Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Christ Prevails

Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

By Colleen O’Sullivan
The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail.  But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”  When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught.  (Acts 5:17-21a)
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…  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. (John 3:16, 19-21)
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth; break into song; sing praise.   (Psalm 98:4)

Much has been done throughout time to squelch the Word and to keep the world in darkness, generally by people who find the darkness profitable to themselves.  The ultimate attempt, of course, came on Good Friday with the Crucifixion of Jesus.  That was quickly followed by persecution, imprisonment, and martyrdom of his followers.  Even today, Christians in other places around the globe are still giving their lives for their faith.

But we have celebrated Easter.  We know Christ is risen, and we live in the light of his Resurrection.  We believe nothing in all creation can ever silence the Word or extinguish the Light.  In today’s first reading, the high priest and his cronies, worried that their hold over the people might be slipping, have the wonder-working Apostles thrown into jail.  There.  That will solve that little problem.  But they quickly discover that the Word of God cannot be held captive.  No matter how dark the cell, how thick the prison bars, how heavy the chains, how fierce the persecution, the Easter message is that Christ prevails.

When you are praying today, let Jesus into the dark places in your life, the places you like to keep hidden.  The Lord loves you.  He won’t condemn you.  He wants only to bring you forgiveness, peace, healing and light.  Easter is about the promise of redemption.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Spirit Blows Where it Will

By Beth DeCristofaro

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. (Acts 4:32)

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘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.” (John 3:7-8)

Holy Spirit, come into my heart; draw it to Thee by Thy power, O my God, and grant me charity with filial fear. Preserve me, O ineffable Love, from every evil thought; warm me, inflame me with Thy dear love, and every pain will seem light to me. My Father, my sweet Lord, help me in all my actions. Jesus, love, Jesus, love. Amen. (St Catherine of Siena)

Sunday, we watched two new Saints be officially raised up by the Church.  On “Meet the Press” debates waged over what this means to the United States (Catholic plus) population.  One of the comments struck me.  A panelist pointed out that the rituals in Rome were for two very different men, one considered liberal and the other conservative by today’s American Church but that the Catholic Church was proving that it is a very big tent, welcoming in those of many perspectives.  He lamented the fact that our political parties should have such a “big tent” mentality and work together for a more common good than “my side is right.”

St. Catherine of Siena’s prayer might be an avenue that could help us Catholics in the trenches and in the voting booths.  “Holy Spirit, inflame my heart,” she prayed.  She prayed for the Spirit’s life within her to move her life, which the wind of the Spirit would blow her where it would.  

Can we ask this humbly? “Blow us, Holy Spirit, where you will.  Help us respect and enable your community, Jesus Christ, to serve your Church as you would have us serve.”  We could be of one heart and mind rather than “conservatives” or “liberals”, “traditionalist” or “progressive,” “relativistic” or “fundamental.”  The Spirit will blow where it will.  Where will I be? 

God is With Him

“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  Acts 4:29-30

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.”  John 3:1-2

Father, enable your servants to hear your Word, speak your Word and act upon your Word.  Jesus, stretch forth your hands and reveal your plans for us.  Send forth your Holy Spirit that we can carry on being your hands in this crazy, amazing and confusing world. Amen.

Ever wonder what became of Nicodemus after the Crucifixion?  Instead of telling us that next chapter in his life, a week after Easter, the Church goes back and offers us another look at the scriptural introduction to this Pharisee.  On first glance, it seems WAY out of sequence.  However, a deeper reading reveals that from this very first reported encounter with Christ, Nicodemus seemed to fully understand who Jesus was.  “We know you come from God.”  He was never in the camp that wanted to condemn Jesus and turn the Lord over to the Romans.  Not only does Nicodemus reveal that God is with Jesus, his belief also reveals that God is at work through Nicodemus.

Once Nicodemus acknowledged and did not challenge or test Jesus with silly questions on the census or taxes, then the Lord knew that he could pose the next challenge.  Knowing Jesus is only part of the solution.  The other half of the solution is that the knowledge of Jesus must change us and our aims in life.  This is where we must refute the “fleshy” desires and replace them with a higher purpose:  “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.’” 

If Nicodemus was not amazed and confused with this message, Jesus then reveals an even more cryptic riddle of the wind:  “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.”  (John 3:6-7)  We can turn to the Hebrew Bible for one clue about this meaning: “One who pays heed to the wind will never sow, and one who watches the clouds will never reap.  Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother’s womb, So you do not know the work of God, who is working in everything.”  Ecclesiastes 11:4-5

God is working in everything…including this Pharisee.  Nicodemus does not know where it will take him but we do.  We know it will take him to the foot of the cross with Joseph of Aramithea to give Jesus a proper burial when all the Lord’s other friends deserted him. 

We may never know the timeless works that the Lord has woven into our hearts any more than Nicodemus knew what was in store for him in the light of day or Judas knew what was in store for him in the cover of darkness. However, our daily pursuit of piety, study and action will fill our day so that the crooked path of sin has less time to work. 

How is God with you today?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Have Not Seen and Have Believed

Second Sunday of Easter
Sunday of Divine Mercy 2014 A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.  Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.  Acts 2:42-43

Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:8-9

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  John 20:29B

Our Piety is the life of the Lord that we have in the name of Jesus Christ. The mutual self-giving is the essence of Piety. We have life through the mutual self-giving of parents. We have the life of Christ through his dying for our salvation. Our giving our life back to Christ is the fulfillment of our freedom. God does not force his love on us. We face the love of Christ and for those who are to be saved the giving of Christ is found with our self-giving. Giving our life back to Christ makes our self-giving his life in us.  The early Church spoken about in Acts Ch. 2, 42-47 is the prime example of what is possible when all is shared in the name of Christ. The early Church was a challenging example of how Christians could love one another. They reflected the love God has for us in their reflecting the love Christ had for them.

Christ appears to the disciples behind the locked doors. It is easy to think about what we would do if suddenly someone that we thought dead was with us. We would need more than peace to get over the fright. The Christ of the Resurrection does not berate them for being slow to believe. He asks for some of the food they have and they see as the food goes down that it is really the Christ. Then they are able to think about the peace that he is offering them. Peace is the security they feel in his presence in their lives. He offers them forgiveness and at the same time he gives them the power of forgiving others. The words go down the centuries and they will not be forgotten. Christ is forgiveness. He gives us his life by offering us the chance to speak in his name. How easy it is to say the words. They are his words coming out of our mouth because he is the forgiveness of those words.

The wounds of Christ that brought belief to Thomas are unseen the source of blessings for most of us when we believe what he has done for us. His wounds live on in us as the source of peace in the lives of those we work with and for because the wounds of tiredness from the backbreaking work for our people are how they see Christ in us. Love is best seen in the price we pay to bring Christ into the lives of those we serve. Peace comes from our confidence in the Christ who is always with us. We are the unwritten signs of what the Christ of the Resurrection left undone for our work to be his love to the world. We must work in his name to share his peace with our world. 

To Every Creature

So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.  It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4:18-20

But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised.  He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”  Mark 16:14-15

(Excerpts from The Masque of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelly)
Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.
And if then the tyrants dare,

Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew,
What they like, that let them do.
With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise
Look upon them as they slay

Till their rage has died away
Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few

The account in Acts may provide us the first real-life examples of civil disobedience beyond Greek literature.  Throughout the early history of the Church, we see several instances where the Easter message has resonated in the preaching and actions of the disciples.  They heal.  They proclaim. And they will not yield to anyone.  “We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
Civil disobedience is commonly seen as the active, professed refusal to obey unjust laws, demands, and commands of a government or of a belligerent, occupying international power.  It also is often (but not always) nonviolent resistance in the image of Christ standing before Pilate.  Civil disobedience is one of the many ways people have rebelled against what they deem to be unfair laws.  Think India and Ghandi’s Satyagraha.  Think Poland and Lech Walesa’s Solidarity Trade Union. “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
That may have been easier said than done when dealing with the violent Communist regimes of the last century. 
Tomorrow as the Church and the world marks the beatification of Pope John Paul II, one of the remarkable facets of his papacy is how he identified with people everyone and supported their freedom through love.  In many ways, the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla and the new pope’s support of the Polish people and the truth shown through his soft power, leadership and love, helped to set free the people behind the “Iron Curtain” of Communism.  
According to various biographical accounts of his life, in June 1979, Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland – the first international trip of his papacy – where ecstatic crowds constantly surrounded him.  His presence to Poland uplifted the nation's spirit and sparked the formation of the movement that inspired the Polish people to work to bring freedom and human rights to his troubled homeland.  Solidarity is not only the name of the Polish trade union but it also is one of the core tenants of Catholic social teaching.
Just as Pope John XXIII accentuated the role of the Church in the Modern World with Vatican II, John Paul II reconciled the modern world with the Church by causing a bloodless revolution.

The example of the disciples shows us the power of people who have no power.  The civil authorities kept telling them to stop but did not attack them violently.  It was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  What cause or injustice inspires you to solidarity with people who face injustice?    

Friday, April 25, 2014

In the Name of Jesus Christ

By Melanie Rigney

(When the high priests asked by whose authority the disciples cured the crippled man, Peter responded:) “It was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead … 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 4:10, 12)
The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22)
(After the disciples’ nets were filled,) Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. (John 21:12)

Jesus, you know how it feels to be rejected. Help me to be confident that when no one but you is with me, I have all I need.

The words of Psalm 118 have come true: The stone the builders rejected has indeed become the cornerstone. Jesus, scorned by nearly all of his contemporaries, including most of those who claimed to love him, has by his resurrection shown he is indeed the messiah.
And what was Jesus’s reaction when he returned to the earth? He didn’t seek to exact vengeance. Instead, he showed people how much he loved them, in tangible ways such as in filling their nets, and in intangible ways such as opening their eyes to his presence. Jesus’s example and the power of the Holy Spirit would enable Peter and the others to do much they would have never dreamed of when their time came, to stand fearless before and speak boldly to the high priests, giving all credit to the Lord. They were no longer afraid—of rejection or anything else.

For some of us, fear of rejection is one of the ways the evil one attempts to enter our souls. We let small or large hurts, intentional or unintentional, fester. And if we find ourselves on top down the road, it’s so tempting to taunt our former persecutors and fair-weather friends and to grab the credit for what we’ve accomplished. Instead, may we emulate Jesus’s example of love… and Peter’s example of fearlessly proclaiming the Lord’s greatness.

Just for today, give the credit to God when people compliment you about an accomplishment—and mean it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

In Their Midst

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 3:19-21

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Luke 24:36-37

Father, help us to see Jesus in our midst.  May the warmth of that encounter with the Lord change us from following our path to walking with Jesus.  Holy Spirit, guide us no matter how startled and terrified we are of the journey.    

What is the meaning of the Easter story?  Just this:  Jesus is not out there.  He is not some “ghost.”  He spirit is alive and in our midst bringing us Peace even when we are startled and terrified.   The story Luke recounts is not some figurative allegory.  Jesus came back to stand, sit, eat, talk, touch, and be touched by the disciples. 

Again, that same word appears today that marked the preaching of John the Baptist in the desert and the public ministry of Jesus.  Repent.  Change.  We did not act on his words alone.  So, to further help us to change, “God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”  (Acts 3:26)

Easter is aligned with spring and all the signs of new life after the winter of the Polar Vortex.  Flowers, grass, trees are showing their spring colors in the light and warmth of the season.  These signs of life are now in our midst after the death and darkness and cold of winter. Literal change is all around us.  Easter means change also has to be within us.

How is the meaning of the Easter story changing you?  As Pope Francis said in a recent homily, “Jesus isn't 'up there,' faraway, pope says. He's here by our side. Don't be afraid to reach out to him.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We Have Seen the Risen Lord

By Colleen O’Sullivan
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.  He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?”  They stopped, looking downcast.  One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”  And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”  (They reported on the events of the preceding week.)  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… (Jesus stopped to eat the evening meal 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?”  (Luke 24:15-17, 25-27, 30-32)

 Christ is risen.  Alleluia.  Alleluia.

It’s Sunday, but it may as well still be Friday for Cleopas and his fellow disciple.  Shattered and despairing, they are leaving Jerusalem behind, all their hopes nailed to a cross and then hastily buried in a borrowed tomb.  Grieving, with no idea what they are going to do, and maybe not even caring, they steadily put one foot in front of the other.

We’ve all trekked through that valley of the shadow of death – wondering what we will do now that we’ve buried a beloved family member or friend, lost a job, been diagnosed with a serious illness, or found ourselves alone in an empty house, our marriage over.  We know all too well the journey of fear and uncertainty that Luke describes in today’s Gospel reading.

But then the Risen Lord appears!  It is Easter.  It turns out that death is not the end.  Everything is transformed.  After despair there is hope.  After sadness there is the promise of joy.  There is new life after each of the dyings we experience.  And we realize there is no path we take in this life so obscure or hidden that Jesus cannot find it.  He comes to us wherever we are and walks beside us, revealing himself and his inimitable love for us. 

Once Cleopas and his friend recognize their travel companion, they reverse direction and hurry back to Jerusalem.  They are bursting to share the good news with the other disciples.  Our Lord lives!  We have seen him!

Wherever you go this week, joyfully ring out the Easter alleluias for all to hear.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Both Lord and Christ

By Beth DeCristofaro

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people, “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)

… they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” … Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.  (John 20:13, 16)

Ever-renewing and energizing Creator,
Come, stir in my dormant spiritual limbs.
Wake up my tired prayer.
Revive my weary efforts of care.
Sing hope into my discouragement.
Wash my dusty, drab attitude
with the cleansing rains of your vision.
Go deep to my roots and penetrate my faith
with the vibrancy of your grace.
Shake loose the old leftover oak leaves
of my tenacious ego-centeredness.
Coax joy to sprout from my difficulties.
Warm the buds of my relationships
so they bloom with healthy love.
Clear out my wintered debris
with the wild breeze of your liberating presence.
Nudge me, woo me, entice me, draw me to you.
I give you my trust and my gratitude
as you grace my slowly thawing spirit.
Light-filed Being, my Joy and my Hope,
let the greening in me begin!

(Taken from Out of the Ordinary 2000 by Joyce Rupp.
Used by permission of Ave Maria Press.  All rights reserved.)

Holy Week was on one hand more ordinary than an ordinary week for me as my work schedule kept me from as much “holy” activity as I would have wished.  Instead I walked the way of the cross with grieving families, intensely aware that the Lord hurt with them as they tried to keep their feet on the ground and their faith before them just as he did on the walk to Golgotha so many years ago.  I found myself praying as I went last week, often.

At the same time I was humbly aware that the Western Christian Holy Week, Orthodox Church and Jewish Passover all were co-existing on the calendar together along with Hindu and Jain holy festivals.  This might be a coincidence of chronological record-keeping but I always find it inspirational to find synchronous moments in time and space that remind me of how many and how often humans seek the divine. 

Peter might be astounded to know that today the whole world knows of Jesus the Christ.  He certainly would know intimately how it felt to lose Jesus within himself having denied him three times.  That is a wretched knowledge that I have as well, having “misplaced” Jesus too many times to count by focusing and acting in sin, distractions, falsehoods, sanctimoniousness, pejorative thinking or talking.  Jesus called her by name and brought Mary’s attention back to him.  Jesus will do the same for me again and again. 

Despite the heartbreak of denial, the fear of loss, and the catastrophe of execution, Jesus pointed his followers toward the joy of His presence as Christ with them, with us.  How can I manifest this joy despite struggles and defeat?   What must I lose in order to not misplace Him?  In order to find Him within?  Am I open to seeing Him in others?

Sunday, April 20, 2014


God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.  Exalted at the right hand of God, he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear.”  Acts 2:32-33

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.  They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.  Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”  Matthew 28:9-10

Let us celebrate Easter with all our senses:  hearing the message that He is risen, seeing His works carried out, embracing those who need embracing, tasting the goodness of the Lord, and smelling the aroma of life around us. As we come to know the hope that is the Easter story, let us proclaim that to our sisters in brothers in the Galilee of our life. Amen.

Is now the time to let go of Lent?  Or is now the time to make our Lenten offerings part of our everyday living?

Whether or not we let go of Lent or maintain an attitude of giving, the lesson that Easter brings to that disposition is that Jesus will meet us along the way we are going. During Lent, our fasting, almsgiving and sacrifice were intended to bring us closer to Christ and the mission He has for us.  Now that we are into the Easter season, we will reflect on that mission through the Acts of the Apostles – stories filled with acts of fasting, almsgiving and sacrifice, stories filled with acts that we are to continue to emulate.

The notes to the readings today point out that in both John and Matthew’s accounts of the Easter encounter, there is a physical touch between the women and Jesus.  In Matthew, they embraced his feet and did him homage, an act that helps us to recall the anointing of his feet by Mary the week before the Passion and contrasts with the nails that pierced his feet on Good Friday.  

Rather than letting go, perhaps now is the time to embrace those acts even more.

Easter is the time for us to come out of our shell and follow the Risen Christ.  Has your shell been cracked and peeled away so that there are no obstacles as you approach Jesus today?  Where will He meet you today?  Will you recognize Him?  Will you embrace Him and what He asks of you?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

He Saw and Believed

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.  Acts 10:40-42

Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  1 Corinthians 5:8

When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.  Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.  John 20:6-8

Jesus is truly risen.  He lives in the joy of our companions on a blossoming, spring day.  He lives in the song of the colorful birds of our life.  He is the richness of a helping hand.  He is the wonder of the newborn babe.  He is the fulfillment of everything that is wonderful about life.  He has given us the fullness of his cross as the most magnificent expression of the mercy and the love of God.  Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow is everything beautiful about being alive.  Jesus is the aliveness of ever now that touches the eternal newness of God.  Christ in his resurrection sits at the right hand of God and he is the best part of ourselves already in heaven in his love for us that draws us ever to our destiny in God through him.  Jesus gives us the best of ourselves in his resurrection that makes our love his when we love one another.  When we have lost something and found it again.  Jesus is the forever being found of the God of our hearts.  There is no tomorrow in the forever of the Jesus of the Resurrection.  His love is forever a part of us in the completing of all the "incompletes" of our lives.

Our study is the looking beyond of the created moments of our lives to see what is pointed at in the fullness of God’s love for us in each moment.  Our study rushes us to the empty tomb of his burial to find the risen Lord waiting for us in each new moment of our lives.  We climb the cross of Christ to see our world through the eyes of his Resurrection.  There is no moment now that does not hold the fulfillment of every desire.  We neatly unwrap the folds of what we have buried in the hopes of the resurrection.  Our study gives us what the Apostles were witnessing to in their accounts of the risen Christ.  We believe because they have given us the vision of what we are waiting for in our hopes of our own resurrections.  We study each encounter of Christ to get beyond the disguise of his being in each other in the goodness our study reveals.

We must live the resurrection.  Our lives must reveal the fullness of our hopes in Christ.  He will not berate us for our faults.  We must do the same for each other.  He will comfort us by his presence in our lives.  We must be beacons of hope for each other by our comfortableness with each other.  All the joy of the resurrection we must share that our world might know in the love we have for one another the source of our happiness in Christ.  He died not knowing what we now know in his coming back to us in his happiness that our lives have a forever meaning in his resurrection.  Christ has risen.  We will rise that his joy in his resurrection might be ours.

You Will See Him

Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid!  I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.  He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’  Behold, I have told you.”  Matthew 28:5-7

Father, roll away the stone that blocks us from being active participants in your story. Brother Jesus, appear to us in all Your radiance so that our eyes might be opened and lead to our hearts being opened. Send your Spirit to speak to us in the present moment of our lives so that we might know the mission You have for us and our hands fulfill your promise.    

The nine readings for the Holy Saturday night vigil mass present to us the arc of salvation history.  From the mystery of creation to the mystery of the Resurrection, the Scriptures present all the highlights.  What makes these episodes and the overall history all the more significant and remarkable to me is that we (all of humanity) are a part of them.  All of them. 
In each story, we have been gifted with all that we need from water and food to everlasting water and everlasting food. In each and every reading, the one common word is “you.” 
“You” represents the dialogue and exchange between the Lord and ourselves. Despite our selves, God still chooses to keep us as a part in the Greatest Story Ever Lived.  God addresses us as a member of the family.  We address the Lord as a member of the family.  It is at once the Lord’s story and our story.  It would never happen without Him.  Yet also, it would never happen without you – whether you want to be a part of it or not.

At the vigil tonight or on Easter Sunday morning, you continue to be a part of this story when you attend, hold a candle, sing, sit, stand, kneel, listen and ultimately, when you go in peace to love and serve the Lord and all humanity. 
You take part when you welcome people to your home in hospitality, when you help a stranger, when you help a member of your family.  You take part when you pray in private and when you pray in community.  You take part even when you refuse to take part.  That’s just the way the story goes.  
Put yourself into the Easter mystery every day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

“It Is Finished”

By Melanie Rigney

If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him. (Isaiah 53:10)

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23:46)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. (John 19:30)

Jesus, help me to say, “It is finished” to the parts of my life that displease you.

And so he died, for the most part abandoned by his friends and the adoring throngs who had accompanied him much of the past three years. That’s what happens when you challenge earthly authorities, it seems. That’s what happens when you stand up for God and those two greatest commandments.

And if we truly desire to grow ever closer to the Father, it’s what happens to us as well. It happens not only when we breathe our last, but when we put aside a displeasing behavior… and lose our companions in addiction or chicanery. It happens when we shut down a gossipy conversation… and anger a friend, no matter how diplomatic we are about it. It happens when we stand up for religious freedom, to the astonishment of those who assume that because we look like them and dress like them, we always think like them.

Death. If we listen to the Lord, it comes to us every day. And leaves us stronger and more faithful in its wake.

What about your life needs to be put aside today so that you may serve the Lord with all your heart, soul and being?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Do This

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.  Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.  He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  Luke 4:18-21

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.  (Isaiah 61:1-3A)

The spirit of the Lord is upon me. The promise of the covenant is fulfilled this day just as it was on the first day of Jesus’ public ministry as he read from the scrolls.
Our waiting is over.  Our savior was born.  Emmanuel is with us.  Our Lenten season of fasting, almsgiving and prayer is at an end. 
Now begins the end of the beginning of the end.  Until Friday, when we will hear those words that mark the end of the beginning when the spirit of the Lord is no longer upon Him.  When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.”  And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.  (John 19:30)
Holy Thursday is a day marked with two distinct celebrations.  During the day, we celebrate the presence of the Lord and the blessing that the priests represent as they continue the presence to this day.  By evening, we are celebrating the Last Supper before Jesus departs. 

The body, once alive, will soon be a soul-less shell, a barren cadaver to be anointed with the oils that were so controversial in Monday’s Gospel.  For three days, we will live in darkness.  However, for now, we celebrate the presence of Jesus with us, all that has been and will be possible thanks to the ransom that will be paid. 
Glad tidings.
Today is a day of paying attention and listening carefully to what Jesus does and says so we can be prepared to put His plan for us into action.  
Who serves as priest, prophet and king in your life?  Thank them for their presence.