Alleluia! He Has Risen!

 

Fifth Sunday of Easter

 

Always Looking Out for Us

 

Good and Gracious God,

you have called us from creation to be with you,

you have promised us life everlasting

and eternal joy in the Kingdom of Heaven.

You have given us your Son to lead us to you,

and have prepared a dwelling place for us

if we but follow him.

May we know your truth,

which will draw us closer to you;

May we live your life of love and joy

by serving others and responding to their needs;

May we go where you lead us,

trusting in your ways and in the sure and certain hope

of life everlasting at the heavenly dwelling place you have prepared for us.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

May 14, 2017 – The Father Dwells in Me

Today’s Readings: Acts 6:1–7; Psalm 33:1–2, 4–5, 18–19; 1 Peter 2:4–9; John 14:1–12. The Apostles are confused today as Jesus tells them that he will go to prepare a place for them. Thomas questions, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” When Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life, Philip tells Jesus to show them the Father. We can understand why the Apostles felt uneasy, for we often want exact directions. Just as the Apostles were unsure of going by their instincts to follow God, we sometimes are unsure of the path that Jesus has shown us. Jesus is preparing the Apostles for when he will leave them. He lets them know the path to the Father is simple: I am the way, the truth, and the life. Only by what we already know of you, Jesus, can we find the Father.

If we know Jesus, then we know the Father. The first lesson of the Trinity is that God is one God. Knowing God is knowing the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as one. No one understands the Father except through understanding Jesus, the Son, the Christ. The way to the Father is through the Son. The truth of God is knowing those truths we have heard and lived and enacted with Jesus in the Gospel. Life in God is the fullness of life through creation, Baptism, and resurrection. If we are to know God, we must be willing to follow him, trust in him, and do the same good works that reveal him.

 

This Week at Home

 

Monday, May 15 – St. Isidore

St. Isidore is the patron saint of farmers, and in the United States, the patron of the Rural Life Conference. The gardeners among us can see in this saint someone who also felt blessed to be able to put their hands in the dirt and watch something small grow. Whether or not we have the time and space to garden, we might want to take a few minutes to consider the work that goes into bringing food to the table. Today’s Readings: Acts 14:5–18; Psalm 115:1–2, 3–4, 15–16; John 14:21–26.

 

Tuesday, May 16 – Open the Door of Faith

The account from the Acts of the Apostles today tells of persistence through suffering. Paul spread the Christian faith through several countries, not even pausing to complain about being persecuted. Instead, he insisted on welcoming Gentiles into the Church: opening the door of faith to them. His writings show that he carried Christ’s peace with him. His accounts, too, show that he was undaunted and proceeded as Christ said in today’s Gospel: Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid. Today’s Readings: Acts 14:19–28; Psalm 145:10–11, 12–13ab, 21; John 14:27–31a.

 

Wednesday, May 17 – I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches

The image of the vine and the branches portrays our intimate relationship to Jesus and to one another. The vine will only continue to grow if we accept the nourishment of the Father: love, mercy, and support. The image of the vine is also one of the Church, which can only continue to grow through the same love, mercy, and support of the entire community. Today’s Readings: Acts 15:1–6; Psalm 122:1–2, 3–4ab, 4cd–5; John 15:1–8.

 

Thursday, May 18 – Remain in God’s Love

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” Those words from today’s Gospel sound simple, but we still stumble and fall, especially when we consider ourselves inadequate. Today, consider how God’s love is a gift and how Christ was willing to sacrifice self for the good of others. How do you translate that into your world today? What can you do to give God’s love, thereby remaining within his loving embrace? Today’s Readings: Acts 15:7–21; Psalm 96:1–2a, 2b–3, 10; John 15:9–11.

 

Friday, May 19 – Pass It On

Both readings today describe handing on the faith. From Acts, we have a description of how Paul’s letters were read in the assembly of the faithful. We continue to hand on the faith of the earliest Christians through their written testimony. The Gospel, though, has an even stronger dictate: love one another as I have loved you. There is no better definition of how to live as Christians than to do just that. Today’s Readings: Acts 15:22–31; Psalm 57:8–9, 10, 12; John 15:12–17.

 

Saturday, May 20 – St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest

A powerful Franciscan preacher, Bernardine (d. 1444) attracted thousands to his open-air preaching. His greatest achievement was spreading the Holy Name of Jesus through a large emblem he carried with him, emblazoned with IHS. These letters, the first three Greek letters of the name Jesus, became as familiar and popular as any present day logo. Today’s Readings: Acts 16:1–10; Psalm 100:1b–2, 3, 5; John 15:18–21.

