The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Corpus Christi (A)

Almost everyone who calls themselves a Christian believes in the Holy Trinity. Last Sunday we celebrated Trinity Sunday. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three Persons in one divine nature. Think about it – we don’t understand it – yet we believe it. Why?

Because God has revealed it to us. While the word Trinity itself does not appear in the bible, the concept is clearly there. Remember when Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan – the Father’s voice was heard and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove (Mark 1:10). So, in this one scene we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Another reference is when the risen Jesus tells His disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19. Based on God’s word alone we accept the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. And God has revealed another truth about Himself. In today’s Gospel Jesus says “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.

Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh”. How many of us who firmly believe in the Trinity – basing our belief on the Word of God also believe in the real presence – How many of us believe that the Sacred Host is really and truly the actual body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ Himself? Jesus tells us it is. He reveals this to us. “This is My body given for you.”

The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. One mystery is just as big a mystery as the other. Yet many believe in one but not the other. It seems that more and more believe that it is merely a symbol. That we have this Holy community meal mostly as a remembrance of Jesus Christ and it is nothing more than that. From the very beginning, the Catholic understanding and teaching is that this “remembrance” is actually a real “making present” on our altars.

The bread and wine has changed into the body and blood, the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus said it would. “This is My Body given for you”. And Jesus says more. Jesus says and I quote “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life; for My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in them.” unquote.

Jesus is telling us that if we eat His body and drink His blood He abides in us and we abide in Him. Is it important that we abide in Him? What if we don’t abide in Him? In the Gospel of John Chapter 15, Jesus tells us: “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bears much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; Such branches are gathered, thrown into a fire and burned.”

So, it is quite clear by these words that abiding in Jesus is very important.

Why? Because the Eucharist is an experience of the real presence of Christ. Until Christ comes in glory, there is no more intense way of experiencing His presence than by receiving Him in Holy Communion. This is not “Holy and Blessed bread” that reminds us of Jesus. This is Jesus, sacramentally present to be with us on our journey. The Holy Eucharist is the source, the centre and the summit of the Catholic Faith.

John uses the whole of Chapter 6 in His Gospel to explain this to us. It is recommended that we prayerfully take our bible and read chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. The Eucharist is also a participation in the Sacrifice of Christ. Jesus offered Himself on Calvary in generous, unselfish love, in the midst of evil – giving and not counting the cost.

We, the baptized, through the sacramental sacrifice of the Mass, are joined to the one sacrifice of Jesus. We don’t crucify Him all over again but rather we mysteriously and sacramentally join in the one sacrifice of the cross. We transcend time and space and are there at Calvary and with the angels and the whole of the heavenly host, who are present at every Mass. And receiving Him we fall on our knees in adoration of this most Blessed Sacrament.

The Blessed Sacrament is so important to our salvation and is so central to our worship that the bible has something very important to instruct us about the proper preparation for receiving Holy Communion. Writing around the year 57 to "the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2), St. Paul praises the Christians there for maintaining the traditions he had delivered to them when he preached the Gospel there six years earlier (1 Cor. 11:2) [1].

He rebukes the Corinthians, however, for their divisions and for their liturgical abuses (1 Cor. 11:17-22). St. Paul does not consider liturgical abuses to be a small thing, for these abuses violate the sacredness of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which shows forth Christ’s death again and again until the end of time (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23-26). In particular, St. Paul is really concerned about the unworthy reception of Holy Communion because this unworthy reception of Holy Communion profanes the Body and Blood of the Lord.

St. Paul says "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died" (1 Cor. 11:27-30).

"Christ’s invitation to receive Holy Communion-"Take this" (Lk. 22:17), for "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn. 6:53)-demands a worthy response from us.

Following St. Paul who says that we must examine ourselves, the Church teaches that this worthy response means that we have to make an examination of our conscience before receiving Holy Communion. In making this examination, the faithful should discern whether or not they have any unconfessed mortal sins.

We need to ask ourselves when was the last time we received Holy Communion. Did we examine our conscience prior to receiving Holy Communion. Were we conscious of grave sin in our lives. When was the last time we went to confession. "Anyone conscious of a grave sin," the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms, "must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion."[4]

The Church also exhorts the faithful to think deeply upon their love of God and love of their neighbor before receiving Holy Communion. Our Lord warns His followers to be reconciled with their brothers before offering their gifts at the altar (Mt. 5:23-24); He cautions His disciples not to partake of the Eucharistic marriage feast without the wedding garment of charity (Mt. 22:1-14).

Again following St. Paul, the Church exhorts the faithful to discern the Body of the Lord so as to receive Holy Communion worthily. This discernment consists in reflecting upon both the majesty of the Blessed Sacrament and our own unworthiness to receive it:

We should also reflect in the silence of our own hearts how unworthy we are that the Lord should bestow on us this divine gift.[6] The words of the Holy Mass assists us in making this discernment.

The Catechism teaches, "Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion . . . ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.’"[7] Discerning the Body helps ensure that the faithful approach Holy Communion with the necessary dispositions.

The liturgical abuses in Corinth, (1 Cor. 11:21-22), also pointed to the desirability of fasting in preparation for Holy Communion. For most of the Church’s history, Catholics were required to fast before receiving Holy Communion and a fast of one hour prior to reception of Holy Communion has become part of the Church’s current canonical discipline:

§1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink (and this includes candy, pop and chewing gum), except for only water and medicine. §3. The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.[12]

During the week as we live out our baptismal priesthood through faithful discipleship, we prepare once again to meet our risen Saviour at Sunday Mass. At the same time, as each day goes by, we realize our frailty, and our need for the grace that we receive at the Eucharist.

Sunday is a time to stop, look and listen. We need to have a break from our daily work. Sunday is the time to be with family, to be with God. Sunday Eucharist allows us to get our priorities straight, and strengthens us to be more faithful disciples.

It is so easy for us to forget the awesome reality of the presence of Christ, since the way in which He comes to us is, as always, so quiet, so unobtrusive. Therefore, whenever we enter a Catholic Church we look to the red sanctuary lamp which burns there as a reminder of His real presence. We genuflect in acknowledgement of this. And entering the pew we fall to our knees in prayerful adoration. Because it is the Lord. The awesome reality is that we are now in the real presence of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ Himself.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rockyford – 25.06.2011

Maybe to begin I will shortly present myself …?

I am a member of the Society of the Divine Saviour, briefly Salvatorians.

I am a priest for almost 30 years.

I used to work for 15 years as a Philosophy professor in different seminaries and universities in Africa, means in Congo, Tanzania and Comoros Islands.

As you –certainly- can hear I have this specific John Paul's II polish accent, because I am also originally from Poland.

Since 2006 I am working as a pastor in the diocese of Edmonton precisely in the Rocky Mountain House Parish.

I am seriously and deeply interested in the studies of Cosmology which is the science of the Beginning and the Evolution of the Universe …

You now this Big-Bang theory, galaxies, origin and the end of stars and solar systems, and the stuff like …

However, through these studies in astronomy, cosmology and theoretical physics I was able to discover and to see the wonderful and astonishing unity of God's revelation whereas in the created nature or in the Holy Scripture.

God doesn't contradict Himself, God is truthful and reliable … GOD IS GREAT IN S DEEDS AND WORDS!!!

I can assure you out of my personal experience "GOD NEVER, NEVER, NEVER misleads, cheats or deceives us". If you are honest and searching Him sincerely … even if sometimes you commit a sin, and you feel bad … He will never abandon and never forget you as long as you honestly search Him and as long as you are able to tell Him: "Jesus I trust You, have mercy on me".

Because He created us and He (and only HE!!!) knows us, better than anybody else ... He knows you even better that you know yourself.

I like fishing and especially ice-fishing … but maybe enough about myself …

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First I have a very serious question and a very personal one to ask you:

Do you think that Jesus is hones with us?

Do you think that we can trust Him or rather be very cautious or wary?

Because, if I really trust Jesus in my life I will be following Him fully and without restriction, but if I don’t trust Him … so where are the sense and the meaning of my life?

We all are in the constant quest for love, meaning and sense, for happiness and fulfilment in our lives.

Would you like to be happy?

Would you like to be loved and to have deep and meaningful relationships?

Would you like to see your life to be fortunate and sense full?

Or rather you will tell me I DON'T CARE !?

By the way, do you remember; what were the first words of the Pope John Paul II when he was elected pope 33 years ago?

He said: "Don't be afraid! Open the doors to Christ!"

During the World Youth Days 1984-2008 John Paul II and Benedict XVI were constantly repeating:

"Don't be afraid! Open the doors to Christ!"


