Congratulation to our First Communicants!
Once, a gentleman was visiting his son. On Sunday when he went to church he took his little granddaughter with him. While they were in the church, the little girl was observing everything,. 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 make sure in a couple of years you will receive First Communion.” She kept watching the priest, and grandpa knelt down and prayed. When the priest went to the tabernacle to keep the Blessed Sacrament, she asked grandpa, “What is he doing? Is he putting it in the microwave?”
First of all, I would like to congratulate all of our First Communicants! I am sure all of you are excited to receive the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. Look at the Cross, and it tells you how much God loves you. Look at the Easter Candle, and it tells you He loves you and wants to be the light of your life. 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.
In today’s Gospel of Luke, Luke is presenting two different accounts. Two disciples were explaining how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Among the Jews, this was a ceremonial gesture that began the celebration of an ordinary meal. But among the Christians, it was used as a description of the Eucharist celebration. We read in the Acts of the Apostles 2:42, “They held steadfastly to the apostles’’ teaching and fellowship to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
While the two were explaining the Emmaus experience Jesus appeared to them again and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He showed them His hands and feet to remove their doubts. We read the Gospel of John 20:27, where Jesus was appearing to the apostles and asking doubting Thomas to come to faith. Jesus showed them His risen body and assures us of the physical nature of our own resurrection on the Last Day. The resurrected body is a spiritual body.
Then he reminded them that His suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead are the fulfillment of Moses, prophets, and psalms. There is an emphasis on the term third day, and we can see a couple of references in the Old Testament. In the Book of Genesis 22:13, Isaac was for three days under a death sentence until God intervened to give him back alive to Abraham on the third day. In Jonah 1:17, the experience of Jonah coming forth from a whale after three days in its stomach, foreshadowed Christ’s resurrection from the grave after three days. In Hosea 6:2, Hosea depicted Israel’s restoration from exile as a third-day resurrection.
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 Christ has risen from the dead. And we who are united to Him through our baptism have risen with Him. Jesus lives with us and He gives Himself in the Eucharist as nourishment for our journey, so we can grow in Holiness.
Divine Mercy Sunday
God is love and merciful. He continues to pour out his mercy in the world through new Israel, the Church. In a dream, St. Theresa of Lisieux asked St. Faustina, an apostle of Divine Mercy, to trust in Jesus and she will become a saint. Later St. Faustina wrote in her diary, “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 humankind, I desire to heal it…”
Pope St. John Paul II declared that the second Sunday, the octave day of Easter, should be Divine Mercy Sunday. St. John Paul II has 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 to 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.
Pope Francis continues to spread 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 a journey that begins with a spiritual conversion.”
There are two parts to the message of Divine Mercy: devotion and being merciful. Marion Fathers came up with the acronym for the Divine Mercy celebration: FINCH and ABC. FINCH: F-Feast of Divine Mercy, I-Image of Divine Mercy, N-Novena of Divine Mercy, C-Chaplet of Divine Mercy, H-Hour of Divine Mercy. What is ABC? A - Ask for God’s Mercy. B - Be merciful. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. C - Completely trust in Jesus.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles talks about the corporal works of Mercy. Early Christian communities were united as a family in every aspect of life. They shared everything, supported each other, and worshiped together. The second reading from the first letter of St. John talks about keeping love for God and keeping the commandment.
In the Gospel of John, we see doubting Thomas. In the first part, 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." We read in the Book of Genesis 2:7, God breathed on the first man and gave him life. We see other passages in the Old Testament about the breath of God. In Ezekiel 37:9, where God raises an army of corpses to new life by the breath of the Spirit. In the first book of Kings (17:21), we see Elijah revives the dead son of the widow of Zarephath. After the resurrection Jesus breathed on the disciples and gave them new life: spiritual life.
Jesus asked them to receive the Holy Spirit, and then he commissioned them to forgive the sins. Jesus' ministry of mercy and reconciliation will continue through the apostles. A week later Jesus appeared to them and Thomas proclaims the faith, “My Lord and My God.” Apostles experience God’s mercy and proclaim it in a loud voice. Jesus empowered his disciples to become the vehicle of his mercy.
God sends people to remind us of his mercy. St. Faustina wrote in her diary, “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 humankind, I desire to heal it…”
On Sunday, April 11 at 2:30 p.m. our cluster will have Divine Mercy Sunday service. It includes Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available. Please come and join. Thank you.
Congratulations to our Graduates!
Graduation Day! How exciting, with all their future before them. Graduation and its celebrations are a little different this year. This year we celebrate in a different way.
The word you hear the most from all of these people is the word success. They will want you to be successful in life. They want you to have a successful career. They want you to be someone they can be proud of. Your parents, your teachers, even your priest, will always want you to be successful. And that’s because all of us only want the best for you. So we define success in the best way possible: that you will have the best. Congratulations and all the best for the future.
A farmer, who went to a big city to see the sights, asked the hotel's clerk about the time of meals. "Breakfast is served from 7 to 11, dinner from 12 to 3, and supper from 6 to 8," explained the clerk. "Look here," inquired the farmer in surprise, "when am I going to get time to see the city?"
Hospitality was one of the great virtues of the Bible. The ancients believed that each person should be welcomed as though one were welcoming God himself. In our first reading, we see, in Elisha’s welcome by a childless woman who lived in Shunem. Shunem is located about 30 miles northeast of Samaria. It is a beautiful story of generosity and the love of God.
We don’t see a name for the women in Shunem, she showed Elisha reverence and hospitality by inviting him to dine with her and her husband and by allowing the prophet to occupy an upper room of her house. Later Elisha asked, "Can something be done for her?" His servant Gehazi, a name which means “valley of vision,” answered; "Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years." In response, Elisha said to the woman, "This time next year you will be fondling a baby son." You might remember a similar event in the Book of Genesis. Three men on a journey came upon Abraham’s tent. Abraham treated them with complete respect, welcoming them, and providing for their needs. In response, they promised him that his wife, Sara would have a baby within a year. She was inside the tent and heard this. Knowing that she was beyond childbearing years, she started laughing. But in a year, Abraham and Sarah had a baby they named Isaac, which means Child of Laughter.
The tenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew starts the commissioning the twelve. Then he instructs them. This weekend reading is concluding part of His instructions. Gospel of Matthew says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” Gospel of Luke (14:26) says “hate” father and mother; Luke actually says the same thing as Matthew.
Jesus uses the words; (10:37) "more than me" is literally "above me." The priority of faith demanded radical consequences for early Christians. Jesus reminded his followers that the Christian life involved such risks (a cross to carry in 10:38).
At the same time, Jesus stresses hospitality. He says, (10:40) "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” In other words, whoever welcomed the other, welcomed Christ and his Father. Even in the smallest kindness, God rewarded the minister and the host equally.
Hospitality is more than just being good hosts, it all about encountering the presence of God in other people. The second reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans, explains that in our Baptism, we have been baptized into Jesus’ death and buried with him, and we look forward to resurrection with him. Since Baptism is our way into this new life, it makes us part of the Body of Christ, and Christ is truly present in us. That is why the one who welcomes us welcomes Christ and becomes eligible for a reward.
Once I read a conversation between dad and son. It goes like this:
"Daddy, Daddy, can I have another glass of water please?"
"But I've given you 10 glasses of water already!"
"Yes, but the bedroom is still on fire!"
Happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers! It is time to pause a moment, to pray for, and to reflect on our fathers whom we honor. On this Father's Day, let us remember our dads – living or dead – in a special way and offer on the altar of God during this Holy Mass, invoking our heavenly Father’s blessings on them. Today we celebrate, congratulate and pray for the men who continue to reflect the divine qualities of fatherhood. Fathers are a blessing and we thank them for blessing us with lives of dedication, endurance, and love. Happy Father’s Day!!
I would like to Congratulate Our First Communicant and Families! Our Children made their First Communion on Wednesday. This year it was different, but it was a precious time. Normally we do during the Sunday Mass, but we are keeping social distancing and limited seating, so we decided to do a separate Mass. I am sure all of you were praying for our children.
The reading for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time tells us do not to be afraid. We live in a time of anxiety, worries, and insecurity. COVID-19 a small virus that cannot be seen with our eyes has changed our lives and entire world. What is our security? The readings tell us our security is our Lord!
In the first reading, we see the Confession of Jeremiah. Jeremiah said: “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side!... But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion.” The terror and sorrow brought to Jeremiah despair, nevertheless, he trusted in the power of God.
In the Gospel, Jesus says to us do not be afraid. Some other time we talk about Fear God. Sometimes we can get confused. Do we have to be afraid of God? The Fear of God is out of love. It means that we should respect God, reverence God, and be more concerned with fulfilling the will of God.
Sometimes we are afraid that we will make the wrong decision. At other times we are afraid of what others will think when we speak up for Jesus. We are afraid of what the future will bring our children. We are also afraid of growing old. Sometimes we are afraid of what bad health will bring us. At present above all, we are afraid of COVID-19. At the root of these fears is the fear of loss. Every fear we have is grounded in the knowledge that we have something or someone to lose. Fear out of love helps us to take precautionary measures.
Fear is part of our life. But Jesus tells us that we should not be afraid. On the other hand, Jesus tells us to be afraid of the “one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Basically Jesus is trying to tell us “Fear the Lord and do not be afraid of anything.”
Throughout the Bible, God tells “do not be afraid.” In Genesis 15:1, God said to Abram in a vision, “do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield…” Numbers 21:34, The Lord said to Moses, do not be afraid king Bashan, for I have given him into your hands… Jeremiah 1: 8, the Lord said to friend Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you…” Luke 1:30, the angel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
During Mass, the Priest says a beautiful prayer at the end of the “Our Father…” Deliver us, Lord; we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Then everybody responds: For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Fearing God is different from being afraid-Fear out of love. It is born from the knowledge of who God is-He is love.
One of the most famous theologian of the 20th century, Hans Urs von Balthasar says it this way: "When receiving the Eucharist each person must remember that he is falling into the arms of God like someone dying of hunger in the wilderness of this life."
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Body and Blood of Christ! Corpus Christi Sunday! This feast is the heart of our church, and the heart of the lives of each of us. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1322 says “The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." Most of the Sacraments take place in the Sacrament of Eucharist.
First Reading Moses recalls the difficulties they encountered on their journey through the desert to the Promised Land. Moses reminds them that God did more than see to their physical needs. To live we need more than bread and water. We need to experience communion with God. We need to realize that what we hunger for most is ‘every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Deuteronomy 8:3).
In second readings St. Paul says, “The loaf of bread is one, we, though many are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” Here we see a great expression of the need to belong-communion with Christ - bound to so close to each other. Jesus gives us his flesh and blood, he gives us his very life, sacrifices everything for us.
In the Gospel of John Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:55-56).
Even though the Sacrament of the Eucharist instituted by Jesus Christ, we can see through out the Bible connecting passage to the Eucharist and priesthood. In the book of Genesis 14:18-20, Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem blesses Abraham and offers bread and wine. He prefigures Jesus, the Eternal Priest and King, who is going to offer bread and wine, sacrificing on the Cross.
In the book of Exodus chapter 24:8, at Mount, God establishes a covenant with Israel through Moses. He took the blood and threw it upon the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Jesus uses similar words at the Last Supper, offering himself and establishing the New Covenant. Again we read in the Book of Exodus 25: 8, “They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst.” 25:30, “You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.” We see again in the first book of Kings Chapter 7:48 the Bread of presence and Tabernacle in the Temple. Today’s Gospel reading from John, Jesus says, “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." (John 6:51). Jesus is inviting us to do the same.
I would like to share a story from my hospital ministry period. One Corpus Christi Sunday I was celebrating Mass in Hospital, a lady was sitting in a wheelchair in the center of the chapel. During the consecration, she started to cry. I made a conclusion in my mind that she might be in pain. After the Mass, I inquired her, how she was doing. She told me that it was not tears of pain, but it was tears of joy. She was suffering for a long time; she had thoughts of committing suicide from time to time, but her husband and children gave her the strength to live. She continued, she was thinking about your homily, visualizing Jesus broke and gave his life, and in reality, we are sending out to do the same. She said, her faith gave her the strength to live. She realizes that there is a purpose for her life. God needs her for her husband and children. She said, that day she felt her life is so meaningful.
Every Mass we gather together to celebrate Mass. We bring ourselves as we are to offer to God; with our joy and sorrows: our total life. We become one with Christ’s sacrifice. Then we are sent out to break and give our lives to one another. It is not easy, it is painful. But Jesus’ Body and Blood give us strength. Let us adore Jesus in Eucharist, and give thanks for many blessings.
A popular story of St. Augustine walking along the beach one day, taking a break from writing his treatise on the Trinity. The great scholar just couldn’t get his mind around this great mystery. While he was walking on the beach, he saw a little boy digging a hole in the sand, and then running to the ocean, filling up his hands with the seawater, running back to the hole, and emptying the water into the hole. Augustine watched the boy running back and forth several times. Finally, he said to the boy, “What are you doing?” The boy said, “Trying to fill that hole with the ocean.” And Augustine said, “You’ll never fit the ocean in that hole.” And the boy said, “Neither will you be able to fit the Trinity into your mind.”
We are celebrating the Solemnity of Most Holy Trinity. How can we know God: Trinity? It is a mystery, but Jesus makes it easier for us. Jesus talks repeatedly about the relationship of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus says “Everything that the Father has is mine.” The Gospel of John, reading for the day says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says, (28:19) “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…” In the book of Genesis, we read (1:26), “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
If we look at the creation story, (Genesis 1:3) God the Father said, “Let there be…” Through Word, God created everything. Genesis 1:2, we read “the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters.” The Gospel of John will tell us, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him…”
The mystery of trinity tells about true love and unity. A family is a simple form of community, it grows into church, school, different organizations and it grows into a wider community. We are invited to live in a community of love. Our families become truly Christian when we live in a relationship of love with God and with others. We can call God ‘our Father’, Son Jesus ‘Immanuel’ and Holy Spirit ‘strength in our weakness.’
Let me close with this beautiful prayer, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”