Pastor’s Page

Third Sunday of Easter

Resurrection of the Body
by Father Pete Iorio

A man showed up at Church with both his ears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked, “What in the world happened to you?” The man replied, “I was lying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ball game on TV and my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued to the television, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear.” “So how did the other ear get burned?” the pastor asked. “Well, I had no more than hung up and the guy called again.” [Bill Tewels, “Overheard at the Country Café,” Country (Oct-Nov 1994), p. 45.]
In our Gospel lesson for today the disciples get their ears figuratively burned because they think they are hearing is outrageous. Remember this is Luke’s Gospel and so far, only the women had come back with news of that two men in dazzling garments reported that he had risen when they went to the tomb. Peter himself had found the tomb empty. And most baffling of all, two disciples reported that they had walked with him on the road to Emmaus. They were confused. So, when the Risen Christ appears to them and tells them to touch his scarred body and to give him something to eat, they are startled and terrified, cannot believe what they see and hear.
This passage is very significant. Jesus tells them that a ghost does not have flesh and bones nor eat baked fish for that matter. He is not just pure spirit. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the firstborn from the dead and in our creed, we profess that we believe in the resurrection of the body… my body and your body. This is mindboggling. How? At what age in my life will my resurrected body be? I do not have an answer. It is part of the mystery. We do know that Jesus’ body was glorified, even the wounds.
I want to first point out what it is not saying and yet what most people hear. The creed does not say we believe in the resurrection of the spirit or the soul! Of course it doesn’t, because the soul cannot die. We are asserting that human embodiment has an eternal character to it. (Read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where Paul tries to communicate this in endlessly mysterious ways.)
Christianity makes a daring and broad affirmation: God is redeeming matter and spirit, the whole of creation. The Bible speaks of the “new heavens and the new earth” and the descent of the “new Jerusalem from the heavens” to “live among us” (Revelation 21:1-3). This physical universe and our own physicality are somehow going to share in the Eternal Mystery. Your body participates in the very mystery of salvation. In fact, it is the new and lasting temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). All of Creation is moving toward its completion and glorification in Christ. Just as our human bodies need to be cared for, so does our Earth. We have a responsibility as Christians to make sure that the earth and all that it contains is not abused. Care for Creation is a moral responsibility.
Many Christians falsely assumed that if they could “die” to their body, their spirit would for some reason miraculously arise. This happened with the practice of extreme asceticism. Often the opposite was the case because the abuse to their bodies caused it to deteriorate and die.
Our poor bodies have become the receptacles of so much negativity and obsession. The West is now trapped in substance addiction, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, plastic surgery, pornography, sexting and an obsession with appearance and preserving these bodies. St. John Paul II has given us a theology of the body to affirm the goodness of the body and the Christian understanding of chastity.
Jesus actually affirmed our bodies by His incarnation and resurrection. Body and spirit are both important and go together as completeness of the human person. We Christians should care for our bodies AND we Christians should care for our souls AND we Christians should care for the earth and all it contains. Both body and soul need healthy nourishment and healthy practices to keep them strong. In the Gospel today, Jesus opens the minds of the disciples to understand the Scriptures. Growing in understanding the holy word of God is important for healthy souls. Jesus also mentions repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In my own experience, failure to forgive, takes a toll on our physical bodies. Have you ever held a grudge against someone? I googled: effects of holding a grudge and a site for the Mayo Clinic popped up and gave this list: What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you’re unforgiving, you might:
Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience.
Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
Become depressed or anxious
Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
This is one more indication to me that body and soul work together in each of us human persons, and when Christianity is in any way anti-body, it is not authentic Christianity. The incarnation tells us that body and spirit must fully operate and be respected as one.

I add these passages from Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation: REJOICE AND BE GLAD
156. The prayerful reading of God’s word, which is “sweeter than honey” (Ps 119:103) yet a “two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12), enables us to pause and listen to the voice of the Master. It becomes a lamp for our steps and a light for our path (cf. Ps 119:105). As the bishops of India have reminded us, “devotion to the word of God is not simply one of many devotions, beautiful but somewhat optional. It goes to the very heart and identity of Christian life. The word has the power to transform lives”.[119]
157. Meeting Jesus in the Scriptures leads us to the Eucharist, where the written word attains its greatest efficacy, for there the living Word is truly present. In the Eucharist, the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered. When we receive him in Holy Communion, we renew our covenant with him and allow him to carry out ever more fully his work of transforming our lives.
Remember Eucharist is The BODY OF CHRIST!

Divine Mercy Sunday

The Faith of Saint Thomas
by Deacon John Hackett

A kindergarten teacher had a hard time getting her students to understand Easter. One five year old thought he would make her day. He shouted, “Christ died, was buried, and rose. If He saw His shadow, we would have six more weeks of winter.” In a book entitled The Great Thoughts, Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, is quoted as saying, “I have never seen the slightest scientific proof for the religious theories of heaven and hell.” And in that, Edison was a genius.

But he was not a theologian. You see…if we can’t prove something by scientific proof, then we are not talking about faith. And faith, as the apostle Thomas (in our gospel today learned), is the point at issue in this Easter season. This doubting apostle, after his encounter with the Lord, had more in common with the 13th century Thomas Aquinas than with the 20th century Thomas Edison. Aquinas wrote: “The heart can go where the head has to leave off.” Unfortunately writers spend more time on Thomas the Inventor than they do on Thomas the Apostle. And that’s a pity. The apostle has much more to teach us about the answers to the ultimate questions than Edison.

You see, the apostle was a very complex and unique personality. That uniqueness may explain why Jesus chose him in the first place. It is probable that Our Lord was determined to use that personality of his for our education. Who knows? Possibly Mr. Edison learned in the course of his long life the wisdom of Ruth Graham, wife of the famous (recently departed) evangelist, Billy Graham. You may remember her famous quote: “It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God.”

There are only three informative references to the apostle Thomas in the New Testament; each of them are in John’s Gospel. Interestingly, the Gospel of John was the last to be written and he may have concluded that the neglect of Thomas in earlier accounts did a serious injustice to Thomas himself…and to Catholics at large.

A composite work-up of Thomas’ psyche from John’s Gospel today tells us quite a bit about Thomas. He is pessimistic, stubborn as that famous “Missouri mule”, and subject to the all too common line that teaches seeing is believing. I remember a college student long ago who once told me: “I believe only what I can see.” And like you, I’ve heard that repeated many times. But she was convinced that she had coined the line.

Someone has noted Thomas had a question mark for a mind. His complicated psyche is graphically illustrated in the 16th century Caravaggio’s wonderful painting of Thomas putting his finger into Christ’s wound. We know the Gospel story and especially its happy ending. And I think Thomas would never forget that gut-wrenching line of his resurrected Leader, “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe!” The doubting Thomas had received a lecture on faith that he would never forget. It’s a message which Edison never learned.

You see, Thomas (like us, so many times) had simply erred when he told the others that seeing is believing. But Christ taught the apostle that believing is seeing. The no longer doubting apostle would enthusiastically applaud the Christ that demonstrated to him that a strong faith sees the invisible, and receives the impossible. There was absolutely nothing uncertain about Thomas’ unqualified cry at the end: “My Lord and my God.” BTW, while Thomas was the last of the apostles to believe in the risen Christ, he was the first to make such an unequivocal confession of Christ’s divinity. In a millisecond, his faith had taken a quantum leap.

Now, on an interesting note, the Gospels tell us Thomas had a twin. So, who is his twin? Well, I suspect it may be you and I. It’s been said that we are all a mixture of doubt and certainty, pessimism and trust, unbelief and belief. On those days, when doubt, pessimism, and unbelief hold the cards, we must hold onto Thomas and not let go for dear life. The 6th century St Gregory realized the value of Thomas to Christendom at large. He wrote: “The slow surrender of Thomas is of more advantage to strengthen our faith than the more ready faith of all the believing apostles.” And of course, John the gospel writer realized this point centuries before Gregory. So thankfully he let us in on Thomas’ story.

As we leave today, we might want to say a prayer in gratitude for such a person as the apostle Thomas. But in addition, each one of us will want to reflect on the admonition I’m sure you have heard – that it is not sufficient for Catholics (or any Christian group, for that matter) to simply only believe their faith. They must also tell others about it. And as we just celebrated the 50 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death, you may recall this very poignant comment he made so many years ago. He said: “Our lives end the day that we become silent about things that matter.”

So, in ending, you go out and tell folks when you get a chance. And on a lighter note please remember to say a Hail Mary for Thomas Edison. Despite my trashing of him, we owe the man a great deal and I suspect his earlier statement for scientific proof has now become eternally clear to him.

The Sacrifice of Christ
by Deacon Don Griffith

This day is the octave of Easter. From Easter Sunday, all through the week and including today, the Church has prayed that it is truly right at all times to acclaim you, O Lord, but on this day above all to laud you yet more gloriously when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. For he is the true Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world. Each day within this octave the Church celebrates as though it is Easter Sunday, so glorious is the day of Resurrection, that that day is prolonged. At times in Sacred Scripture we hear the phrase the last and greatest day of the feast. So we find ourselves here today on this the last and greatest day of the feast. It is the greatest day not so much because it is the last day, but because we have been living the Paschal Mystery, and by living this mystery the Church invites us to an ever greater awareness of the import of this day in our life and to help us in this recognition this Sunday is called Divine Mercy Sunday.
(CCC1367) The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory- it atones for sins. This is the first and most important way in which we participate in the Mass- to offer this sacrifice with the priest, to join ourselves to Christ’s perfect sacrifice, and to say in a way Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. Part of mercy-the effect of mercy- is to dispel, to remove whatever may be causing another person’s misery. When we consider that sin constitutes our misery (Dives in Misericordia 4.), we can begin to come to an ever deepening awareness of what God the father of mercies has done for us through his Son. Also, it is not a coincidence that the gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday is the institution of the sacrament of Penance. In the words of the Council of Trent But because God, rich in mercy, knows our frame, (g) He hath bestowed a remedy of life even on those who may, after baptism, have delivered themselves up to the servitude of sin and the power of the devil, –the sacrament to wit of Penance, by which the benefit of the death of Christ is applied to those who have fallen after baptism. In the encyclical Rich in Mercy, which I encourage you to prayerfully read, Pope St. John Paul II in expounding on mercy in the Old Testament says that mercy does not pertain only to the notion of God, but it is something that characterizes the life of the whole people of Israel and each of its sons and daughters: mercy is the content of intimacy with their Lord, the content of their dialogue with Him. Is it not also the same for us? Having this dialog of mercy with our Lord in prayer and in the sacraments do we not then desire to act mercifully towards those who are lonely, or hungry, or whose families are separated? The content of their prayer has also been mercy. A prayer that sounds like Lord have mercy. I don’t know what I am going to do in this situation, but I need help. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but Jesus, I trust in you. And when they say Amen and open their eyes, perhaps it is one of us that our Lord has sent to them. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

The Essence of the Divine Mercy Devotion

by Deacon Mike Jacobs

The Message
The message of the Divine Mercy is a call and challenge:
Trust in God’s Mercy and Be Merciful.
The Message of Divine Mercy is that God is merciful. He is love itself poured out for us, and He wants no one to escape that merciful love. The message is that God wants us to turn to Him with trust and repentance while it is still a time of mercy, before He comes as the just Judge. This turning with trust to Him who is Mercy itself is the only source of peace for mankind. Turning to and imploring God’s mercy is the answer to the troubled world. There is no escaping that answer.

God’s Mercy
Divine Mercy is God’s love poured out on the undeserving in creating us, redeeming us and sanctifying us. It is “Loves second name” (Rich in Mercy, John Paul II). Mercy has been described as love of the unlovable and forgiveness of the unforgivable. It is love in action.

The Response of Trust and Conversion
What God most wants of us is to turn to Him with trust. And the first act of trust is to receive His mercy. To trust God is to rely on Him who is Mercy itself. The Lord wants us to live with trust in Him in all circumstances. We trust Him because He is God, and He loves us and cares for us. His mercy is always available to us, no matter what we have done or what state we are in, even if our sins are as black as night and we are filled with
fears and anxieties.
“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my mercy.” (Diary of Saint Faustina, 723)
But there is more we can do. As Catholics, as Christians, we can go to the Sacrament of
Reconciliation and be reconciled to God and to man. The Lord wants us to live reconciled with Him and one another.

The Response of Mercy Toward Others
Not only are we to receive His mercy, but we are to use it, being merciful to others by our actions, by our words, and by our prayers; in other words by practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. The Corporal Works of Mercy are feeding the
hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the travelers, comforting the prisoners, visiting the sick, and burying the dead. The Spiritual Works of Mercy include teaching the ignorant, praying for the living and the dead, correcting sinners, counseling those in doubt, consoling the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, and forgiving wrongs willingly.

It’s Scriptural
The message of mercy is the content and the challenge of Sacred Scripture. In the Hebrew Bible we see a God of mercy who calls His people to be merciful. In the New Testament Jesus exhorts us:
“Be merciful even as your Father is merciful”(Lk 6:36).
He sets the highest goal for us and expects us to obtain it by His merciful love:
“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).
When He comes again, He will judge us on our mercy toward one another:
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

Mercy — The Message and Response Through the Ages
The message and response of mercy is not something new. In the past, God spoke a message of mercy through the patriarchs and prophets — through Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah and many others. In the last days God has spoken to us by His Son, Jesus Christ, who is Mercy personified and incarnated. God continues to speak a word of mercy even to our generation, through the Church and its shepherds, and through holy men and women —mystics — whom God has chosen as His vessels. In our century He revealed Himself to Saint Faustina, a simple and holy nun in Poland during the 1930s. He called her to be His secretary and His apostle of mercy. He spoke to her of His mercy and the way He wants us to respond to it.

It’s the Teaching of St. John Paul II
The message of The Divine Mercy — Jesus Himself — is at the heart of the gospel. The message of mercy presents the truth and the call of the gospel to our present age. This message of mercy is proclaimed by St John Paul II, in his encyclical Rich in Mercy, as the message for our age. His encyclical is a strong summons for us to implore mercy for ourselves and for the whole world — NOW!
In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead, in the spirit of His messianic mission, which endures in the works of mankind, we lift up our voice and plead: that the love which is in the Father may once again be revealed at this stage of history and that, through the work of The Son and The Holy Spirit, that love may be shown to be present in our modern world and be shown to be more powerful than evil: more powerful than sin and death (Rich in Mercy, 15).

Now is the Time for Mercy
Our Lord’s revelations to Saint Faustina speak of now as the time of mercy. There is a special urgency in this message. Repeatedly, our Lord stressed that now is the day of mercy before the coming of the Day of Judgment. Now is the time to prepare for the coming of the Lord. “Write this,” He said to her:
“Before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy… I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners). But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation” (Diary, 83, 1160)
To this powerful message from the Lord, Saint Faustina adds her own exhortation. “O human souls,” she asks, “where are you going to hide on the day of God’s anger? Take refuge now in the fount of God’s Mercy” (Diary, 848) Of the 7.1 billion people in the world, 16 million are Jewish, 1.6 billon are Muslim, and 2.2 billion are Christian, of which 1.2 billion are Catholics. This leaves some 3.1 billion who do not even know that there is a Merciful God, and many more who are refusing to trust in His mercy. In the face of this situation, Our Lord’s words to us through Saint Faustina are unmistakably clear:
“Speak to the world about My mercy: let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times, after it will come the
day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy, let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed
forth for them” (Diary, 848).
So, the challenge awaits us now to speak out and tell the world of this infinitely merciful God who is waiting for us to turn to Him with trust and become merciful to others as He is merciful to us. God’s mercy as presented to us through Saint Faustina:
“God’s floodgates have been opened for us Let us want to take advantage of them before the day of God’s justice arrives… O what a great multitude
of souls I see! They worshiped The Divine Mercy and will be singing the hymn of praise for all eternity” (Diary, 1159, 848).

Devotion to the Divine Mercy
Our Lord not only taught Saint Faustina the fundamentals of trust, and of mercy to others, but He also revealed special ways to live out the response to His mercy. These we call the devotion to The Divine Mercy. The word “devotion” means fulfilling our vows. It is a commitment of our lives to the Lord who is Mercy itself. By giving our lives to The Divine Mercy — Jesus Christ Himself — we become instruments of His mercy to others, and so we can live out the command of the Lord:
“Be merciful even as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36).
Through Saint Faustina, Our Lord gave us special means of drawing on His mercy: an Image of The Divine Mercy, a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a Feast of Mercy, a novena, and prayer at the three o’clock hour — the hour of His death. These special means are in addition to the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation, which have been given to the Church.

Let us take 10 minutes to reflect on Gods greatest gift to us His Divine Mercy.

Easter Sunday

Fools For Christ
by Father Peter Iorio

Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, “Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone else to be buried in?” “Why not?” Joseph may have answered. “He only needed it for the weekend.” I know it’s bad, but it’s April Fools’ Day and I have to give you a joke. As we come together on this Easter Sunday, we might be called Fools for believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
When I was in the Holy Land in February, I was surprised at how close the cross on Calvary is to the tomb of Jesus. Calvary and the tomb are contained in the same church of the Holy Sepulcher. I thought that the tomb of Jesus offered by Joseph of Arimathea would have been farther away from the cross. But truly, it emphasizes to me the Paschal mystery – that death and resurrection are always together. That is why the Church celebrates this Paschal Mystery one celebration during three days – beginning on Holy Thursday night and ending on Easter Sunday. Death and resurrection go together. It’s the mystery of God’s love.

When we are in love, when we are attached to someone like our spouse or our children, we always risk pain and we will always suffer for it. When you look at Jesus on the cross, you see that Christianity fosters this kind of attachment. Jesus tells us to love and that we will pay the price for loving.
The cross is not the price that Jesus had to pay to convince God to love us. It is simply where Love will lead us. Jesus said: if we love, if we give ourselves to feel the pain of the world, it will crucify us.

The cross says that we hold the dark side of reality and the pain of the world until it transforms us, knowing that we are both complicit in the evil and can participate in wholeness and holiness. Jesus holds the pain-even becomes the pain on the cross-until it transforms Him into a higher state which is the Risen Life.

When something bad happens to us, we are inclined to either create victims out of other people or play the victim ourselves. This does not bring about a solution but aggravates the problem. Jesus holds his pain and suffering in love. He never asks his followers to avenge his murderers. Compare this to almost all historical stories of the death of a leader and to what we see in public life in the world today. In Jesus, there is no resentment or anger. Jesus shows us a new way which is the way of love, compassion, and forgiveness.
Saint Paul in 2nd Corinthians says that Jesus became sin so that we might become the very goodness of God. In other words, Jesus becomes a problem to show us how to resolve the problem. Death is not just our one physical dying, but it is going to the full depth, hitting the bottom, going the distance, being fed up, beyond where I am in control, and always beyond where I am now. It is scary and these horrible experiences of suffering can feel like the descent into hell. Anyone who has experienced the death of a child or divorce or being looked over for a promotion when we deserve it or being fired from a job that we love or homelessness or being without enough money or failing out of school or a traumatic break up in a relationship knows what I’m talking about.
When you go to the full depths of any kind of experience where you feel like dying, sometimes even going to the depths of your own sin, you can always come out the other side and the word for that is resurrection. It happens by sheer grace, a gift from God and certainly not by anything of our own doing. We are all carried through the suffering by an uncreated and unearned grace. We are never worthy of this gift of new life. The way to get through is to trust that God is always with you. He does not abandon you even though it may feel like that. The way through is to keep desiring this change in our situation and asking God in prayer. And when the change happens, it may surprise us or it may affirm us that love is truly stronger than death.
Only the spirit can teach us the paradox of Jesus‘s death and resurrection, the pattern of all growth, change, and transformation. It is hard to trust both the dying itself and the promised new state of being.

Notice how the Risen Lord greets people: peace be with you! Jesus shows us the way to true peace. And as 2000 years ago when it first happened to Jesus of Nazareth so today when we see that and live that new way of love compassion and forgiveness, we know that the new life of the resurrection of the Christ is in our midst and we sing alleluia alleluia alleluia! And that’s no joke.

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Sacraments of Unity
by Father Peter Iorio

This is one of my favorite days for a number of reasons.
It is the beginning of the Sacred Triduum. It is the day when we focus on priesthood and Eucharist and the sacraments, AND it is a day when most of all you want to be here. It is not a Holy Day of Obligation so your choice to be here is a cause to celebrate.
The theme for Holy Thursday is unity. Two Masses are allowed today. The first is the Chrism Mass. In our diocese it is transferred to earlier in the week (Tuesday) so all priests can participate. We come from all over East Tennessee to come together as ONE presbyterate serving with our one shepherd, our boss, the Bishop of Knoxville. The Missal says that this “should be a manifestation of the Priests’ communion with their bishop… To signify the unity of the presbyterate of the diocese, the Priests who concelebrate with the bishop should be from different regions of the diocese.” You know as well as I do that there is not a uniformity of priests. We are not a clone of anyone. We can say that the same diocesan vestments we clergy of the diocese are wearing represent uniformity. However, our bonds of unity are bolder and stronger. We are conformed to Christ, yet we have individual personalities with different gifts. And you all being the faithful people of God have your own individual personalities with your own preferences for priests. The three of us here know that very well. We are grateful that you support and cooperate with us in bringing forth the mission entrusted to us by Christ. When we renewed our promises, we pledged to deny ourselves, being motivated by love, to serve you and bring Christ to you especially in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites.
For me this is also a great celebration because it presents a more complete vision of the kingdom of God. There is one celebration per parish of this Mass of the Lord’s Supper, not several options like on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. We, the faithful Catholics of St. Mary’s parish in Johnson City are united in Christ and in His Love. We are not just 5 PM, or 8 AM or 10 AM or noon Mass or Latin Mass people. We are one family united in Christ’s love and putting into practice His mandatum to serve one another in humility.
Like Peter when he resisted Jesus who wanted to wash his feet, we may complain because we do not think it should be done this way. We may complain because I do not understand when another language is spoken. We may complain when it lasts longer than I want and the virtue of patience is called forth from me. We may complain when somebody is not paying attention and distracting me and extra charity toward that person is required of me. Unity is hard work, but it is not impossible. Trusting in Christ, we know that He gives us all that we need.
In the great doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest prays: Through Him, With Him and In Him, in the UNITY of the Holy Spirit, All glory and honor is yours almighty Father, for ever and ever. AMEN. This is the ultimate pattern of our lives because it is the mystery of the three in one, the Holy Trinity. We receive this gift of God in the Holy Eucharist so that we can give it through the witness of our lives.
Having returned recently from Jerusalem, I know that it still is a very diverse city as it was in Jesus’ time. The first followers of Christ were rich and poor, city dwellers and country folk, Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic speaking that we know of from Scriptures. They were identified as Christians by their love for one another. It was visible and it was noticed by others. St. Mary’s is diverse in similar ways. My prayer is that the same can be said of us… that all will see and recognize that we are Christians by our Love for one another.
Esta misa es una de mis favoritas por varias razones.
Es el comienzo del Santo Triduo. Es el día cuando la Iglesia se enfoca en el sacerdocio, la Eucaristía y los sacramentos, Y es un día cuando la mayoría de ustedes quieren estar presentes. No es día de precepto, pero su presencia es motivo para celebrar.
El tema para Jueves Santo es la unidad. La Iglesia permite dos misas hoy. La primera es la misa del Santo Crisma. En nuestra diócesis, la celebramos el pasado martes en la catedral, un lugar céntrico geográficamente hablando, para que todos los sacerdotes puedan participar. De todas partes del Este de Tennessee, nos reunimos todos juntos como un solo presbiterato sirviendo con nuestro pastor, el obispo de Knoxville. El misal dice que la misa debe ser una manifestación de la comunión de los sacerdotes con su obispo… para significar la unidad del presbiterato de la diócesis, los sacerdotes que concelebran deben ser de diferentes regiones de la diócesis.” Ustedes saben bien, como yo sé, que no hay una uniformidad de sacerdotes. No somos un clon de nadie. Somos conformados a Cristo, aunque tenemos personalidades individuas con diferentes dones. Y ustedes, los feligreses tienen sus personalidades individuas con sus preferencias para sus sacerdotes. Nosotros, Padre Bede, Padre Tim, Padre Jesús y su servidor lo saben muy bien. Estamos muy agradecidos por su apoyo y cooperación con nosotros en el cumplimiento de la misión confiada a nosotros por Cristo. En la misa del Santo Crisma cuando hemos renovado nuestras promesas, hicimos el compromiso a unirnos íntimamente a nuestro Señor Jesucristo, modelo de nuestro sacerdocio, renunciando a nosotros mismos, impulsados por amor a Cristo y para servirles a ustedes y darles a Cristo especialmente en la Santa Eucaristía y las demás acciones litúrgicas.
Para mí, esta es una grande celebración porque nos presenta una visión más completa del Reino de Dios. Hay una sola misa de la Cena del Señor, y no muchas opciones como en los domingos y días de precepto. Nosotros somos los feligreses de Santa Maria aquí en Johnson City y estamos unidos en Cristo y a su amor. No estamos divididos en grupos de gente de la misa de 5 PM o 8 AM o 10 AM o del mediodía. Somos una sola familia unida en el amor de Cristo y ponemos en práctica el mandato a servir unos a otros en humildad.
Como Pedro en su resistencia a dejarse lavar los pies, podemos quejarnos porque pensamos que no debemos hacerlo en esta manera. Podemos quejarnos porque no entiendo otro idioma. Podemos quejarnos cuando los ritos duran más tiempo de lo que yo quiero y necesito practicar la paciencia. Podemos quejarnos cuando alguien no nos hace caso y está distrayéndome y necesito más caridad por esa persona. La unidad es trabajo exigente, pero no es imposible. Confiando en Cristo, sabemos que Él nos da todo lo que necesitamos.
En la grande doxología de la Plegaria Eucarística, el sacerdote reza: Por Cristo con él y en él a ti Dios Padre Omnipotente en la unidad del Espíritu Santo todo honor y toda gloria por los siglos de los siglos” AMEN. Este es el modelo para nuestras vidas porque es el misterio de tres en uno, la Santísima Trinidad. Recibimos este don en la eucaristía para que podamos entregarnos por medio del testimonio de nuestras vidas.
Acabo de regresar de la ciudad de Jerusalén yo sé que es una ciudad llena de diversidad como fue en la época de Jesus. Los primeros seguidores de Cristo fueron pobres y ricos, habitantes de la ciudad y del campo. Que hablaban griego, hebreo, arameo … esto lo sabemos por las Escrituras. Fueron identificados como cristianos por medio de su amor, el amor de los uno a los otro. Era visible y los demás se dieron cuenta. La parroquia de Santa Maria es diversa en muchas maneras similares. Mi oración es que los demás digan lo mismo de nosotros…Que vean y conozcan que somos cristianos por nuestro amor mutuo.

Palm Sunday

Juxtapositions worth Contemplating: The Mystery
by Father Peter Iorio

For those of you who have lovers, what did you do on Valentines’ Day this year? This year, there was a strange juxtaposition with Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day. So sumptuous dining and flowers and candy went together with fasting and abstinence as well as the statement: Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. This was Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018. The celebration of human love was combined with the realization that life comes to an end. In 2018, February 14 was also the day of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I was in the Holy Land when I heard that news and I saw a picture of one of the mothers with an ash cross on her forehead.

Today is another strange juxtaposition. It is Palm Sunday and also March 25, the day when the church celebrates the Annunciation that Mary received the Good News from the angel Gabriel that she would be the Mother of God. It is nine months before the solemnity of Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus. As we recall Mary’s Yes to Life and the joyful expectation of the birth of Jesus, we remember when Jesus entered joyfully into the city of Jerusalem with shouts of hosanna and we read the Passion which concludes with his death on the cross.

We contemplate the mystery of new life and the promise of a beautiful future received in love and also the tragedy of human cruelty inflicted against the Son of God. When will we ever learn? Turn away from sin and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is another statement used when we impose ashes.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ is God’s presence in our world—not an event of the past. The incarnation is still going on in our lives. And our vocation is to join God’s dynamic, incarnate energy in the world and to be that presence of divine love wherever we find ourselves.

When I was in the Holy Land last month, our group walked the Via Dolorosa, recalling what we heard the Gospel today. It was a very powerful part of our pilgrimage. An image that sticks in my mind is that as we wound our way through the alleys early in the morning to get ahead of the shop owners and shoppers, I noticed a girl of about 7 or 8 watching us. I smiled at her. She probably got scared and responded by sticking out her tongue at me. I remembered the worse mockery that Jesus endured as he walked the Via Dolorosa. The first pilgrims walked the Via Dolorosa to identify themselves with the original moment, not to reduce it to a pious legend; nor even to worship the story of one man and his agony, but to stand witness to the story of each man’s[person’s] agony. Comments of the American Jewish painter Barnett Newman whose ‘Stations of the Cross’ are in the National Gallery [Washington, DC].

We can ask ourselves why we call this week “holy” when it has so much sadness, torture, cruelty and death. It is not because we think that suffering by itself is good. Our God is not a God of suffering so much as a God of love. Neither God nor Christ love suffering, however they love those who suffer. They do not love tears; however, they love those who cry. They do not love death so much as life. The father of Jesus is not a God who allows the death of humans as much as a God who resurrects the dead. The cross is a symbol of love and not a glorification of suffering. It is a symbol of love carried to the extreme in a world full of hatred. The passion is a revelation of love, of the love that God has for each of us.

We can try live His Holy Week as our Holy week, offering up our prayers as an entreaty to our God whose love embraces every suffering, and every darkness. His love is real because He has already lived the ‘why’ without the answer for ‘you’ and for ‘me.’

Focolare Word of Life