God the Father sent his son, lived thirty years of silent life, three years did the public ministry. Then he suffered, crucified, died and resurrected. This Sunday we celebrate Ascension Sunday!
The second reading for Ascension is from the book of Hebrews. We read, “Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.” It also says that the high priest entered the sanctuary to offer the sacrifice of himself to the Father for all eternity. Ascension is the climax of the pascal mystery.
If we look at the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, it looks like a continuation of the Gospel. Luck is the author of Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. In the Gospel, Jesus gives the final parting message to his disciples. Jesus told them that he is going to suffer, die and on the third day resurrect. And also Jesus told Apostles that they are going to be the witnesses, so they should preach the repentance and forgiveness of sin to the world.
What we do if we hear something like that? We may say to each other, hi we need a plan. Jesus told them, don’t go anywhere, but stay in town until they receive the Holy Spirit. In the Act of the Apostles Luck repeats that they should wait in Jerusalem until they receive in the Holy Spirit. Sixth Sunday of Easter, we read in the Gospel, if we love Jesus, we are asked to keep his word. Jesus was telling them, in his parting message, they cannot do any of these thing their own, but with the help of the Holy Spirit. At the Ascension, Jesus left a mission for the Apostles. Today it is our mission. We received the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of the Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. But we keep to keep asking every day of our life.
I was listening to Jeff Cavins’s message for Ascension. He presented seven points for Ascension of our Lord; seven points for the basic proclamation of the Gospel. I would like to share with you those seven points. Jeff Cavins invites us to personalize these messages and make it our own.
1. God loves you and he has a wonderful plan for your life.
2. Sin interrupted that plan.
3. Good News: God sent his Son, and he died for us. It is the solution.
4. Now we are called to repent and believe the Gospel.
5. Be baptized: wipe away the original sin and brings us into the body of Christ and gives us the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
6. We are called to untie ourselves with the body of Christ in an active way: that is the way we really discover all the sources grace in our life.
7. We are called now to make disciples ourselves to go and tell people about Jesus.
Reflecting on these points, let us challenge ourselves, prepare to celebrate Pentecost. Jesus reminds us on the Sunday of Ascension that we are not able to do by ourselves, but with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The story is told that after Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Miss Sullivan’s surprise, Helen spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God’s name, Teacher, for He has touched me many times before." How could Helen Keller have known about God? Although she was blind and deaf, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is “revelation” of an indwelling God about whom today’s Scripture readings speak.
Easter season readings prepare us to celebrate Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. Each weekend reading from the Acts of the Apostles give us a glimpse of the life of the early Church. The members of the early Christian communities were from Jews and gentiles. The first reading, tells us the great internal struggle of the Early Church and how the Holy Spirit indwelling in the Church helped the apostles to solve a major doctrinal problem about the Gentiles becoming Christians, which shook the very foundation of the early Church. The ancient Jews had a particular culture that the first Christians realized was not their culture.
The Gospel passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit, abiding within us, is our teacher and the source of all peace. The passage offers a vision of hope. The gospel passage tells us about love and his indwelling presence. One thing we know about love is that lovers want to be with each other. But Jesus is not physically present. We cannot physically see him or touch him. How can you love an absent Jesus? This is what today’s gospel is all about. In the gospel Jesus prepares his disciples, those who love him, for his departure from this world and shows them how they can keep love and intimacy alive even in his physical absence. Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Jesus promises his followers that the Holy Spirit will come and instruct them in everything they need to know. In the first reading Apostles and other leaders were struggling to make decision. We see the Holy Spirit guiding them in that decision making. We read, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden…” Let us invite the Holy Spirit in our daily life, to our joys and sorrows; our strengths and weakness. Jesus told Apostles, and today to us, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
This weekend we also celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Let us hold them in our prayers. At the same time let us remember all those who are serving to keep us safe.
Happy Memorial Day!!
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.