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Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi

Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and son of God, no longer walks the earth. Next Sunday we will celebrate the glorious truth that He has ascended into heaven, returning home to reign forever at the Father’s right hand, to intercede for us always. He is gone, yet he remains here on the earth he loves, just in a different way, in different form of Presence. The Risen Lord, conqueror of sin and death, remains with humanity, by the gift of the Spirit of Truth which he shares with His Father.

The Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, the life-giving flow of love between Father and Son, remains with us always. The Holy Spirit draws us deeper into life in and with the Risen Lord Jesus, and with the Risen Lord, we abide forever in the Father.

The Church invites us during these 50 days of the Easter Season to plunge deeper into the life of the Spirit. To be attentive, more aware of this divine flow of life within us and among us, which is deeper than the disruptions of the world. To pay more attention to this subterranean stream of divine love carrying us deeper into the life of the Trinity, and flowing through us into the world.

Jesus ascends while the Spirit descends, to live within his followers as his continuing presence with them always. The Spirit comes as “another Advocate” to defend us from the attacks of the enemy and to reveal the truth of God’s eternal love for humanity.

The word for “Advocate” in Greek is “Paraklitos,” which literally means “defense attorney.” This is important description for the Spirit of Truth, because the Evil One is described in Scripture as the “accuser”. When we are being “accused” and attacked by the Father of Lies, it is good to remember we are not alone, but that the Spirit of Truth is with us, defending us.

The Spirit of Truth, shining with the bright light of divine love, reveals the accusations of the devil for what they are—lies. There are many lies that we are tempted to believe, and one of the deadly lies during this COVID-19 time is that God has abandoned us. As we face great suffering and incredibly uncertainty, the accuser whispers, “You are alone. God has abandoned you.” But when we call upon the Advocate, the Paraklitos, to defend us, the Spirit of Truth protects us from this devastating lie.

For we are never alone, because by our baptism, the Spirit remains with us always. For we are never alone, for the Spirit connects us to the Son and the Father— we live out of the life and love of the Trinity. We are never alone, for the Spirit of unity connects us to our brothers and sisters in Christ, even when we are not physically in their presence. We are never alone, for the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead connects us to all the faithful departed who have gone before us. By the power of the Spirit, they are still present to us and surround us with their love, encouraging us to finish the race of faith.

The Spirit of Truth constantly reminds us of what the Son has revealed to us about who God is and how God acts. In the life and teaching of Jesus, we see that God is always faithful, ever kind, and patient with our erring ways. The Spirit reminds us of the generosity of God revealed by Jesus giving his life fully for us and to us, of the gentleness of God in the Son who would not break a bruised reed of a person. The Spirit of Truth IS the gift of peace from the Risen Lord, the gift of a joy that is deeper than the passing sorrows of this world, the gift of Love, the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father poured into our hearts.

The Holy Spirit, being “spirit”, cannot be captured and bottled in order to be seen. We “see” the Spirit active in our world by the fruits produced by the Spirit in people’s lives. We cannot see all the life surging from the roots of a fruit tree, through its trunk, and coursing through its branches, but we can see the fruit. So it is with the Spirit and the fruits the Spirit produces. When we see someone respond to cruelty with kindness, the Spirit is there. When we witness the patience of someone who endures suffering with hope, who is not consumed by wanting everything resolved and fixed right now, the Spirit is there. When we notice faithfulness in all its mundane yet glorious forms— a couple happily married for many years together, the daily prayers and sacrifices by a parent for a wayward child, the fidelity of friends through thick and thin, Spirit is there.

When we see generosity in a greedy world, when we notice gentleness in a culture which prizes brute strength, and when we witness self-control in a society that preaches “do whatever feels good,” the Spirit is there.

When joy flows into the world from those who have so little, when peace is practiced in response to violence, when love flames forth in the face of hatred, the Spirit is there.

The 9 fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) give visible evidence to this underground stream of divine life flowing through the lives of believers into a thirsty world. Kindness, patience, and faithfulness; generosity, gentleness, and self-control; love and joy and peace, are all powerful signs that the Spirit of Truth remains with us.

This Thursday the Church begins its annual “Novena to the Holy Spirit” in preparation for the great solemnity of Pentecost. This Novena, nine days of prayerful preparation, is especially important for our parish as we prepare to celebrate our first Masses in our new church building on Pentecost. Also, during these nine days of prayer we cry out for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of Truth on our world, for the life-giving Spirit to strengthen those suffering from the impact of the coronavirus.

I invite you to pray a very specific Novena this year, for a greater flowering of the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, in our parish, & in the world. There are 9 fruits of the Spirit, so each of the 9 days of the Novena focus on a different fruit.

As we prayerfully reflect together on how the fruits of the Spirit are ripening in our life, we pray: “Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in us the fire of divine love, and you shall renew the face of the earth.”

Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

April 20, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


When Jesus, risen from the dead, appears to his followers, they do not recognize him at first. The accounts of his resurrection appearances found in all 4 Gospels have this in common—when he appears, his disciples do not recognize Jesus initially.

So, in that locked upper room the Risen Jesus proves to his stunned followers that it is really him by showing them his wounds. This is also the proof Thomas looks for—he will believe when he sees the wounds.

The friends of Jesus do not recognize him at first in his risen body until he says something or does something which connects this “new” person with the Jesus of Nazareth they had known and loved. Why is this so? Why is Jesus, risen from the dead, not recognized by those closest to him?

Because he is living a new life, a resurrected life—he is a new person. Many people think of resurrection in terms of resuscitation, like Lazarus being resuscitated from the tomb and given his old life back. That is not what happened in the resurrection of Jesus. He is radically changed by the experience of his suffering, death, and resurrection.

The Risen Lord Jesus does not start his old life over where he left off before his death on the cross. Rather, he is living a new life, reflected in a new, glorified, resurrected body. Even though his glorified body still carries the wounds of his suffering and death, this new Risen body of Jesus is different from his old earthly body,

The Risen Lord Jesus still comes into places where people are locked away in fear to share His Risen Life, to breathe upon his followers the breath of new life. Risen life, resurrected life by its nature cannot be contained—it has to be shared. That’s what the Risen Lord is still doing today, sharing His risen life with us during this Easter Season. He comes to us, locked away in our homes, fearful of catching the virus or spreading it.

The first gift of Risen Life is Peace—a peace flowing from the wounds of the Risen Lord into our lives and into the world. He says to each of us today, “Peace be with you”. This gift of His peace flows into our anxious minds and fearful hearts, into our bodies weighed down by worry,

We live out of this peace, from this “deep knowing” of faith, which sustains our hope even in difficult times, because we know the Risen Lord by the power of His Spirit walks by our side. He has not abandoned us, nor will He ever do so. We breathe deeply of His life-giving Spirit, the Spirit which dwells within us by baptism, and enter ever deeper into the new life the Risen Jesus offers us.

As we encounter the Risen Lord in his life-giving word today, we are invited to walk into this new life, to live in a new way, in a “resurrected” way. Many people long to return to life as they knew it before the coronavirus pressed a huge “Pause Button” on life. Many want to go back to their “normal” life.

But the Risen Jesus invites us into something more than life as it was, something more than our old life. He is inviting us into a new life with Him today, to leave behind our old way of living. Will we respond to this invitation of the Risen Lord to new life with him?

Some believers have already entered into this new way of living, which they hope to carry over after this crisis comes to an end. As they have left behind their old life with its manic busyness, they have discovered truths which they want to hold onto and live from.

During this time of sheltering at home, some have begun a new life of prayer or strengthened their former life of prayer. This crisis has forced them to recognize that the most important relationship in their life is with the Risen Lord, so they have entered more regularly into solitude and into silence, listening to Him like never before. During this time, others have discovered resurrected life by reconnecting with loved ones, reaching out to neighbors, or extending themselves in service of strangers. They have rediscovered that the way God made us is to be connected to others. For the truth is that we are interconnected, that what we choose to do or not do impacts the lives of others for good or for ill.

The Risen Lord, speaking to us in a new way in prayer and through our desire to connect with others, also invites us to examine our attachments to material things. During this time, many have discovered what is essential and what is not essential. We do not need to keep consuming more and more material things in order to live meaningful lives.

Like the apostles filled with the new life the Risen Lord breathed into them, we have a deeper desire to share our material belongings, even our hard-earned cash, with those who are in need. Entering into this new life with the Risen Lord, our eyes have been opened to see how much inequality there is in our nation and in our world. This pandemic has brought to light this harsh truth— a small percentage of people in our nation and world have too much of the world’s resources and many people have so little.

Access to health care is but one example of this harsh truth. Those who do not have health insurance have become sicker over the years and more prone to die from the coronavirus. They are also more likely not to seek out health care if they do catch this dreaded disease because they cannot pay for it.

Minimum wage workers in our country who work in grocery stores, nursing homes, and meat packing plants put their lives at risk, because to cease working means no food for their families and possible eviction from their homes.

New life with the Risen Lord means desiring to share this life with those in need and to correct the glaring inequalities in our world, to work for justice for all.

Joined to the Risen Christ, we are raised above our previous way of life. As we move with the Lord from death to new life, we die to self-preservation and rise up to self-giving love. We move from the city where the love of self closes itself off to God to a new city where love gives of itself and thereby finds God. (cf Augustine, “City of God”)

Raised up to new life in Him and with Him, Christians bring this Good News, the Gospel of Christ, into the world and raise up humankind to their highest dignity: to be children of God.

The Risen Lord Jesus is knocking from inside the doors of the Church, desiring to go out into the world. He desires to go out into the world through the lives of Christians who carry his self-sacrificing love into the world.

For the way to live a resurrected life in the here and now is by dying to self with Him and giving our lives away in loving service to others.

Homily for Easter Sunday

April 12, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


On this Easter morning we find ourselves in the same boat as Mary Magdalene. Our world has been turned upside down. We are lost and afraid. We mourn our “old” life, the life we had before the many losses the coronavirus ushered into our world. With Mary, we come with darkness surrounding us, to the place of death. There is no expectation of anything new, only more of the same: sorrow and loss. With her, we feel empty—joy has fled our lives and peace with it.

At first glance, the Easter Gospel which the Church gives us seems to do nothing to alleviate our sorrow, nothing to take away our emptiness.

John’s Gospel for today is empty of the reassurances of the other Gospels that Christ is Risen. There is only an empty tomb with a few burial cloths. There are no angels dressed in dazzling white announcing, “He is Risen.” There are no encounters with the Risen Lord, at least not yet. All that greets Peter and the other disciple when they finish their race to the tomb is emptiness. The body of their crucified friend is gone.

The absence of angelic promises, the absence of the Risen Lord, is what many Catholics are feeling right now. Where is the Lord Jesus in all that is going on in our world? Emptiness is what many are feeling, an emptiness matching the emptiness of his tomb. Many Catholics feel the pain of this emptiness in the depths of their spirit, because they have not received the Eucharist for days seemingly without end.

Part of the challenge of faith at this time is to plunge deeper into the Word of God, where the Lord feeds and nourishes us. Remember, those first disciples only came to understand the Resurrection as they came to understand the Scriptures that he had to rise from the dead. What we begin to understand as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures and allow them to illumine our life, is that Resurrection is not a one-time event, but an ongoing reality. Resurrection is what God does, over and over again.

In the Old Testament, over and over again God raised his fallen people, the People of Israel, to new life. He raised them up from slavery to freedom, from exile to homecoming, from their sinful ways to reconciliation with Him. God did the same with many individuals in the Old Testament, who faced what they thought was the end of their life as they knew it only to be granted new life by God: Abraham and Sarah, Moses and David, Esther and Judith.

The story continues in the New Testament, with Peter dead in his sorrow over his denial of Jesus, life as he knew it seemingly over, being raised to new life by the Risen Lord, so Peter can proclaim this Truth to others.

If we look back on our lives with the eyes of faith, we will see how the Lord has raised us up from this or that loss into a new life. With the eyes of faith, we can see how the Lord has written resurrection into our story. We are able to see and believe.

The Saints show us how to see and believe, how to entrust our lives to the one who is the Lord of life and death. When Fr. Rother was asked by the religious sisters at his parish a week before his death, what do we tell the people when they come and kill you, he answered: “Go into the church and light the Easter candle and sing the Easter Alleluia.”

Yes, indeed, Christ is Risen, and he raises up to new life all who believe in Him. For Christ is Risen, and we will rise up with him—nothing can kill this saving Truth.

The emptiness of this church feels like the emptiness of the tomb on Easter morn. Where is the Lord? Where is his Body? Without the living Body of Christ gathered together to become more fully who they are, to enter more deeply into Communion with each other and with the Risen Lord, this place yawns with emptiness.

But this emptiness is a prelude to the new life the Risen Lord brings from death. Like the emptiness of the soil receiving the seed which will produce new life, so the seeds of the resurrection are planted within us this Easter, the seeds of new life which cannot be killed. Because with God, life never dies—it only becomes fuller and richer and more meaningful.

For the Risen Lord is calling all of us to faith during these difficult days. A faith which is not so much believing that the Lord Jesus exists, but instead going to Jesus and entrusting our lives to Him, knowing that he cares about us.

This time of trial is forcing us to choose what matters and what passes away; a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is time to get our lives back on track with regard to our relationship with the Risen Lord and with others.

There will be a new church building and a new beginning for the people of our parish after this time of isolation has ended. For to those who walk in the light of the Risen Christ, every ending brings with it a new beginning, Every death leads to new life.

During this time when so many have experienced the loss of so many things, we are invited to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. Let us listen once again to the proclamation that saves us: “Christ is risen and living by our side.”

The Risen Lord by the power of the Spirit of Love which he shares with His Father can and will turn to good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. With him, we rise up from despair to hope again; In him, we rise up from the darkness of doubt to the light of faith; Through him, we rise up from our tombs of fear to trust and love again.

He is calling us from death to new life today. Because as believers know, with God, life never dies!

6th Sunday of Easter

May 26, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


In John’s Gospel, the Advocate, a title for the Holy Spirit, is the Heavenly Father’s love. Pure and simple, the Holy Spirit is the abiding presence of the Father’s love.

Of all the Father’s attributes, love is the one attribute which communicates the divine nature perfectly. In the first letter of John, this truth is stated clearly: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Three words, 9 letters, a short statement packed with beauty and truth and power. God is love. An encounter with God is an encounter with divine love, which truly is an encounter with God’s very own self. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, is the personification of that divine love. The 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity is nothing less than the Father’s love!

St. Paul says it this way in his letter to the Romans: “The Love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) The baptismal image of this Pauline statement is intentional, because in the waters of baptism, waters symbolizing the life-giving power of the Spirit, the love of God has been poured into us. The Spirit of love has been given us in baptism.

Divine love for all creation is the golden thread woven throughout the Scriptural writings of St. John. The evangelist John very carefully traces Jesus’ relationship to the Father’s love.

In perhaps his most famous passage—John 3:16—the 4th evangelist proclaims why God sent His only Son, not to condemn the world, but to save it. God’s love for a perishing humanity impels the Father to send His Son. His Son is the embodiment of the Father’s love for every single human being the Father has created.

In the powerful miracles in John’s Gospel, which are called “signs,” Jesus reveals this divine love for humanity. At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus changes water into wine so that a newly married couple might know God’s super-abundant love for them. (John 2:1-11) Jesus heals the man born blind so he might not only physically see again but also on a deeper level “see” (know) Jesus as the source of the Father’s love. (John 9:1-41) Jesus summons Lazarus out of the tomb and back to life, not only because of his love for Lazarus, but also because of his love for Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, who are crushed by sorrow. (John 11: 1-44) The greatest sign of God’s love for humanity in John’s Gospel is when Jesus is lifted up on the cross. Everything in the Gospel of John points toward this. In every Gospel command, Jesus teaches the way to conform one’s life to love’s example. The high point of his teaching happens at the Last Supper in John. Jesus washes his disciples’ feet and then commands his disciples to do the same, to serve each other in love. (John 13: 1-15) As we heard last week in John’s Last Supper discourse, Jesus challenges all his followers to “Love one another as I love you.” (John 13: 34) Later in that same discourse, Jesus points to his sacrifice on the cross as the highest form of self-giving love, by teaching: “There is no greater love than this—to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15: 13)

The Holy Spirit reminds us of what Jesus did and what He taught. This is a very important role for the Spirit of love— to gently remind us—this is what love looks like for followers of the One who gave his life away completely in love.

The Spirit of love also has been given to empower us to love as Jesus loves. The Father of all not only loves us into life and the Son not only dies in our place out of love for us, but their Spirit has been poured into our hearts. Why? So that divine love might be the source of all our thoughts, words, and actions!

We are to live by the power of the Spirit of love, especially in difficult times, such as times of disagreement and conflict. This kind of loving is different from the prevailing culture where people plant themselves in their own camp with like-minded others, claiming absolute truth and righteousness. “I am right and you are wrong. There is no reason to discuss this matter, nor do I need to listen to you or even respect your viewpoint.”

Those filled with the Spirit of love approach disagreements and conflicts in a completely different way. Look at the First Council of the Church in the 1st century in Jerusalem for proof. Here we are given a glimpse into how the early Christians resolved the thorny issue of how to incorporate the pagan Gentiles into the Church. There were some who said these new converts had to become Jewish first and be circumcised. Ouch! Paul and Barnabas, as apostles to the Gentiles in Antioch and beyond, heartily disagreed.

So, this 1st Church Council was held to resolve this issue. What is left out of today’s reading from Acts 15 about this 1st Church Council are the verses describing how the leaders debated this issue. They did so enlivened by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, who gave them the ability to listen to and respect one another, even as they aired their disagreements.

Notice who receives the credit for reaching a decision on how to welcome the Gentile converts into the Church: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us . . . “ (Acts of the Apostles 15: 28)

Gospel love, empowered by the Spirit, makes God present, the God who heals divisions and brings people together. It is the work of the Evil One to divide and separate people from each other. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to unite and strengthen the bonds of love among people.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love uniting the Father and the Son in the unity of the Trinity, brings us the peace of the Risen Lord Jesus which cannot be taken away from us. As we drink daily of the life-giving waters of the Spirit of love, we rest in the peace which the world cannot give. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, the early Christians in the 1st Century found peace even in the midst of the conflicts caused by the growing pains of the early Church.

Those 1st Christians also abided in the peace of the Risen Lord even in the face of opposition and violent persecution, because they were rooted in divine love, they were enlivened by the Spirit of love.

May we learn from them and do the same!

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.

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.