A Homily - Cycle A - 2013-2014
First Reading - Acts 2:1-11
Responsorial Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
Sequence - Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Gospel - John 20:19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
What a glorious weekend. The Father and the Son have revealed their amazing love for us over so many events and stories, and now, they show even MORE how much they love us, by giving us the very best gift ever, the gift of the spirit. The conclusion of the Easter Season is the beginning of the age we are still in. The age of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit. Life itself. Giving life to others.
Kind of like what He did for us yesterday. Six young men were just ordained priests of Jesus Christ. Six men have given their lives to the Lord, to make Jesus present in the Eucharist, and to offer Jesusí forgiveness to others. Six new priests. Iíve got six new brothers! If I had some Iíd by passing out cigars to everyone! Truly a time to celebrate.
But, since we are still in this life, we also know that perfect happiness has yet to be achieved. Sorrow is still present. And Iíd be lying if I didnít have some sad news report, that I will be moved from St. Philipís by the end of this month. The Lord is calling me to serve His people in the military for a time . . . then Iíll be back! A mission joyfully accepted, yes . . . but now comes the time to recognize how much Iíll be leaving behind, definitely yes. Feeling homesick already. . .
And still, in the midst of this bittersweet reality, the Lord Jesus says to all of us, PEACE be with you! . . . Say that again Lord? Still caught up in my own thoughts and concerns . . . and so Jesus, knowing what it's like to be human, says again, PEACE, be with you! The Father has sent me, to bring peace . . . just as I am sending you!
As this glorious season of Easter closes, as the beautiful season of Ordinary Time begins again, our Lord ends with a beautiful word of PEACE. And what kind of peace is this? In military terminology, it would be the end of hostilities, or a ceasefire, or having the greater arsenal . . . but the peace which Jesus brings is one which ends with sins being forgiven, THATíS the kind of peace which Jesus brings. Our newest priests have been given the power to extend Godís forgiveness, true. But our Lord says to us, each of us, as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you . . . to offer forgiveness yourselves! You and I have been given the beautiful gift of receiving Godís loving forgiveness in the sacrament of confession, true. But His Spirit, His Divine Spirit, has empowered ALL of us to imitate the divine when we say the following words Ė I. Forgive. You. God forgives. So we are meant to as well. We imitate God Himself perhaps MOST POWERFULLY when we say those words. Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Who but God alone can forgive? But see how much God has loved us . . .
And there are different ways to invoke this power. We ourselves can forgive others from our hearts, as Jesus taught us. We ourselves can freely cancel the damages and debts incurred by others hurtful words, thoughts or deeds - and in so doing, we free them and ourselves! We can do so outwardly, very powerful. But we can also do so, and perhaps FIRST should do so, from the depth of prayer, in silence, with the Lord. Lord, in your name, I forgive, with your help, I forgive, relying on your power and your love, I forgive . . . so-and-so. And if we need to do the same thing tomorrow, so be it, another wonderful opportunity to imitate God. Maybe even someday we'll have the opportunity to say it to them personally.
Another way we can invoke this power is by asking others to forgive ue. Hey, remember that time when I ticked you off? Yeah, I never did offer an apology . . . . so, uh, please forgive me, I didn't want to hurt you (or maybe I did, whatever, just forgive me!). How powerful that is, we allow someone ELSE o act just like Jesus, whenever we say, "please forgive me!" Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate this feast of the Spirit on Pentecost, if we have trouble seeing the Holy Spirit in our lives, then lets' open the door to Him, through the power that we have been given, to forgive. And so, as I prepare to move on in a few weeks, as another young priest takes my place (and you'll love him!), allow me to say, if there is anything *I* have ever done to offend you, in word, thought or deed . . . please forgive me. Please pray for me. Thank you, dear friends, for pardoning me and each other, for the, TRULY, then, we shall finally bring Peace on earth. Amen. Alleluia!