Skip to content

Monthly Archives: April 2019

2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy)

April 28, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


The evangelist John uses the verb “believe” nearly 100 times in his Gospel. This is much more than the other three evangelists use this word. Interestingly, John never uses the noun “belief” nor the noun “faith.”

Now if you were listening closely to the deacon proclaim the Gospel, you may have heard the word “belief” in the very last verse—so that through this belief.” However, the more exact translation, closer to the meaning of the original Greek, is “believing” — “so that through believing you may have life in his name.” (20:31b)

Why does John use the verb “believe” instead of the noun “belief” or the noun “faith”? Because for the 4th Evangelist, faith is a verb, faith is an activity, an ever active relationship with God in the present. It is very important to understand this distinction, because for the Gospel writers, especially for John, faith is not a noun, it is not something “we have” or “don’t have” or “have only so much of.” Rather, it is a verb, implying an active relationship with the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it’s not something we “get”. We don’t “store up” faith, but we grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. As we know him and experience his love for us, we come to believe in Him.

It helps to understand the core meaning of the Greek word for “to believe.” This word is “pistouen” and it means, “to give one’s heart to.” So, when we say we believe in the Lord Jesus, we are not thinking certain “truths” about him and mentally consenting to those truths, but rather we are in a living, dynamic relationship with the Crucified now Risen Lord. Each day, in our journey of faith, we are growing in love of him as we receive more fully his love for us. Each day we are invited by him to give our heart more fully to him, especially the broken parts of our heart, the dark secrets of our heart.

The whole Gospel of John builds toward a crescendo at the end of the Gospel in Chapter 20, where Jesus encourages Thomas to not be unbelieving, but believe. The invitation from Jesus—give yourself totally to me in trust, Thomas. Touch my wounds and believe that I live, that death cannot destroy the loving relationship I have with you. So that through your believing Thomas, others might believe in Jesus Risen and living. Since this is such an important concept (“to believe”), and since John uses this verb almost 100 times, it would be helpful to examine other examples of its use. We want to know what the Risen Lord is inviting us to do with Thomas, how to stop being unbelieving and to believe.

Everyone Jesus encounters he invites into a life-giving relationship with him. He invites them to believe in him, to give their hearts to him, and this happens over and over again throughout the 4th Gospel. In Chapter 3, Nicodemus, the Pharisee, comes at night to be taught by Jesus, to engage Jesus in conversation. Jesus shares with Nicodemus the heart of his message in one of the most famous verses in all the Sacred Scriptures:“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him many not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Then there is the Samaritan Woman in Chapter 4, who encounters Jesus at Jacob’s well. Jesus thirsts for her to enter into a relationship with him, to drink the living water of the Spirit which he longs to give her. When she does, she runs back to share the Good News of Jesus’ merciful love with the people of her town, who had condemned her because of her many failed marriages. The Samaritans in her town come to believe in Jesus, first because of her testimony, but then as they go out to encounter Jesus by Jacob’s well, they come to believe because of Jesus’ word.

Then in Chapter 9 the man born blind is healed of his physical blindness by Jesus. He grows in his relationship with Jesus, as he begins “to see” who Jesus truly is. At the end of this story, as the man born blind now seeing is tossed out of the synagogue by the religious leaders, Jesus comes upon him and asks him a question. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (Son of Man is one of the most important titles for Jesus in John’s Gospel.) He responds:“Lord, I believe, and he worshipped Jesus.” (9:35-38)

Martha encounters Jesus on the road to her brother, Lazarus’ tomb, and she at first questions why Jesus did not come before her brother died, but then expresses how deeply she believes in Jesus. “Jesus says to Martha:‘I am the Resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha’s reply:“Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” (11:25-27) But it’s not only Martha who enters more deeply into an active, dynamic relationship with Jesus as the Lord of Life, but also some in the crowd who witness Jesus calling Lazarus forth from his tomb. “Many of the Jews, therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done.” This “reporting” leads to a meeting where the religious leaders plot to kill Jesus. So, some in the crowd believe in Jesus and entrust their hearts to him, while others’ hearts are hardened and, instead of entrusting their lives into his care, they become partly responsible for his death. Open hearts vs. closed hearts—it is the story of the Scriptures and of the 2000 year history of Christianity.

Engaging with Jesus, coming to know him as a real, living person, leads to a relationship with him that is growing and active. Which can mean, as it was with Thomas, that doubts can surface at times, which can lead to a stronger relationship with Jesus, because he can handles our questions. It was this way with Martha, who makes the 2nd strongest profession of faith in John’s Gospel, second only to Thomas. Thomas’ doubts, his questioning and searching, lead him to give the strongest profession of faith in all of John’s Gospel:“My Lord and my God.” (20:28)

For doubt is not the opposite of faith. Believing in nothing is the opposite of faith. Amazement is also the opposite of faith, because those who are amazed in the Gospels stand at a distance from Jesus; instead of entering into a relationship with Him, they get all caught up in the mighty deeds.

