for your countenance shining upon us with this great gift of love.
Like the Apostles in the Upper Room,
give us your peace as we stand in amazement of your glory.
With hearts transformed,
urge us to go forth preaching Jesus’ Holy Name
and bear witness to his healing love and peace.
Bind up our wounds
so that, bearing the marks of the cross,
we may be found strong in faith,
persevering in hope, and filled with the fire of your love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Witnesses
Today’s Readings: Acts 3:13–15, 17–19; Psalm 4:2, 4, 7–8, 9; 1 John 2:1–5a; Luke 24:35–48. The last line of today’s Gospel states, “You are witnesses of these things.” This statement is an invitation to reflect on all that Christ has revealed to us. His passion, death, and Resurrection are at the core of our witness because in Baptism, we were immersed into the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
After the Resurrection, Jesus encounters the disciples and tries to help them understand and unpack their lived experience before his death, what his death means, and the new life promised in the Resurrection. The events that unfolded in Jerusalem over the past few days have dramatically affected their lives and the lives of all believers. We, too, are witnesses to these things. Think about all the times your encounters with Christ transformed your heart. Often we don’t notice these encounters at the time, but upon reflection our hearts burn with the zeal and presence of Christ. Because we have seen and heard the Good News, we cannot be silent. Our life in Christ demands that we work for justice and facilitate peace. The love of Christ compels us to reach out to the poor and marginalized to hear their stories and work to meet their needs.
The verse that precedes the Gospel, asks Jesus to “make our hearts burn” as he speaks to us in Scripture. How might you listen to the Word this week?
Monday, April 16 - Stephen Faces Trial
The account about Stephen’s trial is similar to the trial Jesus faced when accused of blasphemy. Some falsely witnessed against him. The Spirit was with Stephen as he debated with those who were against him. The early Christians, along with their message of Jesus, were not always welcomed. Even today, Christians and other religious groups face persecution. Let us pray for those who face trial and hardship because of their faith. Today’s Readings: Acts 6:8–15; Psalm 119:23–24, 26–27, 29–30; John 6:22–29.
Tuesday, April 17 - Martyr
The First Reading provides an account of Stephen, the Church’s first martyr. Place yourself at the scene and try to imagine what it must have been like to hear Stephen preach. Would you have received his message or covered your ears? Stephen witnessed God’s abundant love in his care for the community, even though they struggled to hear the Good News. Nourished by the Bread of Life, the Church continues to go forth sharing the Gospel. Is there a modern-day martyr you could read about? Today’s Readings: Acts 7:51—8:1a; Psalm 31:3cd–4, 6 and 7 and 8a, 17 and 21ab; John 6:30–35.
Wednesday, April 18 - Sing with Joy
Today’s Psalm captures the spirit of the Easter season. All of creation sings with joy to God for all his marvelous deeds. With the busyness of our lives, it may be hard to remain focused on Easter. If we believe that Christ has saved us from sin and death, then how can we not rejoice and raise our voices in praise? For your prayer at mealtime today, sing your favorite hymn of praise. Today’s Readings: Acts 8:1b–8; Psalm 66:1–3a, 4–5, 6–7a; John 6:35–40.
Thursday, April 19 - Catechesis
The account of Philip and the eunuch is a story of conversion. The eunuch is reading from Scripture, but is unaware of the meaning the story holds. Philip, moved by the Spirit, goes to him and begins to teach him about the Christ who gave his life for the life of the world. Filled with faith, the man asks for Baptism. Each of us is called to teach the faith. Today, pray for catechists, teachers, and those in the Christian initiation process. Today’s Readings: Acts 8:26–40; Psalm 66:8–9, 16–17, 20; John 6:44–51.
Friday, April 20 - Conversion of Paul
The story of Paul’s conversion is beautiful. One striking image is that of the scales falling from his eyes. Our Lenten journey has allowed us to contemplate the sin that blinds us to faith. During Easter, are there still “scales” that need to fall from our eyes so that we might see and believe? Might we be called to assist others on their faith journey, just as Ananias assisted Paul? Paul’s encounter with Christ changed him so much that he heeded the call to go to all nations proclaiming the Gospel. In prayer, close your eyes and put yourself in Paul’s place and visualize his conversion. What did you learn? Today’s Readings: Acts 9:1–20; Psalm 117:1bc, 2; John 6:52–59.
Saturday, April 21 - Spirit and Life
In the Gospel, Jesus notes that his words are spirit and life. This may seem abstract, but consider the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. The Word proclaimed is the living Word that resonates in our hearts and stirs us from our complacency. It is the Good News of Jesus Christ that enlivens our hearts and fills us with the Spirit so that we may not only have everlasting life but also share with others the saving Word. How can you make God’s Word more a part of your life? Today’s Readings: Acts 9:31–42; Psalm 116:12–13, 14–15, 16–17; John 6:60–69.
