Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 5:37 PM
HONOR ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST-Saturday, June 23rd at 6:30 around the front circle for the Blessing of the Fire

04/15/18 Third Sunday of Easter - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Third Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 47

  • From our second reading: “But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”
  • Jesus has paid the price for our fallen human nature… Not only for believers, but for the entire human race
  • Jesus is God’s second chance, and third chance, and as many chances as it takes to set us on the right course…
  • This in essence is the Good News of the Gospel, and the source of Christian joy…
  • Yet despite this Good News… The world is filled with so much heartache and pain...
  • If we learn nothing from Jesus’ brief sojourn on this earth, we should come to realize that this is not the world that God envisioned for the human race...
  • We can debate the effects of original sin forever...
  • But no one can debate the fact that many of the ills of the world are man-made...
  • God desperately wants to share His kingdom with us…
  • In the Gospel of Luke (17:20-21) Jesus tells us: “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce ‘Look here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.
  • The kingdom of God is truly in our midst – It’s within each of us - But we can only release it by learning to live the Gospel more fully in our lives...
  • Living the golden rule is the answer...
  • Allowing our hearts to be filled with forgiveness, and compassion and mercy is the answer...
  • Becoming fully human in the greatest sense of the term is the answer...
  • And it all begins with each of us making a personal decision to live our lives the way they were meant to be lived...
  • That’s what repentance really means…
  • Repentance is about making a conscience choice to allow God to help us change the course of our lives for the better…
  • It’s not something that we accomplish on our own strength… We need God’s Grace
  • Repentance is not about trying to become someone we are not… It’s about allowing God to show us who we were meant to be
  • Father Thomas Ryan wrote: “The grace of repentance is not about turning around in order to become someone other than ourselves; rather, it is about turning around in order to be restored to what is deepest and best in us.  The problem is not human nature, but our living at a distance from true human nature.” (Four Steps to Spiritual Freedom, Pg. 40).
  • Many people speak of “life changing” experiences…
  • Our faith is intended to be life changing
  • If it’s not, then perhaps we’re not allowing it to be…
  • Living the Gospel more fully in our lives begins with a sincere confession to both ourselves and to God that we don’t have all the answers and that we need God’s help and His wisdom to make it through each day…
  • It begins by thanking God throughout the day for the multitude of the blessings we’ve each been given…
  • It begins by accepting that we’re all cut from the same cloth, and that we’re all on the same journey home
  • And it can only begin with love - With compassion, and forgiveness, and kindness, and mercy
  • Change happens one person at a time... And it must always start with us...
  • Until we ourselves commit to living the Gospel more closely in our lives... the world will never change for the better...
  • Whether we realize it or not – Every human being is seeking the truth in their lives…
  • Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of John (8:31-32) should be taken literally – “If you remain in My word, you will truly be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” …
  • The truth will set us free from hatred, and division, and fear, and violence, and war, and greed and so many other vices that only serve to degrade our human nature rather than to enrich it...
  • The truth that we seek and that we’re drawn to is love incarnate
  • The more we learn to open our hearts to Jesus and allow Him to slowly teach us how to love, the closer we draw ourselves to the truth that we all seek
  • The truth that Jesus offers us teaches us that we were all made to live together in peace and harmony... that we’re all made in the image and likeness of the one true God, and that any attempt to separate ourselves from one another is an attempt to separate ourselves from God... 
  • This is the radical message that led to Jesus’ crucifixion... The message that the world often doesn’t want to hear…
  • If we’re brutally honest... We’re still as rebellious a people, as were the Israelites traveling in the desert with Moses... kicking and screaming all the way to the promised land...
  • Despite the reality of sin – The Good News of the Gospel remains unchanging... God is good, and merciful, and compassionate and perhaps most importantly... infinitely patient...
  • God will wait as long as it takes for us to realize that we’re all in this together...
  • God will wait as long as it takes for us to appreciate that love is the most powerful force in the universe
  • God will wait as long as it takes for us to understand that we are responsible for allowing the kingdom of God to flourish on this earth
  • God will waitTime is not an issue for God
  • Can we each say the same?
     

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