Pentecost Sunday

 

pentecost-feast

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

OPENING PRAYER

Come, O Holy Spirit, come and take pity on me! Clothe me with Yourself, and graciously hear my prayers, that, according to multitude of your mercies, my littleness may be pleasing to Your greatness, and my weakness to Your strength, through Jesus Christ, my Savior, who, with the Father, lives and reigns in unity with You, forever and ever. Amen.”

St. Augustine

COLLECT

O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast,

sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation,

pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit

across the face of the earth

and, with the divine grace that was at work

when the Gospel was first proclaimed,

fill now once more the hearts of believers.

Though our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING Ipenecost-icon-copy-2

Acts 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,

they were all in one place together.

And suddenly there came from the sky

a noise like a strong driving wind,

and it filled the entire house in which they were.

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,

which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

and began to speak in different tongues,

as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven

staying in Jerusalem.

At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,

but they were confused

because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,

Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?

Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?

We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,

inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,

Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,

Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,

as well as travelers from Rome,

both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,

yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues

of the mighty acts of God.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”1 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.2 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.3 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.4 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.5

CCC 696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel.6 This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”7 Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!”8 In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself9 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions.10 “Do not quench the Spirit.”11

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.12 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,13 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.14 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.15 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.16

CCC 2623 On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered “together in one place.”17 While awaiting the Spirit, “all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer.”18 The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said19 was also to form her in the life of prayer.

1 Mk 16:19.

2 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

3 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

4 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

5 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

6 Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39.

7 Lk 1:17; 3:16.

8 Lk 12:49.

9 Acts 2:3-4.

10 Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577 ff.

11 1 Thess 5:1.

12 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.

13 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.

14 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.

15 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.

16 Cf. Acts 2:38.

17 Acts 2:1.

18 Acts 1:14.

19 Cf. Jn 14:26.

APPLICATION

Pentecost day is called the “birth-day” of the Church. The Apostles had already received the Holy Spirit on Christ’s first appearance to them after his resurrection (Jn. 20: 22). But on Pentecost day the descent of the Holy Spirit was a public manifestation intended to impress and amaze the crowds of local and foreign Jews who thronged Jerusalem on that great festive occasion. The signs and wonders that manifested his coming brought these Jews in huge crowds to the place where the Apostles were staying, and immediately the gift of tongues was used by the Apostles to explain the occurrence. It was a marvel wrought by God, a necessary consequence of the sojourn of Christ among them. He was the Christ whom the Jews had crucified but whom God had raised from the dead, thus proving he was the promised Messiah and his own beloved Son. Christ had chosen the Apostles to bring his good news to all nations—the good news that all men were once more reconciled to God their Creator, and were now adopted sons of God and heirs to heaven.

Today was the day chosen for the opening of this mission of the Apostles. That they were backed by the divine power of the Holy Spirit was proved not only by the gift of tongues but more especially by the change his coming wrought on the Apostles. From this day forward they were men dedicated to one purpose and to one purpose only, to bring the good news, the Gospel of Christ, to the world.

When Peter, representing the eleven, preached Christ, crucified, raised from the tomb by the power of the Father, and now seated at his right hand in heaven, he raised the Christian standard aloft. He and his fellow-Apostles (including Matthias and Paul later) gave their lives gladly to plant it throughout the Roman empire. The remaining twenty six chapters of the book of Acts and the inspired letters of the Apostles tell the story of the growth of the infant Church. It was brought about by frail and mortal men, turned into spiritual heroes by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Twenty centuries separate us from those heroic men of God, but the truth of their labors is with us still thanks to the same Holy Spirit who has remained with the Church down through the years. From generation to generation the message and the means of salvation have been handed down, sometimes through periods of peace and evident progress, but more often through years of persecution and apparent near-extermination. The Church survived because men of God valued eternal life, and the Church as the means of reaching it, more than their own comfort or personal safety.

Our own generation too needs men of principle, men of generosity, men who will put the eternal values before personal conveniences or earthly gain. The Church today has her enemies. They shout loud and long—the same centuries-old themes are put to some of the present-day pop music. But we need not fear. The voice of the Holy Spirit is still as strong as it was on that first Pentecost day in Jerusalem. His powers are divine and will never diminish. He is still at the helm of the barque of Peter and will continue to bring millions to the shores of the eternal kingdom as he has done during the past two thousand years.

“Come, Holy Spirit, enkindle in the hearts of the faithful the fire of divine love.”

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!

How manifold are your works, O LORD!

the earth is full of your creatures;

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;

may the LORD be glad in his works!

Pleasing to him be my theme;

I will be glad in the LORD.

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

If you take away their breath, they perish

and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the earth.

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

READING II-6

1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:

No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

there are different forms of service but the same Lord;

there are different workings but the same God

who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit

is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,

whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 249 From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at the very root of the Church’s living faith, principally by means of Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”1

CCC 308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”2 Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.”3 Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace.4

CCC 683 “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”5 “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!”’6 This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son.

Baptism gives us the grace of new birth in God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit. For those who bear God’s Spirit are led to the Word, that is, to the Son, and the Son presents them to the Father, and the Father confers incorruptibility on them. And it is impossible to see God’s Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son, for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of God’s Son is obtained through the Holy Spirit.7

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”8 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified9 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.10

CCC 790 Believers who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body, become intimately united with him: “In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification.”11 This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which “really sharing in the body of the Lord,. .. we are taken up into communion with him and with one another.”12

CCC 798 The Holy Spirit is “the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body.”13 He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity:14 by God’s Word “which is able to build you up”;15 by Baptism, through which he forms Christ’s Body;16 by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ’s members; by “the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his gifts”;17 by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special graces (called “charisms”), by which he makes the faithful “fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.”18

CCC 801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. “Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,”19 so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together “for the common good.”20

CCC 1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him, and rises with him:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.21

The baptized have “put on Christ.”22 Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.23

CCC 1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: “Therefore. .. we are members one of another.”24 Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”25

CCC 1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.26 The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:”27

If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.28

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.29

CCC 1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:30

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. .. For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.31

CCC 2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” “benefit.”32 Whatever their character – sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues – charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.33

CCC 2670 “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”34 Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action.

If the Spirit should not be worshiped, how can he divinize me through Baptism? If he should be worshiped, should he not be the object of adoration?35

1 2 Cor 13:14; cf. 1 Cor 12:4-6; Eph 4:4-6.

2 Phil 2:13; cf. 1 Cor 12:6.

3 GS 36 § 3.

4 Cf. Mt 19:26; Jn 15:5; 14:13

5 1 Cor 12:3.

6 Gal 4:6.

7 St. Irenaeus, Dem. ap. 7: SCh 62, 41-42.

8 1 Cor 12:13.

9 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.

10 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.

11 LG 7.

12 LG 7; cf. Rom 6:4-5; 1 Cor 12:13.

13 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.

14 Cf. Eph 4:16.

15 Acts 20:32.

16 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

17 LG 7 # 2.

18 LG 12 # 2; cf. AA 3.

19 LG 12; cf. 30; 1 Thess 5:12, 19-21; John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 24.

20 1 Cor 12:7.

21 Rom 6:3-4; cf. Col 2:12.

22 Gal 3:27.

23 CE 1 Cor 6:11; 12:13.

24 Eph 4:25.

25 1 Cor 12:13.

26 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

27 1 Cor 10:16-17.

28 St. Augustine, Sermo 272: PL 38, 1247.

29 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

30 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1 4.

31 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 and 588.

32 Cf. LG 12.

33 Cf. 1 Cor 12.

34 1 Cor 12:3.

35 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio, 31, 28: PG 36, 165.

APPLICATION

These verses of St. Paul are very suitable on this the feast day of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. Not only did he make his presence felt by the external exercise of his powers, on that first Pentecost day, but he continued to do so for some years until the Church had laid solid foundations in the Gentile world.

These gifts of the Spirit were foretold in the Old Testament as signs of the Messiah’s arrival (see Joel 3: 1ff; Acts 2: 16ff), and were manifested in the early Church in Jerusalem (Acts 2: 4), Samaria (8: 17), Ephesus (19: 6), Rome (Rom. 12: 6), Galatia (Gal. 3 : 5), and in Corinth. St. Paul has much to say of the gifts given in Corinth because there was evidently some abuse of them or some dissensions because of them in that city.

But for us the important point to bear in mind today on this, the anniversary of the public manifestation of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, is the infinite love of God for us, his Chosen People of the new covenant. Through the Incarnation men are empowered to become adopted sons of God; through baptism we become members of Christ’s body, his Church. Through the direct reception of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are made active members of the Christian Church, with all the strength and powers necessary to be effective members, on active service daily, true soldiers of Christ.

Let each one of us take an honest look at himself today, and ask himself: Am I really an active member of the body of Christ? Am I spiritually healthy, living in God’s grace and thus helping the whole body to be healthy? Or am I a diseased member, and not only sickly and weak through my personal sins, but spreading that sickness and weakness to my neighboring members by my bad example? But perhaps I can claim I have no very big sins and give no grave scandal, but I am lukewarm in the practice of my religion. I haven’t much time for things of that sort. If I am one of these two types–a diseased member or a lukewarm one, I could hardly call myself a soldier of Christ on active service. Deserters and dishonest draft-dodgers are not at the front.

Thank God, a large percentage of Christians do strive to remain healthy members of his mystical body–they may weaken now and then but they call on their divine physician and put things right again. This is as it should be, but is it all that is expected of us?

The Holy Spirit came to us in confirmation with his gifts and graces to enable us to work for the whole Church, for the whole body of Christ. We are made soldiers to form an army that will work together for the protection of our nation and our freedom. No man is put into military uniform in order to look after his own interests. We too are not made soldiers of Christ in order to save our own souls only–we are soldiers in order to help our fellow-Christians and all men in their common fight against sin and Godlessness. We must then take an active part in the battles of the Church, against everything that impedes the practice of the Christian virtues.

There is a place for everyone in the Church’s line of battle. We need not search far to find it. We need not be physical or intellectual giants in order to fulfill the role destined for us. What we need is sincerity and a bit of moral courage; sincerity in our belief that it is the future life that counts–the present is only a few years of training; moral courage to face opposition and criticism from enemies and often from false friends. When God and the Holy Spirit are on our side, we need not worry about the opinions or sneers of worldly-minded men. If we are true soldiers of Christ we shall win our battles, not by crushing our enemies but by making them too children of God and our brothers for all eternity.

GOSPELJesus appearing

Jn 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051516-pentecost-day.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,1 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,2 than for the ordinary People of God.3 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;4 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.5 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,6 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),7 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.8

CCC 643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.9 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”10) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale”.11 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”12

CCC 645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.13 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.14 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.15

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”16 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.17 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.18 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.19 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.20

CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:21 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands22 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”23 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.24 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”25

CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.26 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”27

CCC 858 Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he “called to him those whom he desired;. .. And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach.”28 From then on, they would also be his “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”29 The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives me.”30

CCC 976 The Apostle’s Creed associates faith in the forgiveness of sins not only with faith in the Holy Spirit, but also with faith in the Church and in the communion of saints. It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”31

(Part Two of the catechism will deal explicitly with the forgiveness of sins through Baptism, the sacrament of Penance, and the other sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Here it will suffice to suggest some basic facts briefly.)

CCC 1087 Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying:32 they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This “apostolic succession” structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders.

CCC 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.33 The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.34 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.35 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,36 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.37 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.38 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.39

CCC 1441 Only God forgives sins.40 Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.”41 Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.42

CCC 1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration.”43

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.44 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”45 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.46

1 Lk 2:34.

2 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.

3 Jn 7:48-49.

4 Cf Lk 13:31.

5 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.

6 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.

7 Cf. Mt 6:18.

8 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.

9 Cf. Lk 22:31-32.

10 1 Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19.

11 Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13.

12 Mk 16:14.

13 Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15.

14 Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4.

15 Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7.

16 Mk 16:19.

17 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

18 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

19 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

20 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

21 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

22 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.

23 Rom 6:4.

24 Cf. Jn 20:22.

25 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

26 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.

27 LG 7.

28 Mk 3:13-14.

29 Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20; 17:18.

30 Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.

31 Jn 20:22-23.

32 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.

33 Cf. LG 10 # 2.

34 Cf. Jn 20:21-23; Lk 24:47; Mt 28:18-20.

35 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.

36 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.

37 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.

38 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.

39 Cf. Acts 2:38.

40 Cf. Mk 2:7.

41 Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48.

42 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.

43 LG 21; cf. Acts 1:8; 24; Jn 20:22-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6-7.

44 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.

45 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

46 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.

APPLICATION

The liturgical cycle, which each year represents to us God’s mercy and kindness in our regard, closes today with this great feast of Pentecost the public solemn descent of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, on the Christian Church. During Advent we try to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Son of God to dwell as man among us. Christmas recalls to our minds and hearts the great act of divine love. Lent prepares us for the sufferings endured by Christ during Holy Week on our behalf. Easter is the feast of triumph, Christ’s triumph over death, the guarantee of our final triumph and union with him in his eternal glory. Pentecost crowns Christ’s work among us. The Holy Spirit comes to abide with the Church, directing and effectively aiding its leaders to preserve, explain and spread the gospel of hope and love which Christ had brought on earth. This same spirit helps and aids each member of the Church to live a life of holiness by following the teaching of Christ and by helping his fellowman to do likewise.

Briefly, this annual series of Church feast days recalls to our minds the infinite love of the Blessed Trinity for us finite, mortal men. At the same time it shows us the part played by each of the divine Persons in the eternal plan to share with us the perfect peace and the unending happiness which they enjoy in their heavenly kingdom.

God the Father created us with the intention and plan to raise us up to adopted sonship with him. God the Son took human nature so that we might share in the divinity. Representing all men he gave perfect obedience and reverence to the Creator “even unto death on a cross,” and thus merited sonship for us. The Holy Spirit, the “fruit of divine love,” came from the Father and the Son to bring to perfection the work of our sanctification. Thus the three divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity have cooperated in the great work of infinite love and condescension which opens for us a future of unending happiness, if only we have the common sense to appreciate what has been done for us, and the simple common decency to do in return the few relatively easy little tasks asked of us.

May the Holy Spirit today fill us with gratitude for all that God has done for us.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Spirit and Pentecost

Mind, on the one hand, is the sum of the receptive, logical, and pragmatic powers of knowing. Spirit, on the other hand, discovers the values that lie beyond facts, the freedom that lies beyond law, the kind of existence in which justice is given priority over self-interest. Spirit, thus understood, is not the object of calculation and computer storage; it is correlated precisely with what is incalculable. It is a name for an attitude “which brings happiness to the self by bursting through the limitations of self-centeredness”; an attitude, in other words, that requires a decision of the heart, or whole person… What is the real Christian message of Pentecost? What is this “Holy Spirit” of which it speaks?… World history is a struggle between two kinds of love: self-love to the point of hatred for God, and love of God to the point of self-renunciation. This second love brings the redemption of the world and the self. In my opinion it would already be a giant step forward if during the days of Pentecost we were to turn to a reflection on our responsibility; if these days were to become the occasion for moving beyond purely rational thinking, beyond the kind of knowledge that is used in planning and can be stored up, to a discovery of “spirit,” of the responsibility truth brings, and of the values of conscience and love… The Holy Spirit is truly “spirit” in the fullest possible sense of the world. In all probability we must make our stumbling way to him anew from the midst of a world profoundly changed.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

O Christ, our Lord, You have transmitted to Your Church the sovereign power which You have received. By virtue of Your dignity, You have made her Queen and Spouse. You have given her supreme power over the entire universe. You have commanded all men to submit to her judgment. She is the Mother of all the living, and her dignity increases with the number of her children.

Every day she gives birth to new children by the operation of the Holy Spirit. As a vine, her branches cover the whole world. Her boughs are upheld by the wood of the Cross and they reach up to the Kingdom of heaven.

Your Church, O Christ, is a strong city built on a mountain, visible to all and enlightening all. You are her Founder and foremost Citizen, O Jesus Christ, Son of God and our Lord.

We beseech You, eternal King of souls, Christ our Lord, stretch Your omnipotent Hands over Your holy Church and holy people who belong to You; defend them, guard them, preserve them; combat, challenge, subdue all their enemies.

May Your Church always remain pure and living! May she chant Your praises under the guidance of the holy angels! We pray to You for all her members; grant them pardon and remission of all their sins; grant that they may sin no more. Be their defense; take away from them all temptation. Have pity on men, women, and children; reveal Yourself to all, and let the knowledge of Your Holy Name be written in their hearts” (from an ancient Liturgy).

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D.

Divine Intimacy

Colloquy pg. 188

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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

 

Ascension_of_Our_Lord_icon

“And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

 

OPENING PRAYER

Ascension Prayer

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God,

that we who believe

Thine only-begotten Son our Redeemer,

to have ascended this day into heaven,

may ourselves dwell in spirit amid heavenly things.

COLLECT

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,

and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,

for the Ascension of Christ your Son

is our exaltation,

and, where the Head has gone before in glory,

the Body is called to follow in hope.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

 

fe7ee729b6a7a79287e4230ed9cba744.jpg

 

READING I

Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,

I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught

until the day he was taken up,

after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit

to the apostles whom he had chosen.

He presented himself alive to them

by many proofs after he had suffered,

appearing to them during forty days

and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While meeting with them,

he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,

but to wait for “the promise of the Father

about which you have heard me speak;

for John baptized with water,

but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,

Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons

that the Father has established by his own authority.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,

throughout Judea and Samaria,

and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were looking on,

he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,

suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

They said, “Men of Galilee,

why are you standing there looking at the sky?

This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven

will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:

  1. The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four Gospels, “whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up.”1

2. The oral tradition. “For, after the ascension of the Lord, the apostles handed on to their hearers what he had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed.”2

3. The written Gospels. “The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus.”2

CCC 333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”4 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”5 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.6 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.7 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.8

CCC 474 By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal.9 What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.10

CCC 512 Concerning Christ’s life the Creed speaks only about the mysteries of the Incarnation (conception and birth) and Paschal mystery (passion, crucifixion, death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension). It says nothing explicitly about the mysteries of Jesus’ hidden or public life, but the articles of faith concerning his Incarnation and Passover do shed light on the whole of his earthly life. “All that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven”,11 is to be seen in the light of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter.

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”12 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.13 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.14 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.15 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.16

CCC 672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel17 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.18 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church19 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.20

CCC 673 Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent,21 even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”22. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”.23

CCC 697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory – with Moses on Mount Sinai,24 at the tent of meeting,25 and during the wandering in the desert,26 and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple.27 In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus.28 On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’”29 Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.30

CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:31 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands32 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”33 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.34 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”35

CCC 735 He, then, gives us the “pledge” or “first fruits” of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as “God [has] loved us.”36 This love (the “charity” of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received “power” from the Holy Spirit.37

CCC 857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”38 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;39

with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,40 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;41

she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:42

You are the eternal Shepherd

who never leaves his flock untended.

Through the apostles

you watch over us and protect us always.

You made them shepherds of the flock

to share in the work of your Son. ..43

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.44 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,45 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.46 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.47 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.48

CCC 1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration.”49

CCC 1565 Through the sacrament of Holy Orders priests share in the universal dimensions of the mission that Christ entrusted to the apostles. The spiritual gift they have received in ordination prepares them, not for a limited and restricted mission, “but for the fullest, in fact the universal mission of salvation ‘to the end of the earth,”’50 “prepared in spirit to preach the Gospel everywhere.”51

1 DV 19; cf. Acts 1:1-2.

2 DV 19.

3 DV 19.

4 Heb 1:6.

5 Lk 2:14.

6 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.

7 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.

8 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9. The angels in the life of the Church

9 Cf. Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34; 14:18-20, 26-30.

10 Cf. Mk 13:32, Acts 1:7.

11 Acts 1:1-2.

12 Mk 16:19.

13 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

14 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

15 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

16 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

17 Cf. Acts 1:6-7.

18 Cf. Is 11:1-9.

19 Cf. Acts 1:8; I Cor 7:26; Eph 5:16; I Pt 4:17.

20 Cf. Mt 25:1, 13; Mk 13:33-37; I Jn 2:18; 4:3; I Tim 4:1.

21 Cf. Rev 22:20.

22 Acts 1:7; Cf. Mk 13:32.

23 Cf. Mt 24:44; I Th 5:2; 2 Th 2:3-12.

24 Cf. Ex 24:15-18.

25 Cf. Ex 33:9-10.

26 Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2.

27 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12.

28 Lk 1:35.

29 Lk 9:34-35.

30 Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27.

31 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

32 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.

33 Rom 6:4.

34 Cf. Jn 20:22.

35 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

36 1 Jn 4: 12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21.

37 Acts 1:8; cf. 1 Cor 13.

38 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.

39 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.

40 Cf. Acts 2:42.

41 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.

42 AG 5.

43 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.

44 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.

45 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.

46 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.

47 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.

