My dear Friends,
Blessings on each of you! We have come to the end of our Easter Season with today’s virtual reflection and prayers. Our task, as you know, is to “be Jesus for our world!”
My hope as always is that this finds you well–please be safe and take care of yourselves and others as you are able.
I wanted you to know that this past week your board were in agreement to send $300 to Doctors Without Borders to purchase the protective equipment that the doctors are needing to work with our sisters and brothers of the Navaho Nation in the southwest of our country. The board agreed on an additional $300 to be sent to the Rochester Franciscan Sisters to be used to assist the undocumented in the Rochester area who are especially hard hit at present with job loss, no monies for rent, food and other needs due to Covid 19.
We continue to reflect on the new ways that we are being called upon to be church, even as we are saddened that we can’t meet in person, realizing that it may be a while before we can do that again regardless of what the Minnesota bishops and others around the country are trying to do. Let us continue our prayers for each other and please do call me, 507-429-3616 or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org if I can be of help to you. Peace and love, Pastor Kathy
O God, hear my voice when I call to you. My heart has prompted me to seek your face; I seek it, O God, do not hide from me, alleluia!
Let Us Pray
Loving Creator, reaching from end to end of the universe, and ordering all things with your wonderful strength; for you, time is the unfolding of truth that already is, the unveiling of beauty that is yet to be. Jesus, your Only Begotten has saved us in history by rising from the dead, so that transcending time he might free us from death. May his presence among us lead to the vision of unlimited truth and unfold the beauty of your love. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.
- Acts 1:1-11
- 1 Peter 4: 13-16
- John 17: 1-11
My friends, I am taking the opportunity today to blend the feast day of the Ascension and the 7th and final Sunday of Easter in order to share messages from both for our reflection. In order to do that; I will use the first reading for the Ascension, celebrated this past Thursday and the 2nd and gospel readings from the 7th Sunday of Easter. I think you will find that the key thoughts blend well in these last days of the Easter Season.
I offer these key thoughts for us to consider today:
1) Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles for the Ascension lifts up for us the question of the angel to the apostles after Jesus has physically left them: “Why are you looking up to the heavens?”
2) In 1st Peter from the 7th Sunday of Easter, Peter proclaims: “Happy are you when insulted for the sake of Christ.” He continues, “See to it that none of you suffers for being a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a destroyer of another’s rights.” And he goes on to say that if you must suffer, let it be because you have been, “a follower of Christ.”
3) John’s gospel today includes the part of Jesus’ priestly prayer to his Abba God, for his apostles and ultimately, us, before his death on the cross and in fact, the very words chosen to name us as a faith community, “that they may be one as you and I are one.”
So friends, hopefully you can see how these thoughts are related or at least you will by this homily’s end! Jesus’ time with his first followers after his death and resurrection was to prepare them for their lives going forward, once he would no longer physically be with them.
They would be expected to share all he had taught them about God’s love for each person—far and wide. He knew they were afraid and he therefore tried to comfort them, assuring that he would not leave them alone, but send them his Spirit to give them strength, courage and all that they would need to begin the awesome task of sharing with countless others all about, “the way, the truth and the life” of Jesus, the Christ!
Next Sunday, we remember, in a special way, the coming of Jesus’ Spirit on Pentecost. All of us will recall the indwelling of the Spirit on that special day of our own confirmations and should pray for a renewal of the strength and courage we received then to be all that we can be as Jesus’ followers.
This world of ours, the here and now, calls us and needs us to be more than those who, “are looking up to the heavens” for the answers! Our God, in Jesus and the Spirit has given us all that we need to affect change in our world. Will this task be easy—will we always be understood for hard decisions and actions that we must take to be Jesus’ true followers? No, it will not always be easy, but as Peter tells those who will listen, “See to it, that if you are called to suffer,” that it is not among other things, because you are “a destroyer of another’s rights,” but because you are a, “follower of Christ.”
For the remainder of this homily, I would like to lift up two examples, one that follows Jesus’ way and one that does not, or perhaps, we could say, “falls short.”
All the Catholic papers this week are remembering Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si and the fact that it is now five years old. I read a commentary this week that said, it may take 40 years for our world to truly understand—maybe more to accept what he is saying in this wonderful statement on care and love of our planet.
The trouble, of course, with the above statement that it may take 40 years to accept what Francis is saying, is the fact that we may not have 40 years to heed its warnings that global warming is a real threat, now!
Those who will probably still be alive in 40 years, like Greta Thunberg, teenage activist from Sweden has these past couple of years become a world-wide figure sounding the alarm that we must all work to save our beautiful planet for the next generation—hers!
Within the Catholic church hierarchy, aside from Pope Francis, we have the example of many of the country’s bishops declaring that they will open churches for Masses once again on May 31st—Pentecost. To speak to this further, I will turn to the example of my home state of Minnesota.
Our governor, Tim Walz has set out a plan, based on the best science available, the input of reliable medical people, the leaders in the business world as well as input from church leaders and so on about the perceived needs of our people—across the board as to the best way to reopen our state.
Regarding churches reopening, his plan suggests that this be done incrementally with gatherings of 10 or less and then when we see how that goes, adding to this amount. Businesses are part of this plan and will be opened in the same way with the underlining measure being, “how long you are in a particular place “of business, church—whatever it might be.” Because people are generally in church at least an hour or more, whereas people going to “big box stores” for necessities can be “an in and out” type of venture, the amount of people allowed in at any time is different with the idea of keeping people safe.
The bishop’s complaint is that if the stores can be open to larger amounts of people, the churches can be too. Thus, the Minnesota bishops plan to defy the governor’s more incremented plan and open early allowing one-third the capacity of the church’s space to be filled with stringent measures of social-distancing, use of masks and good sanitation measures in place. The bishops’ further explanation goes something like, “The people need the Mass and the sacraments.”
Now, I am aware that there are differing views on this issue, but I would just say that this example shows the bishops’ consistently small—minded thinking where matters of faith are concerned. Where were these same bishops a few weeks ago when Cardinal Timothy Dolan was falling all over himself in support of the president in order that he would support their key issue—fighting against abortion?
We must recall that this is a president who does not support any other life issue; immigrants and their children, the poor, the homeless, care of the earth and if truth be told, doesn’t support those who want to see legal abortion eliminated in our country either, except to get the Catholic vote.
So again, I ask why do these same bishops not come together and make a statement criticizing their brother Timothy for supporting a president who is against a multitude of human life issues. Probably because it is always easier for most of us to support a cold, sterile law (Sunday Mass attendance) than it is to support the human, life-giving needs of the People of God. For Jesus, it was all about love—and for us, as his followers, it must be too!
The bishops say that the people want and need the sacraments. I would tell them that there is also the “sacrament” of assisting state leadership trying to keep all of us safe! As I tell my parish, these times call us to be “church” in other ways—the “eucharist” is truly about “thanksgiving” and can happen in many ways, outside of church attendance. These times truly call us to get outside of our “small boxes of thinking and acting!
In conclusion, today’s gospel calls us to reflect on the prayer of Jesus’ heart the night before he died. He so wanted us to be one in our love, our giving , our being, even though he realized how hard an undertaking this can be at times.
As we prepare for Pentecost, let our own priestly prayer be one with our brother Jesus—to get past ourselves, seeing the bigger picture, with the Spirit’s help, “to be one” as much as that is possible, for the good of us all. Amen?—Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
- Jesus, today we remember that your life among us has taken on a new form, but help us to remember that you are with us, always, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
- Jesus, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace, especially in this time of pandemic and be with those suffering now from Covid 19 in any way, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
- Jesus, you who said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend, give us hearts that strive to love unconditionally, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
4. Jesus, give the gift of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel for those suffering from job loss, especially now due to Covid 19, from chronic illness, or discouragement of any kind, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
- Jesus, you have called us friends—enable us to extend that relationship in our world to those who most need friendship, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
- Jesus, you no longer have a body in this world except through us—help us to be your hands and eyes and ears and heart for our world , we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
- Jesus, your words in Scripture today remind us that we are to be one—to make a place for all at our table—help us to always remember that is why we are here in this community—to welcome all to our table—to your table, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
8. Jesus, remind us this week as we prepare for the feast of Pentecost, that your Spirit lives within us enabling us to be your body for the needs of the world, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
- Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, especially from the coronavirus—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—(Pause)—we pray, then response
Let Us Pray
Jesus, be the strength we need each day to be a people renewed—true to our calling to be people of peace and of love. Let us never falter in our commitment to you and your world. Let us look at your people, always with love, remembering that you have called us friends—that you have given all that we might have eternal life with you. Let us always remember your never-failing love for each person and that because you have loved us so fully, we too must love fully in return. Give us ever more open minds that we might see your face in each person we meet and therefore cease to judge others, but simply try and understand, to put ourselves in another’s shoes and then to simply look on them with love. We await anew the gift of your loving Spirit into our lives. Give us what we most need today—be especially with all the front-line workers caring for the sick, keeping them safe. Be as well with all those necessary workers who aren’t able to shelter-in-place or social-distance—keep them safe. We ask all of this of you, our loving Savior and with the Creator and your loving Spirit— all, one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.
Let Us Pray—again, we remember that “communion,” receiving the “bread” we know to be Jesus’ life in this special way has to wait a safer time. Ask that our brother Jesus be with you in a special and new way at this time and he will be! Then, share that “bread” –his life, with others.
Prayer after Communion
Loving God, hear us and through this holy mystery, give us hope that the glory you have given Jesus will be given to the Church, his body, for he is our loving Savior, forever and ever, Amen.