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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Third Sunday of Easter

"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." lk 24:14

The story of the two disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus seems always to lift our spirits. Listening to Jesus disciples, who are dispirited and upset but clinging to a shred of hope because some of their women friends reported that Jesus' tomb was empty, we find it easy to identify with them. Though the women insist that Jesus is alive, the disciples Jesus encounters seem reluctant to believe again, perhaps not wanting to risk further disillusionment.

Most of us have wandered away from or become confused on our own faith journeys. Sometimes we get lazy, take the Lord's goodness for granted, and forget that faith is hard work. At other times, like the Emmaus disciples, we doubt, especially in the face of serious problems, and that is when we must return to the basics of our faith.

We must practice faith daily through prayer, especially the breaking of the bread through which we recognizer Jesus, and good works. Otherwise, the questions we face will overwhelm us, and like the Emmaus disciples, we will be unable to recognize Jesus when he is right in front of us.

Today, break bread with someone who is hungry and discover Jesus again.

What are your most difficult hurdles on your faith journey?

Friday, April 28, 2017

St Catherne of Sienna

"They saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, 'It is I. Do not be afraid.'" Jn 6:20

Catherine of Sienna, unlikely doctor of the church, is one of those saints who challenges all our unexamined assumptions about wisdom, education and sanctity. The 25th child of parents who lost most of their children to early death, Catherine, though uneducated, became one of the most important writers of the 14th century. Her letters and mystical writings remind us to keep Christ close despite the cost.

In a letter to her spiritual spiritual director she writes: "You should not wish to turn your head because of the thorns of so many persecutions, for he is indeed mad who would abandon the rose for fear of its thorns." (Letters) Though unsaid here, it is clear that Catherine was able to ignore those who persecuted her because she knew that the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, was her guide and protector and having the rose was more important than the thorns that tore at her life.

The Easter scriptures are forever reminding us that the Gospel, though liberating and empowering, is too difficult to live without the strength of an Advocate, someone who stands behind us, encourages us and assures us that God is with us no matter how heavy the burdens we might have to carry.

Today, be an advocate for someone who seems lost.

Have you ever experienced the strength and support of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Feed the Hungry

"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?'” Jn 6:5

Fear is a powerful and dangerous motivator, so strong at times it can overwhelm our good judgment and cause us to harm ourselves and others. When a mother can't afford to feed a child, she might do almost anything to find food. Anyone who has lived among the very poor knows this. Women everywhere have sold themselves to support their children, and fathers have stolen money and goods for the same purpose.

We don't know how fearful the disciples were when Jesus asked them where they would get food to feed everyone who was following them, but Philip reminded Jesus that even with two hundred days wages they could not feed everyone. Afraid, perhaps, that they would not have enough for themselves, the disciples try to dissuade him from responding tho the hungry, but the Lord will have none of it. Jesus insists that there is always enough if we take not what we want to feel comfortable, but what we need to stay alive and healthy. Sharing the goods of the earth is a foundational Gospel principle.

The Gospels demand we pray about all this. People should not have to live in fear for their next meal, but millions still do and it should offend every Christian to reflect upon this. When Jesus tells his disciples to "have the people recline," he is telling us to do the same. Only when we share what we have with those in need do we experience the full power of the Gospel.

Today, feed someone who is hungry.

How do you understand Jesus' command to respond to those who present themselves to us for help?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Proclaiming Jesus Despite the Cost

"We must obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29

All of us have experienced times and people about whom we feel compelled to speak. When Moses saw a burning bush, approached it and learned that God wanted to speak to him, he had to tell other about his experience. Elijah hears God, not in a strong wind or an earthquake, but in a tiny whisper, and realizes in the middle of his fear, that God is calling him. He cannot resist. Again, when Isaiah, hearing God wonder who to send, responds: Here I am, send me!

The great figures of the Hebrew bible announce God's presence and love whenever they encounter it, and so does Jesus. Not only does the Lord speak of God, he is God's Word enfleshed, the one about whom we cannot be silent, and this is the essence of the 5th chapter of Acts of the Apostles. Peter and John become models for all the apostles and disciples. No longer does it matter that they abandoned Jesus in his greatest need. Forgiven and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they become, despite great personal danger, proclaimers of the Word.

The Easter season must animate us in the same way. Acknowledging and celebrating God's glory within, around and among us, we announce God's love to whomever will listen. Ignoring those who resist, we go everywhere in His name proclaiming the Good News of our salvation.

Today, let your joy speak to others of God's presence within you and among us.

What experiences of God have you had about which you cannot be silent?