Happy July 4th!
Wish you all a Happy July 4th! Are you excited to celebrate July 4th? We are grateful for our country, a nd we want to be good citizens. Thomas Jefferson on July 4th, 1826, wrote in a letter: “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be ... the signal of arousing men to burst the chains ... and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. ...For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them."
The best thing we can do to become better citizens is to be better Christians. Every year around July 4th United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invites us to pray for religious freedom. We are excited to celebrate July 4th, but we need to hold on to that spirit every day, in every aspect of our life.
Last week, we reflected on call, response, and commitment. This weekend's reading reflects on the proclamation of Good News of Hope and Love. The first reading and Gospel talk about joy. In the first reading from the book of Isaiah, the prophet invites the Israelites to rejoice with Jerusalem. In the Gospel, the seventy-two came back with much joy.
The first reading from the book of Isaiah is from the third Isaiah (56-66). The passage for this weekend is from chapter 66 which deals with the history of rights after the Babylonian exile. They were in exile for fifty years when the Persians conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return home. What they saw when they returned was discouraging: their cities and homes were ruined. God engages with them through Isaiah and insists that they rejoice. He promises that Jerusalem is like a mother once again, nurturing them and caring for them. We see the same message about Jerusalem in several Old Testament passages. We read in Tobit 13:14 “Happy are those who love you, and happy are those who rejoice in your peace. Happy too are all who grieve over all your afflictions, for they will rejoice over you and behold all your joy forever.” God told Israelites they will enjoy prosperity once again. Psalm 66, our responsorial psalm echoes this call to rejoice.
The Gospel passage (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) is paired with the mission of seventy-two: the preaching of the Kingdom and healing brings prosperity like in the first reading “prosperity over Jerusalem like a river” Isaiah 10:12.
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name" (Luke 10:17). Jesus joined their enthusiasm, "I have observed Satan falling like lightning from the sky… Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:18&20).
In the Gospel of Luke chapter 9:1-6, we see Jesus sent the twelve with power and authority over all demons and diseases and sent seventy-two in the chapter 10:1-20 which is only in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus patterns his missionary effort on Moses (Numbers 11:24-26). Here Moses chose seventy elders and asked them to stand around the tent. God took some of the spirit that was on Moses and bestowed it on the seventy-two. But two men Eldad and Medad were in the tent and also received the spirit. The seventy-two bring Good News of hope and love to the people of whatever town they enter. They showed those people that evil is being defeated by curing the sick and liberating them from demons. The seventy-two returned with great joy and Jesus rejoices with them.
Who are the seventy-two today? We are seventy-two who are sent out to spread the Good News of love and hope. Jesus Christ has conquered evil through his passion, death, and resurrection. He is with us. He gave us the Sacrament of healing: Confession and Anointing, so we can receive the healing. Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, he gives us nourishment and sends us out to proclaim the Good News. We can share the healing through prayer, forgiving each other, and being next to someone in need. Let us wish peace to one another. Let us be the one of the seventy-two.
Did you get a call?
Yes, we all got a call. The question is, how did we answer? This weekend’s readings are about God’s call and response with commitment.
In the first reading from the first book of Kings chapter 19, Elijah commissioned his successor, Elisha. The name Elijah means “the Lord is my God.” We see in chapter 18 Elijah called God and the fire came down and defeated pagan prophets and ordered them to kill according to the Mosaic Law. When Queen Jezebel heard the news, she was not happy. Fearing for his life under Jezebel’s threat, Elijah fled to the wilderness and prayed for natural death. God sent an angel to feed him, and he met God on Mount Horeb. And the reading for this weekend we see God asked Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor. Elijah has thrown his mantle over the shoulder of Elisha as a sign of choosing him as a servant. Elisha abandoned everything and followed Elijah. In the second book of Elijah 2:9, before Elijah’s death, he said to Elisha, “Request whatever I might do for you before I am taken from you.” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” While they were walking a fiery chariot and fiery horses came and took Elijah to heaven. Then Elisha succeeded in Elijah’s position and prophetic power.