When we give our hearts and our very lives to Jesus, when we believe in him and daily enter more deeply into a living relationship with him, like Thomas did for 3 years, then we realize we do not have all the answers. And that’s okay. We are not expected to have all the answers, because then there would be no reason to believe in Jesus.

With Thomas, building on our trust in the Risen One, we can risk not knowing all the answers or having everything neat and tidy. With Thomas, as we reach out to touch the Risen Lord, our hearts are filled with wonder and awe in His presence. But we do not see the Risen Lord in the same way that Thomas did, which is why Jesus says we are especially blessed:“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:29b)

So how do we touch the Crucified and Risen Lord today? How do we touch the Lord of Life who still has his wounds, the marks of his love? By reaching out to touch his Body broken and given to us in Holy Communion, by allowing him to touch us as we drink His Blood. We may not completely understand how the Risen Lord can be truly present to us in blessed bread and wine, but he is.

Peter helps us, by inviting us to believe in the Lord’s teaching about the Eucharist and trust that we who eat his flesh and drink his blood have life in him. At the end of Chapter 6 in John’s Gospel, after Jesus’ teaching on the absolute necessity of his followers to eat his flesh and drink his blood, many of his disciples leave him. They choose not to believe in him; they will not surrender their lives into his care. So, Jesus asks the twelve, “‘Do you also want to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’” (6:67-69)

Thus, when we come forward to receive the Holy One of God in Communion, we are actually entrusting our lives to him. As we say, AMEN to the words “Body of Christ” we are not only receiving His Risen Body into ours, but we are giving our wounded bodies and hearts to him.

It is in this Holy Union with Him that we are transformed and are strengthened to believe in Him; to give our lives more fully to Him every days as we reach out to touch with compassion his wounded body living in those around us.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church



Spreading the Fire of God’s Love

1100 North Sara Road | P.O. Box 246 | Mustang, OK 73064-0246

Phone 405.376.9435 | Fax 405.376.4929 | Parish Hall 405.376.9162

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord

April 21, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


What’s Easter all about? I mean, really, what is Easter about?

It’s about Jesus Christ the Lord who was raised by the power of God. Easter is first and foremost about Jesus, who suffered out of love for humanity, was crucified, and raised from the dead. He is our life, our mercy, our hope, our joy forever.

Resurrection is about God’s faithfulness to Jesus. It is first about what God has done for Him. Then it is about us. And it is about us by our witness to HIM, TO THE RISEN LORD living in US through the power of the Spirit. Easter is about the way we are witnesses to Jesus’ death destroying, life giving love.

We have a preview of the resurrection now, inasmuch as we live in the Spirit of the Risen Lord and give witness to Him. St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans suggests that life in the Spirit is a foretaste of resurrection. “If the Spirit on the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11 )

We share resurrection life now, because we have communion with Christ through the Spirit. Though we live in an old weary world, marked by incurable self-destructiveness and repetitions of sin upon sin, by faith we share life-together in the Spirit of a new age. We are an advance guard of resurrection.

There is no proving resurrection—not by stories of an empty tomb, or burial cloths where there used to be a dead body. but there is life in the Holy Spirit which is the guarantor of resurrection.

There is this life shining through witnesses who are transformed by the gift of the Spirit to courageously, boldly, and passionately proclaim the good news of God’s love for the world by their lives poured out in love. This is what caused Fr. Rother to say to the Sisters who asked him what to do if he was killed. He said: “When they kill me, go to the church and LIGHT THE EASTER CANDLE AND SING THE EASTER ALLELUIA!”

The Spirit of the Risen One strengthens us to live a resurrected life in the here and now: by living lives which are more about service than power, more about mercy than revenge, more about other than the self, more about love than pleasure, more about life than death.

There is life in the Spirit, who is the guarantor of resurrection. The Spirit we share in faith is the same Spirit that was and is with Christ Jesus, and is the “ground” of our present communion with him.

Since the Holy Spirit is the guarantor of resurrection, since the Holy Spirit is how we share in risen life with the Risen Lord, since the Spirit strengthens us to give witness to the Risen Lord, surely we would want to stay in contact with that life-giving Spirit. Surely we would want to seek out as many ways as possible to drink of this life-giving water, to be set afire by this divine love, to breathe in this breath of divine life.

In the celebration of the Eucharist, in the breaking open of the Scriptures and the breaking of the bread, we share regularly in this extraordinary life of the Risen Lord. It is the way it has been since the Risen Lord ate with those 1st witnesses of his Resurrection until now, some 2000 years later. It is the way he remains with us, the way the life of His Spirit is meant to grow within us.

At every celebration of the Eucharist, every time we gather to be nourished by the Word of God spoken to us by the Risen Lord, every time we feast on his Crucified and Risen Body given for us, we are strengthened in the Spirit of the Living One to say yes to God, yes to love, yes to life!

Here, Sunday after Sunday, we celebrate the dying and rising of the Lord in our lives. We receive a share in the life of a God of self-giving and suffering love. Our eyes are then opened during the week to see Him walking with us by the power of His Spirit, suffering with us, and raising us to new life over and over again.

Today we bring our broken lives to the Lord. It is precisely because our lives are broken that the Spirit of the Risen One finds a way into our lives.

When we stay with each other as witnesses to the Risen Lord, we discover in the Scriptures that are broken open the life of God rushing into us.

When we stay with each other, we discover in the bread that is broken at this sacred table the life of the Risen One flowing into our lives.

Then our brokenness shall be healed, and we shall be made whole in Him.

Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

April 20, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

No one witnessed the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the actual moment when he rose from the tomb. No one saw the Resurrection, when Jesus broke the prison bars of death, because it happened in the dark of night.

The Resurrection did not take place on Easter Sunday morning— Jesus was already risen by then. For on that Sunday the first followers of Jesus only saw an empty tomb. They only encountered burial cloths where his body used to be. The women did not come to the tomb and see Jesus rise up from death.

The Resurrection was a mighty deed of God the Father in the power of the Spirit done in the deep darkness of night. On this most holy of nights, a new kind of light shone in the darkness, and the darkness will never ever overcome it.

In the complete darkness before the creation of the world, God spoke, “Let there be light” and there was light, so on this holy night, God speaks his word to his Son: “Beloved Son, Arise” and the darkness of death flees forever. And God recreates the world here and now!

When the Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, and had no way forward, in the darkness of the night the Spirit of God blew over the waters, making a path forward from certain death to new live. So that same Spirit breathes over the waters of baptism today, opening a path forward for our elect from the death of sin to new life in God.

In the darkness of this night, the Risen Lord rises up in His Church as a light which can never be snuffed out. He Rises up in us, His People! Note the concern of the women who come to anoint the dead body of Jesus at the tomb. They are concerned with the location of his body and disturbed by the fact that his dead body is not where it should be— in the tomb. But they are looking in the place of death for one now freed forever of death, who is rightly called, THE LIVING ONE!

Where is His Body? The living one lives in us by means of baptism and eucharist. We are his body. If you are looking for proof of Christ risen, look no further.

Where is His Body? The living one will rise up in those to be baptized this night, as they die with him in the waters of baptism and rise with him to newness of life. They will forever carry about in their bodies the life of the Risen Lord.

Where is His Body? Where is the Living One? Hidden in blessed bread and blessed wine. Come without paying and without cost to receive a priceless treasure.

And that life will be nourished and strengthened over and over again in the Eucharist. Where is His Body? The living one makes of our bodies a tabernacle, his very own dwelling, by the gift of His body and blood. We hold this treasure in earthen vessels….

All the force and power of the resurrection is made present here, in this place, in these holy sacraments, in the life of God’s holy people. Where is his Body? We are the Body of Christ. We bear a treasure beyond price in these earthen vessels. Whoever believes in Christ, lives their life with Christ and in Christ and through Christ. This happens every day, in joy and sadness, in light and night.

The proof of the Resurrection comes from our witness to the Risen Jesus, from our lives poured out in sacrificial love of others. We are sent by Him, rising up in us, to renew the face of the earth.

By sharing the light of Christ, we glow ever more brightly with His love.

5th Sunday of Lent

April 7, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


Caught-brought-made to stand there. Caught-brought-made to stand there. These are verbs of power and control and dominance. What the Pharisees and the scribes are about is finding people in sin and holding them there. In particular, the picture of the woman “made to stand in the middle” conveys this holding action.

They are staring at her. The stare is the special tool of the self-righteous. The stare turns the person being stared at into an object, holding them in the mistake in which they have been caught. Jesus never stares at people—he gazes at them with wonder and merciful love.

The scribes and the Pharisees also want to trap Jesus so that they can hold him in sin. That’s what they do, their “modus-operandi.” The Pharisees and scribes hold people in sin for a living, so they ask Jesus a tricky question to trap him.

But their deceitful question gives Jesus the raw material for his response. Moses/stones/the-very-act-of-adultery stirs up the founding events of Israel in the desert. The question which the scribes and the Pharisees use to try and trap Jesus gives him an opportunity to reveal the God of forgiveness and mercy who is at the heart of the Law.

Jesus does not respond at first to their question about whether this adulterous woman deserves to be stoned to death. Instead he bends down to write on the ground with his finger.

People get all caught up in trying to guess what Jesus wrote, when that is not really the important point. Rather, the important point is he writes on ground hard as rock with his finger, calling to mind the almighty God on Mt. Sinai using his finger to write on stone the 10 commandments. The other important detail is that Jesus does this twice. He writes on the ground 2 times, calling to mind the foundational event in the history of God’s chosen people, when God wedded himself to Israel by giving them the 10 commandments on 2 separate occasions.

When Moses brings the 2 tablets of the commandments down the mountain the first time, he catches the people in the very act of adultery, worshipping a golden calf. So soon after being freed from slavery in Egypt by God’s mighty deeds, & experiencing the Red-Sea-rescue, they have turned away from God to worship an idol. In his anger, Moses smashes the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments, Then later Moses goes back up the mountain with a new set of stone tablets for God to use.

But before God stretches out his finger to etch again into stone the law, he tells Moses who He is: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6) The God who is the giver of the Law is patient, kind, and always faithful.

The history of God’s relationship with the people whom he weds by this covenant is that time and time again they will break the covenant and will be unfaithful. But God will remain faithful, forgiving adulterous Israel over and over again, and calling them back to His side.

It is very significant that Jesus’ answer (“Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone”) is given between the two times he writes on the stone-hard ground with his finger. For just as God had revealed to Moses who He is between the 1st and 2nd giving of the commandments, so Jesus reveals who the people are to be for each other. FORGIVING! Forgiving as God is forgiving.

There are no sinless ones. Israel herself is only alive because God has forgiven her many adulteries. No one can cast the first stone for everyone lives by the grace of a forgiving God. Holding people in their sins while holding yourself innocent is delusional. The question is not the condemnation of adultery but the continuing blindness of people to the universal necessity of forgiveness. This is the heart of the Law of Moses— it reveals that all are sinners, all have fallen short of the glory of God, and all are in need of the forgiveness of God.

The woman, who alone stays by Jesus’ side, experiences this forgiveness and begins life anew. She is sent by Jesus into a new life—he does not hold her in her sin, but simply invites her to go and sin no more. She who had been standing on the very precipice of death is given new life.

As Jesus is, so we are to be toward each other, with his help—forgiving to set others free. Forgiving for life, instead of condemning to death.

The God of second chances, by his forgiveness, gives us a new lease on life. The God who is a Merciful Father grants us his wayward sons and daughters forgiveness, raising us from the death of sin to new life. The God who Jesus reveals is a God who frees us from sin and gives us a fresh start.

Jesus is accused over and over again by the self-righteous ones of eating with sinners. The self-righteous, who define others by their sin and hold them in their sin, cannot see others beyond their sin. Jesus sees the person beneath the sin, sees that a human being is always more than their greatest sin, and sets them free to grow into their dignity as a son or daughter of God.

St. Paul experiences this freeing forgiveness of the Risen Jesus, even though he is the greatest of sinners. Paul comes to know Christ Jesus as the one who sets him free from his sinful past as a persecutor of Jesus and his followers. Paul knows Jesus as the one who invites him to forget what lies behind, who does not hold him in his sin, but invites him into a new life, and a future full of hope and new life. So, Paul counts everything else as rubbish when compared to knowing Christ Jesus and the power of his death and resurrection, which has set Paul free.

We are invited to be “forgiving for life” instead of condemning and being condemned to death. With Jesus’ help we are invited to offer the gift of forgiveness which sets others free.

Holding people in their sin is not the “special gift” of the scribes and the Pharisees. Holding people in their mistakes is a popular pastime. Few can resist it—it is an all too common procedure. In fact, it is so common it is taken for granted. We do not consciously choose to do it, we just mindlessly engage in it. We read an obituary of someone we know well and fill in the blanks with all the sins they committed in their lifetime. We unreflectively remark that she is doing quite well for an ex-addict, thereby using addiction as the permanent reference point for her life. Prison sentences are never over.

Instead of forgiving for life, we hold others in their sin and kill any chance they have for a new life. A spouse holds their spouse in the sin of an affair forever, not forgiving the adulterous spouse, but punishing the one who has sinned over and over again.

But when we hold people in their sins, it affects not only them but us, because we hold onto their sin and the hurt it caused us. This becomes like stones in our soul, slowly crushing the life out of us. We live in the past, giving over our present peace and future happiness to the one who has hurt us. When we forgive, with the Lord’s help, we are set free for life.