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Easter 6 Sunday A - Love and Communion in the Spirit


In the Footprints of Loneliness, the Servant of God Catherine DeHueck Doherty (d. 1985) wrote: 


Loneliness is a terrible thing, and we must do something about it.  It is here that tenderness, gentleness, and understanding helps us to live…  Gentleness and tenderness assuage loneliness and make it possible to disappear…Tenderness is the ability to be present, extending the warmth of my heart to your heart.
Gospel Text : John 14:15-21
jESUS AND SPIRITRoald Amundsen, the great Norwegian explorer who discovered the South Pole took a homing pigeon with him on his trip. He told his wife that if he reached the end of the world, he would release the pigeon. His wife sat for hours, all alone in their big house looking up the sky for the promised pigeon. One day she looked out the bedroom window and saw the pigeon circling in the sky above. “He’s alive!” she cried, “My husband is alive!” (Munachi, cssp)
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A sailboat got caught in heavy seas. A rogue wave flipped the boat over. The heavy keel righted the boat, but there was heavy damage. A SOS brought the Coast Guard (CG). The seas were so rough the CG ship could not rescue the crew. So, it placed itself as close as it could to the sailboat. The CG protected the sailboat from the brunt of the 10 foot waves. Finally they made port.  


 The Holy Spirit plays the same relation to us. He takes the brunt of our troubles. He not only lives inside us but also He walks beside us. He brings us into port. (Unknown)


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Last SHe begins by making the statement; If you love me, you will keep my commandments.? Jesus teaches us to view commandments in a new way, that was different than how the first followers had been taught by the Pharisee Commandments are not merely a list of behaviors to be followed or avoided out of duty. Commandments are to be lived as an act of love. If we love someone we do what pleases them. This love moves us to do things we might not want to do, and even things that we might see as being difficult or a sacrifice. Jesus calls us to look at the commandments through the prism of love and to live them out of our love for God. (Killian Lock, OSB) 

Michel de Verteuil

General comments
Like last Sunday’s passage, this reading will seem abstract to you at first, but situate it in the context of the Last Supper and you will recognize the movement of Jesus’ thought from your own experience and from the lives of great people you have known or read about. As always, it may be helpful to divide the passage and meditate on one section at a time.
Verses 15 to 17: Jesus makes a difference between the way he has been present to the disciples until then and the way he will be present to them after he leaves them. Read it from the point of view of a teacher or a parent who must leave children, or from your memories of any teaching that was outside yourself and then became part of you.
Verses 18 and 19: The same movement expressed in a new metaphor – being orphaned and then realizing that we are not lost after all.
Verse 20: This is a precious verse. It describes the moment when we read the story of Jesus in the gospels and discover that it is not the story of someone outside ourselves, but our own story, and that therefore our stories are really sacred. Great teachers can promise their followers that one day they will experience something similar.
Verse 21: Jesus describes the process of getting to know him, starting from a different point – the person follows his teaching and then enters into a deep relationship with him.

Prayer Reflection

       Lord, we thank you that you have called us to be leaders in our community.
At present things are going well:
there is trust among us, we share many things, and we are working together.
But we know that this will not last forever,
and so we pray that the values we have grown to believe in may become part of us,
so that even though the majority of people around us do not accept them,
we may continue to live by them,
Global heroesand even though outwardly we will no longer be a community,
we may remain one because of that inner bond that unites us.
Lord, from time to time you send us a wonderful person
who guides and inspires us;
when they die or leave us we feel orphaned.
But then we discover that they are still with us.
Others – even our friends – cannot understand this,
but we know that this person is alive,
and we know that our lives are fuller because of this.
Lord, forgive us that we always want to see things:
– we have become so dependent on external stimuli;
– we must be listening to the radio or watching the television;
– we need to hear sermons or read spiritual books.
Teach us to quieten ourselves so that we may listen to our inner rhythms:
– the memories we have, both painful and happy;
– the deep longings of our hearts;
– the instincts of our nature.
Remind us that Jesus prayed for us
that you would make your presence known to us within the truth of ourselves.
Lord, we thank you for those wonderful moments of grace
when we knew that our lives were sacred.
We had read the story of Jesus, but it was the story of someone else
– the story of the saints, of extraordinary people.
Now we experienced that we too are living Jesus lives,
and we are your presence in the world.
Lord, we thank you for people we have known who are not Christians
but who love the teachings of Jesus and keep them.
We know, Father, that you love them as we love them,
and we pray that you may continue to show yourself to them.
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Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
We gather to celebrate in the presence of the risen Lord. We are called to be the people who bear witness to his victory over death. We are the people who proclaim the Father’s forgiveness to the ends of the earth by being people who are forgiving.
Homily notes
1. The demanding stance on how Christians are to react to persecution in 1 Peter makes this a fine occasion to reflect on the ever present question of Christians and violence.
 Amidst the continuing carnage in the Central African Republic, leaders of churches and mosques are jointly praying for peace2. It is interesting to note the number of times that public figures quote scripture without knowing it (e.g. ‘going the extra mile for peace’ (President Clinton) is an allusion to Mt 5:41) and it is cited both with approval and non-approval. Invariably when one hears quotations on non-violence cited, they are implied to be feeble and silly, if not downright wrong: thus ‘turn the other cheek’ (Mt 5:39) is not presented as the statement of wisdom, but of a stupidity that acquiesces to evil. While few who declare themselves Christians take the hawkish position of ‘take ’em on, take ’em out!’, there is an awareness that one must stand up to bullies, those who abuse power, those who trample on other’s rights, especially those who abuse the weak, poor, defenceless.


Amidst the continuing carnage in the Central African Republic, leaders of churches and mosques are jointly praying for peace
This dilemma has lead to the traditional unwillingness of the church to adopt a pacifist position. Pacifism has a simple attractiveness, but the pacifist must ask this question: is it right for me not to oppose someone who if not stopped will destroy not only me, but others who may not be able to stand up for themselves? While using force can appear immoral, pacifism too can be immoral in that I am passively collaborating in suffering being caused to others. Thus I may, in the exercise of my freedom, be destroying the freedom of others. Pacifism poses moral problems, and can be a selfish opting out of our moral responsibilities to others weaker than ourselves. This is a dilemma; but we are certain that those who set out to dominate others act evilly, and a wilful hawkishness cannot be reconciled with Christianity for which force is always a last resort.
3. However, the situation envisaged in 1 Peter is slightly different: how should Christians react when they are being persecuted as Christians – it is their behaviour precisely as Christians that is the issue. They are to give an account of their beliefs but to do so with courtesy. Put another way, they do make their stand known, but do not ‘fight fire with fire’. They cannot have recourse to methods of bullying, force, or intolerance, for that would betray the Christ in whom they seek to live. As Christ chose the way of gentleness, so when challenged Christians must act with gentleness: otherwise their words preach one thing, their actions another. This is a hard lesson: the recurrence of the notions of crusade and pro Deo et patria (God gets first billing, but usually takes second place) testify to this. And sadly these notions are far from dead, as various right-wing Christian groups demonstrate in their readiness’ to fight for gospel values’. Their very militancy compromises the Christ they wish to serve.
4. 1 Peter makes deep moral demands on us. As a Christian how fitted am I to give an account of my faith? Is my understanding of the Christian message a few’ do’s and don’ts’ and some scraps of information remembered from school? Do I appreciate there is a Christian manner of action? Am I conscious of how others are persecuted for their beliefs, or feel a sense of solidarity with Christians who suffer elsewhere? As a member of a body which was born in persecution and whose head suffered on the cross, am I sensitive to the pain of all who are oppressed, and seek to alleviate their persecution? Is a document such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights something that I consider should interest me as a Christian? Do I support those who support human rights? Painful questions, but can we be true to our origin if we shy away from them?
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John Litteton
Gospel Reflection
We do not instinctively associate the concept of love with the demand to be faithful to a series of rules. People often speak about love as if it is in opposition to rules and regulations: ‘all you need is love’ and ‘love and do what you will’ are the type of sayings that are used in discussions as evidence that we do not need to worry about rules.
Yet, in the farewell speech to his disciples, Jesus was uncompromising when he explained the necessary connection between loving him and keeping his commandments: ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’ (Jn 14:15).
In that speech, Jesus dealt with several other concerns. But he then returned to the link between love and the commandments: ‘Anyone who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him’ (Jn 14:21).
The central commandment of Jesus’ teaching was to love God and love neighbour. That commandment summarised the basic moral behaviours and ritual practices that Jesus required from his disciples. Those behaviours and practices formed the charter of what it meant for them to live as his followers.
To claim that Jesus never taught non-violent resistance is to skip over a fairly large chunk of the New Testament and isn't intellectually honest ...Jesus’ moral teaching is best summarised in the Sermon on the Mount (see Mt 5-7) or the Sermon on the Plain (see Lk 6) where he expands the Ten Commandments, making them more demanding. For example, the commandment not to kill is developed to prohibit undue anger with another person, and the commandment not to commit adultery is developed to prohibit even lustful thinking.


