007 Driven to Repentance

(Portuguese – Free translation)
God be with you. 
He is among us. 
Reading of Jesus’s gospel according to Matthew. 
God in his glory. 

Jesus was passing by when he saw a man sitting collecting taxes, a man called Matthew. Jesus told him “Follow me”. Matthew stood up and followed him. Sitting at the table with him, there were a lot of taxes collectors and other sinners. Jesus had taken many sinners and tax collectors sitting among his disciples. When the Pharisees noticed this they asked “Why is that Jesus eats with the tax collectors and the sinners?” Jesus heard this and said  “It is not the healthy people who need me, are the sick who need me.” Later they learned it “I want the mercy, not the sacrifice. For I have not come for those who are just, but I come for the sinners.” This is the word of God, word of salvation.  
God be blessed in his glory. Applause for the gospel. 


Please be sited. 


My dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus. We just heard proclaimed one of the most remarkable stories in the Bible. The call of the publican Matthew decided to be a disciple of Jesus, because today we are celebrating his feast. And at the same we have heard proclaimed the centrality of good news God´s love for us and Jesus. And as I heard the deacon proclaim the gospel so clearly and so forcefully it reminded me of another Matthew and I would like therefore to tell you the story of this modern Matthew. 

One of my favorite books during my seminary life was a book written by the former Archbishop of Bombay and the title of the book was Saints for Sinners.  And there were about 20 or 25 stories of great sinners who became great saints. Beginning with the story of Mary Magdalen and of Matthew, proceeding with the famous story of Augustus and Saint Ignatius Loyola. But today I am going to tell you another story. About 20 years ago, in 1980, maybe in 81, I was asked to preach a retreat to the priests of East Malaysia. It was at a diocese called Miri and there were 25 priests in that diocese, 20 priests were foreign missionaries from England, from Australia, from America, belonging to that famous missionary congregation called the Fathers of Mill Hill, Mill Hill, that is the name of the place where it started. And 5 priests were local priests, either Chinese or tribes. And the bishop of that place was a former professor in Singapore seminary. He was a Chinese and he was a professor of Liturgy in that seminary. So when I received his invitation to preach a retreat to the priests of that diocese I was filled with joy and enthusiasm. Because it was the first time I was going to go to East Malaysia and my heart was filled with zeal to give this retreat. But when I went to that place of Miri, I was told it was a 5 day retreat, but on the first day there would be a champagne party to toast the preacher, was myself. And then in the middle of the retreat there would be a football match between the Bishop team and the Vicar General. And the retreat would end with a big dinner in a five star hotel. I said “Well, this is a jolly good retreat.”  But I was very angry in my heart because I wanted to use all the time of those 5 days to preach the word of God and to change and renew those priests.

Anyway the retreat began with the champagne party. And all the priests were in the big room of the Bishop´s house and the Bishop filled his glass with champagne and he raised it up to toast the preacher. And at the moment he raised that glass, that glass burst into a million pieces, like a fountain of little piece of glass filling the room everybody got a shock, wondering what had happened, wondering if someone had thrown a stone through the window. But the whole place was closed and it was fully air-conditioned. Anyway the Bishop took another glass and filled it and toasted the preacher and then he also had the football match. And I was the goalie for the Bishop´s team and you may not believe it but we won. On the second day of that retreat, the Bishop came to see me he often says after the retreat that the only person that was really touched and changed by the retreat was him, but that was not quite true, all the priests were touched one way or the other. A few priest were touched very much but it was true what he said the one that was most touched by that retreat was the Bishop himself as the word of God already proclaimed on the first day touched his heart, crept into his heart, moved him deeply. He came on the second day to make his confession. And how did he make his confession? The Bishop of the diocese, he prostrated himself on the ground, he put his forehead on my feet, and from there he made his confession. Crying out, with deep tears and up rise all his sins. Well, I never had before or afterwards anyone making a confession in that way and then I knew afterwards how he was searching for a solution for his diocese, his diocese was filled with all type of troubles. Himself said he was a broken man. He did not know what to do with his priests over the diocese. He had no hope for the future, but when he heard the word of God proclaimed with power he knew that in Jesus was the solution. And that solution would begin only with a deep experience of repentance and a conversion of heart. 

The retreat was over. I had to more weeks to go in his diocese, to give programs in different parishes. And the Bishop canceled all his appointments and for the next two weeks he came with me to every place I went to. He would listen carefully to every word I was saying and take down notes. He would introduce himself by saying to the people “I am not your Bishop now I am father Rufus disciple.” Suppose I was going into the garden, he would come running after me, he would say “Where are you going?”  I say “No, I am not running away. I am here.” And for two weeks he came with me from place to place. And after that we had a concluding Eucharist in the Cathedral and as I was about to give my last homily, I told the people “I am not going to speak to you now, your Bishop is going to speak to you because he has been with me for two weeks and he knows all that I would say to you.”  So I went and sat down. And then the Bishop came to the mic, unprepared. And he gave his testimony and spoke to the people in a very moving way. And after that I left Malaysia to call back to Bombay. After two years I read in a newspaper a story of a diocese completely renewed and I realized it was this diocese of Miri. And what did this article say? It said how after that retreat the Bishop formed a team with two or three other priests and a few lay people. And every day they would spend two or three hours in prayer and in reading the Bible. And after six months they went as a team to every parish of the diocese, to every mission and village station on the diocese, preaching what we call the life in the spirit seminar, what we call charismatic missions in India. They went and covered the whole diocese. As a result of that there was a mighty spiritual explosion in that diocese. Every person in the diocese was baptized in the Holy Spirit. And the result of that in filling of the Holy Spirit. What happened the drug addiction just disappeared, the place was filled with drug addicts. Alcoholism stopped, alcoholism was a way of life in that place. Prostitution came to an end. Suicides came to an end. Gang warfare came to an end. That area was called the area of headhunters, because in those olden days those who conquered the other tribe would shrink their heads and make their heads small trophies. And when I was I visited some of the homes and I saw in the sitting room a number of these heads as trophies. All of those things were over. And the diocese became a totally new diocese. As a result of the moment of the Holy Spirit many young people wanted to do work for Jesus. Vocations began to increase. East Malaysia had to build a new seminary to have these new vocation. That was in 1981, 1982, 1983. 

Last year, after I have come to Brazil, I went to Malaysia once again and there I met the Bishop again and he told me he wanted to speak to me and he spoke to me at night like Nicodemus. After two o´clock, three o´clock in the morning, and what was he telling me? I thought perhaps that all that fervor of those days had gone away, all the fervor of those days had gone away. That is what I thought. But then he began to tell me all the miracles that had happened in his diocese, to mention only one thing every year they would give the life in the spirit seminar to all the students in the schools in the diocese. Before they left high school they would have made a life in the spirit seminar and they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And after they finish schooling and enter university they all be called once a year to make a retreat. When I heard him speaking last year was something incredible. This year I will be going again to Malaysia, the last week of October, to give a program on the ministry of deliverance to the Bishops and the priests of Malaysia. And this Bishop will be teaming with me to give that program and therefore I will say that his diocese is perhaps the only diocese in the Catholic Church which is completely renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit. Give the Lord a big clap for that. 


But the reason why I am telling you this story is because we have heard the gospel of Matthew and the Bishop is a modern Matthew and the Lord was able to use him to change the whole diocese because he began his journey by repentance. I still remember the day when I saw him on the floor with his head on my feet repenting to the Lord. And 20 years later, I saw him last year, filled with joy at the transformation of his diocese and sharing all the wonders like a school boy sharing things with his mommy or daddy. He introduced me to one of his parishioners, he introduce me to one of his parishioners. And he was also telling me how the life of this man changed and he told this man “Father Rufus is a grandfather.” Because his father was the Bishop and the Bishop´s father in Jesus was myself. So he told this man “Here is your grandfather.” 

My dear brothers and sisters, here is another story of a saint, of a sinner who became a saint. I another story of a modern Matthew and that is why this gospel ends with Jesus telling the people “It is not the healthy people who need a doctor, are the sick who need a doctor.” And Jesus would end by saying “I have not come for those who are just, but I come for the sinners. I have not come to condemn, but I´ve come to forgive. And to bring every sinner back into the home of the father.” Amen.


(Portuguese – free translation) 

We begin now standing up and singing the song we sang during the repentance act, because this is the blessing Padre Rufus bestowed upon us. The blessing Padre Rufus has is not only this one, not only when he prays, but also when he preaches the word of God begins to happen. He makes what we call the oracle, it is a word of God that when proclaimed it materializes. I don’t know if you notice, if you felt, but if you didn’t feel it, you will begin to feel it because this is the reality. While he spoke what was put in our hearts was the impulse to repent, to ask for forgiveness, to confess our sins, to admit our need for forgiveness. Because as he showed, when we really regret our sins, when our hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit and free us from sin, everything starts to change in our lives. Let’s begin, sing from the bottom of your hearts.


And now allow your heart, your inner self to dive into this mercy of our Lord. Yes, take the blessing that has been given to us of the baptism in repenting, if God wants to reach to your heart and deep it into repentance. The same way sometimes we take vegetables and soak in vinegar and water. And that vegetable, carrots and other vegetables, covered, soaked in vinegar. This is what Jesus is doing now, soaking our hearts in repentance. The Lord is giving his blessing, today is the day of the sinners, today is our day. Look at the major sins happening in our lives  and also the little sins in our lives. God wants to bless us with repentance. In front of your little sins, God wants to give you great repentance, because we need it. Because when we change, when we regret, when we repent, not only our lives change, but everything changes, everything changes around us. Like he told us about that Bishop in that diocese. 

Thank you God because you are touching our hearts here, because you are touching the hearts of the people in their homes. Thank you God because today, sinners day, this is what you have come to do. To call upon not the just, but the sinners to repent. We are sinners. Go on telling God “God, I am a sinner.” And even if you have specific sins repeat it again to God without fear, without holding back, tell Him of that sin you usually give in, of that sin you are already used to, and notice how God is putting in you the need to repent of this sin that makes you fall. Even if you consider it a tiny sin, God is putting in you the blessing of repentance, the blessing of mercy. Nurture it, it is necessary, God is showing you the way to get to you, the way to transform you, the way your whole life will be transformed. When the sinner transforms, everything in his life is transformed around. Begin changing, if things don’t turn out better in your life, unfortunately you haven’t accepted the blessing of repentance. If things are not better in your home, with your family, you can blame yourself “It is my fault, my fault. So my fault. Because God, unfortunately I haven’t repent. Let the Holy Spirit convince of my sin. Thank you God, because today you are putting in my heart the blessing of repentance.” Shows a man who is always apologizing, saying he wasn’t an alcoholic, that he wasn’t a drinker, he only enjoyed beer and other drinks, put in his heart the blessing of repentance. And that’s it, nurture this blessing. If you are here or if you are at home, if you are man who was always apologizing to yourself and to others, God put in your heart repentance. That is it my brother, that is the way you will be transformed by God. God shows me an young man who was always apologizing for masturbating and he noticed that God blessed him in his heart. Leave your excuses, leave your apologies until you stop sinning, it has even became more than a habit but an addiction. But you will change because you accept now the blessing of repentance. Thank you God for what you are doing now in the lives of your children. There is a woman, I don’t know her age, but you use a lot of these beauty products and you are always using excuses that was nothing to it, that even though it was vanity you weren’t vain. You would say women must be vain. Pay attention. You would say these excuses to yourself, you would say women are vain, this is not to much vanity. But now God is blessing your heart with repentance. Even maybe if you don’t have any great sin, God wants to change your life and he is showing a lot of things will change in your life, change in your home, in your family, if you accept this repentance God is giving you. Notice that this was because of your beauty products, your cosmetics, and God himself put in you’re the need to repent. Thank you so much God, thank you for doing this in many, many hearts. 

God just put it in your heart that the source of the problem in your home is your behavior, your attitude as a mother, as a woman. You are addicted to soap opera. It is an escape valve of the situations in your home. You scape from the chaos, the controversy, the fights in your home. You lose yourself watching soaps. It is interesting, when I came up here I started talking about obstacles, what God put in your heart was this, you weren’t expecting it, it was a surprise. Now I am explaining it to you, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t you, it wasn’t a fantasy that passed by, it was the blessing of the Holy Spirit. He is saying that the transformation of your home will start when you give up watching soap operas. And I will tell you more, those times, which are many, long times you spent watching soap operas you will spend now with God. Father Rufus told us that that Bishop gathered a few priest and a few lays and they spent every day two or three hours in prayer with the word of God. God is telling you “My child, begin using this time you spend watching soap operas for prayers, for the word of God. You will see that your family, the true chaos, God shows you the true chaos in your home will be gone.” 

Brothers and sisters, I am incapable of describing all the examples here, but believe me, I see God giving his blessing of repentance indeed. And it is interesting how this crossed your mind, just like this soap opera example, like the man who drank beer, it crossed your mind. Hold on to this, it is not a random thought, it is the blessing of the Holy Spirit convincing you of your weak spot, your soft spot and where God wants to start his work. Hold on to the urge to repent. God is showing me a person, it is a woman, you work at a store and you always keep little things, you even have a special way for the people not to notice you have been keeping some of the money. It is not a lot, but if you have been keeping the change . And now you are amazed because I know about this. Is it or is it not true that you already had felt it in your heart. You could even apologize but God is showing that is the way he wants to get to you, because if you stayed on this path it would lead you to things much worse. You would be corrupted. God wants to get to you now and a lot of things that are not working in your life, including your sexuality, your affection. God is showing me that when you accept this blessing, on this sin, the change you were keeping to yourself, everything will change in your life. I raise my hands, God, asking you to accept this blessing. Yes, asking, God, bless us with repentance don’t let us be insensible. But au contraire, God, that we accept it. This thought that seemed like random thoughts, your own word showed they are not random thoughts. I don’t know, must be your blessing reaching us, touching where need to be touched. It seems like this woman is here, but if you are at home it works just the same. God touched you showing you that your clothes haven’t been appropriate, they haven’t been decent and you are always full of excuses. Saying that is hot, that everyone wears them, but God touched your heart. I am not judging here, I am only describing something God has done. Accept it, see if you felt it in your heart, if it crossed your mind, it wasn’t just a random thought. It was God passing through your life like he has passed through Matthew, he passed through your life blessing you with contrition.  Change, change, change. There is the invitation, now depends on us to accept and repent and to change. Thank you God for touching so many hearts. 

