Tag Archives: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sixth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the 6th Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

In our first reading today we hear only a small piece of a 6 chapter story from the Acts of the Apostles sharing the ethnic and religious tensions that could have been fatal to the early Christian Community…

As more and more Gentiles (read non-Jews) believed in Jesus, the good Jewish Disciples went into a tizzy.

Jesus was a Jew and they believe in him as the Jewish Messiah.  Their logical conclusion was that Jesus’s followers would conform to the regulations that defined the Jewish Tradition and the worst points of contention centered on:  dietary rules and circumcision.

So the question was, are these rules essential for being a follower of Jesus? For Peter and the Church in Jerusalem the answer was yes… But, Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews), disagreed.  How to solve the problem?

Get some sleep!  All answer comes in a dream.

And one day Peter had a dream in which a luscious banquet of forbidden food was lowered in front of him, and a voice invited him to help himself.  Peter scrupulously refused, insisting that “His faith was stronger than his appetite.”

The voice twice repeated the invitation and finally rebuked Peter saying, “What God has made clean, you are not to profane!”

Talk about putting the breaks on any notion that Peter and his friends may have had about making their own rules and binding and loosing!

And then in today’s reading we hear of the meeting of Peter and Cornelius.  Peter knew Cornelius was not perfect, but he could not get that dream out of his head. And when Cornelius told Peter about a dream he had, they began to realize that God had set them up on a “blind date”.

As Peter talked about Jesus, Cornelius and his household were filled with the Holy Spirit. Seeing that, Peter says, “God shows no partiality… Whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.”

And so having admitted that God’s Spirit cannot be bound by human rules, Peter baptized the Gentiles (non-Jews) on the spot!

Now God does not always intervene with dreams.  So the community of believers had to re-think their sense of what determined who belonged to the community.

And in the end, they grew in understanding that there are no better criteria for belonging than what we hear in the St. John’s Letter and John’s Gospel: Love one another!

Jesus’s disciples came to understand that it was not they who chose Jesus; but Jesus who chose them, and ultimately us, to love as Jesus loved and loves eternally.  To be chosen, and we all are, means ultimately to spread the love we have and continue to receive from God.

GOD is MORE… as a friend of mine wrote in his book “Saving the Catholic Church”.  More than any real or imagined obstacle that human can impose. More than any barrier we think should exist…

This week as we go about our moment to moment living, where will God be reminding us to love more, to break down those barriers that keep us from loving one another, that keep us from being friends, neighbors, fellow citizens of planet Earth.

How will we include others this week (more than last week or last month or last year). How will we tear down those walls and open those doors that separate us in so many areas of life.

Just maybe the essence of being a follower of Christ is to realize we are chosen and then to chose to spread God’s love without distinction or prejudice or exception.  AMEN and AMEN.

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.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

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

Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us another glimpse of the early Church.  And what we see is the Early Church and its leaders were not always on the same page.  But, there was something they did agree on: when issues arose, they not only needed to talk about it, they needed to discern where the Holy Spirit was directing or pointing the Church.

And one might ask today; where is the Holy Spirit directing our Church?

Not just a good question, but a great question.

This past week, local news carried a news item put forth by a New York City Law Firm about the Diocese of Albany and sexual abuse by Clergy.  Most of the information was old news from the past and some of the information shared was inaccurate.

But what such news items do for me is remind me, and maybe all of us of something that is horrible, horrendous to say the least.  And in light of new Legislation here in New York State, it seems we may be hearing and reading more about this in the coming months…

Then on Friday, I received an advance copy of a book that maybe sums up the feelings of many, entitled “Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis” by Bishop Robert Barron.

Initially, I was not going to refer to the sexual abuse crisis, but we cannot bury our head in the sand, because the the Church is suffering in many ways.

So what’s to be done?  By me, by us, by others, by the Church?

Maybe our First Reading today gives us at least a first step:  turn to God.  Pray, asking God to allow us to discern the direction of the Holy Spirit for the Church of today and tomorrow.

I think sometimes our first response to this problem, or this challenge, is personal – this is what I would say or do.  Yet what is often missing are the facts which need to be part of the conversation.  But also not to be forgotten is the question, where is the Holy Spirit in this effort or conversation?  Where is the Holy Spirit guiding not only me but where is the Holy Spirit leading the Church?

As we heard in the Gospel today, Jesus reminds his Disciples (of 2,000 years ago and today) “…the advocate, the Holy Spirit… will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you… Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid… Peace I leave with you, peace I give to you.”

Individuals, groups of people, the Church… maybe even ourselves are suffering…  But there is hope, peace is possible…

In these days ahead, may we prayerfully and thoughtfully seek the Spirit of God to guide us, His disciples, and to guide the Church of Jesus Christ (note that I did not say my church or our church, but the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior).

In the end, we are not Catholics because our leaders are flawless, but because we find Catholicism both compelling and beautiful.  We believe that it is Jesus who is our way, truth and life.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

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

Friday night I turned on the CBS Evening News and they did a piece on a four year old boy who lived in Alabama.  Seems this four year old, after learning about homelessness through certain animals, asked the next logical question, “Are there homeless people?”

And of course we know the answer?  Yes, there are homeless people.

So this four year old decided he needed to do something for homeless people and that was to visit the homeless and hungry.  He asked his parents to use his allowance and the money for toys to go toward helping the homeless.

And so once a week, with his father being his chauffeur, this four year old visits the homeless and distributes what he feels is the best sandwich for the homeless: chicken sandwiches.

But before he leaves each person, he shares with all, “Don’t forget, show love!”

When asked why he does this, this four year old says, “It’s just the right thing to do.”

And isn’t this what Jesus asks for us today???

It has been suggested that the one sentence that sums up the Gospels and all the Epistles and all the spiritual writers and all the church teachings that have ever been produced through the centuries, are the words of Jesus, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”

Each of us, all of us, are loved by God eternally and unconditionally.  Something that really sounds to good to be true, but it is true!

And all our God asks of us is to: LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Simple but challenging;  at least some of  the time and usually with certain people.

You know, Jesus doesn’t say, it would be really cool if you could try to love one another, but he says, “This I command you, love one another.”

If a four year old kid can reach out to strangers, people he only knows as homeless and hungry, imagine what we can do as a person, family and Parish as we make the effort to love one another a bit more today and every today.

As the four year old shares with everyone he meets, “Don’t forget to show love!”

Sixth Sunday of Easter

I am sure there has been at least one occasion, and probably more when a person we cared for, a person we loved, a person who was part of our life was leaving us.

  • Someone moving away
  • A child going to college
  • Getting married
  • The death of a relative or friend.

Moments that challenged us.

About 10 years ago, a friend of mine was nearing death, we’ll call her:  Alice.  Alice was one of those great people who lived life and lived her Faith.  Diagnosed with Polio at age 14, her life as you might imagine was a bit more challenging than most.  As an adult, crutches and then an electric wheel chair did not deter her from working full time in education; attending daily Mass; teaching Faith Formation; being on the Parish Council; adopting a child; being a great host at her home (and even the hospital); and caring for 3 dogs and 2 cats.

And we think we have it difficult.

One day I received a message that Alice wanted to see me.  She was in the hospital.  Seems Alice’s days here on Earth were few.  I visited, we share some time together and then it was time to leave.  We both knew that this would be the last time we would see each other for some time.

In some ways this is what Jesus is doing in today’s Gospel.  Jesus is about to leave his Disciples.  Jesus wants them to know and to remember that He would not abandon them… that they, with the Gift of the Holy Spirit, they would come to know of his ever abiding presence, especially in the Eucharist and his Peace.

This Peace of Christ is ours.   And the only obstacle to knowing the Peace of Christ is an unwilling spirit and a wavering faith.  Peace of mind and heart is present when we trust in Jesus.  May we pray for and grow in trust for Jesus!

Our relationship with Jesus, who is not physically present, must carry us through the challenges of life and of faith.  It is by our ongoing participation in the life of the Spirit that we are enlightened and our lives lifted up.

