Tag Archives: Reverend Joseph S. Cebula

Sixth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Sixth Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus say to his Disciples of the past and present, if you love me you will keep my Commandments…

As we know there are 10 Commandments that can be whittled down to: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS, as YOURSELF.

Every time I hear Governor Cuomo remind people to be mindful of any number of actions to not only protect oneself, but to protect others, I think of the quote, “the proof of our love of God is seen in our love for one another.”

And several times this week, the Governor was asked about people not wearing masks or bandannas when in public, he said, “the wearing of face coverings is an act of respect for the other person.”  Says the Governor, “It ain’t all about you,” it is about every one of every age.

Could it be, these surreal times are an opportunity for all of us to come to know God, in loving our neighbors in a self-offering manner that can only be demonstrated if we on some level already love God?

Opportunities that reflect our love of God thru our love of others are often all around us. Just maybe during this global pandemic, we are called to care for one another by taking extraordinary measures that include:

  • The suspension of public worship
  • Self-isolation  and/or  quarantining
  • Tending to the sick
  • Supporting first responders
  • Avoiding public places
  • Not hoarding supplies
  • Working remotely
  • Attending school remotely
  • Washing our hands
  • Social distancing
  • Wearing a mask in public
  • Even not going physically to Church buildings

Are themselves expressions of our love of God.

Just maybe, in this challenging and uncertain time, maybe we can remember the admonition of the first letter of John 4: 20, “For whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

So, for the love of God (literally), wear a mask, social distance, stay home, stay safe, keep watch and pray.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

Did you ever wonder why 3,000 people in one day accepted the message that Peter had to share with them that day some 2,000 years ago?

Remember Peter was someone many of them knew.  This is the guy who promised that he would never allow Jesus to suffer and who had sworn to stand firm.  And when Jesus was arrested, he hid, forgetting that he even knew Jesus.

But then came Easter and after meeting the forgiving and resurrected Jesus, Peter was a changed man!  Peter finally got it!

And now Peter was trying to help his audience to something more wonderful than they ever imagined.  Peter’s message was simply, “our God has come through in ways we never dreamed of!”

Peter was changed and the people knew it by how he not only talked but how he lived.

The message that Jesus came to offer is life and life more abundantly, was seen in the enthusiasm, the joy, the love, the care for not only this crowd of people that Peter, for the most part did not know, but for us.

A reminder, a message if you will, that we all need.

I was looking at these picture in the pews that you all sent it recently and I noticed one common denominator… Know what it is?  Everyone is smiling!  Everyone is happy!  Might I even say, most are enthusiastic about the picture taking.

That’s what Peter and the Disciples were like, smiling, happy, inviting, enthusiastic about all that Jesus did, but all that Jesus has to offer each of us and all us here on Earth as it is in heaven.

Maybe a thought to ponder this weekend is, “how is our faith in Jesus lived and shared with one another day after day after day?”  Starting with a smiling face, throughout the day today!  Continuing with actions of caring and sharing and encouragement that reflect that of the Shepard, Jesus, who offers us more than we could ever image, here on earth as it is in Heaven.

Let me end today with a story someone shared with me the other day.  They were at a big box store and as they left, at the red light was a homeless person whose sign asked for help, for food.  The person shared that they felt uncomfortable as their car idled at the light, as they drove away, they felt they had to do something…  So they drove up the road, stopped into a fast food place and got a $15 dollar gift card and then drove back to give the man the gift card, because they knew it was the thing to do.

And my guess is the person who did this felt right, felt good about their good deed but maybe more importantly, the homeless person who was helped, felt good also.  Maybe good that someone not only cared, but made the effort to care and maybe they both had a happier day because faith was put into action that day.

Third Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Third Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

The central theme of our Scriptures today is:  Jesus is Risen!    It’s True!    Jesus is Risen!

And the central role of the Church, the People of God is PROCLAIMING that JESUS is Risen!

In a sentence, we are to be DISCIPLES and DISCIPLE-MAKERS led by the Word of God and sustained by the Eucharist.  This is exactly what we see in our readings today, especially in the account of the two disciples and their encounter with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus.

