The future is bright!! Probably most of you didn’t know, but after Masses last Sunday, I and Father Beerman drove down to visit some of the youth at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. (My list of awesome authentic Catholic colleges includes Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH; Ave Maria in FL; St. Thomas in CA; Christendom College in VA; John Paul the Great in CA.) We had a great visit. We took five or six students out to supper on Monday and Tuesdays. These young adults are awesome! They love Christ, they love the Catholic Church, they love the Pope, and they love the Catholic Church’s teachings. And they are full of joy and vitality. The future of the Church may be smaller, but it is going to be full of fire and love, ready to take on the culture and even change it. Please pray for our youth and their continued growth in knowledge, love, hope, and faith.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. God’s ways are not always easy to follow. Sometimes our faith makes us suffer in ways the world says is unnecessary. However, God’s ways are always the best in the end. For God’s ways lead to heaven. Maybe we have been asked to suffer greatly in this life, but if we stand firm in Christ, if we stand firm in the midst of the suffering, the reward is infinite. Nothing can compare to the greatness of the reward. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows you better than you know yourself. Take time to get to know the Good Shepherd. Jesus laid down His life for you. Lay down your life for Him.
We pray for the farmers that they receive the weather they need for an abundant crop. It is the farmers that feed the world. Food doesn’t grow in super markets. Farmers feed the world. Their work is a holy and divine work. It is a great privilege, honor, and responsibility to be a farmer. Please pray for them and their families.
Happy Easter!! We continue to celebrate Jesus’ death for our sins and His resurrection to obtain our salvation. This is the Third Sunday of Easter. May the joy of Easter continue to fill your heart…even if the Peeps have long been eaten.
This weekend we have First Communion in Fulda and Currie. So pray for our First Communicants. Pray that they understand the great gift of the Eucharist. Pray they allow the grace from the Eucharist to change them, and through them, to change the world.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appears to two people Easter afternoon as they walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were sad and downcast because Jesus, their hope, had been put to death. Jesus them gives them the ultimate Bible study and shows them that the Christ must suffer, die, and rise from the dead. They finally recognize Jesus when He breaks the bread at dinner. Jesus, at that moment, disappears. The two disciples get up immediately and race back to Jerusalem to meet up the other disciples to tell them what had happened, that Jesus really has risen from the dead.
May the First Communicants, and all of us, see in the Eucharist our Savior. May we recognize Jesus in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. May the grace of the Sacrament change us and mold us into the Easter people.
Happy Easter (still),
Christ is risen!!! Alleluia! Today (Sunday, April 12) we complete the Octave of Easter. Easter (and Christmas) are such a big deal that we celebrate for a week. In the Liturgy of the Hours (the daily prayers priests and others pray) and in the Mass, every day is treated like a Sunday. And then there is the Easter season, which goes on for fifty days, ending with Pentecost.
This past week we have welcomed two new members into the family of God. On Easter afternoon at St. Gabriel’s, we welcomed Kenly Sanow, daughter of Willie and Tiffany Sanow. and then on Tuesday evening at Immaculate Heart of Mary, we welcomed Ada Schreier, daughter of Matthew and Elizabeth Schreier. Such sweet babies. If you see them, congratulate them. Also, pray for them. As a lot of you know even better than I do, being a parent is not easy.
Today in the Gospel we hear about Doubting Thomas. St. Thomas catches a lot of flack. Imagine if your best friend died. You would be sad too. Then if some of his other friends said he had come back to life, you would be pretty skeptical too. But Jesus uses it to teach us about faith. Seeing is not always believing. We can think of optical illusions and other such things. There is a greater reality beyond the physical world. The spiritual world is even more real than the physical things we interact with. God is the ultimate reality. He created everything else. He is above all and deserves our respect and reverent fear. He is God and we are not. However, He also loves us deeply and desires a relationship with us. That is why He died on the Cross. So that we could be with Him forever in heaven. Everything He did, creating and saving us, He did out of love for us. Ask God to grow in faith, to grow in belief.
You will have to forgive me; I have not seen the movie Frozen yet. I have been told there are some great Christian themes in the movie: sacrifice for another and other such things. The other day I was listening to the title song, “Let It Go.” It is good to sing about having the belief in oneself to be independent as long as it is independence from the world’s faulty thinking while remaining dependent on God. However, one line really, really bothered me. “No right, no wrong, no rules for me.” This is the modern cry: There is no absolute right or wrong. I am my own god. I determine what is right and wrong for me. I don’t need rules. I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do. Any authority is to be met with opposition. As a follower of Christ, as a Christian, as a Catholic, this attitude is incompatible with our faith. Authority is necessary for knowing what is truly right and what is wrong, what is the Truth of God and what is not. I am planning to spend the next three articles showing that this is true; how authority is a gift from God.
