24 May 2017 Wednesday Sixth Week Easter Homily

24 May  2017 Wednesday Sixth  Week Easter  Homily

Acts 17:15-22-16:1

Psalm 148

John 16:12-15

 

Paul could “cover all of the bases”.

Paul is escorted to Athens because there is some trouble over his preaching.

Paul does not sit idly by, while waiting for Silas and Timothy,

Paul engages in a discussion with the various philosophers of the city.

Paul is taken to the Areopagus (the hill of Ares). Ares is the god of war.

Paul does battle by putting a name to the “To and Unknown God” whose altar he discovered among the many “gods” of the Greeks.

Paul meets disbelief when he speaks about the resurrection of the dead.  

Paul then moves on to Corinth.

Corinth will provide Paul with subject matter that will inspire Paul to write more “Letters”.

 

Jesús promises in the Gospel today that “the Spirit of truth” will come and “guide you to all truth.”

We are given the assurance that the Spirit of truth will take from the Son what he, the Son has been given by the Father.

Jesús declares or testifies that we will be cared for, guided, given the truth about the gift of the Father’s love present in the Son and in the Spirit.

We are invited to come to believe that we are a part of that divine dance.

 

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23 May 2017 Tuesday Sixth Week Easter Homily

23 May  2017 Tuesday Sixth  Week Easter  Homily

Acts 16:22-24

Psalm 138

John 16:5-11

 

This story might be called “turning the tables”.

“The crowd in Phillipi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas….(the authorities) threw them into prison.”

Paul’s initial success in Philippi has turned into being attacked by a mob and being “thrown into prison.”

Paul the former persecutor now experiences. Personally persecution.

The prisons cannot  “hold” Paul and Silas.

The jailer is ready to kill himself but Paul tells him not to harm himself.

The jailer becomes “captured” by the Gospel, by Christ, by the witness of Paul and Silas.

The jailer comes to believe and takes the disciples to his home for a meal.

We are invited today to come to faith and to eat a meal.

We are invited to wait in faith for the Advocate who comes as the Spirit of truth.

 

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22 May 2017 Monday Sixth Week Easter Homily

22 May  2017 Monday Sixth  Week Easter  Homily

 

Acts 16:11-15

Psalm 149

John 15:26-16:4

 

Philippi is “a leading city….and a Roman colony”.

Paul and his group spend time there.

This is an important city because one of Paul’s letters is addressed to that community.

 

The group, on the sabbath go out of the gate looking for a place of prayer.

This search ends with Paul speaking to a group of women.

Lydia  and her household are baptized and she “prevailed on” the group to “stay at her home.”

Lydia is an example of a business woman, the head of a household and a person of some persuasive force.  Paul was not known for being “prevailed upon” according to most of the Scriptural testimony.

Jesús in the Gospel speaks to the disciples about the coming of the Advocate, Paraclete, the Holy Spirit of truth.  

The persecution of the Church must have lead to great divisions and divided loyalties.

“Falling away”, being “prevailed upon” by the sword or money or power must have called for stark and courageous “testimony” from the communities who had come to believe and testify to Jesús.

Jesús invites us to give faithful testimony since we have been with him from the “beginning”.

In a way our life, our life in Christ begins when we come to see and believe that Jesús is Lord, Messiah and Savior.

 

 

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20 and 21 May 2017 Sixth Sunday of Easter A Homily

20 and 21 May 2017 Sixth Sunday of Easter A Homily

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Psalm 66

First Peter 3:15-18

John 14:15-21

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

We are approaching the end of the Easter Season.

Next week we will celebrate the Ascension of Jesús.

In two weeks we will celebrate Pentecost.

Pentecost, we sometimes refer to as the “birth” of the church since it marks a special beginning of the outreach of the church.

According the Book of the Acts of the Apostles the church begins in Jerusalem and its mission and reach extends to the whole world.

This “outreach” is described today in the first reading as a missionary journey undertaken by the apostle Philip after a persecution of the church.

We know from the Gospels of Luke and John that the Samaritans were not “friends” of the Judeans.  The Samaritans shared some beliefs with the Jews but differed on some very basic issues.

While the Book of Acts reports today about the success of the Philip’s mission to Samaria we also hear about what was lacking in Philip’s missionary efforts.

The First Reading tells us about Peter and John going from

Jerusalem to Samaria to complete the initiation of the people of the

city of Samaria. Philip had only baptized with water.

 

John and Peter pray for the Holy Spirit and “lay hands on the  people and “they (the people) received the Holy Spirit.”

This rather “orderly” description of the completion of the work of “initiating people into the Church may offer us some understanding of how our church changes or adapts our teaching and practice over time.

John’s Gospel today prepares us for the Ascension which we will celebrate next week.

Jesus promises “another Advocate” to be with us always.

Jesus promises we will not be orphans,

that he will “come to us,”

On that day Jesus says

“you will realize that I am in my Father,

and you are in me

and I in you.”

 

Jesus tells us how we will remain in him and how he will remain in us.

John’s Gospel is repetitious and spends a lot of time explaining the unity of:

Father and Son,

the Son and us,

us and the Father.

 

“Being in” and “remaining in” are two phrases that get at how this unity is begun, achieved and maintained.

The maintaining is not temporary or transient.

We “remain in” and “are in” eternally.

 

Jesús today speaks about a third force or person who will “remain with” us.

In fact Jesús assures us:

“ I will not leave you orphans”.

The Father will be asked by the Son (Jesús) and will give us another Advocate to be with us always.

This Advocate will be  “the Spirit of truth”.

The Spirit of Truth will help us to “remain” in the Father’s love by our “keeping” the commandments.

Let us today “keep the commandments”,

remain and

live

surrounded by and in the love of  Father, Son and the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth.

 

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15 May 2017 Monday Fifth Week Easter Homily

15 May  2017 Monday Fifth  Week Easter  Homily

Acts 14:5-18

Psalm 115

John 14:21-26

Imagine the thoughts that Paul and Barnabas had when they were renamed Zeus and Hermes.

They could have enjoyed divine status but they chose to dissuade the crowd from making them into “gods”.

The possibilities of misunderstanding or manipulating people’s trust are infinite when we confuse our own will with the will of God.

 

Jesús makes a very simple observation in the Gospel today.

To love Jesús is to keep his commandments.

To love Jesús is to love the Father.

Jesús also promises that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit will be sent to teach and remind us what Jesús has told us.

Let us listen, live our love of the Father, Son and Spirit.

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9 May 2017 Tuesday Fourth Week Easter Homily

9 May  2017 Tuesday Fourth Week Easter  Homily

 

Acts 11:19-26

Psalm 87

John 10:22-30

 

The death of Stephen begins a persecution that scatters the community of Jerusalem to various places.

The custom is to preach the Gospel only to Jews. The Gospel could not be contained or confined and “Greeks” also heard the Lord Jesús proclaimed.

What was originally experienced as a great tragedy becomes the vehicle for growth in the community that reaches far beyond Jerusalem.

 

Jesús is asked to speak “plainly” about whether or not he is the “the Christ.”

Jesús gives indirect answers and asks the people to believe because of his “works” which are the testimony to Jesús being the Christ.

Being a part of Jesús flock, his sheep, signifies belief in Jesús and the Father.

The sheep, Jesús assures his listeners, have eternal life and cannot be “taken out of the Father’s hand.”

Let us hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and enter into life with the Son, Father and Spirit.

 

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8 May 2017 Monday Fourth Week of Easter Homily

8 May 2017 Monday Fourth Week of Easter  Homily

 

Acts 11:1-18

Psalm 42

John 10:11-18

“God has then granted life giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”

This “opening” to the Gentiles was not an easily obtained step.

Peter’s  vision and leadership as well as the Spirit “telling” Peter to accompany people from Caesarea (a Roman city) produce a solution to the question every community must face.  

The question is “Who can be “in” and who must be kept “out” of this group?”

 

In our own experience we see Pope Francis looking for ways to get people “in” instead of finding ways to keep people “out”. This appears to me to be the Spirit at work in our time.

The Gospel today the Good Shepherd describes in some detail the job description of the Good Shepherd.  

First, the the Good Shepherd lays down life for the sheep.

Second, the Good Shepherd leads sheep from other folds to the one fold.

Finally, the Good Shepherd, lays down his life freely.

May the Spirit guide us as we share the Good Shepherd in caring for the flock.

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6 and 7 May 2017 Fourth Sunday of Easter A Homily

6 and 7 May 2017 Fourth Sunday of Easter A Homily

Acts 2:14, 26-41

Psalm 23

First Peter 2:20-25

John 10:1-10

 

My sisters and brothers in Christ.

