Easter Sunday – 19

Easter Sunday – 19

Acts10:34a, 37-43, Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor 5:6b-8, Jn.20:1-9

I wish everyone of you a Very Happy Easter. May the risen lord bless you today, as well as all those in your family whether they are near to you or far away.

May the Risen Lord Jesus bless your home, your loved ones and your neighbors now and forever.

A class of fourth-graders decided that they wanted to put on an Easter pageant for their parents. They wanted to enact what happened to Jesus on Easter morning.

So their teacher helped them by coming up with a list of all the characters that they would have to play. She then spoke to each student asking which role he or she would prefer.

Of course, many of them wanted to play soldiers or angels or one of the women who came bearing spices.

But when she came to a young boy named Kevin and asked him,” Kevin who would you like to be?”

Kevin responded quickly, “I would like to be the stone.” “The stone?” said the teacher, taken back by his response, “We have no lines for the stone, there’s nothing you would be able to say.”

“That’s okay,” said Kevin, “I’ll be happy just to roll away at the appropriate time.”

So since she had more children than roles, she allowed Kevin to be the stone. The play was a great success. Afterwards, the teacher went to all the children to affirm them and to thank them.

When she came to Kevin, she first of all thanked him for the excellent job he did rolling away. But then she asked him, “Kevin, tell me why was it so important to you to be the stone.

It wasn’t after all the biggest role.” “I know,” said Kevin, “but I really wanted to be the one who let Jesus out of the tomb.”

Kevin’s words are important to us this Easter morning. We have heard the proclamation that Jesus is risen. In faith, we believe that he now sits at the right hand of God in power.

But the power of Jesus will not benefit us unless we are willing to let him out of the tomb.

We let him out of the tomb when we move our faith from our head to our heart. There are many things that we believe and do that are based in our head.

If people were to ask us we would answer, “Yes, I believe in God. I am a Catholic. I come to church with my family.” All good things.

But the power of the resurrection is when we move our faith to our heart, when we let the power of the risen Christ pervade our very center, our very being.

What does it mean to let Christ into our heart? It means that we live each day trying to be aware that the power of Christ is with us. Aware that Christ is with us to protect us, to guide us, to help us.

Living that way is very different than simply living on our own. It is different than making our own decisions and plans, thinking of our own future.

It is different from only thinking of God when someone else brings God up or when we come to church on Sunday or on Easter.

If we were to invite Christ truly into our hearts, into the center of who we are, we would live differently. Christ would give us more clarity, more commitment, and more confidence.

We need clarity because every day we are bombarded by issues and demands that come on us from all sides and we keep going doing one thing after the next.

If we are not careful, we can end up living our lives surrounded by matters of little consequence. But if we invite Christ into our hearts, he will help us clarify what is important and what is not.

If Christ is with us, he will show us which things are distractions and which things are essential. Then we will never ignore the people who love us and we will never forget which decisions are the ones that can really make a difference.

So we need clarity. We also need commitment. Now, we are committed people. We try to live good lives, to love our neighbor, to serve those in need.

All of this is good. But if we place the power of Christ at our center we will find a new way to be committed.

We will realize we do the good things in our lives not simply because they are right but because they are God’s work. That insight should give us the ability to keep going even when it is difficult and disappointing.

It should give us new energy because the good things we do are not simply our good things but they are part of God’s plan for recreating the world.

Inviting Christ into our life will give us a new kind of commitment. It will also increase our confidence. We worry about a lot of things. We worry about the bad decisions our children might be making.

We worry about our aging parents as they cope with sickness and grief. We have problems at work or at school. We have disagreements we cannot resolve.

But if we let the power of Christ come into us, it will give us greater confidence because we will realize that Christ wants to resolve these issues as much as we do.

We will realize that God is active, bringing our problems to a good conclusion. When we invite Christ into us, we have the confidence that once we have done everything we can, we can leave the rest in God’s hands.

The risen Christ can give us power. The risen Christ can give us clarification, commitment, and confidence. But first, we must invite him in. Christ is risen. But he does us no good if we keep him in the tomb.

So, should today not be the day that we decide to roll the stone away?

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Good Friday – 19

GOOD FRIDAY

• Two *Processions* of a same Person but with two different *Responses.*

• _One was a triumphant *ENTRY* into the Jesrusalem city; the other a painful *EXIT* out side the Jerusalem city._

• _In the first, the *DONKEY* carried Jesus; in the second Jesus carried the *CROSS.*_

• _In the first *HOSSANA* was the exclamation; in the second *CRUCIFY* was the cry._

• _In the first people held *BRANCHES* of the tree; in the second Jesus held *WOOD* of the tree._

• _In the first the people’s garments were *SPREAD* on the road; in the second Jesus’ garments were *DIVIDED* among the four._

• _In the first the Disciples *ACCOMPANIED* Jesus; in the second the Disciples *FLED* from Jesus._

The first, was a scene of *GLORY*; the second, was the scene of *MISERY*.

Life has *Sunshines* as well as *Dark nights.* *Rainbows* as well as *Thunder storms.*

Happiness is *TEMPORARY* Sadness is *TRANSITORY*

A Kite cannot all the time *FLY* above in the air, it has to *LIE* down to the ground.

Both *PALM Sunday* and *GOOD Friday* was needed to arrive at *EASTER Sunday.*

To sum up all the above things:

– Entry= *Birth*. Exit= *Death*;

– Donkey= *Comfort*. Cross= *Struggle*;

– Hosanna= *Aprreciation*. Crucify= *Criticism*;

– Branches= *Health* Wood= *Sickness*;

– Spread= *Richness* Divide= *Poverty*

– Accompany= *Friends* Flee= *Enemies*;

– Glory= *Joy* Misery= *Sorrow*;

– Sunshine= *Smiles* Darkness= *Tears*.

Thus we can conclude: Life is a mixture of both *Sweet and Bitter* moments.

Lets remember:

Happiness is *TEMPORARY*

Sadness is *TRANSITORY.*

On earth we have to go through both, *PALM Sundays* and *GOOD Fridays* to arrive in heaven to experience *RESURRECTION day.*

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing. Amen.

Palm Sunday – 19

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Is.50:4-7, Phili.2:6-11, Lk.22:14 – 23:56

The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. It is on Palm Sunday that we enter Holy Week and welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death and Resurrection.

This is also the time we remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. That is why the Holy Week liturgy presents us with the actual events of the dying and rising of Jesus.

In the old liturgy, before Vatican II, the reading of the Passion was greeted with total silence. There was no homily. Even the concluding acclamation: “This is the gospel of the Lord” was omitted.

On a day like this, I sometimes feel that the most eloquent response to the word of God we have proclaimed is silence.

Even the best of homilies could be a distraction from the deep meditation in which many of us find ourselves at the end of the story of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But then also, a homily might be useful to direct and focus our meditation in the right direction.

Otherwise we might be like little Johnny who was failing all his exams in the public school until his parents decided to send him to a Catholic school. At the end of the year Johnny came out on top of the class.

When his parents asked him what made him change so dramatically Johnny replied, “You see, the moment I walked into that new school and saw that guy hanging on the cross, I knew that the people here were dead serious; so I decided not to take any chances.”

The crucifix might have helped Johnny to improve his scores but it is easy to see that Johnny has misread the crucifix. The man on the cross is not there to scare little boys but to show them how much he loves them.

He is not there to show them what would happen to them if they misbehaved; he is there to show them that he has already paid the penalty for their sins.

He is not dying on the cross for what he has done but for what you and I have done; because he loves us. He died for us.

“He died for us:” Many of us have heard this phrase so many times that it now carries with it neither the shock of someone dying on account of what we have done nor the good news of our being delivered from death.

For us to hear this message again today as for the first time, the story of a man who literally died for the misdeeds of his brother might help.

Two brothers lived together in the same apartment. The elder brother was an honest, hard-working and God-fearing man and the younger a dishonest, gun-toting, substance-abusing rogue.

Many a night the younger man would come back into the apartment late, drunk and with a lot of cash and the elder brother would spend hours pleading with him to mend his ways and live a decent life. But the young man would have none of it.

One night the junior brother runs into the house with a smoking gun and blood-stained clothes. “I killed a man,” he announced.

In a few minutes the house was surrounded by police and the two brothers knew there was no escape. “I did not mean to kill him,” stammered the young brother, “I don’t want to die.”

By now the police were knocking at the door. The senior brother had an idea. He exchanged his clothes with the blood-stained clothes of his killer brother.

The police arrested him, tried him and condemned him to death for murder. He was killed and his junior brother lived. He died for his brother.

Can we see that this story of crime and death is basically a story of love? Similarly, the story of the suffering and death of Jesus which we heard in the Passion is basically a story of love – God’s love for us. How should we respond to it?

Well, how would you expect the junior brother to respond to the death of the senior brother? We would expect him to respond with GRATITUDE.

Gratitude to his generous brother should make him turn a new life and never go back to a life of crime.

He would be a most ungrateful person if he should continue living the sort of life that made his brother die. Gratitude should make him keep the memory of his brother alive.

No day should pass that he should not remember his brother who died for him. Finally, if the dead brother has got a wife and children we should expect the saved brother, out of gratitude, to love and care for them.

