Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter – John 10:22-30
The setting for today’s Gospel is the Temple. Jesus is in the Portico of Solomon and several Jews gathered around him and asked: “How long will you keep us in suspense? Tell us who you are! Are you the Christ?” They desperately wanted to hear Jesus to say to them: “Yes, I am the Christ.”
However, Jesus did not do as they asked. Rather he said to them (perhaps in an exasperating way): “I have already told you who I am! And you refuse to believe me.” Jesus then tells these difficult Jews that his “sheep” not only hear his voice, they also listen intently to his voice. His sheep trust him and they follow him. Jesus will give up his life to protect His sheep from harm. Jesus then says that he will give them eternal life!
Then Jesus begins to speak of his Father. He says that his Father is greater than anyone. And no one has the ability to take his sheep out of the Father’s hand. Jesus ends with the simple yet powerful statement: “the Father and I are one.” How did the Jews react to Jesus’ words? Not very well I suspect!
Did the Jews want to understand who Jesus was? Or were they simply harassing him? I suspect they wanted Jesus to give them an answer that they could use against him in the future. It is clear that these Jews were not open to Jesus’ message. They simply were trying to manipulate him!
Jesus refused to play their game. I assume that his refusal to answer their questions simply fueled the Jews’ anger. Did his response intensify the Jews’ desire to rid themselves of Jesus? Yet Jesus stayed true to who he was. What a model Jesus is for us!
Do we speak out about what we believe, even when the people who are listening may not want to hear what we have to say? Do we have the courage of Jesus to stand up and speak of our beliefs and values, in the face of criticism or anger? Being a follower of Jesus is not easy! We also are called to voice our truth. At times, we do this with our words. In other situations, our actions or attitude may speak for us. We may not need words! Jesus will give us the courage and grace when we are in need! Do we trust Him to do so? Will we be a true follower of Jesus?
Monday, April 27, 2015
Monday of the 4th Week of Easter – John 10:1-10
Today Jesus again identifies himself as a shepherd. The shepherd is the individual who spent most of his life with his sheep. It was his responsibility to protect the sheep. He also led them. The shepherd made sure the sheep had sufficient water to drink and grass to eat. He also protected the sheep from wolves and other predators.
The shepherd’s life was one of constant movement. After the sheep ate all the grass in one pasture, the shepherd moved them to another green pasture. The shepherd’s life also was a lonely life. For weeks, the shepherd’s only companions were his sheep. Since his sheep were his closest companions and friends, most likely the shepherd came to know his sheep well. He knew which sheep were docile and he also recognized the unruly and stubborn sheep. Yet, the shepherd was committed to caring for each of the sheep, even the aggravating ones.
Usually the shepherd had a very strong bond with his sheep. He not only was responsible for them, he truly cared about his sheep (and perhaps even came to “love” them)! In some ways, the sheep became the shepherd’s family. They were his constant companions. The sheep only would follow the voice of their shepherd. They would not follow another person. The bond between the shepherd and the sheep was very strong and real.
Jesus is our shepherd! Jesus sticks with us no matter what. He is committed to caring for us and leading us. Jesus comes and finds us when we are lost and afraid. Jesus will keep looking for us until he finds us. However, do we have the same strong bond with Jesus as the sheep have with their shepherd? Do we recognize Jesus’ voice when he calls us? Do we listen for his voice? Do we trust that Jesus will protect us at all costs?
Today may we take time to thank Jesus for loving us so deeply. May we also thank Jesus for his tender care and protection. Jesus is our shepherd! We can depend on him always!
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Sunday of the 4th Week of Easter – John 10:11-18
On this 4th Sunday of Easter, we hear the “Good Shepherd” Gospel. As we know, any good shepherd is serious about the responsibility of caring for the flock of sheep. Sheep don’t have much sense or caution. Perhaps they simply are too trusting. Sheep also have a tendency to wander off from the flock!
Today Jesus identifies himself as the “good shepherd.” The good shepherd does everything within his power to protect his sheep. If needed, the good shepherd will even lay down his life for his sheep. The shepherd who is a hired hand may run away when there is any danger to the sheep. He simply is working for his salary and if a predator approaches, he likely will protect himself and leave the sheep on their own. The hired hand often values his own life more than the sheep he is responsible for, even though he committed himself to protecting the sheep.
This is not true of Jesus! Jesus, as we well know, loved us so intensely that he was willing to give up his life for us, his sheep! Jesus died so that we might live! Truly, there is no greater love!
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Saturday of the 3rd Week of Easter – Mark 16:15-20
Today Jesus appears to His disciples. His message today is to empower them to go forth into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel. Jesus tells them that if a person believes, that one will be saved. If someone chooses not to believe, they will be condemned. How harsh this sounds!
Jesus then tells them that if a person believes, they will have the ability to speak new languages and drive out demonic spirits. They also will have the ability to be able to pick up serpents without harm. Jesus promises that anyone who believes in Him will be able to heal the sick and do other wondrous acts. Jesus also will keep His disciples safe from harm. Then Jesus was taken up into heaven and Mark writes that He was seated at the right hand of God!
Jesus’ disciples did as He asked. They went forth to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus. And they also performed many wondrous miracles. Did His disciples sense that Jesus was with them as they went about among the people teaching, preaching and healing? Did they sense Jesus guiding them at times or perhaps giving them the words to say?
Jesus also calls us to go forth and preach the Gospel. He calls us to be teachers and healers. We may not be able to work a miracle, however, we are capable of consoling the sorrowful, healing another with our love, care and concern, and perhaps even bringing someone “back to life” with our love and our healing presence! Jesus does work in and through us!
Jesus continues to walk among us and speak to us. However, will our minds and hearts be open and alert to seeing Jesus in the people we encounter today? Be alert! Jesus is coming!
Friday, April 24, 2015
Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter – John 6:52-59
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of yesterday’s Gospel. After listening to Jesus preach to the people, the Jews began to argue among themselves. How could Jesus possibly give them his flesh to eat? This was not only was ridiculous, it was not at all appealing. Who would even think of eating human flesh?
Jesus then tells the people that they will not have life within if they do not eat his flesh and also drink his blood! However, if they choose to eat Jesus’ flesh and blood, they will have eternal life and they also will be raised up on the last day. Jesus then tells them that they also will have eternal life. He adds that anyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood will be with Jesus in eternity. They will live forever!
In this reading, the words “flesh and blood” are a Hebrew idiom referring to the whole person. When Jesus speaks of His “flesh and blood,” He is not speaking literally. Rather, He is speaking metaphorically. Jesus wants us to understand and believe that when we receive the body and blood of Christ, we truly encounter Jesus in a deeply personal way. When we receive the body and blood of Christ, we truly are in communion with Jesus!
Do we believe and trust that when we eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, do we understand and believe that in that moment, we truly are receiving Jesus? Or do we simply eat the bread and drink the wine but we do not choose to encounter Jesus our Lord? Receiving the body and blood of Christ is not a “magical” action! Every time we received the body and blood of Christ, Jesus is there! However, we need to be awake and aware of whom we are receiving. If we are on “automatic pilot” when we receive the body and blood of Christ, if we are not awake and alert, we will miss being in full communion with Jesus. What loss that is for us!
Today and every day, may we be alert and awake to the many ways that Jesus comes to us! He is with us every moment!
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter – John 6:44-51
Today, we are reminded that it is not we who find Jesus. John writes: God, the Father, will draw us to God’s Self! God always comes to us first, long before we even think of coming to God. God has been with us always, perhaps even before we were in the womb. And, it is God who continually searches for us and finds us when we have wandered off.
De you remember a time in your life when you truly experienced being found by God, or by Jesus? What was happening in your life at this time? What was this experience like? Was it peaceful, joyful or unsettling? Or did you experience a variety of emotions and thoughts?
Jesus tells us that He alone is the bread of life. Yes, we can eat manna or bread. However, before long, once again we are hungry. “Earthly” food does not truly satisfy our hunger. Take a moment and ask yourself: what is your experience when you receive the bread of life? Do you simply consume it without thought or prayer? Or do you understand and believe that in that very moment, we truly are receiving Jesus, our Lord and God? Do you experience that moment as holy and sacred? Or is it something you mindlessly do?
Jesus came to earth for us! And Jesus died for us, for you and for me, that we truly might live! Jesus gave us the sacrament of his body and blood to sustain and grace us. Today, may we take a few moments and sit with the gift that Jesus gives us in the Eucharist. When we receive the bread and the wine, we are receiving Jesus! Do we experience Jesus’ presence within us at that moment? I pray we do!
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Easter – John 6:35-40
Today Jesus tells the crowds: “I am the bread of life.” Jesus also says that anyone who comes to Him will never hunger, nor thirst. Did the crowds truly understand what Jesus was saying? Did they realize that Jesus was not speaking literally? Jesus was not talking about food and drink that we consume. Rather, Jesus was speaking of our “spiritual” hunger and thirst.
Ask yourself: What is it you hunger for? Is it love, friendship, financial stability, a healthy and happy family? We human beings have many hungers. However, we often try to satisfy our deepest hungers with money, material things, people, or even food or drink. Yes, these things do satisfy us to some extent. However, our deepest hunger is for God! We can have all the money in the world or a multitude of friends but if God, Jesus or the Spirit is not part of our lives, nothing else will ever satisfy!
Today, ask yourself: What do I truly thirst for? What do I long for? Most likely, we long and hope for many good things. Do I long for God? How do I experience that longing? The reality is: no matter how much we have or how many people we love, truly only God alone will satisfy our hunger and our longing! Today, will I choose to spend time with God?
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Easter – John 6:30-35
Today, the crowd is asking Jesus for a sign. They think they need to see Jesus work wonders, then they will believe in him! Their ancestors received the wondrous gift of manna when they were in the desert. They quoted the Scripture verse: “God gave them bread from heaven.” They hoped that Jesus would perform a similar miracle.
Jesus then tells them that it was not Moses who worked the bread miracle, it was God, Jesus’ Father, that did so. Jesus then goes on to say that the “bread of life” also comes down from heaven. It is this “bread of life” that gives life to the world. Did the people understand what Jesus was saying? They asked Jesus to give them some of the bread he spoke about. Did they realize that Jesus was not literally talking about bread that is baked in an oven? Rather, did they comprehend that Jesus was telling them that He, Jesus, was the bread of life? Jesus told them that anyone who truly believed in Him would never again hunger nor thirst.
Take moment and ask yourself: what do you hunger and thirst for at this time in your life? I assume you long for something! Typically, we human beings want more; we seldom are satisfied with what we have. There is always something on the horizon that we desire. It may be a promotion or a raise. It might be peace and happiness in your family. Or you may long for peace for our world. Today I invite to become aware of your longings. What do you truly long for?
Promotions, good pay, a nice house and good health are all great gifts. However, do they truly satisfy us? Yes, these are important, but do they bring us peace and true happiness? Jesus gives us the “bread of life.” This wondrous gift will bring us peace and happiness! Do we feed on the “bread of life?”
Do we appreciate this wondrous gift? Or do I simply receive it and consume it without much thought or awareness of what I have received? We can consume the bread of life or we can be fed by the bread of life. It is our choice!
It may be that if we consciously feed on the bread of life that we receive, we may find a great gift: Our Lord Jesus Christ! We also may experience contentment and peace! It is our choice: will we consciously choose to feed on our Lord Jesus Christ? I hope so!