The Feast of Saint’s Peter and Paul, Founders of the Church

Not all Christians celebrate the lives of the Saints, but many do, and today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, who after Jesus were the principle founders of the Church.

We celebrate their feast on the day of their ascension, which is most often the day of their death, in the case of Peter and Paul it is the date they were martyred, the day they were killed as enemies of the Roman State.

Their influence on Christian doctrine was greater than Jesus’, more enduring. Paul, through his letters wrote the core pieces of Christian Doctrine, and Peter was the first pope, the Bishop of Rome, and Patriarch of the Latin Church.

Peter and Paul did not always see eye to eye, though Peter bore the title of chief among the disciples, Paul was the greater teacher and more closely approximated the way of Christ.

As I mentioned, Peter is given credit for founding the church of Rome, the lore of the Church tells us that he was its first bishop, this is a myth however, that title was not even in use during Peter’s day.

It is accepted as true that both men were put to death in Rome, martyred there on account of their commitment to the Church and its mission, they were mot put to death so much for the content of their beliefs, but for leading the kind of secretive society that was feared by the emperors of Rome. Christians were perceived as a threat that has to be curtailed.

Paul was a Roman citizen, he travelled broadly throughout the empire and for from his home of Tarsus. He founded many churches in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, his letters are the earliest known Christian writings, and though not all of those ascribed to him were written by him, Paul’s actual influence is imeasureable.

A casual observer of history may find this odd because Paul he never met Jesus, and prior to his conversion he was the type of man who would punish other members of his community if they were not properly observing the traditions of his synagogue, Christians were his chief target.

After Paul’s conversion to Christianity he led the mission to the gentiles, opening the teachings of the church to the masses, he made it so that a person did not need to become Jewish first in order to become a Christian.

Peter initially opposed him in this but once their dispute was settled at a meeting in Jerusalem officiated by Jesus’ own brother Saint James, the matter was settled and the gentiles were allowed the full franchise of membership in the community of the blessed.

Peter and Paul

Given First 06.29.2020

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

Saint Columba, Colmcile – The Patron Saint of Poets

Saint Columba, Saint Columban, Saint Columbanus; by whatever name you would like to refer to him, he was an Irishman and as such it is fitting that he is the patron saint of poets, because poetry flows through the Irish blood, and the Irish call him Colmcile.

What we know of the life of Colmcile has been magnified by myth, taken on a supernatural bearing through the typical aggrandizements that characterize the hagiographies of the saints, but Columba was famous for his non-supernatural work above all, for his missionary work and building monasteries in Scotland among the Picts.

The timeline of Colmcile’s life crosses over with that of another famous Irish Saint named Columbanus (the Latinized version of Columba, Columban) , Columbanus was also famous for his missionary work, and building monasteries on the continent, in Frankia and Burgundia, and as far South as Lombardy.

Colmcile’s is said to have lived in the mid 6th century CE, while Columbanus’ time lime extends to the early 7th century.

Both men are believed to have set out from Ireland to do their missionary work in in the company of twelve companions, like Jesus with his disciples. Colmcile’s work is said to have been concentrated in Scotland, and Columbanus work is said to have begun in Scotland but then it was quickly transported to the European Mainland.

There is a listing of the names of Colmcile’s companions, on this list are the names are those of Columbanus the Younger and a man known as Cummain.

Two things have been suggested by modern historians: one suggestion is that Columbanus the younger is actually the Columbanus who continued the missionary work on the continent in the name of Columbanus the elder, who was actually Colmcile or Saint Columba, the other suggestion is that all of the deeds committed by Columbanus (the elder and the younger), Columban, Columba, Colmcile and Cummain are the deeds of one person, a person who was a prolific writer.

Two of Colmcile’s poems have survived and it is for this reason that he is the Patron Saint of Poetry. He is also considered to be the founder of the abbey at Iona which preserved so much of the historical deposit of ancient writing through the dark ages.

Columbanus - Patron Saint of Poetry
Given First 06.09.2020

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 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)

Mary Stewart – Author

I read my first book by Mary Stewart in the summer between fifth and sixth grade, it was titled The Crystal Cave, and it was the first book in her Merlin trilogy.

The Crystal Cave opened my eyes to many things, among them was the notion that there were actual historical antecedents for Camelot and King Arthur, subjects that I had been fascinated by for a couple of years at that point, but which I thought were figures of myth and legend.

Mary Stewart wrote this book from the perspective of Merlin, she set the time in the fifth century CE, the period of time when Roman influence was waning in the British Isles, her books linked the rise of Arthur to a Roman dynasty.

She wrote about the Roman Army, thereby introducing me to the Cult of Mithras, Sol Invictus. She wrote about the Celtic people of Gallia, and she wrote about the Druids. She wrote about their myths, peeling away the most fantastical elements and leaving me to wonder if what was left, even the magic, if it was true.

The figures in her stories, Uther Pendragon, Merlin, Igraine and Arthur were presented with a kind of grittiness that made me believe in them. They were already mythic figures in my imagination, but through her narrative they became real; I felt connected to them.

Through her discussion of Mithraism I came to be interested in the real history of Christianity. I became a researcher, and I began to question everything that I had been told was true about the origins of the Church.

I cannot thank her enough for this.

If I had not read Mary Stewart I may never have become a theologian, if my interest in those things had not been peaked by her authorship, I would not be the person I am today, and for that she is a hero of mine.

Her books had an oversized influence on my life, though I did not read much of her body of work beyond the Merlin Trilogy, but I read everything I could get my hands on concerning King Arthur, including the work of Mallory, the La Morte de Artur, and all of the variations of that text which flowed from it.

From Mary Stewart I learned about many other things, I discovered the real presence of Arthurian myth in European culture, how it served as a beacon of hope, providing my ancestors with a set or mores and a code of conduct that instigated and promoter the chivalric ideal, while at the same time becoming a vehicle for subversion, as in the Albigensian Heresies, and other counter cultural movements around the turn of the tenth century.

Given First – 2020.05.09Mary Stewart

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)