In the Gospel for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus invites his disciples to follow him.   “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11: 28-30).  Jesus uses the oxen yoke as an image for his teaching.  As the yoke guides the oxen along the furrows, the teaching of Jesus guides disciples in love of God and neighbor.  The oxen pull the plow planting season to planting season.  Christian disciples follow Jesus season in and season out.   A disciples is a life long learner.  Each day demands greater love of God and neighbor.  What have you learned about selfless love by following the example of Jesus?

In the Gospel for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus describes radical discipleship.  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10: 37-39).   Jesus seems opposed to families.  Rather he urges his disciples to make God their first priority.  God comes first before family and even before oneself.  Jesus wants disciples to give their lives in love for God and others.  Whenever Christians love another before themselves, they lose their life for the sake of the reign of God.   Parents awakened in the middle of the night to feed a baby.  A man who provides all the care giving for his invalid wife.  A community organizer who risks her life protecting her village’s farmland from developers.  For God’s sake to whom do you need to give of yourself today?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus reassures his apostles when struggling with their mission.  “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  Even all the hairs of your head are counted.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father”  (Matthew 10: 29-32).  Jesus offers his disciples today the same reassurance.  With Jesus we can deal with life’s hardships, struggles, pain, and grief.  Whether a lay off, a cancer diagnosis, an addiction, the death of a loved one, anxiety, lack of food, and other suffering, God is with us in our hearts, our families, our friends, our church community, and even strangers.  “So do not be afraid.”  From what fear(s) do you want God to free you today?

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus promises salvation to those who believe in him.  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6: 51).  Jesus nourishes us with the love of God.  He gives himself completely, flesh and blood, for love of us.  In Eucharist we are sustained by love for love.  Through Christ, God’s love lives in us.  God wants us to give away this love as Jesus did.  My niece and her new husband gave of themselves each other at their recent wedding.  God’s love sustains them in their marriage.  Their love in Christ for one another sustains their love for others.  How has God sustained your love for others?  How do you sustain others?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Evangelist John testifies that God sent the Son to give life.  “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” (John 3: 16). God loves us so generously.  God gave himself to us in Jesus.  Jesus loved unconditionally.  He even loved those who put him to death.  The Risen Lord loves us with the unbelievably generous and merciful love of God.  This Holy Spirit of love empowers Christians to give of themselves in love to their spouses, children, neighbors, church and local community, the lonely, forgotten, disregarded and all those in need of help.  How do you give of yourself in love for others?

In the Gospel for Pentecost Sunday, Jesus gives his disciples the Holy Spirit.  “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ ” (John 20: 21-22).  Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on the disciples as God breathed life into Adam.  The Holy Spirit is as close to us as our breath.  This breath keeps us, the children of God, alive.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to do all good things for God, ourselves, and others.  The Spirit helps us pray, discern God’s will, care for our families, overcome addictions, protect the earth, tend to the sick, feed the hungry, befriend the outcast, and all manner of loving actions.  How can the Holy Spirit enliven you to love others?

In the Gospel for the Ascension of the Lord, Jesus commissions his disciples.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20).  Jesus commission us too.  He wants us to make disciples.  Pope Francis calls  Catholics missionary disciples.  We share the joy of Christ.  Through Christ, God loves us beyond anything we can imagine.  God loves us especially when we struggle, suffer, grieve.  Jesus is with us always.  How do you make the presence of Christ alive for others?

In the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, the Risen Lord promises the Holy Spirit to his disciples.   The Holy Spirit will make present his love for them.  In the Holy Spirit, they will enjoy a new intimate relationship with the Risen Lord.  “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (John 14: 21).  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the disciples remain in the love of Jesus when they love others as Jesus loves them.  Those who love Jesus keep his commandments to love God and neighbor.  How do you love Jesus?

In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, the Risen Lord tells his disciples he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them.      ” ‘Where I am going you know the way.’  Thomas said to him, ‘Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14: 4-7).  Jesus is more than a sign post directing us to heaven.  Jesus is the Way.  We experience the love of God through an intimate relationship with Jesus.  Jesus loves us as God loves him.  We love others as Jesus loves us.  So we love others as God loves them:  selflessly, generously, mercifully.  I have personally experienced the love of God in my marriage.  The love of my spouse reflects the love of God for me.  I strive to reflect the love of God for her.  How do you show others the way to God?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus compares himself to a sheep gate.  “I am the gate.  Whoever enters through me will be saved,  and will come in and go out and find pasture.  A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10: 9-10).  Shepherds gather their sheep at night into a protected enclosure.  Shepherds lead them through the gate which the shepherds guard until dawn.   Jesus gathers the scattered and lost.  He shows us the way to a better life.  He is our way to a more loving relationship with God and others.  He is the source of our salvation.  How has Jesus helped you find your way to living for God?  For others?