FEAST OF ASCENSION OF OUR LORD – (May 21/24, 2020)
(Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mt 28:16-20)
Introduction: Today’s readings describe the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into his Heavenly glory after promising the apostles the Holy Spirit as their source of Heavenly power and commanding them to bear witness to him by their lives and by preaching the good News throughout the world. The ascended Jesus promised the Apostles, “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time,” and keeps that promise through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Today’s Feast is a celebration of Jesus’ glory after his suffering and death – a glory in which we also hope to share.
The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes the scene of Jesus’ Ascension, with the promise of the Holy Spirit and the instruction that the Apostles were to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the Holy Spirit, the Power from above.
In the second reading, St. Paul prays that Holy the Spirit may enliven the hope of Christ’s disciples in their future heavenly glory, saying, “May God enlighten the eyes of our heart so that we may know the great hope to which we have been called.” Paul also teaches us that God revealed His might in the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ and in exalting Jesus over all angelic forces.
Today’s Gospel tells us that, with his return to the Father, Jesus completed his mission on earth. But just before his Ascension, he entrusted to his disciples the mission of preaching and teaching the Good News and evangelizing the whole world by bearing witness to him through their lives. In the descriptions of Christ after his Resurrection, we are given a hint of what life will be like in Heaven. But it is in Jesus’ Ascension that we see the Son of God and Son of Man entering fully into the life and glory of God. The prospect of sharing in that glory should be the driving force of our lives.
Footprints: In the familiar poem entitled “Footprints” a man at the end of his life wanted to know why in tough times there one set of footprints in the sand was only. After all, the Lord had promised to walk with him all the way. The Lord replied by telling him that He had never left him in times of trial. When the man saw only one set of footprints, it was then that the Lord carried him. The Lord was with Fr. Ciszek for twenty-three years of hardship in Russia. The Lord was with the man walking in the sand. May the risen Lord be with us all the days of our life.
1) As Christians, we need to be proclaimers and evangelizers. The difference between preaching and proclaiming is that we preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives. Let us ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we may bear witness to Jesus by our transparent Christian lives.
2) We have a teaching mission: Jesus taught us lessons of Faith, Hope, Love, forgiveness, mercy and salvation both by living and by preaching them. Our mission is to bring them to others in the same ways. Hence, let us learn all Jesus did and taught through daily study of the Bible and the teachings of the Church, experience Jesus in personal prayer, reception of the Sacraments and works of charity, and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, convey to others Jesus whom we have experienced.
3) The ascended Jesus is our source of strength and encouragement: We will be able to overcome doubts about our Faith and baseless fears, anxieties and worries by meditating on Jesus’ Ascension and the lesson it teaches that we, too, are called to share Jesus’ glory in Heaven.
Think about it!
May 24, 2020
Greetings in Christ,
The Ascension of Our Lord Sunday!
Jesus our Lord is finally victorious in every way. After having overcome all obstacles and humiliations, even death on the cross, he moves ahead. His actions go beyond the expectations of everyone. He appears many times to strengthen the frightened disciples. He turns their fears into faith and joy. Jesus restores everything lost by his dying to new life in the Spirit. Now, he is triumphant and going back to the Father’s home. His mission is accomplished. This needs to be continued by the apostles he has strengthened, and handed down to us, his believers and followers. The chain of command and responsibility continues until the end of time.
In the Gospel today, Jesus appears as he is about to depart from this earth and ascend into heaven. In preparation for this event, Jesus summons his remaining eleven disciples to meet him at a designated mountain and commissions them to make disciples of all nations by baptizing all with the Trinitarian formula, thereby broadening the Christian mission. Jesus’ eternal presence is assured to them, and now also to us, who receive these words of Jesus by virtue of our own baptism in God’s name.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
EASTER VI [A] (May 17): Acts 8:5-8, 14-17, I Pt 3:15-18, Jn 14:15-21
Introduction: From Easter to Pentecost our readings focus on the early apostolic preaching of the Good News of salvation and on the promises of Jesus to his disciples, especially his promise of the Holy Spirit. Today’s readings explain who the Holy Spirit is, what His roles are and how we can experience Him in our daily lives.
Central theme of Scriptures today:
The first reading describes how the Holy Spirit helped Philip, the Deacon, to preach powerfully and convert the Samaritans in large numbers. It also explains how the baptized Samaritans received a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands by the apostles Peter and John.
In the second reading, Peter shows us the God-fearing lives the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us believers to live in the midst of opposition and persecution.
Today’s Gospel, taken from the “Last Supper Discourse,” describes the gift Jesus will ask the Father to send, the Holy Spirit, Who will live as the Paraclete, the Divine Advocate, in those who obey Jesus’ commandments, especially the commandment of love. Thus, Jesus will continue to live in his believers with the indwelling Father and Holy Spirit, so that we will not be left as orphans. The risen Jesus’ continued presence in us and in the Church through the Holy Spirit gives meaning and purpose to all we are and all we do in his Name.
As the Divine Advocate, the Holy Spirit will instruct us in Jesus’ doctrines and illumine our minds to receive deeper knowledge of our Faith. In addition, the Divine Advocate will enable us to defend our Faith powerfully and will guide us properly in our practice of true Christian love. Thus, we will be able to recognize Jesus in the in the poor, in the sick, in the homeless, in the marginalized, in the outcast, in the drug addicts, and even in the criminals (“I was in prison…”), and so to become agents of healing and reconciliation in a broken and divided world.
1) We need to be open to the Holy Spirit, our Paraclete. The purpose of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to help us grow towards maturity and wholeness. We all have faults that prevent our growth: blocks of sin and imperfection, blocks due to childhood conflicts, blocks due to deeply ingrained personality traits and habits, blocks caused by addictions, and blocks resulting from bad choices we have made. We all have these blocks within us, and they keep us from becoming what God wants us to be. They prevent us from growing into maturity and wholeness. God, the Holy Spirit, helps us see the truth about ourselves, to discern the blocks that inhibit our growth, and to allow Him to transform us.
2) Like the Good Counselor He is, the Spirit enables us to become stronger. The Holy Spirit also comes to our aid and gives us the strength to make difficult and painful decisions.
3) The Holy Spirit actually lives in us, and we hear His voice counseling and guiding us in the way of truth. Let us open the ears of our minds to hear Him and to obey His promptings.
Think about it! God Bless you all! Fr. Peter Chinnappan
May 17, 2020
Greetings in Christ,
The Spirit of Truth is one with the Spirit of Love, Jesus assures his disciples, and all of us. This is the bond of unity promised by Jesus after His death. After Jesus’ resurrection, his mission has been accomplished. Before returning to the Father’s home, Jesus is strengthening the faith of his disciples to continue the mission that he, Jesus, began. He does not leave us all empty, like orphans, missing Him. He assures the coming of the Holy Spirit, filling up all sense of emptiness with love and the fullness of life in God, to carry out His mission. One necessary condition is to keep all his commandments in our hearts.
