In between: we all find ourselves there from time to time—sometimes uncomfortably. Like in between money coming in and money going out, earning income and paying bills. In between customer and manager, diner and chef: any honest server trying to serve both. In between theory and practice, ideal and reality: everyone from parents to pastors. Ask the kids—or parishioners! This Sunday, in between Ascension and Pentecost, reminds us we're in between Jesus' departure and glorious return—sometimes uncomfortably.READ MORE
Paul's back! After last week's "violent abuse," opponents organized a lynch mob that beat Paul nearly to death. But call Paul the "energizing evangelist," transforming deadly cruelty into life-giving zeal. Paul's past courage should inspire our commitment; Revelation's future "new heaven, new earth" should inspire our optimism. But Revelation's present assurance, "Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race," should challenge us to become "missionaries of mercy." Because Pope Francis declared that the Church's credibility is completely dependent on our showing unconditional mercy. Mercy, said Francis, makes the Church, the world, and everyone young again, reawakened to life's noblest virtues. Fittingly, in today's Gospel Jesus reinforces that theme: "This is how all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Each year this Fourth Sunday of Easter celebrates Jesus the Good Shepherd. Today’s Gospel seems especially timely, for as Christians worldwide suffer persecution like Paul and Barnabas, Jesus promises his sheep enduring, invincible safety: “They shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” But we who are free to live our faith peacefully sometimes take our membershipin Jesus’ flock for granted, wandering astray to seek our own pleasure and prosperity. The simple cross that Pope Francis always wears seems to show us how Jesus responds to that. Francis’s cross features an image of Jesus, who has sought and found a lostsheep, then joyfully set it on his shoulders to carry it gently home. May Good Shepherd Sunday inspire us, so often lost and found ourselves, to assist Jesus in seeking, finding, and gently carrying home our fellow precious lambs.
Seeing is believing! Since cellphone screens connect us instantly to social media, live TV, and loved ones’ faces near and far, “Doubting Thomas” could be our patron saint: “Unless I see, I will not believe!” But how comforting for any of us who share Thomas’s doubt, or love “doubters” who do, to see how kindly Jesus responds. By offering the very evidence that Thomas demanded, Jesus doesn’t scold Thomas, but seems to understand such skepticism. Could Jesus have been thinking of us, who long to believe that “Jesus is risen!” but see so much suffering, and perhaps even cause some, that we wonder, how could something so wonderful be true? In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the risen Jesus’ healing love comforts through disciples who love others. In Revelation, “our brother John” doesn’t just claim he saw Jesus alive, but passes on Jesus’ life-giving words. “
Happy Easter! Or as most other languages prefer: Blessed Pasch—Passover! Pasqua, Pascua, Páscoa, Pâques! Israel's Passover through the Red Sea to the Promised Land! Jesus' Passover through the Cross to resurrection! Our catechumens' Passover last night, and ours once upon a time, through Baptism's waters to our family's Eucharist! Welcome, everybody! As someone once said of the Catholic Church, "Here comes everybody!" So in this Jubilee of Mercy, we make our own Saint John Chrysostom's Easter welcome from fourteen hundred years ago: "Let everyone enjoy this radiant feast! You who fasted from Lent's beginning, and you who didn't fast at all, rejoice! The table's richly set! Come, take from it, everybody, no worries, no embarrassment! All of you, taste the banquet of faith! Enjoy the feast of forgiveness! Let no one grieve for having sinned again and again: pardon has risen from the tomb!" Happy Easter! Blessed Pasch! Welcome, everybody!
We begin the final week of Lent with these familiar readings. This year, we hear the Passion from the Gospel of Luke. These readings for Palm Sunday and the Passion used to be read on successive Sundays. Now they are combined into a single feast, so that we may see the whole sweep of the glory and the suffering played out. Jesus accepts the adulation of the crowd, the foreshadowing of his glory in the Resurrection. He bids farewell to his disciples in his last Passover, and forgives his tormentors as he dies on the cross. Later this week, we enter the Holy Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, when the whole story of our redemption will play out once again.
When Jews celebrate the Passover, they always tell the story of the Exodus in present terms, as if they themselves experienced those events: when we were prisoners in Egypt; when God brought us out of slavery and through the waters of the sea. We would do well to follow their example and see the works of Jesus and his sacrifice as being in the present, as happening to us now. We believe that Christ's work, his teachings, and his sacrifice on the cross were not just for his followers in the past, but for all people at all times. When we think of this in our prayers, we become one in faith with that great cloud of witnesses, the saints.READ MORE