PENTECOST SUNDAY READINGS, JUNE 9, 2019 WITH POPE FRANCIS HOMILY

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PENTECOST SUNDAY

Reading 1 ACTS 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven
staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

Responsorial Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34

R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of your creatures;
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 COR 12:3-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your 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.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

pOPE FRANCIS PENTECOST HOMILY

“Without the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Christians lack that which animates them and gives them internal life and harmony. Without the Spirit, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together.

Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life.

The Holy Spiritis is far from being an abstract reality, but is the most concrete and close, the one who changes our lives. How does the Holy Spirit change people’s lives? Let us look at the Apostles. The Holy Spirit did not make things easier for them, he didn’t work spectacular miracles, he didn’t take away their difficulties and their opponents. What the Holy Spirit brought was harmony: something deeply needed also in today’s frenzied pace of life. – Pulled in a thousand directions, we run the risk of nervous exhaustion, so we look for quick fixes like pills and thrill-seeking to feel alive.

But more than anything else, we need the Spirit: he brings order to our frenzy. The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope.

A lack of harmony is what has caused the many stark divisions seen in today’s world: People with too much and people with nothing, people striving after longevity and those who cannot even be born.

More social media use has made people less social. We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family.

Let us daily implore the gift of the Spirit. It is easy to stay at surface levels; that rather than seeking the Spirit, we try to keep afloat, thinking that everything will improve once this or that problem is over, once I no longer see that person, once things get better.

This is superficial because there will always be more problems, and resolving momentary problems will not bring peace. What makes a difference is the peace of Jesus, the harmony of the Spirit.

Peace is about receiving the Holy Spirit. The peace bestowed on the apostles, the peace that does not bring freedom from problems but in problems, is offered to each of us: Filled with his peace, our hearts are like a deep sea, which remains peaceful, even when its surface is swept by waves.

We have a tendency to hurl adjectives and insults at others, stating that it is harmful not only to those insulted but also to those who insult.Those who live by the Spirit, by contrast, bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement.

It is important to recognize, that just like for the Apostles, seeing the Risen Lord is not enough, unless we welcome him into our hearts.. The Holy Spirit comes where he is loved, where he is invited, where he is expected.

Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who turn fear into trust and self-centeredness into self-gift, come to us. “Grant us the joy of the resurrection and perennially young hearts.

Holy Spirit, our harmony, you who make of us one body, pour forth your peace upon the Church and our world. Make us artisans of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope.”

SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER READINGS, JUNE 2, 2019 WITH FR. ANDREW GREELEY HOMILY

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SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Reading 1 ACTS 7:55-60

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice,
covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice,
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them;”
and when he said this, he fell asleep.

Responsorial Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 9

R. (1a and 9a) The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
All gods are prostrate before him.
R. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 REV 22:12-114, 16-17, 20

I, John, heard a voice saying to me:
“Behold, I am coming soon.
I bring with me the recompense I will give to each
according to his deeds.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last,
the beginning and the end.”

Blessed are they who wash their robes
so as to have the right to the tree of life
and enter the city through its gates.

“I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.
I am the root and offspring of David,
the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
Let the hearer say, “Come.”
Let the one who thirsts come forward,
and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.

The one who gives this testimony says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Alleluia JN 14:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord.
I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, I pray not only for them,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.”

FR. ANDREW GREELY HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel READING (2013)

Background:

Today’s passage is part of what is often called Jesus’s “priestly prayer” because he is picture as praying for his apostles, the first priests. While it is legitimate to see the prayer in this fashion, it is a narrow interpretation, much too narrow for John’s intent which was to reassure all those in the community for which he was writing and not only its leaders. The apostles in this story represent the whole community, everyone who is embraced by the love of Jesus and therefore by the love of God. Jesus prays to the Father to take care of each one of his followers, to protect them from evil, to perfect them in goodness, to promote their growth in grace. The Irish blessing summarizes exactly the meaning of this prayer: “Until we meet again, may God hold you all in the palm of his hand.
Story:
Once upon a time a great coach was retiring. He and his teams had won many championships. He was very proud of them and they very proud of him. He knew that it was time for him to pull back from the daily grind of practices and the frequent strain and tension of the games. He was fraying around the edges and he knew it. So did the smarter players but they loved him so much that they would not admit this even to themselves. He did not want to leave the school or give up the sport, not yet anyway. So it was agreed that he would become athletic director and his best assistant would become the coach. He promised that he would never interfere in the daily running of the team. Since he was a man of his word, everyone knew that he was telling the truth. Yet there was terrible ambivalence in the team. On the one hand they were glad the coach was doing what was good for him. On the other hand they didn’t want to lose him, not even the man who was going to take over as head coach. The old coach would still be around, but in the background. It would never be like it used to be, like it had been for such a long time. At his farewell dinner, the players, the coaches, the teachers, the parents were all deeply moved. They did not want to say goodbye, yet they knew the change would be good and that it was wise to say goodbye. In his farewell speech the coach commended his players to the new coach. Take good care of them, he said. I know you will and I promise not to interfere, but take good care of them because I love them all. This is now Jesus felt about us when he said goodbye to return to the father in heaven. More important, that is the way he still feels about us and he has a lot more power than an athletic director.
(Painting: William Blake The Ascension)

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER MAY 26, 2019 READINGS WITH HOMILY BY FR. ANDREW GREELEY

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SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Reading 1 ACTS 15:1-2, 22-29

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
“Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved.”
Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders
about this question.

The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:

“The apostles and the elders, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right.  Farewell.'”

Responsorial Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 REV 21:10-14, 22-23

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,

with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light,
and its lamp was the Lamb.

Alleluia JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.”

FR. ANDREW GREELEY’S HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel READING (2008)

Background:

John’s Gospel obviously displays a much more developed theology then the three synoptic gospels. However, it was still written early in the so-called sub-apostolic time. The remarkable fact is not that there is a strong theological slant to it. Rather it is surprising how relatively early in the history of the early Church a strong Trinitarian perspective has emerged. The trajectory towards Nicea and the other early councils has already been set, thought he elaborate explanations have yet to appear. Associated with God even by the time of St. John are Jesus, and the Father, and the Paraclete, the advocate, the teacher, the protector, the guarantor of the peace that Jesus has given. Already we have hints that God is a community of relationships, that there is so much knowledge and love in God that the knowledge and love explode into distinct personages. This truth is revealed to test our faith, not to provide theologians with raw material for their speculations (though there is nothing wrong with that), but to dazzle us with the brightness of God’s glory, the power of God’s knowledge and the passion of God’s love. The use of the word “spirit,” a translation of the Hebrew word Shekenah hints at a maternal protection in God because the word is feminine in Hebrew – and was used in Hebrew folk religion as the name of Yahweh’s consort. St. John had no thought of such matters, yet the gender of the noun might well be part of the meaning “in front of the text.”

Story:

Once upon a time back in the last century there was a young woman from Ireland who had lost her parents and all her family. Some kind people wrote to their relatives in America and said we have this fourteen year old orphan here who is very bright and very pretty and very hard working, We don’t want her to go to the orphanage because she won’t have any opportunities there to develop her talents. Would you eve consider hiring her as a servant girl. You’d have to pay her way over on the boat, but she’ll work for nothing until she earns her fare. You won’t go wrong with her. So the Americans who could afford a serving girl, but never had one and weren’t altogether sure what they would do with such a person talked about it and said, well, what have to lose. So they sent the fare for the boat and the train. And waited for the young woman to come. She sailed from Kinsale. The last she saw of Ireland were the twin spires of the church as they faded into the background. Weeks later, sick and thin and exhausted, she arrived in the city where her master and mistress lived. They took one look at the poor child and said, Dear, we don’t need a servant, but we have room for another daughter. When they brough her home the other children hugged her and said, hooray! We have another sister. With their help she grew up to go to college and university and become very successful and was a great credit to those who took her into their family. The Trinity is a family into which God has invited us.

(Painting: Resurrection of Christ © 2019, Alfred Eaker)

Mass for the repose of the soul of Eddie Russell, Fr. Peter Whitely, Fr. Joe, and the Archbishop

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Passing on a note from Fr. Justin.
 
 
We are offering Mass at St. Claire’s Basilica tomorrow morning for the repose of the soul of Eddie Russell. I feel he lived with such a burden – his need to, personally protect the Church from heresy. I am sure he is understanding and experiencing Unconditional Love and Divine Peace.
 
 
Fr. Peter Whitely was the Vicar of the Archdiocese who supported Eddie Russell from inside the structure of the Church. He did whatever he could to stop our ministry in the Archdiocese and he accepted a false accusation about a wonderful young priest, Fr. Joe (from Viet Nam). Details of Fr. Joe’s death are not fully known but the rule is that if you are accused, you are out. We don’t know if Fr. Joe took his own life or not (he was found dead in his bed the day after the accusation was made public. I believe that he could not imagine living outside his commitment as a priest – and if you are accused, you’re out!
 
Thousands attended Fr. Joe’s funeral (as did the Archbishop).
 
