Pastor’s Desk

Gospel Reflection; Pentecost Sunday

May 31, 2020

The Season of Easter concludes with today’s celebration, the Feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today’s first reading. The account in today’s Gospel, John 20:19-23, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Yet the event in John’s Gospel takes place on Easter Sunday. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts. It is enough that we know that after his death, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send to his disciples a helper, an advocate, who would enable them to be his witnesses throughout the world.

We already heard today’s Gospel proclaimed on the Second Sunday of Easter this year (Lectionary Cycle A). That Gospel passage, however, also included the description of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas. In that context, we were led reflect on belief and unbelief.

In the context of the Feast of Pentecost, John 20:19-23 reminds us about the integral connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness and the action of the Holy Spirit. Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathes the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and sends them to continue his work of reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ act of breathing the Holy Spirit mirrors God’s act of breathing life into Adam at the time of Creation. In fact, both the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” can also be translated as “breath.”

This Gospel reminds us that the Church is called to be a reconciling presence in the world. The reconciling presence of Christ is celebrated in the Church’s sacramental life. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin and become a new creation in Christ. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Church celebrates the mercy of God through the forgiving of sins. This reconciling presence is also to be a way of life for Christians. In situations of conflict, we are to be agents of peace and harmony among people.

Loyola Press

May 24, 2020

Seventh Sunday of Easter Weekend of May 23/24, 2020

In today’s second reading, we hear it proclaimed that we are blessed if we share in the sufferings of Christ. What then does it mean to “share in His sufferings” in this context? Most of us do not live in a part of the world where we could be killed for being a follower of Jesus. But we could face or “suffer” mockery, ridicule and disapproval from others. Far too often, and for various reasons, those who profess faith in Christ act as though they are ashamed of him. But to act ashamed is the same as a denial. Stewards of the Good News are never ashamed to reveal their love for the Lord. How do you reveal to others that you are a follower of Christ each day?

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Gospel Reflection: May 17, 2020

Sixth Sunday of Easter May 17, 2020:

Philip understood very well Jesus’ words: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We learn of Philip’s devotion to prayer, evangelizing and healing in the region of Samaria; made up of communities that would not be very receptive to the followers of Jesus. Philip is a model steward, living his discipleship day by day in the Lord without counting the cost. Good stewards summon the courage to proclaim the Lord no matter where they are, and to serve Him by ministering to others even under the most adverse of circumstances. As an Easter people, eager to rejoice in the Lord, let us reflect this week on how we are living out our own commitment to discipleship in Christ Jesus.

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Sun May 10, 2020

Gospel Reflection;

The readings for the last few Sundays have been about the Resurrection, but today’s Gospel takes us back in time to an event in Jesus’ life before his Passion.

Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house. He promises that where he is going, his disciples will be able to follow. Thomas, who will later doubt the disciples’ reports that they have seen the Risen Lord, contradicts Jesus by saying that the disciples don’t know where Jesus is going or how to get there. Jesus explains that he himself is the way, the truth, and the life. In knowing and loving Jesus, the disciples now love God the Father. Philip then makes a request that challenges Jesus’ words. Philip wants Jesus to show the Father to the disciples.

Recall that Jesus has just told his disciples, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” As a good teacher, Jesus responds to Philip by repeating and elaborating on what he has just told the disciples: they have seen and known Jesus, so they have seen and known the Father. Then Jesus offers another reassurance about his departure: because of faith in God and in Jesus, the disciples will do the work that Jesus has done and more.

The connection between Jesus and his Father, between Jesus’ work and the work of the Father, is made clear in today’s Gospel. Jesus is in the Father, and God the Father is in Jesus. As God spoke his name to Moses, “I am,” so too Jesus speaks his name to his disciples: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

The revelation of the Trinity is completed in the passage that follows today’s reading, and it is the Gospel for next Sunday. Because Jesus goes away, the Father will send in Jesus’ name the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will continue the work of the Father and of Jesus.

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Gospel Reflection May 3, 2020

Even though we have less experience with sheep and shepherds today in our society, we can still identify strongly with the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and as the gate for the sheep. Psalm 23 remains a popular and favorite psalm for prayer. In the image of the Good Shepherd, we know ourselves to be protected and cared for by a loving God. As your family gathers, ask what each person knows about sheep and shepherds. Recall that shepherds and sheep have a close relationship. Sheep will only follow their own shepherd; they recognize his voice and will not follow a stranger. The shepherd’s job is to protect his sheep. In some ways, the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep is like that of a parent and child. Read together this Sunday’s Gospel, John 10:1-10. Talk about how Jesus tells us that he is the gate for the sheep. The sheep enter the protection of the sheepfold through the gate. In Jesus we find protection and abundant life. Conclude by thanking Jesus for being our Good Shepherd and by praying today’s psalm, Psalm 23.

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Gospel Reflection Apr 26, 2020

On most Sundays during the Easter season in Cycle A, our Gospel is taken from the Gospel of John. This week’s Gospel, however, is taken from the Gospel of Luke. As in last week’s Gospel, today’s Gospel shows us how the first community of disciples came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. In these stories we gain insight into how the community of the Church came to be formed.

