The Meaning of Love April 15, 2021


Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Readings for Today

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The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. John 3:35

It’s interesting to note that the words of today’s Gospel appear to be from Saint John the Baptist, since they come within the context of his testimony to Jesus. Some commentators, however, suggest that they are words that were actually spoken by Jesus and that the Evangelist inserts them here as a continuation of the testimony of the Baptist, attributing them to Saint John. Regardless of who actually spoke these words, the line quoted above gives us much to reflect upon in that it gives us insight into the very meaning and practice of true love.

What is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? A drive or a desire for something or someone? Of course, the secular understanding of love is much different than a divine understanding of love. Oftentimes the secular view of love is more self-centered. To “love” someone or something is to want to possess that person or object. “Love” from a secular view focuses upon the attraction and desire. But true love, from a divine perspective, is very different.

The line quoted above tells us two things: First, we are told that “The Father loves the Son…” But then we are given a definition of that love. We are told that love in this case results in the Father giving “everything over” to the Son. When we consider the word “everything” in this passage, it is clear that this can only refer to the Father giving Himself to the Son in totality. Within the life of the Father, everything means His very essence, His being, His personhood, His whole divine self. The Father does not say, “I want;” rather, the Father says, “I give.” And the Son receives all that the Father is.

Though this is deep and mystical language, it becomes very practical for our lives when we understand that divine love is not about wanting, taking, desiring, feeling, etc. Divine love is about giving. It’s about the giving of oneself to another. And it’s not just about giving some of yourself away, it’s about giving “everything” away.

If the Father gave everything to the Son, does that mean that the Father has nothing left? Certainly not. The beautiful nature of divine love is that it is never ending. The more one gives themself away, the more they have. Thus, the gift of the life of the Father to the Son is infinite and eternal. The Father never ceases to give, and the Son never ceases to receive. And the more the Father gives Himself to the Son, the more the Father becomes the essence of love itself.

The same is true in our lives. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that love should only go so far. But if we are to strive to imitate and participate in the love the Father has for the Son, then we must also understand that love is about giving, not receiving, and that the giving must be a gift of everything, holding nothing back. We must give ourselves away to others without counting the cost and without exception.

Reflect, today, upon your view of love. Look at it from a practical perspective as you think about the people whom you are especially called to love with a divine love. Do you understand your duty to give yourself to them completely? Do you realize that giving yourself away will not result in the loss of your life but in the fulfillment of it? Ponder the divine love that the Father has for the Son and make the radical and holy choice today to strive to imitate and participate in that same love.

My loving Lord, the Father has given all to You, and You, in turn, have given all to the Father. The love You share is infinite and eternal, overflowing into the lives of all Your creatures. Draw me into that divine love, dear Lord, and help me to imitate and share in Your love by fully giving my life to others. Jesus, I trust in You.

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A Summary of Clarity April 14, 2021


Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
Readings for Today

Video

“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16

We continue, today, to read from the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus, the Pharisee who ultimately converted and is venerated as one of the early saints of the Church. Recall that Jesus challenged Nicodemus as a way of helping him to make the difficult decision to reject the malice of the other Pharisees and to become His follower. This passage quoted above comes from Nicodemus’ first conversation with Jesus and is often quoted by our evangelical brothers and sisters as a summary of the whole Gospel. And indeed it is.

Throughout Chapter 3 of John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches about light and darkness, being born from above, wickedness, sin, condemnation, the Spirit and much more. But in many ways, all that Jesus taught in this chapter and throughout His public ministry can be summed up in this short and to-the-point statement: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” This short teaching could be broken down into five essential truths.

First, the Father’s love for humanity, and specifically, for you, is a love so deep that there is no way we will ever fully understand the depths of His love.

Second, the love the Father has for us compelled Him to give us the greatest gift we could ever receive and the greatest gift the Father could give: His own divine Son. This gift must be prayerfully pondered if we are to come to a deepening understanding of the infinite generosity of the Father.

Third, as we prayerfully enter deeper and deeper into our understanding of this incredible gift of the Son, our only appropriate response is faith. We must “believe in Him.” And our belief must deepen just as our understanding deepens.

Fourth, we must realize that eternal death is always possible. It is possible that we eternally “perish.” That realization will give even greater insight into the gift of the Son in that we will realize that the first duty of the Son is to save us from eternal separation from the Father.

Lastly, the gift of the Son from the Father is not only to save us but also to draw us to the heights of Heaven. That is, we are given “eternal life.” This gift of eternity is of infinite capacity, value, glory and fulfillment.

Reflect, today, upon this summary of the whole Gospel: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Take it line by line, prayerfully seeking to understand the beautiful and transforming truths revealed to us by our Lord in this holy conversation with Nicodemus. Try to see yourself as Nicodemus, a good person who is trying to understand Jesus and His teachings more clearly. If you can listen to these words with Nicodemus and accept them deeply in faith, then you, too, will share in the eternal glory these words promise.

My glorious Lord, You came to us as the greatest Gift ever imagined. You are the gift of the Father in Heaven. You were sent out of love for the purpose of saving us and drawing us into the glory of eternity. Help me to understand and believe all that You are and to receive You as the saving Gift for Eternity. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Jesus Christ and Nicodemus By Matthias Stom

A “Holy Push” April 13, 2021


Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
Readings for Today

Saint Martin I, Pope and Martyr—Optional Memorial 

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Nicodemus answered and said to him, ‘How can this happen?” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.”  John 3:9–11

As we reflected upon yesterday, Nicodemus is one of the only Pharisees who ultimately converted, became a follower of Jesus, and is today considered a saint. The only other Pharisees who were recorded by name as converts to Christianity were Saint Paul and Gamaliel. Acts 15:5 also indicates that some other Pharisees ultimately converted.

When the many encounters between Jesus and the Pharisees are considered as a whole, it’s clear that there was great resistance among them toward Jesus and His teaching. They were constantly seeking to trap Him and, of course, ultimately were responsible for His death, along with other leading religious leaders from the Sanhedrin. For that reason, it’s easy to understand that there must have been great pressure upon all the Pharisees to reject Jesus. Each one of them would have felt the power of peer pressure to act in accord with the general view of Jesus’ condemnation. This is the context of this passage above in which Nicodemus questions Jesus. This passage continues yesterday’s Gospel conversation in which Jesus says clearly to Nicodemus that the way to Heaven is to be “born from above.” Nicodemus questions how one can “be born again,” and then Jesus issues this apparent criticism of Him quoted above.

It’s helpful to understand that Jesus’ criticism was not a condemnation of Nicodemus. It was not in the tone of His normal “Woe to you…” statements; rather, it was a gentle but very direct challenge to Nicodemus so as to move him from his questions to faith. And that’s the key. Nicodemus did not come to Jesus to trap and condemn Him like the other Pharisees did. Nicodemus came because he was confused. And most likely, he was confused because he felt great peer pressure from his fellow Pharisees to condemn Jesus.

Understanding this context should help us understand not only the goodness and courage of Nicodemus but also the loving boldness of Jesus. Jesus knew that Nicodemus was open. He knew that Nicodemus could be won over. But Jesus also knew that Nicodemus needed to be challenged in a direct and firm way. He needed a bit of a “holy push” so as to enter into the gift of faith. Of course, Jesus’ challenge ultimately won Nicodemus over.

Reflect, today, upon any way in which you, too, need a “holy push” from our Lord. What form of worldly pressure do you experience in life? Do friends, neighbors, family members or co-workers impose upon you in some way a peer pressure that is contrary to the life of true holiness? If so, ponder the ultimate courage of Nicodemus, Saint Paul and Gamaliel. Let their witness inspire you and allow our Lord to challenge you where you need it the most so that you, too, will receive the “holy push” that you need to be a more faithful follower of Jesus.

