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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel Gifford

The Promise of The Father

“Behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you” (Luke 24). As we read these words in this weekend’s gospel and strive to better understand them, it is worth taking a moment to notice that we have returned to Luke’s gospel. Luke has been our primary guide through this year’s Liturgical cycle of Sunday readings, although during much of the holy season of Easter (and a few other special Sundays coming up soon), we read from the Gospel of John. Since we are given the chance to return to Luke this weekend, it is fitting to consider how Luke might answer the question: what is the “promise of the Father” of which Our Lord is speaking? The gospels of Luke and of John both emphasize Christ taking us home to the Father, but in slightly different ways. Focusing again on Luke, we might quickly notice that Luke considers Our Lord’s return home to the Father in His Ascension, which we celebrate this weekend, to be of great importance. He recounts it twice, as both the conclusion of his gospel (this weekend’s gospel) and the opening sequence of his “sequel,” Acts of the Apostles (this weekend’s first reading). Indeed, the theme of journey or pilgrimage that we have previously discussed as being important to Luke’s gospel ultimately points us beyond Jerusalem (the end point of his gospel) or Rome (the end point of Acts). It points us to the journey home to the Father, in Christ. And Luke, in particular, wants us to recognize that our return home to the Father is a movement toward the perfect embrace of merciful love. The Mercy of the Father is revealed boldly in Our Lord’s last words from the cross, which I focused on in the homilies for Palm Sunday. However, we might recall that one of the other places in which Luke’s emphasis on the Mercy of the Father shines clearly through is in the Prodigal Son parable (aka the Parable of the Two Sons, aka the Parable of the Merciful Father), which only Luke includes in his gospel. Rembrandt’s classic depiction of The Return of the Prodigal Son (front cover) is yet another of the beautiful images that hangs in our Atrium hallway, giving children young and old a chance to consider the Merciful Love of the Father. It might seem strange to reflect upon this parable as we celebrate Our Lord’s return to the Father. Whether we focus upon the younger son, who returns out of desperation after wasting his inheritance on a life of dissipation, or the older son, who has distanced himself from the Father because of his bitter resentment and prideful judgment, neither one reflects well the One who was “innocent beyond doubt” (Luke 23). Yet, this is the Mystery of the Father’s Mercy that is revealed in the Ascension. Just as Our Lord promised a repentant sinner from the cross “today you will be with me in paradise,” so you and I are to return to the Father in Him. The “Promise of the Father” is the irrevocable promise of Mercy. Recognizing that it clearly refers to the promise of the Holy Spirit, which falls upon them in Pentecost (which we’ll celebrate next week), we should consider all that the gift of the Holy Spirit does for us. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of Communion in Christ. He comes to live within us by our Baptism, washing us clean of our sin (a grace which is restored in Reconciliation, as often as we are willing to go) and transforming us into members of His Body. As members of His Body, we return home to the Father in Christ. Whether we are an “older son” or a “younger son” or both, you and I are to return to the Father, who waits to embrace us with the perfect embrace of merciful love. This is the Promise of the Father. “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy” (Hebrews 10). Alleluia!

THANKS AND ANNOUNCEMENT: Speaking of returning home, last Saturday, we had a glorious celebration of gratitude to honor Sister Anne Germaine, as she returns home to North Dakota, and indirectly also to the rest of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation, a number of whom have served Saint Louis Parish for the past 55 years. I want to thank the women of the CCW for taking the initiative with that important celebration. Thanks for helping us remind Sister on her way out, not only how much we love and appreciate her, but also that Saint Louis knows how to party! Thank you to all who came and helped support it with such a great turnout. Lastly, for anyone who was not present to hear the announcement, we have decided that the Thanksgiving collection will continue to be directed to the African Missions of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation. As we strive to give back to those in need, it will be fitting that we annually do so with a true spirit of thanksgiving to a religious order who has given us so much over the years!

SECOND SUNDAY OF JUNE: Last fall, we began the practice of having Stay and Play after the 10:30 Mass on the Second Sunday of the month, which then expanded in January to include that 10:30 Mass being a Children’s Mass. Some may be wondering, in the first year of this new practice, what do we do in the summer? The answer is simple: the same thing we do every month. We know some families will be traveling, but everyone’s travel schedule is different and Mass still needs to be a part of all of our summer plans anyway. Additionally, we may have some guests visiting their family members in the area. So, if you have family members visiting, either who have children or who simply would be interested in donuts and fellowship, please invite them to the 10:30 Children’s Mass, followed by Stay and Play in the gym. Lastly, you may recall that we have mentioned that the June Stay and Play would also be a time to get more information about Totus Tuus and Totus Tots (our summer programs for our children). All materials and information made available at Stay and Play will still be available afterward at the information tables, parish office, or online, for those who are out of town.

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Gifford

St. Louis, pray for us!

Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!

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