From the Pastor – April 16, 2017

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached,  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”  (Acts 10:34a, 37-43).

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 turned away from 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 that 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 help them realize the gift they’ve been given. I want all of our Catholic friends and relatives to come home!

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty