Homilies for April 2018

The Morning of the Resurrection by Edward Burne-Jones (1886)

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord—April 1, 2018
Readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/040118.cfm
Acts 10: 34a, 37-43; Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3: 1-4;
John 20: 1-9
Author: Fr. Philip-Michael F. Tangorra, STL

The direction one’s life takes living the mystery of the resurrection.
Happy Easter! Christ Jesus is Risen! This means that life takes on a new horizon. Have you ever thought of yourself as immortal? Have you ever considered that you have a “forever” to live life? The resurrection from the dead of Jesus casts a new light on our human existence. No longer are we bound by finite ends. Our life has an all new endless and brilliant horizon, and we come to share in this new resurrected and glorious horizon gifted us by Christ Jesus through our Baptism.

In Baptism, we are born into the resurrected life of Jesus Christ, a life that knows no end, nor boundaries. Death has no more hold on us. Yes, we still die, but that is not the end of our life. For not only will our souls live on past our death, but our bodies and souls will be re-united and resurrect from our graves unto the glory that we see already in Jesus, the firstborn of the dead. With this faith, we come to find that the urgencies and anxieties that death can put upon our desires for our life come to fade into nothingness as we now see that we have a “forever” to experience—all for which we could ever yearn.

Sin, likewise, loses its tempting appeal. Sins’ allure makes us believe that it can fulfill our every need in the here and now, and that there will be no greater opportunity to be so fulfilled in the future. The resurrection of Christ Jesus shows us the folly of this allure, unraveling its false logic. The resurrection shows us the opportunity for an endless future of glory and fulfillment, and that the present is not the only opportunity we will ever have to satiate our desires. For there is truly a great and majestic glory that awaits all who persevere in Christ Jesus, and with faith, put their hope in a future filled with all the love one could ever desire.

The resurrection gives us our freedom to decide our life’s direction, unencumbered by the insidious snares of the devil. The death of Christ—just like the death of all those who came before us who fought so that we may have freedom—bestows a great and ineffable dignity on our liberty to make choices in regards the direction of our life. It begs the question: “What do we use our freedom for that was purchased at such a great price?” Furthermore, the resurrection of Christ shows us a great light to guide us in our choices. It shows us a glimmer of the glory that awaits when we use our freedom to embrace, not the fading allurements of the present, but an endless glory of resplendent beauty in the future.

The glory of Easter is a future glory. It calls us to wait for fulfillment, to use our freedom to choose the greatest good—a good that lies not in any temptation before our eyes at present, but for a beauty that can only be attained through holy patience. Easter freedom is a freedom for a better tomorrow. It is, therefore, as an Easter people—by virtue of our Baptism, and nourished in the sacred food of the Eucharist—that we journey and live, not for today, but for the beauty that awaits!
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Second Sunday of Easter, (or  Sunday of Divine Mercy)—April 8, 2018
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/040818.cfm
Readings: Acts 4: 32-35; Ps. 118: 2-4, 13-25, 22-24; I John 5: 1-6; John 20: 19-31
Author: Fr. Philip-Michael F. Tangorra, STL

Being healed and overcoming spiritual death through The Divine Mercy of Christ.
In the year 2000, on the 30th of April, Pope John Paul II extended to the whole Church that this Sunday, the Octave of Easter—also called Low Sunday or White Sunday, because the newly baptized and confirmed would come to this Mass dressed in their new clothes, white robes—would now be referred to as the Feast of Divine Mercy. This is significant because the image of Divine Mercy portrays Christ’s white light of healing for those who were wounded by sin, just as the waters of Baptism and the Oil of Chrism have healed and brought to new life those received into the Church at the Easter Vigil.

Five years after Pope John Paul II extended this special feast to be celebrated by the whole Church in honor of God’s healing mercy through his Cross and Resurrection, the Pope died. On Divine Mercy Sunday, six years later, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, beatified Pope John Paul II. Now, St. Faustina’s devotion to Divine Mercy is known the world over. This Sunday marks the first Divine Mercy Sunday for the now Pope Saint who championed it’s cause.

