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,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

 

Roots of Jesse – Guest Edition

An Older Symbol of Advent

What is the Jesse Tree? ~ by Winter

December 23, 2017 – Third Saturday of Advent

11 “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” ~ Isaiah 11:1 (NRSVACE)

Jesse was the father of King David. The ornaments of the Jesse tree represent the prophecies, God’s people, and events that led up to the birth of Jesus.

When I was a child every December my dad would put up the Christmas Tree and we would decorate with very cute ornaments, I didn’t think much about the ornaments at the time. There were pretty little harps, an apple, ark, dove etc. As I grew older and attended bible class I made the connection that the ornaments we decorated our Christmas Tree with symbolized the stories and characters of the Old Testament. During the Advent season, we are called to wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Like in everything in life we need to prepare. You might question yourself, ‘How can I prepare for this momentous event?’ or maybe, ‘What do I do first in order that I will be prepared adequately?’ As a child, my dad taught me our faith, what we needed to do to be prepared. In fact, from an early age, I remember thinking deeply about the events of the bible and how the Bible tells us the stories of preparation that the people of God underwent while waiting for His miracles to be fullfilled.

Other memories I have during Advent was going to church every Sunday and listening to the priest remind the whole community to pray, repent, forgive so we can receive Jesus Christ; receive His precious gifts of hope, peace, joy, and of love. As practicing  Catholics and followers of Christ we are called to share those gifts with the rest of the world, so that way our world of jealousy and gossip can come to an end. God made a promise to Abraham’s family that He would bless his family and would always protect them. We follow God because He is the only one that will give us what we need when we feel alone, sad, depressed, hurt, or upset. God comforts us and He protects us just as He did Abraham’s many descendants. Advent is a time to really think about these things; to take the lessons of the Old Testament and apply them to our lives today. Each time I do this I can see how much in common we are with the characters found in the bible.

As a teacher myself I am always humbled and reminded how much my kids at school are like I was when I was their age, they ask the same questions such as, “but it is hard to follow Jesus’s steps” I always remind them that, “Yes, no one said it was easy and for Jesus himself it was not easy. But what we need to do is to be in constant prayer so we can always choose God.” After saying this another student said, “Advent is about change.” Smiling I encouraged that thought with,  “Yes, during Advent we are called to change and renew our hearts just like God’s people from the Old Testament.”

When we decide to choose God we receive many blessings from Him. That is why the Jesse Tree is another important symbol for the Advent Season; so the kids can understand that each ornament is much more than just decoration, instead, it is the family tree of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Powerful Teaching Tool: You might want to go over your own chronological family tree with your kids at home. Using this model they will begin to relate it to the family of Jesus.

Jesse Tree symbols and passages in the Old Testament were designed to show how the coming of Jesus had been predicted hundreds of years before his birth fulfilling them within the New Testament. When decorating your tree beginning on the first day of Advent place the first ornament. Each day after that in order until Christmas Eve until each ornament is on the tree. Below are the symbols traditionally used to put on the Jesse Tree;

  1. Adam and Eve – Ornament: Tree with Fruit or Apple
  2. Noah – Ornament: Rainbow or Ark
  3. Abraham – Ornament: Field of Stars
  4. Isaac – Ornament: Ram
  5. Jacob – Ornament: Ladder
  6. Joseph – Ornament: Coat of Many Colors
  7. Moses – Ornament: Burning Bush
  8. The Israelites – Ornament: Lamb
  9. Moses and Aaron – Ornament: Tablets of the Torah
  10. Joshua – Ornament: Ram’s Horn Trumpet
  11. Samuel – Ornament: Crown
  12. David – Ornament: Shepherd’s Crook or Harp
  13. Hezekiah – Ornament: An Empty Tent
  14. Isaiah – Ornament: Fire Tongs with Hot Coal
  15. Jeremiah – Ornament: Tears
  16. Habakkuk – Ornament: Stone Watchtower
  17. Nehemiah – Ornament: City Wall
  18. John the Baptist – Ornament: Scallop Shell
  19. Mary – Ornament: White Lily
  20. Elizabeth – Ornament: Mother and Child
  21. Zechariah – Ornament: Pencil and Tablet
  22. Joseph – Ornament: Carpenter’s Square or Hammer
  23. Jesus – Ornament: Manager
  24. Christ – Ornament: Chi-Rho

Christmas Traditions of the Jesse Tree  Click Here

The Jesse Tree – Loyola Press  Click Here

Amen, Alleluia!

