“A Church which ‘goes forth’ is a Church whose doors are open. Going out to others in order to reach the fringes of humanity does not mean rushing out aimlessly into the world. Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way.
At times we have to be like the father of the prodigal son, who always keeps his door open so that when the son returns, he can readily pass through it… The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open…so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not nd a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either…nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason.”
Today’s Gospel has some surprises for the disciples going to Emmaus. The first is that Luke tells us Jesus appeared to them, “but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16). Now I don’t think Jesus was wearing glasses like Clark Kent. More likely, they were prevented by their lack of faith. They knew that Jesus had died, so this man who looked familiar couldn’t be him. All they had heard was that Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb. Luke says they were debating, as if they couldn’t decide what to believe.
That leads to the second point. No, they were not surprised that the stranger could quote scripture. Most Jewish men were familiar with the scriptures, but they were amazed at how Jesus explained them. Even the disciples had not thought of them as predicting Jesus’ suffering and death. Yet they seem to know the truth of what Jesus was saying. Their hearts were burning with the re of the Holy Spirit, who helped them to understand the new meaning of scripture. Their story can help us, too.
If you find you are not always able to see Jesus in the people or events of your life, you may need to stretch your faith. One way to do that is to discuss it with others. The two disciples were stretching their faith as they discussed what they had heard. Even better, debate it with someone who doesn’t believe. (Remember to keep it friendly.) You may not convince them to change, but your faith will grow as you learn to express it. Another way to stretch your faith is to read and pray over the scriptures. Ask what God is trying to tell you in them. The disciples on the way to Emmaus began to see how Jesus ful lled the promises found there. Passages that may have been mysterious before began to become clear when applied to Jesus.
Ask God to help you see Jesus in other people. Receive Jesus in Communion as often as you can (at least once a week). Trust him and expect to see Jesus both in the people around you and in the changes that come into your life. The more you look for Jesus, the easier it is to see him.
© J. S. Paluch Co.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say: “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” In these weeks after Easter the reaction of the followers of Jesus to the news that he is risen is repeated several times. For many of them, it cannot be.
They saw him scourged, nailed to a cross and die on the cross. How can he be risen? These verses of Scripture are meant to help us have a stronger faith just as they were meant to help the members of the early Church. To those who were present at the cruci xion or heard about it, they were in deep sorrow and confusion. The last thing that they expected to hear was that Jesus was not dead, but was still with them. He would not abandon them and he will not abandon us.
The Archdiocese of New York is sponsoring mini-missions throughout the Archdiocese. We will be hosting one May 15 to 17, Monday through Wednesday in the evening. Each evening will have a prayer service of music, Scripture, and a guest preacher. The title of the missions is “Revive: Faith Every Day.” Since we are the host church, parishioners from neighboring churches will be join ing us for these evenings. There will be more information coming.
Many thanks to all who were so generous in the Easter collection. Also, thanks to those who have given to help pay for the new windows in the Education Building next to the church. These windows had been there for years and were in danger of falling out or falling in. The total cost was $33,000. These old buildings always have their challenges.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
At 8:00 PM on Saturday, April 15, 2017 the Church of St. Francis of Assisi gathered in darkness to begin the great Vigil of Easter. The celebration begin with the kindling of the Easter fire and the blessing of the new Paschal candle, while the church burst out in song to celebrate our salvation through Christ victory over death. It was a beautiful celebration filled with music, scripture, celebration and was crowned with the celebration of the sacraments for 18 new fully initiated members of the Church.
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At the Easter Vigil, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi welcomed 18 newly initiated Catholics into our Catholic faith. Our seven elect were baptized and eleven other adults joined them in the celebration of Confirmation. Our pastor Fr. Andrew Reitz, OFM baptized and confirmed our candidates after their preparation through our RCIA ministry.
It is a great joy to see our church grow with these newest members of the body of Christ.
Click here to see photos of our Easter Vigil and the celebration of the sacraments.
The celebration will start with the recitation of the concluding Novena prayer. At 3:00 PM, the modern musical version of the Chaplet will be played.
You can then attend the regular Sunday Mass in the upper church at 5:00 or 6:15 PM.
For inquiries,please call Vicky Vinuya at 347-653-8133.
You may notice that Acts of the Apostles is the source of the first reading during the Easter season. This book describes how Christianity grew from a handful of disciples to a major religion. Today’s reading about an ideal Christian community is meant to show ordinary believers how to be extraordinary, using three examples I call power, property, and prayer.
Power means the “signs and wonders” (Acts 2:43) performed by the disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit. This should be named last, because it takes a lot of faith to heal the sick. “Of course, we can visit the sick and comfort the dying. Just leave it up to God to cure anyone,” you might say. If you had the same faith as the apostles, you just might be able to cure the sick. Or you might study to become a doctor and cure them with medical skills. As long as you acknowledge that God gave you the brains and the talent to become a doctor, you are doing God’s work.
By property, I mean sharing what you have with those in need. Many disciples were moved to sell their goods and share them with the poor, and word of that must have spread. If you are not called to sell all your goods and become a monk or a nun, you can still tithe to your church or the poor. You can donate time as well, perhaps tutoring disadvantaged kids, helping build or repair houses in poor areas, or bringing meals to shut-ins. The point is that followers of Christ are not just individual do-gooders. They are a community of believers who care about each other and also care about the non-believers who need help of any kind.
So where did these first disciples get the faith to cure the sick and the love to help the needy? The answer is the third example – prayer. Twice in the first reading we hear how “they devoted themselves . . . to the breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:42, 46). Breaking bread was their name for the Eucharist. They also went to the temple to pray, because at that time most disciples were Jewish Christians. As they heard the Hebrew scriptures, they saw how God’s promises were fulfilled in Christ. Later, they added reading from the letters of Paul and preaching about Jesus’ works and teachings. All of these practices helped unite them to Christ and to each other.
“The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours…The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a center of constant missionary outreach.”
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