On the 3rd Sunday of Easter the Gospel is one of the most beloved passages in all of scripture, “The Road to Emmaus.” This passage is so beloved because we can relate to it very much in our own lives as disciples of Christ. The two, on Easter morning, were dejected and heading to Emmaus downcast and full of doubts. Jesus himself started walking with them but they did not recognize him. The scripture said, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.” Jesus appeared to be going past their village but the two invited him to stay with them. And their eyes were opened in the breaking of the bread. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”
As disciples of Christ, at times throughout our journey, we too may be dejected, downcast and confused. At times we too do not recognize Jesus walking right next to us. But if we do recognize him and if we invite him in to stay with us he will open our eyes to the fact that he is truly present to us at all times. This happens in different ways but for us as Catholics the main way is through the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist (the Mass). The Road to Emmaus is a description of the holy Mass. The Word is proclaimed and explained and the bread is broken (Christ in his Word and in the appearance of bread and wine). It is through the Mass that our hearts will burn with the fire of Christ. It is through the Mass that we encounter the crucified and the Risen Lord.
After the two on the Road to Emmaus encountered the Risen Lord they did not stay where they were. No, they immediately set out to evangelize and witness to others about their experience.
In the 1st reading from Acts we see a different Peter. Instead of the confused and afraid person he was before the Resurrection, now his eyes have been opened and his heart is burning because of his encounter with the resurrected Jesus. He is full of confidence as the scripture tells us, “Then Peter stood up, raised his voice and proclaimed.”
As disciples of the Risen Christ, we will be down and have doubts along our journey. We must realize that Jesus is always with us. We must continually invite him in to stay with us and we must be open to him in the Breaking of the Bread. As we encounter and experience Jesus we are also to “set out” with confidence to evangelize and to witness to others about the Risen Lord so that they too will have hearts that burn with Christ inside of them.
The Lord is risen and is in our midst…Alleluia!!
“The fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day, indeed as one great Sunday. These are the days above all others in which the Alleluia is sung” (Universal Norms, 22).
On this Second Sunday of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday, we rejoice in the Resurrection as the redeemed people of God. This Easter we have extra cause for joy and exultation as two great men of God and of the Church are canonized as saints: Pope John XXIII who called the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II who instituted Divine Mercy Sunday in the year 2000 (just one great work among their many).
In the first reading on this Sunday we hear from the Acts of the Apostles about the early development of the Church. The scripture tells us, “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” As disciples of the Risen Lord we would do well to follow this simple formula. As disciples we should follow the teaching of the first apostles and Church fathers as well as the apostles of today which are the Magisterium, the Pope and bishops. The bishops are to teach and guide the Church as teachers and shepherds in Christ’s name assisted by the Holy Spirit. As disciples we should devote ourselves to prayer and to the Eucharist. And we should devote ourselves to communal life which is stewardship as a way of life for the good of the community.
In the 2nd reading from 1 Peter we hear that it is not easy to live this life of devotion as disciples as our faith will be tested like gold going through fire. But if we endure the testing with the strength of the Risen Christ our inheritance will be “imperishable, undefiled, unfading and kept in heaven.”
And in the Gospel Jesus appears to the disciples behind locked doors who are afraid and worried and tells them, “Peace be with you” and “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus tells us the same thing behind our locked doors of fear and concern, “Peace be with you” and “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
On this Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), as disciples of the Risen Lord, rejoice that we have been redeemed by his great mercy. Devote ourselves to Sacred Tradition and to Sacred Scripture, and to communal life through stewardship.
He is risen and is in our midst. Alleluia!!
“The sacred Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord shines forth as the high point of the entire liturgical year. Therefore the preeminence that Sunday has in the week, the Solemnity of Easter has in the liturgical year. The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, has its center in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Evening Prayer on the Sunday of the Resurrection” (Universal Norms, 18-19).
The Paschal Triduum, the 3 days, make up the shortest but the holiest season of the liturgical year and one continuous celebration: Holy Thursday (Mass of the Lord’s Supper), Good Friday (Passion of the Lord) and Easter Vigil/Sunday (Resurrection of the Lord).
I will reflect on the Gospels for each of these days in the Light of Discipleship:
Holy Thursday: After Jesus put a towel around his waist, symbolizing a servant, he washed the disciples’ feet. When he was finished he told them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?” “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” The disciples must have been in shock as the master took the role of the lowest servant and washed their feet. I believe this is the reaction he was going for! He wanted them (and us) to realize that to be his disciples we must follow his example and be servants, giving of ourselves for the sake of others.
Good Friday: On Palm Sunday we heard the Passion from the Gospel of Matthew. On Good Friday we hear the Passion proclaimed from the Gospel of John. From John we hear the story that changed salvation history from the Garden to the tomb where they laid the crucified Christ. As disciples we again see the example of Jesus doing the Father’s will and giving of himself in totality. He trusted in the Father as we need to trust in him for the greater glory of God. We need to carry our cross as disciples of Christ Jesus. There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday.
Easter Vigil/Sunday: The Easter Vigil is the highlight of the entire Liturgical Year. On that holy night we hear from Matthew’s Gospel of the great earthquake that rolled away the stone that covered the tomb of Christ. We hear of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who encountered the risen Christ who told them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and they will see me there.” As disciples we need to encounter the risen Christ daily, not be afraid and go tell others about him…And on Easter Sunday morning we hear of Peter and John, after being told by Mary Magdalene that the Lord had resurrected, ran to the empty tomb and believed. As disciples we need to run to the resurrected Christ every day and believe. And we need to take others to the empty tomb and help them believe.
Conclusion: The Paschal Triduum was the most important event in history. May it be the most important event in our personal history!
Holy Week begins with “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord” when the Church recalls the entrance of Christ Jesus into Jerusalem to accomplish his Paschal Mystery for our salvation.
Jesus is the long awaited Messiah and is the fulfillment of the prophecy we hear from Zechariah that was proclaimed in the processional Gospel outside the entrance of the church, “Say to daughter Zion, Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” The King of kings fulfilled the Messianic prophecy by riding humbly into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to fulfill the Father’s will.
Jesus is also the fulfillment of the prophecy we hear in the 1st reading from Isaiah about the Suffering Servant, “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets or spitting.” In humility, the King of kings took the treatment placed upon him for our sake.
And in the 2nd reading St. Paul tells of the humility of Christ, “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
In the Gospel we hear once again the Passion of the Lord taking place just a week after he was hailed by the crowds waiving palm branches. Jesus humbled himself out of love for us and offered himself up as the perfect sacrifice for the sake of others.
What does this show us as his disciples? If we are to be his true disciples, his followers, we are to imitate him in his example. We also are called to humbly offer ourselves for the sake of others in a disciple’s response which is Stewardship as a way of life. What does this mean? We too are to humbly walk like Jesus and in thanksgiving we are to share what we have been blessed with for the good of others. Jesus did not count the cost because he was sure of his Father’s love and sure of his promises. If we are sure of the Father’s love and his promises we will not count the cost either because we know that he cannot be out done in generosity and he will provide for all of our needs in abundance.
Jesus could have road in on a grand chariot pulled by a team of massive, beautiful horses but instead he road in on a lowly donkey to show us it is the humble and the meek that the Lord God uses for his glory and for the sake of others.
As his disciples, will we follow him in his example of humility and obedience in order to be used for the Father’s glory and for the sake of others? Or will we ride around on our high horse?
Let us strive to follow in the humble example of Christ Jesus, the long awaited Messiah and King!
On the 5th Sunday of Lent the RCIA Elect and Candidates will celebrate the 3rd and final Scrutiny in their preparation for the Easter Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist. The rest of us should also be preparing ourselves during the Season of Lent to celebrate the Easter mysteries.
The readings today point toward Baptism, new life and the filling of the Holy Spirit. In the 1st reading from the prophet Ezekiel the Lord tells us, “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” A grave symbolizes death and in the scriptures symbolizes spiritual death. The Lord also says, “I will put my Spirit in you that you may live.” Through Baptism we are brought from death to new life, made a new creation and filled with the Spirit of God.
In the Gospel we hear the well known story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead in the tomb for four days but Jesus gave him new life symbolizing our new life through the waters of Baptism.
