In the Gospel for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, 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).  Following Jesus isn’t easy.  The demands of loving God and neighbor are endless.  Jesus promises rest for those who carry the burdens of their lives with love.  Cooking for one’s family every day.  Taking a spouse to dialysis twice a week.  Staying in touch with a mentally ill relative.  How are your burdens lighter when done with love?

In the Gospel for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Jesus reassures his disciples of God’s care for them when persecuted.  “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”  (Matthew 10: 29-31).  Jesus tells them that nothing happens unnoticed by God, even the death of a sparrow.  How much more, then, does God take care of us when we suffer.  Jesus wants us to trust in God’s loving care when we struggle with day to day challenges, worry about catching the coronavirus, make ends meet on unemployment, advocate for racial justice, and more.  Do you trust in God’s providential care for you? Why?  Why not?

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ A, Jesus tells the crowds “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: 51a).  The Risen Christ remains with us in the Eucharist as living bread.  When we receive Eucharist the Risen Christ is in us and we in him.  As St. Therese of Avila prays, we are Christ’s body now.  We are his eyes, his hands, his feet, his love.  We are living bread for others when we see with eyes of respect those who are different from us.  When we volunteer at a food pantry to hand out food to the unemployed or underemployed.  When we walk across the street to check on a homebound neighbor.  How are you living bread for others?

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity A, Jesus explains to Nicodemus that “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” (John 3: 18).  God wants everyone to be saved.  We condemn ourselves by not believing in Jesus, by not accepting his gift of salvation.  We choose life, eternal life, by loving God and loving others.  We live our lives for God now so we may live with God forever in eternity.  Living our lives for God means acknowledging we are children of God; caring for our families and friends; forgiving those who have hurt us; accompanying those effected by COVID 19; and advocating for racial justice, income equality, and healthcare for all.  How do you demonstrate your faith in Jesus?

In the Gospel for Pentecost Sunday, the Risen Lord bestows the Holy Spirit on his disciples.  “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  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: 21b-22).  Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit is like God breathing life into Adam and Eve.  The Holy Spirit, the breath of God, creates and sustains the Church.  Through the Holy Spirit God recreates us every day.  God breathes new life into us.  God breathes hope into a worker furloughed by COVID 19 when a neighbor drops off groceries.  God breathes comfort into a daughter grieving the death of her mother from COVID 19 when a friend cries with her.  God breathes trust in the COVID 19 patient when he recovers with the help of the nurses and doctors at the hospital.  How is God breathing new life into you?  How are you breathing new life into others?

In the Gospel for The Ascension of the Lord A (May 24, 2020), 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).  In Baptism, Jesus commissions us.  What are you commissioned to do?

In the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter A, Jesus promises his disciples he will remain with them always.  “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him.  But you know him, because he remains with you,  and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14: 15-18).  During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to believe that God is with us.  Yet God is with us in the hospital workers who care for the sick, business owners who keep the grocery stores open, sons and daughters who visit their parents on Zoom.  God is within us too, empowering us to love others through this pandemic.  How is God with you?

In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter A, Jesus prepares his disciples at their last supper for his crucifixion and death.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14: 1-3).  The disciples are afraid of separation from Jesus.  They do not want to lose him.  Jesus reassures them they will not suffer separation for long.  He will remain with them.  Jesus remains with us through the pandemic.  We recognize Jesus in the grocery clerks who sell us food, in the family members who check in on one another, in the volunteers who staff food pantries, in those at home praying for an end to the pandemic.  How does the Risen Lord reassure you?  How do you reassure others of God’s love?

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Easter A, Jesus identifies himself as the Sheepgate.  “I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  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 10:7-10).  Jesus is the door to God.  Through him we cross the threshold to a loving relationship with God.  Every day we choose to follow the way of Jesus or the way of the world.  We choose to selflessly lover others or to selfishly love ourselves.  Which gate do you choose?

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter A, “two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.  And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (Luke 24:13-15).  The disciples were returning home after the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  They were dejected.  Jesus did not meet their expectations.  They expected Jesus to deliver Israel from Roman domination.  Instead the Romans executed him.  Their expectations kept them from recognizing the stranger as the Risen Lord.  They finally recognized him “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35b).  What expectations keep you from recognizing the presence of the Risen Lord in your life?