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.
Third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, we choose the reading from Year A, because we have RCIA Candidates. We join them and meditate on these readings. This weekend the readings are centered on the Sacrament of Baptism and new life. The first reading, from the Book of Exodus chapter 17, tells us the story of Israelites complaining about their thirst. In the previous chapter, they had complained that Moses brought them to the wilderness to die of hunger (16:3). Here they grumbled that Moses meant for them to die of thirst. So Moses asked the LORD, “What shall I do with this people?” Moses followed God’s instruction and strikes the rock. In Deuteronomy 32 in Moses’ song, he called God the Rock. St. Paul says that the rock was the Christ (I Corinthians 10:4). The spiritual rock followed Israelites in the wilderness and satisfied their thirst. The place Israelites quarreled was called Massah and Meribah which means the place of the test. Psalm 95:89 says, “Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert. There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.” Several generations of the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and they forgot about their God who made Covenant with them and they complained that in Egypt they at least were not thirsty.In the Gospel, Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman. Samaritans were halfJews, ritually impure, and therefore Jews were forbidden to drink from any vessel they had handled. It began with the devastation of northern Palestine by Assyria. We read in the Second Book of Kings chapter 17 that the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites. The Israelites in Samaria had defiled themselves by assimilating the practice of those pagan people and intermarrying with them. This caused enmity between Jews and Samaritans. Geographically, Judea is in the extreme south, Samaria in the middle, and Galilee in the extreme North. Normally, Jews avoid Samaria to go between north and south. But Jesus went through the Samaria and made a stop at Jacob’s well.This well was located on a piece of land that had been bought by Jacob (Genesis 33:1819), and later given to Joseph (48:22).Jesus oversteps the boundaries of Jewish traditions by conversing with women in public, sharing a drink with Samaritan, and mingling with a sinner. When Jesus reached the well, it was hot midday, and he sat there and the disciples went to town to get some food. Jesus was thirsty from traveling and asked the Samaritan woman for water.We see in the Old Testament the meetings between future spouses at wells. Isaac meets Rebekah (Genesis 24:1067), Jacob meets Rachel at the well of Haran (Genesis 29:130), and Moses and Zipporah meet at a well in Midian (Exodus 2:1521). Here Jesus is the divine bridegroom in search of believers to be His covenant bride.“Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His thirst was for the soul of the Samaritan woman. On the other hand, the Samaritan woman thirst for real love.Normally women used to go to fetch water in the morning or in the evening when it was not too hot. But she came to fetch water at noon. She may be trying to avoid the crowd. Jesus came to her level to reach out and walk with her and leads her to faith. Jesus reveals himself as the source of Living Water.The liturgy makes use of the symbol of water to refer to our relationship with God. It represents God’s Spirit comes to us in Baptism. The water that Jesus promises is closely linked to conversion and the forgiveness of sin. In the second reading, Saint Paul asserts that, as the savior of mankind, Jesus poured the living water of the gift of his Holy Spirit into our hearts. Samaritan woman, in the Gospel once embraced the faith, the living water, became a missionary who brought others to Jesus. Once she had a lifechanging experience, she couldn’t hold it for herself.Jesus THIRST for our faith. Do we thirst for him? Yes, we do. The question is do we recognize it? Lent invites us to renew our faith, through our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Let us pray for one another, in a special way please pray for our RCIA candidates Christian Paul Newbury, Jasmine Sue Zenisek and Charlotte Jirschele.