What’s This Site All About

June 1st, 2020

Welcome to Deacon Larry’s Homily Website.  Deacon Larry Brockman’s  home parish is Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando, Florida.  This site contains all of Deacon Larry’s Homilies organized by date.  There are three major categories- Holy Family Sunday Homilies; Holy Family Daily Homilies; and Westminster Tower Homilies.  You are welcome to read and download any homily.  Comments are also welcome. God Bless!

This site has been up for a couple of years now, and I see that there are a number of subscribers.  However, nobody ever comments on these homilies.  Please, I do welcome your comments.  They would help me to be more relevant to user needs!

“Feeling” The Holy Spirit

May 31st, 2020


Acts 2: 1-11; 1 Cor 12: 3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20: 19-23

Deacon Larry Brockman

Today is all about the Holy Spirit.  We hear two different accounts of how the gift of the Holy Spirit was bestowed by God on his people.   

First, Jesus bestows the gift of the Spirit on his Apostles in the Gospel story late on Easter Sunday.   He breathes on them and then tells them that he is sending the Holy Spirit on them.

This is reminiscent of the creation of Adam and Even in Genesis, when God breathed on them and gave them life.

You know, we can explain all the physiological events that occur when someone takes a breath.  We take a breath by an internal impulse, the heart pumps, blood flows through our lungs, and the lungs renew our blood.     

But the fact remains, that the projection of our spirit’s presence is symbolized by the fact that we are dynamic, breathing beings.  Nobody can explain in physiological terms that projection which is unique to each one of us- the way a person smiles, the look in their eyes, the uniqueness of the way they move, their likes and dislikes, their temperament, and so many other things that are unique to each person.  People say that’s all imbedded in our genes.    But what is the mechanism by which those genes project the whole spirit of the person.   

And so, we sense something else other than just the physical presence in ourselves; we sense a spiritual presence.  First century Israel was not aware of so many of the scientific advances that are second nature to us today.  Fortunately, it was easier for them to understand and accept the symbolism that breathing represented the Spirit.   

And so, Jesus is infusing into the existing spiritual presences that accompanied the bodies of the Apostles something else-  an additional spiritual presence; the presence of the Spirit of God.   

Now last week, we talked some about the Holy Spirit.  We talked about the fact that the Spirit would give us power that would strengthen us and help sustain our Faith by giving us the gifts of the Spirit.   

In today’s Gospel, Jesus made it clear on that first Easter Sunday that he was giving the Apostles the Spirit of God to exercise a specific power-  the power to forgive sins or not forgive them.  This scripture is the basis for our Sacrament of Confession.   

It’s not that God can’t and won’t forgive us if we ask him directly.  But it is clear that the power of forgiveness was vested by Jesus in the Apostles by proxy, and by Apostolic succession to our current priests.  How comforting it is to know for certain that we are forgiven. 

But this was a specific gift, a specific power, just given to the Apostles. I doubt that they felt it in any way; they exercised it on Faith.   

In today’s second reading we hear about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in general.  Paul says that “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit”- for some benefit.  Then Paul uses an analogy to describe how the gifts of all of us weave together into God’s will.  He uses the human body for that analogy; how each member has an essential function.   

Now In the first reading, we hear about thousands of people who received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.  First, the Disciples of Jesus are infused with the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire.  Each of them has been empowered in a unique way by the Holy Spirit.  One power is the gift of tongues, the ability of those Apostles to communicate with foreigners speaking different languages.  And working all together, Jesus’ disciples convert thousands of people on that first day through the power of the Holy Spirit.   

Now this sounds just great as we read it 2000 years later, but when most of us were confirmed, we didn’t see tongues of fire or people speaking in tongues to us.  So, did we feel the presence of the Spirit come on us?  Many of us had a spiritual high; a joyful expectation finally met.  But did anything really change in our lives instantly that we could really sense?  Did we feel stronger in our ability to deal with evil?  Did we get a special inspiration about what God wants us to do with our lives?   

Well, the Holy Spirit’s powers are spiritual, not physical powers.  They are not something we can touch or feel.  We have got to accept on Faith that these powers, these gifts, are there, and that they are there for our benefit.  We have received the power to access the will of God for us.  He now guarantees us his presence and attention when we appeal to him.  We are in his good “graces”; we have received “grace”.  We hold that grace as long as we are faithful to God and his commandments.   

In particular, he will help guide us to discover the gifts and powers that he wills for us if we ask him.  He does that by nudging us in the right direction as circumstances present themselves and by giving us the spiritual strength, fortitude if you will, to stick with it.   

Today, we see many people who found the Spirit’s gifts to them as we see how society is dealing with the Corona Virus.  People are serving their fellow man in extraordinary ways.  They have a strength they didn’t know they had; and although exhausted, they experience joys they didn’t know existed.  

Our access to the gifts of the Spirit is like that.  When we least expect it, we will be called, and our challenge is to hear that call.  It is then we will feel the strength of the Spirit working in us.   

The Holy Spirit Strengthens Our Faith

May 24th, 2020


Acts 1: 1-11; Eph 1: 17-23; Mt 28: 16-20

Deacon Larry Brockman

Faith!  The Apostles are called after their 40 days of contact with the Risen Lord, to have Faith going forward.  And indeed, this is the universal message to all of us about belief in God, the Kingdom of God, and an after-life.  We have got to have Faith as we live life in this world.   

The gift that Jesus gave us to sustain us in our Faith is the hope inspired by the Holy Spirit.  For while we do not have Jesus physically present in our lives as the Apostles did, we know in our hearts that Jesus was here, suffered and died and was raised from the dead, and now, has ascended into heaven  because we believe in what we read in the Gospel.  The gift of the Spirit sustains and enriches that belief in us.  The Spirit inspires us with the Hope of the Kingdom.  Indeed, “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen”.  And that is all of us.

Didn’t you find it odd the way the Gospel describes the Apostles this morning?  It says they worshipped him when they gathered on the mountain that last time, but…“they doubted”.  I find it absolutely incredible that “they doubted” after all they had experienced.  Jesus ate and drank and related to them after they had seen him suffer and die a horrible death on the cross.  He had been with them for 40 days.  And now, right before their eyes, after doubting, they saw him raised up into the heavens.  The two men, angels I suppose, say not once, but twice, that Jesus was taken up into heaven- another miracle in the long line of miracles these people had seen first-hand, even to those who doubted.  Why does the Gospel point out that these men doubted?   

Well, it is human nature for us to doubt the other worldly, the life beyond, something beyond what is right in front of us.  In fact, the passage of time dulls the memory that people have of real events.  There are those who don’t believe in the lunar landing.  There are those who don’t believe that the Holocaust happened in Germany during World War II, even though there is well documented evidence that these things happened, including photographs and personal testimonies. 

The message is that we cannot accept the truth by ourselves.  We need help; we need something beyond reality to inspire us to accept the truth and believe in it.   

Here we are, two thousand years after the events in today’s readings occurred, called to believe that this man, born of humble origins, said and did everything recorded in the Gospels.  That takes Faith, and it is a faith based on what we hear, not what we have seen.  We are prone to doubt it all when the humdrum of the real physical world comes into play.  Secretly, down inside of us, the devil is trying to instill doubt in our faith.  He whispers constantly that what you see is all there is.  Enjoy that while it lasts, preserve it at all costs, because that’s all there is.     

Jesus recognized that even the faith of those closest to him who had seen the events first-hand and walked with him for 40 days after the Resurrection was vulnerable- because they still doubted.  So, Jesus promises to send them something after he is gone.  He promises them the Holy Spirit.   He tells them the Holy Spirit will give them power, and that they will be his witnesses to the end of the Earth.   

So, this group of doubters will be given a gift that will transcend doubt.  It will give them inspiration, and fill them with a strong sense of belief in all that they had seen and heard,  So that they would hold the hope of being reunited with Jesus in the Kingdom of God, Heaven,   In their hearts with steadfast faith.   

And indeed, that’s just what the Holy Spirit did for these men as we will see next week during the birth of the Church, the Feast of Pentecost.   

All of us need the gift of the Spirit as well.  We need to accept on Faith the things we have not seen and heard first hand. and to believe that the promises Jesus made to us through the witnessing by the descendants of the Apostles are still true. 

Yes, all of us who believe will be united with Jesus our Savior in the Kingdom of Heaven some day.  But we need the help of the Holy Spirit to transcend the work of the devil and the influences of the secular world.  Even his first hand witnesses doubted, and needed this gift to maintain their Faith. 

The First Confirmation

May 17th, 2020

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17; 1 Pet 3: 15-18; Jn 14: 15-21

Deacon Larry Brockman

Today we hear all about the Sacrament of Confirmation.   

First, we hear a clear description of the Sacrament in Acts.  For while Philip Baptized the Samaritans; it was clear that Peter and John recognized the need for their “Confirmation”.  Confirmation is the Sacrament in which we receive the Holy Spirit; and it is normally administered by the Bishop to large groups.   

