Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Link to Today's Readings
Acts 14:21-27 + Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13 + Revelation 21:1-5a + John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Click here to listen to today's homily
Delivered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mustang, OK

Did you notice the scene of this Gospel we just proclaimed? The upper room, on the night before Jesus died.

The Church would have us go back to reflect on this scene in the upper room
to bring us back to the crux of the matter...literally. You see, it’s easy for us to get all wrapped up in the glory of the moment when we reflect on the victory of the resurrection. There is something warm and fuzzy about seeing the flowers of spring, the glow of the Paschal Candle, the “brightness” of the colors of Easter,
and the comfort of hearing the post-resurrection stories of the Risen Christ.

And so today we are given the opportunity to reflect on two things…
glory and love. To understand both of these things it takes the Passion and Resurrection. And so we return to that upper room.

Context is always important in looking at a biblical passage. Just prior to today’s gospel reading we hear of the coming betrayal of Judas.

The passages immediately following today’s gospel are those predicting the three denials of Peter.

And so today’s gospel is framed by these two things.

Jesus begins speaking by saying, “Now....”
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
This doesn’t seem like the most opportune time to speak of being glorified, when the “Now” is a moment surrounded by treachery and disappointment. Humans have failed at this crucial moment in Jesus’ life. Judas and Peter represent all of us in our worst moments. We may fail him.

But my friends, he will not fail. Neither Jesus, nor his Father will fail us.
Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing can thwart what is to be revealed…
God’s revelation of love for all humankind. “Now” is glorious because it is the moment when God’s love shines through human sin and darkness...
shines on the matter of human alienation from God and from one another.

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.”
How is “love one another” a new commandment? The 19th Chapter of Leviticus outlines laws that is about love of neighbor. What’s new about Jesus’ call to love at this moment?
The love Jesus speaks of does not necessarily lead to warm feelings. It is not the love defined by “duty” in the Old Testament. Sometimes it leads to hurt.

Sometimes it leads to suffering. Sometimes it is hard to see the fruits. But then again the love Jesus speaks of is agape…a love that one gives of oneself without counting the cost. It is a love that is not turned off or restricted, even when one is betrayed or let down by those closest to us. It is a love that is not extinguished under trial and when one is treated unjustly. It is a love even for enemies and, in the face of opposition, speaks the truth—which Jesus will soon do at his trial.

It may mean, letting the other person have the last word. It may mean that each time we see one of those Facebook posts that speak ill of our politicians, of our president, of a candidate, we stop and say a prayer for the one being slandered and look for the good in them. And we say a prayer for those who do the slandering.

This kind of love means that when we hear of persecutions, yes we weep and we pray for those treated unjustly, but we also weep and pray for those who do such horrific acts. They are God’s children as well.

Jesus points us to a love that is beyond ourselves. We are called to emulate Jesus. And if one thinks, “I can’t do that! I could never love as Jesus loves!”,
I would have to agree. But there is one person that we often forget…the Holy Spirit! It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that all of this is possible.
To love as Jesus loves is an act of the Spirit.

Tradition tells us that the beloved disciple, John the Evangelist, the one who gives us today’s Gospel and the second reading from Revelation, was the only apostle who was not martyred. He lived to a ripe old age.

Disciples would seek his council, disciples who would struggle and grapple with the same kinds of issues we face. They would approach this humble man, this beloved one whom Jesus loved, expecting some deep response to help them to deepen their own faith and understanding.

He always responded with one word...LOVE.

A couple of weeks ago we heard of the redemption of Peter…
“Peter, do you love me?” three times. Peter got his chance.

In my own prayer, I have imagined Jesus going into the dead after his death on the cross, and before his Resurrection. There are two figures that he encounters. One is his earthly father, Joseph. It is an embrace of love and gratitude. The other encounter...Judas. There are tears. There is an embrace of love and forgiveness. There is love in a powerful moment. It is not a scene that you will find in the Scriptures, but it is a scene we can all imagine if we embrace Jesus’ agape love.

