Sunday, April 11, 2021

Divine Mercy Sunday

 

Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Some twenty-one years ago, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that the Second Sunday of Easter would be celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday. This was proclaimed at the Canonization Mass of St. Faustina Kawalska, who worked throughout her life to make all aware of the merciful love of God.

In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples while Thomas was not present and his reaction.  Thomas refused to believe without seeing – he needed proof that Jesus had indeed appeared to the others. Like Thomas, we too, are called to believe without seeing.  Thomas’ lack of belief should not surprise us.  He was reacting out of fear and grief. He wanted hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to the other disciples was indeed the same Jesus who he saw crucified.  Thomas needed to see and feel his Lord.  A week later he would get his wish when Jesus would come again to the disciples gathered in the upper room.  Each time Jesus came, He greeted them with a greeting of peace.   “Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”  (John 26)

With Thomas as our model, we can have great hope.  Even when our fears overcome us Jesus is still there for us.  We are blessed as we believe without having seen.  As we continue the Easter journey let us always remember that Jesus is always there for us and we are called to show mercy to all those we encounter.





Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday

 

He has Risen Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Easter Blessing by David Whyte (in memoriam for John O’Donohue) 

The blessing of the morning light to you, may it find you even in your invisible appearances, may you be seen to have risen from some other place you know and have known in the darkness and that carries all you need. May you see what is hidden in you as a place of hospitality and shadowed shelter, may that hidden darkness be your gift to give, may you hold that shadow to the light and the silence of that shelter to the word of the light, may you join all of your previous disappearances with this new appearance, this new morning, this being seen again, new and newly alive. (From The Bell and the Blackbird)

 

May you have

 The gladness of Easter

which is Hope

 The promise of Easter

which is Peace

The spirit of Easter

which is Love



 


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Palm Sunday

 


Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of the Lenten Season, the beginning of Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified.  Palm Sunday is known as such because the faithful will often receive palm branches which they use to participate in the reenactment of Christ's arrival in Jerusalem. In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a young donkey, and to the lavish praise of the townspeople who threw clothes, or palms or small branches, in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people of great respect.

Palm branches are widely recognized symbol of peace and victory, hence their preferred use on Palm Sunday. The use of a donkey instead of a horse is highly symbolic, it represents the humble arrival of someone in peace, as opposed to arriving on a steed in war.  A week later, Christ would rise from the dead on the first Easter.

During Palm Sunday Mass, palms are distributed to parishioners who carry them in a ritual procession into church. The palms are blessed, and many people will fashion them into small crosses or other items of personal devotion.   The extra palm will be burned to create ashes for next year’s Ash Wednesday celebration.  The colors of the Mass on Palm Sunday are red and white, symbolizing the redemption in blood that Christ paid for the world.

As we begin this holiest week of the Church year let us take some time to pray, reflect and be present to each of the days of Holy Week.

 




Sunday, March 21, 2021

Fifth Sunday of Lent

 


Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent.  At the Mass I participated in the cantor sang Rory Cooney’s Change Our Hearts.  While listening to this song I was struck by how much it mirrors the need our current world reality.  Right now, our world is suffering greatly.  We are besieged by Covid fatigue, increased incidents of violence, racism, and the crisis at our southern border.  Our world needs a change of heart.  Perhaps with the newness of spring this may happen.  As we enjoy this beautiful day take a few moments to listen to this song and allow it to fill your heart with the desire to change.

Change our hearts this time, Your word says it can be.
Change our minds this time Your life could make us free.

We are the people your call set apart, Lord, this time change our hearts.

Brought by your hand to the edge of our dreams, One foot in paradises, one in the waste; Drawn by your promises, Still we are lured By the shadows and the chains we leave behind. But

Change our hearts this time, Your word says it can be.
Change our minds this time Your life could make us free.

We are the people your call set apart, Lord, this time change our hearts.

Now as we watch you stretch out your hands, Offering abundances, fullness of joy.
Your milk and honey seem distant, Unreal, when we have bread and water in our hands.  But

Change our hearts this time, Your word says it can be.
Change our minds this time Your life could make us free.

We are the people your call set apart, Lord, this time change our hearts.

Show us the way that leads to your side, Over the mountains and sands of the soul.
Be for us manna, water from the stone, Light which says we never walk alone.  And

Change our hearts this time, Your word says it can be.
Change our minds this time Your life could make us free.

We are the people your call set apart, Lord, this time change our hearts.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Lent

 

Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent or Laetare Sunday.  Laetare is the first word — meaning “rejoice” — in the Latin text. On Laetare Sunday (as similarly with the Third Sunday of Advent’s Gaudete Sunday) the Church expresses hope and joy amid our Lenten fasts and penances. The vestments worn by the priest are rose this day — this change in color indicates a glimpse of the joy that awaits us at Easter, just before we enter into the somber days of Passiontide.




 

This week we celebrate two great saints - St. Patrick, Patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York and St. Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

St. Patrick was a Roman of British origin, probably born near present-day Scotland. When he was sixteen years old, he was captured and sold into slavery. Six years later, he escaped and ended up on a ship bound for France where he trained for the priesthood at a monastery. Legend says that he used the shamrock to explain the difficult concept of the Trinity. An ardent and tireless missionary, Patrick endured much hardship, including beatings and imprisonment, to bring the Christian faith to the Celtic people. He has been honored as patron of Ireland since the seventh century.

 




St. Joseph was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to the earliest Christian traditions, he was a carpenter or woodworker. The Gospel of Matthew calls him a "righteous man," meaning he was an observant Jew who obeyed God's law.  Joseph was engaged to Mary but when he discovered that she was pregnant with Jesus, he decided to quietly call off the marriage since the penalty for adultery was death by stoning. However, the angel of the Lord told him in a dream that he should go ahead with the marriage because Mary's child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. This was the first of four divinely inspired dreams that are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew; for this reason, he is sometimes called "the dreamer." After each of these dreams, "he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him" (Matthew 1:24).  The Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th. He is the patron of the Catholic Church, unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, travelers, carpenters, realtors, and of a happy death. He is also honored as the patron saint of workers on May 1st.

 

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has proclaimed 2021 The Year of St. Joseph and has encouraged all the faithful to pray this prayer to St Joseph everyday:

 

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man. Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage, and defend us from every evil. Amen.

 




Sunday, March 7, 2021

Third Sunday of Lent

 

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Lent and we are nearing the middle of the Lenten season. This Sunday’s gospel speaks about the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus refers to His body as a temple that will be destroyed but rise again after three days. A great “mid-Lent” reminder of the joy we look forward to on Easter Sunday and on the life-giving power of our Lord. Let us continue toward this joyous day by prayer, fasting, and charity.

During Lent we are invited to fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  We do not perform these works to earn God’s pleasure or admittance into God’s presence. We already have that through what Jesus has done for us. Rather, our Lenten practices help us see and respond to those too hungry to fast, too scattered to pray, and too poor to give alms.

So, we ask ourselves:

• Do my Lenten observances make me more sensitive to those in need?

• Who are they and how shall I respond to them?

During Lent, we are called to fast, and pray, and to give alms.  Let us consider why we fast.

As penance - Throughout the Old Testament, people covered themselves in ashes, took off their fine clothes, and fasted to express their repentance from sin.

To make room for God - By emptying ourselves, even if just a little bit, we make room for God to enter our lives more fully.  When fasting and abstinence are hard, we are moved to turn to God in prayer for help.

To strengthen the will - Fasting is a spiritual discipline; just as physical exercise makes our body stronger, fasting strengthens our will. Practicing self-denial in small things strengthens our will to resist sin in other areas of our lives.

As preparation for mission - For Christians, fasting imitates the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert. Just as Jesus used this time to prepare for his public mission, fasting prepares us to continue His mission in the world.

In solidarity with the suffering Christ -Whatever small suffering we experience when we fast, brings us closer to the suffering Christ (and all people who suffer from hunger, malnutrition, and abuse daily).

Let us continue to faithfully live the Lenten journey as we journey to Easter.



Sunday, February 28, 2021

Second Sunday of Lent

 

On the second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading proclaims the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. This event is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark’s Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ prediction about his passion. After this, in each of these Gospels, there is also a discussion of the cost of discipleship.

In each story, Jesus takes three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—to a high mountain. While they are there, Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus.  First, we see that there are three persons on the “high mountain": Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. We see the priest, prophet, and King, the three offices of Jesus, embodied here by three physical persons. They seem to be in consultation and complete harmony, just as the Holy Trinity is three Persons in complete accord.

Next are the three witnesses, hand-picked by Jesus: Peter, chosen to be the “Rock” on which Jesus would build His Church; John, the youngest and the “beloved” disciple; and James, who would lead the Church in Jerusalem. This reminds us that the Father created, and nurtured man and He would build a Church using through his “beloved Son,” Jesus; and the Spirit would breathe life into the Church on the day of Pentecost.

We can also see each Person of the Holy Trinity in this passage: God the Father in the voice saying, “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him;” God the Son in physical form; and the cloud representing the Holy Spirit — just as He appeared in the desert in the Old testament. This is not something that would have been understood by the disciples, who “kept the matter to themselves.”

The use of the number three here is very intentional. The three on the mountain, the three witnesses, the indication of the three Persons, all point to the truth of the Trinity. This concept of God was completely foreign up to this point. What a mystery for the disciples, and us, to ponder as we continue the Lenten journey!