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 famous theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar (the most important Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century) 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 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.
When Jesus did miracles, he didn’t lose anything, but at the Last Supper when he said “this is My Body” and “this is My Blood,” he had to lose everything. The wedding at Cana was the first miracle of the new covenant. The culmination the new covenant is on Calvary and offered his life. He had to leave everything to give us the “Bread of Life.”
Today the Gospel reading, the multiplication of loaves and fishes, a miracle foreshadows the institution of the Eucharist. In this scripture, the twelve asked Jesus to send these people away. Jesus told them to give something to give. In this miracle, Jesus, in an indirect way told the disciples, he needs their participation. Their reply was that we don’t have much. We just have five loaves and two fish. When they gave what they had, the miracle took place. Jesus took the bread, looked up to heaven and said the blessing and gave to the disciples to give to the crowd. All ate and were satisfied.
I would like to share a story from my hospital ministry period. One Corpus Christy Sunday I was celebrating Mass in the Hospital, a lady was sitting in a wheelchair in the center of the chapel. During consecration she started to cry. I made a conclusion in my mind that she might be in pain. After the Mass, I inquired of 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 strength to live. She continued, she was thinking about the homily, visualizing Jesus broke and gave his life, and in reality, we are sent out to do the same. She said, her faith gave her strength to live. She realized that there is purpose for her life. God needs her for her husband and children. She said, that day she felt her life is so meaningful.
The Eucharist teaches us that numerous grains of wheat are pounded together to make the host and many grapes are crushed together to make the wine, so we become unified in this sacrifice. It is sometimes difficult recognize that we are dying of hunger. On one side we might have been blessed with more abundance, more opportunities than any generation in human history. At the same time we experience a very real hunger. We need something more than this world's bread. Jesus, the bread of life, is the only one who will satisfy our hunger. But he would like to see our participation.
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 life 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. Let us give witness in a special way in the Eucharistic procession.