The Light of Christ’s Resurrection

March 31, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Easter, Father Nixon, Healing, Hope, Joy, Life, Resurrection

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord
March 31, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 / Ps 118 / Col 3:1-4 / Jn 20:1-9
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Easter Sunday, the summit of the liturgical calendar, invites us into the heart of the Christian faith:  the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In the readings for this glorious day, we encounter the profound truths that death has been conquered, sin has been defeated, and life eternal has been won for all who believe.  As we journey through the scriptures today, let us reflect on the transformative power of Christ’s resurrection and how it continues to shape our lives and our faith.

The Gospel of John paints a clear picture of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, through the eyes of Mary Magdalene.  In today’s gospel, we witness the profound encounter at the empty tomb, where sorrow turns to astonishment and despair gives way to hope.  Let us delve into this powerful passage and reflect on its timeless message of resurrection and redemption.

As the first light of dawn breaks, Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb where Jesus had been laid.  To her shock and dismay, she finds the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty.  In her distress, she runs to Peter and the beloved disciple, bearing the weight of grief and uncertainty.  This moment captures the raw emotion of loss and confusion that often accompanies profound encounters with the divine.

Peter and the beloved disciple rush to the tomb, driven by Mary’s urgent plea.  Racing against one another, they look over into the empty tomb.  Grappling with disbelief and wonder, what they find defies all expectations.  The linen burial cloths lie neatly folded, devoid of the body they once enshrouded.  In this moment of profound mystery, the disciples confront the reality of Christ’s absence and the presence of His resurrection.

Upon entering the tomb, the beloved disciple experiences a revelation that transcends the physical realm.  He beholds the evidence of Christ’s resurrection—the empty tomb and the discarded burial garments—and believes.  This act of faith marks a pivotal moment in the narrative, as the disciple grasps the truth of Jesus’ triumph over death.  His new-found conviction becomes a beacon of hope in a world shrouded in darkness.

After Peter and the beloved disciple depart, Mary remains at the tomb, weeping in sorrow.  In her anguish, she encounters two angels who inquire about her distress.  But it is not until Jesus himself appears to her, calling her by name, that her tears are turned to joy.  In this intimate moment of recognition, Mary becomes the first witness to the resurrection, commissioned to proclaim the good news to the disciples.

There is a story of a certain kindergarten teacher who was telling her students the story of Jesus.  In her class was a little boy who came from a non-Christian family.  He was paying very close attention to the story because it was all new to him.  As the teacher told how Jesus was condemned and nailed to the cross to die, the boy’s countenance fell and he murmured, “No, that’s too bad.”  The teacher then went on to tell about how, on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and came back to life.  The boy’s eyes lit up with delight and he exclaimed, “Totally awesome!”

On Good Friday, we heard the story of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Like the little boy, many of us felt like, “No, that’s too bad.”  Today we hear the rest of the story and, again, with the little boy, we can now exclaim, “Yes, it’s totally awesome!”  Today we can again sing the Alleluia that we have not sung all through Lent.  As our Psalm says, “This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad.”

Why do we rejoice today?  We rejoice because our faith in Christ has been vindicated.  Truth has triumphed over falsity, justice over injustice, and tragedy has turned into comedy.  It is like watching an episode of one of the superhero movies.  First you see an innocent and helpless victim being attacked, robbed, kidnapped, assaulted, and tortured by a wicked assailant.  We feel so bad seeing the triumph of the bad guy.  Then, almost at the point where the victim has given up hope and is at the point of death, down from the skies, comes the hero to the rescue.  He battles and defeats the bad guy and rescues the innocent victim, and we feel happy inside at the triumph of justice.

The story of the suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday is the story of the triumph of falsity over truth, of injustice over justice, of evil over goodness.  Jesus was falsely charged with crimes He did not commit and then unjustly sentenced to a death He did not deserve.  His good friend betrayed Him, His trusted friends deserted Him, and His number one man denied Him.  The people He loved demanded His crucifixion and chose to have the bandit, Barabbas, released in place of Him.  It is a story of betrayal and lies, dishonesty, and meanness, unfaithfulness and wicked violence directed against an innocent and apparently helpless victim.

All this comes to a head on Good Friday, when we see Jesus scourged, mocked, led on a death march, and nailed to the cross, where He dies after a few hours and is hastily buried in a tomb.  If that were the end of the story, that would be a very bad story, a tragedy.  But Glory be to God, it is not.

Our readings today invite us to ponder the profound mystery of Christ’s resurrection, and its transformative impact on our lives.  Like Mary Magdalene and the kindergarten student, we may find ourselves confronted with moments of doubt, despair, and uncertainty.  Yet, in the midst of our darkest hours, the light of Christ’s resurrection shines forth, offering hope, healing and redemption.  The empty tomb is not merely a symbol of absence, but a testament to the power of God to overcome even the bonds of death.  It is a sign of promise, reminding us that the new life emerges from the depths of despair, and that hope springs eternal in the heart of God.

As we journey through life’s trials and tribulations, may we fix our eyes on the risen Christ – the source of our salvation, and the embodiment of God’s unfailing love.  As we celebrate Easter Sunday, let us embrace the promise of resurrection with hearts full of gratitude and joy.  Let us live as Easter people, bearing witness to the reality of Christ’s victory over sin and death in our words and actions.  May the radiance of the resurrection shine brightly in our lives, drawing others into the eternal light of God’s love.  Let us carry the light of Christ’s resurrection into the world, illuminating the darkness with the hope and joy of new life.  May the reality of the resurrection inspire us to live with faith, courage, and love, knowing that Christ is truly risen and that, in Him, we, too, shall rise to share in His glory.

 

 

 

 

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The Sacred Heart

April 23, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Deacon Mark, Easter, Eucharist, Family, Light, Love, Sacraments

Third Sunday of Easter
April 23, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-33 / Ps 16 / 1 Pt 1:17-21 / Lk 24:13-35
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon

[Parish children received their first Eucharist today.  The first part of the homily is directed toward them.]

The Eucharist makes us like Jesus, who said, “I am the light of the world (Jn 8:12).”  Therefore, when you receive Holy Communion, you become a light in the world. This is why St. Paul wrote that you are meant to “shine like stars in the world (Phil 2:15).” So, it is right that you all decorated candles and put them on the windowsills. Candles are a sign of Jesus, our light. There are candles by the ambo to signify Jesus, the light as the Word of God, and by the altar, Jesus, the light as the body and blood of God.  Jesus wants us to be a light in the world. How?

Jesus told us how. He said, “Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 13:34).” So be kind to everyone, especially those that others are mean to or make fun of or ignore. Be loving to everyone in your home. Obey your parents; remember that Jesus was made perfect in His obedience (Heb 5:8-10). Spend time with Grandma and Grandpa; you are their joy, and the time you spend with them is a great treasure for them. Ask them to tell you stories from their life and you will learn much. Pray; God loves it when you talk with Him. He becomes a good friend when you spend time talking to Him every day. And by the way, if someone tells you the bread is only a symbol, you say: “That is heresy (Fr. Dan Beamon homily).”

[Rest of Homily]

As the youth are receiving First Holy Communion in our two parishes this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the mechanics of receiving. Please do not think I am judging your technique when you come forward. What I want to do is reduce the number of times Jesus’ precious body falls to the floor and to remove some of the anxiousness of the priest, deacon, and extraordinary Eucharistic ministers. Here is a refresher.

  1. Wash your hands before Mass.
  2. Walk up reverently. You are approaching your Savior and King.
  3. While the person in front of you is receiving, bow reverently.
  4. If receiving by hand:
    1. Put your hands in the shape of an X-cross making one hand a throne for the Holy Sacrament.
    2. If you are right-handed, make the left hand the throne and vice-versa if you are left-handed.
    3. Place your hands at chest height.
    4. After the minister says, “the Body of Christ,” you say out loud, “Amen.” Speak louder than normal if wearing a mask, as we cannot see your lips moving.
    5. After Jesus is placed in your hand, step to the side, stop, and reverently place our Lord in your mouth before walking back to your seat.
  5. If you only have one hand available, you should receive on the tongue.
  6. If receiving on the tongue, be sure to open your mouth and extend your tongue beyond your lips.

Now let’s open up God’s word a bit. Have you ever wondered what Jesus told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? Oh, to have been there and hear Jesus, the Word made flesh, teach scripture! In the gospel Luke wrote, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures (Lk 24:27).” Fr. Pablo Gadenz, in his commentary of the Gospel of Luke, suggests that we could be hearing what Jesus taught them when we read what is said by His followers in the Book of Acts (395).

We just heard an example of that in the first reading from Acts. Peter interprets to them what referred to Jesus in the scriptures. Peter said, “For David says of [Jesus]: I saw the Lord before me…My flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld (Acts 2: 25-27).”  He was quoting King David’s Psalm 16, which we sang a few minutes ago.