Through this kind of spiritual connection, Jesus now extends a profound and wider relationship of family through the Holy Spirit among us. By this, all barriers causing division are conquered. The bridge of unity is now made possible through the Holy Spirit. This is the foundation for our rejoicing, because Jesus has paved a new way of reaching peace. This is the greatest gift for all of us who love one another. This is the real image of the parish of Holy Family. The risen Jesus has called us together to worship Him as our Savior. The words of Jesus are our living guide, worshipping together and offering our time, talent and treasure for One God, One Parish, One Family.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
EASTER V [A] (May 10): Acts 6:1-7, I Pt 2:4-9, Jn 14:1-12
Introduction: Today’s readings tell us how the early Church accepted the challenge of keeping Jesus’ memory alive by remaining a dynamic Christian community, bearing witness to Christ by their unity, fidelity in worship and spirit of loving, humble service. Today’s Gospel introduces Jesus as the Way to God, the Truth to be accepted, and the Life to be shared and lived.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from Acts, shows us the early Church as a loving, serving, and worshipping community (Acts 6:1-7). Hence, it easily solved a problem of perceived discrimination by instituting the diaconate for the service of the community. In the second reading, St. Peter advises the early Christians to renew the memory of Jesus by making their community a spiritual edifice built from the “living stones” of believers upon the “Living Cornerstone of Christ” (I Pt 2:4-5). Peter praises Christians, both Gentile and Jewish, as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s own people.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus consoles his apostles (who are sad and disheartened at His announcement that He will be leaving them soon), by assuring them that he is going to prepare an everlasting accommodation for them in his Father’s House in Heaven. He gives them the assurance that he will come back to take them to their Heavenly abodes. It is then that Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus answers Thomas’ question with, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” The basic doctrine of Judaism is that Yahweh is the Way the Truth and the Life. Hence, Jesus is making a revolutionary claim that he is equivalent to Yahweh. Jesus also declares that he is the safest and surest way to God, discrediting the notions that all religions are equally sure ways to reach God, or that no organized religion but only living a good life of sharing love is necessary to reach God. Jesus, however, is the Way which he calls narrow because it is the way of focused, loving, humble, sacrificial service. Jesus is the Truth who teaches revealed truths about God and God’s relation to man. Jesus also teaches moral truths by demonstrating them in his life. Jesus is the Life because, as God, he possesses the eternal life of God and shares his Divine life with his disciples through the Word of God and the Sacraments. In short, Jesus reveals the Father in the way he lives, in the truth of his word and in the new life that he brings.
My Father’s house.” When St. John Chrysostom was summoned before the Roman Emperor Arcadius and threatened with banishment, he replied, “You cannot banish me, for the world is my Father’s house.” “Then I will kill you,” exclaimed the Emperor angrily. “No, you cannot,” retorted Chrysostom, “because my life is hidden with Christ in God.” “Your treasures shall be confiscated, “the Emperor replied grimly. “Sir, you can’t do that because my treasures are in Heaven as my heart is there.” “I will drive you from your people, and you shall have no friends left,” threatened the Emperor. “That you cannot do either, Sir, for I have a Friend in Heaven Who has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’” In today’s Gospel, Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, gives us the same assurance. “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
Life messages: We need to accept Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life: We accept Jesus as the Way by walking his narrow way of loving, humble, sacrificial service. We accept Jesus the Truth by learning and practicing what he has taught us, as given in the Bible and in the teachings of the Church. We share the Divine life of God through making use of the means Jesus has established in his Church: a) by actively participating in the Eucharistic celebration and properly receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion; b) by the worthy reception of the other Sacraments; c) by the meditative and daily reading of the Word of God; d) by allowing the Holy Spirit living in the Church and within us to guide and strengthen us; and e) by communicating with God the Source of Life, in personal and family prayers.
May 10, 2020
Greetings in Christ,
Happy Mother’s Day!
The month of May is the month of Mary. We also have our mothers, both the living and deceased, as our familiar images of Mary. Our mother has cared for our life from the moment of our conception up to this stage of our existence. It is important to acknowledge our sincerest gratitude to all our mothers – we are very grateful as we recall how our life has been God’s gift to us through the care of our own mother. We offer our thanksgiving prayers for their intentions as we begin our Mother’s Day Novena masses this weekend, until nine days are completed.
In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life”. We are grateful to God for the life that we live through our earthly mother, and also to our spiritual mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are important vessels of God’s life for us. The life of Jesus, that we share and live daily through our Baptism, is the activity of God’s living presence. God is our strength, and His truth gives us peace, security, protection and care every day. Jesus, who is present in our life, leads us to the Father, as we abide by his guidance daily through our conscience and prayers. For Jesus is the “way” to our final union and the home of the Father’s love.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
May 3, 2020
Greetings in Christ,
May is the month of Mary. In normal situations, we usually have a May crowning in the church honoring our Blessed Mother during our first weekend Masses. The Academy also chooses a day during one of the children’s Masses, doing the same. We bring different kinds and colors of beautiful springtime flowers, offering them to our Blessed Mother. Since we cannot do this in our church at this time, we can still present flowers to Mary at the altars in our homes, or anywhere we have the image of Mary. Doing this together with our children is something they will remember throughout their lifetimes. Internally, we live the example of Mary – her obedience in doing God’s will, and her faithfulness and simplicity.
This Sunday is also the time our confirmation candidates were scheduled to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Instead, we will wait patiently and faithfully for further instructions to be given to us by the Diocese of Dallas. We will continue praying for a designated time given by God for our candidates to receive the Holy Spirit through this special sacrament. May they be enlightened to make the right decisions before God, to resist the temptations of the world, and to stand for Christ Jesus in their lives.
In this fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus is proclaimed as our Good Shepherd. He oversees all of us, his baptized followers and believers. Jesus never allows any one of us to get lost to his protection. May the Risen Christ strengthen us and protect us from the evil forces destroying our unity with him. We maintain our fellowship, founded by our Baptism, by our prayers and fidelity.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
1) Pope St. John Paul II, the good shepherd.
Introduction: On this Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Church reminds us of our call to become good shepherds of God’s flock and good sheep of His parishes and invites us to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life. Both the Old and New Testaments use the image of a Shepherd and His flock to describe the unique relationship of God with Israel and of the Christ with Christians. The first reading is taken from St. Peter’s first sermon, given on the day of Pentecost. He reminds his Jewish listeners that they have crucified their true Shepherd. Hence, they need to receive forgiveness for their sin by getting baptized in the name of Jesus and acknowledging the risen Jesus as their Lord and Savior, as Jesus had commanded. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 23), introduces Yahweh as the Good Shepherd of Israel Who cares for us, His sheep, providing for our needs. In the second reading, Peter encourages the suffering Christians to follow in the footsteps of their Good Shepherd, Jesus, the “suffering servant,” realizing the truth that Jesus’ suffering and death have enabled them to become more fully the children of God.
The most beautiful and meaningful comment on the life and the legacy of our late Holy Father, Pope St. John Paul II, was made by the famous televangelist, Billy Graham. In a TV interview, he said: “He lived like his Master, the Good Shepherd, and he died like his Master, the Good Shepherd.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus claims that he is the Good Shepherd and explains what he does for his sheep
In today’s Gospel, two brief parables show us Jesus, the first, as a selfless, caring “shepherd” who provides for his sheep protection and life itself, and the second, as our unique gateway (“sheep gate”), to eternal salvation. That is, besides guiding his flock to Eternal Life as the Good Shepherd, Jesus is himself the gateway to Eternal Life.
Moses, the shepherd-leader: The Jews had a lovely legend to explain why God chose Moses to be the leader of His people. “When Moses was feeding the sheep of his father-in-law in the wilderness, a young lamb ran away. Moses followed it until it reached a ravine, where it found a well to drink from. When Moses got up to it, he said: `I did not know that you ran away because you were thirsty. Now you must be weary.’ He took the lamb on his shoulders and carried it back. Then God said: `Because you have shown pity in leading back one of a flock belonging to another man, you shall lead my flock Israel.'”
1) We need to become good shepherds and good leaders: Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence, pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, and caregivers, among others, are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties toward their children, giving them good example and instruction and training them in Christian principles.
2) We need to become good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parish is our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Jesus is the High Priest, the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, the pastors are their helpers and the parishioners are the sheep. Hence, as the good sheep of the parish, parishioners are expected to a) Hear and follow the voice of our shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling and advice. b) Receive the spiritual food given by our pastors through our regular participation in the Holy Mass, our frequenting of the Sacraments, and our participation in the prayer services, renewal programs and missions they offer. c) Cooperate with our pastors by giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, by encouraging them in their duties, by offering them loving, constructive correction when they are
found misbehaving or failing in their duties, and always by praying for them d) Actively participate in the activities of various councils, ministries and parish associations.
