Sunday, April 29, 2012

4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday

The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.  ~John 10:11-18

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep." For the sake of his flock the shepherd was sacrificed as though he were a sheep. He did not refuse death; he did not destroy his executioners as he had the power to do, for his passion was not forced upon him. He laid down his life for his sheep of his own free will.

"I have the power to lay it down," he said, "and I have the power to take it up again."

By his passion he made atonement for our evil passions, by his death he cured our death, by his tomb he robbed the tomb, by the nails that pierced his flesh he destroyed the foundations of hell.
Death held sway until Christ died. The grave was bitter, our prison was indestructible, until the shepherd went down and brought to his sheep confined there the good news of their release.
His appearance among them gave them a pledge of their resurrection and called them to a new life beyond the grave. "The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep and so seeks to win their love."

Now to love Christ means to obey his commands. The shepherd knows how to separate goats from sheep. The gospel says that "all nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people from one another, as the Good Shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left, and he will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"

What had they done to earn this invitation? "I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me." What you give to those who are mine, you will receive back from me. Because they are naked, strangers, homeless, and poor, so am I, and in supplying their needs you show kindness to me. It is I who am afflicted when they cry out.

Win the judge over by gifts before you come to trial. Provide him with grounds for showing clemency, give him some reason to acquit you. Otherwise you will be among those on his left hand who hear the terrible sentence: "Depart from me with your curse upon you to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

What are the sins for which we would be condemned with the devil? I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not welcome me; naked and you did not clothe me.

Who could turn away from his own shepherd when he was hungry, or fail to notice when his future judge lacked necessary clothing? Who could condemn the judge of the whole world to suffer thirst?
Christ will accept even the gift of the poor and for a small gift grant remission of long punishment.
Let us put out the fire with mercy and avert the sentence that hangs over us by showing love for one another. Let us be compassionate toward one another and forgiving, as God has forgiven us in Christ.

To him be glory and power for ever. Amen.

~Basil of Seleucia, c. 459 (Homily 26, 2: PG 85, 306-07).  Basil of Seleucia became archbishop of Seleucia about the year 440. He is remembered for his fluctuating attitude in the events which preceded the Council of Chalcedon in 451. He voted against Monophysitism at the Synod of Constantinople in 448, but at the "Robber Synod" of Ephesus in 449 gave his support to Eutyches, the originator of Monophysitism. Then at the Council of Chalcedon he signed the Tome of Saint Leo, which condemned Eutyches. Thirty-nine of Basil's homilies have been preserved. They show his concern to place the exegesis of his time within the reach of all.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Love, the only light

"Love is the light -- and in the end, the only light -- that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working." ~Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, #39
We give You thanks, O Beloved Christ, for Your Risen Love lights up our lives and brings us into the splendor of Your Eternal Day.  Amen!  Alleluia!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Communicating Joy

"The Holy Spirit gives us joy. And he is joy. Joy is the gift in which all the other gifts are included. It is the expression of happiness, of being in harmony with ourselves, that which can only come from being in harmony with God and with his creation. It belongs to the nature of joy to be radiant; it must communicate itself. The missionary spirit of the Church is none other than the impulse to communicate the joy which has been given."   ~ Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas Address to the Roman Curia, 2008

My dear Lord, You have given me so much joy, You have given me Yourself.  Make my life Your song of joy!  Amen!  Alleluia! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Glory and Mercy

Give glory to the Lord, for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever...

For he hath satisfied the empty soul
 and hath filled the hungry soul with good things. 
~Psalm 107

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Third Sunday of Easter

It was written that the Christ would suffer and and the third day rise from the dead.  ~Luke 24:35-48

Christ rose from the tomb with his wounds healed, though their scars remained. He knew it would be good for his disciples if he retained the scars, for those scars would heal the wound in their hearts.
What wound do I mean? The wound of disbelief; for even when he appeared before their eyes and showed them his true body, they still took him for a disembodied spirit. So he showed himself to his disciples.

When we say “himself,” what precisely do we mean? We mean Christ as head of his Church.
He foresaw the Church extending throughout the world, a vision his disciples could not yet share. However, in showing them the head, he was promising them the body too.

