5th Sunday of Easter
May 18, 2014 – Year A
Readings: Acts 6:1-7, Psalm 33, 1 Pt 2:4-9, Jn 14:1-12
by Father Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Last night, a new parishioner – Brady Elizabeth Cundiff – was born about 10:00. That’s great news. The beginning of life. We always celebrate beginnings. That’s why graduation exercises are called commencement – the beginning of a new life. If we look at it closely, even what we call death is also a beginning. It’s a birth into life eternal. Here in Holy Name of Mary, we always say our sister or brother was born into life eternal. It’s another beginning of the life that will never end.
In today’s gospel, we heard our Lord give assurance to his disciples. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith also in me because I am going to prepare a place for you.” He is giving them assurance that for those who believe – those who are God’s children – their life here on earth will have a happy ending. Not just a happy ending in this world, but a life that will never end.
Gone are the days when most movies are based on fairy tales, when at the end they live happily ever after. Now we have “Reality TV.” Most of the realities that are being portrayed are sad. They’re not giving us the complete reality. The reality is there are still so many families who live a life in its fullness. They love each other, they pray for each other, and they pray together. I believe a good majority of families are like that. But unfortunately, the media would like to focus on the small percentage of the families.
Msgr. Rossetti, who is the director of St. Luke in Maryland, related to us a story several years ago. He was so impressed by a group of about a million men who called themselves the “Promise Keepers”. They prayed together in D.C. – reading the Bible, and confessing their sins in public. He believed there were even more than a million. But there were about 12 people with their placards who were against these men. They didn’t agree with their stand on several issues. The following day, the newspapers focused on these 12 people who were against these men. 12 people against a million. Well, this is how the news chooses to focus.
The reality is only God is real. He is the source of life. The reality is that we still live in a beautiful world that God created for us – that God gave us as a gift. The reality is that for those of us who believe we are not alone, Jesus is with us on our journey. Talking about happy endings, I am always reminded of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful life.” I watch this movie once a year. This story is located in Bedford Falls. That’s where Mr. Bailey lived. This movie reminds us that life is beautiful. Yes, we have problems, and we have difficulties. We will get sick, but it is still a beautiful life. It is better living than not to exist at all.
If you play golf with me, I am sorry, but your stories will end up in the pulpit. A few weeks ago, I was playing with one of the friends of my golf buddy, Bob. We prayed together at the first tee. But for this man, that was not his day. He was doing everything wrong. The first tee, his ball ended up in the fairway…. the other fairway. We were only on the first tee and his ball went to the 9th tee, ready to go home. Of course, his words were very colorful. He cursed beyond all telling. So John called him up and said, “I am just reminding you, we are playing with a Catholic priest.” He said, “I’m sorry.” The second tee, he did it again. His ball ended up under a bush and he couldn’t find it. Of course, he cursed again. He was reminded again. After about 7 reminders, he had it. He stopped playing after the 10th hole, but he didn’t leave us. He just rode in the cart. I was walking and saying, “Isn’t it wonderful just to see the beauty of God’s creation? Isn’t this wonderful just to thank God because we are still walking on top of the grass and we are not underneath?” As I was saying this, I made sure it was within his hearing distance. He is not my parishioner, so I cannot preach to him, but I can preach to the two who are mine, and I said it out loud so that he could hear it. Yes, we are walking on TOP of the grass! This is God’s gift that we are not yet underneath. Every time we are still breathing, we have reason to celebrate and thank God.
That’s the reason our Lord gave this assurance to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Sometimes we can’t see the reality of life because the world is full of darkness, and what causes darkness is sin. Some people think that sin will make them happy. No! Sin, whether we like it or not, will make us miserable. Only God can give us joy in the complete sense of the word because he is the light who removes all the darkness.
In the offertory, we will sing, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.” We are children of light; we follow Jesus. In Jesus there is no darkness. As we receive Holy Communion, we will sing, “Do not be afraid.” Those are the words of God from the prophet Isaiah combined with Matthew 28: “Do not be afraid, I am with you always.” My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the good news. This is the great news that we receive every single day; that we live in the world God gave us as a gift. All he needs from us is our faith.