Friday, May 18, 2018

"Do You Love Me?" Jesus Asks Us

In today's Gospel, John 21: 15-19, Jesus, after preparing breakfast for the apostles and eating with them, says to Peter:  "'Simon Peter, 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 lambs.' He then said to Simon Peter a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do pi love me?' Simon Peter answered him, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Tend my sheep.' He said to him a third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?'  Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, 'Do you love?' ad her said to him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.' Jesus said ti him, 'Feed my sheep....'"

Jesus is not only asking Peter whether he loves him but he is also asking us that question, not once but many times as we journey through any given day: "Dorothy Ann (insert your name),  do you love me?"  And I think, He adds: "Then, act as though you do in how you respond to difficult situations, in the way that you meet a challenge. Show me your love as you tend to those with whom you live and work!"  If you are married, I think Jesus asks you to tend to your wife/husband, to your children or grandchildren, to your in-laws.  "Show me that you love me in how you speak to others, in how you pitch in to help one another, in how you go the extra mile and not find excuses to not get off the couch!"  "Do you love me?"


Thursday, May 17, 2018

One with Jesus and the Father

In today's Gospel, John 17: 20-26,  Jesus says to the Father:  "I have given them--you and me--the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me." Let us personalize Jesus' statement to read:  Father, "I have given  [Dorothy Ann]-- (your name)--the glory you gave me." What glory? The glory of being one with Jesus, as Jesus and the Father are one with one another. Jesus explains to the Father why He is asking that you or I be one with Him:  "[T]hat [Dorothy Ann--insert your name] may be one, as we are one, I in [her] and you in me, that [she] may be brought to perfection as one [with me],  that the world may know that you sent me, and you love [her] even as you loved me."

If you are married, I encourage you to read that passage with you and your spouse in mind, personalizes the passage! It then would read, for instance: "I have given Joe and Mary the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that Joe and Mary may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you [love] Joe and Mary even as you [love] me." 



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Oneness with God

In today's Gospel, John 17: 11b-19, Jesus, shortly before giving up His life to evil persons who killed Him, prayed for you and me.  His prayer, in part, was: "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me."  You and I are included in the ones the Father gave to Jesus.  Jesus asked the Father to keep us in His name "so that [we] may be one just as [God the Father and Jesus] are one." Jesus reminded the Father that we "do not belong to the world any more that [He] belong[s] to the world. I do not," He said to His Father, "ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One....Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth....I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth."

There is no way that the Father said "no" to His Son, Jesus. Jesus' prayer, definitely, is being answered day by day as we journey through this "vale of tears," where Satan prowls seeking souls to   devour.  "[K]eep them from the Evil One," Jesus prayed. And God does just that in and for those who seek God, a seeking obvious in those who practice their faith and live by truth. As we look around we see men and women becoming one in love, a possibility made real because Jesus prayed: "May they be one just as we are one."   The ability to give of ourselves in self-sacrificing love each day and the courage to rise when we fall and ask forgiveness of each other is the effect of Jesus' prayer!

May you and I rejoice in the abundant love and mercy that is poured into our lives each day by a gracious God working through our family and friends, fellow religious and creation itself.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Our Soul's Desire

Today's liturgy opens with the antiphon:  "In your strength, O Lord, the just one rejoices; how greatly your salvation makes him glad!  You have granted him his soul's desire, alleluia" (Cf. P:s. 21 (20): 2-3). By making it personal it would read:  "In your strength, O Lord, I rejoice; how greatly your salvation makes me glad! You have granted me my soul's desire, alleluia!"

Often, I would hear my mother say: "Without faith, I don't know how we would  have made it through life's tragic moments."  That comes from a mother who lost her own mother when she herself was 13 years of age.  Because her father suffered from the tragic disease of alcoholism--was physically, sexually, and verbally abusive in drunken states (he was never sober, a 96-year old uncle told me about him)--the state placed two of the children in foster care and another in a orphanage, while my mother raised two of the older children, she herself being the oldest in the family.  She witnessed her father sexually abuse one of her sisters who was not as fast as she in getting away from him. And God knows how much physical and verbal abuse she herself endured! So, basically, she was saying to us: "Without faith, I don't know how I would have made it through the tragedies of my life."

Faith was everything to my parents.  My mother's and father's strength was the Lord's! How greatly the Lord's salvation was desired by my parents.  Now, I believe, both of them are in heaven. Their soul's desire has been granted!

