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.
TODAY WE CELEBRATE THE NEW LIFE OF CHRIST WHICH WE SHARE.
Do my words and actions witness to this belief? Like the women of Galilee, am I a person of faith and hope?
ALLELUIA ALLELUIA ALLELUIA
THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE; LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD!
Peter has a hard sell. The crowd is hostile and the Law taught that "cursed is one who hangs on a tree" (Deuteronomy 21:23). Peter argues that Jesus is not cursed; on the contrary, "God raised him up, having freed him from death..." Peter supports his experience by quoting from Psalm 16, that God’s faithful ones (and not just Jesus and Mary) should not know corruption of the flesh. "This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses ....having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit..."
For our prayer today, let us first listen to Jesus as he prays parts of Psalm 16: "I say to God, ‘I have no good apart from you.’ I bless you who gives me counsel, and even in the night my heart exhorts me... So my heart is glad, my being rejoices, my body too rests secure.. You show me the path to life, fullness of joy in your presence forever." Then pray those words in your own name. Finally, repeat it on behalf of all those who are not resting secure in this war-torn world, who desperately need joy in God’s presence.
Jesus, thank you for the fullness of joy in your presence. Comfort with your tangible presence all those who suffer.
"You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," Peter promises. You will hear the voice of Jesus calling your name, as the risen Christ called, "Mary" to his friend weeping in the garden. "Woman, why are you weeping?" he asks her. To receive the Holy Spirit is to be deeply bonded with all those who weep.
Do you want this gift of bonding Spirit? Picture all the women who are weeping in this world: in our own country, weeping because they have been abused, abandoned or because their children are hungry and homeless; women around the world weeping in prisons and refugee camps, longing for their children; women wailing as they hold the dead bodies of their husbands and children in Iraq, Uganda, Sri Lanka. Listen to Jesus call your own name. Then watch as he calls to these women. Name your own friends who weep and ask the Spirit-comforter to heal their hearts.
Come, Holy Spirit, through Mary who held the dead Jesus. Make us one with all the men, women and children who weep. Console them, and let us be your instruments of consolation.
Jesus meets the disciples who are conversing and debating as they walk to Emmaus. He asks them to include him, and they share their dashed hopes for Jesus. First Jesus calls them "dull of heart," although our translation softens it to "slow of heart." After he explains Scripture to them and he eats with them, their hearts are on fire.
What sets your heart on fire? Ask for the fiery Spirit of Christ to permeate your every thought, word and action today. Ask the Spirit to quicken what is slow in you, burnish your dullness, spark your laziness, purify your grossness of heart. Ask for the gift of falling in love with Jesus yet again.
Holy Spirit, we ask you to let us flee with a fling of our hearts to the heart of the Host at every table. May we recognize him in breaking bread and in the broken hearts around us.
In Acts we learn the earliest Christology of the new community: that Jesus is appointed the coming Christ (anointed one) whom God will send at the end of the world, a "time of universal restoration." He will become the Messiah (anointed) only then. For a clear and complete Christology, read Elizabeth Johnson’s Consider Jesus. If we set ourselves Lenten penances, why not a 50 day study of all that Christ is and means to us? His mission continues in and through us: "repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name should be preached to all nations." Forgiveness, reconciliation, unity is the mission he entrusts to us.
What is your experience of Christ risen and active? How do you feel about that experience? If you have never had it, BEG for it. If you have had it, how has your life changed? Pray that every Christian may know the living Christ experientially.
You stand in our midst, Jesus, and bless us with your peace. Let peace seep into all the violence in our own hearts, homes, communities, countries, world, and heal us.. Prince of Peace, save us.
Peter tells the Sanhedrin who have arrested him and John that a crippled man was healed through the powerful name of Jesus "whom you crucified [but] whom God raised from the dead." Jesus, rejected by the leaders, is vindicated and more than restored by God. Rejected, Jesus does not reject. The gospel tells of Jesus’ restoration of friendship with those who abandoned him. Tenderly, he calls to his friends out fishing, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" Jesus had made provision. Can you see him building a charcoal fire and cooking the fish, toasting the bread, making them breakfast on the beach? He comes to serve, to forgive, to make one.
Picture Jesus moving around that shore of the Sea of Tiberias, preparing the fire and the fish. As you watch, repeat his powerful name slowly. Ask to fall in love with him because he is so good, so tender. Let his name and his person fill your whole being -- now.
Jesus, our footwasher and our chief chef, how we do love you! Help us to let you serve us, and teach us to let others serve us as well. Grant us that humility, please.
In Acts we see the first civil and religious disobedience perpetrated by none other than Peter and John who refuse to stop using the name of Jesus. They reply to the Sanhedrin’s attempted silencing: "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges." They must preach and teach In the name of Jesus. Mark’s brief description of Jesus’ appearance to his friends is as harsh as yesterday’s appearance was tender. The Eleven did not believe the women’s experience, nor the disciples newly returned from Emmaus, so Jesus rebuked them for their "unbelief and hardness of heart".
"Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of Jesus," Paul exhorts us. Take a look ahead through your day, or (if at night) at the next day. As each person, task, event passes before your mind, speak the name of Jesus. Try to keep his name on your lips as you actually go through your day.
Jesus! Your name is like oil poured out. Heal us and our war-weary world. Jesus! Your name fills up our senses. Fill us with your self.
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