In the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Jesus calls his disciples friends.  “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15: 12-13).  Jesus deeply loved his disciples.  He would do anything for them.  He gave his life for them.  His friends, disciples then and now, follow his example of self-sacrificing love.  Parents dedicate their lives to their children.  Spouses share their lives with one another.  Some grandparents raise grandchildren in their retirement.  St. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life for a fellow Nazi concentration camp inmate.  What self-sacrifices do you make for your beloved friends in Christ?

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In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus reassures his disciples of his abiding love and care for them.  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” John 15: 5).  Jesus wants his disciples then and now to stay close to him.  He wants us to know how much God loves us.  He wants us to love others as God has loved us.  Attached to the true vine of Christ, Christians live a life in love with God and others.  Bearing the fruit of God’s love makes a difference.  Sorrow for a granddaughter estranged from her family.  Grief for a recently widowed friend.  Intervention for an addicted family member.  Financial assistance for a single mother.  Lives lived in love with God bear much fruit.  How does God’s love for you bear fruit in the lives of others?

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd.  “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10: 14-15).  The relationship of a shepherd and the sheep is like the relationship between Jesus and God’s people.  A shepherd risks his life defending the sheep from wolves.  Jesus offers his life for others in willing obedience to God.  Jesus so loves God and God him.  Jesus cares for God’s people as much as God does.  Jesus gives everything, including his life, for those God loves.  His death and resurrection reveal how deeply God loves us.  Do you know how much God loves you?  Do others know how much you love them?

In the the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter, Jesus appears to the disciples after his Resurrection.  “He stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  Then he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, hat it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have’ ” (Luke 24: 36-39).  The disciples were scared.  They may also have felt guilty about abandoning Jesus.  Jesus reassures them by identifying himself.  Though crucified, he is alive.  He gave them the peace of forgiveness.  Jesus is still alive and among us.  He forgive us too.   Sometimes I am troubled by the mistakes I made as a parent.  I remember when I yelled at my oldest boy for dropping and breaking a jar of olive oil on the garage floor.  He was only helping me carry in the groceries from the car.  I worry about the hurt I may have caused him.  I am praying for forgiveness from God and my son.  How have you been forgiven for the troubles you have caused others?  How have you forgiven others for the troubles they have caused you?

In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter, Thomas meets the Risen Lord.  He was absent the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection.  “So [they]  said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’  But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe’ ” (John 20: 25).  Thomas, the Doubter, had to see for himself the wounds of Jesus.  Then he believed Jesus had risen from the dead.  He refused to acknowledge the Risen Lord without his wounds.  Christians sometimes forget that there is no resurrection without the cross.  We want to avoid pain.  Yet we all are wounded.  We bear the nail marks of addiction, divorce, loneliness, poverty, economic hardship, abuse, and life’s other hurts.  Acknowledging the wounds of the Risen Lord give us hope that God is saving us from ours.  From what life wounds do you need to be saved?

In the Gospel for Easter Sunday, Mary Madgala found the tomb of Jesus empty.  The Beloved Disciple and Peter soon followed.  “When Simon Peter arrived after him [Beloved Disciple], 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 [Beloved] also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20: 6-8).  The Beloved Disciple is a model of faith in the Risen Lord.  Looking into the Empty Tomb, he knows Jesus is alive again in a new way.  Following his example, Christians continue to experience Christ alive.  Whenever Christians gather for Eucharist, Christ is there.  Whenever a new mother kisses her infant, Christ is there.  Whenever a recovering addict visits with a sponsor, Christ is there.  Whenever a neighbor accompanies  a friend to chemotherapy, Christ is there?  Whenever a voter lobbies the legislature for immigration reform, Christ is there?  Where do you see Christ alive in your life?

 

 

In the Gospel for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Jesus undergoes his arrest, trial, crucifixion and death.  Everyone abandons him.  His disciples flee at his arrest.  Peter denies him.  The Sanhedrin want him dead.  Trial witnesses five false testimony.  Passersby at his crucifixion taunt him.  Jesus even feels like God has abandoned him.  “At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at three  o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15: 33-34).  God did not abandon Jesus.  God raised him from the dead.  Anyone suffering can relate to Jesus.  A widow or widower at home alone.  An addict alienated from family and friends.  A convict isolated from loved ones.  A terminal cancer patient despairing of God’s help.  A bullied teenager afraid and depressed.  God does not abandon us.  With faith in our Risen Lord, we have confidence God is with us no matter what.  How do you sustain confidence in a loving God when you feel forsaken?

In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Jesus announces the hour has come to glorify God through his suffering and death.  “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?  ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name” (John 12: 27-28a).  Suffering is a sad fact of life.  It can lead to anguish and despair.  Jesus experienced suffering and death.  God raised him from death to eternal life.  Faith in the Risen Lord gives hope to the suffering.  With the loving compassion of God, the Risen Lord accompanies us in our suffering and in our death.  Through the Risen Lord, Christians anticipate life with God after death.  I look forward to joining my deceased parents, grandparents, in-laws, relatives, and friends who are living with God.  This hope helps me bear my suffering and grief and that of others.  How does your faith in the Risen Lord help you in times of suffering?

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent Cycle B, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about salvation.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 16).  Through Christ, God desires salvation for everyone.  God’s grace is a gift.  We enjoy God’s grace simply because God loves us.  God wants us to accept the love of Christ and show our gratitude in loving others.  Sometimes I doubt God loves me even with all my faults.  Maybe it is easier to feel bad about myself than feel the pain of those who suffer from an addiction, a broken marriage, an act of violence, homelessness, hunger, imprisonment, and other sorrows of the human condition.  God loves the world through us.  How do you share God’s love with your family? Your community? Our world?

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent Cycle B, Jesus cleanses the Temple. The merchants wanted a sign to explain his actions. Jesus obliged. “ ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’  The Jews said, ‘This Temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?’  But he was speaking about the temple of his body.  Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this” (John 2: 19-22). As members of the Body of Christ, Christians are temples too. God dwelled in the Temple in Jerusalem. God dwells in Jesus, the New Temple. The Holy Spirit of Jesus dwells in us. I find it hard to believe that God is alive in me. I don’t always act like it. Yet Christ dwelling in me makes me holy. I am grateful for Christ’s love for me in spite of my shortcomings and sins. Christ’s love in my heart empowers me to love others. How are you a temple in which God’s love dwells?