May 26, 2020

Memorial of St. Philip Neri

(Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter)

First Reading: Acts 20:17-27

Responsorial: Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21

Alleluia: John 14:16

Gospel: John 17:1-11A

Back in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI (now our Emeritus Pope) had declared a Jubilee Year dedicated to St. Paul. I was in seminary at the time, and we were fortunate to have the famous Scripture scholar Dr. Scott Hahn come to the seminary to give a special lecture on the life of St. Paul. During the Q&A session that followed his lecture, I asked him: “If St. Paul were the pastor of a church today, what would he be like?” Dr. Hahn chuckled at the question, perhaps having never thought of St. Paul in that way. But then he said, “I think some people would find him too intense, but ultimately his zeal for souls which is based on love of Christ and his people would win them over.”

Dr. Hahn’s analysis of Paul’s character is supported by the passage we read today from the Book of Acts. He tells the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus: “You know...Read more

May 25, 2020

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

(Optional Memorials of St. Bede the Venerable, St. Gregory VII, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi)

First Reading: Acts 19:1-8

Responsorial: Psalm 68:2-3AB, 4-5ACD, 6-7AB

Alleluia: Colossians 3:1

Gospel: John 16:29-33

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul travels to Ephesus (in Greece) where he meets some “believers.” However, this community of believers does not seem to trace itself to the missionary action of any of the Apostles, after the death of Christ, but to John the Baptist, who was killed by King Herod even while Christ was still alive. It seems that this group of believers had contact with John the Baptist or some of his followers and heard some things about Jesus – based on what John was preaching at that time – but didn’t get (in the immortal words of Paul Harvey) “the rest of the story.”

Paul asks this group if they have received the Holy Spirit. The group replies that they were not even aware of the Holy Spirit, which makes sense if they became followers of Christ during John the...Read more

May 24, 2020

The Ascension of the Lord

First Reading: Acts 1:1-11

Responsorial: Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23

Alleluia: Matthew 28:19A, 20B

Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

Traditionally, Christians spoke of four “last” things: (1) death, (2) judgment, (3) heaven, and (4) hell. The four last things were meant to be a reminder that everything in this life came down to these four realities. Everyone will die and be judged by the Lord according to the state of their soul in that moment. The Book of Hebrews tells us, “It is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment.” Based upon that judgment, each soul will go to heaven or hell. (To be clear, the Church teaches that most souls require the path through purgatory to get to heaven, because even the soul in the state of grace is stained by sin in this life, but purgatory always leads to heaven so it is not considered in that sense a “last” thing. A person also cannot “flunk out” of purgatory and end up in hell.)

The Four Last Things are...Read more

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