My dear brothers and sisters,1
Today we especially pray for the five new cardinals that Pope Francis named this morning in Rome. The new cardinals come from Mali, from Spain, from Sweden, from Laos, and El Salvador.
So we especially pray for them at this celebration of Mass today. I guess the consistory would take place on June 28th, so let’s keep them in our prayers.
So as I was saying, it is always special during the Easter season to hear about the life of the first Christians. The life of the Apostles, the first Christian community. And the action of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
These days, as I said before and I think we all have seen it and heard about it, the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles — it’s the life of the first Christian community.
In our reading this morning, we heard about the deacon St. Philip proclaiming Christ in Samaria from the Acts of the Apostles.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
It’s an interesting description of what happened.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was a great joy in that city.
If we just try to imagine the excitement of the people in Samaria. And, if we can imagine, just to be there in the crowd. And to hear the sounds of the people crying out in their pain. People who have been hurting so long; people with nothing left to lose, nothing to hope for.
And then suddenly, into their reality, the Word of the Gospel comes — and it changes everything. Hope is born again! New life becomes possible.
And my dear brothers and sisters, this is what happens when people meet Jesus. “And there was great joy in that city.” Where Jesus is found, there is always great joy.
And the joy that Jesus brings is the joy of discovering that God loves us. That our lives can be different if we follow Jesus in love.
And as we know, every heart is looking for this joy — and that includes you and me. And this is the promise of the Gospel.
And as we know — as we have meditated together so many times — we are called to proclaim the Gospel and to live it with all our hearts and all our strength. It is not just for special people. It is the beautiful duty for you and for me. To be Christ’s co-workers in spreading his Gospel.
You know, so many times we talk about what we need in our society, what we need in the world, what we need in our country — I think it’s clear to all of us that what we need is a real and spiritual renewal. The joy of the Gospel, as Pope Francis has said to us so many times — a new missionary seal just like the one from the Apostles and the first disciples in the Acts of the Apostles.
So as we reflect on these scenes from the Acts of the Apostles during these weeks of Easter, I think it’s clear to all of us that we need to be asking ourselves — are we bringing Jesus to the people we meet? Are we bringing joy to our city? To our homes, to the places where we work or go to school? Are we really, each one of us, missionaries of the Gospel of Joy?
We really need to be like those disciples in the first reading — standing together and proclaiming the joy of the Gospel in our cities and in our world.
But the challenge that we face, I think is we need to remember “the why.” We always need to remember what are we working for — and where our power comes from.
As we heard in the first reading of today’s Mass, we heard about St. Philip — he does nothing of his own power. He just allows himself to be an instrument — to do the work of God, the work of the Holy Spirit. And it is the same with us. It is always the Lord always who is acting through us.
So it makes sense that as we reflect on how we are going to do it, to always go back to the “source” of our enthusiasm, our joy — our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to go back to that personal relationship with Jesus.
Because the truth is not that it is about us. It is never about us. Everything begins and ends with Jesus.
We heard those beautiful words in today’s second reading:
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.
It is beautiful to think about this. We have the Lord Jesus in our hearts. We have his divine presence inside us. Just think about it — when our heart beats, it beats with the heart of Jesus. We’re Christians. Followers of Jesus Christ. And the goal of our life is the imitation of the life of Christ.
It’s not easy — nobody said that it would be easy — but that’s what the goal is. And that’s what we have to be excited about in our own personal life and what we bring to our society.
And that’s what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel that we heard today.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
We are in Jesus, and Jesus is in us. He comes to us, to live with us. To share our life. This is the great gift of our faith. Jesus is walking together with us in our journey of faith, in our daily life. It is the gift that we have received in Baptism, that is renewed in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, where we receive Jesus — real present in the Eucharist. It is the gift of being able to live in a personal relationship with Jesus in our hearts.
But then my dear brothers and sisters, we really need to make sure that this personal relationship with Jesus — is always the most important thing in our lives. We need to treasure this relationship and help it to grow.
It’s much more important than anything else. It is in our lives — that’s why we are here this morning — but we need to make it that way every single day in our lives.
Jesus should be our first love, the center of our lives. The first reason we get up in the morning, and the reason for everything we do. We need to love him and to sanctify him in our hearts.
And what Jesus tells us in the Gospel, as we heard this morning: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
That’s a beautiful challenge and call to each one of us. Because he is speaking those words to you and to me. If we want to love Jesus, we need to live according to his words, his example. We need to live his commandments.
So today, once again, let us make it our prayer this week. Let us commit ourselves to loving Jesus and keeping his commandments, sanctifying him in our hearts.
And let us commit ourselves to sharing the hope that is in us with the whole world — bringing Jesus into the lives of everyone we meet, really we are doing them a great favor. Helping them to understand the meaning of their lives and how wonderful it is — even sometimes we go through challenging times in our personal lives, in our families, in our society — we have Jesus walking with us! Let’s share that with all the people of our time.
So beautiful reflection that we can continue during this week as we come to the end of the Easter season. And in the Month of Mary, the month of May, when we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, let us especially ask Mary Our Blessed Mother to lead us to Jesus. Maybe saying that beautiful prayer — simple words but if we repeat it many times every day, it would really help us to center our life in Jesus.
To Jesus, through Mary.
May Mary be with us today and always, and take us to her son, Jesus.
1. Readings (Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A): Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Ps. 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 Pet. 3:15-18; John 14:15-21.