In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus tells his disciples to love one another. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 34-35). Jesus is our model for our love for one another. Jesus is compassionate, merciful, and forgiving no matter what. Risen from the dead, he offers peace to the disciples who had abandoned him. Jesus wants us to continue loving others even if it is hard to do. I pray for my estranged sibling. I check in on a reclusive relative. I commiserated with my wife when she lost her job. How do you love others with compassion, mercy, and forgiveness?
In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, speaks tenderly about his sheep. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand” (John 10: 27-28). Jesus identifies himself as the shepherd whom God has sent to care for the people. His followers know his true identity and believe. I know my wife’s voice. I recognize her as my trustworthy and caring life partner. I also hear the loving care of God in her voice. Who speaks the loving care of God to you? You to others?
In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter, the Risen Lord appears a to the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. After a miraculous catch of fish, the disciples come ashore. They find Jesus cooking fish and bread over a charcoal fire. “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). The disciples recognize Jesus in the meal. The Risen Lord continues to satisfies the physical and spiritual hungers of his disciples. The Risen Lord satisfies our hungry hearts with the love of a spouse, the kindness of a stranger, the counseling from a therapist, the Eucharist, and more. How do you satisfy the hungry hearts of others?
In the Gospel for Friday of the Second Week of Easter, Jesus feeds the five thousand with five barley loaves and two fish. Miraculously there were leftovers. “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). The crowd was amazed. God’s mercy is like this abundance of food. There is no end to God’s mercy. The Risen Lord showed incredible mercy to his disciples after they abandoned him at the cross. Jesus is willing to share God’s overwhelming mercy with us too. Like the disciples, we fail in our relationships with God and others. We say something hurtful. We are self-preoccupied. We ignore the needs of others. Jesus is ready to welcome us back into the loving embrace of God. For what do you need God’s incredible mercy? Who needs mercy from you?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of John Baptist de la Salle, Jesus testifies that he speaks God’s words. “But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.” (John 3: 32-34b). God loves Jesus. Jesus loves us. Jesus gives us the Spirit to inspire our love for God and for others. My trust in my wife’s love bore the fruit of three beautiful sons. My trust in God especially at times of trouble has deepened my love for God and others. How does your trust in God help you love yourself? Others?
In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter, the Evangelist testifies that Jesus is the light of the world. “The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (John 1: 3: 19-21). Jesus shines the light of God’s loving mercy on us. Standing in this radiant love, we are better able to be honest about our failings. Denial prolongs the pain. Honesty about our personal failings is important for healing. Jesus shines God’s love on us through a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a support group, a priest, and others who accept and love us in spite of our failings. How do you experience the light of the merciful love of Jesus? How do you share it with others?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter, Jesus speaks with Nicodemus. “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: 7b-8). Jesus challenges Nicodemus to accept him as the source of God’s life. Faith in Jesus is rebirth in the spirit of God. Unless Nicodemus is born again, he will not share in God’s eternal life. By our Baptism, we are reborn everyday day as children of God. My young adult sons mirror some of our family’s Catholic Christian values. One son welcomes persons different from him. Another cares about his students. Another works in public service. How are you reborn as a child of God?
In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1: 35). By the power of the Holy Spirit Mary conceived Jesus, our Lord. New life began to stir in her womb. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the new life of Christ dwells in us too. We are bearers of the good news of God’s merciful love to others. Comforting a friend who whose mother has died, supporting a neighbor who had to “put her pet down”, feeding someone who needs a good home cooked meal are among the many ways to bear the good news of Jesus to others. How do you share God’s merciful love?
In the Gospel for Friday in the Octave of Easter, the Risen Lord appears a third time to his disciples. After a miraculous catch of fish, the disciples come ashore. They find Jesus cooking fish and bread over a charcoal fire. “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). The disciples recognize Jesus in the meal. The Risen Lord continues to satisfies the physical and spiritual hungers of his disciples. The Risen Lord satisfies our hungry hearts with the love of a spouse, the kindness of a stranger, the counseling from a therapist, the Eucharist, and more. How do you satisfy the hungry hearts of others?