Recently a man stopped Father Joe on the street and asked, "Father Joe, is it a sin to play golf on Sunday?". After pausing for a few seconds he replied, "My son, the way you play it's a sin any day of the week." I thought a little humor was needed before beginning my homily. Twenty-five years Pope John Paul II came to visit the United States of America. During his homily at the Mass he celebrated in Baltimore, the Pope said, "There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us." These words spoken in 1995 still ring true today.
Last Sunday my homily focused on Jesus is the gift of God's never-ending love. Today my theme for this homily is Jesus' never-ending promise. In the gospel Jesus promised the disciples and each one of us "I will not leave you orphans ..." The Father will give you an Advocate (the Spirit) to be with you always. These are comforting words as I recall feeling like an orphan soon after both my parents had died. And for some people today who are feeling orphaned because our churches are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fear not, my friends, fear not. Jesus keeps his promise that he will never ever leave you. In addition, the words of Saint Pope John Paul II from 1995 assures us that Christ Jesus is with us at every moment of our daily lives. The Spirit given by God the Father and sent by Jesus will see us through the difficult, dark, and hard times; the Holy Spirit will guide you through whatever troubles you, whatever you face while on earth. So do not fear - We are not ever alone; this is Our Strength and Our Hope.
We can best encounter the fulfillment of Jesus' promise in the Eucharist. He is with us always just as he said to the apostles and disciples. "Take and eat; this is my body" and "(Take and drink for this is my blood ..." As we receive Him in Holy Communion may our souls rejoice and the eyes of our hearts see Him present in our midst. Furthermore, we can also behold Him in the assembly, our sisters and brothers gathered all around us in church.
We are nearing the end of the Easter Season and we will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord next Sunday. The gospel for the Ascension is taken from the conclusion of Matthew's account. The final words Jesus spoke to the disciples reiterates the promise I have spoken and written about in this homily. Jesus said to them, "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." Matthew 28:20b Amen! Alleluia!