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The Peace of the Risen Lord be with you all!
If Our Blessed Lord were to ask you to tell the story of how you came to know Him, what would you say?
That’s an important question for us because our answer shapes the very manner of our lives, or at least it should, and it will especially shape our response to the current crisis. Today’s Gospel is about how two disciples came to know Jesus, but I mean really know Him. “That very day... two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus” (Luke 24:13). Bishop Robert Barron once pointed out that “this gospel begins with two disciples walking the wrong way.”
It sounds like us. We can go the wrong way in life. We often go the very opposite direction of where God is. But the thing of it is, we can’t flee from the Lord.
These two disciples had known what Jesus taught, but these were just facts. They then knew about the betrayal of Judas, so they ran. They knew about the sufferings that Jesus endured and how the Lord was put to death on a Cross, so they hid. Now, on Sun- day morning, Mary Magdalene comes running in and says the Lord’s body has been taken. “That’s it, we’re out of here!”
Suddenly, as they’re fleeing Jerusalem, the Lord appears and walks with them. They didn’t know it was him. He asked them “what are you talking about?”. They explained how they had put their trust in Jesus, but now he’s dead, and his body is missing. “These men had hoped great things, but God, they said, had disappointed them. Man draws a blueprint and hopes that God in some way will rubber stamp it; disappointment is often due to the triviality of human hopes. Original drawings now had to be torn up - not because they were too great, but because in the eyes of God they were too little” (Fulton Sheen).
That’s when the Lord began to explain all the scriptures to them.
“He showed them all the types and all the rituals and all the ceremonials that were fulfilled in Him. Quoting from Isaiah, He showed the manner of His death and Crucifixion and His Las Words from the Cross; from Daniel, how He was to become the mountain that filled the earth; from Genesis, how the seed of a woman would crush the serpent of evil in human hearts; from Moses, how He would be the brazen serpent that would be lifted up to heal men of evil, and how His side would be the smitten rock from which would come the waters of regeneration; from Isaiah, how He would be Emmanuel, or ‘God with us’; from Micah, how He would be born in Bethlehem; and from many other writings He gave them the key to the mystery of God’s life among men and the purpose of His coming (Fulton Sheen).
As the day was ending, Jesus made like he was going to walk along further and they begged him to stay with them. They sat for dinner. He took bread blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. They ate the bread. “With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31). They came to believe, once they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
They didn’t just recognize Him, or know His teachings better, they knew Him. It was a “burning in their heart", a recognition that “it is you I long for!”
This Gospel is basically the Holy Mass. A confession that we have gone the wrong way, because of sin. A breaking open of the Scriptures, then as our hearts are prepared by listening to the Word, the Lord comes in our midst, hidden and unrecognizable in the host. During Mass, through the consecrated hands of the priest, Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to his disciples.
After the receiving of Holy Communion, our eyes are opened and we know Him. Then Jesus appears to vanish yet again. Where does he go? He is in you. And like the disciples who fearlessly ran BACK to Jerusalem, despite the threat of arrest and death, we are to go into the world to announce that “The Lord has truly been raised” (Luke 24:34). Currently, the cause of our sadness is our separation from the reception of Holy Communion during the Mass. For some it truly feels like the Lord has vanished.
All we can do is beg the Lord like those two disciples “Stay with us!” Stay with us Lord! And So He does. Though He has vanished from our sight, He remains in us and we in Him. Perhaps this is a time to get to know Him in His Holy Word, in our neighbors (from a safe distance) so that by the time we are ready to receive Him in Holy Communion, and that day does inch ever closer, we can truly say “our hearts were burning within us.”
God bless you all, Father Robert Letona
Sacrament of Reconciliation
Call the St. Paul’s Parish Office to schedule your confession with Father Letona 608-562-3125
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On this Divine Mercy Sunday it becomes clear to the Apostles, and to us, what Jesus’ mission was all along, why he became flesh at the Incarnation, why he gave his body and blood at the Last Supper. The first words he spoke were what he had died, literally, to say to them, and words he had risen to tell them, “Shalom,” that is “Peace be with you!”
“Peace is the fruit of justice. Only when the injustice of sin against God had been requited could there be an affirmation of true peace. Peace is the tranquility of order, not tranquility alone; for robbers can be tranquil in the possession of their spoils. Peace also implies order, the subordination of the body to the soul, of the senses to reason, and of the creature to the Creator. Isaiah said there was no peace to the wicked because they are at enmity (odds) with themselves, with one another, and with God.” (Fulton Sheen)
On the Cross, the Lord atoned for the sins of the world, your sins, and mine. The peace Jesus speaks of is not the absence of war or conflict, or simply the easement of physical suffering, but peace with God His Father through the forgiveness of sins. Without this peace, no other peace is possible, because sin destroys peace.
