Thursday, March 31, 2016
Thursday within the Octave of Easter – Luke 24:35-48
In today’s reading, Jesus once again appeared to the disciples. The Gospel begins with the disciples talking with each other about Jesus appearing to them and breaking bread with them. What a marvelous gift that time together had been. His disciples continued to be astounded, amazed, and grateful. However, they were just beginning to truly comprehend that they had not lost their teacher, friend, and mentor, Jesus.
While they were talking about this Jesus once again appeared to them. In an instant, Jesus was in their midst. Jesus then greeted them with the simple words: “Peace be with you.” However, instead of feeling peaceful, the disciples were terrified. They believed they were seeing a ghost. Again, the disciples did not recognize Jesus. Since Jesus had appeared to them not long ago, it seems that they would have realized that the figure that stood before them was Jesus. However, they did not. Did Jesus not look the same as he did when he appeared to them the first time?
Jesus then asked them: “Why are you troubled and afraid? Why do you question?” Jesus invited them to look at his hands and his feet and see for themselves that he truly is Jesus, their teacher, friend and Lord. Jesus asked them to come and touch him and experience for themselves that he is real. He was not a ghost. He was flesh and bone. Jesus then showed them the wounds in his hands, feet, and side to strengthen their belief that this vision before them was Jesus, their Lord and their friend. Slowly the disciples began to absorb the reality that Jesus truly was in their midst. He was alive! How could this be? What wondrous news! What joy must have filled their hearts. They thought they had lost Jesus forever!
Jesus then opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He told them that it was written that the Christ would suffer and then rise from the dead on the third day. Repentance and forgiveness of sin would be preached in Jesus’ name to all nations.
How did the disciples react to Jesus’ words? Did Jesus’ words “set them on fire?” Were they ready to go out and begin preaching and teaching his message or were they hesitant and afraid? Were some of them asking themselves: could I really do that? Jesus was the one who was teacher and preacher. What might the cost of this mission be? Jesus had been arrested, flogged and crucified. Did they ask themselves: “Am I truly willing to give my all for Jesus?”
Today Jesus is calling us to preach and teach the good news. It may be with words but also by our example. Will we answer Jesus’ call? Will we follow in his footsteps and share his message and his love? Will we?
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Wednesday within the Octave of Easter – Luke 24:13-35
Today we hear Luke’s version of the story of the walk to Emmaus. We know this story well. Most likely, if someone asked us, we easily could tell them the story. Familiarity can be good but at times, but it also can be a hindrance. Today I invite you to read this Gospel passage again. Read it slowly and attentively. Be open to the message that Jesus has for you today. After reading the passage, take a few minutes and quietly listen for Jesus’ message.
At times in our lives, we have been “the disciples on the road to Emmaus:” feeling lost, alone, sad, confused, and perhaps angered by our personal Calvary experience. True, it was not literally our crucifixion and death. Yet, most likely it was a time of great pain, confusion, anger, sadness or loss. Or it might have been a time when a significant person or part of your life died to you. Take a moment and remember one of your Calvary experiences. Like the disciples who never thought they would lose Jesus, you also were lost, sad, confused, depressed and perhaps angry.
What was that time in life like for you? How long did it take you to begin to recover and begin to come back to life? Did your faith sustain you during this time or did God feel light years away from you? Was there any sense, small though it may have been, that God, Jesus, or the Spirit was with you, sustaining you, strengthening you? These times are extremely difficult and they may threaten our trust and faith in God. We all know that bad things happen to good people; however, when they happen to us, our natural reaction is to question: “Why me? Why did God let this happen?”
If we hold onto our faith in God, Jesus eventually will appear to us again, most likely in unexpected ways, places, or people. Will our mind and hearts be open or will they be closed by anger, fear, and loss? Today may we pray for the grace to trust that Jesus will come to us. May we trust and believe that Jesus IS with us always!
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Tuesday within the Octave of Easter – John 20:11-18
Today Mary Magdalene is outside of Jesus’ tomb weeping. However, this section of the Gospel is only a segment of the full story. While it was still dark, Mary had come to Jesus’ tomb. When Mary arrived at the tomb, the stone had been rolled away. How had this happened? Mary bent over and looked into the tomb. To her great surprise, there were two angels in the tomb! The angels were sitting at the head and the feet of where Jesus’ body had been.
The angels asked Mary why she was weeping. She told them that someone had taken Jesus’ body away and she did not know where they had taken it. As she turned around to leave the tomb, Jesus stood before her, but she did not recognize him. Jesus then asked Mary: “Why are you weeping?” Mary assumed this man was the gardener. He surely would know where Jesus’ body had been taken. Mary begged him to tell her where Jesus was laid. At that moment, Jesus simply and lovingly spoke her name. He uttered only one word: “Mary.” Instantly Mary’s eyes and heart were opened. She realized that Jesus was standing before her.
How often have we gone looking for Jesus? At times, we also have been desperate to find Jesus and experience his presence and care. At times, life often is more than we can handle on our own. Yes, we can and should depend on the people who care about us; however, we also need to experience the peace and reassurance of Jesus and his love and care.
Today Jesus will call us by name. Then Jesus will wait for us to reply. Will our minds and hearts be open and listening deeply enough to hear Jesus’ call? Or will we be too busy to hear his call? What a horrible loss that would be! Today may we strive to keep our hearts alert and attentive and our ears open!
Monday, March 28, 2016
Monday within the Octave of Easter – Matthew 28:8-15
Praise God! Today we have alleluias, flowers, joyful music and a festive celebration as we continue the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Each day this week, we hear different accounts of Jesus’ appearances to his disciples.
Today’s Gospel begins in the middle of the story, verses 8-15. In the first seven verses, Matthew tells us that Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary had left at daybreak to go to Jesus’ tomb. When they arrived at the tomb, an angel appeared before them. The angel then rolled back the stone from the tomb and sat upon it. The angel then told the women that Jesus was not in the tomb and instructed them to go and tell Jesus’ disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. The disciples were to go to Galilee and they would find Jesus there. Did these two women wonder if they were having hallucinations? Yet, each of them had seen and heard the same thing. If Jesus truly was alive, they would ask for nothing more.
As the women were going to find the disciples, Jesus appeared before them. He lovingly greeted them. Did they think they were having another hallucination? In their hearts they knew that Jesus was standing before them. They knelt before Jesus, embraced his feet and praised God that Jesus had returned to them. Jesus then told them to go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee. Jesus would be there!
Somehow, the guards heard this fantastic tale. Immediately, they went to the chief priests and told them this story. The chief priests were extremely concerned. If this rumor were to spread, they would have havoc. Thus, the chief priests decided to bribe the soldiers. They gave them a large amount of money to keep silent. They also told them if someone asked what had happened to Jesus’ body, they were to say that they had fallen asleep while they were on duty and while they were sleeping, someone had come and stolen the body of Jesus. The soldiers eagerly complied with their plan. In return, the soldiers were paid off. Despite the best efforts of the chief priests to keep the news of Jesus’ resurrection from being made known, the women’s account of their encounter with Jesus rapidly spread throughout Jerusalem and the world was drastically changed.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have a personal encounter Jesus during this Eastertide? What a wondrous gift that would be! Who knows? If we have open eyes, minds and hearts today, we also may encounter Jesus!
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Today we celebrate Easter Sunday, the day on which our Lord and God, Jesus, rose from the dead. Do we truly believe and remember the love that Jesus poured out for us or do we focus on the Easter baskets, the candy, preparing the meal, and enjoying the springtime weather? Is Easter simply another holiday, a day for family and perhaps for going to church?
I invite you to ask yourself on this Easter day: what am I celebrating? Am I celebrating having a day off and a great meal to eat? Am I simply enjoying being with my family and friends? However, will I take 5-10 minutes and spend some time with the best friend I have: Jesus, the man who gave his life for me? Jesus died and rose for us so that we can live with him, not only now, but forever! Today will we walk with him? Will we talk with Him? He is waiting for us! What will we choose?