Home Homilies Michael Whelan SM, PhD

Gospel for Trinity Sunday (Year B) (26 May 2024)

The disciple learns through experiencing the truth that Jesus is the embodiment of the promise to Moses on Sinai: “‘I am with you’.” Through him, with him and in him, the disciple increasingly becomes aware that the “change of heart” and the “new creation” are found in becoming part of the very life of the “I AM”, the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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Gospel for Pentecost Sunday (Year B) (19 May 2024)

Seek the truth in your daily experiences. Get into the habit of listening, paying attention, fostering awareness in a non-judgmental way. Being judgmental gets in the way of us hearing what is actually happening – the truth in other words. The art of open questioning helps. An open question is a question you ask but do not answer. This is a simple concept but very difficult to do. You have to work at it over many months. I suspect that one reason we find it so difficult is that answers hold out the promise of control. Which would you rather: Maintain control or surrender to “the Spirit of truth”?

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Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year B) (5 May 2024)

What a difference it makes when we recognize that the Christian life is first and foremost a matter of being loved. Virtue then is a matter of letting God be God in us. St Paul describes virtue, not as the result of human will power but as the fruit of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

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Gospel for the Ascension of the Lord (Year B) (12 May 2024)

We can lose our focus on “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End” in a time such as ours. Reflecting on “the ascension” acknowledges the fact of endings, even the endings of some very significant things. It also reminds us of what does not end, will never end: “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End”.

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Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year B) (28 April 2024)

What a travesty of the Christian life it is when we reduce it to a moral project! Of course there is a profound moral vision in Jesus’ life and teaching! But it does neither him nor us justice if we present Jesus primarily as a moral teacher and the Christian life as primarily our efforts to behave rightly.

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Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year B) (21 April 2024)

“Unlovely and unlovable goodness” is not likely to bring joy. Therefore, it is more likely to repel people than attract them to the way of Jesus. Maybe Jesus had this in mind when he said to the disciples: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).

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Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter (Year B) (14 April 2024)

There is wisdom in the observation by the Japanese artist, Sōetsu Yanagi: “He who only knows without seeing, does not understand the mystery” (The Unknown Craftsman – A Japanese Insight into Beauty, adapted by Bernard Leach, Tokyo: Kodansh International Ltd, 1972, 110). St Thomas Aquinas stopped writing his Summa Theologica, saying: “All that I have written seems to me nothing but straw . . . compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me”

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Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter (Year B) (7 April 2024)

On Holy Thursday, 11 April 1963, Pope John XXIII published his landmark encyclical, Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”). The full title of the encyclical is: On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty. It was published in its entirety in The New York Times and The Washington Post said “it is the voice of the conscience of the world.”

Cardinal Suenens presented the encyclical to U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations on 13 May 1963 and addressed a packed gathering of the General Assembly for more than one hour. Suenens said that the encyclical’s “theme is peace, and peace needs truth as its foundation, justice as its norm, love as its driving force, and freedom as its setting” (Peter Hebblethwaite, John XXIII, London: Fount Paperbacks, 1994, 495).

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Gospel for Easter Sunday (Year B) (31 March 2024)

Today’s Gospel begins with the three women – the two Marys plus Salome – on their way to the tomb to anoint the corpse. They are talking about who will roll away the stone. When they arrive at the tomb, the stone has already been rolled away. The implication is clearly that God has taken care of this task which would have been impossible for them. There is an important symbolism here: “The removal of the stone suggests that in all respects the resurrection of Jesus is entirely God’s work. The human role in the event is that of witness, not worker” (J R Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002, 492).

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Gospel for Palm Sunday (Year B) (24 March 2024)

Only someone who is unaware of their own brokenness is going to pass judgment on those who “deserted” Jesus that night. The stark irony of this scene is that they all need the one they are deserting. Isn’t that the irony of our lives?

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