In the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Jesus talks about the rewards of discipleship. Peter wants to know the benefits of following Jesus. Jesus replies, “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Mark 10: 31). Jesus’ answer is counter intuitive. How can the last be first? Jesus tells the disciples and us that the rewards of discipleship are greater than any of the challenges. Parents know the blessings of children no matter their sacrifices. Spouses know their love for one another through their struggles. Hospice workers know the comfort they bring to the dying and their families. How do you experience the rewards of discipleship?
In the Gospel for Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter, Jesus promises his disciples peace and encourages them to remain faithful to God. “But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16: 32b-33). God is with Jesus. Jesus is God with us. We are with God in Jesus. We are Christ for others. We care for our children. We keep vigil for a dying parent. We pray for those who are hungry. We befriend those who are different from us. We are not alone. How do you accompany others in times of need?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter, Jesus tells his disciples about his departure and return. He comforts them with the reassurance of his return. “So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (John 16: 22). Jesus compares them to a woman in labor. She does not remember the pain when her child is born. So too the joy of the return of Jesus will overshadow their grief at his departure. Jesus reassures us too. Jesus’ presence in our lives gives us joy in the midst of suffering. God’s love for us in Jesus strengthens us in times of trouble. Jesus comforts those who pray through their chemotherapy, accompanies those who struggle with addiction, blesses those who parent alone. When do you experience the God’s joy?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter, Jesus comforts his grieving disciples. “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16: 6-7). Jesus prepares the disciples for the time he will not be with them. Aware of the disciples grief over the news of his departure, Jesus explains why he has to go. The Holy Spirit needs to come and be with them. We can relate to the disciples’ grief. They are losing their beloved friend. When the Spirit comes, they will experience Jesus with them in a new way. Through the Spirit, Jesus is with us today in new and powerful ways. An unexpected kindness, a forgiving gesture, a beautiful sunset, a change of heart, an act of selfless love, and more are evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How do you experience the presence of the Holy Spirit?
In the Gospel for Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit as witness. “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15: 26-27). Jesus commissions them to testify. He is sending the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will aid the disciples in preaching Jesus as the Son of God. The disciples can proclaim the truth about Jesus even in the face of opposition. Jesus requires us to testify. We testify by our loving words and deeds. The Holy Spirit helps us testify even when difficult. We are empowered to speak kind words to those who hurt us. Forgive those who are hard to forgive. Care for those who try our patience. Share our food with the hungry. Advocate for legislation that promotes human dignity. How do you testify?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter, Jesus speaks intimately to his disciples. “You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father” (John 15: 14-15). The disciples are friends of Jesus. So are we. Jesus has great love for his friends. Jesus accepts us as we are, forgives our failings, helps us in need, and challenges us to be better persons. Jesus invites us into his circle of loving relationships. Friends of Jesus are friends with God. Friends of Jesus love others like Jesus loves them. How are you friends with Jesus?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter, Jesus reassures his disciples. He promises the Holy Spirit after his departure. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14: 27). Jesus gives us God’s peace. We live in peace with God through Jesus. We live in peace in the midst of conflicts, struggles, worries, and all of life’s downs and ups. Living in peace gives us hope. We live in peace loving others as God loves us. We live in peace with the assurance of God’s loving care for us no matter what. How do you live in God’s peace?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter, Jesus identifies himself as the way to the Father. “Thomas said to him, ‘Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ ” (John 14: 6). Jesus is our way to God. He is more than our guide. Our relationship with Jesus is a relationship with God. Our relationship with Jesus in Baptism is the way we share in God’s love. God’s love empowers us to love as Jesus loves. In God’s love we experience abundant life on earth and in heaven. How do you experience living in God’s love?