3) We need to pray for vocations.
Think about it!
God Bless you.
Fr. Peter Chinnappan
EASTER III [A] (April 26) Acts 2:14, 22-33 1 Pt 1:17-21, Lk 24:13-35
Introduction: Our Scripture lessons for today have one common, encouraging theme: No matter what happens in our lives, the risen Jesus is always with us. God is always near to those who seek Him and who want to live in His presence, doing His will.
Scripture lessons summarized:
The first reading, from Acts, is taken from the beginning of Peter’s first public proclamation about Jesus and tells us how God raised Jesus from death, thus fulfilling the Messianic prophecies about the promised descendant of David.
The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 16), has us singing, “Lord, you will show us the path of Life.” In the second reading, Peter exhorts the early Christians to place their Faith and Hope in God Who has saved them through the precious Blood of His Son and Who has raised Jesus from the dead.
The Emmaus incident described in today’s Gospel shows us a God who will not abandon us when we are hurt and disappointed. The message of today’s Scripture readings is that the followers of Jesus are to maintain contact with their Risen Lord through prayer, the Eucharist, and the Bible. The readings also remind us that our belief in Jesus’ presence in the consecrated Bread and Wine should help us to understand better his presence in the Bible and in the believing and worshipping community. Putting the two appearances (to the Emmaus disciples and to Peter), together, it is clear that the risen Jesus wanted Peter to act as spokesman for him, and that the faithful who seek to follow Jesus should seek his company in prayer, the Eucharist, and the Bible under the direction of Peter and his successors.
Life messages: 1) Jesus meets us on our Emmaus Road. The risen Lord meets us on the road to our Emmaus, both in the ordinary experiences of our lives, and in the places to which we retreat when life is too much for us. We, too, have hopes and dreams about better health, healing, financial security and better family relationships. These often shatter. The story promises us, however, that Jesus will come to us in unfamiliar guises to support and strengthen us when we least expect the risen Lord. Emmaus moments come to us when we meet the risen Christ on our life’s journey through rough times.
2) We meet Jesus on a daily basis in our life’s journey. The Church instructs us to hear Jesus on a daily basis through prayer, through the faithful reading, and meditation which ultimately leads our experience of Jesus as we participate in the meaningful Eucharistic celebration. The risen Lord gives us Himself as our spiritual Food and Drink, through our personal and family prayers, and through our family meals. When we meet Jesus in the Eucharist and through the Word of God, we commune with him in prayer, and thus renew our relationship of mutual love. These meetings, then, enable us to encounter the risen Jesus living in all the people we meet and, in them, to offer our Lord humble, loving, selfless service.
3) Do our hearts really burn when we listen to the risen Lord in the Bible? Christ comes to us most clearly in the Word. Vatican II (Dei Verbum 21) tells us that Jesus is to be equally venerated in the Eucharist and in the Bible. Therefore, we need to study the Bible, learn the Bible, pray with the Bible, memorize the Bible, meditate on the word of God with burning zeal, and practice what the Bible teaches.
April 26, 2020
Greetings in Christ,
Another interesting encounter with the risen Christ, this one takes place while two disciples, one of whom is named Cleopas, are walking to Emmaus. On the way to that village seven miles from Jerusalem, the disciples are conversing and debating about what has happened to Jesus in Jerusalem. Jesus himself draws near and walks with them without being recognized. Cleopas asks this man if he is the only visitor who does not know the things that have happened in recent days. This man is the risen Jesus, who asks Cleopas in return, “What things?”
This Emmaus story in the Gospel reminds us that our daily life is our faith journey towards God. Do we recognize the risen Christ walking with us daily in the face of our neighbors? The Emmaus story is addressed to all of us now to realize that Jesus our risen Lord is always present within and among us. Now, in unity with the disciples in the Gospel, we pray, “Stay with us Lord”!
Fr. Albert B. Becher