Pastoral Sharings: "Fifth Sunday of Easter"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 18, 2014 

Fifth Sunday of Easter – A Cycle – John 14:1-12 

A man passed a funeral parlor. In the window stood a sign 
  BURY YOU FOR FIFTY DOLLARS?” If we are half dead 
Christians, we should enlist with Jesus. He who said, “I am the Way!” will recharge us with His spiritual cables and get us into the fast lane.  

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in 1945 by the Nazis. Before his execution, he told a fellow prisoner, “This is the beginning of a new life.” Said the prisoner, a British officer, “Dietrich knew the WAY he was going.”  

A poet wrote that you do not know the meaning of a person’s life until he is dead. Is that true of everyone? I think not. But it was true of the Christ and His servant, Dietrich. It could be true of us yet.  

Today’s chapter 14 begins the farewell address of Jesus to His troops. The theme of today’s Gospel is to pick up the sagging morale of His followers. Jesus had informed them that one of them would betray Him. The apostles must have gone into shock at the news of a mole among them. Their small world was turning upside down. They needed a spiritual tranquilizer in super milligram range. Christ was offering it to them. He was not done with them yet.  

We owe that blunt apostle Thomas much. The Master said, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas, who must have been a hot pistol to handle even for Christ, bought none of it. “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?” Thomas wanted a heavily marked AAA roadmap as well as road flares. His doubts provoked Jesus to say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Just eight words but arguably the most important words spoken in the 5000 years of recorded history.  

That line rang like a loud bell in the ears of Thomas and his friends. It still so sounds in the 21st century.  

Thomas a Kempis wrote in the 15th century, “Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living.”  

Note what the Master did not say. He did not say, “I am a Way, a form of Truth, and a way of Life.” (Unknown) He would not support the pick and choose Catholicism which is popular among us. I am speaking of a smorgasbord Gospel. “I’ll take the Beatitudes but not the Eucharist.” But CS Lewis said, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”  

If you’re a cafeteria Catholic, you have started your own religion. You’ll have competition, though. There is a new religion starting every five days.  

What a pity so hard on the heels of Jesus come the Christians. (Annie Dillard) A popular T-shirt reads, “Jesus, save us from your followers.” 

Christ’s remarkable statement was clearly on the record as unqualified. Had it been otherwise, it is unlikely John, today’s author, would have recorded the line for posterity. Indeed John might not have stayed around. Evidence shows he could have made a good living as a writer.  

Goethe in the 19th century shouted something we can identify with. “When I go to listen to a preacher, I want to hear of his certainties, not of his doubts. Of the latter I have enough of my own.”  

I was in Boston. I was lost. I asked a man for directions. He confused me. I asked another and he said, “Follow me and I’ll show you the way.” The man had become my guide. I relaxed. Happily for us, Jesus is our guide. He does not give directions in hundreds of words. Nor does He say, “You can’t miss it.” Rather, He informs us confidently that He is the way. More to the point, He says, “Follow me. I’ll show you the fast way.”  

Professors have said to us, “I have taught you the truth as I understand it.” But no professor was so presumptuous to say, “I am the Truth.” None except One and that is the reason we come here today to worship Him. So we pray the 86th Psalm, “Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in thy truth.” Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Einstein, great thinkers all, were, like us, confused. They sought the truth. But Jesus is the truth. Big difference that.  

The University of Rostock in Germany has chiseled above its main entrance for all students to read: “Many theories but one truth.”

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 18, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Easter
John 14: 1-12

In the gospel of St. John Jesus makes a series of powerful symbolic statements, each of which begins with the famous words “I am”, in which he likens himself to various images and things which illustrate some dimension of his person and mission; for example, “I am the bread of life”, “I am the light of the world”, and “I am the good shepherd”. In today’s gospel reading from the fourteenth chapter of St. John, he says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.

Fifth Sunday of Easter: How Do I Get There?
How do I get there from here?  That question used to be part of every car trip to an unfamiliar place, at least when the wife got her way and the husband asked for directions.  About twenty  years ago, a newly married couple from the parish invited me to dinner.  I took down their address, but these were the days before everyone had some sort of a GPS system and everyone had a cell phone.  I had neither at the time.  And I got lost, roaming around developments for an hour and a half and terribly upsetting the young lady and her husband.

Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A—May 18, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 14:1-14)

Today’s reading comes in the context of the Last Supper Discourse (Jn 13-17), when Jesus speaks to the Twelve more directly than we have yet seen. His hour has almost arrived; the time for parables is over. The apostles understand that one of them will betray Jesus. They are deeply disturbed. Twice in the preceding chapter Jesus unsettles them with these words: “Where I am going, you cannot come” (Jn 13:33, 36). Now, Jesus seeks to comfort them.

I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life — What does Jesus Christ mean when he says this John 14:1-12?  Are there not many  paths to God, many truths? 
“As long as you believe in God and try to be a good person, your religion doesn’t matter.”  “There are different paths up the same mountain, but they all lead to the peak.”

How many times have you heard people speak this way?  This is the prevailing wisdom.  It’s politically correct.  Tolerant.  Reasonable.

But it’s wrong.  Jesus has the nerve to say “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”

Strengthen Your Adoration In Christ
All Christians know that God became man for us. Not all, however, realize that He did more than this. Not only did He become one of us; He willed also to make each one of us a part of Himself. In addition to the mystery of the In­carnation, there is the mystery of Incorporation. We are incorporated into the person of Christ.

Be meek, open to joy, newness offered by the Holy Spirit, pope says
Christians who are too serious and gloomy have the Holy Spirit missing from their lives, Pope Francis said.

Be meek and open to the Spirit and don’t fight the joy and unexpected newness he brings, the pope said May 13 during his early morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
People who think they can and do know everything won’t be able to understand God, he said in his homily, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

Complete Joy
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

“I have told you this so that My joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John15:11)

Complete joy sounds unattainable in today’s world; after all, who really has it? People do. Jesus says it’s ours if we remain in His love by keeping His Commandments.

Just a little while longer…” A Meditation on the brevity and urgency of life
There is a passage in John 16 that is unusual for its repetition. This past Sunday it was the assigned Gospel in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The expression “in a little while” is repeated seven times in the brief passage. In fact, its repetition is almost to the point of being annoying, such that the reader is tempted to say, “Alright, already! I get it! In a little while!” But obviously John, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit want to drill this into us. The “little while” of this passage is seemingly a critical perspective for us to lay hold of.

Pope Francis Says Fortitude Not Just for Extraordinary Circumstance
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis spoke on the gift of fortitude during his weekly general audience address on Wednesday, May 14, explaining that it helps us to remain faithful not only with the big things, but also in our daily activities.

“We shouldn’t think this gift is only for extraordinary circumstances,” the Pope noted Wednesday, because, “for most of us, the gift of fortitude is exercised in our patient pursuit of holiness in the circumstances of our daily lives.”

Well Said: Best explanation of the Trinity I’ve ever seen
Of course, when I say “best explanation” I’m talking about helping me actually get a handle at all on what the Trinity is. Who better for that than C.S. Lewis? No one, right?

Our Lady’s Request: Pray for the Dying!
Today is the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal. It is also the anniversary of the assassination attempt on Pope St. John Paul II, when Our Lady of Fatima intervened at what seemed the moment of his death to save his life.

This is fitting as Our Lady at Fatima appealed to us to assist those at the moment of their death, those in most need of mercy. More than 150,000 people die each day, which is 6250 an hour!

.Don’t Turn Your Back on Fatima
Did you hear the true story of the Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors? Fr. Hubert Schiffer, SJ and at least four other Jesuits were living in quarters eight blocks away from the epicenter of the bomb. They miraculously survived the bomb blast and Fr. Schiffer lived for at least fifty more years without a trace of radioactive side effects. Fr. Schiffer attributes the miracle in his own words as related by Fr. Paul Ruge O.F.M.I, “We believe that we survived because we lived the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home.”

The Rosary & Mary’s Jewish Prayer Life
When I ponder what it means for Mary to be the mother of God incarnate, one of the most astounding aspects is the role she played in shaping Jesus’s human prayer. Yes, in the heights of His soul Jesus beheld the Father as clearly as the angels in heaven; but as a child, “He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother. . .He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people” (CCC 2599). 

Miracles Do Happen
I believe in miracles, in big ones and in small ones. God is still alive and well on planet earth. He still cares for us and also cares for what matters to us. He hears our cries. He knows our desires. He sees our needs. He wants to heal us and make us whole. As for us, we just hope he answers us in the way we want, but that’s not always the way He works. God’s ways are higher than our ways and He always knows what is best. So, even though we might pray for miracles in our lives and in the lives of others, they may not come with the answers we expect. Sometimes we receive more than we thought and sometimes the answer given was entirely different and totally unexpected.