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Almighty and ever-living God,
you reveal your great love for us
in your Son, Jesus.
By his dying and rising,
we have been made your children
and so, we lift our voices
to give thanks for your goodness.
May Christ the cornerstone,
provide us with the strength and courage
to build up your Kingdom.
Grant us a faith and love
that moves us to lay aside our desires
in order to work for justice.
Implant your will deep within our hearts
so that, we offer all that we are to you and for your glory.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
The Rejected Cornerstone
Today’s Readings: Acts of the Apostles 4:8–12; Psalm 118:1, 8–9, 21–23, 26, 28, 29; 1 John 3:1–2; John 10:11–18.
Together, the First Reading and the Gospel invite us to reflect on the saving power of God. Many thought that the Messiah would usher in war, and once he conquered, would reign as a powerful king. Jesus’ reign is one of peace and love. The images our readings provide are that of a rejected stone and a shepherd. When Peter is confronted about the healing of the cripple, he tells the Jewish leaders that they are like builders who put aside a stone unfit for building. The reality is, they didn’t examine it closely enough, and the stone that they reject is the Messiah. Think about the brutality Jesus suffered and the confrontations he experienced. The one who saves is the one who many humiliated and hunted down. Jesus is the foundation that keeps us from collapsing.
Similarly, in the Gospel, Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, lays aside everything for his sheep. Jesus isn’t the warrior some were expecting, but a loving Savior in whom we take refuge. In the name of this unexpected Savior, the cripple was healed and we are healed. Who in our communities, like Jesus, is rejected or ignored? Reach out to those and help them know they are loved and have gifts to share in building up the Kingdom. Engage in some active imagination with the image of Christ the cornerstone. How does this image comfort or challenge you?
Monday, April 23 - The Gate
The Gospel shows Jesus as the gate through which people must enter to be saved. Imagine a gate. It can keep things in or out. It has the potential to protect. By his death and Resurrection, Jesus has opened the Kingdom of Heaven. By uniting ourselves to him, we enter into his sheepfold. Meditate on Jesus as the gate, and see how he leads you to the Kingdom. Today’s Readings: Acts of the Apostles 11:1–18; Psalm 42:2–3; 43:3, 5; John 10:1–10.
Tuesday, April 24 - All Nations
In the Scriptures, reference to the Gentiles usually is a reference for all non-Jewish people. Our First Reading helps depict how the Church is growing beyond Jerusalem and spreading to all nations, even the Greeks. As disciples, we are called to give witness to Christ the Shepherd to all peoples. In your prayer today, include a petition that all nations might know the peace and love of Christ. Today’s Readings: Acts of the Apostles 11:19–26; Psalm 87:1b–3, 4–5, 6–7; John 10:22–30.
Wednesday, April 25 - Feast of St. Mark
Today’s readings provide three ideas on which to reflect. First, in the Gospel, Jesus tells the Apostles to preach to all nations. Second, Peter tells us to be sober and vigilant in order to remain steadfast in faith. Third, the Psalm invites us to praise for all God has done for us. Be attentive to Christ’s presence as you share time with another today. Today’s Readings: 1 Peter 5:5b–14; Psalm 89:2–3, 6–7, 16–17; Mark 16:15–20.
Thursday, April 26 - Bold and Confident
Scripture’s portrayal of Paul is bold and confident. As Paul speaks to the people in the synagogue, he recounts Israel’s history, showing that Jesus is the Chosen One sent by God, the One foretold by the prophets. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to share your faith boldly? We are heirs of God’s promise who go forth sharing the Good News. We are the messengers Christ has sent. Send a message of Good News to a friend to reconnect. Today’s Readings: Acts of the Apostles 13:13–25; Psalm 89:2–3, 21–22, 25 and 27; John 13:16–20.
Friday, April 27 - Light and Path
God truly has kept his promise by raising Jesus from the dead. Jesus is the true light of life and the path of salvation and anyone who comes to him becomes a child of God. If you were sitting in the synagogue listening to Paul preach, how might you have responded? Paul invites unbelievers to follow the Light and believers to show forth the Light. Spend time praying with the Psalm refrain. Today’s Readings: Acts of the Apostles 13:26–33; Psalm 2:6–7, 8–9, 10–11ab; John 14:1–6.
Saturday, April 28 - Jealousy
In the First Reading, the Jews are jealous of the crowds who gather to hear Paul and Barnabas. Jealousy is a problem. It can lead one to embrace malice. The disciples teach us a lesson by dusting their feet and moving on. When have you felt jealous and what incited those feelings? Dialogue with Jesus about a time you were jealous and hear his advice. Today’s Readings: Acts of the Apostles 13:44–52; Psalm 98, 1, 2–3ab, 3cd–4; John 14:7–14.
Fifth Sunday of Easter
In the Vineyard
God, the giver of joy,
in Baptism you join us to Christ, the true Vine,
and, through your Word,
we are sustained in holiness and wisdom.
Send your Holy Spirit upon your vineyard
so that, each branch may thrive
and reveal your glory by yielding love and joy.
Sustain the Church in holiness
and help it bear much fruit for your kingdom.
When our parched hearts begin to wither,
draw us close to you and nurture us with your grace.
And on that final day, may we be found praising your holy name
in the assembly of your people.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, April 29, 2018 - Pruning
Today’s Readings: Acts of the Apostles 9:26–31; Psalm 22:26–27, 28, 30, 31–32; 1 John 3:18–24; John 15:1–8. When St. Paul first encountered the Christian community, he was not kind or receptive to their message. His heart was transformed when he finally encounters Christ on the road to Damascus. From that point on, he became a fervent preacher of the Gospel. Like the pruned vine in the Gospel, Paul opened his heart to the Good News and allowed the vine grower to prune away all that was dead and did not bear fruit. The Word, which called out to him in Damascus, broke open his heart and won him over. When has the proclaimed Word at Mass deepened your love for Christ and stirred you from your pew to share the Gospel?
After our Lenten journey, we, like Paul, have opened ourselves to God’s mercy; the dead branches have been pruned so that we might bear fruit. Paul and the other disciples went about preaching and building up the Kingdom. We have to ask ourselves, what does it look like in our time to be heralds of Good News? Through prayer, the celebration of the Eucharist, and good works, we remain connected to the Vine and grow in holiness. This holiness, this life in the Holy Spirit, helps us see the poor, assists us in reaching out to the places where the Gospel is silenced, and enables us to love. Peruse a hymnal at the parish and pray with a song in the discipleship or mission section that grabs your heart. What do you hear?
Monday, April 30 - Idols
It can be easy to get caught in the fame of a sports figure or celebrity and forget that Jesus is the true Savior. In the First Reading, Paul and Barnabas are misidentified as the gods Zeus and Hermes. Their words were so captivating that the people couldn’t hear the real message and began to honor them as gods. Quickly they admonished this action. How do we keep our eyes on the prize, especially when we hear so many “good” messages? Today, pray for all who are in positions of power that they might use their status for good and lead others to right living. Today’s Readings: Acts 14:5–18; Psalm 115:1–2, 3–4, 15–16; John 14:21–26.
Tuesday, May 1 - Make Known
As members of the Body of Christ, our lives proclaim the goodness of God’s mercy and compassion. Through our actions and words, we make known the splendor of God and teach others about Christ. The Psalm reminds us that we are God’s friends whose mouths must speak his praise. How do you offer praise to God, especially when the Good News is not welcomed? Think of a concrete way you might share the Gospel today. Today’s Readings: Acts 14:19–28; Psalm 145:10–11, 12–13ab, 21; John 14:27–31a.
Wednesday, May 2 - Memorial of St. Athanasius
Today, the Church remembers St. Athanasius, who was bishop of Alexandria in the fourth century. He is an important figure and doctor of the Church because he staunchly fought against the Arian heresy, which denied Christ’s divinity. He was met with much opposition, but fervently taught the faith, especially the Incarnation. Today’s Readings: Acts 15:1–6; Psalm 122:1–2, 3–4ab, 4cd–5; John 15:1–8.
Thursday, May 3 - Feast of Sts. Philip and James
The two Apostles we commemorate today remind us that we are called to holiness. Both were members of the original Twelve who followed Jesus. Through their ministry, they led others to encounter Christ. Philip, as we see in today’s Gospel, took a long time to realize who Jesus was. There is not much known about James the Lesser, but tradition tells us that he is the author of the Letter of James and was the bishop of Jerusalem. Philip and James are the patrons of Uruguay. Honor these saints by praying for Uruguayans. Today’s Readings: 1 Corinthians 15:1–8; Psalm 19:2–3, 4–5; John 14:6–14.
Friday, May 4 - Love One Another
As we near the end of the Easter season, John’s Gospel account reminds us that Jesus’ death was the ultimate gift of love. Jesus commands his followers to love as he loves. This is not easy to do. Jesus was filled with compassion for the poor and marginalized. He revealed the undying and unbiased love God has for his children. Spend time meditating on Jesus’ words, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Today’s Readings: Acts 15:22–31; Psalm 57:8–9, 10 and 12; John 15:12–17.
Saturday, May 5 - The World
In the Gospel, Jesus states, “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” At Baptism, we were adopted as children of God and belong totally to God. We live in the world and our living helps make known the presence of Christ. As Christians, we are called to be radical witnesses of God’s truth and love. This message, especially when it contradicts worldly ideals, is not always welcome. Make notes of ways you might help foster love with those you encounter. Today’s Readings: Acts 16:1–10; Psalm 100:1b–2, 3, 5; John 15:18–21.