As disciples of Christ Jesus we need to relate the readings to our lives and allow them to help us in our journey as disciples. How do this Sunday’s readings speak to us? Jesus stood at the entrance to the tomb of Lazarus and commanded that the stone that blocked the entrance be taken away. What stones lay across our path? What obstacles are blocking us from living as true disciples of Christ in every facet of our lives? Is it selfishness, pride, greed or apathy?
When Lazarus came out of the tomb the scripture said, “The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.” What ties us up, what binds us so that we cannot live as true disciples? Is it fear, jealousy, bitterness, hate or anger?
During these last days of the Season of Lent, as Holy Week fast approaches, let us allow Christ to remove the stones from our lives and allow him to untie us from what holds us bound by seeking him in prayer and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Allow him to fill us with his Spirit so that we will be brought once again from death to new life so that we can live as true disciples through stewardship as a way of life. Let him heal us and fill us with his Spirit to make us new creations once again.
The Lord is true to his word as he tells us in the 1st reading, “I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.”
The 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday from the Latin meaning “Rejoice.” We rejoice because we are half way through the Season of Lent and as we read in the ORDO, “Laetare Sunday sets a tone of joyful anticipation of the Easter mystery.” The 4th Sunday of Lent is also a good time to check ourselves to see how we are doing in our Lenten observances and if need be to get back on track. As a sports fan I liken it to the 1st half of a basketball or football game. Even though the team may not have had a good 1st half they can always turn it around in the 2nd half. Make your 2nd half of Lent better than your 1st!
Our readings again this week, like last week, are geared toward the RCIA Elect and Candidates preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. However, we can and should all take them into account in our own lives no matter how long we have been Catholic.
The readings speak of blindness and spiritual sight. In the 1st reading from 1 Samuel the scripture tells us, “Not as man sees does God see” as the Lord chooses David, the youngest son of Jesse to be king of Israel. David is anointed with oil and the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, a foreshadow of the anointing with oil in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
In the Gospel Jesus heals the man born blind by telling the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam, a foreshadow of Baptism. Siloam means “Sent”. Jesus is the one who is sent to heal us and make us whole.
As disciples what do these readings mean to us? We need to look into our lives and see how we are blind. Are we blind to our own faults and shortcomings? Are we blind to the needs of others and to the needs of the Church? When we realize and acknowledge we are blind in certain ways, then we can come to Christ, the one who was sent to heal us and make us whole. For those of us who already have been baptized we can wash in the waters of Baptism once again through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through a good confession we can be washed clean, as clean and pure as we were on the day of our Baptism.
That is something to rejoice about!
In the 2nd reading Jesus calls us through St. Paul, “To live in the light…Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Let us go to Christ so he can heal our blindness and allow us to see in his light.
On the 3rd Sunday of Lent we hear the readings that are usually proclaimed at the 1st Scrutiny for the RCIA Elect & Candidates preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist. The theme is life-giving water pointing to Baptism. But as disciples of Christ we are all also called during Lent to “scrutinize” our faith lives and discern where and how we can experience conversion in our hearts to grow closer to God.
In the 1st reading from Exodus we hear of the Israelites grumbling that they are thirsty for water out in the desert. The Lord God tells Moses, “Strike the rock, and water will flow from it.” That rock is a foreshadow of the Christ, the Rock of our Salvation, which from whom life-giving water would flow.
In the Gospel, in the story of the “Woman at the Well”, Jesus is shown as the fulfillment of the foreshadow from Exodus. The woman comes to draw water from the well but Jesus tells her and us, “Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
As disciples the question for us is, “How thirsty are we for life-giving water?” Are we complacent and satisfied with the things around us, things that the world has to offer? Or do we have a tremendous thirst for the water that only Christ can give?
Have you ever been so thirsty that you had to have a drink of water or you felt like you would die? As disciples that’s how we should thirst for Jesus. We should be so thirsty that we cannot get enough of his Word, the sacraments, his real presence in the Blessed Sacrament and his grace that he offers us. The world cannot satisfy, only the Rock of our Salvation can satisfy.
And after we drink from the well of Christ, we need to go out like the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus and we need to evangelize as she did. She went back to town and told everyone who would listen about this experience she had with the one who can satisfy. We need to do the same and make disciples of all nations.
