May 5, 2024

On this first Sunday of May, we continue our celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection with the Sixth Sunday of the Easter season. We continue our reading of the Farewell Discourse from John’s Gospel. We hear a very powerful and encouraging message. Situated at the Last Supper, Jesus shares his parting wish with his disciples – keep on loving! “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” “Love one another as I love you.” “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” “This I command you: love one another.” Jesus prepares his disciples for his coming departure with these powerful words of encouragement.

“Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes.”

Pope Francis

Anticipated separations can rob us of a peaceful spirit and make us feel troubled or afraid. Change is never easy. Jesus knew the human heart well. And he knew their call to be his disciples would not be an easy one – that they would need someone to strengthen them (the Holy Spirit). As he prepares the apostles for what is to come, he is also preparing us for our celebration of the gift of God’s Spirit among us on Pentecost. We will celebrate that feast in just two weeks.

As our Sunday and daily Gospel readings focus on the Lord’s promise to remain with us by the gift of his Spirit, we have the opportunity to reflect upon the Sacrament of Confirmation. During my homily at our parish celebration of Confirmation, I reminded the candidates of our call to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. As I explored what being a “disciple” really means, we saw that being a disciple in our day is not an easy path. Since the Lord also knew that, he promised to send us “another advocate” to be our strength and our guide. That advocate was none other than the Holy Spirit – sent to the early disciples and to us to be our strength. One of the ways that the Lord continues to be with us is through the gift of the Spirit, of which we have all received, beginning at our Baptism. Becoming aware of the Spirit’s presence among us is a wonderful way for us to conclude our celebration of the Easter season. Let’s listen carefully to the Lord’s Farewell Discourse over the next several days and appreciate the gift of the Spirit that has been given to us.

Next Sunday, we will celebrate the feast of the Ascension. Normally this feast is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which would be this coming Thursday, May 9. Twenty-five years ago, our Bishops received permission to transfer the observance of the feast to the nearest Sunday. This had already been the practice in the western states of our country. The Bishops of the state of Illinois decided to make the transfer, which took effect in May 2000. So this Thursday is simply “Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter.” Next Sunday is the feast of the Ascension and the following Sunday will be the feast of Pentecost, bringing our 50-day Easter celebration to a close.

Since Easter is the primary season of initiation into the church community, we intentionally schedule our special celebrations of First Communion during the Easter Season. Our celebrations of First Communion began last Saturday and concluded yesterday. Four separate Masses took place over those two days. What a blessing for our young people to celebrate their First Communion during the second year of the National Eucharistic Revival called for by our Bishops. This Revival began with the Solemnity of the Body of Blood of the Lord in June 2022 and will extend through 2025. In January 2022, Bishop Ron Hicks wrote: “Hopefully, this Eucharistic Revival will serve as a spark for Catholics across the United States to help reignite their faith by being healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and to be sent out in mission ‘for the life of the world.’” We congratulate our 2024 First Communicants and their families and promise them the additional support of our prayers.

Today, we celebrate our parish May Crowning at the beginning of the 10:00 am Mass. While our main focus during the month of May is the Easter Season, it has also been dedicated to honoring Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Our parish May Crowning will be led by representatives of our St. Isidore Catholic School 8th grade class and representatives of our Council of Catholic Women. Our CCW Woman of the Year, Mrs. Pat Murray, will also assist.

We continue our 50-day celebration of Easter. We need to hold on to our Easter belief that God always leads us from death to new life. God will lead us through whatever we have to face to totally new life. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy