Saturday, April 21, 2018

4/22/18 -- 4th Sunday of Easter

When our pilgrim group was in Avila at the convent founded by Saint Teresa of Jesus, the first woman to be proclaimed a doctor of the church by Pope Paul VI, we were told a wonderful story about an experience Saint Teresa had there.

One day when she was the prioress of the convent, she found a young boy running about in the convent. You understand, the convent Teresa founded is a cloistered convent. 

Even to this day, the sisters have little to no contact with the outside world. Their lives are filled with work and prayer.

She asked the little boy, “Who are you?” “He answered her with a question. He asked, “Who are you?”

She said, “I am Teresa of Jesus. “The boy replied, “Well I am Jesus of Teresa.” And with that the boy vanished.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is at work in the hearts and minds of people everywhere, in every time, in every place. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is at work in the hearts and minds of all of us.

We are all his. And he is ours. Every one of us belongs to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Every one of us is part of the flock.

We all belong, one family, one flock, one body, one church, one faith, one baptism.

In our Eucharistic prayer we pray that by sharing in the body and blood of Christ we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, becoming one body, one spirit in Christ.

When God looks upon us, all God sees are his beloved children, each and everyone. God doesn’t put us into categories of good and bad. God doesn’t favor some and not others. God doesn’t speak to a few and abandon the rest. 

Like the sheep who listen for the voice of their shepherd and follow, we have to listen for the voice of Jesus calling us to follow.

We live in a noisy world where we are bombarded with many different voices telling us many different things. We have to be quiet long enough to hear Jesus’ voice.

And once we hear his voice, we begin to recognize it. The more we listen, the easier it is to hear him when he calls our names.

We all belong to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He knows us. He calls us by name.

When Teresa of Jesus asked the little boy his name, he said he was Jesus of Teresa. She was Teresa of Jesus. 

I am Rusty of Jesus. Who are you? And do you recognize Jesus’ voice when he calls you? Because he does call you.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

4/08/18 -- 2nd Sunday of Easter

Today the risen Lord appears to the disciples and says “Peace be with you.”

Jesus gives the gift of peace. Jesus’ gift of peace is so much more than the absence of conflict. Jesus’ peace is given so that the disciples don’t stay huddled in the upper room.

Fear has paralyzed them. But Jesus has a mission for them. To accomplish Jesus’ mission, they must first overcome their fears. Jesus’ peace brings courage and strength and resolve.

Jesus’ peace is given so that the disciples can go out into the world and be peacemakers. 

Jesus’ peace is given so that they have the strength and the courage and the resolve to go out into the world and proclaim that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Jesus’ peace requires something of us as well. Jesus’ peace is centered not on being nice but on doing what is right and just, treating people with kindness and dignity.

Jesus’ peace is a reconciling peace. Jesus forgives sinners and then sends those forgiven sinners out to forgive others. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.

Jesus gives peace to the people who had denied and betrayed and abandoned him not so long ago and then sends them out to be peacemakers.

Jesus also breathes the Holy Spirit on them. The Holy Spirit dwells in their hearts so that Jesus is with them always, leading and guiding. 

Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on us today and calls us to be peacemakers, peacemakers in our homes, with our families, peacemakers at school, with our friends, peacemakers in our community and in our world.

The first reading gives us an example of the early church trying to live in the peace of Christ. They were of one mind and heart. 

They shared everything with each other so that no one was needy among them. They found peace in working together.

We are called to be peacemakers who are not overcome by fear, peacemakers who speak truth with love, peacemakers who control our anger, peacemakers who work for the common good.

Today the risen Lord appears to the disciples and says “Peace be with you.” May we continue our work of becoming the peacemakers Christ our Risen Lord desires us to be.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

4/01/18 -- Easter Sunday

This morning all we have is an empty tomb. When Mary Magdalene stood at the tomb she didn’t encounter some perfect radiant glowing Risen Christ. Peter and John entered the tomb and all they found were burial cloths.

They did not yet understand that God had raised Jesus from the dead. 

We come here this Easter morning because we believe in the resurrection. We believe that Jesus is God’s only begotten son.

Jesus who went against the establishment, Jesus who insisted that the Kingdom of God was near, Jesus who touched the lepers and made them clean, who healed the blind, who said the first shall be last and love your enemies, Jesus who called a little band of misfits to follow…

If we believe that Jesus is who he says he is, God’s only begotten son, then we are left with an empty tomb because God raised his only son from the dead.

Our God has done as God has promised. Our God has saved Jesus. God has raised Jesus from the dead. And we come here because we want the Resurrection to have an affect on our lives.

Why? Because life is messy. The resurrection doesn't fix the messiness of life. We have to fix the messiness of life. The resurrection gives us hope. The resurrection gives us strength. The resurrection gives us grace.

The resurrection gives us the grace to face our pain and suffering. The resurrection gives us the strength to overcome our grief and sorrow. The resurrection gives us the courage to face our disappointments and struggles.

The resurrection heals our broken hearts. The resurrection rescues us from the darkness of sin and death and raises us to new life in Christ.

Christ is our light. We are joined to Christ in the waters of baptism and those waters are sprinkled upon us to remind us that our God saves us and raises us to new life. We are joined to Christ by receiving his body and blood in the Eucharist. 

This morning we may only encounter an empty tomb but that empty tomb points the way to the Risen Christ, Christ our light.

This morning is about our salvation. This morning we sing our Alleluia with joy because once again our God has come to save us.