Saturday, March 26, 2016

This is the reason for our Easter Joy! A joy that is real, because the Eucharist is real.

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; it was “brain dead.” You could see it; you could touch it and it was cold. 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.

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 it pierce the Sacred 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 on Easter Sunday.

But just as real and profound was their experience with the dead body of Jesus, so too, was their even more profound and real experience with His resurrected body. They would touch this body with their hands and it was warm, living. They would see it with their eyes, and it moved and breathed. There was not doubt that Jesus once dead in the body, now was truly alive again, in the Body.

Jesus is truly Risen! He is Risen indeed! He lives again, but not just spiritually, not just in the hearts and minds of His followers but in the flesh, with His true human body, with His human heart beating again for love of us, and His precious blood coursing through His veins. Christ once dead lives again forever. He has conquered death; and for those who accept the His gift of faith, they will share in His great victory over suffering and death and the cause of suffering and death, which is sin.

This gift of faith in the resurrection is what we as believing Catholic Christians are celebrating with great joy this day. Not just the Resurrection as a past event, but the Resurrection which occurs in our midst and makes present its power to renew the whole world. And so, the Resurrection points us to the great Mystery of the Holy Eucharist which makes truly present the Risen Lord, truly and really, with His living, breathing body.

The great joy of Easter is that Those believe, adore, hope and love Jesus, the risen Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist, those who feed on Him 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.

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.

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 truly, “The resurrection and the Life.” 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 put out into the deep of Jesus’ love by offering ourselves totally and with great trust, to Him, with Him, in Him, to the Father. Let us adore Jesus in the Holy Eucharist--beholding the face of Jesus with the eyes of faith, and 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…”
HAPPY EASTER to all of you and your families.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mother of Mercy, obtain for us the grace we need to see our sinfulness and the humility we need to acknowledge and confess it in order to receive the forgiveness of the Father through Jesus Christ your Son, receiving His Mercy and so we can show mercy to others.

“I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah foretells something new, something we would not have thought of- God Himself, like the Father of the prodigal son, comes…runs out to meet us in order to save us and bring us into a deeper union of love with Himself.

Our Father comes in love and mercy through His son, Jesus in order to forgive our sins in and through the Sacraments. By sacramental grace, He makes a road in the wilderness, paths of grace into the wilds of this sinful world. Jesus comes in the same Sacraments with the waters of grace and mercy into the desert, into the wilderness of a world gone mad with sin, and into the wretchedness of our personal sins.

And those who open their hearts to His mercy through their repentance, that is a truthful acknowledgment of their sinfulness and the confession of their sins; these literally are enabled to drink in these living waters. And through these living waters of His grace and love flowing from the Sacraments, the Father changes our actions from that of wild beasts into new actions, ones worthy of the Human persons that we are. We are Human persons made in the Father’s image and restored in His likeness, made free sons and daughters of the Father through baptism.

But sometimes, we do not perceive this, sometimes we are too discouraged by our failures and sins to even think that God would want to come and do something new in our lives. In our heart we really do desire to have a fresh start, but we despairingly think we are never going to have it. The opposite is sometimes true as well, we can be too proud, thinking that we have already arrived, that we are already righteous, that we are “those without sin,” so unlike others who are the sinners.

Both of these attitudes, shown very clearly in today’s Gospel, keep us from the mercy and forgiveness of Our Heavenly Father offered to us through Jesus Christ His Son. The woman justly condemned of a serious sin, a mortal sin, the sin of Adultery, can only see her fate as being already decided; she is to die justly for her sin…no hope for a new beginning now. The Scribes and Pharisees so convinced of their goodness, that they don’t see their own sin, and so their need for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

And so, as serious as her sin is, and it is serious, the sin of the Scribes and Pharisees is much worse. We can assume that the woman’s sin was at least guided by an attempt to find love. But these men are only evil, filled with hate, filled with a desire to destroy the very goodness in others. (This is the difference between a bad man and an evil man. The bad man does bad things, but the evil man tries to destroy the goodness in others. And so the evil man can be very nice, but he is not kind. He wants justice but doesn’t work for justice for others; he doesn’t see His need for mercy and so shows no mercy).

They (the Scribes and Pharisees) think that adultery is the worse sin, and so fail they to see that they are guilty of an even graver sin, that of Presumption. For presumption fails to see the horror of one’s own sinfulness, while at the same time demanding that others be punished justly and without mercy for their sins.

The scribes and Pharisees are blind with the sin of presumption; they actually believe that they have no sin that they are “those without sin,” (which was actually a title they took for themselves). And so, they think they have already achieved their salvation and are in no need of repentance and forgiveness. In their blindness, in their hardness of heart they reject outright the very mercy of God that is being offered to them in the Person of Jesus Christ standing right before their eyes. For you see, we can only receive the mercy of God to the extent we recognize our sinfulness and repent of it, seeking God’s forgiveness, especially through the Sacrament of confession. In Other words, we can’t receive mercy, if we don’t realize we’re a sinner, which of course we all are. In fact, only those who receive mercy through the confession of their sins can then show mercy to others.

This lent we need to throw off our old attitudes, we need throw off the old man, no longer recalling the past, no longer be shackled to what was done before; we need instead to put on the new man in Christ Jesus. We need to take on the attitude of St. Paul who in his weakness sought perfection not in his own power, but in the power that comes through faith in Christ and the reception of His Sacraments with faith. This is the power that comes from God, a power that has its source in the Holy Eucharist, which is God among us-Jesus.

However, This Divine power is accessible only through faith in the Eucharist as the true and living God in the flesh among us through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the ordained sacred Priesthood. It is literally, a power to imitate the master, sharing in His sufferings thus reproducing the pattern of His death in their lives becoming instruments of the renewing power of His resurrection, which is love and mercy, for those around them and for the world. So St. Paul says, “I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.

It is not so much our sin that is the problem, but how we respond to it that counts. Either this Lent we deny our sinfulness and commit an even greater sin of presumption, like the scribes and Pharisees, and so in the blindness of our self-righteousness, walk away from the God who has come to meet us in our degraded state. Or instead, we imitate the woman caught in adultery who stays with Jesus without a denial or protestation on her lips about her sin. She is left alone with Jesus her Lord and God, just like one who is left alone in adoration with the same God, adoring Him truly present in the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar at Holy Mass and in the Tabernacle. Before His Eucharistic presence we too, can be alone with Jesus who in His love reminds us of His mercy and points us to healing power of the Father’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of confession, which enlarges our capacity for God’s love.

In this real encounter with Jesus in Eucharist at this Holy Mass, Jesus doesn’t leave us on our own power to sin no more, instead with our hearts being now purified by confession, He is able to fill us with His own Love, with His own Divine power. Then with Jesus, through Him and in Him, the Father can do something NEW in us, spreading the Living waters of God’s Love throughout the world, leading others through us to His Divine Mercy and forgiveness—this is the power of the Resurrection, which renews the whole World. Let us turn to Our Lady for her help and Intercession. Mother of Mercy, obtain for us the grace we need to see our sinfulness and the humility we need to acknowledge and confess it in order to experience the forgiveness of the Father through Jesus Christ your Son, receiving His mercy so that we can show mercy to others. Amen