6th Sunday of Easter
Our Gospel reading this Sunday tells us of the importance
of keeping the Lord's word, of the promise of the Holy
Spirit, and the giving of the Gift of Peace. We certainly
need to hear about all three of these matters once again in
our present times. Right now, I think Jesus's notion of
Peace and its true meaning might lift our spirits from the
turmoil that often bombards our lives.
Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us
about some rule oriented problems within the early Church.
We have plenty of those within Mother Church as well as in
our local parishes and even, perhaps, our families. It seems
that our issues today can not be solved by a simple meeting,
but rather by a more gradual listening to the Holy Spirit
who continues to guide the laity, the religious, and the
clergy. Let us remember that it is because of the guidance
of the Holy Spirit, not of any human being, that our Church
even still exists!
Jesus tells us "Do not let your hearts be troubled or
afraid." I sure wish I remembered to think of that when I
was sitting in my cardiologist's waiting room yesterday to
find out some test results! Although the report was a good
one, it reminds me today that each of us has a long list of
"troubling" things that affect us.
How such things affect us must connect to Jesus's Gift of
Peace. Peace does not mean that all things are exactly as we
would like them to be. Peace does not mean that no one is
arguing or fighting.
Jesus told us that his kind of Peace is very different
from the peace that the world gives. I think that Jesus's
Peace is the reassurance that he accompanies us on each and
every step of our journey to support us and be with us...
but, not necessarily, to rescue us from the pain or
hardships along the way.
Jesus's Peace overrides the momentary kind that makes us
feel good just when good things happen. His is the continual
grounding of our faith in grace and hope. It is an inner
serenity that is still felt through tears.
We are called to follow Jesus's words by our Baptism.
Where in our day can we see examples of the true Peace of
Jesus? Where in our day can we bring a little bit more of
this "blessed assurance", not the pollyanna kind, but the
deep rooted kind, into the troubled times we feel and see?
How these things are accomplished is no easy task. It is,
again, the work of the Holy Spirit! Come, Holy Spirit, show
us the way!
Dr. Lanie LeBlanc
Sixth Sunday of Easter May 26 2019
Acts of the Apostles 15: 1-2 & 22-29; Responsorial Psalm
67; Revelation 21:10-14 & 22-23; Gospel Acclamation John
14:23; John 14:22-29
It striving to live the life of a good person, we begin
and often end thinking of ourselves as good because we stay
within the confines of a canon of commandments, regulations,
and obligations. How often we hear and/or read of Holy Days
of Obligation. We know of persons, maybe children, maybe
brothers/sisters, maybe neighbors, or maybe close friends
who seem to have fallen away from regular obligations.
Lenten fasts and days of abstinence seem to have lost their
imperative. Holy Days of obligation often slip by and
attendance in the assembly at the liturgy of the Word and
the Eucharist slid by without a thought. It’s just that
obligations don’t motivate us to action. Our culture doesn’t
punish religious inaction.
Even in the civil world voting becomes important
typically only when we have a candidate or a cherished issue
in the race. The obligation to be attentive to the direction
of government and government’s concerns dissipates. Laws,
taxation, and concerns about the quality of life are issues
arising from emotionally charged snippets expresses in three
second sound bites. Partisan causes are the catch of the day
and tomorrow are replaced by new items on the menu. We hear
of officials claiming their state’s belief in the sanctity
of life when it comes to the unborn but on the same day as a
signing of a controversial law executes a person.
Implication is that only certain lives are sacred to the
people. We hear of an administration that encourages and
politically manipulates for the unborn but allows children
escaping from horrific conditions in nations in which our
historical interventions encouraged authoritarian corruption
– we imprison those children in less than third world
conditions and they lose their lives or their sense of
personal dignity in cages constructed to prove a point. All
human life is sacred or no human life is sacred. The belief
that all persons are created equal with divinely granted
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are
submerged in laws and processes of repression and terror.
Citizens become less concerned about the rightness or
wrongness of a policy/practice than about a partisan
What we experience is certainly nothing new. In the first
reading this Sunday, we hear of the fight between the
obligations of the Law of Moses that all males be
circumcised. Most of the Apostles rejected the idea that the
law of circumcision should apply to the Gentiles. There was
persecution, there was anger, and there was clearly – in
some circumstances – violence. Yet what was the point? What
did the law of circumcision have to do with the Christ, with
the new and final age of God’s creative energy?
The Apostles claim to be inspired by the Spirit. The
understanding of God as a Trinity of three – The Father
Creator who created by his Word; the Word through whom all
that was created came into being as an expression of what
God is; and the Spirit who came from the interchange between
the Father – the Speaker – and the Son – that which was
spoken. It was the Spirit they blamed for their decision.
They listened and prayed and fasted to come to the way
forward. We should note how they expressed their decision.
"It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to
place on you any burden beyond these necessities…." There
was no effort in this early collegial decision guided by the
Holy Spirit to place any further burden than to abstain from
the worship of the pagans: to avoid consumption of blood: to
avoid meat from strangled animals: and to reject unlawful
In some ways over the twenty centuries of Christian
experience we’ve placed many burdens on our people. We’ve
come to view law as a way of directing the religious growth
of the faithful. The role of the liturgies of the sacraments
is to encourage our growth in love of God and neighbor.
Those liturgies impact and change and strengthen us to grow
in the love of our communities and our God. But we often
fall into depending on "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots."
We’ve subverted the very simple yet expansive teaching of
Jesus about keeping his Word because of the love we have for
him. In place we’ve used our intelligence to slice and dice
his Word into sets of rules and regulations. Over time those
rules and regulations, those obligations take the place of
love. We’ve become the poorer for it.
A couple of years ago I attended the final preparation
class of my grandson’s first communion class. The deacon
spoke of the obligation of receiving the Eucharist on Easter
Sunday. Well, that’s not quite correct. Canon law states
that the faithful are to receive communion at least once a
year during Eastertide. That’s quite different than cramming
that obligation into the one Sunday of Easter. Eastertide is
from Easter through the vigil of Pentecost. But what caused
me most concern was this well intentioned deacon telling
these seven year olds this. Now that they received communion
they had the obligation to attend Mass every Sunday. Okay;
perhaps it was age-appropriate to speak about obligation.
Would it not have been better to speak about the wonder of
hearing the Word of God proclaimed and explained? Would it
not have been more effective to speak about the reception of
the Eucharist as bringing all who partook into the one
Mystical Body of Christ? But his next words were most
disturbing. He acknowledged that these children needed
parents to bring them to Mass. If they didn’t the parents
were committing two mortal sins. The first was their not
attending Mass themselves. And the second that they caused
their children to miss Mass and so added to that first
mortal sin. He planted an image in the minds of these seven
year olds of their parents burning in hell. The satisfaction
of an obligation was the first order and more important than
coming to share in the love of God extended to us in
When we gloss over the motivation of our moral choices by
a blind response to a law, a regulation, or even a ritual,
we miss the point. In effect we fail to love. Paul insists
that the law can only condemn us. It adds nothing to our
growth in the love of God. It is not even a minimum
requirement. At best the law is a starting point for
instruction and explanation of the love of God for us.
Many of us parents and grandparents grieve over the
seemingly loss of faith by our children and their children.
Unlike in the Middle Ages, there is no social punishment for
failing to attend. In the last century Pius X and Pius XII
focused much attention on revitalizing the liturgy. The
liturgy includes all the sacraments. After Vatican II, Paul
VI agonized over how the church would re-engage the faithful
in participating in the liturgy. The liturgy, understood
more clearly after Vatican II, is truly the work of the
people. Our bishop teaches that it is improper to speak of
the priest as the celebrant at Mass. The priest is the
presider; the people celebrate the Mass. Perhaps if we were
to focus less on legal issues and more on issues of the
heart we might expose the depth and wonder of our worship.
In itself this would attract and reclaim the faithful who
find rituals empty and without insight or inspiration.
Our world is once again in a terrifying mess. Many
nations are reverting to authoritarian strong men in
leadership. The common good of people is subverted to the
pursuit of power, wealth, and influence. Violence is sure to
follow such a turn in history. It is only when we overcome
corruption that is the result of the worship of power and
wealth that we can arrive at the peace of the Christ. It is
only when our liturgies – all liturgies – teach us of the
wonder of God’s continual creative presence that we will
find place in our hearts for all persons.
Technology has allowed us to become citizens of the
entire world. In moments we can learn of the plight of
others. Gentiles or Jews, Muslim or Christian, Hindu or
Buddhists: all seek the peace and unity with the source of
life. We Christians call that God and we think of God as
three persons bound in community by an unconditional love.
And we recognize that that love is God’s life. If we wish
for, work for, and long for eternal life that begins now in
time and extends into eternity, then we must find within our
hearts a love that grows for each other and for all of God’s
creation. That is the work of the liturgy. For all of
liturgy has as its purpose healing, growth, and unification
of all in the unity that is itself the life of God.
The answer to evil is love. Only love can conquer the
darkness of the human heart. Let’s work at it first in our
families, then in our church community, then in our
neighborhoods, then in our nation, and finally in our world.
It’s God’s way of creating and offering possibilities.
The reading this Sunday from Revelation describes the
earth as the new Jerusalem in which there is no sun. It is
illuminated by the presence of God. Its walls and gates and
streets and buildings are great jewels of brilliant luster.
This is the result of God’s love practiced and experienced
in all of creation. It is our destiny and our goal.
Carol & Dennis
THE LOVE WE NEED: 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER C
Some people say they don’t read newspapers anymore
because there’s too much bad news in them. They have a
point. A while back e,g, a natonal newspaper ran stories
about footballers knowingly or unknowingly taking banned
performance-enhancing substances; a pedestrian killed by a
hit-run driver; the drug cocaine being extracted from items
of clothing to be sold for a fortune; a factory collapsing
in Bangladesh and killing two hundred and seventy-three
persons; the Boston bombers said to have been planning
mayhem in New York City, and at least hundreds and thousand
of persons killed in Syria’s civil war. News like that may
well turn people off reading their newspapers.
Thank God such bad news is not all the news there is! On
its front page a while back the same paper ran a story about
Eugene (‘Curly’) Veith, a rich man and a Christian, aged 94.
As business prospered, Curly says that he ‘used to lie awake
at night thinking of the hungry and homeless children all
over the world. So I decided to give all my money away to
help them!’ About $23 million so far! Mr Veith has set up
Mission Enterprise Limited to channel funds to worthy causes
everywhere - American Indians in Colorado, street kids in
Bangkok, water wells in East Africa, land for a school in
More than that, with the courage of his convictions about
doing good, he has been going to other rich businessmen and
businesswomen and challenging them to give generously to
people and projects in need. Clearly this old gentleman has
taken strongly to heart today’s message of Jesus to his
friends and followers the night before he died for them: ‘I
give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have
loved you, you must also love one another. By this love you
have for one another, everyone will know that you are my
At an isolated roadhouse in North West Queensland, two
children aged eight and six tell a visiting traveller about
a play they have put on at their local church. They have
teamed up with a friend to dramatize how Jesus wants us to
love one another. The first child gets a phone call from
Jesus to say he will be coming along that day and will want
some help. The two children are to keep a lookout for him.
Well, Jesus turns up in the guise of the third child who has
hurt her knee and is looking for some first aid. One of the
first two reaches out to help and asks the second who is
talking to Jesus on the phone to also help. She says she is
too busy talking to Jesus, and is still waiting for him to
arrive. But in the end she too goes to help the injured one.
At the end of the day she receives another phone call from
Jesus. He thanks her for helping him. She says she doesn’t
understand. She waited and waited for him, she points out,
but he didn’t turn up. Then Jesus explains that he did come
after all, in the form of the child that needed help.
That’s the wonderful thing about the kind of love that
Jesus wants of us. It’s a love modelled on his kind of love.
He showed his love for people in so many wonderful ways – in
kindness, compassion, generosity, patience, perseverance,
endurance, faithfulness and forgiveness. There was no limit
to what his love would give or where it would go.
The love which imitates the love of Jesus for others is
therefore a practical, down-to-earth kind of love. It’s a
kindness and compassion kind of love, a self-forgetting kind
of love. It’s a self-sacrificing kind of love even to the
point, as shown by so many brave soldiers in two World Wars,
of giving up their own lives so that others might be free -
free to be good, kind, unselfish, generous and loving
It’s our love for others that keeps the great love of
Jesus for people alive in our world today. An American
journalist, watching Mother Teresa caring for a man with
gangrene, remarked to her: ‘I wouldn’t do that for a million
dollars.’ Mother Teresa replied: ‘Even I wouldn’t do it for
that amount, but I do it for love of God.’
True love is the opposite of selfishness. Selfishness
confines us, keeps us shut in. It builds barriers, even
walls, between us and others. What frees us is caring about
others and caring for others, being friends, being sisters
and brothers, being good neighbours. In short, it’s love
alone that frees us from the cage of selfishness. A doctor,
who has shared some of the deepest moments in the lives of
many patients, says that people facing death don’t think
about the degrees they’ve earned, the positions they’ve
held, or how much wealth they’ve amassed. What really
matters at the end is whom you have loved and who has loved
Love always demands the best from us, and brings out the
best in us. Being loved gives us a surprising energy and
courage. Love makes us fruitful, productive, strong and
constant in doing good. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, famous for
her work on the stages of dying, has written: ‘Love is the
flame that warms our soul, energises our spirit and supplies
passion to our lives. It’s our connection to God and to one
To love is to heal, both those who receive it and those
who give it. To refuse to love is to die. To decide to love
is to live. But love is a choice, not a feeling, and when we
choose to be loving, caring, healing, helping, and forgiving
persons, we experience well-being, contentment and
Freedom from selfishness and freedom to love and care for
others, surely that’s what life is all about! There’s really
no other way. So Jesus insists, strongly insists: ‘Love one
another, as I have loved you.’