Today's Readings, Psalmody and Gospel
Spring has finally arrived in New York! One of the great passages of springtime anywhere is that we celebrate "Eastertide", the 50 days of the liturgical season of Easter now. Many thousands of catechumens around the globe are also receiving their First Holy Communion, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, Our Lord.
In today's readings, we hear first from the Acts of the Apostles, the great New Testament Book that is placed fifth in the canon, just after the four holy Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Peter, the first Pope, stands up among the 120 disciples in the Church of our infancy in Jerusalem. He announces that they must choose a successor Apostle to replace Judas who betrayed our Lord and refused his mercy, perishing in an unthinkable way. Matthias is chosen by lot. Judas Barsabbas was worthy as well but the disciples trusted in the Holy Spirit to choose for them between the two disciples who were witnesses to the ministry of Jesus from the time of his baptism until his Ascension. This is great testimony about our unbroken apostolic succession that carries on to this day with our bishops, who are truly the successors of the Apostles. We recall this every time we say and pray the Nicene Creed and say, "One holy catholic and apostolic church."
Our Psalm reminds us that Jesus is in heaven, that he sits at the right hand of God the Father and is our just judge. We must also remember that he is transcendent, no longer confined by time and space. So he is equally present to the heavenly choir of Angels and Saints as he is to us when the bread and wine which we offer on the altar of sacrifice become consecrated into his body and blood.
Deus caritas est. God is Love. Love is God.
In our second reading, Saint John the Evangelist reminds us (in his first "Epistle" or letter) that:
"God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him."
We must remain in his love to get to eternity. This means we must always have virtue on our mind, not vice. We must seek sanctification and purification most especially through the sacraments of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation (Lumen Gentium).
Jesus Christ is Truth; in fact the fulfillment of all truth known by man since the beginning of time.
In the Gospel, we hear a great prayer from the Son to the Father. Jesus asks that we be consecrated in truth. What is truth? This is the question Pontius Pilate (the pagan Roman ruler of Judea) will ask our Messiah Jesus in the very next chapter of John's Gospel after today's selection (Jn 18:38). The answer to his question, is that Jesus is TRUTH. He who has already said this to his disciples earlier in Saint John's Gospel. We recall that passage- "I am the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6).
He sends us into the world as his light to bring good news to all, the literal meaning of the world "gospel" in Greek. When we know this and live this truth, we see his face in everyone we encounter. Just as the great saints have done. The witness to hope that we see in Blessed Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II. We see it also in the "little flower", Saint Therese of Liseaux and the multitudes who make up the cloud of witnesses. So many, but never easy...How do we prepare for this ministry to the world?
We do so by receiving Holy Communion. Receiving Communion can be easy if we trivialize it as such. We just present ourselves to the minister properly and receive him and then consume Him. However, what makes it Holy is how we prepare to do so.
It is not unlike the first Holy Comminicants. They properly prepare through prayer and study of Holy Mother Church, her tradition and scripture. The go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation beforehand. We should view the example of the children as a good signal for us to do the same.
How else can we be the light of the world?
How else can we be holy?
How else can we not belong to the world, but to God the Father, His son the Christ (today's Gospel) and His Holy Spirit?
We are called to be virtous and "innocent"' just like the little children who received him for the first time this year. Remember Jesus says we must be like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mathew, Chapter 18, verse 3).
What can stop us from saying "yes" to Jesus and not yes to the false notions of sin?
Perhaps that very world that he warns us about, that by some great mystery is filled with evil can turn us from goodness and God to sinfulness and vice which is not of God.
We must sanctify ourselves through our one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith and turn the darkness of the world into His lightness and being.
For the world will be a better place with much faith, hope and charity then. Who, in goodness, will argue against this?