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5th SUNDAY OF EASTER 2014

I am the Way the Truth and the Life

We continue to celebrate this Easter Season the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. And if we follow him we will have a share in his divine life in the Father's house, in heaven, where he is preparing a place for us. But we must first live our life for him here on earth.  We must learn through faith and prayer to recognize this way, to understand his truth, and to live a new life. So we are on a journey and we help each other to know the way and stay the course until we reach our final destination and arrive safely home. It is good to back from my trip to Japan which was successful because I made it there and back, but only after several people helped me along the way. My nephew Jacob arranged all the security passes. On one of my connecting flights back a gentleman who spoke a little English told me he was Catholic and then begin to tell me all about his parish while I just wanted to take my seat. Later in the flight he came to my seat and showed me a picture of his parish on his cell phone.  After the plane had landed in Tokyo I had to find my way to a different airport an hour away but was worried because I was somewhat lost trying to find where and how to get there. The same gentleman suddenly showed up again and told me what bus to take so that I could continue my journey home. I certainly saw him in a different light after that. In the Gospel Jesus said to Phillip "Have I been with you so long Phillip and you still don't recognize me?" It is true that on our Christian walk we often fail to recognize Jesus, fail to see him at work guiding us along the way. We may even get irritated with those he has sent to help us. So I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the man who helped me as I left and arrived at the airport in time. now while I was waiting for my flight another man approached me, an American, and began to talk to me. He was very respectful and kind as he explained that he once studied for the priesthood but since had left the Church and became an evangelical Christian. He spoke a lot and raised many doubts about the Church to which I was able to answer with the truth of our faith hoping to ease some of his confusion. Long story short, though, he ended up inviting me to leave the Church to follow his way. Now this man was a Christian but he had fallen away from the full truth. Even with good intentions he was trying to pull me away, too. And in the mean time, he almost caused me to miss my boarding time and my way back to the U.S.  It was sort of ironic compared to the encounter with the other man who helped me make my connection, who helped me stay the course, to find my way home. It is like our Christian walk: Some will help us along the way and others, even though they mean well, can lead us astray.
 
So we can’t just say we believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, we have to know what that means; we have to recognize it lest we follow a different way.   So we are on a journey in life and Jesus wants us to be clear where we are going. He said "Where I am going, you know the way." As humans we may have questions or doubts but as Christians Christ has made it known to us the way. We are either following that way or not. We either live in in his truth or sin.  We can't have it both ways. It is challenging but we don’t walk alone. He wants us to journey with others who have heaven as their destination. And so we are a part of his Church.

Perhaps it is easy to take it for granted but as Christians we become a part of something bigger than ourselves. We become living stones that are built into a spiritual house as described my St. Peter in the second reading. Therefore, the Church is not the buildings, the walls and the ceiling, but it is you and I. We are all chosen to form a particular part of this spiritual structure. If we hold our place then we support the whole house. If we are on again off again Catholics we weaken the structure.  It would be like movable bricks in a building's foundation. That is why each of us has to support one another, support the whole structure.And so we all have a role to play. In the second reading St. Peter describes this role saying that we are part of a royal priesthood. This includes everyone! Sometimes this is a surprise to us because we know we have ordained priests. But all Christians are priests. Many say the Catholic Church should have women priests. Well, it does! All who are baptized are part of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, men and women. Now out of this royal priesthood some men are called to be ordained. The first reading from Acts describes this. The apostles recognized a need and so they said “Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task” (and) the apostles…prayed and laid hands on them.” Today, if you go to a deaconate or priestly ordination you will see this same rite of laying on of hands. And so we pray for all the men that will be ordained priests and deacons this summer for the Archdiocese of Atlanta that they may do the works of Jesus.

So each of you have priestly roles, not just me as the pastor. If I don’t do my part our Church doesn’t work. If you don’t do your part it doesn’t work either. Sometimes as Christians it is easy to sit back and let others do the work. But what if you showed up one Sunday and without a serious reason the priest came very late or not at all, or he came dressed like he was going to the beach and was rushing through trying to get the mass over as quickly as possible? It would upset you, right? But the opposite is true, too. If the priest comes and the parishioners do not, then it is upsetting as well. So as royal priests you all play a vital role. Priests serve others and intercede for the needs of people. Priests offer sacrifices to God to win his favor. So when you come to Mass Christ is the chief priest who offers himself as the perfect sacrifice, his body and blood. If he didn’t we would spiritually die. And so He gives us this great gift every Sunday in Holy Communion. He makes himself present in the form of bread and wine to make us holy. Today we have some/many children who will receive this great gift for the first time. 

As we receive Jesus we given a great grace but also a great responsibility to offer spiritual sacrifices for others as St. Peter described. This is your role as royal priests! You offer sacrifices for yourself but also for your family, friends, for those in need, and for the world. So the first reason why we come to mass is to renew our relationship with Jesus. But then it is a time for us to offer prayers and sacrifices for the salvation of others. This is how we become a part of Christ’s works. When we do his works, we might not even realize it but others come to recognize the Father through our witness. If we don’t show up to offer your prayers and sacrifices, or if we believe in the way of Jesus but don’t follow it during the week, then many people suffer loss.

So let us really follow Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. Let us realize that each of us plays a vital role as living stones that build up his Church. Let us carry out our priestly duties so that we may do even greater works than what Christ did, that we reach a greater number of people through works of charity, that we show others the way to the Father’s house where Jesus has gone and is preparing many dwelling places for us. May Mary, the Star of Evangelization, guide us along our way home. Amen. 
 
Father Timothy Gallagher

5-17-14

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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