Sunday, April 23, 2017


FROM THE CATHOLIC LITURGY FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY, April 23, 2017. John 20:19-31. In today’s Gospel, John invites us into the secret locked room where we join in the conversation between the Apostles on that first Easter Sunday night.  We can imagine how animated and puzzled they were as they recount what Mary Magdalen and the Holy Women have told them: stories of angels announcing the Resurrection; of them having spoken with & touched the Risen Jesus.

Then, Jesus is suddenly in their midst! And I am astounded by what he ays to them, or rather by what he does NOT say!  He says “Peace be with you” twice…but I am flabbergasted by this. I expect him to say: “You knuckleheads, you fair weather friends! Where were you when I was taken? Why did you all run away?” But I expect Jesus to say such things because I am a sinner, selfish, payback-oriented.

But Jesus is ALL MERCY. Mercy is tender compassion and forgiveness, it is understanding and consoling. Jesus shows his wounds which are the proof of his mercy and by which our sins have been erased from the books of our lives. That is why today we celebrate the 2nd Sun of Easter as DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

Then Jesus goes on to say something unimaginable to the Apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them…”Sinful, selfish, unfaithful men become ambassadors of God’s mercy, instruments of reconciliation, agents of forgiveness! This is the institution of the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation, which we call Confession.

Two astounding acts of mercy happen in Confession.  First, we receive the certainty of forgiveness.  We do not need to wonder or hope that we are forgiven, that God has “heard” us. Second, in this sacrament we encounter more than just forgiveness…we receive absolution which includes forgiveness but goes beyond it. Absolution is the total annihilation of our sins by the merit of the Blood of Jesus. When we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation it is as if God says to us: “My son has used his wounds to erase these sins…they are no more…go in peace.”


Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Easter Story: Fantasy, Facts & Faith

From the Catholic Liturgy for Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. John 20:1-9. The more I ponder them, the more I have come to see that the Gospel stories of the eyewitnesses to the Risen Lord, contains within them the fundamental responses people can have to the Resurrection of Jesus.   I call these the “3 Fs of the Easter Story”: Fantasy, Facts, and Faith, which are not in opposition to one another but seem, instead, to lay out before us the progression of a spiritual journey to a real meaningful personal faith in the Risen Lord Jesus.

Fantasy. The first reaction many people typically have when they first hear the story of the Resurrection is that it is fantasy, fable, fiction – designating it aa a fairy tale story along with Aladdin, King Arthur, Cinderella and the Easter Bunny. They have no clue whatsoever about the second F, which refers to the solid Facts of what happened in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

Facts. When I share with people that our Christian belief in the Resurrection rests upon solid eyewitness experience and evidence, backed up by intensive investigation by experts in history, archaeology, literature and forensic science, many of these people seemly genuinely amazed. They have never really considered the fact that we have the personal witness and testimony of 500 of Jesus’ disciples, who experienced him up close and personal after his death and resurrection.

Faith.  As entertaining as the fantasy might be, and as impressive as the facts truly are, It is the gift of faith that has convinced us more than anything else that Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, has risen from the dead. Faith is trust in the God whom we have come to know and experience as Risen from the dead, as Alive, Real, Active and Ever-present to us.  Faith is loyalty to our Risen Savior, Jesus, who has touched our hearts to the very core and transformed us from the inside out.

Our Easter Faith rests upon our firm conviction – rooted in the facts -  that Jesus is Lord and it empowers us to face even death with the confidence of a champion, as we proclaim that death no longer has the last word over us, we can laugh at it in the face, because Christ has risen! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Good Friday Talk #2 - Partners in the Passion

GOOD FRIDAY TALK # 2 - PARTNERS IN THE PASSION. Phil. 3:10. When God saw how humanity’s snowballing collective sin had made the world he created an unbearable burden, he had compassion and mercy upon us by sending his only Son, Jesus, not to take this burden away but to totally face it head on and grab it by the throat, so to speak, Jesus’ mission was not to wipe out all human sorrow and take away all our pain, but to live it with us, to enter into it so as to totally transform it and thus he made the unbearable burden bearable; he transformed the bad news of suffering into the good news of salvation.  And he invites each one of us to do the same and become partners in the Passion with him. How do we become a partner in the Passion? We become active & participating partners by saying “Yes” to the chalices of suffering that come our way in life.  We Catholics have a special name for this type of partnership in the Passion. We call it “redemptive suffering”. What this means is that no matter what burdens we have to endure in mind, body or spirit; no matter what life throws at us or our relationships, these sufferings do not have the last word, the upper hand. Becoming a partner in the Passion means we can meet our struggles and difficulties head-on with our Yes to God and become, with Jesus Crucified, co-redeemers of humanity