Sunday, May 4, 2014

Homily for Today

My brothers and sisters in Christ, "The Lord has risen indeed!" [Lk. 24:34] Yes, He has risen! Because "if there were no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and [our] faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that He raised Christ - whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, [our] faith is futile and [we] are still in [our] sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died." [1 Cor. 15:12-20]

During today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, [Acts 2:14, 22-8] we heard that Peter stood up among the eleven on the day of Pentecost. [Acts 2:24] As the highest authority of the Catholic Church, [Acts 5:20, 11:18, 17:22, 25:18, 27:21] as the first Pope, he affirmed that Jesus had been raised, He who had been handed over to those who crucified Him outside of the law according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. God had raised Jesus up, having freed Him from death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. [Acts 2:24]

Speaking to the people of Judea and all who lived in Jerusalem, St. Peter quoted the words of king David in Psalm 16, "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence." [Acts 2:25-8; Ps. 16:8-11]

What was the purpose of Peter's message to those within hearing distance? It was a call to penance and conversion. On behalf of God, it was a message of love, mercy and forgiveness. Addressing some of those who had killed Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, Peter expressed that the Lord would forgive them if they had a change of heart. God would welcome as His children all those who would embrace the truth, believing that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah and Saviour. The first public speech of the first Pope was a Divine message of love that called sinner to experience an inner transformation. Why an inner transformation? It was for the grace of God to draw the sinners towards their salvation through Jesus Christ.

Today's Second Reading from the First Letter of Peter [1 Pet. 1:17-21] echoes the spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom that Saint Peter received by the grace of God. To him was given an in-depth perception of the redemptive plan of God. Writing to the Gentile Christians [1 Pet. 1:14, 18, 2:9-10, 4:3-4] who lived in the northern and eastern part of Asia Minor, Saint Peter urges them to be faithful to their calling, reminding them that they are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." [1 Pet. 2:9]

The Gentile believers were reminded that if they invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, then they should live in reverent fear during the time of their exile. Their conduct should shine in obedience. The believers were reminded that they were ransomed from the fruitless way of their ancestors, not by gold or silver, but by the precious Blood of Christ, the perfect Blood that was without defect or blemish.

Their justification was given to them as a free gift by the grace of God. [Rom. 3:24]

The life of every creature is his blood. A creature without blood is a lifeless creature. Jesus entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption." [Heb. 9:12] He gave up every drop of His precious Blood and His life so that we may have life through Him. "In Him we have redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." [Eph. 1:7]

Before creation, God foreknew that sin would enter the world. He also foreknew that Christ would redeem mankind. This knowledge has now been revealed to the world at the end of the ages for our sake. You make ask, "What does it mean that it has been revealed at the end of the ages?" The "ages" represent time frames. The first age consisted of the time frame prior to the existence of all things. The second age consisted of the time frame when God created everything except man. The third age consisted of the time frame from the days of Adam to Abraham. The fourth age consisted of the time frame between the days of Abraham and Jesus, those being the days of the First Covenant of the Law. The final age is the present age. It is the days of the New and Last Covenant of grace. After this final age shall come the glorious return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead.

Through Jesus, we have come to set our faith and hope on God. For we know that the almighty God who raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory, in the most Holy Name of His Son, we shall also be raised from the dead and glorified according to our deeds. "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." [Dan. 12:3]

During today's Gospel Reading, [Lk. 24:13-35] we heard of the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. We also heard that during their walk, their eyes were kept from recognizing the Lord. [Lk. 24:16] But later that day, when Jesus was at the table with them, He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. [Lk. 24:30] At that moment, the eyes of the disciples were opened and they recognized Jesus just before He vanished from their sight. [Lk. 24:31] From this event it is understood that while participating in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the disciples were suddenly able to perceive a deeper understanding of revelation.

This heavenly blessing parallels the gift of God that is given to those who partake in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis while striving for spiritual growth during their daily personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, "the Lord has risen indeed." [Lk. 24:34] When we arrive to the full realization of the in-depth meaning of the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we can do nothing else but allow ourselves to be drawn to the heart of Jesus in our own personal daily relationship with Him. As the disciples of Jesus were touched by His presence, we too can be touched by His Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

To experience spiritual growth, we must desire a personal daily relationship with the Lord. Afterwards, we must respond to the grace of God that is drawing us towards Him. Once the commitment has been made to respond to the grace of God that has touched our hearts, we must implement a daily life of prayers, spiritual reflections and moments of praising the Lord. Consequently, we must persevere in our spiritual lives while awaiting for the love of God to touch us in awe. Some may be immediately touched. Others may have their faith tested for awhile to see if they will persevere. That means that they may not be touched immediately, having to wait a long or possibly longer period of time as God sees fit. But in the end, the wait shall be worth it. For there is no greater joy than to be touched by the love of the risen Lord.

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