Monday
Apr162018

The 3rd Sunday of Easter Homily-Fr. Andrew Lee

Let’s first look at today’s first reading. We can find meaningful and significant expressions there. St. Peter employs his amazing speech from collective memories that the Jewish people are familiar with to the evident truth about Jesus’ resurrection. When he establishes his logic in his speech, he mentions some important expressions. “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.” ‘Author’ here is archegos in Greek which means ‘captain,’ or ‘leader.’ When the audience hears this, a figure in the Old Testament must come to their minds: Moses. By using this expression, Peter wants to point out that Jesus is the new Moses who leads the faithful into the new Canaan, new life of eternal Jerusalem. Another expression he uses is “the Holy and Righteous One.” This expression is only applied to the Messiah whom the Israelites are waiting for. The third expression is “Servant of God.” This is often used in the Old Testament. This famous expression indicates Christ who is coming to save His people. The point is that Peter connects Jesus who is risen and alive to the Holy and Righteous Messiah, the new Moses, the Author of Life, the Servant of God, whom the Israelites are looking forward to. And He is Jesus who is glorified by being raised from the death.

The disciples experience the glorified body of Chris in the room according to today’s Gospel. This Gospel is the follow up of the story about the two disciples who are heading for Emmaus with disappointment and discouragement. After their encounter with the Risen Lord on the way, they come back to the rest of the disciples and report to them what they have experienced. That is when Jesus appears to them in the glorified body. The disciples’ encounter with Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel, I think, shows us the connectivity of our senses with transcendent experiences.

You know about Helen Keller. She could not hear and see. An action of touch was the only way to connect her to the world. Anne Sullivan helped this young blind, deaf, and mute girl by letting her touch and feel her face, eyes, cheeks, and mouth. And Anne brought the world to the girl by leading her to touch trees, water, grass, sand, rocks and so on. Helen came to know the world by touching. Her sense of touch is the connectivity with the knowledge of the world. I think this is exactly what is happening in the room where the disciples are struggling with the disbelief in the presence of the Risen Lord.

The Lord appears in the middle of the disciples and says, “peace be with you.” Jesus is trying to appeal to the disciples’ sense of seeing and hearing. But they are terrified because they think what they are seeing is a ghost. And then Jesus leads them to the world of touching, saying, “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” This reminds me of a famous picture, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas,” painted by an Italian Baroque Painter, Caravaggio. You probably have seen the painting. In the painting, Thomas puts his finger into Jesus’ wound of his side. Two disciples beside Thomas stick their heads out and look at the wound. Of course, Jesus also lowers His head and looks at the wound. By touching the wound, St. Thomas is brought up to the level of acquiring the invisible belief and transcendent experience of the resurrection.

Our senses are deeply related to our spirituality. We are physical beings. We see, hear, touch, taste and smell and these senses take us to transcendent experience. God talks to us through our physical contact and events. The physical reveals something that transcends it. Pope John Paul II said, “The body reveals the person. The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine.” The body--the physical is not superfluous. We are physical beings. The body makes visible the invisible. The Risen Christ shows Himself in the middle of the disciples and lets them see, hear, touch Himself so that they might be taken up to spiritual belief in God and transcendent love toward the world.

I’d like to say this is more Sacramental. A Sacrament is the visible signs of invisible grace. Baptism brings us invisible salvation through the pouring of visible water. Sacred Confirmation oil is a visible seal of the invisible Holy Spirit. Eucharist is the invisible presence of Jesus Christ in the appearance of bread and wine. We experience spiritual presence and blessings through the visible Sacraments. This Sacramental experience is what the disciples have in the encounter with the glorified Jesus. And furthermore, this experience changes the disciples’ life and faith.

Today’s Gospel tells us some expected changes that the disciples have through the Sacramental experience of the glorified Lord. And these changes are what we are supposed to have in the season of Easter. First, Jesus brings us an end of fear. “Peace be with you,” Jesus says. No more should our lives be characterized by fear; fear of death, fear of God’s retribution, or fear of powerlessness in our lives to overcome darkness. As we contemplate Christ and entrust ourselves to Him, we will see a diminishing of fear and an up-surge of peace filling our beings.

The second change is the commission from Jesus: “Repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” This commission gives us purpose and direction for our lives. We are witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. We are supposed to proclaim it until the end of the world. Jesus will walk with us in the form of bread and wine. We have no fear. We walk the journey with the joy of spiritual gifts in touching, seeing, tasting, and hearing Jesus’ presence. And by achieving this mission, we believe we will be glorified at the end like Jesus Christ. Let us ask the Risen Lord to give us blessings to recognize the Sacramental signs of resurrection in our lives so that we are commissioned to proclaim our Savior to the world.

Sunday
Apr082018

Second Sunday of Easter - Divine Mercy Sunday: Homily - Deacon Bill Tunilla

Shock and awe (technically known as rapid dominance) is a campaign tactic or grand tactic based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.  I think it’s safe to say after hearing our Gospel reading, the disciples were in shock and afraid.  For John tells us, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Now who could blame the disciples for barracking themselves in after experiencing the horror of seeing just what their enemies were capable of doing.

It all started off with a day of awe on Palm Sunday.  Here Jesus is riding on a donkey and people are spreading out their cloaks on the road and laying down branches shouting Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the king of our father David that is to come, Hosanna in the Highest.

But Thursday during the Passover meal things begin to change and the enemy is at work crafting his shock campaign on the disciples and Jesus.  John tells us that Jesus knew his hour had come to pass from this world and that the devil had induced Judas of Iscariot to hand Jesus over to his enemies. 

Then Jesus did something to shock Peter just a bit when he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.  He then took a towel and tied it around his waist, poured water in a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and dry them with a towel.  Peter who is taken back tells Jesus, you will never wash my feet but Jesus convinced Peter this was necessary and he had his feet washed by the Lord.

Soon after Jesus goes with his disciples to pray and while praying Judas betrays him and Jesus is arrested.  Peter cuts of the ear of the servant and a young man following him was seized but he left his linen cloth behind and ran off naked.  Jesus is taken to Pilate where he is questioned while the disciples wait in the court yard.  One of the maid servants recognizes Peter but Peter probably in shock and afraid denies Christ 3 three times.

Still the enemy wasn’t finished.  The shock value is turned up even more by having Jesus scourged and then led off to be crucified.  You can image the shock they were in as Jesus struggled to carry His cross.  When they got to Golgotha his disciples were nowhere to be found, just Mary and John were left at the foot of the cross.

On Easter Sunday morning things begin to change.  John tells us, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. 

When they got there the stone was rolled back and they ran back to tell Simon Peter.  Peter and another disciple ran to the tomb.  Then they saw and believed but did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

In today’s Gospel the disciples get yet another great shock when Jesus enters the room and stands in their midst, and says: "Peace be to you." then shows them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced because they had seen the Lord.

Talk about shock and awe.  They could have never imaged after all they went through that Jesus would return alive and be standing among them.  Now when Thomas comes back and the disciples tell him they saw the Lord.  Thomas must have thought they’ve been locked up too long in the room and may have said something like you guys need to get out and get some fresh air.   Then Thomas replies, “Unless I see the print of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the print of the nails, and unless I put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Another week elapses and Jesus came back again; and this time Thomas was there. Jesus knew Thomas' heart. He repeated Thomas' own words, and invited him to make the test that he had demanded.

Out of Thomas heart flowed awe and devotion, and all he could say was, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him: "Thomas, have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

All of us at one time in our lives have experienced or read about events that shocked and awed us.  It seems to me each day brings something more shocking.  Our soul’s enemy, Satan wants to shock us into submission.  He wants us to lose our faith and run and hide.  There is nothing more He wants than for us to lose soul’s to him. 

The shocking event of the crucifixion turned out to be our awe of salvation when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.  Perhaps it is something of our human nature that we do not automatically believe in the awe of the Good news or any news that might seem to be too good to be true.  That can be a natural defense mechanism. 

But today we learn that God wants to surprise us with joy.  He wants us to live in the awe of life of the resurrection.  Rather than to be shocked into submission, He wants us to be joyful in the knowledge that love is greater than death. 

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament of Poland came to understand the awe.  She too was in shock and discouraged when those around her denied her request to become a religious sister, then she shared she felt fear when Jesus first appeared to her in visions, but she came to find found awe. In one of her visions Jesus explained he wished the Divine Mercy image to be "solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy." Today the church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday and a celebration will be held later today at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church at 2 p.m. if you would like to attend.

Indeed today is a day of awe as we consider God’s endless mercy, his divine mercy.  Let God transform the shock of our lives.  Allow the pain, loss and abandonment to be transformed by the light of Christ into a awe of life, peace, and wholeness with our God.  Let Christ’s divine image as given to Blessed Faustina be ours, and like Thomas let us proclaim  …My Lord and my God.

 

Monday
Apr022018

Easter Sunday Homily-Fr. Andrew Lee

 

Happy Easter! Everyone. Today, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Every living being rejoices with the risen Lord and praises the glory of resurrection filled with joy and peace. Let’s share the joy by saying “Happy Easter!” to the people next you. May blessings and graces of Jesus’ resurrection come down to your hearts and fill your lives with love and hope! As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection today, we are pleased and delighted to remind ourselves that we moved from death to new life. As you all know, Jesus’ resurrection is the core and the culmination of our Catholic faith. Without the Lord’s resurrection, our faith means nothing. Why does our faith go for nothing without resurrection? It’s because there is no new life without resurrection. We have received everlasting life through Jesus’ resurrection. Therefore, this Paschal Mystery becomes the foundation of our faith.

Like I said, Jesus’ resurrection brings us new life and hope. In today’s Gospel, we hear how the woman and the disciples move from disbelief to belief, from darkness to light, and from death to life as they visit the tomb where Jesus is buried. What they find is an empty tomb. Mary Magdala goes there early in the morning, finds the rock rolled away, runs to Peter and lets him know this. And then Peter and the beloved disciple run there together and see the empty tomb. And then the Gospel ends with these words, “the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.” The first witnesses to the resurrection move from life to death and from disbelief to belief according to today’s Gospel. This is what we are experiencing today as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.

As I reflect on today’s Gospel, I asked myself, “How do I fully participate in Jesus’ resurrection? How do I join Jesus’ resurrection?” And then one sentence caught my attention. “(Mary of Magdala) saw the stone removed from the tomb.” She finds the stone rolled away. I’d like to focus on the stone that is rolled away where Jesus’ resurrection happens and the Paschal Mystery accomplished. Jesus rolls the stone away and goes onto new life. Therefore, the stone was the wall between death and life and it must be moved away for the resurrection. I think many walls or barriers keep us away from the resurrection. They must be rolled away.

When I was young, I enjoyed a fairy tale, titled “The Selfish Giant.” You must know the story. I think it is a beautiful tale. The children go and play in the Giant’s garden. It is a large lovely garden with soft green grass. There are beautiful flowers and birds and the children playing their games. One day the Giant comes back after a seven-year visit to his friend. When he arrives, he finds the children playing in the garden. He kicks them out saying, “What are you doing here? Get out. This is my garden.” And then he builds a high wall all round it and puts up a warning notice. The poor children now had nowhere to play. Then the spring comes but only to the garden of the Giant, it is still winter. The Selfish Giant says, “I cannot understand why the spring is so late in coming.”

One morning he sees the most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall of the garden, the children creep in, and they are sitting in the branches of the trees. And the spring comes in the garden. The Giant’s hear lets as he looks out. He says, “How selfish I have been! Now I know why the spring didn’t come here. From now on, my garden shall be the children’s playground forever.”

Do you remember the story? The Giant makes a big wall to prevent the children from coming and playing in the garden. The spring doesn’t come. Likewise, if we build a wall between people and us or between Jesus and us, the resurrection won’t be happening in our lives. Like Jesus rolls stone away and rises, we have to tear down walls or barriers that keep us from opening our minds to God and people around us. We have to roll the stones in our minds away and get ourselves ready to welcome Jesus and other people. We have to remove hindrances that prevent us from rejoicing with happiness and joy to the resurrection.

This is how we take part in Jesus’ resurrection: removing walls and barriers between Jesus and us. The resurrection happens every moment in our daily lives each time we give new life to people. When we share our happiness with our neighbors, when we help the poor, when we courageously show our faith to the world, when we say to our families, “I love you,” Jesus is present among us and we bring His life-giving resurrection to those among us. In order to live in the resurrection, we must roll our stones away from our tombs. Jesus always gives Himself up and resurrects inside us in the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist. He is trying to remove walls between Him and us by rising from the dead. We, as His children and friends, are asked to be witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection every day. Now it is time to roll the stone away that blocks us from new life and proclaim the good news of His resurrection to the world.

 

Saturday
Mar312018

Easter Vigil Homily-Fr. Michael Kim

Tonight is a celebration of life. We began with the story of creation. God made everything, and God gave life to all living things. God saw all that he had made and it was very good.

We are made into God’s image, so we are partners in that work and stewards to take care of all that makes up this planet, especially all living things. Made in the image of our Creator, we are called to be life-giver and life preserver.

Tonight we heard the story of the Exodus. The great event in which God’s people are brought out of the half-life of slavery into full freedom and full life. We need no longer be slaves but God’s own people.

The liberation from Egypt is an event celebrated and commemorated to this day by the Jewish people at their Passover. And we can join our celebration with theirs at this time.

In fact, it is no mere coincidence that the events we celebrate this night coincide with the feast of the Passover. Through Jesus, the Lamb of God, we have been given the opportunity to pass from the slavery of sin and all the destructive elements of our life to a life of freedom.

As the crucified Jesus breaks through the bonds of death in glorious resurrection, he opens the gates of life for us. He said: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly”, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”, and “I am the Way: I am Truth and Life.”

This evening is the special time for the newly baptized and confirmed, and for the candidates for profession of faith to become fully members of our community in Christ. It is a time of special joy for them and for us. It is also a time for us to reflect on the meaning and the effectiveness of our own Baptism in our lives right now.

Our Baptism and Confirmation and our sharing in the Eucharist are the signs of our participation in this outpouring of life and love which we celebrate this evening. The going down into the water is our dying to the ways of sin and evil. The coming out of the water is a rising to the life God wishes us to have and experience.

Our baptism and confirmation are an ongoing reality reflected in the way we live out the Gospel from day to day.

So very soon we will renew our promises, renew our allegiance to Christ and the Christian community, which is his visible presence in the world. Let this night be a time for all of us, individually and together to revitalize our Catholic life and to involve ourselves more in the life of our parish community.