Peace and grace to you!
This weekend the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. It seems fitting that this feast should follow Pentecost because Jesus frequently referred to the Father before and after his death. Then following his death and resurrection, he promised that the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, would come upon them and remain with the community. The mighty wind signaled the presence and action of the Spirit among the disciples at Pentecost. So at this point of revelation, God is understood as three distinct persons but of one divine nature: Father as Origin and Source of All that is; Son as Word of God, Savior and Redeemer; Spirit as the Animator, Indwelling Love and Guiding Light of God’s people, thus comes the Christian knowledge of God as the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity always defies our complete understanding but there are a couple of things that are very clear. God is completely relational, which is to say that God is an eternal spring of interested and active love! God is completely in love with each one of us, personally! Jesus came as a human being to restore the relationship between human beings and God. Jesus expressed himself as God by being entirely loving and merciful during his life and ministry. He showed us this love by healing us, embracing suffering and death to expiate us from sin. Now we have the presence of the Holy Spirit nourishing us with the Word and the Eucharist, guiding us in right faith and inspiring us to continue the work of Jesus in the world. We have been anointed by the Holy Spirit to act in God’s name in the world because we share in his divine life—what an amazing gift! One of the greatest things to contemplate is that you and I and all the baptized receive the Holy Spirit inside of us, working within us! We are sharers in the divine life of the Trinity!
This week the disciples receive a commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” This great commission is yours and mine and we do it when we put our faith in action and trust Jesus’ words “behold, I am with you always!” May God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
May God the Holy Spirit glow within you!
This weekend we celebrate Pentecost which is also the birthday of the Church when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and disciples of Jesus uniting them in one, Spirit, one faith and one Lord.
When we speak about spirit on a personal level, we are usually referring to something about matters of interest or passion in life. We notice people who are filled with a kind of spirit: a team spirit, a school spirit, a work spirit, and a family spirit. People of spirit are fired with a special passion, love and energy for particular things. You can hear it in their voice, see it in their eyes and on their face and it shows in the way they spend their time and money. Their whole heart is into it. They get excited about it and they are obviously more animated and energized while they are engaged in what they love.
Understanding spirit at a personal level helps us to better grasp why God gave us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The presence of the Holy Spirit makes people on fire for Jesus and the Gospel! The Holy Spirit builds, unifies, animates and sanctifies the Church. The Holy Spirit is Truth, guiding us in the truth of God! The Holy Spirit is the breath of God speaking and inspiring action in the members of Christ’s body, the Church. The Holy Spirit is the gift of enlightenment and sure sign that we are God’s people: God’s adopted sons and daughters. The gift of fiery faith that we have from the Spirit is not like the flame of a match that can be blown out by the wind or drowned by water. No, the gift of God the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is an eternal, unquenchable, loving fire that drives us into action and ministries. The Holy Spirit within us loves to be shared and expressed with other people in prayer and good works. Its fruits are purity, gentleness, kindness, generosity, joy, peace, hospitality, healing, forgiveness and unity. The Holy Spirit equips the Church in its mission by filling the members with gifts and inspiring them to action for building up God’s Kingdom. I hope that all of us will open ourselves more fully to the Holy Spirit this year. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to ignite us with God’s pure love and passion for life and goodness and share this joy with others! +++ Fr Peter
Peace to all at St. Edward!
The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord that we celebrate this weekend completes a full circle of faith for us. When the Son of God became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, the beginning of the restoration of humanity foretold by the prophets had begun. We recognize by faith the marriage of human nature with divine nature, the union of mankind with God in the person of Jesus who is fully God AND fully human. We know that Jesus’ mission was to rescue the human race and restore the image of the human person as God created them. We recognize the love and intimacy in the way God chose to do this—by becoming human as one of us. The Ascension makes this wondrous restoration in a spectacular way. God was not satisfied that we should know Jesus as the one who suffered and died to take away our sins: Our Redeemer, Our Rescuer, Our Savior. This was not enough! Jesus raised his human body from the tomb of death and showed himself to the disciples as being alive! He reveals the resurrection as a new life that is a lived experience for those who follow him. Now Jesus takes his human body to heaven where it is enthroned at the “right hand of the Father”! Just sit back and contemplate this event. Let the shock of God’s exaltation of the human person sink in to your heart and mind! Jesus raised human status from condemnation, to enthronement at God’s right hand—above all angels and united with God! I hope that everyone can feel a new confidence in the love that God is extending to each person. Once the restoration in Jesus is understood and accepted, no one will doubt or stand looking up into the sky. We will work together diligently to make disciples of all nations, bringing them to the waters of regeneration in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is an amazing rebirth and joy! It is time to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit that we may be builders of the great and eternal kingdom! God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
May the splendor of the risen Christ fill your hearts and minds!
Jesus tells us this weekend that “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
In this Gospel the word love is used many times. In everyday life we hear the word love used frequently and in a lot of different ways: I love sunsets, I love whipped cream and peanuts on top of my banana split, I love family gatherings, and etc. All of which are good things and it is important that we have them. But when we go beyond the things that we like or being open only to things that conform to what we think they should be, we begin to understand what Jesus is saying. It’s good to remind ourselves that Jesus had to make a human effort to keep his Father’s commandments in order to remain in his love and so in like manner we have to make an effort to remain in the same love. We know that the core of the love that he calls us to is a sacrificial, self-surrendering love. It is a kind of giving that focuses completely on God and the other person. Like a boy who gives his coat and hat to his sister to keep her warm and protect her from the cold. Or a mother who rises early to prepare meals and make sure her family has clean clothes to wear. Or a father who is always watchful for the safety and well-being of his wife and children repairing the house or the car and lots of other things. Many of us really enjoy making sacrifices for others and I know that is because the Spirit of Jesus lives within us. We do especially well when we surrender our hearts and desires to God and give the sacrifices we make to those we love or think well of. Today Jesus calls us deeper. Another part of the giving we do is forgiving. In order to remain in God’s love like Jesus, he shows us how to forgive. Fathers must be ready to forgive sons. Sons must be ready to forgive fathers just like mothers must be ready to forgive daughters and daughters must be ready to forgive mothers. Brothers and sisters must be ready to forgive each other and friends must also be ready to forgive each other. If we do this, and keep the command to love one another, we can remain in his love! May God give you strength in mercy! +++ Fr. Peter
May the joyful light of the resurrection lift you up!
Easter season is an amazing time of grace and transformation for the Church around the world. As we progress through the season, we learn more about Jesus and our relationship with God in him. Last weekend Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd because he leads, protects and provides for all our needs. This image was a favorite among early Christians because it spoke of the Church’s dependency on God and God’s ever-present care for all his people. Culturally they understood the symbiotic relationship that it presented. This weekend, we hear Jesus describe our connection and dependency on God in another image from nature: the Vine and the Branches! Jesus is an amazing teacher!
Jesus’ message is clear and easy to grasp. God is the source of all life, love, knowledge, truth, peace, and all things that we recognize as good. God is life-giving! Being connected to God is life and not being connected to God is not life; it is death. This image from Jesus is open to a variety of ways of understanding how greatly everyone and everything needs God. For us whom God identifies as his own people, a holy nation, a priestly and prophetic people, the image of the vine and the branch reminds us of who we are and how greatly we depend on the community of believers and the sacraments of the Church. Baptism grafts us into the life-flowing sap of the Holy Trinity and fills us with the very life of God in the Holy Spirit. To turn away from that, to choose sin or to remain willfully in a pattern of sinful behavior is to reject the life in Christ that we are called to. Jesus came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly! It is a life of joy-filled hope and salvation. May God enrich you with all that is good! +++ Fr. Peter