THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
“People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness.
In life everyone has hopes and dreams about better health, healing, financial security and better family relationships. Unfortunately, Hopes and dreams often shatter. This distorts our happiness. More particularly with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, almost all our plans and expectations have been destructed. A situation like this might have engendered despondency and despair amongst many of us.
So the message of our readings today should inspire us that no matter what happens in our lives, the risen Lord is always with us. God is near to those who seek Him and who want to live in His presence, doing His will.
The story of the Emmaus walk in our gospel reading has myriads of lesson for us in regard to the challenging situation of COVID-19. It assures us that God will never abandon us when we are hurt and disappointed.
This promises us that, in life’s rough times in our journey, Jesus will come to us in unfamiliar guises to support and strengthen us when we least expect it. He meets us on the road both in the ordinary experiences of our lives and in the places to which we retreat when life is too much for us.
Peter, in his first public proclamation about the resurrected Christ Jesus, emphasized that we are delivered through the blood of Jesus from the power of sin and worries. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Him in the breaking of bread. This is a testimony to the purpose and identity of Jesus Christ. We must also proclaim Him with our lives. Walk the talk of your faith conviction.
Finally, Peter encourages us, as he did to the early Christians, to place our hopes and faith in God through Jesus Christ. This means that Jesus’ death was part of God's plan for all eternity. Even if life will fail us, God and His son Jesus will never!
Remember, with Jesus in the boat of your wavering life, the storms will calm down; your desired happiness is ensured. But you have to grow a substantial amount of total trust and dependence upon Him. God is still working and walking with you. He has not given up on you! GOD IS WITH YOU.
Safer at Home...PRAY... Take precautions....Keep up the Faith.
Let HOPE open the doors to your HAPPINESS.
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
“How happy I am to see myself imperfect and be in need of God’s mercy.”
In life everyone needs mercy from one another. As human as we are, we are neither without faults (simply imperfect) nor totally independent. Being social being means we inter-depend on one other in our relationships and interactions. Indeed, no man is an island. So, as we interconnect and interrelate, not everything we do is pleasant. Sometimes we behave well to each other, and other times we hurt and offend one another with our actions and words that bring about disappointments and bad feelings (wanting to pay back).
But even in such circumstances, we still need one another, so there should be apologies on one hand and forgiveness on another. Therefore, mercy becomes the bridge of connectivity. Mercy brings out the compassion, the clemency and the charity in us. We need mercy in our world of revenge, retaliation, selfishness and unforgiving in these trying times of the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic. I believe if we are merciful to one another we can contain the spread and finally defeat it.
In our first reading, the members of the early church practiced mercy through sharing and sacrificial agape love. In acts of mercy and love, some of them shared what they had with those in need. Others even sold their properties and gave the money to the church so that the poor and the needy could be cared for and supported. This is because they saw themselves as one believing community. The sense of family fraternity and solidarity was a priority as Christians. This is how their faith community (church) grew.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, we are not far from this in our families, parishes and societies in these difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic. We need each other; so out of mercy and love let’s support and care for especially those in need. In doing this, we practice both Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy in our daily lives; an obedience to the prescriptions of the Church.
Peter, in the second reading, glorifies God the Father for gifting humanity the Resurrection through the Passion and Death of Jesus. This is a complete proof of His mercy toward us. This sustains our hope of an inheritance in His Kingdom, guarded by faith as we go through trials and sufferings even in our current C19 pandemic challenges.
That is why the Psalmist inspires us to give thanks to God "for He is good; His love is everlasting"; because His mercy endures forever.
Finally, in our gospel reading, the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to His gathered disciples with the tripartite proclamation of PEACE gives us the powerful result of mercy in our lives. When God has showed mercy, it has yielded peace. Peace is what everyone needs in life to succeed and progress. Also, the fruits of mercy go beyond everything - including doubt (like Thomas) - and gives us the authority to forgive and also to receive forgiveness (Sacrament of Reconciliation).
It makes us confess what we believe convincingly (like Thomas). God always offers us the opportunity to celebrate and practice Mercy in our Christian lives. His mercy fires up our faith in Him making us eligible for His merciful judgement. The Divine Mercy brings forth the beauty and the passion of His love for us.
When you practice mercy, you proclaim how imperfect you are and that you, too, stand in need of the Divine Mercy. The Mercy of God is the Love of God. "Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36). This is what we need in our world today... Be one!
May the Divine Mercy gives us a miracle to the C19... Stay Home... Keep the Faith... PRAY!
(Do your Divine Mercy Chaplet).
Let Mercy lead... Be Blessed...
THE SOLEMNITY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD
"Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
No one in this world wishes for bad times, disappointments, desperation and may be disheartening circumstances that are overwhelming like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Indeed, life is an adventure! It comes with both good and bad times.
This has brought about despair and loss of faith in life's existence. A glance at the rate at which it is spreading and killing innocent lives naturally ignite fear and panic. In this devastating situation, the obvious intriguing question is, ” ooh God are you alive or dead?” ”God why... Don't you care?”
In a more serious note Christians have become a target of mockery and a laughing stock. Where people ask, where is your God? But the Latin maxim, ”Dum Spiro Spero” to wit, ”while I breathe, I hope,” gives us something to hang on. There is always hope for the hopeless. There is nothing impossible for God. God’s time is the best. Hoping against hope all shall pass away.
The celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Easter) gives us the evidence to sustain our hopes in this destitute moment.
In the first reading Peter proclaimed the good works of Christ. He encouraged his fellow disciples to keep on believing in Him based on the resurrectional experience. Peter insisted on the fact that they were witnesses to all of these.
Beloved family of God, the resurrection of Christ is the strength of our faith and the sustainer of our hopes. So what we need to do is to be authentic witnesses in our society, families and relationships in these trying days.
In this period of COVID-19 instead of spreading the virus rather you should spread the joys and the good news of the resurrection through witnessing. Even though we keep social distances you can give a phone call, you can do face time videos, you can mail or email beautiful and inspiring words to someone to sustain the connection in these challenging moments. Don't forget to send your gifts too!
Surely, the Psalmist proclaims, ”this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24)
To keep the euphoria of this joyful and peaceful moment, Paul in the second reading, motivates us to continue to seek the things above and think about what is above, not of what is on earth. We were dead with Christ and have arisen with Him. So His resurrection has made us new creatures. Therefore, there should be a transformation in our attitudes, behavior, perceptions, character, desires, actions, etc. Be the evidence of the resurrectional experience to the world.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ, our gospel reading presents to us the eagerness and the anxiousness with which Mary Magdalene and Peter run to the Tomb to witness the resurrection of Christ.
Dear ones, we live in a world where many are so serious with unnecessary things that can not give eternal life. Rather, let us be eager and anxious about the word/commandments of God that will ultimately give us eternal life. We have a hope and share in the resurrection of Christ but unless we remain eager and anxious we can not achieve it.
In this C-19 situation, the Lord has this for you, ”Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” - Isaiah 41:10
Stay Home... Take precautions... Stay Healthy... Continue to PRAY!...Keep up the faith.
I love you.... Let's meet on Facebook live.
HOLY THURSDAY, GOOD FRIDAY, HOLY SATURDAY
"The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us;
The celebration of the Passion (Palm) Sunday opens the doors of Holy Week. Holy Week brings into focus the high point of our liturgical celebrations throughout the liturgical year; since we commemorate the Paschal Mystery of the life of Jesus Christ. It is Holy because we experience the passion, death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is the core of our Christian faith. The epitome of our salvation history. The centrality of our Christian belief, traditions and culture. A week of atonement, redemption and glorification leading to the revelation of the dignity and the honor of the entire human race.
That is why the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, #8 affirms, ”Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through His paschal mystery: dying He destroyed our death and rising He restored our life. Therefore the Easter Triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year.”
The Holy Triduum is the climactic point of Holy Week. The Latin word ”Triduum” means ”three days”; so it refers to Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. However, liturgically, Holy Triduum strictly begins on the evening of the Holy Mass (the Lord’s Supper) on Thursday through to the conclusion of the Vespers (Evening Prayers) of Easter Sunday. In principle, Lent actually ends before the Vespers (Evening Prayers) of Holy Thursday is celebrated.
Holy Thursday is technically referred to as Maundy Thursday. Again, the Latin word ”Maundy” means ”Commandment.” In this liturgical celebration we commemorate the Last Supper of our Lord in obedience to what He commanded us to do in His remembrance.
So to speak, we celebrate the anniversary of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. A response to the ultimate prayer of the Church; which is the Holy Mass. In this same liturgy we appreciate the institution of the ministerial priesthood. This vocation enables us to perpetuate the Holy Eucharist, convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners (the sacrament of reconciliation) and to preach the good news of salvation.
Finally, the Maundy Thursday brings into focus the promulgation of the new commandment of Love; Jesus said, ”Love one other as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). He demonstrated this with the washing of the feet of His 12 Apostles; thereby encouraging service.
On Good Friday we commemorate the passion of the Lord. A day Christ was executed on Mount Calvary. His crucifixion and death is the hinge between His ministry and His resurrection. Indeed, it brought to an end the yoke of sin on humanity. The mystery of the true sacrifice is unraveled on the cross not only atoning for our sins but also expiating us from the effects of sin: redemption from the slavery of sin.
In this liturgy, we venerate the Holy Cross to honor the suffering, passion and the death of Christ. It has become a symbol of victory and triumph to the human race; from there we draw our strength when sin glares at us. This Friday is Good because the cross has become the proof of the powerful love that God has for us.
The vigil of Holy Saturday is the Easter Vigil, the Holy Night. The Latin word ”vigilia” means ”wakefulness.” The church keeps awake, as it were, at the tomb, meditating on His passion and death and His descent into Hell, and awaiting His resurrection with prayer and fasting, waiting for the coming of the Lord. The full meaning of vigil takes place at night; so it does not begin before nightfall and should end before daybreak on Sunday.
The Church keeps this vigil with the service of the light and Easter proclamation (Exultet). Holy Church meditates on the wonderful works which the Lord God wrought for His people from the earliest times. We celebrate together with those new members reborn in Baptism. Finally, we are called to the table prepared by the Lord - a commemoration of His death and resurrection, until He comes.
In conclusion, the Sacred Paschal Triduum is meant to be dramatic, a ”reenactment” of events. The faithful are encouraged to imagine that they are ”actually present” at these events. However, the Holy Triduum actually celebrates the paschal mystery, but not history; the purpose ultimately is not to retrace or relive the last hours of Jesus’ life.
Let the spirit of the Holy Triduum strengthen your faith, affirm your holiness, recreate in you a better version of yourself, make you steadfast in hope and fearless in the search for justice and peace. Remember, there is no Easter without Good Friday! Indeed, every suffering in your Christian calling will surely be crowned with Victory and glory. Remain focused and make Christ your priority. His resurrection is our pride.
Stay blessed and journey with Christ to the cross. Take a sober meditation about your life, vocation and destiny in this world.
PALM SUNDAY (THE PASSION OF CHRIST)
“The reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our hearts on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity.”
The culture and the perceptions of our world today seems to be in contradistinction to the way of Jesus Christ. To be a true disciple (Christian) to Him is really challenging!
We live in a world where humility is perceived as low self esteem (a weakness to be taken advantage of) but not as a virtue for social relationships. We are in a society where even Christians are shy and ashamed to openly express their values and beliefs (some even hide their identity for fear of mockery). We are in an age where selfishness is the order of the day. Many are hesitant to offer true sacrifices. We don’t want to suffer yet we want to enjoy life. The focus has shifted from God to ourselves; thereby rely on our human competence and strengths. Doing our own will without acknowledging the presence of God.
It’s all about me, myself, and I. I don’t care about the other person because it’s none of my business! It has become “individual for himself; God for us all” syndrome. It’s all about name, popularity, fame, being powerful for people to kowtow to me, fulfilling my insatiable needs and desires through any means (after all the end justifies the means!)
But how can we have a better world to live in if all of these attitudes and cultures continue to perpetuate in our society (even including our relationships, families and homes) today? Of course, as humans we are social beings; we live in chains. No man is an island; we live in interdependence on one other to sustain our existence and survival. We indispensably need someone to sacrifice to save our entire society! Will you be that person?
As we commemorate this Palm Sunday of the passion of Christ, our liturgy combines a contrasting moments in the life of Jesus Christ: in one way we celebrate His glory as He is given a royal welcome into the city of Jerusalem and in another way His suffering with the drama of trial, culminating in His crucifixion, death and burial.
This is the time of the year we stop at everything to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. What we commemorate and relive during this week is not just His dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Him, which will result in our healing, reconciliation and redemption.
In our first reading the prophet Isaiah foreshadows Jesus’ own life and mission. In this he preempted His identity as the redeemer and the anointed one of God who knows His purpose is to strengthen the weak and the wearied. He has to suffer at the hands of the very people for whose sake He came. Regardless of all these he never relented in doing the will of God-the Father. An exhibition of total trust and reliance on Him.
The echoes of the Psalmist, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” (Ps. 22) plunges you and me into the heart of Christ’s passion. A symbolism of an ultimate sacrifice for the expiation of our sins.
Apostle Paul in the second reading enables us to have a better grasp of who Jesus is and how his mission wrought for us salvation from sin and death. He condescended from His celestial identity to assume a terrestrial one for us to experience Him and witness His redemptive works. With humility and obedience His sacrifice became meaningful.
Our gospel reading brings to the fore the contradictory events in the life of Jesus Christ. He was given a royal welcome into Jerusalem and was made to go through His passion leading to His death and burial.
My dear family of God, what we need to reflect on deeply is the characters in the story. You can be Peter (denial), Judas (betrayal), Pilate (acting against conscience), Herod (ridicule) or the leaders (self interest). This is what we do everyday in our actions and thoughts. Do you realize what you have been doing?
But for our sake Jesus has to humble Himself to go through all of these out of love without shielding His face from buffeting and spitting to sacrifice His life on the cross so that the will of God-the Father will be done.
Just imagine if Jesus was shy, ashamed, selfish, prideful, refused to sacrifice, disobeyed the will of God, focused on Himself, relying upon Himself, just wanted a name for Himself, was not ready to suffer, did not care, what would have happened to us?
Remember it takes the good will of one person to change a situation in life. Be the Jesus of our time and age now, especially in this Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) challenging moments. Like Jesus, You need to do something!
Wish you all a happy HOLY WEEK. Though keeping social distances but not disconnected. Take precautions... Stay healthy... PRAY ... Keep up the Faith!
Love you all.
See you on Facebook live.
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.