5th Sunday of Easter (C)


Mother Teresa said, “All we do – prayer, work, or suffering – is for Jesus. Our work has no other reason or motivation.  (CNS)
Bloom Chama Chua Cummins Fleming Hawkswell Holsington
Kavanaugh Lane Langeh Lawrence McKinnon Pavone Pellegrino
Powell Schuster Senior Smiga Terra Turner Wester

Featured Homilies


Mission: Hopefully Not Impossible



Imagine a world with no newspapers, no magazines, no books, no computers, no internet, no social media, no telephone, no radio, no television… That’s the world in which St. Paul lived, in the mid-first century. In that setting, over a span of about 10 years, St. Paul set out on three journeys, missionary journeys, to preach the message of Jesus and spread the Christian faith. In those three journeys Paul traveled some 7,000 miles. We know some of his travel was by boat because in the scriptures he reports being shipwrecked no fewer than three times. Still, a good deal of his travel was by foot. His travels took him to Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Greece, Jerusalem, Lebanon and Israel.

He had no bible to carry with him, to read from, or refer to. He had no pamphlets, leaflets or handouts. There were no sound systems for addressing large crowds: small groups would be his largest audiences. He had only the faith in his heart and the words on his lips but with these simple tools he told the story of Jesus and founded whole faith communities, churches, along the way. And all this in places where the people had never heard of Jesus!


The Last 24 Hours


You have probably heard this question before, but it’s a question worth meditating on regularly.  What if you were told that you had 24 hours to live?  How would you spend those hours?  Would there be some place you feel you needed to go?  What would you do?  Who would you do it with?

Looking at life from this perspective, it is amazing how many things that we think are necessary, how many fears that absorb our time, suddenly seem trivial and unimportant.  I think most of us would clear our calendars and delete many marginal people from our appointment books.  We would try to surround ourselves with the few precious people in our lives and engage in a number of relatively simple things: crying, laughing, and perhaps sharing a meal.  But one thing would be clear.  In those final hours we would know what we would say.  Because in those circumstances there is only one thing to say which makes any sense.


Cosmic Resurrection

| 2019
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

In the last month, cities in England and Scotland saw demonstrations being held by the group called “Extinction rebellion”. There were ten days of marches, arrests, and disruption to the transport network in London as well as road blocks and protestors camping out in various locations. Extinction rebellion are calling for the government to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and for the United Kingdom to commit to ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by the year 2025, in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.

The call for such radical changes would seem unworkable, at least within this timescale. Yet, the protests did tap into something. No doubt it has made us all think again about such issues. There is a growing concern that the world’s governments are not doing enough to mitigate against man-made climate change. The protests have arguably focused our attention on the need to act more urgently. Yet, things like deforestation are being driven by demand for foods and consumer goods which all of us are using. We have at least some influence in our lives, over what choices we make that can benefit ‘the environment’.


Love is Heroic

Tom Bartolomeo | 2013

Judas leaves Jesus and the other Apostles at their last supper together, and Christ says, “Now is the Son of Man glorified”? So this is the price of Christ’s new commandment, “As I have loved you so you should love one another,”Judas’ betrayal? We may want to believe that love should always be reciprocal. Not so. Christ knew. Do we hold back love for fear of not being loved?

That did not deter Christ nor his disciples in The Acts of the Apostles. All those conversions came with a price, often with persecution and bloodshed. “You are deceived,” we are told by St. Jerome, “if you think that Christians can live without persecutions.” Or let me put it another way quoting a famous 20th century convert, C. S. Lewis, “If you want a religion that is really comfortable, I don’t recommend Christianity.”


New Heaven & New Earth

HomiliesST. MARY OF THE VALLEY | 2015

Bottom line: These blessings and joys give us a sense that even though tears and drudgery fill our lives, still there is something beyond: a new heaven and a new earth where God will wipe away every tear.

This is the second homily in our series “As I Have Loved You”. We hear Jesus say, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We saw last Sunday that God loves us by his promise to wipe away our tears. I mentioned the tears of parents who have lost a dear child. I think of my sister-in-law who lost her son in a tragic fire. She is a woman of great faith, but the tears continue. She looks forward to what John describes as the “new heaven and the new earth”:

“He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”

When I was young, a wise person told me: “Treat each person like he has a broken heart and you will not be wrong”. We live in a valley of tears. Still, this valley does have plenty of beauty, even joy. I think of the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Our children so often bring us joy. Adolescents and young adults, even though we sometimes have a time understanding them, also bring joy. I think especially of our young people who will be confirmed next Saturday.