Spiritual Armor: Godly Relationships
At a teaching conference for the formation of priests and their teams working in the Church’s ministry of healing, deliverance and exorcism, an experienced exorcist shared a tragic story of how a young woman became fully possessed by demonic spirits. She had become estranged from her family and alienated from friends through a series of losses and broken relationships. Overwhelmed with loneliness and full of despair, one night she sank onto her bathroom floor and cried out from the depths of her desolate heart, “Is there is anyone out there who will be my friend?” Here, a very desperate, isolated girl opened a doorway and sent an invitation into the very real spirit world that surrounds us all. Fallen angels, demons, were quick to seize the opportunity to enter into a “relationship” with this poor soul.

A Journey to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory – After a near-fatal motorcycle crash 30 years ago, priest said guardian angel showed him the afterlife
Father Jose Maniyangat is a priest in good standing in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. He is an associate pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville. He is the diocesan spiritual director for the Legion of Mary. And, with the blessing of Bishop Felipe Estévez, he leads a Eucharistic and charismatic healing ministry  in which he leads healing missions in parishes in the United States and throughout the world.

But that isn’t all.

Father Maniyangat also says he died in a traffic accident in 1985, was taken by his guardian angel to visit heaven, hell and purgatory and came back to life to continue his ministry as a priest.

The Devil You Say!
Gotta give credit where credit is due. Pope Francis is not shy about talking about the Devil to a world (and a Church) that believes they have moved past such things.

The Washington Post has written an article on the subject. It is full of the usual biases, but still notes the phenomenon of a Pope unafraid to call the Devil by name.

Science, Saints, and the Shroud of Turin
Science has newly confirmed something about the Shroud of Turin that saints already knew.

Centuries ago, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in ecstasy asked Jesus which was His greatest unrecorded suffering and the wound that inflicted the most pain on Him in Calvary and Jesus answered:

Basic Life Science and Catholicism
“Quit forcing your religion on me! Your Pope might think that a fertilized egg is alive, that it’s human, but that’s your opinion– I believe in science! It’s no more a person than a skin cell is, and you just think it has a soul. If abortion upsets you, you should get people to use birth control.”
If you’ve been in abortion discussions, you’re probably familiar with this kind of assertion. I’ll admit that I’ve taken some slight liberty with the paraphrase– I combined several variations into one claim. Other than that….

The influential Catholic whose love is boundless
I love lists for some reason, and so fell delightedly on the current edition of Time magazine, which is devoted to a list of the 100 most influential people in the world. On the cover is Beyoncé, the popular and respected chanteuse, in a curiously unflattering photograph. It is interesting that Beyoncé makes the cover of Time, and no doubt there is much food for thought there, but I would rather comment on the two people on the list whom I immediately recognized as Catholics.

Hell Is for Real, Too
Heaven Is for Real, the story of a young boy who reportedly had a real-life experience of heaven during emergency surgery, is currently playing in movie theaters. The film is not doing as comparatively well as the eponymous, bestselling book that inspired it — more than one million e-book copies alone of which have been sold — but it will likely inspire other Christian films, given that its gross receipts have exceeded its relatively modest budget more than sixfold thus far..

“It’s a Setup”: The Note that Saved a Marriage from Adultery at 30,000 Feet
I was taking the Atlanta to Bentonville, AR flight several weeks ago intending to do business with Wal-Mart. When I got to the gate, my usual people-watching hobby kicked in. I noticed an animated woman who seemed to be doing all she possibly could to get the attention of this man. I noticed they both had wedding rings (hers a whopping diamond) but did not seem to be married to each other.

Help to Avoid Committing Adultery Through Social Media
Is mankind evolving into a more peaceful and prosperous people – or are we on a path toward ever-increasing moral depravity, social chaos and destruction?

Answering that dichotomy depends on one’s worldview, but Christian author Jeff Kinley is in the latter camp, telling TheBlaze that he sees human beings continuously and perilously cutting God out of society.

The Story of Hosea and What It Says About God and Holy Matrimony
The story of the Prophet Hosea and his troubled marriage is a powerful testimony to us of our own tendency to be unfaithful to God, but also of God’s passionate love for us. We do well to recall the story especially given the “great debate” among some in the Church today over the question of divorce and remarriage. And while there are many painful stories of what some have had to endure in difficult marriages, it may be of some benefit to those who are in the struggle to remember that God is in a very painful marriage with His people—yes, very painful! God knows the pain of a difficult marriage and a difficult spouse. The story of Hosea depicts some of God’s grief and what he chooses to do about that grief.

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