April 30, 2014

Jn 3: 16-21

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God So Loved the World

The signs John 3:16 were everywhere at sporting events in the late 1980’s through 2000, especially at NFL football games. They were held up by an individual wearing a multi colored large wig. I asked a friend today, about John 3:16 – he said “The first thing I recall is a guy at football games.”

How many of us ever picked up a bible to read the words which were in the actual verse we saw on the sign at sporting events? I did. After reading the scripture, I thought more about the person than the verse. I wondered if it was the same person at every game. Why did he do it? I really did not reflect on our Lord much. With time, now I reflect on the verses.

As you read the rest of the scripture after verse 16, our Lord truly is the light. He humbly became a man to save us, but not until He illuminated Himself and His Father to us. He removed our darkness.

I am very happy to be in the light, the brightest light, given to us by Christ. The light of Christ helps me see things more clearly. Without that light, I stumble and fall in the darkness. But with Christ shining the way for me, I feel drawn towards Him and confident in His love. How may I reflect the light in a world that needs more light?

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL

Prayer

Dear Lord, please continue to be a beacon of light for me. Allow me to reflect your light and your love to others, in everything I say and do. Help me spread your word to those who cannot see as they are blinded by the darkness. Risen Jesus — help me to love our world as indeed you do.  Amen!

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL


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April 29, 2014

St. Catherine of Siena

Acts 4: 32-37

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

True Easter Peace

Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other; that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister.   —Mother Teresa

Today, we hear of the Apostles’ and early Christian community’s way of proceeding.  They were of one heart and mind, they held nothing in common, and no one was needy among them. They had life and love, and it was shared. We do not share in this same kind of community today.

It brings me no peace to know that people go hungry each night, no certainty of food arriving when they awake. It brings me no peace to know that people sleep on the streets each night, no chance that there will be a home available when they awake. It brings me no peace to know that men and women sit in cells alone each night, with no hope of a visitor when they awake.

What do you need? Is it so hard to imagine that every other person on earth needs those same things? Invite the resurrected Christ into your heart, ask him for the strength and generosity to look bravely into the eyes of the other, the forgotten ones, and say, “Just like me, they want to be happy. They don’t want to suffer.” And then, do something more. As Anthony De Mello says, “Peace is only found in yes.”

—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.”

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


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April 28, 2014

St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Acts 4: 23-31

After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’

For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In the Name of Jesus

In the reading from Acts, we see Peter and John immediately after they have been released from an interrogation by the chief priests and elders.  The Jewish authorities had warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John responded “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”  This was a daring reply to the authorities. Where did it come from? Certainly not from themselves.  Remember only days ago Peter had been so afraid that he denied even knowing Jesus. Their new enthusiasm and fearless determination could only come from what they had seen and heard, Jesus raised from the dead and still with them.

 This is one of the few instances in Acts where Luke reports what the disciples and the other believers prayed for in response to the opposition from the authorities. They prayed not to be safe from their enemies but for God to stretch forth his hand to heal them. They prayed to be able “to speak your word with boldness,” to have the power to continue to proclaim the risen Jesus in “signs and wonders” done in his name. They did not ask God to deliver them from their opponents; rather, their desire for boldness that was the result of knowing Jesus was still with them, filled them with his Spirit that literally shook the place where they were gathered.

Where is the Spirit in my life? Can God’s Spirit fill me, or do I need to get rid of some obstacles to make room for the Holy Spirit to fill my heart?

—Fr. Jim Riley, S.J., a veteran high school educator, is currently superior of the Jesuit community at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH.

Prayer

Lord, increase our confidence that your Holy Spirit knows our heart and and is there in the details of our struggles and the countless blessings we so easily overlook.  We will pause throughout our day and call upon the Holy Spirit.

—Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 27, 2014

John 20: 19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In The World’s Wounds

Thomas demanded proof that the Lord had risen. He needed to touch the Lord’s wounds if he was to believe. When the Lord appeared to him, perhaps he saw first the Lord’s wounds. Thomas touched them and heard the words: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  He believed.

