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Open Your Heart This Good Friday. This Good Friday, accept His love for you in a fresh way. Ask Him, "Lord, I receive Your embrace."
This Friday, work with Him at your side.
Praying for you,
DRINK JESUS’ CUP
“Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” – John 18:11
I thought that the opposite of love was hate. That when love is no longer there, hate will replace it. However, experience has taught me that even in the worst hatred, there lies a small spark of love somewhere within the person.
Thus the saying goes, “the more you hate, the more you love.” The author of The Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck presents a different but real opposite of love. For him, the opposite of love is not hate but laziness. When one is no longer interested to exert any effort to make another person grow, then that’s the full opposite of love – an act worse than hatred.
Uncaring people have this habit: “Enjoy now and endure later.” Conversely, I and my wife, Joie, claimed another principle in life: “Endure now and enjoy later.” Even if the “feelings” elude us, we continue and endure serving, listening to and caring for one another and our son Rob. At the end of each day (or month or year) that’s when we truly enjoy.
I agree with Dr. Peck when he said, “Our finest moments... occur when we are uncomfortable, when we’re not feeling happy, or fulfilled, when we’re struggling and searching.” One will have to choose daily: Is it the easy road of indifference or the hard road of committed love? Drink Jesus’ cup now! Cheers! Obet C.
Do we see glory beyond the cup of sorrow?
Not my will, but Your will be done, O Lord!
Today is the most solemn day of the Church’s year as we reflect upon the death of the Son of God on a cross. This remarkable event signals for us the final act of the drama of our salvation as it is won for us by Christ. His death catapults the world into crisis – what have we done in crucifying the Son of God? Yet, too little attention is given to this question today. Where is our wonder and amazement at the birth of Christ in the midst of the materialism of Christmas? It seems we lose the mystery of the Incarnation in the midst of the busyness of tinsel and glitter, food and reunions, giving and receiving. And today the mystery is much deeper and far more profound in that it ushers in the reality of our salvation from sin! It would seem that there is little hope that we will properly reflect upon the significance of the event we celebrate.
Yet there are signs of hope. The Churches are packed for Palm Sunday as everyone seeks a splash of the holy water for their palm branch and their bodies. However, these external realities will not satisfy the hunger within that yearns for reconciliation with our Creator. The call to repentance and conversion must take center stage if we are going to satisfy that hunger; and if we do not satisfy that hunger, our souls will continue to cry out in travail for the mercy and redemption of our God. This is a time to stop what we are doing and ask ourselves whether or not we have our focus in life right. It is a time to ask ourselves about the meaning of our lives and whether there is anything there.
The celebration of the death of Jesus is an event that we should keep close to our hearts and reflect upon daily in our minds and prayer, says St. Alphonsus de Ligouri. He is right, as without the decision to keep the cross at the forefront of our thoughts, it will recede to the back and become one of the forgotten and defunct memories. Our faith demands a significant place. Today’s celebration more than any other is worthy of all the time and energy we can give to it! Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Have I prepared well for the Easter celebrations this year or have I let other things in life govern my attention? Have I neglected my faith in the past year?
Lord Jesus, you are the Redeemer of the World and the Lord of my life. Help me to set aside the time necessary to nourish my relationship with You properly.
St. Winebald, hermit and abbot, pray for us.
Leaders are not only called to love those whom they lead but to suffer for them as well. I once read a book discussing the nature of leadership as a certain Orthodox Jewish sect understood it and this idea ‘jumped out of the pages at me.’ The true Tzaddik (literally righteous one) is someone who not just suffers with his people but also suffers for them. This describes Jesus’ life very well. He did not distance himself from us but entered as fully as possible into our existence and embraced some of the worst possible suffering any person had to endure – crucifixion. What greater love can one demonstrate than this?
13 See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. 14 Even as many were amazed at him — so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals — 15 so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it. 53: 1 Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. 3 He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. 4 Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. 6 We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. 7 Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. 8 Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, 9 a grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. 10 [But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.] If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. 11 Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. 12 Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.
P S A L M
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
R: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
1  In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me. 5  Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God. (R) 11  For all my foes I am an object of reproach, a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends; they who see me abroad flee from me. 12  I am forgotten like the unremembered dead; I am like a dish that is broken. (R) 14  But my trust is in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God. 15  In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors. (R) 16  Let your Face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness.” 24  Take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the LORD. (R)
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews assures us that Jesus is truly human and knows what it means to live a human existence. It is this coming together of both the divine and the human that makes it possible for Jesus to redeem us. It is the fact that He, as God, willingly undertook the task of our redemption in the form of a human person, that His passion and Death and Resurrection can be applied to all humanity.
14 Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. 16 So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. 5: 7 In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; 9 and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
G O S P E L
Once again we reflect upon the Passion of Jesus. Let us not dismiss the text from our lives but allow the reality of what it portrays to sink in to our psyche as there it will have the opportunity to bring change to our lives – change so that we will be more perfectly conformed to the image of God. St Alphonsus Ligouri recommends that we meditate on the Passion of Christ daily in order that we never forget what Christ has done for us. This is a good thing to try and put in place in our lives.
1 When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. 2 Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them,“Whom are you looking for?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. 6 When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground. 7 So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” 12 So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, 13 and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people. 15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. 16 But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. 17 Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. 19 The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.” 22 When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 25 Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” 27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed. 28 Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring [against] this man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone,” 32 in order that the Word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die. 33 So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” 37 So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary. 19: 1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. 2 And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, 3 and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly. 4 Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, “Behold, the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” 8 Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, 9 and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus did not answer him. 10 So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, “If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!” 15 They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered,”“We have no king but Caesar.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. The Crucifixion of Jesus: So they took Jesus, 17 and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” 20 Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. 24 So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]: “They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” This is what the soldiers did. 25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. 28 After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” 29 There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. 31 Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, 34 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may [come to] believe. 36 For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: “Not a bone of it will be broken.” 37 And again another passage says: “They will look upon him whom they have pierced.” 38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. 39 Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. 41 Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. 42 So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.
think: Leaders are not only called to love those whom they lead but to suffer for them as well.
Saint Isidore was born in 556 A.D. to a brood of religious brothers and sisters — Leander and Fulgentius became bishops and saints, and Florentina, a nun, was also a saint. The young Isidore received a first-rate education. His brother Leander supervised and pushed him to study. He used this as sacrifice to the Lord. As a result, he later believed that every diocese must have a seminary and a Catholic school for advanced learning.
