Sunday, April 27, 2014

Today as we celebrate this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we ask the newest saints of the Church, St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, to intercede for us. As you know Pope Francis Canonized them today in Rome; It is no coincident that these canonizations were celebrated today on the feast of Divine Mercy. These canonizations are a great gift to the Church just as is the Feast of Divine Mercy. It was John Paul himself who was primarily responsible for bringing the revelation given to St. Faustina on the infinite mercy of our Lord to the whole world. It was John XXIII who called the Second Vatican council in order to help bring the message of God’s mercy and love to a world quickly falling away from its Creator.

It is important to note that St. Faustina’s revelations which focused on the mystery of Divine mercy occurred just as two great evils in our age were taking shape, those of Nazism and Communism, which both denied any notion of objective truth-they were an attack on the truth especially about the truth of the dignity and sanctity of the Human Person. In a world, which seemed to be on the verge of being totally overtaken by these two evils, the one message that showed the world evil would not overcome the world was given to this obscure nun in Poland. And that message was and is this--that God is Mercy, and this mercy has a name, it is Jesus Christ, the merciful risen Savior—He is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it, nor will it ever overcome it. And even more, this Divine Mercy named Jesus is with us in Person in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is at the heart of the Message of Divine Mercy because It is Jesus and so is the font of God’s Mercy for us and the whole world. It is by faith, adoration, trust and love in the Eucharist that we shall call down God’s Mercy on us and on the whole world.

As these two evils were being overcome, that of Nazism and Communism, John Paul, who lived through both of them, saw very clearly that the source of these evils and every evil is Man trying to usurp the rights of the Creator God. Man rejects God as Creator and consequently rejects the very source determining what is good and evil. And so man tries to find happiness apart from God.

Since the fall of our first parents, Man has a tendency to put himself in the place of God, to be the creator of his own history and his own civilization. Alone, apart from God, man now decides what is good and what is bad. Man is now the one who would exist and operate, as if there were not a God. Another way of saying this is that man loves himself, more than he loves His creator—or as our Holy Father has put it, self-love to the point of contempt for God. It was this corrupt love of self that drove our first parents out of the garden, bringing sin and death into the world throughout human history.

The fruit of Divine mercy is this, that the Church has been given by the Holy Spirit the power to call evil by its name; in other words, to call sin for what it is, the cause of all unhappiness, pain and sorrow in the world. The Church however, calls sin for what it is, not to condemn the world, but so that we can over come evil by the power of Divine grace—grace which pours forth from the merciful heart of Christ. And we can only overcome the evil in our world if we open ourselves to the Mercy and love of God, to put our love for God over and above all else; and to love our neighbor as our self.

Our Holy Father points out that this is what divine mercy is all about. In Jesus Christ, through his suffering, death and resurrection (the Pascal mystery), God bends down over man to hold out a hand to him, to raise him up, and to help him continue his journey toward God with renewed strength. Man cannot get back onto his feet unaided; he needs the help of the Holy Spirit sent by God. However, if man refuses this help he commits the sin against the Holy Spirit, because man refuses the love and the mercy of God, since he believes himself to be God. He believes himself to be capable of self-sufficiency.

Our world needs the message of Divine mercy more than ever. Our world is proclaiming freedom, but too often it is freedom apart from truth, apart from God and His truth. Our world that says men must be “Free” to do what ever each one personally feels is right. However this is false freedom; because true freedom comes from not doing what we want, but from doing what we ought. True freedom gives us the ability to choose the good, the true and the Beautiful. It is the freedom of a child of God to do the right thing according to the truth that comes from God and has its source in God. And so it is the freedom to love, truly love and to be loved by Love.

As a result of this misuse of freedom, we now see replacing the evils of communism and Nazism a new type of extermination of the human person. So many died during these horrible regimes, but now we are seeing more and more the legal extermination of human beings conceived but unborn. And in these cases, the extermination is beginning legalized by democratically elected governments. This extermination is spilling over into other areas such as the destruction of the family as God has created it through the legal recognition of homosexual unions as an alternative type of family, with the right to equal rights and protection under the law, even to the point of adoption of children; even in some states forcing Catholic adoption agency to do so; Catholic agencies which have stopped adoptions whether than to go against their moral principles.

And too, we are now seeing the right to kill, euthanasia being more and more upheld in the courts. It has now become legal to refuse to give to another human person who is not dying, but who wishes to die or who someone wishes to have die, the very basic necessities of life--food and water. Not extraordinary care, mind you, but basic comfort care, on the same level as blankets and warmth. Back when the case of Terri Shiavo was in the headlines, someone told my mom that they would not want to live if they were like Terri Shiavo. My mother said, she would not want to be like Terri Shiavo either, but who are we to decide who lives and dies. Terri was not dying, she was only disabled--brain damaged but not brain dead. Other than her disability she was in good health, that is until food and water were taken away from her. Food and water are not life support, they are basic human needs; and unless one is at the point of death or cannot assimilate them, they must always be provided.

Additionally, we all must never forget the great value of suffering and its redemptive power of saving souls when it is united to the cross of Jesus. In fact, Blessed John Paul in His own great suffering at the end of his life taught as anew the value of suffering and the great dignity of the human person even amidst such sufferings. In his sufferings, John Paul has taught us anew that with the cross comes the grace of God through His mercy, not only to carry it, but to carry it with great joy, if we but trust in Him.

And this last point is the great proclamation of the message of Divine Mercy. It invites us to face with confidence, through the Divine benevolence of God, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come, and that we individually will face in the days and years to come. Evil has a limit, and for those who place their trust in God, it will not overcome them, just as it did not overcome the savior who defeated evil when HE rose triumphantly from the grave-Love won the victory.

The Paschal mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord made truly present for us at every Mass, continues to confirm that good is ultimately victorious, that life conquers death, that love triumphs over hate. The Limit imposed on evil which man is both the perpetrator and victim is ultimately Divine Mercy. Of course there is also justice, but this alone does not have the last word in the divine economy of the world. God can always draw good from evil, he wills that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth: God is love. Christ, crucified and risen, just as he appeared to Sister Faustina (point to picture), is the supreme revelation of this truth.

The message of Divine Mercy is then a call to a lively active faith, a faith that humbly submits in love to the revealed truth of God and then lives it out in loving deeds through the assistance of Grace; contrarily, a lack of lively loving faith only leads to despair and to a culture of death. God is mercy for all of those who turn their lives completely over to Him and live according to His truth, for He is truth itself—this is where true freedom lies, and where the way to life lies.

This faith and the power to live it comes first of all from the realization that the Divine Mercy of God in Jesus Christ is Son is still available to us on earth through His Catholic Church, in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is Divine Mercy Himself; and so, the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the authentic faithful loving Christian life.

The Eucharist is God Himself and so it just goes to reason that contact with the Eucharist in faith put us in touch with the Divine Power of God which is really the Divine Power of God’s Love. The Eucharist is the Risen Christ among us; the same Christ who defeated our greatest enemy by the power of Love. If we come before the Eucharist in faith, adoration, hope and love, not only at Holy Mass but also during Holy Hours of adoration or before Him in the tabernacle of our Churches then we can experience the Love of God, share in His victory of Love, and call down His Divine Mercy upon us and upon the whole World.

John Paul the second’s first words after he was elected Pope were the words of Mercy itself--Jesus, “do not be afraid.” Has You behold Jesus held up in front of you at this Holy Mass cried out to Him in your heart of hearts, Jesus I trust in Thee, Jesus I trust in Thee; Jesus I trust in Thee…Eternal Father, have Mercy on us and on the Whole world.

Jesus, help us not to be afraid for we place our trust in Thee. Help us not to just admire Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII, but to follow their example of fidelity to the truth of the Gospel revealed in the teachings of Your Church. For there is no meaning in life apart from the Truth, because Jesus you are the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life. Have Mercy on us and on the whole world. Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I trust in Thee, Jesus I trust in Thee, Jesus I trust in Thee!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

There was a body in the grave. It was cold, it was definitely a dead corpse, it did not breath, and the heart did not pump. You could see it; you could touch it. It looked no different than any other corpse. For those of you who have had a realistic experience with a dead body, you know that it is profound experience. When one sees a truly dead body, a corpse there is no doubt that it is dead. In my training as an EMT we were taught over and over how to check to see if a body was dead. Check the breathing, check the pulse, recheck. However, when my first opportunity of during CPR on a real body came, there was no doubt the person was dead. It was obvious.

The disciples of Jesus had such an experience with the dead body of Jesus. They saw it hanging on a tree. They saw the spear go deep into the side and without a doubt pierce the heart. They saw the blood and water come forth. They saw the corpse laid into Mary’s arms. The women touch it as they prepared it for burial.

What a profound experience then, it must have been to see the empty tomb. What vivid realism it must have impressed on Peter as he saw where the body was laid. This was the place without a doubt, their were soldiers guarding who would never let their guard down for fear of the punishment, which was the punishment of death.

St. John’s Gospels is filled with words to describe this profound experience of Peter. The whole scene in the tomb paints a picture of the resurrection. However, elements of this are lost in the translation, which are more apparent in the Greek language.

In the phrase “The linen clothes lying there” the Greek indicates that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose—as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being taken off, passing right through them (just has Jesus entered the upper room when the doors where locked). The Greek says the clothes where fallen, flat, lying, after Jesus’ body—which had filled them—left them. On can readily understand the amazement and realism that this conveyed on the witnesses to it.
The language to describe the shroud that wrapped Jesus head, says that it was not on the top of the clothes but to one side. It was like the clothes stilled rolled up, but unlike them, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments. It reminds me of paper mache formed around a balloon and then the balloon popped.

These details point to a body being raised in a heavenly manner, which transcended the laws of nature. It was not just a body being reanimated as happened in the case of Lazarus, who by the way had to be unbound before he could walk. Because of this unique experience of the state of the linens left behind the two Apostles realized that it was not a question of a robbery, which is what Mary Madgalene had thought

This realistic experience of the empty tomb left many facts perceptible to the human senses, but the resurrection still requires faith to be accepted. Christ’s resurrection is a real, historical fact: there was a dead body and it come back to life, literally. It was a real physical body that had its soul reunited to it. This was apparent because Thomas could touch it-he put his hands into the nail holes and into the pierced side, “My Lord and my God.” But yet, there was something also different about the body. It could pass through the burial cloth and walls. It could no longer suffer damage, decay, pain; it could no longer change.

The resurrection of Jesus, although historical, is also supernatural event, that is, it is far beyond our capacity in this life to totally understand. It transcends sense experience, it requires a special gift of God to accept it as a fact with certainty, and that gift is the gift of faith. As St. Thomas Aquinas says in his great work the Summa Theologica, “the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ’s resurrection but taken together, in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs specially the angelic testimony and Christ’s own post-resurrection words confirmed by miracles. (cf Jn3:13,; Mt 16:21; 17:22; 20:18).

This gift of faith in the resurrection is what we as believing Catholic Christians are celebrating with great joy this day. The apostles’ faith is strengthen through the Holy Triduum, the time from Thursday evening to Sunday morning. We too have just passed through this time, symbolically, in the Church’s celebration of this Holy time. But Christ has left us something even more remarkable to strengthen our faith and joy in the resurrection. He as left us the great mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

“At every celebration of the Eucharist, we are spiritually brought back to the pascal Triduum: to the events of the evening of Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper and to what followed it. We return to Good Friday, the hour of our redemption. In spirit and through the power and authority of the Holy priesthood, as the priest who acts in the person of Jesus Christ, we are all able to be present at the foot of the cross, present alongside St. John and the Blessed Virgin Mary. “This is the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the World, come let us adore! And we are present too at the empty tomb and are able to proclaim, “The Lord is risen from the tomb; for our sake he hung on the Cross, Alleluia.”
The Holy Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice, it does not it multiply it. It makes Christ’s one definitive sacrifice always present in time. But, the Holy Mass not only makes present the mystery of Christ’s passion and death, but also the mystery of the resurrection which crowned his sacrifice (EE:14).

As the Church’s great celebration of Easter was made possible the passion and death of Jesus, our share in its saving power is made possible by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At every Mass we are enable to be present at all of these events, not in mind, but in reality. And not only are we able to be present sacramentally, truly—we are able to share, here on earth, in the Joy of that eternal Easter in heaven.

The Holy Mass makes truly present, not only the saving events of our salvation but makes truly, sacramentally present the one who is our salvation—Jesus Christ and his self emptying sacficie of love for us. And so, at Masss we, by our baptism, are enabled to offer ourselves to the Father through Jesus Christ by uniting ourselves to Jesus’ one and only Sacrifice of Love. And we are also enable to receive Him into our bodies and souls and be transformed into His Body, into Love incarnate.

Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth as the first fruits of that eternal life. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world; “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day: This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact, that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection. With the Eucharist we digest, as it were the “secret” of the resurrection. For this reason Saint Ignatius of Antioch, rightly defined the Eucharist as “a medicine for immortality and antidote to death.

I took the last few sentences from an Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist released on Holy Thursday in 2003 by Blessed John Paul the Second. I recommend to all of you to read this incredible Letter.

