Homily – 5th Sunday of Easter (Fr. Smith)

I don’t think I would have done as well as the apostles in recognizing who Jesus was. From the vantage point of 20 centuries, they can seem somewhat dim but given their justified expectations, they were quite perceptive. They challenge us today.

As our Bible study group is discovering the best way to understand what the Apostles and their Jewish contemporaries felt can be found in the Psalms. They are not only beautiful poetry but heartfelt expressions of faith, doubt and everything in between with often great sophistication.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter – Entering Heaven Together

Photo by Craig McLachlan on Unsplash

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings
but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
and, like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
(1 Peter 2:4–5)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Church Fathers
Fifth Sunday of Easter
St. Irenaeus on the Eucharist
May 7, 2023

St. Irenaeus (c. 130 to c. 202 AD) was the Bishop of Lyon in what is now France. He was however born in the East most likely in Syrma in today’s Turkey. His assignment to Lyon was not happenstance. It was then, as it is now, a commercial center and had a large population of traders and merchants from the east. Irenaeus spoke Greek knew the culture and was uniquely able to minister to their needs. Also, they not only imported goods but also the church’s first major heresy, Gnosticism.

Gnostic means knowledge and although it came in many forms Gnostics of every kind believed that people were saved by having the right knowledge not by the death and resurrection of Jesus. They usually believed that the body was disposable or even evil and only the non-material spirit was important. This is an eternal temptation. We saw that Paul constantly taught the Gentiles that they would be raised “body and soul”. Pope Francis, as we will see, finds it in our own society, The Gnostics often went far beyond this and considered the human body to be a creation of a lesser god or even the devil. St Irenaeus fought the most dangerous form of Gnosticism devised by a charismatic Roman teacher Valentinus (c.  100 to c.  180 AD).
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Homily – Good Shepherd Sunday (Fr. Smith)

There is an old Italian saying: “The fish stinks form the head down”, This has been a guiding principle of the church since the beginning and the human reality behind the image of the Good Shepherd in St. John‘s gospel.

The community which St. John formed was begun by Jews who knew their history. They saw the rise and fall of kings and how that affected the lives of common people. They knew the book of Ezekiel and his use of the shepherd image. He wrote when the Babylonians had conquered Jerusalem and brought the Jewish leaders to their capital as captives. Ezekiel thought that the people had been scattered because the leaders – shepherds – had pastured themselves and not the sheep. (Ez 34:8)

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Homily – Third Sunday of Easter (Fr. Smith)

In Luke’s gospel none of the disciples immediately understood what happened to Jesus. Mary Magdalene comes the closest but even she needed instruction by an angel to remember  Jesus’ own prophecy. When she and the other women tell the apostles that they had seen Jesus’ tomb empty and heard the explanation of the angel only Peter believed them. He ran to the tomb but left amazed and more confused than enlightened. Particularly clueless were the disciples that we meet today on the road to Emmaus. Perhaps that is why they are among my favorite characters in the New Testament.

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Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday (Fr. Smith)

“The Man who Shot Liberty Valence” is one of the great American Films. It was produced in the early 1960s and chronicles both the evolving American West and the developing American newspaper industry.  It contains a most memorable line “When a legend becomes fact, print the legend” This combined with the adage “Nature abhors a vacuum” is the foundation of many of our Christian stories. St Thomas the Apostle is a case in point. (Link to the scene in the movie can be found here liberty valance print the legend – Bing video)

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Divine Mercy Sunday – Jesus Is with His Church

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1603

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
(John 20:27–28)

Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Gospel
Divine Mercy Sunday
John 20:19–31
April 16, 2023

Our Gospels for the Easter season tell the stories of our Lord’s Resurrection and the new life which it offers. They are beautiful, demanding but so deep that they should be read with new eyes every year. They contain many themes and use many literary devices so any brief examination, however valuable, will be superficial. Today we will begin with why there are two endings to the Gospel of John.
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Homily – Easter (Fr. Smith)

When the angel spoke to the women at the Tomb in today’s gospel, he told them “Go quickly and tell his disciples” to meet him in Galilee. This is the language of the org chart. The angel recognized where the disciples, the most prominent followers of Jesus, are in the organization and gave them instructions from their direct report.

Several minutes later the women meet Jesus himself and he tells them to “go tell my brothers to go to Galilee”. His desire to see him is understandable. All the disciples ran away when danger arose, some fell asleep when he needed them most and Peter, their leader, denied him three times before the authorities. Our first thought might be that they have a lot for which they must answer. Yet Jesus calls them “my brothers”. He uses the language of family and speaks of them with affection.

Has he forgotten their betrayal, has there been no judgement? Far from it. The resurrection is itself the judgement of God. For centuries the LORD sent prophets, teachers, kings and poets to show his people how to live. He shared his very mind with them, but they did not change. He therefore sent his son. God’s judgment is that reformation isn’t enough, there must be transformation. Jesus did not show us a new way of seizing earthly power or of obeying the divine law, he showed us a new way of being human.

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