Pastoral Sharings: Fr. Mike Phillippino

WeeklyMessage By: Fr. Mike Phillippino
Second Sunday of Easter
April 7, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
“I hold the keys of death.” Only the Lord Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, can say that, as we hear him say in today’s second reading. It is a fundamental temptation of the human family to think that someday, by our ingenuity, technology, knowledge or power, we can hold the keys of death. That’s what drives our culture of death. We want to be in perfect control. Advocates of assisted suicide call for the right of people to control the timing and manner of their own deaths. We want to “tame” death so we can use it as a tool to escape suffering. Hence we impose it on the unborn when they are deemed too inconvenient, or when they have disabilities or conditions like Down’s Syndrome. Nearly all unborn children who are diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are killed by abortion.
 
But if we want victory over death, it is the Lord Jesus Christ to whom we turn. Rather than proclaiming an ethic of death, we proclaim a Kingdom of Life. John “heard…a voice as loud as a trumpet” and he himself was on the island of Patmos precisely because he had trumpeted the message of Christ. The first reading shows us that the apostles’ preaching of the Resurrection was accompanied by tremendous signs. The Resurrection, in other words, gives rise to a community of those who both believe and proclaim it, and bring its power to the world. That is why we are prolife.
 
Thomas doubted the victory of life over death. Where was he the first Easter night? Scripture does not tell us, except to say that he was not with the other apostles, to whom the Lord appeared. Maybe Thomas was out looking for the Lord! After all, if he was the kind of person who had to “see for himself” and had heard the announcement from the women that morning that they had seen the Lord on the road, maybe he thought that he could go out on the same road and find him! But that was a mistake, because Thomas separated himself from the community of believers gathered around Peter. And he missed the Lord.
 
It was only when Thomas reunited himself with the community that he, too, saw the Lord. Today, we are that community of faith, bringing the world to understand that the destiny of the human person is life, not death, and that there is only one who holds the keys of death. He is the Lord of our lives, our freedom, and our choices. He is the Risen One!

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 7, 2013

Second Sunday of Easter
Gospel Summary
 
It is surely an understatement to say that the disciples were filled with joy as Jesus appeared to them, alive and well, on that first Easter day. It will take years for them to draw out all the wonderful implications of this dramatic moment in their lives but for now it is sheer joy. Jesus then gives them a mandate to bring peace to the world by translating their happiness into the difficult but rewarding gift of forgiveness.
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Oh Ye of Little Faith – Doubting Thomas
We don’t know where Thomas was. All we know is that he missed it. All the others were huddling together behind locked doors, hoping that the authorities would be satisfied with the blood of their master and leave them alone.
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2nd Easter: Afraid and Doubting; Yet Still Believing
Poor Thomas always gets bad press the Sunday after Easter. We are always focusing in on his doubts. We often think that he was the only one who did not believe that the Lord had risen from the dead. The fact is that most of the disciples doubted the Lord’s resurrection until they experienced His presence. Only the apostle John, the Beloved Disciple, appears to have believed the Lord had risen before he ever encountered the Risen Lord. If you remember, after Mary Magdeline reported what she had seen that Easter Sunday morning, Peter and John ran to the tomb. John outran Peter, but waited and let Peter go in first. When John went in, the Gospel says, “He saw, and He believed.” Peter, still, did not know what to think.
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“Unless I see…I will not believe”
Often this Gospel is used as an occasion to prove the Church’s control of the forgiveness of sins and even to demand more frequent confession.

The Church, in this perspective, has a monopoly on forgiveness and must be stern in its use. Patently this narrowly circumscribes the passionate forgiveness of God which Jesus came to reveal. God may be generous with forgiveness, it is implied, but the Church cannot and should not. Yet the story of Thomas, immediately after suggests that such an interpretation of the words of Jesus missed the points. To forgive is not a right to be jealously guarded, but an obligation to be exercised generously. We do not earn our own forgiveness by forgiving others. Rather we manifest the generosity and implacability of God’s forgiveness of us.
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Divine Mercy, Jesus’ Gift to Each One of Us
My Lord and my God! (John 20:28)
 
When a child is conceived in the mother’s womb, one cell is knitted to another. The parents’ genes combine in a way that can never be separated, and they create an entirely new DNA—a new being is created that is special and unique. This is an appropriate image for today, a day set aside to celebrate God’s divine mercy.
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Abba
On a November morning before dawn my wife and I, and three other people on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, followed a Franciscan priest into the small edicule that surrounds Jesus’ tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The priest was going to say Mass, and he was pleased that we could join him. Two of our group went with the priest into the tomb itself, and the rest of us remained inside the edicule, just at the entrance to the tomb.
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Easter sacraments can revive relationships, Pope teaches
The Pope told a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Coeli that the grace from the sacraments received at Easter can renew relationships.

“The grace contained in Easter Sacraments has a huge potential for renewal in personal life, family life and social relations,” Pope Francis said April 1 to a packed Saint Peter’s Square.
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A Special Vocation: To Show People How to Love
Small acts with great love,” Mother Teresa was fond of saying. Yesterday, Pope Francis bestowed an extraordinary Easter blessing upon my family when he performed such an act in embracing my son, Dominic, who has cerebral palsy. The embrace occurred when the Pope spied my son while touring the Square, packed with a quarter million pilgrims, in the “pope mobile” after Mass. This tender moment, an encounter of a modern Francis with a modern Dominic (as most know, tradition holds that St. Francis and St. Dominic enjoyed an historic encounter), moved not only my family (we were all moved to tears), not only those in the immediate vicinity (many of whom were also brought to tears by it), not only by thousands who were watching on the big screens in the Square, but by the entire world.
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After Ezra -An Easter story
Anumeha Galloway was about to deliver her son Ezra in the earliest hour of Jan. 5. Ezra was dead, she knew. His regular movement stopped while she was having lunch with her husband, two days after the due date of the couple’s first child.

