In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter, Jesus reassures his disciples they will not be alone. “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27b). Ready to return to the Father, Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit. Jesus reassures us too. Amidst the struggles of our lives, Jesus is with us. His Spirit stills our hearts and gives us courage to generously give of ourselves in love for others. For what do you need the Spirit’s reassurance?
The Reading for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter reports that “… it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26). For a life long Catholic, I am startled by this news. “Christian” is such a common name today for followers of Christ. It wasn’t obvious at the beginning. I wonder what distinguished these early disciples as followers of Christ. Love of God? Devotion to Christ? Courage in the face of opposition? Care for those in need? Commitment to non-violence? Forgiveness for enemies? I wonder what distinguishes me as a Christian. How about you?
In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter, Jesus tells the crowd, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus offers satisfaction for our deepest desires. Only our relationship to God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit satisfies the hungry heart. Following Jesus gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Giving of ourselves in loving relationships with spouses, children, friends, co-workers, the hungry, and the homeless makes a difference. We find God in the love we give and receive. How does God’s love nourish you?
The crowd in the Gospel for Monday of the Third Week of Easter asked Jesus what they had to do to please God. ” ‘What can we do to accomplish the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent’ ” (John 6:29). The crowd asks the wrong question. Salvation is about what God does for us in Jesus, not what we do for God. We do not earn God’s overwhelming love and forgiveness. Believing in Jesus means loving God as Jesus did. Loving God like Jesus means giving of ourselves to others. God works through us to accomplish the divine plan. What does God accomplish through you?
Gamaliel convinces the Sanhedrin to release the apostles in the Reading for Friday of the Second Week of Easter. “But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:39). Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done. I struggle to discern God’s will. The fruits of the Holy Spirit offer some guidance: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To the degree to which my actions bear these fruits, to that degree I am following God’s will. These fruits have lasting value. How do you discern God’s will for you?
Jesus expresses fidelity to the will of God in the Second Reading for the Solemnity of the Annunciation. "I come to do your will, O God" (Hebrews 10:9). Jesus prayed to discern God's will. He taught his disciples to pray that God's will be done. On the cross, he offered himself into the hands of God. I struggle to discern God's will let alone follow it. Often I have to trust in God's plan, even though uncertain to me. I pray for surrender to God's care. How do you discern God's will?
The Risen Lord appears to the disciples on the sea shore in the Gospel for Friday in the Octave of Easter. After an incredible catch of fish, they recognize him. “So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord’ ” (John 21: 7a). They struggle all night to fish without any success. From the seashore, Jesus guides them to the catch. Then they recognize him as the Risen Lord. I am just like the disciples. I know God is with me now because God has been with me in the past. Though I forget in the midst of my struggles. I feel abandoned by God. I realize later God was with me all the time. It is the Lord then and now. How has God been with you through your life’s struggles?
Peter preaches about the Risen Lord in the Reading for Thursday in the Octave of Easter. “God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15b). Peter acknowledges he cured the crippled man at Solomon’s Portico by the power of the Risen Lord. The cure testifies that Christ is risen. All are witnesses. Signs of the Risen Lord abound. We witness new life in Christ everyday: a patient recovering from surgery, a contact from an old friend, an expression of love from a spouse, a thank you, and more. How do you give witness that Christ is risen from the dead?
Peter cures a crippled man in the Reading for Wednesday in the Octave of Easter. He asks Peter for alms. Peter says, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk” (Acts 3:6). I can relate to Peter. I have limited resources to help those in need. My cousin needs help with the rent. My son needs a car. My brother has medical bills. I have my own financial responsibilities! Like Peter, I give what I have. In Christ I can be a source of healing. I listen to my cousin talk about her financial troubles. I help my son secure transportation. I reassure my brother that things will get better. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ has given us the gifts we need to help one another. What to do you have to give those in need?
Mary Magdalene encountered the Risen Lord in the Gospel for Tuesday in the Octave of Easter. She “went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’, and then reported what he had told her” (John 20:18). Initially Mary thinks he’s the gardener. She eventually recognizes Jesus. I clearly see Christ in those who love me. My spiritual eyesight is blurry with those who dislike me, disagree with me, or hurt me. I need God’s help to see Christ in them. How can God help you see Christ in others?