What God expects from us today is gratitude – gratitude strong enough to make us hate sin of every shade and color; strong enough to make us translate our love of God into love of all of God’s people.

There is a Jewish saying, “Heaven rejoices over a repentant sinner and sheds tears over a non-repentant, hardhearted one.”

Let us get ready to imitate the prodigal son, return to God, our loving Father through the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this last week of Lent, and participate fully in the joy of Christ’s Resurrection.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing. Amen.

5th Sunday of Lent Year C -19

5th Sunday of Lent, Year C – 19

Isaiah 48:16-21 / Philippians 3:8-14 / John 8:1-11

There was a wise Persian king who had four sons. The king saw that his chief responsibility was to make sure that his sons grew up with wisdom knowing how to live.

So one winter day he said to eldest son, ‘Look I own a farm in the next village and in that farm there is a huge mango tree. It costs me a great deal to maintain it.

I want you to go and examine this tree and make a judgment whether is worth the investment. I plan to ask your brothers to do the same.” So the eldest son went and looked at the tree.

When spring came the king sent his second son. He sent his third son in summer and his youngest son in the fall. Then he called the boys together to make their judgment.

The eldest son spoke first, “Father,” he said, “this tree is nothing more than a barren stump, I would cut it down.”

The second son had a different opinion, “Father,” he said, “the tree is covered with many luxurious leaves and produces much shade, but you would have to weigh whether the shade that is produced is worth the cost of maintenance.”

The third son fundamentally agreed with his brother, “I saw beautiful flowers on the tree as well but father you will have to decide whether you plan to visit this tree and enjoy the flowers.

If you choose not to do this, it is probably not worth the cost of maintenance.” But the youngest son disagreed strongly with his brothers.

“Father,” he said, “I have never seen such huge and luxurious fruit on any tree. It would bring a fortune in the marketplace. I say this tree must be maintained no matter what the cost.”

The father was satisfied and smiled, “Each of you is correct, for each of you saw the tree at a different time. The lesson is clear – if you wish to be wise, you should withhold your judgment until you have seen the tree in all of its seasons.”

This story relates to the Gospel because today’s passage is about judgments and how we make them.

The people around Jesus were quick and ready to judge the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They saw her as a sinner and they said she should be punished.

Their judgment was correct and Jesus did not debate it. But without excusing her sin Jesus chose to see the woman in a larger context.

He could imagine her in a different season, in a season that was different from the barren and sinful season in which she now stood. He could imagine her in a season that was productive and full of life.

Jesus challenged his listeners and challenges us to give the woman another chance, to suspend judgment in light of another season which could produce much fruit.

This larger vision of Jesus supports his frequent teaching that we should not judge others. He tells us that we should not judge not because our judgments are incorrect but because they are often incomplete.

There are many seasons to every person’s life. In light of the better seasons the wise person refrains from judging and making a final judgment today.

Now there’s a caveat that comes with Jesus’ teaching. When he tells us that we are not to judge others he does not mean that we are to let others take advantage of us.

We must make judgments to protect ourselves from those who would manipulate us or abuse us.

We must make judgments to protect ourselves and those that we love from those who would harm us because of their selfishness or dysfunction.

To make such judgments is not only good but necessary. But when Jesus calls us not to judge others, he asks us not to make a final judgment.

We should not be too quick to write off those whom we dislike or those with whose ideas and actions we disagree.

Even though we know others are wrong dead wrong, even when we are convinced that there is no way we can condemn their actions, Jesus nevertheless says that we should postpone final judgment in light of the better seasons that might be produced in their lives, in light of the better people that they might someday become.

This teaching is not easy. All of us can think of people whom we are ready to judge, people that we would be quick to reject.

How do we find the strength to withhold final judgment? Jesus shows us the way. In today’s Gospel when others were ready and willing to pass final judgment on the woman who was caught in adultery he asks them to think of their weakness, to think of their sins.

Jesus says anyone here who is without sin should be the first to cast a stone at her. In the same way when we are filled with anger and righteousness and ready to judge another, Jesus asks us to think of our worst season.

Then we should remember the time when we messed up the most, when we acted with deep selfishness, when we hurt someone unjustly.

Jesus knows that if we remember our worst season, it may give us the freedom not to judge someone in their worst season. When we remember our weakness and sin, we might find the freedom to accept another in light of the better person they have the potential to become.

Jesus tells us that it is not our role to judge another. This is not because our judgment would be incorrect, but because it would be incomplete.

Once we have taken steps to protect ourselves and those we love from harm, it is not our role to condemn anyone.

Instead we are asked to entrust others to God’s care, hoping that what is wrong in their life might change and what is barren in their life might in time produce fruit.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing. Amen.