Peace be with you!

My name is Nader Ata. I am a Conventual Franciscan Friar of the Our Lady of Angels Province, USA. I am a transitional deacon preparing for Priesthood Ordination in the fall.

Seeking to live with Franciscan Joy each and every day!

*All of photos on this blog were taken by me unless noted otherwise. Please ask permission before using them. Thank You!*

*Also I am not the greatest speller or writer in the world, so please let me know if something is misspelled. Thank you!"


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Seventh Sunday of Easter

         You probably have heard people talk about the “real world.” Like when someone is about to go to college or when someone is graduating from college, people often say “Wait until you graduate and go out in the “real world” ” or “Graduating next year? You’ll finally be in the “real world” or “Now when you go into the “real world”….” blank and blank. In talking about the “real world” we often are referring to a “world” that is tough, harsh, full of challenges, and of people who let you down or who won’t like, there is a negative meaning.
         I talk about the “real world” because it is important to understand the “world” referred to by Jesus in John’s Gospel. The world also carries a negative meaning here, it is not about the physical earth, rather the world is everything that was hostile to Jesus and his disciples. The world included Jews and Gentiles alike, it represented those who refuse to accept or believe in Jesus. The world was understood as hating Jesus and hating those who believe in and follow after him. The world referred to the people who preferred darkness to light. But despite all of the negativity around the “world” in the Gospel, Jesus is adamant in his prayer to God “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
         As parents of grown children know, one of the difficult experiences of parenthood comes at that time when the child is growing up and is about to separate from them and go on his or her own. Of course, parents acknowledge that they must allow their child to be on his or her own, to go out into the “real world,” and to experience all sorts of risks; yet this doesn’t diminish their anxiety about the child. All parents know many a sleepless night, worrying about their children, where they are, what are they doing, are they making the right decisions, I know my parents did.
         This is similar to what Jesus is going through with his disciples. He has a great concern for them, Jesus realizes that he will shortly depart from them and he anticipates all the suffering, abuse, disbelief, and skepticism they will encounter when they begin to go into the world to carry on Jesus’ mission. Like a caring parent, Jesus is truly concerned for them; he has a kind of anxiety and worry, which is rooted in his very profound love for them. The deeply felt prayer that we hear in today’s Gospel is prompted by this concern “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as you are one” – Jesus is essentially praying for their protection.
         This prayer is not just for his disciples, but is for us too. During this waiting time between the Ascension of Jesus into heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we can be assured of Jesus prayers for us. Jesus prays that we are protected, that we share with his joy completely, that we are guarded from the evil one, and that we are consecrated to truth. Jesus asks God, to protect and guard us. As like a parent gives his or her child, so Jesus gives his disciples and us, freedom. Freedom to live our lives. Parents must rely on the fact that they have done a good job raising their children and that they have tried their best to instill proper values in their children. Hopefully these will sustain their children in whatever difficulties they face. Jesus, too, relies on this. He passionately communicated to his disciples his teachings and his love as well as their responsibilities and obligations. After his death and resurrection he too, had to trust that once he had left them, they would be able to withstand all the risks and dangers they would surely encounter. He did trust them; he wanted them to remain in the world and to be given the strength to live in the world. He continued to pray for and to show his concern for them as he does for us today, after all he gave us the Holy Spirit. As Jesus cared for them, so in the dangers and risks we face, Jesus also cares for us.
         Jesus wants us to be in the “world” or the “real world.” He prays that when we are in the world, that we do not lose ourselves. That we hold fast to his Word and his teaching. As we heard in the second reading “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” Jesus wants his disciples, Jesus want us not just to love, rather he wants us to become love. To be walking models of love, who care for and love one another. We are to be one with God, ourselves, others, and all of creation.
         Yesterday, I got the chance to visit some college friends of mine, Tara and Jimmy. They just had their first child, in February, a baby girl named Cecilia. I had the privilege to hold her yesterday and to have her sleep in my arms. There is a love that seems to radiate from an infant sleeping. There is a deep sense of utter peace and joy. May we radiate utter love, peace, and joy in the way we live our lives. May we be people of light and may we remember that we are never really alone or separated from Jesus in the dangers and risks we face in our lives, he is always there supporting us and understanding our difficulties.

Seventh Sunday of Easter Homily
May 17, 2015
St. Peter's Church
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

No comments: