Sunday, May 22, 2016

Homily


My brothers and sisters in Christ, in recognition of your presence here today to celebrate the Feast of Trinity Sunday, may the grace of God shine on you abundantly.

First of all, in order for you to understand the First Reading from the Book of Proverbs, it is necessary to understand the origin of Trinity Sunday in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar.

"Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, was instituted to honour the Most Holy Trinity. The early Church did not honour the Trinity by a special Office or day. When the Arian heresy was at its height, an Office with canticle, responses, a Preface, and hymns was composed by the Fathers, and recited on Sundays." (Source: "The New Catholic Dictionary", Copyright 1929.)

"Bishop Stephen of Li├Ęge (903-20) wrote an Office of the Holy Trinity which was recited in some places on the Sunday after Pentecost, in others on the Sunday preceding Advent. St. Thomas Becket, consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on the Sunday following Pentecost, obtained for England the privilege of honouring the Holy Trinity on that day, and Pope John XXII (1316- 34) made this practise universal. A Plenary Indulgence is gained by those who receive the Holy Eucharist on this day. The Gospel of the Mass (in Cycle B of the Liturgical Calendar) is the charge of Christ to His Apostles to teach all nations 'baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.'" (Ibid.)

"Trinity Sunday is the last day in the United States for the observance of what is known as the Easter duty, so called because it is of obligation for all Catholics to confess and partake of Holy Communion once a year, usually between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday." (Ibid.)

Regarding the Arian heresy, known as "Arianism," it was a heresy propagated by Arius who denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ. He regarded the Son of God as standing midway between God and creatures; not like God without a beginning, but possessing all other Divine perfections, not of one essence, nature, substance with the Father and therefore not like him in Divinity. In 325 A.D., the Council of Nicea adopted the Doctrine of the Divinity of Christ which expressed the identity of the Son in essence, nature, substance with the Father. (Ibid.)
In view of all this, Trinity Sunday is celebrated once a year, during which time the readings from the Holy Scriptures place emphasis of the Three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Today's First Reading from the Book of Proverbs occasioned serious difficulty with the Arians who used this text to support the created nature of Jesus as the Word of God. While the author of the Book of Proverbs did use the word "create" to explain the eternal existence of the Wisdom of God, in all truth, he did not do so for the purpose of identify a beginning of Wisdom. Expressing himself the best way that he could, the author was trying to assert the absolute priority of Wisdom and her origin from God before all creation. The author strived to assert that Wisdom was with God prior to the creation of the visible universe. By placing Wisdom first, before creation, this acknowledges the superiority of Wisdom over and above all created things.

For God to create the order of all what is seen and unseen, He had to possess infinite Divine Wisdom that included knowledge and understanding. For nothing can be created prior to being known and understood. Nor can creation take place without the Wisdom that places each thing in its order and knows the long-term outcome of each creation as it relates to the next one.

As such, Wisdom came first before creation.

During today's Second Reading from The Letter of Paul to the Romans, we heard that God justifies man through faith in Jesus Christ, this leading to the salvation of the upright man. When viewed in context with the entire Scriptures, we come to perceive that justification not only requires faith in Jesus Christ, but also the Sacrament of Baptism.

By emphasizing that we are justified through Jesus Christ, St. Paul is telling us that in the plan of salvation, the Heavenly Father has appointed Christ as our Mediator.

St. Paul also tells us that the reconciled Christian who will be saved, he will share with hope in the risen life of Christ. The first effect of justification is the Christian experience of peace. This is a peace that anxieties cannot upset, a hope that knows no disappointment, and a confidence of salvation of which the Christian can truly boast.

As Christians, we boast in the hope of the glory of God. We put our boast in something that is wholly beyond our ordinary natural powers - in hope. This hope is a free gift to us from God just like faith itself. And in the long run, our boast relies on God. What we hope for is the communicated glory of God, still to be attained, even though we have already been introduced to the grace of God.

St. Paul tells us that through sufferings, endurance, the forming of character and hope, God's love is poured into our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit. This love of God, it is not "our love of God" but rather, "God's love of us."

All the gifts that we receive from God, be it His grace, faith, hope, peace, justification, they are bestowed upon us through the Blessed Trinity. It is by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus that God manifests His love in us, with us and through us so His light may shine in the world.

Today's Gospel Reading from the Gospel of John reaffirms the three fold action of the Blessed Trinity in our lives. Both, the Father and the Son have sent the Holy Spirit in the world as the Spirit of truth to guide us into the truth. As Jesus did not speak of His own, but spoke of what He heard from the Father, the Holy Spirit also will not speak on His own, but he speaks of what He hears.

During the Gospel Reading, we heard Jesus say, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." From these words, we learn that while "Revelation is already complete in Jesus Christ, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries." (C.C.C. # 66)

As we are able to grasp the truth, depending on our age and our openness to the knowledge and understanding of Scriptures, the grace of God shines on us according to our need and our desire to grow in Christ. Such a grace may be manifested by the Holy Spirit who may choose to inspire us, guide us to written teachings of the Catholic Church, or possibly put on our path a loving teacher who will explain to us what we seek to learn for the glory of God.

My brothers and sisters, before proceeding with the celebration of the Holy Mass, I would like to ask you to take the time this week to reflect upon the Blessed Trinity. Take any event in your life, be it related to your faith, your marriage, your employment, or even the birth of a child, and ask yourself the following question. "How was the love of God manifested in this event through the Blessed Trinity?" "What was the role of the Heavenly Father?" "What was the role of Jesus?" "What was the role of the Holy Spirit?" And when you come to perceive the individual roles of each Person of the Blessed Trinity, take a moment to thank God for His priceless involvement in this event of your life.

May the grace and peace of God be with you this week.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Lectionary: 166

Reading 1 Prv 8:22-31

Thus says the wisdom of God:
"The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways,
the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
from of old I was poured forth,
at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
while as yet the earth and fields were not made,
nor the first clods of the world.

"When the Lord established the heavens I was there,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
when he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
when he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
then was I beside him as his craftsman,
and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (2a) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place —
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet:
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!

Reading 2 Rom 5:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,
knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character,
and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Alleluia Cf. Rv 1:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
to God who is, who was, and who is to come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you."

Prayers for this Morning

Lord Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you have called me to the faith and to share that faith. I trust that you will fill me with your spirit of courage and truth so that I might faithfully assimilate and transmit the faith. I love you. I want to love you more with my prayer and with my life, and so grow in the unity of the love you share with your Father and the Holy Spirit.

  Dear Jesus, send me your Holy Spirit so that I might better know and love you. Grant me a hunger to know you better, to experience you more deeply. May my knowledge of you set my heart on fire so that I cannot keep you to myself. Aid me in faithfully communicating you and your message of love.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Homily


While blessing them, He was carried up to Heaven. Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Feast the "Ascension of the Lord" Jesus.

While reflecting on this Feast that the Holy Catholic Church has found worthy of including in the Liturgical Calendar, I asked myself, "What does the Ascension of Jesus mean to us?" After spiritual reflections, I was able to perceive some important factors that are associated with the Ascension of the Lord Jesus.

1. First of all, the visible departure of the Lord concluded the Risen Jesus' sojourn on earth. For 40 days after His Resurrection, Jesus had been appearing to many of His followers and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. [Acts 1:3] The days of His apparitions had come to an end.

If we are to take Chapter 24 of the Gospel of Luke or Chapter 20 of the Gospel of John as they stand, we would get the impression that all three, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit happened on the same day. But this is not so. As I have just mentioned, there was "40 days" [Acts 1:3] between the day of the Resurrection and the day of the Ascension. This knowledge is made known to us by St. Luke who also wrote "The Acts of the Apostles."

2. Secondly, I have come to perceive that the Ascension of Jesus completes our understanding of the awesomeness of the glorious Resurrection. Because the Lord Jesus was raised to Heaven after His glorious Resurrection, it is made known to us that our blessed hope of eternal life does not consist of dwelling in this world, but rather in Heaven.

3. Thirdly, the Ascension of the Lord affirms that Jesus was the Messiah. As the Gospel of Luke tells us, "He was carried up into Heaven." [Lk. 24:51] The questions to ask here are, "Who carried Him?" and "Why did they carry Him?" It was the angels who carried Jesus to Heaven because they were created to "adore Him" [Heb. 1:6] and serve Him.

In concluding the writing of his Gospel, St. Luke emphasized that the proclaiming of repentance and the forgiveness of sins was to be proclaimed in His Name. [Lk. 24:47] This emphasis, in "His Name," shifts the faith of the believers from Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, to the divinity of Jesus. "For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." [Col. 1:19, 2:9]

4. Next, the Ascension of the Lord Jesus opened the door for the beginning of the Divine ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for the promise of the Heavenly Father. [Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4]

5. Fifth, during the Gospel Reading, we heard that Jesus raised His hands and blessed His disciples. [Lk. 24:50] This action echoes a similar action that is found in the Book of Sirach in the Old Testament.
"The leader of his brothers and the pride of his people was the high priest, Simon son of Onias..." [Sir. 50:1] "Then Simon came down and raised his hands over the whole congregation of Israelites to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and to glory in his name." [Sir. 50:20]
From this passage, we come to perceive that the blessing of Jesus was not just an ordinary blessing. It was a blessing from the True High Priest, He who is a priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek. [Heb. 5:6, 7:17, 7:21]

6. Sixth, from the moment of the Ascension, the living hope of all Christians has been for the Second Coming of Christ, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. At the moment of the Ascension of the Lord, the countdown began. "About that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." [Mt. 24:36] "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." [Mt. 24:44]

7. Seventh, once the Lord Jesus had ascended into Heaven, He sat at the right hand of God. [Mk. 16:19; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 8:1, 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22; Acts 2:33, 7:56-7] Since then, He has been the Mediator between God and humankind. [1 Tim. 2:5] "Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree He is the Mediator of a better Covenant, which has been enacted through better promises." [Heb. 8:6]

8. Eight, from the moment of the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, His glorious reign began as the King of kings. Through the Resurrection of Jesus, death was conquered. "The great dragon was thrown down (out of Heaven), that ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world." [Rev. 12:9]

Following the glorious moment of the Ascension of Jesus, the souls that dwelled in Limbo were finally released "Christ was the first fruits of those who had died." [1 Cor. 15:20]
In theological usage the name "Limbo" has two meanings. The first is the temporary place or state of the souls of the just who, although purified from sin, were excluded from the beatific vision until Christ's triumphant ascension into Heaven (the "limbus patrum").

According to apocryphal Jewish literature that refers to the abode of the departed just, the following condition of the souls is generally agreed upon:

- that their condition is one of happiness,
- that it is temporary, and
- that it is to be replaced by a condition of final and permanent bliss when the Messianic Kingdom is established.

(See Catholic Encyclopedia Online; Subject: Limbo.)
9. Ninth, while Jesus has ascended into Heaven, His Divine Presence continues to be with us where He is adored daily in the Sacred Tabernacles of the Catholic Churches.

The last verse from today's Gospel Reading states, "And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the Temple blessing God." [Lk. 24:53] What is stressed here is that the believers were "continually" in the Temple and their "great joy."

From this passage, it can be perceived that the physical Church mirrors the invisible Kingdom of God. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church mirrors the new Jerusalem and the new Temple. The Divine Presence of Jesus in the Sacred Tabernacles mirrors His Divine Presence among the saints and the angels in the Kingdom of God.

Why is there great joy? Because the celebration of the Holy Mass and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist mirror the Heavenly Feast in which Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints and all the angels are partaking. To receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is to "worship God in spirit and truth." [Jn. 4:24]

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the aforementioned raises the importance of the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord above the fact that the Lord Jesus was carried up to Heaven by the angels. While the Resurrection was the turning point in history regarding salvation, the Ascension was the turning point in history regarding the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

Following the glorious Ascension of the Lord, the endless righteous souls who had died from the days of Adam to the days of Jesus, all were finally released from their prison in Limbo. Finally, they could enjoy the eternal Presence of Christ the King. For these souls, the Resurrection of Jesus prepared the way for their freedom from a dwelling where they did not enjoy the beatific vision of Christ.

These are reasons to celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. There may be more than those that I have mentioned. But these are sufficient for us to rejoice, not only for ourselves, but for the countless souls of the days of the Old Testament who finally entered the Kingdom of God.

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Reading 1 Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

R. (6) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
For king of all the earth is God;
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 Eph 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might:
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And he put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the church,
which is his body,
the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

or Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed that men and women die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since through the blood of Jesus
we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary
by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil,
that is, his flesh,
and since we have Aa great priest over the house of God, “
let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed in pure water.
Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope,
for he who made the promise is trustworthy.

Alleluia Mt 28:19a, 20b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany,
raised his hands, and blessed them.
As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven.
They did him homage
and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and they were continually in the temple praising God.

Prayers for Today

"Lord Jesus, through the gift of your Holy Spirit, you fill us with an indomitable spirit of praise and joy which no earthly trial can subdue. Fill me with your resurrection joy and help me to live a life of praise and thanksgiving for your glory. May I witness to those around me the joy of the Gospel and the reality of your great victory over sin and death.

 

  Lord, I believe in you and all that you have revealed for our salvation. I hope in you because of your overflowing mercy. Every single act of yours on this earth demonstrated your love for us. Your ascent into heaven before the eyes of the Apostles inspires my hope of one day joining you there. I love you and wish you to be the center of my life. 

 

 Jesus, it is hard to forgive others. Sometimes it is hard to forgive myself. I need your strength to move me beyond the pain and struggle. I need the security of your love and your presence in my life. Help me to mend the disharmony in my life that you want me to fix. Heal the brokenness in my heart, in my home, in my family and in my Church.

Homily for Today

Unto us it is given so we may blossom in Jesus! Good morning to everyone and welcome to our guests who have found their way to our humble...