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5th Sunday Homily

5th Sunday Homily

ACTS 9: 26-31; 1JOHN 3:18-24; JN 15: 1-8

“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.”

Today’s gospel is not about plants. It’s about people. It is not about vines. It’s about life. The image of the vine and the branches which Jesus uses in this gospel is a way of saying that we as branches will share in Christ’s very life, the life of the vine. If we abide in him, we will have life to the fullest. Today’s reading calls us to have deep relationship with Christ. Shallow relationships enslave us. Deep relationships set us free. When we are dependent on another person in an artificial or extrinsic way, the relationship we have with that person is limited and often problematic.

A motorist with very poor eyesight was frightened to discover that he had just driven into a dense fog. He began desperately to stay within seeing range of the taillights of the car that was in front of him, trusting he could thereby find his way through the danger. While he was squinting and worrying and staying close so that he could direct his car, the car in front of him came to a sudden stop and the two cars collided. The person who was in the front car walked back and tapped on the man’s window. “What did you think you were doing?” he said. The man, who had been following, didn’t answer the question but posed his own: “Why did you stop so suddenly without warning?” “I had to,” said the first driver, “I just pulled the car into my garage.”

When we are connected to a person in an artificial way, when we depend on someone without knowing where they are going or what their intentions are, the relationship with that person is limited and often problematic. We do not relate in this way to Christ. Through our Baptism, Christ has given us a share of his very life. In today’s Gospel he says that our life and his life are united as a branch is united to the vine. The life of Christ within us allows us to know God’s will. The life of Christ within us allows us to discern the direction of our lives. We are not connected to Christ simply by knowing his teaching. We share his very life. To discern God’s will, we do not have to follow Christ slavishly as a motorist follows the taillights in a fog. The very life of Christ within us gives us direction in facing challenges of life. Our connection to Christ is deep enough to give us the freedom to live.

“Remain in me as I remain in you.” Now this is a very positive and exciting image, and yet there is one line in today’s gospel that can stop us short and perhaps even frighten us. The line is this: Father, “takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”

That line tells us that we who are Disciples of Christ must expect to be pruned by God, that something which belongs to us might indeed be cut off or taken away. This can frighten us, because as much as we want life, as much as we desire to abide in Christ, we do not want to lose anything that belongs to us. We do not want something which is ours to be cut off.  Yet, it is central to the teaching of Jesus that this kind of pruning is at times necessary.

A man approached his pastor and said, “My wife is divorcing me.” -“All my life,” he said, “I dreamed of a perfect marriage. I dreamed of someone who would share their life with me for as long as I lived. I wanted a relationship around which we could build a family. It is so difficult to let that dream die.”

We hope for the best in our lives. We make big plans. But when those plans fail and there is nothing that we can do to prevent it, it is still difficult to let those dreams die. This man had been living without love for over a decade. He argued constantly. His wife left him and now divorced him. His marriage was over. And yet it was still difficult for him to let go of the dream of the good marriage he desired. Yet if his life was going to continue, if his life was to have a future, he would need to face the truth and let God prune that dream away.

Dreams not only inspire us, they can at times hurt us. Dead branches in our life not only hinder us, they can at times kill us. That is why, when there is nothing else we can do, we need to let go and let God remove what is dead from our lives. To do anything less would be living a lie. But the good news is this. Letting go, as difficult as it is, is not meant to cause pain, but to foster life. Cutting off what is dead is not cruelty, but an act of a loving God who removes barren branches so that other parts of our life can thrive. Jesus promises us life and joy in its fullness, and he is serious about what he says. We must believe him. If we want joy, we need to trust him. If we want life, we need to let him take what is dead in our lives and prune it away.

4th.Sunday of Easter( B)

Acts: 4: 8-12. I Jn: 3:1-2   Jn: 10: 11-18.

A new preacher came to deliver his first sermon in a rural parish, but no one showed up except one shepherd. The preacher wondered whether to proceed with the service. The shepherd said, “I can’t tell you what to do, I’m just a shepherd. But if I came to feed my sheep and only one showed up, I would feed it.”

The preacher thanked him and gave the prepared hour-long sermon, which stretched to an hour and a half. When he finished, he asked the shepherd if he had liked it. “Well,” the man replied, “I don’t know much about sermons; I’m just a shepherd. But if I came to feed my sheep and only one showed up, I will not give her the whole load.”

The Patriarchs, Moses and King David were shepherds who lead their people well. But the later rulers, instead of caring for the people, began to plunder them. In prophet Ezekiel, God lamented about the wicked shepherds who instead of caring for the people were plundering them. He promised that He would take away the flock from them, and He Himself would become their Shepherd.

The term shepherd implies an image of responsible leadership, devotion to duty and concern for others. When the prophets of the Old Testament spoke of Yahweh as the true shepherd, they understood him as one who really cares for His people.

Jesus proclaimed that He is the Good Shepherd; He assumed the role and character of a shepherd. King David who himself was a shepherd, and who understood the needs of the sheep and the many cares of the shepherd, sang, “The Lord is my Shepherd (Ps 23:1).” Knowing our needs and His ability to supply them, Jesus called Himself as the Good Shepherd.

A Good Shepherd Knows the Sheep. The first thing a shepherd would do is to set a mark upon the sheep so that if it goes astray, as most sheep often wander, the shepherd may seek and bring them home. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep intimately. He knows them by their name.

He said, “I know them, and they follow me (Jn.10:27).” Doubtless, Jesus knows us thoroughly; for He had even numbered the stars and called them by their names; he has even numbered the very hair on our heads. St.Paul said,:“The Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19).”

A Good Shepherd must have Skill in Pasturing of the Sheep. He not only knows where good pastures are but also leads the sheep into them, which shows his goodness. King David sang about the Lord, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me besides still waters (Ps 23:2).” Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is ever mindful in providing for us. He said thrice to Peter, “Feed my sheep.”

A Good Shepherd Watches Over His Sheep. Knowing the nature of his sheep to wander easily, a good shepherd keeps a careful watch over them. If they go astray, he brings them back to the fold.

Jesus came to save the lost sinners. He said, “The Son of Man came to seek out and save the lost (Lk 19:10).” A good shepherd, not only watches over the sheep, he, also, looks out for any impending danger.  Jesus watches over us carefully.

A Good Shepherd Defends His Flock. The shepherds usually carry a rod and a staff.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had saved us by laying down His life.

Prophet Isaiah said, “God will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms and carry them in his bosom and gently lead the mother sheep (40:11).”

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has a special affection for the weak and the sinners. When He was sitting in Mathew’s house and having dinner with the other tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees complained to His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with the tax-collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (Mt 9:10-12).”

A Good Shepherd Rejoices Over the Finding of the Lost Sheep. He knows all his sheep, and when one of them is lost, he takes note of it and goes in search of it. When he finds such a one, he rejoices over it, more than the safe ones. Jesus came in search of the lost sinners. When one sinner gets saved, there is great rejoicing in heaven.

If Jesus has done so much for us, it is appropriate to ask ourselves whether we are faithful sheep of Jesus. We agree that Jesus is the good shepherd: he has done marvel for us. But what do we do for him?

Do we follow Jesus, the good shepherd?  Do we accept him, his word and his deed in the Sacraments?  Do we come back to him after we go astray? Are we grateful to Jesus for the gifts he offers US?  Do we live like the good sheep of the ‘good shepherd’?

Are we ready to share our life with others as the good shepherd did at the cost of his own life? The image of the shepherd, as Jesus presents himself, indicates Jesus love and concern for us. Jesus suffered, died and rose again from the dead to make us sharers of the Father’s love. we are so fortunate, for as we sang in Psalm 100, “We are his people, the sheep of his flock. Alleluia!”   Can we say truly and sincerely that the risen Lord is our Good Shepherd?.

3rd Sunday of Easter( B)

Acts.3:13-15,17-19 1.Jn. 2:1-5 Lk. 24:35-48

There are many who ask: Is it really possible to rise from the dead? Could it he just a fond wish or a fabricated story? When we hear stories about seeing the dead we are likely to say: perhaps we saw a ghost.

