The Holy Trinity: Center of Our Faith

The Holy Trinity: Center of Our Faith

The Holy Trinity is the center of our Catholic faith. That is why we begin and end all our prayers "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". This prayer leads us into the mystery of, the Most Holy Trinity. One of the optional greetings used at the beginning of each Mass sums up the mystery of the Holy Trinity: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you." (2 Cor. 13:14) The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity helps us to affirm our central truth and faith in One God: the Father (who creates), the Son (who redeems) and the Holy Spirit (who sanctifies, unifies and reconciles).

In his teaching, Jesus gradually reveals to his disciples the mystery of being totally united with the Father. One is reminded of the conversation between Jesus and Philip in St. John's Gospel, where Philip wanted Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus replied to him: "You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (Jn. 14:11.) The conversation with Nicodemus in the Gospel this Sunday implies that out of love the Father sent the Son, the bearer of the Holy Spirit, the source of life. This communion with the Father is the goal of our extraordinary mission on earth.

The Holy Trinity is not just a subject for theological speculation on the three divine persons in One God. The Holy Trinity is not so much about the awesomeness of God, but about an awesome lover who draws us into communion with Him. The Holy Trinity is a life of communion to be lived, shared and celebrated liturgically. Therefore, we need to go beyond talking about love, communion, sharing and putting that into practice by being instruments of reconciliation, mercy, and communion. As one bishop put it jokingly, the reason why God in creating us does not put us directly into heaven is because if He did so, we would mess life up there! Our life here on earth is a time to practice our stewardship in concrete ways by sharing, our time, talent and treasure and living in communion with the people God has given us on our journey to heaven.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

The Incredible Power of the Holy Spirit

Imagine a Bible without chapters and verses. That was the situation in the 13th century when Fr. Stephen Langton was ordained a priest and then appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. King John of England, however, feared him and exiled him to Paris. While in exile, Stephen Langton was inspired to do a number of things that might surprise you.

The Old Testament was already separated into paragraphs and sections but did not have a specific numbering system. Also, traditionally both the New and Old Testaments were transmitted orally. In particular, chanting sacred scripture was an ancient way of passing on the words of Divine Revelation to the next generation. Christians learned this method from the Jewish people, who have been chanting the words of scripture for thousands of years.

For this reason, in ancient and early medieval homilies, there is no citation of biblical verses. Quotations from scripture came from memory or were copied from scrolls or books used by clergy and religious. The laity did not have access to any physical copies and passed on the Bible to their children from what they heard at Mass as well as through the artwork seen in paintings and church architecture.

Then everything changed with Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 13th century. When the King of England exiled him to Paris, he was inspired and came up with a     system of dividing up the Latin Vulgate into chapters. His system was soon accepted in 1227 AD, and since soon all other modern Bibles have based their own numbering system.

But, Stephen Langto was inspired to do more. He is the one who composed the hymn “Veni Sancto Spiritus” –“Come Holy Spirit”, which called the Sequence that we sing on Pentecost Sunday before the Gospel.

“Come Holy Spirit…"

Monsignor John B. Mbinda

“He Ascended into Heaven”

“He Ascended into Heaven”

In the Creed, we confess our faith in Christ who "ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father". But what exactly do we mean by saying that he ascended into heaven? We mean that the Risen Lord is not only totally alive but also that the Father has placed Christ at His right hand, an expression that signifies the Father glorifying Christ and making him the Lord of all creation. As we read in the Gospel of Matthew, to him "is given all power in heaven and on earth" (Mt. 28.18). Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians underlines the mystery of Christ being glorified. He says, God "put all things beneath his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the Church which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way" (Eph 1:22). The ascension, however, does not mean that Jesus renounced his humanity. He remains one of us and head of his Body, the Church. The celebration of the ascension is an expression of our Christian hope that where He our Head has gone before us, there we, his Body will one day follow, to live forever in the Kingdom of the Father.

We must not think of the Ascension in terms of Christ going up and away from us and from the world, in purely scientific physical terms. That is the image I had as I was growing up; the image normally presented to us by artists. The Ascension is not to be understood literally as if Jesus floated up into the sky between clouds to “heaven” as if heaven is a physical place. The Ascension is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to be always with us; with his Church. Above all, it is a relationship with the Father, and God is everywhere in the whole universe. The Ascension needs to be seen as part of the Paschal Mystery of Christ: the suffering and death; the resurrection; ascension; and the sending of the Holy Spirit. If the resurrection points to the crucified Jesus risen and alive, the Ascension points to the Risen Lord who now enters into the fullness of Father’s glory sharing equally the glory of the Father. In the language of faith, the ascension means "the entry" of Jesus into the complete and definitive communion with the Father, and there interceding for us. Jesus Christ enters into the fullness of the Father's glory and makes it possible for those who belong to his Body, the Church, to follow where He the Head has gone.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Diocesan Appointments

Some parishioners have been asking about the coming changes in the Diocese of Honolulu. Bishop Larry Silva has announced the following appointments:

Effective June 1, 2019

-Rev. Joseph Diaz: Director of Vocations, taking place of Rev. Rheo Ofalsa who is now pastor of Holy Family parish.

Effective July 1, 2019

-Rev. Gregorio Honorio, Vicar for Clergy

-Rev. Pascual Abaya, Rector, Basilica of Our Lady of Peace

-Rev. Manuel Hewe, Pastor, Co-Cathedral of St. Teresa

-Rev. Falaniko Antonio, Administrator, Our Lady of Sorrows, Wahiawa

-Rev. Ernesto Juarez, Administrator, St. Michael, Waialua

-Rev. Paul Li, Pastor, St. Philomena, Salt Lake

-Rev. Samuel Loterte, SSS, Pastor, St. Theresa, Mountain View

-Rev. Romple Emwalu, Parochial Vicar, St. Elizabeth, Aiea

-Rev. Vincent Anh Vu, Parochial Vicar, St. Jude, Kapolei

Two priests of the Sacred Hearts will be going to Our Lady of Good Counsel:

-Rev. Santhosh Thottakara, SSCC, Pastor, and Rev. Joseph Pasala, SSCC, Parochial Vicar.

As we head towards our parish leadership transition on July 1, 2019, a new PPC composition will be announced in June.  So, stay tuned.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

Congratulations to Father Romple Emwalu

 

St. John Apostle and Evangelist Catholic Church warmly congratulate and welcomes its first newly ordained priest, Father Romple Emwalu. Welcome home!

As you may recall, Fr. Romple grew up right here in our parish. His family worshipped here every Sunday until they moved to Our Lady of Sorrows where his father Deacon Dino Emwalu was assigned. However, Romple did not move with his family. He chose to remain at St. John’s as his parish, and it was from here that he got his vocation, which was nurtured right here by his passion to be an altar server at Holy Mass. When he decided to join the seminary and pursue his priestly vocation, the Hui O Laulima decided to send him some pocket money monthly which is important for seminarians.

As we welcome Fr. Romple Emwalu this weekend, what he mostly needs is prayers that he will be a good priest filled with the joy of the priesthood. We need more good priests in our diocese. Let us pray for him and give him all the encouragement he needs. The most difficult years of a priest are the initial 10 years at least in my experience. It is during these years that a priest needs to be surrounded with all the care, love, support and encouragement especially the appreciation you may offer for his ministry.

Fr. Romple, welcome home! Feel free to come to your home parish any time you are lonely or need some rest. We will always have a room for our first priest. May God’s abundant grace accompany you always to support you in your priestly ministry. May St. John the Apostle & Evangelist, who cares for the Mother of God be close to you as you minister to our Mother Church. May Mother Mary always intercede for you to be the priest his son Jesus want you to be.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Good Shepherd Sunday: Vocations Sunday

Christ is Risen! The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday because on this Sunday we hear the Gospel of St. John in which Jesus tell us that he is the Good Shepherd.  Jesus as our Good Shepherd cares for us, nourishes us and keeps us in good spiritual health. He has appointed bishops and priests to serve on his behalf as shepherds. For that reason, on this Sunday the whole Church prays for good vocations. Here in the Diocese of Honolulu we certainly need more good priests.

Last year when speaking to our young confirmation students, one of them asked me how I realized I had a vocation to be a priest. The vocation to the priesthood can begin with an attraction to serve God following the example of good priests. That was my starting point. I saw the kindness of the Irish priest in my elementary school. Both the principal of my school and the pastor were so caring. The priests did not ask me if I wanted to become a priest.   I came to that conclusion myself perhaps with God’s grace. Other times the seed of vocation can be planted by parents in their children. Priests too can plant that seed in young men and help them to discern as they grow.

Here at St. John’s we say the Diocesan Prayer for vocations at the end of Mass during weekdays. This prayer is our continuous response to Jesus who asks us to “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers to the vineyard.” Parents can respond to this prayer by encouraging their sons to think of being priests in the future. Thanks to those parents who are already open to encourage their sons to think of vocation to the priesthood even in their young years. May God bless such parents. May He bless parents of priests, seminarians and future seminarian more particularly for their sacrifice so that their sons may be good shepherds of Christ’s flock. We are grateful that God is giving us a new priest in answer to our prayers when Deacon Romple Emwalu is ordained on May 17, 2019. May God bless him as he prepares for his ordination.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

What do we Understand by Divine Mercy?

