Eva Cassidy - Over The Rainbow
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Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle
Saint Thomas the Apostle-New World Encyclopedia
Today is the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle and both of the readings today seem to reflect the community of Christ’s disciples that Thomas lived in at the time, but also the Catholic community that we are a part of as well.
The first reading from the book of Ephesians for Mass today is so short it is worth repeating:
“Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
What beautiful and holy words these are! These words are filled with the Holy Spirit and with love. If ever you wanted to feel a sense of belonging, of having a place where you are loved, accepted and welcomed then this is it. Truly our church is alive in the Spirit today, just as it was over 2,000 years ago.
The prophets foretold of Christ and the Apostles proclaimed him, but Jesus Christ is alive today and he continues to live within each one of us. We form the body of Christ, a sacred temple for the Lord. May we work toward keeping ourselves free of sin to be a beautiful dwelling place for God and for the Holy Spirit to make his home with us. We are a sacred people that Jesus formed for himself, even with all of our imperfections.
Saint Thomas had his faults but Christ seems to understand this. He didn’t forget about Thomas just because Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when he appeared to them earlier behind locked doors or because Thomas doubted him either. On the contrary, Christ purposely sought him out and then greeted him with words of peace. Jesus didn’t let him off the hook that easy and he will not allow us to withdraw from him so easily either. The Lord continues to this day, to seek out his own that have wandered away from him.
Can you imagine what Thomas’ reaction was when he saw the Lord? No doubt he was absolutely astounded at the sheer reality of Jesus standing before him. And you can’t help but wonder about the Lord himself. Was he smiling or even laughing? Surely Jesus wasn’t serious and somber all the time. The look on Thomas’ face would have been priceless! He probably thought he was seeing a ghost until he touched Christ’s hands and side. It might be the same with us one day too, when we finally get to meet Jesus in heaven. Will we be shy then? Jesus understands the beauty of our own faith and love for him and that it has been harder because we never knew him in the flesh like Saint Thomas did. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” He spoke of us long before we came into being.
There is a beautiful hymn our church sings sometimes during Mass called “Without Seeing You”, that describes our love for Jesus, that we have not seen and yet believe in:
Without seeing you, we love you;
Without touching you, we embrace;
Without knowing you, we follow,
Without seeing you, we believe.
~ We return to you deep within, leave the past to the dust; turn to you with tears and fasting; you are ready to forgive.
~ The sparrow will find a home, near to you O God; how happy, we who dwell with you, forever in your house.
~ Forever we sing to you of your goodness, O God; proclaiming to all the world of your faithfulness and love.
~ For you are our shepherd, there is nothing that we need; in green pastures we will find our rest, near the waters of peace.
It may seem a little silly to end our reflection today with a hymn, but the words are so beautiful. Surely, we can never tire of reading words of peace, love and joy? When you sing, you pray twice! You know it is going to be an awesome day, when you begin it with a song in your heart.
Ephesians 2: 19-22 / Psalm 117 / John 20: 24-29
The Lord’s Prayer
The disciples had been travelling with Jesus for some time and no doubt began to notice how frequently Jesus prayed, especially before important events, like the Transfiguration. So, it is no wonder that after hearing Jesus pray to the Father about how only the Son can reveal the Father to the world that the disciples ask Jesus a simple question: Can you teach us how to pray? Jesus responds by teaching them the Lord’s Prayer, The Our Father.
The disciples’ simple question led to what is now the model for all Christian prayer. It is the perfect prayer in that it covers everything regarding our relationship with God and our needs as God’s children. The structure of prayer even helps us to put our lives in proper order. The prayer can be brought down into the opening address and seven petitions:
Our Father who art in heaven,
1. Hallowed be thy name.
2. Thy Kingdom come.
3. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
4. Give us this day our daily bread.
5. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
6. And lead us not into temptation,
7. but deliver us from evil.
We begin with the opening address, by calling God “Father,” which reflects our own identity as adopted sons and daughters of God through our Baptism. Then we focus our first three petitions on God: we acknowledge God’s holiness, we express a desire for his Kingdom, and we seek to unite our will with God’s. By placing our attention on God, we draw closer to God and begin to leave behind all that would hold us back from loving God.
The final four petitions acknowledge our own weaknesses and call on God’s mercy. They address our basic human need for nourishment, both physical and spiritual, and for forgiveness, for both ourselves and others. They also focus on our struggle to resist sin, our need for God’s grace to persevere, and our hope in deliverance from all that would keep us from the eternal life already won by Christ. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to love God and gives us the words to express and deepen that love. As followers of Jesus, we are called to not only pray the Lord’s Prayer frequently, but to live it!
Catechism, nos. 2759-2776
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