Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: Greenville, Texas
|Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 9:31 am Post subject: 3rd Sunday of Easter 2009
|3rd Sunday of Easter 2009
Homily by: Fr. Paul Weinberger
St. William the Confessor Parish
April 26, 2009
Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled and why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I myself. Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as He said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Later on today when you return home look up the word “nobody” in the dictionary and next to that word you will see the picture of St. Catherine right next to the definition. This was a woman, who was unremarkable according to the standards of the world. She transformed the world along with St. Bridget.
St. Catherine of Sienna went to the South of France from her native Italy and spoke to the pope and convinced him that he needed to return to Rome. During the political problems in Rome and the problems with invading armies, the King of France had offered the pope refuge in the South of France. He took a lot of stuff with him. Once he was there, as well as previous popes, he began the building of chapels and palaces. If you have ever been to the South of France why would you ever want to leave? What a beautiful part of the world.
After being in the South of France, St. Catherine convinced him to return to Rome. The popes had been there about 70 years, but she convinced this pope and told him that God wanted him back where the blood of two Apostles had been shed in the city of Rome. That is where he returned.
This woman, who was in every way unremarkable, transformed the world. St. Catherine died toward the end of the 1300s. St. Catherine is seen on the front of the bulletin in conversation with Jesus. In the upper corner is Jesus surrounded by angels, and you can see the dialogue going on between St. Catherine and our Lord. It is the conversation that should occur every time we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. In fact, from one Communion to the next we should maintain that non-stop dialogue with the Lord. St. Raymond of Capua, Catherine’s Spiritual Director was there to write it all down. She is a Doctor of the Church. But, someone who was so obscure to the world has transformed the world and it will never be the same because of her actions. Thanks be to God for her work.
The same could be said of someone like St. Bernadette of Lourdes. On April 16th, one hundred thirty years ago, she passed away. Her body is there at the Altar in Nevers at the convent in which she lived and died, and again, in the South of France. She was the young woman to whom Our Lady appeared. Once when she was asked why Our Lady would choose her, St. Bernadette said very directly, “Because no one more unworthy could be found in Lourdes.” She was very humble and direct but God used her to get the message of Lourdes out to the world. Her body is incorrupt. It was buried for decades and then exhumed. The body had never been preserved. When she was exhumed the sisters took her habit, which had disintegrated, off her, washed her body, and put a new habit on her. Now she appears merely to be sleeping in Church…like a few of you right now. [Laughter] St. Bernadette was so insignificant but her life has transformed the world. She was the one to whom Our Lady communicated the message that you and I are to pray and sacrifice, to do penance for the conversion of sinners.
In the bulletin I have provided for you the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which He revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the South of France. The South of France is really some kind of place! St. Margaret Mary was a nun, who lived in a convent And again, no one would ever think anything extraordinary of her. She prayed and worked, worked and prayed, and when the Sacred Heart appeared to her she asked Him, “Why me?” Jesus said to her, “Because you are and abyss of ignorance and unworthiness, but My Heart is so full of love for mankind in general and for you in particular that it cannot be contained.” Now, don’t you feel better that Jesus said these words to a nun, who was spending her life in prayer and work in a convent? Yea, right! The Sacred Heart used her in her obscurity to transform the world and that is exactly what we see in the Gospel today.
Jesus is appearing to some very ordinary individuals in today’s Gospel, and they are afraid. Look what is happening; they are discussing Jesus and as they are discussing Him, He appears and they are shocked. Why are they shocked? They are talking about how they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread and how He took the bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, gave it to them and they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread and at that time Jesus disappeared. They are relating this to the other nobodies who they are friends with and He appears. It says they were terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus tells them He is not a ghost and tells them to look at His hands and feet.
It is I, Myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bone as you can see I have.
As He said this to them, He showed them His hands and feet. Remember on the cover of last Sunday’s bulletin was that beautiful painting by Caravaggio. As we sang in the opening hymn today, Jesus directs St. Thomas to probe the nail marks in His hands and feet and directs Thomas’ hand into the wound in His side. Jesus is showing them that His body, after the Resurrection, is a body indeed. St. Bernadette’s body, which is incorrupt after 130 years, points to the promise of the Resurrection. Jesus appears to His friends in His risen and glorified body.
Last week in the bulletin I included the prayer, the Divine Mercy Chaplet. In that prayer is the verse,
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
That prayer is so special because this is how Jesus is present in Holy Communion, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. You may think everyone knows that already. No! Ask your children how Jesus is really present. If you get Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity from them then you are on the right track. But, too many times children will refer to Holy Communion as bread. I have heard adults refer to Holy Communion in that fashion so there is a learning curve we have to overcome.
Last week I published the Pope’s homily from Holy Thursday in the bulletin. Holy Thursday is the night that Christ instituted the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist. I divided it into paragraphs, so if you still have it at home look in paragraph 5A. This is what the Holy Father said of Jesus in his homily.
| He distributes Himself, the true “Bread for the life of the world” (cf. Jn 6:51). The nourishment that man needs in his deepest self is communion with God Himself. |
St. Catherine of Sienna, like so many other saints existed for long periods of time on nothing else other than Holy Communion. Now, I could probably do that for a year or two and not be any worse for wear, but after that it would probably get pretty difficult. Of course I am joking but there have been saints that have subsisted only on the Sacred Host. They bring to life the words of this Holy Father, who goes on to say,
| The nourishment that man needs in his deepest self is communion with God himself. |
Isn’t that what we see pictured here between St. Catherine and Jesus, dialogue and communion with God, Himself? The Holy Father continues, and remember that Eucharist means, “thanks and praise”,
| Giving thanks and praise, Jesus transforms the bread, He no longer gives earthly bread, but communion with Himself. This transformation, though, seeks to be the start of the transformation of the world – into a world of resurrection, a world of God. Yes, it is about transformation – of the new man and the new world that find their origin in the bread that is consecrated, transformed, transubstantiated. |
That is so much in keeping with the prayer that you see week after week in the bulletin; the prayer taken from the writings of the pope.
| Jesus, my Living Lord, I know that You have just entered my Soul - my Heart.
Thank You! I surrender myself to You! Please raise me up AND transform me! Amen.
Beneath that prayer in the bulletin is a list of 44 intentions just to get you started because the world needs to be transformed.
I saw an instance of this on Thursday while I was praying in front of the abortion clinic in Dallas. A very nondescript woman walks up and places some flowers and a stuffed animal on the lawn of the abortion clinic. She also had a pinwheel and a booklet of the Divine Mercy chaplet. She put the pinwheel base through the Divine Mercy chaplet and then put it into the ground. After a while I walked up to her and told her hello and asked her if she’d had an abortion here. She said, “Yes, just about this time, six years ago.” We started talking and she was a very lovely person, who has come back to the practice of her faith. I could see that a lot of progress had been made in her. It was like that first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.
Or at the end of the Gospel it says,
Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."
I was witnessing the transformation that has taken place from that dark day six years ago to today. I asked her if she had any children and she said, “Oh yes, I have four children, well, and this one.” Do you see the realization that took place in this woman? She is not gilding the lily and not saying that she didn’t do anything and she is not saying she is terrible. She is following the Good Shepherd.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. Christ doesn’t want to leave us in one place. If a shepherd leaves his sheep in one place they eat the grass to the point where they eat the roots and they have nothing to return to. A good shepherd is always pushing the sheep ahead to the next green pasture the way God does. He doesn’t want to leave me where I am or leave you where you are because He has a better plan for us.
St. Therese’ of Lisieux, who live 500 years after St. Catherine, live in a convent and she was a nobody. She was in a cloister and no one could even see her. She led an obscure life and died before she was 25 and now she is a Doctor of the Church. At the time she was alive you could not receive Communion everyday. You’d have to have special permission, which they never gave out. St. Therese’ obeyed the discipline of the Church and said that when she died and went to Heaven that she was going to get that rule changed. What do you know, after she died Pope St. Pius X, who loved St. Therese’, changed the disciplines so that we can receive Communion every day if we are in the state of grace. St. Therese’ said to Our Lord in the Tabernacle, “Lord, if I can’t receive You every day in Holy Communion then stay with me from one Communion to the next, just as You remain with us in the Tabernacle.”
By keeping up this constant dialogue with Jesus we are going from one Communion to the other like children crossing a monkey bar, right? It is an obstacle course and there is nothing fun about it; this world is very difficult. God expects to change the world through us, one by one. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was moving people aside because they were always trying to offer her things like busses or transportation but she said no thanks. She said that she would go out and help the people one by one by one, and this is how God expects to transform the world, with a bunch of nobodies. He couldn’t think of lesser nobodies than those who are contained here or in this Gospel. According to the world you and I are nobody.
In His eyes, the Good Shepherd sees us with all the love and tenderness He has shown to all the saints I just mentioned, and why we remain terrified is because we do not recognize His risen and glorified Body in Holy Communion, it is mere bread. No, it is his risen and glorified Body, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. He shows us again and again how we can transform the world, but first we must be transformed.
Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled and why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I myself. Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as He said this, He showed them His hands and His feet..
Then Jesus asked for a piece of fish and when He took it in His hand He didn’t drop it to the floor as a ghost would. When He put it in His mouth it didn’t fall through and drop to the floor as it would in a ghost. Jesus is telling us that this is the Body that was nailed to the Cross and now it has risen. If you and I receive His risen and glorified Body in Holy Communion, this must start a dialogue that continues from that point until our next Communion.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit