Saturday, April 18, 2015
Saturday of the 2nd Week of Easter – John 6:16-21
Today’s Gospel is a very familiar one: “the storm at sea.” As evening drew near, Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore, and got in their boat to cross over to Capernaum. It was dusk and before long, it would be dark. The disciples were anxious to get to Capernaum. As they began rowing, the skies grew increasingly cloudy and threatening. And the wind kept getting stronger.
After they had rowed several miles, they saw a figure approaching them. How could this be? And what they saw, the disciples could not believe. The figure was walking on the water! Was this real or were they hallucinating? No one can walk on water. That is impossible! Who could it be? And they were very afraid!
As Jesus approached the boat, he simply said to them: “Do not be afraid.” Clearly, Jesus’ words did not dispel the disciples’ fears. Did the disciples think they were hallucinating? Yet, this figure looked like Jesus and his voice sounded like Jesus’ voice. Then Jesus said to them: “It is I. There is no need to fear.”
The disciples were torn and still afraid. They were uncertain about what to do. Yet, if it truly was Jesus, they definitely wanted Him to come into their boat. However, they then arrived at the shore. Jesus immediately reassured them it truly was Jesus, their Lord and Teacher, who stood before them. He said to them: “Do not be afraid.”
Today, do you wish that you also would hear Jesus say to you: “Do not be afraid.” What are you worried and concerned about in your life? What are you afraid of? Life often presents us with a great variety of situations and circumstances that cause us to be afraid. It might be an illness. Or it could be a significant relationship that is painful, conflicted or abusive. It may be that we are chronic worriers and this causes great anxiety in our lives. It might be a fragile financial situation.
Today, Jesus is saying to each of us: “Do not be afraid! Let me come into your “boat” and I will calm the waters of your mind and heart! Trust me! You are not alone! You are never alone! I am always with you!” Will we invite Jesus into the “boat” of our lives? It is our choice!
Friday, April 17, 2015
Friday of the 2nd Week of Easter – John 6:1-15
Today we hear the familiar Gospel of the multiplications of the loaves and the fishes. When Jesus decided to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, many people followed him. They had seen the signs that Jesus had performed and they were awestruck and intrigued. They desired to know more about Jesus.
When Jesus arrived at the shore, he went up on a mountain and sat down with his disciples. Jesus simply may have desired some time with his friends. However, Jesus looked up and he saw a large crowd of people coming toward him. Jesus asked Philip: “Where can we buy enough food for this many people?” Philip told Jesus that 200 days worth of wages would not buy enough food to feed this large crowd of people!
Then Andrew told Jesus that one boy had five loaves of barley bread and two fish. This young boy was willing to share his food! Five loaves of bread and fish might feed 2 or 3 people! However, what were they to do about feeding the rest of the crowd? The situation was impossible!
Jesus tells the disciples to have the people sit down. John writes that there were 5000 men. And they also needed food for the women and children. This was a huge crowd to feed. Eventually the disciples had everyone seated. At that point, Jesus took the five loaves of bread, gave thanks and blessed them. He once again gave thanks and blessed the fish. Then the disciples distributed the fish and bread. Surprisingly they had more than enough food! When everyone had eaten, they filled 12 baskets with the leftovers. Talk about a miracle! How did that happen? When the people saw the miracle that Jesus had done, the people believed! They said: “This truly is the Prophet, the One we have been waiting and longing for.”
What is your need? What are you hungry for? What is your lack? Do you truly believe that Jesus will provide you with what you need? Do you trust that Jesus will satisfy your hunger, your longing? When we are in great need, it is difficult to trust that our needs will be met. However, Jesus will not fail us! Will we trust Jesus to satisfy our hungers?
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Thursday of the 2nd Week of Easter – John 3:31-36
Today John weaves together a variety of images of earth and heaven. John talks about the person who is “earthly” and who speaks of “earthly things.” Then John writes that the One who comes from heaven reigns above all. Of course, John is writing about Jesus.
John then reiterates that Jesus is “the One above all.” Jesus testifies to the truth. However, John also writes that no one accepts Jesus’ testimony! However, if we do believe in Jesus and accept His testimony, we certify that God is trustworthy.
Our belief in Jesus also comes with a responsibility. We are called to proclaim the Gospel by our words and more importantly, by our deeds. We have to live our faith, not simply profess our faith in Jesus. Just as Jesus commissioned his disciples to “go forth and preach the Gospel,” Jesus also sends us forth to live the Gospel and to preach the Gospel in word and deed. This is our call, our challenge and our gift! How will we respond? Will we go forth and spread the Gospel by word and example? Jesus is depending on us!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter – John 3:16-21
This Gospel passage is a very familiar one. It begins with the words: “God so loved the world that God sent the only begotten Son.” I wonder how many times throughout the years we have heard these simple yet powerful words? True, we know that Jesus came to earth for us. And we know that Jesus died for us! Yet, do we truly grasp and comprehend the depth of God’s love for us and Jesus’ love for us?
During difficult or painful times, it often is more difficult to trust God. At these times, God may appear to be absent or indifferent. Yet God is at our side, walking with us, gracing and loving us every step of our way! At other times, we may believe that we are unworthy of God’s love. This belief may be knowing we have done something we know was sinful or hurtful of another. Or this belief may stem from our belief that we are not loveable!
God’s love is very different from human love. God’s love truly never fails nor falters! John Barclay wrote: “the mainspring of God’s being is love.” Many of us have heard the words: “God is love” from a very young age. Yet at times we struggle to believe and trust that reality!
Today may we open our hearts to God’s love! Take time to “bask” in God’s love! God is waiting for us! Will we come?
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Easter – John 3:7b-15
The interaction between Nicodemus and Jesus continues in today’s reading. Jesus tells Nicodemus that there is no logical explanation for “being born from above.” We may sense it but it is not within our control. We cannot make it happen. Nor do we know when it will come nor can we control where it will go. This is God’s to do! This birth is born from above. It is from God! However, we are able to pray and ask to “be born from above.” Naturally this does not mean that we literally will be born again. Rather, it is that we will be born anew. The new life that we will receive will be a spiritual gift!
What is the spiritual gift you desire in this Easter season? What is the new life that you desire? The Easter season is a time of miracles and new life. We can literally see this as we watch the trees and plants around us. They all are coming to life, blossoming and sharing their beauty with us. Today, trust that God will gift you with “new” life! We may know exactly what we desire. However, God may choose to give us an unexpected gift that will bless us abundantly! Today keep your mind, eyes and heart open! Beauty and grace will come to us!
Monday, April 13, 2015
Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter – John 3:1-8
Today Nicodemus approaches Jesus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and also a ruler of the Jews. He did not want the Jews to know that he wanted to talk with Jesus. Thus, Nicodemus decided he would approach Jesus at night. Hopefully, the darkness would help him be anonymous!
Nicodemus said to Jesus that he did understand that Jesus was a teacher who had come from God. The wonders and signs that Jesus had done had convinced Nicodemus to believe in Jesus as one who was sent from God. There was no other explanation for Jesus’ power and ability to heal the sick and raise the dead!
Jesus then tells Nicodemus that anyone who desired to enter the Kingdom of God would have to be born of water and the Spirit. Nicodemus asked Jesus how anyone could be born again? This was impossible! Jesus, however, was speaking of being born of the spirit! There are two different births: one of the flesh and one of the spirit.
Have you been “born” of the Spirit? Can you remember a time in your life when you experienced new life and grace and you sensed you had been “born again?” It may have been during a retreat, Cursillo, the birth of a child, or finding a job after many months of searching. Or it may have been as simple as experiencing the new life of spring. Wondrous gifts may be amazing or they may be simple gifts.
Do you long to be reborn at this time in your life? If so, ask Jesus to “create new life” in you. If we do, perhaps Jesus will gift us with what we desire. However, we need to keep our minds and hearts open! Jesus most often works in subtle ways, not fireworks! And the gifts we receive may not be the gifts we had hoped for. We actually may receive gifts that are much greater than we ever would have asked for!
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Second Sunday of Easter – John 20:19-31
On this 2nd Sunday of Easter, Jesus’ disciples were gathered. Despite the fact that the disciples knew that Jesus had risen, John writes that they had locked the door of the room, for fear of the Jews. They were fearful of Jews! Why were the disciples afraid? Jesus had died on the cross and none of them had been harassed or accosted since Jesus’ death. Yet they continued to be fearful, not joyful!
Suddenly, Jesus appears in their midst. Did Jesus’ appearance bring peace and joy to their hearts? Or were they confused, frightened and yet also joyful? Jesus addresses the disciples with the simple words: “Peace be with you!” When the disciples heard Jesus’ greeting, did peace begin to fill their hearts? As they began to grasp the reality that Jesus was with them once again, were they filled with joy and wonder? Jesus truly was present in their midst. What a wondrous gift!
Remember a time in your life when were fearful, sad and perhaps lost. It may have been there was a significant loss or change in your life. Or perhaps you were struggling with a painful situation. At these times, it would be a great gift if Jesus suddenly appeared before us and said: “Peace be with you.” Most likely, Jesus did not appear before you! However, was there any sense of Jesus’ presence with you? Did you experience grace of strength from your faith in Jesus? Perhaps your belief simply enabled you to keep on going. Jesus is always with us, gifting us and gracing us! However, we may not tangibly experience Jesus with us. Most likely, he will not appear before us. Jesus walks with us daily! Do we believe and trust that reality?
However, we also have a “Thomas, the doubter” within us. Even if we have a sense of Jesus’ presence, we definitively may desire that this truly is Jesus. We want proof, just as Thomas did. Today if we sense Jesus is near us or with us, may we trust and believe that Jesus also has appeared to us! May we have open minds and open hearts! Jesus will come!
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Saturday within the Octave of Easter – Mark 16:9-15
In this Gospel Jesus appears not once but three times. First, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, the woman, out of whom he had driven out seven demons. Mark doesn’t tell us what happened in the encounter. However, Mary Magdalene immediately goes to find Jesus’ companions. They had gathered together to mourn and to find solace with one another.
When Mary told them that Jesus had appeared to her, they did not believe her. Were they thinking: why would Jesus appear to a woman? Surely, he first would appear to his closest companions! Mark simply says: “They did not believe.”
Later that day, Jesus once again appeared. This time Jesus appeared in another form. He showed himself to two disciples who were walking on the road. When the disciples realized it was Jesus, they hurried to tell the others. However, when these two disciples return to tell the other disciples of their encounter with Jesus, Mark says: they “did not believe.” Were they jealous that Jesus had not appeared to them? In order to believe that Jesus was alive, did they need to see Jesus for themselves?
Then Jesus appeared once again! This time it was to the “Eleven” who were gathered at table. Jesus rebuked them for their lack of belief and their hardness of hearts. Despite their lack of belief, Jesus commissioned the Eleven to “Go forth into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature!”
Today Jesus commissions us to “Go forth into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Does this mean we have to leave our homes, our families, our jobs? Will we be called to stand on a street corner and preach the Gospel to strangers? Perhaps Jesus’ call is for us to preach the Gospel by our lives, by the way we love and forgive one another, by our care for the stranger, the poor and the lost. Or is Jesus calling us to live the Gospel by forgiving the individuals who have hurt us? The question for us is: we will respond to His call?