RELATED HOMILIES | 2022 Homilies


Ever Ancient Ever New



The ability to make things new again, even better than the original creation is a prerogative of God. Man, despite all his wondrous innovations and novel ideas, is incapable of inventing a newness that will last. Immortality eludes him. Only, God can guarantee this. This is because, as St Augustine wrote, God is “Beauty ever ancient ever new.” God is ever new, He never ages for He is eternal. Moreover, because He is infinite, we will never cease seeing new insights of his beauty and magnificence; for all eternity we will never be bored. All those who participate in the life of God would also experience this ever new-ness. Thus the Church, the Bride of Christ, after two thousand years, and in spite of all the insults hurled at her that she is ancient, hagged and no longer relevant, is no less young and beautiful than she was at first. We are always discovering new depth and new ways of presenting the timeless, unchanging deposit of faith revealed by Christ. The Church’s teaching is always fresh.


Behold, I Make All Things New



It was extraordinary. No one could have ever expected it to happen. People whom the Jewish people normally referred to as the dogs, the gentiles, were listening to the preaching of Jewish missionaries and were flocking to become members of the New Way, the Way of Jesus Christ. So many people throughout the various lands were becoming Christians that Paul and Barnabas had to establish Christian communities in these foreign lands. They called each of these communities Churches, not just referring to the building but to the people united in the New Way. Extraordinary. The gentiles were receiving the Word of God and responding. This was beyond the comprehension of the ancient Hebrews. They were the Chosen People. How could others also receive God’s choice? Who would have thought? When Paul and Barnabas reported all this to the Christian Community of Antioch, they were convinced that God had done this. He had called the gentiles to himself. The world was being transformed. It’s all new.


Time for Essentials


In the conclusion we often come back to the fundamentals. It’s not just about writing, telling a story or delivering a speech, it’s equally true about our life. At a certain time, we should be able to clarify things for ourselves by posing questions on what we do in life. How then, does this Sunday’s Gospel, apparently strange for Easter season, bring us to the essentials?

Have we run short of Gospel texts? Is it a confusion? How do we jump from accounts about the risen Jesus back to the time before his passion? No haphazard, it’s planned, deliberate and pedagogic. In fact, there’s one thing in common between the time Jesus addressed these words to his disciples and our stage in this Easter period: it’s time for departure. In the Gospel Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples before going to his passion, death, resurrection -and eventually his return to the Father. In our case, we draw close to Ascension, which is a departure too. In either case, the message of conclusion is just in order.



Love One Another As I Have Loved You

HomiliesYEAR C HOMILIES | 2013

Jesus said to his apostles during the Last Supper, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) There are different types of love but there is no confusion in the language of the New Testament. When Jesus speaks about love it is always a special type of love: unselfish love, loving the other for the other’s sake without anything in it for oneself. The New Testament writers used the word “agape” to describe this special type of love. There are other types of love in the New Testament— there is what we nowadays call friendship, and there is also selfish sensual love. Whenever Jesus uses the word “love” he only talks of agape, unselfish love, which is also the love God has for us.


By Acting As If We Love, We Truly Love



“Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,” Jesus commanded the night before he died for us.

Here, in the Greek, the verb “love” is agapate; the noun is agape. We used to translate agape as “charity,” but “charity” has dwindled to “almsgiving.” Now we translate agape as “love,” but “love” can also mean the natural loves: affection, friendship, and eros (sexual love).

Agape is “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbour as ourselves for the love of God,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Behold, I Make All Things New


In this Sunday’s second reading from the Book of Revelation (Rev. 21:1-5a), John shares the vision of seeing a “new heaven” and a “new earth” with “the holy city, a new Jerusalem”.  As John writes, The former heaven and the former earth had passed away…  John then hears the One sitting on the throne proclaim, “Behold, I make all things new.”

In our gospel reading (Jn. 13:31-33a, 34-35), at the Last Supper after our Lord had just washed the feet of his disciples – showing by action what he is to now proclaim in word – Jesus says, I give you a new commandment: love one another. 


Time and Eternity

HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

he chairman of the philosophy department at Creighton University, John Patrick Murray, was telling me how Augustine’s Confessions had deeply affected him during his semester’s teaching. He and I were in a diner near the St. Louis airport during his four-hour layover en route back to Omaha. So as the world spun on about us, jets overhead carrying thousands to temporary destinations, the two of us sat in a booth discussing eternity.

Augustine, if you give him your mind for a while, writes with such focused intensity about the things of heaven that by the time you get to the last books of the Confessions, you cannot help but wonder: does the eternal extinguish the importance of the temporal? Do created goods pale, even disappear, in the light of God’s resplendence?


A Way of Love



An essential part of being a follower of Jesus Christ is a willingness to love. How many times have we heard with our ears and our hearts the words in today’s Gospel passage, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other.”

These are, of course, words of our Lord, given not as a suggestion or an option, as something to embrace if we feel up to it, but as a real mandate, a challenge to put into practice day in and day out until our final breath. Easier said than done, we probably will readily agree.

It is good to remember that the teaching of Christ is not a philosophy or a theory, but a way of life, a way of love, manifested in words and deeds. “Love one another, as I have loved you,” is the basic teaching of Christ, and that is our work, challenging as it may be and even a cause of suffering and death.

The words and deeds of Christ teach a path other than violence, hatred and revenge, and we are called to inculcate the example of our Master in our daily lives. We may ask: how did Christ love? First of all, without counting the cost, even as it led to suffering and death on the cross.


God’s Glory



Most of us can make sense of the second part of today’s Gospel passage about Jesus’ command that we love one another. But what did the first part of the passage mean with all its talk about glorifying? and how on earth do the two sections connect? More importantly, how might they connect with our lives today?

In the Jewish mind, “glorify” had a very special meaning. Jews had a wonderful sense of the utter uniqueness of God, of God’s difference from us. They would not even pronounce aloud the name of God, Yahweh. It was too sacred for human lips. Essentially, God was far above or beyond our capacity to understand. But God was able to reveal to us something of his beauty. It was that revelation of God, visible and understandable to humans, that was referred to as God’s “glory”. The primary humanly accessible revelation of God was Jesus himself; and God’s “glory” was particularly visible through his integrity, his inner authority and strength.

The Gospel passage this morning began with the ominous observation, “When Judas had gone out”. What it did not clarify was that he went out from the Upper Room in the middle of the Last Supper. The Jewish priests, the legal eagles and the aristocrats had already decided to get Jesus out of the way once and for all. But it had to be done with as least fuss as possible – the last thing they wanted was that his volatile Galilean followers thronging Jerusalem for the Passover feast create a riot. By a stroke of luck, Judas had approached them and provided them a where and when they could get Jesus: late Thursday night, when people were asleep, out on the Mount of Olives.


There Shall Be No More Death



Tying this weekend’s readings with the theme of life brings us right to the powerful promise in the second reading from Revelation 21, “There shall be no more death.” The Easter season celebrates the basis of this promise: Christ has conquered the kingdom of death by his own death and resurrection, and has given us a share in this victory through our baptism.

Moreover, the victory embraces the entire universe, spiritual and physical: “I…saw a new heaven and a new earth.” Any power that death exercises now, through evils like abortion or the threat of our own death, is a temporary and fleeting power that has lost both its foundation and finality. That’s why the Church proclaims the Gospel of Life with utter confidence, and why we are to engage in pro-life activities with the same confidence. We do not just work “for” victory; we work “from” victory.



Love Never Compromises


The traitor leaves the table and goes to complete his betrayal. Jesus watches him go; without a word, Jesus bears witness to his friend’s treason. When the door closes behind Judas, our Lord turns to the remaining disciples and declares the beginning of the end, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Now. Immediately. At this moment. With Judas gone and the door closed, our Lord is given glory for his Passion: the Father’s strength and the Spirit’s fire—the divine majesty. With the Son of Man glorified, God is glorified in him. Amplified. Magnified. Made more brilliant. So elevated, he says to his disciples, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.” Can they see/feel the glory suffusing their teacher? Do his friends know that the traitor’s departure started the countdown to Golgotha? Rather than accuse Judas, or flee to the desert, or shout a call to fight, our Lord issues a new command. Watching Judas leave the table, watching him go to sell his teacher and friend to their enemies, Jesus shares his glory with those who remain, who remain loyal: “Love one another,” he commands, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we love one another, all will know that we follow Christ.

Jesus Teaches How to Love


My friends, you have heard this from me before, we can summarize the Bible in three scripture passages. Ready? First John 4:16 tells us God is love. Genesis chapter 1:26-27 says we are made in the image and likeness of this God who is love. What are we supposed to do then? In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, St. Paul says, without love we are nothing. In the Gospel of John today, Jesus tells us, I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you. God is love. We are made in the image and likeness of this God who is love. Therefore, love. The meaning of life is that easy and yet very hard. Why? We have troubles loving as we ought.

Case in point, notice how Jesus gave this commandment at the last supper after Judas had left them? You see, Judas wasn’t open to this Gospel of love Jesus was preaching because he wanted to promote the Gospel of Judas, which at the moment was collecting thirty pieces of silver in exchange for betraying the Lord. You see, Judas was not interested in the Gospel of serving others. He was interested in the Gospel of serving himself.


Encouragement and Hope in a Turbulent World



No one will deny that we live in a turbulent world. We hardly know from one day to the next what new problem or crisis we might have to face. Coupled to this is the fact that some violent and selfish people deliberately cause problems for everyone else. Nevertheless, what is so encouraging and helpful during these trying times are the really good people. These folks always do their best to be helpful in every situation. They are kind – they are considerate – they know how to listen. They make time for others. They refuse to get angry, use harsh words, or ever slam the door and walk away! They do not judge or condemn others. Instead, they look for the wounds that mean, unkind, and violent people carry within themselves. And they seek for ways to heal those wounds. However, we must remember that these good people have not escaped suffering and hardship in their own hearts and lives. But they have not allowed these, sometimes, terrible things to destroy them or make them less!


A Simple Command to Love One Another

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 2022

What would it take for everyone to ask before doing or saying anything: Is what I’m about to do or say loving? It seems clear that this is what Jesus asks us to do no matter who the other person is. There are no conditions that absent us from this commandment. Jesus applies it to friend and enemy and men and women, and He applies it to any other kind of equality or difference we see between each other.

I would like to take some time this week to help us to answer that question. Why is it so difficult for us to do what Jesus asks us? According to the teachings of Jesus, we know that evil comes from within. Our inability to love whoever is in front of us probably has something to do with our own prejudice or attitudes toward certain people or groups. We might have made a decision that some person or group is unworthy of our love because of what they say or do. Jesus does not place that condition or any other condition on our command to love one another as God loves us.


Love One Another

by Fr. Adrian McCaffery| 2022
Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Why is it so important what others know, what others see? Christ says, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is because love is the fundamental existence; it is the only activity; we are either doing it or not doing it, loving or not loving. This kind of love is neither a feeling nor just a frame of mind. It defines who we are, what we say, what we do. Christ is saying, “If you really are what you are, they will see it. It will leave no one in any doubt.”

The problem for many of us, rather, is this word “love” — we hear it, and all our misunderstandings of such a word become obstacles to hearing what Christ is actually saying. Let us forgo, then, such misunderstandings here. Let us know that “love,” in Christ’s use, is a word meaning some heroic self-gift, the gift of our entire self to another, at any given moment. I say it is a heroic giving, and it is heroic because it is so demanding, and so scandalously generous. This is why Christ says, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples.” Such a giving of self seems outrageous to the human eye; so encrusted by selfishness and so prone to seeing selfishness in others, the human eye is stunned, is scandalized at the sight of — not selflessness — but total self-gift.


New Commandment


Claret Media Cameroon

How new was the new commandment? Before Jesus, people loved! We may wonder whether this Last-Supper commandment of Jesus to love one another is really all that new. As a matter of fact, Deuteronomy 6:5 insisted on the love of God and Leviticus 19:18 on the love of neighbour. The newness brought in by Jesus lay in the fact that Jesus extended the concept of neighbour not only to the person nearest to me, but even to the enemy. Jesus doesn’t equate love of neighbour with love of one’s fellow Israelites; he extends love to all people without distinction. (Lk 10:29-37). In the parable of the Good Samaritan it appears that now everyone is my neighbour – even those of different nationality or religion. So now, love for our neighbour is very demanding, and goes beyond all racism or prejudice. On this note, a Samaritan becomes a neighbour to the Jew and the Muslim becomes a neighbour to the Christian.


Abuse of Humor



Humor makes people feel good, but like any other gift, we sometimes abuse it. When I started college, I used sarcasm a lot, trying to be funny. Once when I said something that was probably more hurtful than funny to one friend, another friend challenged me on it. He said, “Sarcasm is not funny. You’re better than that. Don’t use it.” At the time, I thought he was wrong, and I didn’t know how to be funny in a different way. Now I find that the humor people like best is making fun of yourself, not of someone else. I’m still guilty of using the wrong kind of humor in certain situations, so I am not always the best model. But it worries me when I hear engaged couples or married couples use sarcasm or putdowns against each other as a way of being funny. On one hand, it’s a compliment to your partner if you can say something outlandish, and they know you don’t mean it. On the other hand, why not say more often something you do mean and compliment your partner to strengthen the relationship positively? Why not laugh a little more at yourself? The same temptation to put someone down occurs within groups. We sometimes have our strongest arguments with people who are our tightest allies. We sometimes complain the loudest about people with whom we hold high values: other members of the family, neighbors on our block, other Americans, other Catholics. Infighting is usually not helpful, and it can obscure the many values that people hold in common.

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In the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine: Celebrant & Homilist: Rev. Msgr. Raymond East Guest Choir: Members of the Theological College Seminarian Schola, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

Featured Homilies (2019, 2016)

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