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In the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter C, Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure.  He promises to remain with them through the Holy Spirit.  He does not abandon them  The bonds of love they share cannot be broken.  “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14: 23).  Christians do not have to wait for heaven to enjoy God’s presence.  We experience the presence of God now.  I used to doubt God’s presence in my life.  I thought myself unworthy.  I didn’t know enough.  I made too many mistakes.  I struggled with anxiety.  Yet God is alive in each of us who believe.  God loves us unconditionally.  God’s love bolsters us against despair and inaction.  God wants us to use our gifts and talents for love of others.  God’s love is alive in the world through us.  How do you share God’s love with others?

 

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In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter C, Jesus commands 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 gave of himself, including his life, in love for his disciples.  He commands them to do the same.  Disciples today follow Jesus’ example in concrete gestures of love.  Christians give of themselves in love, as Pope Francis says, by “little things for Jesus”.  Feeding the hungry with food and companionship, satisfying those who thirst with water and compassion, visiting those imprisoned and those bound by addiction, forgiving those who have hurt us with unkind words, and other acts of love are works of mercy.  What “little things” do you do in love for Jesus and for others?

 

 

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter C, “Jesus said: ‘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).    I cherish my wife calling me by name.  Just hearing hear voice reassures me.  I know she loves and cares for me.  Our relationship with Jesus is as intimate.  Jesus loves and cares for those who follow him, his sheep.  When we hear the voice of Jesus, we feel the loving presence of God.  The voice of Jesus echoes through the Word of God and through one another.  His voice reassures us of God’s profound loving care and protection of us even beyond death.  How do you hear the voice of Jesus?  What difference does it make in your life?

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter, the Risen Lord feeds the apostles breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.  After a miraculous catch of fish, the disciples enjoy the seaside meal.  They recognize the Risen Lord prepared the food.  “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lamb’ ” (John 21: 15).  The Risen Lord remains present with us in the Eucharistic meal.  The real presence of Christ in bread, wine, word, priest, and people nurtures our love for others.  Nourished by the love of Christ, we nourish others with the same love.  Through the love of Christ, we satisfy those hungry for food, companionship, employment, health, and those with other physical and spiritual needs.  How do you satisfy the hungers of others?

In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter C, the Risen Lord appears to his disciples a second time.  Thomas was not there the first time.  He had refused to believe unless he saw for himself.   This time Jesus says to him, ” ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’  Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed’ ” (John 20: 29b).  Even though we have not seen Jesus in the flesh, we still believe.  At a recent Bible Study, my pastor explained that the quality of the life of a person who  believes in the Risen Lord is proof of the Resurrection.  Those who are patient in a world of suffering, sincere in a deceitful world, generous in a selfish world.  What difference does your belief in the Risen Lord make in the way you live your life?

 

 

In the Gospel for Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of the Lord, Mary of Magdala finds Jesus’ tomb empty.  She runs to tell Peter and the others.  “When Simon Peter arrived … he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.  Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20: 6-8).  Jesus is alive.  He has risen from the dead. Through the Holy Spirit Christians share in his new life.  We are witnesses of God’s love to everyone.  Our loving example may inspire others to believe.  Parents love their children.  St. Vincent de Paul volunteers serve lunch to the hungry.  Adult children care for their parents with dementia.  Engaged couples profess their love on their wedding day.  Lawmakers advocate for health care.  People risk their lives defending the poor.  How do you inspire others to believe in Jesus?

 

 

In the Gospel for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion C, Jesus suffers betrayal, persecution, and death.  Even Peter betrays Jesus.  He denies knowing Jesus three times.  “About an hour later, still another insisted, ‘Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.’  But Peter said, ‘My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.’  Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.’  He went out and began to weep bitterly (Luke 22: 59-62).  Like Peter, I have felt like a failure.  I tried to be the perfect parent.  Everytime I failed, I felt remorse.  By God’s grace I realized I was not the perfect.  Yet God stilled loved me.  As he did with Peter, Jesus looked at me with only love.  Knowing God’s forgiveness made me a better parent.  How does God’s loving forgiveness make you a better Christian?

 

In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent C, Jesus saves the life of the woman caught in adultery.  After her accusers leave, Jesus is alone with her.  “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.”  Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin any more” (John 8: 10b-11).  Jesus offers the women compassionate mercy, not vengeful condemnation.  God is crazy in love with us.  Through Jesus, God invites us into loving relationships.  God does not condemn us.  We do that ourselves by refusing God’s love.  The more I realize God’s incredible love, the more generous I am in loving others.  The more resentful, angry, afraid, and jealous I am, the more I separate myself from God and others.  When I feel hurt by my wife, I do not want to talk to her.  Remembering God’s loving mercy for me and for her, I brave a reconciliation.  In what ways does God’s forgiveness and mercy motivate you to love others?

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent C, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son.  The wayward son returns home.  His father throws a party.  The older brother resents it.  “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.  But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf” Luke 15: 29).  He was the good son.  He was loyal and hard working.  He was better than his younger brother.  He deserved more respect.  I can relate to the older brother.  I have felt superior to others.  I have been self-righteous.  My wife occasionally leaves for work with her meal on a dinner plate.  I think she should be better prepared.  I pack my lunch.  I would never do anything like that.  Yesterday morning, I left the house in a hurry.  I carried out my breakfast on a plate.  It was very convenient.  She has taught me how to creatively adapt to changing circumstances.  Today I feel humble.  How has God’s grace transformed your self-righteousness into humility?

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent C, Jesus tells the parable of the barren fig tree.  The owner wants it cut down.  The gardener asks for more time.  “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future.  If not you can cut it down” (Luke 13: 8-9).  Sin causes suffering for us and others.  Repentance is urgent.  Take heart if you have stumbled along the Christian way.  Your spiritual fig tree has some unripened fruits of love .  You can still bear much fruit.  You have time to repent.  Perhaps you have been a lazy Christian.  Your spiritual fig tree bears little the fruits of love.  You can still bear fruit.  Now is your chance.  What repentance will bear more the fruits of love in your life?