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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

Mother's Day 2017

Mother’s Day Message

4 “Rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:4 (NRSVACE)

With Mother’s Day upon use let not the moment fade without there being the proper sentiment being spread throughout the world. For what do our mothers do for us on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis which gives our lives such meaning and which gives rise for such celebration? In that idea, the perfect way to celebrate this special day is to see our mothers through the prism of how Jesus see’s and celebrates His own mother, Mary.

Introduction of Mother Mary

26 “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE)

Imagine if you will the town in Galilee called Nazareth. It would have been a small place complete with a small town environment where everyone would have known everyone else. “The people of Nazareth were essentially farmers, so they needed space between the houses for livestock and their enclosures, as well as land for plants and orchards. Nazareth would have had a population of around two to four hundred in antiquity, that is to say, several extended families or clans.” ~ Elizabeth Fletcher (2012) Basic Facts about Nazareth.

Now imagine a girl who was completely nieve to the world and yet was engaged to be married and according to scripture; Mary was pure in heart and mind. I think that in this moment Mary’s true attractiveness to God was her purity, her love, her faith in God.  Another consideration is that God fulfills his promises in the most unlikely of ways. But interestingly enough God fulfills His promise of a savior through scripture, marking the savior as being born from the house of David. Both Mary and Joseph was descendant from King David; Joseph from David’s son Nathan, and Mary from David’s son Solomon. In this way we see the perfect parents to God’s only son Jesus and for scripture to be fulfilled.

Look at your own parents, particularly your mother’s family tree.  How did God make it possible for your parents to meet? Remember that God fulfills scripture and He can make the impossible happen; so think big and outside of the box. God brought Mary and Joseph together in order that His son would be raised within the loving home as the descendant of King David.  God brought you into the world from a special family and for a special purpose. Look deep and see the connections that God has placed in your own families story.

26-28 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: ‘Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28 The Message (MSG).

The Archangel Gabriel came from heaven to deliver a message straight from God. His words within this message indicate a radical departure from the life Mary was leading to one that was completely blessed by and one with God.  In that moment Mary was elevated from a normal human being to a Holy Bride. Mary was chosen to give life to the savior in our mortal sinful world. But what Gabriel explained to her next would have scared anyone else away, but not Mary for again, she was pure inside and out!

33 “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.  He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.” ~ Luke 1:26-33 The Message (MSG).

Because Mary had observed every Jewish custom she had never slept with nor had any sexual relations with any man. So naturally, her thoughts begged the question; “How could this be?” Gabriel went on to explained;

35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.” ~ Luke 1:26-35 The Message (MSG). 

The purity of mary shined through when she finally understood because it led her to open her heart and answer God with love;

38 “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:26-38 The Message (MSG). 

 Mary’s Love For Jesus and God

21  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” ~ Luke 6:21 (NRSVCE) 

Mary so loved Jesus that she protected Him from all harm, she loved Him with all her heart and soul, she cared for Him as only a mother could. She afforded Him an up bring and teachings every Jewish mother had. But, what Mary had done that was most outstanding was to give her family the gift of love.  She taught Jesus and all her children from Joseph the acts of mercy, love, forgiveness, and truth. In that, many of the words Jesus used on the topic of love are maternal in nature and therefore, coming from his mother. Think about your own words you use with others. How many of those words could be contributed to your mother or your father? Yes, Jesus’s overall message is a Godly message, but remember the spirit of God was also in Mary, the message she taught Jesus was one and the same. Mother’s generally reinforced behaviors throughout our entire life, so the behaviors passed onto Jesus from Mary were holy, pure, and Godly. Mary’s influence spans the individual moments that Jesus experienced as being poor living as all other poor Jews lived under the hardships of the Roman oppression. Mary’s influence overshadowed the moments when Jesus was physically hungry or when He was sad and cried, for her words to Him was uplifting, caring, considerate, and heartfelt.

Give yourself a minute and remember the funniest moment you experienced with your mother, remember the joy in your heart, the sense of security, love, and protection. Remember the sound of your mother as she laughed with you, the feel of her touch upon you, the smell of her clothes or perfume as she hugged you. I think this is as close to heaven as we can get here on earth; to experience the pure love of your mother. Jesus had this in abundance! It is my sincere hope all of you do as well!

Mother are also instrumental in teaching the hard lessons of life, most particularly the lessons which set children free of what makes use feel safe and secure.  The older we grow hopefully the wiser we become, and the troubles we experience are lessened by our mother’s advice. I remember calling my mother every day asking her deep questions when I faced my deepest hurts. It was the strength of my mother I drew upon when confronting the scary things in this life. In this way, Mary also excelled as she knew the faith of her son the redeemer of the world. Think about the fear which penetrated her heart every day from His birth to His death helpless to do anything about it. Mary was indeed a brave and strong woman. Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

In reflection, I will say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ that our Mother Mary was strong, courageous, and true to Jesus until the very end, as she stood there on Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), and watched grief stricken as Jesus drew his last breath. Mary remained by her son’s side until they brought Him down from the cross and had buried Him. She was among the woman at the tomb of Jesus, and she was instrumental to the spreading God’s message to the world. Mary was loyal to her husband, family, and to God all the days of her life. Her example is as a perfect for how to be a true servant of God as it is to being a beautiful human being and mother. In this way, because Jesus saved us from our sins, Mother Mary is the mother of the world; the world freed from the debt of sin. Her message of love, nurturing, and forgiveness is the very essence of God’s (Agape) love. Look deep inside your own hearts and you will find the same love from your own mothers here on this special day we celebrate called Mother’s Day.

Amen,

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Days of Triumph

9 “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” ~ Zachariah 9:9

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When I think of Jesus Christ as King it sets a warm loving fire to my imagination for God’s mercy is endless and that is something of a wonder in my heart, mind, and soul. In that I wonder what life for Jesus was really like? I often ask myself the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to travel back into time to have seen Jesus, to have witnessed His birth, Baptismal, His anointment by Mary, His Ministry… especially when He picked the twelve disciples, His temptations by Satan.’ The moments that matter most in most Christian’s hearts is celebrated with as much religious ferber now as it was then, and that is Holy Week; the seven days preceding his crucifixion and resurrection. I feel closest to God in this time frame as do most Christians because it is here we begin to see Jesus rule over His people, sacrifice everything for His people, and ultimately demonstrate God’s perfect love for His people, all of His people which in this context is everyone alive then to now and that will ever live in sin; for His love saved all of us with His blood. We celebrate Jesus’s arrive into Jerusalem as a victory, a triumph, and His ride into the Holy City marks the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

Many scholars argue about the meaning of the colt, donkey, or foal. They try and find purpose behind the acts of Christ by the connections they can make to the gospel. But it is not what Jesus rode or whether or not it was really palm branches that was used to herald His arrival, but the fact our King came in the first place and that He loved us so much that He was willing to enter into the city that He knew was ultimately going to judge then put Him to death for crimes He did not commit. In this way we can begin to see life as Jesus saw it, experience His last week on earth as a mortal man, the Son of God.

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” ~ Matthew 21:10-11

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To have seen Jesus riding into Jerusalem first hand must have been something, or at least for those who where in the know of what was happening. The fact is most people during this period of time were clueless to the real event that was going on because they where blinded by what they thought was happening. To explain this further I have to add that in life we all see events one way when they are happening to us, then see them completely different many years later. But rarely do we ever see the underpinning facts of the event which caused it to happen in the first place in the moment, and if we could see the “WHY” that is driving the event we could have the chance, (the choice), to do something completely different. Again, few people in this period of time understood what was really happening as they could plainly see the “WHY” of Jesus, His mission and ministry, they saw first hand within the moment His ultimate goal and stood by Him until His arrest. Jesus on several occasions revealed this secret to His disciples, and all but one rebuked the idea and questioned the “Why” of His death. They say it was love they felt for Him that made them not want to see Him killed. But Jesus saw this in a completely different way. Judas Iscariot understood it and put the plan into action, as he was the only one strong enough to do so.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~ Matthew 6:33

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To write this in this fashion is controversial to say the least, but what drives me to this conclusion is found in the many different texts that had been buried, forgotten, that in their own time was outlawed and destroyed. For in the traditional Bible we have but a sliver of the true history of the events we celebrate. Therefore, we see with clouded eyes, we believe in traditions that come from completely different origins, and we collectively call it Christianity. In part I think that is what drives the truth seekers within the various faiths and sciences to conduct such magnificent research to find the truth in our Biblical history. This journey of seeking, documenting, and exploring is one that even the Catholic Church is involved in today. It is not wrong to try and peace together the truth of Christ, but it is wrong to celebrate and declare that we know things that in reality we truly do not know. In faith we believe that Jesus is the messiah, the King of Heaven and of Earth, but until we find factual evidence will truly know. In this we all are like Thomas who needed to put his finger in the side of Christ, touch his hands and see the wounds. Thomas is every man living today and it is this need to see before we believe that makes our faith stronger and more relevant. I say to you all never ask ‘Who is this?” but rather, ‘I know him who came and saved me.’ For truly God did send His son, and His blood needs no proof, His love needs not the “Thomas Factor” nor does His authority over all of His children need to be proven. It is good to know the facts, but it is better to celebrate the man, savior, son of God who came. Seek first the Kingdom of God that is rooted deep into your hearts, and reserve your questions until you meet Him face to face.

Amen

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