by Marylou Garrett, Notre Dame Associate
My husband and I belong to a group of seven couples who gather monthly in our homes to share a meal, our faith and our lives. At our last meeting, three of the couples were unable to attend. After reflecting on Thomas' absence when the Risen Christ first appeared to the other apostles in John 21, we discussed how much we also miss when we or our friends aren't present when we gather. We recognized that we needed each other to help keep us and our marriages anchored in Christ.
In this Sunday's gospel we see another example of the importance of community. Two travelers on the road to Emmaus are joined by a stranger who admonishes them for losing faith and hope in their crucified teacher. Their hearts burn within them as he explains Scripture passages that refer to what the prophets foretold about the Messiah. But it isn't until they invite him to their lodgings for the evening and share a meal with him that they recognize who their guest truly is: "He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened."
Jesus, just days before at the Last Supper, had given himself completely to the apostles under the appearance of bread and wine, but he had also given them completely to each other: "Love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another. This is how all will know you are my disciples." (Jn 13:34-35). It was the Bread of Life, shared with each other, that compelled two tired travelers to return to the faith community in Jerusalem with their good news that very same evening!
We too are called to be bread - broken and blessed to share Christ's loving presence with each other and the world. Carey Landry's song "Companions on the Journey" expresses this beautifully:
We are companions on the journey,
breaking bread and sharing life;
and the love we bear is the hope we share,
for we believe in the love of our God,
we believe in the love of our God!
by Sr. Margaret Hickey, ND
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118; Peter 13-9; John 20:10-31
In this holy season of Easter, scripture reflects many happenings following the death and resurrection of Jesus. Did these events happen quickly or over a longer period of time? John admits that there were many more events that were recorded. Regardless of the time span or the number, they give us a profile of the disciples of Jesus and the growth of the early Church. And they challenge us as the followers of Jesus living today.
Imagine the emotions of the 11 disciples after the death of Jesus, those of the multitudes who followed Jesus in his three years of ministry to his untimely and horrible death on the cross, and the feelings of the women who discovered the empty tomb. Loss, fear, disappointment, anxiety, confusion, doubt, betrayal - someone who had healed, accepted, transformed and affirmed was gone from their midst. What Jesus promised would happen did happen - He was raised from the dead! With the strong emotions running through this early church, the promise might have been hard to remember.
I try to place myself in the group of the early followers of Jesus, and wonder what I would have been feeling and doing, and where I might be. How strong would be my faith, how strong my hope; would I have denied and run away too? Would I also have doubted the whole experience of Jesus’ presence, healing, service and teachings?
Or would I have come to believe that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was the beginning of something wonderful, something I was called to be an integral part of. Today’s readings from Acts record the activities of the early church: devotion to the teaching of Jesus and his apostles; commitment to communal life - holding all things in common, giving what they had so that all needs would be met; gathering for daily prayer and the breaking of the bread; giving thanks for the wonders that had been completed among them; and answering the call to spread the Word to the entire world, knowing they could meet the same fate as Jesus had met on the cross.
Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times and who experienced all the above feelings, writes in today’s second reading: “God our Creator with great mercy gives us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance, a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time…” This is the promise that moved the early church to travel the known world living Jesus’ message of love. It is the promise that turned Thomas’ doubt to belief. It is the promise that endures to today, in our lives and in the lives of so many even today being persecuted for living this promise. It is the promise that ultimately gives us Life.
May God fill our hearts with joy in the Holy Spirit as we celebrate this holy season of Easter. Amen.
by Sr. Joy Connealy, ND
During Lent I’ve been thinking about the empty tomb and the witnesses who were brave enough to risk going to the burial site. Their courage tells us that we, too, can trust in the truth that is deep within us and announce to those around us and to the world that Jesus is alive.
We celebrate this season the life-giving message that death never has the final word. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection tells us that love is stronger than death. Nothing dies forever; and all that has died in love will be reborn in an even larger love. The grief of yesterday becomes the wonderful truth of today!
Whether or not we are feeling deeply the joy and hope of this holy season we can trust that God is with us. We can be like the women who went to the empty tomb out of a deep commitment to the one who showed them a new way of loving. We can faithfully “show up” because God has called us to live for others.
May our lives be overflowing with the good news of the Resurrection. May our witness to God’s unconditional love for us proclaim to our world our deep hope and love.
by Sr. Barbara Ficenec, ND
Today’s liturgy offers abundant imagery to each of us for reflection and heartfelt response.
Whether we choose to place ourselves amidst the crowd who acclaimed Jesus in Jerusalem or at the Last Supper table, on Mount Gethsemane or Mount Calvary, might we remain for a while?
Let the mind dwell on what is seen and comprehended through silent faith vision; claim it and feel its impact within. What might this mean? Something very singular and valuable will happen to each participant.
I chose to enter the Garden of Gethsemane. I observed Jesus asking Peter, James, and John to REMAIN and WATCH with Him for His hour had come. I focused on the plea that Jesus made and, I asked myself, “Can I move closer, comfortably place my hand on the Lord’s shoulder to whisper that I’m here?”
Confidently I did approach to show my grateful love and support. With a warm pressure of my hand on His arm, I wanted Jesus to know that He matters to me.
As a mother fondly watches over her sleeping child, a youngster holds tightly to the safety of its Dad’s hand clasp, and an athlete enjoys the victory of endless practice hours, we will never regret having given the Lord our efforts and time to be with Him.
Just fifteen minutes a day during this Holy Week in quiet reflection on the Sacred Events of the Passion and Death of Jesus will reap a surprise of spiritual treasures, peace, and joy. Do give it a try.
A Blessed Easter to ALL!
by Sr. Theresa Maly, ND
Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, knowing that if he came, he would heal their dying brother. How profoundly disappointed and distraught they were as they ended up laying their brother in his grave. With grieving hearts, they welcomed Jesus three days later. “Too late,” suspects Martha, but we know the events at the tomb and Jesus’s final words to the bystanders “Unbind him and let him go.” Lazarus lives again!
How easy it is to be bound by fears, disappointments, frustrations, regrets, failures! How easy to forget the power of God’s grace setting us free and offering New Life. Is this not the mission in which we are called to share? It is in this freedom and trust that our mission thrives; that we can approach others bound in similar ways. A simple word, a smile, a prayer, a loving act of kindness, can bring a spark of new life. We know! We have experienced it ourselves.
Throughout our world, are millions of people bound by poverty, prejudice, war, violence, abuse - those being targeted because of their religion, sexual orientation, color of their skin, ethnicity. Many of these bonds are so systemic, that we can allow them to become the norm. That is just the way it is! Right? No! It is never too late, or too impossible, as Martha suspected. With the Spirit of Jesus active among us, we, as prayerful, believing, hopeful communities of compassion and action continue the mission. Unbind them; free them; bit by bit. Let them live again!