14 May 20175 Easter

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
5 Easter
Fifth Sunday of Easter - A Cycle - John 14:1-12

A man passed a funeral parlor. In the window stood a sign "WHY WALK AROUND HALF DEAD WHEN WE CAN BURY YOU FOR FIFTY DOLLARS?" If we are half dead Christians, we should enlist with Jesus. He who said, "I am the Way!" will recharge us with His spiritual cables and get us into the fast lane.

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in 1945 by the Nazis. Before his execution, he told a fellow prisoner, "This is the beginning of a new life." Said the prisoner, a British officer, "Dietrich knew the WAY he was going."

A poet wrote that you do not know the meaning of a person's life until he is dead. Is that true of everyone? I think not. But it was true of the Christ and His servant, Dietrich. It could be true of us yet.

Today's chapter 14 begins the farewell address of Jesus to His troops. The theme of today's Gospel is to pick up the sagging morale of His followers. Jesus had informed them that one of them would betray Him. The apostles must have gone into shock at the news of a mole among them. Their small world was turning upside down. They needed a spiritual tranquilizer in super milligram range. Christ was offering it to them. He was not done with them yet.

We owe that blunt apostle Thomas much. The Master said, "You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas, who must have been a hot pistol to handle even for Christ, bought none of it. "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?" Thomas wanted a heavily marked AAA roadmap as well as road flares. His doubts provoked Jesus to say, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Just eight words but arguably the most important words spoken in the 5000 years of recorded history.

That line rang like a loud bell in the ears of Thomas and his friends. It still so sounds in the 21st century.

Thomas a Kempis wrote in the 15th century, "Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living."

Note what the Master did not say. He did not say, "I am a Way, a form of Truth, and a way of Life." (Unknown) He would not support the pick and choose Catholicism which is popular among us. I am speaking of a smorgasbord Gospel. "I'll take the Beatitudes but not the Eucharist." But CS Lewis said, "Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."

If you're a cafeteria Catholic, you have started your own religion. You'll have competition, though. There is a new religion starting every five days.

What a pity so hard on the heels of Jesus come the Christians. (Annie Dillard) A popular T-shirt reads, "Jesus, save us from your followers."

Christ's remarkable statement was clearly on the record as unqualified. Had it been otherwise, it is unlikely John, today's author, would have recorded the line for posterity. Indeed John might not have stayed around. Evidence shows he could have made a good living as a writer.

Goethe in the 19th century shouted something we can identify with. "When I go to listen to a preacher, I want to hear of his certainties, not of his doubts. Of the latter I have enough of my own."

I was in Boston. I was lost. I asked a man for directions. He confused me. I asked another and he said, "Follow me and I'll show you the way." The man had become my guide. I relaxed. Happily for us, Jesus is our guide. He does not give directions in hundreds of words. Nor does He say, "You can't miss it." Rather, He informs us confidently that He is the way. More to the point, He says, "Follow me. I'll show you the fast way."

Professors have said to us, "I have taught you the truth as I understand it." But no professor was so presumptuous to say, "I am the Truth." None except One and that is the reason we come here today to worship Him. So we pray the 86th Psalm, "Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in thy truth." Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Einstein, great thinkers all, were, like us, confused. They sought the truth. But Jesus is the truth. Big difference that.

The University of Rostock in Germany has chiseled above its main entrance for all students to read: "Many theories but one truth."

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
5 Easter
Fifth Sunday of Easter: Precious in the Eyes of the Lord

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings
but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
and, like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

That is the beginning of today’s second reading, taken from the second chapter of the First Letter of Peter. It contains some of the most reassuring verses in Scripture. We are called living cornerstones of the Church, built into a holy priesthood. We are called a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people the Lord claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the one who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

And we are called precious in the eyes of the Lord. We are invaluable. We are cherished. We are highly esteemed. We are loved. We are precious.

Why? Does God love us so much because of something that we have done? Why are we so precious to Him?

Well, why do you, why do we love our children? Why are our children so precious to us? Is it because of what they do? No. Sure, there are many times that we are proud of our children's accomplishments. But we love them even without their accomplishments. When you first held your children as infants, you could not believe you had so much love in you. Yet, the baby did not do anything. Why, then did you love that baby? Why do you love your children? You love them for whom they are, not for what they do. Your child is your love and your spouse’s love now a unique person loving you back. You see God's love in your child. You see a reflection of God's beauty in your child.

Why does God love us? Why are we so precious to Him? He loves us for whom we are, unique reflections of His love in the world. He loves us because He sees in each of us the love He has for his Son, Jesus. He loves us because each of us is a unique reflection of the Love that became flesh in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the rock that has been rejected by the world but has become the cornerstone of the New World. We are the living cornerstones. The Church is the building of the spirit of God. We are the Church. Jesus is the great high priest who was rejected by the status quo and thrown out of the Temple, crucified outside the city. We are rejected by the intellectually arrogant atheists who control so much of our media and society. We are thrown out of the City of Man and laughed at as naive remnants of an ignorant age. But we remain here in the City of God. We are a holy priesthood, people carrying on the priestly ministry by making God present to others and others present to God. Jesus is the Light of the World, the one who dispels the darkness of sin. We are the people of the Light. We are called to bring hope and light to a world living in fear and darkness.

We are precious to God because He sees his Son at work in us.
Therefore, we have to be aware of and attune to our dignity as children of God. We have to treat ourselves and each other with the respect a child of God deserves. We teach our children to respect themselves. We’ll say to a Teen who gets caught doing something very bad that he or she needs to have more respect for himself or herself. We all need to respect ourselves more. There is no doubt about it. There are many times that we are tempted to go along with a philosophy of life that treasures actions that are in themselves self destructive. Sometimes our lives follow the basic plot lines of many TV series:

1-A person looks for self gratification. 2-That person does not consider the impact of his actions upon himself or upon anyone else. 3-The person reasons that he or she has the right to this action. 4-The person hurts himself and those whom he loves. 5-Then the person has loses respect for himself and for others.

I've done this in various degrees. And I am sure that if you are honest, you have done this too. I've started with thinking that something is OK for me, even if it isn't necessarily, totally proper; maybe it’s a bit of a lie, maybe a nasty remark, maybe something a lot worse. Then I and you have witnessed the results of our actions and felt pretty low. One thing worse than being called a fool is knowing that it is true.

Out of respect for myself, out of respect for yourselves, out of respect for the dignity that God has given us in calling us to be children of God, out of respect for the precious image of his Son that you and I have been called to bring to the world, we have to avoid these self destructive situations. We have to convince ourselves that it is beneath our dignity to join the immorality of the world.

We are precious to the Lord. We carry the image of His Son within us. We must hold our heads up through the muck of society. We have to have enough self respect to avoid degrading ourselves by giving in to what everyone else says is acceptable in this modern day but what we know is unacceptable in any day.

We have to stand tall with the Lord. For we are the Church, we are the royal priesthood, we are the people whom God has chosen to bring light to all who live in darkness. May the choices we make in life be only those that reflect the dignity we have been gifted with by the Lord of life.

We need to remember that we are precious in the eyes of God.
Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
5 Easter
Life in Christ Week 5: Give Thanks to the Lord
(May 14, 2017)

Message: Gratitude builds faith. The more we say thank you the more our faith will grow.

Happy Mother's Day!
We are now in the fifth week of Easter and the fifth homily on Life in Christ. Last week I talked about gratitude. This week I want to go deeper into that theme. Gratitude is central to our Life in Christ. In some way gratitude is our Life in Christ. You and I have nothing that we have not received: from our parents, from other people, ultimately from God. As today's Psalm says, "Give thanks to the Lord."

Last week I told Archbishop Sartain's humorous story about God sending a man to save a drowning woman's grandson. Instead of thanking God she lifts up her eyes and says, "He had a hat." Well that's me often - and I suspect sometimes you. We've been given everything then we become sad when one part is taken away.

By way of contrast Archbishop Sartain told about a Jewish prayer called Dayenu which means, "It would be sufficient." If God had only led us through the Red Sea, but not to Mount Sinai, it would be sufficient. If God had only given the manna, but not led us to the Promised Land, it would be sufficient.

I've been thinking about that prayer in relation to the death of my Peruvian godson, Fr. Narciso. We had plans for example for him to come here for the month of October and we hoped eventually he could come to the Archdiocese of Seattle for several years.

I don't know why the Lord said no to those dreams. I don't know why on April 24 God took Fr. Valencia away from us. Someday I hope to see. For today I want to be able to say that Jewish prayer: Even if I had only known him as a seminarian and not seen his ordination, dayenu, it would be sufficient. Even if we worked together in Peru, but never in the United States, dayenu, it would be sufficient. Even if he came once to Monroe, but never a second time, dayenu, it would be sufficient.

It's too soon of course to say that prayer with full sincerity. Maybe with my mom I could say it peacefully. She died 17 years ago, but I think about her every day. I have her and my dad's picture in the room where I pray. I am grateful to God for my mom. I received so much from her - starting with the gift of life itself. At the same time I have regrets. As I get older I remember some of the things I said and did that hurt her. And I know I have not always lived in way that honors her and my dad.

Yet for all that I am deeply grateful for my parents. Not that they were perfect. My dad had his own demons. And my mom, how can I put it? If a modern version of my mom came for counseling I would have plenty of advice for her. (smile) Not that a son should counsel his mother, but you get the idea.