She was not crying. It was time. She looked at her husband, Ryan. He smiled. She was fuzzy from the painkillers and began to think she needed a coffee to wake up a bit, that she should brush her teeth to get ready for her baby — but, no, it was going to happen now, right now.
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First Responders: The Missions of Saints Peter, Paul, and Mary
Mention the names Peter, Paul, and Mary and for some the sixties folk trio comes to mind. On the night of the Last Supper, the Peter, Paul, and Mary of the New Testament weren’t singing “Puff the Magic Dragon,” or “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” They were singing, more or less in line, Psalm 118, the Great Hillel. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (24). This was the psalm that Jesus and Peter and the other disciples sang as they moved across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. Young Saul of Tarsus, the pre-Paul Pharisee, and Mary, also sang this victory song. In those days, among the ancient biblical Jews, it was a pretty big hit too. …more

Renewal: Easter, Jesus, Francis… Us?
Easter blessings!

I’m all for celebrating! We prepared for Easter with forty days of intense prayer, penance, and charity during Lent.

How about celebrating now for forty days—until Ascension Thursday—come to think of it, for fifty days—until Pentecost Sunday?
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10 Positive Things That Happen When We Pray
Why should I bother to pray?
 
If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at least once in your life. Whether it’s motivated by the fact that “God already knows what I need” or by “God doesn’t answer my prayers”, the fact of the matter is that the question does get raised by all of us. Even worse, we sometimes take it a step further and stop praying. In an attempt to highlight the importance of prayer and combat the desire to give it up, here are 10 positive things that happen EVERY time we pray from the heart:
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The Power of Simplicity and Authenticity
Why am I a Christian today? Why am I a Catholic today? It is because of the witness of authenticity. Put very simply–I am a Christian today because of the lived witness of my parents and I am a Catholic today because of the lived witness of two remarkable women–a mother and daughter.
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The More I Learn
While writing her opinions of several C.S. Lewis books she had recently finished, a friend of mine remarked: “The more I learn, the more I want to love.” This sentence resonated with me because it reflected such an honest and beautiful desire of the soul to continue to learn more about her Divine Spouse.
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On the First Commandment

We are familiar with the two great commandments, to love the Lord with our whole souls and minds and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Apparently, we cannot do one without the other. If we exclusively select one, we violate the other commandment.
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Pope Francis highlights role of women, youth as messengers of faith and hope
After a few days of rest from a busy Holy Week schedule, Pope Francis returned to the public eye with an inclusive message of the Resurrection, tasking women to become the messengers of faith and hope.
 
Retelling the story of how a group of women were the first to find Christ’s tomb empty, he highlighted the fact that instead of keeping the news of his Resurrection to themselves, they spread it.
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Why I Am a Catholic in 200 Words or Less
I am a Catholic because I have had several undeniable experiences of God usually while I was praying in front of the Eucharist. I have also had several terrifying experiences of a dark, intelligent presence that was so full of hate that it would have eaten me and all of us long ago unless Someone stronger was keeping it in check.

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The Sacred, the Secular, and the Search for Ourselves
I wish that I were perfect. If I were perfect, as I have already observed in a previous post, I would not have to do anything.
 
What is ironic is that my desire not to do anything at the moment is at odds with the necessity imposed upon me now of actually getting up and doing something, and hence it is part of the problem.
 
It is in this sort of rupture between appetite and actual need that my moral imperfection is manifest. All imperfection is known in division of some kind.
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Intellectual Fog of Death
Many were in disbelief when a Planned Parenthood lobbyist from Florida, Alisa LaPoit Snow, suggested that babies born alive after abortion were nothing more than subject matter for decisions a mother should be able to make about whether or not her child should live. That act, were it to be performed, is being described as an “after-birth abortion.”
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Freedom and Foolishness
About a decade or so ago, a popular refrain to questions about permissions was “It’s a free country.” “May I sit here?” “It’s a free country.” “Do you mind if I smoke?” “It’s a free country.” “Should I skip Mass this week?” “It’s a free country.” The remark was basically a flippant reply, as if to say, ‘It doesn’t matter what I think, you’re free to do this anyway.” It was a sort of way of showing American pride—the saying saw a bit of a revival after the terrorist attacks against on September 11, and has never really been popular in other countries—but I can’t help but notice that this pride masked a bit of underlying cynicism. The patriotic adoption of the phrase “it’s a free country” scarcely needs explanation, but the cynical one may need a little unmasking.
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Notes on Mark: The Storm
The Lake of Galilee was notorious for its storms. They came literally out of the blue with shattering and terrifying suddenness. A writer describes them like this: ” It is not unusual to see terrible squalls hurl themselves, even when the sky is perfectly clear, upon these waters which are ordinarily so calm. The numerous ravines which to the north-east and east debauch upon the upper part of the lake operate as to many dangerous defiles in which the winds from the heights of Hauran, the plateaus of Trachonitis, and the summit of Mount Hermon are caught and compressed in such a way than, rushing with tremendous force through a narrow space and then being suddenly released, they agitate the little Lake of Gennesaret in the most frightful fashion.” The voyager across the lake was always liable to encounter just such sudden storms as this.
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