The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and it is the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” The scripture lessons for this weekend is about the role of the shepherd.
In his book, The Holy Land, John Kellman describes a field pen. It consists of a circular stone wall about four feet high with an opening in it. Kellman says that one-day a Holy Land tourist saw a field pen near Hebron. He asked a shepherd sitting nearby, “where’s the gate for your pen?” The shepherd said, “I am the gate.”
The shepherd then told the tourist how he herded his flock into the pen each night. Then he lay down across the narrow entrance. No sheep could leave the pen, and no wild animal could enter it without stepping on his body.
Jesus is our shepherd, who laid down his life for us to give us new life, and He is with us. He broke the bread and said to his disciples, this is My Body, take and eat it. Jesus tells us the same, “This is My Body.” Like Apostles, we are also fed at this table and sent out to break and give to others.
Even though the Apostles lived with Jesus and learned scripture and broke the bread with him, we all know, after the crucifixion, resurrection and even after ascension, the Apostles felt emptiness in their life. But they were gathered in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost their lives were transformed. Then proclaimed the Good News and performed miracles in the name of Jesus of Nazorean.
This Sunday we are celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation. Our young men and women were preparing for this day, for the reception of Sacrament of Confirmation. Apostles received Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It was life changing for them. They received gift of the Holy Spirit. What are they? There are seven of them: 1. Wisdom which helps to understand things from God’s point of view; 2. Understanding which helps us to understand deeper meaning of supernatural truth; 3. Knowledge helps us to appreciate the life God has given: begin to see God’s presence in people, things, and nature and treat them with proper dignity; 4. Right Judgement or Counsel which helps to make right decision God would want me to make; 5. Reverence or Piety which helps to trust God more, relationships become stronger; 6. Courage or Fortitude which helps to stand up for what I believe; 7. Fear of the Lord or Awe and Wonder which helps to stay on the right path to heaven. Fear of the Lord is because I love God and I want to please Him.
Let us join in prayer for our young people, those who are receiving Sacrament of Confirmation, may God pour the gift of the Holy Spirit, so they may come out of the Upper Room and reach out in mission to others. Let us pray that with our Confirmandi, their sponsors, families, and our entire cluster will be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Once a gentle man was visiting his son. On Sunday he went church and took his little granddaughter with him. The little girl was observing everything, and finally they went to receive communion. Grandpa received communion, and she got a blessing. On the way back to the pew she asked, “Grandpa when am I going to get one of those.” Grandpa told her, “I will be make sure in couple years you will receive First Communion.” She kept watching the priest, and when he went to tabernacle to keep the Blessed Sacrament, she asked, “What is he doing? Is he putting in the microwave?”
Congratulation on your First Communion! Look at the Cross; God loves you so much. Look at the Easter Candle, he loves you and wants to be the light of your life, that guides you. Look at the Altar, just as your parents feed you so that you can be strong physically, God feeds you from the Altar, so that you can be strong spiritually. At your Holy Communion, Jesus comes to you. He wants your communion & relationship with him to be holy. He wants your communion & relationship with everybody to be holy.
Pope Francis published a new Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete Et Exsultate,” “Rejoice And Be Glad.” Pope Francis wants to remind us that we are called to holiness. In other words, he wants us to become saints. We don’t have to be a bishop, priest, or religious person to become saints. The Pope says, “we are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.”
So what is holiness? It is being poor in heart, reacting with meekness and humility, knowing how to mourn with others, seeing and acting with mercy and so on. In the middle of problems, accepting the Gospel in daily life and sharing peace and love all those who are around us. Pope Francis says this is the holiness, rejoice and be glad, we all can attain holiness.
In today’s Gospel of Luke is presenting two different accounts. Two disciples were explaining how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread and during this conversation Jesus appeared in their midst. He is real, with a human body. Jesus risen from the dead was still someone they could talk to. First Communicants, today Jesus is coming to you first time in Eucharist. Jesus wants you to be holy like Pope reminds us. What do you have to do become holy: just be yourselves and do everything with love for God and others.
Many years ago, there was a holy nun that went to the great Saint Teresa and was telling her how she wished that she had been alive at the same time that Jesus was walking around on the earth. She kept thinking what a joy it would have been to see his face, to hear his voice and just to be near Him. “Imagine what it would have been like to even talk with Jesus!” she exclaimed. “Oh, I would be a saint if only I could have been with Jesus!”