There is a couple, he and she were touched because they felt God’s touch in the relationship you have been living in. God is also telling me of a couple who are engaged, that practically maintain relations frequently, like 3 or 4 times a month. Were you or were you not touched? I am not sure you are here or if you are at home, but both of you were touched. Later on you must have the courage to talk about it, but now repent, accept this blessing. You were now amazed by the story of the engaged couple who have relation 4 times a month. And it is not enough you… of course, you need to confess, but today God is offering the solution. Accept the solution, you were blessed. Later you will talk and decide on how to put a stop to this, and you will stop it, but now it has to come from you to accept repentance. And with these examples I showed, God is doing so much with so many people. 
You probably were touched because you committed homicide, a murder, you were not convicted by our justice. It is so impressive, everything inside you became calm and you were not convicted by justice, but today, is interesting everything that was happening while I was telling all those things, the memories of what happened came back to you. And I am telling you my brother, it was not just a memory of the homicide you committed. It is God’s blessing, you never truly regretted it. At first what you did was try to protect yourself from justice and avoid going behind bars, it was your right to have a defense lawyer, and the lawyer defended you and you weren’t convicted. But true regret you had never felt. Today God is giving you the blessing to repent. Thank you God for the blessing brought to us by Father Rufus. Go ahead and confess after this blessing you are receiving of true regret and repentance. You see, it came as a memory, now God is reaching deep into your heart. I want to reassure that this is what is happening, things come as a memory, comes as a thought, something that just crossed your mind. But it is not that simple, God is showing you even through conscience words so you can see it and accept the blessing and repent. Now it is in your hands. I won’t even talk anymore so that you can feel the need to repent. Close your eyes. Only listen. I am with God here between Ricardo and I and nobody will sing now. We want to be vessels of the blessing of God, contrition, let’s make the sign of the cross on our mouths. So our mouths will be touched by the blessing that is happening right now, let this blessing touch your heart. Remember the memory, the thought that crossed your mind, the feeling which touched you. Let contrition touch you. Let me tell you one more thing, many people have been affected because you don’t pray like you used to pray. But you didn’t take it seriously, you didn’t mind it. But God made it pop as a thought in your head. It was not a simple thought. I am a little angry, because there are people who are not holding responsibility, a little angry to push you to accept it this blessing, don’t let go of the thought which crossed your mind. Hold on to it. 

For example, many people are doing bad, their lives are bad because you used to pray, you prayed well. You started to pray less, to do other things, even because you were getting used to praying. Hold on to it again. Repent from not praying like you used to and you should be praying. Otherwise you will do bad, and from bad to worse. Hold on to it. Let the blessing fill you. Let’s sing. 


And God speaks of misery. And it really is misery, many of the things God is touching, things you didn’t mind, because they were little things, but they were your misery. You have been holding onto your misery. You have been balancing yourself on misery. Let it go now with God’s mercy.  Let it go now with the blessing of repentance. Let me sing and meanwhile God’s blessing is already in your heart. Embrace it.  


Now I will sing alone. You stay quiet and focused. If you need, confess and ask for God’s mercy. Now let me sing, I want to ministry the blessing and the mercy of God to you, the contrition and the repentance. 


You are married but you live like a prostitute with your boss at work. And God touched your heart. Why don’t you embrace the blessing of repentance? Yes, I am talking to you. You are amazed now, right? So embrace it, embrace it. What you have been doing with your boss is prostitution, because more than adultery, what you have been doing is selling your body in exchange for something. Thank you God for touching this woman. 


God touched you, you are not a homosexual, but you unfortunately had homosexual feelings and impulses. And you were always justifying it. You have been touched by God. Embrace it. God is giving you the opportunity to free yourself from that. You wanted it for so long and couldn’t do it. You fell victim of these feelings, of these impulses. Today God is giving his blessing, embrace it. Because today there was no saints convincing, I am only voicing God’s blessing. Embrace it. Move on, repent from the bottom of your heart. It is much deeper than a felling, it is not only to make you cry, it is taking a stand, you have to repent and take responsibility in front of God. It is deeper than a feeling, it is time to decide, take a stand like Matthew did, like that Bishop did. Decide now, chose to change your life, to leave this situation. Now embrace the blessing of repentance. Embrace God’s mercy. 


Now God is telling me of a man who have been corrupted. The money you have been taking is a large amount. You hear me. I don’t know where you are. Of course this has hit you, but you dismissed it, tried to dodge, but know I already said it. The blessing is for you. My brother, it is not an accusation it is a blessing. Isn’t it true that you were taking money that doesn’t belong to you, and it was a lot of money. Embrace this blessing. It is your salvation. You would go much farther of what you are living now, it is ruining everything your life and you were enslaved by it. God is blessing you and setting you free, it is a matter of choice. Now choose God’s blessing. From the little miseries to the big ones that happen in our lives. 


Something else is happening, two women, no, not two, but many women are receiving the blessing of healing. The healing of the soul, the healing of the heart from the abortions they had. But there are also the women that are receiving now the blessing of repentance. God is showing me that many women who hadn’t truly regret it. There are even women who had abortions when they were young, young girls. And of course there were many reasons why you did it, many excuses, many justifications. And you always hid behind this excuses, this justifications. There were the ones who confessed. Confession is confession, thank God. But there were no regret, no repentance and God want to free you completely, even from the consequences that have been affecting your life because you didn’t truly regret. It is no accusation, God is not pointing his finger at you because of the abortion you had. He is showing me a woman who had many abortions. But today it crossed your mind, it was like a memory. It wasn’t a memory, it was God touching you, visiting you and calling you like he had called Matthew. Embrace now the blessing of repentance, give yourself into this blessing God is giving you. Surrender yourself, confess and receive this blessing of repentance. Thank you God for this new blessing of the Holy Spirit over your daughters who are being healed from the abortions they had. They already have been forgiven. They repent and they are healed. But there others who didn’t repent, but now you’re a blessing them with contrition and repentance. 


My brothers, priests are being touched, I won’t mention the reasons, but my brothers priests are being touched. Thank you God for touching us priests. Because God, we also need our time to repent, for not living completely our priesthood, for not living the quality of our priesthood, for not living the wholesome of our priesthood, we need to repent. Thank you God for the blessing of repentance and contrition you are giving us. God, thank you for doing this to many of us, priests, thank you. Thank you God, thank you so much. Now let’s sing all together. 


(the end)

006 Healing Experience in Emaus

My dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus. Well, when I came here last year I never realized I would come here a second time. And what I saw in Brazil last year made a very great impact upon me.  And I have been sharing my experiences in Brazil wherever I went in the world. In a special way what I saw and experienced at Canção Nova, more the programs in this place as whereas meeting people and seeing this whole campus, impressed me very much. And it seemed to me to be like a merry miracle. I am happy that this place is now renewed even still in a greater way. And I pray that these four days will be days of great grace and great blessings to each one of you. When I was wondering what to speak to you today, because I don´t want to repeat what I said last year, and I forgot what I said last year. But father Jonas reminded me that today is a day of the Eucharist.  When I asked him at breakfast time what was the theme of this convention, what was the specific theme for today. And he said today is the day of the Eucharist. And being a Thursday, we know that in the Catholic Church every day of the week has a special focus. And Thursday is the day of the blessed sacrament. And also this jubilee year is the year of the Eucharist. And when father Jonas read from the prophecy of Isaiah, then I realized that the verse that he quoted was the verse that was the theme of Saint Luke´s Gospel. Because Saint Luke´s Gospel is a Gospel of a wall of evangelization. Is the gospel of the Eucharist. And I would like to speak today to you about what the Eucharist meant to Saint Luke.

Every Gospel ends with the narrative of the resurrection and of the apparitions of Jesus. And in Saint Luke´s Gospel the last chapter, chapter 24, gives us the narrative of the apparition of Jesus to his apostles. Many of these narratives in all of the four gospels are similar or even the same. But in chapter 24 of Saint Luke we have a story of the apparition which is not in the other three gospels. And chapter 24 of Saint Luke´s Gospel is one of the greatest chapters of the whole bible. And I would wish that every one of you when you leave this hall and go to your rooms, would read that chapter, slowly and devotedly. But to understand that chapter, I must also read the first chapter of Luke´s second book, the acts of the Apostles. The first chapter, because both these books are really one book, the gospel of Saint Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. The Acts of the Apostles begins where the gospel of Saint Luke ends. So with this introduction I would like to begin speaking to you about both these two chapters, chapter 24 of Saint Luke´s Gospel and chapter one of the Acts of the Apostles.

In chapter one of the Acts of the Apostles, we read something very beautiful and striking. We read there that Jesus appeared to his apostles for forty days. Now why did Jesus appear to his apostles for forty days? For three years Jesus ministered to the people by preaching and by healing. This was the first period of the ministry of Jesus. And then you have a smaller period of forty days, when Jesus appeared to his apostles after the resurrection. And then you have a still smaller period of nine days, when the apostles came together after the ascension of Jesus waiting for the Holy Spirit. So I like you before your mind these three columns. The three years of preaching and healing, the nine days of the apostles waiting for the Holy Spirit, but what connected the first period with the third period was this intermediary second period of forty days. And these forty days are very, very important. That is why all the gospels and by telling us what happened in these forty days. And the forty days are a very, very important biblical number. Moses fasted for forty days, to prepare himself to receive the law of God. Elijah, the greatest prophet, fasted for forty days. Elias. Jesus began his ministry by fasting for forty days. And Jesus would end his ministry by spending forty days appearing to the apostles. Those first forty days were to prepare Jesus for the people.  But this second forty days was meant to prepare the church for the people of God. Have you understood what I am saying? You like what I am saying?

Now what happened in these forty days? Why did Jesus appear to his apostles for forty days? For three reasons.  First of all, to tell them that he was risen even though they thought he was dead, that he was alive and that he would be with them always. This is the first reason why Jesus appeared to them. Has any religious leader ever told his followers that he was not only alive, but he would be with them always? No one but Jesus. The second reason why Jesus appeared to the apostles was to tell them they would have to continue his work. Jesus had told them first “As I live, you also will live.” The life of Jesus now enters into the church, into you and into me. As Saint Paul says “I live, but really not I, Jesus lives in me.”  But now Jesus will tell the apostles “As the father sent me, so do I send you.” Is not that the mission of Jesus was over and the mission of the church now begins, but rather the mission of Jesus flows into the mission of the church. What beautiful words of Jesus  “As the father sent me, so do I send you.” That is why God told to Isaiah “Whom shall I send?” And Isaiah was anticipating the answer of the church, your answer, my answer, send me. And what did Jesus tell the apostles? He told them they had to continue his work. He told them “You have to go to every place in the world. You have to preach the gospel to every human being. You have to heal every sick person. You have to deliver everyone who is possessed.”  Each gospel gives us his idea of this mission of Jesus. And Saint Luke´s idea of Jesus is this one, Jesus told the apostles “You will be my witnesses. My witnesses until the ends of the world.” Has any religious leader ever tell his followers that you have to go to the whole world and preach your religion to every person and heal all the sick and deliver everyone that is possessed? No one but Jesus. What a tremendous responsibility, for you and for me. And at the same time what an incredible privilege that we can do what Jesus said.

Jesus told the apostles in John´s gospel, chapter 14, verse 12, “If you were to believe in me, you will do what I have been doing. You will do even greater things.” And that is the second reason why Jesus appeared to his apostles to tell them that they, and now you and me, have to take the place of Jesus in the world. Perhaps the only bible people will ever read is the bible they see in us. The only bible people will ever read is the bible they see in you and me. The only Jesus people will ever meet is a Jesus they see in me and you. And the third reason why Jesus appeared to the apostles was to tell them that they will not be able to do this work alone. But they would need a special help. He told them to wait, wait to receive power. From where? Not from the Earth, but from above. And what was that power? Not some force or energy, but a person. The Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus appeared to the apostles. As he told the apostles in last chapter 1, verse 8, “You receive power from on high and then you will be my witnesses even to the ends of the world.” All my life I lived in Bombay, I never realized that one day I would come to Brazil. I have been to all the places in the world except the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle. And this is what Jesus meant when he said “You will be my witnesses to the very ends of the world.” Has any religious leader ever given his followers, promised his followers, such a tremendous power as Jesus did, the power of the Holy Spirit? No one but Jesus. And therefore I can´t understand how people can compare Christianity with any other religion or any other philosophy. It is something different, something unique.