To claim that Jesus never taught non-violent resistance is to skip over a fairly large chunk of the New Testament and isn’t intellectually honest …
The ethical teaching of Jesus provides us with definite instructions for everyday living. It stresses the need for correct and respectful relationships with God and with one another. It teaches us that we cannot separate our relationship with God from our various relationships with other people. This means that we cannot have a straightforward vertical relationship with God without also having a horizontal relationship with God through our relationships with the people we meet in everyday life.
The fundamental message of Jesus’ moral teaching is that we are obligated to love God and our neighbour. We cannot love one without the other. It is impossible to compartmentalise God and people such that they remain unconnected. Our dealings with others have implications for our friendship with God. This is how, in practice, we connect love and rules. If we love God, we will keep his commandments. If we love our neighbour, we will not treat him/her unjustly.
Nowadays, many people dismiss moral imperatives as being irrelevant to modern life. They are often viewed negatively because they are judged to be imposing limitations on our freedom. However, that is not so. Fidelity to Jesus’ commandments enables us to live freely in the presence of God who cares for us. Contrary to popular opinion, the purpose of Jesus’ moral demands is to enable us to appreciate the freedom of living according to God’s will. It is not to make our lives miserable. Faithfulness to his commandments is the benchmark of our love for him and, in fact, for ourselves and our neighbour.
The teaching of Jesus offers us clear instructions to enable us to be to be faithful to God’s will. It summarises what is required in order to live a wholesome life that reflects God’s truth and beauty. Its purpose is to rid our lives of selfishness and selfcentredness so that we can learn to put God and other people first, and ourselves last.
When our consciences are formed by Jesus’ teaching, we know the difference between right and wrong. Living according to his teaching ensures genuine happiness in this life and eternal happiness in heaven.
For meditation
If you love me you will keep my commandments. (Jn14:15)
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Fr Donal Neary, S.J
No body now but yours
St Teresa’s prayer is popular in this adaptation-
Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. 
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do well. 
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world. 
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, 
You are his eyes, you are his body. 
Christ has no body now but yours, 
No hands, no feet on earth but yours. 
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. 
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Jesus speaks in the gospel about being still alive, even after his death. Mostly we find Jesus alive in the love of others. The energy of love that is connected to the energy of God, for God is love. Other times we find God close to us in prayer; but where we can sense him alive mostly is in the ordinary and extraordinary loves of every day, in marriage, family, friendship and care for others.
Many of us do not realise that in this way we have been Christ-bearers. In listening to another, in care of all sorts, in putting ourselves out for the other, in working for justice and for peace the Spirit of God is alive and people are touched by God’s love through the co-operation of ordinary men and women.
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From The Connections:


THE WORD:
In legal terminology, an advocate defends the accused on trial.  For the writer of the Fourth Gospel, Christ is the first “Advocate,” who comes to liberate humanity from the slavery of sin.  The second “Advocate,” promised by Jesus in today’s Gospel, is the Spirit of truth, the Church’s living, creative memory in which the mystery of God’s love, revealed by and in Christ, lives for all time.


HOMILY POINTS:
The Spirit of truth, “whom the world cannot accept,” illuminates our vision and opens our hearts to discern the will and wisdom of God.  The Spirit/Paraclete “advocates” for what is good, what is right and what is just, despite our skepticism, rejection and blindness to the things of God.
The Risen Christ challenges us, in the gift of the “Spirit of truth,” not to approach truth in terms of profit, power, comfort or convention, but to embrace the truth of God’s justice and compassion present in our world.
Throughout his Gospel, the writer of John’s Gospel never allows love, as taught by Jesus, to remain at the level of sentiment or emotion.  Its expression is always highly moral and is revealed in obedience to the will of the Father.  To love as Jesus loved – in total and selfless obedience, without conditions and without expectation of that love ever being returned – is the difficult love that Jesus expects of those who claim to be his disciples.
The Spirit of truth is the creative, living memory of the Church.  Through that “living memory,” the Church enters into the mystery of Christ himself.  Jesus, the wise Rabbi, the compassionate Healer, the Friend of rich and poor and said and sinner, the obedient and humble Servant of God, is a living presence among us to give us hope, strength and light as we struggle to balance and direct our lives until he calls us to the new life of his Resurrection.


The wonder of an idea
It was the custom in an African tribe that, when a boy reached a certain age, his elders would send him out into the world beyond the village to bring back something of value to share with the tribe.  In this rite of passage, boys would return with all kinds of treasures and wonders: brilliant kente textiles, luminous gem stones and rare ivory carvings, beautiful tanned leather and pelts.
One year, as the returning young travelers showed off their treasures to the elders, one boy stood off to the side.  He had brought back no trinket or object.
When it was his turn, the elders asked the boy, “What is the most valuable thing you have found on your journey?”
The boy replied, “The thing of value I have discovered cannot be held in the hand.”
“Why not?  Is it too big or too delicate to hold?”
“It can be big or small, delicate or strong.”
“Well, then, where is it?” asked the elders.
“It is here,” the boy said, touching a finger to the side of his head.  “In our brains.  You see, I found on my journey that the most valuable thing in the world is an idea because you must believe in it and work very hard to bring it to life.”
[Original source unknown.]
In his Last Supper discourse, Jesus calls his disciples to bring to life the “idea” of his Gospel: to bring to reality God’s “idea” of a just world, a human family reconciled to God and to one another, a church formed by God’s grace that mirrors his mercy and compassion.  To that end, Jesus promises the coming of another “Advocate” (Jesus being the first): the Spirit of God that inspires us and animates us to make for the perfect union of Jesus’ words and our works.  The Spirit of God, “advocates” for what is good, right and just, despite our skepticism, rejection and blindness to the things of God.  May the Advocate guide us in whatever opportunities every one of us has to restore hope, to make right what has been broken, to bring back the lost and forgotten and marginalized — to bring to life the “idea” of God. 

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ILLUSTRATIONS:


Fr. Jude Botelho:

Today’s first reading refers to the story of the early Church during the persecution of Christians by Saul, because of which the believers were scattered and Philip set off for Samaria. Samaritans hated the Jews, yet when they heard the gospel they accepted the message and were converted. Because of persecution the gospel was preached to the gentiles. Because Philip believed enough to sacrifice himself for God, many crippled in mind and body were cured and the people received the Holy Spirit in Samaria. Love works miracles among the people who believed and the Spirit becomes a source of power in their midst. The response of the Jerusalem Church at the good news in Samaria is to praise God that his Spirit is given to all people. God’s Spirit knows no boundaries. We too need to rejoice whenever and wherever we see the Spirit at work.

The force within
There is an old fable about a changeling eagle. A tribal who lived in a forest, one day found an egg of an eagle. He took the egg home and hatched it along with the other chicken eggs. This eaglet started growing up with the other chicks. It started eating mud, pecking and hopping here and there like the other chicks. But it never learned to fly like an eagle. One day as it was foraging for food from the ground, it saw an eagle majestically soaring high in the sky. As the eagle was admiring the grandeur of the soaring eagle, the other chicks came and said to the eaglet, “Look, that is the eagle –the king of the birds. You and I are chickens. We cannot fly like the eagle. –Often we lead poor lives without realizing the power inherent in us. We are like that eaglet helplessly admiring the power in others when we ourselves possess that power. Often, we end up in defeat, frustration and failure because we are ignorant of the power God has given us through his Spirit. We can do marvellous things when we associate with God.
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’

The context of today’s Gospel is the human anxiety of the disciples about the absence of Jesus and ultimately about the absence of God caused by his foretelling of his departure from the world. Jesus had no intention of leaving his disciples behind him in a situation where they are left to hope without help. He does not deny the anxiety and distress, but offers a promise of presence and a sense of meaning embedded in sharing God’s life. The power of the Spirit is the rock of Christian hope. Without the Spirit, the followers of Jesus would be thrown back on their own resources which are clearly inadequate. With the Spirit however, the disciples can face the future with a power which is much larger than themselves. In this Gospel we are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will come as our advocate, the Spirit of Truth. By giving us the Spirit as an advocate what does Jesus imply? He wishes us to know that the Spirit, the best gift that God can give us, is the gift of his own presence in our lives. The Spirit will stand besides us, will comfort us when we ask, help us in difficult times, and speak on our behalf when we are in need. Although people with no religious faith comfort one another, our fellowship with the Spirit is deeper and more awesome. His power becomes real only if we let Him work in and through us.

Torch and Bucket
There is a story of a person who saw an angel walking down the street. The angel was carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. “What are you going to do with that torch and bucket?” the person asked. The angel stopped abruptly and said, “With the torch, I’m going to burn down the mansions of heaven, and with the bucket of water, I’m going to put off the fires of hell. Then we’re going to see who really loves God. The angel’s point is that many people obey God’s commandments out of fear of punishment of hell or hope of reward in heaven. They don’t obey him for the reason Jesus gives in today’s gospel. “If you love me,” Jesus says, “you will obey my commandments.”
Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’

Doing what his Father said
More than ninety people conducted an all-night search for Dominic DeCarlo, an eight-year-old boy lost on a snowy mountain slope. Dominic, who had been on a skiing trip with his father, apparently had ridden on a new lift and skied off the run without realizing it. An hour passed, the search party and the boy’s family became more concerned for his health and safety. By dawn they had found no trace of the boy. Two helicopter crews joined the search and within fifteen minutes they spotted ski tracks. A ground team followed the tracks, which changed to small footprints. The footprints led to a tree, where they found the boy at last. “He’s in super shape!” Sergeant Terry Silbaugh, area search and rescue coordinator announced to the anxious family and press. “In fact, he’s in better shape than we are in right now!” Silbaugh explained why the boy did so well despite spending a night in the freezing elements. His father had enough foresight to warn the boy what to do if he became lost, and his son had enough trust to do exactly what the father said. Dominic protected himself from frostbite and hypothermia by snuggling up to the tree and covering himself with branches. As a young child, he would never have thought of doing this on his own. He was simply obeying his wise and loving father.
Luis Palau from ‘Devotions’

“I don’t feel loving, what can I do?”
A man said to a counsellor: “My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me anymore. What can I do?” The counsellor asked, “The feeling isn’t there anymore?” “That’s right.” He affirmed. “And we have three children we are really concerned about. What do you suggest?” “Love her,” the counsellor replied. “I told you the feeling just isn’t there anymore.” “Love her.” “You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.” “Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.” “But how do you love when you don’t love?” “My friend, love is a verb, action. Love, the feeling – is the fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?” -To quote Dostoevsky, love is “as hard as hell.” If we love, we obey the commands and wishes of our beloved. This applies to our relations with other people and with us and God. Though reasonable and for our betterment, that sometimes goes against our grain.
Harold Buetow in ‘God Still Speaks: Listen!’


Believing in the Power

On the banks of a river lived a hermit. Over thirty years he had been doing ‘Sadhana’ to walk on water. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. He sustained his life only on cow’s milk which was supplied by an eleven-year old girl, living on the other bank of the river. One day her mother said to her, “There are heavy clouds and there is going to be a downpour and the river will be flooded. Tell the hermit that you won’t come tomorrow.” The girl did so. The hermit said to the girl. “Don’t worry about the flood. I will teach you a ‘mantra’ and you will be able to walk on the water. Close your eyes and repeat ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna’ and you can comfortably walk on water.” As expected the rain came in torrents and the river was in spate. The girl got ready to take milk to the hermit. The mother refused. But the girl told her mother that the hermit had given her a ‘mantra’ to walk on water. Believing her, the mother allowed her to go. The girl went to the river, closed her eyes, repeated ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna,’ and walked on the water. The hermit was looking on in wonder. Repeating the ‘mantra’ the girl returned home walking on water. The hermit thought to himself. “How wonderful, I enabled that girl to walk on water. I have the power. Now let me try for myself.” Confidently, he stepped on the water and drowned forthwith. –The young girl had tremendous faith in the mantra given by the hermit, but not the hermit himself. It is implicit faith that can do wonders in this world.
G. Francis Xavier in ‘The World’s best Inspiring Stories’


No orphans in the reign of God

Margaret Fishback, a young woman, who searched for direction at the crossroads of her life, composed a beautiful poem with the title “Footprints”. “Footprints” has appeared on plaques, and cards, calendars and posters, treasured by millions all over the world. “One night I had a dream – I dreamed of walking along the beach with the Lord and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints, one belonged to me and the other belonged to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before me I looked back, I looked at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of life, there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way, but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most, you should leave me.” The Lord replies, “My precious little child, I love you and I would never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” – The good news given to us today is that while the journey of life will not always be easy, it need not be travelled alone.
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’


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From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:

1: The Winners: Up until 1987, only eleven horses had won the coveted Triple Crown in Thoroughbred racing. What is it that makes some horses winning thoroughbreds? Why is it that some horses have more speed, strength and stamina than other horses? Essentially, of course, these traits have to come from within the horses themselves: from their own inner capacity and from their inherited gene structure. Still, it seems that they also need help from outside. To become champions, they need the help of expert trainers and skillful jockeys to activate and develop their inner powers. It is the same with us. Born human, we have within us capacities to love, learn, choose, work and so on. But we need the help of parents, teachers and friends to activate and develop these capacities so that we can reach our full human potential. That is why we need the Holy Spirit and why Jesus promised to ask the Father to send Him to us: “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete – to be with you always; to remain with you and be within you.” (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds) Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

