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Bishop's Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 7, 2023

[St. Elizabeth Church, Aiea (Confirmation & First Communion)
St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua (Confirmation & First Communion)
Sacred Heart Church, Punahou (Confirmation & First Communion)]

How many are the ways we let our hearts be troubled!  A relationship that means very much to us does not go as we had hoped, so we become anxious about it.  We don’t have enough money for all the things we need, much less for the things we want, so we worry about where we will get the money we need.  We feel that we are being bullied by someone at school or criticized unfairly, and we become very agitated.  We are feeling sick, and we do not know whether it is a passing illness or something much more serious, so we become very anxious and worried.  We lost a loved one in death, and we are filled with darkness and despair.

Along comes Jesus and says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  Easy for him to say!  He is God.  He can do whatever he wants.  Yet if we remember the context for these words of Jesus, we see that he is gathered with his disciples at the Last Supper the night before his horrible and painful death.  He knew very well what was coming, and yet, he did not allow his heart to be troubled.  He had so much confidence in his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, that he could even have an untroubled heart in the midst of the most intense suffering and pain anyone could experience.

So it is that God want to give all of us this same relationship with God that will be so stabilizing – like a cornerstone of a building – that nothing can shake it.  First God immerses of soaks us in his own name, baptizing us in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that perfect community of love.  Then he seals us, marks us, kisses us with the gift of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation.  This is no empty ritual that is performed once and it is done.  This Holy Spirit will dwell in us forever to guide and strengthen us, to give us wisdom, understanding, fortitude, and all his other gifts.  Then, Jesus gives us himself by being truly present to us in what appears to be bread and wine but are really and truly the Body and Blood of Christ.  So many think this is just a symbol of Jesus, or a reminder of Jesus, but it is the real presence of the risen Jesus, not distant from us, but wanting to come right into our own bodies and souls.  Yes, many reject him, just as we heard of the cornerstone being rejected, because they think the Mass is only a series of rituals.  If we realize that this is the living Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Mary, who is physically present with us, he will become the cornerstone that can give our lives tremendous stability.

So does this mean that if we follow Jesus and accept him as the way, the truth, and the life, all our problems and challenges will disappear?  Will everything be prosperous and rosy because we believe in Jesus?  He never promised us that.  He himself never experienced a completely carefree life.  He was criticized, hunted down, tortured, and put to death.  But in the midst of all this, he never let his heart be troubled, because he was convinced that he was loved.  He wants to convince you – and all of us – of that same reality.  And in these beautiful sacraments, he gives us the way, the truth and the life that will lead us to joy and life, no matter what else may happen.  His grace and life within us can truly give us the ability to not allow our hearts to be troubled, because we hope in God and hope in him.