“Fear no one,” Jesus says to the Twelve, as he sends them out “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:26, 6). This Gospel comes from the middle of his second great speech in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 9:36—10:42), called the missionary discourse. Jesus is instructing the Twelve on what to do on their mission. Since we are all called to be evangelizers (“proclaimers”) and witnesses to the gospel, these words have meaning for us. “Do not be afraid” is often heard in the Gospels. Even though they are sent to their own people here, there is no reason to be afraid, as the prophet Jeremiah also realized in his day, as his friends turned against him for preaching God’s word to them. Jesus saw that his followers would suffer, just as he was going to do. So he encourages his followers not to let fear control them. The God who watches over sparrows, who knows the number of hairs on our heads, will watch over us. God sent Jesus to save us, and Jesus promises that if we acknowledge him before others, he will acknowledge us before the Father.
When have you let fear silence you as a believer?READ MORE
This Sunday we celebrate our intimate communication with Christ and with all the members of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. Just as Baptism brings us into sharing the life of the Trinity, celebrated last Sunday, so the Eucharist brings us into a most intimate sharing in the mystery of Christ’s saving death and resurrection. In the Gospel of John, Jesus declares that he himself is the bread come down from heaven, and that the one who eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life even now and will live forever (cf. John 6:51, 54). Paul underlines the Eucharist as a meal that allows us to participate in the body and blood of the Lord and that signals our unity with each other, holding up the one loaf of bread as a sign of many becoming one. This sacrament empowers us to give ourselves in service to the world. We are fed by both the word of God, as Moses reminds the people about to enter the Promised Land, and by the sacrament of the Eucharist.
How has the Eucharist been a source of nourishment for you, both as an individual and as a member of the body of Christ?READ MORE
We return to “Ordinary Time” today (which means “numbered time” - tenth week, eleventh week, etc.) by celebrating the central mystery of our faith: the Trinity, God as one God yet three distinct persons. Makes your head hurt? Our readings help take us into the mystery of our God whom we name as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (the “ands” are important, reminding us of three distinct persons). God helps Moses to understand what it means to call God “Lord,” identifying himself to be merciful, gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity. Mercy is the word that best captures the God of the Old Testament. God showed the divine face in the person of God’s Son Jesus Christ, so that is where we look to “see” God. The Son came to reveal the Father to us. And both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to draw us into the life and love of the Trinity. This all began at our Baptism and continues wherever we worship God by celebrating the Eucharist. Still not clear? Well, keep praying, “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit...”
How is God leading you to knowing and living this mystery?READ MORE
Pope Francis has said that Pentecost brought three things to the community waiting for it: newness, harmony, and mission. Of course, something new first happened with the coming of Christ: God became human. Then, something new happened on Easter: Jesus who had been crucified and buried, did not remain dead. God raised him. Then again, for the third time, something happened. The Holy Spirit came, bringing a breath of fresh air that blew them out of the house, transforming them harmoniously into the body of Christ, and inflaming them to preach Jesus as Lord, the Son of God. The important role of the Spirit is summed up in Paul's words, "No none can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit...For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body...and we were all given to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3b, 13). This Spirit brings us peace and joy, along with the mission of bringing God's forgiveness to all who would receive it. Pray today's Sequence.
Which of the Spirit's many gifts do you need most at this time: light, comfort, refreshment, rest, coolness, healing , strength, warmth, guidance, joy?READ MORE
The Ascension is a very consoling feast. It may not seem that way, if you only think of it as Jesus leaving the apostles to carry on by themselves. Furthermore, Matthew even says that when they first saw the risen Lord, “they worshiped, but [some] doubted,” which indicates some were struggling to believe (Matthew 28:17). But then Jesus speaks words that have encouraged believers from then until now, first sending them (and now us) out to make disciples of all nations by baptizing others into the life of the Trinity, and teaching them what Jesus taught. His final words in the Gospel have encouraged the church through the centuries and continue to motivate and strengthen all who take them to heart: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28:20). Our faith also tells us that Jesus is both with us and with the Father, interceding for us, praying for us, continuing to send the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of [God],” deepening our hope in the glory yet to come, and strengthening the bonds that unite us as his body, the Church (Ephesians 1:17).
How does this feast encourage you in your life today?READ MORE
Easter reminds us that the risen Lord Jesus continues to bring us Easter gifts—peace, joy, forgiveness—as he did to the apostles and the first members of the church. But we are also challenged to examine how we work with them to witness to Christ, as Philip the deacon does today in Acts. And the first Letter of Saint Peter makes a few suggestions, calling us first to make Christ our priority: "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts" (3:15). To say Christ is Lord is to witness to him as the Son of God raised from the dead by the Father. From there, it urges us always to be ready to explain to anyone who asks why we have hope, why we can go into the future trusting in God's promise of eternal life, "life in the Spirit," which begins even now. This also means willing to suffer for doing good, in imitation of the Christ who suffered for us. Such a commitment to Christ is not always easy, but Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit to be our teacher, who will help us and draw us more deeply into the life shared by the Father and the Son.
How will you accept this Easter challenge?READ MORE
The importance of knowing the way to any destination is less burdensome in our day because technology has brought us the GPS or allows us to link up with various apps on our smartphones. Nevertheless, there are still times when I am driving in relatively unknown territory, with cars whizzing by and night coming on, my digital map so full of information that I yearn for a clear voice to direct me. So too in more substantial matters. Last week, Jesus said he was the good shepherd. This week, he presents himself as the way, the truth, and the life. He will help us reach our destination. In our journey to God, we are also given faith-filled people whose lives show us the way to the Father. As we celebrate Mother’s Day today, consider how your mothers, grandmothers, and godmothers have shown you the way to God by their words and deeds. No parent is perfect, but most do the best they can to care for their children and help them to know God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Who are the mothers you have known? Say a prayer for them in gratitude.READ MORE
Something special occurs when someone you love calls you by name. It can bring both joy and a feeling of security, just knowing that person is near. Jesus refers to himself as a good shepherd who calls his own sheep by name and leads them out to pasture. In turn he also says, “the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice: (John 10:4). It is not surprising that this image of Jesus as a shepherd is one of the oldest found among the gathering places of the early Christians, the catacombs. While few of us live in a setting where shepherds with their sheep are familiar sight, nevertheless the image continues to communicate that Jesus Christ is someone whom we can follow with confidence, trust, and the assurance that he will watch over us and bring us safely home. He is truly the “guardian of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25). So we must continue to listen for his voice and do our best to follow him. Saint Peter’s call to repentance in Acts is an ongoing event for us.
What do you think of when you hear Jesus promise to bring us abundant life?
—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2READ MORE