First Reading: Acts 13:26-33
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 2
Gospel: John 14:1-6
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:1-6)
Imagine one of your friends has reserved a reservation for you at one of the best restaurants in town. Your friend has been there several times, and you have always wanted to dine at this restaurant, but have never been able to get a reservation. There is one problem however, you have never been to this restaurant and are not sure how to get there. And to make matters difficult, you cannot find directions online and your GPS is broken. How would you get to the restaurant? Wouldn't you ask your friend if you could follow them since they know the way?
Jesus tells His disciples that He has set reservations for them in heaven. He tells them not to be troubled because they have a place prepared for them, and when Jesus comes back He will take them with Him. He tells them that they know the way to where He is going, but they are confused, and Thomas speaks up saying; "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" This is where Jesus makes it clear to the disciples and to us the way to heaven when He responds; "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Like the disciples, Jesus has prepared a place and set reservations for us in heaven. But a reservation means nothing unless you are willing to show up. If we want to show up for our reservation, then we need to be willing to follow Christ in this life. For He is the way, He is the truth, and He is the life; may we surrender our life to Him, so that we might gain the eternal reward.
Don't we all want to hear the words of our maker when He calls us up; "Mr/Ms _____, your place is ready."
May God bless you and the rest of your day!
Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Thank you for all that you have blessed us with in this life. Lord thank you for giving us a way to heaven help us to have the courage to persevere through this life. We pray for all of our priests, that they may be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 13:13-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Gospel: John 13:16-20
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”(Jn 13:16-20)
Don't we all just relish in getting compliments? With each one it seems as though our head gets a little bigger and our confidence more inflated. Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with compliments; but if we all others telling us how great we are to make us believe we are great, then there are problems with that. If we allow ourselves to believe that we are great, then we begin to feel as though we are above others, and this is not what Jesus asks of us, He doesn't want us to feel that we are above anyone. He doesn't want us with our head up in the clouds, He wants to be grounded. How is it that we stay grounded? It is only by giving in to the virtue of humility.
In today's gospel, the Lord had just finished washing the disciples feet when He told them; "no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him." The Lord is telling His disciples and us to be grounded in humility. We should not think of ourselves as being so great, even if others say that we are. This is not to say that we should go around thinking that we are miserable and awful people all the time; because we should stay confident. But by embracing humility, we are recognizing our place, while we are still confident, we realize that our confidence lies in Christ, our greatness lies in Him. Humility helps us to know our place, to know who we are as sons and daughters of a loving God.
By humbling ourselves and receiving Jesus, we receive the one who sent Him, the Father. By receiving the Father, we can receive the blessings that come with a faithful, humble life.
If we want to see a great example of humility, let us look to the example of our the greatest disciple, our Blessed Mother. Her life and her witness is a great example of courage and humility, one of which we can all learn from.
Glory be to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 12:24-13:5
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67
Gospel: John 12:44-50
Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.” (Jn 12:44-50)
Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? These are questions that have perplexed humans for ages. While I am not going to pretend like I have all the answers to questions like this, today's readings have given me some good thoughts.
Why are we here? We are here because God loves us enough to give us life. As the Catechism says, we are here to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. This is our main goal in life, to try our best to love God and live for Him while we are on earth, so that by His grace we can spend eternity with Him in heaven. What is our purpose in life? Jesus tells us in today's gospel that He came into this world as light, so that whoever believes in Him may not remain in darkness. In the first reading from Acts, the Lord called Paul and Barnabas to a specific purpose, He wanted them to deliver His word and the good news of His love to other areas. This is our purpose as well, not only to live in the light of Christ, but also to let His light shine through us for all others to see. We are here because of Him and for Him. May each of us be given the courage to spread His word and let our lights shine on in the darkness.
May God bless you and the rest of your day!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Lord, we thank you for the gift of our lives, help us to never waste it, and to fulfill our purpose in this life, all for your glory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 11:19-26
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 87
Gospel: John 10:22-30
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:24-30)
Have you ever tried to wrestle something small away from someone else's hand? When I was little, I used to play this game with my dad and my friends a lot. Whenever I would play this game with my dad, I would also try and pry his hand open to get what he was hiding, usually it was something like a quarter or a piece of candy. Unsuccessfully, and after many attempts to get his hand open, I would give up. Thankfully, he took pity and let me have what was in his hand. I learned as a kid that when someone much stronger has something in their hand, trying to get it out is pointless, because they are in control of what is in their hand.
Christ, our Good Shepherd, tells us today that those who listen to His voice are His sheep, and they are in the Father's hand. He also goes on to tell us that no one can take them out of the Father's hand, because like I said before; when someone much stronger has something in their hand, trying to get it out is pointless. There is no one or no thing more powerful than God, our Father. He is stronger than all, and when we are in His hands, you better believe that nothing else has the power to take us out. But we have to first get into His loving hands, into His loving care. And the only way that we can do that is through Jesus. We must have an open heart, and be willing to hear the voice of Jesus in our lives. We must believe in His power and in His life, death and resurrection. We must be willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him where ever He leads us. By doing this, we will all be able to take comfort in the Father's hands, which is the place where each of us belongs.
May each of us be lead to the open and loving hands of the Father, where nothing on earth can take us away.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you so much for all that you have given and for all that you bless us with. Lord, we are not worthy of your love, but you freely choose to give it to us anyway. Help us to always follow you, no matter what this life may bring. Lord, we are your people, may we all humble ourselves and come into your loving hands. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 11:1-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 42
Gospel: John 10:1-10
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:7-10)
While I have never done this, I know many people who have snuck into movie theaters. It is my understanding that there are a variety of methods. One way is to go into the exit door while people are coming out. Another is to simply go from the theater you were in to another movie. I have also heard the silly idea of walking backwards towards the theater while people are leaving. Regardless of which way someone sneaks into a theater, it is not right or acceptable. Now, I can understand wanting to, especially with the prices they are charging nowadays, but robbing one place just because it feels like they are robbing you does not make it right. There is only one right way to enter a movie theater, and that is by paying the price and entering into the front.
And so it is like heaven, we must realize that there is only one right way of entering into heaven, and that is through Jesus. Our Lord tells us today that He is the gate, and that whoever enters through Him will be saved. He came so that we might have abundant life, but that does not mean that we gain it on our terms, we gain it on His. Like we said about the movie theater, we can only get admission by paying the price, after we have paid the price then we can enter in the right way. The price that we pay to gain eternal life, is by losing our life to Him now. By being willing to follow His will instead of our own, by picking up our cross daily and following Him, by abandoning sin and giving in to virtue, by making Christ the center of our lives ... that is the price that must be paid in order to get into heaven. And while it is a high price, it is no match for the reward.
Remember, there is only one way, one gate to heaven; and that is Jesus. May we all be given to courage to follow the good shepherd.
Today, reflect on these words by Christ: "Then he said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Lk 9:23-24)
Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy, and for giving us a way to eternal life. Jesus, help us to always follow you who are the gate to heaven. Give us the courage and perseverance needed to make it through this life, so that one day we may be in heaven with you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 9:1-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 117
Gospel: John 6:52-59
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (n 6:52-59)
"How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?" This is what the Jews argued about when Jesus talked about how He is the bread of life, and that if we want to live, then we must eat of this bread. The Jews had a great deal of trouble with this teaching, just as many people have trouble with it today. As Catholics, we believe that at each mass we receive the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, while it is a great mystery and we do not fully understand it, we simply know that it is what it is.
Faith doesn't need full understanding and complete logic. Simply knowing in our hearts and our minds that each time we receive communion we receive Jesus body, blood, soul, and divinity; is sufficient for us. It think this is why the Jews and even people today have trouble accepting the Eucharist, because they cannot wrap their heads around how and why this happens. Unfortunately, "higher thought" can be a significant stumbling block to a thriving faith life. There are definitely times where we have to accept things as the mystery (and grace) that they are, just accept it and say "it is what it is." The Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, given to us so that we might have life in us ... period.
Our great Catholic Faith, it is what it is ... thanks be to God!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with in this life. Lord, thank you for all that you have given us and for all that you continue to do in our lives. Lord, thank you for the gift of the Eucharist, the gift of your body and blood; help us to receive you with humble and contrite hearts. Lord, help us to persevere in this life with your grace and to follow you no matter what. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 8:26-40
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 66
Gospel: John 6:44-51
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:45-51)
Today we is the celebration of earth day. This is a day that many people have different feelings about. Some people take it very seriously and celebrate it more than they would Easter or Christmas, others don't even think of it as a celebration or an important day at all. Me personally, I think that it is a good thing to take time to remember how important it is to be good stewards of this earth which God has made and given to us. In the book of Genesis, we are told of how God made the heavens and the earth, and because they were dark and formless, He gave it light, the sky, the sea and all that is in it today. We must remember that it is God who created this earth and all that is in it, and our responsibility is to be good stewards of this gift, not to wreck it.
Today there is a big push for everything to be "green" and for us to beware of climate change. While I think that it is important for us to be aware of the effects that we are having on the environment, it should not be the most important thing in this life. There are people today who are treating the "green" movement almost as if it were a religion, and this is something that we must all be weary of. While it is good that we take care of things in our lives, we cannot let them become the center of our world. We cannot let earthly things be our main focus or become idols in our lives. We would do well to always remember that at the center of our lives should be Christ, the true bread of life.
On this earth day let us not only think about how we can be better stewards, but also let us remember who it is who created us and the earth, and who it is that loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for this gift of this day. Lord, we thank you and praise you for this earth which you made and which is good. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy, help us to be good stewards of this earth and of this life which you give us. Lord increase our faith so that we may always keep you at the center of our lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord, Amen.
First Reading: Acts 8:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 66
Gospel: John 6:35-40
Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:35-40)
Rejection, we have all felt it at one time or another. I remember last year when I was on the job hunt, I was applying for so many different types of jobs. Most of the time I never heard back from the companies but occasionally a good company would be considerate and keep me updated on the job ... with a rejection letter. The letters typically always said thank you for applying, I had great qualifications, but unfortunately they had selected someone else. While I appreciated the correspondence, it certainly never made the rejection any easier. I was very thankful that God was really teaching me to trust in Him during that time. I was also very thankful because even though I had lots of companies rejecting me, I knew that it was not the end of the world, because I would always be accepted by Christ; and that is all that truly matters in life.
The reality is that we will all be rejected by people and places in our lives. While this is certainly never easy to take, we must remember that it is all a part of God's plan, and there is a reason for the rejection. The great thing about our faith is that we can always take comfort in the fact that no matter who or what in this world rejects us, Christ never will. Jesus tells us today; "and I will not reject anyone who comes to me." Our Lord accepts everyone as they are, and He never rejects anyone who comes to Him ready to follow. No matter how many times the world rejects us, and no matter how many times we feel like nobody wants us, we must remember that we always have a friend in, and a place with our Lord.
Today let us reflect on the words of our Lord: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Mt 11:28-30)
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for your great love and forgiveness. Thank you for all that you have blessed us with in this life. Help us to follow you no matter what life brings, for your ways are perfect. Lord, our hearts truly are restless until they find rest in you; may we always understand how much you love and accept us as we are. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 7:51-8:1
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 31
Gospel: John 6:30-35
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:51-60)
I have always been in awe of Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. First of all, his bold words against the scribes and pharisees were certainly bold enough, but what is even more amazing is the power witness that he gives at the end of his life. While we do not read much of Stephen in the bible, what little we do read is certainly powerful enough. Stephen was clearly a man who loved God with all his heart, and because he loved God so much, he was able to love others ... even those who wanted to take his life.
Stephen shows us what it means to follow the Lord until the very end. His martyrdom is a powerful challenge to each one of us. Are we willing to follow Christ in all that we do? Are we willing to speak boldly to those who do not believe in Him? Are we willing to look to Jesus and trust in Him even when the world is persecuting us? Are we able to forgive those who intentionally hurt us and cause us pain? Stephen shows us that if we are willing to model our lives after Christ that there is a great reward waiting for us in heaven.
Living the Christian life is never easy, but it is worth it.
Saint Stephen, pray for us!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with, and thank you for all that you do. Lord, you alone are the source of life and all goodness, help us never to be distracted by anything other than you. Lord, this life is not always easy, but let us never take the easy path, for that does not lead to you. Let us always choose your path, which is hard, but is worth it. Help us persevere to the very end, like your servant Stephen. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 6:8-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: John 6:22-29
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” (Jn 6:24-28)
Since the age of 16, I have been working. When I first started working, it was to pay for my truck and auto insurance. When I got to college, I worked to pay for things like books, rent, etc. Now, I work to help provide for my family and give God glory. Work is pretty much an essential thing for each of us, no matter what our job or title is, we are all called to do some sort of work in this life. Besides finding out what exactly that work is, we should also ask ourselves what are we working for? Are we working to get material things, or are we answering God's calling for our lives and working for His glory?
We should also be thinking about this question not just in our careers, but in every aspect of our life. What are we working for? In today's gospel, Jesus says that we should "not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the son of Man will give you." Jesus tells this to the people because He wants them to know that in this life we should be striving for one thing above all others, and that is to make it to Heaven. Nothing else is more important, and the only way that we are going to be able to reach Heaven is by following Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the light; it is only by Him that we can be the people that we are called to be and to have eternal life.
While there are certainly a lot of nice things that we can have in this life, we should not be working for these perishable things. Our main goal in life should be working to get to Heaven.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so loving and merciful to us; help us to never veer from your path. Lord, we want to be with you in heaven someday, help us to persevere in this life and to ignore the distractions, and to only follow you. Help us also lead others to you, so that they might one day too life in eternity with you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 5:34-42
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27
Gospel: John 6:1-15
A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time, and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:34-39)
Today's first reading reminds me of something that I once heard a priest say when speaking about the history of the Catholic Church. He said, "when God's grace is behind something, it cannot be stopped." These words are so true of our Church. Gamaliel was a very wise Pharisee who knew this, and that is why he advised the others not to put the apostles to death. Today we can see that the early church is certainly not of human origin, but rather it is from God. If the Catholic Church was of human origin, it would have disbanded many years ago. But the truth is that the one true Church established by Christ stands strong today, despite thousands of years of opposition, scandal, slander, and plots to destroy the Church; and yet it still stands. When God's grace is behind something it cannot be stopped.
Currently, Pope Benedict XVI, is being slammed by the liberal media in regards to the previous sexual abuse cases that went on in Germany. The liberal media is doing whatever they can to cast the Catholic Church in a negative light. Talk show hosts are telling Catholics to leave their Church, fear and doubt are being put into the minds of our brothers and sisters. We can choose to jump on the liberal bandwagon, or we can courageously stand out ground and stand by our Pope. The truth will come out soon, and regardless of the outcome, God will bring a greater good out of this situation ... just like He has always done.
When God's grace is behind something, it cannot be stopped!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord thank you for all that you have blessed us with and for all that you give us. Lord, thank you for this faith, thank you for the Pope, may you continue to guide and lead Him, especially in his time of need. Lord, we pray that your truth will come out and that those who have been persecuting you and your Church may repent and come to know your love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 5:27-33
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34
Gospel: John 3:31-36
When the court officers had brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.
Firemen, policemen, soldiers, people who pray in front of abortion clinics, kids who stand up to bullies; each of these people have one thing in common ... courage. Courage is a virtue that I believe each of us should work on in our lives. To have courage means to have strength when faced with opposition. Our courage is based on the source of our strength, and that source should be God. The apostles today give us a great example of courage. They were faced with opposition from the religious leaders, and yet they spoke and acted boldly ... no matter what the cost. They were not concerned with their own lives or of what sort of earthly consequences they might face; they were only concerned with preaching the name of Jesus and of serving God. This is an example of real courage.
To have and display courage does not mean that we have to go out looking for trouble. We can be courageous in our every day lives. We can be courageous by being bold for the Lord. We can stand up for a co-worker, even if it means we might be less popular. We can confront a fellow family member when they are doing wrong. We can proclaim the name of Jesus to any and all people that we might come into contact with. By being courageous in the little things in our life, we will be preparing for more challenging times.
Remember, courage means to have strength when faced with opposition. Let God be your strength in life, and if you do then you will have to courage to face anything.
**The Saints give us a great example of courage. Please check out http://catholic.org/saints/ for a list and information of popular Saints. Here are some of my favorite: Our Blessed Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Paul, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Saint Tarcisius, Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, and Saint Patrick.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for all that you have blessed us with in our lives. Lord, help us to be courageous for you, help us to stand up to all the injustices of this world. Help us to be fearless for you, and may we always rely on your strength instead of our own. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 5:17-26
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: John 3:16-21
For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (Jn 3:16-21)
As human beings we can adjust to many different situations for short durations. For example, if you are in the dark for too long, your body will adjust. Your eyes will adjust so that you can see better, you will move around more cautiously, you will rely more on other senses, etc. The fact is that we have the ability to adapt to our environment. Now even though we have this ability to adapt, this does not mean that the environment that we adapt to is the one that we were meant for.
In John's gospel, we read how Christ came into this world so that we might live in the light. He came not to condemn, but to give us new life in Him. Not everyone goes towards the light of Christ though, some stay in the darkness, where they have adjusted to "their environment." It is sad when people choose to live in the darkness; because that is not what we were meant for, we were meant to live a life of love, not a life of sin and evil.
The words of today's gospel are so beautiful and give us so much hope. We must remember that even though we can adjust and live of this world, it is not what we were meant for. We were meant to be of the light of Christ and only live in this world. God created us for more, He created us to live in the light. Today, let us reflect on the words from John's gospel: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (Jn 3:16)
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for your great love, and for sending your Son so that we might have a way to heaven. Lord, help us to be your vessels in this world, so that your light might shine through us. We pray for all of our priests and religious, that they may be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 4:32-37
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 93
Gospel: John 3:7-15
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles (Acts 4:32-37)
Today we read about what things were like in the early Christian community, and if I had to pick just one word to describe this community, it would be 'trusting.' This group sold all that they had and just relied on God, this must have been a very powerful witness to all those around them. We also read that because of this trust in the Lord, that "there was no need person among them." This early Christian community had their priorities straight, they didn't worry about accumulating material possessions, they only worried about serving God and accumulating spiritual wealth.
Imagine if the people in every parish today were like this early community. This would truly be an amazing sight, to see people more concerned with the work of God than their own person wants. Sadly it is not like this, and in fact most people are doing the exact opposite, instead of giving all they have to God they are giving all to themselves. People do this because they are worried about 'going without', but what they do not realize is that by building up material things in their life, they are going without Spiritually. So many of us do not treat this life like the temporary residence that it is, we try to accumulate lots of 'things', but can we take all of these things with us when we die? Are all of our possessions going to be important when we are on our deathbed? Do all of these things strengthen our relationship with God and others? The answer to each of these questions is 'No." The truth of the matter is that there is only one things that we need in this life, and that is God. The early Christian community learned this by letting go of the world and by trusting in Him.
Today, let us reflect on these verses from the Gospel of Matthew: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? (Mt 6:25-27)
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, help us to place all of our trust in you, may we stand firmly in our faith and never buckle under pressure. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 4:23-31
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 2
Gospel: John 3:1-8
Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
A little over a year ago, here in Ohio, we had gotten some of the after effects of one of the hurricanes from down south. While we didn't have any of the water to deal with, we did see a significant amount of wind gusts. It actually wreaked a great deal of havoc across the area. Power was out for many homes, schools were closed due to no water and/or power, and there was a great deal of damage and debris. This was something that we were certainly not used to in Ohio. Wind is a powerful force, and it has a funny way of coming into an environment and affecting it in some way.
In the gospel today, Jesus tells us that those who are born of the Spirit are like the wind, no one knows where they come from and where they go. I think what Jesus was trying to get across was that those who are born of the Spirit become a powerful force. Much like the disciples that we are reading about in the book of Acts, we see that those who are born of the Spirit begin to affect their environment and those around them in some way. People recognize the powerful force that those who are strong in the Spirit, and while they may not know where they came from or where they are going, but they have been affected.
Through baptism and confirmation, we have been reborn through water and Spirit. Do we allow God's Spirit to work through us to be the powerful force in this life that we are meant to be? Do others recognize the work of God in our life, and by our example are so moved to let Jesus into their own life? Each of us is a vessel, we have to choose whether we are going to be a vessel for good or for evil. God can and wants to do great things through us, but only if we are willing to say 'yes' to Him each moment of our lives.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you so much for all that you have blessed us with. Lord, we thank you for your great love and mercy, help us to share this with those around us. Lord, there is no one like you, help us to only serve you in our lives and be the people that you created us to be. We pray for the conversion of all those who do not know you, may they be brought back to your loving arms. We pray for a deeper conversion of all the faithful, that we might grow deeper in faith, love and virtue. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 4:1-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118
Gospel: John 21:1-14
On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class. They brought them into their presence and questioned them, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:5-12)
Isn't it amazing how quickly things can change? Today we read in the book of Acts how Peter and John are arrested and brought before the religious leaders. Now we must remember that these are the same disciples who ran when Jesus was being arrested. Peter is the disciple who denied Christ three times to strangers in the crowd. Now, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, Peter stands up to the religious leaders and speaks strongly for the Lord. There is no more doubt, no more fear; only love and courage.
While most of us will never be arrested and brought to trial for our faith, this does not mean that we are not meant to be bold. Every day we have chances to be bold for Christ, perhaps through word. How many times have we been confronted about our faith, or how many times do we see someone doing something wrong and just look the other way instead of saying something? How many times do we have to opportunity to help someone out or to support someone? How many times do we skip opportunities to pray for someone just because it would require some of our precious time? The truth is that each of us has a chance to make a bold move that can impact someone else everyday. Many of us miss these opportunities because we are busy with our own lives. But we were given a new commandment by Christ, and that is to "love one another as [He] has loved us." (Jn 13:34) Bold moves can happen every day, but only if we are willing to step outside of ourselves and love others as Christ does.
Brothers and Sisters, I pray that each of us can have our eyes opened and that each of our hearts can be on fire for Jesus, so that we can go out and live the life that we are meant to. May we each be open to the power of the Holy Spirit which wants to work in each of our lives.
Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful and make the fire of your love burn within them. Send forth your spirit and there shall be another creation. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, you have instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit. Grant that through the same Holy Spirit we may always be truly wise and rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 3:11-26
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 8
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48
As the crippled man who had been cured clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. Now I know, brothers and sisters, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. (Acts 3:11-21)
In today's reading from Acts, we once again see the new bold Peter address the crowd. Peter makes sure that he takes attention off of him and John and directs it back to God. Then he goes on to tell the Israelites how they have done wrong by rejecting and persecuting Jesus. But after addressing their wrongdoings, Peter doesn't continue to condemn them, he does what every good Christian should do ... he offered them a second chance through Christ.
Even though these people had done wrong to Jesus, "the author of life", Peter tells them that it is not too late for them. He tells them that they can still repent and have their sins wiped away. Isn't this just amazing?! Even though these people were partly responsible for the death of the Christ, they are still shown compassion and offered a second chance. Peter, who understands second chances better than most, is very clear that each of these people too can have a second chance through Christ. And it is this same second chance that we are offered as well, no matter what we done.
May we always remember that we serve a God of infinite compassion and mercy. He is a God who always offers us a second chance at new life. May we always remember this in our own life and also be willing to share God's love and mercy with those who need it.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy. Help all of those who are turned away from you to come back to your arms, that they may find peace and comfort and their life in you. Lord, give us the strength and courage to share your mercy with others, and humble ourselves when we need a second chance. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 3:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then 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?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Lk 25-35)
In today's gospel reading, you might see a very familiar scene. Here we have two of the disciples on their way to Emmaus, when all of a sudden Jesus joins them, however they were unaware of this. Then Jesus begins to explain the scriptures to the disciples. After this, He joins them for a meal, more specifically the breaking of the bread, and it is then that the disciples recognize Christ in the breaking of the bread. Think about what does this gospel story remind you of? Perhaps the mass? Think about it, the mass has two parts; the liturgy of the word, where the word of God is read to us and explained. The other part is the liturgy of the Eucharist, where we all receive the body and blood of Jesus through bread and wine.
This gospel not only shows how the risen Jesus appeared to some of His disciples, but also how He is with us and ready to pour out His grace upon us through the Sacraments. It was only through the Eucharist, or breaking of the bread, that the disciples where able to recognize Jesus. It is the same for us, we can come to recognize Jesus more in our lives and be filled with His grace by regularly going to mass and being fed through both the word and the Eucharist.
Christ gave us the Sacraments so that we can continue to have ways of encountering Him through physical things. We must remember that we need the Sacraments, because this is one of the ways in which God meets us and gives us certain kinds of grace. These Sacraments are necessary because each of us desperately need God's grace in our lives.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with . Lord, thank you for the grace that you give us through your Sacraments. Thank you for always meeting us where we are at and coming to us in order to bring us up. Lord, you are the bread of life; the light, the truth and the way, help us to always follow you and never stray from your love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 2:36-41
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: John 20:11-18
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her. (John 20:15-18)
Change, this is something that is hard for each of us. Many people have problems with change, this can be changes at home, school, work, etc. We have problems with change because we get very comfortable, and when that comfort or balance is shaken, we don't always react well. While there are a few exception, most people like routine and having a feeling of some sort of control over areas of their life, whenever there is change, this balance and sense of control is lost and we are left of venture into unknown territory.
In today's gospel, we see that Mary is having a difficult time with change. She was already hit hard by the death of Jesus, and now to make matters worse the body is missing! As she encounters Jesus, He tells her something very important; "Mary! ... Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." Jesus is telling Mary that she has to let go of how she knew Jesus and trust in Him for what is to come, because even though it is change, it is change for the better. Mary learned an important lesson in "letting go and letting God" that day.
While change is certainly difficult for each of us, we must use these times to grow in our faith. Even though we do not know what will happen as a result, we must trust that God has something even greater planned. Mary was still holding on to Jesus as she knew Him, but what she didn't realize is that by His ascension He was going to take His seat at the right hand of the Father and to send forth His spirit for all those who would believe. Christ had something greater in mind, and this is the case when we experience change in our life, Christ will bring about a greater good ... if we are willing to let go and trust Him.
Ask yourself these questions today, is there an area of your life that is experiencing change? Is there great uncertainty for the future? Is God asking you to trust in Him even more? It's time to let go, and let God.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, even though we have trouble with change in our lives, help us to trust in you and in your plan. Lord, you know what is best, please increase our faith so that you might follow you where ever you ask us to go. Lord, we love you and praise you. We pray for the conversion of all those who do not know you, may they be brought to your love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Acts 2:14, 22-33
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 16
Gospel: Matthew 28:8-15
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day. (Mt 28:11-15)
In today's gospel, we have the chief priests and elders, fresh off of their crucifixion of our Lord, being faced with a decision. Now let's be clear, the guards told them exactly what has happened, wouldn't you think that this would make them believe in Jesus and realize their error? No, instead of believing in Jesus and repenting for their sins, they decide to cover the whole thing up.
What we see developing here is a bad pattern developing: sin leads to more sin. The scribes and pharisees of the time were already guilty of many sins such as; pride, paying more attention to human tradition than God's law, submitting to the authority of Caesar rather than the Lord's, laying a heavy burden on the people, and worrying about their own power and position. And what these sins led to was more sins, in fact by giving into their sins they ended up committing such a grave and horrible sin, having Christ the Lord crucified. Unfortunately they are in over their heads and caught in such a vicious cycle, that they are now led them to commit more sin, such as lying and covering up the truth about the resurrection. Not only did they lie about this, but by lying and circulating their story they prevented others from the truth and from the saving grace of Jesus.
One thing that we must understand is that giving into sin only leads to more sin. Some people think that if they just give in to little urges or desires that they will be satisfied and no longer sin, but they don't get satisfied, in fact it only makes their urges stronger. If we are struggling with sin, we must ask the Holy Spirit to gives us courage and strength to overcome it, because it is only with God's help that we can break free from sin that seeks to tie us down. If we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than our own power, then we will be free to be the men and women of God that we were created to be.
Sin only leads to a vicious cycle in our lives; but by the resurrection we now have a great hope that can help us over come this dangerous pattern. All praise and glory be to Him!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with, and for all that you do. Lord, help us to avoid sin and to only submit to you. Lord, we pray for an increase in the virtues of courage, temperance and fortitude; so that we might persevere mightily for your glory. We pray for all of our priests and religious, that they may be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Brothers and Sisters, I want to take this time to wish each of you a happy and grace filled Easter! This is truly a joyous day as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and the hope that comes with it. Hope is such a powerful thing that we have, it is what fuels our faith and it is given to us by our Risen Lord Jesus. May we always remember that other people can take our things, but no one can ever rob us of our hope. Thanks and praise be to God!
Everybody sing praise for Christ is Risen, Hallelujah!!!!!
First Reading: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Gospel: John 13:1-15
So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (Jn 13:12-15)
Have you ever tried to put together a puzzle without looking at the picture? Sure you may be able to get it done, but it is much harder to do because you are not even sure what the picture is supposed to look like. It is hard to figure some of the color patterns or specific things that are inside the picture. A puzzle is always easier when we can see what the finished product is supposed to look like. By looking at the puzzle image on the box, we get a special view of the "big picture", which helps us see what we are supposed to do.
Today is Holy Thursday, and the readings at the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper tell us how Jesus washed His disciples feet. After doing this great act of service, He tell them that He has given them a model to follow, so that they too can go forth and wash the feet of others. Jesus could have just instructed them, and told them "I want you to go out and serve others, humbling yourself and washing their feet." While we know it would have been good advice, it also would not have been nearly as powerful if He had just told the disciples. By actually washing the disciples feet, Jesus gave them an example to follow, He helped them to see the "big picture."
Jesus invites us in to see the big picture, and to go out and wash the feet of others. This model of serving is one that we would be very wise to follow, because humbling ourselves and serving both the Lord and others is how we will find ourselves. May we always remember that by losing our life to Him, we gain everything.
Father above, we thank you for this day. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy. Thank you for giving us life, help us not to waste it on ourselves, but rather use it to serve you and others. Lord, we know that you do not need us, but rather that you want us with you. You are our kind, loving, gentle Father; help us to find our lives in you. We pray for the conversion of all sinners during this Holy Week. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.