My Lord of all strength, You are unwavering in Your determination to challenge me in the area that I need it the most. Help me to receive your gentle rebukes of love when I am weak so that I will have the courage and strength I need to be a faithful follower of You. Give me clarity and understanding, dear Lord, and help me to overcome the misleading pressures of the world. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Visit of Nicodemus to Christ By John La Farge

Coming Into the Light April 12, 2021


Monday of the Second Week of Easter
Readings for Today

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There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” John 3:1–2

Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, is mentioned three times in the Gospel of John. The passage above comes from the first time he’s mentioned. The second time is when he reminds the Sanhedrin that Jesus should be heard by them before they condemn Him, and the third time is when Nicodemus assists with Jesus’ burial after His death. John’s Gospel is very symbolic. He especially uses the images of light and dark. For example, when Judas went out to betray Jesus, John’s Gospel notes that “it was night.” In the passage above, John’s Gospel notes that Nicodemus came to Jesus “at night.”

Saint Augustine, in commenting upon this passage, says that Nicodemus came to Jesus “at night” because Nicodemus was not yet fully born again and, therefore, was not yet living fully in the light of faith. But the fact that Nicodemus does come to Jesus and questions Him at length shows that he had a spark of faith and that he wanted to deepen that faith. He clearly hoped that Jesus was the Messiah and professed that Jesus was “a teacher who has come from God.”

From early times, prior to the formalization of canonization practices, Nicodemus has been given the title of “saint” within the Catholic Church as well as in the Orthodox Church. He is especially venerated because he stood up against the other religious leaders at the time to defend Jesus and show support for Him. This took courage. He was ridiculed and risked being shunned by the others. But Nicodemus knew there was something special about Jesus, and he persevered in following that inspiration.

In many ways, Nicodemus is a great example for us today in our modern world. More and more, in most secular world cultures, being a follower of Jesus is looked down upon. This is especially true if you choose to live your faith openly and believe all that the Gospels teach. Many Christians find that living their faith openly, especially within the workplace, school environments, and other civic circles, is challenging. And like Nicodemus, many find it easier to come to Jesus “at night,” meaning, in a hidden way. And though Nicodemus started this way, he eventually spoke openly in defense of Jesus in the presence of his fellow Pharisees who, according to some traditions, persecuted him and drove him into exile.

Reflect, today, upon Saint Nicodemus. He allowed the spark of faith within him to grow as He listened to Jesus, struggled with the pressure from his peers, but ultimately openly professed his faith in Christ. And though this hurt his worldly position of honor within the Sanhedrin and among the earthly rulers, it earned Nicodemus an eternal honor in Heaven. Reflect upon the courage he must have had to go against the pressure of his peers by allowing the faith he found in Christ to grow and fill his life with the light of Truth. Seek to imitate this good man and allow yourself to be inspired by his courage so that you, too, will receive the same eternal glory he now enjoys in Heaven.

Lord of light and truth, You reveal Yourself to those who come to You with faith. Help me to follow the example of Nicodemus so that all confusion and darkness will be dispelled by the light of Your truth. Give me courage, dear Lord, to follow You and to set my heart on all that You reveal. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Nicodemus and Jesus on a Rooftop By Henry Ossawa Tanner

The Feast of Mercy April 11, 2021

 

Divine Mercy Sunday (Year B)

Readings for Today

Video

Saint Faustina writes in her Diary:

On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened (Diary #699).

It was Jesus Himself, through the mediation of this humble and holy religious sister, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament, Who instituted the Feast of Mercy that we celebrate today. In addition to the above quote from her Diary of Divine Mercy, Jesus spoke on numerous other occasions about His desire that this feast be instituted as a universal Feast of Mercy to be celebrated throughout the world on the eighth day of Easter every year.

From the time of her death in 1938, the private revelations from Jesus to Sister Faustina began to be read and shared. At first, the Feast of Mercy was celebrated by only a few who knew of these messages. As these private revelations began to circulate further, there were some within the Church who questioned their authenticity. Thus, on March 6, 1959, the writings of Sister Faustina were put on the “forbidden” list by the Holy Office, Rome. However, in 1965, with the permission of the same Holy Office, the Archbishop of Kraków, Poland, Archbishop Karol Wojtyła, began an informative process in which new light was shed upon Sister Faustina and her writings. This process concluded on April 15, 1978, with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Rome, issuing a new decree permitting the spread of Sister Faustina’s writings and the new devotion to The Divine Mercy. Then, by the providence of God, just six months later, the Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła, was elected pope, taking the name Pope John Paul II. A little over two decades later, on April 30, 2000, Sister Faustina was canonized a saint in a ceremony presided over by Pope John Paul II. During her canonization, the Holy Father also instituted the Feast of Mercy for the universal Church to be celebrated on the eighth day of the Octave of Easter every year.

The providence of God is truly amazing. God started with this humble cloistered nun. He allowed His private revelations to be scrutinized by the Church and ultimately hand picked one of the greatest popes our Church has ever known to introduce these private revelations to the world. It’s amazing to ponder the process by which these revelations went from the silent cloister of Sister Faustina to the universal Church. One thing this process truly tells us is that God must deeply desire that we immerse ourselves in the messages of Divine Mercy given through Saint Faustina. It was by God’s providence that these messages slowly moved from the silence of the cloister in Kraków, Poland, to the universal Church beginning in the year 2000. Though it may be tempting to think that these messages are old and outdated, we should realize that God knew how long it would take for them to become instituted as a universal feast for all. Therefore, though these messages were first revealed before 1938, it was God’s plan that they would especially be needed and read starting in the year 2000 and beyond. The message of Divine Mercy is especially for us today.

Reflect, today, upon this beautiful providence of God in bringing forth His message of mercy. Allow His providential methodology to not only inspire you but also to greatly encourage you to immerse yourself in the messages given to us from Jesus through Saint Faustina. Try to commit yourself to reading these messages so that, through them, God’s providence will be able to come to fruition.

Most merciful God, You are The Divine Mercy, You are Mercy Itself. Help me to continually ponder this glorious gift of Your Mercy in my life. May the inspired writings of Saint Faustina especially be a gift to me so that their messages will bring forth Your mercy more fully in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

Prayer for Trust in The Divine Mercy of God

Most merciful Jesus,
I turn to You in my need.
You are worthy of my complete trust.
You are faithful in all things.
When my life is filled with confusion, give me clarity and faith.
When I am tempted to despair, fill my soul with hope.

Most merciful Jesus,
I trust You in all things.
I trust in Your perfect plan for my life.
I trust You when I cannot comprehend Your divine will.
I trust You when all feels lost.
Jesus, I trust You more than I trust myself.

Most merciful Jesus,
You are all-knowing.
Nothing is beyond Your sight.
You are all-loving.
Nothing in my life is beyond Your concern.
You are all-powerful.
Nothing is beyond Your grace.

Most merciful Jesus,
I trust in You,
I trust in You,
I trust in You.
May I trust You always and in all things.
May I daily surrender to Your Divine Mercy.
Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy,
Pray for us as we turn to you in our need.
Amen.

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St. Faustina’s Litany of Divine Mercy

Trust in Divine Mercy

 Prayer for the Year of Mercy

Daily Reflections on Divine Mercy

Rosary – Glorious Mysteries (with Scripture)

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The Beauty of Repentance April 10, 2021


Saturday in the Octave of Easter
Readings for Today

Video

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. Mark 16:9

The first person recorded in Scripture to whom Jesus appeared was Mary Magdalene. Notably, she was the one out of whom Jesus cast seven demons. Being possessed by seven demons has traditionally been understood to mean that she was completely possessed. Prior to Jesus freeing her, satan and His demons had completely taken over her will by her free submission to evil. And yet, it was to her, a woman with such a horrible past, that Jesus chose to give the honor of His first appearance. What an amazing fact!

Everyone has a past. Some have been grave sinners. Others, like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, have never committed a mortal sin. Obviously, the beauty of a soul like Saint Thérèse is deeply admirable, and such a soul will be greatly rewarded in Heaven. But what about the grave sinner? What about those like Mary Magdalene who have lived horribly sinful lives? What does our Lord think about them?