The Lord’s disciples walked in the midst of pain and sorrow daily. They saw the hunger, the oppression, the exploitation. Yet they dared to believe that the Risen Lord stood in the midst of the world. They dared to believe that the Lord had taken as His own the wounds of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited.  And that for all time the Lord would carry these wounds.

We, today, look around and see the same things that the first disciples had seen. We see the exploited and the oppressed, the poor and the homeless. Do we dare to believe that the Risen Lord is still present in the midst of the world’s wounds?

—Fr. Robert Flack, S.J. is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.

Prayer

The Risen Christ is with us this day
And he continues to need each one of you.
Jesus needs your eyes to continue to see.
He needs your strength to continue to work.
He needs your voice to continue to preach.
He needs your hands to continue to bless.
He needs your heart to continue to love.
And Jesus needs your whole being to continue to build up his body, the Church.
As we believe, so let us live!

—Cardinal Joseph Bernardin


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April 26, 2014

Mark 16: 9-15

Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Go Into the Whole World

The hectic pace of our daily living pushes the calendar forward. How quickly we come to the end of Easter week…and perhaps personal and family, parish and community celebrations get lost in the blur of time. This Saturday of Easter week offers the chance to look back to our experiences of Holy Week and Easter: what stands out for me? Which persons, which conversations, what events marked Easter 2014 as key moments of life and grace for me?

Today’s gospel brings us to familiar words of Jesus: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.” Well, if not to the whole world, then at least to some corner

of the world I know — mending a relationship, engaging a long-delayed conversation, offering Jesus’ Easter words of peacefulness and hope.

Ours is a missionary Church, sparked by the challenge of the gospel. Each of us engages that corner of the world where we live. Jesus’ words are clear: first, we have to “go out.” Then we are invited to “proclaim.” Figuring out the “how” and “when” and “what” in each situation draws on our best God-given talents and gifts. Go for it!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

It is not you who shapes God; it is God who shapes you. If then you are God’s handiwork, await the hand of the Artist who does all things in due season. Offer the pottery of your heart, soft and tractable, and keep well the form in which the Artist has fashioned you. Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.

—St. Irenaeus (2nd century)


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April 25, 2014

John 21: 1-14

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.

Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Everyday Life with Jesus

The initial hours after things like family trips, celebrations and special occasions have always been a struggle for me. I seem to get caught in melancholy’s trap: life feels shockingly dull, ordinary, even scary. I told my mom once that Heaven must be like a giant wedding that never ends, filled with happy reunions, dancing, joy — and no one has to leave.

Those feelings are stirred in me with today’s gospel. We see Peter with the disciples, in the days following the most incredulous years of their lives. How in the world did they go back to everyday life! When Peter says “I am going fishing,” I can feel the heaviness in his heart and imagine his urgency to fight the melancholy by doing something familiar, hoping that it would help.

Then Jesus — the Risen Jesus — appears, and he finds Peter and the disciples precisely where they are, just like he did in the beginning: fishing. Their reaction is curious: they are quiet and obedient, but they don’t realize at first that it’s him.

How do you meet the Risen Christ? Do you recognize him in the ordinary times? Do you struggle coming down from life’s “mountaintop” moments? Do you give him your heavy heart?

—Kristin Dillon is a lay minister who participates in Charis Ministries programs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and six-month-old son.

Prayer

Lord, during this day, help me to recognize you. Will you whisper to me when I experience love? When I look into eyes that sorrow over loss? When I soar in happiness? When I struggle with discouragement? When the need to control evades me?

Lord, will I hear your invitation to risk and sacrifice for the good? I will listen, Lord, and with your grace I will recognize you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 24, 2014

Luke 24: 35-48

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Recognizing Jesus

In today’s gospel, Jesus appears as if a ghost, which causes a fearful or terrified reaction from his disciples. Immediately however, Jesus puts out his hands and feet for them to see and touch. He next asks for something to eat. Following these tangible, flesh and blood experiences, Jesus opens their minds to understand that his very human suffering and very real death would now transform humanity through his resurrection.

Jesus was sent by God to be Word made flesh and he lived to teach us how to be fully human – to forgive, to suffer with, to be compassionate, to heal, to bring new life to a broken world.  As Easter people, this too is our resurrection witness.

Will you recognize Jesus in the suffering humanity in your life? Will you react with full humanity to that suffering?

—Marge Sears is a writer and parishioner at Gesu Parish, Detroit MI.

Prayer

Lord,  you did you speak a single harsh word to your disciples when you first appeared to them. No chastisement for abandoning you. No mention of their cowardice. No reprimand for their loss of trust and hope. Do you speak these same words to us, “Peace be with you.”? Of course, you do. What wondrous love! As you have extended your peace to us, we will do the same to family, friends, strangers, and even to our enemies.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 23, 2014

Luke 24: 13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”

They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In the Breaking of Bread

We all know this beautiful passage; it is a joy to read it again just three days after celebrating Easter. These two disciples were on a journey away from where all the terrible things happened to our Lord. They were probably still in shock, depressed and filled with sadness.

How beautiful it was for our Lord to appear to them and to walk with them along their journey.

I found it interesting that something about eyes, sight, or seeing is mentioned five different times in this passage. I wonder why the disciples could not see Christ since they have known him and followed him. Yet they were unable to “see.” Maybe their faith was affected by what had just happened in Jerusalem; it is certainly understandable.

I remember dropping my son off at college. After leaving him and beginning our journey home, I could not see very well; my eyes were full of tears caused by both sadness and joy. But faith in my son’s future helped me to see.

I think Luke may be helping to explain “faith” to us: we must believe when we sometimes cannot see or understand everything. The disciples could see, once our Lord revealed himself to them in the same way he reveals himself to all of us at every Mass, in the breaking of the bread and in giving of himself to us.

What road are you on after Easter?  Is Christ with you and you do not even know it? Please have faith as our Lord gives us himself and is always with us.

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL

Prayer

When we seek direction, you are there.
When we seek but cannot find you,
you are there.
When we have disappointed others,
you are there.
When we don’t know how to begin,
you are there.
When we are helpless to help, you are there.
When we are overwhelmed, you are there.
When we don’t see a way out, you are there.
When suffering grinds upon our spirit,
you are there.
When death’s shadow descends those we love, you are there.
And as we take that final breath,
you are there to welcome us home.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 22, 2014

Jn 20: 11-18

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In Each Person I Meet Today

When I lived in St. Paul as a novice, we had a landscaping company take care of mowing our lawn. Once, during a reflection at Mass, a fellow novice asked, “What are the names of  the people who take care of our yard?” I couldn’t answer him. Every week they mowed.  They made our lives easier and better. They were concerned for us in some way. But, I never asked their names–our anonymous gardeners.

In our Gospel today, Mary Magdalene acts differently. She is present to a man she thinks a gardener. In her willingness to acknowledge him, to be present to the moment, to protect the body of and mourn the loss of her friend, it is Jesus that she meets.

How often do I fail to see Christ in others?  As we celebrate the Risen Lord this week, let us remember that he lives not only in the stories we read, but in each person we meet.

—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, today will be different. We will treat each person, each situation with the fruits of your amazing announcement: ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Let fear give way to faith; let sadness surrender to promise; and may we be ready to lift up anyone in need of hope.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 21, 2014

Mt 28: 8-15

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Jesus Alive and Risen!

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, after finding Jesus’ tomb empty, went away quickly– “fearful yet overjoyed”– to tell the disciples this news. On their hasty way Jesus met and greeted them. What must this have been like?  Perhaps they had been in Bethany when Jesus called his friend Lazarus to come out of his tomb, and they had seen Lazarus come forth wrapped in his burial gown that others had to undo. This wasn’t the case with Jesus. The two women saw him and recognized him.

Perhaps because they were startled, they threw themselves on the ground before him and touched his human feet. They recognized his human voice telling them not to be afraid.  Afraid of what? Probably the feeling that made the hair on their arms stand up and sent shivers down their spines when they unexpectedly found the tomb empty and then met Jesus, risen and alive, on the road. What would your reaction be if you met a flesh and blood person who had been raised from the dead?  Well, we have no idea because it has never happened to any on us.

Besides feeling fear, they were also overjoyed. Jesus, whom they knew in his day-to-day life and whom they had seen suffer and die on the cross, was now present with them. Most of us have no problem believing that Jesus, the Christ, is divine. Unlike the two women and the other disciples who knew the human Jesus very well, do we really believe in Jesus’ humanity?  Do we believe that Jesus is a risen human?  That he chose to be present in our midst as a human being who is also divine should make a huge difference in how we approach the unfolding events in our world today. Jesus is alive and working through today’s unfolding events to bring about his Kingdom.

How can I work with Jesus to accomplish his purpose? Am I aware of his presence in my life today? What gifts is he giving me today to form me into the best person I can be?

—Fr. Jim Riley, S.J., a veteran high school educator, is currently superior of the Jesuit community at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH.

Prayer

Lord, today many are devastated by anguish of the untimely deaths of loved ones or the angst of not knowing the fate of those they love so dearly: the South Korean Ferry Disaster,  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the Sherpa guides who died  in the Mount Everest avalanche. We pray that through your divine and human love, each parent, spouse, brother, sister,  each family member and friend will one day see their Good Friday be concluded with the Easter promise — eternal joy and the assurance of your presence through every single tear they shed.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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Creighton Prep and the Midwest Jesuits have partnered to create FaithCP, a daily resource for prayer. FaithCP provides daily scripture, reflections, and prayers grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.


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April 30, 2014

Jn 3: 16-21

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God So Loved the World

The signs John 3:16 were everywhere at sporting events in the late 1980’s through 2000, especially at NFL football games. They were held up by an individual wearing a multi colored large wig. I asked a friend today, about John 3:16 – he said “The first thing I recall is a guy at football games.”

How many of us ever picked up a bible to read the words which were in the actual verse we saw on the sign at sporting events? I did. After reading the scripture, I thought more about the person than the verse. I wondered if it was the same person at every game. Why did he do it? I really did not reflect on our Lord much. With time, now I reflect on the verses.

As you read the rest of the scripture after verse 16, our Lord truly is the light. He humbly became a man to save us, but not until He illuminated Himself and His Father to us. He removed our darkness.

I am very happy to be in the light, the brightest light, given to us by Christ. The light of Christ helps me see things more clearly. Without that light, I stumble and fall in the darkness. But with Christ shining the way for me, I feel drawn towards Him and confident in His love. How may I reflect the light in a world that needs more light?

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL

Prayer

Dear Lord, please continue to be a beacon of light for me. Allow me to reflect your light and your love to others, in everything I say and do. Help me spread your word to those who cannot see as they are blinded by the darkness. Risen Jesus — help me to love our world as indeed you do.  Amen!

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL


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April 29, 2014

St. Catherine of Siena

Acts 4: 32-37

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

True Easter Peace

Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other; that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister.   —Mother Teresa

Today, we hear of the Apostles’ and early Christian community’s way of proceeding.  They were of one heart and mind, they held nothing in common, and no one was needy among them. They had life and love, and it was shared. We do not share in this same kind of community today.

It brings me no peace to know that people go hungry each night, no certainty of food arriving when they awake. It brings me no peace to know that people sleep on the streets each night, no chance that there will be a home available when they awake. It brings me no peace to know that men and women sit in cells alone each night, with no hope of a visitor when they awake.

What do you need? Is it so hard to imagine that every other person on earth needs those same things? Invite the resurrected Christ into your heart, ask him for the strength and generosity to look bravely into the eyes of the other, the forgotten ones, and say, “Just like me, they want to be happy. They don’t want to suffer.” And then, do something more. As Anthony De Mello says, “Peace is only found in yes.”

—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.”

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


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April 28, 2014

St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Acts 4: 23-31

After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’

For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In the Name of Jesus

In the reading from Acts, we see Peter and John immediately after they have been released from an interrogation by the chief priests and elders.  The Jewish authorities had warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John responded “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”  This was a daring reply to the authorities. Where did it come from? Certainly not from themselves.  Remember only days ago Peter had been so afraid that he denied even knowing Jesus. Their new enthusiasm and fearless determination could only come from what they had seen and heard, Jesus raised from the dead and still with them.

 This is one of the few instances in Acts where Luke reports what the disciples and the other believers prayed for in response to the opposition from the authorities. They prayed not to be safe from their enemies but for God to stretch forth his hand to heal them. They prayed to be able “to speak your word with boldness,” to have the power to continue to proclaim the risen Jesus in “signs and wonders” done in his name. They did not ask God to deliver them from their opponents; rather, their desire for boldness that was the result of knowing Jesus was still with them, filled them with his Spirit that literally shook the place where they were gathered.

Where is the Spirit in my life? Can God’s Spirit fill me, or do I need to get rid of some obstacles to make room for the Holy Spirit to fill my heart?

—Fr. Jim Riley, S.J., a veteran high school educator, is currently superior of the Jesuit community at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH.

Prayer

Lord, increase our confidence that your Holy Spirit knows our heart and and is there in the details of our struggles and the countless blessings we so easily overlook.  We will pause throughout our day and call upon the Holy Spirit.

—Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 27, 2014

John 20: 19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In The World’s Wounds

Thomas demanded proof that the Lord had risen. He needed to touch the Lord’s wounds if he was to believe. When the Lord appeared to him, perhaps he saw first the Lord’s wounds. Thomas touched them and heard the words: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  He believed.

The Lord’s disciples walked in the midst of pain and sorrow daily. They saw the hunger, the oppression, the exploitation. Yet they dared to believe that the Risen Lord stood in the midst of the world. They dared to believe that the Lord had taken as His own the wounds of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited.  And that for all time the Lord would carry these wounds.

We, today, look around and see the same things that the first disciples had seen. We see the exploited and the oppressed, the poor and the homeless. Do we dare to believe that the Risen Lord is still present in the midst of the world’s wounds?

—Fr. Robert Flack, S.J. is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.

Prayer

The Risen Christ is with us this day
And he continues to need each one of you.
Jesus needs your eyes to continue to see.
He needs your strength to continue to work.
He needs your voice to continue to preach.
He needs your hands to continue to bless.
He needs your heart to continue to love.
And Jesus needs your whole being to continue to build up his body, the Church.
As we believe, so let us live!

—Cardinal Joseph Bernardin


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April 26, 2014

Mark 16: 9-15

Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Go Into the Whole World

The hectic pace of our daily living pushes the calendar forward. How quickly we come to the end of Easter week…and perhaps personal and family, parish and community celebrations get lost in the blur of time. This Saturday of Easter week offers the chance to look back to our experiences of Holy Week and Easter: what stands out for me? Which persons, which conversations, what events marked Easter 2014 as key moments of life and grace for me?

Today’s gospel brings us to familiar words of Jesus: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.” Well, if not to the whole world, then at least to some corner

of the world I know — mending a relationship, engaging a long-delayed conversation, offering Jesus’ Easter words of peacefulness and hope.

Ours is a missionary Church, sparked by the challenge of the gospel. Each of us engages that corner of the world where we live. Jesus’ words are clear: first, we have to “go out.” Then we are invited to “proclaim.” Figuring out the “how” and “when” and “what” in each situation draws on our best God-given talents and gifts. Go for it!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

It is not you who shapes God; it is God who shapes you. If then you are God’s handiwork, await the hand of the Artist who does all things in due season. Offer the pottery of your heart, soft and tractable, and keep well the form in which the Artist has fashioned you. Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.

—St. Irenaeus (2nd century)


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April 25, 2014

John 21: 1-14

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord.

Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Everyday Life with Jesus

The initial hours after things like family trips, celebrations and special occasions have always been a struggle for me. I seem to get caught in melancholy’s trap: life feels shockingly dull, ordinary, even scary. I told my mom once that Heaven must be like a giant wedding that never ends, filled with happy reunions, dancing, joy — and no one has to leave.

Those feelings are stirred in me with today’s gospel. We see Peter with the disciples, in the days following the most incredulous years of their lives. How in the world did they go back to everyday life! When Peter says “I am going fishing,” I can feel the heaviness in his heart and imagine his urgency to fight the melancholy by doing something familiar, hoping that it would help.

Then Jesus — the Risen Jesus — appears, and he finds Peter and the disciples precisely where they are, just like he did in the beginning: fishing. Their reaction is curious: they are quiet and obedient, but they don’t realize at first that it’s him.

How do you meet the Risen Christ? Do you recognize him in the ordinary times? Do you struggle coming down from life’s “mountaintop” moments? Do you give him your heavy heart?

—Kristin Dillon is a lay minister who participates in Charis Ministries programs. She lives in Chicago with her husband and six-month-old son.

Prayer

Lord, during this day, help me to recognize you. Will you whisper to me when I experience love? When I look into eyes that sorrow over loss? When I soar in happiness? When I struggle with discouragement? When the need to control evades me?

Lord, will I hear your invitation to risk and sacrifice for the good? I will listen, Lord, and with your grace I will recognize you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 24, 2014

Luke 24: 35-48

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Recognizing Jesus

In today’s gospel, Jesus appears as if a ghost, which causes a fearful or terrified reaction from his disciples. Immediately however, Jesus puts out his hands and feet for them to see and touch. He next asks for something to eat. Following these tangible, flesh and blood experiences, Jesus opens their minds to understand that his very human suffering and very real death would now transform humanity through his resurrection.

Jesus was sent by God to be Word made flesh and he lived to teach us how to be fully human – to forgive, to suffer with, to be compassionate, to heal, to bring new life to a broken world.  As Easter people, this too is our resurrection witness.

Will you recognize Jesus in the suffering humanity in your life? Will you react with full humanity to that suffering?

—Marge Sears is a writer and parishioner at Gesu Parish, Detroit MI.

Prayer

Lord,  you did you speak a single harsh word to your disciples when you first appeared to them. No chastisement for abandoning you. No mention of their cowardice. No reprimand for their loss of trust and hope. Do you speak these same words to us, “Peace be with you.”? Of course, you do. What wondrous love! As you have extended your peace to us, we will do the same to family, friends, strangers, and even to our enemies.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 23, 2014

Luke 24: 13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”

They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In the Breaking of Bread

We all know this beautiful passage; it is a joy to read it again just three days after celebrating Easter. These two disciples were on a journey away from where all the terrible things happened to our Lord. They were probably still in shock, depressed and filled with sadness.

How beautiful it was for our Lord to appear to them and to walk with them along their journey.

I found it interesting that something about eyes, sight, or seeing is mentioned five different times in this passage. I wonder why the disciples could not see Christ since they have known him and followed him. Yet they were unable to “see.” Maybe their faith was affected by what had just happened in Jerusalem; it is certainly understandable.

I remember dropping my son off at college. After leaving him and beginning our journey home, I could not see very well; my eyes were full of tears caused by both sadness and joy. But faith in my son’s future helped me to see.

I think Luke may be helping to explain “faith” to us: we must believe when we sometimes cannot see or understand everything. The disciples could see, once our Lord revealed himself to them in the same way he reveals himself to all of us at every Mass, in the breaking of the bread and in giving of himself to us.

What road are you on after Easter?  Is Christ with you and you do not even know it? Please have faith as our Lord gives us himself and is always with us.

—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL

Prayer

When we seek direction, you are there.
When we seek but cannot find you,
you are there.
When we have disappointed others,
you are there.
When we don’t know how to begin,
you are there.
When we are helpless to help, you are there.
When we are overwhelmed, you are there.
When we don’t see a way out, you are there.
When suffering grinds upon our spirit,
you are there.
When death’s shadow descends those we love, you are there.
And as we take that final breath,
you are there to welcome us home.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 22, 2014

Jn 20: 11-18

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In Each Person I Meet Today

When I lived in St. Paul as a novice, we had a landscaping company take care of mowing our lawn. Once, during a reflection at Mass, a fellow novice asked, “What are the names of  the people who take care of our yard?” I couldn’t answer him. Every week they mowed.  They made our lives easier and better. They were concerned for us in some way. But, I never asked their names–our anonymous gardeners.

In our Gospel today, Mary Magdalene acts differently. She is present to a man she thinks a gardener. In her willingness to acknowledge him, to be present to the moment, to protect the body of and mourn the loss of her friend, it is Jesus that she meets.

How often do I fail to see Christ in others?  As we celebrate the Risen Lord this week, let us remember that he lives not only in the stories we read, but in each person we meet.

—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, today will be different. We will treat each person, each situation with the fruits of your amazing announcement: ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Let fear give way to faith; let sadness surrender to promise; and may we be ready to lift up anyone in need of hope.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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April 21, 2014

Mt 28: 8-15

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Jesus Alive and Risen!

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, after finding Jesus’ tomb empty, went away quickly– “fearful yet overjoyed”– to tell the disciples this news. On their hasty way Jesus met and greeted them. What must this have been like?  Perhaps they had been in Bethany when Jesus called his friend Lazarus to come out of his tomb, and they had seen Lazarus come forth wrapped in his burial gown that others had to undo. This wasn’t the case with Jesus. The two women saw him and recognized him.

Perhaps because they were startled, they threw themselves on the ground before him and touched his human feet. They recognized his human voice telling them not to be afraid.  Afraid of what? Probably the feeling that made the hair on their arms stand up and sent shivers down their spines when they unexpectedly found the tomb empty and then met Jesus, risen and alive, on the road. What would your reaction be if you met a flesh and blood person who had been raised from the dead?  Well, we have no idea because it has never happened to any on us.

Besides feeling fear, they were also overjoyed. Jesus, whom they knew in his day-to-day life and whom they had seen suffer and die on the cross, was now present with them. Most of us have no problem believing that Jesus, the Christ, is divine. Unlike the two women and the other disciples who knew the human Jesus very well, do we really believe in Jesus’ humanity?  Do we believe that Jesus is a risen human?  That he chose to be present in our midst as a human being who is also divine should make a huge difference in how we approach the unfolding events in our world today. Jesus is alive and working through today’s unfolding events to bring about his Kingdom.

How can I work with Jesus to accomplish his purpose? Am I aware of his presence in my life today? What gifts is he giving me today to form me into the best person I can be?

—Fr. Jim Riley, S.J., a veteran high school educator, is currently superior of the Jesuit community at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH.

Prayer

Lord, today many are devastated by anguish of the untimely deaths of loved ones or the angst of not knowing the fate of those they love so dearly: the South Korean Ferry Disaster,  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the Sherpa guides who died  in the Mount Everest avalanche. We pray that through your divine and human love, each parent, spouse, brother, sister,  each family member and friend will one day see their Good Friday be concluded with the Easter promise — eternal joy and the assurance of your presence through every single tear they shed.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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