Sunday, June 29, 2014

Homily for today's mass

Welcome my brothers and sisters in Jesus to today's celebration of the Feast of Peter and Paul, the Apostles of Christ. Saints Peter and Paul are probably the most known of all the saints in the Catholic Church. What makes them so famous is that both of them were chosen by Jesus in a very special way for the building of the Mystical Body of Christ.

The mission of Saint Peter was twofold. First of all, he was chosen by Jesus to lead the Catholic Church in the early stage of its foundation after the Lord had departed from earth. To Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom of God. Saint Peter was the first Pope, he having been personally chosen by Our Lord Jesus.

Secondly, Saint Peter was chosen to lead most of the Jewish people into the new Covenant of grace, especially those who accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Saint Paul, not originally a member of the twelve apostles that were chosen by Jesus, came into the picture a little later. When St Peter was instituting the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Saint Paul was persecuting the early Church christians. Faithful to Yahweh the true God, Paul had not perceived that in Jesus the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the Blood of His Cross. [Col. 1:19-20, 2:9]

The conversion of Paul, known then as Saul, came when he was approaching Damascus. A light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground off his horse and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" [Acts 9:3-4]

While St. Peter had been chosen to bring most of the Jewish people into the Body of Christ as stated before, St. Paul was chosen as God's instrument to bring the Name of the Lord before the Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel. [Acts 9:15] As Biblical history teaches us, St. Paul played a major role in the early days of the Church in bringing a great number of the gentiles into the Catholic Church. In a manner of speaking, St. Paul can be viewed as the spiritual father of all of us who would be considered as Gentiles, we not being members of the Jewish nation. If there are members of the Church here today who are of Jewish ancestry, St. Peter would be considered their spiritual father.

During the institution of the Catholic Church, the Lord Jesus employed spectacular supernatural manifestations to clearly show to the believers and the doubters that He was still with His followers and that they were fulfilling the Divine Will of God. One such spectacular manifestation was the delivery of Peter from the prison. As we heard earlier during the First Reading, [Acts 12:1- 11] the angel of the Lord appeared to St. Peter, removed the chains from him and guided him outside of the prison.

While such a spectacular manifestation appeared to be a dream, when St. Peter realized that it was not a dream, that he was truly free from his captor, he affirmed, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod." [Acts 12:11] What an experience this must have been!

Now miracles were not being manifested right and left, endlessly. As we heard during the First Reading, James, the brother of John, the son of Zebedee, was not freed from his captor. He was killed by the sword. We cannot pretend to be able to know as to why the Lord Jesus permitted one of the twelve to be freed while the other one was permitted to die. Maybe the martyrdom of St. James was to affirm to the new converts that by embracing the Catholic faith, they had to be ready to die for it.

Today's Second Reading from the Second Letter to Timothy [2 Tim. 4:6-8, 17-18] affirms the importance of persevering in one's living faith. St. Paul claimed to have fought a good fight, to have held on to his faith until the end. Consequently, he affirmed that there was reserved for him in Heaven the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give on that day to those who have longed for His appearing.

St. Paul further proclaimed that the Lord stood by him and gave him strength so that through him, the message, the Good News of the Gospel, may be fully proclaimed to the Gentiles. To secure Paul's mission, the Lord rescued him from the lion's mouth and every evil attack that became obstacles to the Divine Will.

From this passage of the Scripture, we learn that those of us who persevere in our baptismal and confirmation calling to go forth and preach the Gospel, the Lord will be with us. He will give us strength so that through Him, we may achieve the mission for which we have been called. And as St. Paul was rescued from many obstacles, the Lord will preserve from evil attacks all those who persevere in His service in obedience and in humility.

Church history tells us that the Lord has stood by His saints, protecting them against obstacles. Over and above this, Jesus has performed many great miracles as a sign to the faithful that His Divine power was being manifested through the loyal saints who persevered in their living faith... even to this age. This is a sign to all of us that Jesus is not a God of the past, but a God of the ongoing present. He is a God who is reaching out to us, calling us to serve Him so that we may shine as lights in the world. To us, weak human beings, not angels, but human beings, the Lord has given His Spirit to guide us and teach us according to the progressive needs of the Catholic Church for its spiritual growth and enrichment.

None of the saints became saints overnight. And the Lord Jesus does not expect us to become saints overnight. Sainthood is progressive. The more we persevere in the service of the Lord, the more He rewards us by manifesting His power through us so that we may draw others to the Lord Jesus.

Today's Gospel Reading [Mt. 16:13-19] reminds us that we are on the right track. It is to Peter that Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven, that whatever he, as the Pope and successor of Christ on earth, binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he looses on earth will be loosed in heaven.

In the Catholic Church is found the fullness of salvation. In the Catholic Church is found the Sacraments that are absolutely necessary for our salvation, namely the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, and the Holy Eucharist. These divinely commissioned Sacraments maintain our righteousness before God as our assurance of salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, if you have not done so as of yet, now is the day to start answering your call to preach and defend the Gospel of Christ according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Today is the day, not tomorrow, for tomorrow may be too late. Today is the day to start preaching the Word of God to your spouse, your children, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends, your co-worker, to all those with who you come in contact to ensure that you will not neglect your calling by allowing an opportunity to pass without spiritual results.

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Reading 1 acts 12:1-11

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
–It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.–
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
“Get up quickly.”
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”
He did so.
Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
“Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

Responsorial Psalm ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (5) The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Reading 2 2 tm 4:6-8, 17-18

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel mt 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

A Prayer for this Morning

But who do you say that I am?

Father, several times
every day, your Son
asks me this question.
In every Eucharist,
in every encounter
in my life, I give my
answer, whether I
realize it or not.

But the reverse is
going on as well.
For, every day,
in every encounter,
the people I live with
the people I work with,
the people I encounter
for only a few minutes,
all have an opportunity
to know who I am.

Will they know me as
a person of integrity,
of compassion,
of down-to-earth humility?
Will they feel from me
an inner joy, no matter
the circumstances?
Will they see someone
who is willing to help
others, even at
a personal cost?
Will they see someone
in whom your Son’s
light and life burn brightly?

Father, fill me
with your Spirit
so that I may share
ever more deeply
the life of your Son.
For someday I will
stand before you,
and I will ask you
the question
Jesus asks me:
“Who do you say
that I am?”
I hope, that day,
that you will see what
you hope to see in me.
I hope you will see
a sign of your kingdom
of justice, compassion, and love.
I hope you will see
me sharing the scars
and wounds of Jesus,
the wounds that come
from doing your will,
and dying to myself
to live in your Son.

Father, on that day
when I ask you
“who do you say that I am?”
I hope I will hear you say
“You are an image of the
Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

And that day,
like all days,
I will be blessed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Solemnity of Corpus Christi

I found this at Spiritual Direction and thought I would share with all of you.


Presence of God“The eternal tide flows hid in living bread. That with its heavenly life too be fed …” (John of the Cross, Poems).
We have gone, step by step, in the course of the liturgical year, from the consideration of the mysteries of the life of Jesus to the contemplation of the Blessed Trinity, whose feast we celebrated last Sunday. Jesus, our Mediator, our Way, has taken us by the hand and led us to the Trinity; and today it seems as though the three Persons Themselves wish to take us back to Jesus, considered in His Eucharist. “No man cometh to the Father but by Me” (Jn 14:6), Jesus said, and He added, “No man can come to Me except the Father … draw him” (ibid. 6:44). This is the journey of the Christian soul: from Jesus to the Father, to the Trinity; from the Trinity, from the Father, to Jesus. Jesus brings us to the Father, the Father draws us to Jesus. A Christian cannot do without Christ; He is, in the strictest sense of the word, our Pontiff, the great Bridge-builder who has spanned the abyss between God and us. At the end of the liturgical cycle in which we commemorate the mysteries of the Savior, the Church, who like a good Mother knows that our spiritual life cannot subsist without Jesus, leads us to Him, really and truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. The solemnity of the Corpus [Christi] is not just the simple memorial of an historical event which took place almost two thousand years ago at the Last Supper; rather, it recalls us to the ever-present reality of Jesus always living in our midst. We can say, in truth, that He has not “left us orphans,” but has willed to remain permanently with us, in the integrity of His Person in the fullness of His humanity and His divinity. “There is no other nation so great,” the Divine Office enthusiastically sings, “as to have its gods so near as our God is present to us” (Roman Breviary). In the Eucharist, Jesus is really Emmanuel, God with us.
“O God, O Creator, O Spirit of life overwhelming Your creatures with ever new graces! You grant to Your chosen ones the gift which is ever renewed: the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ!
“O Jesus, You instituted this Sacrament, not through any desire to draw some advantage from it for Yourself, but solely moved by a love which has no other measure than to be without measure. You instituted this Sacrament because Your love exceeds all words. Burning with love for us, You desired to give Yourself to us and took up Your dwelling in the consecrated Host, entirely and forever, until the end of time. And You did this, not only to give us a memorial of Your death which is our salvation, but You did it also, to remain with us entirely, and forever.
“My soul, if you wish to penetrate the depths of this mystery, your gaze must be illumined by love! You need to see and understand! Contemplate the Last Supper: see Jesus who knows that He will soon be separated from the body of His humanity, and yet wishing to be united to us forever; contemplate the love by which He institutes this Sacrament which permits Him to be corporeally and forever united to mankind. O inextinguishable love! O love of Christ! O love of the human race! What a true furnace of love! O Jesus, You already saw the death which awaited You; the sorrows and atrocious tortures of the Passion were already breaking Your Heart, and yet You offered Yourself to Your executioners, and permitted them, by means of this Sacrament, to possess You forever as an eternal gift, O You, whose delights are to be with the children of men!
“O my soul, how can you refrain from plunging yourself ever deeper and deeper into the love of Christ, who did not forget you in life or in death, but who willed to give Himself wholly to you, and to unite you to Himself forever?” (St. Angela of Foligno).

Homily for Today

My brothers and sisters, during today's readings, Jesus clearly told us that in order to inherit the Kingdom of God, we must receive the Church Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Those who reject the life giving Bread from Heaven are spiritually dead and they will lose the final eternal glory that awaits the faithful!

It is sad that so many are blind to this truth. How often do we hear someone say, "I am saved because I have faith in Jesus!" How often do we hear others say, "I am saved because I was baptized!" Such statements are based on the misunderstood words of Jesus who said, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." [Jn. 3:5] While identifying the first word "water" with the Sacrament of Baptism, these poor misguided souls have totally ignore the second word, "Spirit." While these souls have been born of water, they have not been born of the Spirit.

My brothers and sisters, when we thoroughly study the Holy Bible, we learn that the word water signifies the Sacrament of Baptism. We also learn that being born of the Spirit signifies to be sanctified in Christ. And sanctification means to persevere in the living faith.

When we were baptized with water, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we received the "righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" [Rom. 3:22] "whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by His blood, effective through faith. He did this to show His righteousness, because in His Divine forbearance He had passed over the sins (that we had) previously committed." [Rom. 3:25] I hope that all have heard the last words that were just said, "He, Jesus, passed over the sins (that we had) previously committed." Contrary to the belief of many who are being deceived, the Sacrament of Baptism alone does not save anyone. The sins that committed after the Sacrament of Baptism are not erased; they will be used against us on Judgment Day.

To maintain our righteousness in Christ after receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, we need the Church Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. To support this truth that I am telling you today, I am going to briefly review for you the history of God's Old and New Covenants of God.

When God chose Abraham as the spiritual father of mankind, He promised to bless him and that through him, all the families of the earth, including the Gentiles, shall be blessed. [Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8; Heb. 6:13-4] You all know how God then chose Moses to lead His chosen people into the desert for 40 years before they reached the promised land. Generation after generation, God was with His people.

Through Moses, God made a Covenant. If His chosen people remained faithful to Him and obeyed His commandments, He would bless them abundantly. If they disobeyed Him, they would be cursed. Over the centuries that followed, God's people turned away from Him, refusing to obey His commandments. Having broken God's Covenant by turning away from His laws, God promised to make a New Covenant with His people.

God promised that His New Covenant would generously include many free gifts for the people that He loved. Two of those gifts would include God putting a new heart and a new (human) spirit within the believers. [Ezek. 11:19-20, 36:26] God also promised to bless His spiritual children with the indwelling Holy Spirit so they would obey Him. [Ezek. 36:27, 37:14, 24]

To those who would reject God's spiritual gifts, He said, "But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, says the Lord God." [Eze. 11:21, 18:30] God takes no pleasure in seeing His creations die. He calls each and everyone of them to come to Him to receive a new heart and a new spirit. [Ezek. 18:31-2]

Having said this, when we received the Sacrament of Baptism, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a miracle happened. Being born of the Spirit, we received our new heart and the new (human) spirit that God had promised that He would give us. In case some do not know it, we all have a human spirit within us. A body without a spirit is dead. [Jas. 2:26] In His own Sacred Words, Jesus said, "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless." [Jn. 6:63] What keeps our body alive is our human spirit.

The first spirit that we received at birth was stained by the original sin. It was called to experience spiritual death, eternal deprivation of the beatific vision of God. To secure our presence in the eternal Kingdom of God, the Lord gave us a new spirit at Baptism so our soul may qualify in the adoption of the children of God. Our old spirit was crucified with Jesus. [Rom. 6:6] It was buried with Jesus. [Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12] We were born again when we received our new spirit that was raised with Jesus. [Rom 6:4; Col. 2:12]

"Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God's seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God." [1 Jn. 3:9] "God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them." [1 Jn. 5:18] "You were raised again so you may walk the newness of life in Christ." [Rom. 6:4] "Your new creation is everything." [Gal. 6:15] By being baptised in the Name of Jesus, we became new creations, spiritual creations. "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" [2 Cor. 5:17]

It should be noted here that while our new spiritual form, our spirit of the seed of God cannot sin, through our free will, our consciousness can sin and certainly does sin. Such proof is evident from the inner battle that we suffer. While we are spiritually inclined to do what is good and holy, our physical nature wants to do what is worldly. That is why Saint Paul said, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." [Rom. 7:15]

Over and above having received the new heart and the new spirit, God blessed us with the indwelling Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our Christian life. These were God's gifts to us so we may walk the Christian life as a child of God.

Now, how do we walk the Christian life? As previously said, God gave us a new spirit. This was like a second chance. When we were baptized, we received a new spirit and we were made righteous up to the moment of our Baptism. All our past sins were erased in the eyes of God. Having received a new start, as a child of God, we became obligated to walk in the likeness of Christ and to maintain our ongoing righteousness.

How do we maintain our ongoing righteousness? It is through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist! At the Last Supper, after taking the bread and breaking it, Jesus said, "Take, eat, this is My Body." [Mt. 26:26] Jesus clearly said that the consecrated Bread becomes His physical Body, therefore, He dwelling with us and within us in this world. Afterwards, Jesus said, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." [Mt. 26:27-8]

When Jesus spoke of His Blood, He was telling us that through His death, the spilling of His Sacred Blood, a New Covenant was beginning. The sins previously committed would be forgiven so we would be made righteous in the eyes of God. Through our new creation, the new spirit within us that cannot die because it is of the godly seed, we received a second chance.

In His teachings, Jesus added, "I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever..." [Jn. 6:51] Here, Jesus is telling us that to maintain the ongoing righteousness that we have received in the Sacrament of Baptism, we need to continually receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread of eternal life, the Body of Christ who is physically manifested in the Holy Eucharist.

To summarize what has already been said, to receive our salvation, we are required to:
(1) have faith in Jesus Christ;
(2) receive the Sacrament of Baptism;
(3) receive the new heart and the new spirit;
(4) receive the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us in what is holy;
(5) receive the Sacrament of Confession to reinstate the righteousness we received during the Sacrament of Baptism;
(6) receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to have the life of Christ within us.

(Notation: The writer did not intend to omit that "Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." [Mt. 4:4] Such is implied when Catholics attend the celebration of the Mass to receive the Holy Eucharist, at which time they are fed by the Word of God through the Mass readings.)
To be saved and to inherit the Kingdom of God, we need each and everyone of the aforementioned without exception. We also need to live our faith through Christian acts of love and charity in the likeness of Jesus Christ.

May I repeat so none will forget, before receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we must be in a state of grace. We have to go to Confession before receiving Jesus. Many have become indifferent to the condition of their souls. This is obvious by the fact that while the frequency of people attending to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist has increased, the attendance to the Sacrament of Confession has drastically decreased.

When we take Jesus in our hands to eat the Bread of Life, we become one with our Creator. It is a tremendous abuse of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to attempt to receive Jesus in communion while our souls are covered with sin. This is like crucifying Jesus again. If our souls are in a state of sin, the intended union between Jesus and us will not happen. This is why many of the saints went to Confession on a weekly basis and even daily to ensure that they were in the purest state possible before receiving Jesus in their hearts.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

Reading 1 dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a

Moses said to the people:
"Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments.
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

"Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers."

Responsorial Psalm ps 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R/ (12) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R/ Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R/ Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R/ Alleluia.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R/ Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R/ Alleluia.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R/ Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R/ Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 cor 10:16-17

Brothers and sisters:
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.

Sequence - Lauda Sion

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick’ning and the living
Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,
By the new king’s revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,
That each sever’d outward token
doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.

The shorter form of the sequence begins here.

Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

Gospel jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

A Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, today I renew my faith in your true presence in the Eucharist. I believe you come down from heaven to be present in the host at every Mass and remain with me in the Tabernacle. You are the source of my hope. I long to be more united to you through this gift of yourself.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Homily for Today

The word "Trinity," what does it mean? Does it mean that God is a mystery? No! Is the Blessed Trinity another Person of God? No! Then, what is it?

The root of the word "Trinity" originates from the Latin word "trini" which means "three each," or "threefold." "The term has been used as early as the days of Tertullian (200 A.D.) to denote the central doctrine of the Christian religion. God, who is one and unique in His infinite substance or nature, or Godhead, is three really distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Each of these Persons is truly the same God, and has all His infinite perfections, yet He is really distinct from each of the other Persons. The one and only God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; yet God the Father is not God the Son, but begets the Son eternally, as the Son is eternally begotten. The Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son, but a distinct Person having His Divine nature from the Father and the Son by eternal procession." (The New Catholic Dictionary, Van Rees Press, NY, Copyright 1929)

In other words, in Jesus dwells the Father and the Holy Spirit. And the same can be said about the Father and the Holy Spirit. In each one dwells the other two Persons of God. This truth is supported by a verse in The Letter of Paul to the Colossians. "In Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." [Col. 1:19; 2:9] "All the fullness of God means the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The next question that some may ask is, "Are there any biblical passages to support that in the fullness of God, there are Three distinct Persons?" The answer to this is "Yes!" We can quote the closing of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus told His disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." [Mt. 28:18] And we can quote the closing words of St. Paul in the Second Letter to the Corinthians where He states, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." [2 Cor. 13:13] These biblical passages affirm that while there is One God, there are Three distinct Persons in the Godhead.

Accepting these truths as Catholic doctrine, today, I would like to review the richness of our Christian life in which the Holy Trinity is manifested.

