6th Sunday of Easter – May 22, 2022

6th Sunday of Easter – May 22, 2022

Easter6C22.   Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 22-29.     There was a conflict as to whether those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah must be also practicing Jews or were free to be followers of Jesus without becoming Jews.  The decision was: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond the necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right.”  Jesus was the new Torah or the Law.  Acceptance of him, and him alone, was to bring salvation.  God, the Giver of the old Mosaic Law, had replaced the Law with person of Jesus, God-made-man.

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.”  Home is with Jesus alone; he is where our heart is!  “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.”  The person of God, who is living with us, guides us by means of the Scriptures, the Church and by whomever and by whatever way he pleases.  God, the Holy Spirit, is our spiritual life without whom we are just earthly animals.  To be at peace is to live in Jesus as our life.

Psalm 67:  “May the nations be glad and exult because you rule the peoples in equity; the nations on the earth you guide.”

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23.   This world often is a troubled place.  Peace is only to be found in our life in Jesus. We ought to let a sense of security in the presence of God be our inner home here on earth.  God, the Almighty, is our strength in our weakness.  His heavenly loving magnificence is ours in our earthly world.

6th Sunday of Easter – 2019

East6C19.   Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 22-29.   Some of the Jewish converts to Christianity said to the other converts, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.”  They obviously thought that Jesus was the Messiah or Savior only for the Jews, since they were saying that one must Jewish in order to be Christian.  This teaching upset many and disturbed their peace of mind.  Paul and Barnabas were among those who did not accept this understanding of Christianity.  There was much dissension. To decide this issue, the apostles and presbyters met in Jerusalem.  The result was: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.”  The Holy Spirit inspired them to recognize that salvation comes “through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11) and not through observance of the Mosaic Law.

John 14:232-29.  “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.”  God must be respected and treated as God and not as just another person that we to have knowledge of.  As our God, especially as the God who loves us dearly, we owe our submission to his authority over us.  Jesus, who soon no longer was to be physically present, promises to send the God the Holy Spirit to continue the task of bringing salvation to whole world.  Jesus then says, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you.”  And then, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  His divine loving presence is always with us.  We need to draw a strength from his presence that will always keep us peaceful, free of fear.  Romans 8:31b reads: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:37 reads: “No, in all things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”  Peace and joy are a sure sign that we are living in Christ.

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23.  “The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”  This coming week we will celebrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven, as the Lamb of God.  This reading prepares us to envision him gloriously there. “I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.  The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”  Our faith is in the person of God.  All the physical things that exist in this world as a part of our faith, the Scriptures, church documents, church buildings, the Church governed from Rome will disappear when Jesus comes the second time because all physical things will disappear.  Their purpose was to help us live our lives out of the presence of God himself who becomes and is our life.

5th Sunday of Easter – May 15, 2022

Easter5C22.   Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27.    In proclaiming the ‘good news’, Paul and Barnabas “made a considerable number of disciples.”  Recognizing that it is not easy to remain truly faithful, they encouraged the new Christians to persevere.  Returning to Antioch, Paul and Barnabas “reported what God had done with them in opening “the door of faith to the Gentiles.”  It is the Holy Spirit who does the good work using us as his earthly instruments.

John 13:31-33a, 34-35.   Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”  The brilliance or glory of Jesus’ divine love was to be seen in Jesus’ offering himself for us on the cross.  No love could be imagined greater than that of God-made-man suffering and dying for us.  His love for us becomes the measure by which we are to love one another.  The old measure that was that we were to love others as we loved ourselves is done away with.  The wondrous glory or infinite greatness of God shows that God is the measure or standard by which everything else is measured.  We give glory to God by respecting him as the measure of all things.  In John 15:12 Jesus said: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Revelation 21:1-5a.  John saw a new universe and a new holy city “coming down out of heaven from God”; the old universe had passed away.  He “heard a loud voice from the throne (of God) saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.”God expresses his glory by embracing us as his people forever, made “in his image,” “after his likeness.” (Genesis 1:26b, 27a)  As God is, so should we be: loving, as God is loving; holy, as God is holy.  We live on the same old earth but as a distinctly new creation, remade by the divine breathe of life from the Holy Spirit.

5th Sunday of Easter – 2019

East5C19.   Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27.    Paul and Barnabas go from place to place establishing the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ among the Gentiles.  As they prepared to leave each place and go on to the next, “they appointed elders for them in each church” so that the work of the church had a firm structure on which to continue until the Second Coming of Jesus.  Finally they went back to Antioch which had been their starting point.  “They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”  When the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the ‘church’, it is always referring to the people who had chosen to follow Christ.  In the beginning there were no church buildings, only synagogues and peoples’ homes. What makes a building a churchis that is where God’s people gather to express and celebrate their faith, individually and communally.

John 13:31-33a, 34-35.  “I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.In John 15:12, Jesus again says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus changes the Old Testament: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31; Matthew 19:19 & 22:39; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8) The measure in Christianity for loving is not how much we love ourselves but rather to love to the degree that Jesus loved and loves us, to the cross.  Secondly, we can love as Jesus loved to the degree that we live in Christ and draw upon his love for us.  Only after we have received God’s love,will we have a love, divinely received, that we can bring to others. Human love is filled with self-interest, giving so that we can receive from the ones to whom we have given.As Christians we ought notso much bring a love that we naturally have for ourselves to others but rather a supernatural love that we have received from Christ to bring to others.  In John 15:5 Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”  When we do what God has commanded of us, we do it, not out of own resources but out of what we have received from God. 1 John 4:19 reads: “We love because he first loved us.” To have any spiritual resources or grace we must remain in him as he remains in us. (John15:4a)  In John17:26 Jesus said: “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which youloved me may be in them and I in them.”  When we love as Christ has loved, all will know that we are his disciples.

The sign that Jesus’ passion and death is to begin is Judas’ departure from the Last Supper.  Then Jesus says, “Now is the son of Man glorified.”  His astounding act of love in his offering of himself to redeem us not only gives him glory but alsothe Father glory.  1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Revelation 21:1-5a.  God will and does now dwell with the human race “and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.”  “The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” God takes all that was fallen and lost and makes it new by his love.

4th Sunday of Easter – May 8, 2022

Easter4C22.  Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52.   Because of the success of Paul and Barnabas in making converts from among the Jews, the Jewish establishment “were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul” was saying.  Because those Jews were rejecting Christ as their Messiah, Paul and Barnabas invited the Gentiles to accept Jesus as their Savior.  A persecution was stirred up and Paul and Barnabas were expelled from Antioch.  Though rejected by some but accepted by many, “the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit” that they had served God faithfully in Antioch.

John 10:27-30.  To be Jesus’ sheep means to choose to draw life from the Holy Spirit and to reject being creatures who live from the life of this world.  In John 17:14 Jesus said, “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”   Jesus’ sheep are attentive to his life-giving direction of our lives.                         The ways of this world are death-giving and destructive.  Following Jesus as his sheep gives us eternal life and we “shall never perish.”  God the Father’s grace enables us to resist the death-dealing yet powerful attractions of this world.

Psalm 100.    “We are his people, the sheep of his flock.”  “Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.”

Revelation 7:9, 14b-17.  John the Evangelist “had a vision of a great multitude which no one could count” who had “survived the great time of distress” or persecution under the Romans.  What was good or meaningful about their suffering?  Their suffering, like that of Jesus, was the result of being a loving people whose love was not only rejected but was the reason for their being hated, tortured and abused. The world sees love that is not self-serving to be repulsive.   A self-giving love is viewed as an attack against the underlying foundation of what it means to people of this world.  This world makes suffering the price of being God’s self-giving people.  Jesus, whose sacrifice of himself on the cross was love, extends his love to those who have joined their suffering to his.  In his Almightiness, he shepherds those who suffer with him.  He calls upon us not to be so comfortable in the daily routine of this world, in which God is given no role, that we are anesthetized or sedated into avoiding any suffering that Christian love might bring on.  Physical exercise has an expression or saying: “No pain; no gain.”  That is often true of Christian love.


4th Sunday of Easter – 2019

East4C19.   Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52.  Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch to the synagogue to announce Jesus as the Messiah.  The next Sabbath the crowds that came to hear Paul and Barnabas were so great that the Jews “were filled with jealousy and contradicted them with violent abuse.”  To the delight of the Gentiles Paul and Barnabas announced to the Gentiles that they were now invited to follow Jesus because the Jews had rejected him.  The Jews “stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.” “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”  To follow Christ is a joy in part because discipleship means that God the Holy Spirit lives in us giving us his heavenly life. This first reading says, “All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.”  I understand this to mean that God can see the future and know who will freely choose Christ and those who will choose to reject him.

John 10:27-30.  Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Jesus takes possession of those who have chosen to belong to him.  We listen to him as the only one who has eternal truth and follow him personally each day throughout the day.  We live with great joy because of the security we have knowing that he will never abandon us but will fiercely fight to keep us as his loyal sheep.  Jesus asserts that he says these things, not as only a human being but as God Himself.  His allegiance to us is based on his divinity and can never fail.

Psalm 100.   Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.”  In Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me (follow me) must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’”  I believe that the cross that is essential to be being Christian is that we must reject belonging to ourselves and our own will but rather to radically accept that we belong to God and his will alone.  To accept the status of being his sheep we must reject personal independence and live in total dependence on Jesus our Shepherd.  He is God alone.  Human nature, every moment of our lives, calls upon us to be independent, god of our own lives.  As long as we live on this earth we only successfully challenge our human nature with the endless help of the Holy Spirit.  Only he can enable us to live as true sheep of Jesus, the Shepherd.

Revelation 7:9, 14b-17.  “John had a vision of a great multitude,” which “stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”  Massive numbers of saints who had attained heaven stood before their all-powerful God.  They survived great persecution and attained the glory of the crown of martyrdom.  The Lamb, Jesus who offered himself up as the sacrificial offering to redeem us from our sins, shepherded them to heaven.  God wiped “away every tear from their eyes.”


3rd Sunday of Easter – May 1, 2022

EasterC22.     Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43.     “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.”  Jesus, who to the naked-eye seemed to be just another human being was given a ministry that showed he was “Lord of all.” (AA 10:36c)  The Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and so were commissioned “to preach and testify” that Jesus was “appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.”  Jesus is the Messiah, our Savior.

Psalm 118: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.”  What human beings build will one day crumble.  What God builds lasts forever.

John 20:1-9.   When Mary of Magdala saw the tombstone removed, she assumed someone had taken Jesus’ body away.  When she told Peter and John, they ran to see but did not find the body but only the burial cloths with the head cloth “rolled up in a separate place.”  Apparently what John saw and believed was that the body was not there, since “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”   Although Jesus had told them before that he was to suffer, die and rise from the dead, they were not able to grasp what he had said to them.  To fully take in the reality of the risen Christ is to live so that Christ may be risen in us, giving us his life as the source of our daily life.  “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” (John 15:4a)

Colossians 3:1-4.   To embrace Christianity means to die to everything that is not of Christ so to rise to a life that lives in Christ.  To be Christian, that is, ‘of Christ’ means to belong to him from the depths of our being.  Outwardly we look like anyone else; inwardly, we are totally new and different.  While we are here on earth we do not belong to this world but to God.  Jesus said in John 17:16a, “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” “Jesus also said in John 18:36a: “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”  We are his now and forever.

3rd Sunday of Easter – 2019

East3C19.   Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41.  “The high priest questioned them, ‘We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name?’” “But Peter and the apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” “After recalling the apostles, the Sanhedrin had them flogged, (this Sunday’s excerpt does not include these previous words) ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” (Jesus)  How can intense pain be a cause for rejoicing?  When our love for Jesus is even greater than the pain, what a joy it is to suffer for the one we love because the depth of our love enables us to have a life that is even deeper than our pain!  In the fishing event at the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus speaks to the apostles not with words but rather through what they experienced with Jesus.  The nets were empty, then the nets were full.  Without Christ there is nothing; with Christ there is everything!

John 21:1-19.   Certain of the apostles fished all “that night (but) they caught nothing.”  When Jesus who was on the shore heard that they caught nothing, “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.”  Then they realized it was the Lord!  The symbolism is clear. If the Apostles tried to bring in followers of Jesus by their own efforts alone, it was fruitless but with Jesus at their side all was gain.  Then it is said in response to the three times Peter denied Jesus, now he asserts three times that he loves him, but with each question Jesus is calling upon Peter to commit himself to growing into an endlessly ever-deepening love for him.  Peter will be the principal shepherd who brings sheep, people to follow to Jesus.  Jesus tells Peter that, as he once had to suffer flogging for the sake of the name, he will now suffer death to glorify God.  Then he commands Peter to follow him on the way to the cross and then to resurrection.

Revelation 5:11-14.  John heard the voices of many angels crying out loudly, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.”  And then, “everything in the universe, cry out: ‘To the one who sits on the throne and to the lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.’” Praise of God, worshipping God recognizes through our voices and action the truth and reality of who God is.  In our world God plays ‘hide and seek’.  As we grow in our faith life or life that is a faith that becomes who we are, God reveals increasingly even more of himself.  His glory astounds us ever more and more, eliciting from us an ever growing joy in our amazement at the awesomeness that is God.

2nd Sunday of Easter – April 24, 2022

Easter2C22.   Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16.   As Jesus worked many miracles to encourage people to accept him as the Messiah, so too his Apostles performed many miraculous deeds.   Some were reluctant to believe, perhaps because they had fear of the Jewish authorities who crucified Jesus.  Nonetheless, “great numbers of men and women” chose to believe.

John 20:19-31.   Opening up this reading is like opening a huge treasure chest of sparkling jewels and precious metals.  On that first Easter Sunday those, inside the room with the locked doors, arose from their fear and hopelessness to be filled with wondrous joy when Jesus entered. As God the Father had sent Jesus to bring salvation, so now Jesus sends his disciples to do the same.  Then Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit to empower them to fulfill their God-given mission.   Salvation or the capacity to enter into heaven requires one to be holy or sinless.  In order to bring salvation the disciples were given the power to forgive the sins of those who would choose to accept salvation and to refuse it to those who would choose not to accept salvation.  Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles, was a man who only accepted what he saw physically and materially present to his eyes. The spiritual or the unseen was not yet something he was open to accept. Even though the rest of the Apostles told him that they had seen the risen Jesus, apparently Thomas thought they were hallucinating.  So he demanded to not only see the risen Jesus, but to put his finger into the nailmarks and put his hand into Jesus’ side. When Jesus did appear to Thomas, stunned into belief, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”  Thomas was not only accepting the fact that Jesus had truly arisen but also that Jesus was divine.  Jesus, speaking in a sense to us who have not seen, said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” In his glorious risen body, Jesus came with divine power and risen humanity.   John, Apostle and author of this gospel, tells us that the various wonders, he has selected from among the many that Jesus performed, have been written so that we too “may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief (you) we may have life in his name.”

Revelation   1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19.   “Whether or not these visions were real experiences of the author or simply literary conventions employed by him is an open question.”  (p. 1426, The New American Bible for Catholics)   In John’s vision he experiences Jesus as the One who is arisen and is now “alive forever and ever.”  Not only does he hold the “keys to death and the netherworld” but as Jesus himself said in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

2nd Sunday of Easter – 2019

East2C19.   Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16.    “Many signs and wonders were done at the hands of the apostles.”  When Jesus himself walked among the people, he called upon them to believe in him because of the miraculous works he performed. In John 14:11 Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.”  The miraculous works of the apostles were signs that God the Father was as work in them.

John 20:19-31.  The disciples of Jesus feared the physical violence that the Jewish authorities could inflicted on them as they did to Jesus.  Jesus assures them saying, “Peace be with you,” since he was with them.  He sends them forth with the divine power of the Holy Spirit to bring his redemption of sins to those whom they find worthy or withhold it from those they find unworthy.  Jesus himself will no longer be physically and visibly here; and so he sends them in his place to do accomplish his mission and will in this world.  Later Thomas announces that he believes that Jesus’ death on the cross was final and could not possibly be reversed.  He was a man firmly grounded in the common sense ways of this world. He was not going to be swayed by what seemed to clearly be nonsense.  Jesus could have easily said to Matthew as he did to Peter in Mark 8:33: “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Jesus showed Thomas physical proof of his resurrection in the nailmarks in his body just as he demonstrated to the apostles that he was not a ghost or spirit but a real physical person when he ate the baked fish.  When we see physical, material proof, then we have knowledge of that reality.  They did not have to believe or have faith in what they did not see with their own eyes.  I think that Jesus gave them this knowledge of his resurrection so that no one could reasonably claim that Jesus’ resurrection was figment of their imagination and not a genuinely reality.  And so Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  1 Peter 1:8a says, “Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him.”  This Sunday’s Gospel finishes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”  The Scriptures are given to us as a divine way to come to know that the love with which the Father loved Jesus may be in us and Jesus himself may be in us.  (John 17:26b)  The divine revelation that  Scriptures make known to us is not so much words or sentences about Jesus but the presence of Jesus his very self in our lives.

Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19.  This reading begins, “I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,..” As Jesus suffered physical violence so did many of his followers.  Persecution for their faith caused them great distress.  However, Jesus always accompanied them giving a sense that already they were a part of his kingdom.   He gave them the strength to endure through it all.  He gives us that same strength in our times of temptations and difficulties.  Jesus says of himself, “Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.  I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.”  We ask him to protect us by keeping the doors of that world locked for us but rather open the doors to life forever in heaven.