Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wisdom from two Popes on Divine Mercy Sunday


Divine Mercy Sunday

“In today's Gospel… the Lord breathes upon his disciples. He grants them his Spirit — the Holy Spirit: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven...".

The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the power of forgiveness. He is the power of Divine Mercy. He makes it possible to start all over again — ever anew. The friendship of Jesus Christ is the friendship of the One who makes us people who forgive, the One who also forgives us, raises us ceaselessly from our weakness and in this very way educates us, instils in us an awareness of the inner duty of love, of the duty to respond with our faithfulness to his trust.

In the Gospel passage for today we also heard the story of the Apostle Thomas' encounter with the Risen Lord: the Apostle is permitted to touch his wounds and thereby recognizes him — over and above the human identity of Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas recognizes him in his true and deepest identity: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28).

The Lord took his wounds with him to eternity. He is a wounded God; he let himself be injured through his love for us. His wounds are a sign for us that he understands and allows himself to be wounded out of love for us.

These wounds of his: how tangible they are to us in the history of our time! Indeed, time and again he allows himself to be wounded for our sake. What certainty of his mercy, what consolation do his wounds mean for us! And what security they give us regarding his identity: "My Lord and my God!". And what a duty they are for us, the duty to allow ourselves in turn to be wounded for him!”

From the homily of Pope Benedict XVI, Easter Sunday, April 15, 2007


Divine Mercy Sunday

"... Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you!” and he showed them his hands and his side… he showed them his wounds.  And in this way they realized that it was not an apparition: it was truly him, the Lord, and they were filled with joy.

On the eighth day Jesus came once again… and showed his wounds to Thomas, so that he could touch them… in order to believe and thus become himself a witness to the Resurrection.

To us also, on this Sunday which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, the Lord shows us, through the Gospel, his wounds. They are wounds of mercy.  It is true: the wounds of Jesus are wounds of mercy.

Jesus invites us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did, to heal our lack of belief.  Above all, he invites us to enter into the mystery of these wounds… the mystery of his merciful love.

Through these wounds, as in a light-filled opening, we can see the entire mystery of Christ and of God… the whole history of salvation… All of this we can see in the wounds of Jesus, crucified and risen…

Faced with the tragic events of human history we can feel crushed at times, asking ourselves, “Why?”.  Humanity’s evil can appear in the world like an abyss, a great void: empty of love, empty of goodness, empty of life… how can we fill this abyss?  For us it is impossible; only God can fill this emptiness that evil brings to our hearts and to human history.  It is Jesus, God made man, who died on the Cross and who fills the abyss of sin with the depth of his mercy…

Keeping our gaze on the wounds of the Risen Jesus, we can sing with the Church: “His love endures forever” (Ps 117:2); eternal is his mercy.  And with these words… let us go forth along the paths of history, led by the hand of our Lord and Saviour, our life and our hope. 


From the Homily of Pope Francis, April 12, 2015

 
 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Evidence of the Resurrection

This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.
Exultet, Easter Proclamation

Did the Resurrection of Jesus really happen? And does it really matter? Paul believes our faith itself hinges on the Resurrection, saying, “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sin.” (1 Cor 15:17). But why should it matter what the details are, as long as we all love God?
Recently, a movie called “The Shack” was released. Many people, Catholics among them, were touched by the message of God’s mercy, central to the movie’s theme. The story focused strongly on forgiveness without speaking much of repentance, and presented an innovative version of God, without regard to the “limitations” of scripture or religion.
But what we believe about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not negotiable. Christian beliefs about God are fully revealed in scripture and Church teachings. Our faith is based on a real person and actual events, and on the authority of the Church. Scripture tells us this: "For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life." Jesus is God, but Jesus also came to us as a man. This was necessary because the Father, who is pure spirit, could not die, so He sent Jesus, God Incarnate, to die for us. Was Jesus really God? He made such shocking claims about Himself and God the Father that He was condemned to death for blasphemy. He is God, the Son. But if God the Father (or mother, according to The Shack, which presents God as a woman called Papa) was crucified, then why was it necessary for Jesus to become man at all? If our understanding of God is that far off, then maybe the Resurrection is merely a human construction as well.
Jesus did not want us to doubt, but to believe. Jesus permitted Thomas to touch His wounds, still gaping open in His resurrected body, to give us scriptural evidence. He left other evidence of His Resurrection also, some of which can still be viewed and investigated. One such miraculous piece of evidence is the Shroud of Turin. Modern scientific investigations continue to point to the authenticity of this amazing shroud.
Another movie was just released called “The Case for Christ.” It is the true story of an agnostic reporter who becomes a Christian after investigating the evidence for Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection, including the Shroud. This mainstream Protestant movie may be the first to make the Shroud’s story known to Christians outside the Catholic world. May God's gift of the Shroud and the testimony of this once-doubting reporter bring many other "doubters" to fall to their knees, declaring as Thomas did, "My Lord and My God!"

Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.
 