"Don't Be Afraid to be Saints"

So why are we afraid? Why we are scared of Jesus?

Is it not because we don't trust Him? We don't believe in Him, we try to live our life according to our caprices, feelings and impulses? And yet we are constantly unhappy, empty, unsatisfied, unfulfilled and disappointed.

Jesus is certainly not an "easy going fellow" who doesn't care what you do and what is your life like.

He will never tell you "DOESN'T MATTER" … or "KEEP SMILING" or "TAKE IT EASY".

He will rather say … "do not be afraid I am the One who can help you and lead you out of the mess you encountered I your life." But be a little bit more careful and cautious because sometimes you are going too far and you follow very dangerous paths. If I am giving you the commandments it is not to make your life miserable, not to make it difficult or to limit your freedom … it's rather a kind of warning. By the commandments I would like to prevent your fall, your disappointment your failure and depression. Trust and believe me … what I am telling you is only for your good and not to cause you misery.

So I have to re-examine perhaps once more the question: "What or Who is the center of my life?"

A story of a drug addict let us call him Peter …

He started at the age of 12 when he was still in the elementary school …

he started out of simple curiosity just to know what it means to feel cool …

he started with very mild drugs an in the very tiny doses…

I meet him when he was already 22, ten years later and close to die … in a hospital for terminally sick patience …

You know father … - he told me- it was like going downhill on the skies or on the snowboard. At the age of 16 –while physically still quite good and healthy – he was a skier or rather he was very good in snowboarding. He won even some international European competitions in snowboarding … he was really good. But –as he said sincerely- he was also sliding down and rapidly into the drugs, more and more, deeper and deeper, stronger and stronger … And nobody was able or RATHER NOBODY WOULD LIKE TO HELP HIM …

He said:

"I have had so many friends and colleagues but nobody even dare to say me … "Peter you are sliding quickly into hell". And actually I was sliding into hell – he said. And now I know – I am in hell because I see that I am dying and I cannot live more than two – three hours without a dose …"

At the beginning I was able to live without "shot" even for months … but after few years it was impossible for me to stay "dry" even for two or three days."

I needed more and more often. And there was no force, no power which can stop me or end this nightmare.

T was cool but only at the beginning, later on it became a kind of necessity and obligation. I cannot stop it I can do nothing, I was like forced and spell bounded by a mysterious force …

It became a real nightmare … terrifying and dreadful awful and frightening …

One night when I was sitting at his bad in the palliative care facility he asked me:

"Father, can you please read me the Gospel, this passage when Jesus is talking about the building the house on the sand and on the rock?"

So I read it for him the passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 7:

Jesus said to His disciples: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

He interrupted me here and said:

"This is very truth Father, for last ten years I was going the very broad and wide road of pleasures and self-indulgence … I was listening to nobody, than to my feelings and desires … and now I can say honestly it was the way which leads to destruction."

And he called the nurse, who came to administer him once more the dose of painkiller, because he was not able to support the pain and the hunger for narcotics anymore.

After the nurse left I continue with the reading of the Gospel:

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.

And once more he interrupted me saying:

"How true are these words, how true? I was living in a fancy world of false friends and buddies who were really like the wolves in sheep's skins. Where are they now? Where are now all those friends and palls who were repeating me that it is cool? Why nobody told me that I can't go out of this? Why I was so stupid and so week to continue my way which was leading me to hell? And nobody intervened or had enough courage to save me? I didn't trust Jesus however I believe that He is the Lord, but … I didn't took seriously His teaching"

Father please continue the reading"

So I did continue the parable of Jesus where He says:

Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven"

Father – he interrupted again asking – do you think that I am a rotten tree? Do you think that I am dying and I will be condemned?

Do you think that when Jesus says: " Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. " it applies to me, that I will be cut down and thrown into the fire?

I feel so bad, so bad physically but even worse psychologically … I totally destroyed my life. Please read further the Gospel.

And so I did continue:

Jesus said: "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock."

And he interrupted once more: "I think that I can win my life and now be in a totally different situation, studying and having some wonderful perspectives in my life if only I build my life on the rock …, but …

Please read the last part of this Gospel.

And the last part is:

"And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined." (Matthew 7:13-29)

Do you think Father that I am an example of this last part of Jesus' Gospel? I did build up my life on the sand of sentiments and feelings and I am now ruined. Do you think that I cannot be saved?

I don't think – I answered- that you cannot be saved, because finally recognised your error and I pretty sure Jesus Christ will certainly see your honesty and will find for you the way to His Kingdom.

He looked at me with a certain hope and seems to be relaxed.

Thank you Father but can I ask you one think? Please tell others about my life and help them to understand how stupid is to build up their lives on the sand of emotions, feelings and desires. Please tell other young people to trust rather Jesus than their false friends and wrong teachers.

How do I build my house? Do I build it on a rock or on the sand?

We are living the civilisation of feelings, emotions and sentimentality.

Cult of sentimentality,

If you feel good do it,

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And Jesus is telling us something very different. He is not playing with our emotions. He is rather making an appeal to our reason, to our intellect and our will, our honesty.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Holy Trinity Sunday 2011

In the story of salvation we usually attribute creation to the Father, redemption to the Son and sanctification to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, though they are distinct as persons, neither the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Spirit ever exists in separation or acts in isolation from the other two persons of the Godhead. The inner relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in such a way that each of them is fully and equally God, yet there are not three Gods but one is incomprehensible to the human mind. It is a mystery.

At Confirmation, the archbishop asked the children for a definition of the Holy Trinity. A girl answered very softly, "The Holy Trinity is three Persons in one God." The archbishop, who was almost deaf, replied, "I didn't understand what you said." And the young theologian before him replied, "You are not supposed to. The Trinity is a mystery."

The word "Trinity," what does it mean? Does it mean that God is a mystery? No! Is the Blessed Trinity another Person of God? No! Then, what is it? The root of the word "Trinity" originates from the Latin word "trini" which means "three each," or "threefold." "The term has been used as early as the days of Tertullian (200 A.D.) to denote the central doctrine of the Christian religion. God, who is one and unique in His infinite substance or nature, or Godhead, is three really distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of these Persons is truly the same God, and has all His infinite perfections, yet He is really distinct from each of the other Persons. The one and only God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; yet God the Father is not God the Son, but begets the Son eternally, as the Son is eternally begotten. The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but a distinct Person having His Divine nature from the Father and the Son by eternal procession." (The New Catholic Dictionary, Van Rees Press, NY, Copyright 1929)

In other words, in Jesus dwells the Father and the Holy Spirit. And the same can be said about the Father and the Holy Spirit. In each one dwells the other two Persons of God. This truth is supported by a verse in The Letter of Paul to the Colossians. "In Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." [Col. 1:19; 2:9] "All the fullness of God means the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Already this short presentation of the catholic dogmatic teaching about the Holy Trinity shows us how incompetent, inept and even useless or hopeless is our human language. But try please to define or to describe only the human reality of love, the mother’s love of the child, the husband’s love of his spouse, the love between bride and bridegroom. And you will find the same difficulties and problems to express in our human language the reality which is however purely human. So what about the reality of God? Is our human reason and language competent in trying to describe the uncreated reality of GOD?

The story is told of St Augustine of Hippo, who wanted so much to understand the doctrine of the Trinity and to be able to explain it logically. One day as he was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on this, he suddenly saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a whole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little shell, filled his shell, came and poured it into the hole he had made in the sand. Back and forth he went to the sea, filled his shell and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine went up to child and said, "Little child, what are doing?" and the child replied, "I am trying to empty the sea into this hole." "How do you think," Augustine asked her, "that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny shell?" To which the child replied, " And you, how do you suppose that with this your small head you can comprehend the immensity of God?" With that the child disappeared.

Like Augustine we may not be able to understand the how of the Trinity but I think it is very important to understand the why. Why did God reveal to us this mystery regarding the very nature of the Supreme Being? The importance of this doctrine lies in this: we are made in the image of God, therefore, the more we understand God the more we can understand ourselves. Experts in religion tell us that people always try to be like the God they worship. People who worship a warrior God tend to be warriors, people who worship a God of pleasure tend to be pleasure-seeking, people who worship a God of wrath tend to be angry people, etc. Like a God, like the worshipers. So the more important question for us to ask today is: What does the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity tell us about the God and what does this say about the kind of people we should be? And here I have tree points to share with you.

1. God does not exist in isolated individualism but in a community of relationships. In other words, God is not a loner or a recluse. This means that a Christian in search of Godliness (Matthew 5:48) must shun every tendency to isolationism and individualism. The ideal Christian spirituality is not that of flight from the world like that of certain Buddhist monastic traditions where the quest for holiness means withdrawal to the Himalayas away from contact with other people and society.

2. True love requires three persons. You remember the old saying "Two is company, three is a crowd." The Trinity shows us that three is community, three is love at its best; three is not a crowd. Taking an example from the human condition we see that when a man is in love he looks for a woman so that together they can create a child, the third person. Father, mother and child — love when it becomes complete becomes a trinity. In this context we can ask: “the abortion, the killing of an unborn child, the third person of the conjugal trinity … is it not an offense to God?”

Over and above that, each one of us becomes fully human only when we are in relationship with God and in relationship with others. In that way our life becomes Trinitarian like that of God. Then we discover that the I-and-I principle preached by Bob Marley and practiced by the society at large leaves much to be desired. The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity challenges us to adopt rather an I-and-God-and-neighbor principle. I am a Christian insofar as I live in a relationship of love with God and other people. May the grace of the Holy Trinity help us to banish all traces of selfishness in our lives and to live in love of God and of neighbor.

3. The Eucharist: During the institution of the Lord's Supper, Jesus "took a loaf of bread, and gave it to His disciples, saying, 'This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.'" [Lk. 22:19] In the mystery of the Consecration of the Bread and Wine, they become the physical Body and Blood of Christ who remains with us today. As Jesus said when departing from this world, "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." [Mt. 28:20b] In the Holy Eucharist is manifested the fullness of the Blessed Trinity. As the Father and the Holy Spirit dwelled in Jesus while He walked the earth, the Father and the Holy Spirit dwell in Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the fullness of the Blessed Trinity being manifested bodily.

The teaching about the Trinity is one of the most fundamental in our Christian faith. We often refer to it as a 'mystery' and therefore something which can be affirmed but cannot be fully understood, still less fully explained. In the Christian Testament, the word 'mystery' primarily refers not to something which is obscure and difficult to understand but, on the contrary, to something, formerly hidden, which is now being made known to those on the "inside", something which we otherwise would not know.

The Trinity, namely, that God is triune, one in three Persons, is really a mystery in this sense. We could not know about it, if we had not been told. Of course, it is also difficult for us to see how one being can be three persons just as it is difficult for us to understand how Jesus can be both God and a human person (the 'mystery' of the Incarnation).

But we have to ask us some more fundamental questions: Does it really “mystery” contradict or challenge the human reason? Is it not rather our style of life -full of moral contradictions- which truly challenge our reason? The mystery of faith doesn’t contest our human reason. Is it not rather our human cruelty and egoistic style of life which contradict our human reason?

The mystery of faith is not contradicting, offending or opposing our rational faculty but it is rather showing that we have the truly infinite perspectives if only we don’t contradict God’s commandments and God’s love. Human reason is contradicted rather by sin, immorality and pride than by the mystery of faith.

The Age of Information has provided us with whatever facts we need at our finger tips, but it has also assaulted the very concept of faith. Because explanations can be found for most of the questions we may have, we feel cheated when we come upon unanswerable questions, questions like: "Why do good people die? What happens after death? Does God exist? What is God like? Who, really, is Jesus Christ? How has the past become the present and the future? How is it that the Christ can be with the Father yet still with us?"

People of faith realize that mystery can be found throughout life. Instead of questioning the unknowable, people of faith see in the very presence of mystery the presence of God, the Holy One. Holy, by the way means completely separate from the material world. Sadly, many people refuse to recognize the existence of Mystery. Their lives revolve around the here and now, the physical. They have led our society into mayhem. "If it feels good do it," is the modern expression of ancient Hedonism. It has resulted in a total lack of responsibility for actions, a total rejection of the greater good of society, a total assault against the concept that we are accountable to God for our lives. It has produced the insanity that really reached a new lows in the arguments supporting partial birth abortion that refuse to consider the possibility that the child feels pain and suffers. The rejection of the spiritual, the rejection of Mystery, has led to chaos in our society.

And most probably this is why so many of our contemporary people abandon their faith, because they cannot deal with a mystery. Mystery is for many of us an unsupportable challenge and offence to their reason. And yet God does not exist in isolated individualism but in a community of relationships. In other words, God is not a loner or a recluse. Ultimately we humans are the revelation of the mystery of the internal life of God, because "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27

In the middle of this, we come to Church this week and are confronted with the Doctrine of the Trinity.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost Sunday – 2011 – year A

Acts 2, 1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Cor 12, 3-7. 12-13; John 20, 19-23

Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the commemoration of the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. This happened in the upper room where the apostles were hiding for fear of the Jews.