2: “I would obey the Commandments of God.” When Jimmy Carter was running for President of the United States, one of the more vivid moments in the campaign passed by almost unnoticed. One Sunday morning, candidate Carter had been worshipping at the Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. When the service was over, he exited the Church into the swarm of press encamped on the Church’s front lawn. Cameras whirring, video lights glaring, microphones thrust forward, the media mavens moved in for interviews, pushing themselves to think of clever questions to ask a Presidential candidate on the way out of a Southern Baptist Church. Suddenly, a reporter, probably with a stroke of luck, shouted out a question that genuinely mattered: “Mr. Carter, suppose when you are President, you get into a situation where the laws of the United States are in conflict with what you understand to be the will of God. Which will you follow, the laws of the state or the commandments of God?” Carter stopped, looked up, perhaps with the Spirit gently whispering the lyrics of the Gospel into his ears, he turned toward the reporter and replied, “I would obey the commandments of God.” Alert aides, alarmed by this candor and unnerved by their candidate’s near-treasonous remark, hurriedly whisked him away from the press and into a waiting car. Carter the politician should have avoided the question, or hewed closely to the law of the land, but Carter the Christian was open to the Holy Spirit Who encouraged him to give an honest answer. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

3: A multimillion-dollar airplane, running out of fuel: In 1991 an Air Canada flight ran into big trouble. Passengers were enjoying an in-flight movie on the Boeing 767 when the jumbo jet’s massive engines abruptly stopped. At first only those without earphones on noticed anything. However, soon it was apparent the jet was in trouble. The pilot came on the speaker system and announced that Flight 143 would be making an emergency landing in a nearby aerodrome. The 69 people on board were trapped in an agonizingly slow but inescapable descent to earth. For several minutes a desperate silence hung over the cabin. Then fear gave way to screams of anxiety as the landing neared. All the latest technology could not keep the jumbo jet in the air. What had happened was this. The electronic digital fuel gauge was out of order. So, the flight crew had depended on the figures given them by the refueling crew before takeoff. But someone on the refueling crew had confused pounds with kilograms. Therefore, eight hundred miles short of its destination, that mighty jet simply ran out of fuel and was forced to make an emergency landing. Fortunately, no one was injured. A multimillion-dollar airplane, headed in the right direction, but running out of fuel –– that’s what’s happening to a lot of people today. They have everything in life going for them — a new car, a wonderful home, a good education, and a good job — and one day they wake up out of fuel. At the center of their lives there is emptiness. They don’t know why they are living. There is nothing outside of themselves to live for. Don’t let that happen to you. Jesus tells us that the power for successful living comes from God. It is the promised gift that Jesus offers us, saying, “Peace be with you! “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27a), and “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (Jn 14:
1) 

4. A lawyer and a Pope die at the same time and go up to Heaven together.  After they’ve been there awhile, the Pope notices that the lawyer gets a little better treatment than he does.  So, he calls St. Peter over to ask him and says, “You know that lawyer I came up here with?  Well, I’m not complaining, but he seems to be treated a little better than I am… he’s got a better house and more servants.  I don’t understand.  I was a Pope and served God all my life; this guy was just a lawyer.  What gives?”  St. Peter responded, “You have to understand – we get Popes all the time; this is the first lawyer we’ve ever had.”

5. An attorney was on vacation in a small farming town.  While walking through the streets, he noticed that a car was involved in an accident.  As expected, a large crowd gathered.  The attorney was eager to get to the injured, but he couldn’t get near the car.  Being a rather clever person, he started shouting loudly, “Let me through! Let me through!  I am the son of the victim.” The crowd made way for him.  Lying in front of the car was a donkey!

6.  A lawyer’s dog, running around town unleashed, heads for a butcher shop and steals a roast.  The butcher goes to the lawyer’s office and asks, “If a dog running unleashed steals a piece of meat from my store, do I have a right to demand payment for the meat from the dog’s owner?”  The lawyer answers, “Absolutely.” “Then you owe me $8.50.  Your dog was loose and stole a roast from me today.” The lawyer, without a word, writes the butcher a check for $8.50. The butcher, with a feeling of satisfaction, leaves. Three days later, the butcher finds a bill from the lawyer for $100– for consultation.

21 Additional anecdotes: 

1) “I can’t believe what you just did.”  There is a story about a woman, Dorothy Pryse, who was listening to a Christian radio station as she drove to the grocery store one morning.  The radio preacher was talking about kindness. He said, “I wonder how many of you are listening to me on your car radio and thinking of how you can be kind while driving?” Dorothy began thinking about what he was saying.  A few blocks away, she saw a woman waiting in her car to come out of her driveway.  Traffic was heavy, and Dorothy knew this woman would have a hard time getting out, so she slowed down and let her back out.  The woman smiled and waved.  When she got to the grocery store, Dorothy saw a parking space.  As she started pulling in, another car on the opposite side began to pull into the same spot.  Once again, Dorothy backed out and found another parking spot.  As they both got out of their cars, the driver of the other car said, “I can’t believe what you just did.  Anyone else would have made me back out.”  Dorothy explained what she had heard on the radio about showing love.  The two women began talking.  Dorothy discovered the woman had just moved into the area, didn’t know anyone, and was looking for a Church.  “I invited her to come to our Church,” Dorothy says, “and a strong friendship has blossomed from our chance meeting and a small act of kindness.”  This story illustrates that one can experience the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and act according to His promptings — just as Dorothy and the apostle Philip did. Tony 

2) “I will not leave you as orphans.” The 55-year-old factory worker is laid off when the plant closes leaving him with no prospect of another job. Too old and too weary to consider re-training, without skills that can be retooled, he feels alone. Unemployed and living on pension funds that will soon run out, does he have anyone there to say to him, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will not abandon you”? Or how about the eighty-year-old, alone at home after fifty years of marriage? Her spouse no longer with her, she nods off in front of the television set, a half-eaten frozen meal cold in front of her. She is alone in a house too big for her, her children, with lives of their own. are in different towns. Who is there to say to her, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will not abandon you”? Or the AIDS-ravaged young man in Africa. His errant lifestyle has brought shame on his family and driven his friends away. His body is dying, and he lies alone in pain. For him and for the millions of others throughout the world who face this dreaded disease, who is there to say, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will not abandon you”? It may be the teenager who is different from the rest, the wife or husband whose spouse has left, the businessman whose business is failing, or the parent whose child has rebelled and left home, or any of the countless others in the world around us who feel alone and without hope, rejected and lonely, like a rookie facing Bob Gibson. To them and to us, there is Good News this morning. For there is One Who is here to say, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will not abandon you.” Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

3) The Holy Spirit is the best Teacher. A pilot, a business executive, a pastor and a Boy Scout were flying together on a small private plane when they suddenly experienced engine trouble. Within a matter of minutes, the pilot said, “This plane is going down. Furthermore, I have noticed we have only three parachutes on board. I have a wife and children at home. They are expecting me for dinner.” With that the pilot took a parachute and jumped. Immediately the business executive spoke up and said, “Some people think I am the smartest person on earth. If I should perish in this plane, it would be a great loss, not just to my company, but to the world.” With that, he grabbed for a parachute and jumped. That’s when that pastor turned to the Boy Scout and said, “Son, you are young, and I am old. You have your life ahead of you. I’ve finished mine. Take the remaining parachute and jump.” But the Boy Scout said, “Relax Reverend. The ‘smartest man in all the world’ just took my backpack thinking it was a parachute.” –“When the Holy Spirit comes, He will teach you all things” (v. 26). Did you have a favorite teacher? What was he or she like? Great teachers awaken us to possibilities, enlighten us to truth, sensitize us to others, and give us tools to carry on. The Holy Spirit is like a good teacher. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

