THE APPARITION OF JESUS TO SAUL
When Stephen was being stoned to death, the witnesses of the crime laid down their cloaks at the feet of Saul (Acts 7:58). Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women and handing them over to the Jewish leaders for imprisonment (Acts 8:1-4). He then went to the high priest and asked him for letters that would authorize him to arrest Christians in the synagogues of Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem in chains for trials, imprisonment or even execution. The high priest gave him the letters and he embarked immediately on his journey. As he was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground but could no longer see. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. A disciple in Damascus named Ananias was then sent by the Lord to go and cure him. But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles, the kings, and the Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” So, Ananias went. When he entered the house; he laid his hands on Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the way has sent me to cure you so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.” Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized. And when he had eaten, he recovered his strength and stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus (Acts 9: 1-19).
He then went to Arabia and stayed for some time and returned to Damascus (Gal 1: 17) and began to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people. After three years he went to Jerusalem to confer with Kephas (Simon Peter) and remained with him for fifteen days. He went also to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. But he was unknown personally to the Christian churches of Judea; they kept hearing that the one who once was persecuting them “is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (Gal 1: 15-24). Others were wondering saying, “Is not this the man who in Jerusalem ravaged those who call upon this name, and came to Damascus expressly to take them back in chains to the chief priests?” But Saul was however growing stronger and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus, proving to them that Jesus is the Messiah. The Jews later conspired to kill him in various occasions, but he narrowly escaped death in each occasion. Seeing that his life was in constant danger, the disciples then took him down to Caesarea and sent him to Tarsus (Acts 9:20-30).
Saul (Paul) Before King Agrippa: Paul was brought to King Agrippa by the Jews for trial. After listening to their accusations against Paul the King said to Paul: “You may now speak on your own behalf.” Paul then stretched out his hand and began his defense. He told the King about his encounter with Jesus saying: I imprisoned many of the holy ones with the authorization I received from the chief priests, and when they were to be put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many times, in synagogue after synagogue, I punished them and tried to force them to blaspheme; I was so enraged against them that I pursued them even to foreign cities. “On one such occasion I was traveling to Damascus with the authorization and commission of the chief priests. At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Get up now and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness of what you have seen of me and what you will be shown. “And so, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:1-19).
May the Holy Spirit help us to convert like Paul and work tirelessly for the Lord like Paul so that when we die, we see God and live with God and the Angels and Saints for ever and ever Amen!
Father Clement Uchendu C.S.Sp., PhD
RESURRECTION AND APPARITIONS
Mary Magdalene: Jesus rose from the dead in the early morning of the first day of the week, which is Sunday and appeared first to Mary Magdalene (Mk 16: 9; Jn 20:12-1). Group of Women: The Angels appeared to a group of women who came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. The Angels told them that Jesus has risen from the dead as he promised (Mt 2 :1- ; Mk 16:1-; Lk 24:1-11; Jn 20:1-13). Jesus then appeared to those women and said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my” brothers and sisters “to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Mt 2 :9-10).
Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus: On another occasion, Jesus appeared to two of his disciples who were going to a village called Emmaus which is seven miles away from Jerusalem (Lk 24:13-35). The name of one of the two disciples is Cleopas (Lk 24:1). exhortations, he was lifted up from them and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently an Eleven and Other Disciples: He also appeared to the eleven Apostles and the other disciples (Luke 24:33-49).
Sea of Tiberias: Jesus appeared to Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples at the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 21:1-25).
Other Apparitions: Paul also informs us that Jesus appeared to Simon Peter (Kephas), to James, to all the Apostles and to more than five hundred disciples at once, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote. After his Ascension into heaven, Jesus also appeared to Paul (Cor 15:3-10; Acts 9:1-31).
Ascension: While the resurrected Jesus was appearing to his disciples for forty days (Acts 1:3) he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father. The promise of the Father is about the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason why he said to them: “for John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the t the sky as he was going, two men dressed in white garments suddenly stood beside them and said: people “of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven”(Acts 1:6-11). Then they returned to Jerusalem and went into the upper room where they were staying. Among them were: Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James’s son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas’s son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. They were about one hundred and twenty persons in number (Acts 1:15).
Election of Matthias: During those days Peter stood up in their midst and said to them: My brothers and sisters, “the scripture had to be fulfilled” which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus (Acts 1: 15- 16). For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate and may no one dwell in it.’ And: ‘May another take his office (Acts 1: 20). So, they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, ” ou, Lord, who knows the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was added to the eleven Apostles (Acts 1:23-26).
Pentecost: When the day of the Pentecost came, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim (Acts 2:1-4). From that day, they began to preach the word of God to all creatures (Mk 16:15).
May the Holy Spirit descend upon us and fill us with power like the early Christians, so the after serving God faithfully in this world we die a happy death and live with God and the Angels and Saints in Heaven for ever and ever, Amen.
Father Clement Uchendu C.S.Sp., PhD
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
The Biography of St. Maria Faustina (August 25, 1905 – October 5, 1938)
Sister Faustina was born on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec, Poland of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of 10 children. She was baptized with the name Helena in the parish church of Swinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of seven she had already felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. Helen made her first Holy Communion at the age of nine, which was very profound moment in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended school for three years. After finishing school, she wanted to enter the convent, but her parents would not give her permission. Being of age at 16, Helen left home and went to work as a housekeeper in Aleksandr6w, Lodi, and Ostr6wek in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping her parents.
(The Divine Mercy: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/stfaustina/bio
Sister Faustina finally entered the convent as a young, uneducated nun in the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s. Her poor family struggled during the years of World War I. Because she had only three years of simple education, her responsibilities were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden. However, she received extraordinary revelations or messages from our Lord Jesus. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled into notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, and the words contained within are God’s loving message of Divine Mercy. Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church, Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ. Saint John Paul TT canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the “first saint of the new millennium” (The Divine Mercy: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/stfaustina/ He also, on the same day, surprised the entire world by establishing Divine Mercy Sunday as a feast day for the entire Church. The feast day falls on the Second Sunday of the Easter season. On that day, John Paul II declared, “This is the happiest day of my life.”(The Divine Mercy: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/john-paul-ii Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope called her “the great Apostle of Divine Mercy in our time” (The Divine Mercy: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/stfaustina
Today, we continue to rely of St. Faustina as a constant reminder of the message to trust in Jesus’ endless mercy, and to live life mercifully toward others. We also turn to her in prayer and request her intercession to our merciful Savior on our behalf. (The Divine Mercy: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/stfaustina The years Sr. Faustina spent at the convent were filled with extraordinary gifts, such as revelations, visions, hidden stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, and the rare gift of mystical engagement and marriage. The living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother, the Angels, the Saints, the souls in Purgatory with the entire supernatural world was as equally real for her as was the world she perceived with her senses. In spite of being so richly endowed with extraordinary graces, Sr. Maria Faustina knew that they do not in fact constitute sanctity. In her Diary she wrote: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God.” (The DivineMercy: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/stfaustina/revelations Through Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God’s mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one’s neighbors (TheDivine Mercy: https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/stfaustina/bio
May the Holy Spirit give us a merciful heart and help us to live a life of absolute trust in God, so that after imitating Jesu Christ like Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, we die a happy death and live with God and the Angels and Saints in heaven for ever and ever Amen.
Father Clement Uchendu C.S.Sp., PhD