ON THIS SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST, we celebrate the great feast in which we commemorate Our Lady and the apostles being sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they gathered in the Upper Room. From there, the apostles went forth to proclaim Christ Crucified and Risen for the sake of spreading the salvific mission of the kingdom of God to family, neighbors and strangers.
While we Catholic Christians often consider the bishops of the Church as the visible lineage of the Apostolic Succession, we must not neglect that each of us Catholic Christians is definitely part of this mission - particularly when passing along the faith and salvific mission to subsequent generations of the family and neighbors. While we ought not be severe in our zeal to pass along the faith, we must not be lax in this regard. It is true that even if we provide a solid foundation and example of prayer and devotion to our loved ones, they may not necessarily [always] follow in that same path. However, if we neglect to provide a solid foundation and example of prayer and devotion to our loved ones, it is much more likely that the faith will never become part of their foundation in life. In doing so, we do not pass along the gifts that God has given to us.
Like the apostles, each of us certainly has a part in passing along the faith. Examine your life, and examine your actions: "Do I live a life a prayer - a life of faith? Do I ever communicate these spiritual dimensions of my life to loved ones? How - and how often?" Faith is one of the most precious gifts we can receive. Do not let that faith end with you. Nurture it, express it, and share it with others.
Yes, Jesus Christ is the savior of us all; however, as members of the Body of Christ, we all have a role and purpose in the salvation history of our own selves and certainly others. LORD, SEND OUT YOUR SPIRIT, AND RENEW THE FACE OF THE EARTH, AMEN, ALLELUIA!
Folks, this has indeed been a whirlwind of emotion and celebration. Click on this link to view the Funeral of Francis Cardinal George, who died last Friday and who was buried from Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral on April 23rd.
May the Lord grant to Cardinal George, the fullness of eternal happiness!
On this Easter Morning, all is renewed in Christ, and this renewal, this freshness will change the lives of those who freely choose to accept it. May you and those you love experience the renewal of new life promised by the Risen Lord!
Listening to God
Today’s first reading, from the book of Samuel, underscores in the clearest terms the importance of listening to the voice of the Lord. Eli understood that the voice the child Samuel heard might just be the voice of God. Eli told Samuel that should the Lord call him again, his reply should be simply, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Eli did not dismiss or trivialize Samuel’s experience, but encouraged him to be open to the voice of the Lord with patience; then he would discover God’s will in due time. The heart of the story is Samuel’s acquiescence: “I am listening, Lord. Whatever you ask, I will do.” There was no predetermined plan or course of action, no glimpse into the future. He was simply invited and with humble submission said yes to God.
God calls us into intimate relationship of our own free will. In what ways will we listen and respond to this call?
My Dear Friends:
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…" At midnight during the darkest time of the year, we walk through darkness, drawn by the light of our Churches, light echoed these past weeks by store lights and house lights and street lights that not only show us the way but encourage us to find our way with others. No one wants to live in darkness. We feel unsafe and unsure. Two thousand years ago, God decorated the world with the light of Jesus, his Eternal Word become visible in our flesh. The invisible God took on our human nature so that we could see the glory of God in an infant and so that our lives would be brightened by the truth about God and about ourselves.
Christmas Mass brings us again into the real presence of our Savior. A baby was born, God's word was made flesh two thousand years ago; we recall this unique historical event and we celebrate in our hearts and in our families, mindful of those brothers and sisters in need of food and shelter and, like all of us, in need of the truth and the hope that it brings. At Mass, at the words of consecration in each Eucharistic celebration, bread made by human hands becomes the flesh of the Eternal Word of God. The same flesh born of the Virgin Mary is given to us under the form of bread, so that we might partake here of the seeds of immortality, of the risen life that this new born baby came to share with us. We cannot understand how God took on human flesh, nor can we understand how a crucified human body rose from the dead and is now free to be really with us sacramentally; but these are the most important truths in human history. These are the truths that light our way tonight and each day of our lives, until we come into the presence of the living God at the moment of our death to this world.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." We are safe, we are loved, we are God's family now and forever. That is the truth about Christmas!
May the Lord bless you and those you love with Christmas joy and growth in holy living in the coming year! You can access my additional reflections for Christmas here.
We come to the end of the Liturgical Year with today's celebration of the Feast of Christ the King. If we have been less than loyal to our Lord and one another, let us seek pardon and begin anew as Advent draws near.
Peace and al Good!
ON THIS SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST,we come to the end of the Easter Season, and celebrate the great beginning of the Church. Be certain to view my blog for the usual weekend reflections.
Let us remember that EVERYBODY- from Pope Francis to the cook at McDonald's to Mrs. Murphy the housewife- in short, YOU AND I have been called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness the Gospel of Christ to those around us. You and I are called to bring good news to the poor; to bring liberty to those who are being held captive by addiction, alienation, rejection and indifference. We are called to heal the hearts overcome with great sorrow and loss. We are called to announce God's favor and glory among the people we encounter on the journey of life. Moreover, the Holy Spirit renews the Church in every time and place, in order that it might introduce us once again to Christ!
LORD, SEND OUT YOUR SPIRIT, AND RENEW THE FACE OF THE EARTH, AMEN, ALLELUIA!
My Dear Friends:
The See of Saint Peter is now vacant. At 2:00 p.m. EST, the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI came to an end, and thus, he will no longer be mentioned in the public prayers of the Church. I do encourage, you, however, to indeed pray for Pope Benedict, that the Lord will grant to him the peace and solitude he so desires in his life. Let us give thanks for the ministry of Pope Benedict, and above all, pray for our Cardinals as they now prepare for the upcoming conclave.
One of my favorite passages in all of Sacred Scripture is contained in today’s Gospel account. It’s where we find Jesus telling us, “I no longer call you slaves, I call you friends.” Jesus is saying something very beautiful in those words, something really wonderful about the humility of God in calling us to be, and making us, His friends. He comes to us not regarding us as slaves; rather He comes to us as His friends. He comes to us with respect, with caring, and in deep down love for us.
Allow me now to offer you some thoughts about friendship.
A friend is one who knows what to say in response to another person's self-disclosure. Friends reveal to each other their deep inner thoughts and feelings. When with respect and interest we accept our friend’s inner self the great likelihood is that a deep and satisfying friendship will blossom. There are few things in life that are more satisfying and wonderful than such a friendship. Jesus calls you his friend.
Hefty helpings of emotional expressiveness and unconditional support are key ingredients --followed by acceptance, loyalty, and trust. Our friends are there for us through thick and thin, but rarely cross the respectful boundaries of friendship. When we respond in kind, when we respond in return with our own acceptance, loyalty, and commitment in trust along with the signs of our affection and even love, something wonderful is born -- something precious is brought to life. Jesus calls you to be His friend.
Friendship is one of God’s choicest blessings, and a friend is the channel through whom great emotional, spiritual, and sometimes even physical blessings flow. Friends will cheer us when we are sorrowful or depressed. Friends will challenge us to go beyond our original limits of shyness and give us encouragement when we allow ourselves to go beyond our fears. Friends will motivate us when we’re ready to give up. Friends can provide strength for our hearts when life falls apart. Jesus is always there to give all that to you as your friend.
Friends are there for us when all is well, and we want someone with whom to share life’s pleasant and memorable moments. We often just want them around, to have a good time, to laugh, to act silly, to enjoy some mutually enjoyed activity. In how many ways have friends enriched our lives and made us feel loved, accepted, respected and cared for? Probably so .many times that we can’t even count them. And yet more will follow. Jesus wants you to be His friend. He literally died for your love.
Friendship gives us courage. What a wonderful thing when a friend gives us courage and when we give courage to our friend. That gift lasts for a lifetime. Jesus offers you His friendship for both this life and for all eternity.
Friends are the only source of bravery in our hearts. When we don't have any friends we won't come out and deal with life when there is trouble. But when we have friends with us we never sit a dark cave of self-centeredness and self-pity. We may not be brave but friendship gives courage to our hearts. Friends will try to save us in many situations. Friends will help us to avoid and to escape from big troubles. Friends will step out in front of us to shield us in times of problems and troubles. Friendship never knows how to run away from us during times of pain, loss, and suffering. A good friend stays with us when there is a problem and never goes away. Jesus is always there for you wanting to be your friend in good times and in bad.
Have you noticed that when you pray, when you are in a close relationship with Jesus, when you experience friendship with Jesus, you find yourself in a place of safety? Have you noticed that you receive strength? “Ask,” Jesus said, “and you will receive.”
Have you noticed that when you are close to Jesus, when you are listening to His voice deep within you, that still inner awareness of His loving presence, you experience inspiration? This is something that goes a step beyond comfort, although Jesus, your friend, really wants to give you comfort. But more than comfort, He wants to inspire you, to inspire your thoughts, to inspire courage within you and give you the strength to act.
There’s a lot of negative news that surrounds us every day, bad news about our world along with bad news about our economy and the numbers of people out of jobs. Negative thoughts about failure can seep into our hearts and souls. Many people are filled with bad news about themselves, bad news about them personally. The Evil One wants us to feel rotten about ourselves. Jesus gives us gives us good news about ourselves in the face of all of the negative news we listen to and tell ourselves. We need to listen to Him and pay attention to His message of love for us, His message of personal love for each one of us.
Friends spend time with each other. That being so, we should allow ourselves to spend some personal time with Jesus; to be aware of His loving presence and to give Him our personal presence in return. Time alone with Jesus isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. When we tell ourselves that we are too busy we are depriving ourselves of time with Him, time with Him that can be healing, time with Him that can be inspiring, time with Him that allows us to receive His love and His gifts.
We can be slaves to our work. We can be slaves to our schedules. We can be enslaved by so many worries, concerns, and what we consider to be important commitments. Jesus doesn’t want slaves; He wants friends.
The words we heard in today’s Gospel account are important words. They are the words of Jesus calling us to love, calling us to love others but above all calling us to love Him as our friend. He wants you to give Him your friendship and be His friend just as much as He wants to be with you always and in everything – your friend, and unlike our virtual friends on Facebook, who can drop off our list without warning or simply ignore us, JESUS WILL ALWAYS REMAIN LOYAL AND FAITHFUL TO US!
What remains is for us to let Him. Give Him the time and the chance to be your friend. In silence and solitude let Him come to you as your friend and give Him your inner self in return.
We’ve often heard the phrase, “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.” It’s a warning to us to beware of someone or something that has yet to be encountered or tried, and our natural instinct is to doubt a claim to the contrary because we don’t have faith in the person or the product. Today’s Gospel emphasizes the journey of faith. Thomas reminds us that doubt sometimes is a part of having a committed faith in Jesus. The apostles shared the news Christ’s resurrection with Thomas, but he allowed the darkness of the crucifixion to blind him to the reality of the Lord’s promise of victory over sin and death. Thomas felt that the resurrection was too good to be true- that death conquered Jesus forever. Thomas struggled with this, and yet in his struggle he embraced a deeper, lasting faith. He did not come to believe because he touched the Lord’s wounds. Thomas’ faith in Jesus was prompted by His invitation “do not persist in your unbelief, but believe.”
Like Thomas, we too, tend to allow the disappointments of life to consume us. Do you think it’s too good to be true that Jesus invites you to put your faith in Him and trust Him to bring a greater good out of a seemingly disappointing event or situation? On this Divine Mercy Sunday, do you believe that your sins are greater than God's UNFATHOMABLE MERCY? Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!
The dawn breaks.
In the east, the black sky fades to gray and purple, a warm glow of pink and yellow warms the horizon, light shines forth over the earth, and a new day is here. It happens every day.
But on Easter morning, it takes on special beauty. On this day, it is more than the start of another day. It is the fulfillment of the promise that, whatever happens in our lives, we have hope and salvation through Christ. It all starts with light. The book of Genesis tells us, “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good.”
Man was placed on earth to live in the light of God’s creation. But sin was also in the world, and man succumbed to it. And with sin came darkness. Not the natural darkness of night, but the cruel, cold darkness of separation from God and spiritual death.
But in spite of our sinful natures, God always loved mankind and each and every one of us. He did the only thing He could to bring us back to His perfect love. St. John explains: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”
The Son of God chose to come among us as one of us. Fully God, yet also fully human, He experienced the full range of our human nature. He grew hungry and ate with us. He grew weary and rested among us. He felt joy, friendship, adulation, and love. He dealt with sorrow, loss, rejection, deceit, and pain. He shared in our humanity so that He could share with us his divinity. We did nothing to deserve any of this. Out of nothing but pure love, He showed us the way. In Matthew’s Gospel, we hear His words, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
But the darkness of sin still pervaded the earth. Christ had to go to that ultimate step of facing and overcoming the final darkness of death to make a way for all of us to join Him in everlasting love and glory. The day after His crucifixion was indeed a dark day – the ultimate darkness, as the very light of God was extinguished from the earth. What pain and desolation His disciples must have felt in that darkness.
But the next morning, the first Easter morning, that darkest of all nights was split by the most glorious of all dawns. Light overcame darkness; life overcame death, Christ was victorious over a sinful world and the door to paradise was opened for all eternity to those who love and follow Him.
Every Easter morning, we rejoice anew to the arrival of the light of eternal joy that is promised to each of us in His presence in heaven.
CHRIST IS RISEN…HE IS TRULY RISEN! ALLELUIA!