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The Jesus of now

This is not a story, but the lessons that can be taught from it are very crucial.

Someone said one time, “I believe in God, and I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe in the church.”

- The Jesus of Nazareth and of Calvary has gone away, and now “sits at the right hand side of the Father”.

- Jesus is most present in the worshipping community. That is why, in new churches, the tabernacle is less prominent. In Eucharist, the Body of Christ is nourished by the Body of Christ.

- Broken people in the church? If you ever came across the Body of Christ without the wounds, be sure it’s a phony!

- taken from “150 More Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by Jack McArdle
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Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16

The faithful all used to meet by common consent in the Portico of Solomon. No one else ever dared to join them, but the people were loud in their praise and the numbers of men and women who came to believe in the Lord increased steadily. So many signs and wonders were worked among the people at the hands of the apostles that the sick were even taken out into the streets and laid on beds and sleeping-mats in the hope that at least the shadow of Peter might fall across some of them as they went past. People even came crowding in from the towns round about Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were cured.
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Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19

My name is John, and through our union in Jesus I am your brother and share your sufferings, your kingdom, and all you endure. I was on the island of Patmos for having preached God’s word and witnessed for Jesus; it was the Lord’s say and the Spirit possessed me, and I head a voice behind me, shouting like a trumpet, “Write down all that you see in a book.” I turned round to see who had spoken to me, and when I turned I saw seven golden lamp-stands and, surrounded by them, a figure like a Son of man, dressed in a long robe tired at the waist with a golden girdle.

When I saw him, I fell in a dead faith at his feet, but he touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid; it is I the First and the Last; I am the Living One. I was dead an now I am to live for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld. Now write down all that you see of present happenings and thing that are still to come.”
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John 20:19-31

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, “Peace be with you”, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, “Peace be with you.

“As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.”

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

“Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.”

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, “We have seen the Lord”, he answered, “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands an can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.” Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him:

“You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded sot hat you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
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On two separate occasions this week, I had someone remark the lack of volume of Catholics during Mass, such as when responding to priests during prayers, or when singing hymns. “It’s okay if they sing out of tune,” said one friend. “The important thing is that they are singing.”

That is so true. After all, Mass is supposed to involve the full and active participation of Catholics. That’s one of the reasons for the Vatican II liturgical reform - to get Catholics to actively participate during Mass by using their language. Is it working? Apparently not in some places.

We see in today’s first reading that the people were “loud in their praise” and the numbers of men and women who came to believe in the Lord steadily increased. So you see, you don’t even have to go out and evangelize to bring people to know the Lord; you just need to be loud in your praise!

But to be loud in your praise involves a fuller understanding in your faith. You will see in churches that most of the time, the people who respond loudly during the prayers and sing loudly during hymns are people who understand and appreciate their faith more so than the rest. Why? Because they understand and appreciate their faith, they want to loudly proclaim their faith.

I remember one priest sharing about distributing Holy Communion, that sometimes, he waits to hear the recipient’s audible “Amen!” before giving the host. After all, when the priest says, “The Body of Christ”, we are supposed to exclaim loudly, “Amen!”, which means, “Yes! I believe it is the body of Christ!” But we don’t. Does this mean that we are not really convicted of our beliefs? Perhaps.

We see in the gospel reading for today that Thomas, who bible scholars tell us is most like “the disciple who loved Jesus”, had doubts about Jesus’ resurrection. Contrary to yesterday’s gospel from Mark, Jesus doesn’t rebuke Thomas for his doubts. Why not? Because doubts are an essential part of faith.

The people you hear responding and singing loudly at Mass aren’t people who have had no doubts in their faith. Rather, they are people who have braved through their doubts, delved deeply into the wealth of knowledge that the Church has and provides, brought all these to reflection, and in there, they encountered Jesus, who showed them his hands and feet and sides.

They are not people who deny that they have doubts. They are not people who believe in the response “It’s a mystery. Don’t ask so many questions. Just believe.” They are people who have taken time and effort to bring their doubts to the Lord who they have encountered. It is not that they no longer have doubts; they do, but they no longer have doubts that it is in the Mass where they can and do encounter Jesus.

Ask yourself honestly: Are you one of the quiet ones during Mass? Is it because you lack conviction in the words you proclaim during Mass? If so, what are you doing about it?
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, we offer you all Catholics. Help us all to come to a deeper and fuller understanding of the Mass. Help us to see and feel and to encounter you each time we go for Mass. Help us to proclaim our faith solidly during Mass, so that through the bold and convicted proclamation of our faith, the numbers of men and women who come to believe in you may steadily increase. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who are really audible during Mass.

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