Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ever to be adored

Today is the first Sunday after Pentecost, which ends the Great Fifty Days of Easter. We are back to what is called Ordinary Time of the Church calendar. However, there really is no “ordinary time” in the life of the Church, because a single Holy Mass offered any-time is of infinite value. Every Holy Mass offered anytime gives us the opportunity to come in intimate contact with the Blessed Trinity; to become united to the Son, and through the Son, to be united to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Our Final Goal is in fact, the Holy Trinity and to be One with the Holy Trinity, Who is the God who is Love. And this is the reason why the truth of the Holy Trinity is the key pillar of the Christian faith and so why we celebrate liturgically this great Solemnity right after Pentecost. However, every single Holy Mass on Sunday or Weekday is a celebration of the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity.

It took a few centuries for Church to try to discuss the Trinity in ways that are true to the mystery; and as a result, we say that the Trinity consists of three persons with one nature in perfect unity. Personally, we can have a great deal of trouble trying to contemplate this Mystery of all mysteries and so it is very easy to fall into error. And many have fallen into errors in their understanding of the Blessed Trinity especially in our day.

For example, many in our own day think that Jesus was a great guy and a great teacher-prophet; and that he had a unique relationship with the Father, but nonetheless He was still merely just human like the rest of us, a person to admire but not a God to be adored. In the end, they deny that He is equal to the Father; that He is God and always was fully God and always will be God, the living God to be adored. Many such as the Muslims, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons outright deny the Trinity even though God Himself, Jesus revealed the Trinity; and as God He could neither deceived nor be deceived. Like all the Mysteries of our Faith we believe ultimately because Jesus said so; He revealed them with authority because He alone came from the Father.

In speaking of the Holy Trinity, simply stated, the mystery of the Holy Trinity states that there is one God in three Divine Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, yet there is only one God, not three Gods, - one divine nature in three distinct divine Persons. The Divine nature is not divided between the persons of the Blessed Trinity; each person shares in the fullness of the Divine nature, yet the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, etc.

It doesn't work to think mathematically (i.e. one plus one plus one equals one). No we must think in terms of love to begin to understand the Trinity. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to think about the Trinity is their essential unity, a unity which comes from Perfect Love. The Three Persons of the Trinity are One in Perfect Love. Let's use the example of Human love to helps us understand.

We understand that when we love someone we want to be close to them; in fact if we really love them we want to be one with them- the expression of "one mind and one heart comes to mind." We say this because we love someone. Our love gives us the intention to live our lives with our loved one in a way that not only proves our undying love and fidelity, but moves towards a more perfect unity, a unity of love. We understand this intention and yet we understand how hard it is to accomplish. Yet, we do try; hopefully. For example, a man and a woman who love each other desire to give their whole selves to each other in marital love--to be one in mind, heart and spirit; when we see someone who loves like this we even say they are of one heart and mind.

For the Holy Trinity, however, love is not just intentional; it is completely real. In other words, They don’t just intend to love each other perfectly as we do, They are able and do love each other perfectly. Each member of the Trinity gives of Himself totally, perfectly to each other, nothing held back; and this total sacrificial gift of themselves unites them in perfect oneness, the oneness of perfect love.

The Fathers of the Church liked to say that the Holy Spirit is the substantial love between the Father and the Son. Their quality is essentially one- unity is the most important. God is Love, the Father is Love, the Son is Love, the Holy Spirit is Love; three persons united so perfectly in Love that they are a unity of one God; love unites--perfect Love unites perfectly.

The Holy Trinity is a mystery; however not to be solved, but to be professed and lived. The Mystery of the Holy Trinity reveals to us that we are called to greatness for we are called to the oneness of Love itself. We are actually called to share in the inner life and so the inner love of the members of the Blessed Trinity; to become one with the Trinity. The Trinity is our destiny. How important our understanding and belief is in the Trinitarian God. If we don't know what or for Whom we are made, how can we ever find our way back to Him, to live as one with Him. We are Made by Love and For Love; we are made to be One with Love--The Blessed Trinity.

And so we must in this life come to know the Blessed Trinity intimately. Before we can live in eternal Love itself--the Trinity, we must learned to love with perfection in this life, to be united in love with God and others for love of God. This is by the way, why unity is so important; unity in our families, unity in our Church on the Universal level, the local diocesan level, and the parish and unity among all Christians and among all men. There is no true love without unity; true love unites. This is why also, by the way, we must take an active part in family life; especially parish family life; giving of our time, talent and's a matter of love.

To obtain this unity of love we must of course have contact, intimate with Perfect Unity Itself, Perfect Love Itself, the Blessed Trinity. The Blessed Trinity is the source of all unity and all love; He is the source of true and authentic family life because He is Family, not a family but The Family.

How do we have intimate contact with the Trinity? Well yes through prayer, but especially prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament is the way to the Blessed Trinity of Divine Persons, for it is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus become Man. Through our adoration of the humanity of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist we can in faith touch the divinity of Jesus and so touch the Holy Trinity through the perfect Love and unity of the Son.

And then when we receive Jesus with faith in Holy Communion, He comes to us, in us; and through Him, the Father and Holy Spirit comes to us and in us as well and They make Their abode with us. As a result, when we receive Holy Communion worthily (and worthily is the key word here) we receive all Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. In the Holy Eucharist God gives Himself totally to us in love. And if in Faith, Adoration, Hope and love we offer ourselves to Him in return, we then begin to share already on earth, in the inner life and love of the members of Blessed Trinity. And the Trinitarian love is from whom we came and the greatness to which we are called to return.

Next we celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is more than just of feast of the Son present in the Holy Eucharist because it is, as I have just said, the means by which we adore and commune with the whole Blessed Trinity. It is a chance for us to not only profess publicly our faith in the Holy Eucharist but our faith in the Whole Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Let us all celebrate that great feast day by coming to Mass and then joining in the Eucharist procession after the Tridentine Mass. The procession will begin at about 1:30pm. Join us as we take Jesus through our streets and by doing so profess our faith that He is really in the Holy Eucharist and that He is the Way to the Father, and the Truth by which we live.

In a little while when we profess the Creed of our Beautiful Catholic faith, we will profess our belief in the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, let us turn to the Blessed Mother to help us. By her powerful intercession she can obtain for us the grace to elevate our poor human understanding to contemplate the unfathomable mystery of the Blessed Trinity. to Holy Mary, Our Heavenly Mother, you who are the Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, intercede for us, pray for us poor sinners so that we may be united to Living God in Love and to one another in that same love. Amen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Holy Spirit is one who came with many gifts on Pentecost.

Homily for Pentecost Sunday--John 20:19-23

Today we celebrate the birth of the Church. It is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles in the upper room. But not before they had spent the previous nine days in deep prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary, she who is the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is a day of momentous change- the frightened apostles locked in the upper room, from this point on, become bold witnesses to the salvation found only through Jesus Christ. It was the power of the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit who made this remarkable change happen in the lives of ordinary men like you and me.

The Holy Spirit is one who came with many gifts on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit gave the apostles seven-fold gifts of grace. These were supernatural gifts-gifts that enabled them to live for God alone and to stand up for His truth and do great deeds in witness to Him. When the power of the Holy Spirit came upon they became great witness throughout the world.

On the day of Pentecost the twelve boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus- that he died and rose again to save us from our sins; that although He ascended into heaven, He at the same time still remained on earth in the Holy Eucharist to save those who believe, adore, hope and love Him there. Let us look closer at these supernatural gifts that the Holy Spirit gave to them and will also give to us, if we but ask in heartfelt prayer. These supernatural gifts are: WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, FORTITUDE, COUNSEL, PIETY, AND FEAR OF THE LORD.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are added to our human efforts also known as our human virtues. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us in our human attempts at being good, at living a virtuous life, a life of holiness and faithfulness to God. Like the apostles, we all lack virtues, we are all weak to some degree or another; we are all too worldly. However, God in His infinite generosity desires to give us the Divine help. This help we need from on High is the Holy Spirit that we receive, through the sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist and through prayer.

The gift of wisdom gives us a spiritual awareness of the love of God and allows us to order and judge the things of this world from this perspective-we don’t put the things of this world before the Creator of things. The gift of wisdom helps us not only to know the things of God, but to experience them in our lives-to taste them so to speak through faith. Like St. Francis, through the beautiful things of creation, we experience the Creator. We know through the gift of wisdom that we live for God alone, and this deepens our adoration of Him.
In the gift of understanding, or also called the gift of intelligence, we are given the understanding of divine things, especially when we read the Holy Scriptures. With this gift, the Holy Spirit gives us the desire to know and understand better the truths of our Catholic faith and how they affect our relationship with Christ. We understand better God’s saving plan for our lives, it becomes relevant in our daily lives—We begin to see more clearly how to live our Catholic faith.

The gift of fortitude gives us strength. This strength is not just for doing extraordinary things; like martyrdom, but this gift also helps us in the ordinary struggles we have in life, especially our daily struggle against sin. With this gift the Christian does not compromise in fulfilling his duty even in the face of insults and unjust attacks. With this gift we become courageous and persevere on the path of truth and uprightness, in spite of a lack of understanding and hostility coming from others.

Another gift of the Holy Spirit that can help us in important decisions in our lives- what would be the best thing to do? This help comes from the gift of COUNSEL. The Gift of Counsel directs us in our everyday life. It helps us, to prudently choose the right thing to do in a given circumstance. The Gift of Counsel enlightens our conscience in the moral choices which daily life presents--we become moral persons. No matter how intricate and difficult the situation is, aided by this great Gift, we are better able to see what to do in a given situation.

The Gift of PIETY helps us to live out the commandment to love God and love our neighbor. True Piety is knowledge that God is love, that he loves us, and loves each person infinitely. Our response should be to love God more and to love those whom he loves. With this gift, the Holy Spirit heals our hearts of every form of hardness, and opens them to tenderness towards God and our brothers and sisters. With this gift, we feel urged to treat all people with great kindness and friendliness. We all need this gift, just think about how often each day we are called to love people who are hard to love.

Lastly, the Gift of the FEAR OF THE LORD is a special gift, which helps us to dread and avoid sin. The gift of fear is not like the fear we experience in a horror film or the fear of being hit by a lightening bolt from heaven. It is not a fear in which we are afraid of God. It is our sin, which causes us to fear God in this wrong way. The gift of fear from the Holy Spirit is a holy fear, a fear of not hurting someone who loves you. When we love someone, we want to avoid offending or hurting him. This is the type of fear we should have with our Lord This fear is like the fear of our child who loves his daddy so much that he fears doing anything that would offend Him. This gift of fear can help us to avoid sin, doing that what is offensive and displeasing to God and harmful to others and ourselves.

Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us with all of his gifts. We need these gifts so very much. He is an all knowing Expert who will guide us in our decisions and difficulties if we ask Him; He will help us to make the right choices in our lives, to choose this action or that; He will help us in our relationships, to get along better with those we love; He will help us in the times we have no idea what to do, situations that seem hopeless or impossible such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, failure in finding employment. And when we feel lost, if we cry out to the Holy Spirit, He will show us the way.

And most of all, The Holy Spirit will be a dearest friend by enlightening us to those things that keep us from a closer relationship to Him and the Father and the Son. He will, as a true friend, show us our sins so that we can be healed of them in the Sacrament of Confession. He will then make us pure of heart so that we can, through faith, see the face of God in the Holy Eucharist , adoring Him and receiving Him with great love. So that the Holy Spirit with the cooperation of the Virgin Mary and our worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist can rebirth Jesus anew in us so that we can be His witnesses throughout all the earth bring souls to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and through Him to the joys of heaven.

Veni Creator Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed the Virgin Mary, your well beloved spouse. Amen.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jesus is Heaven !

Luke 24; 46-53 Ascension. May 16th,2010

Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. As you know, when we pray the Rosary, the Ascension is mentioned as the second Glorious Mystery. Remember, every mystery of the rosary has a particular grace assigned to it; and as we announce and contemplate the mystery of the Ascension, we pray for an increase in the grace of Hope. which is a Theological Virtue.
The celebration of the Ascension strengthens and nourishes our hope that one day, if we remain faithful Disciples of Christ by keeping His word, His commandments, His teachings, especially His commandment of love, we will join Him in heaven with the Father and all the saints. As Jesus has taken His human nature, his human body and soul to heaven, so too someday He will take to heaven those humans who have loved Him not only in word but also in deed.
Christ has gone before us into heaven and so we know that we are called there as well, this is the source of our great hope in this present life which in its great anxieties, trials, and sufferings can so often seem devoid of hope. Pope Benedict XVI writes, "The meaning of Christ's Ascension expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity we share (with Him) has entered in the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God."....."we go to heaven to the extent we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him."
We could replace the word heaven in the pope’s comment with the word hope…we have hope to the extent we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him. Heaven is a person: "Jesus Himself is what we call heaven. And so to be in heaven means to be one with Jesus in a bond of endless love. This is our hope because Jesus is our hope.
This brings up one of the mistakes that many can make in their understanding about Christ ascension into heaven. The mistake is to think that Jesus is no longer with us here on earth. We can wrongly picture Jesus standing before the apostles and then floating up into the clouds disappearing from their sight. This is not what the language of the Gospel means. We have to understand the words of today's Gospel mystically; because they are speaking of great mysteries.
Mystically speaking what does it mean, as we are told in today's Gospel, "and he was taken up into heaven."? Well first of all Heaven is not a place up in the sky somewhere beyond the clouds or beyond the stars at the edge of the universe; nor is heaven some type of other dimension or parallel universe talk of which is so in vogue now a days; heaven is not the stuff of science fiction. Heaven is all around us because God is all around us. There is however a veil that separates heaven from us. Heaven goes beyond our senses; even though it is all around it transcends our ability to see it, touch it, taste it, hear it or smell it. Yet is more a reality around us than which we can sense; heaven transcends our senses.
To be taken up into heaven means then to enter through that veil or to have the veil removed; it is to go beyond our sense perception and behold that which we can only see now through the eyes of faith. To be taken up into heaven is to behold that reality above all other realities which no eye as seen, no ear has heard nor has never even entered into the mind of man. It is to see that God who is all around as He truly is, to behold Him face to face, which means to become One with Him in a eternal union of unending Love. Heaven is the ultimate reality, more real than what we can see, smell, hear, touch, or taste.
At His ascension then Jesus in His human body, entered through that veil and became the way, in fact the only way for us to enter through as well. And so Jesus' humanity has become a type of doorway or bridge from earth to heaven. And so where He has gone in His human nature we can also go with Him, in Him and through Him.
Hang with me here... Because of the ascension, Jesus' Human body is now present both on earth and in heaven at the same time. And so in His Human body heaven and earth become one. In Jesus, heaven and earth unite. Where Jesus is, is heaven; Jesus is heaven. And so as I said at the beginning, Jesus is the way to heaven and so As Pope Benedict said, " we go to heaven to the extent we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him."
The fact of the matter is, and this is very, very important to understand....the fact of the matter is, Jesus is still on earth. Not just spiritually, not just in the minds and hearts of the faithful, not just mystically in his body the Church. Jesus is still present on earth in his human, corporal, physical and resurrected body. His human body, with all that makes up a human body: His hands and feet, His bones and blood and yes, His Human Heart alive and beating.
The ascension was merely the end of His visible presence on earth, not the end of His physical presence on earth. Don't ever say, "when Jesus was on earth; and if you hear someone else say that correct them immediately. To say when Jesus was on earth is heresy. Jesus is still on earth, He is still on earth; He is still on earth.
But where is the body of Jesus on earth as it is in heaven? In the Holy Eucharist of course. When we are in the presence of the Holy Eucharist we are at the same time both on earth and in heaven at the same time as well. Where Jesus is there is heaven. Whether we encounter the Holy Eucharist, which is Jesus in His resurrected and ascended body, at Mass or outside of Mass in the tabernacle or at hours of adoration through Jesus in the Holy Eucharist we enter through that veil that separates heaven and earth.
Yes we can't see with our human eyes the body of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist because we can't see Heaven. Yet, through faith we can know with certainty that He is really there and we can touch Him. "In faith God present in the Holy Eucharist can come to us, and show himself to the eyes of our heart."
Because Jesus is still on earth in the Holy Eucharist we discover that this, "The Mystery of Our Faith," is our hope in the present life of struggle and fear. But we must believe with our whole hearts and minds that He is really there in the tabernacle and on our altars after the words of consecration are spoken; and we must, we must, if we are to possess hope, live out that belief by adoring Him in the Holy Eucharist, falling on our knees and crying out in love, "Oh my God I believe, please help my unbelief. The Eucharist is our resurrected and ascended Lord. The Eucharist is Jesus and where Jesus is there is our hope, there is Heaven on earth.
Faith alone helps us to believe that just as Jesus is present in a human body at the right hand of His father, He will shortly be present in His human body on this very altar. And faith in this true bodily presence is the cause of our hope…Jesus in His body has never left earth, He is still here in His Body in the Eucharist. Those who believe this have hope, those who do not have no hope…Those who adore Jesus frequently in faith, not only at Mass but before His true bodily presence in the tabernacle, will have their hope increased that one day they shall see Jesus as He is, the veil of the appearance of bread and wine will be lifted from their minds and they will be with Him and in Him forever…Let us turn to Our Lady for help…Holy Mary, Mother of our hope, Queen of Peace, pray for us. Come Holy Spirit, Come by means of the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your well-beloved spouse. Amen.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sixth Sunday in Easter. May 9th, 2010

The last few weeks we have been speaking about the deepest form of love known to man, that of Agape love. Agape love is a sacrificial love, a human love elevated to the divine. Agape love is only possible in a human heart to the degree that that human heart offers itself in love to the God who loved us first.

Our Gospel today shows us how God loved us first. Our Lord here, is preparing to enter into His passion and death in which he would prove his love for us with the greatest act of agape love the world as ever seen. Jesus in divine love would totally pour Himself out sacrificially for love of each one of us on the Cross.
And so, it is in the preparation for His passion that Jesus says to us, “If a man love me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home with him.” Loving Jesus first and foremost is the key to the Father’s Love.

But this love for Jesus must be shown and expressed through action. Love is shown in deeds, not in sweet words. And so love is shown in obedience to God's Word. Obeying God’s word means keeping His commandments and living His teachings, which come to us through His Holy Church. It is in and through the Church that we have been promised the Holy Spirit to help us understand this truth and to be our helper in living it in our lives.

It is this obedience to the truth in our lives that brings us the peace that the world can not give…because the world rejects this truth and refuses to live in obedience to it, the world has no peace. Rejection of the truth is ultimately a refusal to love God, by refusing to live one’s life in obedience to the truth that comes from God. The result is a lack of peace. And if there is one thing that defines our world today, it is a lack of peace.

I think it was Pope VI that once said, peace is much more than just a lack of war. People in the world mistakenly think that all of our advancements in technology are going to give us peace and make us happy. Instead, in the last thirty to forty years the increases in the amount of crime, violence, and moral degradation in our society have surpassed what many of us never dreamed possible, not to mention the fear of terrorism and war. Peace is more elusive than ever and what takes it’s place is a general feeling of insecurity and fear. Everyone deep down knows things are not as they should be, and this leads to an increase of fear, fear of what the future may hold.

As result, we see a fear of giving oneself in love for another; fear of making lifelong commitments in marriage and in one’s vocation; fear of bringing new life into the world; and above all, fear of not being loved. Psychiatrists and other therapist are literally swamped with clients, depression is rampant, and suicide is on the increase, especially among our youth, who have more material goods than any other generation in history.

And what is the remedy that most turn to in order to alleviate this fear which stems from a lack of peace? Diversion; noise, lots of noise, TV, music, sex, computer games, pornography, drugs- baseless entertainment and amusement, the list is long. Our generation craves diversion, because it lacks peace. What is the solution?

The solution is to turn back to the love of God by setting the diversions aside, especially the diversion of noise and returning in silence to the One who speaks in silence…the living and true God. In silence, alone with oneself and alone with God, we can hear the voice of God who speaks in the silence to our heart.

A few years ago there was a interesting movie that was all about silence before God. It was actually entitled, “Into the Great Silence.” This three hour movie about the lives of Carthusian monks, had hardly any spoken words at all, yet it the movie was a surprise hit. What is it that made this movie about silence so appealing to such a noisy world?

One of the comments about the monks in the movie is that they live in no fear…they live with peace, the peace that they have acquired through the years of silently nurturing their relationship with God. They have deepened their faith that they are indeed sons of a loving Father who loves them, each of them with a unique unfathomable love.

In their faith in Jesus Christ and their striving to live in obedience to His words found in Sacred Scripture and interpreted by the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church, they have found that solace that the human heart looks for, the solace that comes from living the world behind and living for love of God alone. And this is really the test in this life isn't it?; whether we turn to human beings and to the things of this world for our solace, or turn to God.

We don’t have to become Carthusion monks, but we do have to have the living obedient faith of Carthusion monks. In other words, we need show our love for Jesus by obeying His words, His commandments and teachings and trusting in Him alone. We need to come in contact with God in silent prayer, especially silent prayer before God in the Holy Eucharist.

Thank God, Jesus doesn’t leave us on our own to live the obedience of faith. The strength to do so comes from Jesus who ascended to the Father in victory but nevertheless returns to us through the Sacraments. Through the Sacraments Jesus provides us with the spiritual strength we need to show our love for the Father by obedience to His commandments and His will and so live in true peace.

By the way, this is what is meant at the sign of peace during the Mass. The sign of peace is not about us sharing our peace with one another…it is about receiving Christ’s peace. The priest looks down at Jesus truly present in the Eucharist as he says, “Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, I leave you peace my peace I give you…and then the priest receives it from the Eucharist and offers it to the people whose hearts are open to it, by saying the Peace of Christ be with you…He then invites those present to share Jesus peace with one other.

The Holy Father recently reminded us that this action is not meant to be a free for all…first and foremost we are sharing Jesus peace with one another, not our own peace. For this reason the sharing of the peace of Christ is to be done in a subdued manner with person next to you, who passes it on…it is not suppose to be an attempt to shake every single person’s hand around you. It’s not about us, it’s about Christ; the peace comes from Christ, not from each other and so our attention should stay on the Eucharist, not on each other.

The peace of Christ that comes to us is an assurance of spiritual, saving strength that goes beyond a simple gesture or simple words. The peace of the Lord is not given as the world gives peace. Christ’s peace is not an absence of conflict or suffering. It is a peace that comes from knowing that we are God’s children who depend totally on Him for everything-everything and that we will never have true peace until we turn to him for everything and love him above everything, above everything this world has to offer. It is a peace that comes from loving God and showing this love by living in obedience to his commandments and His Catholic Church.

Let us open our hearts to this Peace at this Holy Mass realizing the Mass is the sacrament instituted by Christ to bring the world peace. In fact, the more that faith in the Mass and the Holy Eucharist is lost, the more the Mass and the Eucharist is ignored or treated as a time for feel good noisy entertainment instead of a time for a silent intimate reverential encounter with the living God in adoration and worship, the more we will lack peace and live in fear.

If you want peace, come in silence before the Holy Eucharist and adore the living Jesus silently present there. It’s hard for us to do that because of the silence, the Eucharist makes no earthly noise, but it is in that silence before the living God truly present in the Holy Eucharist that we will find the peace that we are looking for, the peace that the world cannot give because it is in the Holy Eucharist that we will find the strength to love God with deeds, in obedience to His truth. And then, then we will be able to love Him with an agape love and love other’s with a agape love for love of Him, for He will come and make His Home in us, His own love alive in our souls and in our hearts.

On this Mother's day, I want to end with a saying from Mother Theresa of Calcutta. She learned agape love in adoration, in silent contemplation before the Eucharist. There she learned to see the true face of God in every suffering human being and showed her love for God by obedience to His word which resulted in her life of peace, lived in service to God and neighbor. Mother of Theresa said…
The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It is impossible to fulfill Jesus commandment of love without the Holy Eucharist

Homily for John 13: 31, 35 Fifth Sunday of Easter

Today we continue with the theme of the Gospels of the past few weeks- that is love; and particularly agape love. Two weeks ago, we read the account of Jesus meeting the apostles on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. That account points out two types of love; first a normal human love called philia (philiadephia, the city of brotherly love); and secondly a much higher human love that is infused, elevated with supernatural love; this love is called Agape.

There next to a fire Jesus asks Peter twice if Peter agape loved him; that is did Peter love Jesus with a supernatural love; after Peter responded to the same question twice with a very reserved, yes Jesus I love you with a philia love, that is a normal human brotherly love, Jesus asked Peter the last time, Peter do you really even philia love me? Peter was cut to the quick.

In this dialogue with Jesus, Peter discovered that he needed grace to be able to love Jesus even with a fully human love. But even more so how much did Peter then need grace to love Jesus with an agape love, a sacrificial love in which Peter would lay down his life for the sake of his flock in imitation of Jesus the Good shepherd.
It was only when Peter learned this lesson that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, made Peter, as we heard last week, made Peter the chief Shepherd of the flock of Christ on earth; and as consequence gave the charge to Peter to feed the sheep and tend the lambs, so they too could love with a agape, supernatural love.

And so today, we hear Jesus giving the new commandment of Love, not just to Peter, but to each one of us. Jesus tells us to love one another as He has loved us. And how has he loved us? He has loved us with an agape love, a self-sacrificing love, a fully human love and at the same time a fully divine love.

What a commandment!!! We are not only invited to agape love, to love with our human love elevated to a divine love, but we are actually commanded to do so. Since Jesus first loved us and showed us the way of agape love, and since he now provides us with the means to love in this way through the grace and the power of the sacraments, we really have no excuse to fail in living this commandment of love.
And so Jesus doesn’t just command us his followers to do good and to avoid evil, Authentic Christianity is not just about being good; that's boring; even the pagans can do that. No authentic Christianity is about love, crazy out of this world love.

Jesus has the audacity to command us with a divine imperative, to love with his own heart, with his own love, and to love not only our friends in this way, but dare I say even our enemies as well. This is the distinguishing mark of the true Disciples of Christ, a love that goes beyond the philia love of the non-believers, a love that reflects the very heart of God. This is the love for which we have been made.
This is agape love better known as charity, is a love which surpasses the love of the pagans.

Yes, pagans can "be good" sometimes even more so than believers, but they cannot in any way, love with the love of Jesus alive in them, only believers can do this. Yes, pagans may feed and clothe the poor, care for the sick and even give their lives for someone, but they can't do it Jesus alive in their souls; they can't do these things, through Jesus, with Jesus and in Jesus for Love of Jesus.

In the movie “A.D.” which is a movie about the Acts of the Apostles, there is poignant scene which shows the disciples recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Once they recognize him in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus visible presence disappears. Then the disciples with their hearts still on fire, because Jesus is still physically with them in the Holy Eucharist, turn to each other and say, “Soon it will be night and we will be questioned about our love.”

The point is of course, soon, very very soon, much sooner than we image… you and I will stand literally stand before Jesus, love Himself, and He will question us about our love…in other words, did we follow His great commandment of love, assisted by His love which comes to us through the sacraments of the Church and through intimate prayer with Him.

The Master Jesus’ commandment is clear. He has given us an example of how we are to love by his own life and death and through the power of His resurrection provided us with the power to do so. This commandment is still a new commandment, because very few people have taken the trouble to practice it. The others, the majority of men, both in the past and still today, have chosen to ignore it. Their selfishness has led them to the conclusion: “Why should I complicate my life? I have more than enough to do just looking after myself. “Such an attitude, as one saint said, is not good enough for us Christians. This saint went on to say, “If we profess faith and are eager to follow in the clear footprints left by Christ when He visibly walked on this earth, then we cannot be content with merely doing good to others and avoiding doing evil to them. That is a lot, yes, but it is still very little when we consider that our love is to be measured in terms of Jesus’ own conduct and love... Some people say that it is impossible for us to live and to love like this, but the lives of countless saints from St. Peter to Mother Theresa of Calcutta has proved it is possible, but only with the grace of Jesus Christ given to us in the Sacraments of the Church especially that Most Blessed of all Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist which is Jesus Himself; the God who is love.

Jesus said this type of love is the very sign of Christian living, “by this love shall all men know that you are my disciples.” The early pagan world was converted by the fact that the early Christians lived this Commandment of Christ; the pagans would say about the Christians, “See how they love one another. Our once Christian, but now pagan country can be reconverted in the same way. But only if they can say about us the same as the said about the early Christians....see how they love...
As we go about in our day, we have the opportunity to receive love from Jesus, who always loves us with agape love. He is always willing to give us His love, so that we can love others, whether it is our family or a difficult co-worker. Each week we come to Mass to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, to be filled with His love so that we can live out this commandment to love one another thus sharing Christ's own love with the world.

It must be said, that it is impossible to fulfill Jesus commandment of love without the Holy Eucharist, which is why we are commanded to come to Mass every single week at least and to adore Him during times of adoration whenever we can. By his death and resurrection He has provided us with the means to love with his own love, to love with his own heart. This means is of course the Holy Eucharist which is literally the Heart of Jesus and so the very Love of God; it has the power to transform us and our love into something new, something fully human and the same time something fully divine.