This Sunday is sometimes called “Good Shepherd Sunday” because, in the Gospel Jesús describes the difference between “the shepherd of the sheep” and “the stranger” who turns out to be a “thief and robber”.

 

In the first reading Peter is asked “What are we to do in the face Jesús being made “Lord and Christ…?”

Peter’s answer is very simple: “Repent and be baptized…” In changing our hearts we are able to know forgiveness and receive the “promise made to us and to our children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call..”

It is important to note at this point the “Lord our God will call” whomever “the Lord our God” wishes.

We might wish to limit whom the Lord our God “calls” but “repent” or “undergoing a change of heart” implies seeing things and others in a new and different way.

 

The Second Letter of Peter describes Jesús’ response to insult and suffering:

“When he was insulted, he returned no insulted;

When he suffered he did not threaten;…..

By his wounds you have been healed.”

 

On this  particular “Good Shepherd” Sunday we Catholics of Oklahoma have a particular and very personal as well as public reason to reflect upon the theme of the “Good Shepherd.

In September, at the Cox Convention Center there will be a special gathering of Catholics and others to Celebrate the “Beatification of Father Stanley Francisco Rother”.

Father Rother grew up in Okarche, Oklahoma, became a priest and spent a number of years in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala serving as a missionary.

Father Rother literally entered into the lives, culture and hearts of the people he shepherded.

Father Rother was no stranger and tried to protect his flock from the thieves and robbers who tried to harm his people.

Father Rother’s life was threatened because of his concern and advocacy for the safety and rights of his flock.

Father Rother was warned of the danger he faced and returned to Oklahoma for a few months in 1981.

Father Rother knew he was taking a great risk but returned to his Mission during Holy Week.  

Father Rother’s explanation of his decision was this: “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”

Father Rother was martyred in July of 1981 in the Rectory in Santiago Atitlan.

Father Rother was a good shepherd who led his sheep through the sheep gate that gives life.

A “good shepherd” we believe is one who gives his life for his sheep.

Father Rother was free enough, and faithful enough to lay down his life for his friends.

We are a privileged and blessed  and “graced” people to have the life and martyrdom of Father Rother who “suffered for doing what is good” and experienced this  “grace before God’ as a companion in our journey of faith.

We ask today for a share in that gift and grace  given to the faithful shepherd soon to be “Blessed Stanley Francis Rother”.

 

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3 May 2017 Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles Homily

 

3 May 2017 Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles Homily

First Corinthians 15:1-8

Psalm 19

John 14:6-14

 

The First Reading today gives a summary of the “Gospel”.

The “Gospel” or “Good News” is what Paul says we “receive” and “stand in”.

The Gospel is our foundation or the ground we “stand on.”

How often do we need to be reminded of that core message, essential “news” about the mystery we have been drawn into?

“Pretty often” is the short answer.  The summary about Christ dying and rising is referred to in Greek as the “kerygma” or message.  The “message” is what we are invited into, share with others and need to return to over and over again.

 

What Philip asks Jesús to do today in the Gospel is this: “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” has already been “shown”.

 

Basically if we see and follow Jesús we see and follow the Father.

Jesús does the Father’s will to the point of giving himself for us in doing the will of the Father.

“Believing” in Jesús is to do the “works” of the Father.  Jesús is required to do the work of the Father.  

Jesús simply asks us to do what he does: believe, work and give glory to the Father, Son and Spirit.

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2 May 2017 Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter Homily

2 May 2017 Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter Homily

 

Acts 7:51-8:1

Psalm 31

John 6:30-35

 

Stephen “falls asleep” commanding  or asking the Lord “…do not hold this sin against them.”

 

Perhaps offering his life in obedience gives Stephen the right to advise the Lord.  In fact Stephen is quoting Jesús’ own words of forgiveness spoken at the time of Jesus’ death.

 

The mention of a young man Saul, who witnessed the death of Stephen, introduces us to the person who will dominate a good part of the Acts of the Apostles.  One commentator mentions the Acts of the Apostles will become, in fact,  the “Acts of Paul”.

 

Jesus., in the Gospel wrestles with the issue of “signs”.

The sign of “manna” Jesús explained was not given by Moses but by the Father who gives “true bread from heaven.”

Jesús is identifying himself with the true bread “that gives life to the world.”

We are given that bread that ends hunger and thirst.

We seek  to “come to” the one who is and who brings us this bread.

We seek to “believe in” the one who satisfies our thirst.

 

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