The glory of this Easter Season is found in a new heaven and a new earth that is rooted in love. At the end of mass we will be charged with “Glorifying the Lord by our lives.” We are sent to go out into the world, to share that love that Jesus calls us to. Let’s take time to study and pray those Works of Mercy. Others will know that we are disciples of Jesus, by how we love each other, and how we love them.
Deacon Paul Lewis

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday

Link to Today's Readings
Acts 13: 14, 43-52 + Psalm 100: 1-2, 3, 5 + Revelation 7: 9, 14B-17 + John 10: 27-30

Click here to listen to today's homily
Delivered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mustang, OK

Last night we celebrated with Archbishop Coakley the confirmation of 29 of our high school students. Part of their preparation toward the end was to come and interview with either Deacon Paul or me to share with us what they had learned in this two-year process of preparation. One of the questions that I would always have for them is: “Who is Jesus for you? Tell me about Jesus.” And, most of them would simply begin naming some facts about Him. You know, “He is the son of Mary. Joseph is his foster father. He worked miracles. He died for our sins.” But then I would ask them, “I want you to tell me who He is for you.” Because there is a difference between knowing things about Jesus as opposed to knowing Jesus. It is a difference that emerges from a vital life of prayer, a daily conversation with Him, a getting to know Him and allowing Him to reveal Himself to us. Really, it’s all about relationship. And, as it is with any solid, life-giving relationship in our life, any good friendship. It means spending time with the One you love. It means listening to them. It means taking the time to be attentive to them. This is how you get to know someone. And that’s why, for those students confirmed last night, for all of us, the gift of the Spirit is so vital.
This Season of the Spirit, the fifty days of the Easter Season, are given to us to remind us that the Holy Spirit is given to us in order that we might come to know Jesus. Not just know things about Him, but to know Him. And the gifts flowing from the Spirit, especially Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge, are meant to help us in that growing relationship with the Risen Lord. I remember one of those students when I was asking about those gifts mentioned desiring them so they could do better on their exams and I pointed out the gift of Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding is not about acing your Chemistry exam, it’s about gifts that enable us to know the Lord, to know Him, to be drawn deeper into a relationship with Him and that one of the most powerful ways we do that, of course, is by praying with Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels — Coming to know the Living Lord through His word given to us in the Scriptures.

Today we come to know Him in a very special way as The Good Shepherd. Every year on the fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday. The Church gives us selections every year at this time from the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel. We are in Cycle C and the selection this year from that tenth chapter is very small, only four verses, but it speaks about how the Good Shepherd knows His sheep. He calls them and they follow Him. This Good Shepherd that we’ve come to know in a very powerful way is the one who leads us through the Valley of Death and to Eternal Life, and the one who even know leads us through any sort of Valley of Tears or trials into a new life.

The context of this Gospel reading from the tenth chapter of John today is a setting in the Temple where Jesus is just being interrogated by some of the Jews about whether He is the Messiah or not. They want to know, they want Him to tell them, that He is the Promised One. These interrogators in the Temple, they know lots of things about Jesus. They know He is from Nazareth. They know that He’s got a huge following, that He’s been teaching and healing and doing mighty deeds, but they do not know Him. They do not know Him. In fact, in the verse immediately preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus says to them, “You do not believe in me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to me, they know my voice. You are not my sheep.”

It is interesting also on this Good Shepherd Sunday that we have another image that seems to be the opposite of the shepherd. If you listen closely to the Second Reading from the Book of Revelation, the Scripture writer tells us about this glorified Lamb of God sitting on the throne, and he says “The lamb will shepherd them.” Imagine that! The lamb will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water. The Good Shepherd in the Gospel and the lamb in the Second Reading, the very Lamb of God, He is one of us, one of the flock. In fact, He first becomes one of us, one of the sheep, in order that we might come to know Him as The Good Shepherd. In our tradition, the Church teaches that He is both lamb and shepherd, He is both priest and victim, He is both human and divine – human and divine. So this image of the lamb who shepherds us kind of takes us back to the Mystery of Christmas when the very Son of God became one like us in all things in order to listen to the human condition, to know our lives from the inside out, from birth all the way to death, all of our joys, all of our sorrows. The Son of God, the Good Shepherd, becomes the Lamb, like us, in order to know us that we might come to know Him.

So, we have reason for great joy, great joy, because we have a God who has pitched his tent among us, who has lived among us, who wants to be known, who longs to be known by us, a God who spends time with us in Jesus, His Son, the Good Shepherd, and who has listened carefully to what it means to be human. He calls you and me, therefore, the Good Shepherd today, to become more fully a part of His flock and to find in this communion we have with Him and with one another the power to overcome this rampant individualism that seems to penetrate every part of our society — to recognize that we do not find out who we are alone, but rather, we find out who we are together as members of the flock of the Good Shepherd. As we hear His voice and come to know Him, we come to know we are members of a family of God. We are brothers and sisters to one another. And as He continues to lead us, we have this desire growing in our heart as we know Him better to care about the things He cares about, to do what he wants us to do with our life. And, in following Him, to know what life is all about, what the gift of abundant life He shares with us is, and to know the call to everlasting joy.
— Father Joseph Jacobi

