In the Gospel for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Jesus has just washed the feet of his disciples. “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it” (John 13:16). Jesus exhorts his disciples to follow his example. As he serves them, so too must they serve others. Jesus compares himself to the master and sender. The disciples are the slave and messenger. The master and slave are the same in loving service others. So too the sender and messenger. We are today’s slaves and messengers of Christ. He expects us to humbly serve others. How do you wash others’ feet?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Jesus testifies that he is the agent of God. “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.” Jesus preaches, teaches, and works miracles on the authority of God. By the grace of Baptism, Jesus gives us the authority to do good works for God. Jesus charges us with the responsibility to share God’s love in word and deed. Like Jesus, Christians are agents of God. We do God’s work. A parent who cares for a sick child. An adult child who cares for a parent suffering from dementia. A volunteer who writes a letter to a prison inmate. A church group who writes letters to their legislators for laws that promote human dignity. How do you work for God?
In the Reading for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Barnabas visits the Christian community in Antioch. “When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11: 23-24a). Barnabas encourages the Christians of Antioch to remain steadfast in their devotion to God. Christians today need this encouragement too. The challenges we face in our lives can discourage us. We struggle with doubts, illness, insecurities, injustices, and more that weaken our resolve to follow God’s will. Barnabas urges us to hold on especially during times of trouble to our relationship with Jesus. Jesus is the icon of God’s fidelity to us no matter what, even death! What helps you remain devoted to God?
In the Gospel for Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Jesus compare himself to the shepherd’s gate. “But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10: 3). The gate gives the shepherd access to the sheep. Jesus is our access to God. He invites us into a loving relationship with God and others by following his example. Other noises distract us from hearing this invitation. Fear, anxiety, illness, self righteousness, jealousy, and other distractions can deafen us to the voice of Christ. How can God help you better hear the voice of Christ?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Second Week of Easter, Jesus feeds 5000. “When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.’ So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat” (John 6: 12-13). Jesus is the Bread of Life who satisfies us beyond our expectations. He nourishes us with God’s loving kindness. He satisfies our hearts desires. He fortifies us in times of trouble. He fuels our love for others. He sweetens our experiences of life. He sustains us in love in this life and in the next. How does Jesus satisfy your spiritual hungers?
In the Gospel for Thursday of the Second Week of Easter, Jesus testifies that he speaks for God. “Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit” (John 3: 33-34). Jesus testifies to the incredibly generous love of God. Jesus words and deeds demonstrate God’s love. Jesus ate with sinners. Jesus healed the sick. Jesus told stories about God’s forgiveness. Jesus trusted God would not abandon him in his suffering and death. Through those who believe, Jesus continues to demonstrate God’s overwhelming love. A neighbor helps a single mother make ends meet. A brother reaches out to his distraught sister. A parish raises money to defray the medical costs of one of its members. A mother of a shooting victim forgives her child’s killer. How do you inspire others to trust in God?
In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter, God sends the Son to give life. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3: 16). Those who believe in Jesus have eternal life. Christians have reason to hope. In Christ we share God’s life now and forever. Our lives have purpose. We are destined for God. We are steadfast in love for God. We bear other’s pain for God. We give of ourselves for God. Whatever we do, we do for God. Whatever we do has value. Our lives matter for God. How does God’s promise of eternal life give you hope?
In the Reading for Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter, Luke describes the early Church. “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4: 32). Inspired by their mutual love for the Risen Lord, the early Christians generously shared what they had with those in need. The Risen Lord wants us to do the same in our families, churches, and communities. In Christ we are all of “one heart and mind”. Parents provide for their children. Friends spend time supporting one another in times of crises. Churches host mercy meals for the bereaved. St. Vincent de Paul Societies organize food pantries for the hungry. In what way(s) do you share what you have with those in need.
In the Gospel for Monday of the Second Week of Easter, Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born from above. “Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8). Jesus tells Nicodemus he must profess faith in him as the one from above, the source of God’s Spirit. Jesus compares God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to the wind. We hear the wind. We feel it’s breeze. We see it in the rustle of leaves. We cannot see from where it comes or to where it is going. The Holy Spirit is like the wind. We hear the Holy Spirit in a word of affirmation. We feel the Holy Spirit in the warmth of a loving embrace. We see the Holy Spirit in the mother who stays up all night with a sick child. How is the Holy Spirit moving in your life?
In the Gospel for Friday in the Octave of Easter, the Risen Lord appears to the disciples on the seashore. After a miraculous catch of fish, “Jesus said to them, ‘Come, have breakfast.’ And none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish” (John 21: 12-13). When Jesus blesses, breaks, and distributes the bread, the disciples recognize him. Christ is still present in the breaking of bread at Eucharist. He is also present at other meals. Christ is present wherever two or three are gathered in his name. We struggle to recognize him at Eucharist in those whom we do not like, including ourselves sometimes. At a family meal, we struggle to recognize him in our spouse with whom we have quarreled, the in law who makes crude jokes, the cousin who is addicted to alcohol, the estranged sibling who is not there, the homeless person who has no one to share a meal, and others. When have you recognized Jesus at a meal?