Sunday, April 30, 2023

Good Shepherd Sunday


The Fourth Sunday of Easter marks the 60th Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1964. Parishes are especially encouraged to include prayers for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the general intercessions on that day and the homily may focus on vocations.

Pope Francis in his message for the 2023 World Day of Prayer for Vocations says, “This year I would ask you, in your reflection and prayer, to take as your guide the theme “Vocation: Grace and Mission”. This Day is a precious opportunity for recalling with wonder that the Lord’s call is grace, complete gift, and at the same time a commitment to bring the Gospel to others. We are called to a faith that bears witness, one that closely connects the life of grace, as experienced in the sacraments and ecclesial communion, to our apostolate in the world. Led by the Spirit, Christians are challenged to respond to existential peripheries and human dramas, ever conscious that the mission is God’s work; it is not carried out by us alone, but always in ecclesial communion, together with our brothers and sisters, and under the guidance of the Church’s pastors. For this has always been God’s dream: that we should live with him in a communion of love.

Dear brothers and sisters, vocation is a gift and a task, a source of new life and true joy. May the initiatives of prayer and of activity associated with this Day strengthen an awareness of vocation within our families, our parish communities, our communities of consecrated life, and our ecclesial associations and movements. The Spirit of the risen Lord dispels our apathy and grants us the gifts of sympathy and empathy. In this way, he enables us to live each day born anew as children of the God who is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16) and in turn to offer that love to others. To bring life everywhere, especially in places of exclusion and exploitation, poverty, and death, in order to enlarge the spaces of love, so that God may reign ever more fully in this world.”

On this Good Shepherd Sunday may we always be grateful for those who have shepherded us throughout our lives.  May we always be willing to shepherd others.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Second Sunday of Easter


The Gospels tell us that Jesus appeared to the disciples on several occasions after they discovered that his tomb was empty. Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit but in bodily form. The disciples were locked in the room out of fear.  He appears to the disciples despite the fact that the doors were locked.  Jesus appears to them saying, “Peace be with you.” 

Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, Jesus commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” During the meeting, Jesus also shows the integral connection between forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The story of Thomas illustrates our Christian experience today: We are called to believe without seeing.   Thomas was not there when Jesus appeared.  He needs to touch Jesus to believe.  Jesus gives Thomas exactly what he needs and tells him to touch his wounds. Jesus’ wounds tell us about who we are. 

In fact, all Christians after the first witnesses have been called to believe without seeing. Thomas’s doubt is hardly surprising; the news of Jesus’ appearance was incredible to the disciples who had seen him crucified and buried. Thomas’s human nature compelled him to want hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to the disciples after his death was indeed the same Jesus who had been crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to act on that desire. He is our witness that Jesus is really risen.

Our faith is based on the witness of the Church that has preceded us, beginning with Thomas and the first disciples. Through Baptism we receive the same Holy Spirit that Jesus brought to the first disciples. We are among those who are “blessed” because we believe without having seen.  Let us remember this Divine Mercy Sunday to share that love and compassion that Jesus showed to all people.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Easter Sunday


Jesus has risen, Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Today we celebrate Easter Sunday!  This morning I attended the Sunrise Service at Davenport Park in New Rochelle, NY.  It was a beautiful ecumenical experience.  As the minister delivered his reflection the sun became more brilliant and just as the invincible Son rose the sun did too.  Let us take time today to open our hearts to receive the light of Christ.  By doing this it becomes possible for us to witness to the love of Jesus' presence in our world.  Let us pray that the world may know the light of Christ through us.

Pictures of the Sunrise Service

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Palm Sunday


Palm Sunday falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four Gospels. journey of Holy Week culminating in the celebration of Easter. 

The Scripture readings of this Sunday invite us to muster all the strength and faith that we possess to courageously carry our heavy burdens just as Jesus himself bore the weight of the cross for us and for our salvation. Jesus too felt the weight of the cross when he set his face toward Jerusalem.

Today Pope Francis presided over the Palm Sunday Liturgy in Rome.  In his homily he called on people not to ignore those experiencing great suffering and solitude.  "Today their numbers are legion. Entire peoples are exploited and abandoned; the poor live on our streets and we look the other way; migrants are no longer faces but numbers, prisoners are disowned; people written off as problems," he said.

As we begin Holy Week let us take time to reflect on the meaning of this week and let our hearts and minds be filled with the certitude of Jesus extreme love for us.

A Holy Week Prayer

Christ Jesus, your love is made visible through the mystery of your death and resurrection.  Make us one in you.  Transform us into people of mercy who reach out to embrace you in the suffering ones in our midst.  We ask this, as people reconciled to God through the blood of your cross.  Amen.