5th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13 (see 1)
John 13:31-33a, 34-35
May 19, 2019
Jesus gives us “a new commandment.” Its words are simple, “love one another.”
Jesus tells us that we are to “love one another” as He has loved us. His love is most evident when He sacrifices his life for us on the Cross. Are we willing to make sacrifices, to give something up for the good of others? That’s love.
Today is Diocesan Mission Sunday. We take up a second collection to support the ongoing work of our diocesan missions started by the Sisters of Mercy in Chile (where Sr. Kay was for a number of years) and the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brazil. Contributing to the second collection is not simply “paying dues” or “giving alms.” It should be an act of love, caring for the people who receive the benefit of the missions. On this Diocesan Mission Sunday, we also offer the support of our prayers.
This is a way we can show our love. This can be a way we follow the example of Jesus.
Can it be a challenge to make sacrifices?
Yes, that’s what makes it a sacrifice. It won’t be a sacrifice if it were easy. It isn’t always easy to love but we are called to “persevere in the faith.” That means we are called to persevere in love. As we hear in Acts, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
We can be made stronger by the hardships we face. Some hardships are caused by human error and sin. For instance, the current hardships caused by the clergy abuse scandal are a very trying time for our church. People are losing faith and leaving the Church. We are called to persevere during this hardship and trust in God.
There’s also the hardship we face from the declining number of parishioners and priests. This means clustering of parishes. It means loss of Masses. Loss can be difficult to bear but we ask the Holy Spirit to use this time to transform our faith communities to make us stronger. We commend all our hardships to the Lord.
We do so hearing the vision of John seeing “a new heaven and a new earth” while former way had passed away. The new Heaven and a new earth is a vision of Heaven but it reminds us that God can help us face our hardships. God is with us. God transforms ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. If we let him, He will transform us into the Body of Christ as a people.
We are to bring Jesus to the world. We are to be the hands of Jesus, helping others, loving others.
Does starting “new” mean throwing out everything from the past? No.
Does it mean changing everything? No.
What will change and when? First, as to when, we received official word from the diocese that we will be implementing the regional plan at the end of June. Fr. Tedesche will become the pastor of all three parishes (St. Michael’s, St. Joseph the Worker, and the Catholic Community of the Blessed Trinity) with a new assistant. I will be moving to St. Luke’s in Livingston County.
As I mentioned last week, our Saturday night Mass will go away but the regional plan calls for our Sunday Mass schedule to stay the same. We are not the only ones facing the loss of a Mass in the regional plan. The church in Wolcott will also lose its Saturday night Mass. The Mass in Savannah is changing from Sunday morning to Saturday night. Other Masses are shifting times on Sunday morning. All three parishes face changes in Mass schedules.
We have already been sharing Finance staff to be more efficient. There will likely be sharing of staff for Faith Formation, not simply to cut costs. We do this to strengthen the programs for children and youth. The dwindling numbers of children have made it hard to maintain the Sunday faith formation classes. Working together with the other parishes, sharing resources, and eliminating duplication of resources will help us be a better church.
I want to go back now to the first words we heard from Jesus today, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Jesus is the Son of Man. He glorifies God by trusting in the Father’s plan and giving his life for us. For this God glorifies Jesus by raising him up in the Resurrection.
In the hardships we face, we are called to “persevere in the faith.” This means trusting God, commending it all to the Lord. In trusting God, we give him glory. In trusting God, we surrender our will to the Father’s.
In our responsorial psalm verse, we sang, “I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.” In our Mass, we praise God in word and worship. Let us also praise him by surrendering our will to his in our daily lives.