For the first generations of Christians of the early Church, the liturgical year consisted of only a weekly celebration of the Resurrection: the Day of the Lord, the Sunday. At this celebration all the various elements of the Paschal Mystery were recalled. God was blessed, thanked, and praised for all the wonderful works of creation and redemption - especially for the wonder-of-God par excellence, God’s only-begotten Son, who gave of himself for us.
Jesus Christ, whose ascension we celebrate, lived His earthly life to its fullest. His self-knowledge and divine nature allowed Him to express all of his potentialities. Jesus also knew the potentialities and weaknesses of His followers. He continues to challenge believers to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” As Jesus sent His disciples, He commissions us to “preach” in words and deeds. Jesus does not call us because of our credentials but He knows our potential. Once we accept the call, we can develop our God-given potential with the help of the Holy Spirit. The grace of God manifested in Jesus helped the disciples in their Christian journey of ongoing conversion. They stumbled and failed. Except for Judas Iscariot, they picked themselves up every time they fell short. They trusted Jesus’ words even when they did not understand. They heard Jesus enjoining ‘them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father”… the Holy Spirit.’
• What God seeks in our relationship is not the kind of lopsided adoration normally associated with a deity. The God of Jesus Christ seeks to be close to us, to know us, and to be known by us. This is abundantly evident in the Incarnation: God empties God’s Self to become human like us and ultimately to die for us. There is no more intimate love than the complete surrender of oneself to the other.
There are very few parables in the Gospel According to John like those we encounter in the other three gospel portraits of Jesus. The parables of the Good Shepherd (Chapter 10), the Seed (Chapter 12) and the Vine and the Branches (Chapter 15) are the closest things to a parable that we find in John. But their very scarcity makes them all the more worthy of attention. The Good Shepherd and Vine/Branches images emphasize the importance of the relationship between Jesus and the person of faith. Last Sunday, "Good Shepherd Sunday," the image of the relationship between a good shepherd and the flock was presented. Today, the image of the vine and branches is featured.
Our world tells us that suffering should be eradicated. Our nature prompts us to avoid it at all costs! But faith offers a different perspective. St. Catherine knew that in order to be like Christ, we should think and desire with Him. Out of love for us, Jesus embraced His Cross, and so redeemed the world. Jesus wedded suffering to love, and through it opened the path to salvation.
It comes as no surprise to anyone these days that our political climate is rife with conflict, controversy and downright animosity towards those with whom we disagree. Some would prefer to live their lives engaging only with those who share or take for granted their own views and bias. Sadly enough, such tension can also be experienced within the Church itself. Conflicts arise because of our differing perspectives on tradition and authority but also because of culture, language and custom.
When we sin, we deny the Holy and Righteous One. At times we do this willingly; that is when we commit a mortal sin. But we may also act out of ignorance. In both cases, we still need God’s forgiveness. Peter and John are addressing their communities, not to shame them, but to bring them to the light of the Lord’s face by repentance and by living the Commandments.
We want to thank the members of the Dominican family who were able to share their daily reflections this Lenten and Easter Season. Your words prepared our hearts to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord. This year we will extend the reflections beyond the Easter Octave. Please keep an eye out for reflections posted on the remaining Sundays of the Easter Season and Dominican Feast Days.
“Seeing is believing!” As a people of faith, we believe even though we do not see. The Risen Lord revealed the glory of his resurrection to his disciples over a period. Even after they saw the empty tomb and heard the reports of Jesus’ appearances, their faith was weak. Once Jesus appeared to them, He showed them the wounds of His passion. He told them to “see’ and “believe”.
Jesus, in today’s gospel, commissioned the Apostles to “Go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” In the Acts of the Apostles, they tell the Sanhedrin that it would be impossible for them not to speak about what they have seen. Just as Jesus commissioned the Apostles, He has commissioned us to share the Good News of the Resurrection to everyone around us. After we have seen and heard all Jesus has done for us, how could we not share the Good News with others?
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it”. (Psalm 118: 24) This gospel acclamation is sung during the Easter Octave. Nathanael, Zebedee’s sons, and the two other disciples who joined Peter when he said, “I am going fishing”, were not rejoicing after spending a night on the sea of Tiberias without catching anything – not even a small fish.
When did you first hear about Jesus? My earliest memory is from a Christmas when I was about three years old. My parents told me the Nativity story and we had a little creche on a table. Jesus already knew me because I’d been baptized as an infant, but it’s the recounting of the story that stays with me. For many, perhaps, most Christians, knowledge of the Christ seeped into our consciousness little by little through Bible stories, sacraments, sacramentals, and daily prayers. The dawning awareness, whatever the source, always extends back across time and space to the eyewitnesses of the Resurrected Christ encountered in today’s readings.
Today’s first reading is an example of what it means to live the Christian life. Speaking to the limp beggar, Peter says, “I do not have silver or gold, but what I do have I give you.” As Christians, we are called to consistently give of ourselves, and often we do not have what is sought after. As Peter does, we must realize that even when we cannot give what is being asked of us, we still have something to offer to everyone we encounter. In our interactions with others, we should always represent Christ to them, showing them the love and dignity that He would show them.