News in Homilies
In today’s Gospel, Jesus insists, three times: “Do not be afraid!” (vv. 26,28,31) and each time, he adds a motive to justify his recommendation. The announcer of the Gospel is afraid, first of all, because of the violence unleashed by the enemies of Christ, his mission might fail (vv. 26-27).
The gesture to reach out to receive the consecrated bread is the sign of the interior disposition to accept Christ and to ensure that his thoughts become our thoughts, his words our words, his choices our choices. In the sign of the Eucharist, his person is assimilated, as is the case with the bread. One day, the disciple will relish the transformation performed in him by the Spirit at work in the sacrament and he will exclaim, like Paul: Now “it is no longer me; Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
Today’s feast was very lately introduced in the liturgical calendar (only around 1350). It offers the opportunity, through reflection on the word of God, to purify the image that we have made of him and to discover new and surprising features of his face. To internalize the message, we repeat: “Show me, O Lord, your true face.”
The Spirit: Hope For A New World. Where the Spirit comes radical upheavals and transformation always happen: barriers fall, doors are opened wide; all the towers built by human hands and designed by “the wisdom of this world” shake; fear, passivity, and quietism disappear; initiatives are developed and courageous decisions are made.
The certainty of the Ascension reverses the perspective. While the years pass, the Christian is satisfied because he sees the days of a definitive encounter with Christ coming soon. He is happy to have lived, does not envy the young ones and looks at them with tenderness. "The Sufferings of this present time are not worth compared to the future glory that will be revealed in us"
Jesus promised not to leave them alone, without protection and guidance. He said that he will pray to the Father, and he will “send the other Paraclete” who will always be with them (v. 16). It is the promise of the gift of that Spirit that Jesus possesses in fullness (Lk 4:1,14,18) and will be infused into the disciples. Jesus clarifies (vv. 15,17) that the Spirit could be received only by those who are in accord with him, with his plans and his works of love. The world cannot receive it.
One of the characteristics of the primitive community described in the Acts of the Apostles is the absence of classes, titles, honorifics, greater prestige or recognized dignity of some eminent member. All believers are considered on a level of equality. No one would be called rabbi because there was only one Master and they were only disciples. They felt themselves brothers and no one claimed the title of father. They knew the fact of having one Father in heaven (Mt 23:8-10).
In the story of the disciples of Emmaus, all elements of the celebration of the Eucharist are present: there is the entrance of the celebrant, then the Liturgy of the Word with the homily, finally, “the breaking of bread.” Only at the time of the Eucharistic communion the eyes open and the disciples realize that the Risen One is in their midst, but without the Word, they would not have come to discover the Lord in the Eucharistic bread. The disciples of Emmaus, as soon as they recognized the Lord, rush to announce their discovery to their brothers and sisters and with them proclaim their faith: “The Lord is truly risen...”
The best outfit is worn when one goes to church. It is said in a popular Portuguese language: “Dressed to see God.” This phrase stems from the belief that, on Sunday, the celebrating community comes together to “see the Lord.” - One of the most ancient evidence is offered to us by a pagan writer, Pliny the Younger. In 112, he wrote to Emperor Trajan: Christians “meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing hymns to ‘Christ as a God.’”
Let’s ask ourselves: is Christ’s resurrection a constant point of reference in all the projects we do, when we buy, sell, dialogue, divide an inheritance, choose to have another child ... or do we believe that the reality of this world has nothing to do with Easter? Anyone who has seen the Lord will do nothing more without him.
One of the greatest mysteries of human life is the mystery of human suffering. And for us Christians there is no time of the year when this mystery impinges upon our collective consciousness more forcibly than today’s commemoration of the Good Friday, of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross.
All the evangelists devote so much space to the story of the passion and death of Jesus. The facts are basically the same, though narrated in different ways and different perspectives. Each evangelist also presents his own episodes, details, underscores. These reveal his attention and interest in certain topics of catechesis, considered significant and urgent for his community. Today’s version of the passion being proposed to us is that of Matthew.
The tomb: a womb, no longer a grave. There’s a light that never sets. “When the gods formed mankind, they attributed death to humanity and withhold life in their hands.” These are the words that—in the famous Mesopotamian epic. “Although I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you, O Lord of life, are beside me.”
There’s a light that never sets. “The true light that enlightens everyone came into the world” (Jn 1:9). Christ came to dispel our darkness, to illuminate our nights, to usher in the family of the “children of light and children of the day” (1 Thess 5:5).
“You are the light of the world. Whoever follows you has the light of life.”
The Third Sunday of Lent presents the long Gospel account of the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan Woman at a well. I usually have to prepare a homily based on this Gospel every year since this is the Gospel for Masses with catechumens and candidates coming into the Church in the RCIA experience. But this is such a rich Gospel that I am still finding new aspects of it that preach to me. Then again, all scripture is alive, the Living Word of God.
Our own spiritual experience can help us to understand. After having spoken at length with God, we are not willing to go back to everyday life: the problems, social conflicts and family disagreements, the dramas we must confront frighten us, yet we know that listening to the word of God is not everything. It is necessary to go out to meet and serve the brothers and sisters, to help those who suffer, to be close to anyone in need of love.
The Bible invites us to consider the temptation in an original way: as an opportunity to assess the soundness of a person’s choices, an opportunity for growth. In temptation, the risk of making mistakes is also inherent. This danger is inevitable if one wants to mature, to become “experts,” “adepts”. These terms, in fact, do not mean other than “being tempted,” subjected to a test, an “exam.”