The fact that Mary Magdalene is the first person recorded in Scripture to have seen the risen Lord should tell us much about how Jesus views a person who has greatly struggled with serious sin but has later overcome that sin and turned wholeheartedly to our Lord. Sin is demoralizing. When unrepented, it leaves a loss of dignity and integrity. However, even after one has repented, some people will continue to struggle with unhealthy guilt and shame. And for some, these struggles can become a weapon by which the evil one tries to discourage them from feeling worthy to serve our Lord with zeal and passion.

But the truth in the mind of God is that repentant sinners are true jewels and beautiful in the eyes of our Lord. They are worthy of the greatest honors. God does not dwell on our past sin. Instead, our past sin, when it has been repented of and forgiven, will be an eternal sign of the love and mercy of God.

How do you deal with your past sin? First, have you completely acknowledged it, repented of it and sought forgiveness from our Lord? If so, does it still haunt you? Does the evil one still try to remind you of your past and strip away your hope in the mercy of God?

Reflect, today, upon the most grievous of your past sins. If you haven’t yet confessed them, then do so as soon as you can. If you have, try to see your soul through the eyes of God. God does not see your past sins with anger and disgust. Rather, He sees only the depth of your conversion, sorrow and repentance. And, to Him, this is holy and beautiful. Ponder the beauty of your repentant heart and know that, as you do, you will be looking at your own heart through the eyes of God.

My most merciful God, You love the sinner and hate the sin. You love me in ways that are beyond my understanding. Help me to understand how deeply You love my heart when I completely repent. And help me to see my heart only through Your eyes. I thank You for Your love and mercy, dear Lord. Help me to love You all the more. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Day Nine: Novena in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday

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Featured images above: Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, ‘Noli me tangere’ By Rembrandt

The Mystery of the Resurrection April 9, 2021

 


Friday in the Octave of Easter
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. John 21:12–14

The appearances of Jesus after His Resurrection were cloaked in mystery. Not a mystery of confusion, but a mystery of profound depth and awe. On this, the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples, Jesus first spoke to them from the shore after they had been fishing all night without catching anything. He told them to try again and to throw the net over the right side of the boat. They did so without even realizing that it was Jesus Who was speaking to them. But upon catching more than they could handle, they realized it was the Lord.

The “mystery” present in this resurrection appearance has many aspects. Why did the disciples not recognize Jesus at first? Why did Jesus instruct them to throw the net over the right side of the boat? Why was Jesus made known through this catch of one hundred and fifty-three large fish? Why was Jesus cooking breakfast for the disciples on the shore? And why did John record that “none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’” Though all of these mysteries have answers that have been offered over the centuries by the saints and great Scripture commentators, it’s useful to also simply ponder the fact that Jesus’ resurrection appearances were, indeed, cloaked in mystery.

In a mystery novel, the reader is given various vague clues to help them try to figure out the mystery and solve it. The clues are vague intentionally so as to make the solving more enjoyable and challenging. However, when it comes to a “mystery of faith,” such as the mystery of faith surrounding Jesus’ resurrection appearances, the mystery is of an entirely different sort. In these cases, the mystery is one of depth and breadth and is something that has the potential to draw us deeper and deeper into the infinite nature of God and His saving action.

Take, for example, this one line quoted above: “And none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they realized it was the Lord.” It appears that the disciples gathered around Jesus as He was preparing breakfast on the shore and sat there in awe of Him. Their silent awe of Him in this appearance reveals that words are not sufficient. Normally, when you see someone whom you are happy to see, you greet them and start talking, asking them how they are, etc. But here, the disciples remained in this holy awe, listening to Him, receiving this meal and pondering the mystery of His resurrected presence.

Reflect, today, upon the ways that our Lord comes to you. It’s easy to miss Him since His ongoing presence in our lives is also mysterious. Imagine if the disciples would have ignored Jesus’ call to “Cast the net over the right side of the boat…” If they would have ignored that command, they may have never come to realize it was the Lord. Reflect upon the ways that our Lord speaks to you. Do you respond? Do you recognize Him? Do you allow yourself to be drawn into this holy awe of His divine presence? Follow the example of the disciples and be on the lookout for the ongoing presence of our Lord all around you.