Now at first blush, Confirmation may seem confusing because we are also taught that when we are Baptized, we are reborn in the Spirit.  So, if we receive the Spirit at Baptism, then why Confirmation?  The Church teaches that when we are Baptized, our sins are forgiven and we receive the Spirit of grace, of justice, and of Sanctification.  We become children of God and neophytes in the Church of God.   

But just as is implied in the reading from Acts; we need something more than that to navigate our way through the secular world.  Jesus says it best in the Gospel.  He says that we need another “Advocate”, and that after He leaves the world,,He will send that Advocate to those who keep his Commandments.    

Let me dwell on this part of the Gospel a bit.  We hear that the Advocate will give us the Spirit of Truth “which the World cannot accept because it neither sees nor knows it.”  This is truth in the eyes of God.  How true that the world neither sees it nor knows it.  It includes knowledge and confidence that there is life beyond life in this world.  That is something that the secular world is very skeptical about.   

It includes a welcoming sense of acceptance of God’s law in the heart.  This was the subject of Jesus’ entire three-year ministry- to instill in the Apostles the truth about God’s law- a law of love for God, neighbor, and self; not just a sense of law which meant abiding by strict precepts handed down by tradition.  It is true, of course, that many of those laws were based on God’s revelation to Moses and the prophets.  But their true meaning had been morphed to a set of black and white laws.  Compliance with the law was based on physical compliance; not necessarily on compliance in the heart.   

And it includes a sense that the most important thing for us to do in our lives, is to comply with God’s will for us, whatever that it.  The Gospel is the story of the pattern for doing this.  It is the story of Jesus Christ’s mission on earth to live his life in accordance with god’s will.   

Clearly, the Spirit of truth then, if accepted by a person, would be a Spirit of strength.  That’s because when we accept the truth and are committed to it with our hearts; then we have the inner strength to bear with whatever the world throws at us. 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit accompany the Spirit of truth.  They are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge , Piety, and Fear of God.  It is easy to see inner strength in a person who has these gifts in their Faith.   

Now the word Advocate here is based on the original Greek word in the book of Acts, which is Paraclete.  It is only used 4 times in the Scriptures.  But the sense of the Greek word is “one called in as helper, pleader, defender, patron, advocate”.   

Putting this all together then, Jesus is telling his Apostles that he will send them the Spirit of Truth, God’s truth.  This Spirit of Truth would instill in them the strength that they needed to deal with the secular world and that this Spirit would be their advocate when they stood before God for judgment.  All of this equally applies to us as it did to the Apostles.   

Our second reading shows us what it is like to be a Confirmed Christian.  Peter describes a person who is always ready to be a witness for Christ.  That means they have the wisdom and knowledge of their faith that they need to defend it or explain it to others. and it means that they have the patience and the forbearance to do it in a way that is “gentle and with reverence”.  It also means that they have the fortitude to defend their faith in word and deed despite the possibility of ridicule.   

Yes, today’s readings are all about Confirmation; and what it means to be a Confirmed Christian.   

My Father’s House

May 10th, 2020

5th Sunday of Easter

Acts 6: 1-7; 1 Pet 2: 4-9; Jn 14: 1-12

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”  Such are Jesus’ words to Thomas this morning.   

And I think that is very comforting to know.  Because it implies diversity in Heaven; it implies that these dwelling places are somehow different, yet each is just as desirable as the next.  Jesus basically tells us that each dwelling place is tailored for the individual; and that if we follow his teaching in this life, then He will come and get us and lead us to our particular place.  How wonderful is that!   

And that kind of gives context to what we do here in this life because all of us are called to do God’s will in this life.  But God’s will is very different for each one of us.  Jesus tells Thomas, that He is “the way, the truth, and the life”.  And indeed, Jesus accepted the Father’s will for Him, and deferred in obedience, accepting death, even death on a cross. 

But now, he is in a special place in Heaven by the Father’s side.   

This morning’s first reading is all about the call of the first Deacons.  The Presbyters needed to concern themselves with the Word and teaching.  They didn’t want that calling to be diluted by having to deal with  some of the more pragmatic tasks in the first Christian communities, such as the distribution of the meals.  So, they chose seven men to be Deacons to do that.   

But notice that they chose men “filled with the spirit and wisdom”.  They didn’t just choose people who were good at being waiters.  They needed such people because they were concerned with the equitable distribution amongst both the Jews and the Gentiles, the mixed congregation of Christians.  These Deacons were charged with making sure that the practical details were met,,and met with fairness.   

