Reflections

CORPUS CHRISTI
FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

June 23, 2019
[Genesis 14: 18-20; I Corinthians 11: 23-26; Luke 9: 11-17]

“I am the living bread come down from heaven, says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Each of the readings today talks to us about a “Miracle of the Bread.”   In the First Reading, Melchizedek blesses Abram using bread and wine.  In the Second Reading, St. Paul recounts for us the Miracle of the Last Supper.  In the Gospel, Jesus performs the famous miracle of multiplying the bread and fish.

Don’t we often feel like we also need a miracle to keep going, to meet the needs that are put before us, like the apostles needing to feed five thousand people?   We can identify with the wonder of the miracles in today’s readings.  In the First Reading, we don’t know where Melchizedek comes from.  He is only mentioned twice in Scripture in reference to the bread and wine and the priesthood.  Maybe this fact adds to the mystery of the Eucharist, the Miracle of Bread and Wine.

In the Gospel: where did all that bread come from?  Wherever it came from, it was there to meet the urgent needs of the five thousand hungry people.  We, as Eucharistic People, sometimes also need to ask:  Where does the strength to keep going in a very difficult situation come from?  Where does the extra patience, wisdom, and good judgment come from when so often we are surprised by our ability to ‘keep going.’

Our strength comes from the same source that the miracle of bread came from in the Gospel.   Our strength comes from within.  We are constantly nourished and strengthened by the power of Jesus in the Eucharist that we so often receive.   Like Melchizedek, we too are priestly people, nourished and guided from our Baptism by our Eucharistic Lord!

 

FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, June 16, 2019
[Proverbs 8: 22-31; Romans 5: 1-5; John 16: 12-15]

“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out
into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

It is through the presence of the Holy Spirit that we are brought into the very Life of God -The Holy Trinity!  We have stated many times that the Life of God, the Life of the Trinity, is a life of Relationship.  Three persons share the One Life of God.

We, also, are ‘people of relationship.’   This is our nature.  It is the way we were formed and created by God.   We are brought into existence by the God of Relationship - The Holy Trinity.  Perhaps this is a good time to pause and think about what we do when we enter church or whenever we begin prayer.  We use the ‘Sign of the Cross.’  We say, we sign ourselves: a great reminder of our identity as people who have been given a share in the very life of God.  We are to share and reflect our identity as people of God as we relate to each other.

To paraphrase St. Bonaventure, “The Love of the Three Persons of the Trinity, like any love relationship, could not be contained or restricted.  Therefore, the Love of God has ‘Boiled Over’ to include each one of us.”  This is the plan of God; that we share in a limited way in the Life of God by our Baptism.  That is why we also use holy/Baptismal water when we can as we make the sign of the cross.  Despite all the anxieties and distractions of the day, the week, we come back to remember “Our Roots.”  No matter what occurs in our lives, we are all children of God.  We always ‘come home’ here to the house of God each week as parish family.   We ‘come home’ in our prayers wherever we are, remembering that God is also there.  We need often to pause to remember who we are.  “O God, how wonderful your Name in all the earth.”

 

PENTECOST SUNDAY, June 9, 2019
[Acts 2: 1-11; I Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13; John 20: 19-23]

“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,
and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

Last Sunday, as you remember, we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.  At that time Jesus promised: “Behold I am sending the promise of the Father upon you, stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  Today, at Pentecost, we see that Jesus has truly kept His promise.  We witness the coming of the Holy Spirit, who is indeed the Promise of the Father.  Last week we recalled that the Ascension of Jesus was not: ‘Mission Accomplished.’  The purpose for which Jesus came on earth was not completed at Ascension.  It will never be completed until the end of time.

 We are very aware that Jesus has, and continues, to keep His Promise to be always with us.  We see the effects of the Presence of the Spirit of Jesus on the First Pentecost.  Now it is up to us. The Second Reading puts it on the line for us: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord…To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”

Therefore, we have no choice.  We must believe that we have each received the gifts of the Spirit; the ‘Benefit’ for which they are given, is not just for us personally.  Like Jesus we come: ‘Not to be served, but to serve.’     The Holy Spirit is the ‘Gift of God that keeps on giving.’  And, the Gift of the Spirit continues to give through us.  That is why we pray in the Responsorial Psalm: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the Earth.”  Again, it all happens in and through us.  Jesus ascended into heaven, but He has kept His promise. His promise is to be present to people who are like Him, Like-Minded.  Therefore, we are about the work of the Father, like Jesus was; like Jesus is, through us!

 

ASCENSION OF THE LORD INTO HEAVEN, June 2, 2019
[Acts: 1:1-11; Ephesians 1: 17-23; Luke 24: 46-53]

“Go and teach all nations, says the Lord.
 I am with you always, until the end of the world.”

One can combine this quote above with the words of the angels addressed to the apostles at the time of Jesus Ascension: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

In other words, Jesus had prepared the apostles, and us, to continue His work and ministry after He had left this earth.  It is, of course, only natural that the apostles would be a bit taken-aback by all this. And, the same is true of us when we realize the great task that the Lord has entrusted into our hands. Therefore, sometimes we need a little encouragement, incentive, to, like the apostles—get going with the matter at hand.

All during this Easter Season we have been reading from the Acts of the Apostles.  The First Christians are indeed a model for us.  We might ask: ‘Where did they get the encouragement and determination to ‘get up and get about the work of the Lord’?  I believe we find the answer in their ability to form and live community.  They needed each other to find the strength they needed to carry on the work of the Lord.  Let us remember that we need each other in our parish family community also.  This lesson might be of greater importance during the summer months, when there are so many other activities that can take us away from our parish participation.  May we remember “God is with us always” and gives us strength to share the Gospel message by leaning into the strength of one another as community.

 

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, May 26, 2019
[Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29; Revelation 21: 10-14, 22-23; John 14: 23-29]

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love them,
and we will come to them and make our dwelling with them.”

In the First Reading today, we are privileged to have an inside look into one of the first major decisions that the early church had to make.  The reading tells us the apostles and elders had to send a letter to the churches in Judea because there was a lot of doubt about who can be members of the church, and what the conditions for membership are.  After much debate and prayer, they came to their decision.  It had to do especially with not enforcing Jewish practices on the gentiles, non-Jews. “We have heard that some of our number, without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind…It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us, not to place on you any burden beyond the necessities….”

This must have been a very difficult decision for the apostles and first Christians. Yet, they give us good insight into how they proceeded:   They turned to the Holy Spirit in prayer and mutual discussion to find out what was the will of God in this matter, and in all other matters.  It is important for us to notice that the church leaders were very concerned because ‘some of their number, without consulting with the apostles, or the Holy Spirit, “had disturbed your peace of mind.’”  I think we can so often do the same to each other. We gossip or criticize.  Sometimes people try to exclude each other from membership in the church; sometimes we treat each other as outsiders in other ways.

Jesus, in the Gospel, gives the final words when we are faced with doubts, rejection, or feelings of not belonging: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our dwelling with them.”  These are the words we need to hear.  So long as we have the desire to follow the will of God, we belong where it really counts - with God, now and always.