Sister Rea McDonnell, SSND, offers daily reflections on the Liturgical Readings for each day. If you wish to share your own reflections or have comments or questions, please feel free to email Sister Rea. For information about Sister Rea's publications, visit our online gift shop.
"Although you have not seen him, you love him," Peter asserts. Because we love him, we love one another, Acts shows, describing how the first community shared everything, remaining faithful to prayer and breaking bread together. The gospel is Thomas’ cry: "My Lord and my God!" Which reminds me of a story. When I was maneuvering the streets of Boston, snow piled higher than my head on either side of me, I was about to pass an elderly woman when I noticed she had no gloves, no boots. I gave her my gloves, and my arm to steady her. I would walk her home, an apartment so poor that she used newspapers for a bed and kept food on the icy windowsill. But before we arrived, she needed to make a stop. We had been discussing our faith when she disappeared into a small grocery. When she came out she presented me with an orange and the words: "Jesus is Lord! Isn’t that wonderful!" I had just met my risen Lord once again!
Where have you/do you meet the risen Lord, either directly in prayer or in the faces, words, love of Christ taking flesh in those around you? How will you respond?
Jesus, although we have not seen you in the flesh, we love you. Deepen our love for those in whom you take flesh today.
The Lord is announced to Mary, who is rightly puzzled. Although the Psalm and Hebrews reading focus on obedience, repeating, "Here I am! I come to do your will," Mary adds, "the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word." With her questions to Gabriel, she is not so docile as is sometimes taught. Yet her passive "let it be done" may be a counter cultural way we Marlboro men and women in the Catholic church might approach our God.
In your memory/imagination, go through your day ahead (or if you work with this page at night, your tomorrow). After each activity in your schedule pray: "Let it be done to me according to your word, your will." See if you can carry that willingness over into the actual schedule.
Help us trust, God of grace, that your word and will are gracious, favoring us, good for us. Let us respond wholeheartedly to whatever may happen in our day.
"The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and one mind ... everything they owned was held in common." Barnabas ("which means 'son of encouragement'") was particularly willing and generous. Thus the apostles could "distribute to each as any had need." The most basic tenet of Marxism is: "From each according to his/her ability; to each according to his/her need."
How do those lines make you feel? Would you like that kind of sharing? Mormons do take care of their own in just that way. And Catholics? Ask for a deeper willingness to share more, maybe even all. What would you like to be called? Son of encouragement? Daughter of kindness? Play with a name that sums up your values. See what God calls you by being quiet and listening.
Here we are, Lord Jesus. Inspire our Catholic community to share with the poor, the outcast, with nations which donít believe as we do. We come to do your will. May your will be done in us.
The angel who opens the prison doors for the apostles missions them: "Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life." This earthly, human life God loves so much that God gave a Son, not to condemn the world, but to lure people into the light and life of Godís own self. As the psalm promises: "Look to God, [to Jesus] and be radiant!"
Look to God right now, however you image God: as father, as shepherd, as whirling, colorful energy, as Jesus, as dew, as rock, as ocean teeming with life, as the infinity of the universe. Keep looking. "Taking a long, loving look" is how we describe contemplation. Let your face and heart grow radiant in God and all the gifts of God which shower you. How will you respond?
So much bad news in this world, Jesus! So many "religious" people ready to condemn the world and its people, certain people. Give us your own heart and radiant love, Risen Lord of all!
Again, obedience is our theme. Peter boldly answers the high priest on behalf of all the apostles, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." This "enraged the council so that they wanted to kill them." Violence sometimes erupts today between religious authorities and Christians or Jews or Muslims, endowed with a free conscience. Jesus obeyed God's mission to the poor, outcast, hopeless, and they killed him. "God is close to the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit God saves" (Ps 34). The gospel calls us to obey (listen to and trust) the Son and so enjoy life, eternal and radiant life, right now. Even if, like Oscar Romero, refusal to obey human authority in order to stand with the crushed leads to death.
Have you ever experienced the summons of God which disagrees with human authority, religious or civil? What did you do? What circumstances might arise in the future that would call you to decision? Where do you want to place your trust and obedience? Talk this over with Jesus.
What tears you weep, creator God, when you see the abuse of power, done in your name. Forgive us for listening to bad news and trusting it. Grow us up into the freedom of the Spirit and give us courage.
In Acts, Gamaliel, a respected Pharisee, cautions his fellow council members, "If this [Christian] plan is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it...." So instead of executing the apostles, the council had them flogged. A painful start, but a 2,000 year movement. As our foundress, Blessed Theresa of Jesus, teaches, "All the works of God go forward slowly and painfully, but their roots are all the sturdier and the flowering all the lovelier."
When have you experienced that a painful or slow plan, activity, dream, transition in your life finally blossomed? As you remember, join your daily "dying and rising" with Jesus'.
Thank you, Jesus, for the courage and willingness of your first friends to suffer because of preaching in your name. Thank you for calling us to friendship and apostleship. Give us, please, courage and hope.
After blessing bread and fish for about 5,000 people, Jesus withdraws and the disciples head home to Caparnaum by boat. They began to row. "It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them." Are they rowing slowly and painfully? Alone in the dark? And then a rough wind! Suddenly they see Jesus walking toward them on the water and their response is terror. This year, instead of Easter Sunday morning filled with joy, the air waves were filled with commentators debating the merits of a feeding tube. Terror about leaving this life instead of the good news of risen life.
And you? Where is your focus? On your terror, or on Jesus coming to you through the dark? How does Jesus look at this case of ordinary vs extraordinary means of prolonging life? Ask him. Listen.
Jesus, help us to value this life, our bodies, our loves in the way you do. We surrender all to you, trusting that your risen life courses through our veins now, and will forever in the life to come.
School Sisters of Notre Dame, Baltimore Province
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