Dear Parish Family,
One of our parishioners shared this today – and I think it’s worth sharing with all of you:
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
Let us all spend more time seeking the Lord’s purpose than we spend planning!!!
Prayers today for:
~Friends of parishioner Tammy Kimbrough – Linda King and Henry Weissenborn. For health and healing.
~For anyone effected by COVID-19 in any way.
~For all the prayers we hold deep within our hearts.
God bless you all!
Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 17 2002
First Reading: Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17
Philip went down to the city of
Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid
attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he
was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
R. Let all the earth cry out to
God with joy.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
He has changed the sea into dry
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3: 15-18
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.
Gospel: Jn 14:15-21
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth …” John 14:15-21
David Nott has seen humanity at its worst. For the past 30 years, Dr. Nott has served as a surgeon in war zones and territories devastated by natural disasters. Dr. Nott has treated victims of barrel bombs in Syria, snipers in Bosnia and child rape in Sudan. He once removed a detonator from a woman’s leg; during another surgery, the nurse standing next to him was killed by a bullet.
The British physician has traveled to such missions since 1993, when he first took an unpaid leave to volunteer in Sarajevo with the French organization Medecins Sans Frontieres. Today, Dr. Nott’s foundation works with the International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to train surgeons and medical professionals to work in regions of conflict, violence and catastrophe. The intensive five-day course Dr. Nott and his associates have developed and teach is based on his own war surgery experience.
In an interview with the British newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph [February 16, 2020], Dr. Nott was asked how he managed to survive so many close calls — is it luck or is it God?
Dr. Nott replied that his success is due largely to his ability to build relationships.
“You can’t stop bullets or bombs, obviously, but you can develop relationships with people whereby they don’t want you to die — or they don’t want you to be in a situation whereby your life is at risk.” Such relationship-building has enabled the unassuming, modest physician to save lives not only on the operating table but through careful negotiation and intervention.
As well as seeing the worst of humanity, Dr. Nott has witnessed acts of extraordinary kindness and heroic generosity. How does he reconcile these opposing sides of human nature?
“There are some people who use their power to make things better and have a positive effect on people’s lives, there are others who use power to destroy everything around them. I think the majority of humans are good.”
David Nott and the many selfless and courageous physicians and medical professionals like him who serve in the most dangerous places on earth mirror the Spirit-Advocate in our midst; their work is the work God entrusted to his Son – and now his Son entrusts to us. They see the “commandment” of Jesus to love one another as more than just a feeling or emotion or some unattainable ideal: to love in the Spirit of God is to take on the hard work of building relationships through patient understanding and tireless empathy. The Spirit of God enables us to realize the good we possess that can be the means of re-creating our corner of the world in the hope and peace of the Risen Jesus.
To be an orphan in first century Palestine was to be in a truly desperate situation. Unable to support themselves in any way, these parentless children were at the mercy of a social system that often looked the other way.
Though orphans are mentioned more than 40 times in the Bible, today’s reading from John contains the only use of that word in the gospels. Jesus uses the image of “orphans” to assure his followers that even though he is departing, he will not leave them in that precarious position.
Today we celebrate a God who like a parent, will stand by us and never abandon us. We can abandon him but he will never abandon us. There is a good deal of talk these days about the problems of our families and the changing structure of families in our society today. While many parents are able to shower their children with material goods, they are often too busy to provide consistent guidance, personal example, and the support that is manifested in being present for their children.
Jesus’ gift in today’s gospel is the promise of his continued presence through the power of the Holy Spirit. In today’s gospel John is trying to make clear to us that we can know Jesus as his disciples did. There were many who met Jesus, heard him speak, saw him perform miracles but never knew him. The final line of the gospel indicates that Jesus will indeed reveal himself to us, but there is a catch. We must obey his commandment.
One day an upwardly mobile young man asked Jesus, “What must I do to be saved?” And Jesus answered, “If you want to reduce life to salvation then keep the commandments.” And the clever young man boasted, “I’ve got that covered!” So, Jesus looked at him with love and made his pitch: “If you want more than salvation, come with me.” But the young man ran away scared. Commandments he could handle, love was too much to bear.
Jesus never defined love. He simply told us that we are to love God and love our neighbor, he gave us many examples of what it means to love God and love our neighbors.
In the movie Fiddler on the Roof, there is a scene where Tevya the main character asks his wife Golda, “Do you love me?” And she says what’s all this love stuff, after 25 years of scrubbing your floor, fixing your food, raising your children. And Tevya recounts his fears and uncertainties of when they first met and married, but he comes back to his original question. “Do you love me?” And Golda, recognizing that he needs to know, relents and says she does. Tevya sighs with relief and says after 25 years it doesn’t change a thing but it’s nice to know.
Golda didn’t just start loving him after 25 years; she always loved him, she had worked long and hard at it. And she didn’t love him because she did all those things, rather she did them because she loved him.
We do not need more fads, appliances, or gimmicks to make our lives easier. We need the values and truths that make our lives worthwhile – we need a connectedness with God. A sense that we are loved, and not just in the romantic sense but in the real sense of being known.
To arrive at that point takes time. There is a young woman, her name is Peggy, she is a waitress. Once a week she makes a holy hour at her church. She says that the time helps her recognize God’s presence in her work. She says “People are always in a hurry. They are generally distracted and in a bad mood. But I try to wake them up to the joy of being alive.” People are more than customers to her. She sees them carrying pain and believes they deserve a special human greeting.
Jesus command was simple love God, love others.
The world often tells us that peace comes through control – hanging onto what is ours, building walls, demanding that people meet our expectations. But we rarely feel peaceful and secure when we follow this road. We instead feel isolated and alone. No one can hurt us, but no one can love us either.
Jesus offers to us a gift of peace. This peace depends on the presence of Jesus himself within our hearts. He tells his followers “This much I have told you while I was still with you.” And he promises that the Spirit will remind them of these things. The words of Jesus are both reassuring and challenging. He gives us one commandment in John’s gospel: Love one another. To love often means to let go. This letting go doesn’t mean that we don’t care about others. It means that we can’t live their lives for them. We learn this lesson again and again in our day to day lives. We let family members and friends learn from their own mistakes instead of shielding them from the consequences of their behavior. We let children be themselves instead of pressuring them to meet our own unfulfilled dreams.
Often, we are called to let go of something good in order to discover something even better. This kind of letting go takes trust. We need frequent reminders. Most of our fear of letting go has its roots in our fear of dying. The message of Easter is that we no longer need to fear death. In death we let go of something good – this life – for something better – eternal life. As difficult as it is to lose someone we love, we find comfort in the words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. [The one] who believes in me will never die.”
Today’s gospel is part of Jesus’ farewell to his close friends at the last supper. He knows they’re going to struggle with his death. In seeking to reassure them he shares with them a vision that goes beyond death itself …”you would rejoice to have me go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” They have loved Jesus as a friend and teacher. Now he’s calling them beyond that relationship into something deeper, into a recognition of who he is as the Son of God.
The Smithsonian in Washington D.C. has been called America’s attic. The Smithsonian houses everything from America’s first space vehicle to the props from the first television show.
Resurrection faith does not believe that Jesus ‘came back’ to life in the manner Lazarus did. Rather it believes that he rose after he died, giving him a new kind of life by which he could be present to any disciple anywhere, as evidenced by the post resurrection appearances. People interested in remnants of the past usually feel something has been lost, but Jesus has not been lost to Christians with Resurrection faith.
The challenge of the Easter mystery is to realize that Christ is present to us, today. The promise of the resurrection is as much a reality for us as it was for the small band of disciples of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In realizing his presence among us in the Scriptures we’ve just heard, in one another present in the Body of Christ, in the Eucharist, here is where we are to discover the gift of his peace and ask ourselves What is God about to do?
Peter’s letter urges all believers to share their faith with anyone who asks about it. Explain how your faith gives you hope, he says — but do so gently and with respect for other’s beliefs — or lack of belief. Now there’s an attitude that contrasts sharply with a lot of what we hear these days!
The political scene resounds with loud and angry voices insisting that their views prevail on what should be the law of the land. However, strongly we feel about such issues, Peter would have us display at least a modicum of respect for opposing views.
Intolerance for other faiths is rampant in our world. Christians, Muslims and Jews can barely speak to each other in international councils, and the same attitudes poison many individuals. Christianity itself has long been bitterly divided.
Such behavior is surely the polar opposite of the “gentleness and reverence” of our readings today and the teaching of Jesus.
We celebrate the real presence of Jesus in our midst. As he promised the disciples long ago, he remains with us today and again asks us to love God and love others by living as he lived and following as he taught.
The Advocate that Jesus promises his disciples in today’s Gospel is the grace and wisdom to take on the monsters of self-centeredness, bigotry, violence, avarice. The Advocate is the Spirit of God that brings us together as a Church, the people of God, to take on those monsters, helping us to see that together, following the example of Jesus, we can transform those monsters of hate into opportunities for hope. The Risen Christ’s promise of the Advocate is a mixed blessing: God’s Spirit can be “scary,” threatening our lives and lifestyles, confronting us with our irresponsibility and culpability — but that Spirit opens our hearts and consciences to hear the voice of God in the noise and tumult around us, enabling God’s presence transform our “monsters” into God’s reign by living as Easter people, trusting in new life after the pain of crucifixion.
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You, trusting that you are already there,
and I unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.