Let us pray from John Phillip Newell
Clear our heart, O God, that we may see you.
Clear our heart, O God,
that we may truly see ourselves.
See our heart, O God,
that we may know the sacredness of this moment
and in every moment
as the Living Presence in every presence.
Clear our heart, O God,
that we may see. Amen
A Reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (14:22-25)
22 While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.”
23 Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and handed it to them; and they all drank from it. 24 Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God’s covenant. 25 I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine in the Kingdom of God.”
Julian of Norwich said, “We are not just made by God. We are made of God.” Eucharist is an offering. Christ offers Christself to us, and we offer in return. It is meant to be a flow. There is a divine love that is freely given. We enter into it and it changes us. It doesn’t just flow in. What happens to water when it grows stagnant? It is meant to then flow out. We must allow God within us to flow out of us. How is this shown in Babette’s Feast?
“How then can we, in the midst of our ordinary lives, drink our cup, the cup of sorrow and the cup of joy? How can we fully appropriate what is given to us? Somehow we know that when we do not drink our cup and thus avoid the sorrow as well as the joy of living, our lives become inauthentic, insincere, superficial, and boring…We can choose to drink the cup of our life with the deep conviction that by drinking it we will find our true freedom. Thus, we will discover that the cup of sorrow and joy we are drinking is the cup of salvation.” Henri Nouwen in Can You Drink the Cup? Does Babette do this? What about the townspeople?
What is God’s covenant? How does God’s covenant make a difference in your life?
Let us pray
Christ, come into our lives.
Come into our lives and make us into something new.
Help us find joy in this newness.
Help us use this joy in our lives
and in the lives of those we around us
Father Bob’s homily last Sunday…
5th Sunday of Easter C
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” When I hear these words of Jesus, I have three feelings simultaneously. At one level, on the surface and without too much examination, I feel gratified. Of course, we should love one another as Christ has loved us. How else would we want to approach the other, but with Christ like love? And I am well aware that we might be the only Gospel someone ever reads and the only witness to the Good News one person might ever meet. And what could be more attractive in us and for the other but Christ-like love?
But there is also the accompanying feeling, something in the midrange of my mind and soul. It begins pretty selfishly. Love as Christ did? How did that work…
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Father Bob’s homily last Sunday…
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Have you ever been in a relationship where you both needed to talk, but you were reluctant to do it because of the pain it would raise? You slough it off, act as if everything is fine, but it won’t be until you have the talk you both know is coming. This is the third time that the disciples had seen Jesus risen from the dead, but Peter and Jesus have yet to talk about that Peter’s three denials the night Christ was arrested. You can imagine a lot of silent nodding during that time, but the conversation has yet to occur.
And finally it does. Jesus takes Peter aside by the water and asks the provocative question, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Chastened by the experience of over-promising and under-delivering as when he began walking on water…
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Let us pray from David Fleming, SJ
Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
but hold me safe from the forces of evil.
On each of my dyings
shed your light and your love.
Keep calling to me until that day comes,
when, with your saints,
I may praise you forever. AMEN
A Reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (24:13-35)
13 On that same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,14 and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; 16 they saw him, but somehow did not recognize him. 17 Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?”
They stood still, with sad faces. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have been happening there these last few days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. 20 Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. 21 And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. 22 Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, 23 but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. 24 Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.”
25 Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! 26 Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” 27 And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther; 29 but they held him back, saying, “Stay with us; the day is almost over and it is getting dark.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them.31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up at once and went back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven disciples gathered together with the others 34 and saying, “The Lord is risen indeed! He has appeared to Simon!”
35 The two then explained to them what had happened on the road, and how they had recognized the Lord when he broke the bread.
Oh, for the pleasure of a meal with friends! Friendship is a kind of sacrament all its own. We share histories with our friends. We tell the story of our lives and find common ground. And when we come together, we share food. The warmth and comfort of a meal reflects the nature of our relationship with one another. We celebrate the union of our hearts around the table. In the unique gathering of our Eucharist, we also acknowledge the great story of God and our relationship with the Holy One through Jesus Christ. Our eyes are opened in this meal to recognize the common ground we hold with Divinity: the reign of God itself. Our friendship with God through Christ is true yesterday, today, and forever. This is what our faith means. Everything we need to know about God is in this meal (“Exploring the Sunday Readings”, Ap 1999, A). How do we see this in the film?
Eucharist is a unique sacrament because it is what it does. We participate in it and then become it. It is a revelation. God reveals Godself to us in Eucharist as we reveal ourselves. We commune. What is being revealed in this film?
Let us pray
Jesus, our friend,
How often do you do reveal yourself to us
and we don’t notice?
Open our minds and hearts
so we may see you in the multitude of ways
that you come to us.
May our seeing set our hearts on fire
to be fully who we are meant to be
and fully do what we are meant to do. AMEN
Let us pray from St. Teresa of Avila
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours. AMEN
A Reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (7:36-50)
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to [a]dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a [b]sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a [c]sinner.” 40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he [d]replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred[e]denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say [f]to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
There is quite a contrast between the Pharisee and the woman, one showing hospitality and the other refraining from it. With Pharisees being so accustomed to rules, you would think it would be the other way around. But it is the woman who greets Jesus by kissing him, washing his feet and using an oil to refresh. These were customary things to do when a guest arrived, but the Pharisee does none of them. Why is that? Maybe he admired Jesus but didn’t want to show it out of fear, but this seems unlikely with his rude behavior. Maybe he was hoping to catch him in doing something wrong so he could charge him, yet he does call him rabbi/teacher. He probably collected celebrities, and Jesus seemed to be the latest fad (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, p. 93). This story is an example of people not always seeming on the outside what they are on the inside. This will be shown in Babette’s Feast as well. How does Eucharist transform us? How does Eucharist teach us to be our true selves?
“It is true to say that the greatest of sins is to be conscious of no sin; but a sense of need will open the door to the forgiveness of God, because God is love, and love’s greatest glory is to be needed,” (p. 94). This woman showed great need for Jesus. She wasn’t afraid to step into a place where she wasn’t supposed to be, hair unbound, and pour herself over Jesus. She uses no words, but her actions speak for her. Consider how approaching Eucharist would touch our hearts more if we showed great need for it like this woman. Consider the needs of the people in this film as well.
In Jesus’ parable, he points out how we like things to be fair and just. The man with the greater debt must love the moneylender more because he was forgiven more. Jesus tells this story in reference to the woman and why she is lavishing him with love. But who does the moneylender love more? He forgives both debts equally. That is how God’s love works. We love imperfectly, in the best way we know how. Note how love works in this film too. And in receiving Eucharist, we are all called to the table, no matter how worthy.
Let us pray
How often do we hold back, Lord?
We sometimes find ourselves
not coming to you
because we are not worthy, or ready,
to receive you.
Heal us. Open us to your presence
so that we might see
your great love for us
exactly as we are.
Father Bob’s homily last Sunday…
2nd Sunday of Easter C
Many people think of mercy as the forgiveness of sins, and that is found in our Gospel today. Many think of mercy as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that too plays a prominent role in John’s resurrection account. But just as Christianity is not simply a set of beliefs, but an encounter with Christ; so mercy is not a set of values but an encounter with the merciful one. So let us relax, sit back and have that encounter. Let us meet the risen Jesus in the upper room.
We are in the upper room and anxious behind locked doors. There are reports the body is missing and Jesus has been seen by Mary Magdalene, but you are still hovering in that same room, afraid that those who came for Jesus will come for you. Then suddenly, somehow Jesus appears before…
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1ST READING – ACTS 5: 27-32, 40-41
How is this reading pertinent to church and political life today? The Sanhedrin was the Jewish high court, consisting of 71 members which included elders, high priests, priestly leaders and scribes. They could pass legal judgment in most cases, except capital cases which were reserved for the Romans. They were very powerful. And they refused to feel any responsibility for Jesus’ death. They considered the apostles as renegades from Judaism, and so they exerted their control over them (Birmingham, W&W, p. 279). Yet the apostles stood their ground. They drew their line in the sand, and actually rejoiced that they could suffer for the cause. These are the same apostles that were hiding out in the Gospel last week! What brought them out of their fear?
Mark Powell in Introducing the New Testament describes Acts as a “history of a particular institution or organization composed by that entity’s public relation department,” (p. 197). Everything always seems to work out for the best. Embarrassing incidents, failings, prayers unanswered and people not healed aren’t mentioned, although they must have happened. At times we are like this when someone close to us dies too. But maybe there is a lesson in this. We take our faith so seriously, sometimes seeing the bad more than anything else. What if we focused on the positive? What if we reveled in the good of our church and our relationship with God?
2ND READING – REVELATION 5: 11-14
Revelation is a book to excite the senses. In a sense, to ‘interpret’ this book is to misinterpret it, for often the appeal is to the imagination; it a book to be experienced, not explained (Powell, Introducing the New Testament, p, 519).The slain Lamb conjures images of the Jewish Passover, and Jesus represents the sacrificial lamb (Birmingham, W&W, p. 280). Notice how the elders are better listeners in this story than the first reading. They actually fall down and worship…quite a contrast! (The elders are 24, 12 for the tribes of Israel and 12 for the disciples. It is really a way of saying ALL fell down to worship.
Note how John includes every creature in worship. Pope Francis in “Laudato Si” says, “Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another,” (#42) and “Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world,” (#77). How might be worship God within the context of creation?
GOSPEL: John 21:1-19
Night-time was the best for fishing. From W.M. Thomson in The Land and the Book writes, “There are certain kinds of fishing always carried on at night. It is a beautiful sight. With blazing torch, the boat glides over the flashing sea, and the men stand gazing keenly into it until their prey is sighted, when, quick as lightening, they fling their net or fly their spear; and often you see the tired fishermen come sullenly into harbor in the morning, having toiled all night in vain.” It also happens that the men in the boat rely on someone on shore to tell them where to cast. From a distance, a person might see the fish in the clear water better than from straight above. Jesus was acting as guide to his fishermen friends, just as people still do today (Barclay, The Gospel of John Vol. 2, p. 281).
It was Jewish law that to offer a greeting was a religious act, and for that one must be clothed. That is why Peter first puts on his tunic before going to Jesus (p. 282). Peter is such an example to us! He jumps in with excitement to get to Jesus as soon as possible!
This story is meant to ground the risen Christ. He actually came…not as a vision or spirit but the real deal who pointed out fish, cooked and ate with his friends.
Why 153 fish? One idea from St. Jerome is that there were 153 different kinds of fish, so the catch was all-encompassing. The number symbolizes the fact that some day all people of all nations will be gathered together to Jesus Christ. The net stands for the Church; and there is room in the Church for all people of all nations (p. 284). Like it says in Lumen Gentium from Vatican II: The Church works and prays diligently with great hope that everyone in the whole world will ultimately join together as the People of God.
Why “more than these”? It could be that Jesus swept his hands around the boat, nets, equipment and catch and meant more than this life Peter had. Or perhaps Jesus meant more than the other disciples, fore-shadowing Peter’s place in the early church (p. 285). Either way, Jesus asks Peter 3 times of his love, giving him a chance at forgiveness and rehabilitation. Of course, Jesus had forgiven him already, but perhaps Peter still clung to the guilt.
Love costs. Peter’s love for Jesus brought him both a task and a cross. Love always involves responsibility and sacrifice. It is the cost of discipleship; it is what ‘picking up our cross’ is all about. The cutting edge of love is not dying for the other but living for the other. It is caring for the other for their own sake, regardless of consequences. (Celebration, April 2001 &2004) How does this group compare with the Sanhedrin in the 1st reading?
What do your palms look like now? They were green, fresh and supple when we waved them on Palm Sunday. We go through Holy Week and the triumph of Easter. Now we look at our palms and they are dry, yellow and brittle. I tend to stick mine behind a picture in my dining room and largely forget about them. As a matter of fact, I have 2 or 3 years worth back there now. I look at them and think – I really should stick them in the fireplace and burn them. But then I don’t.
It’s hard to look at the dry, yellow and brittle when we are in the joy of the Easter season. The disciples are literally on fire with Spirit humming in their veins. They are healing people left and right. This Sunday, we will hear people believe they only need Peter’s shadow to pass over them to heal. This is the good news at long last!
But where were they on Good Friday? They waved their palms a couple weeks ago and they have spiritual fervor now when healing and joy is in the air. But when things got tough, nothing. Zilch. Na-da. Well, at least for many of them.
The palms go stale when they are cut off from their life source. Their roots are no longer nourished by soil and water. Their leaves don’t process the light of the sun anymore. They are lifeless.
Maybe keeping the palms behind the picture is a reminder. When we cut off from our life source, we go stale too. It is easy to be with God and follow God when things are good. But when times are hard, that is when we must still stretch out our roots towards the living water. We must raise our gaze to the sun (son). We must hang on and hang in. Be nourished. Maybe instead of turning dry and brittle, we will stay fresh and supple in the light of God’s mercy and grace.