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.
The St. Petersburg, Florida, now it is known as Times Tampa Bay Times, carried an interesting story about Don Shula, the coach of the Miami Dolphins. He was vacationing with his family in a small town in northern Maine.
One afternoon it was raining. So Shula, his wife, and five children decided to attend a matinee movie in the town’s only theater. When they arrived, there were only six other people present. When Shula and his family walked in, all six people stood up and applauded. He waved and smiled. As Shula sat down, he turned to his wife and said, “We are thousand miles from Miami and they are giving me a standing ovation. They must get the Dolphins on television all the way up here.”
Then a man came up and to shake Don Shula’s hand. Shula beamed and said, “How did you know me?” The man replied, “Mister, I don’t know who you are. All I know is that just before you and your family walked in the theatre manager told us that unless four more people showed up we wouldn’t have a movie today.”
There is a journey we all have to make, a pilgrimage we are all called to undertake, and that is the journey from pride to humility. In our story, here was a man whose reputation extended across the country not only as an excellent coach but also as an excellent human being. It was only natural for Shula to think that the man who came over to shake his hand know who he was. When it turned out that he didn’t, Shula was the first to laugh at himself and share with others.
The readings warn us against all forms of pride and self-glorification. In the Gospel, Jesus talks about a wedding banquet. He says, “When you are invited, go and take the lowest place.” To enter the wedding banquet - and heaven will be a glorious banquet with Jesus as Bridegroom and the Church as his bride - to enter the wedding banquet, says Jesus, "take the lowest place." I know, we, as Catholics, are people of humility, at least when we come to the Church. We definitely take the lowest place. I may do the same, but don’t much choice.
Pope Francis frequently talks about humility. After he became Pope, a reporter asked him, “Who is Jorge Bergoglio?” The Pope responded, “A sinner.” He knows that who we are before the Lord is due to the Lord’s grace and mercy, not due to our own innate qualities.
The first reading from the book of Sirach, reminds us that if we are humble we will find favor with God, and others will love us. The virtue of humility has two aspect: being humble before God and open our hearts and hands for others. The prayer before communion should exemplify our inner mode before God, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” St. Teresa of Calcutta was certainly a humble little lady who was a giant before God. She knew what God had called her to do, and was not concerned what people said about her. Jesus says, “When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.”
“Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” Sirach 3:18
Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Someone once said to Paderewski, the great pianist, "Sir, you are a genius." He replied, "Madam, before I was a genius, I was a drudge." He continued: “If I missed practice one day, I noticed it; if I missed practice two days, the critics noticed it; if I missed three days, my family noticed it; if I missed four days, my audience noticed it. It is reported that after one of Fritz Kreisler's concerts a young woman said to him, "I would give my life to be able to play like that." He replied, "That's what I gave.”
The Gospel passage for this weekend is Jesus’s answer to a question asked, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" The door is narrow. The Christian life is a constant striving to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it. Jesus’s answer to the questions was, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” We need to strive because there are forces of evil within us and around us, trying to pull us down.
Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one's membership does not automatically mean entry into the kingdom of God. You need to believe and live it. Jesus also asserts that many from the gentile nations would enter God's kingdom. His invitation is open to Jew and Gentile alike. Jesus warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door.
There is a story behind the narrow gate. Narrow gate was a small gate built into the much larger city gates of a city. It allowed someone to enter after hours when, for security reasons, the main gates had been closed and locked. The gate was too small to enter with more than a few items. Animals, carts, weapons and other large items had to remain outside the gate until the opening of the main gate in the morning. The night gate for the city of Jerusalem was nicknamed the “needle’s eye”. Jesus doesn’t answer the question regarding how many people will be saved. He was not interested in statistics. His answer was more personal…here’s how YOU can be saved. It is not easy to go through narrow gate. You may have wait or bend yourself. There will be challenges.
There is no comparison here. But there is one thing for consideration: our relationship with God. We have every means to enter the gate. We have sacraments, we have Eucharist, food for our journey: we listen to his words, eat His body and drink His blood. The question is “do we have a strong relationship with him”? Are we ready to face the challenges to build up the relationship?
St. Cecilia Cemetery dedication: As we all know John Wagner served Immaculate Conception Parish, and left gift for parish and St. Cecilia cemetery. Part of his wish was we blacktop the cemetery road and in his memory we place a bench in the cemetery. On the first anniversary of his death, Sunday August 25th at 3:00 pm we will be having a dedication ceremony at the St. Cecilia cemetery. All are welcome.