Then the Lord showed His wounded hands and side:
“It was thus He would be recognized as One Crucified though now in glory, Prince and Lord. It was not that the cruel wounds were to be a reminder of the cruelty of men, but rather that by pain and sorrow, Redemption had been wrought. If the scars had been removed, men might have forgotten that there was a sacrifice, and that He was both Priest and Victim. His argument was that the Body that he showed them was the same that was born of the Virgin Mary, nailed to the Cross and laid in a grave by Joseph or Arimathea...
These nail prints, this pierced side, these were the unmistakable scars of battle against sin and evil. As many a soldier looks upon the wounds he received in battle not as a disfigurement, but as a trophy of honor, so He wore His wounds to prove that love was stronger than death” (Fulton Sheen).
The Apostles rejoiced! The Lord’s mission all along was to give them, and to give us, PEACE, a peace the world cannot give and a peace it cannot take away. The only way it will ever leave us is if we give it away.
We must repent of sin, and realize there is no sin greater than God’s mercy. This time of epidemic is a time of suffering, but it can also be a time of repentance, coming to peace with God, with others, and with ourselves. This is what the feast of Divine Mercy celebrates.
Even as we’re separated by walls, doors, and social distancing from the church, family, and friends during this epidemic, there is no locked door that can keep Jesus Christ from coming to you, only the door of your heart.
God is so merciful that he would grant peace to a repentant doubter and sinner. Encountering His peace and mercy, how can we not cry out as Thomas in the Gospel, “My Lord and my God!”?
Happy Easter, God bless you all, Father Robert Letona
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Wednesday 9am –7pm
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For many, Easter 2020 might feel far from a joyful and triumphant celebration. Our prayers are certainly with all those suffering from the virus, our hearts and prayers go out to their families. Our prayers and support go out to those who work for the care of the sick, especially those on the front lines of this fight. Those who are working to keep things running in our nation have our respect and gratitude.
It may seem that our sojourn through the desert of Lent continues. It may seem that the enemy of our soul is still whispering discouragement, temptation, and fear into our minds and hearts. It may seem that the sorrow of Good Friday persists and that the silence and absence of our Lord in the tomb on Holy Saturday prevails.
In short, this Easter, we might just get a taste of what the very first Easter Sunday felt like to those who were there 2,000 years ago.
Someone posted this quote on their Facebook page and I’d like to share it with you: “The very first Easter was not in a crowded church with singing and praising.. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in a house. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. They wanted to believe the good news they heard from the women, that Jesus had risen. But it seemed too good to be true. They were living in a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes, their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Could this miracle really have happened? Could life really had won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?
Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over and morning had broken, that God’s love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn’t seem quite real yet.”
Eventually, in time, the apostles would leave that house and proclaim the Good News that Jesus has risen. In time, we too will be able to leave our homes and gather in the hallowed walls of our churches to praise and glorify the Lord in the Holy Mass, and re- ceive him sacramentally in the Blessed Eucharist.
Our cause for joy and triumph is that the tomb is empty. Jesus Christ has defeated the power of sin and death.
We celebrate that “God used death to defeat death and ensure our life” (Lifeteen Commentary).
Lent is over, and we have come to the spring oasis of life and living waters. The enemy of our soul has been defeated and put in his place. The thorns of Good Friday will give way to the roses of the garden tomb on Easter Sunday.
This is a Passover from dark to light, from night to morning, from death to life. “This is the day the Lord has made” (Responsorial Psalm).
The rays of light of this “new” day “shine upon a stone that has been rolled back forever. They invade an inner darkness which- like the spirit of man - lies joyfully open to the graced brightness of eternal life” (Oliver Treanor).
Let us hold on and cling to our Faith in the Risen Lord. Let us bear witness to our belief in His Resurrection. And we wait in hope for what the Apostles told us would come - the day when our tombs will be empty and we too will appear with Him in glory.”
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Long Live Christ the King!
Father Robert Letona
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This is Holy Week. Years from now, God willing, when I look back at this time and people ask me what I remember the most, like many others I would have to say “The sight of the Bishop of Rome, alone on a rainy Friday dusk in an empty St. Peter’s Square.”
On March 27th the Pope gave the most stirring reflection on our current sorrow and crisis. His opening words reflect the mood of this week, and of our time, I include some excerpts for your reflection in this most Holy of Weeks:
"When evening had come” (Mk 4:35)...For weeks now it has been evening. Thick dark- ness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people's gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm.
We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”
"We were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.”
“Lord, In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: Wake up, Lord!”.”
“The pandemic is not a judgment from God, but a time for us to judge, to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track.”
“Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God's strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”
“We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and em- braced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.”
Jesus is with us,
Long Live Christ the King!
Father Robert Letona
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