This weekend, we celebrate Fathers’ Day. As the Church prepares for the Synod on the Vocation of the Family in the Church and the World this coming October, Pope Francis has been dedicating the catechesis at his Wednesday general audiences to different challenges facing the family today. Let us listen to Pope Francis’ words on the essential role of fathers:
On this 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we also mark World Environment Day, celebrated globally on June 5th each year. In our liturgy, prepared by our Faith and Justice Committee, we are reminded of Pope Francis’ recent words on climate change: “The effective struggle against global warming will only be possible with a responsible collective answer that goes beyond particular interests and behavior and is developed free of political and economic pressures. On climate change, there is a clear, definitive and ethical imperative to act.
After the Easter season, the Church celebrates a series of “theme” feasts, highlighting diverse aspects of our Catholic identity. At Pentecost, we proclaimed our identity as a Spirit-filled people, empowered to bear witness to a diversity of gifts in the one Spirit. Last Sunday, as we celebrated the gift of Consecrated Life in our church, we recalled our creation in the image of the Trinity: in our lives, loves, and relationships, we reflect a God who is mutual, self-giving, overflowing communion of love.
Pope Francis has proclaimed 2015 as a special Year dedicated to Consecrated Life. It also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, the Vatican II decree on the renewal of religious life. On this Trinity Sunday, we praise the God of Love: present to us as creating and loving Father; as Jesus, the Incarnate Word, the Son; and as the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, God’s indwelling presence.
Today, the Church celebrates its “birthday” with the feast of Pentecost. It is a scene of great drama – rushing wind, tongues of fire, the uttering of many languages. It is also a scene of inner transformation: timid disciples empowered to speak boldly, in a way that no matter what the religious, cultural, and linguistic differences, each hears the message in a language they can understand.
Transitions are difficult moments in our lives. When we come to the end of something in our life, we face the challenge of letting go of what is familiar, of plunging into the unknown. Letting go is hard. At the same time, beginning again is hard, even when the new reality is something to which we've been looking forward for a long time. Yet as anyone who has worked their way through a 12-step recovery program knows, there is no other way: all we can do is “let go and let God”, and live life “one day at a time!”
So much is happening in our community! Liturgically, it is the sixth Sunday of Easter, and our readings are rich with the promise of Pentecost. We see the Holy Spirit descending upon Cornelius and his family, confirming the mission of the apostles to “all the nations”; and Jesus teaches his disciples a “new” commandment, inviting them to “love one another, just as I have loved you.” This weekend, we joyfully welcome 24 children to the Lord’s table as they celebrate their First Holy Communion.
In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus invites us to “abide in his love.” “Abiding” is a wonderfully evocative Biblical word: it means “to remain”, “to dwell”, “to draw life”, “to be at home with.” Keeping Jesus’ commandments is not just observing some set of external rules, fearful that we will be punished if we disobey.
On this 4th Sunday of Easter, the Church places before us the image of Jesus as “Good Shepherd”: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” We are invited to pray for vocations: that all Christians may hear and generously respond to Christ’s invitation to respond to God’s call to life and love, to discipleship and holiness, to service and mission. We pray that each of us may discern our “name”: the unique and personal way in which God is calling us to live our deeper identity.
In today’s Gospel, we witness the encounter between Jesus and the apostle referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” News of the Resurrection is spreading like wildfire, but Thomas is not yet convinced. He wants to know, to understand, to see for himself. The person he most admired and loved in the world, for whom he had given up everything to become his disciple: betrayed, mocked, condemned, tortured and crucified. Then three days later, first Mary Magdalene and the women disciples, and then all the rest of the inner circle, the “apostles” – are claiming that they have seen, met, touched Jesus.