Jesus has risen!!! And so will our church!!! As you know we have had a very exciting April. As you probably know, on Wednesday, April 9th, at about 4 PM, flames started leaping out of the south sacristy. Thank you to all of you who called it in. You are such a blessing. If this had happened at 4 AM, I probably would have woken up to ashes. Thanks you also to the firemen and the police for all your help and work in those first couple of days. The community at large has been so supportive. Thank you for all of your prayers and concerns. Things are progressing quite quickly. You can check out the progress on Facebook. Just search for St. Gabriel Fire. Just as Christ’s death on the Cross was a horrible, horrible tragedy, the fire was not something we desired. However, out of Christ’s death came His resurrection from the dead and amazing possibility of our salvation. From this fire, the church and community will come out even better than before the fire. We must stick together during this rough time. I know it is tempting to find a Mass that work better into your schedule or is closer, but I strongly invite you to join us on Saturday evenings at 5 PM in Iona. We will no longer be switching Mass times with IHM on Memorial Day weekend. We will continue to have 5 PM on Saturday for St. Gabriel’s in Iona. Mass on Sunday will be 8:30 at IHM and 10:30 at St. Anthony’s. We will continue this schedule until either the church is done or until August 1st.
We are a joyful and a hopeful people. We will continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we will continue to hope and pray for the resurrection of our church and community.
This month is full of beginnings and ends. We will be celebrating First Communion. What a great gift. To be able to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. We will also be celebrating graduation of our seniors. Out of the end of their childhood will come the beginnings of their great adventures as adults. We pray that we have taught them the values and morals they need to not only succeed in the world, but even more importantly, to succeed in being holy.
May God bless and keep you,
A friend asked me to write some short descriptions of some of the events in Jesus’ life on earth. It struck me to post them. Now, you really can’t get in depth in just a couple of sentences. But here is my go at it.
The Nativity – God, the Creator of the Universe, becomes part of His own Creation. He who was outside of time, enters human history. He who created matter, takes on a human body. He who is infinitely powerful becomes a helpless baby. Humans are not just another animals. God Himself became one of us.
Jesus in the Temple – Jesus is 12 when He first goes with His parents to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. After the feast, Mary and Joseph start back home, assume He is with relatives or friends. Instead He is still in Jerusalem listening and asking the Rabbis questions. His answer and questions are way beyond what a 12 year should understand. But He’s God, but they don’t know that. When Mary and Joseph ask, Jesus answers, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” This is a recognition that God the Father was His real father. This is the only story about Jesus’ childhood in the 4 Gospels in the Bible.
Jesus’ Baptism – Jesus is Baptized not because He needs forgiveness from sin, but because He wants to enter fully into the human experience. Here we see the Trinity. We have Jesus being Baptized, we have the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus, and we have the Father proclaiming that Jesus is His Son in whom He is well pleased.
Calling of the disciples – If you read the different accounts of Jesus calling His disciples, the thing that sticks out for me is the fact that these grown men left their professions, maybe professions that had been in their families for generations, just to follow some wondering preacher – There must have been something amazing, something magnetic about Jesus as He walked the face of the earth
Wedding miracle – Jesus’ first public miracle. Notice Mary intercedes for the couple (if was a disgrace to run out of wine), but she doesn’t go over Jesus’ head. She tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them. Mary, is still the most powerful intercessor we have. Mothers, even when we are older, have a lot of influence over us. Mary, because of Her relationship with Jesus, is still a powerful intercessor.
Feeding of the 5000 – Jesus here shows that He can provide for all of our needs. We can trust Him to give us what we need. In Jesus, we receive an abundance. In the Feeding of the 5000, Jesus gives them physical nourishment. In the Eucharist (John’s Gospel, the Bread of Life Discourse in which Jesus says to have eternal life, to get to heaven, we have to eat His body and drink His blood comes right after the Feeding of the 5000 in chapter 6.) Jesus has fed His people, billions of Catholics, spiritually with the Eucharist for the past 2000 years. If you think feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish is a lot, think about all who have been fed with the Eucharist for the past 2000 years.
Jesus and the children – Jesus teaches us not that we should be childish (selfish, demanding, prideful), but rather we need to have the trust of a child. A child just assumes that their parents will provide for them. We are not called to be independent, but dependent on God. Just as a child depends on their parents for the necessities of life, we must depend on God for the necessities of life, both physical and spiritual. This is the type of faith and trust we must have in God.
The Last Supper – Again, Jesus was celebrating the Passover, this time with His Apostles. During the Passover meal, one eats lamb, a lamb that has been sacrificed. It recalls how a lamb was sacrificed and the blood put above the door to the entrance of the house in Egypt. The angel Passed over (hence the name Passover for the feast) the houses (the houses where the Israelites lived) with the blood. The houses that did have blood above the door (the Egyptian houses), the first born son died. Then Pharaoh let the Israelites go. They were freed of their slavery. Jesus, however does something strange during this Passover with His Apostles. He equates Himself as the Passover Lamb. This is MY body given for you. This is MY blood shed for you. In His death and resurrection, He frees us from the slavery to sin and to Satan. It is only because of the death and resurrection of Christ that we have any hope of getting into heaven. This what we partake in every time we receive Jesus body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.
The Crucifixion – Jesus dies for our sins. There is nothing we can do to make up for our sins. Yet, God is perfect. Therefore, He must be perfectly just. We know that perfection is lacking every time we say, “That’s not fair.” We have an innate sense that things should be fair, that justice should win out. God created that sense of justice, that sense of perfection within us. So if absolute justice is perfection and God is perfect, He must be perfectly just. As Romans 6:23 says, the wages of sin is death. Adam and Eve may not have experienced physical death, but they died a spiritual death which is much worse. And that has been passed on to us as original sin. So God, in His perfect justice couldn’t just forgive us our sins. Someone had to pay the penalty, the consequences of our sins. And being sinful, we couldn’t do it on our own. So God Himself, who is perfect, the one without sin, dies for us who have sins, so that justice, the penalty of our sins can be perfectly paid.
The empty tomb – God wins; Satan loses. Satan may have thought He won with the Cross, but Jesus shows that love is stronger than disobedience. Sin and death has lost its sting. If we choose Christ, we choose to rise with Him to new life, eventually an eternal life with God in Heaven. He does not force us to accept Him and the gift of eternal life won for us on the Cross and through His resurrection. We can choose to reject it. In fact Jesus says, most will.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Jesus has risen!! What a glorious day! We are not doomed by our sin. Death is not the final word. Because of Christ, we can now have eternal life. There is the possibility of more than death, sadness, and sin. Christ is our hope. Christ has conquered death and Satan. He has won the war against evil. This is truly something to celebrate.
We know that Jesus’ resurrection is a historical event. We know it because people who knew Him, lived with Him during His life, saw His death, and conversed with Him after His resurrection. Later, most of them were martyred. Now people throughout history have died for many crazy causes, but no one has endured the pain and suffering many of the martyrs faced. No one faces what the martyrs faced for a lie. No, the only thing that can explain the martyrs fervor is that they really did see Jesus risen from the dead. Besides, the Jewish leaders and the Roman rulers would have had ample reason to prove that Jesus did NOT rise from the dead. Yet, no where is it recorded in history (in the Bible or else where) that Jesus’ dead body was ever found.
John and Peter looked into the tomb and believed. They saw the empty tomb. They saw the burial cloths and believed. They believed that Jesus has risen. Do really believe that a person who looks like you and me rose from the dead and is the Savior of all of us; that He saves us from our sins? Jesus rose from the dead because He loves you. He loves you and wants you to be free from sin and its consequences. He loves you and went through His passion, His death and resurrection for you. What happens when you look at the empty tomb? Are you skeptical or do you believe that Jesus is God and died and rose from the dead because He loves you and wants to give you the grace you need to be holy? Remember the words of Ash Wednesday? Repent and believe in the Gospel. This is the Gospel, the “Good News.” Jesus loves you and died and rose again to free you from your sins and give you eternal life. So repent and believe in Jesus. Grow in holiness.