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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward a doctorate in liturgical theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“It was a riveting adventure to move by degrees into the mysterious world of the Liturgy which was being enacted before us and for us there on the altar. It was becoming more and more clear to me that here I was encountering a reality that no one had simply thought up, a reality that no official authority or great individual had created. […] Not everything was logical. Things sometimes got complicated and it was not always easy to find one’s way. But precisely this is what made the whole edifice wonderful, like one’s own home.”
— Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (“Milestones” pp. 19-20) 1997

A Father Who Keeps His Promises
published 9 April 2012 by Fr. David Friel

Have you ever made a promise? Have you ever broken a promise? Any human being asked those two questions would have to give the same, sorry answer. The simple, sad fact is this: we all make promises, and we all break promises.

Jesus made promises, too. Think of some of them. He said:

• “Ask, and you shall receive” (Luke 11:9).
• “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
• “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
• “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
• “If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).
• “I will be with you always, even until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

These promises are actually some of the reasons He was put to death, because He made promises that only God could make.

But there was one promise He made that was almost impossible to believe. He once said to a bunch of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Even the people around Him when He first made the claim objected to it. The Gospel of John records, “The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’” (John 2:20).

Surely, it would be an impossible feat to rebuild in three days what had taken decades to construct. But, as we know now, Jesus wasn’t actually referring to the temple building in Jerusalem. Instead, “the temple He had spoken of was His Body” (John 2:21). And that actually makes His promise even more unbelievable! He had promised that, if they should kill Him, He would rise on the third day.

Preposterous! Impossible! Ridiculous!

No one in the history of the world had ever come back from the dead. And yet, it happened. Jesus kept His promise.

My friends, our world is filled with broken promises. Politicians and lawmakers break promises; friends and neighbors break promises; husbands and wives break promises; priests and sisters break promises; all of us poor sinners, sadly, break promises.

But God never does. Through Christ’s Resurrection, this “world of fragile peace and broken promises” becomes the Kingdom of everlasting peace and enduring promises. The Gospel of the empty tomb—our entire celebration of Easter—teaches us that God is a Father Who always keeps His promises. He actually rose from the dead on the third day. He really brings eternal life to those who follow Him. And He will remain with us until the end of time.

These are the promises the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad! Alleluia!