I think Fr. Gadenz is on to something here, and it is exciting. It makes me want to read Acts again with the mindset that when Peter and Stephen speak, they are sharing what Jesus taught on the road to Emmaus! (By the way, the Hallow app has a daily podcast for the Easter season where Jonathan Roumie reads one chapter from Acts each day and Dr. Scott Hahn explains it.)

In this Road-to-Emmaus gospel passage, there is another important point. Jesus explains the scriptures and then He blesses and breaks the bread. This is what we do at every Mass. Why did Jesus not simply get straight to the Eucharist and then talk about scripture? Was the order important or simply coincidental?

In Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire Bible, he points out, as does Fr. Gadenz, it is the “divine purpose” to use scripture to gradually prepare our hearts and minds and to stir up our faith, but it is not until we see the Eucharist that we truly see Christ (Barron 445). This makes sense. Those two disciples were sad and agitated and downcast. Once they heard the Word of God and heard it explained, their hearts were “burning within them (Lk 24:32).” Then their “eyes were opened” and they were ready to see Jesus in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24: 31).

This is why it is so important to get our families to Mass. A mountain hike, a walk at sunset on the lake shore, holding hands with that special someone on the porch, gazing at the moon on a starry night, etc., reveal God to us Who is in all things, but ONLY at Mass do we hear Him clearly in the Word and see Him clearly in the Eucharist.

Bishop Barron says of Jesus in the Eucharist that He is “breaking his heart open in compassion.”  What images does this bring to your mind? One is the priest breaking the consecrated bread and placing a piece in the chalice of blood and water. This is evocative of the blood and water that poured forth from His side on the cross, which is the like the image we celebrated last week on Divine Mercy Sunday with red and blue rays coming from His heart. And then I think of the Eucharistic miracles posted in the hallway of Holy Name of Mary, where the Eucharist became flesh. Scientists who were asked to analyze the tissue, without knowing where it came from, said that the tissue is that of a heart. Do you see a recurring image here? It is the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

No one knew Jesus’ heart more intimately than his mother, Mary. St. Pope John Paul II wrote about this, “And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled Him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion (Ecclesia de Eucharistia)?” John Paul is describing the Third Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Nativity, and is tying it to the Fifth Luminous Mystery, that he gave us, which is the Institution of the Eucharist. Imagine Mary looking at her Son’s heart in her hand at her first Holy Communion and her mind flashing back to holding Him in her arms at Bethlehem.

Mary, pray for us that every time we receive your Son in Holy Communion, we will see Him with your eyes and love Him with your Immaculate Heart.  Amen.

 

Citations

Peter Kreeft. Food for the Soul – Reflections on the Mass Readings for Cycle A. Word of Fire 2022.

Bishop Robert Barron. The Word on Fire Bible_The Gospels. Word on Fire Ministries 2020.

Fr. Pablo T. Gadenz. Catholic Commentary of Sacred Scripture. The Gospel of Luke. Baker Academic, 2018.

Katie Yoder. 15 Quotes from St. John Paul II on his love for the Eucharist. Catholic News Agency (CNA) Oct 22, 2022.

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The Two Orders

April 9, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Comfort, Easter, Evangelization, Guest Celebrants, Heaven, Resurrection

The Resurrection of the Lord
April 9, 2023 – Year A

Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 / Ps 118 / Col 3:1-4 / Jn 20:1-9
by Rev. Jay Biber, Guest Celebrant

Today’s gospel has a great theme, in this season that introduces death to life, light to darkness, good and evil.  It goes back to the two great dimensions of what God gives us, and I think I’d like to leave you with the same homework assignment that I left with the folks at the Easter Vigil last night.

These two dimensions of God that we focus on, that come front and center when we celebrate the sacrament of Baptism, are the dimension of God as creator and God as redeemer.  We call these the Two Orders – the order of creation and the order of redemption.

At the Vigil Mass, we begin a long series of readings beginning with the creation account from the very first pages of the Book of Genesis.   God creates the world, the sky on Day One, the seas and the waters on Day Two, the earth on Day Three, and on Days Four, Five, and Six what fills the sky, the birds and the flying things, what fills the waters, the fish and the sea monsters, and what fills the earth – all that creeps and crawls and all the animals, and at the crown of creation, the human person.  That is the six days of creation.

And of course, the seventh day is what we do today. That’s why the commitment is so important to us, because it keeps a rhythm of time that we have a foreshadowing of the eternal Sabbath, remembering that in a sense every Sunday is Easter.  We have a foreshadowing of the eternal Sabbath with God – the day without work, they day you pray and play, the day to renew relationships, the day for a foretaste of Heaven.

So God has ordered that for us when we speak of the order of creation.  Everyone does not realize that there is an order, a nature of things.  We can explore and learn; it’s not like we are cast adrift and have to find our own meaning for everything.  There’s a meaning already there.

I learned it as a kid growing up in post-war America.  Like many kids, we were not that far removed from the immigrant experience, as all my grandparents were immigrants.  You get roughed up a little bit as an immigrant.  I remember those stories, especially when you add Catholic into that.  But I also remember very early on being given that sense of where I fit in, because the first question in the Catechism class every year was, “Who made you?”  And the answer that you had memorized and had drilled into your head was “God made me.”  Well, that’s not a bad start.

Think of how many people today haven’t been baptized, haven’t been given that greatest gift, “God made me,” that I’m not a meaningless cipher.  I’m not just happening to be there and not knowing if there’s any reason for this. We say that you can tell your friends, “I don’t always act like it and I don’t always think right and part of me rebels against God, and part of me wants God, but He created me in His image and likeness.”

That’s true of all my brothers and sisters, and that’s true of the people I like and the people I don’t like.  He created us in His image and likeness, so that the closest you’ll come to God today is the next human being you’ll look at.

And so, there’s an order of creation.  That’s what allowed the Church to be the first ones in the West to explore science, because of the belief that God has created an ordered universe and invites us to study that.  Therefore, all that does is reveal more of Him.  Many of the great Church leaders going back into history have been great scientists – the founder of genetics, the founder of the Big Bang Theory (a priest from Belgium.)  There’s an order to things, and the human person has a place.  Now, how marvelous is that?

There are so many who have no idea where they fit in, thinking they are on this big map, but there’s no X saying, “You are here.”  If you come across folks in those moments, you can begin to say, “You know, I may have something for you.”  We believe that we are created for a purpose.  It takes a lifetime to find it out and not everything goes right, but there’s a deep joy.  That’s the order of creation.

Then of course, we have the order of redemption.  Because what you know about yourself, and what you know about every other person who was ever conceived, is that somehow there’s a flaw in there.  There’s something that’s begging to be redressed or redeemed, to be purchased back by God.  There’s a distance that’s crept in between us and God; we are not living in the human nature for which we were originally designed.  We are living in the human condition, after that separation from God came in which we all inherit.  We know that about ourselves.

One thing I like about that is that when I know I’m not perfect, I don’t have to kill myself.  It’s true of all of us; we all suffer.  But we finally discover a beautiful thing, that God did not wait for me to be perfect to love me.

That’s something you may be able to pass onto someone who may be suffering.  Put it in your own words; illustrate it with your own story.  Get familiar with using these words because this is exactly what happened after the Resurrection.  They were pretty clueless; they didn’t understand, but they began to put those words together and gradually took those words to the ends of the earth.

Now, as we are often surrounded by folks who haven’t been baptized, we have an opportunity to speak of the order of redemption.  The older folks will remember saving your Green Stamps, putting them in the book, and then redeeming them for a spoon or a Corning Ware dish.  This is more sophisticated, but redeem still means “bought back.”

If you’re wondering about your self-esteem, or if you’re wondering if you have any worth or not, or if you’re worth working on, you can say, “I have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Savior.”  We are not designed in the blueprint to be able to make it on our own.  I like to think He’s designed us with limits so we will need others, and that we will need Him, because that’s the way we’re meant to be.

So this season, I think we have a good story to tell, with all our imperfections and all the ways we miss a mark here and there, to say you know, that order of creation, to meet my maker, to thank Him for the order with which He made things, to thank Him for making me and the order of redemption, to thank Him for putting me back on the right track and offering through the Church the whole toolbox of what it takes to bring me to His feet, to bring me before His face.

I’d like to think that once we begin again as they did in that early century, once we begin to speak those words confidently and humbly again, the first century happens again and then people will say, “You know, I want some of what you have.  I like the way you live. Let me explore this life of which you speak.”

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Christ’s Presence

May 15, 2022 |by N W | 0 Comments | Discipleship, Easter, Eucharist, Father Nixon, Love, Obedience, Prayer, Uncategorized

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Acts 14:21-27 / Ps 145 / Rev 21:1-5a / Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter.  Each Sunday after Easter, God’s messages through the readings help us in living our everyday lives.  The main theme of today’s readings is that Jesus’ disciples are recognized by the people around Him because they follow His commandment of love. 

There are four elements through which Jesus wants to make His presence among His disciples during His lifetime and after His resurrection.  These four elements are:  the cross, prayer, Eucharist, and love. 

The first element is the cross.  Jesus says, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me, is not worthy of Me.”  (Mt 10:38, Lk 14:27) Crucifixion was a form of Roman punishment during Jesus’ time, especially for criminals and rebels.  When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they should carry the cross on which they were to die, to the place of execution. 

For us, to carry the cross is a figurative expression which means that we must endure whatever is burdensome, trying, or is considered disgraceful in following our Lord, Jesus Christ.  The cross is the symbol of doing our Christian duty, even at the cost of the most painful death, just like Jesus Christ, who obeyed God and carried out His work for the salvation of all, though it required Him to die upon the cross in order to do it. 

The second element is prayer.  Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”  (Mt 18:20) The best secret to unanswered prayer for whatever we need, is asking it in Jesus’ name, and not in the name of revenge, of consolation or pleasure, of an easy way out, of fame or shame, of good works or recompense for charitable donations. 

First and foremost, our prayer must never be selfish.  Selfish prayer cannot find an answer.  We are not meant to pray only for our own needs, thinking of nothing and no one but ourselves.  We are meant to pray as members of a Christian community.  When prayer is unselfish, it is always answered.   Let us always remember that the answer to our prayers is not according to our wish, but the will of the Father through Jesus Christ.  That is why we should not separate ourselves from His Son. 

The third element is the Eucharist.  Matthew 26:26 says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take and eat.  This is My body.’”  At the Last Supper, Jesus eats a Passover meal with His disciples in view of His passion, death, and resurrection.  The bread now is Jesus’ body, being broken and given to His disciples and to all of us.  The wine is now Jesus’ blood, poured out for the redemption of the world.  At Mass, the bread and wine are substantially changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the body and blood of Jesus.  The bread that we eat is not a symbol of Christ’s body, but really is His body. 

The last element is love.  Jesus says in today’s gospel, “I give you a new commandment:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”  (Jn 13:34) Jesus gives us this new commandment that we should love one another because He loves us.  This teaching of Jesus about loving one another takes different forms. 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mt 22:39) Ordinarily, for Jewish people, a neighbor is only a fellow Jew.  But for Jesus, the term neighbor includes any individual who is in need of help.  That is what we understand in the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Every person in need, whether he lives next door or a town away, whether she is beautiful or ugly, is a neighbor. 

Jesus asks His disciples to use as a measure in loving other people, the love they have for themselves.  They are to treat another person as their own flesh and bone.  That is not an easy thing to do.  We normally have different standards for ourselves as compared to others.  The natural tendency is to give ourselves first priority or utmost care and to provide others with less or even no attention.  By asking us to love a neighbor as our own self, the Lord simply is helping us overcome what we call narcissistic tendencies.  We all belong to the one body of Christ, and we need to behave like we really are part of one another. 

In today’s gospel, Jesus presents an even more demanding version of the commandment to love.  He says, “I give you a new commandment:  love one another as I have loved you.”  (Jn 13:34-35) The Lord teaches His disciples to use as their standard for loving, not only their love for themselves, but His love for them. He knows that our way of loving can easily be tainted with selfish motivations.  Hence, He challenges us to love one another according to the way He has loved us.  

But the question is, what is this Christ-like love?  It is a love that is agape.  A love in spite of and not “love if” or “love because.”  Agape is unconditional love:  a love that is not motivated by how lovable the other person is.  It does not say, I’ll love you if you become valedictorian of your class, or very successful.  Or I’ll love you if you can afford to buy me a beautiful car, etc.  It is love for even the unlovable, including the poor and one’s enemies.  His love is self-sacrificing, unselfish, unselective.  The love of Jesus is also not merited love which is bestowed on those who possess adorable qualities.  It never says:  I love you because you are considerate.  I love you because you are faithful.

We are all called by Jesus to do the same thing:  to love each one not because he or she is lovable, but in spite of the fact that he or she may not be lovable.  We are to love even our enemies and sinners also.

There was a little girl who was born without an ear.  She became a shy and introverted person.  There were times when she would go home crying because her classmates made fun of her.  When she became a teenager, her mother took her to a surgeon who performed an ear transplant on her.  The operation was successful, and she became a normal and happy person.  Not long after, she had a boyfriend.  After several years, they decided to get married.  On the eve of her wedding day, she went inside her mother’s room to thank her.  As she embraced her, she noticed something strange, something absent.  She realized that beneath the long hair of her mother was a missing ear.  She cried and said, “It was you!  All these years you didn’t tell me it was you.”  The mother replied, “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to be sad for me.  I did it because I want you to be happy, to see you happy with your life.  You don’t lose something when you give it to someone you love.”

I recently received a text message from a friend that will make us reflect about life and love.  It says, “LIFE is a four-letter word that is very meaningful.  L stands for love.  I stands for inspiration.  F stands for forgiveness.  E stands for everlasting.  No matter who, what, where, and when you found life, always remember, only God can satisfy your life.” 

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He Pursues Us

May 1, 2022 |by N W | 1 Comments | Commitment, Deacon Barry, Discipleship, Easter, Eucharist

Third Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41 / Ps 30 / Rev 5:11-14 / Jn 21:1-19
by Rev. Mr. Barry Welch, Guest Homilist

Sometimes when you’re trying something new, barriers arise, especially if you want to do something good and follow Jesus.  Stumbling blocks occur and sometimes we make mistakes on our way.  We get discouraged in this new path that we’ve taken.  Frequently we revert back to whatever we were doing before.  Whatever we used to do is easier and more comfortable.

That’s exactly what the disciples in today’s gospel were doing.  Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”  That’s what Peter had done his whole life before he started this three-year ministry with Jesus.  All of the things that happened in Jerusalem—Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion—were just too much for Peter and the other disciples to take.  They decided to go all the way back home and go fishing.  Did they catch any fish?  No.  They fished all night long in the dark and did not even catch one fish until someone came along to help them.  Who was that?  Jesus.

They left this life with Jesus to go back to fishing, but Jesus didn’t leave them alone to figure things out for themselves.  He pursued them.  He followed them to where they were.  Remember, after Jesus was crucified, everyone ran away because they were frightened.  Peter, the leader of them all, denied Jesus three times.  Afterwards, when they are afraid and locked in a room, Jesus appeared in spite of the locked door.  He didn’t leave them alone.  “Peace be with you,” He said.

But Thomas wasn’t present at that time, so the next week, Jesus came back again and said to him, “Thomas, look at my wounds.  Feel my side and believe.”

Now they’ve left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee, walking a distance of one hundred miles.  Jesus followed them there and found them fishing.  Jesus found them, not in the dark, but in the morning light.  Jesus was constantly pursuing them.  Jesus is constantly pursuing us.  He wants us to turn and follow Him.  He had asked the disciples to follow Him when He first met them.  They dropped all their nets, got out of their boats and followed Him.  Then in today’s gospel, He’s asked them again.  His final words are, “Follow me.”

There is a children’s book called “Runaway Bunny,” that was very well-loved in my own household.  There is a little young bunny in the story, who decides he’s going to run away.  His mother tells him if he runs away, she will run after him, “for you are my little bunny.”  The little bunny comes up with all of these ways in which he plans to avoid his mother.  For example, he says, “If you run after me, I will become a fish in a trout stream.”  But the mother says, “Then I’ll become a fisherman and catch you.”  Then he says, “If you become a fisherman, then I will become a rock, high on a mountain.”  The mother says, “Then I’ll become a mountain climber and climb up to you.”  Another example is when the little one says, “I’m going to become a crocus in a hidden garden.”  Mother replies that she will become a gardener and live there as well.  Finally, the little bunny says, “Shucks!  I might as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”  And the mother says, “Have a carrot.”

Why am I telling this story?  I’m just going to say this line: “And Jesus said, ‘Have some fish. And bread.’”  Perhaps the disciples said, “We might as well stay with You and be Your disciples.”  Jesus is constantly pursuing, just like mother bunny.

Jesus found the disciples fishing in the morning.  Once they recognized Him, they left their lives that they had gone back to, and gathered around Jesus for a meal.  We also have come out of our normal lives and have gathered around Jesus for a very special meal.  We are going to have bread also, which will be transformed into His body.  Do we recognize Him?  Remember, the disciples did not recognize Him at first either.

In the gospel today, the words, “charcoal fire,” are used.  There are only two times in all of the scriptures where these words appear.  One of them is when Peter was denying Christ three times.  The slaves in the courtyard were warming themselves by a charcoal fire.  The second time is in today’s gospel, when Peter is affirming his love for Christ three times.  We are grateful that Peter returned to being a disciple, since he became our first pope.  Through him, our Church has come through hundreds and hundreds of years to today.

Even now, Jesus’ mercy and love are going to be passed on to everyone here.  In Communion, He feeds us.  When we eat this transformed bread, that transformed bread transforms us.  We become a temple of Jesus Christ.

When you come forward for Communion, think of Peter at that beachside barbecue, being asked, “Do you love me?”  In your “Amen,” think of Peter’s response and answer, “Yes, I love You.”

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My Lord and My God

April 24, 2022 |by N W | 0 Comments | Baptism, Discipleship, Easter, Eucharist, Evangelization, Guest Celebrants, Holy Spirit, Mission, St. John

Second Sunday of Easter
Sunday of Divine Mercy
April 24, 2022 – Year C
Readings: Acts 5:12-16 / Ps 118 / Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 / Jn 20:19-31
by Rev. Louis Benoit, Guest Celebrant

In the gospel for today, I think we need to be in touch with the apostles in that closed-off room on this first Easter Sunday night. The gospel tells us they were afraid; they were in there because of fear of the Jews.  Jesus had just been crucified, and they were His followers. The Jewish people could be after them for the same reason.

Besides fear, there was probably a great deal of confusion. Jesus had been crucified. What were they going to do? Where were they going to go? They’d heard news about the empty tomb, but they hadn’t seen Jesus or anything like that. They were probably very confused.

They probably had a certain amount of guilt, too. In Jesus’ hour of suffering, they slept through it, and when He was taken away, they ran away. So there was probably a certain amount of guilt.

Fear. Confusion. Guilt. They were huddled in that closed room with the locked doors. In the midst of that, Jesus ends up standing among them. The first thing He says is, “Peace be with you.” And He repeats it.

What is peace? Peace is when creation is ordered as God would have it. The tranquility of order; that’s peace. Those people He was standing among were in serious need of peace.

Then He tells them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus was sent, then He preached the Gospel of peace, justice, and love, against the reign of sin, evil, and death. And with His death and resurrection, it is now the responsibility of His followers to continue His mission. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

He doesn’t send them forth alone. He says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” That’s another aspect of resurrection existence: The Spirit that animated Jesus in His lifetime, through His death and resurrection, is now passed on to His followers. And so they don’t go off alone to do the work of Jesus.  The very Spirit of Jesus is with them as they continue that work.

But before He says, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” the gospel says He breathed on them. That’s a symbol that could be easily missed. To understand that symbol, you have to go all the way back to the beginning: the Book of Genesis and creation. When God creates the human, He makes the human out of the mud of the earth. But the human only becomes human when God breathes God’s life into the human. And what that is a symbol of in Genesis is that the human is of the earth and of God. That’s how all human beings are: We’re of the earth and we’re of God.

The fact that Jesus breathes on His apostles is saying He’s breathing new life into them. They are a new creation in Christ Jesus. That’s the meaning of Jesus’ breathing on them.

He does that before He says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Thus they are commissioned to continue the work of Jesus.

The Bible is the living word of God for us today. So that’s not just written about the apostles on the first Easter; it’s written about us. Jesus says to us, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Those are words to us today. And “Receive the Holy Spirit.” We have received the Spirit of Jesus in Baptism and Confirmation. That Spirit is constantly being renewed in Eucharist. And so this gospel is not just about the apostles; it’s about us and what our responsibilities are.

It’s also significant that we have the doubting Thomas in the gospel. Thomas who doubts: He’s not there when Jesus comes. They say, “We have seen the Lord.” And he says, “I’m not going to believe until I touch Him, until I feel the wounds in His hands and touch the wound in His side.  I’m not going to believe.”  A week later, Thomas is there, and Jesus comes. Thomas sees Jesus’ wounds, and he touched the wounds, and he makes the comment, “My Lord and my God.”

A lot of scripture scholars say that this Easter appearance to the apostles was the conclusion of the Gospel of John; the appearance by Jesus at the Sea of Tiberius was a later addition to the gospel. And so Thomas’ professing, “My Lord and my God,” is the apostles’ coming to full faith. Thomas is speaking, but it’s in the name of all the apostles, proclaiming the risen Jesus: “My Lord and my God.” It’s a culmination of their faith. It’s the final profession of their faith in the presence of the risen Jesus: “My Lord and my God.”

Of course, as we are called to continue the ministry of Jesus, we are called (“As the Father has sent me, so I send you”), with the grace of the Spirit we have received, to give the spirit of Jesus to others, and we can say like Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

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Fear Not

April 17, 2022 |by N W | 0 Comments | Courage, Easter, Father Nixon, Hope, Resurrection

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord
April 17, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 / Ps 118 / Col 3:1-4 / Jn 20:1-9
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

In the old Jewish culture, women were considered to be unreliable in what they said, and therefore, they were not accepted as witnesses in a court or tribunal.  So we can suppose that no Jew ever expected a woman to be the first witness of the risen Lord.  But Jesus, always on the side of the oppressed, chose Mary Magdalene to preach the good news of His resurrection.