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Third Sunday of Easter

Link to Today's Readings
Acts 5:27-31; 40b-41 + Psalm 30 + Revelation 5:11-14 + John 21:1-19

Click here to listen to today's homily
Delivered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mustang, Oklahoma

Breakfast on the beach!   Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?
The Risen Jesus, destroyer of death, king of the universe, serves up breakfast like a short-order cook. The Risen Lord in all his glory appears to his followers in a most ordinary way, not with a booming voice proclaiming, “I’m alive!!” but with three simple words:  Come, have breakfast.”

Every morning of my growing-up life I heard those words ring out from my mother’s lips:  Come, have breakfast.” These words we hear from parents, spouses, friends, but from the Risen Jesus??

Jesus, risen from the dead, returns for his friends and performs a very basic act of human love—he feeds them. Hard at work all night long, they are famished, so he feeds their hunger. He nourishes them by his love. Near the same body of water where he had taken a few loaves and a few fish and fed a multitude, he now bakes breakfast for his hungry friends.

By doing so, the Risen Jesus reveals God’s hunger for them, God’s desire for them, longing for them and for their love. For in his Resurrection, Jesus does something much, much more than come back from the deadhe comes into the fullness of life—a life he longs to share with others. A life he wants his followers to share with a world hungering for such abundant life. Sharing in his Risen life, they then can share Him with the world. Receiving his love, which is stronger than death, they can love as they are loved, and thus lead others into life with Him.

We see this divine hunger at work in the encounter between the Risen Jesus and
Simon Peter over a charcoal fire, a fire similar to the one where Peter had warmed himself while 3 times denying that he even knew Jesus. Jesus hungers to give Peter an opportunity to move beyond the shame of his denials, by giving Peter a chance to express his love for Jesus. It is a powerful scene as Jesus challenges the one he has chosen to be the leader of the early Church to declare his love three times for Jesus, matching the number of his denials.

What we miss in the English text is how Jesus is calling Peter to love. In the original Greek text, Jesus asks Peter the first 2 times “Do you love me?” using the verb agapao, denoting the self-sacrificial love of God for humanity as shown by Jesus’ love on the cross. Agape—love is the kind of love Christians are to show God and neighbor and enemy—it is a godly kind of love. Jesus longs for Peter to love in such a way. But Peter is not there yet, because Peter responds using the verb phileowhich describes the love shared between friends.

On the 3rd occasion, Jesus changes the verb, asking Peter, “Do you love me
using phileo. Peter responds using phileo once again.

Jesus accepts the love which Peter offers at this time. It’s what godly love does, because it is self-sacrificing, patient and generous beyond belief---this kind of love takes people where they are and leads them slowly but surely to where they need to be. Jesus alludes to the fact that Peter will eventually be able to love in this way, stating that when Peter is older he will stretch out his hands and be led where he does not want to go, referring to Peter’s own death on a cross. The love of the Risen Jesus for Peter is a powerful force—such a love transforms Peter’s life.

Throughout his relationship with Peter, both before and after the Resurrection,
Jesus loves Peter into a new way of life, a new way of being. He is patient with Peter, ever able to forgive Peter for his failings, always calling Peter to a more abundant life and a more generous way of loving. For Jesus what is at stake is not belief, it is love. What the Risen Jesus sees more clearly than anything is that Peter loves him, even if that love at the present moment is not the same love that Jesus has for Peter.

Peter actually starts loving in an “agape” way even before dying on a cross
by courageously proclaiming to the same characters who condemned Jesus to death—the Sanhedrin—that he will not obey their command to stop teaching about Jesus. Such courage will lead Peter to give his life completely in agape love for the Lord.

Proof of the resurrection shines forth in those who love others as the Risen Lord
loves Peter—with an agape-like love. Glimpses of this resurrection love shine forth around us, for those who have eyes to see, as the Risen Lord shows His face in the most ordinary of ways by those who love extraordinarily.

Many parents love their children in such a way, taking their children where they are and loving them to where they need to be. Such parents feed their children, even when their children are not loving or kind or even grateful. Such parents take children where they are and love them to where they need to go. This is not always a perfect process--it has its ups and downs. However, the self-sacrificial love of parents for their kids is transformative. For it transforms not only a child who grows up being nourished by such a love, but it also transforms the parent.

This is the way husband and wife are called to love each other. To love one’s husband as he is; to love one’s spouse as she is. In the daily act of self-giving love, of self-sacrificing love, the recipient of such love grows and changes.
This is what God’s love does through people—takes others where they are
and leads them slowly and patiently to where they need to be. Such Agape-loving nourishes others in a powerful way by leading them into new life.

Perhaps where we catch the most powerful glimpse of the Risen Lord alive and working is through those who love their enemies. Talk about “agape” love, taking people where they are and loving them without expecting anything in return.

In order to love in such a way we need to be fed and nourished by such a love.
Which is why the Risen Jesus invites us to breakfast with Him this morning, which is why He invites us to come and eat at this table over and over again.

As we experience in an ordinary yet powerful way the love of the Lord for us
through sharing in this meal with one another, we are transformed. Our eyes open and we see clearly how the Risen Jesus has loved us in our life through the self-giving, self-sacrificing love of others. We cannot hold back from singing His praise, from thanking Him, from crying out with everything in the universe: 
“Blessing and glory, honor and might, be to God and the Lamb.”

Here, we are once again given an opportunity to express our love for the Lord Jesus, and to be strengthened to love with Him and through Him and in Him…..

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 5:12-16 | Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 | Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 | John 20:19-31

Delivered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mustang, Oklahoma

"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” These words of Thomas forever labels him as “Doubting Thomas.”
Thomas gets a bad rap. The disciples in the upper room when Jesus makes his first appearance are no better than Thomas. If we take a look at what goes on in the verses
immediately preceding today’s Gospel, we find that these disciples are just as unbelieving as Thomas.

“Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” This precedes today’s Gospel. And what do these disciples do? They huddle in fear in that upper room. If they have believed in Jesus’ Resurrection, their actions suggest otherwise. They do not believe the words of Mary Magdalene. They still live in fear.
They will not believe until they see.

So what does Jesus do? He appears. He shows them his wounds. They have believed,
but only after seeing him...seeing his wounds.

God opens the tomb. These disciples lock the doors. Jesus breathes on them the Spirit. They in turn do nothing, except talk…to each other and to Thomas. So why should Thomas believe? After a week, he doesn’t see much change in them. They still huddle in fear.

Thomas is not doubting. He desperately wants to believe. He doesn’t understand how? Just like the others who have had the benefit of seeing the Risen Lord, Thomas wants to see. He wants to see and touch for one reason…so that he too might believe.

My friends, that is not doubt. It is authenticity! It is a struggle that we all know too well.

What do you want to believe about Jesus’ resurrection? What gets in the way? What makes it difficult to believe? How are you wrestling and struggling with the resurrection of Jesus in your life?

We want to believe in the Resurrection, but we see wars, innocent people being persecuted, loved ones who suffer, children who experience brokenness, the death of a child, spouse or parent.

We are not much different than Thomas. We seek evidence. We want to see the struggles end. We want to see suffering eliminated, relationships restored.

Far too often we fail to see the power of God in the Resurrection, but instead place our faith in what we judge to be sufficient evidence. Our preconceived ideas become more locks on the door. They won’t keep Jesus out, but it will keep us trapped inside
and it won’t be long before our house becomes our tomb.

John doesn’t tell us that Thomas actually touched the wounds. What we learn throughout John’s gospel is that believing doesn’t come from physical evidence,
but from spiritual insight.

The Resurrection does not end wars, but it does reveal the dignity and sanctity of human life. It empowers us to speak out and work for justice, freedom, and peace.

The Resurrection does not cure disease, but it moves our hearts to love and have compassion for those who suffer.

The Resurrection does not heal broken relationships, but it plants in our hearts that ache to break down walls and heal those relationships.

The Resurrection does not eliminate our pain or tears over the death of a loved one. Rather, it provides us with strength to live without our loved one with fortitude and patience. The Resurrection allows us to not mourn without hope, but rather be thankful in our remembrance of God’s abundant goodness and with joyful anticipation of everlasting life with those we love.

Every time we live in the power of the resurrection we engage the world, one another,
and our life in a new way.

When we live in the power of the Resurrection, we can’t help but find ourselves engaged in the Works of Mercy. The hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the prisoner,
the outcast, the naked, the doubtful, the sinner, and the dead, experience the power of the Resurrection by our works, our words, and our prayers.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what Thomas did. That’s not the issue. This story isn’t about Thomas. It’s about us. How will we live? What will we do? Have we come to believe?

As we continue our celebration of this Eucharist, as we approach the altar of the Lord,
as we are nourished by the Body and Blood of our Lord, Soul and Divinity, may we proclaim with Thomas…My Lord and my God.
— Deacon Paul Lewis

"Si no veo la marca de los clavos en sus manos y pongo mi dedo en el lugar de los clavos
y pongo mi mano en su costado, no creeré."

Estas palabras de Thomas siempre le etiqueta como "Tomás el incrédulo." Thomas tiene una mala reputación. Los discípulos en el Cenáculo , cuando Jesús hace su primera aparición no son mejores que Thomas.

Si echamos un vistazo a lo que sucede en los versos inmediatamente anterior Evangelio de hoy,
nos encontramos con que estos discípulos son tan incrédulos como Tomás. María Magdalena fue y anunció a los discípulos,"He visto al Señor." Esto precede el Evangelio de hoy. ¿Y qué hacen estos discípulos? Ellos se apiñan en el miedo en el aposento alto. Si han creído en la resurrección de Jesús, sus acciones indican lo contrario.

Ellos no creen las palabras de María Magdalena. Todavía viven en el miedo. No van a creer hasta que lo vean. Entonces, ¿qué hace Jesús? El aparece. Él les muestra sus heridas. Ellos han creído,
pero sólo después de verlo...viendo  sus heridas.

Dios abre la tumba. Estos discípulos cierran las puertas. Jesús sopla sobre ellos el Espíritu. A su vez, no hacen nada, excepto conversar...entre sí y con Thomas. Así que ¿por qué debería creer Thomas?
Después de una semana ,  no se ve mucho cambio en ellos.Todavía se refugian en el miedo.
 Thomas no esta dudando. Quiere desesperadamente creer. No entiende cómo al igual que los otros que han tenido el beneficio de ver al Señor resucitado, Thomas quiere ver.

Él quiere ver y tocar por una razón...para que él también pueda creer. Mis amigos, aquello que no es duda. 

Es autenticidad! Es una lucha que todos conocemos demasiado bien. ¿Qué es lo que quieres creer acerca de la resurrección de Jesús? Lo que se interpone en el camino? Lo que hace que sea difícil de creer? ¿Cómo estás luchando con la lucha y la resurrección de Jesús en tu vida?

Queremos creer en la resurrección, pero vemos guerras, personas inocentes perseguidas, seres queridos que sufren, los niños que experimentan quebrantamiento, la muerte de un hijo, cónyuge o padre.

No somos muy diferentes a Thomas. Buscamos pruebas. Queremos ver el fin de las luchas.
Queremos ver el sufrimiento eliminado, las relaciones restauradas. Con demasiada frecuencia no somos capaces de ver el poder de Dios en la Resurrección, pero en lugar de poner nuestra fe en lo que juzgamos ser prueba suficiente.

Nuestras ideas preconcebidas se vuelven más cerraduras de la puerta. No van a seguir a Jesús,
pero nos mantendrá atrapados en el interior y no pasará mucho tiempo antes de que nuestra casa se convierte en nuestra tumba. 
 Juan no nos dice que en realidad Thomas tocó las heridas.

Lo que aprendemos en todo el Evangelio de Juan es que creer no proviene de la evidencia física, sino a partir de la visión espiritual. La resurrección no termina las guerras, pero sí revela la dignidad y la santidad de la vida humana. Se nos da el poder de hablar y trabajar por la justicia, la libertad y la paz.

La resurrección no cura la enfermedad, pero se mueve el corazón al amor y la compasión por los que sufren. La resurrección no sana las relaciones rotas, pero siembra en nuestros corazones que duelen el deseo de echar abajo las paredes que nos separan y sanar esas relaciones. La resurrección no elimina nuestro dolor o lágrimas por la muerte de un ser querido.

Más bien, nos proporciona la fuerza para vivir sin nuestro ser querido con fortaleza y paciencia.
La resurrección nos permite llorar pero hacerlo con esperanza, y  estar agradecidos en nuestro recuerdo de abundante bondad de Dios y con alegre anticipación de la vida eterna con nuestros seres queridos.
 Cada vez que vivimos en el poder de la resurrección nos ocupamos del mundo,
unos y otros, y nuestra vida de una manera nueva.

Cuando vivimos en el poder de la resurrección, no podemos dejar de encontrarnos a nosotros mismos participando en las obras de misericordia. El hambre, la sed, los enfermos, los prisioneros,
los marginados, los desnudos, el  dudoso, el pecador, y los muertos, experimentar el poder de la resurrección por nuestras obras, nuestras palabras, y nuestras oraciones.

