Happy Memorial Day! Happy Feast of Ascension of our Lord!!
This weekend we are celebrating the Ascension of Our Lord. God the Father sends his son, who lived thirty years of silent life, and three years did the public ministry. Then he suffered, was crucified, died, and was resurrected. The empty tomb and the many appearances of the Risen Lord proclaimed the truth of the Resurrection. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives an account of the event of the Ascension of the Lord. In the first part of the reading, Jesus gives instruction, and in the second part the Ascension of our Lord. In the Bible the number forty represents a period of preparation. In the book of Genesis (7:4) the days and nights of the great flood, Moses was on the mountain for forty days to receive the Ten Commandments, and Jesus himself was in the wilderness for forty days in fasting prior to the public ministry.
Forty days between Easter and Ascension is a period of final instruction. Jesus prepared the apostles for the mission and asked them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. These forty days were not only for the Apostles but also for many who received the opportunity to personally experience Jesus’ Resurrection and his being alive in a glorified body. Paul writes in the first 1 Corinthians 15:6, “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
The Gospel (Luke 24:46-53) echoes the first reading (Acts 1:1-11). Luke is the author of both. Acts 1:9 and Mark 16:19 says, the Ascension of the Lord culminates with his heavenly enthronement at the right hand of the Father. The Ascension took place on Mount Olive. In the Acts, we read, “A cloud took him from their sight.” In the Bible, the cloud represents the divine presence. We can see references in the Book of Exodus 13:21; Isaiah 63:11; Daniel 7:13. In Acts 7:55 Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Jesus departed from them, but at the same time, he pledged his future return. The same cloud that took him away will bring him back to retrieve the saints destined for glory (1Thessalonians 4:14-17). Daniel 7:13, tells about his vision, “I saw coming with the clouds of heaven. One like a son of man…” In the Gospel of Matthew 26:24, Jesus had told the high priest, “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.” Christ’s kingdom began with his coming, is now present in the Church, and will reach its fulfillment when he returns in glory. Jesus entrusted the Church to the Apostles and asked them to continue the mission with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Today, we are the church, called to continue the mission of Christ. We received the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and through the laying of hands at Confirmation the Holy Spirit activated in a new and profound way. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit renews our life in a new and profound way as we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord and prepare ourselves to celebrate Pentecost.
Jesus asked apostles to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit. They spent time in prayer with Mary in the upper room. This was the first Novena in the Church. Our cluster will pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit from May 27 - June 4th. You can join online or in person or you can pick up a booklet and pray at home. If you couldn’t start on May 27, still you can join and make up the days you missed. Let us remain in prayer from Ascension of the Lord to the Pentecost. The same weekend we will be celebrating the Feast of St. Anthony and 100 Anniversary of the St. Anthony School and the old church building. Let us ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
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!!
Congratulations to all our graduates!
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 have already decided, and some of you are not sure yet.
Today we gather to honor your success and celebrate the Lord’s gift, 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.
Easter season readings prepare us to celebrate Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. Each weekend's reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us a glimpse of the life of the early Church. The members of the early Christian communities were Jews and gentiles. The first reading tells us about the great internal struggle of the Early Church. Book of Leviticus 12:3, says, “On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised” One group insisted that the gentiles should follow the Mosaic law. The Holy Spirit in dwelling 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.
After the resurrection, each time when Jesus appeared to his apostles, he wished them peace. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (14:27). I think they might have thought about peace while we are scared to death. He breathed on them and asked them to receive the Holy Spirit. Before the Ascension, Jesus told them to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). We know that after the Pentecost they understood all the teaching of Jesus and they went out and proclaimed the Good News (Acts. 2). They received real peace. It is not absence of struggle or violence, but it is inner strength. We know that the apostles were courageous to go out and proclaim the Risen Lord. Paul, the persecutor, became the apostle of gentiles. There was no more room for fear.
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. 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. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “No prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.”
In the first reading Apostles and other leaders were struggling to make decisions. 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 into our daily life, to our joys and sorrows; our strength and weakness. Jesus told the 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.”
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.
We read from the Gospel of John, Jesus's last discourse. Here Jesus summarizes his entire teaching in his New Commandment, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” In the book of Leviticus 19:18 we read, “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It teaches the human love of ourselves and others. In the Gospel Jesus commands the divine love for one another. In other words, he was asking his disciples to love one another with the heart of Christ.
We use the word love for everything and it has lost its true meaning. We love everything, even ice cream. Love and likeness are two different things. Likeness is connected to our feelings, love is an act of our will. I think Jesus was saying that he is going to take the pain and suffering of the Cross for you/us, so they/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.
We see in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch. They gathered together the Church and strengthened the faith of the faithful. Paul urged them to brace themselves for the suffering and persecution. Paul and Barnabas installed the elders with prayer and fasting, so each church could have leadership while Paul and Barnabas traveled. Their lives were centered on agape love.
The second reading from the Book of revelation, John had a vision about New Heaven and Earth. It is not entirely new, but entirely renewed. John sees all creation is transformed and made radiant with the glory of God. In the Book of Genesis 3:17&18 we read the world subjected to death and decay, but in John’s vision in Christ everything made new. The process of regeneration has begun in the new covenant. Isaiah prophesied a new beginning of Israel. We read in Isaiah 65:17, “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; The former things shall not be remembered nor come to mind.” God is the builder of the heavenly city (Hebrew 11:10). John heard a loud voice saying that God will dwell among his people. We read in the book of Ezekiel 37:27, “My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
All through the readings we can see a message of newness. The Christian community is called to live a new way of life. We became a new creation in Christ and we have new living experience, a new relationship with God. At the Last supper discourse Jesus said to his disciples, “I will be leaving soon and until I come back, live with the heart of his own: “Love one another, as I have loved you” Prior to his farewell speech, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and washed their feet, showing the new way of life. Jesus continues to wash our feet at every Eucharist and shares His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, so we can go out and live the new way of life.
Happy Mother’s Day! There is a beautiful Spanish proverb: "An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy." The word “mom” is synonymous with sacrificial love in its purest form as given by Jesus in his farewell speech: "love one another as I have loved you.” Mothers leave a legacy with us. They live in and through us.
Mothers face a tremendous amount of challenges in the modern world. We need to honor mothers and respect them. Mothers should be saluted 1) for their sacrificial love for their children; 2) for the tremendous impact they have on their children; 3) for our intimate relationship with them from the moment of conception. On Mother’s Day, let us 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. 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 month of May is the month of Mary. Through Mary, the work of Motherhood is glorified and sanctified. On this Mother’s Day, presenting all mothers on the altar, let us sing the beautiful song we sing on the Feast of the Presentation, “Gentlewoman, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom, teach us love.”
The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and it is the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.” Let us pray for Pope Francis, he shepherds our church. Let us pray for Bishop of our diocese James Powers, all the priests, religious, deacons, seminarians. Let us also pray for all those who are like a shepherd in our life. Each year, on the fourth Sunday we reflect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who devotedly and kindly takes care of his flock. In the Gospel for today, Jesus says, “No one can take them out of my hand.”
We see in the Old Testament, the theme of the good shepherd. We read Psalm 25:1, “The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.” Isaiah 40:11, “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care.” In the Book of Numbers 27:15-17, we read Moses’s request to the LORD, “May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all humanity, set over the community someone who will be their leader in battle and who will lead them out and bring them in, that the LORD’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
In the Gospel, Jesus affirms his protection and care for his people. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” When Jesus said this, people could picture this scene in their mind because they were very familiar with the shepherd and sheep. Jesus is our shepherd, who lays down his life for us. In the Old Testament Ezekiel 34, we see Ezekiel’s prophecy of the wicked shepherd. Ezekiel is talking about the chosen people. He is comparing them to a fold of sheep and led by shepherds. Jesus is the true shepherd who lays down his life and gives us new life and He is with us. At the Last Supper, Jesus broke the bread and said to his disciples, this is My Body, take and eat it. Today, Jesus tells us the same, “This is My Body.” Like Apostles, we are also fed at this table and sent out to break ourselves and give to others.
Jesus says, “The Father and I are one.” We are called one with the Lord. We cannot do this alone, we need his grace. Let us ask our Good Shepherd, so we can receive blessing from him to be a shepherd to others entrusted to us.