First of all, I take this opportunity to congratulate our senior graduates and their families. Our prayers are with you in future plans.
Graduation! How exciting? I am sure seniors are full of dreams and plans for the future. Parents, teachers, and family will look at you with a question: what is next? What are you going to study? What do you want to become? Some of you are already decided, some of you are not sure yet.
Today we gather to honor your success and celebrate the Lord’s gift, the bread and wine, the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving. The gift of the Lord, the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive is the greatest gift possible. It is His sacrifice on the Cross made real in the Eucharist for us to eat and be nourished with. It is the source of our life.
A little Johnny asked his dad, “What is love?” Dad replied, “Love is giving away your life for someone.” Often we sing a beautiful hymn at the Mass, called, “They’ll know We Are Christians by Our Love.” Next time when we sign give special attention to those words. It is beautiful and profound.
Today’s readings are about LOVE. It talks about new things: the New Jerusalem, a new heaven and earth, and a new commandment. It’s all about new identity of Christian life. They use uniforms, habits, badges, banners and pinups designed to distinguish different groups and believers. We are symbolic beings who need to express our faith in symbolic ways.
The Gospel for the weekend is so profound. At the Last Supper, Jesus is sitting at the table, Judas has just left to betray him. The next thing Jesus says, which is the first part of the Gospel today, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” He is going to be arrested, nailed to the Cross and put to death. How can Jesus say the Son of Man is glorified? Then Jesus said, “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.”
I think Jesus was saying he is going to take the pain and suffering of the Cross for you, so we will know his love. I thought little Johnny’s dad shared a profound thought: “Love is giving away your life for someone.” Through Jesus passion, death and resurrection, we will be able to acquire the ability to give away our life for someone.
“Love others as I have loved you” (John 13: 35). Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. Love is the Christian identity. Love is the Christian uniform. Love is the Christian habit.
We live in a world that denies our basic human worth. How do we reclaim our basic worth? We can become whole and holy only when we learn to love ourselves properly, acknowledging the presence of the triune God in our souls, making our bodies the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” It is through constant love-centered interaction with God and each other that the "new earth, the new heaven and the new Jerusalem" can begin to come into existence. It is not going happen one day, but it is a journey….
Happy Mother’s Day! There is a beautiful Spanish proverb: "An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy." On Mother’s Day let us Christians, acknowledge the truth that we have two mothers: our earthly mother and our heavenly mother, Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Catholic Church proclaims the great nobility of the mother of Jesus, Mary most holy, and presents her as the supreme model for all mothers. She was born into humble surroundings, she was called by God to be the mother of the Son of God. She affirmed her obedience to the call of God and lived out her vocation throughout her entire life. Mary, the mother of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, is the true model of motherhood.
The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and it is the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” The vocations rooted in families. Moms have a special role in the life of children, their sacrifices and love influence their life. 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 stonewall 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 lay 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 send out to break us and give to others.
This Sunday our young women and men receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Apostles received Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It was life-changing for them. They received the 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 the 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 the right decision God would want me to make; 5. Reverence or Piety which helps to trust God more, the relationship becomes 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 the Sacrament of Confirmation, may God pour the gift of the Holy Spirit, and so they may come out of the Upper Room and reach out in mission to others. Let us pray that with our Confirmands, their sponsors, families and our entire cluster will be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.