May 27-Jun 1: Easter 6th Week Reflections

May 27- June 1: May 27 Monday (St. Augustine of Canterbury): John 15:26–16:4(The next homily is on Memorial Day) 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 16) 1 “I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them.  “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

Context: In his final discourse with the apostles at the Last Supper, Jesus assured them that he would not desert them. Instead, a powerful Divine Helper in the form of the Holy Spirit would come to them from Jesus and the Father in order to guide them and to strengthen them.
The role of the Holy Spirit as outlined in today’s Gospel:  1) As the Counselor or Paraclete or Advocate, the Holy Spirit would coach, defend and strengthen the apostles in their sufferings and persecution and would guide them during their trials before the civil authorities. 2) As the Spirit of Truth, He would bear witness to Jesus and enable the apostles to bear witness to Christ heroically before the pagans. The Holy Spirit would give them an experiential knowledge of Jesus and an in-depth knowledge of Jesus’ teachings. “The mission of the Church is carried out by means of that activity through which, in obedience to Christ’s command and moved by the grace and love of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes itself fully present to all men and peoples in order to lead them to the Faith, freedom and peace of Christ by the example of its life and preaching, by the Sacraments and other means of grace” (Vatican II, Ad Gentes5).
Then Jesus foretells the nature of the persecution: 1) Excommunicating Jesus’ followers from synagogues; 2) Establishing the murder of Jesus’ followers (“heretics”), as a religious duty in defense of Judaism and, so, pleasing to Yahweh.
Life messages: 1) As the Divine Advocate, the Holy Spirit living within us continues to help us bear witness to Christ by assisting us to live transparent Christian lives. 2) He also gives us courage and perseverance when we meet adversities and challenges. 3) As the Divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit, through our daily study of the Bible, helps us to know Jesus thoroughly, to love him personally and to experience him intimately, so that we may live the ideals of Christ and convey them to others through our genuine Christian lives.   ( L/2019. (Next: Memorial Day homily)

May 27th, 2019: Memorial Day (in the United States of America)
Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25th in 2015), honoring those who gave their lives in the Armed Services. Formerly it was known as Decoration Day from the custom of decorating the tombs and gravesites of the soldiers and of one’s own family members.  Today we remember with pride and gratitude all the U.S. men and women who died while in the military service.
Memorial Day was first established to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War.  Later, after World War I, it was expanded to include American casualties of any war or military action. Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m., Eastern Time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each gravesite at National Cemeteries. Many Americans also use Memorial Day to honor other people who have died after fighting their life’s battle and gone for their eternal reward. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4: 7).
Memorial Day is a day to remember the promises made and kept by our national heroes. They promised to keep the unity and integrity of our nation and freedom of other nations. They kept their promise by their blood. We believe in Jesus who hailed the willingness to lay down one’s life for others as the quintessence of true love. We also believe in his promise at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live even though he dies” We pray that Jesus may grant eternal rest and reward for all our fallen heroes. (Fr. Tony) L-19

May 28 Tuesday: John 16 :5-115 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tries to console his sad and disheartened disciples at the Last Supper, for they are at a loss, hearing the news of their master’s imminent departure. So, he assures them that they will not be left alone. He will send the Holy Spirit upon them as a Friend, Guide, Consoler and Teacher. Then Jesus explains the three different roles of the Holy Spirit in their lives. First, He will convince the world about the seriousness of sin. Thus, the Holy Spirit will lead us to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness from Jesus. The Divine Advocate will demonstrate that not believing in Jesus is the real sin. It was the Holy Spirit who pricked the hearts of the Jews on the day of the Pentecost, convicting them of their sin of crucifying their Messiah. Thus, He convicts us of wrongdoing and convinces us of God’s truth. Second, the Spirit convinces us of the righteousness of Christ, which means that that Jesus was right in his teachings and promises, as proved by God His Father Who granted him Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. Although Jesus was condemned to death, it was actually Satan, the ruler of this world, who has been condemned through Jesus’ death. Third, the Holy Spirit gives us the inner and unshakable conviction that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. When we heed God’s judgments, we find true peace, joy and reconciliation with God.
Life message: We need to allow the Holy Spirit to do what He wishes in and through our lives so that He may set us free from the grip of sin and set us ablaze with the fire of God’s love. ( L/2019.

May 29 Wednesday: Jn 16:12-15: 12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The context: Today’s Gospel passage is taken from the Last Supper discourse in which Jesus instructed his disciples on the role of the Holy Spirit and His relationship with Jesus and God the Father.
1) First, as the Spirit of Truth, He is the Gift of God Who is the Possessor and the Giver of all truth. It is the Spirit’s role to make the disciples fully understand the truths revealed by Christ. Vatican II teaches that Our Lord “completed and perfected Revelation and confirmed it…finally by sending the Spirit of Truth” (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 4).
2) By bringing to their minds and clarifying everything Jesus has taught them, the Holy Spirit also will enable them to render glory to God by glorifying His Son Jesus.
Relationship of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son:  Jesus also revealed the mystery of the Blessed Trinity in today’s Gospel passage. He taught that the Three Divine Persons have the same nature: “everything that the Father has belongs to the Son, and everything the Son has belongs to the Father” (cf. John 17:10) and that the Spirit also shares the same Divine Essence with the Father and the Son.
Life messages: 1) We need the daily guidance and strengthening of the Holy Spirit in our mission of bearing witness.  2) We should remember that Faith is a gift.   Hence, we do not gain converts by argument or eloquence, but by praying for them and by radiating, through our living, the Good News that Jesus has died for our sins, has risen for our justification, and offers us a share in his glory. (

May 30 Thursday (The Ascension of our Lord): Lk 24:46-53: Introduction:Today’s readings describe the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into his Heavenly glory after promising to send the Holy Spirit as the source of Heavenly power to his disciples and commanding them to bear witness to him through their lives and preaching throughout the world. But the ascended Jesus is still with us because of His promise, “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”  He is with us at all times and in all places, releasing a new energy upon the earth, the energy of the Holy Spirit.
The Scripture lessons:  The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes the scene of Jesus’ Ascension, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the instruction to the apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the power from above and the missionary command to the apostles to bear witness to him. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 47), suggests that by his Ascension, the risen Lord “mounts his throne” in glory.  In the second reading, Paul teaches us that God revealed His might in the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ and in exalting Jesus over all angelic forces. Jesus remains accessible to us now in the life-giving Holy Spirit, assuring us that one day we, too, will be ascending to Heavenly glory, provided that, with His grace, we live out our Faith in Him through the mission of loving service He entrusts to us. Today’s Gospel tells us that, with his return to the Father, Jesus completes his mission on earth.  But just before his Ascension Jesus entrusts to the disciples the mission of preaching the Good News and evangelizing the whole world by bearing witness to Jesus through their lives. It is in the Ascension that we see Jesus entering fully into the life and glory of God.  In the descriptions of Christ after his Resurrection, we are given a hint of what life will be like in Heaven.   The prospect of sharing that glory should be the driving force of our lives.
Life messages: 1) We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. We preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives. Let us ask the guidance of the Spirit of God to bear witness to Jesus by our transparent Christian lives.
2) We have a teaching mission:  Jesus taught us lessons of Faith, Hope, Love, forgiveness, mercy and salvation by his life and preaching and gave us the same mission to teach others. Hence, let us learn about Jesus and his teachings through our daily study of the Bible and the teachings of the Church, let us experience him in personal prayer, our reception of the Sacraments and our works of charity, and let us convey to others Jesus whom we experience with the help of the Holy Spirit.
3) We need Jesus as our source of strength and encouragement in doing His will: We will be able to overcome doubts about our Faith and baseless fears, anxiety and worries by meditating on Jesus’ Ascension and the lesson it teaches that we too are called to share his glory in Heaven. ( L/2019.

May 30 Thursday (where Ascension is celebrated on Sunday): Jn 16:16-20: 16 “A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little  while, and you will see me’; and, `because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by `a little while’? We do not know what he means.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little  while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
The context: In the Last Supper discourse, Jesus tells the Apostles about leaving them in order to return to his Father and about coming again at the end of time to usher in the new age of God’s kingdom. When they start asking each other the meaning of these statements, Jesus explains to them the hardships they will have to face after his departure and the glorious reward waiting for them in his Second Coming. But as he had consoled them earlier, promising to send a Paraclete, now Jesus assures them that his absence is only temporary.
A little while: Jesus is speaking about a three-level disappearance and reappearance.  The first level is Jesus’ death and Resurrection.  The apostles will no longer see Jesus when he dies.  But they will see Jesus again in three days as their risen Lord.  The second level is the mystical level: They will lose sight of Jesus physically when he ascends to the glory of the Father.  But they will see Jesus again in many ways by Faith, when the Holy Spirit comes.  There is also a third level.  Jesus is not now visible physically to the world but will manifest his glory to the whole world when he comes again in glory.  In the light of eternity, a few thousand years are but an instant, a very short while.
Life messages: 1) Let us try to recognize the presence of the living Lord in our midst here and now. 2) Let us ask Him to help us adjust our daily lives accordingly, so that we, too, may inherit the eternal joy prepared for us.  ( L/2019.

May 31 Friday (Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary): (Scripture: Luke 1:39-56 ): 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, 52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
The context: The mystery of the Incarnation comes to ordinary people living ordinary lives, who have the willingness to respond to God’s call and the openness and generosity to do God’s will. Luke, in today’s Gospel, tells us how two seemingly insignificant women met to celebrate the kindness and fidelity of God.  In the Gospel, one definition of discipleship is to listen to God’s word and then carry it out. Mary did both, to become the most perfect disciple. The incident also shows us how sensitive Mary was to the needs of Elizabeth, her older cousin, who had miraculously become pregnant in her old age. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. There is a saying, “He (she) who is on fire cannot sit on a chair.”  Mary, filled with the fire and empowered by the Holy Spirit, hurried to the mountain country where Elizabeth lived, thereby carrying Jesus and conveying the Holy Spirit to her cousin and her child.  Like all good Jews, Mary was prompted in everything she did by her commitment to God’s word in her life. The paradox of blessedness.  Blessedness confers on a person both the greatest joy and the greatest task in the world.  Nowhere can we see the paradox better illustrated than in Mary’s life.   Mary was granted the blessedness and privilege of being the mother of the Son of God.  Yet, that very blessedness was to be a sword to pierce her heart:  one day she would see her Son hanging on a cross.  So, to be chosen by God is often both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow.  God does not choose us to give us a life of ease and comfort, but in order to use us for His purposes.
Life messages:  1) We should recognize the real presence of Emmanuel (God-is-with-us) and say “yes” to Him:  The Visitation of Mary reminds us that, through his holy ministry, Christ continues to be present among his people.  Let us recognize and appreciate the truth that the same Christ “dwells among us” in the Bible, in the Sacraments, particularly and personally, “Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity,” in the Eucharist, in the praying community and in our souls. 2) We should convey Jesus to others as Mary did to Elizabeth.  We can make a real difference in the lives of others today by carrying Jesus to them.   For that, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit, allowing Christ’s rebirth within us through the Holy Spirit’s power. Then he will enable us to share his love with all whom we encounter, by offering them humble and committed service, unconditional forgiveness and compassionate caring.  ( L/2019.

June 1 Saturday: Jn 16: 23-28 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. 24 Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 25 “I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
The context: Jesus used parables and metaphors, both in teaching the general public and in explaining teachings to the apostles. Today’s Gospel passage is taken from Jesus’ last discourse with his disciples at their Last Passover Supper together. Here, too, Jesus uses metaphors of a vine and its branches and the simile of a woman giving birth. Now Jesus tells them that he is going to tell them about God, his Father, in plain language.
Jesus explains the mystery of his Incarnation in plain language saying, “I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”  Then Jesus corrects the Jewish misconception of God, his Father, as a judging and punishing God, telling the apostles that God the Father is a loving and forgiving Father, to Whom they can pray directly (“Abba!”) in Jesus’ name, and that their prayers will be granted because the Father knows that they love His Son, Jesus, and believe in his Divinity.
This is the pattern of prayer in the Liturgy.  The Eucharistic prayer is invariably addressed to the Father, “through him (Jesus), with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit” All our prayer has the pattern of the Trinity stamped on it. This does not mean that we should never pray to anyone but the Father. We are free to pray to Jesus, Mary and the saints, but always in the full knowledge that the Father is the ultimate Recipient of all prayer – just as the sea receives every stream.
Life message: 1) God our Father is a loving, merciful and providing God who wants His children to approach Him directly and through His Son and our only mediator, Jesus. Hence, let us make our prayers of adoration, praise, thanksgiving and petitions more effective and fruitful by offering them to God our Father through His Son Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit.  ( L/2019.