Pentecost literally means "fifty days," and for Jews it was a harvest festival. For Catholics it comes fifty days after Christ's resurrection.

The Risen Lord tells the apostles, "Receive the Holy Spirit" and then the Lord gives them the power to forgive sins (John 20:23), and later He commands them to teach and baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).

The Holy Spirit's action in the Church begins with the day of Pentecost. The Church, which had just been born in this way on the day of Pentecost by the work of the Holy Spirit, was immediately revealed to the world. It is not a closed community, but an open one--it could be called a community thrown wide open--to all the nations "even to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Those who enter this community through Baptism become, by virtue of the Holy Spirit of truth, witnesses of the Good News and are ready to pass it on to others. It is therefore a dynamic, apostolic community, the Church "in a state of mission."

The Holy Spirit first "bears witness" to Christ and this witness pervades the heart and soul of those who participate in Pentecost. They in turn become witnesses and proclaimers. The "tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3) which appeared over the head of each one present are the external sign of the enthusiasm enkindled in them by the Holy Spirit. The apostles extended this enthusiasm to their listeners, as already happened after Peter's discourse on the first day: "Some three thousand were added" (Acts 2:41). In this way the community gave evidence of its own awareness of being moved by the action of the Holy Spirit.

How far are we from this inspiring experience of the power of the Holy Spirit? (JPII)


(inspired by

The story is told of Napoleon Bonaparte boasting to a Vatican cardinal that he would destroy the Church. The cardinal insouciantly replied to the perplexed emperor, "Good luck, Your Majesty. We, priests have been attempting to do just that for centuries."

In effect, the bishop was doffing his scarlet biretta in salute to the Holy Spirit. That Spirit dwells comfortably and sometimes, I suspect, very uncomfortably within the Church. Try what anyone might; the Church will not go away precisely because the Third Person of the Holy Trinity is on the job around the clock. Napoleon thought the prelate was pulling his imperial leg. He took on the Church. He was rudely dethroned. The Church survived. The former emperor wound up beating off mosquitoes as a full-time occupation on the damp island of Saint Helena somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

The same happened to Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and all those who in the XX century tried to destroy the Church ….

Don't you think that all those who try to destroy the Church from inside as well as from outside have to recognize that the Church of Jesus Christ is indestructible precisely because Christ equipped Her (His Bride, His Mystical Body) with the Power of the Holy Spirit?

Without the Holy Spirit, the Church would be at best a third rate operation or, perhaps better, a non-operation. But with the Spirit the Church is today able to survive its many difficulties. With the Holy Spirit the Church survived the centuries of persecution, the attempts of Napoleon and French Revolution, the efforts of the Mexican and Spain’s revolutions, the communistic domination in Russia and East European countries. With the Holy Spirit at work the Church survived the diabolic attempts during the II World War, and is still surviving the most atrocious persecutions in Communistic China. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Lord’s Church, but He is also, or at least should be in work in us.

A brilliant man, a man of education, with Doctorate Degrees and honors from most major universities, took a sabbatical. He decided to devote as much time as it would take, one year, two years or more, and learn all he could about Jesus. He studied ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew and Aramaic so he could read the earliest texts about Jesus. He studied Ignatius, Justin, Augustine, Aquinas, and all the famous theologians of centuries, always focusing on learning about Jesus. He read the works of modern theologians. He took courses in various foreign languages so he could understand theologians in their original language.

After studying and studying he wrote his own book about Jesus. It was an instant success not just in the academic circles, but in every Christian and even non-Christian Church. The man, the esteemed professor, was called upon to give talks about Jesus to all sorts of different groups, from seminarians to atheists. His lectures always ended with a question and answer period. Usually, there was no one in audience who could ask a question that the brilliant man had not been asked before or for which he did not have an answer at the tip of his tongue.

No one, until an elderly man raised his hand after one lecture. The old man asked: “How is it that someone who has studied as much as you, has learned so little?”

What? What type of an arrogant simpleton would dare question the great scholar, the great professor? After the commotion settled down, the scholar responded, “I am sure that I have much more to learn about Jesus, but why do you feel that I have learned so little?” He had the old man. At least until the man said, “You have Jesus in your head, but you do not have him in your life.”

Knowledge of Christ come from the head, but knowing Christ comes from the heart. His Spirit must be within us. We have to give Him a permission to work in us, to operate in our hearts. Otherwise we will not know our Lord and Redeemer.

And this is the great gift of Pentecost, the solemnity we celebrate today. The Spirit of the Lord has been given to us so that we don’t just know about the Lord, but that we know the Lord.

But, there is something more: After the coming of the Holy Spirit, as we have seen, the disciples did not stay in that room luxuriating in what they had been given. They burst out to tell the world, to announce the Good News.

May the Holy Spirit work in us and through us … May we never oppose the Holy spirit in our lives.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ascension 2011

Gospel Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,

to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.

When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

Then Jesus approached and said to them,

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Go, therefore, 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.

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”


No back-up plan

Jesus gave to his followers the task of completing his work by sharing the Good News with the rest of the world.

There’s an ancient legend about the ascension of Jesus into heaven. According to the legend, when Jesus reached heaven, his body still showed the wounds of his crucifixion. His hands and feet still bore the prints from the nails. His side bore the mark from the spear. His back bore the stripes from the whip, and his head bore the wounds from the thorns. When the people in heaven saw these marks, they fell on their knees before Jesus.

They were astounded to see how much he had suffered. Then the angel Gabriel rose up and said to Jesus:

“Lord, how greatly you suffered on earth! Do all the people on earth know and appreciate how much you went through for them and how much you love them?’’

Jesus replied: “Oh, no! Only a handful of people in Palestine know that. The rest haven’t even heard of me. They don’t know who I am. They don’t know how much I suffered, and how much I love them.’’

Gabriel was shocked to hear this. Then he said to Jesus: “How will all the rest of the people on earth ever learn about your suffering and your love?’’

Jesus said: “Just before I left, I told Peter, James, and John, and a few of their friends, to tell the rest of the world for me. “They’ll tell as many people as they can. Those people, in turn, will tell other people. In that way, the whole world will eventually learn about my love for them.’’

Gabriel looked even more confused now. He knew how capricious people are. He knew how forgetful they are. He knew how prone to doubt they are. So he turned to Jesus and said: “But, Lord, what if Peter, James, and John grow tired or frustrated? What if they forget about you? What if they begin to have doubts about you? “And even if none of these things happen, what if the people they tell become frustrated? What if they forget? What if they begin to have doubts about you? “Didn’t you take these things into account? Don’t you have a back-up plan—just in case?’’

Jesus answered: “I did take all these things into account, but I decided against a back-up plan. This is the only plan I have. “I’m counting on Peter, James, and John not to let me down. I’m counting on the people they tell not to let me down.’’

Twenty centuries later, Jesus still has no other plan. He counted on Peter, James, and John, and they didn’t let him down. He counted on the people they told, and they didn’t let him down. And now Jesus counts on us.


The feast of the Ascension celebrates the departure of the Risen Lord from this world to the place reserved for him in heaven. As such, it is the continuation of his Resurrection and the completion of his victory over the forces of sin and death.

The final words of Jesus ought to be memorized and repeated over and over again: "I am with you always, until the end of time." Jesus is saying these words to us every moment of every day … but too often we are not listening! We hear all the prophets of doom and gloom and we live in fear of their dire predictions. But we need most of all to hear the far more truthful words of Jesus, who has all power in heaven and on earth, and who will never abandon us if we trust in his love and if we don't abandon Him. In the presence of that love, even death can be changed as long as we are faithful to His teaching.

As Jesus spoke, he was covered by a cloud (the sign of God's presence) and taken from their sight. He's gone - or is he? They all just stood there, says Acts, gaping upwards to the empty sky. Then two "messengers" (angeloi) appear: "Men of Galilee, what are you doing looking skywards? This Jesus, who has been taken from you to God, will return in the same way you saw him go."

They will not now find Jesus in the sky, in "heaven". They are, as the hymn advises, to "lower their eyes". They have to go back to Jerusalem. Jesus is to be found and made present by them and in them in Eucharist and in daily life.

They - and we - in word and deed are to tell and re-tell the story of Jesus' life, suffering, death and resurrection. They - and we - are to call people to a radical conversion, to forgiveness of their sin through an intimate reconciliation with God, with their brothers and sisters and with the world in which they live and are a part.

Today, on this feast of the Ascension, that mandate is given to each one of us again. And it is in carrying it out that we truly honour the meaning of this feast.