The Gospel for this weekend is from Luke chapter 9, which is Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem through Samaria. Samaritans and Jews hated each other from the time of Assyrian rule. Jews always went around the Samaria, but Jesus went through the Samaria. Jesus was a Jew, and the destination was Jerusalem, Samaritans were not ready to welcome him. James and John, sons of thunder, asked Jesus “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” We read in the first book of Kings 18:38, what Elijah had done in his day, calling the fire down to defeat the pagan prophets, and the second book of Kings 1:10 calling fire to kill King Ahaziah’s captain and company. But in the Gospel Jesus rejects the disciple’s desire to call the fire.
Jesus faces the rejection from the prospective disciple who wanted to postpone their commitment until a more convenient time. Jesus asks his followers a total commitment and detachment. All are called to imitate Christ. Throughout Jesus’ public ministry, he gave us examples of poverty. The spirit of poverty liberates human hearts and enables us to love God and one another. Jesus told the other one who came to follow, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” It sounds discouraging, but Jesus tells them they need of embracing poverty.
We are called to journey with the Lord. Jesus gave us the sacraments to give us grace and strength to make that journey. As mentioned last Sunday, the United States Bishop’s conference invites us to take time to relearn the Sacrament of Eucharist. Last Sunday, we had a Eucharistic procession. I would like to thank all those who took the time in the middle of the day to participate. It was a beautiful opportunity to adore the Lord and give public witness.
We will have other opportunities to learn and participate in adoration and learn in-depth about the Eucharist. FORMED.ORG is a very good tool for learning our faith. There is information in the bulletin and on the website. You can sit at home and watch videos on Eucharist. We all learned and need to refresh and relearn our faith. It is part of our call and journey. When you opened FORMED.ORG you can see a video called Presence. It is a wonderful resource to deepen our faith in Eucharist.
Happy Corpus Christi Sunday! Happy Father’s Day!
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers! Five weeks ago, we honored our moms. Today, on this Father's Day, we are doing the same, offering our dads – those who are with us or gone before us, or those who are like fathers in our life – on the altar of God during this Holy Mass, invoking our heavenly Father’s blessings on them. Fathers are a blessing, and we thank them for blessing us with their lives of dedication, endurance, and love. Happy Father’s Day!!
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ! The Eucharist is a great gift. The Bishops of the United States remind us of this truth by calling for Eucharistic Revival which is lunging on June 19, 2022, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body, and Body of Christ. The mission of this Revival is to renew the church by enkindling a living relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The vision of the Revival is a movement of Catholics across the United States who healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and sent on a mission to the life of the world. Bishop James Powers invites us to hold a Eucharistic Procession on the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. So, we are having a procession on Sunday, June 19 at 2:30 pm at Immaculate Conception, Butternut.
In the first reading from the book of Genesis, Melchizedek, king of Salem, appears to recognize Abraham’s great victory, which the five local kings were unable to achieve. He prepares a feast in his honor and declares him blessed or made powerful by God Most High, evidently the highest God in the Canaanite pantheon. Abraham acknowledges the blessing by giving a tenth of the recaptured spoils as a tithe to Melchizedek. We read this passage in Hebrews chapter 7 and it interprets Melchizedek as a prefiguration of Christ. The sacrifice offered by Abel, Abram, and Melchizedek are invoked in the Eucharistic prayer I (the Roman Canon): “Be pleased to look upon these offerings…and to accept them, as once you were pleased to accept the gift of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek.”
The second reading from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians is the account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. Paul quotes Jesus' words and says after the Body of Christ has been given, Jesus’ command is to “do this in memory of me” and after the cup, “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” The Old Covenant between God and Israel was sealed through the sacrificial blood at Mount Sinai, and the New Covenant between Christ and the Church is sealed through the blood of Christ.
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 and he asked them to give some food themselves. Their reply was "Five loaves and two fish are all we have.” In a way they said, we don’t have much, but in Jesus' hands, it was plenty. When they gave what they had, a miracle took place. Jesus took the bread, looked up to heaven, said the blessing, and gave it to the disciples to give to the crowd. All had eaten and were satisfied.
I would like to share a story from my hospital ministry period. One Corpus Christi Sunday I was celebrating Mass in a 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 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 every time something intercepted her. She continued, that she was thinking about the reading and the homily and at the consecration, time was visualizing Jesus’s sacrifice. She said, her faith gave her the strength to live. She realizes that there is a purpose for her life. She said she may not have much to share, but in Jesus’ hand, it is plenty. God needs her for her husband and children. She said that day she felt her life is so meaningful. At the end of every Mass, we are sent out to break and share our life with others.
Holy Trinity Sunday!
Last weekend, we celebrated Pentecost. I would like to thank everyone who reads in different languages. A special thanks to everyone who helped and participated to celebrate the Centennial celebration of St. Anthony school and old Church. Thank you one and all.
The Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Trinity. Trinity is a mystery, but Jesus makes it easier for us. Today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the relationship. Jesus says “Everything that the Father has is mine.” Also, he talks about the Holy Spirit. Trinity is a community of self-giving love; an intimate relationship. We are made to love as the Holy Trinity loved. We read in the book of Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” God created us out of love. And we are called to love God. In Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.” The Holy Trinity is the model for us to love God and love one another.
A simple definition of Holy Trinity is One God subsists three-person. In the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38, God the Father sent the angel Gabriel to Mary and told her the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will conceive in her womb and bear a son, whom she will name Jesus. Luke 3:21-22, when Jesus, the Son, was baptized, the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit came down like a dove, and the voice of the Father came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.” In the Gospel of John 15:26, at the Last Supper discourse Jesus says, “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.” In the second Corinthians 13:13, St. Paul gives a beautiful greeting or blessing prayer, which proclaims the Holy Trinity. St. Paul encourages them to live in peace and love and asks them to greet each other with a holy kiss, and close with these words: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
The First reading from the book of Proverbs says the Wisdom is divine origin. And we know that wisdom is active in creation in the second person of the Holy Trinity and fully revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The second reading from the Romans says that through faith one is justified. Reconciliation is God's gift to humanity. In the crucifixion of Jesus revealed God's love. And in the animating power of love, the Holy Spirit continues to guide us in our daily life.
A family is a simple form of community, it grows into church, 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 the Holy Spirit to give “strength in our weakness.” 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.
St. Anthony Daycare: Please join me to welcome our new director Stephanie Roy. She will be starting on June 13th. Please see below a short note from her.
Hello! My name is Stephanie Roy, and I will be joining the St. Anthony team as the new daycare
Director. I am very excited to meet everyone and learn all about your daycare and children! I was raised in Ashland, WI. I went to Technical College and graduated in 2016. I went on to work at Our Lady of the Lake Preschool for 3 years, before getting married to my husband Thomas and moving to River Falls, WI where we welcomed our son Dylan who is 1.5 years old! I worked as a Co-Lead Teacher in an infant room for the past 2.5 years which was a dream. My husband and I recently bought a house in Park Falls and made the move to be closer to our friends and families again!
I enjoy spending time with my family and dog Luna, going on walks, yoga, and finding beach glass and rocks for my collection. I have always absolutely loved children and Early Childhood Education is my passion, as the first 5 years are the most important and impactful! This will be my first time as a Director so all I ask is that you are patient and understanding as I learn the ropes and get settled into my new spot. I am more than excited to get to know the children and families I will be working with. I hope to create a positive experience with each and every one of you and look forward to being a part of St. Anthony’s Daycare!
Have a blessed day!
Mrs. Stephanie Roy
Happy Pentecost! Happy 100th Anniversary and Feast of St. Anthony!
Saturday, June 4th, the weekend of Pentecost we are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of St. Anthony School building and old church, now known as Holy Dom and Feast of St. Anthony. When we look back we can see so many blessings God has showered upon us through our forefathers. Let us give thanks for the many blessings. At the same time, in this historical moment of our parish and cluster, we need to ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit to move forward. Let us listen to Him.
We are celebrating Pentecost Sunday. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, the advocate. After 50 days of Easter, we celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means fifty.
The Jews celebrated the feast of Pentecost fifty days after the Passover. Originally it was an agricultural feast (Leviticus 23:15-17) and later giving of the law at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20). Now we celebrate the new Pentecost after the fifty days of Jesus' resurrection. When God came to Mount Sinai, there was fire and a loud sound with trumpet blasts. In the new Pentecost, there was a mighty wind, and tongues of fire came over to the Apostles.
We can see the presence of the Holy Spirit from the beginning of the Bible. In the Book of Genesis (1:2) we read, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the earth.” In 2:7 we read, “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” The Gospel of John 20:21 & 22, Jesus after the resurrection appeared to the disciples and said, “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.” In the book of Genesis, we see the first creation of man, and in the Gospel of John we see the recreation.
One of the readings for the Vigil Mass is from the book of Genesis 11:1-9 which gives the background for the understanding of Pentecost as a reversal of Babel. The word babel means confused voice(s). The story of the Tower of Babel tells us that the sinful pride of the human beings separate them from God and to show their pride they decided to build the tower to touch the sky. They all spoke the same language, but God confused them and that prevented them from building the tower. At the Pentecost, however, even though there were people from many nations, they overcame the language barrier. All of them were able to understand each other. The Christian tradition views Pentecost as the undoing of the Tower of Babel, and the reunification of the human family through the mission and witness of the apostolic Church.
Reading from the book of Joel (3:1-5) he anticipates that the Lord will someday renew faith with the divine spirit. In Acts 2:17–21, Peter addresses the people and in his address he cites Joel’s words to suggest that the newly constituted Christian community, filled with divine life and power, inaugurates the Lord’s Day, understood as salvation for all who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.
We received the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and strengthened the Sacrament of Confirmation by the laying of hands. Anointing of the Holy Spirit takes place in us when we eagerly are asking for it. Sometimes we may attempt to think, it is for the saintly people. Anointing of the Holy Spirit is for all of us to grow in holiness. Jesus promised apostles an advocate, a helper. When they received the Holy Spirit, it changed their life, they got out of the fear. They went out to the street and proclaimed the Good News. Today, we are sent out to proclaim the good news. It may be our homes, our neighborhood, workplace, and so on. Suppose, you didn't see your neighbor at the Mass, do you feel the need to call? Maybe I have to rephrase that question, “do you miss them?” Pentecost reminds us that we need to ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us to reach out to others because we are sent out to evangelize the Good News.
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.
First of all, I would like to congratulate all those who received the Sacrament of Confirmation last weekend and all of our children who are making their First Communion this weekend.
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?”
I am sure all of our children are excited to receive the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. Look at the Cross, and it tells us how much God loves us. Look at the Easter Candle, and it tells us He loves us and wants to be the light of our life. Look at the Altar. Just as your parents feed you so that you can be strong physically, God feeds us from the Altar so that we can be strong spiritually. Children, at your First Holy Communion, Jesus comes to you for the first time in the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. He wants to give you/us nourishment so we can be holy.
We have the Gospel of John chapter 21 for this weekend. There are so many beautiful moments in this Gospel passage. Peter decided to go fishing and the rest of them followed him. They worked hard but they didn’t get anything. When they came back empty handed the Risen Christ was waiting for them on the shore with fish and bread. First they didn't recognize Jesus, but they followed his command and lowered the net and had a miraculous catch. In the Gospel of Luke chapter 5, Jesus was calling the first disciples. There is some similarity between these two passages. At the command of Jesus Peter lowered the net and had a great catch. This point Peter said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Jesus' reply was, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” Peter was James and John followed Jesus. In the Gospel of John chapter 21, when John said, “It is the Lord” Peter sprang into the sea. He couldn’t wait to boat to get to the shore. When we look at these two Gospel passages we can see Peter’s transformation.
Jesus already had a charcoal fire with fish laying on it, and bread. He invited disciples for breakfast and it reminds us of the celebration of Eucharist. The ultimate invitation is to the heavenly banquet. Jesus took bread and gave it to them. They remember what Jesus did at the Last Supper and prior to that feeding the five thousand (John 6:11). During the Mass, before the Communion the priest says, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” When Jesus called Peter, James and John the first time, Peter recognized the holiness of Christ and and his unworthiness. Here he jumped out of the boat and came to Jesus and joined for a meal.
The second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus commissions Peter to shepherd the church. Christ himself is the Good Shepherd. Now, he entrusts the care of his flock to Peter. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter’s love for Christ is the evidence of his love of God's people. Peter had denied Jesus three times while warming himself at a fire as Jesus was being interrogated (18:25-27) and now around the charcoal fire Peter reaffirms three times that he loved Jesus. Each time Jesus told him “Feed my sheep,” “Tend my sheep” and “Feed my sheep.”
As we meditate this passage, let us pray in a special way for our shepherds: Pope Francis and Bishop James Powers. At the same time we all are called to be shepherds on a different level. Let us remind ourselves of our call and responsibilities and renew the spirit in the Risen Christ.