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7th Sunday of Easter May 16, 2010

 
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Fr.Paul Weinberger
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Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 8:19 pm    Post subject: 7th Sunday of Easter May 16, 2010 Reply with quote

7th Sunday of Easter
May 16, 2010
Homily by: Father Paul Weinberger
St. William the Confessor Catholic Parish
Greenville, Texas

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And when He had said this as they were looking on and a cloud took Him from their sight.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen

A couple of months ago I was listening to Catholic radio, 910 AM. Dr. Ray Guarendi has a show on some of the days during the week around noon. If you get a chance please listen to him because he is really good.

Dr. Ray makes it a policy to regularly call his mother to check on her, but several weeks had gone by and a couple more weeks went by and he finally broke down and called his mother. He was surprised at what he heard. She spoke with a very weak voice,

She said, “Hello…..hello”. He said, “Mom, mom, is that you? What is the matter, you sound so weak!” She said, “I haven’t had anything to eat for thirty days.” Dr. Ray said, “What is the matter; what do you mean you haven’t had anything to eat for thirty days?” She answered saying, “Well, I didn’t want to have my mouth full of food when you called.”

Last week was Mother’s Day…a little Catholic guilt. It brings home the point; she didn’t want to be taken for granted. Dr. Ray is smart and he had to get those smarts from somewhere, right?

The last words out of the mouth of Jesus before He ascended into Heaven,

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Then He was lifted up. So, we are His witnesses.

Last week the Holy Father was in Fatima, Portugal, but before he went there he gave a talk in Rome and here are just a couple of lines from the remarks he made in that talk. This pope is an amazing man.

“Often we are anxiously preoccupied with the social, cultural, and political consequences of the faith, taking for granted that faith is present, which unfortunately is less and less realistic.”

When you talk to people you think you are talking to a Christian until you find out differently.

“Perhaps we have placed an excessive trust in ecclesial structures and programs in the distributions of powers and functions, but what will happen if salt loses its flavor?”

Of course when the pope is speaking here about what happens if salt loses its flavor, is a reference to the time Jesus said to the assembled people,

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt loses its flavor with what can it be seasoned; it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot.”

Even that reference there is iffy when we are talking to people today. There used to be a common language in our country or in Christian Europe and we are not so sure of it today. Europe is a post Christian area. Many people there follow the same pattern here. In fact, if you follow recent surveys where the question is asked, “Are you religious?” They will answer, “No, I am not religious, I am spiritual.” They are not realizing that being religious is way up here and being spiritual is down below it. In other words, it is not progress. Stepping away from something that is substantial, religion, and going to something that is foggy or gaseous, spiritual. I want to say that it is like mist because at least mist makes you damp. You can grab at fog but you are not grabbing anything, just chasing the air. It is the same with gas. .

“No, I am not religious but I am spiritual.”

That seems to be the answer in this country and in Europe.

Venerable John Paul II fought the entire time he was pope, with the European Union, that they would include the fact that, as the history points out, Europe has Christian roots and he wanted it to be included in the constitution as they were writing it for the European Union. They wouldn’t do it for him and in the last five years they wouldn’t do it for Pope Benedict either. Many people in Europe would claim to be spiritual. They might say, “Look over there, that is an 800 year old Cathedral.” There are a lot of those around Europe, old churches and Cathedrals, as well as old problems. We will look into that in a minute.

Speaking of old problems, look at this. This is an icon of the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven. Down below you see Our Lady and the Apostles, but up above you see Christ ascended into Heaven where the angels are adoring Him, just as we sang in the opening hymn, “See the conqueror mounts in triumph.” He has conquered sin and death and has taken His seat at the right hand of the Father.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, there is a section on every line in the Creed. It is the first part of the four parts of the Catechism. You can go online or buy a Catechism and read it, but there is a section here on Paradise, where God put Adam when He created everything… in the Garden of Eden. Paragraph 374 says,

“The first man was not only created good but was also established in friendship with his creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would only be surpassed by the glory of the new creation in Christ.”

So, Paradise or Eden was great! The only thing that could surpass that was what you see in this Icon, Christ in Heaven. This is the new Adam; Christ is the new Adam in Paradise, in Heaven. This is what we are meditating on today; Christ has taken His place in Heaven. When you look at this icon or other pictures of the Ascension, Christ has cross the finish line. He is in Heaven and for the first time man is in Paradise, the Paradise that will never vanish.

When Adam and Eve were created they were placed in Paradise but when they sinned the angel with his flaming sword showed them the EXIT. Many artists in Europe over the centuries have painted the avenging angel with the sword pointed at Adam and Eve, naked as the day they were created with their faces in their hands, walking and crying, out of Paradise, and for good reason; they will never find Paradise again. Not here! Milton would write, “Paradise Lost”

The good news is from that moment God promised that He would save us, and He didn’t just save us but promised us Paradise, which is Heaven…where He is! He is seated at the right hand of God the Father and for the first time, two thousand years ago, our humanity entered Heaven. God wanted this from the beginning but Adam and Eve sinned and with this sin death entered the world. Jesus is there; He is not just God but God and man. He is 100% God and 100% man, or as we say in Texas,

“ A hun-erd % man and a hun-erd % God”

It is okay, people in other places speak funny.

Jesus is not 50/50, He is not 75/25, and even with the new math He is not 90/20. He is 100% man and 100% God.

You are going to hear throughout the Mass, “Where He has gone we hope to follow.”

You and I are witnesses of this just as Jesus said before He ascended into Heaven. The Holy Father recognizes that many people today are not witnesses. Being religious is one thing but being spiritual is not being a witness. Let me give you an example.

Many of the mainline Protestant churches, or ecclesial communities to be more specific, have gone from being religious to being spiritual, and moving from up here to down here, which is not ascending; they have now made new discoveries like marriage not just being between a man and a woman, or with the child waiting to be born, they have made new discoveries. Another way of saying it is…they are making it up, and they can make it up because when you go from religion, which is based on principles like the Ten Commandments, to being spiritual, you can make up all sorts of things.

One example of this comes from a conservative Jew, Dennis Prager, who is on the radio a lot. Over the years I have heard him tell a story many times. He is right there next to Waldo, all over the world. Find Waldo and you will find Dennis Prager everywhere. Wherever he has gone he has asked his audiences one question; it is the same question and he is asking different audiences everywhere.

“If you were swimming at a lake or in the ocean and your dog was swimming too and started to drown, and right next to your dog was an individual, a human being, man or woman or child, swimming also and started to drown but you could only save one, which one are you going to save?”

He said the answer is 50/50 wherever he goes. So when the Pope says,

“Often we are anxiously preoccupied with the social, cultural, and political consequences of the faith, taking for granted that faith is present, which unfortunately is less and less realistic," we have to realize that we may be talking to someone who is spiritual or not even spiritual. It doesn’t make me better than they are, it addresses things as they are and you have to admit that the more spiritual we get in this sense of the word spiritual, spiritual without being religious, it is not progress but rather, chaos. When one is spiritual in this sense, anything goes and it is going.

The Catechism has a section on each line of the Creed. Article 6 says,

“He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

There are about ten short paragraphs on the Ascension and I suggest that you look them up because they are beautiful. In #662 Jesus says,

[/color=red]“And when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to Myself.” The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces His lifting up by His ascension into Heaven and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the One Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. There Christ permanently exercises His Priesthood, for He always lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through Him. As High Priest of the good things to come, He is the center and the principal actor of the Liturgy that honors the Father in Heaven.[/color]

That picture right back there is part of a greater picture by Jan van Eyck in post Christian Europe. The picture is the Lamb that was slain, right out of the book of Revelations, blood coming from its side into a chalice, which is a symbol of Jesus.

View artwork HERE


As High Priest of the good things to come, He is the center and the principal actor of the Liturgy that honors the Father in Heaven.

Jesus is there honoring the Father on our behalf; Jesus in not in Heaven on vacation. That is another way of saying it. He has work to do.

Every time the priest says, at Holy Mass over the bread, “Take this and eat, this is my body” and over the chalice of wine, “Take this and drink, this is My blood,” Jesus Christ is personally present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in His humanity and Divinity. Wherever Jesus is, there is Paradise, there is Heaven. Wherever Jesus is, you will always find God the Father and God the Son, His mother, all the angels and all the saints.

There are angels surrounding the Tabernacle up there. They are just statues and we don’t adore the statues…never have, never will! Like photographs they remind us of the reality that our faith teaches and that is, wherever Jesus is, is the Heavenly Court. And, Jesus is in Holy Communion in the Tabernacle. We don’t have the eyes to see, but He is there and we should be drawn to Him for strength.

When religion becomes spiritualized, as in this scenario… Friday it rained and then yesterday it was very muggy. However, this morning it was beautiful!

“Awe boy it is beautiful outside; it was so muggy yesterday and Friday it was raining. Awe, that coffee smells great! Look at that newspaper, I can’t wait to dig in! That is on TV now? They are showing it again? I can‘t wait! I don‘t need to go to Mass. I don‘t need to go to Church! I am a Christian! ”

You can see how spiritualizing religion is not strengthening religion but watering it down. I need the power that comes from Christ. How does Jesus say it in the Gospel today? He says,

“Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

I am not there yet.

Last week the pope was in Fatima. In 1917 Our Lady appeared to three children there, who were cousins. There were a brother and sister and their older cousin, who was ten. Three years ago, on May 13th, the pope was in Aparecida, Brazil at a site where Our Lady appeared as well. The pope said then that the message of Fatima is the most significant message for modern times of any of Our Lady’s apparitions.

What did Our Lady tell those three children? She told them to pray for the conversion of sinners and make reparation for the sins of others, as well as make sacrifices in their lives to make up for how others have hurt the Lord and His mother. She also said to pray the rosary everyday.

When she first appeared, the ten year old, Lucia, seeing this beautiful lady, asked the lady where she was from and the Lady said she was from Heaven. Lucia asked the Lady if she was going to go to Heaven and the lady said she would. Then Lucia asked about her cousin Jacinta and the Lady said she will also go to Heaven. Then Lucia asked if Francisco would go to Heaven and the Lady said that he would go to Heaven but he would have to pray many rosaries.

Do you notice that the two girls got the pass? But Francisco has to pray many rosaries. He wasn’t even ten. BUT, there is something you don’t know. They were living out in the middle of nowhere in Fatima and every night this little boy would slip out of his house and he robbed a series of banks all around there. [Laughter] Nobody knew this but the Blessed Mother. Father Paul is joking

So, what did Francisco start to do? He started praying the rosary everyday. He started making small sacrifices at first and then bigger ones. He died at a very young age as did his sister Jacinta. The oldest one, Lucia lived to be much older; she just died a few years ago.

The message of Fatima is to pray the Rosary. When we pray the Rosary according to the mind of Christ and His Church we should include scripture. But praying the Rosary is tough and that is why we hardly ever say it.

I mentioned St. Therese’ last week; in her writings she wrote that she had an aversion to praying the Rosary. You might inwardly be saying. “YES!”, because you feel the same way. That is not what St. Therese’ meant; she did not like to pray the Rosary by herself. She loved praying the Rosary with other people because Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in His Name, there He is in their midst.

When we pray the Rosary according to the mind of Christ and His Church, while meditating on these scriptures that concern His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, then what we are doing is taking something substantial and concrete, the Life of Christ, and are bringing it into our lives. We are meditating on where we want to be for all eternity. If we don’t meditate on Paradise….it is like standing on the corner as the bus goes by and never getting on, or standing at the train station and never boarding the train. Do you expect that someone from the station is going to come and lift you and put you on the train? We think that we can just be vacuumed up when we die and never meditate on Paradise? That is what too many “spiritual” friends of ousr say; spiritual in the sense of not being religious.

We are Catholic Christians and we know that to think of Paradise and Christ in glory everyday, to yearn for that wherever we are in the midst of chaos ands problems, Paradise is in here…not only up there but He is in here too. Then we can become a witness. Those were the last words of Jesus.

It is kind of like the guy on death row asking for pizza, a vanilla shake, and French fries for his last meal but they bring him a veggie burger instead. “That is not what I asked for.” “Well, that is all we had!”

Jesus was very specific before He went up into Heaven. “You are to be My witnesses.” We can’t do it in a world of spiritual people or people who aren’t even spiritual. We have to be clothed with power as Jesus said.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And when He had said this as they were looking on and a cloud took Him from their sight.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen
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