 
I will be offering Mass for Fr. Joe, Eddie Russell, Peter Whitely, the Archbishop and all of the people who suffered from this terrible turn of events. Justin

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, MAY 19, 2019 READINGS WITH FR. ANDREW GREELEY HOMILY

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Reading 1 ACTS 14:21-27

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm 145:8-13

R. (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 REV 21:1-5

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”The One who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.”

Alleluia JN 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 13:31-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

FR. ANDREW GREELEY HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel READING

Background:

John’s Gospel has a heavy overlay of mystical imagery. Yet today’s brief gospel seems clear and simple enough. However, it’s revelation of the great tenderness of Jesus – undoubtedly based on clear historical memories in the tradition – is richly mystical. All will know that we are followers of Jesus by the love we have for one another. This is not a prediction which has yet been fulfilled.

Story:

Once upon a time there was a sergeant in the marines who was the senior enlisted man in his platoon. One day his outfit was ambushed and pinned down by enemy fire. The lieutenant in command was badly wounded as were many of the men. The sergeant took over and extricated the men from the trap, though he himself was wounded twice. He went back by himself to carry out the wounded commanding officer. Miraculously every man in the platoon survived, even the wounded lieutenant. Later the men said that if it were not for the incredible bravery of the sergeant they all would have been killed. He was always like a mother and a father to us, they said. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but did not receive it. However, he did receive the DFC. He never wore the medal because he said the lives of his men were more important than any medal. Later when he had children of his own, he loved them like a mother as well as a father. His wife said that during the war he had learned how to be tender. Of course people spit on him when he came home and told him that it served him right that he had to limp all his life.

(FR. JUSTIN painting by Alfred Eaker)

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER READINGS MAY 12, 2019 WITH MOTHER’S DAY MESSAGE BY POPE FRANCIS

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fourth sunday of easter

Reading 1 acts 13:14, 43-52

Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga
and reached Antioch in Pisidia.
On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats.
Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism
followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them
and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered
to hear the word of the Lord.
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy
and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.
Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.”

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.
The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers
and the leading men of the city,
stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas,
and expelled them from their territory.
So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them,
and went to Iconium.
The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm 100:1-2,3,5

R.(3c) We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R.We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is good:
his kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R.We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 REV 7:9, 14-17

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.Then one of the elders said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“For this reason they stand before God’s throne
and worship him day and night in his temple.
The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne
will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Alleluia JN 10:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 10:27-30

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

PABLO PICASSO MOTHER AND CHILD 1902

Pope Francis: A world without mothers would be inhumane, lacking tenderness 2015

Mothers are indispensable to society and the church, showing the world what it means to generously give oneself for others, to respect life and to display tenderness and moral strength even in times of trouble, Pope Francis said.

Speaking to some 4,000 people gathered indoors for his general audience Wednesday, the pope continued his series of talks about the family, but also gave a second talk about beauty and harmony when he thanked a group of circus performers at the end of the audience.

Tying the theme of the family to the church’s celebration of the feast of Mary, Mother of God, on Jan. 1, and the Epiphany on Jan. 6, the pope looked specifically at Mary’s role in the Gospel accounts of Christmas.

“She gives us Jesus, she shows us Jesus, she lets us see Jesus,” the pope said.

Even though mothers are often “exalted” with praise and poetry, he said, they often get very little concrete help and appreciation. In fact, he said, “the willingness of mothers to sacrifice themselves for their children is often taken advantage of in order to ‘save’ on social spending.”

“One should better understand their daily struggle to be efficient at work and attentive and loving in their family; it is necessary to better understand what they are striving for in order to express the best and most authentic fruits of their liberation,” he said.

Pope Francis recalled his own upbringing as one of five children, and spoke of how much work and how many problems, but also how much happiness, come with motherhood.

“Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of selfish individualism,” he said.

A world without mothers would be “inhumane,” he said, “because mothers always know how to give witness — even in the worst of times — to tenderness, dedication and moral strength.”

“Being a mother does not mean just bringing a child into the world, but it is also a life choice. What does a mother choose?” he asked. “It is the choice to give life and this is great, this is beautiful.”

If societies do not do justice to the contributions and sacrifices of mothers, the church is not always better, he said. “Perhaps mothers, who are ready to make many sacrifices for their children and often also for others” should find greater reception and attention in the church, he said.

It is often the mother who passes on “the deepest sense of religious practice” as she plants and cultivates the seed of faith in a child by sharing prayers and devotional practices, he said. “Without mothers, not only would there be no new people of faith, but the faith would lose a good portion of its simple and profound warmth.”

Mothers are the biggest enemies of war, “which kills their children,” he said, admitting he has thought many times of those women who receive the dreaded letter notifying them of the loss of their children in their defense of the nation. “Poor women. How much a mother suffers,” he said solemnly.

Mothers are martyrs, the pope said quoting a homily by Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot and killed in 1980 as he celebrated Mass.

Presiding over the funeral Mass of a priest who had been assassinated by the country’s death squads, the late archbishop had said that giving one’s life does not just mean being killed for the faith, it is also offering oneself “in that silence of daily life,” bit by bit, “like a mother, who, without fear and with the simplicity of maternal martyrdom, conceives a child in her womb, brings it into the world, nurses it, raises it and lovingly cares” for the child.

At the end of his audience talk, the pope was treated to a short circus show as acrobats and jugglers performed in front of him on stage while a jazz band played “All of Me.”

The pope thanked the men, women and children taking part in an international festival in Rome for circus performers and praised them for being “creators of harmony, creators of beauty, who teach the high road of beauty,” which is “good for the soul.”

But while people today are well-practiced in “the language of the mind, thinking” and “the language of the hands, doing,” they need to remember to use “the language of the heart, loving,” he said.

“These three languages come together to make up the harmony of the person; and there is the beauty,” he said.

God is not only truth, goodness and the master of creation, he is also beauty and “so many times we forget about beauty,” the pope said. “Humanity thinks, hears, does, but today it is in such need of beauty.”

In a brief address to German and Polish-speaking groups attending the audience, the pope also greeted a delegation of people who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and were freed 70 years ago in January.

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, MAY 5, 2019 READINGS WITH HOMILY BY FR. ANDREW GREELEY

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Third Sunday of Easter

Reading 1 ACTS 5:27-32, 40-41

When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
“We gave you strict orders, did we not,
to stop teaching in that name?
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles
to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.

Responsorial Psalm 30: 2,4-6. 11-13

R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 REV 5:11-14

I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels
who surrounded the throne
and the living creatures and the elders.
They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength,
honor and glory and blessing.”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth
and under the earth and in the sea,
everything in the universe, cry out:
“To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor, glory and might,
forever and ever.”
The four living creatures answered, “Amen, ”
and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ is risen, creator of all;
he has shown pity on all people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 21:1-19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

FR, ANDREW GREELEY HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel (2013)

Background:
The problem for those who tried to harmonize all the resurrection stories in the Gospel is that there are too many of them. How could one story be right and another wrong? Such anguish comes from a failure to understand how the gospels were composed. There was no single tradition written down a few weeks after Pentecost and then preserved carefully until the Gospel authors settled down to write. Rather different bits and pieces of Jesus stories were save by various of his followers and then handed down orally for decades. The point of the stories was never lost, but the form changed as they were told and retold. Then the Gospel writers, each with his own purpose and style, gathered together the stories that fit their narrative. Today’s Gospel may be the most charming — the risen Jesus appears out of the morning mists on the shores of Galilee which he walked once before. It is not surprising that it is a well told story because the author of John’s Gospel was a master story teller (and also, perhaps surprisingly, a powerful mystic). Thus is the story of the Feast at Cana and the woman at the well are enchanting tales if we permit them to be so. Did Jesus actually meet his followers on the beaches of the Lake after he rose from the dead? Who would dare deny it? Yet did the author of John remember the dialogue many decades later? Finally did he understand something about the risen Jesus that no one had made quite so clear before? Who would deny that?
Story:
Once upon a time a great woman’s softball coach had to retire because her family was moving away. The young women on the team were terribly disappointed because she was such a good coach and so sympathetic to all their problems. However, they thought that maybe she agreed to the family move because she was so fed up the adolescent personalities on her team. When she said good by to them, she told them that they had great potential if they’d only chill out and play their very best. Well, they made it very difficult for the next quote who quit before the year was over. The next year they stumbled and bumbled through the season but made it to the play offs. No one gave them a chance to get beyond the first round. They were a bunch of spoiled cry babies. Then when the opening game of the playoffs began, they saw their old coach in the stands. She waved at them and smiled. They knew they were being forgiven for all their miscues and idiocies. She loved them even when they were nerds. So they played like their lives depended on it and won the championship.
(art: Georges Rouault Christ and the fishers of men)

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, APRIL 28, 2019 READINGS WITH HOMILY BY FR. ANDREW GREELY AND REFLECTION BY BISHOP FULTON SHEEN

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second sunday of easter

Reading 1 acts 5:12-16

Many signs and wonders were done among the people
at the hands of the apostles.
They were all together in Solomon’s portico.
None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them.
Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord,
great numbers of men and women, were added to them.
Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets
and laid them on cots and mats
so that when Peter came by,
at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.
A large number of people from the towns
in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered,
bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits,
and they were all cured.

Responsorial Psalm 118″2-4,13-15, 22-24

R. (1) Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:
R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 rev 1:9-13, 17-19

I, John, your brother, who share with you
the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,
found myself on the island called Patmos
because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus.
I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day
and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said,
“Write on a scroll what you see.”
Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me,
and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands
and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man,
wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest.

When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead.
He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid.
I am the first and the last, the one who lives.
Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.
I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.
Write down, therefore, what you have seen,
and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.”

Alleluia jn 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel jn 2-:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

ANDREW GREELY HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel(2001)

Background:

Often this Gospel is used as an occasion to prove the Church’s control of the forgiveness of sins and even to demand more frequent confession. The Church, in this perspective, has a monopoly on forgiveness and must be stern in its use. Patently this narrowly circumscribes the passionate forgiveness of God which Jesus came to reveal. God may be generous with forgiveness, it is implied, but the Church cannot and should not. Yet the story of Thomas, immediately after suggests that such an interpretation of the words of Jesus missed the points. Believing in Jesus, the Risen Lord, even when we do not see him, compels us to live as forgiving people. Sometimes it is very hard to realize that we must believe if we are live the unusual life Jesus calls us to.

Story:

Once upon a time not so very long ago, 16-year-old twin brothers received invitations to the big party the senior basketball players were throwing at the lake over the Memorial Day weekend. Now the twins knew their parents would not be too pleased at the idea of them attending this party, especially since the parents knew that the party thrower’s parents believed that they should supply beer for their son’s parties as a way to control the amount of drinking the young people did. The twin’s parents were well aware of the beer, hard liquor, and drugs that the partygoers would bring on their own. The twins decided they would wait until a day or two before the party to tell their parents about the event, hoping that would give the parents less time to check up on the party plans. Of course, as most teenagers do, the twins underestimated their parents and the parental grapevine that spread the word about goings on at the school. The twins also forgot that the weekend of the party was the weekend of their Grandfather’s 75th birthday and that the family was traveling to another city for the celebration. On the Wednesday before the weekend they told their parents about the party, only to be reminded about their grandfather’s party. Of course, the boys tried to find reasons why it would be ok for them to skip Grandpa’s party. They were quickly reminded that they did not have an option on this. It was a family gathering. All the relatives would be there, including the cousins they that are constantly begging their parents to invite for a visit. And so the twins went to the family party, complaining all the way there and all they way home about how unfair it was that they had to miss the party at the lake. Shortly before they arrived home, they heard a radio flash about an automobile accident that had killed two teens and injured four others. The car was coming from the basketball team party and one of the teens that was killed and one that was injured were juniors and friends of the twins.The driver of that car had an alcohol level well above that of sobriety.

 

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Life Of Christ) Reflection

His was not the frivolous skepticism of indifference of hostility to truth; he wanted knowledge in order to have faith. Thomas’ doubts arose, for the most part, from his despondency and from the depressing influence of sorrow and isolation; for he was a man apart from his fellows. Sometimes a man who misses a meeting misses much. If the minutes of the first meeting were written they would have contained the tragic words of the Gospel: “Thomas was not there.” The rebuking words of Our Lord to Thomas – to be doubting no longer – also contained an exhortation to belief and to shake off his gloom, which was his besetting sin.”

EASTER READINGS APRIL 21, 2019 WITH HOMILY BY POPE FRANCIS

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Easter Sunday
The Resurrection of the Lord

Reading 1 acts 10:34, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Responsorial Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

R. (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 col 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

Sequence victimae paschali laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.

Alleluia 1 cor 5:7-8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed;
let us then feast with joy in the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel jn 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

HOMILY BY POPE FRANCIS EASTER VIGIL 2019

1.       The women bring spices to the tomb, but they fear that their journey is in vain, since a large stone bars the entrance to the sepulcher. The journey of those women is also our own journey; it resembles the journey of salvation that we have made this evening.  At times, it seems that everything comes up against a stone: the beauty of creation against the tragedy of sin; liberation from slavery against infidelity to the covenant; the promises of the prophets against the listless indifference of the people.  So too, in the history of the Church and in our own personal history.  It seems that the steps we take never take us to the goal.  We can be tempted to think that dashed hope is the bleak law of life.

Today however we see that our journey is not in vain; it does not come up against a tombstone.  A single phrase astounds the woman and changes history: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5).  Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones?  Why do you give into resignation and failure?  Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside.  God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness.  Human history does not end before a tombstone, because today it encounters the “living stone” (cf. 1 Pet 2:4), the risen Jesus.  We, as Church, are built on him, and, even when we grow disheartened and tempted to judge everything in the light of our failures, he comes to make all things new, tooverturn our every disappointment.  Each of us is calledtonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones.  So let us first ask:What is the stone that I need to remove, what is its name?

Often what blocks hope is the stone ofdiscouragement.Once we start thinking that everything is going badly and that things can’t get worse, we lose heart and come to believe that death is stronger than life.  We become cynical, negative and despondent.  Stone upon stone, we build within ourselves a monument to our own dissatisfaction:the sepulcher of hope. Life becomes a succession of complaints and we grow sick in spirit.  A kind of tomb psychology takes over: everything ends there, with no hope of emerging alive.  Butat that moment, we hear once more the insistent question of Easter:Why do you seek the living among the dead?The Lord is not to be found in resignation.  He is risen; he is not there.  Don’t seek him where you will never find him: he is not the God of the dead but of the living (cf. Mk 22:32).  Do not bury hope!

There is another stone that often seals the heart shut: the stone of sin.  Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death.  Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away.  Why do you seek the living among the dead?  Why not make up your mind to abandon that sin which, like a stone before the entrance to your heart, keeps God’s light from entering in?  Why not prefer Jesus, the true light (cf. Jn1:9), to the glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure?  Why not tell the empty things of this world that you no longer live for them, but for the Lord of life?

2.       Let us return to the women who went to Jesus’ tomb.  They halted in amazement before the stone that was takenaway.  Seeing the angels, they stood there, the Gospel tells us, “frightened, and bowed their faces to the ground” (Lk 24:5).  They did not have the courage to look up.  How often do we do the same thing? We preferto remain huddled within our shortcomings, cowering in our fears.   It is odd, but why do we do this?  Not infrequently because, glum and closed up within ourselves, we feel in control, for it is easier to remain alone in the darkness of our heart than to open ourselves to the Lord.  Yet only he can raise us up.  A poet once wrote: “We never know how high we are.  Till we are called to rise” (E. Dickinson).  The Lord calls us to get up, to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death: Why do you seek the living among the dead?

God asks us to view life as he views it, for in each of us he never ceases to see an irrepressible kernel of beauty.  In sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived.  Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand.  In Easter he shows you how much he loves that life: even to the point of living it completely, experiencing anguish, abandonment, death and hell, in order to emerge triumphant to tell you: “You are not alone; put your trust in me!”.

Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life, our mourning into dancing (cf. Ps 30:11).  With him, we too can experience a Pasch, that is, a Passover– from self-centredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence.  Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus.  His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged.  This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: his love does not change.  Let us ask ourselves:In my life, where am I looking?Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?

3.       Why do you seek the living among the dead?    The women hear the words of the angels, who go on to say: “Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee” (Lk 24:6).  Those woman had lost hope, because they could notrecall the words of Jesus, his call that took place inGalilee.  Having lost the living memory of Jesus, they kept looking at the tomb.  Faith always needs to go back to Galilee, to reawaken its first love for Jesus and his call: to remember him, to turn back to him with all ourmind and all our heart.  To return to a lively love of the Lord is essential.  Otherwise, ours is a “museum” faith, not an Easter faith.  Jesus is not a personage from the past; he is a person living today.  We do not know him from history books; we encounter him in life.  Today, let us remember how Jesus first called us, how he overcame our darkness, our resistance, our sins, and how he touched our hearts with his word.

The women, remembering Jesus, left the tomb.  Easter teaches us that believersdo not linger at graveyards, for they are called to go forth to meet the Living One.  Let us ask ourselves:In my life, where am I going?  Sometimes we go only in the direction of our problems, of which there are plenty, and go to the Lord only for help.  But then, it is our own needs, not Jesus, to guide our steps.  We keep seeking the Living Oneamong the dead.  Or again, how many times, once we have encountered the Lord, do we return to the dead, digging up regrets, reproaches, hurts and dissatisfactions, without letting the Risen One change us?

Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the centre of our lives. Let us ask for the grace not to be carried by the current, the sea of our problems;the grace not to run aground on the shoals of sin or crash on the reefs of discouragement and fear.  Let us seek him in all things and above all things.  With him, we will rise again.

PALM SUNDAY READINGS APRIL 14, 2019 with POPE FRANCIS HOMILY

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Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

At the procession with palms – Gospel LK 19:28-40

Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany
at the place called the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples.
He said, “Go into the village opposite you,
and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered
on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you,
‘Why are you untying it?’
you will answer,
‘The Master has need of it.'”
So those who had been sent went off
and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
“Why are you untying this colt?”
They answered,
“The Master has need of it.”
So they brought it to Jesus,
threw their cloaks over the colt,
and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of his disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed:
“Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest.”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
“Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
He said in reply,
“I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!”

At the Mass – Reading I IS 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Responsorial Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24

R. (2a)  My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Reading 2 Phil 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Verse Before the Gospel PHIL 2:8-9

Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.

Gospel LK 22:14-23:56

When the hour came,
Jesus took his place at table with the apostles.
He said to them,
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,
for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again
until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said,
“Take this and share it among yourselves;
for I tell you that from this time on
I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine
until the kingdom of God comes.”
Then he took the bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body, which will be given for you;
do this in memory of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which will be shed for you.

“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me
is with me on the table;
for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined;
but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.”
And they began to debate among themselves
who among them would do such a deed.

Then an argument broke out among them
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
He said to them,
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’;
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded
to sift all of you like wheat,
but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail;
and once you have turned back,
you must strengthen your brothers.”
He said to him,
“Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.”
But he replied,
“I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day,
you will deny three times that you know me.”

He said to them,
“When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals,
were you in need of anything?”
“No, nothing, ” they replied.
He said to them,
“But now one who has a money bag should take it,
and likewise a sack,
and one who does not have a sword
should sell his cloak and buy one.
For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me,
namely, He was counted among the wicked;
and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.”
Then they said,
“Lord, look, there are two swords here.”
But he replied, “It is enough!”

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives,
and the disciples followed him.
When he arrived at the place he said to them,
“Pray that you may not undergo the test.”
After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling,
he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing,
take this cup away from me;
still, not my will but yours be done.”
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.
He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently
that his sweat became like drops of blood
falling on the ground.
When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples,
he found them sleeping from grief.
He said to them, “Why are you sleeping?
Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached
and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas.
He went up to Jesus to kiss him.
Jesus said to him,
“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked,
“Lord, shall we strike with a sword?”
And one of them struck the high priest’s servant
and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus said in reply,
“Stop, no more of this!”
Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him.
And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards
and elders who had come for him,
“Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
Day after day I was with you in the temple area,
and you did not seize me;
but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”

After arresting him they led him away
and took him into the house of the high priest;
Peter was following at a distance.
They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it,
and Peter sat down with them.
When a maid saw him seated in the light,
she looked intently at him and said,
“This man too was with him.”
But he denied it saying,
“Woman, I do not know him.”
A short while later someone else saw him and said,
“You too are one of them”;
but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.”
About an hour later, still another insisted,
“Assuredly, this man too was with him,
for he also is a Galilean.”
But Peter said,
“My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.”
Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed,
and the Lord turned and looked at Peter;
and Peter remembered the word of the Lord,
how he had said to him,
“Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly.
The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.
They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying,
“Prophesy!  Who is it that struck you?”
And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met,
both chief priests and scribes,
and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.
They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, ”
but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,
and if I question, you will not respond.
But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated
at the right hand of the power of God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied to them, “You say that I am.”
Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony?
We have heard it from his own mouth.”

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
They brought charges against him, saying,
“We found this man misleading our people;
he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.”
Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
“I find this man not guilty.”
But they were adamant and said,
“He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,
from Galilee where he began even to here.”

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean;
and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was very glad to see Jesus;
he had been wanting to see him for a long time,
for he had heard about him
and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.
He questioned him at length,
but he gave him no answer.
The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,
stood by accusing him harshly.
Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,
and after clothing him in resplendent garb,
he sent him back to Pilate.
Herod and Pilate became friends that very day,
even though they had been enemies formerly.
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people
and said to them, “You brought this man to me
and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.
I have conducted my investigation in your presence
and have not found this man guilty
of the charges you have brought against him,
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out,
“Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us.”
— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion
that had taken place in the city and for murder. —
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,
but they continued their shouting,
“Crucify him!  Crucify him!”
Pilate addressed them a third time,
“What evil has this man done?
I found him guilty of no capital crime.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
With loud shouts, however,
they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,
and their voices prevailed.
The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.
So he released the man who had been imprisoned
for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,
and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away
they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,
who was coming in from the country;
and after laying the cross on him,
they made him carry it behind Jesus.
A large crowd of people followed Jesus,
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said,
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
‘Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green
what will happen when it is dry?”
Now two others, both criminals,
were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull,
they crucified him and the criminals there,
one on his right, the other on his left.
Then Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
They divided his garments by casting lots.
The people stood by and watched;
the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;
and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,
“This man was innocent beyond doubt.”
When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened,
they returned home beating their breasts;
but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,
including the women who had followed him from Galilee
and saw these events.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who,
though he was a member of the council,
had not consented to their plan of action.
He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea
and was awaiting the kingdom of God.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
After he had taken the body down,
he wrapped it in a linen cloth
and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb
in which no one had yet been buried.
It was the day of preparation,
and the sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind,
and when they had seen the tomb
and the way in which his body was laid in it,
they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.
Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

CELEBRATION OF PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF OUR LORD

HOMILY OF  POPE FRANCIS

Saint Peter’s Square. Sunday, 20 March 2016

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (cf. Lk 19:38), the crowd of Jerusalem exclaimed joyfully as they welcomed Jesus. We have made that enthusiasm our own: by waving our olive and palm branches we have expressed our praise and our joy, our desire to receive Jesus who comes to us. Just as he entered Jerusalem, so he desires to enter our cities and our lives. As he did in the Gospel, riding on a donkey, so too he comes to us in humility; he comes “in the name of the Lord”. Through the power of his divine love he forgives our sins and reconciles us to the Father and with ourselves.