The saint succeeded the bishopric of Seville, Spain from his brother Saint Leander. He served the people and the Church for thirty-seven years. Among his accomplishments as bishop were the following — he and his brother led in the conversion of the Visigoths in faith; he directed two important Church Councils, leading to the Church s stronger union; he wrote a dictionary and numerous books on the history of the Goths and about Bible heroes and heroines.
Saint Isidore died in 636. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1722 by Pope Innocent XIII.
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Saint Benedict the Black
Benedict the Black, also known as Benedict the Moor or Benedict the African, was born on 1526 at Messina, Italy.
His parents were slaves who were brought from Africa to Sicily. Benedict was released from slavery when he was 18. He worked as an employee of his former master. He joined a group of Franciscan hermits near Palermo where he served as a novice master and superior of the friars. At the end of his term, Benedict returned in the friary kitchen. He provided the people his gift of prayer and the guidance of souls. His humility and cheerfulness led to the order s reform.
When Benedict died in 1589, King Philip III of Spain prepared a special tomb for him. According to reports, the body of Saint Benedict the Black was found incorrupt when checked several years later. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV on May 15, 1743 and canonized by Pope Pius VIII on May 24, 1807.
Prepare Your Heart For Your Rising! Today is Holy Saturday. Spend a part of this day being quiet before God. Let Him speak to you.
This Saturday, follow the Spirit of God leading you.
Praying for you,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” – Luke 24:5
It was my husband Obet’s birthday and our community had a joyful gathering. I was pregnant then. From there we got into a taxi homeward. Inside the cab, Obet was caressing my big tummy when he felt it move. “Is my baby kicking?” he asked. “Yes, I think your baby wants to greet you a happy birthday.” Obet was in tears enjoying the moment when he saw through the mirror that the taxi driver’s eyes were closed. He woke him up and the man apologized that he was so tired after a whole day of driving. Obet was angry but he was compassionate enough to understand. He used the occasion to share about Jesus.
Five days later, I sensed an urgency to have an ultrasound.We visited the clinic and the result shocked us: There was a placenta and amniotic fluid but there was no baby. The diagnosis: A blighted ovum. We felt devastated. Obet wept and questioned, “If there was no baby, what did I feel was moving in your tummy?” I just told him, “Our child moved just to save us from a sure accident.”
It was a miracle that saved us.
And the miracle continues because we became wounded healers. We rush to support friends who had miscarriages. We can help deeply because we know the feeling. Joie C.
Do I seek the living among the dead? Do I seek solutions by merely despairing?
O divine Master, grant that I may not seek to be consoled as to console.
The Easter Vigil is the biggest celebration of the Catholic Liturgical Year. When celebrated well, it has the most magnificent music and symbolism designed to give us a taste of the heavenly existence of all the saints and angels. Yet it is also remarkably down to earth in that it relates to us through all the Readings the history of salvation, that is, the history of God’s work in human affairs. Listen carefully to the progression of the Readings and you will discover a subtle unfolding of God’s plan through His work with the Jewish people to the point where it climaxes in the mission of the Son of God.
When Jesus rises from the dead, the whole nature of the relationship between God and humanity is definitively changed – reconciliation is made possible and we are offered the gift of a new life – a life of grace ruled by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, we all too often want the benefits of this new life without the prerequisite surrender of our lives and will to that of God! We are offered a new relationship with God that is infinitely better than our previous one but it comes only through faith and trust in God’s love for us. That is, we must be willing to place our lives under the grace of the Holy Spirit so that God will be able to direct our lives and keep us free from sin.
The New Covenant that Jesus inaugurates marks a new era of human history where humanity is no longer bound by sin but free to live a life of grace and truth under the Holy Spirit. This is what the prophets have longed for since the rise of Elijah and Elisha; it is what the whole earth has been awaiting in travail, and what each of us is offered through faith in Christ.
Let us open our hearts and minds tonight to the light and truth of the Spirit so that we will be transformed into messengers of the Gospel. Let us allow the Spirit into our lives in a new way so that we will carry the Good News with us wherever we go. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are there areas of darkness in my life that are yet to come under the Lordship of Christ? If so, what am I going to do about this?
Lord Jesus, You have risen from the dead. Help me to live the life of a redeemed
person proclaiming the Good News of salvation in all that I do.
The seven readings (if all are read) for the Easter Vigil follow something of the history of God’s intervention in our world, beginning with Creation and ending with reflections upon the promise of a New Covenant, a covenant of the heart. It is important for us to realize that we have a God who did not just create the world and then leave us alone. He has constantly worked with us in order that we might realize the full potential of our humanity. This is still an unfinished business and so we are still challenged as to how we are going to respond to God’s call of love. As we celebrate the Vigil tonight, let us listen to the readings and try to deepen our sense of God’s calling us into relationship with Him.
1 In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed — the first day. 6 Then God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.” And so it happened: 7 God made the dome, and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it. 8 God called the dome “the sky.” Evening came, and morning followed — the second day. 9 Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear.” And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. 10 God called the dry land “the earth,” and the basin of the water he called “the sea.” God saw how good it was. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.” And so it happened: 12 the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw how good it was. 13 Evening came, and morning followed — the third day. 14 Then God said: “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, 15 and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.” And so it happened: 16 God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was. 19 Evening came, and morning followed — the fourth day. 20 Then God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.” And so it happened: 21 God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, 22 and God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 23 Evening came, and morning followed — the fifth day. 24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.” And so it happened: 25 God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. 26 Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” 27 God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” 29 God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seedbearing fruit on it to be your food; 30 and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened. 31 God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed — the sixth day. 2: 1 Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. 2 Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.
P S A L M
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23 or Psalm 104 or Psalm 16; Exodus 15 Canticle; Psalm 30; Isaiah 12 Canticle; Psalm 19; Psalm 42 or Psalm 51
R: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. 2 Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” (R) 16 The right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD has struck with power. 17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. (R) 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (R)
Paul reflects upon the nature of Baptism as an entry into the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ and all that that means for us who believe. There is no greater mystery than the one that tells us that the work/mission of Jesus here on earth, when it is applied to our lives through faith, brings to us the gift of salvation. Paul has experienced a monumental change in his understanding of his relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ (See Phil 3:7-15) and he wants us all to enter into a similar experience.
