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SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER 2019

At the beginning of creation, God breathed the Holy Spirit into the nostrils of Adam so that he would receive life. Adam and Eve, our first parents, lived in a perfect world until sin slithered in to disrupt our relationship with God. In our weaknesses, we turned to sin and thus lost God’s favor. However, God did not turn his back to us and walk away from us, his most prized creations, even though we often were ungrateful of his merciful love. God vowed that he would one day send a redeemer to save us from our sinful ways so that we might again reside again in his loving grace.
During this Easter season, we commemorated the most significant event in human history, the fulfillment of God’s promise through the Passion and Resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through God‘s merciful love, even though we are sinners that he fulfills his promise. It is through God’s merciful love that he continues to intervene in our lives forgiving our sins, calling us to cleanse our conscious and rededicating ourselves to him. It is through God’s merciful love that we can look forward to the day of our death and resurrection.
We often fearfully wonder if our way to the Kingdom will be blocked because we fail to remain wholly free from sin. We fear that we will not be able to enter heaven because of the deviant thoughts that creep into our consciousness or because of our inability to believe in the saving power of our God. However, God in his mercy never leaves us even as we fail in our faith of him. He demonstrated his unending love for us in sending his only Son as our Savior.
Jesus remains with us as we encounter the threats that often challenge our faith. He remains our beacon of hope even while murderers attack us while we celebrate his Resurrection. He remains our sacred answer in seeking human dignity for each person even while politicians fight about words rather than about lives. He remains our trustworthy advocate gently guiding us to our heavenly homeland while we fear for our souls in a destructively evil world. Jesus remains the solution to the ache in our hearts when we fear that there is no hope.
We will not find solace for this heartache except in seeking out the Lord. Although our sins were the cause of Jesus’ suffering and death, in his never-ending love, he still lovingly returns to us at his Resurrection. Jesus as his first act after his resurrection was to take away the fears of the Apostles by breathing on them, filling them with the Holy Spirit. This breath commemorates the breath giving birth to Adam at the dawn of creation, also indicates our rebirth freeing us from the chains of sin and death.
Jesus in breathing on the Apostles changes them forever giving them the ability to forgive sins, to cure the diseased and drive out demons. Jesus sent them on a mission to evangelize the world with the words:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
These sacred powers given to the Apostles have been propagated down in the succeeding generations through the ordination of our priests. In the reception of the Sacraments, through the hands of the priest, we too experience Jesus’ power to change our lives.
Each time we receive a Sacrament we are publically proclaiming as the Apostle Thomas once did “My Lord and My God” for we are accepting that Jesus has saved us from our sins. In each Sacrament, Jesus stands before us and breathes upon us transmitting God’s grace through the actions of the Holy Spirit. When we receive one of the Sacraments, we proclaim our trust in the Lord. We proclaim that we can walk without fear for the Lord will show us the way. We proclaim that we believe that the Lord’s love is unending and that he will lead us into his heavenly Kingdom.
Jesus comes to us in the Sacraments so that we can believe in God’s mercy and love. We know of God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation where he forgives our sins assuring us that he will never leave us. We become more aware of God’s love when we receive the Body and Blood of his Son in the Eucharist assuring us of his promise to save us. In his mercy, “Our Lord and Our God” is always with us. In his love, “Our Lord and Our God” will always save us.

 

EASTER SUNDAY 4-21-19

Beneath the earth, there seems to be nothing only emptiness. Under the cold hard ground, there is only darkness, a place to avoid. It is like a tomb of death where there is no hope. This void is the place where Jesus was laid upon his death.
However, deep within the seemingly barren ground, there is a bulb, a promise of new life. Amazingly, through the miracle of God’s guiding hand, it begins to sprout. With the actions of a loving application of heat from the sun, moisture from a gentle rainfall, and waiting for the appropriate time, a small green leaf inches it way up through the rich, black earth. Our Creator is at his work again bringing new life to the world. And Jesus rose from the dead.
Miraculously, from an ugly, brown stubby tuber grows a dignified white Easter lily, the expression of the Resurrection of Jesus from the grave. One is drawn to its majestic blossom. The trumpet-shaped flower gloriously proclaims the presence of springtime and the fulfillment of promises at Easter.
The white petals turn their faces toward the sun praising the brilliant light of a new day. The perfect shape of each petal represents the unchanging perfection of Jesus. Unspoiled by human intervention, the shimmering flowers signify the purity of the regeneration we celebrate on this day. On this day Jesus has conquered sin and death.
The fragrance of the lily evaporates the smell of death that has haunted us. Instead, its heavenly odor reminds of the holy incense that rises like our prayers to the Lord in thanksgiving. The stately appearance of the Easter lily moving slightly with the gentle breeze urges all of God’s children to gather in praise for what he has done for us this day.
Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (Luke 12:27)
The perfect Easter lily shows the promise of the future for us who turn to God. In that purity of the lily, we experience a new beginning. We are reborn in Christ and like him now have eternal life.

Jesus is Risen Today,

Alleluia, Alleluia.

PALM SUNDAY 4-14-19

In every moment, Jesus acts on our behalf in love. There is no other way to describe what Jesus has done for us except to acknowledge the vastness of his love. His love becomes much more startling evident from the events of this upcoming week. It is for us that he purposely takes these steps to his death. How have we responded to his love?
In the Garden, Judas betrays him, and his Apostles run in fear of being identified as his followers. As Jesus said he would, Peter denies Jesus three times. How often have we betrayed Jesus by our words and actions? How often have we denied our faith?
Jesus was scourged with a whip until his flesh was ripped open in raw furrows. His tormenters place a crown of thorns on his head, and a purple cloak around his shoulders and mockingly call out “Hail to the King of the Jews.” Do we bow down in reverence to him but press the thorns deeper in his skull because we are unfaithful? How often do we proclaim Jesus, as our King, yet we easily turn away from him to idolize material objects?
Appearing before Sanhedrin, Jesus, an innocent man, is accused of being a blasphemer but he has told the truth, he is the Son of God. Pilate then condemns Jesus, even though Pilate recognized him as being guiltless, to death by crucifixion. How often do we not believe Jesus to be true God and true man? How often have we added our voices to the cries of “Crucify him, crucify him” because he challenges the way we live our lives?
Jesus carries his cross on whip-torn shoulders, leaving a bloody footprint with each step. The Roman soldiers beat and ridicule him as he falls again and again. Crowds line the narrow streets. Some laugh and spit on this man as he falls yet again. How can this vile, wretched man be the Son of God? Others cry in anguish at the evil can humans do to each other. How often do we fall and refuse to get up and seek absolution for our sins? How often do we mock those who are unable to care for themselves?
On top of Calvary, Jesus is stripped. People stop to gawk, to relish at the gaping wounds, and the purple bruises that cover his body. How can we be comfortable viewing pornography knowing that Jesus’ body was displayed with such indignity? How can we fail to protect those who suffer from the humiliation of exploitation?
Jesus is nailed to the wood of the cross. Nails driven through the hands that loving cupped a child's face. Nails imbedded into hands that cured the possessed and the diseased. Nails pounded into the feet that walked to countless villages to bring the message of salvation to God’s children. How can we now raise our hands in violence?
Jesus hangs from the cross burdened at the weight of our sins. Our evil ways push down on the holes of his hands and feet. The fate of the whole world rests on these nail holes. How much can his hands bear before they are torn away from the nails by our repeated sins?
Convicted of being a criminal and hung on a cross because we fail recognize who he is, Jesus dies.
In all of his Passion, the betrayals, the accusations, the flogging, the mockery, the falling, the nailing, the bleeding wounds, the unbearable pain, Jesus silently accepts it all. He did this all because of our sins – yours and mine.
And when we can no longer bear the guilt of what our sins have done to him, remember Jesus took up his Passion just for love – for you and I. Jesus permitted himself to be tortured and murdered for us so that we understand the depth of his love. Even as he dies, his love still explodes out with the words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
And to show us that he forgave us and still loves us, on the third day Jesus rises from the dead so that we too may have eternal life.
Let Jesus’ love not be in vain as we live through this Holy Week. Let Jesus’ suffering challenge us to carry our cross daily as he did, for the love of others. Let us turn our unbelief into belief. Let us prayerful reflect on what Jesus in his love has done for us – you and me.

 

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