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com
 
 
My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was published by the Federalist, March 27, 2017. My article is linked below:
 

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

 
 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Victory of Love


The Victory of Love

In his book “Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week,” Pope Benedict shares his insights into the meaning of Jesus’ anguished cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – heard twice in today’s readings (Ps 22:2, Mt 27:46).
“It is no ordinary cry of abandonment. Jesus is praying the great psalm of suffering Israel, and so he is taking upon himself all the tribulation… of all those in this world who suffer from God’s concealment. He brings the world’s anguished cry at God’s absence before the heart of God himself. He identifies himself … with all who suffer under God’s “darkness;” he takes their cry, their anguish, and all their helplessness upon himself – and in doing so, he transforms it.
… Psalm 22 pervades the whole Passion story and points beyond it. The public humiliation, the mockery… the pain, the terrible thirst, the piercing of Jesus’ hands and feet, the casting lots for his garments – the whole Passion is… anticipated in the psalm. Yet when Jesus utters the opening words of the psalm, the whole of this great prayer is essentially already present – including the certainty of an answer to prayer, to be revealed in the Resurrection… The extreme cry of anguish is at the same time the certainty of an answer from God, the certainty of salvation – not only for Jesus himself, but for “many.”
Christ prays as both head and as body… And as he prays as “body,” …all of our struggles, our voices, our anguish, and our hope are present in his praying. We ourselves are the ones praying this psalm, but now in a new way, in fellowship with Christ. And in Him, past, present, and future are always united.
…This perspective takes nothing away from the horror of Jesus’ Passion. On the contrary, it increases it, because now it is not merely individual, but truly bears within itself the anguish of us all. Yet at the same time, Jesus’ suffering is a Messianic Passion. It is suffering in fellowship with us and for us, in a solidarity – born of love – that already includes redemption, the victory of love.”

 
 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Resurrection and the Life

Léon Bonnat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” ~ Psalm 130

“In today’s Gospel — the raising of Lazarus — we listen to the voice of faith from the lips of Martha, Lazarus’ sister. Jesus said to her: “Your brother will rise again,” and she replies: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (Jn 11:23-24). But Jesus repeats: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn 11:25-26). This is the true newness which abounds and exceeds every border! Christ pulls down the wall of death and in him dwells all the fullness of God, who is life, eternal life. Therefore death did not have power over him and the raising of Lazarus is a sign of his full dominion over physical death which, before God, resembles sleep (cf. Jn 11:11).”

“However there is another death, which cost Christ the hardest struggle, even the price of the Cross: it is spiritual death and sin which threaten to ruin the existence of every human being. To overcome this death, Christ died and his Resurrection is not a return to past life, but an opening to a new reality, a “new land” united at last with God’s Heaven. Therefore St Paul writes: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom 8:11).”

“Dear brothers and sisters, let us turn to the Virgin Mary, who previously shared in this Resurrection, so that she may help us to say faithfully: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Jn 11:27), to truly discover that he is our salvation.”

From the Angelus message of Pope Benedict XVI, April 10th, 2011, Fifth Sunday of Lent

April 2, 2017 - Fifth Sunday of Lent
 
 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Each Person is Chosen by God to Exist


By Ablakok (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons


“We did not happen to be, we were chosen by God to exist.” -Mother Angelica

Today’s first reading tells the story of David’s anointing as King of Israel. Young David, the least of his brothers, is not even included when Jesse’s sons are called together by the prophet Samuel. Can’t you just picture David dancing with joy in a meadow, singing songs of praise to God while watching over the sheep, when his father sends for him? No one would have been more surprised than David himself. But God, who sees the heart, choses His beloved son David to be king, above all his impressive-looking brothers. Appearances can be deceiving.
In the Gospel reading, appearances also deceive the disciples, who, upon seeing the blind man begging by the roadside, ask Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus replies, saying, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” He then shows the glory of God by opening the eyes of the blind man, something that was unheard of.
From before his birth, the blind man was chosen, just as surely as David was chosen to lead Israel. His blindness was to serve the great purpose of bringing many to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. This man must have wondered why he must suffer blindness, poverty, and accusations of sin, but in time, God revealed the purpose for his suffering, and restored him to wholeness.
In the same way we can be sure that God created each of us, with whatever shortcomings and disabilities we may have, for a greater purpose. You have been chosen by God to exist, just as you are, no matter how humble or obscure, and you were born at this very time in history for a reason. Trust in God, offer Him all your sufferings and doubts about yourself, and be willing to fulfill the plan He has for you.

 March 26th, 2017, 4th Sunday of Lent
 
 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thirsting for Living Water


 
Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." ~ Jn 4:7
 
God loves us so much that He came to us as a human being, subject to the same pain and difficulties we all face, including hunger and thirst, sorrow and loneliness. This is beautifully illustrated in today’s Gospel story of the woman at the well. This woman has everything stacked against her. As a woman, she is regarded as unworthy of notice by men. She is a Samaritan, a race rejected by the Jews. She comes alone to the well at noon, although most women would have gathered in the cool morning to draw water. Yet Jesus - God himself - comes to her, lonely, tired, dusty, and thirsty, asking for water. At first, she doesn’t understand why He is asking her. We never do understand how much God thirsts for our friendship, our help, and our love. If only we knew, we would ask Him for Living Water and all our own lonely, tired, dusty, thirsty days would be washed clean and renewed. 

Jesus knows all about her broken relationships with five husbands. This woman has spent most of her life seeking love in all the wrong places, yet Jesus chooses to offer her the Living Water of eternal life. Jesus reveals that He is the Messiah and that she, lonely and rejected, is invited to be part of the Divine Plan. She believes Him, and rushes to bring the good news to her people, no longer fearful of condemnation, but boldly declaring that she has met the Christ. By her witness, the villagers come to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the World.

God has a plan and purpose for each of us. He knows your deepest secrets and biggest mistakes and loves you still. He will fill up your loneliness and invite you to discover what true love is. What can you do to comfort God, who suffered thirst, loneliness, and death for you? He is asking for your help and He longs for your love. Listen for His voice and do not fear: Jesus is calling you. Will you take His message to your world?

 
 
 
 

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...