As we read today’s Gospel, we may be surprised to learn that these friends of Jesus could walk and converse with him at some length yet not recognize him. Again we discover that the risen Jesus is not always easily recognized. Cleopas and the other disciple walk with a person whom they believe to be a stranger; only later do they discover that the stranger is Jesus. We learn that the first community met and recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, just as we meet Jesus in the Eucharist.

We can imagine the feelings of the two disciples in today’s reading. They are leaving their community in Jerusalem. Their friend Jesus has been crucified. Their hope is gone. They are trying to make sense of what has occurred, so that they can put the experience behind them. Jesus himself approaches the two men, but they take him for a stranger. Jesus asks them what they are discussing. He invites them to share their experience and interpretation of the events surrounding his crucifixion and death. When the two disciples have done so, Jesus offers his own interpretation of his crucifixion and resurrection, citing Jewish Scripture. In that encounter we find the model for our Liturgy of the Word—what we do each time we gather as a community for the Eucharist. We reflect upon our life experiences and interpret them in light of Scripture. We gather together to break open the Word of God.

In the next part of the story, we find a model for our Liturgy of the Eucharist. The disciples invite the stranger (Jesus) to stay with them. During the meal in which they share in the breaking of the bread, the disciples’ eyes are opened; they recognize the stranger as Jesus. In the Eucharist too we share in the breaking of the bread and discover Jesus in our midst. Just as the disciples returned to Jerusalem to recount their experience to the other disciples, we too are sent from our Eucharistic gathering. Our experience of Jesus in the Eucharist compels us to share the story with others.

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Sun Apr 19, 2020

Gospel Reflection: The Gospel tells 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 bodily form was not one that the disciples recognized though. In John’s Gospel, Mary of Magdala does not recognize that the figure standing before her is Jesus until he speaks to her.

In Luke’s Gospel the disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus do not recognize him until he breaks bread with them. The resurrected Jesus had a physical presence, but the disciples couldn’t recognize Jesus unless he allowed them to. His resurrected body, nonetheless, showed the marks of his crucifixion.

From readings such as today’s Gospel, we also see that in his resurrected body, Jesus seems to be free of physical constraints. He appears to the disciples despite the fact that the doors were locked. 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. 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 has 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. Loyola Press E-Bulletin

Gospel Reflection Apr 12, 2020

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord Sunday, April 12, 2020.

In the Easter Gospel we hear about how the disciples found the tomb empty three days after Jesus’ death. We are also told that they do not yet understand the Scriptures or that Jesus had been raised from the dead. That understanding gradually unfolded for the disciples as they began to experience the risen Lord. Similarly, our understanding of Jesus’ Resurrection unfolds for us throughout our lives. In the weeks ahead, we will hear how the first disciples moved from confusion, doubt, and skepticism to faith. Their experience can teach us how we too might receive this gift of faith from God. Gather your family members and ask them to share what they know about the events that happened in the days after Jesus’ crucifixion. Invite your family to imagine that they are among Jesus’ first disciples. Read together today’s Gospel, John 20:1-9. Reflect together on the Gospel with questions such as these: If you had been among the first disciples who heard that the stone had been removed from Jesus’ tomb and that Jesus’ body was no longer there, what would you think? What did Mary of Magdala, Simon Peter, and the disciple whom Jesus loved think had happened? Recall that this experience is the first indication Jesus’ disciples have that he is risen. Throughout the Easter season, we will learn more about how the disciples came to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Pray together using today’s psalm, Psalm 118: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”

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Apr 5, 2020

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord;

Apr 5, 2020

Palm, or Passion, Sunday begins the most sacred week of the Church year—Holy Week. During these days, we prepare ourselves for Easter by prayerful reflection upon the events of Jesus’ Passion and death. You might display a crucifix in a prominent place this week, as reminder of the salvation Christ won for us. The crucifix can also be the focal point for family prayer during Holy Week.

Families can choose to read a portion of this Sunday’s Gospel each day of Holy Week, providing ample opportunity for children to ask questions and respond to the events described there. In this way, the entire week can become a “way of the cross.”

Each day during Holy Week, the family can gather in a prayerful space with a crucifix as the focal point. The Passion as found in Matthew’s Gospel might be read as follows throughout the week:

Palm Sunday: Matthew 21:1-11 (Gospel at the Procession with Palms)
Monday: Matthew 26:14-25
Tuesday: Matthew 26:26-35
Wednesday: Matthew 26:36-56
Holy Thursday: Matthew 26:57—27:14
Good Friday: Matthew 27:15-54

After reading from the Gospel each night, the family might reflect on the reading together. Conclude your prayer time together by praying the Lord’s Prayer and/or singing an appropriate hymn, such as “Jesus, Jesus,” “Were You There?” or “What Wondrous Love Is This.”

Loyola Press April 5, 2020

Gospel Reflection Mar 29, 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent Weekend of March 28/29, 2020 Jesus called to his friend from the dead, “Lazarus, come out!” It is the same call our Lord makes to us unceasingly: “Come out!” Jesus calls us from our tomb of doubt and unbelief, from the darkness of our fear and anxieties; from the depths of our weaknesses and lack of hope. Christian stewards pray for an open heart so that they may hear the voice of the Lord, heed the continuous call to come away from their former way of living and reprioritize their lives in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we believe Christ has the power to transform our lives? Do we take time to listen for his call? March ICSC E-Bulletin

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