In our lives, do we realize that our strength, day by day, comes from the Lord? And furthermore, do we also realize that our soul's desire is for our salvation, nothing else really! So, in what ways do we co-operate with God in bringing us closer and closer to the gates of heaven already here on earth by the way we live the Gospel in the here and now?




Friday, May 11, 2018

"I Will See You Again"

In today's Gospel, John 16: 20-23, Jesus says to us:  "I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question  me about anything."

Jesus, I believe, longs for that day, perhaps more than we do,  when the veil will be lifted and we will see one another face to face.  "No one will take that joy away from us."  Some 2000+ years ago Jesus took on human nature and all that such means. He has experienced, as we do, the temporary diminishment of joy when friends disappoint us.  Conflicts between Jesus and His disciples and those who opposed His teaching sometimes left Him in tears and certainly left Him with questions!  Imagine, though, His return to the glories of heaven with His Father and the Holy Spirit! The rejoicing had to be overwhelming for Him and the Father and the Spirit! That rejoicing will also occur every time that Jesus returns to earth to take a loved one back with Him into his/her eternal home!  That day will come for all of us sooner or later. We will see Jesus face to face and our "hearts will rejoice, and no one will take [our] joy away from [us]." And furthermore, we will have no more questions to ask!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Living and Moving in Sync with God

In today's first reading, Acts 17: 15, 22-18:1, Paul reminds us that the "God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is [God] who gives to everyone life and breath and everything....In him we live and move and have our being...."   

"[W]e live and move and have our being" in God as a fish lives and moves and has its existence in water!  Without water a fish dies. Without God, you and I die. In water a fish thrives. In God you and I thrive.

God, Paul tells us, "does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands."  Where, then, does God dwell? If we "live and move and have our being in God," then God, an infinite, eternal Being separate and distinct from us, lives within us.  We are one with God and God is one with us, yet distinctly separate from us! We are not God and God is not us! God does exist apart from us but we do not live apart from God anymore than a fish lives apart from water or a branch cut off from a tree!

Oh, the intimacy of God! This intimate God is Creative Energy that gives life, sustains life, purifies life, transforms weakness into strength, disunity into unity, ugliness into beauty, sinfulness into holiness. And in doing all of this and more, God needs our cooperation, as we have been given a free will by God. We are capable of choosing evil over good, ugliness over beauty, as God will not take away our freedom to choose!  We are capable of being divisive and not cooperating with God's grace.  We are capable of choosing that which weakens our character instead of that which strengthens us as God's offspring!  The choice is always ours!

How did you choose today?


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Lessons from Paul and Silas

In today's first reading, Acts 16: 22-34, Paul and Silas are arrested, "stripped and ordered...to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely....About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened.... 

God at work in believers! When we are the Lords and act as such, miracles happen!  In the midst of suffering, Paul and Silas pray and sing songs to the Lord! What do I and you do when we encounter difficulties, when we are "chained," "beaten" down,  not literally but with words or ill health, "imprisoned" in pride, fear, in anger, powerlessness or whatever stops us from doing that which we have been commissioned to do, as Paul and Silas were?  Do we turn to the Lord in prayer, singing songs to the Lord? Do we stay focused on the Lord? Or do we turn our focus on the problems we have encountered, thus losing heart?

May we,  in times of hardship, through the grace of God, be witnesses to the gift of faith that we have been given at our baptisms.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Giving Testimony

In today's Gospel, John 15: 26-16:4a, Jesus tells us that [w]hen the Advocate comes who 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... I have told you these things so that you will not fall away."

The question that I need to ask myself is: do my words and deeds witness or give testimony of Jesus, of the Gospel way of life, of an authentic married life or religious life?  If a non-believer had shadowed me throughout this day, would that person have come to know Jesus by my humility, my simplicity, my commitment to truth and to the values o the Gospel? Would that person have left my presence praising and thanking the Father for the testimony I gave, for instance, as a religious to the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity (purity of my love and self-giving to others) or, as a married person, the love and respect shown one's wife/husband and children and one's faithfulness to the marriage vows?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Reading the "Road Signs"

In today's first reading, Acts 16: 1-10,  Paul and Timothy are traveling through Phrygian and Galatian territory because "they were prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did no allow them, [so they went] to Troas [instead].  During the night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him [and begged him to come] over to Macedonia and help us."

WOW! How tuned into the Spirit's directions, the Spirit's nudges, were Paul and Timothy!  How perfectly Paul and Timothy read the "road signs"!  The questions that we need to ask ourselves are: How tuned into the Spirit's guiding messages am I, are you?   Do we recognize the "road signs": "Danger ahead," "Falling rocks," "Sharp Curve," "Do not enter," etc.?  

The Spirit of Jesus is as close to us as to Paul. God's "road signs" pop up in our lives as much as in the lives of early Christians!  Are we training ourselves to recognize those "signs"? Are we tuned into the Spirit's voice, sensitive to the Spirit's nudges or are we so preoccupied with the plans we've set up for ourselves that we notice nothing else!  God may send His message through our children, grandchildren, spouses, our co-workers!  The Spirit may nudge us through nurses or doctors, caregivers, fellow men/religious or brother priests (if we are a member of a religious community or of the priesthood).  Are we listening? Have we tuned in?  Are we training ourselves to intuitively sense the Spirit's presence?  Are we willing to turn back, so to speak, when we encounter a subtle or not so subtle warning?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Standing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ

In today's first reading, 1 Cor 15: 1-8, St. Paul reminds us of "the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which  you also stand."

You and I received it!
We stand in it!
We are nourished by it!
We are made holy by it!
We are saved by it!
We are made righteous by it, in it, and through it!
We are strengthened by it.
We are shown the Way and the Truth and the Life by it and in it and through it! When we immerse ourselves in the Gospel, we meet and know Jesus and, in knowing Jesus, we know the Father, Jesus reminds us in today's Gospel, John 14: 6-14: "If you know me," Jesus says to Philip, "then you will also know my Father."

THE GOSPEL:

  • A life-giving Word!
  • A two-edged sword, cutting to the marrow of our bones!
  • A transforming Word!
  • A purifying Word!
  • An Eternal Word!
  • A nourishing Word!
  • A reconciling Word!
  • The Glory of God!
  • The Salvation of our God!
  • The Creative Energy of God!
  • The "I AM"!
  • The Way, the Truth, the Life of God!
  • The Love of God!
Today's responsorial psalm, I believe,  tells us that the message of the Gospel "goes out to all the earth," that "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims [God's] handiwork. Day pours out the word to day; and night to night imparts knowledge" of God!

WOW! The next time the priest raises up the Gospel, let you and me fall on our knees in reverence, in awe, in gratitude!



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The True Vine and the Vine Grower

In today's Gospel, John 15: 1-8, Jesus says to us: I am the true vine, and my Father the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit....Remain in me, as I remain in you.  Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me....[W]ithout me you can do nothing," just as a branch separated from a fruit tree bears nothing!

You and I are attached to the Vine through baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation and other sacraments and thus bear the of fruit of love, which lasts into eternity.  We strengthen our attachment to the Vine through prayer and self-sacrificing acts of love: love of our family members--our spouses, our children, our grandchildren--other relatives, members of our religious community (if religious men/women), and persons we touch through various encounters in person or through others ways of encounter.  We grow in love, Jesus tells us, by the action of His "Father, the vine grower."  However, if we, the "branches",  fail to bear the fruit of love, the Father, Jesus tells us, "will take us away"--we "will be thrown out like a branch and wither." 

What am I, what are you, doing to remain attached, and strengthen our attachment, to the true Vine? What am I, what are you doing to co-operate with the Father, "the vine grower"?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Peace of God Be with You

In today's Gospel for Tuesday of the fifth week of Easter, John 14: 27-31, Jesus says to his disciples, that is, to you and me, "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...I am going away and I will come back to you....I am going to the Father; ....I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me...."

"The ruler of the world is coming"!  The ruler of the world is Satan, who sows discord, jealousy, anger, prejudice, hatred, and division. Jesus says: "He has no power over me!" Neither does he have power over those who stay focused on Jesus, seek Jesus and follow Him unreservedly. We are able to do just that because  Jesus prayed for us.  He prayed that we would be one with Him as He and the Father are one and that we would carry on the work He did.  That is why He gave us His peace, saying: "My peace I give to you.....Do not let your hearts be troubled."  Filled with the peace of Jesus and of the Spirit, we are empowered to overcome fear and hatred, jealousy and anger and division.  Our union with others deepens as we foster our relationship with God in prayer and in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. Our union with God also deepens as we give our ourselves in  self-sacrificing love to one another throughout a given day!