Thank you: Town of Chippewa provided material and labor to do the edging of new blacktop at the cemetery. We would like to express our gratitude for their generosity. We also like to express our gratitude to Butternut Knights of Columbus for helping with edging of the new blacktop. Thank you to everyone. It looks beautiful.
God is walking around Heaven one day, and notices a number of people in the heavenly streets who shouldn't be there. He finds St. Peter at the gate and says to him, "Peter, you've been remiss in your duties. You're letting in the wrong sort of people."
"Don't blame me, Lord," replied Peter. "I turn them away just like you said to. Then they go around to the back door and your mother lets them in."
August 15th we celebrate Assumption of Mary: a journey that we’re all called to walk: from here to Heaven. This solemn feast of Mary was defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950, but was celebrated in the Church from its earliest days as the Feast of the Dormition, or falling asleep of Mary. Mary received the grace to be body and soul in Heaven along with her son. The other just souls that have preceded us are in Heaven, but they’re separated from their bodies until the Last Day when Our Lord raises everyone from the dead in the Last Judgment. Our Lord ascended into Heaven in glory; Our Blessed Mother was assumed into Heaven.
We know from the Bible, God created Adam and Eve in the image and likeness of God. Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command. This is what man's first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.”
God gave us second Adam and Eve: Jesus and Mary. If we look at the first book of the Bible, Genesis 3:15, we read, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” In the Gospel of John 19:26, we see Mother Mary and Apostle John at the foot of the cross. When Jesus saw them, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” And said to John, “Behold, your other.” In the book of Revelation, John talks about his vision. In our first reading for the Mass of the day, Revelation 12:1 “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
God chose Mary, second Eve, in a special way to bring Jesus, the second Adam, who brings us salvation. First reading for the vigil Mass, from the book of Chronicles 15, we see David assembled people of Israel in Jerusalem to bring the ark of the Lord. Mary is new the Ark of the Covenant. When the old ark was completed, the glory cloud of the Lord covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35; Nm 9:18, 22). The new Ark of the Covenant, Mary, was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. The new Ark of the Covenant, Mary was assumed into heaven.
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven reminds us that suffering and trials are also gifts from God. It was not easy for Mary, but she made it. Assumption reminds us of what awaits us if we accept suffering and trials with patience and faith, desiring to help Our Lord accomplish the work of redemption. Let’s pray today that Mary helps us make the journey to Heaven and one day shine there alongside her and her Son.
Philip Arthur Fisher was an American stock investor best known as the author of Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, a guide to investing that has remained in print ever since it was first published in 1958. He says, “The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing."
This weekend reading talks about investment and marketing. What is investment? If you are a business man, you will talk about investing in the stock market. If you are a social worker, you will talk about investing in the people.
Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino says a story about a grandmother who pulled out pictures of her three grandchildren, all under two, and showed them to a friend saying, “These are my grandchildren. That one’s the rich doctor, that one’s the rich lawyer, and that one’s the chairman of the board of a large corporation.”
We all look differently at investment. What is the real investment? Do you have one? Fr. Bloom reported from Krakwo, 2016 World youth day. He says, Pope Francis is a big soccer fan and when he mentioned the sport, young people cheered. When he referred to the World Cup, it brought even louder cheers. Then he paused, looked at the sea of youth and said, "Jesus is a greater prize than the World Cup!" Young people stood, raised their hands and gave a sustained cheer.
Jesus is the one great prize. That's what we see in today's readings. In comparison to Jesus everything in this world is vanity. Only Jesus has ultimate worth - and only in him does anything have value. The first reading from Ecclesiastes says, “Vanity of vanities, “All is vanity.” Author Qoheleth’s point is that the only real values are the spiritual values.
In the Gospel, Jesus calls the rich a fool? Jesus is not disregarding his skills and ability to acquire wealth, but rather for his selfishness. Jesus was called the rich fool, because he lost his aptitude to invest wisely. His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. Jesus is not talking against wealth or rich; but he is talking about use of it.
We do need good investments: good financial stability. When you invest, you don’t invest in one company, do you? No, you spread it out based on your research. Because you expect the best outcome. In the same way we also need to invest in our family, community and so on. But we should have God in the first place. Everything else should be the secondary.
The parable in the Gospel is a study of our heart. Where is our treasure? Treasure has always had a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. Then a question for us to ask, what/who is our treasure? Does God have the right place in our heart?
Where did you invest?