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Saturday, May 23, 2020 EASTER WEEKDAY Here’s to life
As we adjust to new ways of living, the Easter season offers much-needed hope. Resurrection changes everything, not only in salvation history but also here and now. Life coming out of death. That is the mystery of our faith, and the mystery of the world we live in. For every story of greed and ineptitude, there are many more stories of generosity and competence. Celebrate those victories. That is the life that comes out of death.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 18:23-28; John 16:23b-28 (296). “For the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.”
Sunday, May 24, 2020 SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER Right where you belong
We each have a need to belong that doesn’t start with the playground or end with the work shift. Psychologist Abraham Maslow categorized the need to belong as number three on a hierarchy of essentials: right behind physical needs (food, clothing, and shelter) and safety. Catalog the people who are essential to your happiness and the social groups that include you as a member. Then consider this: God has chosen you to be one of God's people. And Jesus counts you as one who belongs especially to him.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 1:12-14; 1 Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11a (59). “They belonged to you, and you gave them to me.”
Monday, May 25, 2020 MEMORIAL OF GREGORY VII, POPE Cherish your freedoms
Pope Gregory VII fought hard for the separation of church and state because he lived in a time (11th century) when the church was subject to civil authorities, and abuses of power were rampant. In the face of enormous opposition, this great reformer extricated the church from the control of external rulers and strengthened the unity of the whole church under the centrality of the papacy. On this Memorial Day, remember that religious freedom is one of the founding principles of our country, worthy of the sacrifice of many. And one that our faith demands that we respect for all.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 19:1-8; John 16:29-33 (297). “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
Tuesday, May 26, 2020 MEMORIAL OF PHILIP NERI, PRIEST God provides
It’s fitting Philip Neri was canonized in 1622 with Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, and Teresa of Ávila. Ignatius was a friend, Francis was an influence, and Philip took to heart Teresa’s quip: “From . . . sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!” The affable Philip won over so many different kinds of people for Christ in 1500s Rome—using humor, humbleness, and holiness—that he’s called, with Peter and Paul, an apostle of Rome. “Cast yourself into the arms of God,” he said, “and be very sure that if he wants anything of you, he will fit you for the work and give you strength.” That is comforting at a time when many of us feel stretched to the limit.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 20:17-27; John 17:1-11a (298). “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me.”
Wednesday, May 27, 2020 MEMORIAL OF AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY, BISHOP Look for God in unexpected places
Lest Saint Augustine of Canterbury be confused with Saint Augustine of Hippo: the two are not the same. Augustine of Hippo was a fourth-century doctor of the church. Augustine of Canterbury was a sixth-century Benedictine missionary sent by Pope Gregory the Great to Christianize the British Isles. He is known as the "Apostle to the English," and his legacy includes an approach to evangelization and conversion that shows a respect for indigenous practices. Rather than condemning, he consecrated and incorporated popular Anglo-Saxon rites into Christianity. What practices from popular culture today might we consecrate into contemporary Christian practice?
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 20:28-38; John 17:11b-19 (299). “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.”
Thursday, May 28, 2020 EASTER WEEKDAY Celebrate our finest gifts
Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, which our Jewish friends observe today, has a connection to the Catholic Solemnity of Pentecost. Just as Pentecost this Sunday comes seven weeks after Easter, Shavuot is celebrated seven weeks after Passover. In the biblical era, important dates for planting and harvesting were marked by religious holidays. Shavuot celebrated the wheat harvest seven weeks after Passover. Christians thank God for the abundant gift of the Holy Spirit.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; John 17:20-26 (300). “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”
Friday, May 29, 2020 EASTER WEEKDAY Keeping the peace
In 1972, Pope Saint Paul VI declared, “If you want peace, work for justice.” Today we observe the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The U.N. deploys peacekeepers around the world to provide "a unique and dynamic instrument . . . to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace.” The work of Catholic social justice organizations like Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Worker, and Cross Catholic Outreach go a step further by “tending the sheep” of the poor, the oppressed, the refugee, the dispossessed. Do your part today to support the social outreach of your church.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19 (301). “Tend my sheep.”
Saturday, May 30, 2020 EASTER WEEKDAY Just do it!
Some argue that “believing the right things” is enough of a response to the call to discipleship. But Jesus emphasized doing. Orthopraxy (right practice) goes hand in hand with orthodoxy (right belief). In this time of global suffering, our faith response is required. It flows out of our faith assent, but we can’t stop with professions of faith. Take your faith out to meet the great need you find around you today.
