In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, 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” (Matthew 28: 19-20a).  God sent Jesus on a mission to create a new covenant relationship of love with God’s people.  Jesus’ mission is God’s mission.  Jesus entrusted his mission to his disciples.  Through Baptism, Jesus gives us authority to make disciples in God’s name.  Disciples love others into discipleship.  How do you demonstrate you are on a mission from Jesus to love others in God’s name?

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In the Gospel for Pentecost Sunday,  Jesus gives his disciples the Holy Spirit to carry out his mission.  ” ‘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.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained’ ” (John 20: 21b-23).   As God breathed life into Adam, Jesus breathes eternal life into his disciples.   God recreates us through Jesus.  Our new life empowers us to forgive ourselves and one another.  I tried to be a good Catholic by doing all the right things.  I felt like a failure.   Then I realized God loves me even if I fail.  This experience of God’s loving forgiveness made me more compassionate towards myself.  I also became more compassionate towards others who struggled to do the right thing.  How has God breathed into you the new life of forgiveness?  How have you breathed it into others?

In the Gospel for the Ascension of the Lord, Jesus commissions his disciples to proclaim the gospel everywhere.  “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover”  Mark 16: 17-18).   Jesus empowers his disciples to preach and heal in his name.  He reassures them of God’s protection from danger.  God will protect them from poisonous snakes and any physical harm.  Jesus empowers all the baptized to act in his name.  He assures us of God’s loving protection.  I have hesitated in loving others.  I have been poisoned by the fear of rejection, pain, and other negative personal consequences.  The power of Jesus encourages me to keep on loving others anyway.  God will protect me from harm.   When have you taken a risk in loving others?  How has God protected you?

In the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Jesus calls his disciples friends.  “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15: 12-13).  Jesus deeply loved his disciples.  He would do anything for them.  He gave his life for them.  His friends, disciples then and now, follow his example of self-sacrificing love.  Parents dedicate their lives to their children.  Spouses share their lives with one another.  Some grandparents raise grandchildren in their retirement.  St. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life for a fellow Nazi concentration camp inmate.  What self-sacrifices do you make for your beloved friends in Christ?

In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus reassures his disciples of his abiding love and care for them.  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” John 15: 5).  Jesus wants his disciples then and now to stay close to him.  He wants us to know how much God loves us.  He wants us to love others as God has loved us.  Attached to the true vine of Christ, Christians live a life in love with God and others.  Bearing the fruit of God’s love makes a difference.  Sorrow for a granddaughter estranged from her family.  Grief for a recently widowed friend.  Intervention for an addicted family member.  Financial assistance for a single mother.  Lives lived in love with God bear much fruit.  How does God’s love for you bear fruit in the lives of others?

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd.  “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10: 14-15).  The relationship of a shepherd and the sheep is like the relationship between Jesus and God’s people.  A shepherd risks his life defending the sheep from wolves.  Jesus offers his life for others in willing obedience to God.  Jesus so loves God and God him.  Jesus cares for God’s people as much as God does.  Jesus gives everything, including his life, for those God loves.  His death and resurrection reveal how deeply God loves us.  Do you know how much God loves you?  Do others know how much you love them?

In the the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter, Jesus appears to the disciples after his Resurrection.  “He stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  Then he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, hat it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have’ ” (Luke 24: 36-39).  The disciples were scared.  They may also have felt guilty about abandoning Jesus.  Jesus reassures them by identifying himself.  Though crucified, he is alive.  He gave them the peace of forgiveness.  Jesus is still alive and among us.  He forgive us too.   Sometimes I am troubled by the mistakes I made as a parent.  I remember when I yelled at my oldest boy for dropping and breaking a jar of olive oil on the garage floor.  He was only helping me carry in the groceries from the car.  I worry about the hurt I may have caused him.  I am praying for forgiveness from God and my son.  How have you been forgiven for the troubles you have caused others?  How have you forgiven others for the troubles they have caused you?

In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter, Thomas meets the Risen Lord.  He was absent the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection.  “So [they]  said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’  But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe’ ” (John 20: 25).  Thomas, the Doubter, had to see for himself the wounds of Jesus.  Then he believed Jesus had risen from the dead.  He refused to acknowledge the Risen Lord without his wounds.  Christians sometimes forget that there is no resurrection without the cross.  We want to avoid pain.  Yet we all are wounded.  We bear the nail marks of addiction, divorce, loneliness, poverty, economic hardship, abuse, and life’s other hurts.  Acknowledging the wounds of the Risen Lord give us hope that God is saving us from ours.  From what life wounds do you need to be saved?

In the Gospel for Easter Sunday, Mary Madgala found the tomb of Jesus empty.  The Beloved Disciple and Peter soon followed.  “When Simon Peter arrived after him [Beloved Disciple], 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 [Beloved] also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20: 6-8).  The Beloved Disciple is a model of faith in the Risen Lord.  Looking into the Empty Tomb, he knows Jesus is alive again in a new way.  Following his example, Christians continue to experience Christ alive.  Whenever Christians gather for Eucharist, Christ is there.  Whenever a new mother kisses her infant, Christ is there.  Whenever a recovering addict visits with a sponsor, Christ is there.  Whenever a neighbor accompanies  a friend to chemotherapy, Christ is there?  Whenever a voter lobbies the legislature for immigration reform, Christ is there?  Where do you see Christ alive in your life?

 

 

In the Gospel for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Jesus undergoes his arrest, trial, crucifixion and death.  Everyone abandons him.  His disciples flee at his arrest.  Peter denies him.  The Sanhedrin want him dead.  Trial witnesses five false testimony.  Passersby at his crucifixion taunt him.  Jesus even feels like God has abandoned him.  “At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at three  o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15: 33-34).  God did not abandon Jesus.  God raised him from the dead.  Anyone suffering can relate to Jesus.  A widow or widower at home alone.  An addict alienated from family and friends.  A convict isolated from loved ones.  A terminal cancer patient despairing of God’s help.  A bullied teenager afraid and depressed.  God does not abandon us.  With faith in our Risen Lord, we have confidence God is with us no matter what.  How do you sustain confidence in a loving God when you feel forsaken?