We might even say this Gospel story reminds us of the Mass, as we hear God’s Word that touches our hearts and then we are led to the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist.

But it does not stop there, as one of the dismissals for the end of Mass says, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!”  That is exactly what the two disciples did in today’s Gospel!

How do our lives some 2,000 years after the death of Jesus, proclaim that “Jesus is ALIVE!”

We, like Jesus, do this in two ways: we talk and we act.  We talk, we tell the stories faith, hope and love that are centered in God, centered in Jesus the Son of God.  We act upon our faith, we live the Word with our families, our children, our friends, the people of our everyday life that we know and do not know.

We are living it now…

  • As we teach our children at home…
  • As we reach out to others with a phone call, an email, an offer to assist – in some way.
  • As we interact with those strangers we call family.
  • As comedian Jim Gaffigan says of his family of 7 in quarantine: We wake up, eat, clean, argue… and some days we mix it up

Where have our eyes been opened?  Where have we seen Jesus alive in our midst, in days past, today?  Watch the news and see and hear the stories of people caring in any number of ways that says:  Jesus lives – He is alive!

The encounter with Jesus, in the gospel today, took place in very ordinary places: on a road;  at an inn (home).

Like the Disciples of today’s Gospel, may we not only come to know Jesus as we journey thru life, but may we proclaim Jesus through the lives we live in those everyday places, with the many everyday people we meet and walk with on our common journey of life and faith.

Bob Hope, the comedian, was asked what makes up a good homily, to which he quipped, “a good beginning and a good end; and the closer they are to each other the better.”

Well, I was going to try to share with you a short Oscar Winning Animation entitled: “Ticket without a Seat”.  Well it did not work out as good as I wanted… so after Mass is ended please go to YouTube and type in “Ticket without a Seat”.  It’s 3 minutes and 4 seconds.    Even if you have seen it, watch it again.  Great message that goes along with today’s homily.  Call it homework, if you want, but I call it living the Gospel, that Jesus is Alive!

Easter Sunday

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for Easter Sunday: CLICK HERE!

Today’s Gospel is pretty interesting… We hear of Mary of Magdala going to the Tomb of Jesus  and then running back to Simon Peter and the other disciple and telling them: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”  And the other disciple and Peter run to the Tomb.  And when they arrive, at the empty tomb, they “see and believe” but did not yet understand the scripture that “He had to rise from the Dead”.

Their faith was shaken by the events of the past Days, and now this…  Yet, they had faith, even if it was a glimmer of faith…

And in the days ahead – today we call them the EASTER SEASON – the Disciples would have time to think, to reflect, to experience what really happened these past days, including that early morning some 2000 years ago.

We are no different than the disciples of the scriptures.  Yes, we know Jesus;  Yes, we know what he said and taught and did when He was with us… but, we too are called to ponder, to reflect, to remember, and to grow in understanding and in living our faith in Jesus, our Lord and Savior; as the Disciples of Jesus have done over the past 2000 years.

It took more than one day, one Sunday morning 2000 years ago, but the Disciples, eventually came to understand what it not only meant to be a Disciple of Jesus;  but what to rise from the dead, really meant.

Peter, in time was able to witness to all that Jesus was and is to us and all people he has risen; he is alive!

Maybe the message of Easter, the message of the resurrection of Jesus is more than a simple one-day celebration.  Maybe it is an invitation to make the TRUTH of Easter a way of life each of us in our own way striving to bring: light where there is darkness; hope where there is despair;   and community building where there is division.

Finally let me end with a story:

An 11 year old boy named Philip, who had Down’s Syndrome, was in a religion class with 8 other children.  On Easter Sunday the teacher gave each child an empty plastic egg.   The children were told to go outside and find something to put into the egg that would remind them of the meaning of Easter.

They came back excited and happy.  As each egg was opened there were exclamation of delight at a butterfly, a twig, a flower, a blade of grass.  Then the last egg was opened.   It was Philip’s and it was empty.  Some of the children laughed at Philip.

“But teacher,” Philip said, “Teacher, the tomb was empty!”