This weekend we celebrate the Third Sunday of Easter. In today’s Gospel, we hear another of the accounts of the Resurrection appearances. Actually, this scripture passage is a continuation of the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They are still discussing the experience and trying to make sense of what transpired in their encounter with Jesus. While they are speaking, Jesus appears to them once again and extends his peace to them. He realizes they are a bit troubled and are struggling with some questions about what they have seen with their own eyes, something that seems impossible and unreal. So, Jesus tells them to look at his hands and his feet, and to touch him so that they might know for sure that it is he, and not a ghost.
We, too, experience the Risen Lord in our lives. At times he speaks to us in unexpected ways. Like the disciples, we also may question and even wonder: is it really the voice of Christ we hear in our prayer and in our dealings with others each day? That is why it is so important to share our stories with one another and to be part of a community which worships together and experiences Christ in our midst, most especially in “the breaking of the bread.” At each Eucharist we celebrate, we encounter the Risen Christ through sacramental signs: in the Word of God proclaimed, in the sacred Body and Blood of Christ we receive, in the priest who presides in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), and in the assembly (the Church, the Body of Christ). At each Eucharist we celebrate, the priest (in the person of Christ) extends [the] peace [of Christ] to us, the same peace he extended to his disciples. In turn we offer that same peace of Christ to one another. Indeed, Christ is truly present among us. We might ask ourselves the following. Does our encounter with Christ excite us and fill us with joy? Does it cause us to proclaim to others that Jesus is risen from the dead and that he makes all things new? Does our encounter with Christ change our hearts and give us the grace and strength us to lead lives worthy of our calling? Does our encounter with Christ who extends us his peace to us make us a people of peace?
This Sunday evening at 5:30 PM, Bishop Cistone will celebrate the Mystagogia Mass with those who were fully initiated into the Church at the Easter Vigil throughout the Diocese. Both of our newly baptized from Saint John Paul II Parish, Belia Lisa Cecilia Torres and Matheo Ray John Torres, along with their sponsors, families and myself will be attending the Mass. This will be a very special experience for them. The first time they gathered with the bishop was for the Rite of Election. This time they are able to celebrate Eucharist with him. The final step in the RCIA process is called the period of Mystagogia, a time in which the newly baptized continue to meet together (apart from Eucharist) with their Catechist/s and reflect upon their experience of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, and the wondrous ways in which the Lord continues to work in their lives.
Two of the children of our parish will be receiving the sacrament of Confirmation this Thursday at Saint John Vianney Parish. Bishop Cistone will be confirming Hailey Behe and Aaron Siemienkiewicz. What a most special day it will be for them. Please keep them in your prayers these final days of preparation for the sacrament and as they look forward to receiving First Eucharist this Easter Season.
Next Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The purpose of the World Day of Prayer is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to send laborers into his harvest (as noted in Matthew 9: 38 and Luke 10:2). Regarding this Day of Prayer, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us: “As a climax to a prayer that is continually offered throughout the Church, it affirms the primacy of faith and grace in all that concerns vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. While appreciating all vocations, the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to the ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate), to the Religious Life in all its forms (male and female, contemplative and apostolic), to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life, in the particular sense of mission “ad gentes.” [Ad gentes translates “to the people”] This year marks the 52 Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Next week, I will include a bit more about this day, and hopefully include one or two testimonials.
Blessings on your Easter Days!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