Pope St. John Paul II taught us all a great deal about God’s mercy. In his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, he wrote:

Through the Incarnation God gave human life the dimension that he intended man to have from his first beginning; he has granted that dimension definitively—in the way that is peculiar to him alone, in keeping with his eternal love and mercy, with the full freedom of God—and he has granted it also with the bounty that enables us, in considering the original sin and the whole history of the sins of humanity, and in considering the errors of the human intellect, will and heart, to repeat with amazement the words of the Sacred Liturgy: ‘O happy fault … which gained us so great a Redeemer!’” (John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 1)

At the Easter Vigil during the Exultet, we heard those words sung, “O happy fault…which gained us so great a Redeemer!” Because of our sins, we have all suffered and caused the suffering of others.

Original sin turned love in on itself, and through our selfishness we have failed to show our love for God and neighbor. When we fail to love God above all others, and our neighbors as ourselves, we wound ourselves and others through sin. St. Thomas recognized the resurrected Christ by his wounds: the power of the resurrected Christ for healing our humanity. As Christ was wounded and able to overcome both death and the wounds he incurred, so can we by Christ’s mercy and love. The power of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection transforms our past, present, and future so that we may learn to love properly, and that our wounds, and the wounds we have inflicted upon others, may also be healed and gloriously transformed by God’s mercy.

Pope St. John Paul II further taught that the mercy that transforms our wounds is Christ himself:

Above all, love is greater than sin, than weakness, than the “futility of creation,” it is stronger than death; it is a love always ready to raise up and forgive, always ready to go to meet the prodigal son, always looking for “the revealing of the sons of God,” who are called to “the glory that is to be revealed.” This revelation of love is also described as mercy; and in man’s history this revelation of love and mercy has taken a form and a name: that of Jesus Christ. (John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis , 9)

Jesus is the Divine Physician who has come into our lives to offer us his healing balm, the balm of the Cross and the Resurrection, the balm of his mercy through which our humanity is transformed and made glorious, a new creation.

Transformed by God’s mercy, we live our life more abundantly, and give witness to the great power of Christ in our lives. This is our salt, this is the light we are meant to share with the whole world. As we have received the peace of Christ, we must go forth to all nations and proclaim that peace to them, because all people deserve the opportunity to know and be healed by the love and mercy of Christ that has benefited our lives.

Aided by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, let us envelop all humanity in the love and mercy of Christ by proclaiming him to the entire world. What can you do? First, pray! Pray for God’s healing in your own life, and in the life of those you love. But even more so, pray for those people you don’t like. Secondly, be healed and converted to Christ yourself. Thirdly, filled with his love, and in thanksgiving for all the great miracles Christ has worked in your life, share that joy with others. Fourthly, never hold back anything from Christ, and trust in his Divine Providence for your salvation. Lastly, with faith and hope secured in Christ, know that your witness will truly help others to come to Christ. Your faith and hope in Christ, and your love of him, is not meant to be private. Share the mercy of God with others, and the mercy you have received will only be magnified. Let your life be one of the many signs worked by Christ “that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”
_______

Third Sunday of Easter—April 15, 2018
Readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/041518.cfm
Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19; Ps. 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9; I John 2: 1-5a; Luke 24: 35-48
Author: Fr. Philip-Michael F. Tangorra, STL

At every Eucharist, as at Emmaus, Christ is there to accompany us on our journey home.
The Emmaus event gives us great insight into the faith of the early Christian community regarding the resurrection of Christ Jesus. No one was physically present to witness the very moment of the resurrection. But, this event is not questioned by the early Christians. The early Christians had a solid faith in the resurrection of Jesus, not only because of the Apostles telling their experience of the empty tomb, or the many apparitions that followed, but because of the power of signs, most especially the sacramental sign of the Eucharist, to communicate the reality of the resurrection.

It is at Emmaus that we see the Eucharist—the “breaking of the bread” as it was called in the early Church—become the sign, par excellence, to communicate the resurrection of Jesus. For, even though Jesus walked the long road to Emmaus with the disciples, and even though their hearts burned within them as Jesus preached and taught them about the recent events that occurred in Jerusalem, it was only at the “breaking of the bread” (in the celebrating of the Eucharist) that their eyes were opened to faith, and they recognized Jesus’ presence.

As it was for these early disciples in the Christian community, it is for us today. The celebration of the Mass gives us the opportunity to walk alongside Jesus, and have him instruct us, that our hearts may burn within us, during the proclamation and preaching of the Word of God. Yet, it is not until we experience the Eucharist, and allowing it to affect what it signifies—the real and true crucified and resurrected presence of Jesus—that we are capable of seeing Jesus and, thus, understanding all that he instructs us during the Liturgy of the Word.

The Eucharist is the sign of God’s actual presence with us. It is a mystery. It is the sign that conveys the mysteries of our salvation, and God’s love for us. It is also the sign that mysteriously works within us, the faith that affects our senses, so that we see in the Eucharist a meaning and reality that goes beyond our prima facie perception. Therefore, we are elevated to the realm of the beautiful and transcendent glory of the Resurrected One. This encounter changes our lives and strengthens our resolve by giving the faith we heard proclaimed and preached—which burned in our hearts—credibility. Now we follow Christ with conviction because the Eucharist shows us his presence alongside us for the journey.
_______

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday)—April 22, 2015
Readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/042218.cfm
Acts 4: 8-12; Ps. 118: 1, 8-9, 22-23, 26,28,29; I John 3: 1-2; John 10: 11-18
Author: Fr. Philip-Michael F. Tangorra, STL

The Good Shepherd seeks out and carries back, those that are lost; and as the “sacrificial lamb” died for us sinners so we could be saved.
In the early twentieth century, and until the present time, the excavations at Dura-Europos (an ancient ruin of an early Syrian city with a synagogue and very early Christian shrine) have revealed great insights into the Christian faith as it was understood in its earliest communities. In the Baptistery of Dura-Europos, there are two frescoes above the altar and baptismal pool. The first is an image of the Good Shepherd, with a lamb over his shoulders, standing next to Adam and Eve. The second image is that of the empty tomb with a woman next to it. I propose that the early Christian art at Dura-Europos provides us great insight into today’s celebration of Good Shepherd Sunday.

In the early Church, the image of the Good Shepherd, as also expressed by St. Irenaeus of Lyon, was communicative of the reality of the incarnation. The Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one errant sheep. Humanity is sinful, as shown by the figures of Adam and Eve, but God becomes man to shepherd us back to communion with him. The image of the lamb placed upon the Good Shepherd’s shoulders is two-fold: not only does it signify the pastoral care of carrying-back the one that went astray, but it signifies how the Good Shepherd will bring back those who went astray since a lamb was the sacrificial offering for sin. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leaves the ninety-nine in Heaven, and goes to earth to save humanity, who through original sin have fallen from grace. But through Christ’s sacrifice upon the Cross, the lost ones will be reconciled.

Understanding, now, the Good Shepherd as he would have been understood in the early Church, we can see that this image being placed next to an image of the empty tomb allows us to know that the whole story is one of glory and life: the Good Shepherd, after offering himself as a sin sacrifice, rises from the dead and transforms our human existence. The Good Shepherd has already come for us, has already reconciled us, and has already risen unto new and everlasting life. He is showing us the way back to him: we only have to follow him.

Following the Good Shepherd begins with our Baptism, as is clearly signified in this work of art chosen for the Baptistery at Dura-Europos. From our Baptism, we are to continue to the Altar of the Lord, continuously receiving from the Good Shepherd the sacred food for our journey. Lastly, it is not so much that we walk with the Good Shepherd, but allow him to carry us upon his shoulders. Thus, discipleship is abandonment. It is the surrendering of ourselves into Christ’s hands to be carried and cared-for by him. He will carry us back to our God. He will bring us to the future glory that awaits us all who choose to be carried by him. How wonderful to have such a good Shepherd to care for us!

__________

Fifth Sunday of Easter —April 29, 2018
Readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/042918.cfm
Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8
Author: Fr. David J. Endres

Self-reliance is not a Christian virtue; instead, the Gospel teaches us reliance on God. It is in the midst of our failures and brokenness that we come to know our need for him.
As Americans, we have a tradition of self-reliance, of “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps,” of going it alone, and shunning the help of others. We may ask, “Why have someone else do for me what I can do for myself?” We are independent, motivated, and industrious. And we believe this, in part, has made our country great.

In today’s Gospel, however, Jesus offers us a challenge to this way of thinking which is perhaps as American as baseball and apple pie. For Jesus says: “Without me, you can do nothing.”

How seriously do we take this? Yes, we turn to the Lord in time of illness, in time of difficulty, or maybe when we have an important decision to make. But do we really believe, “Without Jesus, we can do nothing”? Most of our lives indicate something different. It is as if we are constantly saying, “Without my energy, my work ethic, my enthusiasm, my talents, my intellect, my money … I can do nothing.” But if it’s all about us and what we make possible, then we really don’t need a savior. We don’t need Jesus.

It is in our poverty, our frailty, our sinfulness, our sense of inadequacy and failure—as uncomfortable as all of these are to us—that we find space in our hearts for God. How often have we grown closer to him when we realized that we were helpless in some way, that we weren’t ultimately in control?

From a historical viewpoint, the faith has thrived during times of persecution, war, and economic downturn. Where totalitarian regimes have attempted to stomp out the Church, it has flourished. Not because it was easy or culturally acceptable to be a Catholic, but because it was hard, because it meant overcoming fear, offering sacrifices, and relying on God.

And during war, when misery and bloodshed and evil become more pronounced, men and women, soldiers and civilians turn to God. You know the old saying, “There are no atheists in fox holes.” There is hope, there is faith, there is belief in wartime, especially because man sees what mankind offers the world: strife, disagreement, and violence. And we know there must be something else, something higher, nobler, and that is God and what his grace makes possible.

Today, when terrorists threaten our security, when governments seem riddled with problems, and when our personal finances dwindle, we realize that we can’t do it all ourselves. No amount of money can save us, nor can any human effort shield us from the unforeseen, and no government can replace God.

Today consider what difficulty you are experiencing, what your weaknesses are, where you are failing, and invite Jesus into that empty place, that place which bears witness to the reality that we can’t do it all ourselves, that reminds us of those words of Jesus: “Without me, you can do nothing.”

________

Fr. David J. Endres About Fr. David J. Endres

Fr. David J. Endres is former chaplain and religion teacher at Bishop Fenwick High School, Franklin, Ohio, and currently assistant professor of Church history at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a doctorate from the School of Theology at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Father Philip-Michael F. Tangorra, STL About Father Philip-Michael F. Tangorra, STL

Fr. Philip-Michael Tangorra is a priest of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey. He was the co-founder and president of “Hands of Mary for Haiti,” an Association of the Christian Faithful aimed at helping, both materially and spiritually, the people of Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours parish in Fragneau-Ville, Haiti, following the devastating earthquake there in 2010. He served as the parochial vicar for the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Morristown, New Jersey, where he also served on the Board of Directors for the Neighborhood House in Morristown. He recently rebuilt and created an award-winning Catholic Campus Ministry at William Paterson University, serving as its chaplain. He has also served as the Assistant Coordinator for Evangelization for the Diocese of Paterson. He is the author of Holiness and Living the Sacramental Life, a part of the "Living Faith Series" published by Emmaus Road. In “Holiness and Living…” Fr. Philip-Michael lays out the mystical and invisible realities that are present during the celebration of the sacraments, and explains how they can lead us to living ever more in-tune with God. He has a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology from the Angelicum in Rome, and is currently studying Canon Law at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Comments

  1. Thank you, Father, for sharing this beautiful and moving homily. You bring out many deep insights about our Blessed Mother”s union with Christ”s sacrifice on the Cross. Thank you also for the wonderful quotes from Blessed John Henry Newman. I also like what Cardinal Sarah says in the Decree establishing the obligatory Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church: “It is necessary to plant our life firmly on three great realities: the Cross, the Eucharist, and the Mother of God. This is good advice for us all.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The glory of Easter is a future glory. It calls us to wait for fulfillment, to use our freedom to choose the greatest good—a good that lies not in any temptation before our eyes at present, but for a beauty that can only be attained through holy patience. Easter freedom is a freedom for a better tomorrow. It is, therefore, as an Easter people—by virtue of our Baptism, and nourished in the sacred food of the Eucharist—that we journey and live, not for today, but for the beauty that awaits! – Read the source: http://www.hprweb.com/2018/03/homilies-for-april-2018/ […]

  2. […] Aided by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, let us envelop all humanity in the love and mercy of Christ by proclaiming him to the entire world. What can you do? First, pray! Pray for God’s healing in your own life, and in the life of those you love. But even more so, pray for those people you don’t like. Secondly, be healed and converted to Christ yourself. Thirdly, filled with his love, and in thanksgiving for all the great miracles Christ has worked in your life, share that joy with others. Fourthly, never hold back anything from Christ, and trust in his Divine Providence for your salvation. Lastly, with faith and hope secured in Christ, know that your witness will truly help others to come to Christ. Your faith and hope in Christ, and your love of him, is not meant to be private. Share the mercy of God with others, and the mercy you have received will only be magnified. Let your life be one of the many signs worked by Christ “that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” – Read the source: Fr. Philip-Michael Tangorra http://www.hprweb.com/2018/03/homilies-for-april-2018/ […]

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