Christians are fundamentally an “Easter People.” The Resurrection lies central to the mystery of our faith and the grounding of our daily lives.
Yet, in a world which so often lacks joy and hope, the Resurrection can seem far away. For example, the coverage of politics—on both sides of the aisle—makes it feel as if we are in a continual, hopeless fight.
But, we are an Easter People. Jesus calls us to something deeper than a blind optimism. In today’s Gospel, we hear the words “anguish” and “pain” interwoven with “joy.”
How can that be?
The answer lies in the Christ we see after the Resurrection—a Christ glorified, but still bearing the wounds of the Passion. The cost of following always remains, but that cost is always less than the Glory of God. It is by seeking the Glory of God that we find our joy and hope.
We will rejoice…even in our darkest moments, there will be happiness! Easier said than to believe, right? Am I like the disciples, not understanding what Jesus was saying to them?
I recently lost a friend due to cancer. She was a beautiful, young, intelligent woman. She was a wife who was very caring for her husband, she was a mother to four young children who love and miss her dearly. Her death was heart-breaking to many of us. Will there be joy after this grief?
As I walked into church, I saw her family strong and together with big smiles. They shared their thoughts about her life as we celebrated together. They knew Carol was with God. Their faith reminded me of what Jesus said to his disciples, “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.”
—Cecilia Hernandez works in the Vocations Office for the Midwest Jesuits.
Growing up on the Southside of Milwaukee, where are you from meant the Parish. It was later in life that I realized the world was a whole lot bigger than I imagined.
Now “where are you from,” means from what part of this big world did we start. When Jesus said “I have so much more to teach you” makes me reflect on my experiences with the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and the Ignatian Spirituality Program. In both of these ministries I meet people with totally different life experiences. I could not have understood this if I never left “home.”
God teaches us slowly and calls us to grow when we are ready to experience the wisdom he has to share. It is only with God’s guidance that we can experience “the more He has to share with us,” each at and in God’s time.
—Camille Devaney serves as Board chair for the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP).
Before I go to bed at night, I examine my hands: I make sure they are empty. This means I have given it all in my day.
Before I wake in the morning, I examine my hands: I make sure they are empty. For this means I am ready to receive it all in my day.
When I follow Christ, I examine my hands: I make sure they are empty and bear his wounds. For now giving and receiving have become one.
The holy women in my life are good at noticing things:
Our five-year- old Maeve: “Daddy, Tess wiped her yogurt cereal on your pants.”
Our two-year- old Tess: “Daddy, your pants dirty.”
My wife Megan: “That’s okay. Daddy doesn’t mind, really.”
Noticing things is at the heart of Ignatian Spirituality. St. Ignatius tells us at the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises to savor our experiences for quality of meaning that only the heart can know.
I wonder what quality of character drew Paul to recognize that being in Lydia’s and the other women’s presence would be a “place of prayer.” We know that she “listened” and “paid attention” and that she generously opened her home. Perhaps our own prayer and our evangelization of the Gospel today can be to similarly “pay attention” to whom in our life offers us this gift and to whom we might offer it in return.
—Jordan Skarr works in the Office of Pastoral Ministries for the Midwest Jesuits.
In years past it was not uncommon to be accosted on the street by someone asking if you knew Jesus. I always wondered if they had read Peter’s first letter. Jesus invited his followers to witness to him through acts of kindness: visiting the sick and imprisoned, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry.
Our Catholic tradition is largely institutionalized in organizations like Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Poor, St. Vincent de Paul Society. But, since Vatican II, many Catholics have followed the call of the Spirit to step out of their comfort zone and become personally involved. Now many of these, when asked “Do you know Jesus?” will answer “I have met Him.” Jesus reveals himself in a most wonderful way to those who serve him in the poor.
—Fr. Jonathan Haschka, S.J. writes from the St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa WI, where he serves as Assistant to the Superior.
Today’s lines from the Acts of the Apostles describe Paul’s missionary journeys through Asia Minor as he made his way towards ancient Macedonia. The author of Acts reports great enthusiasm for Paul’s preaching: “Through all this, the congregations grew stronger in faith and daily increased in number.”
Today marks the end of the fifth week of Easter. Throughout this Easter season our own faith communities have increased in number and grown stronger in faith. As this year’s Easter celebration moves us towards Jesus’ Ascension on May 28 and then the great celebration of Pentecost on June 4, each of us can profitably examine just how we have grown in faith. The following reflection questions may help:
What particular grace has come to my heart this year?
What Easter gifts do I notice within our family?
How have I shared a bit of Easter joy and hope and faith at work? Around our neighborhood?
What particular gift of the Holy Spirit do I particularly beg God to send this Pentecost?
How will that gift make a difference in my life and attitude?
How am I letting the Risen Jesus stretch my heart and horizons this Easter 2017?
—The Jesuit prayer team
In the Gospel today, Jesus’ command seems simultaneously simple and complicated. Three words: “love one another.” Three simple words which appear in direct contrast to most of the news of recent months, and even the tone of our national conversation. Yet, if we are truly to be Christ’s disciples following him with our whole hearts, his command remains simple: Love one another.
And that sounds lovely; but we often complicate that command. Sure, we love others…but do we love those with whom we disagree? Sure we love others… but do we love those who offend us or hurt us? Sure we love others… but we complicate the command as a way to avoid the hard work of laying down our very life and preferences for another.
Still, Jesus remains calling us as friends to walk with him in his simple mission of love: [Go] Love one another.
Just up the road live two horses, the male horse blind from an unfortunate accident. If nearby and listening, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field. Attached to her halter is a small bell that lets her blind friend know where she grazes and moves throughout the field. As you stand and watch these two friends, you will see how she is always checking on him; he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is — trusting that she will not lead him astray.
When the mare returns to the barn’s shelter each evening, she stops occasionally and looks back, making sure her friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell. As the seasons change and the years accumulate, the mare may someday need a friend to protect her from the dominant, younger horses. These magnificent animals tell our story. Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by the little ringing bell; other times we are the guide horse, helping others see. (Author Unknown, http://www.inspirationpeak.com)
Jesus reminds us of his expectation: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” Our Lord asks us to extend our hand with humility and respect — to serve not the leftovers — but our finest for his beloved. It is simply a matter of time when we, too, will face difficulty. We will need guidance, encouragement, a hand up — all in a spirit that celebrates our dignity. Who needs you to ring your bell this day? Someone does. Listen. The God of all creation will direct your path.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Cut the tip off a plant and the side branches become fuller because the source of nourishment spreads to the side branches. One long thin stalk isn’t very attractive, compared to a pruned, full plant reaching in many directions. Each branch can hold some decorations, like a Christmas tree.
The Father’s love went to his son and from him spread in many diverse directions. One vine/person can’t do everything, but the many side branches can do many things.
When I was in Manresa the Trinity was once explained to us as: “Jesus is the kiss of love from the Father and the Spirit is the ‘kissiness’ of the kiss.” In my mind that kiss of love keeps that main vine growing to kiss into existence many branches.
—Camille Devaney serves as Board chair for the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP).