Sunday, May 6, 2018

Signs. Sacraments (2018-05-06, 6th Sun. Easter)

6th SUNDAY of Easter 
6 May 2018    •• Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48  •• Psalm 98  •• 1 John 4:7-10  •• + John 15:9-17 ••

Title:  “Signs, Sacraments”

[__01__]      Welcome – girls and boys – a special welcome to our young sisters and brothers who received the Sacrament of 1st Holy Communion on April 22nd and your classmates who are part of your First Communion journey.
            Holy Communion is a sacrament which means a special sacred or holy mystery. One these 7 sacred mysteries of the church.
[__02__]   When we hear the word sacrament – sacrament is a big religion- vocabulary word – I suggest we think of a sacrament as a sign – SIGN. 
            A sign. We receive signs, signals.
            For example, if you recall – during the winter – not so long ago, “signs” were necessary due to snow and ice and bad weather. Some people think snow is good weather, but they do not live around here. Follow the signs to Utah or Vermont.
            On a snowy – blizzard – day, every teacher of the school and every student of the school must be told whether or not there will be class. So, signs were sent out. Click [SEND].
            The “sign” was a message – words, email, text, voice mail – telling us whether the school is open, closed, delayed opening or some other status.
            In this case, you or I would be at home waiting for this message, this sign, this indication. We can read the SIGN. The sign tells us where to go, what to do.
[__03__]      The sign is visible. We can see it. But the school is invisible. We cannot see it.
            This is also an official Catholic definition of a sacrament, from the Catechism, that a sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible reality:  a visible sign of something we cannot see.
 [__04__]      Jesus Christ, our Lord, gave us 7 special signs – the sacraments – to SHOW + TELL us of his love.
            For example, Holy Communion – First Holy Communion is 1 of the 7 holy signs or sacraments.
            And, every sacrament is a SIGN of unity, even if we cannot see the unity.
            We might even say that the SIGN on a snow day from school is a sign of unity. It’s not exactly “sacramental”or religious but the SIGN is given so that for everyone’s safety … we will either come to school at a very specific time, or stay home…or maybe leave early.
            Everyone is supposed to read the sign, follow the sign. Signs bring unity … even if we cannot observe – or judge or evaluate - what everyone else is doing or feeling.
            Sometimes, we do not know what is on another person’s mind or heart – “or on his or plate”.  [Sometimes, unity is mysterious.  Sacraments are also, by the way, mysteries of our faith.]
[__05__]      And, Holy Communion is also given to us for unity… not only for our individual nourishment and health but so that we are all nourished and strengthened together…and that by receiving Jesus we also become more and like Jesus, united to him each day. He is united to us – his disciples - because he sacrifices his life, dies for us.
            And, even when the original disciples get lost or get sad or get anxious or scared, Jesus is still watching over them, trying unite them to bring them back to him, to show them a sign.
[__06__]   Sometimes, I am asked his question:   do you remember Puerto Rico? When I was about 11 months or 13 months old, my mother traveled on a plane to visit a good friend in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I traveled with my mother on this trip, my father was unable to go that at that time.
            Being the only child of the family at the time, I imagine this was a special trip for my mother and a special trip for me. And, it seems whenever anybody goes to Puerto Rico or talks about Puerto Rico – and certainly after last year’s Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, my mother reminds me of this trip.
            She often asks me if I remember the trip. I was ONE ! I remember nothing.
            The only sign I have is that you – Mom – are telling me about the trip, about the journey.
[__05__]      This is the sign to the disciples, that Jesus was searching for them, when they were not searching for him, that he was dying for them, for their sins, even before they understood their offense or sins, that Jesus wanted to forgive them, even before they asked.
            That he loves us so much and teaches us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  UNITY.
            He invites us to pray for this unity, this peace so that we can be united to him in love and be united to others – to others whom we can see … even to love others whom we may not always understand, for whom we may need an extra sign of God’s love and unity with us, so that we can lay down our lives in sacrifice also.

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