Alive in Christ! That’s what we are. Among the many readings of Easter, Saint Paul reflects on this “newness of life” in his letter to the Romans. The Christian life is a resurrected life. It is new life, one of truth, inner joy and genuine fulfillment. God has transformed our lives for all eternity, and that transformation is what it means to be a Christian. Do you know the resurrected life? Have you genuinely experienced it? Good stewards have; and in their commitment to the Lord, they know what it means to be alive in Christ. It is time to rejoice. He is risen! Alleluia!
Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection are the most important events in all of history. Everything before those days was leading up to those days. Everything following those days is the opportunity to live the graces of those days, the grace of having the risen Jesus in our lives.
We could presume that the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead was his own mother Mary. The Gospels tell us about Jesus appearing to the apostles, Mary Magdalene and many others. In the Gospel today (John 20:1-9) we heard of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John seeing Jesus’ empty tomb and later in that chapter John tells us about Jesus’ appearing to them that day. In our first reading from Acts, Peter said that the Father “granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” (Acts 10:40-41)
The life of Jesus and the meaning of his passion, death and resurrection has been impacting people ever since those days, more and more people every year. If you throw a stone into a pond it will cause a ripple to spread out more and more until eventually is gets to the edges of the pond and the entire pond has been affected. The graces of the death and resurrection of Jesus have been spreading out to more and more people ever since.
Those who were not privileged to see Jesus risen had their lives touched and impacted by those who did see Jesus and enjoyed the graces of the risen Jesus in their lives. Peter saw Jesus risen and his preaching impacted so many others. We read that three thousand people were baptized after Peter’s preaching at Pentecost (Acts 2:41).
Jesus continued to be present after his resurrection, present through those who witnessed to him, present in the life of the Church. If you want to meet Jesus after his resurrection, the place to meet him is where the Church gathers. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus learned that Jesus was with them as he explained the Scriptures to them and then broke bread with them (Luke 24:13-35). Those two disciples learned that celebrating the Eucharist is where you can find Jesus.
Jesus continues in the Church. This is expressed beautifully in the letter to the Ephesians where the Church is described as the Body of Christ and Christ is the head and the whole body is joined to him (Eph 4:15-16).
How then can anyone who cuts himself or herself off from the life of the Church enjoy the fullness of Christ’s life? After Jesus’ resurrection, the place to find him is in the Church.
On Good Friday, we hear about the blood and water from Christ’s side on the cross symbolizing the sacraments, especially baptism and Eucharist, originating from Christ on the cross. That life of grace from the side of Christ continues in the Church to all who receive his sacraments. When you receive a sacrament you meet Christ just as the apostles met Jesus risen from the dead. The sacraments are encounters with Christ. After Jesus’ resurrection, the place to find the risen him is in the Church, especially in his sacraments.
We also find Jesus in the Church in the community of people who gather every week to worship God. Those who allow Jesus to touch them, allow Jesus to transform them to become more like Christ, and allow us to encounter Christ through the sincerity of their lives given to Jesus. A beautiful experience is to encounter someone who is close to the Lord, and when you meet that person you know you are in some way meeting Jesus. This is experiencing the risen Jesus continuing in the Church. Meeting people like that assures us that saying “Jesus continues in the Church” is not just words, but is true because we have experienced Jesus ourselves. Jesus continues in the Church. We know because we have experienced Jesus in the Church.
When we experience Jesus present with us, Jesus continuing in the Church, everything changes. What we heard in our second reading makes so much sense: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:1-3)
There is a new way to live when we have Jesus in our lives. There is a way to live that is incompatible with having Jesus in our lives and there is a way to live that reflects having Jesus in our lives. If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:1-3)
This beautiful homily was shared with us by Rev. Tommy Lee
In the prelude to today’s great Passion Narrative, Saint Paul reminds us that we find our hope in the “emptiness” and “humility” of Christ Jesus; a life that led to the cross, but through the cross, to glory and exaltation. The way is not easy. Good stewards know that it requires a willingness to lay aside all rights of personal privilege; emptying ourselves in the service of others; embracing values different from the values of the world. It requires an understanding that to be “in Christ” means to be a servant because Christ came into the world, not as Lord but as servant. What crosses are we willing to carry? What worldly values we are willing to forego in order to share Christ’s glory?
St. John Baptist de La Salle is the patron saint of schoolteachers. He was the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and is renowned for his lifelong devotion to educating the poor. John Baptist was born to a wealthy family in Reims, France, in 1651. He was a scholar, studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1678. He earned a doctorate in theology in1681. Although he lived a comfortable life at the cathedral in Reims, he was drawn to education early on. At the urging of a layman to open a school for poor children in Reims, John Baptist opened two schools that became very popular, even though the prevailing view in France was that children of the poor should only be taught how to perform manual labor, not to be educated. John Baptist continued to discern the will of God in his life. He sold all that he possessed and donated the proceeds for hunger relief. He and a small group of men formed themselves into a religious community by taking a vow of obedience and adopting the name Brothers of the Christian Schools. In 1686, he opened four more schools in Reims as well as a school to train teachers. He would later establish other schools in Paris and Saint-Denis. Although his religious community was not yet approved by the Church, in 1694 John Baptist and twelve of his community members took perpetual vows, committing themselves to providing free education to the poor for the rest of their lives. John Baptist’s educational theories and practices became standard including classroom instruction instead of one-on-one instruction, teaching in the native language instead of in Latin and integrating faith formation into a curriculum. St. John Baptist de LaSalle died on Good Friday, April 7, 1719. He was canonized in 1900 and his feast is celebrated on April 7.
Strong words come from Saint Paul in today’s second reading. He reveals in no uncertain terms that life in Christ is our goal. Everything else, he maintains, is “rubbish.” Junk. Trash. Garbage. Is that true? Is everything else “rubbish” compared to deepening our relationship with the Lord? What about putting recreational activities ahead of attending Mass? Or preferring uninterrupted hours playing the latest video games or watching TV to spending time in a bible study group, choir practice or serving in a soup kitchen? Or keeping late hours at work over sharing the gospel with friends and neighbors? To what extent do we exercise stewardship over our relationship with Christ?
Today we hear one of the most beloved stories in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. Reconciliation is a prominent theme. Seeing the younger son returning to him, the son who left the family and squandered his inheritance, the compassionate father runs to embrace him. Jesus offers us a vision of a loving God who is merciful and forgiving when we, through our own sinfulness, leave his presence, and then through repentance, return to him. The remainder of the Lenten season offers us an opportunity to reflect on God’s compassion and our need for reconciliation. If you have not done so already, consider celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation and experience God’s loving embrace and forgiveness.
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I am so thankful to our Church’s Spanish-Speaking community who came yesterday and responded positively to our in-person “Synod”. As I observed, we had a good number of people who came. I am most grateful to our Synod Coordinators: Matthew and Marlyn Delo, Emilia Mota, and Wendy Baez. And of course, to all our Facilitators and our Note-takers who shared their time, talents, and treasures… Kudos!
The next group to do the Synod is for our St. Mary Star of the Sea School. For those of you who plan to join the Synod and prefer to answer the three questions through email, kindly send it to our Parish Website: email@example.com. The deadline for sharing your answers from the questions will be until April 1, 2022.
The three main questions are as follows:
1.) What makes you SAD with the Church?
2.) What makes you HAPPY with the Church?
3.) What is your HOPE for the Church? Thank you for your honest response.
In today’s Gospel Jesus offers his parable about last chances. The fig tree will have one last chance to bear fruit before it is cut down and destroyed. Good stewards realize that, like the fig tree, they are endowed with God-given gifts that are meant to “bear fruit” for God and neighbor. God has legitimate expectations of them. They also realize they do not know how much time they have left before the gardener returns for an accounting of their fruitfulness. How are we using our God-given gifts? How might we use our gifts to bear more fruit? The answer requires some urgency.
By Rev. Joseph D. Creedon, pastor emeritus, Christ the King Parish, Providence, Rhode Island. This excerpt is sixth in a series based on his current book.
Stewardship requires an “attitude of gratitude.” Many times we are inclined to take too much credit for our successes in life and too little blame for our failures. The best antidote I have discovered for the hubris of our sense of self-importance is to set aside time to compile a list of the gifts we have received from God.
The Gift of Life: Life is a gift from God. None of us did anything to deserve being born. Spend a few moments being thankful for still being alive. My younger brother, Mike, died at the age of 56. He was a delightful human being, a loving husband, father, teacher, coach and friend. He died too young. His family and my brothers and I could focus on what was taken from us or focus on the gift of having him in our lives for whatever part of his 56 years we shared. Life is a gift and we need to live each day thanking God for it.
The Gift of Family: Just as we did nothing to deserve being born, we did nothing to deserve the parents and siblings we were given. Sometimes it takes time to fully appreciate the gift of family. There were times when I would have traded in my parents for another set that would have met my perceived needs of the moment. Fortunately, I have lived long enough to realize that they were the best parents for me. My older brother has expressed it this way, “Our father demanded perfection and our mother convinced us that we could live up to his expectation.” Once we embrace family as gift, it is amazing how the things that could drive us apart lose their power.
The Gift of Education: I have never met anyone who did not have a story about a teacher who changed her or his life. I have my list of such teachers; I’m sure you have yours. Education has changed our worldview and our self-understanding. We have learned from coaches, scout leaders, neighbors, relatives and friends. All learning is a gift from God. We need to be more thankful for the gift of our education.
The Gift of Vocation: Nothing in life is as important as discovering what God wants us to do with our lives. I truly believe that God wanted me to be a priest. Many people seem to get lost in their search to discover who and what God wants them to be but the happiest and most fulfilled people I know are those who are doing what they love and love what they are doing. The Gift of Friends: Let us say together, “We do not deserve the friends we have!”
The gift of friendship is so precious. Our friends love us not in spite of our faults but because of them. Friends encourage us to grow and take risks. Friends teach us that time is a gift when they chose to share time with us. Most important of all, our friends see our gifts and talents before we do and they lovingly encourage us to recognize and develop our hidden gifts.
The above list of gifts is not meant to be exhaustive; it is offered as an outline. I hope you will use it to create your own list of gifts. Unless we make ourselves aware of the many gifts God has sown in our lives we will never develop the “attitude of gratitude” that is essential for the spirituality of stewardship to take root in our lives.