In our baptism we received the same Holy Spirit that the disciples received 2,000 years ago. By our Confirmation we were sealed and strengthened in that Holy Spirit. So why don't we see the miracles and wonders that the presence of the Spirit brings, like those in our 1st reading? In order for the power of the Spirit (which is already within us) to be unlocked and unleashed through our lives, we have to be able to say, in all areas of our life, with our whole heart, "Jesus is Lord!" The more we can say that, the more the Holy Spirit can come out with power!
Jesus ascended into heaven not to distance Himself from us, but so that He could turn around, reach down, and raise us up to where He is!
5th Sunday of Easter
Every Christian, by their baptism, is anointed priest, prophet and king. Peter challenges us this weekend to that first anointing: "be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God." There is the ordained priesthood by which priests in the Church offer to God's people the sacraments, but there is also the priesthood of the baptized by which every Christian, in Jesus, is called to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Every day we can offer these spiritual sacrifices, and at Mass we have the opportunity to collect them all from that past week - our thoughts, words, prayers, actions, and intentions...even our anxieties, worries, concerns, hopes, and dreams - and place them all on that altar, asking God to transform them just as He does the bread and wine.
4th Sunday of Easter
Dreams are hopeful and safe - they can't be failed. Goals, on the other hand, are not safe - they can be failed. It's easy to dream; it's not easy to make goals and follow through on them. In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus calls himself the good shepherd whose sheep hear his voice and follow him as he leads them to good pastures. Dreamers hear that voice but don't actually move anywhere. Disciples hear that voice and have the courage to take a step: to set concrete spiritual goals in their daily lives, to fail, to get up again, and to succeed. How are we disciples? How are we dreamers? Where is the Lord calling us to take another step?
3rd Sunday of Easter
In the Gospel today, Jesus joins two disciples on the way to Emmaus, but they do not recognize Him until "the breaking of the bread". In the Eucharist, at every Mass, Jesus not only draws close to walk with us on our journey through life, He also transforms bread and wine into His Body and Blood so that He can be physically united with us: thanks be to God for this great gift of the Eucharist!
6th Sunday of Easter
Our 1st reading opens with a controversy: Paul and Barnabas preaching salvation in Jesus one way, another group preaching salvation in Jesus another way. Who's right? What's the true faith? The first Christians, with a deep sense that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church to the true faith, brought their dispute to Jerusalem and the apostles. Presently, we bring our disputes to Rome and the successors of the Apostles - the bishops and Pope - confident that it is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church to truth, as Jesus promised.
4th Sunday of Easter
Congratulations to all of our students who received their First Holy Communion this weekend! There is an exhortation for priests that says, "O Priest of Jesus Christ, celebrate this Holy Mass as if it were your First Mass, your Last Mass, your Only Mass." Whether you've been receiving the Eucharist for 1 year or 100 years, whether you're young or old, I challenge you at every Mass you attend to make that exhortation your own: attend that Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass; and receive Communion as if it were your first Communion, your last Communion, your only Communion.
3rd Sunday of Easter
We are blessed to have an amazing Pope right now - Pope Francis! And in our Gospel we hear one of the great Biblical texts supporting the papacy: Jesus singles out Peter to fee his lambs and tend his sheep. In this we see Jesus' commissioning of Peter as the first shepherd of His Church, the first Pope. Passed down through the centuries, this office of head shepherd has kept the Catholic Church united as one, even in the midst of seemingly insurmountable struggles and difficulties. Thanks be to God for giving us the gift of the papacy, that we may all stand together to praise and worship our God with one voice throughout the world!
2nd Sunday of Easter
To ask God questions, to seek to understand the "Why?" behind our beliefs or events in our life, is not a lack of faith. Rather, it's an indication of faith. We are a people of faith seeking understanding - it's precisely our faith that drives us to want to understand where and how God fits into these events and beliefs. In the resurrection story from our Gospel today, I think Thomas generally gets a bad rap. Jesus doesn't punish him for questioning, wondering, doubting - Jesus answers him! So we shouldn't be afraid to ask questions, to be discerning, to be skeptical; if we do these things honestly and sincerely, the Lord will answer and our faith will be deepened.
What the Father did in raising Jesus from the dead, He also wants to do in us: God wants to raise us up - literally, at the end of life, but also right now, figuratively, in our present life. God wants to raise us up to a rich life filled with purpose, meaning, deep happiness and joy! Jesus came that we might have Life (with a capital "L"). What's weighing you down? What's holding you back? What things keep you from rising? Jesus rose today so that He could walk with you, carry your load, and give you Life! Invite Him now to be a part of your life again; give Him permission to enter; ask Him again to raise you up - that's all He wants!