If we are Christian, if we are a follower of Christ, we must start with Christ Himself. Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6) In John 8:58, Jesus calls Himself, “I AM,” the ancient name that God reserved for Himself. (Exodus 3:14) The Jews understood immediately that He was equating Himself to God, because in the next verse John records that the Jews picked up stones to throw at Him for blasphemy. The same question is before us. Jesus is who He says He is or He is a madman. He doesn’t leave us any other choices. We cannot believe as the Muslims do, that Jesus is just a good man. Jesus is either God Himself, the Truth incarnate, or a madman, someone who in the least should be ignored or at the most, locked up and silenced.
So if Jesus is who says He is, if He is God, then He created us and is all knowing. If He created us and is all knowing, then He should know what is best for us. He should be an expert on how to live a great human life. We see in the Gospels Jesus doing just that. Therefore, Jesus should be an authority in our lives.
However, Jesus knew He was going to return to the Father in heaven. So what did He do to make sure that His Truth was passed on throughout time? In Matthew 16:13-19, Jesus tells Peter that He going to be the head of His church: “…so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Now it is true, in Matthew 18:18, Jesus gives the power to loose and bind to the other Apostles. However, the name Peter means rock, so in Aramaic, the language Jesus would have spoken to His Apostles, Jesus would have said, “You are Kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church…” So it would have been very clear to anyone listening that Jesus intended to build His church upon the Apostle Peter. Jesus also promises Peter that the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. This means that in the matters of faith and morals, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will protect the Church from teaching error. The third thing Jesus does is give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. In Isaiah 22:19-22, we see King David giving his prime minister the keys to the kingdom while he is away. While King David is away, what the prime minsters says goes. The keys are a symbol of authority. This is still true today. Today, a town might symbolically give a celebrity a key meaning that they are in charge for the day. So too, Jesus is giving Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. This means Jesus is giving Peter authority over the kingdom of heaven.
We see throughout the New Testament that Peter is acts as the leader of the Christians, even amongst the Apostles. We see it in Matthew 16. We see Jesus predict that Peter will lead the Apostles after the Crucifixion. (Luke 22:31-32) Notice in the early Christian Church as described in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 15, it is Peter’s speech that ends the discussion.
If Jesus is who He says He is (that is God Himself) and He created us, then He should have authority over our lives. Jesus gave Peter authority over His church, over His believers. Next month we will explore how this authority extends to Peter’s successors, the popes, and also to the successors of the other Apostles, all the other Catholics bishops.
July 4, 1776. Declaration of Independence from England. January 1, 1863. Emancipation Proclamation proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states that were in rebellion with the Union. Easter, approximately A.D. 33. The freedom to spend eternity with God in heaven, out of the reach of Satan.
Two Thousand years ago, a baby was born to a woman and man traveling through Bethlehem. But this was no ordinary baby. This baby was a divine Person, the Second Person of the Trinity. At the height of His life, we find Jesus shedding tears of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. All of creation, the angels, all the souls of those who had lived and died up to that point in history, held their breathe as Jesus said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” Then relief as Jesus agreed to the plan for our salvation: “…nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus’ death and resurrection is the center event of all of history. There is no more important three days in the history of the universe.
We are so blessed to live in a time and place filled with the hope of the Resurrection. We know that no matter how bad things get, Jesus, by the grace of the Cross and Resurrection, has already won the war against Satan and evil. I don’t care how much money you have or how famous you are. We all have bad times. We all wonder what the meaning of life is; that there has to be more to life than ourselves. When we look at the Cross, we realize that meaning of life is love and relationships. We realize the length to which God went to show us how much He loves us and is willing to go to save us from the clutches of Satan and evil. The Cross is a sign of God’s love for us and a sign of great hope. Jesus died on the Cross to free you from your sins, to bridge the infinite gap between the human and the divine. Jesus rose from the dead to give you new life, life to the full. Jesus rose from the dead to give you the grace to become the best version of yourself, the version God created you to be. We the Easter family of God, have been given the freedom not to do whatever we want whenever we want, but we have been given the freedom not to be held back by sin or bad habits; we have been given the freedom to be the best version of ourselves.
Jesus has risen!! Alleluia, Alleluia!! As Martin Luther King, Junior said in his “I have a Dream” speech, ” Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last!”
Have a Blessed Easter,