To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 7th Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!
To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 7th Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!
This summer marks the 50th Anniversary of just maybe the greatest scientific accomplishment in history. At 9:30 pm Houston time on July 20, 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.
When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, America was experimenting with rocketry and space exploration. With the Russians having already launched Sputnik in 1957; space exploration took on a new urgency.
In a speech to Congress, President Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
Despite this ambitious goal, nothing existed to stop them from realizing the dream. But what Kennedy did was marshall the resources and talent from the civilian, military, corporate, and educational sectors to leapfrog the Russians and take the lead in the space race.
For Kennedy, going to the moon was more than being better than the Russians.
Kennedy saw the American Space Program as the noblest illustration of the American pioneer spirit. A journey that would not only open new frontiers but bring new technologies in: communications, medicine and transportation, among other things. We can thank Project Apollo for our cell phones, cordless appliances, radial tires and the laser technology that makes many surgical procedures possible. (Oh, and of course – Tang)
Said President Kennedy, “we choose to go to the moon and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because the goal will serve to organize and measure our best energies and skills; because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept, and we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
In his brief Presidency of 1,037 days, President Kennedy articulated a vision of America’s great space adventure that harnessed the imagination and talents of our nation as never before.
The night before his death, at supper with his Disciples, Jesus articulated a similar vision:
- A Church brought together to realize the vision of the Kingdom of God hear on Earth, as it is in Heaven.
- A vision centered in the conviction that, in God, we belong to another…
- A vision that lifts up and honors the gifts and the talents, that each one of us bring to the table.
In the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus prays for us…
He prays that the extraordinary love that binds the Father to the Son, will bind us to one another and in the process we will realize God’s vision that can transform our world with extra ordinary peace and the mercy of God that knows no limits.
As Neil Armstrong said as he stepped on the moon 50 years ago, “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind…”
May the small steps we take daily in living our faith individually and cooperatively, lead to giant leaps for proclaiming the Gospel to Jesus Christ today and in the days and decade ahead…
To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!
Our First Reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, shares with us the process used to get a twelfth Disciple to replace Judas. There are criteria that needed to be met that resulted in two candidates: Justus and Matthias. Then they prayed, asking the Lord to show which one should be chosen. Then they do, something that we would probably not do. The person is chosen by lots, which was the traditional way within Judaism to determine God’s will.
Of course, the Disciples of Jesus knew that they needed to continue the vision and mission of Jesus. They were called as we heard on Ascension Thursday to, “go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
But we too are called, as the Disciples of Jesus, in our time and place tp, “go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Or put another way – to evangelize.
We are all aware of many Evangelical preachers and churches, like:
- Billy Graham, who died recently
- Joel Osteen, who was in the area recently at the Times Union Center in Albany
- Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church out west.
One day a Catholic Priest was speaking with Rick Warren and asked him what the secret to his success and that of the Saddleback Church was? With that Rick Warren pulled out a tri-fold piece of paper with a series of bullet points that were taken from a December 8, 1975 Papal Letter by Pope Paul VI on EVANGELIZATION. (Evangelinii Nuntiandi)
This is the basis of Rick Warren’s success over the years. A Papal document that for some 25 years was ignored by Catholics, but not our Evangelical brothers and sisters.
This Sunday is not about what we did or did not do 40 years ago or even yesterday, but rather what we can do today and tomorrow as person, family and Parish “to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel, the Good News to every creature.”
Of course the question that comes to mind is how can we evangelize, proclaim the Gospel? The ways are many, but let me share just a few from a brochure entitled, “Everyday Evangelizing for Everyday Catholics.”
- Begin and end the day with prayer
- Transact all business dealings honestly
- Support Parish leaders
- Send a Mass Card or other card of support to a person
- Share a smile and personal greeting
- Be gracious in the parking lot
There are lots of other ideas in the brochure available as you leave today. Put another way, there are lots of ways every day for us to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ to all we encounter today and every today or put another way: to love one another.
Some 17 years ago I met a group of young teenagers from Long Island who often visited Stamford, NY to play golf with a friend of theirs whose parents had a second home in Stamford.
Over the years, our friendship grew and so did all us of in age and in careers. Now adults, we usually gather for golf and dinner in August. A few years ago, someone in the group asked Ryan (who was a car salesman), when was the best time to buy a car? His answer was, “now!” Not because of the date, but because that was your timeline.
I am sure we are familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes that speaks of various appropriate times and seasons, beginning with “a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot the plant…”
Today’s readings allow us to add, “a time to wait for God to act and a time to act for God.”
With the Ascension of Jesus (that we celebrated this past Thursday and some Diocese celebrate this Sunday), with coming of the Holy Spirit that we celebrate next weekend on the Feast of Pentecost, we have been commissioned, if you will, to bring the Good News, the Gospel, the message of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior to family and friends, to co-workers, classmates, neighbors, to any and all we meet daily. A message that often needs to be more than words, it is a message meant to be lived by each daily, as person, family and Parish…
When is the time to pray, to allow God to speak to our heart and to our plans not just for our lives as people, but our lives as people of faith as disciples? Now is the time!
When is the time to witness my faith by what I do? Now is the time!
When is the time to call a 2 shot penalty on yourself as Ernie Els did this past week (even though no one else would have). We call that integrity – honesty… Now is the time!
When is the time to put into practice weekly Mass, maybe even attending Mass as a family? Now is the time!
When is the time to drive more safely? Now is the Time!
When is the time to love God, love others and be faithful disciples? Now is the time!
What in our lives, as person, family and Parish is God directing us to LIVE, to BE and to ACT upon… not tomorrow, not next week, not someday… but NOW?
FOR NOW IS THE TIME!
I heard a story recently about a young Priest who was fielding questions during children’s Mass. One child asked the Priest why he bowed his head before he began to preach on Sunday. The priest answered, “I’m praying that the Lord will give me a good homily.” The child then asked, “Oh, then why doesn’t God answer your prayers?”
Well, let’s pray that God answers “our prayer” today.
Children let me share with you what I call “The Pancake Story.”
2 Brothers, Joe and Mike and coming downstairs for breakfast one day. Their mother is making pancakes and the boys start arguing over who will get the first pancake…
Mother sees this as a teachable moment and says, “boys, if Jesus was here today, he would say: ‘Let my brother have the first pancake.’”
With that Joey says to his brother Mikey, “Mikey – you be Jesus today!”
Children (of all ages), in today’s Gospel Jesus is praying for us to God the Father, that we will be like Jesus everyday. Jesus prays that we will come to know that we are loved by God and every time we receive Holy Communion, we are reminded that we a loved, that He cares about us, that he wants us to be His friend.
But you know, Jesus wants us to share His love with others by the way we live daily. Something we all can do every day that says to others: I love you… God loves you.
Boys and girls, I hope your parents have told you about their First Communion because it is day none of us should forget. (If not ask them later today to tell you.) Today is a special day, but so is every time we receive Communion. Jesus wants to be part of each of our lives. Please let Jesus into your life!
My thanks to everyone who has made this day possible: Parish Staf, Deacon Andy, Rachel Collet and the Faith Formation Teachers, the Parish Community, relatives and friends of our children, but especially parents – the first & best teachers of your children in the ways of life and the ways of faith. Please continue in your everyday living to witness to the love of God in your lives. Your child needs you to not only hope and pray that they will be a person of faith; your child needs you (and, in fact all of us) to be a person who lives their faith with them every day.
Scripture Readings: Acts 1: 15-17, 20-26 1 John 4:11-16 John 17: 11-19
We hear in today’s Gospel from St. John, Jesus praying for his disciples then and for us, His disciples of today.
Jesus prays for the four children we Baptize today, as do we: Parents, Godparents, Relatives, Friends and Parishioners.
Today, we, the church, pass on to these children the free and priceless gift of faith. That same gift of faith that was passed on to us by our parents, by their parents, and by their parents before them. People like us who receive the word of God but most importantly passed on the Word of God in “Word and Deed.”
I read this week a report that mentioned the decline of the practice of the faith in today’s society. This report mentioned how, for many people, religion was not important to them… they were just disinterested in religion.
Could it be we have lost a sense of balance in our lives?
Within the last week, or so even the Pope addressed this lack of balance when he met with athletes, coaches, and sports fans at the Vatican,
At one point the pope shared, “Never let practice and competition get in the way of going to Mass, studying for school, being with friends, and helping the poor.”
The pope continued, “sometimes it happens that a boy or girl forgets about Mass, Catechism, because of workouts and competition. This is not a good sign,” said the Pope, “because it means they do not have their priorities right.”
I’d suggest this morning that Jesus is praying for all of us, especially parents, to do our best in bringing Jesus, in sharing Jesus, with our children, our families, and our friends; with all people – not only by what we say, but by how we live daily.
Jesus prays that we will never be indifferent to our faith. Jesus prays that we will genuinely make the effort to balance all that is good in life, but always including the God of goodness and eternal life in our Daily Living.
By the way, have you ever wondered why Jesus prays for us? I think the answer is shared with us in today’s reading from St. John, “God is love, and whoever remains in love, remains in God and God in them.”
May we never be indifferent to our Faith; May we and our children always remain in God’s Love.
Scripture Readings: Acts 1: 12-14 1 Peter 4: 13-16 John 7, 1-11a
This past week as we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension we heard Jesus give the disciples their “marching orders” if you will:
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And know, that I am with you always”.
How do we go from being baptized to baptizing?
How do we go from being taught to teaching?
How do we know that God is with us and how do we make God known to others?
Just maybe the answers to our question came from Jesus
Jesus talks about the poor.
Jesus talks about sharing what we have.
Jesus talks a lot about love and upsets folks by his definition of neighbor.
Jesus tells us to serve each other — willingly, cheerfully, humbly.
Jesus talks about meals…simple meals and sitting down together, not eating on the run.
Jesus tells us to share bread and wine in his memory, as a community gathered in his name.
Simply put, Jesus tells us to look for Christ in each other and to be Christ to each other.
There’s a novel entitled: Vestments.
It’s about a spoiled, self-centered young man who stands to inherit a fortune from his dying aunt. But there is a hitch… She’s a pious Catholic woman who, in her confusion, thinks her nephew is a priest. To ensure his inheritance, he begins to wear a Roman Collar when he visits her.
The young man not only enjoys how people treat him as he dresses as a priest (“Can I check your oil, Father?” “Would you like more Coffee, Father?”) but he begins to enjoy how he treats others. He finds that his is more kindly toward others, more helpful, more understanding. And other things change, too. He starts to drink less, he stops fooling around, he begins to wonder at the purpose of life, he begins to think that maybe there is a God and that Christianity is more than foolish superstition. What started a fakery begins now to change him.
Christ “put on” the vesture of Human Beings so that we could become like Christ. We may at times have to fake it. But if we put on Christ, if we wear Christ on the outside, we may find that we have become more Christ-like on the inside.
You know we hear about prayer today, prayer by the early disciples seeking God’s guidance in being faithful to Jesus, our Lord and Savior, our brother.
Prayer by Jesus, for his disciples, including us, his disicples for this time and place and for the people we will encounter today and every day.
Prayer that is meant to lead us to truly living the gift of faith that has been shared with all of us. The gift of faith we share with our children.
As Mother Teresa shared with her Sisters, “Every act of love is a prayer.
Prayer in action is love and love in actions is service.”
May we pray for one another and for others in words,
But may we also pray with our hands, our hearts,
and with selflessness – more and more and more each day.