With her cousin Elizabeth, Mary magnifies God in the Gospel for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “The Almighty has done great things for me … [he]has lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1: 51-52). Mary rejoices that God has lifted up such a simple and poor young women like herself as the mother of Jesus. God continues to lift up the lowly. He lifts those weighed down by illness, unemployment, hunger, loneliness, grief and other heavy burdens. As God lifts our burdens so we must lift others. How are you lifting up the lowly?
In the Reading for Wednesday of the Eight Week of Easter, Peter advises the early Christians to “love one another intensely from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1: 22). Peter wants us to do likewise. How do we love deeply from the heart? Follow Jesus’ example. Jesus wants us to “be the [servants] of all” (Mark 10: 45). So serve others from a generous heart. Attend to their needs without expectations. Love with “joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5: 22). How do you love others like Jesus?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15). Peter replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” (John 21:15). Jesus says, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15). I imagine Jesus asking me the same question. I would answer “Yes”. Then I have to “feed the lambs. If I really love Jesus, I have to care for others as he does. What’s your answer?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter, Jesus prays for his disciples after he is gone. He has given them everything they need, everything the Father gave him. “They know that everything you gave me is from you” (John 17: 7). Our attitude must be Christ’s. God is the source of all good things. God lavishly bestows on us through Christ every blessing. God wants us to love others in the same way. God wants us to love like Christ. How do you acknowledge God’s blessings?
Jesus comforts his disciples in the Gospel for Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter. At his last supper with them, the disciples worried about him. He reassures them with his confidence in God’s help. “I am not alone, because the Father is with me ” (John 16: 32). On Pentecost, we celebrate the dwelling of his Holy Spirit in our hearts and in the world. We are not alone because Jesus is with us. His presence comforts me. With his grace, I celebrate my blessings and persevere in my difficulties. When do you experience the presence of Jesus in your life?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter, Jesus promises his disciples their grief will become joy. Jesus promises us the same. How can grief become joy? Jesus accompanies those who suffer a loss of any kind. He knows our pain. His healing support shared through those who love us gets us through the grief. Assurance of the love of God and others in tough times gives us hope. Hope engenders real and lasting joy. How can Jesus help you grieve?
In the First Reading for the Solemnity of the Ascension, Jesus promises his disciples the Holy Spirit. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1: 8). Ascension and Pentecost have already happened. Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit. Through Baptism, the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian. The Spirit empowers you and me to witness to God’s love for all. I don’t always feel empowered. I have the gifts. I need to use them. I pray for the grace to love the way I should. How can the Spirit empower you?
In the Gospel for the Feast of Saint Matthias the Apostle, Jesus is very clear about his expectations for his disciples. “This I command you: love one another” (John 15: 17). Jesus expects the same of us. As a Catholic, I rely on God’s revelation through the Bible and the teachings of the Church. Jesus is the fulfillment of this revelation. He commands me to love others. I try everyday. How about you?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter, Jesus describes the depth of love he asks of his disciples. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15: 13). Jesus is willing to lay down his life for those he loves, his Father and his disciples. Jesus asks us to do the same. Any loving self sacrifice is losing one’s life. I “lose my life” when I place the interests of others – my spouse, children, a lonely neighbor, a mentally ill friend, an unemployed parishioner, or any one in need – before my own. How do you “lay down” your life for your friends?
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you” (John 15: 9) Jesus tells his disciples in the Gospel for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter. He loves them as God loves them. Jesus loves us the same. He shows us the way to God by following his example of selfless love for those in need. To what act of love does Jesus’ love inspire you?