The Second Sunday of Easter has been designated as Divine Mercy Sunday. What do we understand by Divine Mercy? From the diary of Saint Faustina, a special devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s. That message was nothing new, but a reminder of what the Church had always taught through scripture and tradition, namely, that God is merciful and forgiving.  Consequently, we too must show mercy and forgiveness. But in the Divine Mercy devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus, calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone, especially the greatest sinners.

The message of mercy is that God loves us, all of us, no matter how great our sins when we repent. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others so that all share Christ’s joy.

The message of Divine Mercy is threefold:  1) Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.   2) Be merciful. God wants us to receive His merciful forgiveness and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. 3) Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive God’s mercy. In brief, God’s name is Mercy! God’s mercy is greater than the total sum of our sins. 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

"Christ is risen!"

“Christ is risen!” (in Greek: Χριστός Ανέστη - Christós Anésti!)

The response to this ancient greeting which is still in use: “Indeed He is risen!” This response is a proclamation of what we believe.

On Easter Sunday we celebrate the most unique victory over death for which we have been preparing during the Lenten season. St. Augustine in the 4th century reminds us why we are filled with such great joy at Easter and throughout this season. “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.” In other words, Easter is not just a doctrine. It is a reality that we live and celebrate joyfully in worship. Throughout this season and indeed throughout the Ordinary Time we live as “an Easter People” and sing the “Alleluia.” If we are an Easter people, then there is nothing to be afraid of, because we know that Christ’s power of the resurrection will indeed lead us to victory. Whatever we may be worried about or afraid of, in faith, the resurrection changes all that. In Christ, the Risen Lord, we will emerge triumphantly.

That is the good news Easter brings to all of us. If you are facing health issues, marital crisis, economic crisis, personal crisis, this message is for you. God, is out to transform all that and lead you to overcome the crisis, whatever it may be. God intends you to have life in abundance; to live as an Easter person. After reading this Easter message, enter into a prayer of transformation and allow Christ, the Risen Lord to lead you into victory. He is risen to give you hope and a new life.

I wish you all a blessed and fruitful Easter season.

“Christ is risen! He risen indeed, Alleluia!”

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Celebration of the Easter Holy Triduum

Holy Week begins this Sunday on Palm Sunday and leads into the Easter Holy Triduum, which should be seen as ONE continuous commemoration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The three holy days begin on the evening of Holy Thursday and continue till the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically ONE DAY unfolding for us the unity of Christ's Paschal Mystery. The single celebration of the Triduum marks the end of the Lenten season and leads to the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord on the Easter Vigil.

The liturgical celebrations that take place during the Holy Triduum are the following:

HOLY THURSDAY: Celebration of the Lord's Supper, April 18 at 7:00pm

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament till 12 midnight

GOOD FRIDAY: Celebration of the Lord's Passion, April 19 at 3:30pm

Stations of the Cross at 3:00pm

Solemn Easter Vigil Celebration, Saturday, April 20 at 7:00pm

Easter Sunday, April 21: We celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, with Masses at: 7am, 9am and 11am.  NO 6:00pm Mass.

Once again, these Easter Holy Triduum days are unique and considered as one continuous celebration. The entire Paschal Mystery makes more sense when one participates in all three celebrations. Please remember that our parish campus parking space is limited and besides, for the last time we will have a tent to accommodate the overflow of parishioners. So come early. Give parking priority to people with disability and families with small children.

Thank you for your understanding and patience. 

A blessed Easter Triduum!

Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

Significance of Palm Sunday

The Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, or "Passion  Sunday", which unites the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem with the proclamation of his Passion. When Jesus Christ rode a donkey triumphantly into Jerusalem, he fulfilled a prophecy given by the prophet Zechariah hundreds of years earlier. (Zach 9:9-11)

Therefore, the occasion of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem was not accidental. Jesus being God, knew beforehand what would happen in Jerusalem. The procession with palms and other branches was no meaningless pageantry, but the actual advent of the King into His royal city, and His entry into the temple, the house of the King of kings. He came riding on an ass, in token of peace, acclaimed by the Hosanna shouts of the multitudes. The ass has been designated in literature as ‘the ancient symbol of Jewish royalty, and one riding upon an ass as the type of someone who brings peace.

That is why the procession, commemorating Christ's messianic entry into Jerusalem, is joyous and popular in character. It fulfills the messianic prophecy. Like the  Jewish people of that time, we carry palm or other greenery which have been blessed on Palm Sunday back home or workplaces.

We keep palms or other branches at the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory. We reuse those palm branches and burn them into ashes which are blessed for Ash Wednesday. Please do not throw away your palm branches as they are a blessing in your home.

I wish you all a blessed preparation for the Holy Easter Triduum next week.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda