St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

With over a billion members in the Catholic Church plus who knows how many in other Christian denominations, it’s hard to believe that those who 1st accepted the Good News of Jesus were thought to be outsiders and therefore a threat in some way.

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Today’s Gospel reading comes from the John’s account of the Last Supper. Judas had just left the table companionship to begin the process that would lead to Jesus arrest. Jesus had just said that Peter would deny him three times. But Jesus counsels them not to let their hearts be troubled because he is going to the Father to prepare places for them.

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Well, this is a big day, isn’t it? You are going to receive Jesus in a special way today. Now, let us look at each letter of the word “bread” because it can help us remember some important things about this sacrament. B stands for believe. We believe that the host becomes the body of Jesus in a mysterious way that has a fancy name attached to it called transubstantiation. Don’t worry! There will not be a quiz afterwards, at least not for you, but maybe for the grownups here. There is a saying, seeing is believing, but in this case believing is seeing because we see through the eyes of faith. R and E go together. Receive the Holy Eucharist every time you come to Mass. And A and D go together as well. They stand for receive the Eucharist always devoutly. That means don’t treat it as normal food. Approach the altar reverently, not as if you are in line for popcorn at a movie. Think about whom you are receiving instead of what you are receiving. Don’t shuffle along, looking bored. Sometimes older people get so used to receiving communion, it becomes a matter of habit; and, they sometimes forget what a great gift God is giving them. Don’t let that happen to you. Let’s review what BREAD stands for: Believe, receive every time, always devoutly. A word of congratulations is due for the parents of these children. You have shepherded them through three sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation, and now Eucharist. Although Baptism is received only once, it constantly must be renewed and reaffirmed. Reconciliation, a celebration of God’s mercy and the forgiveness of sins, can be received as often as needed, and not just for major sins. Little sins, allowed to pile up, can slow our journey to God. Think of a snowstorm. It’s made up of tiny individual flakes that can slow or even stop traffic when there are enough of them. Eucharist is God’s help for us to strengthen and nourish our faith. Make it a priority to receive it often, if not every week. Coming to be with a faith community is another way we strengthen one another in believing. We really need each other especially in these times when our faith in God is attacked or looked down upon as superstition. And a final word to the children: You have my permission to nag your parents about coming to church.

How would you like to be remembered? Most of you would say as a loving spouse, parent, sibling, and friend. Poor Thomas! He is remembered by most as a doubter. Can you blame him? His doubt was understandable. The other disciples claimed to have seen the Risen Lord, come back from the dead, who passed through locked doors with a real body with the mark of nails on his hands and his side pierced by a lance, talked to them, breathed on them, and gave them the power to either forgive or retain the sins of others like God himself. It all seemed unbelievable. It was no wonder he wanted tangible proof before he would believe. “Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I WILL NOT BELIEVE.”

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In an episode of “This Old House”, 6 men struggled with much grunting and groaning to put into place a polished granite slab onto a kitchen island. Keep that image in mind.

In Matthew’s passion account, the evangelist mentions that a huge stone was rolled across the entrance of the tomb and that the guards set a seal to the stone. Mark‘s Gospel states the stone was very large, so much so the women who came to the tomb were wondering who would roll it away.

Jesus was truly dead, closed up in a tomb by a huge stone. The chief priests, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Romans, those who were not his disciples, and even those who believed in him thought it was the end of him.

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The most central of all mysteries is the paschal mystery, the suffering, death, and resurrection. Christ is central to our life of faith, and central to his life is this mystery. Moreover, the paschal mystery is the secret to life, not only eternal life but the present life as well. Our happiness ultimately depends upon properly undergoing and understanding it.

The pattern was set by Jesus and his disciples: the suffering and death of Good Friday, the rising to new life on Easter, a period of 40 days during which he and the disciples adjusted to his new life and had to grieve what was to be no more, the Ascension which involved a letting go of the old and not clinging to what was, and Pentecost, the reception of the Spirit for the new life the disciples were already living.

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