4) Jimmy Reed’s wife: Stashed away in a drawer somewhere around my house, now nearly forgotten, is a batch of old 45 rpm records from the ’50s and early ’60s. Worn and scratchy, long since outmoded by the flashy digital technology of compact discs, these primitive vinyls were once the jewels of a great treasure trove. Here and there in this dusty stack, one can find an occasional recording by the great bluesmaster Jimmy Reed. In placing the phonograph needle again and again in the grooves of Jimmy Reed’s records, we began to notice something curious. If one listened very carefully, there could sometimes be heard, ever so faintly in the background, a soft woman’s voice murmuring in advance the next verse of the song. The story that grew up around this — and perhaps it is true — was that Jimmy Reed was so absorbed in the bluesy beat and the throbbing guitar riffs of his music that he simply could not remember the words of his own songs. He needed help with the lyrics, and the woman’s voice was none other than that of his wife, devotedly coaching her husband through the recording session by whispering the upcoming stanzas into his ear as he sang. Whether or not this story is accurate, Christians will surely recognize a parallel experience. Jesus tells his followers that the role of the Holy Spirit is, in effect, to whisper the lyrics of the Gospel song in our souls, all the time. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

5) Elizabeth Barrett Browning: One of the most famous of all the 19th century English women poets was a woman by the name of Elizabeth Barrett. An invalid for many years, her illness was very severe, so that in the end, she was so weak that she could not even raise her head from her pillow. One day, she was visited by a man by the name of Robert Browning, who had come to meet the author of the poetry that had inspired him so. After his first visit, an amazing thing happened. He left Elizabeth with such joy and happiness that she was able to lift her head. On his second visit, she sat up in bed. And on their third, they eloped and were married. Today she is known as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the great 19th century English love poets. — Such is the power of love! Love has the power to heal. It has the power to make well. It has the power to lift drooping heads and fill empty hearts. No wonder people were healed just by coming into the presence of Jesus! Did you ever wonder about that – those stories in the New Testament that tell of someone who came to Jesus and with just a touch or with just a word was made well? There’s no secret to that. If we believe that Jesus was God’s Love Incarnate, God’s Love in the flesh, why shouldn’t people be healed just by coming into contact with Jesus? For love has the power to do that. But we must first come into God’s presence through prayer, through Bible, through the Eucharist. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

6) “No ticket please, he is my friend.” Here is the true story of a pastor.  One day I was stopped for speeding.  I knew I was wrong.  I was late for the Mass in a remote mission church.  I was driving on a brand new four-lane highway with almost no traffic.  When I saw those flashing blue and yellow lights behind me, I knew that I was going to be even later for the Holy Mass. After the patrolman got my license, he went back to his car.  I waited for him to return with the judgment against my mistake.  As I waited, another police car pulled up behind the first.  The man with my license went back to the second car.  My anxiety level was rising.  He left the second car and came back to my car.  He handed me my license and said, “The sergeant says that you’re a friend of his.  Keep your speed down and drive carefully.”  He returned to his car and drove off.  So, did I. I was guilty.  I had broken the law.  I deserved the ticket.  I deserved to pay the fine, but because of a friendship, my mistake was forgiven and forgotten.  There was no penalty to pay.  This is how Divine Grace works.  We are saved because Jesus considers us his friends, as stated in today’s Gospel. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

7) “Did we land, or were we shot down?” A commercial airline pilot, on one occasion, made a particularly bad landing. The wheels of the big jet hit the runway with a jarring thud. Afterward, the airline had a policy, which required that the pilot stand at the door while the passengers exited. He was to give each of them a smile and say, “Thanks for flying with us today.” In light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment, but no one seemed annoyed. Finally, everyone had gotten off except for one little old lady walking with a cane. She approached the pilot and asked, “Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?” “Why, no Ma’am, what is it?” said the pilot bravely. “Did we land,” she asked, “or were we shot down?” Maybe you’ve had days like that–days when it felt like you were shot down. Even worse, maybe things are going quite well for you, really. Your friends and your family tell you how fortunate you are. But you don’t feel fortunate. It is on such occasions that we need the prompt assistance of the Holy Spirit.

8) “Watch Jimmie in chapel!” In his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks tells the story of Jimmie, a former sailor, now a patient in a nursing home, whose severe neurological disorder had left him with a profound and permanent amnesia. He simply had no memory of anything from 1945 on. Having no ability to retrieve the past and no ability to construct a meaningful present, Jimmie lacked the continuity that makes for a sense of the self. He was, wrote Sacks, a person who “wore a look of infinite sadness and resignation.” However, when Sacks asked the Sisters who ran the nursing home whether Jimmie had lost his soul, the Sisters were outraged by the question. “Watch Jimmie in chapel,” they said, “and judge for yourself.” So, Sacks did watch Jimmie in chapel, and there he observed an astounding transformation. He saw an intensity and steadiness in Jimmie that he had not observed before. As he received Holy Communion, there was “perfect alignment of his spirit with the spirit of the Mass.” There in worship, Jimmie was no longer at the mercy of a faulty and fallible memory. Jimmie in his own way is like all of us. In the final analysis, none of us is able to construct a self. We must all be given a story and a continuity not of our own making. Where we have no faithful memory, God remembers, and by the grace of God, the Spirit whispers the lyrics of the saving Gospel in our ears. (The story, from Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, is reported in Craig Dykstra, “Memory and Truth,” Theology Today, XLIV/2, p. 162.). Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

9) “Video Baby.” A few years ago, The New York Times carried an interesting ad for a video tape titled “Video Baby.” It’s a 30-minute tape, designed for busy people who are devoted to family values, but can’t seem to find the time to start a family of their own! The tape shows two infants doing the cute things that babies do, like crawl around, play with a rattle, take a bubble bath, play with their toes, smile angelically, and then fall quietly asleep. No spitting up, no crying, and no diapers! The ad says, “Enjoy bath time without being splashed, and mealtime without wearing the food. Just set the VCR and use the off button whenever you like.” Imagine the possibilities for a sequel: “Video Teenager.” Today’s readings invite us to experience for ourselves the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit living within us for facing the problems of life, not for avoiding them.

10) The soup of the soup of the duck: Here is a Nasruddin story retold by Fr. De Mello, S. J. A relative once came to visit Nasruddin, bringing a duck as a gift.   The bird was cooked and eaten.  Soon one guest after another began to call, each claiming to be a friend of the friend of the “the man who brought you the duck.”  Each one, of course, expected to be fed and housed on the strength of that hapless bird.  At length the mullah could stand it no longer.  One day a stranger arrived at his house and said, “I am a friend of the friend of the kinsman who brought you the duck.”  And, like the others, he sat down, expecting to be fed.  Nasruddin placed a bowl of steaming water before him.  “What is this?” asked the stranger.”  “This,” said the mullah, “is the soup of the soup of the duck that was brought to me by your friend.” De Mello says, “One hears of people who become the disciples of the disciples of the disciples of someone who had experienced the Divine.  How can you kiss through a messenger?”  Today’s Gospel reminds us that we should have first-hand experience of the Spirit of the Triune God living within us and share it with others as Philip did (Acts 8:5-8). Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

11) Father helping his son to cross the finish line: At the 400 metre race at the 1992 summer Olympics, a young man was hungry to win a gold medal after being forced to withdraw from the previous Olympics because of injury. However, at the start of the race, Englishman Derek Redmond popped his right hamstring. This is a severe and excruciating injury. All the other runners continued the race leaving him like an orphan alone on the track. Amazingly Redmond got back up and started hopping towards the finish line. The other runners had all finished the race in a matter of seconds. Redmond, in tears, slowly and laboriously kept hopping. It looked as if he would fall any moment now. Suddenly, a man appeared beside Derek. His father had run down from the stands and pushed his way through the security guards to reach his son. Redmond’s father put his arm around his son and let him cry on his shoulder for a second. Then, with his father holding him up, Derek hobbled to the finish line and then he hopped over the line by himself to finish the race. There’s a word of hope for you and me. When we are feeling like orphans — feeling deserted, alone, abandoned, unloved, futureless, — we have a Father who gives us His strength to keep on going, a Saviour who whispers to us, “We will do this together”, and the Holy Spirit who cheers us on and will enables us to cross the finish line. We are not abandoned because we have a God who loves us. He says to each of personally and individually, “I will not leave you as orphans.” (Fr. Gerhardy). Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

12) Domesticated eagle. Once a tribesman who lived in a forest found the egg of an eagle, took it home and hatched it along with other chicken eggs. The eaglet started growing along with other chickens in the farm. It started eating bugs, pecking and hopping here and there like the other chicks. But it never learnt to fly like an eagle. One day as it was scratching the ground for food it saw an eagle majestically flying high in the sky. The eaglet started looking at it and admiring its grandeur when other chicks came to the eaglet and said, “Look, that one is the eagle, the king of birds. You and I are chickens and we cannot fly like that eagle. Leave him and alone and come let us go search for our food.” The poor eaglet from then on thought it was a chicken and lived like a chicken and never learnt to fly. A Christian who does not allow the Holy Spirit living within him or her to be active is like the eaglet in the story who did not realize who it is and what it is capable of. (Fr. Eugene Lobo S.J.). Tony 

13) Angel carrying torch and water: There is a story about a person who saw an angel walking down the street. The angel was carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. “What are you going to do with that torch and that water?” the person asked. The angel looked at the person and said, “With this torch, I am going to burn down the mansions of Heaven; and with the bucket of water, I am going to put out the fires of Hell. Then we’re going to see who really loves God.”  The angel’s point was that many people obey God’s commandments out of fear of punishment in Hell or hope of reward in Heaven. They don’t obey God for the reason Jesus gives in today’s Gospel. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” (Fr. Chirackal). Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

14) Doing what his Father said: More than ninety people conducted an all-night search for Dominic DeCarlo, an eight-year-old boy lost on a snowy mountain slope. Dominic, who had been on a skiing trip with his father, apparently had ridden on a new lift and skied off the run without realizing it. An hour passed, the search party and the boy’s family became more concerned for his health and safety. By dawn they had found no trace of the boy. Two helicopter crews joined the search and within fifteen minutes they spotted ski tracks. A ground team followed the tracks, which changed to small footprints. The footprints led to a tree, where they found the boy at last. “He’s in super shape!” Sergeant Terry Silbaugh, area search and rescue coordinator announced to the anxious family and press. “In fact, he’s in better shape than we are in right now!” Silbaugh explained why the boy did so well despite spending a night in the freezing elements. His father had enough foresight to warn the boy what to do if he became lost, and his son had enough trust to do exactly what the father said. Dominic protected himself from frostbite and hypothermia by snuggling up to the tree and covering himself with branches. As a young child, he would never have thought of doing this on his own. He was simply obeying his wise and loving father. (Luis Palau from Devotions; quoted by Fr. Botelho) Tony

15) Believing in the Power: On the banks of a river lived a hermit. Over thirty years he had been doing ‘Sadhana’ to walk on water. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. He sustained his life only on cow’s milk which was supplied by an eleven-year old girl, living on the other bank of the river. One day her mother said to her, “There are heavy clouds and there is going to be a downpour and the river will be flooded. Tell the hermit that you won’t come tomorrow.” The girl did so. The hermit said to the girl. “Don’t worry about the flood. I will teach you a ‘mantra’ and you will be able to walk on the water. Close your eyes and repeat ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna’ and you can comfortably walk on water.” As expected, the rain came in torrents and the river was overflowing. The girl got ready to take milk to the hermit. The mother refused. But the girl told her mother that the hermit had given her a ‘mantra’ to walk on water. Believing her, the mother allowed her to go. The girl went to the river, closed her eyes, repeated ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna,’ and walked on the water. The hermit was looking on in wonder. Repeating the ‘mantra’ the girl returned home walking on water. The hermit thought to himself. “How wonderful, I enabled that girl to walk on water. I have the power. Now let me try for myself.” Confidently, he stepped on the water and drowned forthwith. –-The young girl had tremendous faith in the mantra given by the hermit, but not the hermit himself. It is implicit Faith that can-do wonders in this world. [G. Francis Xavier in The World’s best Inspiring Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

16) No orphans in the reign of God: Margaret Fishback, a young woman, who searched for direction at the crossroads of her life, composed a beautiful poem with the title “Footprints”. “Footprints” has appeared on plaques, and cards, calendars, and posters and is treasured by millions all over the world. “One night I had a dream – I dreamed of walking along the beach with the Lord and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints, one belonged to me and the other belonged to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before me I looked back, I looked at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of life, there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way, but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most, you should leave me.” The Lord replies, “My precious little child, I love you and I would never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” – The Good News given to us today is that while the journey of life will not always be easy, it need not be travelled alone. [John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

17) Responding to the Spirit: When Jimmy Carter was running for President of the United States, one of the more vivid moments in the campaign passed by almost unnoticed. One Sunday morning, candidate Carter had been worshiping at the Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. When the service was over, he exited the church into the swarm of press encamped on the church’s front lawn. Cameras whirring, video lights glaring, microphones thrust forward, the media mavens moved in for interviews, pushing themselves to think of clever questions to ask a presidential candidate on the way out of a Southern Baptist Church — “Did you like the sermon?” “Did you enjoy the choir this morning?” “Do you plan to remain a Baptist in Washington?” — on and on the banal questions spewed. Suddenly, a reporter, probably in a stroke of luck, shouted out a question that genuinely mattered: “Mr. Carter, suppose when you are President, you get into a situation where the laws of the United States are in conflict with what you understand to be the will of God. Which will you follow, the laws of the state or the Commandments of God?” Carter stopped, looked up, and blinked into the bright Georgia sun, obviously turning the question over in his mind. Then, perhaps still “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,” perhaps with the Spirit gently whispering the lyrics of the Gospel into his ears, he turned toward the reporter and replied: “I would obey the Commandments of God.” Alert aides, alarmed by this candor, unnerved by their candidate’s near-treasonous remark, hurriedly whisked him away from the press and into a waiting car. Carter the politician should have avoided the question, or hewed closely to the law of the land, but Carter the Christian had the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ whispering in his ear, “Do you love Me? The world cannot see or know Me, but do you love Me? Do you keep My Commandments? (Quoted by Fr. Kayala). Tony 

18) “S.S. HOPE” The U.S.S. Consolation served as a hospital ship from 1944-1955. It offered healing and comfort to the wounded in both World War II and the Korean conflict. The Consolation was decommissioned in 1958, but instead of being sold for scrap or made into a floating museum, the Consolation was reborn in 1960 when it was turned over to a newly formed civilian service organization – Project Hope. “HOPE” was the acronym for a civilian medical volunteer service organization — “”Health Opportunities for People Everywhere” (today, think, “Doctors Without Borders”). In short, the U.S.S. Consolation got a new coat of white paint and was re-named the S.S. HOPE – a name that was painted in huge red letters across her bow. For the next fourteen years that “HOPE” floated across the seas of the world, pulling into ports from Malaysia and Indonesia to South America and the Caribbean, bringing hands-on medical care to whoever needed it, offering medical training for any and all local care-givers, and extending medical education to families to help them keep healthy. What a different image from a cruise ship to a Hope Ship! Instead of a lightd-blazing, music-blaring, hangover-bringing big white party ship, every time the S.S. HOPE pulled into a new port its mission and message were spelled out simply four big red letters: H.O.P.E. The clear declaration of hope is what 1 Peter’s letter is all about — Hope in Christ. (Quoted by Fr. Kayala). Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

19) “I will not leave you orphans:” In 1626, the French Jesuits launched an organized missionary effort among the Huron Indians. The Hurons, a nation of Iroquoian stock, then lived near Georgian Bay in Canada’s Province of Ontario. Leader of these Jesuits was the notable Father Jean de Brebeuf. The Huron apostolate was difficult, but gradually some of the Indians began to embrace the Gospel. One of the most admirable converts was Tehoronhiongo. Baptized “Francis” by Fr. Brebeuf himself, he developed into a man of prayer who sought constantly to deepen his knowledge of the Faith. Unfortunately for the Huron mission, the New York Iroquois began a war of extermination in 1642 against their Huron cousins, striking also at the French who sided with the Hurons. After eight years the Iroquois achieved their aim. They broke up and scattered the Huron nation. During that bitter struggle, Fr. Brebeuf and four other Jesuit priests in Huronia were murdered. (They were canonized as martyrs in 1930). A great many Hurons fell before the enemies. Many more were taken captive and “adopted” by their conquerors. Indeed, one whole Huron village, St. Michael’s, originally located near Orr Lake in Ontario, was induced to move down to New York State. They resettled near Holcomb, N.Y., in the County of the Seneca Iroquois. One of the citizens of this “adopted” captive village was Francis Tehoronhiongo. Of course, he and the other exiled Huron Christians were now deprived of priests. Finally, however, the Iroquois made peace with the French and even invited Jesuit “blackrobes” to come into the Iroquois country. There were perils involved in accepting this invitation; still, the Jesuits did send the missionaries. When Fr. Jacques Fremin arrived at St. Michael’s in 1668, Francis greeted him warmly. He had been praying for twenty years to be able to receive the sacrament of penance again before he died. Now he said to Father Fremin, “At last God has heard me. Confess me!” The priest was touched and very happy to oblige. Fr. Jacques found Francis “an old man of approved Faith.” He now engaged him as a catechist. Not only did the Huron understand well the mysteries of the Faith; he behaved with such Christian dignity that no other Indian ventured to speak indecently or irreverently in his presence. — In today’s Gospel, Our Lord promises “I will not leave you orphaned.” He who had established the Sacrament of Reconciliation did not abandon this old Huron who prayed for a chance to go to confession. Far from leaving us orphaned today, Jesus provides us constantly with priests whom He uses as the instruments of His presence and His absolution. The sad fact is that we do not approach these priests more frequently and more appreciatively, asking them with Huron Francis “Confess me!” –(Father Robert F. McNamara). Tony

20) The Divine Presence of the Holy Spirit: There is a touching story told of a humble, consecrated pastor, whose young son had become very ill. After the boy had undergone an exhaustive series of tests, the father was told the shocking news that his son had a terminal illness. The youngster had accepted Christ as his Savior, so the minister knew that death would usher him into glory; but he wondered how to inform one in the bloom of youth that soon he would die. After earnestly seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit, he went with a heavy heart through the hospital ward to the boy’s bedside. First, he read a passage of Scripture and had a time of prayer with his dear child. Then he gently told him that the doctors could promise him only a few more days to live. “Are you afraid to meet Jesus, my boy?” asked his devout father.
Blinking away a few tears, the little fellow said bravely, “No, not if He’s like you, Dad!” (Fr. Lakra). Tony

21) How TV’s Were Born: A little over 75 years ago a little-known American inventor of Russian descent, Vladimir Kosma Zworykin began to work for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Over the next few years Mr. Zworykin worked on an idea called an iconoscope and a kinescope. The kinescope would eventually come to be known as the Cathode Ray Tube and in 1929, Mr. Zworykin revealed his great invention to whole world in a much-publicized demonstration. The iconoscope became the TV Camera for broadcasting and the Cathode Ray Tube became our TV Receiver. All of this came about because of the small seed of an idea in the mind of one man. Now, because of that idea, we all sit and watch “in the branches” of the “tree” that grew from that small mustard seed. As you can see, from the small seed of an idea great things can grow. And so it is with your Faith in God and with the presence of Holy Spirit within your heart. (Source Unknown). Tony


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One of the best newspaper cartoons of all time is Calvin and Hobbes. One day Calvin and Hobbes come marching into the living room early one morning. His mother is seated there in her favorite chair. She is sipping her morning coffee. She looks up at young Calvin. She is amused and amazed at how he is dressed. Calvin's head is encased in a large space helmet. A cape is draped around his neck, across his shoulders, down his back and is dragging on the floor. One hand is holding a flashlight and the other a baseball bat. 


"What's up today?" asks his mom.
"Nothing, so far," answers Calvin.
"So far?" she questions.
"Well, you never know," Calvin says, "Something could happen today." Then Calvin marches off, "And if anything does, by golly, I'm going to be ready for it!" 


Calvin's mom looks out at the reading audience and she says, "I need a suit like that!" 


That's the way many of us feel as we see the news and deal with life. Sometimes this world seems quite violent and people seem to be at each other's throats. A suit like that would help, so we can say with Calvin, "Whatever may come my way, I'm going to be ready for it! Bring it on!" 


Well, I don't have a suit like Calvin's to give you this morning, but I do have word for this morning: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 


There is a defining phrase in that statement. One that tells us what kind of peace it is that Christ gives us. Listen to it again and see if you can pick it out: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." The defining phrase is: "Not as the world gives." Do you see how that defines God's peace? The world promises peace through the rule of law. Law and order is the only way for a society and a people to experience peace and law and order must be kept by the aggressive use of force. That's the only way that the world can bring about peace.  


But here is how Jesus will give you peace. If you obey his word He and the Father will come to you and make a home with you. Right in your heart. Not by force but by choice. They will abide in your heart bringing peace. The world's peace is peace through strength. The Lord's peace is peace through surrender.
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These days the sight of an enormous white ship floating into exotic ports is commonplace. The cruise ship industry is huge - almost as large as the horizontal skyscraper ships that serve it. Like huge hotels turned onto their side, these glowing, white behemoths dot the oceans. They are the twenty-first century's "white whales."   


But before the commercial cruise lines ruled the deep, there were other big white ships that traveled the seas, ships that purposefully put themselves and their crews in harm's way. Naval hospital ships, appropriately designated as "haven class" ships, often offered the closest, most accessible care to wounded troops during World War II and the Korean War. One of those ships was aptly named the "U.S.S. Consolation," a floating hospital capable of caring for over 800 patients and housing a host of medical professionals. These "white whales" offered the best medical treatment possible under hostile, combat conditions. Although hospital ships were painted white and were emblazoned with a red cross to advertise their non-hostile identity, their close proximity to battle zones did not ensure their safety. The business of saving lives is always hazardous duty . . . without hazard pay.   


The U.S.S. Consolation served as a hospital ship from 1944-1955. It offered healing and comfort to the wounded in both World War II and the Korean conflict. The "Consolation" was decommissioned in 1958, but instead of being sold for scrap or made into a floating museum the Consolation was reborn in 1960 when it was turned over to a newly formed civilian service organization - Project Hope. "HOPE" was the acronym for a civilian medical volunteer service organization - ""Health Opportunities for People Everywhere" (today think "Doctors Without Borders"). In short, the "U.S.S. Consolation" got a new coat of white paint and was re-named the "S.S. HOPE" - a name that was painted in huge red letters across her bow. For the next fourteen years that "HOPE" floated across the seas of the world, pulling into ports from Malaysia and Indonesia to South America and the Caribbean, bringing hands-on medical care to whomever needed it, offering medical training for any and all local care-givers, and extending medical education to families to help them keep healthy.  


What a different image from a cruise ship( aka hangover ship) - a hope ship. Instead of a light-blazing, music-blaring, hangover-bringing big white party ship, every time the "S.S. HOPE" pulled into a new port its mission and message spelled out simply four big letters: "H.O.P.E" 


The clear declaration of hope is what 1 Peter's letter is all about. Hope in Christ...
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C. S. Lewis on Love 


To love at all is to be venerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin or your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable...The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers...of love is Hell.  


C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1960, p.169.
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God Surprises the Hopeless  


When Christopher Columbus was sailing to the new world his hired sailors were threatening mutiny. The voyage was long and hard and there was no land in sight for weeks. One day Columbus saw an encouraging sign. Floating on the ocean swells was a small tree branch. The branches' leaves were green, indicating that land could not be far away. The green branch gave the sailors enthusiasm and a renewed hope. Soon after its discovery land was sighted from the sailor in the crow's nest.


When all seems hopeless God has a way of surprising us and being present, even in the loneliest places. It is not God who is absent but we who have ceased to believe in a God who loves us more than we love ourselves. 


Keith Wagner, Who Said Loving Others was Easy?
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When Doubt Sets In 


Years ago I read something rather odd: "The reason mountain climbers are tied together is to keep the sane ones from going home." Whoever said that was playing with us a bit, for we know mountain climbers are tied together to keep from getting lost or going over a cliff. But there's another piece of truth here. When things get tough up on the mountain, when fear sets in, many a climber is tempted to say, "This is crazy! I'm going home."  


The life of faith can be like that-doubts set in, despair overwhelms us, and the whole notion of believing in God seems crazy. Jesus knew his disciples would have days like that. So he told them we're tied together like branches on the vine-or like climbers tied to the rope-tied together by the Spirit, to trust in one who is always more than we can understand, to keep us moving ahead on the journey of faith, to encourage us when believing seems absurd. "I will not leave you orphaned," said Jesus. "I am coming to you." 


Barbara K. Lundblad, I Will Not Leave You Orphaned
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Always Alongside Us 


A student named Steve Winger from Lubbock, TX was taking a challenging class in Logic. The course and teacher were known for exacting and demanding exams. The final exam was looming, and the professor mercifully told the class that each student would be permitted to bring in a single 8 x 11 ½ inch sheet with as much information as they could put on that one sheet for help during the test. On exam day, each student came to class clutching their precious pieces of paper with as much information as possible. Some students had crammed lines and lines of font so tiny and so numerous onto that single sheet that you had to wonder how they could read it. But Steve walked in with a single blank sheet and a friend who was a senior student and who had an 'A' in logic. Steve bent down and placed that single, blank sheet of paper on the floor next to his desk. His expert friend stood on the paper. 


 The professor noticed the extra body in the room and asked what he was doing. Steve piped up, "You said we could bring in whatever we could fit on a single piece of paper for help on this test, well, this is my help and he can fit on the paper!" He had followed the instructions to the letter and was the only student in that class to score an 'A' since he had his expert friend standing alongside him.   


The Holy Spirit is like that friend, standing alongside us, supporting us, and guiding us.  


Adapted from an unknown source, Staff, www.Sermons.com
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I'm Not Allowed to Cross the Street 


A little boy was riding his tricycle furiously around the block, over and over again. Finally a policeman stopped and asked him why he was going around and around. The boy said that he was running away from home. The policeman asked why he kept going around the block. The boy responded, "Because my mom said that I'm not allowed to cross the street."


The point is clear--obedience will keep you close to those you love.  


Michael Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching.
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Martin Luther on Love for Christ 


As usual, Martin Luther said it so well: "But, as Christ said earlier, it all depends on whether you feel and find that you love this man [Jesus]. For if you truly believe this, then love will be there, and your heart will be moved to say: 'Christ, my dear Lord, has done so much for me. He has reconciled the Father to me and shed his blood for me. He has fought and defeated my death and given me all his possessions. Should I not require this love? Should I not thank, praise, honor and serve him with my life and my goods? If not, I should be ashamed that I am a human being.'  


"Therefore Christ declares: 'Sincere love for me is part of a true Christian.'" When you believe in Christ, when you live with him, love and good works just naturally flow. They come from living together with Christ; his good influence just rubs off on us.  


Mark Ellingsen, Preparation and Manifestation, CSS Publishing Company
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Playing God  


Mee Spousler of the Mount Hope United Methodist Church, in Aston, PA., tells how she was trying to put her three-year-old son to bed for a nap.


When she was unsuccessful, she put him in her bed and laid down with him to encourage him to rest. She fell asleep, but he didn't. When she woke up, she saw him sitting on a chair at the end of the bed, and asked, "Luke, what are you doing?"


"I'm playing God," he replied.
"Playing God?" she asked.
"Yes," he said. "I'm watching over you while you sleep." 


 Children understand more than we do sometimes. God IS watching over us. Jesus gave that promise here in talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Not only will God watch over us but through the presence and reminder of the Holy Spirit, we will be reminded of what it means to "Love Jesus and keep his commands." And God will help us to create the environment of love, grace, faith and security that we need for our homes today. Our challenge is to listen to the Holy Spirit and to trust Christ.  


Billy D. Strayhorn, If You Love Me....
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Responding to the Spirit, Responding in the Spirit  


When Jimmy Carter was running for President of the United States, one of the more vivid moments in the campaign passed by almost unnoticed. One Sunday morning, candidate Carter had been worshiping at the Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. When the service was over, he exited the church into the swarm of press encamped on the church's front lawn. Cameras whirring, video lights glaring, microphones thrust forward, the media mavens moved in for interviews, pushing themselves to think of clever questions to ask a presidential candidate on the way out of a Southern Baptist Church -- "Did you like the sermon?" "Did you enjoy the choir this morning?" "Do you plan to remain a Baptist in Washington?" -- on and on the banal questions spewed. 


Suddenly, a reporter, probably in a stroke of luck, shouted out a question that genuinely mattered: "Mr. Carter, suppose when you are President, you get into a situation where the laws of the United States are in conflict with what you understand to be the will of God. Which will you follow, the laws of the state or the commandments of God?" 


Carter stopped, looked up, and blinked into the bright Georgia sun, obviously turning the question over in his mind. Then, perhaps still "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," perhaps with the Spirit gently whispering the lyrics of the gospel into his ears, he turned toward the reporter and replied: "I would obey the commandments of God." Alert aides, alarmed by this candor, unnerved by their candidate's near-treasonous remark, hurriedly whisked him away from the press and into a waiting car. Carter the politician should have avoided the question, or hewed closely to the law of the land, but Carter the Christian had the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ whispering in his ear, "Do you love me? The world cannot see or know me, but do you love me? Do you keep my commandments?
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