In this encyclical John Paul points out that the Joy of the Resurrection is more than just a pipe dream in your life and mine. It is a tangible and livable reality because Jesus, the crucified and the resurrection one is still in our midst. He is truly here, not just in our hearts, not just in the proclamation of the word, not just in our community gathered, Jesus Christ is still physical with us. Let me repeat it, Jesus Christ is still physical with us, in his resurrected body, a real body, albeit a glorified one. Jesus Christ Emmanuel, He who promised he would be with us until the end of the ages, becomes physically, sacramentally present, IN HIS BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, and DIVINITY at this very Mass and He comes into us at Holy Communion. For this reason we know the grave is empty, there are no bones of Jesus in the ground anywhere. He lives again in His body which is present in its entirety in the Holy Eucharist

This is the reason for our Easter Joy! A joy that is real, because the Eucharist is real. A Joy that is obtainable in the midst of our sorrow, pain and death, because Jesus suffered sorrow, pain and death. But he has defeated death—He has risen! Jesus is the resurrection and the Life. Ever Holy Mass is an Easter, because At every Holy Mass we can encounter the the Risen Jesus in the Holy Eucharist…this is a real encounter with Him in His resurrected and now living body and if we have faith He will transform us into His otherselfs as His love for the world…O Come let us adore His resurrected body at this Mass in the Holy Eucharist which I acting in His person am about to make present—physically—sacramentally—truly, on this altar of Sacrifice.

Let us, as John Paul the Second has taught at the beginning of this new millennium, put out into the deep of Jesus’ love by offering ourselves totally to Him, with Him, in Him, to the Father. Let us adore Jesus--beholding the face of Jesus through the eyes of the Virgin Mary, she who will be with us to help us in our offering of ourselves. For we are weak and we need a mother’s help. Let us pray, to Jesus through her, “Hail true body that was born of Mary, the Virgin, that truly suffered and was offered in sacrifice on the cross for man and that gave forth true blood from its pierced side. Be to us a foretaste of heaven…”

Our sense fail to see the Risen one, but faith alone rooted in the words of Christ handed down to us by the Apostle is sufficient. Our words become the words of St. Peter spoken to our Lord after he revealed the mystery of the Eucharist and the necessity of eating His body and drinking His Blood in order to obtain eternal life…“Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). A BLESSED EASTER to all of you and your families.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Homily for Good Friday Passion of our Lord according to St. John

Each year on the Friday we call “good,” we read the beautiful account of our Lord’s passion and death according to the Gospel of St. John. The Church does this because it is St. John who reveals the deepest secrets of the heart of Jesus, the most precious and intimate words and gestures of Christ.

Many are the secrets that St. John reveals to those who look for them by meditating on St. John’s Gospel; I want to mention just a few of the secrets that St. John reveals and shares with us. There is the resting of St. John on the bosom--on the heart of Jesus; Jesus’ witness to the Truth before Pilate; the great gift of Mary to the beloved disciple; and the wounding of the heart of Jesus by the soldier’s lance. Much of course can be said, but I want to look more closely at one of the secrets I just mention, that of the great gift of Mary to the beloved disciple. I think that in this secret that St. John has given us a precious gift to help us enter into, and live more deeply the Pascal mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

The Virgin Mary is the one who stands with the strength of faith at the foot of the cross. The most extreme moment for our Lady is to watch her Son slowly being tortured to death, in fulfillment of all the prophecies about the death of the suffering servant, such as the one we heard in our first reading from Isaiah. Jesus gives the gift of His Mother to St. John, to help John’s faith in the midst of this terrible moment of Jesus suffering.

The gift of the Blessed Mother is a gift to John that will also help him in the terrible moments of his own sufferings to come. But through John, Jesus also gives this gift to us. Jesus gives us, as He gave St. John, the great gift of His Mother, as we too struggle with the darkness and suffering of our own sins. She is the gift to help us in our crosses, in all of our pains, sufferings and of course in the hour of our death. She is present to us to strengthen our faith if we call upon her powerful intercession. It’s interesting that St. John who was the first to receive the gift of Jesus’ mother, will also be the first apostle to believe in the resurrection.

This gift of the Virgin is given to us so that we will be able to enter into, be able to live in our own bodies, the mystery of the death of Jesus; for as Jesus had to pass through suffering and death to reach the resurrection, we too must pass through suffering and death to reach the resurrection.

The Virgin is the source of our hope. We are afraid, for we don’t know what is in store for us, what cross is in store for us with its pains and sufferings, with it’s death. But, if we ask her in confidence she will obtain for us the grace we need to, not only endure the cross in our lives, but to unite it to Jesus’ own suffering and death, to united it to his cross so that our cross will become our hope, our beacon, our joyful means to life, to eternal life, for ourselves and for others. She will help us to allow Jesus by the power of His cross to transform our suffering and pain into love to become a source of life…

This is transformation occurs when one accepts ones cross. This is the difference between the Good thief and the bad thief. The Bad thief refused his cross, refused to allow the transformation of His suffering and pain by the power of Jesus cross. The Bad thief allowed His pain and suffering to turn to bitterness and anger, thus transmitting this venom by blaspheming Jesus and saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

The good thief however allowed his suffering to be transformed by the power of Jesus suffering, death and resurrection. He accepted His cross as a just reward for His sins rebuking the other by saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed suffer justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

The Church, after the Second Vatican Council, restored Holy Saturday. Nothing happens on Holy Saturday, for it is a day of preparation, just as it was for the first believers. For us, Holy Saturday is a day of silent preparation for the resurrection, a day to spend in expectant hope with the Virgin in contemplation of Jesus great love for us—“He who love us to the end.” On Holy Saturday the entire world is hushed in silence awaiting that most glorious event that broke the chains of sin and death for ever for those who would believe. We enter the tomb with Christ, to die to our old life of sin that we might share more fully in the joy and power of the resurrection. May our faith strengthened by the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prepare us to celebrate with Joy, her Son’s resurrection, not only on Easter Sunday, but fully in our lives. Then we too will hear those beautiful words of Jesus addressed to us, "Truly, I say to you, this day you will be with me in Paradise."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday because of Christ's command (mandatum in Latin) that we should love one another with a demanding, even a demeaning love, as crouching to wash the feet of faithless friends who will abandon you in your darkest hour. But there is much more to the washing of the feet than just our love for one another in service. The washing of the feet is all about the priesthood of Jesus Christ and those whom He has called to share in that priesthood.

It's important to know that Priests in the Old Testament were ordained by the pouring of a special oil, over the head and the hands; the oil contained the power of God in order to make ordinary men, priest of the most high God. Each time they enter into the temple area reserved for priest, because it had the Altar of Holocaust, they had to washed. Only priests could offer the sacrifices of the Old Covenant and only priests that washed, purified, could enter into the temple area where the sacrifices were offered.

As Jesus washed the feet of the twelve, they understood that something more than just a gesture of humility was going on. It was humility yes, but Jesus was about to take his twelve "seminarians" and teach them how to offer Holy Mass and make them priests during the first Mass that was going to be offered in that upper room during this night, Holy Thursday night. This is by the way, Peter says to Jesus, why stop at our feet, why not wash our heads and hands as well. Peter understood this washing of the feet to be connected to the priesthood. He knew that Jesus was about to make them priests of the New Covenant. (This why only men should have their feet washed and why we should encourage our young boys to serve at the altar).

So today is the day that we celebrate Jesus instituting those whose feet he washed, as priests of New Covenant, giving them His own divine power in order to change ordinary bread and wine, through the miracle of Transubstantiation, into His own Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—is very self. Jesus also gave them the power, His own power to offer anew to His Father throughout the ages, His saving sacrifice which He was about to undergo in Jerusalem.

By saying to His Apostles, "Do this in commemoration of me," and by the laying on of the hands, Jesus instituted the Holy priesthood, without which there can be no Eucharist and so no possibility of us reaching heaven—“unless you eat my body…!” The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass literally represents, that is make present again and again, in a sacramental way (that is really present under the appearance of sacramental signs), the once and for all sin-forgiving and life-giving Sacrifice of Christ and its power to save us. We for our part must have faith in order to receive its life-saving grace.

This is the meaning of service that Jesus spoke to the twelve. They as the new priests of the new and everlasting covenant, along with the priests to come, were to serve the people of God by providing them with the very sacrament of salvation—The Holy Mass which makes present truly before and for the people of God, Jesus own self-same sacrifice of Calvary and His truly body, blood, soul and divinity. They were supposed to, in imitation of the Master, lay down their lives in order for Jesus to continue His work of redemption through them.

And so Every priest must identify himself with Jesus as he offers such a sublime sacrifice. Every priest must be willing to walk the way of sorrows with Jesus; every priest must be willing to be hung on that cross, if he is to share in the fruits of the sacrifice of Jesus that he offers on a daily basis. How weak we priest are; how can we walk beside Jesus; how can we avoid leaving his side on his path to Calvary as the twelve did, except for John. For sure every priest needs the prayers, the support and the love of his people in order to follow the great High Priest, Jesus Christ to the cross in order to save His people.

If a priest does this with great love and holiness he will suffer at the hands of the faithless just as did the Great High Priest Jesus Christ, for the servant is not greater than the master (comment on our Holy Father's persecution). And sadly, and this is the great mystery of each priest and his personal, intimate, and mystical connection with the suffering and crucified Christ, he, the priest, will suffer at the hands of his own, for his own. The priest, if he is faithful, will suffer by the Church, for the Church. As Jesus came among His own and His own received Him not, so to the faithful priest.

And every person that attends Mass must along with the priest Sacrifice of himself in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus, every person must to must be willing to offer himself in sacrifice as well. This is the meaning of the service that Jesus speaks…No greater love is there than this….than to lay down one’s life AT THE MASS for the sake of one’s friends. This is the true call of the laity of the Second Vatican Council. In order to help us,

Jesus continues through the Sacred Priesthood to offer his life for us; Through the Sacred Priesthood He continues to feed us with his flesh and blood, to fill us and consume us with His love so that we can possess and be possessed by the God who is Love, becoming one with Him at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb which is the Holy Mass.

Let us, tonight on Holy Thursday, thank God for the inseparable gifts of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Without the Eucharist there would be no priesthood and without the priesthood there would be no Eucharist; and without the Eucharist there could be no salvation. Let us Adore our Lord truly present in the Blessed Sacrament as He is carried in solemn procession, from the altar of repose to the place reposition which is the Garden of Gethsemane. Let us hear the Lord say to us as he said to his friends, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." Let us spend time with Him truly present in the tabernacle on the eve of his passion and death—And when he says to us“ Could you not spend one hour with me?” Let us say yes we can Lord with the help of your grace. Holy Mary, Mother of all priests, Mother of the Holy Eucharist, pray for us, pray for me....

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday is not a thing of the past.

Over the past weeks of Lent, our readings have been building up to the events which we have just heard—the great climax of our Lord’s passion and death. Each of the Gospels, from our Lord’s encounter with the Samaritan woman, His healing of the man born blind, to the miracle of Lazarus rising from the dead, all have spoken to us of our Lord’s Divine compassion and ability to go beyond what we might expect. God’s ways are not our ways.

Today is no different. The events of the passion speak loud and clear of how Jesus overcomes the struggles, the opposition, the betrayals, and all the paradoxes of life which so often seem to be outright contradictions. The only Man who was truly innocence becomes a convicted criminal sentence to death. Through His immense sufferings He overcomes all sufferings, through His own brutal and underserved death He overcomes death; in His lying down of His life for us, we have life. Through His sufferings, through His passion and death Jesus truly, profoundly, enters into the very midst of human misery in order to save us from the ultimate human misery, which is separation from God. By His stripes we have been healed; In His great love for us, we discover what Love really means and is.

And so, today we begin the most solemn week of the Church’s liturgical year. The reading of the passion that we heard today sets the tone for the entire Holy Week. We begin with Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. People are rejoicing and excited about what this Messiah will accomplish.

But while we celebrate Jesus triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, this day also has a more somber note to it. The people rejoicing in the Gospel today misunderstand Jesus mission, they think he is going to help them in their political struggle to be free from their slavery to the Romans, they are only thinking in political and economic terms. They fail to see that Jesus really came to die for their sins in order to free them from their most intense slavery so that they could enter into a true freedom, a life of divine intimacy and union with God.

So we rejoice this day also, but we do so in a quiet and solemn way because today in our liturgy and in our personal prayer and in the liturgy of the Church, we begin that walk with Jesus on that terrible journey towards his passion and death. During this week, we follow Jesus from the gates of Jerusalem, to the Upper Room, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the steps of the Praetorium, to the hill of Calvary and then to the tomb in the garden where he gloriously rose from the dead.

The mystery of these events is endless and we can spend a lifetime contemplating each aspect, each event, and each word of Jesus. With each blow of the hammer, with each scourging of the whip, and with the shedding of each drop of blood, God’s ultimate manifestation of love is shown to us.
Jesus, with the strength that only Divine Love Himself could endure, gives his very life for you and I. Yes today we celebrate the beginning of Jesus triumph over sin and death, but not without recalling the price he paid for our salvation so that we could see the depth of his love.

This week we will realize more deeply that it was God who died on that cross for us. And that it was our sins that put Him there; it was our sins that put Him to death. Yet, in His love for us He willing allowed Himself to be crucified; However, Divine Love is stronger than death; and so, the God who is Love defeated sin and so defeated the grave in order that you and I might have the hope of sharing in the Victory and Joy of His Resurrection. How dare we ever be indifferent to His great love for us.

In light of Christ love for us, we discover that our religion is not just a religion of the past…No it is a religion of the present and of the future…for we adore a God that has come, comes now and will come again…and so we are people of hope because our God is coming soon; in fact, He comes now through the Holy Eucharist. Palm Sunday is not a thing of the past. Just as the Lord entered the Holy City Jerusalem that day on a donkey, so too He comes again and again in the humble appearance of bread and wine at this and very Holy Mass.

In faith, we can greet the Lord in the Holy Eucharist as the one who is coming now, the one who enters into our midst. We can greet Him as the one who continues to come, the one who continues to leads us toward His coming. We are to meet Him at this and every Holy Mass where He comes to take us with Him in His ascent to the cross and Resurrection, to the definitive Jerusalem that is already growing in the midst of this world in the communion that unites us with His body. (cf. Jesus of Nazereth-Pope Benedict).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

At the cross stood the mournful mother weeping…It is by sharing in the sorrow of the Mother, that we can enter into the sufferings of the Son, in order to experience the Joy of the Resurrection.

Fifth Sunday in Lent. April 6th, 2014

In this last Sunday before we begin Holy Week, as next Sunday we will celebrate Palm Sunday, we continue with accounts of Jesus performing signs before He enters Jerusalem, and so enters into the hour of His passion. Today, we hear of the last public miracle of Jesus and it’s very dramatic to say the least: Jesus raises a man from the dead…could you even begin to image what that must have been like, to witness such an event? Like last Sunday’s account of the healing of the man born blind, this account includes many paradoxes. And these paradoxes lead us to the greatest paradox of all times, the paradox of the Cross-of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we will celebrate in the Liturgy of Holy Week.

As in the story of the man born blind we heard last week, Jesus again seems to have ignored a poor man’s plight by passing him by. Again, Jesus has His gaze on the heart of a man and sees a man open to faith. Last week the blind man regains his sight and becomes a disciple of Jesus by “seeing through the gift of faith who Jesus really is, while those who are able to see, are really blind because they don’t “see,” that is, don’t have faith; they refuse to accept the truth about Jesus (that He is God, equal to the Father), and so they reject God’s grace being offered to them in order that they would repent and change their lives for the better.

As He did with the blind man, this week Jesus again uses an opportunity to paradoxically manifest Himself and His divinity by a miracle in order to show forth the goodness and the mercy of God. Jesus receives word that His dear friend Lazarus is ill-“Lord, he whom you love is ill.” Paradoxically, Jesus doesn’t stop everything and rush to his friend’s side: No, Jesus waits two days before He even leaves. In fact, by the time Jesus finally does arrive, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days…(puew, very stinky)… Yet, even so, Jesus proclaims, “This illness is not unto death, it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”

How will this be? How will the Father glorify the Son through the Sons failure to arrive in time? How can God be glorified in such evil as sickness and death; how can God be glorified in a stinking corpse? Well again the answer is found in paradox, the paradox of the raising of Lazarus. How could Jesus raise a man who was in the tomb for four days and was already quite decomposed? To such a question Jesus gives a response that we don’t expect: “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Perhaps, we could have expected Jesus to ask for forgiveness for not coming right way, something like, “Please forgive me for arriving too late, I was delayed. You have my deepest sympathy for your lost.” Or, “I wish I could have done something.” These responses are certainly something we might say—they would be most appropriate for us; BUT FOR JESUS? I think not. I mean after all, Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” It was His friend after all.

However, by saying, “I am the resurrection and the Life”, Jesus says something beyond the immediate understanding of Martha and Mary. How could Jesus be the resurrection and the life…How can someone be Resurrection or be Life Itself? In order to help them understand and to help their weak faith, and ours, Jesus calls out, “Lazarus, come out!” And even a dead man obeys Jesus, when most of the living will not.

As great as this miracle may have been, we have to understand that the resurrection of Lazarus is only a prefiguration of the true resurrection. It is more of resuscitation, for Lazarus would still die in the end—death in Lazarus case was not definitively beaten. Jesus himself however, would be the “first born from the dead.” And here is the paradox of all paradoxes-the Passion and death of the Christ. Jesus would have to pass through mankind’s greatest enemy- suffering and death in order to gain victory over it—By being defeated He would be victorious…And so, Jesus would be the very first man to truly rise from the dead and defeat death for good—the death of one wins victory over the death of the many.

And so, it is through His Passion and death that Jesus is glorified. One might think that the Glory of God would be revealed most fully in Jesus’ miracles or His teachings or His large number of disciples and even bigger crowds that would desire to see Him. Next week on Palm Sunday, we will read about His glorious triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. However, this triumphal procession is not the Glory of the Father to the Son. God’s glory would be and is actually revealed most fully in the suffering of the Son and in His obedience to the Father unto death, death on a cross,

Jesus dies the most ignominious death possible, a death reserved for only the most vile and corrupt of men; Jesus is crucified and his closest friends, the disciples, betray him and leave him in his hour of greatest need. Certainly not events that we might think would lead to glory; in fact, in the eyes of the world these events seem to be the ultimate failure.

Paradoxically, Jesus death really was the greatest failure the world really has ever seen, but because of His resurrection, it now has become the greatest victory the world has ever seen and will ever see. Never before had any man beaten death, and by this one man’s death, death has been beaten. By his stripes we have been heal, by His death we have saved…Jesus has shown us in His great sufferings the true meaning of the love…to sacrifice oneself for the sake of one’s friends. Jesus could have saved us with just an act of His will, but instead he chose to save us by the cross to show us how much he really love us.

And so Christ is the Victor-Love is stronger than death. Jesus not only has the power to raise a decomposed corpse, but He has the power to raise himself; and so, He has the power to raise those who believe in Him and love Him by faithfully following Him through His teachings and living for Him alone-Our faith is not in vain!

For those who, like Lazarus, die in friendship with Christ, they too will rise, thus sharing in Christ’s own victory over death. Yes, all friends of Christ will still have to pass through suffering and physical death. But by doing so with Christ by being faithful to Him by carrying their cross to the last, they too will defeat death for forever.

However the reverse is true as well, those who through unrepented sin live without friendship with Christ and His Church, though still living, are really the truly dead; their corpse may not stink, but their souls sure do (phuew); and if they die un-repented they will be dead forever, for forever they will be separated from Jesus who is the LIFE.

In these final weeks of Lent, we may be discouraged in our efforts to become holier. We may even feel “dead” on the inside. We may have prayed for Jesus to come and help us, as did Martha and Mary-“Lord, you know I love you, come and answer my prayers!” And yet, it may seem that we didn’t get an answer, that Jesus is “delayed.” Maybe we even thinking that perhaps I am not so loved as I think I am.”

Yet faith tells us that in this most common of our paradoxes in life, no matter what darkness we are in, no matter how much it seems that God has abandoned us—He has not; no, Jesus is present to us with all of His divine power and love ready to manifest, through our suffering and through us, the goodness and the Divine Mercy of God.

Faith tells us that through the Cross of Christ, if we share in His suffering and death, then in our weakness we are made strong. Belief in Jesus will not necessarily take our problems and sufferings away, and it will surely not save us from physical death; but faith in Him will, if we place our trust in His Divine Mercy, and love Him above else by faithfully following Him, it will save us from eternal death and give us a share in Christ’s own victory, bringing us eternal peace and joy.

But it doesn’t stop there; if we unite our struggles and our suffering and death to the power of Jesus’ cross, then through the power of His Resurrection, our lives and even our death will be used to bring souls who are dead to sin back to life in Christ. Then in the paradox of the cross we like Christ and in union with Him will manifest to the world the goodness and Divine Mercy of the God who is Love; God will be glorified through our lives and we ourselves will share in the glory that the Father has bestowed on the Son.

We celebrate liturgically the passion and death of our Lord during Holy Week; but we must never forget and always believe that it is re-presented, that is, made truly present to us at each and every Holy Mass. And so the resurrection and its power to save us is made truly present as well, but we can only access this Divine power and love through faith. Let us then open our hearts in faith to Jesus’ power to save us and through us to bring souls who are dead back to life.

Our Lord is not silent, He is not delayed, but comes here and now at this Mass, in this sacred place, in order to tell us that He alone is our hope; He does so through the Holy Eucharist, which is really Him! So as we come to the end of this Lenten season, may we trust that the paradoxes in our lives would be united to Jesus crucified in order that through the power of His death and Resurrection, available to us at Every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, our greatest paradoxes, our greatest crosses and defeats, would be turned into our greatest victories, leading to the Glory of God and the Sanctification and salvation of souls, both our own and others as well.

At the cross stood the mournful mother weeping…It is by sharing in the sorrow of the Mother, that we can enter into the sufferings of the Son, in order to experience the Joy of the Resurrection.
By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.