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; John 21: 20-25 (302). “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”
Sunday, Jun 07, 2020 SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY The power in three
Faith, hope, love; body, mind, spirit; life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness; executive, judicial, legislative: There’s something satisfying and complete about a list of three. Good things come in threes, too: from “bacon, lettuce, and tomato” to “Peter, Paul, and Mary.” Alert to the power of three, scripture uses it as the sum of completion. The prophet Jonah spends three days inside the fish to fully absorb a lesson in obedience. Jesus exits the tomb on the third day. We encounter God three ways: as Creator, Restorer, Sanctifier. O God of many faces—recreate, restore, bless our community!
TODAY'S READINGS: Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18 (164). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Monday, Jun 08, 2020 The cure for what ails us
Pope Francis said that living the Beatitudes means “going against the flow" of the world. What the world tells us—that wealth brings security, that power gives us strength, that pleasure makes us satisfied—is the opposite of what Jesus says. Francis asks us to let the Beatitudes “unsettle us . . . challenge us, and . . . demand a real change in the way we live.” We've clearly been upended in this sense by the current pandemic, and we have learned first-hand that nothing exempts us from vulnerability. Jesus was, is, and always will be our only hope. Live accordingly.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Kings 17:1-6; Matthew 5:1-12 (359). “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Tuesday, Jun 09, 2020 MEMORIAL OF EPHREM OF SYRIA, DEACON, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Rise and shine!
Leave it to Saint Ephrem to derive beauty from pain. As we feel the ripple effects of coronavirus, let’s learn from a man who died in 373 during a plague—from contracting the disease of the people he was ministering to. Ephrem, named a doctor of the church for the poetic nature of his theology, wrote: “We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living.” Seek and share beauty today.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Kings 17:7-16; Matthew 5:13-16 (360). “Just so, your light must shine before others.”
Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020 Most fulfilling of all
As children, many of us were required to memorize the Ten Commandments. It’s likely we can still recite them and have a sense of their importance. However, the catechism teaches that it is the Beatitudes that “fulfill, refine, and surpass the old law to its perfection.” And how many of us can recite them from memory or even know where to find them in the Bible? (Hint: For all eight, try 5:3-12.) In these difficult and, for some, tragic days, as we seek God’s presence in our midst, we ask for the grace to comfort those who mourn.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Kings 18:20-39; Matthew 5:17-19 (361). “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
Thursday, Jun 11, 2020 MEMORIAL OF BARNABAS, APOSTLE Make history
What was it like during the times of the apostle Barnabas, whose memorial is today? Thousands of people at a time were becoming Christians with no real formality or infrastructure yet in the church. There was the “grace of God” and “firmness of heart” at work, today’s first reading tells us, but persecution and internal conflict too. Every era has its challenges and opportunities. How are you building the Body of Christ during your moment in history?
TODAY'S READINGS: Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3 (580); Matthew 5:20-26 (362). “They sent Barnabas to go to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all.”
Friday, Jun 12, 2020 This most amazing day
Tucked within Muir Woods, a national memorial park in California, is a beautiful space called Cathedral Grove. Hikers are asked to maintain quiet as they behold the old-growth coastal redwood trees. Though not a “cathedral” in the ecclesial sense, the grove reminds us that nature is one of the surest places to experience the power and tenderness of God. Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’: “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.” How do you experience this “caress of God,” even in the potted plant in your own home?
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-16; Matthew 5:27-32 (363). “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by.”
Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 MEMORIAL OF ANTHONY OF PADUA, PRIEST, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Treasure the baby and the Bible
The traditional depiction of Saint Anthony (1195-1231) holding the infant Jesus began with a 1580 painting by El Greco showing the Franciscan priest with a large open Bible in which one can see the very tiny baby emerging from the text. Over time in Christian art the image of the baby grew to become a life-size child in the arms of the saint, sometimes standing on a much smaller book and sometimes with the Bible missing all together. In times of quarantine and isolation, when we may not be able to enjoy the consolation of Jesus in Holy Communion, we can experience the Lord’s presence in the Bible, which may have gone missing in our lives. If that is the case, you can invoke Saint Anthony for a return of your lost Bible!
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Kings 19:19-21; Matthew 5:33-37 (364). “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’”