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The 13th Sunday Homily-Fr. Andrew Lee

Today’s readings are about God’s calling and human being’s complete commitment in answer to that call. Today’ first reading describes how the prophet Elisha committed himself wholeheartedly to answer God’s call to be a prophet. In the prophetic tradition of Israel, the mission of being a prophet was passed on from one prophet to another. Sometimes a prophet had a token or symbol of his ministry. In the case of Elijah, it was a cloak and the prophet threw this over Elisha. Elisha knew what this meant and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” After Elijah’s response, “Go back,” Elisha showed his total commitment to God’s call. He slaughtered the yoke of oxen that he had been using for his plowing, cooked their flesh by using the yoke and harness as fuel, and finally he gave the meat to his people. Here burning what he had for a living means that he gives everything up to God: total commitment. Then he became Elijah’s successor. He left everything behind and committed himself to his prophetic role.

What do you think about the prophet’s total commitment to God’s call? Sometime we allow ourselves to be distracted by many things in spite of the fact that we are called by God and are committed to God’s mission through our baptism. God throws His cloak to call us as His stewards but we ignore His call to please ourselves through worldly things. We excuse ourselves many times to avoid our responsibilities as God’s children. The Prophet Elisha’s vocation story today challenges us to remember who the Giver and the Author of our life is. And we are asked to renew our whole-hearted commitment to our vocation as we reflect on today’s readings.

The Prophet Elisha’s story reminds me of the day when I moved to the seminary. It was March. It was a sunny day. I said good bye to my mother and my brother. My friend was supposed to pick me up and drive me to the seminary. He was helping me load my stuff from my house. But I really wanted to say good bye to my grandfather too. He was not home. I ran to a senior citizen center where he always hung out with his friends every day. He was there. I had not told him what I was going to do and where I was going to go. I told him, “Grandpa, I am going to be gone for a long time this time. I probably won’t see you for many years.” He said, “where are you going?” I didn’t know what to tell. I said, “God calls me and I am trying to answer that.” He said, “You have always been a good boy. You have been doing well. I trust you, whatever you do. God bless you always.” I said, “thank you, Grandpa. See you.” I turned around with tears. I don’t know why. Probably I felt sorry about my grandfather. He was looking at my back while I was leaving. And that was the last time I saw him. He passed away in the third year of my seminary when I was doing the overseas training program in Papua New Guinea.

My friend dropped me off at the seminary that day. He said good bye to me. I unpacked my stuff in my room and went to the chapel and sat before the Blessed Sacrament. I said to Jesus, “Today is the first day of my journey, Jesus. I know it’s going to be a long journey. This is the first step. Please help me to answer your call.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls His would-be followers, “follow me.” A man says, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” Another man says, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” But Jesus’ answers seem to be really harsh. “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” It seems that Jesus is making it hard for them to follow. It seems that He is even refusing people’s request to follow Him. But He is making it clear that following Him is not for the half-hearted or the faint-hearted. Jesus in today’s Gospel is looking for followers, wholehearted and devoted followers who do not allow themselves to enjoy other things on the journey to be true disciples.

How do we become wholehearted in following Jesus? Interestingly, today’s first reading and second reading are talking about the yoke. Elisha breaks the yoke that was tied to his property, the oxen and burns it before he takes off for his prophetic ministry. The yoke is symbolic of what he was attached to. Burning it means that he is freed from the bond that tied him to the old habits. And St. Paul in today’s second reading says, “Stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” In order to discern our vocation and follow Jesus Christ without looking to what is left behind, we are supposed to be freed from the yoke of slavery. It doesn’t matter what it might be: your materials, your desires, your families, your dreams, your pride, and so on. You are called to be freed from that and commit yourselves to Jesus’ calling.

This is the true freedom in Jesus Christ. “You were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” If you are bound by self-concerns and enslaved to desires or dreams or other things, you are not free to follow. Today’s readings tell us that it is only when a person’s love for Christ exceeds their love of self that a person becomes wholehearted in following Jesus. In order to make this decision, we need to be freed from our yoke of slavery. Only free human beings can be available to follow Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are challenged today to see how much we love Jesus Christ, how free we are from our yoke, and how carefully we listen to God’s call. Let us do what it takes for us to hear the call and respond, and find completion in a deep and abiding love for Christ.


The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) - Deacon Bill Tunilla

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to "Body of Christ." This feast originated in France in the mid-thirteenth century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast is celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.  Here in the US it is celebrated the following Sunday.

This feast calls us to focus on the two manifestations of the Body of Christ; the Holy Eucharist and the Church. The primary purpose of this feast is to focus our attention on the Eucharist. The opening prayer we just heard before the readings calls our attention to Jesus' suffering and death and our worship of Him, especially in the Eucharist.

The secondary focus of this feast is upon the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion Jesus shares with his disciples.

He expresses this in the gospels by using the metaphor of a body in which He is the head. This image helps keep in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church.

Our Gospel reading from Luke is not what we might have expected for Corpus Christi.  We may have expected Luke’s account of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  Instead we just heard the miracle of the fish and loaves which does have Eucharistic overtones especially with the words, taken, blessed, broken and given. This is the only miracle of Jesus that is in all the four gospels. (Matt.14:13; Mk.6:34; Jn.6:1).

Luke begins with Jesus speaking to the crowds about the kingdom of God and healing those who needed to be cured.   Luke tells us, “As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, Dismiss the crowd so they can go and find food, for we are in a deserted place.

Jesus responds probably to their amazement, “Give them some food yourself.”  I know if I was present I sure would have been taken back by the words of our Lord.  Then the disciples respond, “But we only have five loaves and two fish.  So what do you want us to do? 

Jesus instructs them to sit down in groups of 50.  But Before Jesus distributed the food he blessed it and said grace. The blessing was said in every home in Palestine before every meal, "Blessed art thou, Jehovah, our God, King of the world, who caused bread to come forth from the earth."

Now there is a Jewish saying that goes, "He who enjoys anything without thanksgiving is as though he robbed God." Jesus would not eat without first giving thanks to the giver of good gifts.

There are two ways many have looked at this miracle. First, some have accepted and simply seen it as a miracle in which Jesus created food for this vast multitude. Others have believed that the people were utterly selfish and all had something with them, but wouldn’t produce it because they were afraid them may have to share it with someone.

But when the Twelve laid before the multitude their little store, those selfish were moved to produce theirs.  In the end there was more than enough for everyone. So it may be regarded as a miracle which turned selfish, suspicious folk into generous people, a miracle of Christ changing determined self-interest into a willingness to share.

 This Gospel passage shows us that Jesus is generous to His people.  At the end of our reading we heard there was more than enough to go around, 12 wicker baskets to be precise. 

God is like that.  An image that comes to me is during this season when we plant a packet of seeds and then thin the plants out and often throw out far more than we can use.  God has created a world where there is more than enough for all of us if we share.

The second thing I would like to share about what this gospel shows us that there is a permanent truth in an action in time.  In Jesus all our needs are supplied. There is a hunger of the soul in every man, woman and child, a deep longing within our souls to find something in which to invest our lives in.  Our hearts are restless until they rest in him. For St. Paul tells us in Phil 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory to Christ Jesus.”

The Eucharist, unlike baptism and confirmation isn’t a sacrament we experience only once.  We are called to come to table of plenty to be with Jesus as often as we can.  Jesus wants to nourish and strengthen us as we move along our faith journey.  St. Augustine said to the catechumens on the Feast of Pentecost, “Become what you see, and receive what you are.” 

The Body and Blood of Christ is to be adored and is to be received with greatest of love and respect that you can muster. Please do not take the bread of life who is Jesus for granted. Let us recall our great history of those holy men and women who died protecting consecrated hosts and the priests that consecrate them for us.   

We must be sincerely thankful and should fast at least one hour before we receive Holy Eucharist.  Let us ensure when we enter into the sanctuary, we are reverent and quiet, for this should be an area of sacred silence except for the prayers shared during Mass. 

Let us come in and genuflect to God in the tabernacle and if we pass before the altar, let us bow before it.  When we receive the consecrated bread, it is Jesus so we bow while the person in front of us receives Jesus and when the minister holds up the host to us and says “Body of Christ, we proclaim “AMEN”, Yes, Lord, I believe it is you.   

If we want to receive in our hands, let us do it with dignity befitting our King and Savior.  Make a little throne with your hands with putting your dominant hand on the bottom.  If we want the sacred body on your tongue, tip back you head slightly and open your mouth wide enough and bring out your tongue far enough so that Father or the EM can place the host on it. We must never take the body of Jesus from the altar to consume it later, to give to another, or to place in the bottom of our bag.

If you are not Catholic or are Catholic but not in a state of grace or for some other reason are unable to receive Jesus please come up with your hands folded across your chest and you will receive a blessing instead.  

So let us stand a little taller with a little more reverence and remember that this is not just a piece of bread we eat, but Jesus, our God who is truly present in this Holy consecrated bread. Let us revere him, love him and be in fervent prayer to become what we receive…… the Body and Blood of Christ completely poured out for us and others.  Not only on this holy feast day of Corpus Christi, but at every Mass we are blessed to attend.



The Solemnity of Holy Trinity Homily-Fr. Andrew Lee

You have probably run into a famous Russian painter, Andrea Rublev’s icon of The Trinity, also called The Hospitality of Abraham. This is his most famous work and is regarded as one of the highest achievements in Russian art. The icon is derived from Genesis 18: 1-8. The icon depicts three angels who are visiting Abraham at the oak of Mamre. The three angels who are symbolic of the Holy Trinity are sitting at a table with spiritual peace, humility, harmony, and mutual love. One time a Maryknoll priest led a retreat in the seminary when I was a seminarian. He brought this icon and set it on a table in a conference room where he gave talks and left it during the whole time of the retreat. That was the first time I saw this icon. As I gazed at the icon, I was drawn into a deep contemplation on the Blessed Trinity in the retreat.

Today is the solemnity of the Holy Trinity. We are invited to reflect on the mystery of the Holy Trinity. No human words can properly describe the depth of the mysterious relationship in the Trinity because it remains the central mystery both of our Christian faith and of Christian life. Therefore, the Trinity is at the heart of what Christ came to reveal and how He teaches us to live. In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the mysterious works among the three persons in the Trinity. “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth…Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” The relationship among the Trinity is the unity through a giving out.      

Let us go back to the icon. Like I said, Abraham receives three visitors as he camps by the oak of Mamre in Genesis 18. As the conversation goes on, he seems to talk straight to God. There are three gold winged figures in the icon, sitting at a table where a golden chalice like a bowl contains a roasted lamb. This is symbolic of the Lamb of God. The three persons in the Trinity tilt their heads looking down to the table with humility. This icon symbolizes that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit give out one another in their own ways at the Eucharistic table. The Father is the table that offers us food. The Son is the Food itself for us. He is giving Himself out at the table where there is nourishment and strength. The Holy Spirit is a Waiter for us who serves us and enlightens us and inspires us to follow the mystery. This special and very inspiring icon tells us that the relationship in the Holy Trinity is the unity through a giving out. By serving one another, the Holy Trinity reveals the mystery and encourages us to follow the way of Christian life.

Therefore, the mystery of the Trinity is a great example of loving, inviting, and united relationship which we are supposed to follow. This giving out relationship is completely accomplished in the Paschal Mystery: the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We finished celebrating this mystery liturgically on Pentecost last week. We, through faith, have full access to the Triune God whose love is manifested in the Paschal Mystery. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” St. Paul reaffirms us in the second reading that invites us to experience the Mystery through our faith.

Once again, how do we live out Trinitarian life?  We are asked to participate in the loving and giving out relationship that the Trinity shares among themselves. Like I said, the Father provides the table where we enjoy Eternal feast, and the Son becomes the Food itself that gives us life, and the Holy Spirit walks with us to keep this life in our relationships through encouragement and inspiration. This is the way of Christian life: the Trinitarian faith.

We have a lot of the Trinitarian expressions in the Church. When we are baptized, we confess the Trinity. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” When we simply make the sign of the cross, we pray to the Triune God. “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” When we say Glory to God, we also make our Trinitarian profession. There are many prayers in the Church that lead us to the profession of the Triune God and also remind us that we are led to a profound understanding of what the nature of God is: a giving out relationship. The Father is the source of redemption, and the Son is the achievement and the embodiment of the Father’s love, and the Holy Spirit is the continuation of this unmitigated love.

God is this giving out relationship. We are supposed to live all human relationship as communions of love that reflect God’s life-giving love. Christ has shown us concretely that the essence of love is the gift of self. The Vatican II Constitution on the Church in the modern world (Gaudium et Spes), says, “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” Without giving oneself out, there is no way to fulfill the purpose and nature of human beings. If we gaze at the Trinity, we find the perfect example that shows us how to live out faith in God. Therefore, let us humbly seek the love that the three persons in the Trinity show us, sitting together at the Eucharistic table, and telling us that this is the body and the blood of life that they give out. We ask God in this mass to establish the Trinitarian relationships among us and give us a profound understanding of being receptive of the gift of one another’s selves. This is called the Kingdom of God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


The 6th Sunday of Easter Homily-Fr. Andrew Lee

Did you have wonderful masses with Fr. Jerry Hackenmueller and Fr. Ben (Fr. Armand) for the last 2 weeks? Was it good? Good. Thanks to the priests, I was able to have a vacation for 2 weeks. Like I said, I went to Cordova to enjoy my break time. Some people think I was filling in Fr. Michael Kim. But no. I had a vacation, relaxing and doing nothing there and recharging myself with Fr. Michael. You know that he and I were classmates, so spending time with him was great like the old time when we were together in the seminary. A lot of talking and recollecting memories of the seminary. It was really good. I am glad to go there for my vacation. Fr. Michael said Hi to you all. He is doing very well. He likes the place and the people. He is adjusting well there. It’s been already 10 months and it seems that everybody there loves him. And it seems that the fact that the town is isolated, because you can go there by plane or ferry, doesn’t affect him. Neither is he bothered by rainy weather.

It was wet most of time when I was there: rainy and windy almost every day the first week I got there. It got better the second week. I had some sunny days in the second week. Cordova is a small fishing town but a beautiful city when not wet. It’s gorgeous when it is sunny: the harbor, mountains, lakes, oceans, birds, and so on. I walked almost every day to the harbor and watched the colorful and magnificent sunset over the ocean especially on nice days. Not many people. I was told there are about 2,000 residents. Of course, more people come in the summer like fishermen, cannery workers, and tourists. Because of the small population and natural beauty, it is very quiet, still, and peaceful. I feel God’s peace in the silence.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that He gives the disciples peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” When I read this part of the Gospel, I asked myself, “What kind of peace is Jesus talking about? Why is Jesus’ peace different from the peace that the world gives us?” The peace that Jesus gives is not simply a state without wars or conflicts. This is not the world peace that we can gain after a military fight. We don’t get this through appeasement. We are spiritually and mentally at peace when we have Jesus’ presence in our hearts. Jesus’ presence itself gives us peace. Jesus also says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” It is because Jesus’ presence is experienced in the disciples’ post-resurrection stories even though they still have their worries, despairs, disappointments, and discouragement. Jesus’ peace is inscribed in their troubled hearts when they become aware of Jesus’ presence.

No celebration of Easter would be complete without a reference to the peace that the Paschal mystery brings to us. Through Jesus’ action of dying and rising which is the Paschal Mystery, the peace would be fulfilled through our faith. Jesus’ appearance to the apostles after His resurrection transforms their sorrow and trouble into heavenly peace. This is given through Jesus’ presence. This is the gift from Jesus.

In the first reading, the early Christian communities experience dissension and controversy over the requirements of the converts. The apostles’ letter tells us how the leaders of the Church resolve those conflicts and bring peace to the Church. Through this process, the apostles establish the deposit of faith and spread the right manner of being Christians. And the second reading describes the heavenly peace with the presence of God through the vision of John. “I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.” Easter season is a time to deeply reflect on Jesus’ peace and to bring the heavenly peace to the world.

And then a question arises: how do we fully enjoy the peace that Jesus brings through the Paschal Mystery? How do we let the peace flow through us into the world? There is an answer in today’s readings. Obtaining peace is made possible when the Holy Spirit comes to the disciples’ hearts. That is why Jesus says in today’s Gospel, which is a part of Jesus’ farewell discourse: “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” We have to be guided by the Holy Spirit to know how to enjoy the peace of the Paschal Mystery. When the apostles write a letter to the faithful to settle the issue in the first reading, they say, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities.” The apostles know that any decision without the Holy Spirit’s inspiration easily fails. They pray and invite the Holy Spirit before the pastoral decision.

As the Easter weeks go on, the Church begins to draw our attention to the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the ‘Paraclete,’ meaning “he who is called to one’s side or advocate.” The Holy Spirit tells us what is wrong and what is right. “The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything.” Through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we know the way of Jesus’ peace. We are taught how the peace of the resurrection flows into the world even though we feel discouraged, disappointed, and devastated. Through the Holy Spirit, we come to realize that Jesus is present all the time through the Sacraments, and this real presence in the Eucharist is the only way to enjoy and spread the peace.

Jesus promises to be with us until the end of the world. His presence gives us the gift of peace. Jesus is still working through the Holy Spirit, our Advocate. Let us thank Jesus in this mass for being present in the Eucharist and leading us to the taste of heavenly peace through the Paraclete.

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