Happy Memorial Day! Let us pray for all those who have and are serving to protect our country.
When we look at Easter and the following days, our Liturgical celebrations are broken up in little pieces so we have some time to reflect on them. As we move from Easter through some 40 days let us look briefly at the events:
1) Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, John 20:16 and Mark 16:9-11.
2) Then to other women, Matthew 28:9.
3) He appeared to two disciples on the way to Emmaus, Lk 24:13-30.
4)On Easter evening in the Upper Room to the disciples without Thomas,” John 20:19ff and Luke 24:36ff.
5) One week later Jesus appeared in the Upper Room with Thomas present, John 20:24-29.
6) Jesus appeared to about 500 disciples at once, John 20:30ff.
7) Jesus give breakfast at the Sea of Galilee to some apostles after fishing, John 21:1-14.
8) Jesus give final instructions on a mountain in Galilee, Mark 16:14ff, Mat 28:16ff.
These are gospel events during the 40 days, see Acts 1:3. “After his suffering, Jesus showed himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
9) Jesus blessed his disciples near Bethany and was taken from their sight, Luke 24:50-53.
Now remember that all these New Testament books and letters were written as tools for educating Jews and converting others from paganism. We are dealing with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those first followers of Jesus.
The second reading was taken from St. Peter’s first letter. He told new people to be sure to put Jesus infirst place in their minds and hearts, then to be ready to gently tell others about the hope they found in Jesus.
The first reading from Acts of the Apostles told the story of the deacon Philip going over to a Samaritan city to preach. The people listened, saw the exorcisms and healings he performed and accepted the water baptism of Jesus. The community in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to lay hands on them so they could receive the Holy Spirit, what we now understand as the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Chapter 14 of St. John taught that Jesus was the first Advocate, defender and helper, sent to us by our Father. Jesus’ task was to pay the debt of our sins by his suffering and death. Then Jesus was back from the dead showing that his sacrifice was accepted. Now Jesus was returning to His Father. The Father and Jesus would then send us a second Advocate, their family Spirit, to be with us always.
Now reason with me. If God’s Holy Spirit is living within each of us from our Baptism that must also mean that some presence of our Father and Jesus are also there. We are precious because of the divine presence within us. This makes our human body a temple of God. That is why we incense the body during a funeral Mass.
So as we take in and understand the truth of these teachings of Jesus we want to love the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit more and love others. That was his new commandments. We are to love God and our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Only 7% of Catholics are what we call dynamic Catholics, those who know Jesus personally and pray some each day. They read and study about our faith. We belong to the greatest organization on earth and do the most amount of work worldwide for good. This 7% provides 80% of the financial resources for church work. And they help teach others to find and love Jesus. What if that 7% were increased or even doubled? We could change the world for good.
Let us ask God to give us more of his Holy Spirit to be set on fire as deacon Philip was in today’s first reading. People are dying for lack of hearing God’s Good News. Who will go tell them? Let us pray,” Lord, here am I. Send and empower each of us who are reading this to help ‘rebuild’ the church as did St. Francis of Assisi.” He thought it was with bricks and mortar and found out much later, it was far more. Amen!Blessings, + Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR (© 2014 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)