48 Cf. Acts 2:38.

49 LG 21; cf. Acts 1:8; 24; Jn 20:22-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6-7.

50 PO 10; OT 20; cf. Acts 1:8.

51 OT 20

APPLICATION

The Ascension or the return of Christ to heaven, in his human but glorified body, is the culmination, the sign and seal of the accomplishment of his salvific mission on earth. He, the Son of God, the second divine Person of the Blessed Trinity, became man, lived and died on this earth so that we men could live with God forever in heaven. By his death on the cross, he reconciled sinful man with his divine Creator. His human death earned for us a share in the divine life. His resurrection is the divine guarantee that we too shall rise again, and his ascension to the Father is the prelude to our entrance into God’s everlasting kingdom.

Christ, our Savior, our intimate friend, who suffered hardships, humiliations, and finally the painful and degrading death on the cross for our sakes, while here on earth, is now seated in the place of honor at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He is there as our representative and as our intercessor. He has gone to heaven to prepare a place there for us. He said to his Apostles (and through them to all of us) at the Last Supper: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places…I am going to prepare a place for you and then I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be” (Jn. 14: 2-3).

What a consolation, what a source of joy this feast of the ascension is for any true believer! It is the natural desire (indeed the supernatural desire, for it is instilled in our very nature at creation) of every human being to keep on living—death is the negation of everything we love and have. However, we know that earthly death awaits every one of us. Our human make-up is of its nature mortal. How sad it would be, and how dreadful it must be for those who do not believe in God, if the grave were the final end for us.

We Christians know it is not the end but rather the beginning and today’s feast is the reminder of this consoling fact. We shall all leave this world some day soon, but for a true Christian, this thought should be a cause for joy rather than sadness. We leave this valley of tears to go on an eternal holiday. Christ has won this divine heritage for us; he has promised he is preparing a place in his own heavenly home for us and he is helping us on our way there. What have we to fear from earthly death? It is not the entrance to a perpetual prison but rather the door to our eternal happiness.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

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.

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

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.

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

For king of all the earth is God;

sing hymns of praise.

God reigns over the nations,

God sits upon his holy throne.

God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

 

READING IIIcon+of+Paul

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.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 158 “Faith seeks understanding”:1 it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens “the eyes of your hearts”2 to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God’s plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. “The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood.”3 In the words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.”4

CCC 272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”5 It is in Christ’s Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.6

CCC 648 Christ’s Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power “raised up” Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as “Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead”.7 St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power8 through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”9 Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.”10 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.11

CCC 669 As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body.12 Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. The redemption is the source of the authority that Christ, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, exercises over the Church. “The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery”, “on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom”.13

CCC 753 In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mystery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body.14 Around this center are grouped images taken “from the life of the shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building or from family life and marriage.”15

CCC 830 The word “catholic” means “universal,” in the sense of “according to the totality” or “in keeping with the whole.” The Church is catholic in a double sense:

First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.”16 In her subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation”17 which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost18 and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.

CCC 2045 Because they are members of the Body whose Head is Christ,19 Christians contribute to building up the Church by the constancy of their convictions and their moral lives. The Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful, until “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”20

CCC 2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.21 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.22 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.23 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.

1 St. Anselm, Prosl. prooem. PL 153 225A.

2 Eph 1:18.

3 DV 5.

4 St. Augustine, Sermo 43, 7, 9: PL 38, 257-258.

5 1 Cor 1:24-25.

6 Eph 1:19-22.

7 Rom I 3-4; cf. Acts 2:24.

8 Cf. Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-22; Heb 7:16.

9 Rom 14:9.

10 Eph 1:20-22.

11 Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28.

12 Cf. Eph 1:22.

13 LG 3; 5; cf. Eph 4:11-13.

14 Cf. Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; LG 9.

15 LG 6.

16 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8,2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,311.

17 UR 3; AG 6; Eph 1:22-23.

18 Cf. AG 4.

19 Cf. Eph 1:22.

20 Eph 4:13; cf. LG 39.

21 Cf. Mt 6:10, 33; Lk 11:2,13.

22 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.

23 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1911; Col 1:3-6; 4:3-4, 12.

APPLICATION

St. Paul reminded the Ephesians nearly nineteen and a half centuries ago of the marvelous generosity and goodness of God who had made them Christians and sharers-to-be in the glory of Christ, which was the eternal glory of God. The words the Apostle wrote to those first converts were written for us also and are as applicable to us today as they were in the year 61 A.D. He prayed that God would enlighten their minds to try to understand and appreciate the marvelous things God had done for them through the Incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Which of us can say that we really appreciate, as we should, these same marvelous things God has done for us? Because Christ came on earth we have been given the power to go to heaven. As mere creatures we have no such power and not even the slightest claim to any such extraordinary gift. We, as creatures, are by our very nature, mortal. Death on earth should be our final end. But because the infinitely good and generous God wished to raise us up to the status of adopted sons of his, and to make us capable of sharing, in as far as our limited nature could, in his eternal life and happiness, he sent his divine Son on earth to share in our humanity.

This is the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of God’s love for us, a love of which we are utterly unworthy. Today we are commemorating the final act in this drama of divine love. God the Son, returning to his Father, bearing our human nature and guaranteeing to each one of us that, we too, when we leave this earth, will find our true life, our unending life, in the home of the Father with Christ, our true Brother.

Cast your eyes heavenwards today, where Christ now dwells surrounded by millions of our fellowman, and say to yourself: There is my true home, there is where I shall be forever at peace with God, with neighbor and with myself. Millions of my fellowman have already got there. I have the same weaknesses which they had. I have the same strength and helps that they got. Why should I not make it? The one and only person who could stop me from getting to my heavenly home is myself. Could I ever be so foolish? God forbid!

 

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GOSPEL

Lk 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:

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

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

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/050816-ascension.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 112 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.1

The phrase “heart of Christ” can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.2

CCC 627 Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him” 3 4 and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.” Both of these statements can be said of Christ: “He was cut off out of the land of the living”,5 and “My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption.”6 Jesus’ resurrection “on the third day” was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.7

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”8 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.9 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.10 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.11 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.12

CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:13 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands14 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”15 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.16 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”17

CCC 981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.”18 The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:19

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.20

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,21 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.22 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,23 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”24

CCC 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.25 The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.26 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.

CCC 1122 Christ sent his apostles so that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.”27 “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.”28 The mission to baptize, and so the sacramental mission, is implied in the mission to evangelize, because the sacrament is prepared for by the word of God and by the faith which is assent to this word:

The People of God is formed into one in the first place by the Word of the living God. .. The preaching of the Word is required for the sacramental ministry itself, since the sacraments are sacraments of faith, drawing their origin and nourishment from the Word.29

CCC 1304 Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.30

1 Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46.

2 St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. in Ps. 21, 11; cf. Ps 22:14.

3 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.

4 Acts 2:24.

5 Is 53:8.

6 Acts 2:26-27; cf. Ps 16:9-10.

7 Cf. I Cor 15:4; Lk 24:46; Mt 12:40; Jon 2:1; Hos 6:2; cf. Jn 11:39.

8 Mk 16:19.

9 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

10 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

11 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

12 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

13 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

14 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.

15 Rom 6:4.

16 Cf. Jn 20:22.

17 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

18 Lk 24:47.

19 2 Cor 5:18.

20 St. Augustine, Sermo 214,11:PL 38,1071-1072.

21 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

22 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

23 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

24 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

25 Cf. LG 10 # 2.

26 Cf. Jn 20:21-23; Lk 24:47; Mt 28:18-20.

27 Lk 24:47.

28 Mt 28:19.

29 PO 4 ## 1, 2.

30 Cf. Council Of Trent (1547): DS 1609; Lk 24:48-49.

APPLICATION

The death of a member of his family or of a loved friend, must be the saddest event imaginable in the life of an atheist. He is one who really is convinced that there is no God, no future life and therefore that the relative or friend is to turn into dust in the grave, never to be met with again. The thought that every day that passes is bringing him too nearer to that same sad fate, death, which will be the end of all his ambitions, all his enjoyments, the end of everything he thought he was or had, must be something hard to live with.

Thank God, we have the good fortune to know, and reason and faith convince us of this truth, that death is not the end of man. It is rather the real beginning. Today’s feast—the Ascension of our Lord in his human nature—to his Father’s and our Father’s home, is the confirmation and the guarantee of this doctrine of our faith. We shall all rise from the grave with new, glorified bodies and ascend to heaven, as Christ did. There we’ll begin our true life of eternal happiness.

While it is true that even for good Christians the death of a beloved one is a cause of sorrow and tears, this is natural as we still are of the earth earthly. Yet the certitude that our beloved one has gone to his true life and will be there to meet us when our turn comes, is always at the back of our minds to console and comfort us. What all human beings want is to live on forever with our dear ones. Death breaks that continuity but only for a little while. That break is necessary for the new life to begin.

It is only in heaven that this natural desire of an unending life with all those we love can be realized and death on earth is the door to that eternal life.

Look up to heaven today. See Christ ascending to his Father and our Father. Say: Thank you, God, for creating me, and for giving me, through the Incarnation of your beloved Son, the possibility and the assurance that if I do my part here, when death comes it will not be an enemy but a friend, to speed me on my way to the true, supernatural life which you have, in your love, planned and prepared for me.

It was written, and foretold, that Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory. The servant is not above the Master. I too must suffer. I too must accept the hardships and the trials of this life, if I want, and I do, to enter into the life of glory. Christ, who was sinless, suffered hardship and pain. I have earned many, if not all of my hardships, by my own sins. I should be glad of the opportunity to make some atonement for my past offenses, by willingly accepting the crosses he sends me. These crosses are signs of God’s interest in my true welfare. Through him he is giving me a chance to prepare myself for the day of reckoning, for the moment of my death which will decide my eternal future. For every prayer I say for success in life, I should say three for a successful death, a death free from sin and at peace with God.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Ascension

The Ascension of Christ means that he no longer belongs to the world of corruption and death, which conditions our life. It means that he belongs completely to God. He, the eternal Son, has taken our human being to the presence of God; he has taken with him flesh and blood in a transfigured form. Man finds a place in God through Christ; the human being has been taken unti the very life of God. And, given that Go embraces and sustains the whole cosmos, the Lord’s Ascension means that Christ has not gone far away from us. But that now, thanks to the fact he is with the Father, he is close to each one of us forever. Each one of us may address him familiarly; each one may turn to him. We can live with our backs turned to him, but he always awaits us, and is always close to us… Jesus told his disciples everything, as he is the living word of God, and God can give no more than himself. In Jesus, God gave himself totally to us, that is, he gave us everything. In addition to this, or together with this, there can be no other revelation able to communicate something else, or to complete, in a certain sense, the revelation of Christ. In him, in the Son, we were told everything, we were given everything. But our ability to understand is limited; for this reason the mission of the Spirit consists in introducing the Church in an ever new way, from generation to generation, into the grandeur of the mystery of Christ… Thus, the Holy Spirit is the force through which Christ makes us experience his closeness.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to Christ Ascended Into Heaven

O Lord Jesus, I adore You, Son of Mary,

my Savior and my Brother, for You are God.

I follow You in my thoughts, O first-fruits of our race,

as I hope one day by Your grace to follow You in my person

into heavenly glory.

In the meantime, do let me neglect the earthly task

that You have given me.

Let me labor diligently all my life

with a greater appreciation for the present.

Let me realize that only by accomplishing

true human fulfillment can I attain Divine fulfillment

and ascend to You at the completion of my work.

New Saint Joseph People’s Prayer Book

 

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Fifth Sunday of Easter – C

MostHolyTrinity-icon1200dpi-crop

 “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for our Family – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Heavenly Father,

you have given us the model of life

in the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Help us, O Loving Father,

to make our family another Nazareth

where love, peace and joy reign.

May it be deeply contemplative,

intensely eucharistic,

revived with joy.

Help us to stay together in joy

and sorrow in family prayer.

Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our families,

especially in their distressing disguise.

May the eucharistic heart of Jesus

make our hearts humble like his

and help us to carry out our family duties

in a holy way.

May we love one another

as God loves each one of us,

more and more each day,

and forgive each other’s faults

as you forgive our sins.

Help us, O Loving Father,

to take whatever you give

and give whatever you take with a big smile.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,

cause of our joy, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Holy Guardian Angels,

be always with us,

guide and protect us.

Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,

that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism

may, under your protective care, bear much fruit

and come to the joys of life eternal.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

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READING I

Acts 14: 21-27

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.1 From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”2 But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”:3

Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: “Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?”4

CCC 2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man,5 and temptation, which leads to sin and death.6 We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable,7 when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. .. There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.8

1 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.

2 Phil 3:21.

3 Acts 14:22.

4 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; cf. Lk 9:33.

5 Cf. Lk. 8:13-15; Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; 2 Tim 3:12.

6 Cf. Jas 1:14-15.

7 Cf. Gen 3:6.

8 Origen, De orat. 29 PG 11, 544CD.

APPLICATION

This first missionary journey of St. Paul, the shortest of three, lasted about two and a half years. During it, apart from the sea journey, he traveled on foot about 600 miles over mountainous and difficult terrain. He had to earn his bread by the work of his hands. He suffered hunger and cold and was once stoned by the Jews and left for dead. Compared with his other journeys this was relatively easy. But when we think about it and think about the love of God and of his fellow men which inspired St. Paul to endure such hardships, can we fail to wonder and be shocked at the coldness of our own love of God, and the almost total lack of interest in the eternal welfare of our neighbor which we perhaps show?

There are Christians and Catholics who begrudge the 45 minutes they have to give to God on Sunday morning : they look for a 20 minutes Mass. The remaining 167.25 hours of each week are given to their worldly cares, which nonetheless they will have to leave forever in a few years’ time. There are Catholics who grumble when they are asked to give a portion of their weekly earnings to help support their church and their pastors. There are good devout Catholics who give no help whatsoever in spreading the faith among the pagan peoples. Do such Christians really love God and appreciate what he has done for them? Have they really got their eternal salvation at heart if they are so unwilling to put themselves out the least little bit for its sake?

Granted, we are not all called to be other St. Pauls nor do we get the abundance of divine grace he got. We are, however, all called to be saints, if lesser saints maybe, and we all have got many graces from God. God does expect us, too, to show some return for his many gifts and to prove our love for him by our love for our neighbor. Love of God and love of neighbor are the two greatest of the commandments. They are in fact our tickets to heaven. If we haven’t got these tickets or if we are not purchasing them in daily installments by our charitable acts, we had better begin today. Millions of the saved in heaven today are thanking God for St. Paul’s love of God and neighbor. I shall be happy if even a few of my fellow men will have reason to thank God that I existed.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

and let your faithful ones bless you.

Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your might.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,

and your dominion endures through all generations.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

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READING II

Rev 21:1-5a

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.

The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,

and the sea was no more.

I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,

coming down out of heaven from God,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.

He will dwell with them and they will be his people

and God himself will always be with them as their God.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes,

and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,

for the old order has passed away.”

The One who sat on the throne said,

“Behold, I make all things new.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.1

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.2

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.3

CCC 677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.4 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.5 God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.6

CCC 756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”7

CCC 757 “The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother’, is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes.’”8

CCC 1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, “new heavens and a new earth.”9 It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head “all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.”10

CCC 1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.11 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”12

CCC 1045 For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been “in the nature of sacrament.”13 Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, “the holy city” of God, “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”14 She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community.15 The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.

CCC 1186 Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To enter into the house of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called. The visible church is a symbol of the Father’s house toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father “will wipe every tear from their eyes.”16 Also for this reason, the Church is the house of all God’s children, open and welcoming.

CCC 2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.17 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”18

CCC 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.19

Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice. .. O Daughter of Jerusalem. .. the Lord your God is in your midst.”20 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God. .. with men.”21 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”22 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”23 Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.24 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”

1 Cf. I Cor 10:2.

2 I Cor 10:11; cf. Heb 3:1 -4:11.

3 Cf. Rev 21:1 – 22:5.

4 Cf. Rev 19:1-9.

5 Cf Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4.

6 Cf. Rev 20:12 2 Pt 3:12-13.

7 LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 3:9; Mt 21:42 and parallels; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7; Ps 118:22; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19-22; Rev 21:3; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 21:1-2.

8 LG 6; Cf. Gal 4:26; Rev 12:17; 19:7; 21:2,9; 22:17; Eph 5:25-26,29.

9 2 Pet 3:13; Cf. Rev 21:1.

10 Eph 1:10.

11 Cf. Rev 21:5.

12 Rev 21:4.

13 Cf. LG 1.

14 Rev 21:2, 9.

15 Cf. Rev 21:27.

16 Rev 21:4.

17

18 Rev 21:2.

19 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.

20 Zeph 3:14,17a.

21 Rev 21:3.

22 Lk 1:41, 48.

23 Lk 1:45.

24 Cf. Gen 12:3.

APPLICATION

We have only a very limited revelation from God as regards the nature of heaven, the place or state in which we hope to be for eternity after death, if we live as loyal Christians. There must be reasons for this paucity of information, or God would reveal more to us. One of the first reasons that we can see is that God wants us to have faith and to trust in his divine promise. The man who works honestly for a prearranged salary, legally guaranteed, has no reason to have faith in the justice of his employer or trust his word. But he who works diligently for a generous friend, without any contract, is showing faith and trust in that friend.

Another reason why we have not been given more minute information concerning our future life, is that the present state of our intellect, dependent as it is on earthly images, is incapable of grasping or understanding the true and exact nature of the future life. If somebody had told Aristotle, one of the great minds of ancient Greece, that a man could travel on a machine to the moon and return again, I feel sure the great philosopher would shake his head in pity for his half-witted informant!

We have St. Paul’s word for it, and he had a vision of heaven, that we could form no human concept of its nature.

However, St. John today tells us enough to make us anxious to go there. We shall be in the presence of God. All earthly things will have passed away. Our abode, which is God’s abode, will be a new creation. We shall live eternally there, free from all care, all pain, all anxiety–free from everything which makes our earthly life difficult.

I have God’s word for it that there is such a future place in store for me. I have the added proof that the Son of God came on earth, suffered, died and rose from the dead, in order that I could get there. What I shall be like in heaven is the least of my worries. The only worry I should really have now is: am I on the right road there? Will I make it? If I am on the right road then the other questions will be solved for me when God calls me.

Agia_Triada_09

GOSPEL

Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,

“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

If God is glorified in him,

God will also glorify him in himself,

and God will glorify him at once.

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.

I give you a new commandment: love one another.

As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

This is how all will know that you are my disciples,

if you have love for one another.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:

– It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”1

– One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,”2 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.

– This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”

– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.”

– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.”3 This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.4

– Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.5 This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”

-Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”6

CCC 1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love.7 In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; “thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament.”8

CCC 1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment.9 By loving his own “to the end,”10 he makes manifest the Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.” And again: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”11

CCC 1970 The Law of the Gospel requires us to make the decisive choice between “the two ways” and to put into practice the words of the Lord.12 It is summed up in the Golden Rule, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; this is the law and the prophets.”13

The entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the “new commandment” of Jesus, to love one another as he has loved us.14

CCC 2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”15

The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,‘ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”16

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”17 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”18 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”19 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

CCC 2842 This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”20 It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.21 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.22

1 1 Pet 2:9.

2 Jn 3:3-5.

3 Cf. Jn 13 34

4 Rom 8:2; Gal 5:25.

5 Cf. Mt 5:13-16.

6 LG 9 # 2.

7 Cf. Jn 13:1-17; 34-35.

8 Council of Trent (1562): DS 1740.

9 Cf. Jn 13:34.

10 Jn 13:1.

11 Jn 15:9, 12.

12 Cf. Mt 7:13-14,21-27.

13 Mt 7:12; cf. Lk 6:31.

14 Cf. Jn 15:12; 13:34.

15 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28.

16 Rom 13:8-10.

17 1 Tim 2:3-4.

18 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

19 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

20 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.

21 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.

22 Eph 4:32.

APPLICATION

We are disciples, followers of Christ, but how many of us would pass the test that Christ himself lays down for deciding who are his true followers? The word “charity” unfortunately has come to have a very restricted meaning in our present-day vocabulary. It signifies giving an alms, a gift of money to a needy person. This is but a very small part of the true charity, true love of neighbor which Christ made the distinguishing mark of the true Christian. He who truly loves his neighbor must be interested, first and foremost, in those things which concern that neighbor’s most important purpose in life, his eternal salvation.

Here is where so many good Christians fail in true charity. Effective interest in missionary activity is a case in point. Practical help in parochial matters, taking part in the various societies which are intended to build up and strengthen the faith and the devotion of the members of the parish is another obligation of true charity. So many seem to think it is no concern of theirs but it is. Advising and encouraging, with true Christian kindness, a neighbor who is beginning to grow lax in his attendance to his Christian duties, or who is forming habits or alliances which, if unchecked, will bring misery and suffering to his family, and scandal to the neighborhood, and even the possibility of his own eternal destruction, is also an exercise of real Christian charity.

There are thousands of broken homes today which would not be broken if there was true charity in those homes not only in the heart of the offender but in the hearts of the offended. There are thousands in jails and in hospitals of rehabilitation today who would not be there if their families and neighbors fulfilled their obligation of Christian charity. There are many, far too many, lapsed Catholics in the world today, who would not have lapsed had true charity been practiced by their relatives and neighbors. And, last but not least, there are millions of people who have remained outside the Church of Christ because the hall-mark of charity which Christ said was its distinguishing mark was tarnished or invisible. Each one of us could, with great profit, spend a few moments today looking into ourselves and comparing our thoughts and our words and our actions with the thoughts, words and actions of love which Christ expects from his followers.

It is never too late to mend. Begin today to take a true Christian interest in the spiritual fate of your family and neighbors. Where words have already failed perhaps, try prayer and example. The grace of God will cooperate with your sincere, charitable effort.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

How to Reach the Dignity of Christianity

The Church must always become anew what she already is; she must open the borders between peoples and break down the barriers between class and race. In her, there cannot be those who are forgotten or looked down upon. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit must continually break down those barriers that we men and women continue to build between us; we must continually pass from Babel – being closed in on ourselves – to Pentecost. We continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure. It is in lowering ourselves, together with Christ, that we rise up to him and up to God. God is Love, and so the descent, the lowering that love demands of us, is at the same time the true ascent. Exactly in this way, lowering ourselves, coming out of ourselves, we reach the dignity of Jesus Christ, the human being’s true dignity. In people, notwithstanding all of their limitations, there is now something absolutely new: the breath of God. The life of God lives in us. The breath of his love, of his truth and of his goodness. To his breath the Lord joins the power of forgiveness. The strength that opens up and overcomes Babel is the strength of forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from the cross; he transforms the world with the love that is offered. His heart opened on the cross is the door through which the grace of forgiveness enters into the world. And this grace alone is able to transform the world and build peace. Evil can be overcome only by forgiveness.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit of light and love, you are the substantial love of the Father and the Son; hear my prayer. Bounteous bestower of most precious gifts, grant me a strong and living faith which makes me accept all revealed truths and shape my conduct in accord with them. Give me a most confident hope in all divine promises which prompts me to abandon myself unreservedly to you and your guidance. Infuse into me a love of perfect goodwill, and act according to God’s least desires. Make me love not only my friends but my enemies as well, in imitation of Jesus Christ who through you offered himself on the Cross for all people. Holy Spirit, animate, inspire, and guide me, and help me to be always a true follower of you. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=336
Posted in Catholic

Fifth Sunday of Easter – C

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 “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for our Family – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Heavenly Father,

you have given us the model of life

in the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Help us, O Loving Father,

to make our family another Nazareth

where love, peace and joy reign.

May it be deeply contemplative,

intensely eucharistic,

revived with joy.

Help us to stay together in joy

and sorrow in family prayer.

Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our families,

especially in their distressing disguise.

May the eucharistic heart of Jesus

make our hearts humble like his

and help us to carry out our family duties

in a holy way.

May we love one another

as God loves each one of us,

more and more each day,

and forgive each other’s faults

as you forgive our sins.

Help us, O Loving Father,

to take whatever you give

and give whatever you take with a big smile.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,

cause of our joy, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Holy Guardian Angels,

be always with us,

guide and protect us.

Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,

that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism

may, under your protective care, bear much fruit

and come to the joys of life eternal.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

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READING I

Acts 14: 21-27

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus’ baptism proclaimed “the mystery of the first regeneration”, namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration “is the sacrament of the second regeneration”: our own Resurrection.1 From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he “will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”2 But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God”:3

Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: “Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?”4

CCC 2847 The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man,5 and temptation, which leads to sin and death.6 We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable,7 when in reality its fruit is death.

God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. .. There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.8

1 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2.

2 Phil 3:21.

3 Acts 14:22.

4 St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493; cf. Lk 9:33.

5 Cf. Lk. 8:13-15; Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; 2 Tim 3:12.

6 Cf. Jas 1:14-15.

7 Cf. Gen 3:6.

8 Origen, De orat. 29 PG 11, 544CD.

APPLICATION

This first missionary journey of St. Paul, the shortest of three, lasted about two and a half years. During it, apart from the sea journey, he traveled on foot about 600 miles over mountainous and difficult terrain. He had to earn his bread by the work of his hands. He suffered hunger and cold and was once stoned by the Jews and left for dead. Compared with his other journeys this was relatively easy. But when we think about it and think about the love of God and of his fellow men which inspired St. Paul to endure such hardships, can we fail to wonder and be shocked at the coldness of our own love of God, and the almost total lack of interest in the eternal welfare of our neighbor which we perhaps show?

There are Christians and Catholics who begrudge the 45 minutes they have to give to God on Sunday morning : they look for a 20 minutes Mass. The remaining 167.25 hours of each week are given to their worldly cares, which nonetheless they will have to leave forever in a few years’ time. There are Catholics who grumble when they are asked to give a portion of their weekly earnings to help support their church and their pastors. There are good devout Catholics who give no help whatsoever in spreading the faith among the pagan peoples. Do such Christians really love God and appreciate what he has done for them? Have they really got their eternal salvation at heart if they are so unwilling to put themselves out the least little bit for its sake?

Granted, we are not all called to be other St. Pauls nor do we get the abundance of divine grace he got. We are, however, all called to be saints, if lesser saints maybe, and we all have got many graces from God. God does expect us, too, to show some return for his many gifts and to prove our love for him by our love for our neighbor. Love of God and love of neighbor are the two greatest of the commandments. They are in fact our tickets to heaven. If we haven’t got these tickets or if we are not purchasing them in daily installments by our charitable acts, we had better begin today. Millions of the saved in heaven today are thanking God for St. Paul’s love of God and neighbor. I shall be happy if even a few of my fellow men will have reason to thank God that I existed.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

The LORD is good to all

and compassionate toward all his works.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

and let your faithful ones bless you.

Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your might.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,

and your dominion endures through all generations.

I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

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READING II

Rev 21:1-5a

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.

The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,

and the sea was no more.

I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,

coming down out of heaven from God,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.

He will dwell with them and they will be his people

and God himself will always be with them as their God.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes,

and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,

for the old order has passed away.”

The One who sat on the throne said,

“Behold, I make all things new.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.1

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.2

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.3

CCC 677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.4 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.5 God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.6

CCC 756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”7

CCC 757 “The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is above’ and ‘our mother’, is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes.’”8

CCC 1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, “new heavens and a new earth.”9 It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head “all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.”10

CCC 1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.11 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”12

CCC 1045 For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been “in the nature of sacrament.”13 Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, “the holy city” of God, “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”14 She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community.15 The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.

CCC 1186 Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To enter into the house of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called. The visible church is a symbol of the Father’s house toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father “will wipe every tear from their eyes.”16 Also for this reason, the Church is the house of all God’s children, open and welcoming.

CCC 2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.17 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”18

CCC 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.19

Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice. .. O Daughter of Jerusalem. .. the Lord your God is in your midst.”20 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God. .. with men.”21 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”22 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”23 Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.24 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”

1 Cf. I Cor 10:2.

2 I Cor 10:11; cf. Heb 3:1 -4:11.

3 Cf. Rev 21:1 – 22:5.

4 Cf. Rev 19:1-9.

5 Cf Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4.

6 Cf. Rev 20:12 2 Pt 3:12-13.

7 LG 6; Cf. 1 Cor 3:9; Mt 21:42 and parallels; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7; Ps 118:22; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19-22; Rev 21:3; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 21:1-2.

8 LG 6; Cf. Gal 4:26; Rev 12:17; 19:7; 21:2,9; 22:17; Eph 5:25-26,29.

9 2 Pet 3:13; Cf. Rev 21:1.

10 Eph 1:10.

11 Cf. Rev 21:5.

12 Rev 21:4.

13 Cf. LG 1.

14 Rev 21:2, 9.

15 Cf. Rev 21:27.

16 Rev 21:4.

17

18 Rev 21:2.

19 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.

20 Zeph 3:14,17a.

21 Rev 21:3.

22 Lk 1:41, 48.

23 Lk 1:45.

24 Cf. Gen 12:3.

APPLICATION

We have only a very limited revelation from God as regards the nature of heaven, the place or state in which we hope to be for eternity after death, if we live as loyal Christians. There must be reasons for this paucity of information, or God would reveal more to us. One of the first reasons that we can see is that God wants us to have faith and to trust in his divine promise. The man who works honestly for a prearranged salary, legally guaranteed, has no reason to have faith in the justice of his employer or trust his word. But he who works diligently for a generous friend, without any contract, is showing faith and trust in that friend.

Another reason why we have not been given more minute information concerning our future life, is that the present state of our intellect, dependent as it is on earthly images, is incapable of grasping or understanding the true and exact nature of the future life. If somebody had told Aristotle, one of the great minds of ancient Greece, that a man could travel on a machine to the moon and return again, I feel sure the great philosopher would shake his head in pity for his half-witted informant!

We have St. Paul’s word for it, and he had a vision of heaven, that we could form no human concept of its nature.

However, St. John today tells us enough to make us anxious to go there. We shall be in the presence of God. All earthly things will have passed away. Our abode, which is God’s abode, will be a new creation. We shall live eternally there, free from all care, all pain, all anxiety–free from everything which makes our earthly life difficult.

I have God’s word for it that there is such a future place in store for me. I have the added proof that the Son of God came on earth, suffered, died and rose from the dead, in order that I could get there. What I shall be like in heaven is the least of my worries. The only worry I should really have now is: am I on the right road there? Will I make it? If I am on the right road then the other questions will be solved for me when God calls me.

Agia_Triada_09

GOSPEL

Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,

“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

If God is glorified in him,

God will also glorify him in himself,

and God will glorify him at once.

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.

I give you a new commandment: love one another.

As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

This is how all will know that you are my disciples,

if you have love for one another.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:

– It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”1

– One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,”2 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.

– This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”

– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.”

– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.”3 This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.4

– Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.5 This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”

-Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”6

CCC 1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love.7 In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; “thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament.”8

CCC 1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment.9 By loving his own “to the end,”10 he makes manifest the Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.” And again: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”11

CCC 1970 The Law of the Gospel requires us to make the decisive choice between “the two ways” and to put into practice the words of the Lord.12 It is summed up in the Golden Rule, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; this is the law and the prophets.”13

The entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the “new commandment” of Jesus, to love one another as he has loved us.14

CCC 2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”15

The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,‘ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”16

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”17 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”18 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”19 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

CCC 2842 This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”20 It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.21 Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.22

1 1 Pet 2:9.

2 Jn 3:3-5.

3 Cf. Jn 13 34

4 Rom 8:2; Gal 5:25.

5 Cf. Mt 5:13-16.

6 LG 9 # 2.

7 Cf. Jn 13:1-17; 34-35.

8 Council of Trent (1562): DS 1740.

9 Cf. Jn 13:34.

10 Jn 13:1.

11 Jn 15:9, 12.

12 Cf. Mt 7:13-14,21-27.

13 Mt 7:12; cf. Lk 6:31.

14 Cf. Jn 15:12; 13:34.

15 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28.

16 Rom 13:8-10.

17 1 Tim 2:3-4.

18 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

19 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

20 Mt 5:48; Lk 6:36; Jn 13:34.

21 Cf. Gal 5:25; Phil 2:1,5.

22 Eph 4:32.

APPLICATION

We are disciples, followers of Christ, but how many of us would pass the test that Christ himself lays down for deciding who are his true followers? The word “charity” unfortunately has come to have a very restricted meaning in our present-day vocabulary. It signifies giving an alms, a gift of money to a needy person. This is but a very small part of the true charity, true love of neighbor which Christ made the distinguishing mark of the true Christian. He who truly loves his neighbor must be interested, first and foremost, in those things which concern that neighbor’s most important purpose in life, his eternal salvation.

Here is where so many good Christians fail in true charity. Effective interest in missionary activity is a case in point. Practical help in parochial matters, taking part in the various societies which are intended to build up and strengthen the faith and the devotion of the members of the parish is another obligation of true charity. So many seem to think it is no concern of theirs but it is. Advising and encouraging, with true Christian kindness, a neighbor who is beginning to grow lax in his attendance to his Christian duties, or who is forming habits or alliances which, if unchecked, will bring misery and suffering to his family, and scandal to the neighborhood, and even the possibility of his own eternal destruction, is also an exercise of real Christian charity.

There are thousands of broken homes today which would not be broken if there was true charity in those homes not only in the heart of the offender but in the hearts of the offended. There are thousands in jails and in hospitals of rehabilitation today who would not be there if their families and neighbors fulfilled their obligation of Christian charity. There are many, far too many, lapsed Catholics in the world today, who would not have lapsed had true charity been practiced by their relatives and neighbors. And, last but not least, there are millions of people who have remained outside the Church of Christ because the hall-mark of charity which Christ said was its distinguishing mark was tarnished or invisible. Each one of us could, with great profit, spend a few moments today looking into ourselves and comparing our thoughts and our words and our actions with the thoughts, words and actions of love which Christ expects from his followers.

It is never too late to mend. Begin today to take a true Christian interest in the spiritual fate of your family and neighbors. Where words have already failed perhaps, try prayer and example. The grace of God will cooperate with your sincere, charitable effort.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

How to Reach the Dignity of Christianity

The Church must always become anew what she already is; she must open the borders between peoples and break down the barriers between class and race. In her, there cannot be those who are forgotten or looked down upon. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit must continually break down those barriers that we men and women continue to build between us; we must continually pass from Babel – being closed in on ourselves – to Pentecost. We continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure. It is in lowering ourselves, together with Christ, that we rise up to him and up to God. God is Love, and so the descent, the lowering that love demands of us, is at the same time the true ascent. Exactly in this way, lowering ourselves, coming out of ourselves, we reach the dignity of Jesus Christ, the human being’s true dignity. In people, notwithstanding all of their limitations, there is now something absolutely new: the breath of God. The life of God lives in us. The breath of his love, of his truth and of his goodness. To his breath the Lord joins the power of forgiveness. The strength that opens up and overcomes Babel is the strength of forgiveness. Forgiveness comes from the cross; he transforms the world with the love that is offered. His heart opened on the cross is the door through which the grace of forgiveness enters into the world. And this grace alone is able to transform the world and build peace. Evil can be overcome only by forgiveness.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit of light and love, you are the substantial love of the Father and the Son; hear my prayer. Bounteous bestower of most precious gifts, grant me a strong and living faith which makes me accept all revealed truths and shape my conduct in accord with them. Give me a most confident hope in all divine promises which prompts me to abandon myself unreservedly to you and your guidance. Infuse into me a love of perfect goodwill, and act according to God’s least desires. Make me love not only my friends but my enemies as well, in imitation of Jesus Christ who through you offered himself on the Cross for all people. Holy Spirit, animate, inspire, and guide me, and help me to be always a true follower of you. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=336
Posted in Catholic

Fourth Sunday of Easter – C

Good Shepherdsml

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

OPENING PRAYER

Psalm 119

Daleth

My soul clings to the dust;

give me life in accord with your word.

I disclosed my ways and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

Make me understand the way of your precepts;

I will ponder your wondrous deeds.

My soul is depressed;

lift me up according to your word.

Lead me from the way of deceit;

favor me with your law.

The way of loyalty I have chosen;

I have kept your judgments.

I cling to your testimonies, LORD;

do not let me come to shame.

I will run the way of your commandments,

for you will broaden my heart.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/psalms/119

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

lead us to a share in the joys of heaven,

so that the humble flock may reach

where the brave Shepherd has gone before.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

close-to-corinth-1READING I

Acts 13:14, 43-52

Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga

and reached Antioch in Pisidia.

On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats.

Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism

followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them

and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.

On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered

to hear the word of the Lord.

When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy

and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.

Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,

“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,

but since you reject it

and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,

we now turn to the Gentiles.

For so the Lord has commanded us,

I have made you a light to the Gentiles,

that you may be an instrument of salvation

to the ends of the earth.”

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this

and glorified the word of the Lord.

All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,

and the word of the Lord continued to spread

through the whole region.

The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers

and the leading men of the city,

stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas,

and expelled them from their territory.

So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them,

and went to Iconium.

The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2640 St. Luke in his gospel often expresses wonder and praise at the marvels of Christ and in his Acts of the Apostles stresses them as actions of the Holy Spirit: the community of Jerusalem, the invalid healed by Peter and John, the crowd that gives glory to God for that, and the pagans of Pisidia who “were glad and glorified the word of God.”1

1 Acts 2:47; 3:9; 4:21; 13:48.

APPLICATION

How wonderful are the ways of God! The Incarnation, his plan in creation to unite the human with the divine, thus raising man, the masterpiece of his creation, to the supernatural state of adopted sons, did not take place for centuries and centuries. Yet, as St. Paul says, it took place, “in the fullness of time,” at the right moment in history.

When Christ came, the known world, after many wars and upheavals, was united under one government–the Roman Empire. It was 99% pagan but, apart from the daily widespread immorality which paganism encouraged, there was very little belief or trust in the many pagan gods among the people. They saw them for what they were, the work of men’s hands, or earthly creatures more helpless than their adorers.

Thus was the Christian message welcomed by all right-minded pagans, for it was the news of a true God who was creator and governor of the whole universe, who had made man in order to share in God’s eternal happiness. This true God so loved mankind, that he sent his son on earth in our human nature to teach us to know and love our Creator. This son suffered and died as our representative, but was raised from the dead by God the Father, thus earning for us all the adopted sonship of God, and the guarantee that everyone who would follow his teaching would likewise be raised from the dead to an everlasting life.

This was surely startling, but pleasing, news. Coming as it did from men whose personal integrity and whose positive proofs were such as to convince any unprejudiced mind, it is little wonder that, in the life-time of the Apostles, all the important cities and towns of the Mediterranean side of the Roman Empire had their flourishing Christian communities.

But today, twenty centuries later, there are still some people who have not heard of the true God, and unfortunately there are millions more who have heard of him but deny him. God can and does provide, in his own ways, for those who through no fault of their own have not yet heard of him. But does he not expect some cooperation from us, who have the blessing and the consolation of his knowledge, in bringing the light of faith to these people?

Likewise, as regards those who know of God but ignore him, are we true Christians if by our daily lives we do little or nothing to make them stop and think of their folly, if they persevere in their practical atheism? Pope Pius XI once said that today we must all be apostles or else we become apostates. If our faith is a living faith, its light and heat will go out to enlighten and move others. If it is lukewarm or cold it will not save others. Think for a few moments on St. Paul today and compare your own appreciation of and zeal for the faith with his.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;

serve the LORD with gladness;

come before him with joyful song.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Know that the LORD is God;

he made us, his we are;

his people, the flock he tends.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

The LORD is good:

his kindness endures forever,

and his faithfulness, to all generations.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

veilssantapollinare.jpg

READING II

Rev 7:9, 14b-17

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude,

which no one could count,

from every nation, race, people, and tongue.

They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,

wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

Then one of the elders said to me,

“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;

they have washed their robes

and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“For this reason they stand before God’s throne

and worship him day and night in his temple.

The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.

They will not hunger or thirst anymore,

nor will the sun or any heat strike them.

For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne

will shepherd them

and lead them to springs of life-giving water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 775 “The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men.”1 The Church’s first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of men with God. Because men’s communion with one another is rooted in that union with God, the Church is also the sacrament of the unity of the human race. In her, this unity is already begun, since she gathers men “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues”;2 at the same time, the Church is the “sign and instrument” of the full realization of the unity yet to come.

CCC 1138 “Recapitulated in Christ,” these are the ones who take part in the service of the praise of God and the fulfillment of his plan: the heavenly powers, all creation (the four living beings), the servants of the Old and New Covenants (the twenty-four elders), the new People of God (the one hundred and forty-four thousand),3 especially the martyrs “slain for the word of God,” and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman), the Bride of the Lamb,4 and finally “a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues.”5

1 LG 1.

2 Rev 7:9.

3 Cf. Rev 4-5; 7:1-8; 14:1; Isa 6:2-3.

4 Rev 6:9-11; Rev 21:9; cf. 12.

5 Rev 7:9.

APPLICATION

As Christians we have every reason to think that we will one day, and soon, be among the countless number of saints whom St. John saw in his vision of heaven. I say “every reason,” because God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has done everything that was necessary to bring us there. There is only one thing that can keep us from getting there. That is the one thing that is completely under our own control–our free will. There is no other thing, no other being on earth or outside the earth that can come between us and our eternal happiness, if we truly and sincerely desire to get it.

That is fine in theory, you may answer, but what of my human weaknesses, what of my ignorance, what of the bad example of those around me, what of the urgent bodily needs of myself or of my dependents, all of which prevent me from keeping God’s laws?

Put yourself at the judgment seat at this moment and see how these excuses, which seem plausible enough now, will look to you. We all have human weaknesses, but God knows that and expects us to overcome them. He does not demand the impossible. If we do something wrong because of ignorance for which we are not responsible, then God will not hold us responsible for that particular act. But if our ignorance is willed, if we refuse to learn when we should, then we are not excused.

Bad example can and does influence people. Those who give such example are responsible, not only for their own sins but for those of others whom they lead into sin. But it is when we freely follow the bad example that we are guilty. The pressing need to preserve one’s own or one’s dependent’s life allows one to take what belongs to another, provided this urgent need is not brought about by one’s own laziness or carelessness.

Yes, heaven is intended for all men. Some, but very few, we hope, will not get there, but they will have no one but themselves to blame. Better have our remorse now, repent in time and seek the straight and narrow road. The judgment hour is not the time for repentance.

the-forerunners-of-christ-with-saints-and-martyrs-fra-angelico

GOSPEL

Jn 10:27-30

Jesus said:

“My sheep hear my voice;

I know them, and they follow me.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

No one can take them out of my hand.

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,

and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.

The Father and I are one.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 590 Only the divine identity of Jesus’ person can justify so absolute a claim as “He who is not with me is against me”; and his saying that there was in him “something greater than Jonah,… greater than Solomon”, something “greater than the Temple”; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord,1 and his affirmations, “Before Abraham was, I AM”, and even “I and the Father are one.”2

1 Cf. Mt 12:6, 30, 36, 37, 41-42.

2 Jn 8:58; 10:30.

APPLICATION

Christ, the Son of God, is our Shepherd. He has laid down his life for us, his sheep, as he himself said (Jn 10: 11). Today he tells us in these verses which have been read, that his sheep know his voice and that they follow him. We have a very simple criterion here for judging the truth and sincerity of our faith. Do we always know his voice, do we always follow him?

The enemies of Christ, and of our eternal welfare are blaring forth their Gospel of degradation and destruction from all sides. Their message to us is to forget the future, get all the pleasure and power and prosperity we can out of this short life. It matters not to them that by so doing we are bringing suffering, slavery and misery on our fellow-men. They wish us to think of ourselves only, to let the weaker or the milder take what they deserve.

What our modern self-appointed teachers of the new heaven-on-earth for the few forget, is that all this was tried before and failed miserably. The great empires of the past, built on the same pagan philosophy as that of our new “saviors,” flourished for a while. The Masters satiated with power and pleasure, the slaves living in despair and degradation are part of history–but one by one they collapsed from internal corruption.

But something more important still which our modern world-renovators forget, or do not like to remember, is that our time on this earth is but a passing phase in our life. Our true life, our unending existence, begins when we leave this world. This is no “old-wives’ tale,” this is no opium for the common people. This is rational deduction of the reasoning of the greatest minds in human history down through the centuries. It is the universal conviction of the common men of all ages and climates. Above all, and beyond fallible human reasoning, this is the revelation that God the Creator of the universe has deigned to give to men.

Today we are once more reminded of this one basic and solid fact of life. We are destined for an eternal life. Our Good Shepherd, Christ our Savior, promised to give us this eternal life, if we listen to his voice and follow him. Any sane man or woman who knows this true fact of life can turn a very deaf ear to the modem vendors of false, temporary happiness. “They have not the truth in them” (Jn. 8:44).

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Christ the Good Shepherd

If “sacrifice” in its essence is simply returning to love and therefore divinization, worship now has a new aspect: the healing of wounded freedom, atonement, purification, deliverance from estrangement. The essence of worship, of sacrifice – the process of assimilation, of growth in love, and this the way into freedom – remains unchanged. But now it assumes the aspect of healing, the loving transformation of broken freedom, of painful expiation. Worship is directed to the Other in himself, to his all-sufficiency, but now it refers itself to the Other who alone can extricate me from the knot that I myself cannot untie. Redemption now needs the Redeemer. The Fathers saw this expressed in the parable of the Lost Sheep. For them, the sheep caught in the thorn bush and unable to find its way home is a metaphor for man in general. He cannot get out of the thicket and find his way back to God. The shepherd who rescues him and takes him home is the Logos himself, the eternal Word, the eternal nature, and as the God-Man he carries man the creature home to God. Man is given a homecoming. But now sacrifice takes the form of the cross of Christ, of the love that in dying makes a gift of itself. Such sacrifice has nothing to do with destruction. It is an act of new creation, the restoration of creation to its true identity. All worship is now a participation in this “Pasch” of Christ, in his “passing over” from divine to human, from death to life, to the unity of God and man.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 143, 1-11 Domine, exaudi

Lord, listen to my prayer; turn your ear to my appeal.

You are faithful, you are just; give answer.

Do not call your servant to judgment for no one is just in your sight.

The enemy pursues my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead, long forgotten.

Therefore my spirit fails; my heart is numb within me.

I remember the days that are past; I ponder all your works.

I muse on what your hand has wrought and to you I stretch out my hands.

Like a parched land my soul thirsts for you.

Lord, make haste and answer: for my spirit fails within me.

Do not hide your face lest I become like those in the grave.

In the morning let me know your love for I put my trust in you.

Make me know the way I should walk; to you I lift up my soul.

Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies; I have fled to you for refuge.

Teach me to do your will for you, O Lord, are my God.

Let your good Spirit guide me in ways that are level and smooth.

For your name’s sake, save my life; in your justice save my soul from distress.

In your love make an end of my foes; destroy all those who oppress me for I am your servant, O Lord. Amen.

http://www.catholicity.com/prayer/seven-penitential-psalms.html

Posted in Catholic

Third Sunday of Easter – C

-22

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.

OPENING PRAYER

Dedication to Jesus

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my

will.  All that I have and cherish You have given me.  I surrender it all to be

guided by Your will.  Your love and Your grace are wealth enough for me.  Give me

these, Lord Jesus, and I’ll ask for nothing more.

Amen.

http://www.catholicity.com/prayer/prayer-of-self-dedication-to-jesus-christ.html

COLLECT

May your people exult for ever, O God,

in renewed youthfulness of spirit,

so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our

adoption,

we may look forward in confident hope

to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

The+apostles

Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41

When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name?  Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men.  The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.  God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.  We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them.  So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.

 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 432 The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,1 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”2

CCC 450 From the beginning of Christian history, the assertion of Christ’s lordship over the world and over history has implicitly recognized that man should not submit his personal freedom in an absolute manner to any earthly power, but only to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Caesar is not “the Lord”.3 “The Church. .. believes that the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of man’s history is to be found in its Lord and Master.”4

CCC 597 The historical complexity of Jesus’ trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles’ calls to conversion after Pentecost.5 Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders.6 Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!”, a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence.7 As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council:

… [N]either all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. .. [T]he Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.8

CCC 2242 The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”9 “We must obey God rather than men”:10

When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.11

1 Cf. Jn 3:18; Acts 2:21; 5:41; 3 Jn 7; Rom 10:6-13.

2 Acts 4:12; cf. 9:14; Jas 2:7.

3 Cf. Rev 11:15; Mk 12:17; Acts 5:29.

4 GS 10 # 3; Cf. 45 # 2.

5 Cf. Mk 15:11; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28; I Th 2:14-15.

6 Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17.

7 Mt 27:25; cf. Acts 5:28; 18:6.

8 NA 4.

9 Mt 22:21.

10 Acts 5:29.

11 GS 74 # 5.

APPLICATION

The first thought that strikes us on reading this incident, one of many similar to it in the history of the infant Church in Jerusalem, is the change brought about in the Apostles and disciples by the resurrection and the grace of the Holy Spirit. We see Peter, surrounded by his fellow Apostles, bravely and fearlessly proclaiming the divinity of Christ, not only to the honest, ordinary Jews, but to the members of the highest religious power in the land to those very men, in fact, who had had Christ crucified as a criminal and an impostor.

Only a few weeks earlier the Apostles had run for their lives when Christ was arrested. Peter, partly out of love for his Master and partly out of his desire to know what would happen, followed from a safe distance. But the moment a servant-maid suggested that he was a follower of Christ, he cursed and swore that he had never heard of him!

He repented, indeed very quickly, and he grieved when he heard his Master was condemned to the Cross–but he remained at a safe distance on Calvary. Peter, although he had been chosen to be the head of the Church that Christ would found, was still very human and very concerned with the earthly welfare of Peter.

But all that was changed once he realized his Master was God, and once he received the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit. I’m afraid that if we look into our own hearts, most, if not all of us, will find we have much more of the pre-resurrection Peter in us, and less of the Peter of whom we have read today. Yet we are convinced as Peter was that Christ was and is God. We are as convinced as Peter was that heaven is our true home and that it is by confessing Christ in our daily lives that we can reach that eternal home.

What we lack in our Christian lives is a deeper appreciation of our faith, a more sincere love for Christ and a greater interest in our neighbor’s and our own eternal welfare. There are over five hundred million Christians in the world. If only each one would live up to his faith, the whole world would be Christian in a few generations. Let us strive to be a little more like the St. Peter of whom we read today. That is, let us preach Christ the Savior by the example of our devout and sincere Christian way of living. Let us have the courage to stand up for our faith and defend it always, even if this should cost us our earthly lives. Thousands of martyrs are in heaven today because they did just this. Their human nature was no stronger than ours. Their desire to live on in this world was no weaker than ours. But their love and esteem for their faith made them esteem as of less importance their earthly lives.

We have received the gift of fortitude from the Holy Spirit at our baptism. Let us be ever ready to use this gift in defense of our Christian faith if called on to do so. If we do, not only will we make sure that we will reach our true home in heaven, but we shall bring many others with us who would otherwise have taken a wrong turning and lost their way.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear

and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.

O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;

you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,

and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger lasts but a moment;

a lifetime, his good will.

At nightfall, weeping enters in,

but with the dawn, rejoicing.

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;

O LORD, be my helper.

You changed my mourning into dancing;

O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

READING II

bzuw0E_k1oiYvZ3H6VPIjE268rL8L5DGlyPHKWOTAz9coupTyBK2z8G4NCqHor6HZsnQgn1rL-6RgxYSRtAufrYapGoyCFeM_SQe9Pg9SxI-UcR_TFvJq_qHfG1YS5HsNEhtjU99XtWkFsEHuA=s0-d-e1-ft

Rev 5:11-14

I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice:  “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.”  Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out:  “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”  The four living creatures answered, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 449 By attributing to Jesus the divine title “Lord”, the first confessions of the Church’s faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honor and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because “he was in the form of God”,1 and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory.2

CCC 2642 The Revelation of “what must soon take place,” the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy3 but also by the intercession of the “witnesses” (martyrs).4 The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb.5 In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the “Father of lights,” from whom “every perfect gift” comes down.6 Thus faith is pure praise.

CCC 2855 The final doxology, “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever,” takes up again, by inclusion, the first three petitions to our Father: the glorification of his name, the coming of his reign, and the power of his saving will. But these prayers are now proclaimed as adoration and thanksgiving, as in the liturgy of heaven.7 The ruler of this world has mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory.8 Christ, the Lord, restores them to his Father and our Father, until he hands over the kingdom to him when the mystery of salvation will be brought to its completion and God will be all in all.9

1 Cf. Acts 2:34 – 36; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Rev 5:13; Phil 2:6.

2 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 12:3; Phil 2:9-11.

3 Cf. Rev 4:8-11; 5:9-14; 7:10-12.

4 Rev 6:10.

5 Cf. Rev 18:24; 19:1-8.

6 Jas 1:17.

7 Cf. Rev 1:6; 4:11; 5:13.

8 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

9 1 Cor 15:24-28.

APPLICATION

We have here a small glimpse of heaven, which St. John received in a vision and described in symbolic language. The essence of the vision is that Christ in his glorified humanity will have the chief place in heaven after God, and that all rational creatures will sing his praises for ever. Many devout Christians would like to know more about heaven. Any ideas that we have of it are more negative than positive. We know there will be no suffering, no tears, no fears there, and the positive side of that is that it will be a state of perfect and permanent happiness.

St. Paul, who was given a glimpse of heaven, said no human ideas or words could describe it (2 Cor. 12:4). He quotes the prophet Isaiah (64: 4) as saying : “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2: 9). In this life, therefore, we are incapable of forming any complete idea of what our future life in heaven will be like. But we have more than enough knowledge concerning it to make us want to get there.

We all know what happiness means. We have moments of true happiness here on earth, though they are always marred by the knowledge that they cannot last. In heaven, happiness will be unending. We all have experienced true friendship and love in this life, but it was ended or will end by death or by some misunderstanding. True friendship for all mankind and true love for one another and for God, will not only be more complete and unselfish in heaven, but will continue forever. Security is the basis for earthly peace and contentment–if I could be guaranteed that my health and that of all those I love would continue indefinitely, how happy would I not be? If I could promise myself that all financial worries were ended forever, how fortunate could I count myself?

But it is only in heaven that we can and do get this perfect security. Never again, will we have to worry or think of health or provision for the future. Our glorified bodies will be forever immune to tears and fears.

I may not know as much about the future life in heaven as I would like to know, but I know more than sufficient to make me want to go there. Thousands of martyrs and saints have undergone great sufferings in this life and counted them as nothing because they were thus earning heaven. We are not asked to suffer as they did. The vast majority of Christians (and of all others who follow their consciences) will reach heaven by leading normal honest lives, doing what they deem to be right and avoiding what they know to be wrong.

If we do just this, we too will one day join that immense choir of angels and men who are chanting the praises of Christ, the Lamb of God, who earned this supernatural, eternal home of happiness for us.

GOSPEL

miracle-great-catch-of-fish-01

Jn 21:1-19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way.  Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.”  So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”  They answered him, “No.”  So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”  So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.  So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”  When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.  The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.  When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”  So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.  Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.  Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”  And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.  Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.  This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.  When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time,  “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.  Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.  And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041016.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.1 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.2 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”3

CCC 553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”4 The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.”5 The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles6 and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

CCC 618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.7 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.8 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”,9 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”10 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.11 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.12

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.13

CCC 645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.14 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.15 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.16

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”17 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.18 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.19 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.20 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.21

CCC 880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.”22 Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.”23

CCC 881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.24 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.”25 This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

CCC 1166 “By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday.”26 The day of Christ’s Resurrection is both the first day of the week, the memorial of the first day of creation, and the “eighth day,” on which Christ after his “rest” on the great sabbath inaugurates the “day that the Lord has made,” the “day that knows no evening.”27 The Lord’s Supper is its center, for there the whole community of the faithful encounters the risen Lord who invites them to his banquet:28

The Lord’s day, the day of Resurrection, the day of Christians, is our day. It is called the Lord’s day because on it the Lord rose victorious to the Father. If pagans call it the “day of the sun,” we willingly agree, for today the light of the world is raised, today is revealed the sun of justice with healing in his rays.29

CCC 1429 St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him.30 The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a whole Church: “Repent!”31

St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.”32

CCC 1551 This priesthood is ministerial. “That office. .. which the Lord committed to the pastors of his people, is in the strict sense of the term a service.”33 It is entirely related to Christ and to men. It depends entirely on Christ and on his unique priesthood; it has been instituted for the good of men and the communion of the Church. The sacrament of Holy Orders communicates a “sacred power” which is none other than that of Christ. The exercise of this authority must therefore be measured against the model of Christ, who by love made himself the least and the servant of all.34 “The Lord said clearly that concern for his flock was proof of love for him.”35

1 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.

2 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.

3 Jn 20:28,21:7.

4 Mt 16:19.

5 Jn 21:15-17; Cf. 10:11.

6 Cf. Mt 18:18.

7 1 Tim 2:5.

8 GS 22 # 5; cf. # 2.

9 Mt 16:24.

10 I Pt 2:21.

11 Cf Mk 10:39; Jn 21:18-19; Col 1:24.

12 Cf. Lk 2:35.

13 St. Rose of Lima: cf. P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).

14 Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15.

15 Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4.

16 Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7.

17 Mk 16:19.

18 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

19 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

20 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

21 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

22 LG 19; cf. Lk 6:13; Jn 21:15-17.

23 LG 22; cf. CIC, can. 330.

24 Cf. Mt 16:18-19; Jn 21:15-17.

25 LG 22 # 2.

26 SC 106.

27 Byzantine liturgy.

28 Cf. Jn 21:12; Lk 24:30.

29 St. Jerome, Pasch.: CCL 78, 550.

30 Cf. Lk 22:61; Jn 21:15-17.

31 Rev 2:5, 16.

32 St. Ambrose, ep. 41, 12: PL 16, 1116.

33 LG 24.

34 Cf. Mk 10:43-45; 1 Pet 5:3.

35 St. John Chrysostom, De sac. 2, 4:PG 48, 636; cf. Jn 21:15-17.

APPLICATION

The primary purpose in recounting this appearance of the Risen Christ to his Apostles, was to stress the actual conferring of the Primacy on Peter. From this very first meeting with Christ at the Jordan (Jn. 1: 42) the Savior had told him that his name Simon bar-Jonah would be changed to Cephas, which means Rock. Some year or so later, at Caesarea Philippi, this change took place when Christ said to Simon: “You are (Peter) Rock, and upon this Rock I will build my Church. . .and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16: 18-19).

This promise, that Simon would be the foundation, the source of strength and unity, in the new Christian community, was made factual on the occasion described here by John. Christ uses a new metaphor—Simon (Peter) is to be the new shepherd—he would take the place of Christ, as head and director of the Christian flock. He would provide protection and pasturage for Christ’s sheep and lambs. He would, in other words, be the keeper and head of Christ’s Church.

That this position of authority was recognized by his fellow Apostles and by the first Christians, is evident in almost every page of the Acts—the book which describes the infant Church. It was Peter who presided at the election of Matthias, who succeeded Judas in the apostolic college (Acts 1: 15-26); he gave the first Christian sermon after the descent of the Holy Spirit (2: 14-40); he worked the first recorded miracle wrought by any Apostle (3: 1-11); he pronounced sentence on Ananias and Sapphira (5: 1-11); it was he who received the first Gentile convert into the Church (11 :1-18) and it was he who defended Paul’s action at the Council of Jerusalem (15: 6-11).

In face of such evidence no serious historian can doubt but that the other Apostles and the first Christians saw in Peter the living head of the Church, the representative of Christ. The Church in the succeeding generations and centuries saw the successor of Peter, and the living representative of Christ in the occupant of the See of Rome, the bishopric held by Peter, when he was martyred for the faith. History is witness to this.

There were Christians who refused obedience to him, but not one of them claimed for himself the privilege of Peter and his successors. That the Church, the society founded by Christ to bring salvation to the world, should need a visible Head on earth, needs no further (and has not stronger) proof than that Christ himself saw it as necessary and arranged it accordingly. The power of the keys, given to Peter, were more necessary in the second and succeeding generations than in Peter’s day, when the other Apostles were still alive. When Christ laid the foundation of his Church on a Rock, it was to be a Rock that would last as long as the Church. Peter died, but Peter’s office will last until the last man goes to heaven. The Sheep and the Lambs of the twentieth and thirtieth centuries have as much need of pasturage and protection as, if not more than, those of the first century. Christ, our Savior and our Good Shepherd, provided for all time.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Good Shepherd

The human race – every one of us – is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. The Son of God will not let this happen; he cannot abandon humanity in so wretched a condition. He leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the cross. He takes it upon his shoulders and carries our humanity; he carries us all – he is the good shepherd who lads down his life for the sheep… When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, himself became a lamb, he stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed… It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God’s sign: he himself is love… God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man. One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. “Feed my sheep,” says Christ to Peter. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit

Replace the tension within us with a holy relaxation.

Replace the turbulence within us with a sacred calm.

Replace the anxiety within us with a quiet confidence.

Replace the fear within us with a strong faith.

Replace the bitterness within us with the sweetness of grace.

Replace the darkness within us with a gentle light.

Replace the coldness within us with a loving warmth.

Replace the night within us with your light.

Replace the winter within us with your spring.

Straighten our crookedness.

Fill our emptiness.

Dull the edge of our pride.

Sharpen the edge of our humility.

Light the fires of our love.

Quench the flames of our lust.

Let us see ourselves as you see us

That we may see You.

Amen.

http://holyspiritinteractive.net/prayers/prayerstotheholyspirit/prayer2.asp

 

Posted in Catholic

Second Sunday of Easter – C Divine Mercy Sunday

iconsacredheart

“Have you come to believe because you have seen me?

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

OPENING PRAYER

You expired, O Jesus,

but the source of life gushed forth for souls

and an ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.

O Fount of Life,

unfathomable Divine Mercy,

envelop the whole world

and empty Yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water,

which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus

as a fount of mercy for us,

I trust in You.

Amen.

(Diary 1319)

COLLECT

God of everlasting mercy,

who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast

kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,

increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,

that all may grasp and rightly understanding in what font they have been washed,

by whose Spirit they have been reborn,

by whose Blood they have been redeemed.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

icon_HolyApostles

Acts 5:12-16

Many signs and wonders were done among the people

at the hands of the apostles.

They were all together in Solomon’s portico.

None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them.

Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord,

great numbers of men and women, were added to them.

Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets

and laid them on cots and mats

so that when Peter came by,

at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.

A large number of people from the towns

in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered,

bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits,

and they were all cured.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 699 The hand. Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them.1 In his name the apostles will do the same.2 Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles’ imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given.3 The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the “fundamental elements” of its teaching.4 The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.

1 Cf. Mk 6:5; 8:23; 10:16.

2 Cf. Mk 16:18; Acts 5:12; 14:3.

3 Cf. Acts 8:17-19; 13:3; 19:6.

4 Cf. Heb 6:2.

APPLICATION

In a few plain and simple sentences, St. Luke, who wrote the Acts, gives us a bird’s eye view of the young Christian community in Jerusalem. Their firm belief was that the Christ, whom the leaders of the Jews had crucified unjustly, had been raised by the Father from the dead, and was now in glory at the Father’s right hand in heaven. “The breaking of bread” in common, the Holy Eucharist, the means Christ had planned and instituted before his death, of remaining with them on earth, was the other great bond of unity and strength which made them a compact community, distinct from their fellow Jews who refused to believe.

As yet they had no plans as to how the good news of God’s intervention in the eternal destiny of man was to be brought to the world. They humbly and patiently waited for inspiration from the Holy Spirit whose direction and assistance Christ had promised them (Acts 1: 4-7). This came in due time and the Apostles and their followers did their part nobly when called upon, as the later chapters of Acts show.

What must strike any reader of the story of the disciples relationship with Christ before and after his resurrection, is the infinite power of God’s grace on the minds of men. We must remember that Jesus of Nazareth lived, preached and died as a mere man in the eyes not only of his enemies but even of his chosen Apostles. That he had the power of miracles from God they knew. That he would use this power of miracles from God they knew. That he would use this power to prevent his enemies capturing and condemning him to death must have been their firm conviction up to Holy Thursday night. What they did not know or grasp, until the resurrection, was that he was the true Son of God, even though he had given many hints of it. His divinity was hidden so that as the one true man acting as representative of the human race he could carry out the divine plan, giving absolute obedience to the will of the Father, even though that led him to the death of the cross. By doing this he earned for all men, of all time, the title of adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven.

Once the Apostles grasped the fact of the resurrection they recognized, in the beloved Master whom they had followed for three years, the One he truly was. They recognized in him the God-man–the man who had drained the cup of human sufferings to its bitter end, and the hidden God who allowed his divinity to appear again only when he had completed the task his Father had given him to do. St. Peter on the day of Pentecost expressed this new faith of the Apostles briefly but effectively: “Let the whole house of Israel know that God (the Father) has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord (God) and Christ (the promised Messiah).” The resurrection, in other words, proved that Christ the Messiah was God as well as man.

The resurrection, for us too, is the solid foundation of our Christian faith. We are followers of Christ who was God and man. His life’s work on earth was on our behalf, to earn heaven for us. He has taught us how to get there. If we follow him we cannot go astray. He has guaranteed us all the necessary graces and helps that we need on the road, and we have but to accept them. His rising from the tomb was the key to open all human tombs and graves. We too shall rise like him with glorified bodies, free from all earthly ills, ready to enjoy an everlasting heaven, if we clutch that key to our hearts. It is the key of faith in Christ, of hope in his divine promise, and of love for the God who has so lovingly planned and prepared a home of eternal happiness for us.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

Let the house of Israel say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

Let the house of Aaron say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

Let those who fear the LORD say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

I was hard pressed and was falling,

but the LORD helped me.

My strength and my courage is the LORD,

and he has been my savior.

The joyful shout of victory

in the tents of the just:

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

The stone which the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

By the LORD has this been done;

it is wonderful in our eyes.

This is the day the LORD has made;

let us be glad and rejoice in it.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

READING II

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Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

I, John, your brother, who share with you

the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,

found myself on the island called Patmos

because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus.

I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day

and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said,

“Write on a scroll what you see.”

Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me,

and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands

and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man,

wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest.

When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead.

He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid.

I am the first and the last, the one who lives.

Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.

I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.

Write down, therefore, what you have seen,

and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,1 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”2 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.3 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.4 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”5

CCC 625 Christ’s stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the “Living One” can say, “I died, and behold I am alive for evermore”:6

God [the Son] did not impede death from separating his soul from his body according to the necessary order of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the Resurrection, so that he himself might be, in his person, the meeting point for death and life, by arresting in himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts.7

CCC 633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.8 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:9 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”10 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.11

CCC 635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”12 Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”13 Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”14

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. .. He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. .. “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. .. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”15

CCC 2854 When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ’s return By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has “the keys of Death and Hades,” who “is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”16

Deliver us, Lord, we beseech you, from every evil and grant us peace in our day, so that aided by your mercy we might be ever free from sin and protected from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.17

1 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.

2 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.

3 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.

4 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.

5 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

6 Rev 1:18.

7 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. catech. 16: PG 45, 52D.

8 Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.

9 Cf. Ps 89:49; I Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.

10 Roman Catechism 1, 6, 3.

11 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.

12 Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9.

13 Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15.

14 Rev 1:18; Phil 2:10.

15 Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR.

16 Rev 1:8,18; cf. Rev 1:4; Eph 1:10.

17 Roman Missal, Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, 126: Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi: expectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi.

APPLICATION

These inspired words of John, read to us today, are intended to inspire us with still greater love and gratitude to the Risen Savior, who has earned for us a new life of glory and happiness beyond the grave, if we remain faithful to our Christian faith during the few short years of our earthly life.

The death and resurrection of Christ have taken the sting out of death for all true believers in Christ. As St. Paul says, referring to our resurrection: “When our mortal body puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the word that is written . . . O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15: 54). So no truly believing Christian should really worry about death or grieve for those who have gone. This does not mean that we must not care for our health, or that we can afford to be reckless and foolish in our mode of living. Each one of us has a certain number of years allotted to him in which he is to carry out God’s will on this earth. We are not doing God’s will if we shorten that term through our own fault. Not only is suicide sinful, so also is willful abuse of health, which shortens one’s life.

It is often said that death is the one and only future event in our lives of which we can be absolutely certain. But for the sincere Christian, that is for the one who is honestly, if fumblingly, trying to live each day in the love of God, there is a second certainty and it is : that death will open the door into the halls of heaven. Instead of being something to dread and fear it is the necessary prelude to our perfect joy and happiness.

If there really are people who have convinced themselves rationally that there is no such person as God, and no life after death, they must have every reason to fear death and to dread the very thought of it. They have to leave everything and everyone they know and love–and leave them forever. The grave is indeed the end for them, if their strange philosophy is true. For us Christians and for all others who believe in God and life after death, that is, for the vast majority of mankind, death is rather the beginning of our real existence. We know that it separates us from our loved ones but only for a short space of time. Even this is not a real separation, for we are still members of Christ’s body and can intercede for and help those loved ones we leave behind.

Christ has the keys of death and of the underworld–he has given those keys to us in the sacraments and all the other aids he has left us in his Church. If any Christian fails to rise glorified from his grave he must have foolishly thrown away the keys or refused to learn how to use them. Such Christians, thank God, are few and far between. I have no intention of increasing their number by being among them.

GOSPEL

altar-of-the-church-of-st-john-the-baptist-chesmenskaya.jpg

Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,

was not with them when Jesus came.

So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them,

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands

and put my finger into the nailmarks

and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside

and Thomas was with them.

Jesus came, although the doors were locked,

and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,

and bring your hand and put it into my side,

and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples

that are not written in this book.

But these are written that you may come to believe

that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,

and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040316.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”1

“For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”2

CCC 442 Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, for Jesus responds solemnly: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”3 Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, “When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. ..”4 “And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”5 From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ’s divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church’s foundation.6

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.7 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.8 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”9

CCC 514 Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted.10 What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”11

CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,12 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,13 than for the ordinary People of God.14 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;15 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.16 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,17 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),18 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.19

CCC 643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.20 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”21) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale”.22 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”23

CCC 644 Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. “In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.”24 Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord’s last appearance in Galilee “some doubted.”25 Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

CCC 645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.26 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.27 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.28

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”29 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.30 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.31 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.32 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.33

CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:34 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands35 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”36 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.37 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”38

CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.39 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”40

CCC 858 Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he “called to him those whom he desired;. .. And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach.”41 From then on, they would also be his “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”42 The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives me.”43

CCC 976 The Apostle’s Creed associates faith in the forgiveness of sins not only with faith in the Holy Spirit, but also with faith in the Church and in the communion of saints. It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”44

(Part Two of the catechism will deal explicitly with the forgiveness of sins through Baptism, the sacrament of Penance, and the other sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Here it will suffice to suggest some basic facts briefly.)

CCC 1087 Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying:45 they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This “apostolic succession” structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders.

CCC 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.46 The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.47 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.

CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.48 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,49 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.50 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.51 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.52

CCC 1441 Only God forgives sins.53 Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.”54 Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.55

CCC 1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,56 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

CCC 1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration.”57

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.58 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”59 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.60

1 DV 11.

2 DV 11; cf. Jn 20:31; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt 1:19-21; 3:15-16.

3 Mt 16:16-17.

4 Gal 1:15-16.

5 Acts 9:20.

6 Cf. I Th 1:10; Jn 20:31; Mt 16:18.

7 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.

8 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.

9 Jn 20:28,21:7.

10 Cf. Jn 20:30.

11 Jn 20:31.

12 Lk 2:34.

13 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.

14 Jn 7:48-49.

15 Cf Lk 13:31.

16 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.

17 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.

18 Cf. Mt 6:18.

19 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.

20 Cf. Lk 22:31-32.

21 1 Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19.

22 Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13.

23 Mk 16:14.

24 Lk 24:38-41.

25 Cf Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17.

26 Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15.

27 Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4.

28 Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7.

29 Mk 16:19.

30 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

31 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

32 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

33 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

34 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.

35 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.

36 Rom 6:4.

37 Cf. Jn 20:22.

38 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

39 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.

40 LG 7.

41 Mk 3:13-14.

42 Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20; 17:18.

43 Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.

44 Jn 20:22-23.

45 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.

46 Cf. LG 10 # 2.

47 Cf. Jn 20:21-23; Lk 24:47; Mt 28:18-20.

48 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.

49 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.

50 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.

51 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.

52 Cf. Acts 2:38.

53 Cf. Mk 2:7.

54 Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48.

55 Cf. Jn 20:21-23.

56 Cf. In 20:23; 2 Cor 5:18.

57 LG 21; cf. Acts 1:8; 24; Jn 20:22-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6-7.

58 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.

59 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

60 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.

APPLICATION

It may surprise and amaze us that the Apostles were so reluctant to believe that Christ had risen from the dead, to live forever in glory with his Father in heaven. But we must remember that during their two or three years with him they saw nothing in him but a mere man, one with divine powers, but yet a man; certain prophets of the Old Covenant had some such powers also. Christ had “emptied himself of his divine nature, and he had foretold his resurrection many times. But that he could be really God, as well as man, was something they could not then grasp, and if he was a mere man death had to be the end.

Their slowness of faith had its value for the future Church and for all of us. If they had been expecting the resurrection, and anxiously looking forward to it, people could say that they imagined it, that they persuaded themselves it had happened. Indeed, there have been men proud of their acuteness of judgement, who have said that the story of the resurrection is a story of mass hallucination, although all the evidence proves the opposite. Their conviction that it could not happen, could not be removed from their minds except by impressive evidence that it had. Hallucination is born in a mind already expecting and hoping for the imagined fact.

We can thank the Apostles and especially Thomas, the last to give in, that our faith in the resurrection and divine glorification of Christ is that much the stronger. Our Christianity which would have ended before the first Easter week had passed, if Christ had not risen in glory, spread rapidly to the then known world and is still spreading, because its author was none other than Christ “our Lord and our God.” How prophetic were the words of Gamaliel at the meeting of the Sanhedrin which tried to prevent the Apostles from preaching the new Christian faith: “If this plan or work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it.” (Acts 5:38-39).

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Resurrection Appearance and Mission

Faith in the Risen One is faith in something that has really taken place… Faith stands on the firm basis of reality that has actually taken place; today too, in the words of Scripture, we can as it were touch the Lord’s glorified wounds and say, with Thomas, in gratitude and joy: My Lord and my God! (Jn 20: 28). One question, however, continually arises at this point. Not everyone saw the Risen Jesus. Why not? Why did he not go in triumph to the Pharisees and Pilate to show them that he was alive and to let them touch his scars? … The Risen One cannot be seen like a piece of wood or stone. He can only be seen by the person to whom he reveals himself. And he only reveals himself to the one whom he can entrust with a mission. He does not reveal himself to curiosity but to love; love is the indispensable organ if we are to see and apprehend him. This does not mean, however, that the person addressed by the Lord has to be a believer already. Paul was not, nor was Thomas, nor were the Eleven either, for they too were submerged in doubt and sorrow. The only victory they had in mind was the triumph of Jesus in the establishment of the messianic kingdom: the alternative was ruin. Resurrection such as they now encountered was not something they could imagine, nor was it what they were expecting. It was not a prior faith that created a Resurrection vision: rather it is the reality of the Risen One that creates faith where there was only disbelief or a cramped and grudging faith.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for Divine Mercy

“O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind

calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy – to Your

compassion, O God; and it is with its mighty voice of misery that

it cries out.

Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O

Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding,

Who are acquainted with our misery through and through, and know

that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You:

anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in

us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life

and at death’s hour.

Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our

salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your

children, await Your final coming – that day known to You alone.

And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite

of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope:

Through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass

through to heaven (Diary 1570).”

Posted in Catholic

Easter Sunday The Resurrection of the Lord – C

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“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer to Follow Christ

O Lord Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, full of compassion and maker of peace, you lived in poverty and suffered persecution for the cause of justice. You chose the Cross as the path to glory to show us the way of salvation. May we receive the word of the Gospel joyfully and live by your example as heirs and citizens of your kingdom. Amen.

http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/english4/p02989.htm

COLLECT

O God, who on this day,

through your Only Begotten Son,

have conquered death

and unlocked for us the path to eternity,

grant, we pray, that we who keep

the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection

may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit,

rise up in the light of life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said:

“You know what has happened all over Judea,

beginning in Galilee after the baptism

that John preached,

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth

with the Holy Spirit and power.

He went about doing good

and healing all those oppressed by the devil,

for God was with him.

We are witnesses of all that he did

both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.

This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,

not to all the people, but to us,

the witnesses chosen by God in advance,

who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

He commissioned us to preach to the people

and testify that he is the one appointed by God

as judge of the living and the dead.

To him all the prophets bear witness,

that everyone who believes in him

will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 438 Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who anointed’, ‘he who was anointed’ and ‘the very anointing with which he was anointed’. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.’”1 His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power”, “that he might be revealed to Israel”2 as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as “the Holy One of God”.3

CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.4 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”5

CCC 597 The historical complexity of Jesus’ trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles’ calls to conversion after Pentecost.6 Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders.7 Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!”, a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence.8 As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council:

… [N]either all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. .. [T]he Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.9

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”10 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.11 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.12 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.13 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.14

CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”.15 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.16 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.17

CCC 761 The gathering together of the People of God began at the moment when sin destroyed the communion of men with God, and that of men among themselves. The gathering together of the Church is, as it were, God’s reaction to the chaos provoked by sin. This reunification is achieved secretly in the heart of all peoples: “In every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable” to God.18

CCC 781 “At all times and in every race, anyone who fears God and does what is right has been acceptable to him. He has, however, willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness. He therefore chose the Israelite race to be his own people and established a covenant with it. He gradually instructed this people. .. All these things, however, happened as a preparation for and figure of that new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Christ. .. the New Covenant in his blood; he called together a race made up of Jews and Gentiles which would be one, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit.”19

CCC 995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a “witness to his Resurrection,” to “[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead.”20 Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.

CCC 1289 Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name “Christian,” which means “anointed” and derives from that of Christ himself whom God “anointed with the Holy Spirit.”21 This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means “chrism.” In the West, the term Confirmation suggests that this sacrament both confirms and strengthens baptismal grace.

1 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3,18,3: PG 7/1, 934.

2 Acts 10:38; Jn 1:31.

3 Mk 1:24; Jn 6:69; Acts 3:14.

4 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.

5 Acts 10:38.

6 Cf. Mk 15:11; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28; I Th 2:14-15.

7 Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17.

8 Mt 27:25; cf. Acts 5:28; 18:6.

9 NA 4.

10 Mk 16:19.

11 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

12 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

13 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

14 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

15 Jn 5:22; cf. 5:27; Mt 25:31; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1.

16 Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.

17 Cf. Jn 3:17; 5:26. 588 Cf. Jn 3:18; 12:48; Mt 12:32; I Cor 3:12-15; Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-31.

18 Acts 10:35; cf. LG 9; 13; 16.

19 LG 9; Cf. Acts 10:35; 1 Cor 11:25.

20 Acts 1:22; 10:41; cf. 4:33.

21 Acts 10:38.

APPLICATION

This passage from Acts has been selected for Easter Sunday not only because the resurrection is mentioned in it, but especially because St. Peter in his first discourse to a Gentile makes the resurrection the basic doctrine and the crowning proof of the truth of the Christian faith. As St. Paul says: “If Christ has not risen vain is our preaching, vain too is your faith” (1 Cor. 15: 14). And like Paul, St. Peter stresses the truth of the resurrection by citing witnesses, including himself, who had not only seen the risen Jesus but had spoken to him and actually eaten with him.

There is no room for doubt but that Apostles and disciples had thought that the sad events of Good Friday had put an end forever to the mission of love and mercy of their beloved Master. In spite of his previous references to his resurrection, they had completely forgotten it and were convinced that the tomb near Calvary was the end of all their hopes. They had locked themselves into the room of the Last Supper for fear of the Jews—two of them had set off for home on the Sunday morning, down-hearted at the Master’s failure; the others were waiting for an opportunity to slip out of the city quietly. But the resurrection changed all this. The unexpected, the unhoped-for happened. Even the most skeptical of them all, doubting Thomas, was eventually convinced of its reality. Had they been hoping for it, or even thinking of it, there might be some reason to suspect it was only an hallucination, the result of their “wishful thinking,” but the very opposite was the case. They were hard to convince even when it happened.

All this was intended by God–the basis of our Christian faith was proved beyond doubt. Christ, who had died on the cross on Good Friday, was raised from the dead by his Father on Easier morning. He returned to heaven in the full glory of the divinity which he had hidden while on earth, together with his human body, now also glorified. There (in heaven), as God and Man, he pleads for us at the right hand of the Father until the day when he who redeemed all men will come to judge them all.

The Alleluia is repeated often during the Easter ceremonies. It is a Hebrew word, which means “praise ye the Lord.” It is our attempt to give verbal expression to our joy and gratitude for all that God has done for us. We are no longer mere humans living on this planet for a few short years. We are citizens of heaven, made children of God the Father by Christ our Brother. And he has gone before us to his and our kingdom to prepare a place for us. He conquered death. Our earthly death has, therefore, now no real fears for us: it is not the end but the beginning of our true lives. It is only after our earthly death that we truly begin to live.

There is only one death now which we can fear–the spiritual death of serious sin which can keep us from our true heavenly life. But while this is a possibility for all of us, it is only a possibility. The sincere Christian who realizes what God has done for him and what is in store for him, will never be so ungrateful to God or so forgetful of his own best interests as to let some temporal and passing pleasure, pride, or profit, come between him and the eternal home which God’s love has prepared and planned for him.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

for his mercy endures forever.

Let the house of Israel say,

“His mercy endures forever.”

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;

the right hand of the LORD is exalted.

I shall not die, but live,

and declare the works of the LORD.”

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

The stone which the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

By the LORD has this been done;

it is wonderful in our eyes.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

READING II

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Col 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,

where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ your life appears,

then you too will appear with him in glory.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 655 Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep… For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”1 The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians “have tasted… the powers of the age to come”2 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”3

CCC 1002 Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:

And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead… If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.4

CCC 1003 United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains “hidden with Christ in God.”5 The Father has already “raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”6 Nourished with his body in the Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we “also will appear with him in glory.”7

CCC 1420 Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, man receives the new life of Christ. Now we carry this life “in earthen vessels,” and it remains “hidden with Christ in God.”8 We are still in our “earthly tent,” subject to suffering, illness, and death.9 This new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin.

CCC 2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”10 The Eucharist and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he comes.”11

CCC 2796 When the Church prays “our Father who art in heaven,” she is professing that we are the People of God, already seated “with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” and “hidden with Christ in God;”12 yet at the same time, “here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling.”13

[Christians] are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their lives on earth, but are citizens of heaven.14

1 I Cor 15:20-22.

2 Heb 6:5.

3 2 Cor 5:15; cf. Col 3:1-3.

4 Col 2:12; 3:1.

5 Col 3:3; cf. Phil 3:20.

6 Eph 2:6.

7 Col 3:4.

8 2 Cor 4:7; Col 3:3.

9 2 Cor 5:1.

10 1 Jn 3:2; Cf. Col 3:4.

11 1 Cor 11:26.

12 Eph 2:6; Col 3:3.

13 2 Cor 5:2; cf. Phil 3:20; Heb 13:14.

14 Ad Diognetum 5: PG 2, 1173.

APPLICATION

Children at boarding schools draw, up calendars and mark off each day which brings them one nearer to the end of the, term. Fiancés mark off the months, the weeks, the days that separate them from, the great day when they will be united forever, they say, to their beloved one. Seminarians count the years, months, weeks to the great day when, they will be ordained and say their first Masses. Parents look forward anxiously to the day when their children will be educated and safely settled in life. In fact, we are all always looking forward to a happier day which is to come some time. All this is very natural and very human, because our present life is not our permanent life; our present home, this earth, is not the real home destined for us by our loving Creator.

We were created for unending happiness in heaven, and it is only when we get there that our desire and our quest for some greater happiness will end. From then on, we will always enjoy and possess that all-satisfying happiness.

Today, Easter Sunday, St. Paul reminds us that we have this happiness within our grasp. We are moving steadily and more quickly than we realize toward it. The Holy Trinity, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, have already done, and are daily continuing, to do for us, all within their power. All that is needed is that we do the little that is asked of us.

St. Paul tells us we must “mind the things that are above not the things that are on earth.” We must never let the “things of earth,” the pleasures, the power, the possessions which we can or could, have in this life, block or impede us on our upward journey. Does this mean that we must all return to the deserts of Egypt, as some early Christians did? By no means. We are not forbidden to have the lawful pleasures of life. We are not forbidden possessions or power if they are used justly. All we are forbidden is the unlawful use of the things of this world.

And as regards minding the things that are above, this is not something calling for extraordinary self-sacrifice or unnatural mental activity. All we are asked to do is to try to stay in God’s grace, and do our daily chores whatever they be, as well and as diligently as we can. We are expected to recognize our natural weakness and to turn to God frequently for pardon and for help.

Whilst there are saints in heaven who lived lives of extreme self-mortification and did extraordinary things for God and for their neighbor, it is an encouraging and consoling thought that there are millions of unknown saints in heaven who lived normal lives, unnoticed by the world and maybe even by themselves. They are people who kept in God’s friendship all their lives, or got back quickly to it, if they sometimes forgot or offended their heavenly Father.

What millions of others have done I can do too. We are aided by God’s grace as they were. God wants me in heaven. He has an Easter resurrection planned for me.

GOSPEL

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Jn 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,

Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,

while it was still dark,

and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

So she ran and went to Simon Peter

and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,

“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,

and we don’t know where they put him.”

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.

They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter

and arrived at the tomb first;

he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

When Simon Peter arrived after him,

he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,

and the cloth that had covered his head,

not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Then the other disciple also went in,

the one who had arrived at the tomb first,

and he saw and believed.

For they did not yet understand the Scripture

that he had to rise from the dead.

 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith1 and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of his mystery.2 His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”3 His humanity appeared as “sacrament”, that is, the sign and instrument, of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission

CCC 640 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”4 The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.5 Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.6 The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there”, “he saw and believed”.7 This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.8

CCC 2174 Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.”9 Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath,10 it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:

We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.11

1 Cf. Mk 1:1; Jn 21:24.

2 Cf Lk 2:7; Mt 27: 48; Jn 20:7.

3 Col 2:9.

4 Lk 24:5-6.

5 Cf. Jn 20:13; Mt 28:11-15.

6 Cf. Lk 24:3, 12, 22-23.

7 Jn 20:2, 6, 8.

8 Cf. Jn 11:44; 20:5-7.

9 Cf. Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1.

10 Cf. Mk 16:1; Mt 28:1.

11 St. Justin, I Apol. 67: PG 6, 429 and 432.

APPLICATION

As we said above, the accounts of the Resurrection of Christ differ in many details in the different writings of the New Testament, but the fact of the Resurrection stressed in all of them, was the basis of the new Christian Faith. Had it not happened, Christianity would have been stillborn. It would have disappeared from Jerusalem and the world on that first Easter Sunday. Peter and his companions would have returned to their fishing-nets and boats on Lake Genesareth, and Christ the good and the kind man who had helped so many, would have been forgotten in half a generation.

But Christ was no mere man of kindly acts and words of wisdom. He was the Messiah promised for centuries. He was the suffering servant foretold by Isaiah, whose perfect obedience to his Father had led him to the Cross and the grave. But above all, he was the Son of God who had emptied himself (St. Paul) of his divine glory in order to be the perfect human servant of the Father, and who was now raised by the Father, with his divine glory restored, and his glorified resurrected body sharing in that glory. This was the divine plan of God for mankind, through Christ, and because of Christ, the new Adam’s perfect obedience, all mankind would be made worthy of divine sonship, and worthy of one day rising like Christ from the grave in glorified bodies.

Is all this too good to be true? It is, if we make God to our image and likeness, as so many opponents of Christianity do. He is God and his love is infinite and incomprehensible to us. What God can see in me and my fellowman will always be a mystery to me, but then I have not the mind of God. All I know and all I need to know is that I have sufficient proofs that God loves all men. The Incarnation, death and Resurrection of his Divine Son for man’s sake is the greatest proof of love for us that even the omnipotent God could give He has given it. As a necessary consequence from this act of divine love, we are guaranteed our resurrection from the dead to a life of unending happiness and glory if we do not, in extreme folly, reject God’s offer.

Today, let us thank God once more for Easter and for all that it means for us. Our personal Easter morning is not far away from even the youngest amongst us. We have a few Calvary’s to climb perhaps in the meantime but what are they when we see our glorious Easter on the horizon?

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Breakthrough of Easter

What would it mean if Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus, had not taken place?… Well, if there were no Resurrection, the story of Jesus would have ended with Good Friday. His body would have decayed, and he would have become a has-been. But that would mean that God does not take initiatives in history, that he is either unable or unwilling to touch this world of ours, our human living and dying. And that in turn would bean that love is futile, nugatory, an empty and vain promise. It would mean that there is no judgment and no justice. It would mean that the moment is all that counts and that right belongs to the cunning, the crafty and those without consciences. There would be no judgment. Many people, and by no means only wicked people, would welcome that because they confuse judgment with petty calculation and give more room to fear than to a trusting love… All this makes clear what Easter does mean: God has acted. History does not go on aimlessly. Justice, love, truth – these are realities, genuine reality. God love us; he comes to meet us. The more we go along his path and live in his way, the less we need to fear justice and truth, the more our hearts will be full of Easter joy. Easter is not only a story to be told: it is a signpost on life’s way. It is not an account of a miracle that happened a very long time ago: it is the breakthrough which has determined the meaning of all history. If we grasp this, we too, today, can utter the Easter greeting with undiminished joy: Christ is risen; yes, he is risen indeed!

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord, the Resurrection of Your Son

has given us new life and renewed hope.

Help us to live as new people

in pursuit of the Christian ideal.

Grant us wisdom to know what we must do,

the will to want to do it,

the courage to undertake it,

the perseverance to continue to do it,

and the strength to complete it.

We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.

Amen.

The New Saint Joseph People’s Prayer Book, Catholic Book Publishing Co. New York 1999
Posted in Catholic

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – C

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“Hosanna in the highest!  Blessed are you, who have come in your abundant mercy.”

OPENING PRAYER

The Passion Of Christ, Strengthen Me Prayer

Passion of Christ, strengthen me! Strengthen me under the pressure of temptation. Strengthen me when principle is at stake. Strengthen me to do Your Will, My God. Strengthen me in moments of suffering, in times of loneliness, in periods of depression. Strengthen me that I may never swerve from You, dear Christ, nor weaken through human respect, through a desire to be popular, through hope of social distinction. Strengthen me to accept my cross and carry it generously to the end. On the battlefield of life, stand by me that I may never prove a traitor in the ranks. Stand by me that I may not be dazzled by the glitter and glow of the enemy camp. We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2477

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who as an example of humility for the human race

to follow,

caused our Savior to take flesh and submit

to the Cross,

graciously grant that we may heed his lesson

of patient suffering

and so merit a share in his Resurrection.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

THE COMMEMORATION OF THE LORD’S ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM

At The Procession With Palms

Gospel Lk 19:28-40

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Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany

at the place called the Mount of Olives,

he sent two of his disciples.

He said, “Go into the village opposite you,

and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered

on which no one has ever sat.

Untie it and bring it here.

And if anyone should ask you,

‘Why are you untying it?’

you will answer,

‘The Master has need of it.’”

So those who had been sent went off

and found everything just as he had told them.

And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,

“Why are you untying this colt?”

They answered,

“The Master has need of it.”

So they brought it to Jesus,

threw their cloaks over the colt,

and helped Jesus to mount.

As he rode along,

the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;

and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,

the whole multitude of his disciples

began to praise God aloud with joy

for all the mighty deeds they had seen.

They proclaimed:

“Blessed is the king who comes

in the name of the Lord.

Peace in heaven

and glory in the highest.”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,

“Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”

He said in reply,

“I tell you, if they keep silent,

the stones will cry out!”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.1 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.2 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.3 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.4 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,5 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

1 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.

2 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.

3 Cf. Jn 18:37.

4 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.

5 Cf. Ps 118:26.

READING I

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Is 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me

a well-trained tongue,

that I might know how to speak to the weary

a word that will rouse them.

Morning after morning

he opens my ear that I may hear;

and I have not rebelled,

have not turned back.

I gave my back to those who beat me,

my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;

my face I did not shield

from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,

therefore I am not disgraced;

I have set my face like flint,

knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

APPLICATION

The sufferings and crucifixion of our divine Lord in his humanity are the Christian’s source of strength and encouragement in his daily struggles against, the enemies of God and of his own spiritual progress. Because of our earthly bodies, and because of the close grip that this world of the senses has on us, to keep free from sin and to keep close to God on our journey to heaven is a daily struggle for even the best among us. But we have the example before our eyes, the example of our true brother. He was one of ourselves, the truly human Christ. He not only traveled the road before us and made the journey, to heaven possible for us, but he is with us every day, close beside us, to encourage and help us on the way.

We need to remind ourselves daily of this. We have the crucifix in our Christian homes, on our rosary beads, on our altars, on the very steeples of our churches. These crucifixes are not ornaments, but stark reminders that our Savior’s path to heaven led through Calvary and through all that preceded Calvary. They are also stern reminders to us that the carrying of our crosses on the road to heaven is not an unbearable burden for us, but an essential aid to our progress.

When you are tried by temptations, when you are tested by bodily pain or mental suffering, worried to death perhaps by the bodily needs of yourself or your family or by the disobedience and insults of ungrateful children, stop and think on the Leader and his humiliations and sufferings. He came to open the road to heaven for us, to make us all sons of God, to preach the message of divine forgiveness and mercy to mankind. What did he get in return? He was scourged, tied to a pillar, spat upon and insulted, jeered at and mocked. He was nailed to a cross on Calvary between two thieves!

How light is my cross in comparison, how easy my Calvary. But he was sin less; his obedience, as man, to the Father was perfect. Can we or should we complain, we whose life up to now has often been far from perfect? Stop, think and listen to today’s lesson.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

All who see me scoff at me;

they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:

“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,

let him rescue him, if he loves him.”

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Indeed, many dogs surround me,

a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;

They have pierced my hands and my feet;

I can count all my bones.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

They divide my garments among them,

and for my vesture they cast lots.

But you, O LORD, be not far from me;

O my help, hasten to aid me.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

I will proclaim your name to my brethren;

in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:

“You who fear the LORD, praise him;

all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;

revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

READING II

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Phil 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

coming in human likeness;

and found human in appearance,

he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to the point of death,

even death on a cross.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him

and bestowed on him the name

which is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

APPLICATION

As Christians we have no doubt as to the two natures of our Savior. He was the God-man. He humbled himself so low in order to represent us before his Father and by his perfect obedience. (“even unto the death on a cross”) earn for us not only God’s forgiveness but a sharing in the divinity, through his being our brother but also the Son of God. These words of Paul, or rather of the early Christian hymn he is quoting, are for us today a consolation and an encouragement.

Surely every sincere Christian must be consoled by the thought of Gods infinite love for him, as shown in the Incarnation. We are not dealing with some distant, cold, legal God of justice who spends his time marking up our sins and failures against us. We are dealing with a loving Father who sent his own beloved Son to live among us and die for us in order to bring home to us the greatness of divine love. Could any human mind, even the minds of the greatest of this world’s philosophers, have invented such a humanly incredible story of true love? No, it was only in the infinite mind of God that such a proof of love could have its source.

What encouragement this should and does give to every sincere Christian. We know we are weak. We can and do sin often. We know we are mean and ungrateful and that we seldom stop to thank God for the love he has shown us. If we were dealing with a human, narrow-visioned God, we should have reason to despair, but when our Judge is the all-loving, all-merciful God how can even the worst sinner ever lose hope?

No, there is no place for despair in the Christian faith. But there is room for gratitude and confidence. We can never thank God sufficiently for all that he has done for us. Eternity itself will not be long enough for this, but we must do the little we can. Let us face this coming Holy Week with hearts full of thanks to God and to his divine Son for all they have done for us. When meditating on the passion of Christ on Good Friday let us look with gratitude and confidence on the Son of God who died on the cross in order to earn eternal life for us.

He did not die to lose us but to save us. He has done ninety per cent of the work of our salvation. And, even as regards the remaining ten per cent that he asks us to do, he is with us helping us to do it. Could we be so mean and so foolish as to refuse the little he asks of us?

GOSPEL

Crucifixion Duccio di Buoninsegna

Lk 22:14—23:56

When the hour came,

Jesus took his place at table with the apostles.

He said to them,

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,

for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again

until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said,

“Take this and share it among yourselves;

for I tell you that from this time on

I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine

until the kingdom of God comes.”

Then he took the bread, said the blessing,

broke it, and gave it to them, saying,

“This is my body, which will be given for you;

do this in memory of me.”

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood,

which will be shed for you.

“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me

is with me on the table;

for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined;

but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.”

And they began to debate among themselves

who among them would do such a deed.

Then an argument broke out among them

about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.

He said to them,

“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them

and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’;

but among you it shall not be so.

Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,

and the leader as the servant.

For who is greater:

the one seated at table or the one who serves?

Is it not the one seated at table?

I am among you as the one who serves.

It is you who have stood by me in my trials;

and I confer a kingdom on you,

just as my Father has conferred one on me,

that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;

and you will sit on thrones

judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded

to sift all of you like wheat,

but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail;

and once you have turned back,

you must strengthen your brothers.”

He said to him,

“Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.”

But he replied,

“I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day,

you will deny three times that you know me.”

He said to them,

“When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals,

were you in need of anything?”

“No, nothing, “ they replied.

He said to them,

“But now one who has a money bag should take it,

and likewise a sack,

and one who does not have a sword

should sell his cloak and buy one.

For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me,

namely, He was counted among the wicked;

and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.”

Then they said,

“Lord, look, there are two swords here.”

But he replied, “It is enough!”

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives,

and the disciples followed him.

When he arrived at the place he said to them,

“Pray that you may not undergo the test.”

After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling,

he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing,

take this cup away from me;

still, not my will but yours be done.”

And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.

He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently

that his sweat became like drops of blood

falling on the ground.

When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples,

he found them sleeping from grief.

He said to them, “Why are you sleeping?

Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached

and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas.

He went up to Jesus to kiss him.

Jesus said to him,

“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked,

“Lord, shall we strike with a sword?”

And one of them struck the high priest’s servant

and cut off his right ear.

But Jesus said in reply,

“Stop, no more of this!”

Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him.

And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards

and elders who had come for him,

“Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

Day after day I was with you in the temple area,

and you did not seize me;

but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”

After arresting him they led him away

and took him into the house of the high priest;

Peter was following at a distance.

They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it,

and Peter sat down with them.

When a maid saw him seated in the light,

she looked intently at him and said,

“This man too was with him.”

But he denied it saying,

“Woman, I do not know him.”

A short while later someone else saw him and said,

“You too are one of them”;

but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.”

About an hour later, still another insisted,

“Assuredly, this man too was with him,

for he also is a Galilean.”

But Peter said,

“My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.”

Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed,

and the Lord turned and looked at Peter;

and Peter remembered the word of the Lord,

how he had said to him,

“Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”

He went out and began to weep bitterly.

The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.

They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying,

“Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”

And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met,

both chief priests and scribes,

and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.

They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, “

but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,

and if I question, you will not respond.

But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated

at the right hand of the power of God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied to them, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony?

We have heard it from his own mouth.”

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate.

They brought charges against him, saying,

“We found this man misleading our people;

he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar

and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.”

Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

He said to him in reply, “You say so.”

Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,

“I find this man not guilty.”

But they were adamant and said,

“He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,

from Galilee where he began even to here.”

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean;

and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction,

he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus;

he had been wanting to see him for a long time,

for he had heard about him

and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.

He questioned him at length,

but he gave him no answer.

The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,

stood by accusing him harshly.

Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,

and after clothing him in resplendent garb,

he sent him back to Pilate.

Herod and Pilate became friends that very day,

even though they had been enemies formerly.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people

and said to them, “You brought this man to me

and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.

I have conducted my investigation in your presence

and have not found this man guilty

of the charges you have brought against him,

nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.

So no capital crime has been committed by him.

Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out,

“Away with this man!

Release Barabbas to us.”

— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion

that had taken place in the city and for murder. —

Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,

but they continued their shouting,

“Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Pilate addressed them a third time,

“What evil has this man done?

I found him guilty of no capital crime.

Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

With loud shouts, however,

they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,

and their voices prevailed.

The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.

So he released the man who had been imprisoned

for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,

and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away

they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,

who was coming in from the country;

and after laying the cross on him,

they made him carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus,

including many women who mourned and lamented him.

Jesus turned to them and said,

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;

weep instead for yourselves and for your children

for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,

‘Blessed are the barren,

the wombs that never bore

and the breasts that never nursed.’

At that time people will say to the mountains,

‘Fall upon us!’

and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’

for if these things are done when the wood is green

what will happen when it is dry?”

Now two others, both criminals,

were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull,

they crucified him and the criminals there,

one on his right, the other on his left.

Then Jesus said,

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

They divided his garments by casting lots.

The people stood by and watched;

the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,

“He saved others, let him save himself

if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”

Even the soldiers jeered at him.

As they approached to offer him wine they called out,

“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”

Above him there was an inscription that read,

“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,

“Are you not the Christ?

Save yourself and us.”

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,

“Have you no fear of God,

for you are subject to the same condemnation?

And indeed, we have been condemned justly,

for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,

but this man has done nothing criminal.”

Then he said,

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He replied to him,

“Amen, I say to you,

today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land

until three in the afternoon

because of an eclipse of the sun.

Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;

and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,

“This man was innocent beyond doubt.”

When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened,

they returned home beating their breasts;

but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,

including the women who had followed him from Galilee

and saw these events.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who,

though he was a member of the council,

had not consented to their plan of action.

He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea

and was awaiting the kingdom of God.

He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

After he had taken the body down,

he wrapped it in a linen cloth

and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb

in which no one had yet been buried.

It was the day of preparation,

and the sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind,

and when they had seen the tomb

and the way in which his body was laid in it,

they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.

Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032016.cfm

APPLICATION

The story and most, if not all, of the details of our divine Lord’s sufferings at the hands of his fellow-Jews, his Father’s Chosen People, on that first Holy Thursday night in Jerusalem and the subsequent sentence of crucifixion pronounced by a pagan Roman judge on one he had declared innocent of any crime, is well-known to any Christian, worthy of the name. But theoretical knowledge is not what makes a Christian or a follower of Christ. Down through the ages great men have lived and died and their lives and deeds have benefited others in many ways, for greater or lesser periods. But the life and death of Christ has not only benefited man’s life on earth, it has changed the very purpose of man’s existence, for it has changed his relationship with God and with his eternal destiny.

Through and by the Incarnation, death, resurrection of Christ, we, mere human mortals, have been made sons of God by divine decree, and heirs of God’s eternal kingdom of heaven. This was God’s original plan in creating the universe. Man was to be the masterpiece of the divine act of creation and the master of the universe. He contains within himself a part of every created being and has the necessary faculties to dominate all the lesser creatures. But he was to be more than that. His human nature was to be raised to union with the Godhead in the Incarnation. This completed plan was eventually fulfilled in Christ.

Therefore, the life and death of Christ is not just some recorded bit of history of the past, rather it is for all men, not Christians only, a fact of the past which dominates and basically affects rational man’s purpose in life today and always as well as his day-to-day mode of living that life. There are millions on our earth today who, through no fault of their own, have not yet heard of God’s infinite love for them as proved in the Incarnation, but God will find ways of extending its benefits to them if they do their part. There are millions too who have heard the good news but refuse to believe it or to act according to it; those too we can safely leave to the all merciful God. But for ourselves, professed followers of Christ, who during this Holy Week will be reminded daily of what God has done and is continuing to do for us, our only answer is to beat our breasts in humble contrition like some of the crowds returning from Calvary on that first Good Friday.

We know we are utterly unworthy of the unfathomable love that God has shown us. When we look at the crucifix and see the Son of God nailed hands and feet to that cross, slowly shedding his heart’s blood for us, what can we do but bow our heads in shame? If we did not jeer at him and mock him openly as the Pharisees did that day on Calvary, we did so indirectly by our coldness, our forgetfulness, and worse still by our many deliberate sins against God and neighbor. Pilate condemned the innocent Christ “for fear of the Jews, for fear of losing his job (St. John says); Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver; the Pharisees forced Pilate to crucify him because of their pride. If we look into our past, how often have we offended him, that is, condemned him for similar reasons, and we are less excusable than these people were. We do, or should, know so much better than they did what Christ means to us.

But while we have reason, all of us, to repent of our past faults during this Holy Week, we have also every reason not to despair but to hope. In the very height of his agony on the cross, our loving Savior uttered a fervent plea to his heavenly Father, asking for forgiveness for all those who had brought his death-agony on him. The words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” hold for all time, we too were included there, and God’s merciful answer to his dying Christ is for us too if we avail of it.

Holy Week will be truly a holy week and a turning point in our lives if we repent of our part and turn to our loving God. Through the life, sufferings and resurrection of his beloved Servant and Son, He has made us his adopted sons and heirs of heaven. He will not fail us now.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Personal Dimension of Forgiveness

As sin, despite all our bonds with the human community, is ultimately something totally personal, so also our healing with forgiveness has to be something totally personal. God does not treat us as part of a collectivity. He knows each one by name, and he calls him personally and saves him if he has fallen into sin. Even if in all the sacraments, the Lord addresses the person as an individual, the personalist nature of the Christian life is manifested in a particularly clear way in the sacrament of Penance. That means that the personal confession and the forgiveness directed to this person are constitutive parts of the sacrament… Of course, the confession of one’s own sin can seem to be something heavy for the person, because it humbles his pride and confronts him with his poverty. It is this that we need: we suffer exactly for this reason: we shut ourselves up in our delirium of guiltlessness and for this reason we are closed to others and to any comparison with them. In psychotherapeutic treatments a person is made to bear the burden of profound and often dangerous revelations of his inner self. In the sacrament of Penance, the simple confession of one’s guilt is presented with confidence in God’s merciful goodness. It is important to do this without falling into scruples, with the spirit of trust proper to the children of God. In this way confession can become an experience of deliverance, in which the weight of the past is removed from us and we can feel rejuvenated by the merit of the grace of God who each time gives back the youthfulness of the heart.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for Healing

Lord, look upon me with eyes of mercy, may Your healing hand rest upon me, may Your life-giving powers flow into every cell of my body and into the depths of my soul, cleansing, purifying, restoring me to wholeness and strength for service in Your Kingdom. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=480

Posted in Catholic

Fifth Sunday of Lent – C

 

-24

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer to Turn from Sin

Father, Your Love never fails.

Keep me from danger

and provide for all my needs.

Teach me to be thankful for Your Gifts.

Confident in Your Love,

may I be holy by sharing Your Life,

and grant me forgiveness of my sins.

May Your unfailing Love turn me from sin

and keep me on the way that leads to you.

Help me to grow in Christian love.

I ask this and all things through

Christ our Lord. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=724

COLLECT

By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God,

may we walk eagerly in that same charity

with which, out of love for the world,

your Son handed himself over to death.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Is 43:16-21

Thus says the LORD,

who opens a way in the sea

and a path in the mighty waters,

who leads out chariots and horsemen,

a powerful army,

till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,

snuffed out and quenched like a wick.

Remember not the events of the past,

the things of long ago consider not;

see, I am doing something new!

Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

In the desert I make a way,

in the wasteland, rivers.

Wild beasts honor me,

jackals and ostriches,

for I put water in the desert

and rivers in the wasteland

for my chosen people to drink,

the people whom I formed for myself,

that they might announce my praise.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 711 “Behold, I am doing a new thing.”1 Two prophetic lines were to develop, one leading to the expectation of the Messiah, the other pointing to the announcement of a new Spirit. They converge in the small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the “consolation of Israel” and “the redemption of Jerusalem.”2

We have seen earlier how Jesus fulfills the prophecies concerning himself. We limit ourselves here to those in which the relationship of the Messiah and his Spirit appears more clearly.

1 Isa 43:19.

2 Cf. Zeph 2:3; Lk 2:25, 38

APPLICATION

During Lent the Church is helping us to prepare for the great events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. These events set us free from the slavery resulting from sin but also raised us up to be sons of God and heirs to the eternal kingdom of heaven. They were foreshadowed in the liberation of the Chosen People, first from Egypt and later from their Babylonian exile.

When God brought them out of Egypt he gave them the country of Canaan to be their own kingdom. Because of their sinful, worldly lives and their neglect of their kind God, they lost their homeland and were taken prisoners to Babylon (586 B.C.). But he was merciful to them once more, brought them back to their home, and established them there once again.

In both of these acts of his mercy, and in all his loving kindness to the Chosen People of old down through the ages, God had not the Jews alone in mind. Through them he was planning for the great future liberation of all mankind which the death and resurrection of his divine Son was to bring about.

The death of Christ atoned for the sins of the whole world. His resurrection is the proof and the guarantee of our resurrection to an unending life of happiness in God’s kingdom. In baptism we die with Christ and coming out of the waters of baptism we rise with him to a new life. As St. Paul says, we are a “new creation.” We are new creatures, because we become sons of God by being made brothers of Christ in our baptism.

Unfortunately we often forget our eternal destiny. We live on earth as if it were our eternal home when we are really only passing through. We may and we must use the things of this life. God created them for our use, and made us masters of all created, earthly goods. It is not the proper use of this world’s goods that will impede us on our road to heaven. It is not by mastering created things that we sin. It is by letting these gifts, intended by the Creator for our use, become our masters and make us their slaves. This is what happens to so many. They become so fully occupied in the pursuit of possessions. power, and pleasure, that they forget God and their own eternal destiny.

The holy season of Lent is an ideal time for us to have an honest look into our consciences. We would all like to rise with Christ and enter the eternal kingdom prepared and won for us by Christ’s life and suffering. We shall do so only if we are following him closely during our few years on earth. Am I carrying my cross and climbing my Calvary slowly but willingly day by day? This is the test of a true Christian.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,

we were like men dreaming.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

and our tongue with rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Then they said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us;

we are glad indeed.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the torrents in the southern desert.

Those that sow in tears

shall reap rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Although they go forth weeping,

carrying the seed to be sown,

They shall come back rejoicing,

carrying their sheaves.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

READING II

Phil 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:

I consider everything as a loss

because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things

and I consider them so much rubbish,

that I may gain Christ and be found in him,

not having any righteousness of my own based on the law

but that which comes through faith in Christ,

the righteousness from God,

depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection

and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,

if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it

or have already attained perfect maturity,

but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,

since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, I for my part

do not consider myself to have taken possession.

Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind

but straining forward to what lies ahead,

I continue my pursuit toward the goal,

the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 133 The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. .. to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”1

CCC 428 Whoever is called “to teach Christ” must first seek “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”; he must suffer “the loss of all things. ..” in order to “gain Christ and be found in him”, and “to know him and the power of his resurrection, and [to] share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [he] may attain the resurrection from the dead”.2

CCC 648 Christ’s Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power “raised up” Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as “Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead”.3 St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power4 through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

CCC 989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.5 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.6

CCC 1006 “It is in regard to death that man’s condition is most shrouded in doubt.”7 In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact “the wages of sin.”8 For those who die in Christ’s grace it is a participation in the death of the Lord, so that they can also share his Resurrection.9

1 DV 25; cf. Phil 3:8 and St. Jerome, Commentariorum in Isaiam libri xviii prol.: PL 24, 17B.

2 Phil 3:8-11.

3 Rom I 3-4; cf. Acts 2:24.

4 Cf. Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-22; Heb 7:16.

5 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.

6 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.

7 GS 18.

8 Rom 6:23; cf. Gen 2:17.

9 Cf. Rom 6:3-9; Phil 3:10-11.

APPLICATION

Like St. Paul, we too have the Christian faith, we are firmly convinced that Christ was the Son of God who became man, that he died for us and was raised from the dead. We are firmly convinced too that God’s ultimate destiny for us in the Incarnation is an unending life in heaven, and that we can win this eternal life if we follow the teaching and the example of Christ. To die with Christ during our earthly life means to carry cheerfully the cross that God allots us. We know that if we do this we shall, on the day of resurrection, rise to a new life that will never end. This is our Christian faith. It is based on God’s revelation and promise. And it is the only truly satisfying explanation of human life that we have. But as St. Paul tells us today, it is not enough just to be a Christian. Paul’s own life, which from his conversion on was given entirely to the service of Christ, proves this. Being a Christian is but the first step on the right road. There are many more steps to take before we reach our eternal goal. Of course, it is true that we are not all called on to suffer all that St. Paul suffered for Christ. We are however called on to live our Christian lives within the laws laid down for us by Christ and by the Church which he founded to guide us on our way to heaven.

If we remind ourselves frequently of “the prize to which God calls us,” an eternal happy life, the affairs of this world will seem very paltry and very trifling. They will not come between us and the winning post. Rather will they help us on our way. When we compare them with the eternal riches of the future life, we shall see them as they really are, stepping stones to help us across the river.

We may not have run as fast as we should up to now. But we are still in the race. Like St. Paul. let us forget the past, and press on vigorously towards the prize that awaits us. It is still ours for the taking.

GOSPEL

Jn 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,

and all the people started coming to him,

and he sat down and taught them.

Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman

who had been caught in adultery

and made her stand in the middle.

They said to him,

“Teacher, this woman was caught

in the very act of committing adultery.

Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.

So what do you say?”

They said this to test him,

so that they could have some charge to bring against him.

Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.

But when they continued asking him,

he straightened up and said to them,

“Let the one among you who is without sin

be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

And in response, they went away one by one,

beginning with the elders.

So he was left alone with the woman before him.

Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,

“Woman, where are they?

Has no one condemned you?”

She replied, “No one, sir.”

Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.

Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/031316-fifth-sunday-lent.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 582 Going even further, Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation: “Whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him. .. (Thus he declared all foods clean.)… What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…”1 In presenting with divine authority the definitive interpretation of the Law, Jesus found himself confronted by certain teachers of the Law who did not accept his interpretation of the Law, guaranteed though it was by the divine signs that accompanied it.2 This was the case especially with the Sabbath laws, for he recalls, often with rabbinical arguments, that the Sabbath rest is not violated by serving God and neighbor,3 which his own healings did.

1 Mk 7:18-21; cf. Gal 3:24.

2 Cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 37-38; 12:37.

3 Cf. Num 28 9; Mt 12:5; Mk 2:25-27; Lk 13:15-16; 14:3-4; Jn 7:22-24.

APPLICATION

This incident of the merciful forgiveness of an adulteress by the Son of God has many lessons for all of us in this season of Lent. We are all sinners in greater or lesser degree. We all offend the good God in many ways. But, thank God, we are not dealing with the Scribes and Pharisees as our judges, but with a God of mercy, a God who knows and understands our weaknesses and frailties. No matter how many and how serious our sins may have been, no matter how low we may have fallen, the mercy and forgiveness of God is ever there for the asking.

But ask we must and repent we must, for not even the omnipotent and all-merciful God can take away from us the sin we want to keep. Who could be so foolish as not to accept the divine offer of mercy? Who could ever let his personal pride and selfishness put his own eternal happiness in jeopardy? There are probably people in hell, but if there are, it is not because of their sins that they are there. It is rather because they were too proud and too selfish to repent of them and ask God for his forgiveness.

A second lesson for all of us in today’s story is that we should try to imitate our divine Lord’s mercy by being more merciful and more compassionate towards sinners. Too many of us are inclined to judge too harshly and heartlessly the neighbor whose sins happen to become public, whilst we minimize our own failings because they are secret. Remember our Lord’s words to the Pharisees: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” Spreading scandal may be, and often is, a more grievous sin than the fall of a neighbor which we tell about with gusto whilst pretending to be seriously disgusted with his moral failing. Whilst we must hate sin in ourselves and others we must learn from our Lord to love the sinner even while disapproving of the sin. This love will be proved in part by our silence regarding his sin.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Denial of Sin

It is precisely the existence of sin that modern man is unable to take seriously. Because of this rejection of the concept of sin, no one is directly touched today by the Gospel claim that the evidence of Jesus’ divine nature is based on his power to forgive sin. Most people do not explicitly deny the existence of God, but they do not believe that he is of any importance in the realm of human life. Hardly anyone seriously thinks nowadays that men’s wrong actions may concern God so much that he regards them as sinful and offensive to himself, with the result that such sin must be forgiven by him alone. Even theologians have discussed the possibility of replacing the practice of confessing sin by conversations with psychologists, sociologists, and lawyers. Sin does not really exist. There are only problems, and these can be settled with the help of experts. Sin has disappeared and with it forgiveness, and behind that disappearance there is also the disappearance of a God who is turned toward man. In this situation, Christians can only turn to the Gospel, which can give us courage to grasp the truth. Only the truth can make us free. But the truth is that there is guilt and that we ourselves are guilty. It is Christ’s new truth that there is also forgiveness by the one who has the power to forgive. The Gospel calls on us to accept this truth. There is a God. Sin exists and there is also forgiveness. We need that forgiveness if we are not to seek refuge in the lie of excuses and thus destroy ourselves… Where there is forgiveness, there is also healing.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for the Forgiveness of Sins

By St. Gemma Galgani

My Jesus, I place all my sins before you.

In my estimation They do not deserve pardon,

But I ask you

To close your eyes

To my want of merit

And open them

To your infinite merit.

Since you willed To die for my sins,

Grant me forgiveness

For all of them.

Thus, I may no longer feel

The burden of my sins,

A burden that oppresses me

Beyond measure.

Assist me, dear Jesus,

For I desire to become good

No matter what the cost.

Take away, destroy,

And utterly root out

Whatever you find in me

That is contrary To your holy will.

At the same time, dear Jesus, illumine me

So that I may walk in your holy light.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2129

Posted in Catholic

Fourth Sunday of Lent – C

 

Prodigal Son

‘your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”

 

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of Reconciliation

God of compassion, You sent Jesus to proclaim a time of mercy reaching out to those who had no voice, releasing those trapped by their own shame, and welcoming those scorned by society.

Make us ambassadors of reconciliation. Open our ears that we may listen with respect and understanding. Touch our lips that we may speak your words of peace and forgiveness. Warm our hearts that we may bring wholeness to the broken-hearted and dissolve the barriers of division.

Guide the work of your Church and renew us with the Spirit of your love. Help us and all people to shape a world where all will have a place, where the flames of hatred are quenched, and where all can grow together as one.

Forgive, restore and strengthen us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

http://www.paulist.org/reconciliation/prayer-reconciliation

COLLECT

O God, who through your Word

reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,

grant, we pray,

that with prompt devotion and eager faith

the Christian people may hasten

toward the solemn celebrations to come.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

giosia.jpg

Jos 5:9a, 10-12

The LORD said to Joshua,

“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,

they celebrated the Passover

on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.

On the day after the Passover,

they ate of the produce of the land

in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain.

On that same day after the Passover,

on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.

No longer was there manna for the Israelites,

who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

APPLICATION

The Pharao of Egypt refused to listen to the pleas of Moses to let the Israelites go. The first nine plagues left him still stubborn. God therefore sent the final plague. The first-born male of man and beast was to be struck dead on the fourteenth night of the first month. On that night the Israelites were to sacrifice an unspotted lamb, smearing their door posts with its blood, so that the avenging angel would pass over their homes and strike death in the homes of the Egyptians. The whole lamb was to be eaten, without breaking any of its bones. It was to be eaten by the family, or by two or more families if the members of one family were not numerous enough to eat it all. They were to eat the lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread (a reminder of their slavery) whilst standing, ready to get on their way.

This final plague of death frightened the Pharao and the Jews were given their liberty. Our interest as Christians in this is more than historical. It happened for us. The Israelites were set free so that from them would come the One who was to set all mankind free. The Paschal Lamb and the liberation from Egypt were a foreshadowing of our liberation from sin and our change from slavery to this world into the freedom of the sons of God.

Because Christ was our Pascal Lamb –“Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed,” St. Paul says (1 Cor. 5: 7) – he chose to die for us in the Jewish feast of Passover, and to be raised again on the third day to prove our true liberation. Thus the religion of the Israelites and all their festivals were brought to fruition, and fulfilled for all mankind in our Christian Passover, in Christ’s death and resurrection.

This is why we are reminded today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, of the paschal feast we shall celebrate with joy and gratitude at the end of this holy season of preparation. God’s love for us and his interest in our true welfare dates back to eternity. Before he created all things his plan was to give man, his highest earthly creature, a share in his own divinity. With the call of Abraham, his interest in us was his motive. The liberation from Egypt was a prelude to his plan of redemption for us. The first Good Friday and Easter morning were the culmination of this divine love for mankind. It went to such lengths–the sacrifice of Christ the Son of God – so that we could share in the eternal happiness of heaven.

Cold is the human heart that fails to react to such proofs of true, unselfish love. Weak indeed is the faith of the Christian who can look on the scene enacted on Calvary while throwing his own mean little cross on the ground. Foolish beyond belief is the man who would let the passing things of this world so engage him that he has no time to earn the everlasting life that God’s infinite love has planned for him from all eternity.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

READING II

st_paul_lightbox flyer.jpg

2 Cor 5:17-21

Brothers and sisters:

Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:

the old things have passed away;

behold, new things have come.

And all this is from God,

who has reconciled us to himself through Christ

and given us the ministry of reconciliation,

namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,

not counting their trespasses against them

and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

So we are ambassadors for Christ,

as if God were appealing through us.

We implore you on behalf of Christ,

be reconciled to God.

For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,

so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 433 The name of the Savior God was invoked only once in the year by the high priest in atonement for the sins of Israel, after he had sprinkled the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies with the sacrificial blood. The mercy seat was the place of God’s presence.1 When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom “God put forward as an expiation by his blood”, he means that in Christ’s humanity “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”2

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”3 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.4 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”5

CCC 827 “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”6 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.7 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.8 Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:

The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.9

CCC 859 Jesus unites them to the mission he received from the Father. As “the Son can do nothing of his own accord,” but receives everything from the Father who sent him, so those whom Jesus sends can do nothing apart from him,10 from whom they received both the mandate for their mission and the power to carry it out. Christ’s apostles knew that they were called by God as “ministers of a new covenant,” “servants of God,” “ambassadors for Christ,” “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”11

CCC 981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.”12 The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:13

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.14

CCC 1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.”15

CCC 1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,”16 member of Christ and co-heir with him,17 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.18

CCC 1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.

It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.”19

It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: “Be reconciled to God.”20 He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go; first be reconciled to your brother.”21

CCC 1442 Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.”22 The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.”23

CCC 1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,24 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

CCC 1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:25

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.26

CCC 2844 Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies,27 transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God’s compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another.28

1 Cf. Ex 25:22; Lev 16:2,15-16; Num 7:89; Sir 50:20; Heb 9:5,7.

2 Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 5:19.

3 I Pt 1:18-20.

4 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

5 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

6 LG 8 § 3; Cf. UR 3; 6; Heb 2:17; 726; 2 Cor 5:21.

7 Cf. 1 Jn 1:8-10.

8 Cf. Mt 13:24-30.

9 Paul VI, CPG § 19.

10 Jn 5:19, 30; cf. Jn 15:5.

11 2 Cor 3:6; 6:4; 5:20; 1 Cor 4:1.

12 Lk 24:47.

13 2 Cor 5:18.

14 St. Augustine, Sermo 214,11:PL 38,1071-1072.

15 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Cf. Rom 6:34; Col 2:12.

16 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Gal 4:5-7.

17 Cf. l Cor 6:15; 12:27; Rom 8:17.

18 Cf. l Cor 6:19.

19 OP 46 formula of absolution.

20 2 Cor 5:20.

21 MT 5:24.

22 2 Cor 5:18.

23 2 Cor 5:20.

24 Cf. In 20:23; 2 Cor 5:18.

25 Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39.

26 2 Cor 5:17-18.

27 Cf. Mt 5:43-44.

28 Cf. 2 Cor 5:18-21; John Paul II, DM 14.

APPLICATION

We are Christians. To many perhaps this statement is about as important as if we say we are Americans, we are Germans, we are Irish, we are Italians. But as every sincere Christian knows, and as St. Paul has reminded us today, to be a Christian means something different. It means that our relationship with God and the whole meaning of life has been radically changed. The divine plan of the Incarnation reached its climax in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. As a result of this plan we are no longer mere human beings. We have been raised up to adopted sonship by God. We are already by baptism citizens of God’s earthly kingdom, and we are legal heirs of his eternal kingdom in heaven. These are not empty words, nor empty titles. Because the Son of God became a man, and one of us, we have been made brothers of his and sons of God. Because we are sons of God we are heirs to heaven, and have a legal right – through the sheer gift of God’s infinite love for us, not through any merit whatsoever of our own – to eternal happiness.

The plan for our eternal happiness was made by God before creation began. It was signed and sealed by the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. At baptism each Christian is handed his bill of rights, his guarantee of eternal citizenship, together with the map which shows him the road he must travel to attain his kingdom.

But reading and following the road map is for many of us the part we like least. We are all thankful to God and to his divine Son for all he has done for us. We are all delighted with the privilege of divine sonship and the promise of a part in the eternal kingdom of God in heaven. But many of us get sleepy and faint-hearted when it comes to following the road mapped out for us. We know that we have been raised above our mere human nature and given a new status in relation to God. We also know and feel that we are still very human, very earthly beings, naturally attracted to the things of this world.

But we can and we must overcome this attraction. This is what St. Paul is exhorting us to do today. “Be reconciled to God,” he says. Repent of past faults, of past sins, he tells us. If we turn to God with a sincere heart, he will accept us back once more into the divine family of which baptism made us members. We are the chosen children of God, not in any metaphorical or figurative sense, but in the true sense of the words. Heaven is the eternal home earned for us by our true brother Christ. Could we be so foolish as to let some earthly passing pleasure or possession deprive us of that everlasting reward?

GOSPEL

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Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,

but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So to them Jesus addressed this parable:

“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,

‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’

So the father divided the property between them.

After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings

and set off to a distant country

where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.

When he had freely spent everything,

a severe famine struck that country,

and he found himself in dire need.

So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens

who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.

And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,

but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought,

‘How many of my father’s hired workers

have more than enough food to eat,

but here am I, dying from hunger.

I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

I no longer deserve to be called your son;

treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’

So he got up and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off,

his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.

He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

His son said to him,

‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;

I no longer deserve to be called your son.’

But his father ordered his servants,

‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;

put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.

Then let us celebrate with a feast,

because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;

he was lost, and has been found.’

Then the celebration began.

Now the older son had been out in the field

and, on his way back, as he neared the house,

he heard the sound of music and dancing.

He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.

The servant said to him,

‘Your brother has returned

and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf

because he has him back safe and sound.’

He became angry,

and when he refused to enter the house,

his father came out and pleaded with him.

He said to his father in reply,

‘Look, all these years I served you

and not once did I disobey your orders;

yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.

But when your son returns

who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,

for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’

He said to him,

‘My son, you are here with me always;

everything I have is yours.

But now we must celebrate and rejoice,

because your brother was dead and has come to life again;

he was lost and has been found.’”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030616-fourth-sunday-lent.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward them.1 He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet.2 But it was most especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”3 By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man who made himself God’s equal, or is speaking the truth and his person really does make present and reveal God’s name.4

CCC 1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father5 from whom one has strayed by sin.

It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

CCC 1439 The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father:6 the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father’s house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure worthy, and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church. Only the heart Of Christ Who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.

CCC 1443 During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God.7

CCC 1468 “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.”8 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.”9 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.10

CCC 1700 The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son11 to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity.

CCC 1846 The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners.12 The angel announced to Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”13 The same is true of the Eucharist, the sacrament of redemption: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”14

CCC 2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,15 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.16 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,17 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.18

CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.19 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”20 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.21

1 Cf. Mt 9:13; Hos 6:6.

2 Cf. Lk 15:1-2, 22-32.

3 Mk 2:7.

4 Cf. Jn 5:18; 10:33; 17:6,26.

5 Cf. Mk 1:15; Lk 15:18.

6 Cf. Lk 15:11-24.

7 Cf. Lk 15; 19:9.

8 Roman Catechism, II, V, 18.

9 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1674.

10 Cf. Lk 15:32.

11 Lk 15:11-32

12 Cf. Lk 15.

13 Mt 1:21.

14 Mt 26:28.

15 Cf. Gen 3.

16 Jer 3:19-4:1a; Lk 15:18, 21.

17 Cf. Isa 45:8; Ps 85:12.

18 Jn 3:13; 12:32; 14 2-3; 16:28; 20:17; Eph 4:9-10; Heb 1:3; 2:13.

19 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.

20 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.

21 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.

APPLICATION

This parable or story refuted the Pharisees’ objection to Christ’s friendliness with sinners very effectively. The infinite mercy of God, the Father of saint and sinner, is brought out very clearly in the story of the younger son. Even though he abandoned his father, the father did not abandon him. The father’s mercy was big enough and generous enough to forgive and forget. His love for his son was strong enough to smother any feelings of personal resentment. His son’s return, humble and chastened, blotted out all his past faults and failures. It was surely an occasion for general rejoicing.

Could the Pharisees fail to see that the father in that story was God and the wayward son the sinners with whom Christ was associating? That the elder son who had stayed with his father looking after the part of the property given to him represented themselves, must have been evident to them too. They were faithful to God and to his law in most ways even if not from completely unselfish motives. But their lack of charity, especially their lack of interest in their fellow-men and the pride they took in their own strict observance, made imperfect all their otherwise good deeds. They were the elder sons, they were still nominally God’s chosen people. But their place was about to be taken by the younger son, by the sinners and publicans, by the Gentiles they so despised.

They must have seen the point of the story and the message Christ had in it for them. Yet they failed to learn its lesson. They remained stubborn in their pride and refused to accept Christ and his salvation.

For the vast majority of us, Christians, our message of consolation and hope is in the first part of today’s parable. All of us have, many a time, been prodigal, ungrateful, selfish sons of our loving Father. But he is still a Father of infinite love, of boundless mercy. He is not only waiting for us to return, like the human father in the story. He is continually sending out messengers to recall us and to help us on the return journey. Like the prodigal in the story, we may have squandered the gifts that our heavenly father gave us. We may have abused our freedom and broken his laws. We may have descended to the deepest depths of degradation (to a Jew to become a swine-herd was the last step in human debasement). We may now feel torn and tattered but, never forget it, our loving, merciful Father is waiting for us with open arms to welcome us back the moment we come to ourselves and decide to return. Until we have drawn our last breath on earth, the mercy of God and his pardon, are there for our asking.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Love and Correction

Anger is not necessarily always in contradiction with love. A father, for instance, sometimes has to speak crossly to his son so as to prick his conscience, just because he loves him. And he would fall short of his loving obligation and his will to love if, in order to make things easier for the other person, and also for himself, he avoided the task of putting him right sometimes by making a critical intervention in his life. We know that spoiled children, to whom everything has been permitted, are often in the end quite unable to come to terms with life, because later on life treats them quite differently, and because they have never learned to discipline themselves, to get themselves on the right track. Or if, for instance, because I want to be nice to him, I give to an addict the drugs he wants instead of weaning him off them (which would seem to him very hard treatment), then in that case you cannot talk of real love. To put it another way: love, in the true sense, is not always a matter of giving way, being soft, and just acting nice. In that sense, a sugar-costed Jesus or a God who agrees to everything and is never anything but nice and friendly is no more than a caricature of real love. Because God loves us, because he wants us to grow into truth, he must necessarily make demands on us and must also correct us. God has to do those things we refer to in the image of “the wrath of God,” that is, he has to resist us in our attempts to fall from our own best selves and when we pose a threat to ourselves.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Rebellious Youth

Dear Lord, you have witnessed the rebelliousness of youth since the very beginnings of time. You understand a parent’s anguish and helplessness over the actions of his child. Please help us to transform our anger and frustration into loving care for our child who has gone astray. Help us begin to mend our broken fences and heal our broken hearts. Bless our child and also help him to mend the error of his ways. Help and bless us all to do right in Your name and restore us to peace and tranquility. We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2989

Posted in Catholic

Third Sunday of Lent – C

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But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

OPENING PRAYER

Come, all who are thirsty

says Jesus, our Lord,

come, all who are weak,

taste the living water

that I shall give.

Dip your hands in the stream,

refresh body and soul,

drink from it,

depend on it,

for this water

will never run dry.

Come, all who are thirsty

says Jesus, our Lord.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=3094

COLLECT

O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness,

who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving

have shown us a remedy for sin,

look graciously on this confession of our lowliness,

that we, who are bowed down by our conscience,

may always be lifted up by your mercy.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,

the priest of Midian.

Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,

the mountain of God.

There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire

flaming out of a bush.

As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,

though on fire, was not consumed.

So Moses decided,

“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,

and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,

God called out to him from the bush, Moses! Moses!”

He answered, “Here I am.”

God said, “Come no nearer!

Remove the sandals from your feet,

for the place where you stand is holy ground.

I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued,

“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”

Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

But the LORD said,

“I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt

and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers,

so I know well what they are suffering.

Therefore I have come down to rescue them

from the hands of the Egyptians

and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land,

a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites

and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’

if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”

God replied, “I am who am.”

Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:

I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:

The LORD, the God of your fathers,

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,

has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever;

thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”1 God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.

“I Am who I Am”

Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’… this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”2

CCC 207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past (“I am the God of your father”), as for the future (“I will be with you”).3 God, who reveals his name as “I AM”, reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

CCC 208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness.4 Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.”5 Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”6 But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. .. for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.”7 The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. .. reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”8

CCC 446 In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH, by which God revealed himself to Moses,9 is rendered as Kyrios, “Lord”. From then on, “Lord” becomes the more usual name by which to indicate the divinity of Israel’s God. The New Testament uses this full sense of the title “Lord” both for the Father and – what is new – for Jesus, who is thereby recognized as God Himself.10

CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,11 the sin of the Sodomites,12 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,13 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,14 injustice to the wage earner.15

CCC 2575 Here again the initiative is God’s. From the midst of the burning bush he calls Moses.16 This event will remain one of the primordial images of prayer in the spiritual tradition of Jews and Christians alike. When “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” calls Moses to be his servant, it is because he is the living God who wants men to live. God reveals himself in order to save them, though he does not do this alone or despite them: he calls Moses to be his messenger, an associate in his compassion, his work of salvation. There is something of a divine plea in this mission, and only after long debate does Moses attune his own will to that of the Savior God. But in the dialogue in which God confides in him, Moses also learns how to pray: he balks, makes excuses, above all questions: and it is in response to his question that the Lord confides his ineffable name, which will be revealed through his mighty deeds.

CCC 2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”17 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.18

CCC 2777 In the Roman liturgy, the Eucharistic assembly is invited to pray to our heavenly Father with filial boldness; the Eastern liturgies develop and use similar expressions: “dare in all confidence,” “make us worthy of. .. ” From the burning bush Moses heard a voice saying to him, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”19 Only Jesus could cross that threshold of the divine holiness, for “when he had made purification for sins,” he brought us into the Father’s presence: “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”20

Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry. .. ‘Abba, Father!’. .. When would a mortal dare call God ‘Father,’ if man’s innermost being were not animated by power from on high?21

CCC 2810 In the promise to Abraham and the oath that accompanied it,22 God commits himself but without disclosing his name. He begins to reveal it to Moses and makes it known clearly before the eyes of the whole people when he saves them from the Egyptians: “he has triumphed gloriously.”23 From the covenant of Sinai onwards, this people is “his own” and it is to be a “holy (or ”consecrated“: the same word is used for both in Hebrew) nation,”24 because the name of God dwells in it.

1 EX 3:6.

2 EX 3:13-15.

3 EX 3:6, 12.

4 Cf. EX 3:5-6.

5 Is 6:5.

6 Lk 5:8.

7 Hos 11:9.

8 I Jn 3:19-20.

9 Cf. Ex 3:14.

10 Cf. I Cor 2:8.

11 Cf. Gen 4:10.

12 Cf. Gen 18:20; 19:13.

13 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.

14 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.

15 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.

16 Ex 3:1-10.

17 Cf. Ex 3:14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1:21.

18 Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.

19 Ex 3:5.

20 Heb 1:3; 2:13.

21 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 71, 3: PL 52, 401 CD; cf. Gal 4:6.

22 Cf. Heb 6:13.

23 Ex 15:1 cf. 3:14.

24 Cf. Ex 19:5-6.

APPLICATION

In Lent we are preparing for the death and Resurrection of Christ. It is the central, the crowning act, of God’s love in the divine drama of our liberation from sin, and our admission to citizenship of our new exalted and everlasting homeland. The Exodus, the liberation of the Chosen People from the slavery of Egypt and the beginning of their journey into their promised land, Canaan, was a type or prophecy of our great liberation and exaltation to the status, not only of Chosen People, but of sons of God.

For this reason Christ chose the Jewish feast of Passover or Pasch–the beginning of the old Exodus, as the day on which he would begin our liberation. He was the real Lamb of God whose sacrifice would redeem us from the slavery of sin and death, and whose precious blood would mark us for eternity as the chosen sons of the Father.

It is to remind us of this that we are told today of this story of God’s mission to Moses. The liberation of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt and their eventual establishment in the Promised Land of Canaan were outstanding proofs of God’s deep interest in those he loves. But they were only types and shadows of what he has done for us. It was not a mere man, like Moses, but his own Divine Son that he sent to liberate us. He came not to give us a few years of temporal freedom in a little corner of this planet, but to give us a new supernatural life in his own everlasting kingdom of unending freedom and happiness.

With infinitely more reason than the Psalmist who lived before Christ came, can we cry out: “Lord, what is man that thou shouldst be mindful of him?” What am I that God should care for me and go to such extremes in order to make me truly happy forever? From my heart I can say: ” Lord, I am not worthy.” But I also know that he who made all things, can make me worthy of the future he has so generously prepared for me, if only I cooperate, if only I do the little he asks of me.

There is no road-block on my journey to heaven. There is no hindrance on my way into the Promised Land, which I cannot remove, with the help of grace, which is there for the asking. Will I sit idly on the roadside bewailing my weaknesses, or will I roll up my sleeves and start casting aside the cardboard barricades set up by my own selfishness and spiritual laziness? Today is the best day to answer that question. There may not be another chance.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

and all my being, bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

He pardons all your iniquities,

heals all your ills,

He redeems your life from destruction,

crowns you with kindness and compassion.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

The LORD secures justice

and the rights of all the oppressed.

He has made known his ways to Moses,

and his deeds to the children of Israel.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,

slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

READING II

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1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,

that our ancestors were all under the cloud

and all passed through the sea,

and all of them were baptized into Moses

in the cloud and in the sea.

All ate the same spiritual food,

and all drank the same spiritual drink,

for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,

and the rock was the Christ.

Yet God was not pleased with most of them,

for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us,

so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.

Do not grumble as some of them did,

and suffered death by the destroyer.

These things happened to them as an example,

and they have been written down as a warning to us,

upon whom the end of the ages has come.

Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure

should take care not to fall.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.1

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.2

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.3

CCC 128 The Church, as early as apostolic times,4 and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.

CCC 670 Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at “the last hour”.5 “Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.”6 Christ’s kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.7

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”8 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified9 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.10

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,11 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.12 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,13 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”14

CCC 2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:15

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.16

1 Cf. I Cor 10:2.

2 I Cor 10:11; cf. Heb 3:1 -4:11.

3 Cf. Rev 21:1 – 22:5.

4 Cf. I Cor 10:6, 11; Heb 10:l; l Pt 3:21.

5 I Jn 2:18; cf. I Pt 4:7.

6 LG 48 # 3; cf. I Cor 10:11.

7 Cf. Mk 16:17-18, 20.

8 1 Cor 12:13.

9 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.

10 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.

11 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

12 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

13 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

14 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

15 Cf. 1 Cor 10:11.

16 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9, 1: SCh 10, 88.

APPLICATION

This admonition of Paul, given to the converts in Corinth, but applicable to all of us, could not be more timely. During Lent we are, or should be, thinking of all God did for us, and of how mean is our response. We read of the wonderful things he did for the Israelites, getting them out of Egypt, feeding them in the desert and leading them towards their own national home. We see the return they made him: ingratitude, forgetfulness, betrayal by turning to false gods who did not or could not help them. We very naturally conclude that they deserved all the punishment he gave them.

But who are we to pass judgement on the Israelites? They did not know God as well as we do. They had witnessed God’s love, mercy, and kindness in their regard, but, compared to the divine love and mercy we have witnessed in the Incarnation, what God did for them was relatively little. Yet like the Israelites we lust too often after evil things, we let the pleasures and wealth of this world come between us and God. We do not perhaps set up a golden calf as our god, but how often does something more trifling, the silver dollar, become the center of our lives and of our devotion?

We, too, tempt Christ when we presume we shall get to heaven by means of a few mumbled prayers and a hasty Mass on Sunday, while the rest of our week is spent in the service of our pagan worldly idols. And how often do we murmur and complain against God when things do not go as we’d like them to go ? If our health is not always the best, if our work is not quite suitable, if our husbands or wives are not the true and best partners in life we expected them to be, if our children are disobedient and wayward, we murmur against God and blame him. Often, if not always, the fault lies with ourselves.

Today, I would ask each one of you to stop, look and listen, before you take your next step on your road of life. Stop and take an honest look at yourself and at your Christian attitude to life. Are you expecting heaven here below or are you one of those who wants to have all the goods and pleasures of life and heaven too? Christ won for us and promised to those who would follow him, a day of resurrection to an unending life of blessed happiness, but he told us very definitely and very clearly that the way to the resurrection is over the hill of Calvary.

Listen today to St. Paul’s admonition. We too, Christian though we be and far better educated in the things of God, can, like the Israelites, fail to reach the eternal homeland he has prepared for us, if we imitate the Israelites in their ingratitude and their forgetfulness of all that God did for them.

GOSPEL

Image result for Jesus and the fig tree icon

Gospel Lk 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans

whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

Jesus said to them in reply,

“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way

they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?

By no means!

But I tell you, if you do not repent,

you will all perish as they did!

Or those eighteen people who were killed

when the tower at Siloam fell on them —

do you think they were more guilty

than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?

By no means!

But I tell you, if you do not repent,

you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:

“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,

and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,

he said to the gardener,

‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree

but have found none.

So cut it down.

Why should it exhaust the soil?’

He said to him in reply,

‘Sir, leave it for this year also,

and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;

it may bear fruit in the future.

If not you can cut it down.’”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022816-third-sunday-lent.cfm

APPLICATION

Although the incidents collected together here by St. Luke are not logically or chronologically connected there is one theme and lesson running through them all. It is the need, namely, for repentance. Some sinners are punished in this life but an earthly punishment is no proof of greater sin, nor is it the real punishment that must be feared.

The parable of the useless fig tree, while it applies directly to the stubborn Jews of Christ’s time, has a lesson for all time and for all sinners. God’s mercy is infinite but man’s earthly life, during which he can obtain that mercy, is very finite. God’s mercy can forgive sins no matter how grievous, but it cannot forgive even less serious sins unless the sinner is sorry and asks for forgiveness. Christ, our true mediator with God, is continually interceding for us, but unless we do our part by repenting and changing our behavior, his intercession will be of no avail to us. No man is lost because God so wishes it, but no man is saved unless he himself wishes it and works for it.

Think on this parable of the fruitless fig tree today. If your conscience tells you that it applies to you, think also that Christ is interceding for you. He has obtained for you a moratorium, a period in which you can prove yourself fruitful. Use that gift of God with gratitude and you shall obtain the result that God wants, and that in all good sense, you should want as well.

BENEDICTUS

The Attempt to Save Ourselves

It is clear that human beings alone cannot save themselves.  There innate error is precisely that they want to do this by themselves.  We can only be saved – that is, be free and true – when we stop wanting to be God and when we renounce the madness of autonomy and self-sufficiency.  We can only be saved – that is, become ourselves – when we engage in the proper relationship.  But our interpersonal relationships occur in the context of our utter creatureliness, and it is there that the damage lies.  Since the relationship with creation has been damaged, only the Creator himself can be our savior.  We can be saved only when he from whom we have cut ourselves off takes the initiative with us and stretches out his hand to us.  Only being loved is being saved, and only God’s love can purify damaged human love and radically reestablish the network of relationships that have suffered from alienation…  The One who is truly like God does not hold graspingly to his autonomy, to the limitlessness of his ability and his willing.  He does the contrary:  he becomes completely dependent, he becomes a slave.  Because he does not go the route of power but that of love, he can descend into the depths of Adam’s lie, into the depths of death, and there raise up truth and life.  Thus Christ is the new Adam, with whom humankind begins anew.  The Son, who is by nature relationship and relatedness, reestablishes relationships.  His arms, spread out on the cross, are an open invitation to relationship, which is continually offered to us.  The cross, the place of his obedience, is the true tree of life.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

This is love.

Not that you spoke words of comfort,

walked with the unclean and unloved,

shared wisdom, bread and fish,

brought healing into lives

and challenged the status quo.

This is love.

That you spoke the word of God,

walked a painful road to the Cross,

shared living water, bread of life,

brought Salvation to the world

and died for the sake of all.

This is love.

It is a seed

sown in the ground,

which germinates,

blossoms,

and spreads its sweet perfume.

This is love.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=3098

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