But now I want to speak about the most important thing for this section. All that I have said is still by way of introduction. I told Jesus appeared to the apostles for three reasons, but that is not quit correct. That was another reason why appeared, a reason that was behind his four reasons, because Jesus knew that his apostles would not be able to do his work unless they received healing and deliverance.  And you may tell me “But where does they say that in the bible?” And this is said very clearly in the Gospel of Luke in chapter 24. One day, to disciples of Jesus were coming from Jerusalem to Emaus. What was that day? It was a Sunday, was the third day after the crucifixion of Jesus. They could not travel on the Sabbath, they waited for the next day, Sunday. And this is how the narrative begins. These two disciples were traveling from Jerusalem to Emaus. Why were they leaving Jerusalem and going back to Emaus? The story tells us why. They had seen their leader crucified and dead. They had seen all the apostles run away. They had heard that one of them betrayed Jesus and another one denied Jesus. That was the end of their dreams. And they felt now they had to close one chapter. And they said “Let´s go back home.” And they left their homes before, maybe some months or years before, to follow Jesus, to be his disciple, because what Jesus said made they have a new vision for their country. They never heard anyone speaking in the way Jesus spoke. They never saw anyone healing and casting out demons as Jesus did. It was exciting to be with Jesus. What a great privilege to be the disciple of Jesus. And suddenly, on Good Friday, their dreams were shattered. Their hopes were over. And they must have said to themselves “What a great mistake we made. We left our families to join the family of Jesus and the family of Jesus ids no more. We left our jobs in order to work for Jesus and the work of Jesus is not there anymore. Let´s go back home, back to our families, try to get our jobs back.” And as they were traveling you could see how said they were. And now something happens, a stranger joined them on the way and he began to talk to this two disciples and he asked them “Why are you so sad? Because I never saw people so sad as you are.” And they were surprised and told the stranger “Have you not heard what has happened in Jerusalem in the last two days?” And the stranger said “What things?” and they said to the stranger the two great burdens. And the first burden was the one they loved so much and who they hoped so much had died, was crucified. And the second burden was their hopes on changing the whole world and bringing about the kingdom of God was now over. And they said these words “We had hoped. We had hoped.” The two great burdens of each one of us are the same even today.

There can be no greater burden than the loss of a loved one, my only son, my beloved husband/wife has died. The greatest burden is a person´s burden of a loss of some loved one. They may have died suddenly, he may left the family for no reason, he may have betrayed the trust I put into him, that is everyone´s greatest burden, the loss of someone whom we loved and whom we trusted.  And the second burden is the loss of security in which we trusted. The loss of our homes and now we are refugees; the loss of our job or our business and now we are paupers, poor people; a failure in school or in college. And these are the two burdens these disciples had. And when this happens hope disappears from our lives. Hope. The greatest, ultimate burden is a burden of despair. When I have no more hope. When life is not worth living anymore. And suicide is the only answer. We had hoped, they said. And now what did the stranger do? And you can recognize by now that the stranger was no stranger, was Jesus himself. And Jesus noticed in these two disciples the three greatest emotional burdens of every human being. The first burden is sadness. Sadness because they lost someone and because they lost hope in the future. The apostles were sad. How often we read in the last chapter of the gospels, they say “They were sad.” And even today as I have been down helping people all over the world, I will say the greatest hurt and grief of people is sadness in the heart. Sadness that can be so great that there are not even tears in the eyes. The sadness is only deep in one´s heart. The apostles were sad. 

The second thing that happened to the apostles was that they were filled with doubt. How often do we read that the apostles doubted? When they heard people saying that Jesus was alive, they did not believe. For three years when they saw Jesus healing people, they believed in Jesus. Peter tells Jesus “To whom else will we go? You only have the words of eternal life.” The apostles would tell Jesus in John´s gospel, chapter 6, “We believe that you are the son of God.” And now there was no more faith, only doubt. Men´s second greatest burden when the person cannot and does not trust anyone any longer. He cannot even trust God. Especially if you are betrayed by someone close to you, you lose all trust in every human being. You cannot even trust the church anymore, even the priests, even God. Can you imagine a person who is only having doubt in her heart and no faith? Is like a living corpse. And third burden Jesus saw in the apostles was fear. The apostles were filled with fear. When they saw Jesus being crucified in that terrible way on the cross. When they say or heard about the agony of Jesus, the guards scourging Jesus at the pillar. When they saw Jesus carrying the cross on the way to Calvary. They were terrified, they were afraid the same thing would happen to them. John´s gospel says they were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. How often do we read in the lasts chapters of the gospels “the apostles were afraid, they were afraid.” And eve today we have seen that perhaps the third greatest burden of people is fear. Yesterday we met in São Paulo, a young lady that was afraid even of Jesus. Afraid even of the crucifix.  Afraid even of God. What is a person´s life if that person is just full of fears? Fear to be alone, fears of darkness, fears of the future, fears that person may have cancer or even AIDS. And the apostles were filled with fear. And Jesus said to himself “How can I use these apostles for my work of evangelization if they were sad people, doubting people and fearful people?” Fear. And Jesus knew that first he had to free them, to heal them from sadness, from doubt and fear before sending them to evangelize the world. And that is why the first thing Jesus did for his church was to give them inner healing and deliverance. Have you understood what I am trying to say?

Alright, the most important thing, the last thing, how did Jesus heal them and free them from sadness, from doubt and from fear? Number one, he freed them from doubt by explain to them the bible. Jesus told them “Don´t you know from the law and the prophecy that the messiah had to suffer and to in this way to enter into his glory? And thus enter in his glory?” And then Jesus began to explain to them the whole Old Testament. Jesus gave them a real bible class. He explained to them every prophecy, everything in the Old Testament. This the first thing Jesus does for us even as today. The very first step in our healing and deliverance is listening to the words of God. And as they listened to Jesus speaking to them about the word of God, what happened to them? Something happened not only to their minds, not only they were enlightened, but more important to their hearts, the hearts were being healed, doubt was leaving them. They said to one another “Well now our hearts are burning.” And yesterday when we prayed with someone in São Paulo he said “Everything inside of me is burning.” Which is a biblical sign of the wrong things being burned away. And the good sign of the Holy Spirit´s fire now entering one´s heart. My dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist of Jesus will also heal us to the proclamation of his words from every doubt in our lives. And as you listen to God during these four days every word of God will bring a deeper and deeper healing and freedom from every doubt you may have in your life. How did Jesus heal them from sadness? We are sad when someone we love is not there anymore. A little child will cry when he cannot see his mother, but once the mother comes back this child is full of joy, he will run to the mother. And how did Jesus free them from that sadness? By revealing himself to them. As they went close to the town of Emaus, Jesus was now making as they were leaving them, and they told Jesus “Why don´t you come to our home? And have supper with us?” And Jesus went into their home and I am sure in their home Jesus must have talked to them even much more. And a sudden joy began to come into their hearts and then at a certain moment they recognized that stranger to be Jesus. All sadness left their hearts and joy was now filled into them. Jesus freed them from their sadness by their presence. Therefore is not only the word of God that heals us but presence of Jesus in the blessed sacrament. Yesterday, we came back from São Paulo after a healing mass very late. Well, not yesterday, it was this morning at 3 o´clock. And then at breakfast time I met father Jonas and then he embraced me and he said “Que alegria.” (What a joy). So he was filled with joy. How much more will we be filled with joy when we recognize Jesus to be with us. Jesus said I will be with you always. As only the presence of Jesus will heal us of every sadness. His presence will heal every wound in the heart. His presence will wipe every tear from our eyes. And the last thing Jesus did was to heal the apostles from fear. And how did Jesus heal them from fear?

By making them aware that his presence was not needed, the presence of the church was now needed. The moment that they recognized Jesus he disappeared from them. And Jesus was telling them “Now, I don´t need to be with you physically. I am present with you in the fellowship of my disciples in the church.” And this is what happened, the moment Jesus left them, they went back to Jerusalem. Once again they said “Now we know what to do. Now we know Jesus is not dead, he is alive. And now we know that the kingdom of God will come into this world.”  I can imagine how they went back to Jerusalem, almost running. They wanted to tell the apostles that Jesus was really alive. And when they went into the upper room, the same upper room where the apostles had load themselves with fear of the Jews. They saw the apostles also filled with joy. And they told the disciples “Yes, Jesus appeared even to us.” And as the fellowship of the apostles every fear disappeared. Why are we afraid? Because we feel we are alone, there is no one with us. But once you have the support of brothers and sisters who love you and are with you, there is no more fear. When a child misses his mother, is afraid. But once he sees his mother back, there is no more fear. And this is how Jesus healed them from fear, by telling them in this way “You have to belong to the fellowship of his body.” And then they shared with one another, and then Jesus appeared to them at the end of the gospel Saint of Luke. Now that the church was complete, those two disciples back again in the church, Jesus could now appear to his completed church. And then they told them that they would have to preach the gospel, what gospel? The remission of sins, the forgiveness of sins. And then Jesus told them that he was leaving them, but that he would send them the Holy Spirit. And the gospel of Saint Luke ends in this way. And they worship Jesus and their hearts were filled with unspeakable joy. My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is the same today as he was yesterday. And we are the same today as Jews were two thousand years ago. And if in your hearts at this moment, there is a sadness in your life, with nothing that never can take away from you, if there is your mind doubts, doubting everything, even God, if there is in your whole person fears of everything, let us know that Jesus has come to free us from every doubt in our lives. Through the proclamation of his words, through the proclamation of his good news, Jesus has come to take away from our lives every sadness, by giving us the experience of his presence, of his presence specially in the Eucharist, of his presence in the mass. And Jesus has come to take away every fear that we have, by reminding us, that we are not individuals, we are not alone, that we cannot deal with life alone, we need help, we need support of our brothers and sisters. As the Vatican calls to remind us those who believe in Jesus and accept his gospel, and receive the Holy Spirit, now become one family, the family of God, God our father. And we are brothers and sisters. We become one body, where Jesus is our head and we are his members, some his hands, some his feet. We are all members of one body and we become the temple of the Holy Spirit, with Jesus the corner stone, the principal stone of that temple. And each one of us as the living stone of that one big temple. And in this way, again to use the words of the Vatican Council, we will then became a sacrament, a sign to the whole world. And in the words of Jesus himself, we will become witnesses until the ends of the world. Amen.

(the end)