 

 

 

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter

 

The Spirit of Grace and Truth

 

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, for you have graced us with your presence and given us your Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. May we, who have been baptized by water and the Spirit, receive your grace and truth,  respond with hope, and bless others with the light of your love. And may we, anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit, find the peace, healing, strength, and faith you give as we accept your gifts. We ask this through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

May 21, 2017 - No Longer Orphans

Today’s Readings: Acts 8:5–8, 14–17; Psalm 66:1–3, 4–5, 6–7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15–18; John 14:15–21. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that he will not abandon them as orphans. For three years, they had followed him and trusted that he would show them the Truth. Each of the Twelve relied on Jesus to guide them, to demonstrate the best way to be good, loving, religious people. Now he tells them to demonstrate their love by keeping the Commandments. And he    assures them that he will send the Advocate. He tells them that they need to trust what they already know, for within that knowing, they will have all that is necessary to live in God’s love. Jesus was trying to teach the Apostles the hard lesson that they need to trust what they have learned and what they have been living. We, too, need to take that lesson to heart.

 

Today’s Gospel is a bit about handing on what is in the family. Every family has a talent, an attitude, or a particular trait that appears here and there throughout the family tree. Jesus tells us today that he lives on in each of us through the Spirit. Jesus lives on through a holy attitude, a helping hand, a grateful smile. Guided by his commandments, we have the Spirit coursing through our spiritual veins, and we recognize him in others, and sometimes in ourselves. He remains with us, lives through us, and we share the life of God in those familiar and holy ways of the Spirit inherited through the sacraments.

 

This Week at Home

 

Monday, May 22 - Our Advocate

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus refers to the Advocate as the Spirit of truth. In the First Reading, Lydia who is persistent and faithful, becomes an advocate for her household and her friends, who eventually are baptized by Paul. For whom are you an advocate? Today’s Readings: Acts 16:11–15; Psalm 149:1b–2, 3–4, 5–6a, 9b; John 15:26—16:4a.

 

Tuesday, May 23 - Good Works, Belief, and Baptism

The account of Paul and Silas in prison, in today’s First Reading, shows the strength and faith of the disciples as they spread the Good News. Because of the imprisoned evangelizers’ faith, the jailer is converted. He then cares for them and is baptized, along with his  household. How does your life draw others to the faith? Today’s Readings: Acts 16:22–34; Psalm 138:1–2ab, 2cde–3, 7c–8; John 16:5–11.

 

Wednesday, May 24 - Dying and Rising

Too often, we accept Christ’s dying and rising without recognizing its profound impact on our lives. How have you allowed your faith to transform you? Have you struggled and made it through a dark time and found new life with God’s help? In this sixth week of Easter, the depth of the meaning of the Paschal Mystery may just be dawning on you. Hang on to the realization of that new meaning and allow transformation to occur. Today’s Readings: Acts 17:15, 22—18:1; Psalm 148:1–2, 11–12, 13, 14; John 16:12–15.

 

Thursday, May 25 - Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” We often wonder how we are to fulfill this command from Jesus. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis speaks of slowing down and accompanying people, allowing them to share their concerns. We can respond to others by humbly and gently sharing God’s Word. Today’s Readings: Acts 1:1–11; Psalm 47:2–3, 6–7, 8–9; Ephesians 1:17–23; Matthew 28:16–20.

 

Thursday of the Sixth Week in Easter

In today’s reading from Acts and the Gospel, the way Jesus’ disciples acted before he died and rose is contrasted with how they lived afterwards. In the Gospel, Jesus’ words puzzle the Apostles. In Acts, however, Paul proceeds to spread the Good News with no qualms. He knows that his faith is based in Jesus Christ. Today’s Readings: Acts 18:1–8; Psalm 98:1, 2–3ab, 3cd–4; John 16:16–20.

 

Friday, May 26 - St. Philip Neri, Priest

Holiness and humor mark the life of Philip Neri (1515–1595), who frequently used lighthearted methods to emphasize a more spiritual, deeper meaning. He turned Carnival into a pilgrimage to the seven churches, complete with music, laughter, and dancing. The focus on the churches attracted so many, and the movement around the city of Rome was  so exhausting, that there was no time for sinful partying. How can you use humor for holiness’ sake? Today’s Readings: Acts 18:9–18; Psalm 47:2–3, 4–5, 6–7; John 16:20–23.

 

Saturday, May 27 - Complete Confidence in God

“If you ask anything of the Father in my name he will give it to you,” Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel. We often take that as an endorsement to ask for just about anything. Our prayer, however, must truly be in Jesus’ name. That implies less control on every small desire we have, and more asking for the joy promised. How that joy is delivered is up to God. Today’s Readings: Acts 18:23–28; Psalm 47:2–3, 8–9, 10; John 16:23b–28.

 

 

 

The Ascension of the Lord

 

Witnesses to the Ends of the Earth

 

God of all ages,

you have been our guardian and guide from the creation of the world to the present age. Empower us with your Spirit, and bless us with understanding as we seek to do your will. May we be your witnesses in the world, in our homes, and to neighbors and strangers. May your Holy Spirit be with us today and every day, our constant guide and our hope in times of trouble, as we grow in faithfulness and generosity, as we seek to be witnesses beyond boundaries. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

May 28, 2017 - I Am with You Always

Today’s Readings: Acts 1:1–11; Psalm 47:2–3, 6–7, 8–9; Ephesians 1:17–23; Matthew 28:16–20. The last directive Jesus gives his disciples, as he gathers with them atop a mountain, is to go out to the whole world, to bring others into the faithful fold, and to remember that he is always with them. That message is for us, too. We have a responsibility to spread the Good News. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis states that we can bring the Good News to friends and strangers in the workplace, in the public square, or on a journey. This preaching, he says, is respectful and gentle and begins with personal dialogue.

 

The challenge is always to break out of the secure inner circle of family or parish or small organization and go out beyond, often into unknown territory. So this Easter season, consider how you practice your faith beyond the family home. Discover a new place for your interests within the parish, where you might have to learn something different about your faith. Perhaps you might want to sponsor someone who is interested in becoming Catholic. Going beyond our comfort zone is a challenge, but we are not alone. St. Paul tells us to put all things—all faith, uncertainty, and hope—beneath Christ’s feet, for he is the head of the Church. And Jesus himself, as he is to ascend into heaven, assures us that he is with us always, until the end of the age. We need to always be confident of that.

 

This Week at Home

 

Monday, May 29 - The Holy Spirit

In the First Reading, Paul is confronted with the statement that some disciples have never even heard of the Holy Spirit. As odd as that may sound, we often do not understand or teach about the Holy Spirit, whose power and presence were promised to us by Jesus. The unifying power of the Holy Spirit is singular. The next time you participate in the Eucharist, notice the references to the Holy Spirit, who makes all one. Today’s Readings: Acts 19:1–8; Psalm 68:2–3ab, 4–5acd, 6–7ab; John 16:29–33.

 

Tuesday, May 30 - The Hour Has Come

Both Paul, in the First Reading, and Jesus, in the Gospel, are beginning to say goodbye. How do we prepare to say goodbye to family and friends? The struggle is one of loss and deep love. Knowing that someone will be enjoying the Kingdom of God is at odds with knowing that we can no longer share with them the Kingdom insights here. Today’s Readings: Acts 20:17–27; Psalm 68:10–11, 20–21; John 17:1–11a.

 

Wednesday, May 31 - Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The beautiful feast of two pregnant cousins visiting one another is a celebration of family support through prayer and particular insight. Elizabeth, much older, and Mary, much younger, find in one another a way to express the holiness of each other’s pregnancy, and to accept whatever God has in mind for them and their offspring. We might want to think of how we can be supportive to soon-to-be mothers. Today’s Readings: Zephaniah 3:14–18a; Isaiah 12:2–3, 4bcd, 5–6; Luke 1:39–56.

 

Thursday, June 1 - Truth and Belief

How do we know what the truth is? Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles begins with a dispute over St. Paul and the truth that he presented. How do we determine the truth—or truths—of our faith? The first response should be one of prayer, with Jesus’ actions as a model for a prayerful life. Not only does Jesus give us an example of always relying on prayer to mark his life, his final prayers are an appeal to unity among believers. To determine the truth, we must be united in our belief and trust in God. Today’s Readings: Acts 22:30; 23:6–11; Psalm 16:1–2a, 5, 7–8, 9–10, 11; John 17:20–26.

 

Friday, June 2 - Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs

Marcellinus and Peter, two martyrs of the persecutions of the early fourth century, were so respected that they continue to be mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer I. Marcellinus was a priest, and Peter an exorcist. Their martyrdom in the year 304 under the Emperor Diocletian prompted a profound reaction, and their burial sites were eventually the foundation for basilicas built in their names, a testament to so many other martyrs of the early Church. Today’s Readings: Acts 25:13b–21; Psalm 103:1–2, 11–12, 19–20ab; John 21:15–19.

 

Saturday, June 3 - St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

Charles Lwanga and twenty-one other Ugandan Christians were martyred between 1885 and 1887 by the brutal dictator Mwanga. Some of the martyrs had been baptized, but many were still catechumens. All were marched to their death, tortured along the way, and forced to witness each other’s brutal deaths. Their witness is a reminder that, in every age, people struggle to keep the faith alive. Today’s Readings: Acts 28:16–20, 30–31; Psalm 11:4, 5 and 7; John 21:20–25.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017 Liturgy Training Publications. 1-800-933-1800. Written by Anne C. McGuire. Scripture quotations are from The New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright ©1993 and 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Permission to publish granted by the Archdiocese of Chicago, on July 12, 2016.