EASTER OCTAVE – Resurrection Sunday

Second Sunday of Easter

DIVINE MERCY

April 8, 2018

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:19-23

Ant. 1: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 1: Jesus appeared to many people after His resurrection but the first to whom He appeared was Mary Magdalene. (John 20:16-17) It is here we see the loving mercy of Christ as He tells her to go tell the others that He has risen. The suspense was now over, the truth now finally revealed. The guilt and confusion pushed to the side as Jesus announces that He is alive – concurring death forever! I often think about this moment when Jesus came to Mary alive, her only word, ‘Teacher!’ was said out of shock or perhaps more of a sigh of relief. How quickly did her sadness change to joy? That is what it will be like when we pass away and go to Heaven and see Christ for the first time… sadness turned to instant joy! What must have been racing in her mind as she ran to tell the others? How was she going to announce the good news?  I wonder if she thought; would they believe? When she burst into the room the disciples were all hiding, how joyful her voice must have been yet they did not believe her. The visual clues must have been confusing for the disciples when they saw how excited she was. Now in John’s account, this joyful news was in the morning and that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the evening of the first day…

The Resurrection Narrative

According to Matthew, Mark, & Luke

In Matthew’s account, (Matthew 28:1-10) both Mary’s witnessed an angel from Heaven descending to earth and caused an earthquake. Then the angel rolled back the stone and invited Mary, mother of James, Salome, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene to come into the tomb to see that it was empty. It was the angel who told them to go tell the disciples and on their way Jesus appeared to them both. In Mark’s account, (Mark 16:1-8) which closely supports Matthew’s account in that it was an angel who told the two Mary’s to go tell the others. The main difference is that the two Mary’s did not see the angel roll back the stone as the angel had already done this and was inside the tomb when the two women came in.  The longer ending of Mark, (Mark 16:9-10) supports the individual appearance by Jesus to Mary Magdalene alone. It also states that the disciples did not believe her. Mark also further mentions an appearance to two disciples on the road to the countryside. These two unnamed disciples came back and told the others and were also not believed. Finally, in Luke’s account, (Luke 24:1-12) Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women who went with them which are unnamed coming to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Supporting Mark, the stone was already rolled away by the time they got there. When they went in they did not find Jesus’s body but were greeted by two angels who reminded them of what Jesus had told them in Galilee, that he would die and be raised on the third day. They then returned to the disciples who did not believe them. (Luke 24:12) Tells that Peter got up and ran to the tomb and was amazed! Luke also supports the appearance of Jesus by two disciples, Cleopas & and an unnamed disciple while walking into the countryside, but does not tell of where they were actually headed… but we later find out they were going to the town of Emmaus. This account goes into detail of the conversations they had with Jesus without knowing it was the risen Lord. It ends with the breaking of bread and their eyes being opened and once this had happened Jesus disappeared and the two men went back to tell the disciples of what had happened to them.  In all during the first day, Jesus had appeared to;

Jesus Appears

 Ant. 2: After eight days, although the doors were locked, the Lord came among them and said: ‘Peace be with you.’ Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 2:  Peter got up and ran to the tomb! (Luke 24:34) then in the evening after all the witnesses came to tell the disciples of the risen Christ – Jesus finally appears to them. (John 20:19-23) At this point, Peter is the only male disciple who had seen the risen Christ, as opposed to all the major female characters who had all seen Him, talked to Him, and in which truly believed. It was the women disciples who proclaimed that Jesus has risen and to this point, none of them were believed by the male disciples. Why was it that they did not believe? The hint is within, (John 20:19), they were afraid, terrified, and in Peters case depressed because of his three denials of knowing Jesus. In such a state how could they go out and preach about Jesus, and I really think that Thomas gets the worse wrap of them all by being labeled, ‘Doubting Thomas’, for clearly at this point they all did not believe it possible for Jesus to be alive for their collective grief had taken them over. 

Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, Jesus appeared to His disciples to lift their spirit, prove that He is the Son of Man, and to dispell this fear they had deep in their hearts. Mercy was extended to them all in different but similar ways as none could refute His divine powers. As for Thomas who had to wait eight days, and the second appearance to His disciples was invited by Jesus to stick his finger into Jesus’s side as proof of the resurrection. For truly I say to you that if Jesus’s body had been stolen from the tomb, thus not risen, then in the words of Saint Paul, ‘If Christ has not risen, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.’ – Jesus’ Resurrection, (pg.118) The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Saint Mary’s Press. Furthermore, the following three things we factually know because Christ did rise from the tomb;

1.) Jesus is confirmed as the Son of God

2.) All of Jesus’s teaching is in fact true

3.) The divine truth of the Paschal Mystery –  That death is not the end.

Guiding Question: “Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?” “Why is this fundamental question so important?”

Answer Q2: This core belief; that Christ was raised from the dead on the third day is so important because how you answer this question determines how seriously you believe in Jesus, His teachings, the reason why He had to die, and His promises He has made to you and the rest of mankind. If your answer is, ‘Yes! I believe in His resurrection!’ Then how can you not make Jesus the center of your life? 

For I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that this is why we celebrate His divine mercy.  For through His suffering and death we; all of God’s children will have everlasting life with Him in heaven forever and ever. How much greater our reward in heaven to have not seen but yet believe?  We celebrate because of Jesus Christ, His absolute truth within His words, His divine promises which he fulfilled on our behalf, and to which all our worries have now been made mute in His presences. For the Son of Man goes before us shining a light leading us to salvation which is God’s ultimate mercy upon all of His children.

Intercessions 

In rising from the dead, Christ destroyed death and restored life. Let us cry to Him, saying:

Lord Jesus, you live forever; hear our prayer.

You are the stone rejected by the builders which became the cornerstone rejoiced by the builders which became the chief cornerstone.

make us living stones in the temple of your Church. 

You are the faithful and true witness, the firstborn from the dead,

make your Church bear constant witness to yourself. 

You alone are the Bridegroom of the Church, born from your wounded side,

make us reveal to the world the love of the Bridegroom and Bride.

You are the first and last, you were dead and are alive,

keep those who have been baptized faithful until death, that they may receive the crown of victory.

Light and lamp of God’s holy city,

shine on our friend who have died, that they may reign forever. 

Let Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

– Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

Ant 3: The Lord is risen. Alleluia.

God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection increase our awareness of these blessings, and renew your gift of life within us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 451-452.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

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I Do Not Know!

28 “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” ~ John 5:28-29

Have you ever looked at your child and truly have no clue what they’re thinking? Have you ever looked at a co-worker and thought, “This person has totally lost their mind!” Have you ever wondered what makes people do the things that they do? In today’s special blog posting I wanted to put forward an idea that is not new but rather very straightforward and more logical than we would like to admit. That simple idea is that none of us have any clue of what’s going to happen in our future or what happens after we die. And that idea scares the hell out of everyone of us! Sin is such a major part of our lives and we hear almost on a daily basis from so called men and women of faith which sins will get us condemned forever. I was thinking not to long ago how thinking about sin is equal to walking in a mind field, take the wrong step and bam you are gone forever! Shortly after I had that thought I heard on the radio ministers talking about after life, and how some people have had “life after death” experiences then wrote about them, only to later admit after selling thousands of books and making hundreds of thousands of dollars that they made it all up. In that I know those authors may have been influenced by money but even still is money worth risking your immortal soul? “What are they thinking if death is not the end of life?” John tells us very plainly that those of us who have lived good honest lives even though dead will come to life once more to God and eternal happiness, but those who have done evil will come back to a life of judgement. If this is true then we must also assume logically speaking that when we die we are dead, or asleep as Jesus puts it, and only until we are all called do we live again at some future date. For the critics why believe in this crazy idea of judgement or even life after death or salvation of the soul anyway? I mean doesn’t that make a person live under a gloomy cloud always knowing that sin is real but is the punish also real? Death in a way is a punishment for sin isn’t it? Or is death just a natural process of life as scientists like to tell us? What should we believe in this age of technology and modern day miracles anyway? What I would like to assert on these points is history. We should believe in the resurrection of Christ as an example of our own impending resurrection, because John himself faced death for his faith in the risen Christ by being boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. But yet through his faith was he delivered, only to later be sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. It was here that John has visions of what life was like after death, and what the ultimate judgments of sin where within the Book of Revelations. Being set free John then became the Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. John was the only apostle saved from martyrdom. John was once a fisherman catching fish, and was transformed into a fisher of men! I use John as the example because it was John who told us what to expect after we die and he got his information directly from our Lord Jesus Christ who was risen on the third day.

28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” ~ Matthew 10:28

“Because the Bible says so doesn’t make it real!” How often have you heard this? I would be rich if I received a penny every time someone said this to me. The idea that John would be willing to die for his faith in Christ allows me to make that jump in faith that indeed there is life after death and because I tried all my life to do good, I will be resurrected to life and not judgement. But, I can not prove it true and that very fact is what faith is all about. Matthew’s testimony is also very appealing because it assures us that no man no matter how powerful or cruel can not take away or kill our life force, or our immortal soul. The cloud of impending gloom and doom of judgement should be lifted with this assurance, because again Matthew, like John got his information directly from the risen Christ Jesus. Matthew also goes one step further however and gives a purpose of there being a Hell, which is to destroy both resurrected body and soul. I think what also makes these scriptures relevant in our age of technology is that no matter how smart we get as a species we will never unlock all the mysteries of God. Thus, I would argue in the light of this truth it is easy to understand why all the disciples of Christ never once denounced their faith in Jesus even when it was obviously leading them to martyrdom. In fact they all did exactly what Jesus had also done years before. Faith was the core to their strength and unity and it was based on truth because a lie about the resurrection would eventually fall apart and be discounted, yet the truth has span two thousand years and is still a matter of faith for millions.

13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” ~

I tell you now my brothers and sisters that the time has not come and we have a sliver within the eternal calendar of God to get our lives right before God. We who are alive have a responsibility to build the best model of faith for our young, to be the greatest generation leaving behind a better place than what we found it. We are called to leave behind the negative attitudes of our ancestors, walk away from their petty differences and prejudices and instead live as one race with God and rejoice in His splendor for He is our creator and our Lord of Lords, King of Kings. We do these things without doubt as we have all the teachings before us to have ample faith in God, and it is assured over and over that live does not end after death, but what I and you shall find I will admit I do not know, but yet I still believe and so should you. Never again wonder about what others do, think, or feel as there is a reason that is a mystery kept from us as God Himself has kept some things as a mystery known only to Him.

Amen,

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Trustworthiness – A CASE FOR GOD!

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” ~ Exodus 15:2, NIV Bible

Trustworthiness – The Want

The word ‘trustworthiness’ is first a want; everyone wants their name to be associated with it. People want others to view them as being ‘trustworthy’ and in that if this word does not appear on the personal description of friends and family then people genuinely get their feelings hurt. Mostly it is indirect comments through general conversation that this word is implied in the good or negative and because of its meaning that we associate with it the word, ‘trustworthiness’ it has the power to build a person up in the eyes of others or assign them to a lowly level on mankind’s social latter. Here is a question I want one needs to think very carefully about; “How many times have you heard your teacher in primary school talk about the importance of being trustworthy?” If you are anything like me you will have heard comments made about this word at least a million times by numerous teachers throughout grade, middle, and upper level school. “Why… I ask?”  Because as kids we do not see this word in all it’s glory, but when becoming an adult it becomes everything. It is how we are judged as caring human beings whether anyone wants to say it or not. So here is another question we need to ponder, “From where did we get this idea about trustworthiness? How did it ever become so important?”

Trustworthiness – The Bible

16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV Bible

When researching the word, ‘trustworthiness’ I found roughly 40 different bible verses which are talking about the meaning of the word whether the word itself was mentioned or not including those used in this post. Trustworthiness first and for most is a descriptor word; meaning that we as people unknowingly through the basic function of the need to survive place people we meet into two different categories. Therefore, because we see others as being trustworthy, (which equates to becoming an ally) or not being trustworthy, (which equates to being a foe), we first search for certain qualities in strangers we meet and or continue to probe for the same qualities in our family members and friends. In the days before religion man needed to know who to trust and who not to trust for the simple sake of survival; pick the wrong person and it could lead to disastrous consequences. In that trustworthiness is the first human assessment ever devised. Likewise, these characteristics bleeds into our numerous religious beliefs as time went on because again the more complex man becomes the more complex this word also becomes and the more descriptions of what it means grows as does it’s importance in our daily lives.

Quick Self Assessment Question: “How many times have you felt someone let you down?” 

If you are human then you will have felt others may have let you down almost ever single day you live. Before the bible this led people to disown family members that had made a single mistake in judgment and did something that was considered a taboo, to groups of people being outcast from society because they had a disease, to and including people being murdered for the act of cheating on a spouse. This led man to create societal rules that could be easily followed and maintained. The Bible when first being developed was in fact not a singular book of wisdom, but rather a host of singular writings from a plethora of different authors who wrote about trustworthiness and in most instances of the Bible you will find it is either a command from God to trust Him and His divine judgement or a tool to judge others by. From this humanity also found a way to test everything in nature including God Himself. Therefore, the teaching of the Bible follows the theme of the root word of trustworthiness which is trust, (which equates to trust in God.) It was easier to trust in something that was more powerful, something that could be viewed as responsible for the unexplainable which scared the hell out us. With each new description mankind either adopted the teachings or rejected them always keeping in mind; can one trust what is being taught and be viewed as being accurate? This fight still rages on today in our modern society. We need to trust in something that cannot be proven right or wrong because that is the very foundation of faith, and faith allows man to jump past the fear of the unknown element we face in nature and in ourselves. Thus the Holy Bible and other religious texts from the many different faiths around the world serve this most basic of human needs, the need to trust others, the need to believe in something more powerful, and the need to examine both our relationships and ourselves within those relationships.

Quick Self Assessment Question: “How many times have you felt that you let someone down?”

Again, if your human then you will feel this way almost ever single day of your life. In some way we let others we care about down, we make decisions that let events happen that affect negatively someone we care about, and in this process we generally put ourselves first which again satisfies the need to be either trustworthy to a group or to ourselves. In this way also does the Holy Bible help us feel better about our actions through the process of justifying our actions to both the larger group we associate with and in the singular – to ourselves. Our moral conscience or compass in the end only needs to be justified in our own mind before we can be satisfied with any outcomes of those action we took. The link to religion in this way is best illustrated when we pray for forgiveness because this act helps us to make the jump past our guilt of letting others down. Because God is primarily responsible for forgiving our sins and because we never see Him in the physical it is easier to say that we are forgiven because we felt God say so. But for the hardened sceptic religion also has the work around for the absence of God by endowing a person namely a Priest or Pastor that can also forgive our sins which reinforces the presence of God and in other religions idols sever as this reinforcement. How many times have you heard someone else say this? “I prayed so therefore I am forgiven.”

At this point I want to put in this disclaimer: In no way shape or form and I saying or advocating that God is not real or does not exist, rather I am saying we as human beings us the very idea of God as a tool within our own minds to push down negative emotions we are faced with. In this post the topic is ‘Trustworthiness’, but this same line of logic can be applied to almost ever other human emotion.

God is… in every single way necessary and important to human survival. We need to believe in something greater than ourselves because mankind is flawed. We are not in any way perfect, but in every single way in the eyes of God we can find hope, mercy, love, and forgiveness; all the things we need to be healthy and whole. God fills our spirit with the strength to deal with life and all its happenings. Though we no longer need to prove trustworthiness as our ancestors had too, being trustworthy is no less important. God is the connector and we need His grace and wisdom to help navigate our complicated and complex world. God is the justification when we cannot explain events or cannot see the full plan, especially when we fall from the path we set ourselves on. Because we are taught that we first can trust in God, we can view the world with wonder and excitement because even though bad things will happen we have the confidence that we are not alone and more importantly when others let us down we have a place to run too and be consoled. When we let others down god is ready to take us in and forgive us our sins against our brothers as well because God is love.

Trustworthiness – The Moral Guide

5 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.'” ~ Jeremiah 17:5 NIV Bible

To have your name associated with this word, ‘Trustworthy’ doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect in all things. Because that is completely missing the point of life in general. We are not perfect because we have free will, we make our own choices and suffer the consequences of those choices we have made. So therefore my brothers and sisters I say to you;  “Be true to your heart, listen to God who lives in your heart, and know your not perfect but that is also no excuse for seeking to be better, to be worthy, to be trusted by others namely your family and friends, and most importantly to be trusted by God.” I have found in this life the best way to become trustworthy is by saying what you mean – then doing what you say. There is no stronger example than by standing for your own beliefs and openly practicing those beliefs. But this takes character and a strong understanding of your inner person. So it would not be far for me to tell you to do something without giving you the tools to do it. So beyond simply having faith in God, which many people struggle daily with, I am going to give you a blessing I found while visiting a special friend in Thailand.

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Blessings

Not to associate with fools.

To associate with the wise.

To pay respects where they are due.

This is the highest blessing.

To reside in a suitable location.

To have previously done meritorious deeds.

To have set oneself on the right path (to emancipation).

This is the highest blessing.

To have much learning.

To be skilled and knowledgeable.

To be restrained by a moral code.

To have beautiful speech.

This is the highest blessing.

To support one’s parents.

To cherish wife and children.

To earn one’s livelihood without difficulty.

This is the highest blessing.

To be generous.

To live in accord with the Dhamma.

To assist one’s relatives.

To do blameless actions.

This is the highest blessing.

To cease and abstain from evil.

To refrain from intoxicants.

Not to be heedless of the Dhamma.

This is the highest blessing.

To be respectful. To be humble.

To be content. To have gratitude.

To hear the Dhamma at the right time.

This is the highest blessing.

To have patience.

To be easy to admonish.

Associating with monks.

To discuss the Dhamma at a suitable time.

This is the highest blessing.

To practice austerities.

To lead the Holy Life.

Seeing the Noble Truths.

The realization of Nibbanā.

This is the highest blessing.

A mind unshaken by contact with the world.

Sorrowlessness, stainlessness and secure.

This is the highest blessing.

Having accomplished this one is always unconquered,

one goes everywhere in peace.

These are the supreme blessings.

~Maṅgala Sutta, Sutta Nipāta 2.4

THAI DESIGN

Though these blessings are Theravāda Buddhism published in a book called Without and Within and can be downloaded @ www.bia.or.th ; which explains the basics of the faith, all of the ideas have something in common to the basic Christian tradition. Both are teachings of moral qualities a person should desire to have. I believe these teachings are a contributor to how soft-spoken and welcoming the Thai people are in general. These specific blessings will help build ‘trustworthiness’ and personal character and if you seek to make all these things come to fruition that are found within these blessings then in your life I will guarantee that people will see you as a trustworthy person. Side note to following moral code is that people will begin to notice your faith and practice of your faith grow and this will also exude trust naturally, people will want to follow you and learn from you, and if you take on that responsiblity and treat it with the respect it deserves then the true benefits are unspeakable and indescribable for in this you will have attained the blessings above.

I could have easily stated that trustworthiness is simply being trusted by others, but in doing that it would not have expressed the importance of being a person who is worthy of another person’s trust. In this it is hard for me to simply place my trust in a person without first seeing some evidence, but in God I need no explanation nor evidence. I trust in God above all others in my life because simply put people have let me down. How I deal with it and how you my brothers and sisters should deal with it is by first praying to God, asking Him for guidance, understanding, and grace.  Then fall back onto your moral teachings as described above in the first set of blessings which are also found in the Holy Bible, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” ~ Proverbs 13:20, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Proverbs 13:7, all of which is a shared belief by most people world-wide. I tell you the truth practice grace and understanding and seek commonalities then there will be peace given to you in all aspects of your life, for that my brothers and sisters is the true goal, peace and harmony in your daily life.

Amen

If you enjoyed “Trustworthiness – A CASE FOR GOD!”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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Closing Reminder to Pray

Scott Spinks

Please do not stop praying for our brother Scott Spinks who is recovering from a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body while he was visiting his step-daughter who lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He is feeling much better and is now awaiting to be discharged from the hospital. This is the first time I have been able to meet a person whose relative have asked me to publish a Prayer Request on Listening Faithfully Blog. To Art I just wanted to say it was and is my great pleasure to post on your step-fathers behalf. It is my sincere privilege to have been able to visit you and your family as well this opening week of April 2015 – till we meet again.  I urge everyone to remember the power of collective prayer and to remember to pray for our brother in Christ – Scott Spinks. May the Lord be with him and his family throughout his recovery.

  1. To visit the original Prayer Request Click Here
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THE PILGRIM SHEPARD

A very honored friend and Catholic Priest; Father Thomas Welbers is going on another Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Below is the general announcement that he published on his blog; The Pilgrim Shepard.

To sign up for this journey with Fr. Welbers please click on the link: SIGN ME UP! 

Meet Fr. Tom!

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