This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost and Jesus’ promised gift of the Holy Spirit. In the first reading (Acts 2:1-11) the apostles are gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem “waiting for power from on high” as Jesus had directed them before he ascended into heaven. They were most likely praying together for comfort as they waited, when suddenly the Spirit descended upon them, filling them with courage and zeal to go out and share Christ and his message with the whole world. The Church is born!
In today’s gospel (John 20:19-23), we revisit an earlier time when the apostles were cloistered together in a room in Jerusalem, but that time it was because they were broken hearted and afraid they too might be killed for having followed Jesus. This time it is the Risen Christ who burst into their cramped inner space, offering them peace and forgiveness. Rather than being condemned, they were given new life and responsibilities: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed the Holy Spirit into them and commissioned them to pass this peace forward by forgiving the sins of others. Priests carry this gift on in a powerful way through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but we are all called to witness to God’s unfathomable mercy and love for each and every one of us.
How do I promote peace in our world? Do I open myself up to the life changing love of the Holy Spirit through regular prayer, the sacraments, and service to others? Who right now most needs my love and forgiveness to be set free from shame and fear?
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful!”
Reflections: “The Ascension of the Lord,” & the Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 2, 2019by Linda Fitzgerald, Notre Dame Associate.
The reflection that amazes me the most about our Lord’s Ascension is that our Lord unmasks the lie that we are alone!
The spirit will drive the disciples, all of us and all those to come, to advance beyond our lack of understanding and fear to become Jesus’ own witnesses. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will empower and sustain their mission and ours. What a promise!
Paul writes about the inexpressible greatness of God’s power…raising Jesus from the dead and sitting him at his right hand. All things are under Christ’s feet. We live in the fullness of Christ and his church…what challenge, joy and comfort!
Gospel: Luke 24:46-53
Jesus promises his followers the Holy Spirit and sends them out to witness. “Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
My reflection is that the Holy Spirit for them and for us is the felt reality of God!
We ponder and don’t always recognize this felt reality, but one reality for me from this Gospel is the promise, the great hope of the returning of our LORD and we will be with Him and all those who love Him for all eternity! Alleluia! Amen!
by Mary Toline, Notre Dame Associate
In the Gospel of John 14:23-29 Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words, yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.”
“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you. “I am going away and I will come back to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”
When you hear the words of this Gospel, one must read it several times to maybe understand. I can’t imagine how the Apostles and disciples must have felt, trying to understand these words. One must have blind faith and just accept what Jesus was telling them without question.,
There are times when I don’t think that I understand what is happening within our Church and the world such as the scandal with some of the priests, all the murderers that happen even just in Omaha, the crime is so high and people just being mean to other people. What has happened to people? We need to reflect back what Jesus has taught us and that “Peace I leave with you, and my peace I give to you.” If we just think more about what Jesus went thru with his Crucifixion and that He is coming back to be with us like with Ascension next week and at the end of our lives, we just need to believe and trust in Jesus.
Gospel: John 13: 31-33a,34-35 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible.
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me;…Whither I go you cannot come; so I say to you now.
34 A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 By this shall all know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.
Did God ask that we love only those like ourselves? Or to love only those who follow Christ? Did Jesus teach a love that excludes any who do not follow Him, or are the wrong color, or have different customs, or live in another country? There are some calling us to love only the right kind of people, we are asked to fear those different from us, we are asked to build walls. How can we justify a wall in Christ’s name? The One who came to tear down walls, to teach universal love for all God’s creatures. Indeed, Christ is teaching us that we are only his disciples if we have love for one another.
Can anyone truly say they are followers of Christ without keeping this new commandment? And each day, we are called to reflect on how we have loved that day, have we embraced all people in our hearts. To exclude others is a human trait, to strive each day to be inclusive in our love, is to follow the yearnings of our heart to be disciples of Christ.
The 4th Sunday of Easter is celebrated as Good Shepherd Sunday. Today’s Gospel is quite brief and very rich. Each phrase can be pondered again and again.
The first phrase is, “My sheep hear my voice.” Do I? How do I know that I hear Jesus’ voice? Obviously this is often not very clear. It requires a life stance of discernment, always listening, always searching my heart to know that it is not “my wants” that I choose to follow rather than what Jesus calls me to.
Secondly Jesus says, “They follow me.” Again, do I? What does that mean? We know that if we follow Jesus, we can expect the same treatment Jesus had. Oh, no! If and when I truly take to heart Jesus’ call, it is always a stretching experience, one that leads me beyond where I am to ever deepening love and generosity to those around me and beyond. That’s not always easy!
Jesus promises, “I will give them eternal life.” What an amazing promise! Jesus promises that if we hear His voice and follow Him, we will share the fullness of eternal life forever. Jesus continues, “No one can take them out of my hand. . . . The Father and I are one.” This is an invitation to participate in the life of the Trinity, a life of unending love. It is an invitation to share in the love that ever flows within the Trinity and embraces all of us even now. When I listen to the voice of Jesus and follow Him, that love of the Trinity flows through me and, hopefully, beyond me to everyone I encounter, for we are all one in Christ.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, let us ponder our call to be good sheep of the Good Shepherd.
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. (Ps. 30:2a)
In this Sunday’s gospel from John, Jesus reveals himself for the third time to his disciples after rising from the dead. Some of the disciples have been fishing without success. Jesus, on the shore, suggests that they try again; when they do, the net is overflowing. As they come ashore, Jesus prepares breakfast for them.
In reading this, I am always struck by Jesus’ humanity and servanthood. Here he is, risen from the dead, in his glorified body, cooking breakfast for his friends. It is an ordinary event with extraordinary overtones.
We may not have this same opportunity to see Jesus in the everyday events of life, but we do have the potential to bring his presence into our daily interactions with others. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” When Peter responds that he does indeed love Jesus, Jesus asks him to feed his sheep. He is asking us as well to show our love for him in the way we treat our brothers and sisters.
This past Lent, I participated in Dynamic Catholic’s Best Lent Ever. In this program, Matthew Kelly spoke often of the concept of “holy moments.” We are all called to holiness, but no one (not even the saints) is holy 100% of the time. (Peter, who professed his love for Jesus repeatedly in this gospel, had denied him repeatedly just a few days earlier.) Matthew Kelly suggests that we begin with one holy moment and focus on increasing the number, so that we are living our lives in holy moments. One holy moment often leads others to respond with holy moments. My young friend Eli recently brought me some pastry he had made (a holy moment) to say thanks for something I had done for him (also a holy moment). What would our world be like if we all practiced holy moments?
May each of us, in the coming week, draw closer to the Risen Christ and help heal our broken world by practicing holy moments.
This week’s readings provide us once again with confidence of what we are able to accomplish through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles, prior to witnessing the resurrection and receiving the Holy Spirit, were ordinary people just like us. Thomas, who despite having lived in the presence of Jesus, and listened to his words on a daily basis, still doubted that Jesus could have risen from the dead. We all have moments in our lives where we, like Thomas, have doubts.
Great saints like Mother Teresa have discussed these doubts. However, time and time again, these saints relied upon Jesus in their moments of weakness. They returned to him in prayer and persevered on in faith and good works.
In the First Reading we are given an account of what these “ordinary” men accomplished through Christ. Their good works became an inspiration for others to follow. We have that same ability in our daily lives when we rely upon Jesus and place our faith and trust in Him to guide us. We have the opportunity and the ability to accomplish what these same ordinary turned great people accomplished over 2000 years ago provided that we keep returning to the Lord for strength and guidance while we persevere through life’s journey.
TESTIMONY TO THE RESURRECTION
MARY OF MAGDALA:
On that morning, we awoke before the dawn . . . full of sadness and sorrow . . .
Our Lord Jesus had died on the Cross.
We watched them lay his body in the tomb.
“Come, let us take embalming ointments and go to the tomb,” we decided.
We arrived . . .
The huge stone covering the entrance had been removed. We stood there . . . puzzled and terrified.
What could have happened to the Lord Jesus’ body?
We fled – trembling and bewildered – too frightened to talk.
I awoke that morning . . . grieving . . . the Master had been crucified.
He died on the cross . . . he lies in the tomb.
The silence of the dawn was broken . . . it was Mary of Magdala.
She had been running and was out of breath.
She said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.”
We – the other disciple and I – we decided we must go to the tomb.
We were running . . . the other disciple ran faster and arrived before I did . . . but he did not go in.
I arrived at the tomb – breathless and afraid – immediately I entered the tomb.
The linen cloths laid on the ground. The swath that covered His head was rolled up in a separate place.
Then we knew.
Then we understood the scripture teaching.
Christ Has Risen From the Dead!
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord,
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”
How exciting this must have been to be there and see folks praising our Lord and excited about His presence. There are times during our lives that we too encounter the crowd excited for our Lord, this is energizing and uplifting. This is how we feel during Lent at Mass – when there is a community of believers praising our Lord.
Then we move into the Gospel preparing for Holy Week.
In this Gospel, it is the story of how the Disciples struggled to stay awake and pray with Jesus, the betrayal of Jesus, the denial of Peter, and the Crucifixion of Jesus. This is all in preparation for Easter and His rising. During Lent, it should have been time to spend in deeper spiritual growth. But just as with the disciples, there has been exhaustion, confusion, frustration and sadness. How does it feel like we have grown closer to the Lord when during our preparation during Lent, there were illnesses, broken water heaters, more work at the office? We must look at our times of struggles just like the disciples and not lose sight that our Lord will rise and we will grow with Him.
“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” How long would it have taken you to leave if you had been there? I bet I would have been one of the first to “slip away”. If we have lived any length of time at all, we have sinned. Maybe we have been blessed to only commit small sins but we have sinned.
The attitude change of this crowd is impressive. They were willing to stone the woman caught in adultery. They moved from “ready to stone” to “slipping away”. This section of Christ’s teaching is very quiet and powerful. “Neither do I condemn you.”
I find it so easy to judge or condemn others. Yet this Gospel reminds me that it is not my job to judge others. It is my job to live as well as I can and to encourage others to do likewise. We will live better lives if we let God do the judging.