From the Pastor – April 19, 2015

Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.  (Acts 3:13-15, 17-19). 

I recently met a lapsed Catholic who was somewhat apologetic about being away from the Church.  And when I say “apologetic,” I don’t mean to say he was “sorry.” I mean “apologetic” in the sense that he felt compelled to defend his “Catholic credentials” by telling me all about his holy mother (who prayed the Rosary and went to Mass daily), one cousin, who was a priest, and another other cousin, who was a nun.  Somehow these relatives made him “Catholic,” even if he didn’t go to church at all.  Far from trying to be accusatory, I began to ask him about himself.  It seems that he was divorced, and than none of his children practiced their faith.  It left me sad.  He had received a vibrant faith from his family, but he had rejected that incredible gift.

The whole story of Easter is about the “gift.” The gift that came to the world, and was made known to Peter and the Apostles.  And they gave their lives to give the gift to others. Peter talks about the gift in the reading above.

Ultimately, the gift is one Our Father made to us to save us from the illusions of a temporal world filled with suffering and death.  Accepting it takes a little effort on our side: doing our best to follow the Ten Commandments, treating others as we want to be treated ourselves, helping the Church in its mission, going to Sunday Mass, making a good Confession when we are in grave sin.  Participating in the life of the Church is how we receive the gift.

And what is the gift?  It’s not a thing; it’s a person.

The gift is the Word made Flesh, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  The gift that God gave the world is His only Begotten Son:  Jesus Christ.  He comes to us in many ways, but most profoundly in the Most Holy Eucharist where He feeds us with Himself.  I can’t imagine a day without the Blessed Sacrament, never mind a lifetime.  It makes me sad when people are separated from Christ in the Eucharist.  I hope always to help them realize what an amazing gift is there for them.  I’m trying to help this friend receive it.  If you know anyone like that, please refer him or her to me.  I want all of our Catholic friends and relatives to Come Home!

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty