13 May 20187 Easter

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
7 Easter
Seventh Sunday of Easter
B Cycle - John 17:11-19

The nineteen year old body of a young man was found at the bottom of a well along with a ritually slaughtered cat. Three teens, each 17, were arrested for his murder. The 19 year old had fifty head wounds. One of the boy's attorneys was quoted, "They thought they somehow would be rewarded by Satan." The Devil may be out of fashion as someone has quipped, but he is certainly not out of business. Yet, many adults tell me they do not believe in the Devil. But, unknown to them, many of their teens do. They accept the Christ's admonition about the Evil One in today's Gospel literally. Some of my material comes from an article by Lisa Ryckman, a national writer for the Associated Press. The headline of her story is titled "Murder, Suicide Among Teens Caught In World of Satanism." Ms Ryckman begins her illuminating article with a quote from John Milton's Paradise Lost. "The mind is its own place, and in itself makes a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." Many teens are guilty of mayhem and criminal activity because they have been influenced by Satanism. At times, this belief is accompanied by hard drugs, equally hard rock, and a potpourri of mysterious rites and signs. "Three years ago, nobody wanted to hear (about Satanism),... nobody believed it was real." The speaker is Detective Sandi Gallant of the San Francisco Police Department. Gallant averages four calls daily from across the US on crimes accompanied by the satanic or the occult.

"Now I see skeptics tuning into it, looking to see that it is a reality and facing it head-on." Take one youngster whom Ryckman refers to. He was 14 years old. He attended parochial school. He struck almost everyone as the all American boy. That view ceased abruptly when he stabbed his mother twelve times with his Boy Scout knife. He burned his books on Satanism in the family living room. He then killed himself. His teachers had warned his parents that the boy apparently was dabbling in Satanic ceremonies. After the fact, his distraught father recalled his son had told a friend he had seen Satan. The Evil One had urged him, the 14 year old reported, to murder his family and tell others about his existence. Ryckman writes that the Cult Awareness Network in Chicago reports that no month goes by without their being informed of at least one crime associated in some form with Satan. One could go on. There is an abundance of material on this dark subject. I think, however, you get the picture. Surely then, the Evil One deserves a second look. There are five references to the Evil One in the New Testament. In the Old and New Testaments, there are sixty-nine different references to the Devil while Satan is referred to forty-four times.

My adding machine tells me that makes one hundred eighteen pointings to the existence of the Devil. Do you not get the feeling that God is telling us something? Some people are willing to drop the D off Devil and concede there is evil in the world. But that tells us nothing about its primary source. With such a position, we do the Devil a service and ourselves a disservice. Satan should be under spotlights for everyone to see him and then do a quick about face. Dante in his Inferno did not underestimate him. He called him "a liar and the father of lies." The poet JB Tabb wrote, "In all God's universe there is one, and only one, creature whom we know positively to be damned. And that creature is the Devil. But remember though the Devil is damned, he is no damn fool." At times the wily Devil hides himself deeply in what Thomas Richstatter calls the "ism" family. The list is long: alcoholism, consumerism, narcissism, nationalism, racism, and sexism. A none too deep examination of conscience will unhappily reveal that each one of us has been caught by one or more of these "isms." It behooves us to shake the Devil off in his "ism" masquerade. As long as we breathe, we live with the Evil One. A cursory reading of the daily mayhem in even a third rate newspaper will confirm this. But we have one powerful weapon. It was outlined by CS Lewis. Each time we attend the Liturgy, we conduct a secret underground meeting. We get ourselves into shape for our next encounter with the Devil. Armed with the Eucharist, we are better able to be members of Christ's Resistance. We are better able to make our global village prepared for Christ and His Parousia.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
7 Easter

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord: Preach and Live Jesus Christ
The Gospel for this year's celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension is taken from the canonical ending of the Gospel of Mark, Mark 16:9-20. Scripture scholars agree that the earliest editions of the Gospel of Mark ended with Mark 16:8. Immediately after Jesus' death, His body was placed in a tomb by Joseph of Arimethea. On the morning we call Easter three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome go to the tomb to anoint Jesus's body. But he is not there. A young man, an angel, sitting inside the tomb tells them that Jesus has been raised from the dead as He said He would be. He instructs them to go tell Peter and the disciples that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. The women leave bewildered. A new writer living in the first days of the Church adds today's Gospel onto the Easter account. Now don't be concerned. This is still declared to be under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit no matter who penned the details. Today's Gospel presents how the disciples understood their mission and how we must the understand our mission, the mission of the Church. Jesus tells the disciples to go and proclaim the Good News to the entire world. Those who believe it and accept baptism will be saved. Those who reject the Gospel will be condemned. Signs will accompany those who accept the faith. Demons will be expelled. People will speak in new languages, they will be able to handle serpents, drink deadly poisons without harm, and the sick upon whom they lay their hands will recover. Then Jesus was taken up into heaven, the Ascension. The Gospel of Mark says that the disciples went and preached everywhere.

The Lord continued to work through them and confirm their message with miraculous signs. The Lord ascends to the Father, but at the same time he is with his disciples, working through them and confirming his presence with miracles. The early Church experienced these miracles in the disciples and apostles. At Pentecost the disciples spoke in such an ecstatic manner that people from various nations heard them speaking in their native languages. Even before the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus had given his disciples the power to expel demons and heal the sick. You can find this in Luke 10:17-18. In the Acts of the Apostles, that wonderful history of the first days of the Church, we hear about Ananais curing Paul of blindness by laying his hands on him. Acts 28:3-6 mentioned that when Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta, he cured many people by laying hands on them. On that island he picked up a piece of wood and a poisonous snake bit him. The people expected him to die immediately, instead he just shook the snake off into a fire. Certainly these are some of the events that the writer of today's Gospel refers to. This small band of disciples proclaimed Jesus Christ to the world. And Christ worked through them. He still does. We proclaim the life of Jesus Christ, and He still works through us. Proclaiming the gospel means far more than teaching articles of faith. Proclaiming the Gospel means making the presence of Christ a reality to the world. This is the commission that we Christians have received from the Lord. We have received the Lord. He dwells within our bodies. We are called to nurture his presence and make his presence real for others.

Jesus works through us attracting others to himself. People do not become Christians through of the words of Christianity. People become Christians through the presence of Christ. We cannot allow anything to destroy the presence of Christ within us. We can't give ourselves over to the forces of evil that wage war on the Lord. The battles of the Book of Revelation are waged daily. The early Church believed that every Mass, every prayer, every work of charity, was a skirmish in the fight against evil. The forces of evil continually find new ways to wage war. The Eighteenth Century saw this in the so-called Enlightenment when rationalism challenged faith. The Nineteenth Century saw the enemy embrace the industrial revolution as a way to turn people against each other, against God, and toward the worship of materialism. The first half of the Twentieth Century saw the battle change to the political front with the ideals of fascism and communism twisted to eliminate the presence of the Lord.

The second half of the last century up to our present time has seen evil attack personal holiness through the media, the internet and other advancements of technology. The battle for the Gospel continues. The Lord fights with us. His power, his presence is greater than all evil, even the evil we devise. No serpent can destroy his life within us. The devil, like the serpent that bit Paul, is thrown into the fire by the Power of the Lord, the Holy Spirit. "And signs like these shall accompany you...." Are miracles so extraordinary for the believers of Christ? No, not really. The miraculous is an everyday occurrence. We receive communion daily. What can be more miraculous than taking God within us? We pray the Mass daily. Jesus's sacrifice on the cross is renewed. Recently a man asked me if I believed in the power of the sacrament of the sick to heal people physically. I said, "Of course." He asked me if I believed that I could heal people. I responded, "Absolutely not. But Jesus can and does through others." When I asked the man why he had these questions he told me that his wife had received the sacrament of the sick and had been healed physically. Why is this so extraordinary?

We live with miracles taking place all around us. I explained to the man that the Lord's healing a person is not as extraordinary as His transforming bread and wine into His Body and blood. We are surrounded by miracles. Our children are our miracles. These little images of a man and woman's love for each other now loving them back make the sacrificial love of Jesus real for their parents. Many times parents will say, "My daughter, my son, said something extraordinary to me. I don't know where their faith came from." Their faith came from the Lord, working through them, and it came from the Lord working through you. Jesus ascends into heaven, but he does not leave his disciples. The extraordinary has become ordinary. He is present in the proclamation of the Gospel, not just in words but in the lives of us who have been commissioned to Go out and preach with our lives that Jesus lives.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
7 Easter
Bridging the Gap (May 13, 2018)

Bottom line: Jesus has bridged the gap not only between us and him but among each other.
Happy Mother's Day! At the end of Mass we will have blessing of moms - right after blessings of those with anniversary of matrimony during May. I've been thinking about my own mom in relation to our Scripture readings. This Easter Season I'm doing a Bible study based on the daily reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Acts picks up where the the Gospel of Luke leaves off, that is, the Ascension of Jesus. The Ascension caps off Jesus' work on earth and begins a new stage. As we see next weekend - the Age of the Holy Spirit. Jesus prepared his disciples for the Ascension: Grief fills your heart, he says, because I am going where you cannot go now. Separation brings sadness. We've seen it this year with Sr. Barbara's death on February 4, then the April anniversary of Fr. Valencia. And of course the death of others in our parish and our families. Separation causes sadness and makes this life a valley of tears.

Stop me if I seem too melancholy. :) I want to face the bad news before giving you good news. The bad news is separation and the loneliness that follows. I saw this in my mom. One night we were driving back home, just the two of us in the car. We were kind of quiet then Ma asked, "Do you think we will recognize each other in the next life?" "Oh, yes," I said. I was about to explain that the recognition would not be easy because no one can take his false self into the heaven (it would wreck the place). Before I could give my theory, Ma said, "I miss my mother." Grandma Perich had died over 40 years earlier and my mom still ached to see her again. That desire seems to grow over time. I miss my mom and dad and the loneliness increases.

Something similar happens with Sister Barbara and Father Valencia. A distance exists between human beings and death makes that gap seem final, unbridgeable. As much as I loved my parents, there are major parts of their lives I never knew. When I went to Poland for World Youth Day, I thought about my mom and dad - how they were in their 20's when the dramatic events of World War II unfolded. What did those battles and concentration camps mean to them when they were starting a farm and a family? I know little about that part of their lives and they know little about parts of my life. A gap exists between us. And sometimes a gap exists between us and Jesus. We experience depression, guilt, fear, distance. We sometimes want to hide.

That's the bad news. But this Sunday as we celebrate the Ascension I have some good news. Jesus has bridged the gap. St. Paul says that the Ascension means that Jesus first had to descend - to the lowest parts. He knows our misery and anguish; he also knows our joys and hopes. By his Ascension Jesus bridges the gap. St. Augustine says where the head is there also is the body. We are with Jesus; he is with us. He gives us, as we shall see, a great gift - in fact the greatest gift, the Holy Spirit. Jesus has bridged the gap not only between us and him but among each other. Only through him can we connect with deceased loved ones. Jesus is the Way, the one Way the only Way. I do want to know, to really know, my mom & dad, Sister Barbara and Fr. Valencia.

For sure some of it won't be easy. That's why we have purgatory. But Jesus bridges the gap; he is the way. As a token Jesus gives a lovely gift - he own mother. Behold your mother, he says. With love for our earthly moms and for the Blessed Mother conclude with a poem to Mary. It's by the Filipino patriot Dr. José Rizal: To The Virgin Mary

Mary, sweet peace, solace dear
Of pained mortal! Thou art the fount
Whence emanates the healing stream,
That makes our soil fruitful...

Thou art my Mother, Mary, pure;
Thou'll be the fortress of my life;
Thou'll be my guide on this angry sea.
If ferociously vice pursues me,
If in my pains death harasses me,
Help me, and drive away my woes!

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
7 Easter
Seventh Sunday of Easter, Classic John 17: 11b–19

Gospel Summary
This passage is part of the high-priestly prayer of Jesus that John uses as the climax of the Last Supper Discourse. Its beauty of poetic expression and depth of meaning cannot be captured in a prosaic summary. A summary at most serves as a focus for study in preparation for hearing the prayer in its proper context of the Eucharistic liturgy. Jesus prays that those who believe in him may be one just as he is one with God, his Holy Father. In his prayer Jesus says that he came into a hostile world to save those the Father gave him from destruction by the evil one. Jesus now is coming to the Father. He will consecrate himself for his disciples so that they may also be consecrated in truth. He will send them into the world as the Father sent him into the world.

Life Implications
A key for grasping the life implications of Jesus' prayer lies in the final verse: "And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth." To consecrate himself means that Jesus offers himself as sacrifice to God, his Holy Father. The word sacrifice, like consecrate or sanctify, refers to the realm of God, the Sacred or the Holy One. In opposition to the realm of the Holy in John's gospel is the "world," hostile to God because it is under the dominion of the "evil one." We who are of the world cannot by our own efforts cross the infinite divide into the realm of the Holy. It is only God who invites and enables us to come into the sanctifying presence through offering ourselves as sacrifice. The offering of self is not complete without God's acceptance. Only then are we consecrated through the gift of being touched by the Holy. An essential consequence of giving oneself to God is that one belongs to God, and thereby exists for God's use. Otherwise, sacrifice would be as meaningless as giving someone a car, while retaining its use for one's own projects. The gift of consecration by God through sacrifice always involves a mission to advance God's projects in the world. Of the great variety of sacrifices in the biblical tradition, one is particularly significant in regard to Jesus' high-priestly prayer at the Last Supper. In this tradition a person could offer an animal representing oneself to God. The animal is burned to signify passage into the realm of the Holy.

God accepts those making the sacrifice, and invites them to share a sacrificial banquet as an expression of divine communion that has been given. The experience of communion with God is the reason that offering sacrifice of whatever kind in the biblical tradition is associated with joy. Deuteronomy 16: 11–12 illustrates the life implications of offering oneself in sacrifice: "You shall rejoice in the presence of the Lord, your God, together with your son and daughter … as well as the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow among you, in the place which the Lord, your God, will choose as the dwelling place of his name. Remember that you too were slaves in Egypt." We see the joy of celebrating a sacrificial banquet with God. And we see that God uses the one consecrated by the divine presence to serve the destitute and the outcasts of society. If you give yourself to God in sacrifice, you will be used for love. In his high-priestly prayer Jesus says: "But now I am coming to you … And I consecrate myself for them." (John 17: 13, 19) Jesus' entire life was a coming to God as sacrifice. Jesus did not offer an animal representing himself; he gave himself in his entire humanity. The climactic completion of his sacrifice comes when he is lifted up on the cross and is accepted by the Holy Father in the resurrection. At the Last Supper before the completion of his sacrifice, Jesus reveals the good news that his disciples will be consecrated as he is consecrated. With the same mission as was given to Jesus, they will be sent to bring the fallen world, which God loves, into the joy of divine life. In the Catholic tradition, Christ's presence in the mystery of his eternal sacrifice is actualized in every celebration of the Lord's Supper. Today, we also hear the good news that our self-giving becomes one with the self-giving of Jesus. In the joy of this undreamed of communion with the sacrifice of Christ, we offer our prayer of thanks and praise. We share the sacrificial banquet to which God invites us, receiving Jesus himself as food and drink for eternal life. Then the Lord sends us into the world as he was sent to become bread and wine for others, so that all may rejoice in being one with him in the life and love of God.
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.

7th Sunday of Easter, Modern
Lectionary 60

Standing in the glow of the feast of the Ascension, which the Church celebrated this past Thursday, forty days after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:3), we gather one more time to mark the final week of Easter before reaching the feast of Pentecost next Sunday. As we approach Pentecost and with it the end of the long Easter season it is worth reflecting one last time on the foundations of the Paschal mystery which has been expressed over these past six weeks, and on what we are to build upon those foundations. Firstly, we remember that the Easter Triduum stretching from the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday through the joyful celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday is profoundly shaped by rites, words, symbols, and imagery drawn from the Jewish feast of Passover. At a deeper level, Christ's victory on Easter is understood by Christians as being the definitive "Passover” of God's holy people. Our Christian celebration indeed commemorates the time when God's angel "passed over” the homes of the Israelites, with their doorposts and lintels marked by a lamb's blood, but it goes beyond that, and sees in the resurrection of Christ from the dead the perfect "Passover” from death to new life which tramples sin and gives hope to all who believe in Christ. Next, we note that the Ascension, which we observe on Thursday during the sixth week of Easter—exactly forty days after Easter Sunday—also has connections to the Old Testament narratives anticipating Christ.

The Ascension reminds us that just as the people of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years, accompanied by the presence of the Lord, before entering the promised land, so too the earliest followers of Jesus were accompanied by him for forty days before he entered into "the promised land” of heaven. The third element of the Paschal mystery that we examine today is the feast of Pentecost. This wonderful feast is sometimes called "the birthday of the Church” on account of the fact that the Holy Spirit descended upon the early disciples of Jesus on this day, and they then went forth to proclaim the Good News and thus build up the Church. Pentecost occurs on the fiftieth day of the Easter season (the word "pentecost” means fiftieth in Greek) and it too has Jewish origins, since the very first Christian Pentecost described in Acts 2 occurred on the Jewish feast of Shavuoth, which was called Pentecost by Greek-speaking Jews of Jesus' era. Having seen how the Jewish roots of the Paschal mystery point forward to, and are fulfilled in, the events of the Paschal mystery, one might say: "That's interesting, but ‘so what'?—What's the point of all this?” The point is that we present day believers in Jesus are charged by virtue of our baptism to carry this movement forward, just as Jesus himself carried forward the Old Testament prefigurations of his Paschal victory. To this end, in today's Gospel we hear: "As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world” (John 17:13, 18). The Ascension reminds us that now that the risen Lord has departed from our world physically, we must heed his command and be willing to be sent into the world as his missionaries, carrying forward the Good News to all those who have yet to hear it proclaimed in a credible way, so that one day they too might rejoice in the words: "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
7 Easter
Seventh Sunday of Easter

Today in our Gospel reading we have a section of St John's Gospel known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. It takes place at the Last Supper and we hear Jesus praying to the Father. Normally we don't ever hear another person's most intimate prayers. We tend to only hear the formal type of prayers, the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys as well as the kind of intercessions that are suitable for public prayer. But the kind of prayers that a person says quietly to God are hidden from us except, of course, our own. But here it is as if we are overhearing Christ's private and personal prayer to the Father. We are listening in to that most personal of all conversations. And that is what it is a conversation, a private dialogue. A modern literary critic might say that it is written in the form known as Stream of Consciousness; one thought following on from another very much like the way we think. In the opening section of this prayer he is praying that his disciples will be united. He is asking the Father if we can share in the same level of union, the same level of intimacy, that they share in the mystery of the Trinity. It is as if Jesus knows that we are going to fall out with each other and that we need extra strength to stick together.

But this unity is not for our sake but for the sake of the truth of the Gospel. It is for the integrity of the message of Jesus. This has always been something very important to the Catholic Church, that we remain one. That we remain united around the deposit of faith, that we remain one in fidelity to the faith of the first Apostles. Yes, through the centuries the Church has grown in its understanding of the Gospel teaching especially in the light of new developments but it is deeply concerned with remaining faithful to the truth, to the essentials of the faith. This is the first role of the Pope. It is his special task to be the focus of that communion of faith, to guard against error and to keep the Church in united witness to Christ and his Gospel. This is why disunity is regarded with real horror and why reestablishing unity among Christians is of such great importance. Jesus asks the Father to consecrate us in the truth so that we can be effective witnesses to the Gospel. This involves a special reverence for the Word of God; as Christ says in that great prayer: Your Word is truth. In the Church we have a deep respect for the Word of God revealed to us in Sacred Scripture; we take the words of Jesus quite literally and regard them as binding on us.

This respect for the Word is deeply rooted in us and indeed here we can see that it is rooted in the prayer of Christ himself. In these words, recorded in the Gospel of John, we get a glimpse of how Jesus prays. But perhaps the question we should be asking today is how should we pray? And I suppose we could do no better than to take his prayer as an example, as a model for our own prayer. What Jesus is doing is expressing his own deepest wishes to the Father. He is revealing his inmost thoughts and asking the Father to act on them. Of course, he already knows that they are in accordance with the Father's will but expresses them nevertheless so that in his prayer their two wills are united. This means that the prayer itself is an example of the very unity for which Christ is praying. Another thing worth noting is that Jesus tells the Father that his aim is to share his joy with us, as he says: ?I say these things to share my joy with them to the full.' Prayer is essentially about joy, about love which is where joy springs from. All true prayer should lead us to joy. That sounds wonderful and we can all resonate with it. The only problem is most of us are not very good at prayer.

We neglect it, we feel inadequate and this inhibits us and consequently we don't find that deep sense of joy we know ought to be the fruit of our prayer. I was reading a passage during the week from that great writer on prayer, the Benedictine, Dom John Chapman. He said: The only way to pray - is to pray; and the way to pray well is to pray much. If one has not time for this, then one must at least pray regularly. But the less one prays, the worse it goes. And if circumstances do not permit even regularity, then one must put up with the fact that when one does try to pray, one can't pray - and our prayer will probably consist of telling this to God.' Just telling God that we can't pray is a very good start to prayer. It is after all, quite often, the simple truth. Just telling God that we can't pray is, in fact, prayer. We are telling him where we are, we are telling him we want to pray better, we are telling him that what we desire is deeper communion with him.

And we are asking his help to achieve this. What we then find ourselves doing is expressing our deepest feelings to the Father just as Christ did in the prayer which is the text for today's Gospel. During the week we celebrated the feast of the Ascension and next Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost. At the Ascension Christ told the Disciples that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and gave them the power and strength to carry out Christ's command to proclaim the Gospel to everyone. These are events that have, in a certain sense, also happened to us since we belong to the Church and have been Baptised and Confirmed as Christ's Disciples. So, in our prayer in this coming week let us open ourselves up to the Father, let the Holy Spirit pray in us, let Christ speak through us. And let our prayer be for unity; for union with God and one another and also for the strength to pray better and more regularly.
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