Let this Easter set your Heart on Fire

04-30-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

Words of fire can ignite hearts grown weary—and fiery words of faith can renew hearts grown cold. First we hear Peter, whose words had not long before denied knowing Jesus, now boldly proclaiming, “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32). Cowardice had been transformed into courage. Then we listen to two disciples—some say a married couple—who meet a stranger, appearing downcast when they first speak to him. After telling him about this Jesus who had been crucified, they conclude with obvious disappointment, “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). But it is the very words of Jesus as he accompanies them, explaining the scriptures, that lead them to exclaim, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures?” (24:32). The joy of Easter faith can be renewed and deepened in us as we listen to God’s word over the fifty days of Easter, attending to the witnesses in Acts, the voice of the first Letter of Saint Peter, and the Gospels of the Easter season.

Ask for the fire of Easter faith to burn within you. Is your heart open to being inflamed?

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Third Sunday of Easter: Recognizing the Lord

04-30-2017Question of the Week
  • Reading I: Acts 2:14, 22-33 (Peter's discourse)
  • Reading II: 1 Peter 1:17-21 (filial obedience)
  • Gospel: Luke 24:13-35 (Emmaus)
  • Key Passage: When he was at the table with the disciples, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:30–31)
  • Adult: In what way have you come to know Jesus better through the breaking of the bread at Eucharist?
  • Child: When you join Jesus at the table of the Eucharist next Sunday, what would you like to thank him for?
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Second Sunday of Easter: Encouraging others

04-23-2017Question of the Week
  • Reading I: Acts 2:42-47 (communal life)
  • Reading II: 1 Peter 1:3-9 (thanksgiving)
  • Gospel: John 20:19-31 (appearance to the disciples; Thomas)
  • Key Passage: Then Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." (John 20:27)
  • Adult: We show our faith when we demonstrate courage in the face of difficulty. What could you do this week to help strengthen someone?
  • Child: What could you do this week to encourage someone who is sad or discouraged?
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Peace be with you

04-23-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

Easter creates the Christian community. Christian community means membership in a group that helps you become the person God has called you to be. Acts holds up the first community of believers as one in which its members shared certain values that helped them witness to Christ in the world. These values included devotion to the teaching of the apostles, a life of possessions shared in common, communal celebration of the Eucharist, and prayer. This portrait in Acts still holds today, brought about by the "new birth" in Baptism through Christ's resurrection, proclaimed in the first Letter of Saint Peter. Our Gospel portrays this new birth occurring with the first appearance of the risen Lord. He comes bearing resurrection gifts of peace and joy. Jesus bestows these gifts by breathing the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. With these Easter gifts by breathing the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. With these Easter gifts comes a commission: Proclaim God's forgiveness to the world. Thomas stands for all who struggle to believe, but who finally make the leap of faith and proclaim to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).

How does your community help you come to faith?

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Alleluia! Praise God! He has Risen!

04-16-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

John's account of the Resurrection has the least amount of drama in it. No large stone rolled back, no angels appearing with the message of Jesus being raised, and especially no appearance of Jesus, which happens in Matthew's Gospel, read at the Easter Vigil this year. But John's account may have more in common with our own experience of the risen Lord because it remains true to its unique approach of presenting Jesus through a series of signs. Here the sign of resurrection is the reference to the burial cloths, which had been wrapped around the body of Jesus and laid across his face. They signal to us that he is no longer in the tomb; indeed, he has been raised. All beloved disciples (including you and me) are invited to read this sign as the proclamation of the Easter message: He has risen!

How do you reflect Easter joy in your life, allowing the risen Christ to shine through you and your actions in everyday life? How can your life shout out "Alleluia! Praise God! He has risen!" to the world?

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Easter Sunday: Witness to faith

04-16-2017Question of the Week
  • Reading I: Acts 10:34, 37-43 (Peter's discourse)
  • Reading II: Colossians 3:1-4 (mystical death and resurrection) Or 1 Corinthians 5:6–8 (unleavened bread of sincerity and truth)
  • Gospel: John 20:1-9 (Peter and the disciple at the tomb)
  • Key Passage: Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed. (John 20:8)
  • Adult: What is your experience of resurrection in your own life or the life of your family?
  • Child: Jesus is with us today. How can you see him in the people around you in Church?
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Hosanna to the Son of David

04-09-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

Palm Sunday is our entry into the most sacred week of the year, when the Church celebrates the Paschal Mystery. Today we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his joyful greeting by the crowd as the Messiah. “Hosanna to the son of David,” they cry out. We pick up blessed palms today and may even participate in a procession. We are not playacting what happened almost two thousand years ago, but making a personal commitment, acclaiming Jesus today as the One who came and who comes in the name of the Lord to bring us new life in God, winning for us salvation once and for all by his suffering and death. The procession signifies our ascent with him and our willing participation in the act of his self-sacrifice on the cross. Today we remember the suffering and death of the Lord as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, which presents Jesus as the new Moses who brings about a new covenant.

What does is mean to be the people of the New Covenant in our world today? How do we imitate Jesus Christ, who became the servant of all, giving life for all?

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Passion (Palm) Sunday: Obedience and humility

04-09-2017Question of the Week
  • Procession Gospel: Matthew 21:1-11 (triumphal entry into Jerusalem)
  • Reading I: Isaiah 50:4-7 (salvation only through the Lord's servant)
  • Reading II: Philippians 2:6-11 (imitating Christ's humility)
  • Gospel: Matthew 26:14-27:66 (the passion of Jesus)
  • Key Passage: Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:7–8)
  • Adult: We are called to die to ourselves in love for others. How do you live that in your own life?
  • Child: How do you allow Jesus to live in your heart?
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I am the Resurrection and the Life

04-02-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1

The third and final personal encounter of Jesus this Lent takes place near the tomb of Lazarus, one of Jesus’ closest friends, with the deceased man’s sister, Martha. As in his meetings with the Samaritan woman and the man born blind, Jesus calls Martha (and us) to a deeper level of faith in him. Martha comes to Jesus as a grieving sister who scolds him for not coming sooner to prevent her brother’s death. This leads to one of the most memorable exchanges in John’s Gospel, concluding in Jesus’ proclamation: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if [he or she] dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Then Jesus asks, “Do you believe this? (11:26). Our faith in Jesus promises resurrection to us, based on the dwelling of the Spirit, who raised Jesus, dwelling now in us, as Paul writes today. While Ezekiel promises Israel a resurrection from the living death of captivity in Babylon, Jesus’ promise prepares believers for eternal life.

Are you ready to answer his question to Martha by professing your faith in him at the Easter renewal of baptismal promises?

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Fifth Sunday of Lent: Life everlasting

04-02-2017Question of the Week
  • Reading I: Ezekiel 37:12-14 (prophecy of restoration)
  • Reading II: Romans 8:8-11 (the flesh and the Spirit)
  • Gospel: John 11:1-45 (the raising of Lazarus)
  • Key Passage: Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25–26)
  • Adult: Christ calls us from death to new life. To what new life are you being called during this Lent?
  • Child: How does Jesus help you do what is good and avoid what is not?
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