My parents weren't perfect, but you know God does not give us perfect parents. He assigns to each of us the parents we need. And he tells us simply, honor your father and mother. And he says if we do that we have two blessings: a long life and an abundant life. That's not bad, eh? Two pretty good promises. For our children's sake we teach them to honor their mother and father. So trust God. Say to Jesus, "Jesus, I trust in you." He tells us today, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me." Trust Jesus. Begin your prayer by thanking him. That should be our first step. Next Sunday we will see the second step.

For today, remember this: Gratitude builds faith. The more we say thank you, the more our faith will grow. Rather than focus on what we are missing, remember what we actually have. Try to say the Hebrew prayer, Dayenu. It is sufficient. Give thanks to God. Amen.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
5 Easter
Fifth Sunday of Easter, Classic
John 14: 1-12

Gospel Summary
That the Church gives us this Last Supper discourse of Jesus for an Easter Season Eucharist is illuminative. These words are spoken to us now by the Risen Lord, truly alive and present in our midst. In this gospel we find things that Jesus taught before his death beautifully combined with John’s inspired interpretation of these teachings, written in full confidence of guidance by the Spirit of Jesus (Jn 16:13).

Jesus tells his disciples not to be troubled, but to have faith in him as they have in God. He must leave them to be with the Father, and to prepare a place for them so that they may again be with him. Jesus explains that he is the way to the Father. He lives in the Father as the Father lives in him, and the Father does work through him. Those who believe Jesus and go with him to live in the Father will have the Father also live in them, and the Father will do even greater works through them.

Life Implications With the disciples and with the Christians of John’s church, we have plenty of reasons to be troubled as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. The good things of life are so fragile and so short-lived: health, security, marriage and family, friendships, peace of mind. The life implication of this gospel is profound because it touches upon the fear of death, that pervasive fear which can take the life out of life.

To hear the words of Jesus "Do not let your hearts be troubled" is the liberating good news that we can live and work in a fragile and violent world and not be overcome. Jesus, too, experienced things which trouble the human heart: misunderstanding and rejection, betrayal and abandonment, torture and dying. Yet in the deepest center of his heart Jesus was still able to know peace and joy because of his trust that he lived in the Father as the Father lived in him and did his work through him. The Easter grace that we can receive today is the liberating faith that the Risen Lord desires to give us. In that faith we too can trust that with Jesus we live in the Father as the Father lives in us and does even greater work through us. And even in the troubling circumstances of our lives we will know the peace and joy which is beyond understanding, and which nothing in the world can take from us.
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.

Fifth Sunday of Easter, Modern
Gospel – John 14; 1 - 12

This Gospel takes us back to the Last Supper. In John's Gospel the Last Supper begins with the washing of the feet, the announcement that one among them would betray Jesus, the new commandment to "Love one another, as I have loved you," and telling Simon Peter that he would deny Him. These seem to be the preliminaries before Jesus' important discourse that we hear in the Gospel today. There is much to reflect and speak of in this passage; "Do not let your hearts be troubled," "In my Father's house there are many dwellings…I am going to prepare a place for you," "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father," "whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these," Each of these could be the source for a homily. The saying of Jesus I will reflect on is this, "I am the way and the truth and the life."

Jesus tells us that he is the truth. Later in this Gospel when Jesus is before Pilate, Jesus brings up truth and Pilate responds with the question; "What is truth?" We have the truth in Jesus, and we have his word that he is the truth, as well as his teachings and commandments, yet so many people question the truth. We have replaced truth with moral relativism that does not acknowledge any objective truth, but rather that truth is defined by each individual. This moral relativism has become pervasive in our society. How often do we hear in a discussion about some important moral issue when there is disagreement, "that's what you believe, but it's not what I believe." This approach has been subtly incorporated into the language of even the most devout when arguing some issue. How often do we hear, or maybe even ourselves say something like, "Abortion is wrong and is a sin, for me." as though it could be right for others? Moral truth is not a matter of personal opinion, it is the acceptance of the truth of the Gospel. When we create our own truth we have no need of conversion or redemption, for we make ourselves the truth and delude ourselves that all that I think and believe is right, because my opinion is as valid as anyone else's.

Pope Saint John Paul II, and Popes Benedict and Francis have spoken on the error of relativism. Pope Benedict described it as, "Dictatorship of Relativism," and Pope Francis often quoted this when he speaks of various objective truths that are seen as relative to individual views. The church challenges us to turn to the truth of the Gospel, not the false belief that I define my own truth. In the Gospel Jesus makes it clear that there is an objective truth, and that truth is Jesus. This is a call for us to step aside from the temptation of moral relativism and to reclaim the reality of the truth that comes from Jesus. It is when we accept these truths that we will find ourselves challenged to conversion. Turning away from the false god of self, and turning to the One True God. This is what the Victory of Jesus and our celebration of Easter is about, Jesus is our Savior, and His victory is our victory. He is the one who sets us free and leads us to everlasting life. This calls for us to acknowledge that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the Life." And to allow him to transform us in his truth. Jesus is the truth that will truly set us free, while all else is rubbish.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
5 Easter
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Homily by Father Alex McAllister SDS
The Gospel text we are presented with today is the opening passage of what we call the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John. At the Last Supper the feet of the disciples have been washed, Judas has left the room and Jesus has predicted Peter's denial; at this point Jesus begins a long discourse which extends over four chapters.

This Farewell Discourse is a kind of last instruction for his disciples during which Jesus recapitulates his teaching, tries to give them reassurance and prepares them for the dramatic events of the next couple of days. The language used is often very tender and it is clear that Jesus is speaking to them with a heavy heart but with great love.

The opening words today are a good example of this, 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me.' Jesus doesn't want to cause the disciples any anxiety but he is insistent that they understand just what is about to happen. Most of all he needs to be sure that they fully appreciate the content of his teaching and that they will hold on to it.

Obviously, Jesus does not want to upset the disciples but he still wants them to be absolutely clear that he is going to face death. He intends that they realise that death is not the end but the beginning of a new and better life with God in heaven. Hence his roundabout way of speaking, ‘I am going to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be too.' You might think that this sounds rather elliptical and unclear; but remember the text extends over four chapters and by using non-alarmist words like this Jesus gradually gets his message across to them.

Of course, the disciples are not going to understand everything that Jesus says all at once; however, they will recall much of what he says as they face the events of the next few days and their recollection of these words will give them reassurance at a desperate time.

You can see the disciples' confusion and lack of understanding reflected in Thomas' words when he says, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going so how can we know the way.' But even by expressing these doubts Thomas gives Jesus the opportunity to utter one of his most profound and most memorable sayings, 'I am the way, the truth and the life.'

It will not be a surprise to anyone to realise that the first part of this Gospel passage is very frequently used for funerals. The text reads, ‘There are many rooms in my Father's house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too.' These words have given great comfort to many Christians in their hour of grief when a loved one has passed away. These words of Jesus fill us with hope and the impression they give of heaven being made up of lofty chambers through which our deceased ones can stroll is a very comforting one.

It is very soothing to hear these words of Jesus telling us that he has prepared a place for each one of us in his heavenly kingdom. We feel that this place will be well suited to us, each with our own individual characteristics, and we realise that we will undoubtedly feel at home in God's celestial city. These few sentences can be regarded as one of the promises of God. And the promise is that there is a place in the Kingdom of God tailor made for each of us.

Reassuring as these words of Jesus are which tell us about life beyond the grave, we should realise that our faith is not simply about coping with death. Our faith is primarily about how to cope with life and all that it brings us. Here we need to focus on the words, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.'

Jesus is telling us that we need to place our whole selves in his hands right now. He tells us that he is the way. By this we don't just mean that he lays down instructions and guidance on how to live in the world but that what we ought to be doing is imitating him in every aspect of his own life on earth. It is by living our lives like he lived his life that we will attain true fulfilment.

And he is the truth; by this he means not just that we ought not to tell lies but that through following his will we will come to a fuller understanding that all truth radiates outwards from him. While we understand that there is no falsehood or lie to be found in Jesus, these words mean more than that; Jesus means that he is the source and fountain of all that is right and good and true and authentic. It is from him that all meaning comes and in him that all which exists has its origin. He is the focus of everything in the material world and everything in the world of ideas. All these things take him as their reference point and whatever meaning they contain comes directly from him. And he is the life. He is the origin of everything that lives. Scientists have explored every facet of human and animal life; they are even able to interfere with DNA, which is the inner structure of every living thing, and yet they have absolutely no idea where life comes from or in what it consists. But we know the answer to this question: all life comes from God and without him there is nothing that can have life or meaning.

What we ought to realise is that without God there is no life worth living and that if we want to reach our full stature as human beings then we need to place our life in his hands and live it as if he were living it in us. This is the very best way for us to live our lives in an authentic way, to live it in complete accordance with the maker's instructions.

With this rather brief reflection we recognise that in this short phrase of Jesus, which tells us that he is the way, the truth and the life, we find the deepest and most profound source of our being and the meaning behind everything that exists. Brief words maybe, but filled with enlightenment most certainly.
These homilies may be copied and adapted for your own use; however, they may not be commercially published without permission of the author.