Sometimes we forget how special we are to God. Sometimes we forget because we don’t like what we see when we examine our lives. In today’s Gospel we hear about God’s special love for each of us. We need to appreciate the love God has for us particularly because God knows all about us, and “even the hairs of our head are counted.”
As a priest, there is no greater honor than to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy we call Eucharist. The word Eucharist is from a Greek word meaning, thanksgiving, and it is fitting that we render thanks to our God. I am honored to lead you, parishioners, in this great thanksgiving prayer, and to pray over the bread and wine to be transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” These words are how we begin all of our prayers. We were baptized into the faith using these same words. The creed that we profess is a profession that recalls the saving activity of God the Creator, God the Redeemer and God the Sanctifier. That which distinguishes us from other people of good faith is our belief that God has been revealed to us as Three in One.
Today marks an important turning point in the early Church. As we hear in today’s first reading, once the disciples had received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they found new strength and courage to proclaim the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As they proclaimed the message, they were heard in various languages, for the message of salvation could not be contained in only one dialect.
In the 2nd reading today St. Paul writes: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe.”
In the Gospel today Jesus says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” One of the commandments Jesus gave to his disciples before his ascension into heaven was to go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The missionary work of the church is to carry the message of Jesus to all parts of the world.
All of us at some time or another experience times of anxiety and anguish, but if “being troubled” becomes habitual, then we live in a state of captivity. Day after day we can allow ourselves to be enslaved by negative thoughts and emotions.
In today’s gospel Jesus refers to himself as a shepherd. The shepherd leads the sheep to verdant pastures, protects them from harm and guides them to waters of life. This is a wonderful image for those who lead the Church and thus, today is appropriately designated as World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
In today’s gospel about the disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus walks and talks with two disciples, but they fail to recognize him until the “breaking of the bread.” In other resurrection stories, Jesus is also not immediately recognized. The story on Easter morning when Mary of Magdala thinks he is the gardener, until he speaks her name (John 20:15-16). When Jesus appeared to several disciples at the sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) they did not recognize him until he suggested casting their net to the right side of the boat and they catch a huge number of fish (John 21:6).
Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, a name given this first Sunday after Easter by Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonized as saints 6 years ago. I always admired St. John Paul II for his spirituality, love of the youth and devotion to the Church.