May 2 - Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

April 30th, 2021

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First Reading  Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31
Paul is accepted by the apostles at Jerusalem.

 

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 22:26-27,28,30,31-32
The whole world shall praise the Lord.

 

Second Reading  1 John 3:18-24
God commands us to believe in Jesus Christ and to love one another.

 

Gospel Reading
John 15:1-8
Jesus teaches that he is the vine and that his disciples are the branches.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is part of Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper. Recall that John tells the story of Jesus’ Last Supper differently from the other Evangelists. In John’s Gospel, the Last Supper begins with Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus then provides them with a series of instructions. We call this section the Last Supper discourse or Jesus’ farewell discourse. In these chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples about the importance of following his example of love and service, about the gift they will receive when Jesus sends them the Holy Spirit, and about their relationship with Jesus and with the world. The Last Supper discourse concludes with Jesus’ prayer for his disciples.

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from middle of the Last Supper discourse. Jesus speaks about his relationship to his disciples. In his metaphor of the vine and the branches, Jesus is referencing the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel is the vineyard, and Yahweh himself tends the vineyard. One of the primary themes of John’s Gospel is to show Jesus to be the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.

In this passage, Jesus teaches his disciples that his relationship with them will not end after his death; he will remain with them always. This unity between Jesus and his disciples is the basis for their ability to continue to do the work that he began. Similarly, Jesus’ presence with us through the Gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to continue the work of love and reconciliation that he began.

Jesus also teaches his disciples about the importance of the words he has taught to them. Just as Jesus will remain in the disciples, so too will his words. We come to know Jesus through the Scriptures, the living Word of God. Our commitment to be Christ’s disciples is sustained through God’s Word. This commitment is also strengthened by our life of prayer and nourished by the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, Jesus dwells in us, remains with us, and transforms us so that we might bear fruit in his name.

We observe many people who act in ways that show their commitment to serve their neighbor. Christians and non-Christians feed the hungry, care for the sick, shelter the homeless, and give alms to the poor. These actions become acts of Christian discipleship when they are motivated by our relationship with Jesus. Whatever the immediate results, Jesus promises us that these actions will bear fruit when we undertake them in his name.

April 25 - Fourth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

April 24th, 2021

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First Reading  Acts of the Apostles 4:8-12
Peter announces an act of healing in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 118:1,8-9,21-23,26,28,29
A prayer of thanksgiving to God for his kindness

 

Second Reading  1 John 3:1-2
God revealed his love for us by calling us children of God.

 

Gospel Reading
John 10:11-18
Jesus says that he is the good shepherd who knows his sheep.

 

Background on the Gospel Reading

The fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday. In each of the three lectionary cycles, our Gospel is taken from the 10th chapter of the Gospel of John. In Cycle B, we hear the middle verses of this chapter. Unless we consider this chapter in the greater context of John’s Gospel, we will miss the radical nature of the statement Jesus makes when he declares himself to be the Good Shepherd.

This chapter of John’s Gospel follows Jesus’ healing of the man born blind and the rejection of this miracle by the Jewish leaders who question Jesus’ authority to heal. Jesus responds to this challenge by calling himself the Good Shepherd. He is criticizing the leadership of the Pharisees and the other Jewish leaders. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders are so angry that they attempt to stone and arrest Jesus (see John 10:31,39). This controversy with the religious leaders continues until Jesus’ death.

In the portion of the chapter that we hear proclaimed today, Jesus describes his relationship with his followers as similar to the relationship between a good shepherd and his sheep. As a good shepherd will risk and lay down his life in order to protect his sheep, Jesus willingly sacrifices himself for the sake of his sheep. Jesus contrasts the actions of the good shepherd with the actions of the hired shepherd who abandons the sheep in the face of danger. In the verses following Jesus' teaching, we learn that the Pharisees and the other religious leaders understand that Jesus is referring to them when he describes the hired shepherds.

The concern of a good shepherd for his sheep is part of the shepherd’s job. Jesus says, however, that the actions of the good shepherd are based upon the relationship that develops between the shepherd and the sheep. This is at the heart of the difference between the good shepherd and the hired shepherd. The good shepherd knows the sheep and therefore acts out of love. For the Good Shepherd, this is never simply part of a job; this love-in-action is integral to his identity.

As with so much of John’s Gospel, one hears in this passage John’s particular focus on Christology. As the sheep are known by the Good Shepherd, the Father knows Jesus and Jesus knows the Father. There is an essential unity between the Father and the Son. The freedom with which Jesus acts when he lays down his life is rooted in the unity that he shares with his Father.

In this context, Jesus also refers to others with whom he shares a relationship. By this reference, John probably understands the eventual inclusion of the Gentiles in the Christian community. Our modern ears hear this as a reference to Christian unity. The work of ecumenism is to restore unity among all Christians so that we form one flock under one shepherd, as God desires.

April 18 - Third Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

April 24th, 2021

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First Reading  Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15,17-19
Peter preaches that Jesus has been raised from the dead and calls upon the people to repent.

 

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 4:2,4,7-8,9
A prayer seeking God's favour

 

Second Reading  1 John 2:1-5a
Those who know God keep his commandments. 

Gospel Reading
Luke 24:35-48 

 

 In today’s Gospel we see how Jesus trys to help the disciples understand that all that had taken place—his suffering, death and resurrection—made sense. That was something that took the disciples a while to get their heads around, as suffering never makes sense to any of us.  So Jesus had to help them understand not only that he was alive, but that all that had taken place was meant to happen. They were meant to happen and they fitted into God’s plan for the world. All of us are continually faced with difficult situations of suffering. So often we cannot make sense of why we have to suffer and we may even see it as a punishment. Even though we don’t have a direct answer to this question, what Jesus says to his disciples in this Gospel is a help, because it reminds us that everything that happens fits into God’s bigger plan. The point is that God can bring good out of every situation, even turning the evil work of people into good.  But for the most part we cannot see that.  We are just faced with each individual situation of suffering and that is hard.  However, the Lord is telling us that there is a bigger picture which makes sense of everything that happens.  When we die we will then see that picture and it will all make sense to us. 

April 11 - Second Sunday of Easter, Cycle B (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)

April 11th, 2021

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First Reading Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35
The first Christian community shared their possessions, and no one was needy.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24
The Lord’s mercy endures forever.

Second Reading 1 John 5:1-6
Those who love God keep his commandments.

Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is proclaimed on the Second Sunday of Easter in each of the lectionary cycles. This fact alone should alert us to the significance of the encounters with the resurrected Jesus that are described in this reading. This Gospel combines two scenes: Jesus’ appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection and Jesus’ dialogue with Thomas, the disciple who doubted.

Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit, but in bodily form. We do not know, however, exactly what this form looked like. Earlier in John’s Gospel, when Mary of Magdala first encountered the risen Jesus, she did not recognize him until he spoke to her. In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus until he broke bread with them. We know from readings such as today’s that in his resurrected form, Jesus was not bound by matter; he appeared to the disciples inside a home even though the door was locked. Yet the disciples could still touch the marks of his Crucifixion.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun; as Jesus was sent by God, so Jesus sends his disciples. He gives his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they will be able to accomplish this task. Jesus’ words to his disciples also highlight the integral connection between the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can share forgiveness and reconciliation with others.

Thomas, the doubting disciple in today’s reading, represents the reality of the Church that comes after this first community of witnesses to Jesus. All but the first disciples of Jesus must believe without seeing. Like Thomas, we may doubt the news that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, appeared to his disciples. Our human nature seeks hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to his disciples after his death is indeed the same Jesus who was crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to be our representative in obtaining this evidence. He gives witness to us that the Jesus who was raised is the same Jesus who died. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are among those who are blessed, for we have not seen and yet believe.

April 4 - Easter Sunday : Experiencing Easter Everyday

April 3rd, 2021

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First Reading  Genesis 1:1—2:2
God creates the heavens and the earth. (shorter form, Genesis 1:1,26-31a)

Second Reading Genesis 22:1-18 (shorter form, Genesis 22:1-2,9a,10-13,15-18)
God puts Abraham to the test.

Third Reading Exodus 14:15—15:1
The Israelites pass through the Red Sea.

Fourth Reading Isaiah 54:5-14
The Lord promises to redeem Israel.

Fifth Reading Isaiah 55:1-11
A call to return to the Lord who is merciful

Sixth Reading  Baruch 3:9-15,32—4:4
Israel is told to follow the way of God's commandments.

Seventh Reading  Ezekiel 36:16-17a,18-28
The Lord will cleanse Israel for the sake of his holy name.

Epistle  Romans 6:3-11
Those who have been baptized have died with Christ.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23
God's mercy endures forever.

Gospel Reading
Mark 16:1-7

The significance of Jesus' resurrection is that it offers for all believers the hope pf a new life here and now. Yes, we will all rise from the dead one day and share in eternal glory but even today, here and now we experience the power of Easter glory, the effects of Jesus' rising from the dead. we all testify to the power of the Resurrection among us when we don't let evil and death get the better of us but let the way of Jesus triumph in our lives through our faith, hope and love. 

April 2 : Good Friday : By His Wounds We Have Healed.

April 2nd, 2021

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First Reading  IS 52:13—53:12
Responsorial Psalm PS 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Second Reading  HEB 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel Reading   JN 18:1—19:42

Today we venerate the wood of the Cross because it was by His Cross that Jesus redeemed the world. No one can separate Jesus from His Cross: Where Christ is there is the Cross and where there is the Cross there is Jesus. The world may look at the Cross as a threat or as a curse or as a headache. But for a Christian the Cross is the road to salvation and holiness. Pope St. John Paul II said on the canonization of Bl. Padre Pio “difficulties and pain, is accepted with love become a privileged path to sanctity”. Each one of us has been given some type of a Cross. The presence of the Cross in our lives tells us that we are in the surest road to sanctity. Therefore let us ask the grace to embrace our little crosses with love. Because it is in the Cross that we find forgiveness, healing and salvation

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