My divine Lord, You are constantly present to me, day and night, and yet I so often fail to perceive You and adore You. Help me to become more aware of Your presence in my life. As I do, help me to enter more deeply into these holy mysteries with love, devotion and awe. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Day Eight: Novena in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday

 

 

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Featured images above: Meal of Our Lord and the Apostle By James Tissot

Becoming a Witness to the Truth April 8, 2021


Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Readings for Today

Video

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:45–48

Jesus once again appears to a group of His disciples, and He once again gets straight to the point. He “opened their minds” so that they would understand all that the Scriptures revealed about Him. He helped them to see that His death and Resurrection were fulfillments of the teachings of Moses and the prophets. And then Jesus says something new: “You are witnesses of these things.”

As we saw in yesterday’s Gospel, it’s clear that the disciples did not yet understand why Jesus had to die and then rise again. They were still in shock and traumatized by these events. Therefore, Jesus had to carefully explain to His disciples the meaning of what had just taken place. They needed to understand this on a level that they couldn’t comprehend by themselves. They needed Jesus’ clear and detailed explanation as well as a special grace by which their minds would be opened to an understanding of these profound mysteries of faith.

We are no different than these disciples. It’s easy to believe in Jesus for insufficient reasons which only result in superficial faith. Some believe simply because that’s what they were taught when they were young. Some believe because it makes them feel better to believe. Some believe because they don’t know of anything better to believe. But then there are those who believe for the right reason. Like the disciples in this resurrection appearance, they have listened to Jesus speak clearly and in detail to them, such as through their study of Scripture, the Catechism, or other holy sources, and then they were given a special grace from God that “opened their minds” to an understanding that goes far beyond human rational abilities alone. Are you one of those persons?

If you are, then you have another duty. Not only must you continue to internalize these truths, allowing them to deepen and change your own life completely and totally, but you must also become a “witness” to these things. When you grow in an authentic knowledge of the faith revealed by our Lord, you must also share it with others. Real faith must be shared!

Reflect, today, upon this powerful resurrection appearance. As you do, ponder whether or not you have allowed our Lord to speak to you in the same way that He did to these disciples, and whether or not you have truly internalized all that He has spoken to you and explained to you. If you are among this grouping of people, reflect also upon your duty to be a witness of these truths to others.  Jesus wants to appear in His resurrected form to many others, but He especially does this, today, through the mediation of His faithful followers who are now sent forth to be witnesses to Christ and His glorious Resurrection.

My risen Jesus, You gave Your disciples a glorious gift when You opened their minds to Your holy Truth and taught them many things. Please open my mind also, dear Lord, so that I will comprehend the deep and profound mysteries of faith. Help me to understand Who You are, why You had to die, and how to share in the new life of Your Resurrection. Please also use me as Your witness so that many will come to know You and share in the new life won by Your Resurrection. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: The Resurrected Christ Appearing to His Disciples By Luca Signorelli

The Word of God Burning Within April 7, 2021


Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
Readings for Today

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:30–31

Two of Jesus’ disciples had been discussing the events of the past week as they walked the seven-mile journey along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They previously had hoped that Jesus was the one Who would redeem Israel—but then He was killed. And three days later, there were rumors of His Resurrection, which only left them confused. As they journeyed, Jesus appeared to the two disciples, but they did not recognize Him at first. His identity was hidden from their eyes. Jesus listened to them and expressed sorrow at their lack of understanding, so He explained to them the teachings of Moses and the prophets and that the Messiah needed to suffer, die and rise on the third day. As Jesus spoke, the disciples began to understand, and their hearts burned within them. Finally, in the gift of the Holy Eucharist, in the breaking of the Bread, their eyes were opened to see that it was Jesus with them.

Why did Jesus hide His risen presence from these disciples? It appears that He did so because they lacked faith. They said, “…we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.”  But the Crucifixion was too much for them to handle. They could not comprehend why the Redeemer had to suffer as Jesus did, so they began to doubt.