Saint Teresa looked at her with love and said, “My dear sister, have you forgotten that Jesus is still on earth , and that He lives near you-yes, in the house with you, and often in your very soul. Have you also forgotten that you can see Him and can speak to Him as often as you like? Is not Jesus with us in the Most Holy Sacrament? Why then do you wish to have lived long ago, since that same Jesus who lived with Mary and Joseph lives also with you?” Jesus lives with us, he gives himself in the Eucharist so we can grow in holiness.
A preacher was forced, by the traffic police, to pull over for speeding. As the cop was about to write the ticket, the priest said to him, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." The cop handed the preacher the ticket, and said, "Go, and sin no more."
The Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday. Mercy is the foundation of the Easter Season. Today in the first part of the Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, "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." Jesus empowered the disciples to become the vehicle of his mercy.
God continues to pour his mercy in the world through the new Israel, the Church. In a dream, St. Theresa of Lisieux asked St. Faustina, apostle of Divine Mercy, to trust in Jesus and she will become a saint. Later St. Faustina wrote in her dairy, “God Said to me, in the old covenant I sent prophets willingly thunderbolts of my people. Today I am sending you with my mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching human kind, I desire to heal it…”
St. John Paul II had a great role in spreading the message of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April, 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter, St. Pope John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded with the canonization of Blessed Sister Faustina. St. Faustina invites us by the witness of her life to keep our faith and hope fixed on God, the Father, rich in mercy, who has saved us by the precious blood of His Son. The Lord Jesus assigned St. Faustina three basic tasks during her short life: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God's incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God's generous mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God's Mercy. “The Lord of Divine Mercy” a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, which shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with his left hand on his chest from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message "Jesus, I trust in You". The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls, and white for the water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness, and love of God. In the divine mercy chaplet, the novena starts on Good Friday and goes until the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy celebration invites us to receive God’s mercy, and at the same time, share one another. Our Lord said to St. Faustina, "Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy. I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it"
Pope Francis continues the message of Mercy. During the year of mercy, Pope Francis said in one of his homilies, “Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion.”
Our Cluster will celebrate at St. Anthony on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. It includes Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and sacrament of reconciliation.
After dying in a car crash, three friends find themselves at an orientation to enter heaven. Each one was asked, "When you are in your casket, what would you like to hear your friends and family saying about you?" Sean says, "I would like to hear them say I was a great doctor and a great family man." Karl says, "I would like to hear them say I was a wonderful husband and an excellent teacher who made a difference in children's lives." Juan says, "I would like to hear them say, 'Look! He's moving!'"
Early on the morning of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Can you imagine? You walk into a tomb, fully expecting to see a dead body, and you see instead someone alive and well—someone different than the man who was buried there! Today we celebrate Easter. He is Risen!
Easter is a profoundly spiritual day. It is a day of joy, beauty, and hope. When we come to Church on Easter, we are struck by the flowers and beauty. The flowers remind us of the three gardens of the Lord we find in Scripture.
The first garden is the Garden of Paradise. In this garden, God provided Adam and Eve everything, and they were supposed to recognize his and her dependence on God. They thought that they could be like God, and the garden of Paradise became a place of sin, suffering and shame.
The second garden is the garden of Gethsemane. This garden is the garden of challenge and the garden of choice. It was challenging, but Jesus chose to do the sacrifice for us.
The third garden is the garden of the Resurrection. I recall my visit to Holy Land. One of the most powerful moments was visiting the Church of Holy Sepulcher. In this Church, we can see the place where Jesus was crucified, “Golgoltha” and next to it, a small church within the church which is Tomb of Christ. It was not just the Church of the Tomb, but was also the Church of the Resurrection. We read in the Bible that the tomb was in a garden. A beautiful morning, a joy filled morning, there were a couple of different groups of people around that tomb, some of them surprised, some others confused, still others running to tell others “He is risen.”
We are walking with Jesus one garden to the other. The Garden of Gethsemane leads us to the garden of Easter. Every Good Friday leads us to an Easter Sunday. Jesus, through his passion, death, and resurrection, through his power of his love, gave us new life.
At the Easter Vigil, a large candle is brought into the darkened church. Easter light transforms our lives. St. Agustine says, Jesus departed from our sight, that we might return to our hearts and there find Him. He is Risen!! He is alive in our hearts. Let the Paschal candle brighten our hearts and minds. May the Risen Christ dwell in our hearts and bless you and me with His love, forgiveness, and healing this Easter and always. Wish you all a Happy Easter!!