Tag Archive: easter


6ecHomily for Mass – Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

(Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Park Ridge: 8am;  Saint Catherine’s Church, Jimboomba: 5.30pm)

5 May 2013

(Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29;  Ps 66;  Apoc 21:10-14, 22-23;  Jn 14:23-29)

 

In a recent homily, Pope Francis made the statement that some would find provocative:  he said, “one cannot believe in Jesus without the Church” (1)  You could write books on that statement … but underneath it is our belief that the Church – the organized community of believers – is part of God’s plan.  It’s not an accident that appeared in the aftermath of the Incarnation: but something intended by God and indeed begun by Christ.

In today’s Gospel Jesus is preparing his disciple for the fact that he is “going away.”  He is soon to return to his Father, having accomplished his saving death and resurrection.  This thought prepares our minds for the feast we will celebrate next Sunday: the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven.  As he prepares his disciples for when he will no longer visibly be with them, he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to them, and he says that the Holy Spirit will remind them of everything he taught them, and also that the Holy Spirit will teach them everything.

What’s implied in this is that there’s more for the disciples of Jesus to learn.  Jesus could only say so much during his earthly life – he had a finite amount of time to speak, to act.  The disciples, for their part, had the limitation of what they could take in and understand.  And as we know from the Gospels, they were particularly slow to understand.  Jesus often expresses an amazement at how slow to understand they are.  But neither the fact that Jesus’ earthly, visible presence was limited by time, or the fact that the disciples could only take so much in – neither of those things would be insurmountable obstacles, because the Holy Spirit would both remind and teach the community of believers after Jesus had returned to the Father.

We see this in action in our first reading today.  Right from the beginning, the Church had to solve problems.  A dispute had arisen about what should be expected of non-Jewish converts to Christianity.  And so the first Church Council was convened – the Council of Jerusalem.  (The most recent Church Council, of course, was in the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council).  In this first Church Council at Jerusalem, the Christian community had to work out what would be required of Gentile converts.  It also, indirectly, had to deal with the issue of some people acting without the mandate or authority of the apostles and elders.  It is interesting to hear the declaration of the decision: “It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves … .”  This is the very living out of what Jesus had promised: the Holy Spirit will teach you everything.  And so we have in our readings today an excellent illustration of how the Church is the living continuation of the mission of Jesus– and how the Church is a community of believers with a structure that includes leaders who continue the ministry of the first apostles;  and also the fact that the Church has the role – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – to answer questions faced at any particular moment of history, and to decide on matters of faith and morals.  “Christian identity means being a member of the Church … The great [Pope] Paul VI said: it is an absurd dichotomy to wish to live with Jesus but without the Church, to follow Jesus but without the Church, to love Jesus but without the Church” (1).

So if we’ve considered the origins of the Church, and the fact that the Church continues the mission of Jesus throughout time, always guided by the Holy Spirit, then we need to keep our destination in mind.  Because the Church doesn’t make sense, and indeed the journey of life doesn’t make sense, unless we always keep in mind where we’re heading.  Our Second Reading today presents us with the image of the heavenly Jerusalem.  The image presented is something of great beauty: radiant and shining;  something of grand and beautiful proportions.  A place where there will no longer need to be things and places pointing to God, because everything will be in God.  There’ll be no need for light from sun or moon because the radiant glory of God will be the city’s light.  We see a glimpse of heaven.  In the heavenly Jerusalem, there’ll be no need for Church councils to sort out problems … like the one that took place in the earthly Jerusalem of the first century recounted in our First Reading.

Jesus has gone before us to the Father, and we should be glad, because he will return to take us there too.  With a thought always for our heavenly destiny, we the disciples of Jesus continue along the paths of time, recognizing that Jesus has called us into the community of his brothers and sisters, the Church.  We rejoice at the consolation and guidance of the Holy Spirit who never leaves the Church, and who continues to remind us of all that Jesus said and did, and who continues to teach us the mind and will of God as we face the questions of our own day, as the Church has done from the very beginning.

As we offer Mass today, let’s ask God’s blessing on Christ’s Church and all her members, upon our bishops who are the successors of the apostles.  Each one of us is a part of the body of Christ, and so let us all do what we can to be vital parts of the body, and not to be parts that are malfunctioning or harming the rest of the body.  May we all work together to take the message of salvation to the world, which was Christ’s mission, and which the Church has attempted to continue in every age.

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(1)  Pope Francis, Homily, 23 April 2013, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130423_omelia-san-giorgio_en.html.

 

3ec 2013Homily for Mass – Third Sunday of Easter (Year C)

(Saint Bernardine’s Church, Regents Park: Saturday 6pm;  Sunday 7.30am & 9am)

14 April 2013

(Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41;  Ps 29;  Apoc 5:11-14;  John 21:1-19)

 At this time we hear a lot of news about our new Pope.  He has certainly captured everyone’s attention, even beyond the Church.  One of the questions I’m asked the most at the moment is, “what do you think of the new Pope?” or some variation on that theme.  So it’s interesting today that our Easter readings lead us to focus on the person of Saint Peter, of whom our Holy Father Francis is the successor.

In today’s Gospel we hear about Peter’s excitement to see the Lord; so excited that he jumps into the water;  and we hear his threefold declaration of love.  We also hear – in the First Reading – Peter defying the high priest and declaring that obedience to God comes before obedience to mortals.  We might wonder: is this the same Peter as before?  This is the man who at the Last Supper, had said that he was more ready than the others to lay down his life for Jesus.  But then, beside the charcoal fire, had denied three times that he even knew Jesus (1).

We know that after Peter denied Jesus, the Lord turned and looked at Peter – a look that must have broken Peter’s heart, because it moved him to weep bitterly (2).  But those tears moved Peter to repentance, and “spiritual transformation is usually connected to the grace of repentance” (2).  So now, by another charcoal fire, this time on the beach, Jesus heals Peter’s wound and causes Peter to reaffirm his love for Jesus – and indeed recalling Peter’s own declaration at the Last Supper – “Do you love me more than these others?”

But this isn’t just about Peter’s personal relationship with Jesus.  Jesus had already said to Peter at the Last Supper, “Once you have turned back [i.e. that is, repented] you must strengthen your brothers.”  And so, as Peter three times affirms his love, making up for his three-fold denial, Jesus declares that the relationship between him and Peter will touch many others: “Feed my lambs … tend my sheep … feed my sheep.”  “There is a sense that the abundant love of Jesus and Peter for each other overflows to embrace many others” (1).

And this – to come back to where I started – this is where I think Saint Peter’s present day successor comes in.  Pope Francis continues this work – given to Peter – of feeding and tending the lambs and sheep of the Lord.  He continues the work of strengthening the others.

And so, just as the relationship of Jesus and Peter was meant to draw others into relationship with the Lord, as we see our Holy Father Francis live out his faith, and live out the commission given first to Saint Peter, we should reflect on our own faith.  Each of us should hear Jesus asking us: “Do you love me?”  When we hear Jesus speaking to us, are we moved to repentance? – to leave behind sin in our own lives?  Are our hearts so filled with the Lord’s love that we want to share that love with others?  Are we eager to bring others to know the Lord?

In coming to worship this morning, we enter into the praise spoken of in the book of Revelation.  We join the immense number of angels and people, and indeed of everything living in creation crying to the Lord: “To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever …”  As this song of praise wells up in our hearts may our faith be kindled and strengthened, so that we will love the Lord with all our heart, and allow this love to embrace others as well.

 

(1)   Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Living God’s Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year C.  Toronto, Novalis, 2012, pp. 68-70.

(2)   The Word Among Us: Daily Meditations for Catholics, April 2013, p. 34.

(3)   Dr Scott Hahn, http://www.salvationhistory.com/homily_helps/april_14th_2013_-_3rd_sunday_in_easter

Holy Week in two and a half minutes …

Dominus mihi adjutor

Fr Stephen spotted this little gem, explaining Holy Week in well under three minutes. Even “professional” religious people could do with watching this, as a way to re-focus on essentials. This is when internet evangelization hits the bullseye.

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This short video brings the reality of the crucifixion home … and our participation in it.

 

 

[h/t to Biltrix]

 

Homily for Mass – Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Saturday 31 March 2012 – 4.15pm

[Readings: Is 50:4-7; Ps 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Mk 14:1 – 15:47]

“Time disappears when someone we love is dying.  Day cedes to night without much notice.  Activities we have promised to do we discard instead, … Routines we never break cease.  Something else has taken our attention, is sitting on our brain, has bound our legs and lowered our head.  Nothing else is important but this person who gave meaning to our life and whose threatened passing wicks away the confidence that hitherto steadied our days. …” (Paul Turner, Glory in the Cross: Holy Week in the Third Edition of The Roman Missal, Collegeville, Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 2011, p. xv.).

 In a real sense, this is what the coming days that we call Holy Week should be like for us.  Our lives are different precisely because of Jesus Christ, and what he has done for us.  And so this coming week is a special week for Christians, as we spiritually journey with Jesus in that pivotal time of his passion, death and resurrection.

 So I invite you to allow this coming week to be different!  Allow yourself to set aside things you would normally do.  Break your normal routine.  There are 51 other weeks of the year to do what you normally do: let this week, Holy Week, be different to every other week.  We have here in the Cathedral on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm the beautiful Chrism Mass.  And then here and in all the parishes, the special liturgies of Holy Thursday evening, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil and Sunday Masses.  Let Christ capture your attention this week.  Live this coming week in such a way that other people realize that “there really is something different going on this week!”

 This week is not just about an historical re-enactment, though.  It’s much more than that.  Through the Liturgies of Holy Week, as we recall past events, those events become present events, here and now.  Through the liturgies we enter into what is being celebrated.  And we enter into them not merely as spectators, but we enter into them as being our mysteries.

 We are called to be united with Christ so that when we gather at the table of his supper, we realize that we are to give our lives (our body and blood) in service of others.  When we are facing trials, even terrors, as Jesus faced in the garden of Gethsemane, we are to throw ourselves down before God and pray that his will be done, not ours.  We are called to take up our cross – manfully – and not to hide from or run away from the cross in our life.  When we are crucified by the actions of others, we are to learn to say “Father, forgive them, they know not what we do.”  And, most importantly, the promise made for fidelity to God’s will is resurrection!  New life, eternal life, is ours.  We gain the victory over sin, and ultimately over death, in Christ!  There can’t be any better news than that!

 As we live Holy Week, in a sense we’re living in microcosm the whole of our lives, and we’re opening ourselves to all that God wants to give to us, and claiming all that Christ has gained for us when he lived faithfully his life, passion, death and resurrection.

 Friends, lets ask God to help us enter fully into this sacred time so that it’s graces may abundantly flow in us.  Let’s ask Our Lady of Sorrows, who stayed always close to her son, to obtain for us the grace of total commitment, the grace to say “yes” completely to the will of God in our lives.