Too often we are like these disciples who are confused about matters of faith and who struggle with doubts. For that reason, we must see ourselves in the persons of these disciples as they walked the road to Emmaus. Jesus offered these disciples a wonderful gift of mercy by helping them to understand His saving act. He explained to them all that was taught in Scripture regarding Him. And as these disciples listened to Jesus teach them, they slowly came to believe.

We, too, must allow Jesus to teach us about the transforming power of His death and Resurrection. We must listen attentively and allow our hearts to burn within us as we listen to His holy Word. Only in this way will we come to the level of faith we need to more fully comprehend and accept the transforming power of the Paschal Mystery.

Reflect, today, upon these disciples and their need to reflect upon the Word of God so as to understand, believe and have their eyes opened. Know that you need this same grace. You need to spend time with our Lord, immersed in His Word, listening to His voice, so that you will come to believe more fully. Allow the message of Jesus’ death and Resurrection to burn within you so that you, too, will come to believe.

My resurrected Lord, You appeared to these disciples who lacked faith and understanding and gave them the gift of Your holy teaching. Teach me, dear Lord, all that I must come to understand and know about You, Your death, Resurrection and glorious gift of new life. May Your Word burn within me and lead me to a transformation of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

More for Easter

Day Six: Novena in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint John Baptist de la Salle, Priest
(Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year because it falls in the Octave of Easter)

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Emmaus Disciples By Abraham Bloemaert

Cling to Jesus Now! April 6, 2021


Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Readings for Today

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:17

Mary of Magdala was one of the first persons to whom Jesus appeared. She was deeply devoted to Him, especially because of the great mercy He offered her when He forgave her manifest sins and expelled seven demons from her. After He had done that, Mary became a devout follower and was one of the few who remained faithful to Him, even as He hung upon the Cross.

On the first day of the week, the Sunday after the Crucifixion, Mary came to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body in accord with Jewish custom. But when she arrived, Jesus’ body was gone. And when Jesus appeared to her as she was weeping, she didn’t immediately recognize Him, for He had His new glorified body. But when Jesus spoke her name, Mary, she recognized Him. But rather than embracing her, Jesus said, “Stop holding on to me…” Why would Jesus say this?

Even though Mary’s attachment and devotion to Jesus was beautiful and holy, it wasn’t yet perfected. She wanted her Lord Whom she had come to know and followed. She wanted her former relationship with Jesus to be returned to her. But for this reason, Jesus said, “Stop holding on to me…” Jesus wanted much more. He was telling her that her relationship with Him was soon to change for the better. No longer would He simply be her earthly companion; instead, He would soon live within her, dwell within her very heart, become one with her, and be her Bridegroom for eternity. But this could only happen once Jesus ascended to the Father in Heaven to complete His divine mission of salvation.

At times, we also seek favors from our Lord that are purely temporal. Though we do need to trust Him for “our daily bread,” meaning, for all the basic necessities of life, we must realize that the gifts God wants to give us far surpass anything in this world. The supernatural gift of grace, the gift of the Indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, the gift of oneness with our Lord is what we are made for and is the end goal and desire of our Lord.

Reflect, today, upon these words Jesus spoke to Mary: “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” But do so with the knowledge that, now, Jesus has indeed ascended to the Father. Therefore, He now invites us all to cling to Him as He reigns in Heaven. Ponder the deep desire in the heart of our Lord that you cling to Him with every fiber of your being. He wants to dwell within you, to become one with you and to transform you in every way. This holy union is now being enjoyed for all eternity by Saint Mary of Magdala, and this same gift is being offered to you. Cling to Him and never let go, for this will be your eternal joy.

My risen and ascended Lord, You now reign in Heaven in perfect glory and splendor. Draw me into Your glorious life and invite me to cling to You with all my heart. I invite You, dear Lord, to come and make Your dwelling within me so that I can hold on to You forevermore. Jesus, I trust in You.

More for Easter

Day Five: Novena in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Prayer meditation for Easter

Rosary – Glorious Mysteries (with Scripture)

St. Faustina’s Litany of Divine Mercy

Trust in Divine Mercy

Prayer for the Year of Mercy

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint Vincent Ferrer, Priest
(Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year because it falls in the Octave of Easter)

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection painting by Alexander Ivanov