What I am suggesting is that such vocations are life-long learning experiences.  When we accept them, we do God’s will and give up our own personal goals in deference to God’s goals.  That vocation may transcend our lives in this world, and somehow help us in our unique places in the next.   

And so, if there is a unique calling for us in this life, and there is a unique place for us in the next life; then there must somehow be a connection between the two.  We don’t live this life for 30, 50, or even 80 years or more without there being some correlation between our learning and our experiences here in this world, with life in the next world.   

This means that the place we will given in the Heavenly Kingdom somehow completes a journey where we finally reconcile diversity and harmony; happiness and engagement; talent and exercise of it; worship of God and rest.   

These concepts are covered in a different way in the second reading which talks about Christ being the cornerstone of a living abode.  Indeed, Christ is the cornerstone of the foundation of the Church; and all of us are “living stones” which have a particular place and function in that abode.  But all together, we constitute one body, the Church, working in harmony and tightly bound together.   

Today is Mother’s Day.  What better example is there for how to fulfill the will of God in a vocation, and benefit from the experience?  Mothers love, nurture, teach, encourage, advise, and then eventually let go of their children.  They are the first teachers, along with their Dads, of the Faith that their children have.  And they provide context for life, the development of a healthy conscience, and so much more for their children.  

Like all true vocations that we are called to, they have to empty themselves and defer to others in the process.  And that is something that all good mothers certainly do.  Ideally, they don’t do it alone, but with the mutual love and support of their husbands.  But their children are of primary importance to them.  They do for their children in deference to themselves over and over again, giving up things often so their children can have instead.   

They do the wash, they cook the meals, they mend, they fuss over every hurt, they comfort, they encourage, they chastise, they correct, they defend; and they take great pride in the people that their children become.  But then, they have to let go, as their children leave home, and make their own families and lives.   

There is a special place in Heaven for Mothers who do this well; that’s one of those places that Jesus was talking about.   

Today, as we celebrate Mothers Day, let us remember all who have had this vocation in our families- our living mothers, and those mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers who have found that special place that Jesus has led them to in His Heavenly Kingdom. 

Recognizing the Narrow Way

May 3rd, 2020

4th Sunday of Easter

Acts 2: 14a; 36-41; 1 Pet 2: 20b-25; Jn 10: 1-10

Deacon Larry Brockman

The Gospel says: “When they heard this they were cut to the heart!”  And it is well that they should have been so affected, because Peter is talking to the same people who were standing in the Portico shouting “Crucify Him” on Good Friday.   

So, the focus this week has shifted from the body of believers, to the great sea of other people who were just part of the crowd.  But now it is more than 50 days after the Crucifixion, and they had seen what had happened to the Apostles.  Here were all eleven of them, fearless, joyful, and proclaiming the name of Jesus.  Some 500 of the believers had seen the Risen Jesus, whom this crowd in front of Peter had wanted crucified.  The crowd was there because they had heard all about it from these witnesses.  

And so now, they were “cut to the heart”.  They had made a mistake- what a terrible mistake, too.  “Woe unto Me”, they were thinking.  “Surely Jesus will seek revenge on those of us who persecuted and mocked him”, they thought.  Hence, they said “what are we to do?”   

But instead of condemning them, Peter is giving them “good news”.  Because he is telling them that Jesus suffered to save them as well.  All they have to do is believe now, even now, after all that they said and did against Jesus.  All they had to do now was believe in him and repent; and they, too, would be saved.  We hear that some 3000 of them accepted that invitation; they didn’t say how many didn’t accept it.   

Well, how does all that this apply to us?  A couple of ways, I believe.   

First, we are constantly faced with our own failings after we make a sincere effort to repent.  We are like a member of the crowd who says “Woe is me, I have done wrong even after I pledged I would repent.”  But the message is that Jesus is always there for us no matter how many times we fail.  As the letter of Peter makes clear, we are all called to be patient and to suffer for doing good. 

This just doesn’t happen once, but it happens over and over again for most of us.  What is important is that each time we fall, we recognize that God is relentless, and still wants us.  And so, we respond to him with a humble and contrite heart each time and are forgiven.    And the second thing that comes to mind is that we, just like the eleven standing on the steps of the temple in 0 AD, we are the witnesses who are called to go out into the community and tell the truth about Christianity.   

We are to help the general public understand that they are like sheep, wandering aimlessly throughout this world, looking for the real shepherd amongst a sea of thieves and charlatans, all of whom are pushing what the world has to offer.  Indeed, many of our contemporaries don’t know where they are going and live life day by day.     

The Gospel says the Pharisees didn’t understand the parable.  They thought they had the answer and were leading the people.  They had studied the scriptures and dedicated their lives to living the Mosaic law.  But something was missing- the real objective of living life.  It wasn’t all about just living the law; it was about loving God and neighbor, a message Jesus preached for three years.  Jesus implied that this emphasis trumped the law- that compliance to the law was not as important as living a life founded in love.   

So, Jesus told them explicitly what the parable meant.  He told them those who were “not entering through the narrow gate” which Jesus himself controlled, were thieves and robbers- stealing the sheep from the right and fruitful way.  Indeed, these Pharisees were trying to lead the people, but they didn’t understand God’s “narrow way”.  They jumped the fence and were leading the people in other ways.   

But the real shepherd, Jesus, has a familiar voice,  A voice that welcomes, soothes, reassures and always leads them into safety.  It’s that voice inside of us that God uses to prompt us all the time; any other voice of authority will distract us, and even rob us of our intended destiny.   

We are modern day witnesses to Christ like the 500 in the early Church.  By our love and example, we can lead others to God.  We are called to help others recognize the narrow gate and respond to the Good Shepherd’s voice. 

Believing in the Heart

April 26th, 2020

3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 2: 14; 22-33; 1 Pet 1: 17-21; Lk 24: 13-35

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, do you believe in your hearts?  Because that’s what today’s readings are all about.  

Now I am sure that if I ask all of you if you believe in Jesus Christ and the Resurrection; your all going to tell me “yes”.  But let’s take a closer look at today’s Gospel to see about believing in the heart.   

Jesus is walking along with Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus.  Not recognizing him, they tell Jesus about all the mighty deeds and words that Jesus did. Yet even so, they say that Jesus was betrayed, crucified, died, and buried.  Then they proceed to tell him that some of the women went to the tomb that very morning and found it empty. The women were told by an angel that Jesus was not there but was Risen.  Instead of being happy and joyous, they are confused and despondent.   

So, Jesus says to them: “Oh. How foolish you are, slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke.”  Yes, “Slow of heart”.   

These disciples of Jesus presumably had followed him in his ministry.  They had heard all of this before.  Jesus had been very open to his disciples about who he was, what would happen to him, and that it would all unfold according to the scriptures.  They heard it before, they knew it, they kind of believed it too.  Else they wouldn’t have talked about how mighty Jesus’ words and deeds were.  But they didn’t believe it in their hearts.   

So, they believed; but they didn’t believe.  They didn’t believe in their hearts because they were distracted.  They were distracted by the events taking place in the world and the magnitude of the cultural establishment.  Despite everything Jesus had said, they still believed that death was death; because that’s what everyone’s experience was.  And even the testimony of the “women in their group” about what the angel said couldn’t penetrate that.  They didn’t connect the dots because reality was more relevant than Jesus message about the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is, after all, beyond worldly reality.   

About 6 weeks ago, I was participating as a Deacon in a Funeral Mass.  Before Mass, a group of us were gathered in the back of the Church while the family assembled in the front.  The deceased was the 104 year old Aunt of a friend of mine, who lost her husband within weeks of when Jane died.  She had told me the lady was her favorite Aunt.   

Well, I remarked to the priest and some of the Parish Staff Members that I wasn’t sure I wanted to live to 104 because with each year, I was less and less nimble; and the list of chronic ailments was growing. 

Then one of the staff members said to me: “Yes but consider the alternative.”  Really, consider the alternative.  This is a perfect example of how someone can believe, and yet not believe in their heart. 

Now if you follow the daily readings, then you know that today’s reading from Acts shows a dramatic change in the Disciples behavior.  In this week’s readings, the Apostles were summoned by the Jewish Leaders twice and told not to preach about “That Name”.  And yet, the 40 days of the post Resurrection Jesus had converted these men.  They didn’t care any more what the Jewish Leaders thought or what they might do to them.  They were fearless; because they were now believing in their hearts in the Resurrection.  Peter’s speech clearly demonstrated that as he calls Jesus’ persecutors, the Jewish Leaders, “lawless men”.  

How can we come to really believe in our hearts like these men did?  After all, we are not first-hand witnesses, but rather, we are called to listen to the Gospel and accept everything on faith some 2000 years later.   

When Jesus accepts Cleopas’ invitation to stay with him and share a meal, he does something truly remarkable.  He repeats his actions from the last Supper by taking bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to the others.  It is then, and only then, that they recognize him.  And instantly, he is gone.    

I remarked last week about “the breaking of bread”.  Here again we hear Cleopas and his companion return to Jerusalem   And describe that Jesus was not made known to them until  “the breaking of bread”.   

Well, we all have this same experience available to us.  That is what Communion is all about.  We can’t see Jesus; we can’t feel Jesus in worldly terms.  But he is really present in the Eucharist, in the breaking of bread; and not only that, His ethereal presence will help us to understand and internalize our faith in our hearts.  This experience is available to us each time we attend Mass.   

Life is God’s most precious gift to each of us as individuals.  The world tells us that eventually we will die, and that is it.  The world acts as if “that is it” when someone dies.  But you know what, as Christians, we should believe in our hearts.  After all, consider the alternative!

Has the reality of the Resurrection Sunk In?

April 19th, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday

Acts 2: 42-47; 1 Pet 1: 3-9; Jn 20: 19-31

Deacon Larry Brockman

Has the reality of the Resurrection sunk in for you?   

Our Gospel chronicles something that happened Easter Sunday night.  Clearly, the reality had not sunk in yet for the Apostles.  For John, Peter, Mary and Mary Magdalene, it had.  They had already seen Jesus.  But the rest of the Apostles were skeptical, doubtful.  It was too good to be true.  So, they were locked away in the upper room afraid.  

 It’s kind of like all of us in today’s world.  Here we are 2000 years later.  People today are a whole lot more knowledgeable about science and how the universe functions.  Nobody else has been raised from the dead in those 2000 years.  All we have to go by is the words of the witnesses of the time.  We must take it all on faith; and that’s hard because it hasn’t happened again and we have learned so much about life.   

Jesus knew that would be the case.  That’s why he stayed around for 40 days after the Resurrection.  He ate and drank and visited with his Apostles over that 40 days; and was seen by 500 or so people.  After he ascended into heaven, and the Holy Spirit came to them, all of those witnesses were thoroughly convinced.  And that convincing began with the story of the doubting Thomas   

When I was visiting Italy, I came across a great painting of the doubting Thomas by Caravaggio..  It really captures the moment and the intensity of the moment.  Now with that scene in mind, just close your eyes and think about this for a moment.  You saw this man Jesus endure incredible torture and suffering;  He was nailed to a cross and died in front of you;  And he was buried in a tomb with a huge stone rolled over it.   

Caravaggio’s Doubting Thomas

But now, he is standing in front of you, radiant and alive.  You know it is him because all of the wounds are visible to you, including the wound from the sword in the side.  Yes, seeing is believing.   

Thomas then confesses, “My Lord and my God”.  And that says it all, doesn’t it?  Only God could do this.  And not only that, God is standing there and telling you about it.    

Now it took a while, probably most of those 40 days, but ultimately both the reality of the Resurrection and the consequences of it sank in.  It is the consequences which ended up causing so much joy.  Life goes on after death!  But only if we believe in Jesus and practice what he taught us. 

Resurrection of the Body!

April 12th, 2020

Easter Sunday

Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3: 1-4; Jn 20: 1-9

Deacon Larry Brockman

The Lord is Risen!  But just what does that mean to most of us?  Have you ever really thought about it?   

For the 40 days of Lent we were all asked to reflect on our lives, just like Jesus did when he went into the desert for 40 days.  We needed to appreciate the great gift that God the Father gave us in his only begotten Son- that Jesus Christ, God made man, came and walked amongst us, lived among us, and showed us the way to please God.  He showed us that we must all be willing to accept God’s will, take up our own crosses, whatever they might be; and follow after Jesus in defending the truth and living that life, even if we have to suffer in the process.   And the key to living the life God gave us is to do everything out of love.  The reason we follow Jesus is because he promised us that we would receive a share in his inheritance-  Resurrection and Everlasting Life.  But what does that really mean for us?

Now this morning, we see that even after everything Jesus told his disciples about what would happen to him, including His suffering, death, and resurrection, they just simply still didn’t get it; and here’s the proof:  Mary Magdalene says “They took the Lord and we don’t know what they did with him!”  Even the disciples needed to see the rolled up burial cloths before they believed.    And so gradually, slowly, almost painfully, the Disciples began to see.  If we read further in the Gospel, we would hear accounts of the Risen Jesus walking, talking, eating, and being in their presence.  He tells them that if they believe and follow after him, they too will be resurrected when they die and will live forever in the Kingdom of God.    

So, the reality of the Resurrection settles in with the Disciples.  That reality is expressed well in Peter’s address in our first reading from Acts.  The disciples have now had a complete conversion- they saw, they comprehended, and they believed.  What was the essence of that conversion?  Well, that life in this world is not all there is to life.  They realized that if they followed after Jesus, they would be resurrected in body on the last day.  And they were filled with joy and inspiration when they realized that.   

You know, I think most of us never really ponder the implications of that.  Our bodies will be resurrected with us; and that gives new meaning to what life in the Kingdom of God will be like.  It gives new meaning to what all of our bodily experiences in this life are for; especially in that we all have relationships and special talents.  We naturally assume that life in the next world will be life in the spirit world  because that is our perception of where all our loved ones who have passed away are.  But what about the Resurrection of the Body?   We profess this truth every time we say the Creed- that “We believe in the Resurrection of the body and life everlasting, Amen”. 

Why is that in the Creed?  Because the Apostles saw the Resurrected Jesus in his glorified body.  And based on what he did and said during the 50 days that he spent with them until his Ascension, they came to believe thoroughly in the Resurrection of the Body as well.     

Now St. Paul tells the Colossians that “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.”  And we are to “Think about what is above, not what is on earth.”  If we do that, he tells us that “When Christ your love appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”  So, at the Last Judgment, Christ will appear, and so will all of us who believe in our glorified bodies.   

But just what is it that is above that we should seek?  Well, everyone in the Kingdom of God is in harmony with God and with each other.  And that is what we need to seek, those are the things that are above.  Somehow we will all be in harmony with each other; we will exercise our talents for the common good, not just for our own good; and we will all be happy and in the presence of God forever.   

In the last month, all of us have witnessed something that has never occurred in the history of the world before.  Amazingly, just about all of the world governments are cooperating remarkably well to suppress the Corona Virus.  And just as amazingly, most of the people are cooperating as well.  But sadly, all of this is based on secular knowledge and efforts.  Our Bishops, the Pope, and other religious leaders have called us to pray, but we are hampered aren’t we.  We can’t gather in our Churches, and although there have been some efforts, there are no cohesive efforts to bind us together.  Moreover, as our President has remarked, the path back to “normalcy” is completely unknown.   

If ever there was a time when we needed to “seek the things that are above”, it is now.  If ever there was a time when we needed God to shepherd us; it is now.  If ever there was a time we needed to trust in God; it is now.  Look at it this way.  We are close to the Kingdom of God- as Jesus said, it is amongst us.  But we may also be far from it, if we just depend on ourselves.   

I bring this up, because it is important that we focus on two things in this time of need, as people of the Resurrection:  first, we need to embrace the things that are above- to be in harmony with God and his plan for us; and second, we need to realize that no matter how bad things might get in our physical world, this life is not what it’s all about.  That puts the proper perspective on the Virus and its effects on us.  That perspective will help us to avoid panic and selfishness; and to trust in God’s providence.   

You know, the Resurrection signaled a new beginning for mankind.  Before the Resurrection, there was no certainty of everlasting life.  God had revealed it through the prophets; but there was a lot of controversy over it because people wanted “proof”.  Jesus’ Resurrection wiped away all doubt for his witnesses, some 500 of them.  We are the benefactors of those witnesses; their testimony has been passed down to us.   

We are all in for a metamorphosis of sorts in this world as we emerge out of quarantine and lockdowns.  But it is only one of a number of metamorphoses we will experience going forward.  This one right in front of us may be big; it may be relatively small.  But compared to our metamorphosis at death; and the subsequent metamorphosis of the Last Judgement and the Resurrection of the Body; well, it is relatively minor. 

As people of the Resurrection, we know that there is no reason to panic because God loves us and his plan for us ends in the Resurrection of our bodies in the Kingdom of God.  That’s what it’s all about. 

Accepting Our Crosses

April 5th, 2020

Palm Sunday

Mt 21: 1-11; Is 50: 4-7; Phil 2: 6-11; Mt 26: 14 – 27: 66

Deacon Larry Brockman

Such a contrast between the two Gospels today.  First, Jesus is welcomed into the city with a procession and a large adoring crowd.  They even lay palm branches before him to clear the way.  These people had heard of his miracles, and many of them had seen the raising of Lazarus.  They were excited to have him in their presence.   

But just a short time later, the events of the second Gospel unfold, and Jesus is reviled by the same crowd.  What happened?  Why the change in attitude?  And why does Jesus, who had displayed such awesome power in his miracles, accept his capture and humiliation without using his power?   

During this Lenten season, I had the honor to lead a Bible Study called: “Jesus’ Passion, the story of Redemptive Suffering”.  It was a five-session study that basically looked at today’s Gospel along with the other three Gospel accounts.  It also used Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ”.  We would watch a portion of the movie before each session on our own as we read the scriptures that applied to those scenes. 

It is amazing how scripturally accurate the movie is.  As any of you know who have watched the movie, it is also painfully graphic.  I must admit that I didn’t look forward to watching it again because it is so graphic.  But I am glad I did because the intense suffering we witnessed, and we just heard about in the Gospel, is a big part of the message that we need to take away today.  And the reality of what happened to Jesus is very, very harsh and horrific.   

The study guide really helped put perspective on the film, because much of the poetic license employed by Mel Gibson in his scenes had cultural and historical basis.  For example, the devices used during the scourging; the way it was done; the number of lashes; etc; were all carefully researched.  Gibson also knew what the Old Testament prophecies were, such as the Isaiah reading today and other Isaiah prophecies; and Psalm 22, today’s responsorial Psalm.  The film is a masterpiece in terms of bringing all of this to reality.  The truth is that the reality was very harsh.   

This is the year for Matthew’s Gospel.  Matthew is big on details and on pointing out how the events in Jesus life were prophesied in the Old Testament.  Just as an example, Jesus was described as the Lamb of God earlier in the Gospel by John the Baptist.  The Jewish sacrificial animal, sometimes referred to as a Scape Goat, could be a lamb or a goat.  It was slain and offered up “outside the gate”.  Jesus was slain “outside the gate” on Mt. Calvary.  This is the kind of attention to detail and fulfilment of prophecy I am talking about.   

Now that brings me to why Jesus was so submissive.  After Jesus went out into the desert to pray and endure the 3 temptations by the devil, he returned energized to do God’s will for him.  He was, above all obedient to the Father.  And God’s will was that he preach the good news of the New Covenant.  The New Covenant is based on Love.  He preached on Love in the “Sermon on the Mount”.  That was called the Beatitudes.  And he gathered a group of Apostles and Disciples to help him with his mission.   Jesus’ entire life was lived from that point on to fulfill God’s will for him.  On three separate occasions, Jesus told his closest disciples exactly what would happen to him.  And he told them that it would happen so that all the scriptures would be fulfilled.  Jesus told his Disciples that the Son of Man would be handed over to evil men; suffer, be lifted on a Cross, and then raised from the dead in three days.   

So, the reason Jesus accepted his humiliation was because it was God’s will that he do so.  It was God’s will that he speak in God’s name, describe the new Covenant, identify Himself as God, and not intervene when the system reacted to all of that and prosecuted him- because he was obedient to the Father.   

But there is something else.  Jesus life, and his Passion in particular, was meant to be an example for all of us.  For thousands of years, God was remote, transcendent if you will, from mankind.  Various cultures and peoples claimed to have heard the voice of God- but there was so much diversity in what they heard. 

So, God sent his only Son and established an intimate relationship with mankind.  He showed us by example how we could be obedient to God’s will, submissive to it; and live it to the end.  Then, he showed us what happens if we believe and follow him.  Because of the Resurrection, we all see what potential we have in a Resurrected body forever.

What turned the crowd against Jesus?  Well, two things come to mind.  First, after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he angered the establishment.  He went to the temple, cast out the money changers, and bucked the teaching of the establishment.  They couldn’t handle that.  And so, the establishment was out to get him.  We can sense that in all the false testimony in today’s second Gospel-  trumped up charges, things taken out of context, exaggerations, and propaganda were all being used against him.   

Second, large groups of people are easily led by this kind of propaganda.  If you tell a story long enough, people will believe it whether it is true or not.  Notice that during Jesus trial, Pilate asked him what He came for.  Jesus told him that he came to testify to the truth.  And it was the truth that the establishment couldn’t handle even in the face of miracles.   

I encourage you to watch the movie.  In it, you will see Jesus embrace the cross, almost with a sense of love and attachment.  Probably because, although in the midst of tremendous pain, he realized that he was almost finished doing His Father’s will to the end.  And he was doing it while loving his enemies at the same time.   

This is what we can take away from the whole incident.  First, life is full of challenges- we all have our crosses to bear.  Each life must accept the suffering that is our cross to bear, and lovingly be obedient to God and do His will for us.  That may mean Fatherhood, Motherhood, Teaching, Preaching, Serving, Creating, and even Entertaining others in some mix.  It may mean a whole lot of other things too.  But we must always be true to our mission.  Our jobs, interests, and other activities need to come second to our real calling by the Lord.  Second, our suffering may seem harsh, but it is nothing to compare to what Jesus suffered.  Thirdly, if we hold firm, then true joy awaits us in the Kingdom of God, where there will be no more suffering of any kind.