every one of us are following in the way that leads to 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.

For those who resist the way, God is patient, God waits with a loving heart, and love is patient as love is kind.

Have faith!

God, the good shepherd, God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God.

God is with us!

Repent, which means turn, turn and believe.

Believe not so that you can be saved but believe that you are saved already.

God will make you well.

Believe that you are saved and turn, turn away from the selfishness, wickedness and injustice, turn toward the way of love, communitarianism and truth.

The way of God, the path to the garden, it is as near to you as the heart beating in your chest, turn toward it and you are there.

Do not look back.

Listen to Jesus and keep to the way.

Give without asking, share the grace of God.

Do not seek rewards or honors.

This is the way, and there is the gospel.
First Reading – Exodus 19:2-6 ©

I Will Count You a Kingdom of Priests, a Consecrated Nation

From Rephidim the sons of Israel set out again; and when they reached the wilderness of Sinai, there in the wilderness they pitched their camp; there facing the mountain Israel pitched camp.

Moses then went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Say this to the House of Jacob, declare this to the sons of Israel, “You yourselves have seen what I did with the Egyptians, how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. From this you know that now, if you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all the nations shall be my very own for all the earth is mine. I will count you a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):2-3, 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.
Second Reading – Romans 5:6-11 ©

Now We Have Been Reconciled by the Death of His Son, Surely We May Count on Being Saved by the Life of His Son

We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:27

Alleluia, alleluia!

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice,
says the Lord,
I know them and they follow me.

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation Mark – 1:15

Alleluia, alleluia!

The kingdom of God is close at hand:
repent, and believe the Good News.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 9:36-10:8 ©

The Harvest is Rich but the Labourers are Few

When Jesus saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’

He summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one who was to betray him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows:

‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge.’
The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) The Most Holy Trinity

First Reading – Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9 ©
Responsorial – Daniel 3:52-56 ©
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Revelation 1:8
The Gospel According to John 3:16 – 18 ©

(NJB)

The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) The Most Holy Trinity
Listen!

God, the creator of the universe, God is a loving God. The creator of the universe loves all of creation and has promised its salvation, both to the whole and to each and every part, to all of God’s children.

Be mindful!

The salvation that God promises is not of this world.

God does not intervene in human affairs, or in the movement of the planets and stars.

God did not travel with the Israelites, God did not speak with Moses, accept in his heart where God speaks to all of us.

Listen!

God, the creator of the universe, God does not require or even desire our praise and exaltations, except insofar as those praises take the form of a merciful and generous bearing toward one other.

God does not dwell in a temple; God is present in all places, in everyone and to everyone.

Remember, God is not a king.

Serve the divine will through the love and kindness you show one another.

The eyes of God are on all people, the just and the unjust alike. God hears everything and feels everything.

Though God is not sensate in the way that we are, nevertheless, God knows our thoughts and understands our experiences, even as we understand them ourselves.

It is true that God desires that we be perfect, though God does not expect it, and God understands all of our failures.

Grow perfect!

We did not originate from perfection, only to lose it, the story of The Fall is a myth that misconstrues reality, to perpetuate it is to lie.

We are born in the evolutionary muck, with the innate desire to discover the divine.

Listen!

Our own perfection is intimately bound up with the perfection of others, because the other—every other person is a part of who we are.

Perfection is not experienced in part, we will not see it until there is perfection in the whole.

Know this:

Jesus is not a king or a ruler, he is not a priest but a prophet; Jesus is a friend, a comforter and healer. He came to show us the way.

Consider the gospel for today.

The gift of life is not transactional.

It is free.

We do not have to ask for it, just as we did not ask to be born, like true love, eternal life comes to us without conditions.

God, the creator of the universe, came to us in the person of Jesus. If you trust in the teachings of Jesus you will find peace in the world, you will understand that the things we endure here: pain, suffering, alienation, uncertainty, hunger, disease and death, these are all temporary.

You will see the world of light and life beyond the funeral shroud that is our common inheritance

Know this!

There is no condemnation in God, or in the ministry of Jesus. There is hope and love, and mercy; there is justice.

No one is condemned because they refuse to believe in the scriptures, in Christian doctrine, or the dogma of the church. God continuously pours out the divine love on all creation.

We are often too poor to receive it, or even see it flowing through us, but God is patient.

Listen!

There is no magic power in a name, or an article of belief, not even in the name of Jesus or belief in him, whatever that might mean.

Rather, if you do not trust in the way of Jesus, and trust is the meaning of faith, if you are not able to trust in it and you are selfish instead of giving, malicious instead of loving, harmful instead of healing, then you will suffer in this world…because you have engaged in the promotion of suffering.

Faith in Jesus means liberation in the here and now, liberation in the present reality, which is a blessing to everyone who finds it, and to all whom they encounter.
First Reading – Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9 ©

‘Lord, Lord, a God of Tenderness and Compassion’

With the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up the mountain of Sinai in the early morning as the Lord had commanded him. And the Lord descended in the form of a cloud, and Moses stood with him there.

He called on the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.’ And Moses bowed down to the ground at once and worshipped. ‘If I have indeed won your favour, Lord,’ he said ‘let my Lord come with us, I beg. True, they are a headstrong people, but forgive us our faults and our sins, and adopt us as your heritage.’
Responsorial – Daniel 3:52-56 ©

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

Blest your glorious holy name.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest in the temple of your glory.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest on the throne of your kingdom.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest who gaze into the depths.

To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest in the firmament of heaven.

To you glory and praise for evermore.
Second Reading – 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 ©

The Grace of Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Brothers, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet one another with the holy kiss. All the saints send you greetings.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Gospel Acclamation – Revelation 1:8

Alleluia, alleluia!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
the God who is, who was, and who is to come.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 3:16 – 18 ©

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.’
The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) The Most Holy Trinity

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The meaning is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to Jesus!

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

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

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

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

Remember this!

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

Reflect on the teaching of Paul:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have no fear.

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

Have no fear; God’s salvation reaches everyone.

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

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

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

God speaks with the voice of love.

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

The Tower of Babel

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

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

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

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

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

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

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

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

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

Moses Led the People Out of the Camp to Meet God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Vision of Israel’s Death and Resurrection

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

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

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

Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Will Pour Out My Spirit on All Mankind

Thus says the Lord:

‘I will pour out my spirit on all mankind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the One Spirit We Were All Baptised

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

Alleluia!
The Gospel of John 20:19-23

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

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

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

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

Prayer is good, though it is nothing without charity.

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

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

God is good.

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

See them.

God is good.

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

Listen to them.

God is good.

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

Share with them.

Be mindful!

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

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

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

Be humble!

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

Remember the laborers in the vineyard.

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

Good and bad, we are the same.

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

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

Not one of us will be lost.

Consider the Gospel for today.

Consider how the apostles get it wrong…again

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

Strive to be more patient than they were.
Listen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He did not teach a secret doctrine.

He himself wrote nothing down.

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

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

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

Know this

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

The Apostles All Joined in Continuous Prayer

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

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

Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

Father, It is Time for You to Glorify Me

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

Faith in God cannot be predicated on magic and miracles.

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

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

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

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

Listen!

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

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

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

Know this:

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

Be Mindful.

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

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

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

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

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

God is with us!

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

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

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

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

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

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

Alleluia!

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

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

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

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

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

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

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

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

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

Jesus said to his disciples:

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

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

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the words of the psalmist:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the Gospel for today.

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

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

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

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

No one is left apart from God’s plan.

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

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

They Elected Seven Men Full of the Holy Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life

Jesus said to his disciples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(NJB)

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

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

Be mindful.

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

Be mindful of this and be humble.

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

Consider the words of the psalmist.

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

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

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

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

Trust in God, there is peace in faith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the Gospel for today.

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

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

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

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

Be mindful.

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

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

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

‘God Has Made Him Both Lord and Christ’

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

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

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

Alleluia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Have Come Back to the Shepherd of Your Souls

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

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

Alleluia, alleluia!

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

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

I Am the Gate of the Sheepfold

Jesus said:

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

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

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

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

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

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

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