You know we all know an “Alice” or two in our lives, who has touch our lives for better.  Who has modeled for us a life well lived, a live of faith, hope and love.  An Alice who reminds us to do the same through our lives.

And so it is with Jesus.  The life and work of Jesus needs to continue through you and me and us…

May our ever growing Faith lead us to an ever deepening living of our Faith that is center in the way, the truth and the life… Jesus Christ.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings:    Acts  10:25-26, 34-35    1 John 4:7-10    John 15:9-17


A Protestant Theologian by the name of Karl Barth is often considered the greatest theologian of the 20th Century.

He exercised great influence on most of the theologians for his day, with last names like:  Bonhoffer;  Neibuhr, Moltmann and Updike.  Barth even opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Regime.

He even wrote on the most profound works of Systematic Theology – the 13 Volume work:  Church Dogmatics.

Well, the story is told about an occasion when Karl Barth was asked, “What is the most profound thought that every entered your mind?”

After a brief reflection, Barth replied, “the most profound thought I have ever known is the simple truth, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”

Indeed each of our readings this weekend imparts the same simple truth, “God loves us;  Jesus loves us.”

One of the most profound signs of God’s love for us is the fact that God – Jesus – died for us out of love.

Love is who we are and how we are to be, in relationship with God and with one another…

As friends of God we put God first by putting others before ourselves.  This is laying down our lives for our friends.

Jesus was willing to die for us.  Are we willing to LIVE for others?  How do we live for others, how do we love others?

We are asked daily, directly and indirectly, to live our love for others by being present to another person be they family member, friends, neighbor, fellow parishioner, even stranger… every day.

We are asked daily directly and indirectly to assist others in an ongoing way of service or ministry in our community, in our school, in our church.

We are asked daily directly and indirectly to share a portion of our time, talent and money, so that others will come to know and experience the God of care and love.

For sure these questions, among many questions, are not just answered with a yes or no, because we realize how important our positive response in action is needed.    How our love in action is necessary.

God’s act of sending Jesus Christ into the world reveals what love is.

And, this will always be true.  But, we too, the Disciples of Jesus today are also being asked to reveal God’s love to others daily through our love in action.

To quote a saying of some years ago that Bishop Scharfenberger shared at Confirmation this past Thursday, “You may be the only Christ that others meet.”

May it be the Christ of unconditional life, love and mercy!

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21


In our First Reading today from Acts of the Apostles we heard:

Philip went down to the City of Samaria to proclaim Christ to them.

With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was going.  For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.  There was great joy in that city.

When I read these few verses, I immediately remembered the recent Papal Exhortation by Pope Frances entitled:  The Joy of the Gospel.

And if we were to sum up this Papal Document of 51,000 words, it was around the theme of Christian joy in order that the Church might rediscover the original source of evangelization in the contemporary world.

And that source is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The necessity to live the Gospel we profess is something that is necessary for every generation, including ours.

The early Christian Community recognized the fact that they had to do more than say they were followers of Jesus Christ, they had to live it, proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ daily.

Jesus tells his disciples that the world will know there is something special about them when they not only love God, but love one another…

Yesterday morning as I took my Friday four hour walk, I entered into discussion with a person who I knew, who was passing the other way.  After his usual question to me, “What’s the good word?” To which I responded, “Don’t inhibit the good work of God and the good work of others.”  He shared that recently, he began to pray every day for people he did not like or people he found it difficult to deal with.”  He even went on to share that he recently met one of these people who was always hostile to him and when he shared with the man that he was praying for him, the man’s attitude changed on the spot.

This is faith in action…

This is patient progress…

Imagine the power of God, the power of the Gospel that could flow from this parish alone as more and more people believe that they are carrying God; Father, Son and Spirit with them every day, every moment of the day, into the world.

My friends, if we continue to believe that Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ is meant for us and for everyone, we will become more and more imbued with the love, the joy, the hope that comes from God, and others will notice it and ask about it and want to share in what God has to offer.

As a refrain of the song:  Dwelling Place, by John Foley shares:

May Christ find a dwelling place of faith in our hearts.

May our lives be rooted in love, rooted in love.