1) IN JESUS: As previously stated, in Jesus dwelled the fullness of God bodily. [Col. 1:19, 2:9] Regarding the indwelling of the Father, in the Gospel of John we read, "Go you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?" [Jn. 14:10] Regarding the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke, we read that at the end of His earthly life, Jesus said, "Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit." [Lk. 23:46] At that moment, the Holy Ghost departed from Jesus and the Lord died on the Holy Cross. This affirms that "the body without the spirit is dead." [Jas. 2:26] "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless." [Jn. 6:63]

2) THE WOMB OF MARY: Knowing that the Holy Ghost departed from Jesus at the moment of His death, we can now ask, "When did the Holy Ghost make His indwelling in Jesus?" We find that answer in the Gospel of Luke. When the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary, he said, "And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you will name Him Jesus..." [Lk. 1:31] "The Holy Spirit will come upon you..." [Lk. 1:25] Based on these passages, it is revealed that the Holy Spirit made His indwelling in Jesus in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the moment of conception. Within the womb of the Virgin Mary dwelled the fullness of God bodily, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. No one else has ever enjoyed such a privileged. For the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity within the saints is spiritual in nature. This indwelling within the Virgin Mary was physical in nature. "Surely, from now on all generations will call Mary blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for her, and Holy is His Name." [Lk. 1:48b- 49]

3) THE EUCHARIST: During the institution of the Lord's Supper, Jesus "took a loaf of bread, and gave it to His disciples, saying, 'This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.'" [Lk. 22:19] In the mystery of the Consecration of the Bread and Wine, they become the physical Body and Blood of Christ who remains with us today. As Jesus said when departing from this world, "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." [Mt. 28:20b] In the Holy Eucharist is manifested the fullness of the Blessed Trinity. As the Father and the Holy Spirit dwelled in Jesus while He walked the earth, the Father and the Holy Spirit dwell in Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the fullness of the Blessed Trinity being manifested bodily.

4) HOLY MASS: When the priest begins the celebration of the Holy Mass, he states, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." And when the priest concludes the Holy Mass with a solemn blessing, he says, "May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Here, and throughout many of the liturgical prayers of the Holy Mass, the fullness of the Trinity is mentioned over and over as an affirmation of our belief in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

5) BLESSINGS: The Holy Trinity is mentioned in both, the blessing of persons and of objects. The blessing of object may consist of Churches, Schools, homes, hospitals, farmland, animals and even sacramentals.

6) PRAYER: In many prayers, we find a reference to the Holy Trinity. A perfect example is the Church's frequent mentioning of the prayer, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost." This same prayer is said millions of times daily by all those who pray the Rosary on a daily basis.

7) MUSIC AND SINGING: The manifestation of the Trinity in the Christian's life is not limited to prayer. It is also found in the words of countless songs that are sang and accompanied by spiritually uplifting music.

8) BAPTISM: The Holy Trinity is mentioned in the baptismal formula. The child or the adult is baptized in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit as commanded by Jesus. [Mt. 28:18]

9) LITURGY: In all of the Catholic liturgy, we find references to the presence of the Blessed Trinity, at Confirmations, during the administration of the Sacrament of Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, the Holy Orders and Matrimony, at funerals, at vigils, at the hours of adoration, and the list continued...

10) TRADITION: When studying the Church Tradition, in the Early and present day Church writings and Council documents, we find endless references to the Trinity.

11) CLERGY: When the priest administers the Sacraments, Jesus is also administering the Sacraments. The priest is but a visible servant of the Lord who is invisible, but present. When you receive the Holy Eucharist, you receive it from Jesus. When you confess you sins to the priest, you are confessing to Jesus. And when your sins are forgiven, it is Jesus who is forgiving your sins. Equally, as Jesus is present in the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confession, so are the Father and the Holy Spirit. Many of the saints were spiritually enriched by their knowledge of this truth.

12) BELIEVERS: And finally, since the Holy Spirit makes His indwelling in the believers who are in a state of grace, alongside we also find Jesus and the Father. For in the Holy Spirit dwells the fullness of the Godhead. The Father is in each and everyone of you. The Son is in each and everyone of you. And the Holy Spirit is in each and everyone of you.

As can be appreciated from all that has been said, the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity deserve and receive co-equal glory and adoration in all phases of the Christian life.

Before continuing with the celebration of the Holy Mass, I ask that each and everyone of you take a few moments this week to reflect on the Presence of the Holy Trinity within you, in your life, in your home and within all those with who you come in contact. During that moment of reflection, ask yourselves, "How would I behave before 'so and so' if I saw before me God the Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?" And may the Blessed Trinity guide you all to embrace that behaviour, now and forever.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reading 1 ex 34:4b-6, 8-9

Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai
as the LORD had commanded him,
taking along the two stone tablets.

Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there
and proclaimed his name, "LORD."
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, "If I find favor with you, O Lord,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own."

Responsorial Psalm DN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R/ (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
R/ Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.
R/ Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R/ Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R/ Glory and praise for ever!

Reading 2 2 cor 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Gospel jn 3:16-18

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Prayer 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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pope Francis: God always prepares us for our mission

VATICAN CITY, June 13 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his daily homily Pope Francis reflected on the mission given to each of us by God, stating that when the Lord asks us to do something, he always prepare us through a personal process.

“When the Lord wants to give us a mission, wants to give us a task, He prepares us. He prepares us to do it well, as he prepared Elijah,” the Pope explained in his June 13 daily Mass.

“The most important part of this…is the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission the Lord entrusts to us.”

Speaking to those present in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, the Roman Pontiff centered his address on the day's first reading, taken from the First Book of Kings, in which the prophet Elijah searches for the Lord and finds him only in a small breeze.

Observing how often times we can be courageous servants of God one moment and afterward become depressed when someone in our mission frightens us, the Pope explained that it is always up to God to balance the extremes of human strength and fragility.

Elijah is an example of the story of every human being, he noted, recalling how he first searched for God in a strong wind, an earthquake and a fire, but did not find him until there was a soft breeze.

“The Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, the fire, but in that whisper of a light breeze, in the peace, or, as the original says, – the true original, a beautiful expression – it says: 'The Lord was in a thread of silent sound,'” the pontiff stated.

Although the finding of God in “that thread of silent sound” might seem “to be a contradiction,” Elijah knew “how to discern where the Lord was,” the Pope continued, “and the Lord prepared him with the gift of discernment. And then He gave him the mission.”

Describing how Elijah's mission was to anoint the new king of Israel as well as the prophet called to succeed himself, Pope Francis called attention to the delicate and sensitive way in which the prophet's task was appointed to him, having once been courageous and zealous, but who now seemed defeated.

“The Lord prepares the soul, prepares the heart,” he said, “and He prepares it in trial, He prepares it in obedience, He prepares it in perseverance.”

Emphasizing how God always prepares us when he wants to give us a task, the pontiff explained that the most important element of our preparation is not necessarily our initial encounter with God, “the whole journey by which we arrive at the mission” he has given us.

“And this is the difference between the apostolic mission given us by the Lord, and a common task: 'Ah, you have to complete this task, you have to do this or that…' a human duty, honest, good…”

“But when the Lord gives a mission,” he noted, “He always has us enter into a process, a process of purification, a process of discernment, a process of obedience, a process of prayer.”

Going on, the Bishop of Rome pointed out that to be faithful in this process means “allowing ourselves to be led by the Lord,” just as Elijah did when he overcame his fear of the queen Jezebel, who had threatened to kill him.

Recalling how Jezebel was “a wicked queen, and she killed her enemies,” Pope Francis explained that although Elijah was afraid, “the Lord is more powerful.”

However, going through this process of fear makes the prophet understand “that they, the great and the good, also need the help of the Lord and the preparation for the mission,” he observed.

“We see this: he walks, obeys, suffers, discerns, prays… he finds the Lord,” the Pope concluded, praying that the Lord give each of us “the grace to allow ourselves to prepare every day the way of our life, so that we can bear witness to the salvation of Jesus.”

A Prayer for Today

Father of love, source of all blessings, you have led me throughout my life and you lead me still. Thank you for your paternal care. Jesus, Son of God, you died for me on the cross to pay for my sins and manifest your unconditional love for me. Thank you for showing me the way home to the Father. Holy Spirit, sweet guest of the soul, you heal me and strengthen me and set me on fire from the most intimate depths of my soul. Thank you for your loving presence within me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Prayer for this Morning

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.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Christian joy is based in hope, Pope Francis reflects

.- In his first daily homily since returning from the Holy Land Pope Francis centered on the theme of Christian joy, explaining that it comes not from our immediate circumstances, but what Jesus promised.

“Be courageous in suffering and remember that after the Lord will come; after joy will come, after the dark comes the sun” the Pope encouraged in his May 30 daily Mass. “May the Lord give us all this joy in hope.”

Basing his homily on the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles in which the Lord tells St Paul not to be afraid of preaching to the people of Corinth, the pontiff explained to those in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse that the apostle “was very brave, because he had strength in the Lord.”

But despite this confidence even Paul was afraid at times and needed reassurance from God, the Pope observed, stating that “It happens to all of us in life, to have some ‘fear.’”

However, Paul didn’t let the fact that “neither the Jews nor the Gentiles” liked what he was saying stop him from proclaiming the Gospel, he continued, adding that even Jesus in Gethsemane was afraid.

“We must tell the truth: Christian life not just one big party. Not at all! We cry, we cry so many times,” the Roman Pontiff continued, “When we are sick; when we have a problem with our son, in the family, with our daughter or wife, or husband.”

“When we see that our salary does not reach the end of the month and we have a sick child; when we see that we cannot pay the mortgage on the house and we must somehow survive” he went on, adding that although we have “So many problems” Jesus tells us “Do not be afraid!”

Noting that there is another type of sadness that comes “when we take the wrong road” and try “to buy (the) happiness, joy, of the world, of sin,” Pope Francis explained that this “is the sadness of the wrong sort of happiness” but that Christian happiness “is a joy in hope, which comes.”

“However in times of trial we do not see this. It is a joy that is purified by trials, our everyday trials” the Pope continued, observing that “it's hard to go to a sick person who is suffering greatly and say: ‘Come on! Come on! Tomorrow you will have joy!’”

“No, you cannot say this! We have to help them feel what Jesus made us feel.”

Going on, he explained that “When we are in the dark” and “we do not see anything” we need to make an act of faith in the Lord, saying “I know, Lord that this sorrow will turn to joy. I do not know how, but I know it!”

Using the example of a woman in labor to illustrate how sadness turns into joy, the Bishop of Rome stated that “It’s true, women suffer a lot in childbirth, but then when she holds her child she forgets” and what is left is “the joy of Jesus, a purified joy.”

It is “the joy that remains” he observed, noting that although “hidden in some moments of life, we do not feel it in bad times, it comes later: a joy in hope.”

This, then, “is the message of the Church today: Do not be afraid!”

Concluding his reflections, the Pope prayed that all might receive “this joy in hope,” explaining that “the sign that we have this joy in hope is peace.”

“How many sick, who are at the end of life, in pain, have that peace of soul” he noted, affirming that “This is the seed of joy, this is the joy of hope and peace.”

“Do you have peace of soul in times of darkness, in times of trouble, in times of persecution, when everyone else rejoices at your suffering? Do you have peace?” he asked. “If you have peace, you have the seed of joy that will come later. May the Lord help us understand these things.”

Today's Homily

"He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight." [Acts 1:9] Who was lifted up? Why were the disciples so fascinated with the Ascension of the Lord Jesus? What perception of the Lord did the disciples enjoy?

As we all know, in the beginning, before all things were created, God was formless in His existence. The best way to describe His existence is to say that God was "present." This nature of God echoes the Words of Yahweh and Jesus who both claimed to be, "I am." [Ex. 3:14; Jn. 8:58, 18:5; Rev. 1:8, 22:13] "I am" means "I am present; I am here!" In the case of God the Father, it can also mean, "While you may not see Me, I am here. I am present."

Formless in nature prior to all creations, God could not have had a physical body since the physical world did not exist as of yet. Nor could He have had a spiritual body since the spiritual world had not been created as of yet. So how could God manifest Himself to the physical world after creation? It was by His incarnation through Jesus Christ.

So what was the origin of the Lord Jesus? The Holy Bible informs us that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [Jn. 1:1] Jesus was the Word of God who had been granted to have life in Himself. The Gospel of John tells us, "As the Father has life in Himself, He has granted the Son (the Word) to have life in Himself." [Jn. 5:26]

"In Jesus (Him) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." [Col. 1:19,2:9] "Though 'the Word dwelt among us', and it is also said that in Christ dwelt 'all the fullness of the godhead bodily', we understand that, having become flesh, the manner of his (the Heavenly Father) indwelling is not defined in the same way as he is said to dwell among the saints, he was united by nature and not turned into flesh and he made his indwelling in such a way as we may say that the soul of man does in his own body." [The Council Of Ephesus, 431 A.D.; Third letter of Cyril to Nestorius.]

While the indwelling of God in the saints is of a spiritual nature, the unity of God the Father in Jesus was as the soul of man is to man. As Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his work. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me..." [Jn. 14:9- 11]

In similar words, I can say, "Whoever has seen me has seen my human soul." or "Whoever has seen you has seen your human soul." No one can see a human soul because it is formless. It is by seeing the physical form that the spiritual is revealed. By seeing Jesus, one comes to know the Father who's Divine Soul was united in Jesus.

While the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three separate Divine Presences, they are one God. The mystery of the Trinity is not beyond the reach of our human perception when we consider our knowledge and understanding of the gift of bilocation. St. Paul affirmed our capability of knowing the nature of God when he stated, "Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So they are without excuse." [Rom. 1:20]

As we know, the saints who experienced the gift of bilocation, while they were one person, their simultaneous bilocated presences manifested themselves in two separate locations, this proving beyond any doubt that they were two, and yet one. Equally, the Father and the Son who are One, are also two and can manifest themselves simultaneously in different locations in Heaven or on earth. The Divine nature of God, although invisible as it is, can be understood and seen through the creation of man that He has made. [Rom. 1:20]

So again, I ask, "Who was lifted up? Why were the disciples so fascinated with the Ascension of the Lord Jesus? What perception of the Lord did the disciples enjoy?" In Jesus, the disciples perceived the incarnation of God. In awe, they perceived the three Divine Presences of the eternal God, the Alpha and the Omega. And naturally, in His resurrected and glorious body, in the Ascension, the disciples were witnessing the departure of the Lord from this world, He whom they had come to love dearly.

With this inner perception of the nature of God, it now becomes easier to understand today's readings from the Scriptures.

The First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 1:1-11] began by introducing us to the first Book of the New Testament. In the first verse, we heard that Luke had written another book, that being the Gospel according to Luke. Biblical history tells us that originally, the two books, the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, were joined together at Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:6. When the Catholic Church arranged the NT Canon books, the volume of Luke was divided in two books, in the manner in which we presently enjoy them.

Proceeding with verse 1:4 of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus ordered His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until such time as they had received the promise of the Holy Spirit. What was this promise? It was the promise of the reception of the Holy Spirit, this promise being manifested today in the Catholic Church through the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Why were the disciples commanded to stay in Jerusalem? It is because Jerusalem was chosen by God as the City in which the spiritual Kingdom of God was to be established. Parallel to the Catholic Church, the visible Body of Christ, having its seat at the Vatican, the invisible Body of Christ has its seat in Jerusalem where Christ the King sits on His Throne.

The reception of the Holy Spirit was very important because He had been chosen and sent by the Father and the Son to sustain Christianity in a new era of sacred history, the era of the Church and its mission. From Jerusalem, the geographical center of sacred history, was to begin the apostolic mission of the apostles who had been prepared by Jesus in the three years prior to His Ascension into Heaven.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 28:16-20] involved the great commission that was given to the Apostles by Jesus. Prior to granting someone the authority to do something, it is necessary to establish that one has the authority to give such an authority. Jesus began by stating that He enjoyed such an authority. "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me." [Mt. 28:18]

What authority are we talking about here? To answer that, it is necessary to refer to today's Second Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. [Eph. 1:17-23] "God put (the working of His) power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come." [Eph. 1:20-21] The authority of Jesus is above all rule and authority and power and dominion. The aforementioned are not world rulers or governments. They are references to angelic spirits, some good, others evil, all the governing bodies that were considered to have control over human events and its destiny.

Through death on the Cross, followed by His glorious Resurrection, Christ conquered those governing bodies. Now, none of them possess any power over men. None of them can stand in the way of God's progressive Divine Plan of salvation for mankind in the present age of grace that shall be fulfilled through Christ.

Then we heard St. Paul say, "I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance among the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power." [Eph. 1:17-9]

St Paul prayed that we may enjoy a spirit of wisdom and revelation so we may enjoy a knowledge of the Heavenly Father, not only of His Plan, but of knowing God as He knows Himself. St. Paul prayed that we may experience the great love of God for men in Christ, such a love being manifested through our love for each other in true Christian behaviour. Such an immeasurable power unites where once there was division. It heals where pain once existed. It forgives where condemnation once thrived. Such a love is not bound by gender, age, race, nationality or one's social class. It has no barriers whatsoever.

St. Paul continued by saying, "And (God the Father) has put all things under (the) feet (of Jesus) and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." [Eph. 1:22-23]

When God created Adam and Eve, He "blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'" [Gen. 1:18; Heb. 2:6-9] When Adam sinned through his disobedience to God, he relinquished control over the earth to the Prince of darkness who had become the ruler of the world. [Jn. 12:31] Now through the Blood of the Cross, the New Adam, Jesus, has repossessed what was rightfully His, dominion over all creations.

God made Jesus the Head over all things for the Church, which is His Body. In other words, Jesus is the invisible anointed Leader and Head of the visible Catholic Church that He has established on earth. He is also the Leader of the past, present and future saints who belong to the invisible mystical Body that enjoys its seat in Jerusalem.

Having dominion over all creations, Jesus commanded His apostles, "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." [Mt. 28:19-20] Notice here that Jesus did not command the apostles to baptize in the "names" but rather in the "name." While referring to the three Divine Presences of the Holy Trinity, He used the word "name" in singular form. Some may ask, "Why is this?"

When reviewing the Gospel of John, Chapter 17 when Jesus was praying for His disciples, He said, "Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one." [Jn. 17:11] "I protected them in your name that you have given me." [Jn. 17:11] Notice here that Jesus states that He and the Father shared the same Name. And what was that Name? It was the Name of Jesus. Therefore, based on the aforementioned, it can logically be be understood that the Name Jesus also belonged to the Father.

Let us look at this from a different perspective. When St. Francis was blessed with the gift of bilocation, what was the name of his second presence? Was it not also "Francis?" Certainly! Both were Francis. Why? Because they were the one and same being, manifested in two presences. Similar to this, the Most Holy of all names, the Name of Jesus, belongs to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the Sacrament of Baptism, it is appropriate to invoke all three Divine Presences of the Blessed Trinity in the one Name.

In conclusion, who ascended into Heaven? It was God incarnated! It was Jesus in who the fullness of God dwelled bodily. [Col. 1:19; 2:9] It was Jesus, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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 the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Gospel mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”