In the words of the most interesting man in the world, “Stay thirsty my friends!”
On this First Sunday of Lent, as we begin our climb of the holy mountain of Easter, we hear in the first reading about Adam who was tempted and sinned; and in the Gospel we hear of Jesus who was tempted but did not sin. St. Paul tells us in the 2nd reading, “Just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” Through disobedience sin came into the world (through Adam). Through the cross the second Adam (Jesus) brought forgiveness of sin.
We might say that if it wasn’t for Adam and Eve’s disobedience sin would have never entered the world. But think about it, we do the same thing almost every day – sin through disobedience. That is what Lent is about, to help us remember that we are sinners and we often fall short. But the good news is that through repentance and coming to the cross of Christ, we can be made clean again. Lent is to help us get back on track, to help us return home, to help us realign ourselves once again with our merciful God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
As disciples of Christ we are called to holiness. G.K. Chesterton once said, “A saint is someone who knows he’s a sinner.” Lent helps us “know” that we are sinners and helps us get back to striving for holiness.
As disciples during this season of mercy, strive for holiness by taking to heart what we were told on Ash Wednesday, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”a
The readings for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time convey the message to the disciples of Christ that the Father loves us and will always provide for us. But as disciples something is required of us in return.
In the 1st reading from the Prophet Isaiah we hear that God’s love for us is compared to a mother’s love for her child. We know that there is no stronger love on this earth than a mother’s love for her children yet God says his love is even more perfect, “Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” The Father is saying no matter what I will always love you.
The Gospel for this Sunday is one of my favorites because it speaks to me loud and clear. The Lord is saying do not worry, I will take care of all of your needs. He tells us in a beautiful way not to worry about what we will eat or drink, or what to wear. He points out how he feeds the birds of the air and clothes the wild flowers so beautifully in splendor and tells us, “Will he not much more provide for you? And, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” But in the very next verse he tells us what is required of us, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you.”
This is the key to the whole message for today. As disciples, followers of Christ, we must make Jesus and his will for the Kingdom our top priority and then all will be provided for us. He starts off the passage with, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon.” In the Aramaic “mammon” meant money or possessions. Jesus is saying as his disciples we can only have one master, either it will be him or it will be the material.
If we trust in Jesus, if we seek his will in our lives above all else and as St. Paul says in the 2nd reading if we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” by sharing of our time, talents and treasure for the sake of others, we will not have to worry about our daily needs because he has given us his word that he will provide.
This is one of my favorite passages because in my younger days I was a real worrier. But since I allowed Christ to be my master and Lord I have a peace that passes all understanding. I know that if I seek first the Kingdom all will be provided for me and my family.
Disciples of Christ, trust in God, seek first his Kingdom, and all will be provided for you, he guarantees it!
The readings on the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time are another lesson in living as a disciple of Christ Jesus. The main message for us this Sunday is proclaimed in the 1st reading from the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” The word “holy” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia means “separated from the profane (world) and directed towards God.” In other words to be holy is to be separated from worldly things that are not of God. Holiness is living our lives in union with Jesus. The last part of the 1st reading shows us what holiness looks like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Gospel directly follows the Gospel passages from the past two Sundays from the Sermon on the Mount. Again Jesus shows us how his disciples are to live in striving for holiness. He tells us that we must go beyond the Law by turning the other cheek, by going the extra mile and by loving not only our neighbor but also our enemies! Then to confirm his teaching he tells us what seems like the impossible, “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The original meaning of “perfect” in Aramaic is “completeness” or “wholeness” – not lacking in what is essential. God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to carry out his will and to live as his children. We know in our flesh we will never be perfect but we are called to strive for perfection, we are called to strive for holiness with the grace given to us in Jesus.
As disciples of Christ called to be separated from the world and directed toward God we know that we CAN imitate Christ in love because St. Paul reminds us in the 2nd reading, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” With the Spirit of God dwelling in us we are tabernacles of the Living God. With the Spirit of God dwelling in us we CAN be holy, we CAN be complete and we CAN be whole if we cooperate with the grace we are given.
Let us show the world what holiness looks like as true disciples of Christ by loving God, by loving our neighbor and yes, by even loving our enemies.s Padres!