Resurrection To New Life!

Peace be with you!

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 foretold restoration of fallen humanity had begun.  In the person of Jesus who is fully God and fully human, we recognize the union of mankind with God; the marriage of human nature with divine nature.   Jesus’ mission was to reconcile mankind with God but the love and intimacy in the way God chose to do this—by becoming human is good beyond our imagining!  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—fully alive!  He reveals the resurrection to new life.  Jesus shows us that a sinner does not have to die in sin but through him may find forgiveness and a completely new life.  But even more than this, 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 human nature sink in to your heart and mind!  Jesus changed human status from broken, fallen and condemned, to wholeness, holiness, exalted and enthroned at God’s right hand!   Additionally, we are not separate from God as individual persons but perfectly united and one with God!  This union does not destroy or eliminate our individual identity but rather augments and completes it because in it, we become fully who we are, united to each other and to God.   I hope that everyone can feel the confidence of love and trust that God is extending to each person.    Once this invitation is understood and accepted, we will no longer 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.  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

The Fruits of the Spirit

May the joy of Easter emanate from your hearts!

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his followers that he would send the “Advocate” to remain with them as a teacher, and as one who would remind them of all that he had told them.

For the leadership and the people of the early Church, the presence, action and teaching of the Holy Spirit was plainly visible as they clarified the divisive issue of circumcision.  The Holy Spirit is still strongly active in guiding individuals and the whole Church through the course of time.

Pope Francis continues to have a deep and positive impact on Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and non-believers alike.  Within a few moments of his first public address, it was highly evident to all that the spirit of St.  Francis of Assisi had come upon him.  As many of you know, St. Francis was known as a man of simplicity, humility, and great care for the poor.  This same gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to the Holy Father to remind us on how to live the Gospel!  His missionary efforts around the world have had profound effects.  Most notable to me was his visit to the Central African Republic where a Muslim coup caused the country to spiral into civil war.  Against the wishes and pressure of his advisors, Pope Francis was eager to visit the danger zone and he brought the Gospel of peace to them!  This is a defining characteristic of his ministry—he goes where the Gospel is needed the most.  It takes faith and courage to do that.

Two of his encyclicals include joy in the title:  The Joy of the Gospel and The Joy of Love

The Holy Spirit always comes to restore, strengthen, confirm, console and encourage.  The fruits of the Spirit are joy, courage, kindness, gentleness, humility, patience, understanding, goodwill, speech that is directed toward the up-building of each person and society.  The Spirit is agile and creative too; like a bubbling spring that always seeks what is good and finds ways to make good things happen even against all odds.  The encyclicals remind us of the joy we have when living life in the Spirit.  Those who are worldly, selfish and forceful, and do not walk as humble servants of Jesus do not experience joy.  Within each one of us there is an enlightenment that comes from the Gospel that helps us keep Jesus’ word alive in our hearts, words and actions.  Just as the Holy Spirit equipped and accompanied the disciples to proclaim the Gospel as Jesus did, we are called to be the chosen witnesses who proclaim it today.  May we be watchful and ready to welcome, console, confirm, strengthen and encourage those who come into our presence seeking God.  God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Easter Joy

May the joy of Easter lift your heart and mind!

Last weekend was Good Shepherd Sunday.  Listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd and following him wherever he calls us is an amazing adventure of faith.  Listening and discovering another person’s love language is a means to helping each other experience God’s voice and love.  When we speak someone else’s love language, we make each other feel valued, appreciated and loved.

This weekend we are given another paradigm that points to a much deeper and fuller intimacy between ourselves and God.  It is much more human in terms of relationship because it is not between a shepherd and sheep; it is love between God and Jesus, Jesus and the disciples and the love of disciples for each other.  This mutual love and goodwill is the true trademark of the community that Jesus founded, the Church.

As I reflect on the positioning of this set of readings in the context of the Easter Season, I am reminded of my own pilgrimage and the way the calendar of the Church leads us personally and communally in a cyclical fashion through particular stages of life toward union with God.  Every year we grow closer to what we hope for: the Beatific Vision in which we are all completely united to God in God.

At Easter, one of my favorite phrases among the prefaces of the Mass states ”the joy of the resurrection renews the whole world.”   When I reflect on this phrase while living in the Easter Season, it seems that we are on the very threshold of experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven!  But now in these readings we return to a context of farewell.   Jesus is preparing us for the departure of the Easter Season of grace, but we are not to worry or be sorrowful.  Rather, we are to focus in faith and make a daily effort to be ready for the moment he returns to gather each one us personally and intimately to himself!  It will be like the most perfect celebration and we will experience a true happily ever after in heaven!  May God’s promise of love sustain you in everlasting hope! +++ Fr. Peter

Pray For Vocations!

May the light and joy of Easter fill your hearts!

This weekend is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations!  There is a popular hymn by Dan Schutte called “Here I Am Lord”.   This hymn gives a good summary of what the attitude and response of each Christian and Prophet referred to in Sacred Scripture has been!  “Here I am Lord.  Is it I, Lord?  I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go Lord, if you lead me.  I will hold your people in my heart.”

Each person is singularly and uniquely created by God and endowed with special gifts.  God calls everyone to use their gifts for the benefit of others and for building up his Kingdom, the community of faith.  Everyone has the gift of a vocation in which they find the fulfillment of the meaning and purpose of their lives.  Some are called to be priests, to preach the Word of God, to administer the Sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist, and to help the sick and the suffering and the poor and to give their lives in sacrificial service after Christ.  Others are called to serve as Deacons, to proclaim God’s Word and serve others.

Many men and women are inspired by the Holy Spirit to serve the needs of humanity in a radical way by choosing to live the Gospel under vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  Their prayers are powerful as they intercede for all humanity and their lives give witness of the love and mercy of God as they serve the needs of others in charity.

Married couples are a living sign of God’s love for the human family in their mutual love for each other and their children as they lead lives of faith and teach their children to listen to God and follow the way of life that Jesus taught.  Today is also Mother’s Day and this vocation of motherhood is extremely important because mothers are the first to teach the children the ways of the faith.  Fathers also do their part but today we honor all mothers in their vocation!

All vocations are important and form part of God’s plan for the good of the whole Church.  Today, the Church needs more men and women serving as priests and religious.  Please pray for an increase in Priestly and religious vocations and a generous response to God’s call!

May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter