In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter C, the Risen Lord appears to his disciples a second time.  Thomas was not there the first time.  He had refused to believe unless he saw for himself.   This time Jesus says to him, ” ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’  Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed’ ” (John 20: 29b).  Even though we have not seen Jesus in the flesh, we still believe.  At a recent Bible Study, my pastor explained that the quality of the life of a person who  believes in the Risen Lord is proof of the Resurrection.  Those who are patient in a world of suffering, sincere in a deceitful world, generous in a selfish world.  What difference does your belief in the Risen Lord make in the way you live your life?

 

 

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In the Gospel for Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord, Mary of Magdala finds Jesus’ tomb empty.  She runs to tell Peter and the others.  “When Simon Peter arrived … he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.  Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20: 6-8).  Jesus is alive.  He has risen from the dead. Through the Holy Spirit Christians share in his new life.  We are witnesses of God’s love to everyone.  Our loving example may inspire others to believe.  Parents love their children.  St. Vincent de Paul volunteers serve lunch to the hungry.  Adult children care for their parents with dementia.  Engaged couples profess their love on their wedding day.  Lawmakers advocate for health care.  People risk their lives defending the poor.  How do you inspire others to believe in Jesus?

 

 

In the Gospel for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion C, Jesus suffers betrayal, persecution, and death.  Even Peter betrays Jesus.  He denies knowing Jesus three times.  “About an hour later, still another insisted, ‘Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.’  But Peter said, ‘My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.’  Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’  He went out and began to weep bitterly (Luke 22: 59-62).  Like Peter, I have felt like a failure.  I tried to be the perfect parent.  Everytime I failed, I felt remorse.  By God’s grace I realized I was not the perfect.  Yet God stilled loved me.  As he did with Peter, Jesus looked at me with only love.  Knowing God’s forgiveness made me a better parent.  How does God’s loving forgiveness make you a better Christian?

 

In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent C, Jesus saves the life of the woman caught in adultery.  After her accusers leave, Jesus is alone with her.  “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.”  Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin any more” (John 8: 10b-11).  Jesus offers the women compassionate mercy, not vengeful condemnation.  God is crazy in love with us.  Through Jesus, God invites us into loving relationships.  God does not condemn us.  We do that ourselves by refusing God’s love.  The more I realize God’s incredible love, the more generous I am in loving others.  The more resentful, angry, afraid, and jealous I am, the more I separate myself from God and others.  When I feel hurt by my wife, I do not want to talk to her.  Remembering God’s loving mercy for me and for her, I brave a reconciliation.  In what ways does God’s forgiveness and mercy motivate you to love others?

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent C, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son.  The wayward son returns home.  His father throws a party.  The older brother resents it.  “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.  But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf” Luke 15: 29).  He was the good son.  He was loyal and hard working.  He was better than his younger brother.  He deserved more respect.  I can relate to the older brother.  I have felt superior to others.  I have been self-righteous.  My wife occasionally leaves for work with her meal on a dinner plate.  I think she should be better prepared.  I pack my lunch.  I would never do anything like that.  Yesterday morning, I left the house in a hurry.  I carried out my breakfast on a plate.  It was very convenient.  She has taught me how to creatively adapt to changing circumstances.  Today I feel humble.  How has God’s grace transformed your self-righteousness into humility?

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent C, Jesus tells the parable of the barren fig tree.  The owner wants it cut down.  The gardener asks for more time.  “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future.  If not you can cut it down” (Luke 13: 8-9).  Sin causes suffering for us and others.  Repentance is urgent.  Take heart if you have stumbled along the Christian way.  Your spiritual fig tree has some unripened fruits of love .  You can still bear much fruit.  You have time to repent.  Perhaps you have been a lazy Christian.  Your spiritual fig tree bears little the fruits of love.  You can still bear fruit.  Now is your chance.  What repentance will bear more the fruits of love in your life?

 

In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent C, Jesus appears on the mountain transfigured with Moses and Elijah.  “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.  And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah … Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him” (Luke 9: 29, 30a, 32).  God revealed Jesus to Peter, John, and James as God’s beloved son.  They got a glimpse of God’s glory in Jesus.  Christians today have mountain top experiences like Peter and his companions.  They also can see the divine in ordinary everyday life.  I experience the presence of God when my wife smiles at me, a friend confides in me, a neighbor waves at me, parishioners pray for me, an advocate for justice inspires me, and more.  How do you see the presence of God during your day?

 

In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent C, Jesus resists the temptations of the devil.  “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil” (Luke 4: 1).  Jesus was not in the desert alone.  The Holy Spirit helped Jesus remain faithful to God during his trials.  Like Jesus, we too have struggles that test our faith.  During times of trouble, we may feel alone and helpless.  I remember feeling that way when I struggled with a big life decision.  While in seminary I had fallen in love with the girl who is now my wife.  Should I stay or go?  I was confused and afraid.  God reminded me how much God had cared for me throughout my life.  God reassured me of help no matter what I decided.  Confident in God’s loving care, I decided to leave.  How has God helped you when you have felt alone, helpless, and afraid?

 

In the Gospel for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus chastises his disciples for their spiritual blindness.  “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?  You hypocrite!  Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye’ ” (Luke 6: 42).  I have been blind to my own faults.  I have judged others without judging myself.  I’d rather blame my wife than myself when something goes wrong.  Realizing I contributed to the problem makes me more compassionate towards her.  What’s your wooden beam?

 

In the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus teaches his disciples about love for enemies.  “Love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6: 35-36).  Jesus’ proposal is radical.  Love of enemies contradicts the human instinct for self protection.  When my wife says mean things to me, I want to say mean things back.  Then she retaliates and so on.  The spiral of violence escalates.  If I can respond in a more loving way, the violence diffuses.  More mercy for her and less defensiveness from me can resolve the conflict.  Jesus wants us to love others as God loves us all.  How do you love those who hurt you?