"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

3rd Sunday of Easter Livestream Eucharistic Celebration

3rd Sunday of Easter Livestream Eucharistic Celebration

Homily (Three Points)

First Point, to whom was the ransom of Christ’s blood paid: was it to God or to the devil?

Obviously we cannot say God was the one who got paid by the ransom as if He is a blood-thirsty God. It cannot be. I read in the news about the reason for the declining number of deaths caused by Covid-19 in our country. Indeed that is very good news. In PGH they have administered to the Covid-19 patients plasma therapy. This is primarily blood plasma collected from those who have recovered and injected to those who need anti-bodies. Their blood is valuable in this case because after going through great pain they now can give life to others through their own blood. Christ’s blood was shed to bring new life to humanity in the same way. Blood stands not for the pain. Rather it represents life. In Hebrew thought the blood is a cleansing and enlivening, renewing agent that functions like anti-body to fight the deadly virus of sin.

The color of Easter is white (the colour of victory) precisely because the blood of Christ cleanses us. In the Book of Revelation the bloodied garments of the martyrs are washed white in the blood of the Lamb, the blood of Jesus which gives us His life, His divine life through His Resurrection from the dead. He did this so that nothing could come between us anymore not even death.

Second Point, what room do our prayers have in the all-knowing mind of our God?

During the lockdown, some of us may have grown impatient with this virus, with ourselves and with other family members and even with God. It is understandable. I have counselled some people online who expressed that their prayers were just wasted. What is the use of prayer?If nothing seems to be happening. In the Urbi et Orbi message (To the City and the world homily) last March 27, 2020, the Holy Father chose the Gospel reading of Mark when Jesus and the disciples were at the middle of a stormy sea. Before the storm subsided upon the command of Jesus, the disciples were so terrified for their lives. They said to Jesus, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” They said that because Jesus had even the time to sleep. What room do our prayers have in the all-knowing mind of our God?

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) talked about the missionary power of intercessory prayer (e.g. The prayers of the faithful). Every mass especially throughout the lockdown millions of people flood heaven with their prayers, beginning from our Holy Father himself. In a recent interview Pope Francis said that his prayers these days are always about the people. He said that one model of intercessory prayer is St. Paul who always thought about the people whenever he prayed, “I constantly pray with you in every one of my prayers for all of you… because I hold you in my heart” (Phil 1:4,7).

What was it about people that St. Paul prayed to God? Prayers of deep gratitude to God for them. In Romans 1:8, he said “First, I thank God through Jesus Christ for all of you. At another time he said, “I give thanks to God for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus” “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” The great men and women of God were great intercessors. Mary is foremost among them. Pope Francis said, “Intercession is like a leaven in the heart of the Trinity.” It is a way of penetrating the Father’s heart and discovering new dimensions which can shed light on concrete situations and change them… Although it is equally true that God gets to know already beforehand, for He is always there first. However, the power of intercessory prayer is to show and to reveal ever more clearly God’s love and faithfulness in the midst of His people. I encourage you to pray with us later during the prayers of the faithful, whisper the names of people and family members who need our prayers. Cardinal Carlo Martini, SJ once asked, “What does God want from us?” He wants us to desire and keep longing for him and trusting in Him. Here I am reminded of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that says “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.” The CCC attributes this quotation to St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. I interpret this saying this way like God’s invitation to you: that you need to put all your trust in God, which is what God is asking of you but you also need to trust yourself together with your gifts and talents that God entrusted to you. I will observe silence later during the consecration, I invite you to whisper the names of those of have died. Let us help them.

Third point, what do you do when you hit rock bottom like the disciples after Jesus died on the cross?

There are times though when we hit rock bottom and we cannot afford even to look up to God, much less to pray. This is what happened to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were so devastated, distraught after they placed all their hopes and dreams in Jesus whom, in the end, they considered a failure. They trusted in Jesus but they felt it was all a mistake. All the disciples hit rock bottom. What do you do when you hit rock bottom like that? Many of our brothers and sisters faced with this pandemic, especially the ones whose friends and family have been affected are now, most probably, in the lowest and darkest possible place to see oneself in. (I learned of a young man in his twenties who goes back to their home, but this time no longer with his loved-ones. Because both of his parents have perished  The orphaned son embarks on a journey by himself in their home forever silenced by grief. Jesus feels for all the others who have lost their loved-ones and Jesus is silent too. No words can take away the pain. But there was something that the two disciples did that turn them from the rock bottom up. They sought consolation from this stranger. Telling him “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” We can be like this stranger to someone in need of consolation these days. God hides Himself in strangers that one day we are surprised that stranger who showed tenderness is the risen Jesus. Amen

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Spiritual Communion

Those who are unable to make sacramental Communion with Christ by participating in the Eucharist, can express the desire to receive him in their spirit with these words that help to make spiritual communion with him: To our online brothers and sisters please follow after me.
My Jesus, I believe / that you are truly present / in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
/ I love you above all things  / and desire
to receive You / into my soul. /
Since I cannot at this moment / receive you sacramentally,/ come at least spiritually / into my heart. /
I embrace You / as if You were already there / and unite myself wholly to You.
/ Never permit me / to be separated from You. / Amen (Saint Alphonsus Liguori)

First reading
Acts 2:14, 22–33

It was impossible for Jesus to be held by death.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words. You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him:
I saw the Lord ever before me,
  with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
  my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
  nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
  you will fill me with joy in your presence.
“My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day. But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption. God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured him forth, as you see and hear.”

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 16:1–2, 5, 7–8, 9–10, 11
Lord, you will show us the path of life.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
  I say to the Lord, “My Lord are you.”
Lord, my allotted portion and my cup,
  you it is who hold fast my lot.
Lord, you will show us the path of life.
I bless the Lord who counsels me;
  even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the Lord ever before me;
  with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Lord, you will show us the path of life.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
  my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
  nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
Lord, you will show us the path of life.
You will show me the path to life,
  abounding joy in your presence,
  the delights at your right hand forever.
Lord, you will show us the path of life.

Second reading
1 Peter 1:17–21 ·

You were saved with the precious Blood of Christ, as with that of a spotless, unblemished lamb.

Beloved: If you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.
  He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Luke 24:13–35

They recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread.

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.