Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bearing Fruit for Christ’s Kingdom (John 15:1-8)

Read through this earlier and decided to share it with you. It is a good observation and reflection in regards to the Gospel today. This is taken from Catholic Exchange;

Bearing Fruit for Christ’s Kingdom (John 15:1-8)

“Others may have their wealth, may drink out of jeweled cups, be clad in silks, enjoy popular applause, find it impossible to exhaust their wealth by dissipating it in pleasures of all kinds, but our delight is to meditate on the Law of the Lord day and night…” – St. Jerome
John 15:1-8: ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more. You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you. Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it. It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.’
Christ the Lord  The world’s greatest leaders influence people from the outside in; their speech, their ideas, their example, their presence – they move us and motivate, they draw us and stir us. Christ, however, goes much deeper. He not only calls us from the outside, but he also unites himself to us so intimately that his very life flows through our veins. “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Where does the vine stop and its branches begin? Their union is too complete to tell. The same sap gives life to the vine and to its branches. He is Lord from within, renewing hearts from the inside, as only God can do. Once again, Jesus Christ stands alone among great historical figures; not only does he excel over all others in their own game, but he plays in an entirely different league; he is a leader, but he is also the Lord.
Christ the Teacher  Jesus tells us point blank what the Father wants. God wants us to “bear much fruit” and to “be [his] disciples.” God wants our lives to show forth his goodness, to bring lost souls back into the fold, and to fill human society and culture with the justice and beauty they need to flourish. Our desire to do something with our lives is a gift from God; we are created in his image, and he is the Creator – we too yearn to build, to contribute, to make a difference that will last not only in this life, but into all eternity.
Bearing this fruit requires in the first place our own efforts to stay united to the vine, through prayer, the sacraments, and loving obedience to God’s will. And it also requires our being pruned – the purification of our selfishness that comes through suffering and sacrifice. Love and sacrifice, as all the lives of the saints attest to, and as Christ himself exemplifies, keep the sap flowing. They yield the fruit we yearn for most: living a life that resounds with meaning and energy, a life that positively impacts others and exudes joy and enthusiasm, a life that changes this world for the better in as profound a way as Christ’s own life did, and a life whose meaning and impact overflow into eternity. This is what God wants for us; this is why Jesus came to earth. Bearing such fruit makes life worth living; without it we are dry, dead branches good for nothing except the fire – pretty simple lesson, pretty dire consequences if we don’t learn it well.
Christ the Friend Christ goes on to tell us how to how to achieve this fruitfulness: “Remain in me… cut off from me you can do nothing.” As long as we stay united to the vine, whatever apostolic activities we engage in will yield a harvest – even a small branch dangling near the ground will produce its fruits as long as it’s united to the vine. Separated from Jesus Christ, no one can live in communion with God, the only source of lasting fruit. How much we need to learn how to pray and make this the center of our lives! This is Christ’s constant refrain from the moment of his incarnation: Come to me, learn from me, follow me… My heart yearns for you to make my friendship the highest value of your life, so that I can fill you with true peace, meaning, and joy – the kind that you long for but can never achieve on your own. The sacraments, the Church, prayer, the Bible – these are all extensions of my effort to stay intimately united with you, to guide you along the path of everlasting life, and to reveal to you the glories of my love. These were my final words before I went to death on the cross, my last lesson, and I really mean them: remain in me; stay close to me; do not forsake me; trust in me.
Christ in My Life Lord, your very life flows through my veins. Why don’t I think of this more? Why do I let myself act as if this world were all there is? I know that my life now is a training ground of love, a chance to exercise the virtues of faith, hope, and love that you have grafted into my soul, an opportunity to spread your Kingdom to those around me. In my fidelity to that mission is your pleasure; in it is my joy…
No one loves me more than you. No one has given me more than you – no one can. If I succeed on my own, the satisfaction is real, but it passes; I need another success to feel satisfied again. If I possess something nice, I enjoy it for a while, but then it gets old. You want me to enjoy fruit that will last, the undying fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22)…
Of all the people I know, how many are united to the vine of your friendship, Lord? Half? A little less, a little more? You are yearning for all of them to live close to you, so you can make their lives bear fruit, the kind they yearn for. So I ask you, why don’t I feel a bigger burden to pray for them and to show them your love? Why am I satisfied in my comfort zone? Let the light of your heart illumine my heart…
PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better PartTo learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.

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Art for this post on John 15:1-8: Cover of The Better Part used with permission. Vine branch on the way “Algunder Waalweg”, Huberbe, 10 August 2012, CCA- 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons.

Homily

Homily for today is from Catholic Doors Ministry;


My brothers and sisters, today we heard that God the Father is glorified when we bear much fruit and become the disciples of Jesus." [Jn. 15:8] This is the spiritual message that is being handed down to us today through the readings of the Holy Scriptures that we have just heard.

In one verse that we heard during the Gospel Reading, Jesus summarized how we can bear much fruit. He said that those who abide in Him and He in them bear much fruit. In other words, those who embrace a spiritual life by seeking to grow in holiness, in them Jesus dwells.

The relationship that we should have with Jesus is compared to the branch of a vine. While the vine takes its nourishment from the ground, the branches receive their food and water from the vine. The vine is the source from which the branches receive their living water that gives them life and makes them bloom. If the living water was to be cut off from the branches, they would dry up, die and decay.

Comparing Himself to the true vine that gives life to the branches, Jesus stated that the Heavenly Father is the vinegrower. This parallel echoes the fact that it is the Heavenly Father who sent Jesus, His only beloved Son, for the salvation of mankind. Also, it is the Father who has granted the Son to have life in Himself as He, the Father, has life in Himself. [Jn. 5:26] Through the grace of the Father as the vinegrower, the vine and the branches have life. Through the loving care of the Father, the branches are nurtured as one with the vine so tha tthey may reach their fullness of maturity.

The vine seeks to feed the branches to ensure that they will receive the maximum spiritual food and living water that they need to bear much fruit. Should any of the branches reject the Source of Life and bear no fruit, the Heavenly Father prunes them from the vine. As long as the branches cooperate with the vine, they will freely receive life. A failure to cooperate means an inescapable death, eternal separation from the Lord Jesus.

As branches, there are many ways that we can abide in Jesus and receive life from Him so we can bear fruit. One way is by hearing the Word of God. Through the Spirit of Truth, the Word of God feeds our souls. So powerful is the Word of God that it "is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit..." [Heb. 4:12] The Word of God has the power to transform those who sincerely seek the truth.

During today's Gospel Reading, the word "fruit" was applied in its singular form. What does it mean? If it were in the plural form, it would be a reference to our spiritual works. But this is not the case. Here, the word "fruit" was a reference to our personal sanctification by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is a reference to the "fruit" of the Holy Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." [Gal. 5:22] These are the virtues that must shine through us so that we may remain attached to the vine as our source of life.

Towards the end of the Gospel Reading, Jesus stated that those who abide in Him and His words abide in them, they should ask the Heavenly Father whatever they wish and it will be done for them. This is a very powerful statement that gives us a clue as to how to pray. If we pray to God and expect to receive a positive response, then we should shine in the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot be like disobedient children who expect their parents to reward them for their disobedience. By obeying God, by abiding in Jesus and Jesus in us, we have the assurance that God the Father will hear and answer our prayers that will spiritually benefit us and others. 

During today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how St. Paul and the disciples of Jesus were striving to bear much fruit. We heard that when Paul arrived in Jerusalem to join the disciples, they were already shining in the fruit of the Spirit. When Paul tried to join them, the disciples avoided him with great fear. They knew that he had a reputation of persecuting the Christians.

Shining in the fruit of the Spirit, Barnabas came forward and took Paul to the apostles. On behalf of Paul, he explained to the apostles how Jesus had spoken to Paul and consequently how Paul had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. Now Barnabas did not have to do that. He could have minded his own business. But, shining in the fruit of the Spirit, Barnabas testified regarding his spiritual joy by sharing with the others the Divine intervention of Jesus in the life of Paul. Barnabas aspired to show love and kindness towards Paul. He aspired to see the growth of the Church and its children.

Consequently, Paul preached the Word of God in Jerusalem with the disciples, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. And finally, when his life was threatened because of his service to the Lord, the believers took Paul to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 

In those days, the disciples of Jesus bore much fruit. Their reward was to enjoy peace and growth in the number of those who joined the Church in Judea, Galilee and Samaria.

During today's Second Reading from the First Letter of John, we were commanded to love in truth and in action. Words or speech are not love. It is just talking... talk with no action. True love shines in truth and action. True love shines in the keeping of promises that have been made. It is not surrounded by one broken promise after another.

How do we know that we are in the truth? It is by listening to our hearts. Some call their hearts their guardian angel that speaks to them. Others call it the inner voice or an inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In truth, it is the new spiritual life that we received through faith in Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism. The heart is our new life in Christ.

When we do wrong, our heart condemns us. Our new life in Christ encourages us to shine in the fruit before God. God knows what is on our minds because He is greater. It is He who gave us the gift of the spiritual life in Christ. At the same time, He wrote His laws on our hearts so that we may always know what is right and what is wrong.

If we walk in the fruit of the Spirit, our spiritual life does not condemn us. If our spiritual life in Christ does not condemn us, we have boldness before God. Because we obey His commandments and do what please Him, we can ask God for anything that will spiritually benefit us or others, and we will receive it.

God commands us to believe in the Most Holy Name of Jesus and to love one another. Those who obey this command abide in Jesus and He abides in them. How do we know that Jesus abides in us? It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit who was given to us by God during the Sacrament of Baptism. For if we shine in the fruit of the Spirit, then the Spirit of Jesus is within us. If the Spirit of Jesus is within us, then Jesus abides in us.

My brothers and sisters, this is what God calls us to do. Through our actions, we are to bear much fruit as disciples of Jesus. Through our faith in Jesus and our love towards others, the Heavenly Father is glorified. When worldly children are well behaved, through their actions, their parents are praised. When we as Christians bear much fruit, through our living faith in Christ, God the Father is glorified.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, let us go forth this week and glorify the Heavenly Father through our living faith in Jesus Christ.

Prayer and Reflection

I believe in you, Lord. You are my life and the source of all happiness. I trust that by being faithful to your inspirations, deepening my faith, and observing your commands, I will grow. I love you, Lord. I offer you this prayer to intensify my love and preserve my life in you. You are my hope and my strength.

Lord Jesus, may I be one with you in all that I say and do. Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as my All.

Meditation from our friends at Kairos:
Why does Jesus speak of himself as the true vine? 
Why does Jesus speak of himself as the  true vine? The image of the vine was a rich one for the Jews since the land of Israel was covered with numerous vineyards. It had religious connotations to it as well. Isaiah spoke of the house of Israel as  "the vineyard of the Lord"(Isaiah 5:7). Jeremiah said that God had planted Israel  "as his choice vine" (Jeremiah 2:21). While the vine became a symbol of Israel as a nation, it also was used in the Scriptures as a sign of degeneration - a deformed state of spiritual growth and moral decline. Isaiah's prophecy spoke of Israel as a vineyard which  "yielded wild grapes" (see Isaiah 5:1-7). Jeremiah said that Israel had become a  "degenerate and wild vine" (Jeremiah 2:21). 
One must be firmly rooted in the "Tree of Life"
When Jesus calls himself the  true vine he makes clear that no one can grow in spiritual fruitfulness and moral goodness unless they are rooted in God and in his life-giving word. Religious affiliation or association with spiritually minded people is not sufficient by itself - one must be firmly rooted in the "Tree of Life" (Revelation 22:1-2, Genesis 2:8-9) who is the eternal Father and his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus makes a claim which only God can make - he is the true source of life that sustains us and makes us fruitful in living the abundant life which God has for us. It is only through Jesus Christ that one can be fully grafted into the true "vineyard of the Lord".
Bearing the fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy
Jesus offers true life - the abundant life which comes from God and which results in great fruitfulness. How does the vine become fruitful? The vine dresser must carefully prune the vine before it can bear good fruit. Vines characteristically have two kinds of branches - those which bear fruit and those which don't. The non-bearing branches must be carefully pruned back in order for the vine to conserve its strength for bearing good fruit. Jesus used this image to describe the kind of life he produces in those who are united with him - the fruit of  "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Jesus says there can be no fruit in our lives apart from him. The fruit he speaks of here is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).
There is a simple truth here: We are either fruit-bearing or non-fruit-bearing. There is no in-between. But the bearing of healthy fruit requires drastic pruning. The Lord promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him and allow him to purify us. Do you trust in the Lord's healing and transforming power to give you the abundant life and fruit of his heavenly kingdom?

Fifth Sunday of Easter

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Reading 1 Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

R. (26a) I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
"May your hearts live forever!"
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
all the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth;
before him shall bend
all who go down into the dust.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
And to him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:18-24

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.

Alleluia Jn 15:4a, 5b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord.
Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

Saturday, April 28, 2018

‘Heaven Is Not Boring,’ Says Pope at Morning Mass

I received this today and after reading I thought it would be good to share. A nice little homily from the Holy Father about heaven and our journey to heaven. Please enjoy. Article was at Zenit.https://zenit.org I actually like the Holy Father's daily homilies that he provides as the are clear concise and to the point.

Reminds Heaven Is Place of Eternal Joy Where We Meet Jesus & Are Happy Forever

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mary Undoer of Knots Novena

A new Novena to pray from our friends at Prayer More Novenas; please pray along to this Novena.

Day 1 – Mary Undoer of Knots Novena
Dearest Holy Mother, Most Holy Mary, you undo the knots that suffocate your children. Extend your merciful hands to me. I entrust to You today this knot [mention your request here] and all the negative consequences that it provokes in my life.
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.
Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life.  You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.
[Mention your request here]
I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.
Amen.

Homily

I looked around online and found this wonderful homily at Monastery of Christ in the Desert.





My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
Saint John gives us these words of Jesus:  “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.”  God is seeking us out, just as a shepherd seeks out his sheep.  God wants us to be with him, just as the shepherd wants his sheep with him.  This Sunday we are invited and challenged to give our lives completely to the Lord.
The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles.  We could pay attention to just this one sentence:  “There is no salvation through anyone else.”  So often we want to work our own salvation.  Too often we have an idea of what our salvation might mean.  Today we are invited to recognize that God saves us in many, many ways.  God always invites us to share His life.  We are invited to let God be Saviour rather than constantly seeking to save ourselves.
Once we come to recognize Jesus as true Savior, we cannot stop talking about Him to others.  We want to share His presence in our lives.  We want others to recognize that there is nothing worthwhile in this whole world other than the presence of Jesus.  And, for many of us, we do not want to appear to be fanatics in the process.  Nevertheless, like the early disciples of Jesus, we will look fanatic whenever we speak about our belief in the Lord Jesus.
The second reading is from the First Letter of Saint John.  Saint John tells us:  “When it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  We shall see HIM as HE is.  This life is about seeking God and seeing only glimpses of the Lord Jesus.  Some seem to have more glimpses than others, but God always gives each of us what we need to continue in the seeking of God.  In the life of the world to come, we shall see Him as He is.
More importantly, Jesus will also see us as we are, with all of our brokenness, our sinfulness, our failures, our sins and all that we might want to hide from Him.  He will still say to us:  Come, you blessed of my Father.  Enter the Kingdom.
We come back to the Gospel of John.  Jesus lays down His life for us.  Jesus gives His live over to death in order that we can life forever.  We are invited to accept that salvation.  Even if we do not fully understand the Lord Jesus or His salvation, we are invited to accept Him and ask Him to save us.
Lord Jesus, risen from the dead, save us and draw us to yourself.  Be our shepherd and guide us in this life so that we may all be with you forever in the life of the world to come.
Your brother in the Lord,
Abbot Philip

Prayer and Meditation

From our friends at Regnum Christi;

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this opportunity to be with you in prayer. My heart is ready to listen to your words of eternal life so that I may choose to follow you more closely on the path of true love.
 
Petition: Lord, may I be faithful to your will in my life.
 
1. I Lay It Down: The Father entrusted Christ with a mission. Christ was to bring about our salvation through a life of unlimited self-giving, even to the point of giving his own life. Being God, he could repay the Father for our sins; being man he could identify with our fallen humanity and raise its dignity so that we might become the Father’s children. Christ was the perfect bridge between fallen man and an infinitely holy God. His mission of bridging this chasm came about through freely accepting the will of the Father. Our Lord would receive nothing in return, and yet he was faithful even to the point of death.
 
2. On My Own: Jesus was not ordered to give himself for our sins. He offered himself. Freedom is best used when it willingly embraces God’s will, whatever the cost might be. We have to remember that Jesus knew what lay beyond his preaching and his miracles: the road to Calvary. He spent many nights in prayer on the Mount of Olives in preparation for his hour. He foretold his fate to his disciples and continued forward towards this end despite their misunderstanding. And in the end, when the hour came, he proved faithful. When the hour of darkness sought him, he stepped forward to say, “I am he.” Christ never flinched in front of God’s will. He felt its weight. Sorrow flooded his heart. An easier path tugged at his humanity. But he proved that love is stronger than death, that true freedom can defeat sin and master it.
 
3. A Life of Love: Perhaps offering ourselves to God frightens us. What will he ask? What will I have to leave behind? Will I be able to do it? However, fear vanishes when we live out of love, like Christ. We need to remember that the Father asked him to die for us, and then look at the fruits this bore! Taking on our humanity, he left behind the splendor of his divinity and raised us to a new level. He did the impossible by bearing the weight of all our sins. He trusted in the Father to give him strength. Today we might be asked to die more to our self-love, to leave behind a vice we have been struggling with or to trust that with grace we can live a truly Christian life in a world hostile to Christianity. In the end, if we love Christ, we will not be frightened because he has already shown us the way –– and he has already conquered.
 
Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the courage to be a faithful Christian at all times and in all places, with whomever I meet and in whatever I say. Help me to give testimony to who you are.
 
Resolution: I will offer one concrete act of self-mastery for love of Christ today.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

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Reading 1 Acts 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said:
"Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
which has become the cornerstone.

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29

R. (22) The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his kindness endures forever.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia. 

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:1-2

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God's children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

Alleluia Jn 10:14

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

Gospel Jn 10:11-18

Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father."

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Homily

My brothers and sisters in Christ, today, all three readings from the Holy Scriptures echo that Jesus suffered for the forgiveness of sins.

During the First Reading, you heard the words, "God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out." [Acts 3:18-9]

During the Second Reading, you heard, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." [1 Jn. 2:2]

And, during the Gospel, you heard me read, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." [Lk. 24:46-7]

When reflecting on the atoning sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus for our sins, what comes to my mind is the model life of St. Maximilian Kolbe who was canonized in October, 1982. Born in Poland in 1894, when he was old enough to answer God's calling, Maximilian joined the religious congregation of the Franciscans. By 1927, he had founded a house for those who wished to enter the religious life.

In 1941, while appointed as the superior of the Polish community, he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Auschwitz. Twelve weeks after his arrival at the prison camp, a prisoner escaped. In retaliation, ten men were chosen at random to die of starvation. One of the chosen men was a young father. Shining in the love of Jesus, Father Maximilian offered to take the place of the young man. The offer was accepted and on August 14, 1941, Fr. Maximilian died of starvation.

In this act of self-sacrifice, we perceive true Christian love. Here, one man gave his life for another on the day of judgment, when the young father was condemned to death. With Jesus, it was different. Rather then waiting for us to be condemned to death on Judgment Day because of the sinful nature that we have inherited from our first parents and the personal sins that we have committed against our Lord, Jesus offered Himself as our atoning sacrifice before we were born. Now, when we will appear before the Lord God on Judgment Day, Jesus shall be our Mediator. He shall testify on our behalf that He who was sinless, washed away our sins through His Blood as the Lamb of God.

As was foretold through all the prophets of the Old Testament, the Author of life, our Messiah Jesus was called to suffer for our sins. To this, the disciples of Jesus were witnesses.

Having died for our sins, for the sins of the whole world, each and everyone of us has a free will to turn to Jesus in order to accept His sacrifice as our substitute or to reject the grace of God. If we accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we must repent of our sins with a sincerity of heart. Then, we must obey the Commandments of God that are found in the Holy Bible and that are placed before us through the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church.

Those who obeyed the commandments of God as Father Maximilian obeyed them, they have come to know God. In them, the love of God has reached perfection. By embracing the same obedience to the Commandments in the love of Jesus Christ, we know that we are in Jesus and that Jesus is in us.

When Jesus appeared to His disciples to command them to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem, the disciples were startled and terrified. They thought that they were seeing a ghost."

But no, the disciples were not seeing a ghost. They were in the presence of Jesus glorified. As Jesus said, "A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." Nor can a ghost, having a spiritual body, eat food that is physical in nature. But, in the presence of His disciples, Jesus did eat. Therefore, it is certain that the presence of Jesus was not the presence of His Spirit.

Today's reading from the Gospel of Luke is an interesting passage because it gives us a spiritual perception of the nature of the Holy Ghost who was given to the world on Pentecost Day.

Throughout the Holy Bible, in the Old and New Testament, numerous references are found to the Holy Spirit as being the Spirit of God. Some of these passages are found in: Gen. 41:38; Mt. 3:16; Rom. 8;9; 1 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 4:30; 1 Pet. 4:14; and 1 Jn. 4:2. There are also a reference to the Spirit of the living God. [2 Cor. 3:3]

Elsewhere in the Holy Bible, a reference is found to the Holy Spirit as being the Spirit of the Father. [Mt. 10:20]

There are references to the Spirit of the Lord. [Is. 61:1; Lk. 4:18; Acts 8:39; 2 Cor. 3:17, 8] Some of these references are to the Spirit of the Lord God of the Old Testament (God the Father) while others refer to the Spirit of the Lord as Jesus. In another passage, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of God's Son. [Gal. 4:6]

There are also references to the Spirit of Christ. [Rom. 8:9; 1 Pet. 1:11] One Bible passage refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus Christ. [Phil. 1:19]

By perceiving that the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God is the same Spirit of the Lord Jesus, we have a greater appreciation of the nature of the Divine Presence of the Holy Spirit who continues the ministry of Christ on earth.

Jesus commanded us to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins throughout the whole world. This calling can only be achieved by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us keep in mind that Jesus suffered in our place for the forgiveness of our sins. Let us call upon the Spirit of Christ to teach us to perceive the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, the tremendous love that Jesus has for each and everyone of us.

Homily for Today

I have the homily from the Vatican News site for you; Fr. Antony Kadavil reflects and comments on the readings at Mass for the eleventh S...