Homily 5th Sunday of Easter Cycle B April 29, 2018

“Lord, may I do nothing outside of you.” A fitting prayer of protection against becoming too worldly. “Lord, may I do nothing outside of you.” I love these simple prayers of the Saints that say so much to us.
At some point, if we haven’t already, it’s best to give in. It’s best to allow the Lord to lead, for without him we can do nothing. So, in order to do something, in order to accomplish anything good and loving, we can do so only with him. For without him, we can do nothing.
Giving in to Christ in a world that stresses and teaches radical independence goes against the grain of our staunch desire to stand alone. It also flies in the face of the ways of the first Christians, who saw themselves as one body before they saw themselves as individuals. Eventually, all who stand alone will fall alone. It’s best for us to give in humbly, and surrender to Him who teaches us true happiness.
Our readings on the 5th Sunday of Easter center on the words of Christ, “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” Our Lord, in the fullness of his human nature, understands all too well that it’s much too easy to not remain in him, but rather subscribe our lives to the fading glory of this world. Spending a week in the Holy Land where Jesus spoke these words of remaining in him allows a pilgrim traveler to embrace even deeper the fundamental importance of how this teaching from him sets up a certain priority for us.
I think of all the incredibly talented people I know, in the Parish, friends, and others, and how we seek to be the best in whatever it is we do. Everyone wants to succeed, be it business, sports, hobbies, etc. Wherever our interests and responsibilities take us. I try my best to not be a lousy, uncaring priest to you. True success, however, for us Christians, starts and ends with remaining in Christ.
Being the branch on his tree – at times the tree being his Cross – and remaining there through the highs and lows that come our way. Along the way, the temptation to pull away from Christ when the more serious challenges set in is very real. The tug is to back off from Jesus because it seems like he’s backed off from me, like God backed off from the Israelites when worshipped their false gods. But the only better option is to remain in him. By doing so, we remain with the One who stands tall outside the tomb.
During the Easter season the Church blesses us with readings each week from the Acts of the Apostles., a book written by St. Luke along with his Gospel. Luke had the Spirit upon him. In Acts, the book centers on the words and actions of Peter and Paul, going back and forth between each Apostle. In this section we heard proclaimed today, Paul is just coming off his ways of making life miserable for believers in Christ. His persecuting comes to an abrupt halt when Jesus beats the heck out of him. It was a beautiful beating that led to Paul seeing and speaking to the Lord. The Risen Lord. He returns to Jerusalem where his former reputation precedes him, all being afraid of him.
What really happens here is that Paul’s life moves quickly from being as far outside of Christ as he could be – a persecutor of Christians – to remaining in Christ for good due to a holy pounding on his body, reaching his heart. In this Worldwide Wrestling Federation match, Jesus pins Paul to the mat until Paul cries “Uncle” a hundred times over. ‘Lord, you win.” A good prayer for us. “I surrender. You win the match, because I can’t match your power on my own. Show me how to be open to your will.”
This speaks to us by way of how Paul now bears good fruit, and not the ugly fruits of unbelief and violence. Paul’s ego has been cast aside, and God’s risen ego now consumes the Apostle. St Paul now becomes the most excellent example for us on how to remain in Christ. When he falls, he gets back up; when he is beaten by the forces of the world, he gives glory to God; when he is shipwrecked, he trusts the Spirit is with him; when he is thrown into prison, he writes New Testament Letters that last rather than wallowing in his self-pity.
How can he turn all the world’s ugliness on its head? How can Paul defeat the Prince of Demons and all the world’s wrath, and not become complicit with it? “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Without me, you can do nothing.”
We can do nothing holy, lasting, good, and loving, outside of Him who is risen. We can fool ourselves in this pluralistic and individualistic culture and convince ourselves that we have a formula for accomplishing the good outside of the Lord. But that would be a lie to ourselves, as well as trying to play God.
We are people of truth and love for the Lord. Remain in him. Remain in the Risen Him. And the day we go to his home, we’ll enjoy the fruits of his promise. “Lord, may I do nothing outside of you.”

Lector and Eucharistic Minister Schedule for May – June 2018

SATURDAY  4:00 PM    SUNDAY 7:30 AM  10:00 AM
May 05 F. McGuire   May 06 C. Dougherty L. Morin
May 12 W. Stanton   May 13 A. Huffman M. Martella
May 19 L. DesRoches   May 20 K. Shaughnessy C. Klofft
May 26 R. Lapid   May 27 W. Borek M. Greene
Jun 02 F. McGuire   Jun 03 A. Huffman L. Morin
Jun 09 W. Stanton   Jun 10 C. Dougherty M. Martella
Jun 16 R. Lapid   Jun 17 W. Borek C. Klofft
Jun 23 L. DesRoches   Jun 24 k. Shaughnessy M. Greene
Jun 30 F. McGuire   Jul 01 C. Dougherty L. Morin
SATURDAY  4:00 PM    SUNDAY 7:30 AM  10:00 AM
May 05 D. McGuire   May 06 W. Borek J. Morin
D. Greene   P. Powers W. Evanowski
May 12 J. Wine   May 13 D. Huffman M. Greene
K. Stiles   C. Huffman C. Grady
May 19 R. Lapid   May 20 J. Hester M. Kennedy
D. Greene   B. Hester K. Stiles
May 26 J. Wine   May 27 C. Dougherty L. A. Branche
W. Stanton   S. Dougherty M. Phaneuf
Jun 02 D. McGuire   Jun 03 D. Huffman J. Morin
K. Stiles   C. Huffman M. Greene
Jun 09 J. Wine   Jun 10 W. Borek L. A. Branche
R. Lapid   P. Powers J. Morin
Jun 16 D. McGuire   Jun 17 J. Hester M. Kennedy
D. Greene   B. Hester M. Phaneuf
Jun 23 J. Wine   Jun 24 C. Dougherty K. Stiles
W. Stanton   S. Dougherty C. Grady
Jun 30 D. McGuire   Jul 01 W. Borek J. Morin
D. Greene   P. Powers W. Evanowski

Lector and EM Schedule New Format May-June 2018 (2)

Homily 2nd Sunday of Easter Cycle B April 8, 2018

In the world of St. Thomas at the time of our Lord’s resurrection, we see an Apostle who is both uncertain and one who seems to feel left out. No one wants to be left out of an important occasion, especially when you’re one of the central actors in the play. And Jesus’ resurrection qualifies for an important occasion.
Imagine a father not being present for the wedding of his only daughter, where she walks down the aisle of the Church all by herself? And the father shortly after comes to discover that the wedding went off without his presence. Thomas was that father the night Jesus appeared in the Upper Room.
The words of Thomas that I believe didn’t make it into this Gospel resurrection story was him saying to the others, “If Jesus was really here, why couldn’t you guys keep him here until I returned from the market buying your food because you were too afraid to go outdoors? Why didn’t you guys tie Jesus down? Because you didn’t do me that great favor as I was out there risking life and limb for you, I’m not going to believe you, unless … I put my finger into his nailmarks, and my hand into his side.”
When Thomas spoke those words to his friends whom he thought were lying to him, do you ever get the sense that his placing his finger into Jesus’ crucified hand, and his hand into Jesus’ side that was sliced with a spear, that Thomas was not only unbelieving, but also ridiculing his friends? That his words to his friends about touching the wounds of Jesus were sarcastic and condescending toward them?
With Thomas, we normally stop at his unbelieving, and how in this moment of Jesus’ first appearance he perfected that vice. But there’s a strong hint of sarcasm in his words; a hint of not only not believing them, but ridiculing the fairy tale imagination of his Apostolic friends. A strong whiff of condescension.
The reaction of St. Thomas goes directly against the first Christian principle of what it means to be Church for us to this day; that being oneness and unity. Not worldly oneness, to some club or political party. But oneness in Christ. I can be one with the entire Red Sox Nation in my belief that we’re going to win the World Series this year. That sort of oneness is nice; it makes for good conversation to pass some moments in our lives. But oneness in the Church is centered in the Eucharist, which is a bit more lasting than a baseball team.
We see the perfection of the Church’s oneness in the Acts of the Apostles today; “They were of one heart and one mind.” The clutter of the world had not yet penetrated their Christian community. This is the gold standard of oneness that Christ desires and commands. Where brothers care for sisters, adults for children, where basic needs are cared for all in the community, and not for the lesser reason that it’s simply the right thing to do. But for the greater reason that such care imitates how God has cared for us. All caring is grounded in religion first, because it is of God.
And St. Thomas, who will later give his life for Christ, attacks the Church’s oneness by not believing that Jesus is raised from the dead as he promised them. But he also attacks the oneness of God’s Church by way of his condescending, arrogant words directed at his friends who are believable. Thomas at this point is not only captured by unbelief. Thomas is taking a teenage temper tantrum. His fingers into the nailmarks comment, and his hand into the side comment he considers to be beyond the world of possibility. It’s a beautiful thing when Jesus makes Thomas eat his own words. I wonder how he’s going to make me swallow some of mine; and you also.
The good part of St. Thomas’ life is that as we can criticize from the distance of time his reaction to Jesus’ first appearance without him being there, and take such criticism to the lowest possible place, except for where Judas went, we also get to emulate and raise St. Thomas to the highest possible place in heaven for his conversion, unlike Judas.
The scene in this Gospel connects to the highs and lows of our lives. There are times when believing that Christ is still in the tomb are upon us, and other times where we just know that he’s in the room. If Mother Teresa can have a dark night of the soul for decades one end, then I guess we can have it for a for a few short moments. And that’s all it is for Thomas; a few short moments, just one week.
As Jesus returns to them one week later, with one more Apostle present this time, we’re absent the sarcasm and condescending attitude of Thomas, which is replaced with “My Lord and my God.” What happens at the second appearance is the Divine Mercy of our Lord extending its powerful hand with nailmarks to a professed unbeliever. Our loving Savior will never throw our thoughts and comments back at us the same way we can throw words and actions at him, or at each other.
No arrogance from Christ; no sarcasm. Just words from our Savior for us where he means what he says; “Thomas, put your finger in my nailmark; put your hand in my side.” Were greater words of Divine Mercy ever spoken? Those words of Jesus to Thomas are the best words of absolution I’ve ever heard. “Put your finger in my nailmark; your hand in my side. If you do, Thomas, your sin of unbelief is forgiven.”
These words of Divine Mercy reunite the group of Apostles as one. Our Lord returns all of them to their starting point of oneness. Among other things, unity is what Divine Mercy brings about. It makes us one with the Church, and one with each other.