3 Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. 5 For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. 7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin. 8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. 10 As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. 11 Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
G O S P E L
‘Jesus has risen from the dead! The tomb is empty.’ In some ways this last line is the most fundamental record that we have of the resurrection. People discovered an empty tomb. The quantum leap from the ‘empty tomb’ (fact) to ‘Jesus has risen from the dead’ is accomplished by faith and faith alone. We cannot prove that this is the case. If we could, there would be no such thing as faith in the resurrection – it would be a proven fact that we are all forced to believe just like 2+2=4. As we celebrate tonight let us be filled with joy with this Good News of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1 But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. 5 They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? 6 He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” 8 And they remembered his words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. 10 The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, 11 but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.
think: It is important for us to realize that we have a God who did not just create the world and then leave us alone.
He Lives In You! Especially When You Love. Happy Easter! Get out of the tombs of selfishness and live a new life of love!
Each Sunday is a Mini-Easter. Show that Jesus is alive today!
Praying for you,
The Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
TWO SIMPLE Y’s
...saw the stone removed from the tomb. – John 20:1
Ms. Prosti, Denial King and Mr. Hot Head. No, they’re not new characters in Disney’s circle of friends. Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, mga “Reyna at Hari ng Sablay” were the first to witness the evidence of the Most Important Cosmic Event of All Time.
Y1: Why them? I’m no theologian. Just a simple, handsome guy (Whoa! Why is my nose growing?), having the simplest and most handsome answer: They were first simply because they were there!
Jesus would have loved Pontius Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas to witness the evidence, but they weren’t there. Jesus could have assigned the angels as receptionists to the “empty tomb exhibit” to usher in the coming Pharisees, but they wouldn’t come. Had Judas waited a little longer, he could have heard Jesus saying, “I don’t care about your past, your failures and your sins, just be here!”
Y2: Why morning? Jesus made all things new! The Dawning of the New Day! The day that separates your shameful past and your glorious future. The stone at the entrance of the tomb of your failures and sins has been rolled away. Jon E.
Aren’t you here yet?
Lord, I’m dirty, guilty, ashamed, scared and hopeless. But I am here. Help me be born to this New Day! Let me believe that I can live life. I can overcome. And when I fail, I can come back and be here to hope in You.
I like to try and imagine what it would be like to encounter someone who has risen from the dead. What would it have been like for the apostles? They have just watched Jesus die a couple of days ago and now they are told to go to Galilee and wait for Jesus! They are told that some of the women have seen Him alive. I think I would be very skeptical of such
reports. However, on encountering the Risen Lord, I really have no idea what I would do, probably fall to my knees and worship though I doubt I would be able to speak a word!
To encounter someone who has risen from the dead would undoubtedly change a person’s life forever. There would be no excuses for not believing in the resurrection – you would have personally seen it happen. I think this is one of the reasons why the teaching and preaching of the apostles has a slightly different character to it when compared with those who did not personally experience the person of Jesus here on earth. Their conviction would be so much deeper than ours because they are not relying upon reported evidence; they are the witnesses to the very fact.
Personal experience is an essential aspect of our faith response to God because it gives the element of conviction to our proclamation of the Gospel. God wants us all to meet and experience His love personally so that we can be transformed by it into the sons and daughters the Father that we are meant to be. When we read the testimonies of the conversions of many of the saints of the first few centuries, we see that their faith is more than an idea or words – it is the lived experience of their daily lives. God is not just a distant figure somewhere in the heavens; He is an intimate friend who shares in every aspect of our lives except sin.
As we reflect upon the meaning of the resurrection for each of us, let us open our hearts more fully to the grace and truth He desires to bring into our lives to make us more like himself. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: How can I be more faithful in reflecting upon the meaning
of the resurrection for me personally?
Holy Spirit, lead me deeper into the truth of God’s love and show me how to surrender my life to it.
St. Julie Billiart, pray for us.
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Peter makes it clear to Cornelius that he, Peter, absolutely believes in the resurrection – he and Jesus have eaten together after Jesus died on the cross and was laid in a tomb. This is an absolutely amazing claim and Cornelius is obviously impressed by it as he and his whole household are ultimately baptized. Peter’s testimony is part of what brings salvation to Cornelius’ household. Each of us has our own testimony that God calls us to share with others to help them in their journey of faith.
34 Peter proceeded to speak and said: 37 “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and [in] Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. 40 This man God raised [on] the third day and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
P S A L M
Psalm 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23
R: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. 2 Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” (R) 16 “The right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.” 17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. (R) 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (R)
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
It is only in Christ that we can have the fullness of life. This is not to say that those who have never heard of Christ are not alive – it is just that there is more for them to experience than they have yet had the opportunity. This leaves us, those who know and have experienced Christ, with the awesome responsibility of sharing the truth about Jesus with those who have never heard of Him. Let us always seek to do this with humility and never with any arrogance or superiority. Jesus came into our midst in humility. Let us continue His mission in the same way.
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.
G O S P E L
Women are the first witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. Women are the first teachers of any child. God entrusted the birth and care of His Son to a woman named Mary. Women have always had an important role in God’s plan of salvation. Let us pause a moment in thanksgiving, not just for the gift of salvation that we remember today in a special way, but also for all the women who have played significant roles in our lives up until this point. Let us pray for them that God will bless them and continue to use them in His plan of salvation of the world.
1 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” 3 So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; 5 he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. 6 When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 7 and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. 8 Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. 9 For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
think: Each of us has our own testimony that God calls us to share with others to help them in their journey of faith.
It's Summer! Schedule A Family Vacation! Better get out your calendar and look for a Family Vacation! Invest in your family. Invest in your relationships. See how you can have fun, fun, and more fun. But try to also include perhaps, "sharing" and "prayer" into the schedule.
Don?t be discouraged ? God will be with you through this week.
Praying for you,
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” – Matthew 28:10
My kids hate brownouts. They shiver in fear, their palms begin to sweat and they scream at the top of their lungs. Of course, I’m exaggerating. But the truth is, they never liked the idea that their world would be put to a halt even for a few minutes, especially in the middle of their favorite TV show or movie or while they’re reading their comics.
But here’s the best part – they would start shouting, “Mom! Where are you?” And as soon as they hear my voice it’s like magic to their ears. And as soon as they reach me, I grab their hands and hug them both very tightly and assure them that everything’s okay – Mom’s here. Ah! I love brownouts.
I can imagine what it feels like to be in heaven. We live in the light for the rest of our lives... and best of all, God embraces us tightly and assures us constantly – “It’s okay, I’m here.”
When Jesus rose back to life, He eradicated brownouts! Marissa E.
Take me out of the dark my Lord, ‘cause I don’t want to be alone; I don’t want to be there... (from the song “Take Me Out of the Dark”)
“O, send forth Your light and Your truth. Let these be my guide. Let Him bring me to Your holy mount, to the place where You abide.”
KEEP IT SIMPLE AS THAT IS THE BEST WAY
As a student I loved mathematics. Even today I will read mathematical books for the pleasure of doing so – I will even work at mathematical problems for the fun of the challenge. It is a weird sort of reality that when you are a mathematician it is the simplest proof of a theorem that appeals to you the most. It would seem that something that is complicated and difficult would be more appealing but it is not. Apart from the fact that a simple proof will be more readily understood by many, it is simply more beautiful than something complicated and difficult to understand. It is similar to the fact that the greatest writers use a minimum of words to convey their ideas; it is much easier to write a 2000 word essay on a given topic than a 500 word one as you have to use your words more carefully and precisely.
Having said that, read through the proclamations of the Gospel that Peter and Paul and the other apostles make in the Acts of the Apostles. They are all the more remarkable and powerful because of their simplicity and clarity of ideas. What homilies, if any, do you remember well? I am sure they will have been quite short and with a limited number of ideas in them. In this way our minds are not confused by a whole lot of irrelevant detail.
As we seek to live our faith to the full, let us try to give a description of it in as few words as possible, yet not leaving out anything essential to its meaning. If we can do this well we will always be able to share the Gospel or our testimony with others when the opportunity arises.
Like it or not this is our responsibility as Christians! Through our baptism we are called to be witnesses of Christ, itnesses to His love for us and to the offer of forgiveness for our sins. If we who have received these things are not able to share them well, who will proclaim the Gospel to those who have never heard it?
Let us set aside some time over the next few weeks to work out what our testimony of faith is so as to prepare to share it when God asks us to. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: As we seek to live our faith to the full, let us try to give a description of it in as few words as possible, yet not leaving out anything essential to its meaning.
Father, You sent your Son, Jesus to redeem us from our lives of sin. Thank You for the gift of new life in Him and help me to live it every day of my life.
St. Acacius, bishop, pray for us.
Acts 2:14, 22-33
The transformation from ‘men hiding in fear of the Jews’ to men boldly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is a result of opening their lives to the power of the Holy Spirit. The same can be true for us! It is important that we do this as we have a duty to proclaim the Gospel and without the Holy Spirit we will find that very difficult.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them, “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words. 22 You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. 23 This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. 24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says of him: ‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. 26 Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, 27 because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ 29 My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day. 30 But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. 33 Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you [both] see and hear.”
P S A L M
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
R: Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
1 Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; 2 I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you. Apart from you I have no good.” 5 O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot. (R) 7 I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. 8 I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. (R) 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; 10 because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption. (R) 11 You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (R)
G O S P E L
There are many stories surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. When we piece them together we see that the fundamental truth, the one that is most important, is exactly that, namely Jesus has risen from the dead. We cannot fully understand how God did this and it does not matter. All we have to do is believe that it is true and live our lives in the grace and power God offers us through the resurrected life of Jesus.
8 [ the women] went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” 11 While they were going, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. 12 They assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy [him] and keep you out of trouble.” 15 The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.
think: Jesus has risen from the dead.
Reflect God?s love to every person you meet this Tuesday.
Praying for you,
SPREAD THE WORD
“But Mary (of Magdala) stayed outside the tomb weeping... (then she) went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord...’” – John 20:11,18
Of course I don’t buy Dan Brown’s crap about Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Preposterous! But I do believe that she had a very special relationship with him. After all, he first appeared to her!
Why? Because she waited on him, stayed outside the tomb, weeping when everyone already went home (John 20: 10-11). And then, she spread the word! “I have seen the Lord!”
There are things that you should keep to yourself but there are things that you should tell others about!
“The Lord has immensely blessed me but I’d rather keep that to myself lest I sound like I’m bragging.”
“God performed a miracle in my life but they might think I’m crazy so I’d rather keep silent.” Whoa! Unless you’re really just bragging or a confirmed looney, it’s your duty to proclaim Jesus in your life. Yes, it’s a duty! Isn’t that in essence the Great Commission? Go tell the world about Him!
So like Mary Magdalene, if you want to see Jesus, wait on Him, stay on, and then spread the word – “I have seen the Lord. HE IS ALIVE!” Alvin B.
Are you afraid or hesitant to share what Jesus has done for you? Try telling one person about Him today.
Jesus, my Lord, grant me the grace to see You, and proclaim You to others. Amen.
DO NOT CLING TO ME
These are rather strange words for Jesus to speak. I wonder what He meant by them. think the answer lies in understanding the reason for His ascension into heaven. We believe that Jesus ascended into heaven in order that, with the Father, He would send us the Holy Spirit. It is this promised gift of the Holy Spirit that will signify the real completion of Jesus’ earthly mission. It is only with the Holy Spirit that we have the power to sustain our Christian lives in the face of a hostile world.
Jesus does not want the women to get used to the idea that He is going to be with them in this resurrected form for too much longer. Jesus is aware that He will depart in a few days’ time. The clinging of the women is symbolic of the way in which we can cling to comforting things in an unhealthy way such that they stunt our growth as Christians. The nature of the Christian life is that God wants us to be always moving forward. He is not interested in us becoming comfortable in one way or another with our present faith experiences as He knows there is always so much more for us to receive from Him. The depth of God’s love and grace for us is unending and so we should always be seeking more of God in our lives.
Clinging is usually symptomatic of the desire to remain static and not to accept the challenge of letting go in faith and trusting that we will be able to make the next few steps of the adventure of life. Jesus experienced this in the Garden of Gethsemane when He cried out to His Father but ultimately let go and entrusted His life into the Father’s hands. It is this sort of ‘letting go’ that is essential to the life of faith if we are going to move into the realm of faith that is exhibited by the saints! Do you want to be a saint? I hope to become one eventually, but I know I will have to get better at letting go of the controls in my life and trusting that God will lead me to the right and best place for me. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Jesus calls us to surrender our lives more deeply to Him each day so that He can manifest His love for others through our lives. Are we willing to allow Him to do this?
Jesus, help me to become more like You in the surrender of Your life to the will of Your Father. Help me to trust that you really do have my best interests at heart.
St. Terence, martyr, pray for us.
Peter tells us that repentance is the beginning or foundation for the life of faith. Without turning away from our sins it is impossible to welcome Christ into our hearts as all sin is anathema to Him. Let us seek to grow in holiness each day by continuing to repent of our sin as we discover it in our lives and so demonstrate to Jesus our commitment to being true to His love.
36 “Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both LORD and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” 38 Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the LORD our God will call.” 40 He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.
P S A L M
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
R: The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
4 For upright is the word of the LORD, and all his works are trustworthy. 5 He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full. (R) 18 See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, 19 to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine. (R) 20 Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield, 22 May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you. (R)
G O S P E L
Jesus had only to speak Mary’s name and she knew who He was! This is a knowledge built on love. It is a little surprising that she did not immediately recognize Jesus but I suppose a resurrected body is more glorious and thus different from a nonresurrected one. Let us pray that we will one day share in the fullness of the gift of the resurrection when the Lord raises our bodies to be with Him on the last day.
11 But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. 13 And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my LORD, and I don’t know where they laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. 17 Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the LORD,” and what he told her.
think: Let us pray that we will one day share in the fullness of the gift of the resurrection when the Lord raises our bodies to be with Him on the last day.
“With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” – Luke 24:31
When my son was diagnosed with an incurable heart disease, I began to seek the Lord like never before. As a result, the Lord also began to reveal Himself to me in ways I’ve never imagined ever since I got baptized in the Holy Spirit 20 plus years ago. I was so confident that the Lord was going to work a miraculous healing in my son’s life that would truly bring glory to Him. After all, isn’t that the purpose of everything — for Him to be glorified?
Five months later, my son passed away. I was stunned. No, I was devastated. Actually, there is no word yet ever invented to describe how I felt. I felt like I was conned, cheated, etc. I thought He was Lord and Savior but how come He wasn’t Lord over this sickness. Why couldn’t He save my son? Suddenly, I wasn’t sure if He was really everything the Bible said He was. I got down on my knees and I told Him that I would not leave my room until I find out the truth about who He really is.
After struggling for one week, I woke up one beautiful morning with the truth. Yes, He is Lord and yes, He is Healer. No, He didn’t show up in my room. I just woke up one morning with so much peace in my heart and I knew with every fiber of my being that He is real. Ronna L.
Can your faith in Jesus survive the test of fire?
Lord, open my eyes to see You.
JESUS APPEARS TO US IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS
When we read through the various resurrection appearances of Jesus as we do every Easter week, we discover that Jesus appears to His friends and disciples in many different ways. I cannot see any reason why this should not still be the case today! That is, I believe we are foolish to limit the ways in which we might think or expect Jesus to appear to us. I can easily imagine the disciples as they gather to share their experiences and marvel at the way Jesus has risen from the dead.
One of the things that is most effective at building up our faith is listening to how God is working in other peoples’ lives. Sharing our testimonies is a great way of encouraging one another to a deeper and more expectant faith. I find there is nothing more encouraging, when I am a bit down in my faith, than hearing an excited exposition of God working in someone else’s life. It is not a matter of worrying about comparing myself to others; I know that God has a plan for us all and it is a matter of trying to be faithful to what He wants to do in my life.
Jesus appears to His disciples to give them hope and to bolster their faith; He manifests His power in our own lives from time to time for exactly the same purposes. We can and should expect Him to show His hand once in a while if for no other reason than to support us in our walk with Him. This is His promise to us when He ascended into heaven – that He would not leave us orphans but would send us the Holy Spirit. Jesus is never far from us – any distance that grows is a result of our own neglect and sin. He will always hear and answer our prayers. However, the form of His answer may not always be what we want or expect. Let us open our hearts to Him anew this day and trust that He knows what He is doing with us. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: When was the last time I recognized the hand of God in my life? What was my response to that experience?
Lord Jesus, You are always faithful to Your promises to me. Help me to be more faithful in responding to Your grace and appearances in my life.
St. Antipas, martyr, pray for us.
Peter and John knew what is the most important gift they can give anyone including the beggar in today’s reading. The person of Jesus Christ can heal sickness and cure disease; he can raise the dead and deliver us from demons. It is Jesus who can save us from our sins and everything else for that matter. All we have to do is put our faith in Him and allow Him to work the miracle of salvation in our lives.
1 Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. 2 And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. 4 But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.” 7 Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. 8 He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.
P S A L M
Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
R: Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the nations his deeds. 2 Sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds. (R) 3 Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! 4 Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. (R) 6 You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! 7 He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail. (R) 8 He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations — 9 which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac. (R)
G O S P E L
Even two of the disciples of Jesus fail to immediately recognize Him as they walk and talk with Him. This is difficult to believe and a warning to us that Jesus can be in our midst in a form that may not be immediately obvious to us. In the Old Testament, people spoke of having entertained angels when they took in a stranger for a meal; perhaps today the stranger you meet will be Jesus looking for your love and helping hand?
13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32 Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” 33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
think: Perhaps today the stranger you meet will be Jesus looking for your love and helping hand.
Under the Roman Emperor Honorius, Marcellinus served as secretary of state of the Western Roman Empire.
In 409, he granted the heretical group Donatists the right to public worship. But the group grew in power, causing the oppression of the orthodox. As a result, the latter appealed to the emperor for protection. Marcellinus was appointed to judge on the controversy. Since the Donatists were heretics, he summoned them to submit to the control of orthodox bishops and priests. The judgment was implemented with violence and severity by the Roman army. It was a bloody persecution that Bishop Augustine protested.
The Donatists held a grudge against Marcellinus. They accused him and his brother for being involved in the rebellion of Heraclion. General Maricus thus ordered for the arrest and imprisonment of the two. The bishop intervened on their behalf. But Maricus remained firm, ordering for the execution of Marcellinus and his brother on September 12, 413.
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Saint Celestine I
Saint Celestine I, a Roman, was deacon in Rome when he was elected for the pontificate on September 20, 422 A.D., in succession to Pope Boniface I.
As pope, he sent a letter to the bishops of Vienne and Narbonne, ordering them that absolution should never be denied to the dying who sincerely asked for it. Celestine also called for a council in Rome to condemn Nestorianism. He threatened Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, with excommunication if the man did not stop from his heretical teaching. Thus, in 431 he appointed Cyril as president of the General Council of Ephesus, which formally condemned the heresy.
The pope fought against Pelagianism with Saint Germanius of Auxerre. He sent the latter to deal with the Pelagianism in Britain. In addition, he wrote a treatise against semi-Pelagianism and sent Palladius for the evangelization of the people in Ireland.
After nine years and ten months of his pontificate, Saint Celestine I died on July 27, 432 in Rome, Italy.
Be blessed by His Creative Word this Thursday!
Praying for you,
A FATHER FOR ALL SEASONS
...and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached.... – Luke 24:47
Life is indeed a cycle.
We were yesterday’s students and today’s professionals.
We were the young ones of the “Yeah, Yeah Vonnel” generation.
Now we are the young once as we become parents or grandparents of this dot.com generation.
But no matter how old we have become, God is here to stay.
He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Yes, He was, He is, and He will always be our merciful and forgiving father as long as we go to Him with contrite hearts, to repent and ask forgiveness for our imperfections, inadequacies and sinfulness.
He will always forgive us our sins no matter how many times we fall.
Thank you, dear God, for forgiving us our trespasses. You are indeed A Father for All Seasons. Thank you, Lord. Henry Y.
How many times have I been deaf and stubborn not to listen to You when You called my attention?
Lord, forgive me for all the times that I have gone against Your teachings.
HEIRS OF THE COVENANT
In a very real sense the Jewish people are still heirs to the covenant; it is just that they have not yet realized that the covenant has taken on a slightly different form to what they first expected. Unfortunately, they did not recognize the Messiah in the form that he came. However, this will not be the case when He comes again in all his glory; when this happens, everyone will see, believe and know that He is the Son of God.
The past 40 years following on from Vatican II, there has been a lot of dialogue between the Vatican and various leading Jewish figures. This new depth of relationship has given rise to such descriptions of the Jewish people as our older brothers and so on. As Christians we have much to be thankful for to the Jews in that they were the ones who for two thousand years developed the understanding of God and His dealings with humanity that we assumed with our faith in Christ. If it were not for them, we would not have the rich heritage of revelation present to us in the Old Testament! It is important that we do not divorce our understanding of Christianity from its Jewish roots. Likewise, it is important that we never forget that the revelation of Christ gives rise to a new tool with which to interpret and understand the Old Testament writings.
Like most tensions in life it is important to avoid the extremes while trying to walk a middle path. Jesus certainly knew and respected his Jewish heritage as Scriptures record His faithful following of the Law in terms of rituals and celebrations. As we seek to redefine Christianity for the third millennium, let us not lose sight of our roots while at the same time endeavor to speak into the lives of a very modern society. We are heirs to the Kingdom of God – let us never forget where we have come from and to where we are
going. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: How well do I know the history of my Catholic faith? Perhaps I ought to do a little reading here in order to better understand from where the faith I profess has come.
Father, You carefully guide the Church through the difficulties of relating to a modern and often atheistic world. Help me to remain firmly rooted in the heritage of my faith so that I have a firm foundation upon which to build my life.
St. Vissia, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
Peter is a transformed man! His faith is finally coming to the fore in the way that the Holy Spirit is able to use him to proclaim the Gospel. Let us seek to be like Peter, open to the movement of the Holy Spirit and open to responding to God’s will wherever it might lead us and whatever He might ask us to do. This is how the Gospel will be shared to all the nations.
11 As the lame man clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” 12 When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? 13 The God of Abraham, [the God] of Isaac, and [the God] of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. 14 You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. 17 Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; 18 but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, 20 and that the LORD may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. 22 For Moses said: ‘A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you. 23 Everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be cut off from the people.’ 24 Moreover, all the prophets who spoke, from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days. 25 You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, ‘In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”
P S A L M
Psalm 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
R: O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
1  O LORD, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! 4  What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the Son of Man that you should care for him? (R) 5  You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. 6  You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet. (R) 7  All sheep and oxen, yes, and the beasts of the field, 8  the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas. (R)
G O S P E L
The disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus recount their adventure to the apostles. It is in sharing our faith experiences with one another that we will encourage and strengthen each other’s faith. In this way we are all built up and our ability to evangelize grows. Let us never lose an opportunity to share what God has done for us and remember, we should always ensure the glory stays with God.
35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them,“Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them,“Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them. 44 He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
think: It is in sharing our faith experiences with one another that we will encourage and strengthen each other’s faith.
John Baptist de la Salle, patron saint of teachers, was born on April 30, 1651 to a noble family in Rheims, France. He was a devout Christian and was in the seminary when his parents died. While he was caring and teaching his brothers, John continued with his education, thus, he was ordained a priest.
He pitied the common people who had no chance to be educated. John opened schools and started a new order, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, to provide teachers. He taught in the language his students would understand, and not in Latin. He grouped them into classes, giving emphasis on the importance of silence during classroom discussions. More and more schools were opened, educating the sons of the working class and the nobility.
The priest's health was never good. He was in constant pain because of arthritis and asthma. At the age of sixty-eight, Saint John Baptist de la Salle died on April 7, 1719. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.
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Saint Celsus McAedh
Saint Celsus was born Ceallach mac Aedha in Ireland in 1079. He succeeded to the hereditary abbacy of Armagh in 1105. The year after, he was consecrated bishop. As bishop, he implemented reforms to achieve ecclesiastical discipline.
Celsus also played an important role in restoring the primatial see of Ireland in Armagh. His intervention was always sought in warring Irish factions.
On his deathbed, Saint Celsus appointed Bishop Malachy of Connor as successor of his see to end its hereditary succession. He died at Ardpatrick, Munster in Ireland on April 1, 1129.
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Saint Ezekiel was one of the four major prophets of the Old Testament during 6th century B.C. According to old traditions, the prophet was put to death while he was in captivity in Babylon. He was buried in the tomb of Shem. His grave became a site for early Christian pilgrims.
May you be guided by His directions this Friday!
Praying for you,
MOMENTS OF GRACE
Cast the net over the right side... – John 21:6
The team was tired; it was very late at night and our project presentation was far from acceptable. The manager of the group would review everything in the morning! I started rationalizing. “Why am I helping these guys?
My boss didn’t even ask me to!”
We were ready to throw in the towel.
Peter must have felt that way when he said, “I’m going fishing.”
To make matters worse, he and his buddies caught nothing—nada! He, too, was ready to throw in the towel.
Isn’t it funny that just before everything comes crumbling down, the Lord somehow gives us moments of grace— to calm down, relax and try again?
You read the story; the Lord told Peter not to quit but to try again. They had quite a catch. And more importantly, they had breakfast with Jesus and were assured of His continuing presence.
For me, the moment of grace came when I heard a teaching by Christian author Chuck Swindoll early the next morning. The result? Not only did we satisfy the team’s boss but our work also became an award-winning project within the company. More than that, the team felt it was the Lord’s favor. Ariel D.
When you are ready to throw in the towel, don’t quit. Turn to the Lord. He is ready to give you that moment.
Thank You, Father, for moments of grace.
A REPEAT PERFORMANCE
This event by the side of the lake reflects a similar story told at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. The disciples have spent the night fishing and have failed to catch anything. At a word from Jesus they throw out their nets one last time and the nets are filled to breaking point. It is quite clear to me that here we are being invited to reflect upon the consequences of obedience to the Word of God. If we follow His will, then our lives will be fruitful to an extent we can hardly imagine; if we are just acting upon our own wisdom, we may or may not bear fruit in our lives. We should never forget the power of the Word of God and, at the same time, always seek to put it into practice in our lives.
John recognizes the person on the shore as Jesus when he sees the extent of the catch. Perhaps he is remembering back to that earlier event three years before? Whatever is the case, it is a reminder to us to keep an open mind at all times as Jesus may appear to us in as simple an act as catching fish and manifest His glory for all to see. Peter the impetuous one cannot wait for the boat to get back to shore so he dives into the water to go and greet Jesus. It probably would have been quicker to stay in the boat than to swim with all his robes on to the shore, but then again, that is Peter for you!
They then share a meal with Jesus but they avoid asking Him who He is. This indicates a certain mystery surrounds the resurrected Jesus. There is enough of the same for the disciples to recognize Him, but there must also have been an ‘otherness’ to the appearance of Jesus. In the same sort of way, Jesus will appear to us in the daily events of our lives – both in forms we easily recognize and those that have a different quality to them. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Am I truly open to recognizing the hand of God at work in
my life or do I tend to be skeptical of such ideas?
Father, I know You love me and want to guide my life according to Your will. Help me to be open to your word and guiding hand so that I will recognize their presence each time you appear.
Blessed John Lockwood, martyr, pray for us.
Peter gets it right when he says that there is no other name than Jesus that is capable of saving us from our sins. It is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that reconciles us to the Father. This is the heart of the Gospel proclamation. Let us never forget to be upfront with the truth that having a relationship with Jesus is the only way to be saved. How are those who have never heard the Gospel going to be saved? I do not know, but I am sure that God has a plan for them as well.
1 While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the word came to believe and [the] number of men grew to [about] five thousand. Before the Sanhedrin 5 On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class. 7 They brought them into their presence and questioned them, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, 10 then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. 11 He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
P S A L M
Psalm 118:1-2, 4, 22-24, 25-27
R: The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. 2 Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the LORD say, “His mercy endures forever.” (R) 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (R) 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. (R) 25 O LORD, grant salvation! O LORD, grant prosperity! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD; we bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and he has given us light. (R)
G O S P E L
It seems that remembering similar instances with Jesus is a trigger to their recognizing Him after the resurrection. Perhaps this is why memory is so important in ritual celebrations. Through the use of our memory we can be transported back to past encounters with God, even, in the case of ritual, to ones where we were not physically present but where the collective memory of the Church takes over for us. What a gift the Sacraments are to us when they help us to remember what God has done for us.
1 After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. 2 Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” 6 So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. 7 So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. 9 When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
think: What a gift the Sacraments are to us when they help us to remember what God has done for us.
Perpetuus was born to a senatorial family during the 5th century A.D. He became bishop of Tours in 460. According to Saint Gregory, the bishop decreed that all people in his diocese should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as on several Mondays in the Christian year. This decree in the dioceses of Tours was observed until a century after his death.
The bishop was remembered even centuries after his death. He was so strongly remembered that during the 18th century, Perpetuus forged a will, declaring that he left all his pastures, groves, vineyards, houses, gardens, watermills, gold, and silver to the poor.
You, my dearly beloved brothers, my crown, my joy, that is to say, Christ s poor, needy, beggars, sick, widows, and orphans, you I hereby name and decree to be my heirs.
Saint Perpetuus of Tours died either on December 30, 490 or April 8, 491. According to reports, there were occasions when the sick were healed at his tomb or when his relics were carried in procession.
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Saint Michael de Sanctis
Saint Michael de Sanctis, a devout of the Blessed Sacrament, was born on September 29, 1591 at Vich, Spanish Catalonia. At an early age of six, he received a calling to become a monk. At 12, he joined the Trinitarian monastery at Barcelona. Finally at 15, he took his vows on September 5, 1607 at the Monastery of Saint Lambert at Zaragoza.
Soon after, he felt drawn to the more ascetic life of the Discalced Trinitarians; thus, he moved to Madrid and began his novitiate. He studied in Seville and Salamanca then took his vows as priest in Alcala. In the monastery at Valladolid, Michael was twice elected superior. He continued to live a life of prayer and sacrifice.
Saint Michael de Sanctis died on April 10, 1625 in Valladolid, Spain. He was beatified by Pope Pius VI on May 24, 1779 and canonized by Pope Pius IX on June 8, 1862.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:17
He was his mother’s favorite and he played this role to the hilt. There was nothing he could do wrong in her eyes, even if he was blatantly guilty.
Albert married at the age of 17. The girl was 15 and pregnant when they marched to the altar. After three kids born successively every year after that, the marriage was ready to self-destruct!
Being a husband and father did not stop Albert from being with friends nightly and coming home at dawn drunk and violent. His wife would run to her mother-in-law, reciting a litany of her son’s sins. The mother of Albert would listen and sympathize, but in the end, would say, “He is a good man. Those friends of his should be condemned. Forgive him. Soon he will be a changed man because God loves him.” Twenty years have passed. The children have grown and have their own families now. Their parents’ marriage didn’t last more than five years. But today, Albert, their father, is serving God fulltime, preaching to people about how “God loved Him that He sent His only son to save him from a life of sin.” Albert’s mom was proven right. And God’s love, too. Chelle C.
Do you know anyone who needs to know that someone believes in his/her goodness?
Thank You, Father, for never giving up on me.
JEALOUSY AND ENVY ARE DESTROYERS
Jealousy and envy are quite different as far as sins go, but their effects are the same – destruction of relationships. The high priest and the Sadducees are conspiring under the motivation of jealousy to arrest the apostles because of the success the apostles are having of winning converts to their way of understanding the life and ministry of Jesus. There are few motivators that are worse than jealousy and envy and the destruction of relationships that these two initiate is often very difficult, almost impossible to repair.
Think back in your life to an experience of jealousy where you were either the victim or the perpetrator. I am sure you will agree that no good came out of the actions prompted thus wise.
St. Francis of Assisi writes that such feelings are sins against the Holy Spirit as they are an outright refusal to rejoice in the good things that God is doing for others! This is a very sobering judgment but one that ought to give us food for thought and reflection. The heart of the Gospel message of salvation is a call to rejoice in the good things of God. If they are from God, they are always directed towards the building up of His Kingdom and thus we should all benefit from such gifts, even if they are placed directly in the stewardship of others. This of course means that we all have responsibility to use the gifts God has given us in such a way that we place them in the service of all and not just ourselves.
One final point is simply to remind us that the worst kind of envy and jealousy is that which is directed towards the results of another’s sin. If we are jealous or envious of corrupt gains, this is worse than if it is of just gains simply because there is the further sin here of not recognizing the unjust means used to acquire such gains. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Do I tend to be a jealous person or am I usually willing to rejoice in the good fortune of others?
Holy Spirit, help me trust that God will provide all I need for a good life here on earth and keep my focus firmly fixed on the promise of eternal life in heaven.
St. Wicterp, bishop, pray for us.
And so the persecution of the Christians begin, first in Jerusalem and later, in a much more systematic and brutal fashion, in Rome. I sometimes wonder how the Early Church survived when I read about the persecutions it underwent, but then I suppose if something is a true work of the Holy Spirit, then it will survive. In fact, it seems that the persecutions only served to increase the resolve of those who remained to be faithful. Let us be true to their witness in the way we live today.
17 The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, 18 laid hands upon the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, 20 “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” 21 When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the Israelites, and sent to the jail to have them brought in. 22 But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison, so they came back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 When they heard this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to. 25 Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them in, but without force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
P S A L M
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
1  I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 2  Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. (R) 3  Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. 4  I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (R) 5  Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. 6  When the poor man called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. (R) 7  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8  Taste and see how good the LORD is; happy the man who takes refuge in him. (R)
G O S P E L
We who have heard the Gospel have no excuse but to follow it. This is what Jesus is affirming in today’s Gospel. The Light of the Truth has come into our lives and thus we must live according to it. This is what the mission of Jesus is all about. He came to set things straight; so that there would be no more debate as to what God demands from His people. The simple answer is that He demands nothing less than complete obedience to His Will!
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the verdict, that the Light came into the World, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. 21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
think: He demands nothing less than complete obedience to His Will! thank You Lord for:
A friend of mine had a “sorry” experience with her organization.
After their election of officers – she was not happy with the chosen ones – the elected president approached her and asked her to be the treasurer (this was an appointed position). Naturally, she refused. But upon the president’s persuasion, and for the sake of unity, she gave her yes.
But weeks before the oath-taking, the president approached her again, withdrawing his offer. He said his council members outvoted his choice.
Can you imagine how that came across to my friend?
She “survived” the insult after much prayer, support from friends, and spiritual direction. But now it’s oath-taking time and guess what? The president has not yet found a willing treasurer from the members. Would you believe he had the audacity to ask my friend again?
I advised her to pray and let God decide. Much as pride and sweet revenge are comfortable companions with the turn of events – it’s still best to listen to the Lord’s voice deep in our heart… and whatever He says, “goes.” Cristy G.
Who has humiliated you recently? Can you still love the person and do what is right?
May I hear Your direction, especially during times when pride and anger cloud my head and deafen my ears.
OBEDIENCE TO THE AUTHORITY OF MEN OR GOD?
Down through history, this experience of the apostles will be repeated over and over again as men and women seek to proclaim the Gospel truths whether they are welcomed or not. Many men and women were martyred for their faith as they proclaimed the Gospel in lands and among people who were hostile to the message. Even today there are many places in the world supposedly ‘off limits’ to the proclamation of the Gospel. The biggest problem with this is that in a certain sense, if we are Christians and living our faith, we are proclaiming the Gospel precisely through the way we live without having to say anything. St. Francis of Assisi is reported to have once said to his brothers as he sent them out to preach, “Go and proclaim the Gospel; use words if you have to!”
If the lived witness of the Gospel is not present, then any words that are spoken, no matter how eloquent they may be, leave us open to the accusation of hypocrisy! The most powerful witness to the Gospel is always the life each Christian lives. When Christians publicly flout the teachings of the Church and Jesus, we do untold damage to the effectiveness of our Gospel witness. It is not just a matter of our own salvation that we are speaking about here; we are also damaging the opportunity of those who are not Christians have of seeing the Gospel in action in our lives. This can be a sobering thought, particularly when we remember that it is our lives that Jesus is relying upon to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The apostles refused to remain silent and so they should have done. The question remaining is whether or not we will follow their lead today. Let us pray for the grace to be willing to speak the truth in season and out of season so that the name of God will be glorified as we proclaim it to the ends of the earth. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: When was the last time I had to take a stand on an issue because of my faith in Christ? Did I do this without hesitation?
Lord Jesus, grant me the strength to always stand up for You and the truth You have revealed to me. May I always trust that You will provide me with the words to speak no matter what the situation may be.
St. Alphege, archbishop, pray for us.
Here is one of the more controversial texts of Scripture as Peter argues that there is a higher obedience than the obedience we owe earthly authorities. This is not an excuse for anarchy. Peter is merely stating the simple truth that where a civil law conflicts with a law of God, we follow the latter and not the former. This is a relatively rare occurrence. It will rarely, if ever, be difficult to discern such an occasion. However, it may be costly to us to respond correctly. Let us pray for the strength to do so.
27 When they had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, 28 “We gave you strict orders [did we not?] to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put the apostles to death.
P S A L M
Psalm 34:2, 9, 17-18, 19-20
R: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
1  I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 8  Taste and see how good the LORD is; happy the man who takes refuge in him. (R) 16  The LORD confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. 17  When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. (R) 18  The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. 19  Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the LORD delivers him. (R)
G O S P E L
God the father sent Jesus to reveal His love to us for precisely the reason His testimony would be all the stronger because of His Divinity. This is why the Father and Son have sent us the Holy Spirit on the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. The Spirit will remain with us as the divine witness and authority to God’s call upon our lives. We seem to live in a sort of netherworld, betwixt and between a life here on earth and the hope of eternal life in heaven.
31 The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven [is above all]. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. 34 For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to Him. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.
think: God the father sent Jesus to reveal His love to us for precisely the reason His testimony would be all the stronger because of His Divinity.