In today’s Gospel, we heard about the third appearance of the risen Jesus on the Easter Sunday following the discovery of the Empty Tomb, immediately after the return of the two disciples from Emmaus. When Jesus appeared to them, and showed them His hands and His feet, ‘they still did not believe. (Lk 24:4 Ia).’ The resurrection of Jesus was too incredible, too unbelievable for the disciples.

When Jesus appeared before the disciples after His resurrection, they were terrified; they thought that they had seen a ghost. The death of Jesus on the cross had been too painful and devastating for them. Their investment of time and the destiny in Jesus came crumbling down on Good Friday when Jesus had been crucified on the cross.

They wept more for themselves than for Jesus. Now, it was time for them to pick up the loose and meaningless bits of their lives and proceed to rebuild them in the absence of Jesus. They thought that they would not meet Jesus again. It is when they had reconciled themselves to this tragic fate that a new vision, a new life appeared in the resurrected Jesus. When Jesus appeared before them, they were afraid and dumbfounded. When they recognized Him, their fear gave way to joy.

The works of the Lord are, sometimes, too marvelous for us to believe. The fact that God loves us so much and that He sent His Son to die upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sins is too marvelous for us to believe

The disciples could not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

He challenged them to touch Him, to look at His hands and feet, and asked them to give Him something to eat, which He consumed in front of them.

He showed them several evidences to prove that He had indeed risen from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is real; it is not a fancy; it is not a story made by the disciples. The disciples saw Jesus rose from the dead, and later, they gave witness to it with their own blood. No man dies for what he knows to be wrong. Jesus is, indeed, risen from the dead. St.Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain (I Cor 15:14).”

Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. When we have doubts about the fact that God loves us, all we need to do is to go to the Scriptures and read about Him. We need to go to the Bible to know more about Jesus. St.Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is the ignorance of Christ.” We must make it our constant endeavor to read the Bible more frequently.

As Christians, we believe that the Bible, comprising of the Old and the New Testaments, is God’s revelation.. We must read our Bible more often to see the wonders, which God had done for us in the past, and to believe in the wonders which He is going to work for us in the future.

Christianity is not founded on dreams or visions but on the historical reality of Christ who died and rose from the dead. Luke emphasizes: that Jesus is now a man as he was before, but with a glorified body. Jesus himself proves that he is a reality, eating and speaking with the disciples.

By this we can know that Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of prophets’ and scriptures. Jesus explains to them the meaning of the scriptures.

And Jesus’ death and resurrection brought forgiveness of sins.

Jesus commissions the disciples to preach the Good News and forgive sins.

Jesus is a living reality today. Jesus lives in our midst; he is so close to us that he dwells within our hearts. Let us ask ourselves: What brought us here to celebrate this Holy sacrifice? It is the word of the one who is present in our midst, and commanded: “Do this in commemoration of me.”

The more we accept this and accept Jesus, the more we will he convinced that he is a living reality with us.

The greater the conviction, the easier to keep his words; the more we keep his words the more we know him and love him. Hence it is imperative that we engage ourselves in the world-wide mission of proclaiming the good things about the living Jesus.

Let us be happy and joyful that Christ, by His death and resurrection, had worked out our salvation.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts.5:12-16.  Rev.1:9-13, 17-19.  Jn.20:19-31.

The Second Sunday of the Easter season invites us to reflect on God’s infinite love and mercy for His people, as taught by Jesus, and to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Divine Mercy Sunday.

St. Faustina and the Image of the Divine Mercy:  St. Faustina of Poland is the well known apostle of Divine Mercy. On the 30th of April, 2000, the Second Sunday of Easter, at 10:00 a.m., His Holiness Pope John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist in Saint Peter’s Square and proceeded to the canonization of Blessed Sister FAUSTINA.

The new Saint invites us by the witness of her life to keep our faith and hope fixed on God, the Father, rich in mercy, who saved us by the precious blood of His Son.  During her short life, Jesus assigned St. Faustina three basic tasks: 1. to pray for souls, entrusting them to God’s incomprehensible Mercy; 2. to tell the world about God’s Generous Mercy; 3. to start a new movement in the Church focusing on God’s Mercy. At the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope John Paul II said: “The cross, even after the Resurrection of the Son of God, speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man. … Believing in this love means believing in mercy.”

“The Lord of Divine Mercy” a drawing of Jesus based on the vision given to St. Faustina, shows Jesus raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing, with  his left hand on his chest from which gush forth two rays, one red and one white. The picture contains the message “Jesus, I trust in You!” . The rays streaming out have symbolic meaning: red for the blood of Jesus, which is the life of souls and white for the water which justifies souls. The whole image is symbolic of the mercy, forgiveness and love of God.

Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples for the first time after His resurrection. The first words he spoke to them were Peace be with you. Peace was the gift the disciples needed most and the Risen Lord gave them peace as a gift.

The disciples had left everything- their family, their occupation, and their hometowns and followed Jesus for three years. And suddenly their master was arrested and crucified. Their hopes and dreams were shattered and they were left high and dry. They feared that they too, like their master would meet with cruel fate in the hands of the Jews.

They were confused and agitated in their minds. It is in their deepest of their misery that Jesus came to address them. They needed peace and Christ gave them peace.

The peace, which Christ gave them, is lasting, deep and eternal. This peace is lasting because it is independent of conditions and circumstances; it is a peace which no sorrow, no danger, and no suffering can take away. Jesus said, I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.Jn.16:33).

Jesus through his death on the cross had reconciled us with God. We experience the peace of Christ by believing in him. St.Paul said,“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.(Rom 5:1).

We can experience the peace of Christ by Loving God’s Word. God speaks to us through the Bible. The word of God has been a great source of comfort and healing to myriads of people down the centuries   Jesus said. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. (Jn.16:33).

We can experience peace of Christ by participating and partaking in the Sacraments. Jesus works out reconciliation with God and with the other human beings by his death and resurrection.

The Sacraments are the means of salvation because they participate in and perpetuate the death and the resurrection of the Lord. Through the Sacraments the church unites and reunites the Christians with God and with the other fellow beings. They are the means of breaking down the barriers erected by sin.

Speaking about the Eucharist St.John Chrysostom said, “Let us learn the wonders of this sacrament, the purpose of its institution, the effects that it produces. We become one body, members of his flesh, and bones of his bones. That is what the food that he gives us effects, he joins himself to us that we may become one whole, like a body joined to its head”.

We can experience the peace of Christ by surrendering our Lives to Christ.

When we surrender our lives to Christ, we experience his promise of peace. We know that our lives are in his hands and there is nothing going to happen to us, which Christ and we cannot handle together.

When we surrender our lives to Jesus, an unquestionable assurance develops within us which gives rise to a peace based on the fact that all things will work for good to those who love God.(Rom 8:28).Today we gather again as a community to praise and thank the Lord. As a community we listen to his word and share his love and peace.

May the Lord who gave peace as a gift to His disciples, grant us all His peace. As we are enthused by the gift of the Holy Spirit, let us pray: “Lord, make me an instrument of peace.” Shalom,’ peace be with you all!

Easter Homily -B

Easter Sunday Homily (B)

Acts.10.43,37-43.  Col.3.1-4.  Jn.20:1-9.

Today, we celebrate Easter- it is the feast of New Life. It is the victory of Jesus over sin and death. It is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian faith. It is the greatest of the miracles–it proves that Jesus is God.  That is why St. Paul writes:” If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your faith is in vain…  But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15/14, 17, 20).

We read in the Bible that some women came looking for the body of Jesus and they did not find it. Until Good Friday, man played and acted in the life of Jesus, and once the body of Jesus was laid in the tomb, God took over the action.

Good Friday belonged to man. But Easter Sunday belonged to God. St.Paul said, “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father (Rom: 6:4).” The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the manifestation of God’s power.

The evil actions done by man on Good Friday will always be defeated, and Easter will be the final word in the battle between good and evil. To those who are on God’s side, victory will always be theirs.

What are the benefits of the Resurrection?

Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant, and sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.  Abel’s blood called out to God for vengeance against Cain.  Jesus’ blood calls out for mercy for His people

When Jesus first appeared to the disciples, the first thing He said to them was, “Peace be with you (Jn: 20:19).”  Peace with God is a gift of Jesus’ resurrection.

After His resurrection, Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Go tell my brethren, that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God (Jn: 20:17).”    Jesus by the virtue of His resurrection has removed the unworthiness of sinners and has made us worthy to call God as our Father. By grace and mercy of Jesus, we can call Him as our Father.  

In the Old Testament, there were different sacrifices offered in the temple of Jerusalem for the forgiveness of sins, and for asking the help of God. The Death and the Resurrection of Jesus has made the Old Testament sacrifices not needed anymore.

By the Resurrection of Jesus, evil is overcome and death is defeated. St. Paul very mockingly asked, “0 death! Where is thy sting? 0 death! Where is thy victory? (I Col: 15:53).

Till today no one had won against death except Jesus. St Paul in his letter to the Roman (6:4) said, “As Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life.” Jesus by His death has given us new life- new life on this earth and in the life to come.

The disciples after the resurrection of Jesus began a new life- a life, where their sins were blotted out, and a new life in the spirit they began. Our sins are washed clean by the blood of Jesus and we can begin a new life, in the friendship and fellowship of Christ.

What does Easter invite us to do?

It invites us to open our hearts to the risen Jesus and let him do for us what he did for his disciples and the people to whom they preached after the first Easter.

Easter is about the good news that the risen Jesus is in our midst ready to work miracles for us, if we let him.

It is in and through us that Jesus has to work today.

Yes, we must be instruments for continuing his mission.   

The flowers, the candles, the music, and all the Easter appointments are symbols of the Life worth Living.  They are symbols that the world has been transformed by the Power of the Cross.  There is hope in the world.  That Hope is Jesus Christ. No matter what our present situation may be, we need to keep our focus solidly on the Lord.  We have to stop defining ourselves by what we have or by what we do.  We need to be defined by who we are. We are Christian.

Everything about our lives belongs to the Lord.  Every attitude of our lives must reflect His Love and His Presence.

We must be completely engulfed by the Love of the Lord.  Everything that matters in life reflects His Love. Life is chaos without Christ.  But with God there are no limits to our ability to love.  This is our Christian dignity! We are followers of Christ and sharers of His resurrected life through our personal acceptance of our baptism. We possess Jesus Christ. We have the source of life that can never be taken from us.

We proclaim today as a Church, “Alleluia, praise the Lord.  Jesus is alive. He is our Savior.  He is our Redeemer.

Let us always hold the light of Christ in front of us and faithfully follow it into life eternal.  Someone said, “He who carries his lantern behind, casts his shadow before.”

If we do not have the light of Christ leading us in front and faithfully follow Him, we would be walking in our own shadow of weakness and sin, leading us to death and not life.  Hence, let us take all the care that Christ is always in front of us, leading us through the troubles of life into everlasting happiness. Then we can sing genuinely: Yes, Jesus is truly raised, alleluia!.

Good Friday – The Passion of the Lord

Isaiah 52: 13-53:12   Hebrews 4: 14-16, 5:7-9 John 18: 1-19:42

This day is not just about Jesus’ suffering and death, a legal but unjust execution. It is about us and our share in his sacrifice in behalf of others. We share in the blessings that result from the suffering of Christ, and we must be sure that we do not contribute to or allow the destruction of others.

We are mortal. We will die, but death does not define us. It is built into the structure of our lives, institutions, and relationships, but what defines us is life, life born of witness to and sharing in our human mortality and our connection to one another, all suffering can be etched in dignity and given the power of God in Jesus.

Today we are confronted with the cross. It is held up for us to look at, to bend before and honor and kiss, to share its power to redeem. We are invited to sink into the mystery of a crucified God whose love shares even in the brutality we visit upon one another yet cries out No! God suffered in Jesus, but God continues to suffer in millions of people caught in the forces of hate. We must confront the cross and Christ in those among us who suffer.

The letter to the Hebrews tells us our high priest sympathizes with our weakness and was tempted in every way, yet never sinned. We can confidently approach the throne of grace – the cross – to receive mercy and favor and find help in time of need. We are reminded that Christ suffered as we do and yet offered supplications in his agony with tears and loud cries to God. We are all human with Jesus, but human now in ways that confound the world and save it. We suffer because we are human and too often because of our sins and the sins of others. The consequences of sin are rampant in the world, affecting us all.

But we are reminded: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” We, the sons and daughters of the Father, the brothers and sisters of the crucified One, learn obedience from our sufferings. Some of us suffer very little, and others suffer terribly, without support or affirmation even from those whoclaim to share the company of Jesus. Suffering can destroy those without faith, but suffering bound to Jesus can redeem, give dignity to suffering, and restore others to life and holiness. All the pain and suffering of the world are bound in the flesh of Jesus. Once tied to his body and blood, we can disappear into the wounds of Jesus and know that we too “will see the light in the fullness of days.”

Death can be tragic, horrible, and even meaningless. Jesus’ violent death was expedient, useful, seen as necessary to the powers in control, contrived. He was betrayed, condemned through false witness, and executed according to the capital punishment laws of his days. It was legal; it was unjust.

But death is only meaningless and without redemption when it is separate from the death of Christ. There is more death in those who kill, obeying the powers of the world, than in the death of those who seek to be human and to be truthful. We are commanded to resist death without dignity, without meaning, death that is legal but unnecessary.

But our ways of fighting are as strange as the cross. They are to be the weapons of nonviolent resistance, of communities that offer hope to the victims of injustice, of tender mercies, of offering ourselves as hostage, of working for justice, of living with and choosing the company of the poor and the outcast, and of prayer and love for all, even our enemies. Scratched on the wall of a concentration camp in Germany were these words:

Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will but all those of ill will. Do not only remember all the suffering they have subjected us to. Remember the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering  – our comradeship,  our loyalty, our humility, our courage and generosity, the greatness of heart that all of this inspired. And when they come to judgment, let all these fruits we have borne be their reward and their forgiveness.

This is the cross. This is Good Friday. This is salvation. We leave the church in silence. Jesus is dead. It is finished. Now is the time of loss and emptiness, the in-between time of death and resurrection. The seed is in the ground, and with time it will sprout and break forth from the tomb and burst into bloom. For now, though, there is nothing. The presence of God in Jesus has disappeared. Nothing is left, no trace but a stone rolled in front of a tomb, a blood-soaked cross, torn garments, a crown of thorns, and memories. Have we disappeared? What is left of us? What will God have to work on? It seems that resurrection is born most surely of nothingness, of matter that has disappeared into spirit, of flesh that is sacrificed and offered to God. What more do we need to let go of? Perhaps one more story and all that needs to go will disappear.

This is a story from Brazil. It was told by one of the prominent scholar, Brian O’Sullivan:

Once upon a time there was a poor peasant family that had worked for years scrimping and saving to buy a piece of land of its own. Finally the day came, and they took possession of it. The mother and half a dozen children gathered in the two-room shack that would serve as their house, while the father walked the length and breadth of their land. He paced it out, marking the four corners as boundaries, praying in joy and thanksgiving as he walked. As he rounded the last corner and laid the stone in place he noticed something sticking out from under a bush.

He bent and scratched at the dirt, digging with his hands, and soon unearthed the corpus from a crucifix. It had obviously been in the ground a long time. Its hands and arms were gone, and its feet and legs missing. It was mangled, scratched, cracked, the paint nearly all gone. He picked it up and carried it back in his arms to the house. It was a good size corpus. The crucifix it hung on must have been ten or twelve feet tall. He came in and laid it on the kitchen table.

The family stood around it, looking at it, in an awkward silence. The father explained that he had found it on their land. It was the first thing he had dug out of the ground. What should they do with it? Should they take it to the church and give it to the padre? Should they burn it? Should they bury it again? They all stood and looked at it.

Finally, the youngest spoke: “Father, I have an idea.”

“What, my child?”

“Why don’t we hang it on the kitchen wall and put a sign underneath it.”

“What would you put on the sign?”

And the youngest told them.

There was a long silence. Then the corpus was hung with care on the whitewashed wall of the kitchen and a small sheet of paper was tacked underneath. It read: “Jesus has no arms or legs. Will you lend him yours?”

The memory of Jesus is dangerous, subversive, death-threatening, life-affirming, bursting with hope, and mindful of evil. It is not naïve but born of faith and community, the community that stands at the foot of the cross, overshadowed by it, turned toward the tomb, expectant. We leave the church, the tomb, our past behind us, and we go out into the world and wait. Jesus lies in the arms of his Father. His passion is over, passed on to us now. We mourn our loss of his presence among us, but we remember, and we pray:

The tree of the cross has become for us

a plant of endless well-being:

it gives us our nourishment;

we strike root in its roots

and in its branches we spread;

its dew is our joy

and its rustling makes us prolific.

It is Good Friday.

Holy Thursday Homily -B

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 / 1 Cor 11:23-26 / John 13:1-15  

Today is called Holy Thursday. It is also called Maundy Thursday. That word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word “mandatum” which means mandate, and it refers to the new commandment of love which Jesus gave to His apostles at the Last Supper.

Holy Thursday recalls to our mind what Jesus did and taught during his last meal-the last supper. The first reading taken from the book of Exodus narrates the story of the redemption or liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. To commemorate their liberation, each Jewish family celebrated the feast of the Passover. It was for the Jews not only a day of thanksgiving but also of obligation because God ordered them to observe this feast.

In the second reading St.Paul speaks about the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Paul presents Jesus as the Lamb of God who was sacrificed.

The heart of today’s feast as enumerated by the gospel is: Love one another as I have loved you.” According to John every celebration of the Eucharist must be celebration of love and unity of the community.

According to Jewish custom a prominent guest who enters the house was welcomed by washing of his feet. The washing was done either by a slave or servant. Jesus broke the tradition and played the role of a servant during the last supper. He washed the feet of the disciples. Then he said: Do you understand what I have done?

I have given you an example. Jesus washing the feet was an eminent act of humilty, an example of service. He humbled himself and became obedient unto death. (Phil.2:7) By doing what the slaves used to do he wanted to teach us a great lesson: no service is inferior or superior. Rather service is the very character of Christian’s life. Every service is salvific in nature. Jesus broke the walls that human beings have created and revealed the love of the father who loves all as his children. This act of Jesus has also an instructive purpose.

Service is the message of Holy Thursday, a message which resounds strongly in today’s liturgy that even those who are normally stone-deaf to the voice of God should be able to hear it.

Here is the challenge of the gospel. Against human tendencies that strive after ranks and positions Jesus asks us to take the last place. He, who wants to be the greatest, is servant of all. (MK.10:43). The implication is very clear: We have to love as he loved, we have to serve as he served, proving thereby that we are his disciples. Jesus says: If your master have washed your feet you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example. (Jn.13:24).

Jesus knew that the service which counts is the service that costs and therefore he instituted the Holy Eucharist in which he provides the spiritual food of his body and blood to sustain those who unselfishly serve their fellow human beings.

He also wanted this spiritual food to be available in the church till the end of time and hence he shared his ministerial priesthood with his apostles telling them, “Do this in memory of me. (Lk.22:19). Since that time, the Eucharist remains as the indispensable spiritual food for all those who follow Christ in being men and women for others.

In order to strengthen us in our being Christian, Jesus gave us his own self, his body and blood in the form of bread and wine. It is the greatest gift, a sign of his greatest love. The Eucharist, the sacrament of love, is thus the sacrament of unity with him and with the community of believers.

Jesus wants us that we be spiritually strengthened and experiences his healing touch. I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall never thirst. (Jn.6:35).

We win forgiveness of sins. This is my blood of the new covenant which is being shed for man for the forgiveness of sins. (Mt.26:27-28).

Holy Thursday challenges all of us, high and low, great and small to become persons for others as Jesus was man for others, ready to serve others even if it is very menial such as washing of other’s feet.

The Holy mass in which we participate is not simply a ritual. It represents Jesus giving of himself for others. Therefore we celebrate the Mass properly only if we do so with the same attitude of self-giving in the service of others. If we really believe that we receive Christ in the Eucharist who was man for others, we must ourselves strive to become persons for others.

In the Eucharistic celebration we continue what Jesus did. In doing what he did in memory of him we become co-redeemers with him and sharers of his glory.

We pray that we may come to a greater understanding of the Eucharist as a sharing in the cross. And pray that we all may demonstrate our sharing in the Eucharist by celebrating our lives with sacrificial love, the love of Jesus, the love of Christians

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