What, in fact, were his next words to them?

All these things I told you while I was still among you, meaning: I still had to face death when I was among you as a mortal among mortals. But now I no longer live among you as before; never again shall I have to die as mortals do. What I was telling you, then, was that everything that had been written about me had to be fulfilled.

Then he opened their minds to understand the meaning of it all, explaining to them that, "it had been decreed that Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead."

But all this they had themselves seen: with their own eyes they had seen him suffer, seen him hanging on the cross, and now, after his resurrection, they could see him standing before them alive. What, then can it have been that they were still incapable of seeing?

It was his body, the Church.

Him they could see well enough, but the Church not at all. The bridegroom they could see, but the bride was still hidden from them. Nevertheless, he promised her to them. "Thus it is written: Christ must suffer and on the third day rise from the dead."

So much for the bridegroom, but what of the bride? "In his name repentance must be preached to every nation on earth for the forgiveness of sins, beginning at Jerusalem."

This is what the disciples had not yet seen: they had no vision yet of the Church spreading from Jerusalem over the whole world. But they could see the head before them, and when he spoke to them of the body, they believed him.

Now we too find ourselves in a situation not unlike theirs: we can see something which was not visible to them, while they could see something not visible to us. We can see the Church extending throughout the world today, something that was withheld from them, but Christ, who in his human body was perceptible to them, cannot be seen by us.

And just as they, seeing his human flesh, were enabled to believe in his mystical body, so now we, seeing his mystical body, should be able to believe in the head. Just as the sight of the risen Christ helped the disciples to believe in the Church that was to follow, so the spectacle of that same Church helps to confirm our faith in the resurrection of Christ.

The faith of the disciples was made complete, and so is ours: theirs by the sight of the head, ours by the sight of the body. But to them and to us alike the whole Christ is revealed, though neither to them nor to us has it yet been granted to see him in his entirety.

For while they could see the head alone with their physical eyes and the body only with the eyes of faith, we can see only the body and have to take the head on trust. Nevertheless, Christ is absent from no one; he is wholly present in all of us, even though he still waits for his body to be completed.

~St. Augustine, 354-430; Sermon 116, 1.5-6: PL 38, 657-60

O Christ, risen in glory, thank you for being "wholly present in all of us" and for giving us the faith to believe even when we cannot see.  Amen!  Alleluia!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Peace and confidence

The Risen Lord Appears by He Qi

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.   ~Helen Keller

These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world. ~St. John 16:33

O Christ, Risen in Glory,
You alone are my peace and confidence!
My Jesus, I trust in YOU!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein

Behold, I make all things new.  ~Revelation 21:5

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jesus is God's new day!

"Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death. He has taken mankind up into God himself...

"With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us...

"Let us pray to the Lord…that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world."

~Pope Benedict XVI, 2012 Easter Vigil Homily

For with thee is the fountain of life;
and in thy light we shall see light.
~Psalm 36:9

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Divine Mercy Sunday

After eight days Jesus came in and stood among them.  ~John 20:19-31

Thomas’ profession of faith came swiftly when, eight days after he had declared his unwillingness to believe, Christ showed him his side and the nail marks in his hands and removed every possible doubt.
Our Lord Jesus Christ had miraculously entered the room when the doors were closed. As this would have been impossible for an ordinary earthly body he reassured Thomas, and through him the other disciples, by letting him see his side and the wounds in his flesh.

Only Thomas is reported to have said: "Unless my hands touch the marks of the nails and I see them, and unless I put my hand into his side, I will not believe"; yet to some extent all the disciples were guilty of disbelief. Doubt remained in their minds even after they had told Thomas that they had seen the Lord.

Saint Luke’s account says that, "while they stood amazed, torn between joy and disbelief Christ said to them: “Have you anything to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish and part of a honeycomb, which he took and ate before their eyes."

This surely proves that it was not only in the mind of blessed Thomas that disbelieving thoughts still lurked, but in the minds of the other disciples as well. It was their very astonishment that made them slow to believe, but when it became impossible to disbelieve what they could see with their own eyes, blessed Thomas made his profession of faith: "My Lord and my God."

Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”

There was a wonderful providence behind these words of the Savior, and they can be of very great help to us. They show once again how much he cares for our souls, for he is good and as Scripture says: He wants everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

Even so, this saying of his may surprise us.

As always, Christ had to be patient with Thomas when he said he would not believe and with the other disciples too when they thought they were seeing a ghost.

Because of his desire to convince the whole world, he most willingly showed them the marks of the nails and the wound in his side; because he wished those who needed such signs as a support for their faith to have no possible reason for doubt, he even took food although he had no need for it.

But when anyone accepts what he has not seen, believing on the word of his teacher, the faith by which he honors the one his teacher proclaims to him is worthy of great praise.

Blessed, therefore, is everyone who believes the message of the holy apostles who, as Luke says, were eyewitnesses of Christ’s actions and ministers of the word.

If we desire eternal life and long for a dwelling place in heaven, we must listen to them.

St. Cyril of Alexandria, d. 444
Commentary on John’s Gospel 12, 22: PG 74, 729-36

O my Jesus, risen from the dead and among us still, deliver me from my fearfulness and disbelief that I may live to praise Your mercy and proclaim Your glory.  Amen.  Alleluia!
 And to him my soul shall live.  ~Psalm 21:31

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!

The Angel cried to the Lady full of grace:
Rejoice! Rejoice, O pure Virgin!
Again, I say rejoice! Your Son is risen
from His three days in the tomb.
With Himself He has raised all the dead.
Rejoice, rejoice all ye people!
Shine! Shine! Shine, O new Jerusalem!
The Glory of the Lord has shown on you.
Exult now, exult and be glad, O Zion!
Be radiant, O pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection,
the Resurrection of your Son!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday!

April Sunset by Ann L. Krumrein

I arose, and am still with Thee, alleluia!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday of Holy Week

"The Lord Jesus..goes up to Jerusalem in order to fulfil the Scriptures and to be nailed to the wood of the Cross, the throne from which he will reign for ever, drawing to himself humanity of every age and offering to all the gift of redemption."  ~Pope Benedict XVI, Palm Sunday, 4/1/12

Draw me: we will run after thee...we will be glad and rejoice in thee...
Song of Solomon 1:4

Where my feet refuse to take me, there will I kneel down.
And where my hands fail me, there will I fold them.
~Gertrud von le Fort

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

When Jesus entered Jerusalem like a triumphant conqueror, many were astonished at the majesty of his bearing; but when a short while afterward he entered upon his passion, his appearance was ignoble, an object of derision.

If today’s procession and passion are considered together, in the one Jesus appears as sublime and glorious, in the other as lowly and suffering. The procession makes us think of the honor reserved for a king, whereas the passion shows us the punishment due to a thief.

In the one Jesus is surrounded by glory and honor, in the other "he has neither dignity nor beauty." In the one he is the joy of all and the glory of the people, in the other "the butt of men and the laughing stock of the people."

In the one he receives the acclamation: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes as the king of Israel"; in the other there are shouts that he is guilty of death and he is reviled for having set himself up as king of Israel.

In the procession the people meet Jesus with palm branches, in the passion they slap him in the face and strike his head with a rod. In the one they extol him with praises, in the other they heap insults upon him.

In the one they compete to lay their clothes in his path, in the other he is stripped of his own clothes. In the one he is welcomed to Jerusalem as a just king and savior, in the other he is thrown out of the city as a criminal, condemned as an impostor.

In the one he is mounted on an ass and accorded every mark of honor; in the other he hangs on the wood of the cross, torn by whips, pierced with wounds, and abandoned by his own.

If, then, we want to follow our leader without stumbling through prosperity and through adversity, let us keep our eyes upon him, honored in the procession, undergoing ignominy and suffering in the passion, yet unshakably steadfast in all such changes of fortune.

Lord Jesus, you are the joy and salvation of the whole world; whether we see you seated on an ass or hanging on the cross, let each one of us bless and praise you, so that when we see you reigning on high we may praise you forever and ever, for to you belong praise and honor throughout all ages. Amen.

~Bl. Guerric of Igny, c. 1070/80-1157, Sermon 3 on Palm Sunday