today's other readings are Psalm 98 and John 16: 16-20 You win some, you lose some. That was a saying I first heard a long time ago. I think I first heard it when it came to playing one of the many sports I dabbled in when I was younger. In any case, the truth was apparent - whether it was an individual sport or a team sport, you weren't going to win every game. So be happy and proud when you or your team wins, and put your head down and try harder if you lost. One thing for sure. The losses helped me to appreciate the wins even more. St. Paul's ministry was like that. In today's reading, and for that matter, yesterday's, (Acts 17: 22 - 18:1), are a reminder that when he was evangelizing, Paul had some wins, but he also had many losses. We hear of how the Jewish people in Corinth scoff at his preaching, so now he tries the Gentiles, with some success. In our own efforts to evangelize, to live and share the faith with others, some may be inspired, and some may look on our efforts with apathy or even disdain. But we keep trying, fighting the good fight, living the good life. Just like St. Paul did.
With the coming Solemnity of Pentecost on the June 4/5 weekend, which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (see Acts 2: 1-11), this year our parish, under the leadership of Deacon Gerry Almeida, will be praying the The Novena to the Holy Spirit starting on Friday May 27, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. in the church. The novena will be held each of the following days, at 10 am, through Saturday, June 4th. In a world filled with troubles and sadness, let us join together and pray to the Holy Spirit for the help only the Spirit can give. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!
today's psalm is Psalm 138 The dramatic earthquake at midnight that freed Paul and Silas is a metaphor for the power of the Resurrection of Christ. Just as Jesus, in His ministry, preached, healed and raise from the dead - so in the Acts of the Apostles the apostles an disciples of Jesus do the same. A basic message is being communicated here - the work of preaching Jesus Christ in the early church cannot be deterred, despite all the obstacles placed in the way. How does this happen? Jesus tells us in today's gospel - through the Holy Spirit, the Advocate. Working with and inspired by the Holy Spirit, the early church will prove the world wrong about sin and judgment. The Spirit will give them a strength, a zeal, and a wisdom the world cannot give. We too rely on the Spirit in so many ways. In less than 2 weeks we again celebrate that first coming of the Spirit with Pentecost. The early church needed the Spirit. We need the Spirit. So we pray, Veni, sancte Spiritus!
today's other readings are Psalm 57 and John 15: 12-17 The decision made at the very first Council (or synod) in Jerusalem considered whether or not full church membership be offered to the Gentile communities being evangelized by missionaries such as Paul and Barnabas. After listening with discerning and prayerful hearts to the various points of view presented, the consensus of Council, led by the apostle James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, was that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised but should follow some basic dietary and moral rules in order to be welcomed into the church. What is truly noteworthy about the Council of Jerusalem was the confidence of the “whole church” that God was with them and that their decisions were reached by “us and the Holy Spirit,” with an outpouring of confidence and joy. This story of trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to guide the church is a perfect one for us to prepare for coming of the great feast of Pentecost on the first weekend of June. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!
today's other readings are Acts 15: 7-21 and Psalm 96 Continuing from the preceding passage in chapter 15, we read in today's gospel that Jesus tells the Apostles to abide in his love, a statement that will extend through them to all peoples of all time. To abide in Him will bring joy. To do so will bring peace. To do so will enable us to make the journey home - the home of the church, and also the eternal home of heaven. A constant theme found in Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection is that His person, His love is the answer to all the longings of our hearts. Jesus offers Himself as our true home, where we find true joy, meaning, and peace. And so enabled, we in turn can do our part in helping to bring others to Him. Let us abide in Him.
today's other readings are Acts 15: 1-6 and John 15: 1-8 I have been blessed with the opportunity to take some trips over the years. Some of them were filled with great anticipation as I imagined in my mind what it would be like when I actually arrived in the desired destination. But nothing has ever been close to the thrill I had the first time I saw Jerusalem. It was 1996, and I was part of a familiarization trip with a group of clergy, most of whom were Roman Catholic. After landing in ben Gurion airport just outside of Tel Aviv, we then undertook the short journey to Jerusalem, as we approached the city from the west. After a small rise there was the Old City. Immediately the words of today's psalm, which has been a favourite of mine, came to mind, "let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord ... our feet are standing with your gates, O Jerusalem". My mind flooded with the thoughts that I was privileged to share in the thrill of arriving in the city that is so holy to Christians, Jews, and Muslims. That holy city. A city of faith. A city of prayer. A city of worship. Jerusalem, our destiny.
today's other readings are Acts 14: 19-28 and Psalm 145 During these last few weeks of the 50-day Easter season, we find that our weekday mass readings are already beginning to shift their focus from the celebration of Jesus' resurrection to his departure (Ascension Sunday, May 28/29) and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost Sunday, June 4/5). Our gospel today is proof of this. In this reading Jesus offers the apostles, and subsequently to us, His peace. He has also begun the "long goodbye", in which He reminds them that yes, He will soon be leaving them. Yes, they can be troubled by the thought of His departure - the One that taught them, guided them, and nurtured them will soon not be with them. any longer. But they will not be alone. For the Holy Spirit will now be with them. And as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, that Spirit will inspire them to continue His work. At times in our lives we have to say goodbye - when a family member of close friend moves away, or when a loved one dies. And the sadness and pain we will feel can be so great. But, the Holy Spirit is also with us. The Spirit will help us and sustain us. We have to take a cue from the Apostles to trust this will be the case when our goodbyes come.
today's readings are Acts 14: 21-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21: 1-5; and John 13: 1, 31-35 When I was seminarian, part of our formation programme involved placements in various pastoral settings. In my 2nd year, I had the opportunity to be a student chaplain in the Urology ward of Sick Children’s Hospital. Part of my duties included visiting with the kids and their parents. On my first day, while visiting a room, I was chatting with one of the nurses, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a roll-away bed stashed away in the corner. When I asked her why it was there, the nurse told me that virtually every room had one or two beds tucked away. For what reason? So that the parents of the young patients could spend the night sleeping beside their child. When I expressed surprise at this, the nurse told me that this was quite common – in fact, a lot of the parents, would spend day and night, for weeks at a time, just being with their children as they were being treated at the hospital. As proof, the nurse took me to the next room where there was a young mother quietly sitting beside the bed of her 7-year-old son. As I got talking to the mother, I asked her if she frequently used the roll-away bed. She replied that in fact, yes, she had been there 11 straight nights. When I expressed my admiration at this, she brushed my comment aside by simply responding, “Of course I am here with him – he needs me – I’m his mother – and I love him – I love him”. In today’s gospel Jesus says that he gives us a new commandment - to love one another. However, at first glance, there’s nothing new about that commandment. For example, we read the same commandment in the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament. As well, the ancient oriental religions of Buddhism and Hinduism had this commandment long before Jesus spoke it. So what was new about this commandment? Not that we had to love one another – but that we had to do so just as he, Jesus, loved each one of us. Let’s focus for a few moments on Jesus’ use of the word love. This word has become overused in English – for example, it can mean how one can feel about someone else, but it can also be used to describe how one feels about their favourite food or movie. Now, in the Greek language, in which the New Testament is written, there are 7 different words for love. For example, eros, which is romantic, passionate love; or else philia, which is brotherly love, the love shared by close friends; and then there is agape. Agape is a love that is given freely, fully, and from the heart. A love that is incredibly profoundly self-giving and yet simple, a love that is given unconditionally, without any restrictions. So when Jesus say that we should love one another as He did for us, He is referring to agape type of love. That was Jesus’ commandment – to love each other without conditions, without expecting anything in return – to simply just love. That was exactly what the young mother of my story earlier was doing – loving, in this case, her son, without condition, without counting the cost. She was loving just like Jesus did. She was loving just as any disciple of Jesus is called to do. Many people would say that Jesus’ call to love one another with that agape kind of love is an ideal that very few of us could ever attain. I would beg to disagree. For I have witnessed it in so many circumstances and situations in my own life, in my own priesthood. I have seen the example of countless parents like that mother whom I encountered at Sick Kids. I have seen wives and husbands visit their sick spouses in the hospital day after day. I have seen people set aside the silliness of family feuds and be reconciled. I have seen teenagers stand up on behalf of someone in their school who is being repeatedly bullied. I have seen business executives carry out their duties and responsibilities with compassion and dignity, rather than trampling over their co-workers and staff members. In all these cases, and in so many more, I have seen people put into action Jesus’ command “To love one another”. In our second reading from the Book of Revelation we hear of St. John’s vision of a new heaven and new earth, and in which the One, Jesus, makes all things new. Now just imagine would happen if we consistently loved one another as Jesus did. The changes that would happen – in our lives, our families, our communities, our schools, our workplaces. Talk about making all things new – now wouldn’t that be a new earth – and a bit of a glimpse of that new heaven.
On the weekend of May 21/22, our parish's St. Vincent de Paul Society will be once again accepting your donations of clothing, footwear, bedding, drapery and towels, as well as brand new toys. The Society's bin will be located in the back parking lot and Society members will be there to assist you from 4-6 pm on Saturday the 21st and from 9am - 1 pm on Sunday the 22nd. Please note that the Society cannot accept the following: Baby items like strollers, car seats, cribs; construction material; dishes; furniture and books/video/audio cassettes. Please remember that your efforts will be of great assistance to other members of our community! We thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity.
today's other readings are Acts 13: 13-25 and Psalm 89 For the remainder of the Easter Season, our gospels will be taken from the Last Supper discourse of John's gospel, chapters 13-17. A few things about our gospel today. First, Jesus' self reference of "I AM He". This is the very same title used by the Father in His appearance to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3. This name, which we translate as Yahweh, is given by and attributed to God the Father. So when Jesus uses this title for Himself, He is making a very clear reference to His unique relationship with the Father. This relationship is in fact reiterated many times by Jesus throughout John's gospel, through the repeated use of "I AM". Secondly, Jesus' description of Judas' betrayal as one who has "lifted his hell against Me" is a direct qote from Psalm 41. This psalm, attributed to King David, is a reference to the betrayal committed by his own son, Absalom, as we read in 2 Samuel chapters 13-18, who attempts to overthrow the reign of his father, King David. But Absalom's treachery concludes with his own death, as it did for Judas. This gospel is a real classic example of how stories from the sacred Scriptures are woven together.