En el final, en realidad no importa lo que hizo Thomas. Ese no es el problema. Esta historia no es sobre Thomas. Es sobre nosotros. ¿Cómo vamos a vivir? ¿Que haremos? ¿Hemos llegado a creer?
A medida que continuamos nuestra celebración de esta Eucaristía, cuando nos acercamos al altar del Señor, como somos alimentados con el Cuerpo y la Sangre del Señor, Alma y Divinidad,
podemos proclamar con Thomas ...
Mi Señor y mi Dios!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Resurrection of the Lord — Easter Sunday

Link to today's readings
Acts 10: 34, 37-43 + Psalm 118 + Colossians 3: 1-4 + John 20: 1-9

Note: There is no sound file for today's homily
Delivered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Mustang, Oklahoma

Something happened to Peter between the time he saw the empty tomb on the day of the Resurrection and some 50 days later on Pentecost, when he stands courageously before others announcing that the one he thought was dead is risen. Something happened to Peter, the one who shrank in fear the night before Jesus was crucified, who now not only says he knows Jesus but proclaims him to be alive.

What happened? How did it happen?

Peter himself gives us a clue by what he says on Pentecost day in Jerusalem. The Risen Jesus was made visible to those who ate and drank with him. In the breaking of the bread with the Risen Jesus, by sharing a cup of wine with the Crucified One now alive, Peter came to understand better the truth of the resurrection. As those first disciples sat down to eat with the Risen Lord, their lives were transformed. Not only had their friend and teacher been restored to life by the power of the resurrection, but by eating with the Risen Jesus, their lives were given back to them anew.

Peter is restored to communion with his friend, Jesus, reconciled to the One whom he had denied knowing. Doubting Thomas is restored to faith. As Peter and Thomas and Mary Magdalene ate and drank with the Risen Lord, their lives were transformed: despair overcome by hope, courage defeating fear, and all doubts swept away by the power of God’s love stronger than death itself.

Even though those first witnesses to the resurrection did not at first understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead, slowly their eyes were opened to the mighty mystery of new life offered to them in Jesus, Risen from the dead. We come to better understand the resurrection as we sit down at table Sunday after Sunday to eat and drink with the Risen Lord. As he rises up in us here, sharing with us his Risen Life by means of blessed bread and wine, our faith deepens — we know that he is alive, for he comes to live in us.

That is why the weekly celebration of the Eucharist is so central to our lives. That is why the Church calls every celebration of the Eucharist the source of our faith. For in a world that often seems to be overcome by darkness, we are too easily tempted to despair. Acts of terror, whether they be in Paris or Brussels or San Bernadino, or OKC in 1995, tempt us to think that the Risen Lord has abandoned us. Where is the joy of the resurrection amidst such sadness and fear?

Which is why we are invited to this feast, to strengthen our trust that in spite of all signs to the contrary, the Risen Lord is with us. In a country so divided, evident by our divided political climate, the Resurrection challenges us to work toward reconciliation and union. As we become one with Christ Jesus and with one another in the breaking of bread, so we are strengthened to work for the same kind of unity in a divided world.

The Resurrection is not simply an idea, not only a belief. For it is not simply the idea of the Resurrection that sustains us, but the Risen Christ himself. He is alive. He remains with us. He accompanies us through the dark valleys of life as Good Shepherd. He shares our sufferings, and partakes in our joys.

Sunday after Sunday we are reminded of Jesus’ transformation and the need for our own in the words of the Mass. Every week as we celebrate the day of the Resurrection, a day set apart, we recall not only how God the Father’s love lifted Jesus from the grave, but also how the Father’s love lifts us up and restores us to life anew. And it’s all right there in words we hear week after week. “Take this all of you and eat of it. This is my body, given for you. We are called to receive the body of Christ, but we are also called to build it. We are called to receive the body of Christ so that our indifference might be transformed to have our eyes opened to the suffering of others and to walk with them in their pain.

To live lives of mercy, by moving outside the boundaries of our own wants and comforts. Take, give, do. These words of Jesus spoken at that meal before he died live on in him. Take time to pray. Give of yourself. Do something kind daily for someone. In living merciful lives inspired by the Resurrection of the Merciful One, we become the Body of Christ.

By living merciful lives inspired by the Resurrection, we also care for the Body of Christ.

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi