More Than Stopping At The Bakery

( A commentary on John 6: 22-29)

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Daily Reflection – 4/19/2021

Sacred Scripture

On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 However, boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6: 22-29)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, those who had received the free meal of loaves and fishes had come along the north lip of the Sea of Galilee looking for Jesus there. Because they knew Jesus hadn’t gotten into the boat with the other disciples, they asked, “Rabbi, when did you get there?” But Jesus wasn’t interested in small talk. Jesus wanted to help them to grow in faith, to help them to recognize why they were following him and to challenge him to follow him for the right reasons.

They have seen the things that Jesus has been doing but have missed the ‘sign’, the deeper meaning behind them. The food they are looking for is not the food that counts. The real food brings a life that never ends and that is the food that Jesus is offering.

The source of this ‘bread’ is the Son on whom the Father has set his seal. This ‘seal’ was given at his baptism. It is the Spirit of the Father, who is the power of God working in and through Jesus.

Many of us come to the Lord not just with wants but real material needs, not knowing how we’re going to pay the rent, or put food on the table, purchase the medications they need, or find a job to help support those they love. God wants to hear these prayers. As a loving Father, he wants us to bring our needs to him. It wasn’t this that Jesus was criticizing.

Jesus was criticizing the fact that they had stopped there, that all they were concerned about were their material needs. He wants them to set their minds on the food that gives eternal life.

And he asks them and us not just to ‘believe’ but to ‘believe in’. It is not just a question of accepting certain statements about Jesus and who he really is. ‘Believing in’ involves a total and unconditional commitment of the whole self to Jesus, to the Gospel and the vision of life that he proposes and making it part of one’s own self. This is where the real bread is to be found.

For it is only God can satisfy the hunger in our heart and soul – the hunger for truth, for life, for eternal love and peace.

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, help me to seek You. Help me to seek You for the help and healing I need. But more than that, help me to seek You out of love. My Jesus, I do love You. Help me to love You more. Jesus, I trust in You. “

Daily Note

Jesus often asks the question: what do you seek? What would you like me to do? Do you want to be healed? Jesus’ desire is to fill the emptiness that inhabits each of us. Like the first disciples, we too seek an answer. And yet, life pushes us beyond the established definitions of things, especially with God

When we are lost and confused, we often turn to God for answers and help. But ideally, we will eventually seek God for more than just healing or comfort. We will ultimately seek God for the reason of love. We will seek Him simply because we love Him and want to love Him all the more. Reflect, today, upon your desire to seek Jesus, or lack thereof. When you can begin to seek out Jesus simply because you love Him and want to love Him more, you are on the right road. And as you walk down that road, you find it is a road of the utmost delight and fulfilment.

How Hungry Are You ?

( A commentary on John 6: 1-15)

Daily Readings in John - Day Eighteen - Reservoir Church
Daily Reflection – 4/16/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone. (John 16:1-15)

Reflection

The miracle of the loaves and fishes is the only one that is mentioned by all four gospel writers. That does not make it more significant but it does speak to the universal lesson it teaches us.

It’s easy to say that the feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us.

Yet, it also speaks to the human condition and that includes you and me.

Every one of us hungers. Every one of us seeks for something that will nourish us. We hunger for affection, for relationships, for real things. We are born with a natural instinct that reaches out for sustenance; it is a survival instinct, a drive to live.

When you’re hungry, the first thing you think of is yourself. It can be very difficult to stop and think about the hunger that others feel. Jesus asks us to de-center ourselves, to stop being so self-centered. He proposes that we stop focusing on our own hunger.

Philip and Andrew reacted to this proposal by defending themselves with common sense and the logic of the economy.

Jesus asks us to go beyond this logic, to a logic of simply giving. The miracle occurs only when the disciples are willing to abandon the thought of what they possessed and trust in Jesus.

Philip and Andrew’s hunger is satiated at the very moment that they concern themselves with satiating the hunger of those around them and sharing what they have. Centering our attention only on our needs never helps us resolve our problems. He asks us to trust in him.

When life is like a desert without hope, Jesus revives us.

Jesus Christ wants to be our partner in life, our companion; our confidant. He is looking out for us, always keeping his eyes open for an opportunity to feed our hungry hearts with his beauty and truth. He wants to supply for our needs; it is his greatest joy. As he puts it later in this same Gospel, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you satisfy the deepest longing of our heart and you feed us with the finest of wheat. Fill me with gratitude and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.”

Daily Note

We only have five loaves and two fish; by ourselves we can do nothing. Only if we put all we have into Christ’s hands, trusting in him and not ourselves, can we hope to make a real difference for the good of the Kingdom – in our hearts and in society at large.

Open Yourself to His Love

( A commentary on John 3: 31-36)

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Daily Reflection – 4/15/2021

Sacred Scripture

The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him. (John 3:31-36)

Reflection

Today we get the concluding words of the chapter of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in which Jesus describes his own mission and the life of anyone born anew from above.

Jesus says that many don’t seek the things that are above, most don’t leave the darkness to enter the light, most don’t allow Jesus to change their fundamental orientation at the root, most don’t really convert and continue to lift up their hearts to God.

Yet, God commits to a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit and offers all the grace we could ever need or want. The beautiful nature of divine love is that it is never ending and ever abundant.

The problem is that we often “ration” His grace. We don’t do this because we believe God is limited. Rather, we often do it because we are afraid to let God unleash His almighty power in our lives.

If we are unable to accept the fullness of his love and let it grow within us then perhaps, we need to examine those things in our life that are “dead.” Those areas of our present or past that block us from truly being his light in the world.  We need to face the hard truth and let something in our life end. As difficult as it might be, at times we need to face what is real and move forward.

Are there areas in your life that are dead and need to be removed? Do you find yourself in a manipulative or abusive relationship, and yet want to hold onto the dream that this relationship is good and gives you joy? Do you find yourself addicted to alcohol, or drugs, or pornography, and yet say to yourself, “My life is healthy, there is nothing that needs to change”? Do you find yourself surrounded with self-pity over someone or something that you have lost, and refuse to let go of the dream that you want things to be as they once were—that you don’t want things to change?

Dead branches in our life not only hinder us, they can at times kill us. That is why, when there is nothing else we can do, we need to let go and let God remove what is dead from our lives. To do anything less would be living a lie. But the good news is this. Letting go, as difficult as it is, is not meant to cause pain, but to foster life. Cutting off what is dead is not cruelty, but an act of a loving God who removes barren branches so that other parts of our life can thrive. Jesus promises us life and joy in its fullness, and he is serious about what he says. We must believe him. If we want joy, we need to trust him. If we want life, we need to let him take what is dead in our lives and prune it away.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, let your Holy Spirit fill me and transform my heart and mind that I may choose life — abundant life in you and with you.  And give me the courage and strength to always discern good from evil and to reject everything that is false and contrary to your holy will.”

Daily Note

We believe what Jesus says on the basis of our faith in God. Because we trust in God, we trust in what he says and gives witness to. The one born from above allows the Holy Spirit to give witness within him, not putting up any resistance to what God is doing. The Holy Spirit is a witness just as much as the apostles to Jesus’ risen life and when we are reborn from him, we give witness together with him. We don’t ration the Holy Spirit’s work, and he helps us, as St. Paul described to the Galatians and the Romans, to “live by the Spirit,” which allows us to be “concerned with the things of the Spirit.”  And for that reason, Jesus says, such a person living by the Spirit is already living eternally because he is through the Spirit in union with Christ’s risen life.

It’s Always Been Your Choice

(A commentary on John 3:16-21)

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Daily Reflection – 4/14/2021

Sacred Scripture

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (John 3:16-21)

Reflection

everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

God loves us so much that he himself died so that we would live forever. He didn’t want to lose anyone of us. The incarnation, life, preaching, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus were all one big rescue mission. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,” St. John continues, “but that the world might be saved through him.”

But despite Jesus’ not coming into the world to condemn it, there is still a condemnation, there’s still a judgment. It’s the condemnation and judgment that happens when we refuse to accept Jesus’ rescue.

In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus once again points out that we remain free to accept or reject his offer of friendship, his offer of salvation. He makes it starkly clear: “Whoever does not believe in him has already been condemned.” Salvation depends on God and on us; God has done his part, now we must do ours.

At the moment of death, the choice for light or darkness becomes final and irrevocable.  But before that time, God is waiting for us to turn to him.  He is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4).  He shines his light on our sins and brokenness not to humiliate us, but to show us that evil can take root in our lives. 

The “wrath” of God means a state of alienation from God, but it’s one brought about not by the act of divine punishment but by the selection of people to live and walk in darkness out of a self-love so strong that it turns on God and as a consequence “hates” his light.

Those who live in the peace of God, on the other hand, believe in Jesus, believe in what he says, choose to align their life to the truth he reveals and come to see and experience all things in his holy light.

The aim of the Christian life, the aim of faith, is to live in communion with Christ who is the truth, to believe in him is to believe in what he says and try with all our might to put what he says into practice. And when we live the truth, we want to live in the light not so that we can show what good Christians we are but so that the Father may be glorified, so that our deeds may be seen as done in God, so that God may get the credit, so that our life may give him witness and glory. God so loved us as to make that possible.

Prayer of The Day

I praise you, Father all-powerful, Christ, Lord and Savior, Holy Spirit of love. You have revealed yourself to me, and you have drawn me to share in your life and your love. Stay near to me, God. You have created me in your image and you have given life to this world because of your love. In your goodness make me an instrument of your mercy.

Daily Note

The words of today’s gospel are so beautiful and give us so much hope. We must remember that even though we can adjust and live of this world, it is not what we were meant for. We were meant to be of the light of Christ and only live in this world. God created us for more, He created us to live in the light. Today, let us reflect on the words from John’s gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Where Are You Looking These Days?

( A commentary on John 3: 7-15)

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Daily Reflection – 4/13/2021

Sacred Scripture

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.” Nicodemus answered and said to him, ‘How can this happen?” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:7-15)

Reflection

Today in the Gospel, Jesus continues his dialogue with Nicodemus, the “reluctant disciple,” who came to Jesus by night because even though he knew that God was working through Jesus, he wasn’t courageous enough to make a commitment and risk being seen with him during the day, something that might compromise his prestige and status among the members of the Sanhedrin.

As Jesus seeks to open the eyes of Nicodemus, he tells him that the focus must be on the cross.  “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in him.”  This is a reminder of the incident in the book of Numbers where, as a punishment for their sins, the Israelites were attacked by serpents.  God told Moses to erect a bronze serpent on a pole and all who looked at the serpent were saved.

The result of Jesus “being lifted up on the cross” and his rising and exaltation to the Father’s right hand in heaven, is our “new birth in the Spirit” and adoption as sons and daughters of God. God not only redeems us, but he fills us with his own divine life and power that we might share in his glory. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit that we may have power to be his witnesses and to spread and defend the gospel by word and action, and to never be ashamed of Christ’s Cross. 

It’s from Jesus on the Cross that we learn how to unite all our sufferings, hardships, contradictions and difficulties to God. It’s from Jesus on the Cross, ultimately, that we learn how to live with love, because the Cross is not principally a sign of pain and suffering but of the self-giving love that made even that much pain bearable.

But each of us must also accept that it’s not solely about being “born” again from above through the Cross but “living” from above, living by the Holy Spirit who helps us to be buried with Christ so that we may have a newness of life.

Being “born again” by the Spirit is inextricably bound to “living “by the Spirit. It’s only then do we know that our eyes are focused on Jesus Christ. It can’t be a sideways glance. He has to be the center of all that we say and do.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, grant that all my thoughts, intentions, actions and responses may be directed solely to your love and service this day and every day.”

Daily Note

A decisive direction was presented to Nicodemus. Yet the Apostle John does not describe what reaction Nicodemus had to the words of Jesus; the secretive visitor seems to have silently disappeared back into the night. Perhaps St. John did not immediately reveal Nicodemus’s choice because Nicodemus, in a certain way, is each of us. We have met Jesus, we have sat at his feet, and we have heard his words. What will we do?

Now THAT’S The Power of Change

( A commentary on John 3: 1-8)

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Daily Reflection – 4/12/2021

Sacred Scripture

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.’  The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 1-8)

Reflection

If we are looking for the power of change in a person, Nicodemus is near the top of the list!

Jesus describes him as a chief teacher among the Jews. Nicodemus comes, though, because I suspect he has an inkling that whatever he and others may note in his plus column, he could be missing something big, something that so far has escaped him. Jesus pushes him out of the realm of the comfortable but he remains befuddled.

Nicodemus is also us, trying to figure Jesus out, desiring what Jesus seems to be offering, unsure how to fit it into anything he knows

Accepting the invitation to discipleship offered by Jesus means a new beginning, which is as dramatic and significant as the one that takes place at the birth of a baby.

The idea of being “born from above” is also significant because it reminds us that this new beginning is not something that we can achieve in our own strength, but that it is actually a gift given to us by a gracious god.

We believe in God, but when it comes to changing ourselves, we try to do it ourselves. We think that our strategy and efforts can break a habit of sin or make us more generous people. But that is seldom the case. What we need is not different plans or more willpower. What we need is a new relationship.

We enter into that new relationship when we entrust ourselves to God, when we admit our weakness and inability to change, and ask God to transform us. When we say Lord, “I have been so hurt by that person that I cannot bend to forgive. I need you to bend me, so that I can let go of this hate. Lord, I have put such high expectations on my spouse and my children, that they are harming my relationships. I need you to loosen my expectations, so I can love the people in my life as they are, rather than how I want them to be. Lord, I am so quick to judge others because of their race, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint, and that fills me with anger. Lord, I need you to quiet those prejudices, so that I can live in peace again.”

When we are helpless and hopeless, God promises to change us. God promises to write, in a new way, on our hearts. Now, then, is the time to open our hearts, and let God in, so that we can become the people we are called to be.

And what about Nicodemus? His story continues in the Gospel of John, and it’s clear that in the interim, some kind of transformation has begun in him. When angry crowds in the Jerusalem Temple demand that Jesus be arrested, Nicodemus is the lone man who stands up to defend him. When Jesus has been lifted up and executed upon a cross, Nicodemus is present when Jesus is taken down and is one of two men given permission to bury him. In the last piece of the story, Nicodemus “who had at first come to Jesus by night” (John 19:39) stands there in the daylight, not as a curious seeker of wisdom, but as a disciple risking his reputation and life to publicly identify himself with this Jesus, while more familiar disciples such as Peter have run and hidden from the authorities.

Wherever we end the story, Nicodemus still offers a glimpse at how acceptance of Jesus Christ can challenge us and can change us, not just in what we believe, but how we live.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, you offer us abundant new life and power to live as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. Renew in me the gift of faith to accept and obey your life-giving word and to cooperate with the transforming power of your Holy Spirit who changes us into your likeness. May your kingdom come and your will be done in my life today, tomorrow, and always.”

Daily Note

Once we open ourselves to God’s will and God’s way, we let ourselves be led to where God wishes.  “The wind blows where it will.  You hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from, or where it goes.”  The breath of the Holy Spirit is the sole Guide for our lives.  This is the message which is being given to Nicodemus.  He must be ready to move in a different direction from that which has guided his life up to this.  We, too, wherever we happen to be right now must ever be ready for God, through his Spirit, to call us in a new direction and to follow his lead.

Is Love Enough?

( A commentary on John 21: 1-14)

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Daily Reflection – 4/9/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. 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. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. (John 21: 1-14)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is full of symbolism and in that symbolism lies so much meaning for each of us.

In its essence, our Gospel story speaks of love. First Peter and then the disciples recognize our Lord. As he did when they walked together, he nourishes and sustains them. They gather to be fed by their Messiah.

It’s a story that fits so well in this first week of Easter.

The resurrection alone speaks of a love greater than any of us could ever imagine. The love of God poured out in his son who magnifies that love by dying so that each of us would be able to join his father. But then God adds the most important postscript. Jesus rises from the dead and through his resurrection, we catch a glimpse of what our eternal life can be.

That’s about as powerful a love story as I can imagine. Yet, too many times in our lives, that love proves elusive. Too many times, the sustenance of that love, meant to strengthen us, does not sustain us. It seems not to feed us. It’s not because it is not there. It’s that we give up too easily. We don’t grasp it and wrap it around us. We don’t let the majesty of that love propel us forward.

As we look around our world though, we catch glimpses of how his love can be so powerful. We see it:

. . . In the strength of an abused spouse or child who has the courage to walk away and build a new life guided by people reaching out in love

. . . in the final breath of an elderly spouse holding the hand of their loved one as tears fall silently in gratitude for a life and love well spent

. . . in a moment of despair when we doubt ourselves and a friend reaches out to remind us that we are special, that we are strong and that we can get up and move on.

In the verses immediately following this Gospel, Jesus begins the conversation with Peter, asking him if he loves Jesus. It is a powerful scene, in which Peter is challenged three times, the same number as his denials, to declare his love for his teacher.

Isn’t that our story? Jesus asks us “Do you love me? Will you follow me? Will you be my disciple? Will you let your love for me not only fill your heart but propel your actions, govern your words and share that with stranger and friend alike?

Will our answer be: “Yes Lord, I love you?” “Yes Lord, your love is the essence of my life”. “Yes Lord, my life reflects that love.”

Our answer will tell us on which side of the cross we live. Good Friday or Easter resurrection.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, open our minds to understand the Scriptures that we may fully comprehend the truth of your word. Anoint us with your power and give us joy and boldness to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.”

Daily Note

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><em>When the disciples saw the risen Lord they disbelieved for joy! How can death lead to life, the cross to victory? Jesus shows us the way and he gives us the power to overcome sin and despair, and everything else that would stand in the way of his love and truth. Just as the first disciples were commissioned to bring the good news of salvation to all the nations, so, we, too, are called to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to all who live on the face of the earth</em>When the disciples saw the risen Lord they disbelieved for joy! How can death lead to life, the cross to victory? Jesus shows us the way and he gives us the power to overcome sin and despair, and everything else that would stand in the way of his love and truth. Just as the first disciples were commissioned to bring the good news of salvation to all the nations, so, we, too, are called to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to all who live on the face of the earth

The Gift of Peace

(A commentary on Luke 24: 35-48)

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Daily Reflection – 4/8/2021

Sacred Scripture

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. 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. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. 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 and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:35-48)

Reflection

Luke continues his gospel with the news of a resurrected Jesus, and we return to the scenes in the upper room where the disciples are reflecting upon what had just happened. Behind closed and locked doors, the disciples are trying to sort out the events of this past week and even the past three years in light of what they thought, believed, hoped, and expected.

Jesus appears to the disciples and asks them to act as judge. He shows them his hands and feet, he eats fish before their eyes, and asks them to believe, to judge, that he is truly risen in the flesh. They move from fear and doubt to peace.

 Peace seems to be an elusive commodity these days. Think of all the things that cause you to lose peace. Think of all the things that test your trust and confidence in God. Think of events or circumstances that make you feel sad and hopeless. Think of all these things and you put yourself squarely in the midst of these earliest Christians. Jesus has the same message for all of us: “Peace be with you.”

He is asking the questions that disarm all of our turmoil and untangle every knot: “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” We have no good reason, Lord. No good reason. The question itself imparts peace. Jesus stands in the midst of our excitement, our fear, our foolishness, our lack of faith, and says: I am risen. Why do you continue to agitate yourself with these things? I am risen and with you always.

The fullness of Christ’s victory over sin and death is communicated to us by the one word “peace.” When this greeting, even this command, comes from the lips of Jesus it scatters all of our darkness, suspends all of our fears, and sets us free to rejoice in His triumph, because it is also ours.

Their strength the disciples had to go forth as witnesses came from the peace that Christ has bestowed on them—not as the world gives it, but as Jesus does. Worldly peace depends entirely on circumstances. It is contingent on things going well for us. God’s peace means that even if the whole world is against us, it really doesn’t matter. He has overcome the world. He is with us, for us, defending and advocating for us.

It doesn’t mean our troubles will cease, that there will be no further cause for sorrow and worry, but that we will have the peace to take it all with the strength that comes from His victory. We will hear the Lord’s voice come across our troubled waters, through locked doors, through fear and trembling, saying: “Peace, be still. I am risen and with you always.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, open our minds to understand the Scriptures that we may fully comprehend the truth of your word. Anoint us with your power and give us joy and boldness to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed”.

Daily Note

The centrality of the Gospel message is the cross – but fortunately it does not stop there. Through the cross Jesus defeated our enemies – death and Satan and won pardon for our sins. His cross is the door to heaven and the key to paradise. When the disciples saw the risen Lord they disbelieved for joy! How can death lead to life, the cross to victory? Jesus shows us the way and he gives us the power to overcome sin and despair, and everything else that would stand in the way of his love and truth.

Your Story and Mine

( A commentary on Luke 24: 13-35)

Sermon Slide Deck: "On the Road to Seeing Jesus" (Luke 24:13-35)

Daily Reflection – 4/7/2021

Sacred Scripture

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’s disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 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 said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:13-35)

Reflection

Luke is a masterful story teller. He is adept at describing scenes and events. Today’s Gospel is no exception.

Here we have Cleopas and a companion (possibly Luke himself) walking to Emmaus, saddened, deeply disappointed, not understanding how the one they believed to be the Messiah was no longer with them. They’ve lost faith. They’re finding it too hard to believe. It’s too dark. Jesus is dead he must have just been a prophet like the prophets of old who died. They distance themselves from the place where they had experienced the most powerful of love stories, as if to erase everything that had happened.

In their story lies all the ingredients of the Christian life – yours and mine.

When we are disappointed, the first thing that comes to mind is to seek an escape. We want to get out of whatever situation it may be: a relationship, a job. Disappointment is often accompanied by anger, and anger blinds. That is why, as we make our escape from a frustrating situation, we aren’t even exactly sure where we’re going. What matters is to get away, even if we aren’t sure where to.

Disappointed and upset, incapable of finding an answer, we inescapably fall into sadness. And, as Luke tells us, sadness too is blinding. We are no longer capable of seeing what is happening in the present because our hearts are trapped in the past.

When our hearts don’t sense Christ, it’s easy to say, “Maybe he’s not God, maybe Jesus is not as powerful as I thought.” But they were wrong and so are we if we think that way.

We see in today’s Gospel how Jesus helps Cleopas and his companion to reinterpret this story of love in order to help them overcome their disappointment. Jesus opens the family picture album before them: he recounts the events of the Scriptures highlighting all the signs of God’s presence in their loves. Jesus helps them to see (their eyes were opened) how God had accompanied them.

When we can’t see Jesus and can only think of everything wrong with our lives, we should pause and check our memories and ask, “Am I being selective in what I am remembering?” How has Jesus done good things for me and shown himself to me in ways in the past. If he has been good for years and years why would I assume he would stop now?

Because when we look over the signs of love that fill the story of our lives, our hearts soften. If the disciples’ disappointment had driven them to flee, it is love that gives them the desire to return.

For those times when you find yourself on the road to Emmaus, don’t give up hope even though it can be a long and discouraging journey.  And if you know someone who is traveling the road to Emmaus, walk alongside that person for a while.  Do not doubt that the Lord will walk with you as well, no matter who you are and no matter where you are going.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart to recognize your presence with me and to understand the truth of your saving word. Nourish me with your life-giving word and with the bread of life.”

Daily Note

Just like our Messiah suffered so too Christians will suffer. God doesn’t promise us pain free lives where we always feel his presence near us. We will go through trial and darkness and sometimes feel alone. We can’t see Christ because of everything going on. But God can use this time to draw us nearer to Christ.

Today’s gospel is the good news that the hero of the story is alive and well. It’s all pointing to our need for him. It’s all about this coming savior who is going to pay the ultimate sacrifice. It’s all about Jesus, his suffering, his death, and his life-giving resurrection So when we’re frustrated and discouraged and can’t sense God’s presence that’s exactly what we need to focus on – he mirrored our lives in his mortal life and he reminds us of his eternal love in his resurrection.

The Lessons She Taught Us

( A Commentary on John 20: 1-18)

John 20:29 | John 20 29, Bible apps, Forgiveness of sin
Daily Reflection – 4/6/2021

Sacred Scripture

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” 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, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20: 11-18)

Reflection

Travel with me for a moment to the scene in today’s Gospel.

Mary was weeping for the suffering of Jesus, for His death, for the loss to her and her friends, and because she could not find His body.

It took courage for Mary to go back to the tomb. It took even more courage for her to let go of Jesus after she called him Rabboni. But in doing so, she gives birth to the Church. By her witness, by her testimony, the history of the world is changed, made new, transformed. Her words to his friends are the first Easter sermon ever preached! Because of her testimony, we are here today! Mary continues to run through the ages to this very day, gathering us all to be a community of his people, his beloved disciples.

Mary’s whole life was characterized by the words of the Psalm: “O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” Her example is one that inspires us to seek the Lord with the same Passion.

Like those first disciples she calls, we all race to the tomb and stoop over to see for ourselves. Like Peter, Mary and the beloved disciple, we do not all see the same things, we do not hear the same voices. Except the one voice that calls us each by name.

He calls us today. He calls us by name. He calls us to be his beloved disciples. He calls us to follow him so that we may do something beautiful with our lives and bear much fruit.

Like Mary, he also calls us to let go of him. We can shut him up in tombs of our own making, or we can be like Mary and let go and go and tell others about our Risen Lord. In letting go, like Mary, we will find that we are more fully embraced by him, by his love and by his Father than we could ever imagine.

And like the people who were changed by her words, others’ lives will be changed by ours. How?

By taking up Jesus’ mission of course—to carry on his work; to be in the world opposed to poverty, violence, hatred, sickness, and death.  In the resurrection Jesus commissions us to carry on his work until he returns.

How will Mary Magdalene be able to touch Jesus after he has ascended?  How can we touch Jesus before he returns?  We touch him by engaging in his mission.  We touch him every time we touch the poor, the suffering, the dying, the victims of violence and hatred.  For he has told us whatever we do for the least of our brothers or sisters we do to him.  Until Jesus returns, we are commissioned to touch him in one another.  In touching those we serve; we touch Christ himself.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may I never fail to recognize your voice nor lose sight of your presence as you open the Scriptures for me and speak your life-giving word.”

Daily Note

Mary’s message to the disciples, I have seen the Lord, is the very essence of Christianity. It is not enough that a Christian know about the Lord, but that we know him personally. It is not enough to argue about him, but to meet him. In the resurrection we encounter the living Lord Jesus who loves us personally and shares his glory with us. The Lord Jesus gives us “eyes of faith” to see the truth of his resurrection and his victory over sin and death (Ephesians 1:18). And he opens our ears to recognize his voice as we listen to the “good news” proclaimed in the Gospel message today.