Some would say that the Lord intended a woman to be the first to become aware of His resurrection, so that the news could be spread easily to the people.  But the seventh century theologian, Isidore of Seville, observed that just as a woman (Eve) first tasted death, so a woman (Mary Magdalene) first saw life.   Just as a woman is responsible for the fall of man, so a woman is the first to witness the dawn of salvation.  Beautiful!

But because of the magnitude of the mystery of the resurrection, Christ revealed it in a gradual way.  First, the stone at the door of the tomb was seen rolled away.  Second, they saw the remaining linen cloths.  And third, the women were addressed by two angels, before the resurrected Lord was actually seen by the disciples.

One thing we can be sure of, if Christ had not been resurrected, we would not have heard of the apostles.  We learn that when Christ was crucified on the cross, the disciples went into hiding, fearing that they would suffer the same death on the cross.  The mystery of the Resurrection and nothing else motivated the apostles to come out again and boldly preach about Christ and the Gospel to all people.

The Resurrection of the Lord is the foundation of our faith.  As St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith is vain.  If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is just made up and you still remain in darkness and sin.  But this is the truth – that Christ is risen from the dead and is the first fruits of them that slept.”  (1 Cor 15:14, 17, 20)

The resurrection of Christ also guarantees our own resurrection.  At Lazarus’s tomb, Christ assured Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live.”  (Jn 11:25-26) At the end of time, Christ will raise us from the dead.  Even now, we who believe in Him are already beginning to share real life with the Lord.

So, what is the challenge of the mystery of the Resurrection to us today?  The great mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection calls us to live as Easter people.  But how can we do this?  First, we will live happily, confidently, and full of hope.  The Resurrection of Christ should give us strength and encouragement to face all the problems, pain, and suffering of the world.  As He said to the women on the way to the tomb, we are now told, “Fear not.”  The problems and pain of this life will remain, but we who have faith will also remain confident in God’s help.

Let us always remember that there is Easter after Good Friday.  There is life and peace after the storms of life.  We believe, with a vision of the life to come after this world.

St. Paul is the first to encourage us, “Since you were raised up with Christ, seek the things in heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.  Think of the things that are heavenly, not the things that are earthly.” And the things of Heaven are none other than the virtues of the Gospel: love, peace, truth, justice, and fairness.  These must be our desire, because they belong to God and will give us true happiness, not material things and not physical feelings.

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Follow in Hope

May 16, 2021 |by N W | Comments Off on Follow in Hope | Easter, Eternal Life, Faith, Father Salvador, Heaven, Hope

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
May 16, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Acts 1:1-11 / Ps 47 / Eph 1:17-23 / Mk 16:15-20
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor

About five hundred years before our Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there was a philosopher in ancient Greece by the name of Heraclitus, who said that the only permanence in life is change. Heraclitus was stating the obvious. Every single moment there is a change in the world within us and around us, whether we are aware of this or not. We are no longer the same persons compared to yesterday. We change physically, mentally, and even spiritually. (more…)

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Open to Grace, Now

April 4, 2021 |by N W | Comments Off on Open to Grace, Now | Deacon Eddie, Easter, Faith, Grace, Hope, Love, Resurrection, Sacraments

The Resurrection of the Lord
April 4, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43 / Ps 118 / Col 3:1-4 / Jn 20:1-9
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

Today we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ! The tomb is empty! Jesus has destroyed death, and He has gone to Galilee. That’s the story we hear in the gospels.

Last night, at the Easter Vigil, we had nine readings. Father Sal explained to us that the first seven are actually a love story – the love story between God and His people. (more…)

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Care for God’s Temple

March 7, 2021 |by N W | Comments Off on Care for God’s Temple | Easter, Father Salvador, Lent, Repentance, Resurrection, Sin

Third Sunday of Lent
March 7, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Ex 20:1-17 / Ps 19 / 1 Cor 1:22-25 / Jn 2:13-25
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor

A story is told about two altar servers who, one Sunday morning, while waiting for the Mass to begin, noticed that the priest was wearing a vestment in a color that was out of the ordinary. One of them said, “It is quite unusual that Father is wearing a pink robe today.” The other corrected him, saying, “It’s rose, not pink.” “How do you know?” the first asked. He answered, “Because Jesus ROSE from the dead; he didn’t PINK from it.” (more…)

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