Jesus is pleased with the crowd’s showing their affection for him. When the Pharisees ask him to silence the children and the others who are acclaiming him, he responds:“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19:40). Nothing could dampen their enthusiasm for Jesus’ entry. May nothing prevent us from finding in him the source of our joy, true joy, which abides and brings peace; for it is Jesus alone who saves us from the snares of sin, death, fear and sadness.

Today’s liturgy teaches us that the Lord has not saved us by his triumphal entry or by means of powerful miracles. The Apostle Paul, in the second reading, epitomizes in two verbs the path of redemption: Jesus “emptied” and “humbled” himself (Phil 2:7-8). These two verbs show the boundlessness of God’s love for us. Jesus emptied himself: he did not cling to the glory that was his as the Son of God, but became the Son of man in order to be in solidarity with us sinners in all things; yet he was without sin. Even more, he lived among us in “the condition of a servant” (v. 7); not of a king or a prince, but of a servant. Therefore he humbled himself, and the abyss of his humiliation, as Holy Week shows us, seems to be bottomless.

The first sign of this love “without end” (Jn 13:1) is the washing of the feet. “The Lord and Master” (Jn 13:14) stoops to his disciples’ feet, as only servants would have done. He shows us by example that we need to allow his love to reach us, a love which bends down to us; we cannot do any less, we cannot love without letting ourselves be loved by him first, without experiencing his surprising tenderness and without accepting that true love consists in concrete service.

But this is only the beginning. The humiliation of Jesus reaches its utmost in the Passion: he is sold for thirty pieces of silver and betrayed by the kiss of a disciple whom he had chosen and called his friend. Nearly all the others flee and abandon him; Peter denies him three times in the courtyard of the temple. Humiliated in his spirit by mockery, insults and spitting, he suffers in his body terrible brutality: the blows, the scourging and the crown of thorns make his face unrecognizable. He also experiences shame and disgraceful condemnation by religious and political authorities: he is made into sin and considered to be unjust. Pilate then sends him to Herod, who in turn sends him to the Roman governor. Even as every form of justice is denied to him, Jesus also experiences in his own flesh indifference, since no one wishes to take responsibility for his fate. And I think of the many people, so many outcasts, so many asylum seekers, so many refugees, all of those for whose fate no one wishes to take responsibility. The crowd, who just a little earlier had acclaimed him, now changes their praise into a cry of accusation, even to the point of preferring that a murderer be released in his place. And so the hour of death on the cross arrives, that most painful form of shame reserved for traitors, slaves and the worst kind of criminals. But isolation, defamation and pain are not yet the full extent of his deprivation. To be totally in solidarity with us, he also experiences on the Cross the mysterious abandonment of the Father. In his abandonment, however, he prays and entrusts himself: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Hanging from the wood of the cross, beside derision he now confronts the last temptation: to come down from the Cross, to conquer evil by might and to show the face of a powerful and invincible God. Jesus, however, even here at the height of his annihilation, reveals the true face of God, which is mercy. He forgives those who are crucifying him, he opens the gates of paradise to the repentant thief and he touches the heart of the centurion. If the mystery of evil is unfathomable, then the reality of Love poured out through him is infinite, reaching even to the tomb and to hell. He takes upon himself all our pain that he may redeem it, bringing light to darkness, life to death, love to hatred.

God’s way of acting may seem so far removed from our own, that he was annihilated for our sake, while it seems difficult for us to even forget ourselves a little. He comes to save us; we are called to choose his way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves. Let us walk this path, pausing in these days to gaze upon the Crucifix; it is the “royal seat of God”. I invite you during this week to gaze often upon this “royal seat of God”, to learn about the humble love which saves and gives life, so that we may give up all selfishness, and the seeking of power and fame. By humbling himself, Jesus invites us to walk on his path. Let us turn our faces to him, let us ask for the grace to understand at least something of the mystery of his obliteration for our sake; and then, in silence, let us contemplate the mystery of this Week.


© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

(PAINTING: William Blake’ Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem)