In the Gospel for Thursday in the Octave of Easter, the Risen Lord commissions his disciples. “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24: 46-48). Jesus the Risen Lord also commissions us his witnesses by virtue of our Baptism. Pope Paul VI said that people today listen more to witnesses than to teachers. If they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. I strive to teach my young adult sons by my witness of unselfish love. I try to set aside resentment when they don’t call often enough. I try to support their decisions even if I may disagree. How do you witness to the Risen Lord’s love for you? for others?
In the Gospel for Wednesday in the Octave of Easter, the Risen Lord accompanies two disciples on the road to Emmaus. “As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24: 29-31). The disciples return home from Jerusalem dejected. Jesus the Nazarene has not met their expectations. They do not recognize the stranger accompanying them as Jesus. Along the way, they talk with the stranger about the crucifixion and death. Jesus explains the true meaning of these events in God’s plan. They still do not recognize him as the Risen Lord. When they get home, the disciples invite the stranger to stay for dinner. Through their act of hospitality, they finally recognize him. The Risen Lord is present when we welcome others, especially the stranger, in peace and love. The disciples inspire me to be more hospitable to people who are estranged. Visiting a grieving friend, getting to know to an immigrant family, praying for an alienated sibling, and other gestures of hospitality help us recognize the Risen Lord with us. How are you hospitable to those who are alienated?
In the Gospel for Tuesday in the Octave of Easter, Jesus speaks outside the empty tomb to Mary of Magdalene. “But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary went and announced to the disciples, I have seen the Lord,’ and then reported what he had told her” (John 20: 17b-18). Mary encounters the Risen Lord. She experiences his new life in a profound way. Easter is a celebration of new life in Christ. I have experienced this new life. On Easter Sunday I saw my pregnant niece for the first time. On Good Friday my brother shared good news about his recovery. How have you experienced new life in Christ?
In the Gospel for Wednesday of Holy Week, Jesus confronts Judas, his betrayer. “‘Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely it is not I, Lord?’ He said in reply, ‘He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me’ … Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He answered, ‘You have said so'” (Matthew 26: 21b-23, 25). After spending three years with the disciples, Jesus knows them intimately. Jesus knows who is his betrayer. Yet Jesus still loves him. Jesus knows us intimately too. He loves us without condition. He knows when we have followed his example of love. He also knows when we have betrayed his love. For what betrayal do you seek God’s forgiveness?
In the Gospel for Monday of Holy Week, Jesus dines with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. “Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (John 12: 3). Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are close friends of Jesus. Mary spares no expense to show Jesus hospitality. A good host in First Century Palestine welcomed guests by washing and anointing their feet. The feet of the guests get dirty and sore after walking the dusty roads. Mary used the best oil in the house. Good friends share generously with one another. I like to cook my best dish or share my vintage wine with my special guests. Mary is a Christian witness for us. She gives all she has for Jesus. Friends of Jesus share generously with others, especially those in need. How good is your friendship with Jesus?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Jesus defends himself again those who want to stone him. “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (John 10: 37-38). Jesus asks why they object to his good works. They accuse him of claiming to be God. He replies that his good works testify to his intimate union with God. Jesus’ works do good because he does them by God’s authority. The things we do for others are good because we do them for God, not for ourselves. How has God accomplished good things for others through you?
In the Gospel for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Jesus promises those who keep his word will never experience death. His detractors challenge his authority to speak for God. Jesus contrasts his intimate relationship with God to theirs. “You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word” (John 8: 55). Jesus knows God desires life for all. Jesus honors God by restoring people to physical and spiritual life. He heals the blind man and raises Lazarus from the dead. He honors the Samaritan woman and forgives the woman caught in adultery. By God’s grace, we can restore life to those in pain with a prayer, a visit, loving compassion, and more. What does Jesus want you to do to help someone you know who is suffering?
In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Jesus argues with those who seek his life. “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this” (John 8: 39b-40). Those who are true children of Abraham claim God as their Father. Those who claim God as their Father, believe Jesus is the one sent from God. Their love of Jesus brings a new relationship with God. We love God when we love like Jesus. Jesus wants us to love even our enemies. Jesus speaks for God. How well are you listening?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Jesus reveals himself as Lord. “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him” (John 8: 28-29). Some who disbelieve plot his crucifixion. The crucifixion is a sign of Jesus’ union with God. So God does not abandon Jesus on the cross. God continues through the Risen Lord to accompany us in our suffering. God does not leave us alone. I am struggling with a painful family separation. I am relying on God’s healing power for me and my family. How does God accompany you in your struggles? How do accompany others?
In the Gospel for Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Jesus is teaching in the Temple. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8: 12). Jesus challenges the complacency of his Jewish listeners. They believed Jerusalem and the Temple the light to all nations in God’s reign. Jesus wants them to see things differently. He wants them to focus on what really matters to God. He is the light that shows the way to God. He inaugurates the reign of God by his unconditional love, even to death. How can Jesus help you see more clearly God’s love in your life?