Sermon for the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension – May 20, 2012 by Fr. Stephen
Father Stephen – May 20, 2012
Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
In this very gospel you just heard from the 15th and 16th chapters of St. John, contains the very heart of our faith, the Blessed Trinity. And Jesus even explains the procession of the trinity. We know that at the end of Jesus’ mission on earth just before He ascended in front of the eyes of the apostles, He told them to go into all nations and there he enumerates the three persons together, which becomes our formula in baptism required and necessary, and if any one of those words miss, the baptism is invalid.
Then He said, “Go into the world and baptize all in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. In today’s gospel, Jesus reveals the very heart of our faith, when He tells us how the Holy Spirit is coming among us. He said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit from the Father”. Everything starts from the Father. That’s why the Lord Jesus, after He tells you that He is equal with the Father, “I will send the Holy Spirit“, He says, “From the Father I will send to you”. So the Father and the Son are united in one action, and they are united in the very person of the Holy Spirit, which we traditional Catholics often use the word Ghost, which is the Elizabethan English, the older version of English, but we have an election to use that frequently.
So, today is a very important teaching, and I urge you to learn your faith by reading these gospels. John’s is the closest one to the heart of Jesus, because, as we know, even on the Last Supper he leaned on the very Heart of Jesus so close to Him, as if he is even hearing His interior voice.
Today, dear faithful of Our Lord, is a very special day between the Ascension of Our Lord and the actual arrival of the power of God, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit of God. And the apostles were instructed by Jesus Himself, “Do not leave Jerusalem until you have received the power from on high not many days hence”. And those days numbered nine, which became the model for all novenas in our Catholic Church. The Blessed Virgin Mary was there, the apostles were there, all eleven, excepting for John, excepting the one who went his way, and all the relatives who believed in Jesus, and even more people up to 120 as we are told, were gathered together in that one place, praying ceaselessly. You will hear next Sunday that being described. So these two Sundays are very important in our faith, because this Sunday connects the two great feasts which are part of the dogma of our faith, and we recite them at every Creed.
Reflecting on the work of Jesus, our Redeemer, whom the Father sent, that we might have eternal life, grace recovered by His Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus who took flesh and became one of us, the second person of the Trinity, giving us the very life of God. By baptism, you and I have received that Life of God, a life of grace. Not natural to man, but granted us, nevertheless, from the supernatural deity, the Blessed Trinity Himself, three persons in one. We believe in one God in three persons. In our prayers, we do need to reflect the apostles’ all the things that Jesus has taught them and taught us through the apostles. And I am sure on that nine-day period, the apostles were reflecting on all the things that they could remember. Humanly speaking, they were preparing themselves, not knowing what is to come, and when the Holy Spirit came on them, they were strengthened in that faith that Jesus planted in them, now bearing fruit. And having witnessed Jesus being taken up in front of their eyes, as a seal on their faith, confirming their faith by the Blessed Trinity, they would no longer doubt it. They were certain, they were cemented, they were established in Jesus.
So, when you and I were washed away, that is, our sins washed away from us in holy baptism, the Spirit of God has rushed into our souls, making us holy. The function of the Holy Spirit is to give life. Even in the Nicene Creed after the homily we are going to recite, we say, the life giving spirit of God. That is true from the beginning. Even in the very first words of the Holy Bible in the Book of Genesis we hear, “the life-giving spirit hovered over the waters, because it is He who gives life“. And that is why it is very important for you and me to remember at baptism that we are now living members of the Blessed Trinity through Jesus, whose Church we are members of, the Mystical Body, the living, life-giving Body, the Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You have a task and so do I that the life we received in holy baptism, the very life of God, the very life of the Trinity remains in us because without it no one can enter the presence of God. That means you have a great challenge, every one of us are called by the Father to come to Him and the road through our life, united with the body, rebellious, that is, because of the consequence of Original Sin, we must fight. You and I must be willing to fight, struggle, battle, and those who relax or forget this, they are going to lose their souls. Those Catholics who do not fight for eternal life, to preserve that life that God has implanted in us at baptism, will be damned.
Young people, especially, who come to the awareness of their flesh that unless they resist the calling of the flesh and if they obey the flesh, they will disobey Almighty God and get severed because they are rejecting the love of God which has been poured into our hearts. They become (inaudible) by the mortal sins they commit. Young people especially are called upon to fight for that life that God has, at the cost of His Son’s death, you and I may escape eternal death and come to the presence of God. It is no accident that I accentuate the word “fight”, because, as Jesus said even to the apostles on the last day before He died on the following day, Holy Saturday night He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “The flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing”. But the spirit must be willing if you want to win eternal life. That’s why He said, “Pray constantly”. He addressed the heads of the Church, the first bishops and the first pope of the Church. And He instructed them, dear faithful, as I instructed you, as the Father taught me, I teach you and you, in order, will teach your faithful. And parents are to teach their children. This is the procession of the power of God, the power of grace, the authority and the office that every one of us share because of being united in baptism with the Blessed Trinity.
Parents are especially having a grave responsibility to teach their children by their example first and by their words they must teach, confirming the example from which the children learn what they are supposed to be doing. Unless parents frequent confessions, children will not go to confession. Unless parents go attend Mass diligently, faithfully, and pray on their knees the rosary, children will not follow, because they have no example to follow. In fact, they follow a bad example.
So I especially must be firm in making clear those who are in charge of children, parents, as God, being our true Father, and Mary, our true Mother, are teaching us the ways of God, parents must teach their children the ways of God to save their souls. Begin everything in the name of the Blessed Trinity, The Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
It will be very profitable for us as we are anticipating Pentecost, the birth of the Church, to follow Jesus when He said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart”, because, Jesus said, “the meek”, even according to the Old Testament, “the meek shall inherit the earth”, and, of course, “heaven”, but even here on earth those who are imbedded in the life of Our Lord, God will protect them by their faith, because as St. John said, “It is the faith in Our Lord Jesus and the Blessed Trinity, that we conquer the world, if we have that faith, and we are willing to fight to preserve that faith and act according to that faith every day. As Jesus said, “Taking up our cross every day, not rejecting the hardships that God sends our way, challenges, even temptations are allowed by God,” God uses everything to strengthen us, to purify us, to live in Him and be strong.
As we are going to celebrate next Sunday, Pentecost, it is good for us to recall what the Spirit’s gifts are. The first among them is the fear of God. It is the beginning of wisdom. If you have fear of God, and it used to be in the olden days to be called true Catholics, God-fearing people — that’s the greatest title you could have as a Catholic, God-fearing Catholics. Mindful of God first in everything, because if you have this great gift of the Holy Ghost, you will not offend God. You will carefully examine everything in your heart, in your soul, in your mind, in your imagination, is it for God, or is it for something else. If it doesn’t put God first, that’s a wise choice to have, to keep God first, you lose wisdom, you don’t fear God, you are not having God’s first gift, the fear of God. The fear of the Lord will keep you pure, will keep you wise. You will resist sin, you are fighting against sin. The fear of God, the Old Testament tells us, is to be the meat of the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and He was. He put God, His Father, first, even at a time of His great trial, accepting His Father’s will that He must die. He said, “But not as I will, Father, but as You will”.
Jesus was manifesting His total identification with us human beings. He said, “Not as I will”. You and I have our human will, which is that of the consequence of original sin in which St. Paul tells us, Jesus shared in taking our nature upon Himself. That is why Jesus would say, “Not as I will”. He was speaking as man, not as God, because His will, the second person’s will, was one with God, the very will of God. And Catholic theology teaches that in Jesus there were two wills, two natures, Divine and human. This is Catholic teaching, Catholic theology. So you need to know that Jesus died as a man, not as God. God cannot die because His humanity was brought because of fear of the Lord was in Him. So take the example of Jesus. Don’t despise the fear of God as many Catholics do and pagans and others. Fear of God is what makes us one with Our Lord Jesus.
The second gift of the spirit is piety, which is the filial affection, the filial, the childlike affection for God the Father, and the things of God, like the feasts are the things of God, the liturgies, things of God, Sacramentals, prayers, places, anything that has connection with God comes from the respect of piety. Piety inspires the love in us for things holy, because they belong to God.
The third gift of the Holy Spirit is fortitude. Fortitude is the power, supernatural power, not a natural power, supernatural power, these are all supernatural gifts. Fortitude is the supernatural power that overcomes fear in facing difficult tasks. Fortitude gives power to conquer the enemies, fortitude tramples hesitancy under foot. Ask every day for this gift of fortitude. It will boldly go forward regardless of human respect, regardless of who says what, following the example of Jesus.
The gift of knowledge reveals the emptiness of all false promises of sin and the world. The gift of knowledge reveals the emptiness of the false promises of sin and the world. Supernatural knowledge, gift from the Holy Ghost, unveils all things subject to God, eternal life.
The gift of understanding grasps the truth, the meaning of our holy faith, that faith that brings our hearts to joy. The gift of understanding grasps the truth and the meaning of our holy faith. That is why I ask you every day to read the gospels and reflect on them so you have understanding of Jesus and His teachings.
The gift of counsel sees and judges promptly what is right from what is wrong. The spirit of counsel judges promptly the difference and concludes that we must follow the right, the good, the holy. Counsel is the supernatural power of prudence that guides us to the good and moves us to do God’s will, “Not My will, but Your will, Father”.
The queen of the divine gifts of the Holy Ghost is wisdom. Wisdom reveals the mysteries of God. Wisdom is also identified with Jesus Himself in the Old Testament. The word that God utters, His wisdom, in which we partake of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit of God with that gift, wisdom teaches us to love as Jesus teaches us to love the Father and one another. Wisdom is the only thing that will satisfy our soul in joy, in power, as God’s life has been given to us that you are called to fight for and preserve every day in life, and reject all those things that your flesh and your so-called friends tell you and the world calls you to, reject them all. Jesus is our only Savior.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.