Sixth Sunday of Easter
John 14: 23-29

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

Love is many things, as we read in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians a passage we are all familiar with: “Love is patient, love is kind … not jealous, … not pompous…” (ICor. 13: 4-8). Another characteristic of love is its identification with the one loved. Lovers become one, in a sense. They more or less feel the same way, react the same way, think the same way. At the same time, they are totally different. Love is not an easy thing to put your finger on. It is quite complex.

My Commentary on the Scriptures points out that loving Jesus is only accomplished by keeping his commandments. Jesus gave his disciples only one commandment – to love one another. And it is clear from other places in Scripture that we must also believe that Jesus is the One sent by the Father, that Jesus and the Father are one. We receive the power to do this, Jesus tells us, through the Advocate or Paraclete, the Father will send us in Jesus’ name. This Paraclete will be the “alter ego” of Jesus. Paraclete is a Greek word meaning advocate, counselor, stand-in. Already the Scriptures are beginning to prepare us for the coming of this Advocate, the Holy Spirit, at the time of Pentecost. We will celebrate this great Solemnity on May 23.

In this way we become identified with Jesus and his family, the Father and the Holy Spirit. The very God-head dwells within us. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, our humanity’s stock rose 1000%. Let’s spend a bit of time on this Lord’s Day mulling over in our minds the truth of this mystery of the indwelling of the Trinity. What a dignity we all have! With what great respect and admiration we should treat one another! Let us do all we can to make ourselves and others constantly aware of this mystery.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in light of this indwelling, urges us more and more to realize the presence in us of God the Father and Creator who preserves our life through the dark nights we may experience and awakens us to a new day; God the Son and Savior of the World, who vanquished death and hell for us, and dwells in our midst as Victor; and God the Holy Spirit who pours the bright light of God’s Word into our hearts early in the morning, driving away all darkness and sin and teaching us to pray the right way. He points out that our lives do not belong to the individual, but to all the Church of the triune God, to the community of Christians living together.

Let us thank our Great God today for his consideration of the people he created to be his own.

Fr. Howard

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
John 15: 26 – 16:4

“And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

Another translation of the Scriptures translates the first phrase of the above quote: “You will speak about me….” This means, whether one uses “testify” or “speak about me”, that we are all called to witness to or bear witness to Jesus because we do know him. And most of us know him and his ways very well. We know when we are following him and when we are not. And we know that we must witness about him to others. We are the “light of the world,” remember? We are to let his light shine and not bury it under a bushel basket.

We bear witness to Christ, show him to the world we live in, in many different ways, but perhaps mainly by what we do, how we act. Have the teachings of Jesus changed me, gotten rid of my extreme selfishness, my thoughts of revenge, my gossiping about the faults of my neighbor, my greediness and always wanting more, more, more? Golly, I hope so! And maybe we can ask ourselves in the light of today’s Gospel: What is the main way I bring Jesus to others?

Jesus, help me please to spread your light to others.

Fr. Howard

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
John 16: 5-11

“It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.”

The disciples were probably scratching their heads trying to figure out why it would be better for them that Jesus was going to leave them. How could they possibly be better off without Jesus?

There are a couple of old sayings that remind us that parting is such sweet sorrow and that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Parting for a while can be a good thing in the sense that it gives friends a great appreciation of one another. It helps them stop taking each other for granted. And it also gives a great sense of anticipation as they think of the happy reunion that will be theirs when they meet again. I know that my own reunion with Jesus after spending some time trying to get away from him caused me to love him and to appreciate his values more than ever.

Jesus, if I ever find myself parted from you again, make that time of being apart as brief as possible.

Fr. Howard

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
John 16: 12-15

All of this coming and going mentioned in the Gospel for yesterday and today got me thinking about having been away from my own family for three years (1954-1957) when I went to Rome to study Theology prior to my ordination to the priesthood. At that time, if one went to Rome to study, there was no returning to the States even in the event of a death in the family. Going to Rome was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do because of this rule. Thank the Lord, it all worked out well. But I’ll never forget the reunion when my Mom and Dad came to Rome for my ordination in 1957.

I had made previous arrangements, of course, for a place for them to stay in a hostel run by a community of Sisters. When they arrived, I was not in Rome, but making an eight day retreat outside of Rome prior to ordination. My buddies met my Mom and Dad and took good care of them while I was gone. I returned to Rome the day before the ordination and the first place I went to was where Mom and Dad were staying. When I entered the building, I saw Mom standing at the top of a flight of stairs waiting for me. I went up those stairs three at a time to hug and kiss her. How good it was to see them again! Indeed, parting does make the heart grow fonder.

Can you recall a time in your own lives when you were parted from those you love and how the reunion was when you finally got together again?

Fr. Howard

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

The words of Scripture that have always caught my eye on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord are contained in the First Reading for today from the Acts of the Apostles. The two men, presumably angels, dressed in white said to the crowd: “Men (and women) of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” It is almost like Jesus saying to all of us: “There are better things to do than to stand there staring at the sky. Get to work. Time is running short.” Praying and working – somehow or other these two things can end up at odds in our lives. If I want to go and pray then I don’t have time to work – and vice versa. The truth of the matter is that we must make room for both in our lives. St. Benedict was aware of this when he gave his monks the motto: Ora et labora (pray and work). We remember once again that virtue stands in the middle and we never find virtue at an extreme. It is wrong to pray all the time or to work all the time. We have other things to do, too.

And we know the first disciples did just this. After the Ascension and with the strength of the Paraclete, they scattered throughout the then-known-world preaching the Gospel of the Lord and even dying for it if necessary. And we know from the Acts of the Apostles they also took the time to pray. Do we have prayer and work balanced in our lives so there is ample time for both? This is a good question for us to ask ourselves on this feast of the Ascension.

Fr. Howard

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter, May 14 
St. Matthias, Apostle

After the Ascension of the Lord to the Father, the Apostles had to find a replacement for Judas. Having 12 Apostles was important to the Jewish people for there were 12 Tribes of Israel. The Church (the new Israel) needed 12 Apostles.

The one chosen had to be someone who was a disciple from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, one who had heard all the teachings of Jesus, witnessed the Resurrection and the Ascension, and who chose to remain with Jesus when many others chose to leave him. Two men fit these criteria: Matthias and Joseph also called Barsabbas. Matthias was chosen, and this is the first and last time we hear of him in the Scriptures. He enthusiastically embraced this new position, which meant evangelization, persecution and death in the service of the Lord.

Clement of Alexandria, one of the early Fathers of the Church, said that Matthias was not chosen by Jesus for what he was but for what he would become. Jesus chooses us to be his disciples in the same way. This feast is a good time to ask ourselves the question: What does Jesus wish me to become?

St. Matthias, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
John 16: 23-28

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

It seems that just about every movement for the betterment of people has some promises attached to it that will come true if the people are faithful to the demands of the movement. AA, for example, has a whole list of “Promises” on pages 83 & 84 of the Big Book. We are told there that if we follow the AA Program, these things will all come true in our lives if we work for them. And, by golly, I am here to tell you that this is true and more.

Christianity doesn’t take a back seat here. There are many places in Scripture where the People of God are promised things such as land, blessings, freedom, preservation of life, salvation and so on if we have faith and carry out the commandments. And, in my own experience, these things came true also.

God, thank you so much for your love and the promises you give us of a better life. We know that you are trustworthy and what you promise you will do.

Fr. Howard

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