April 28, 2017
Friday of the Second Week of Easter
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, our Gospel today focuses on St. John’s intense meditation on the meaning of the Eucharist. The tone is set with the familiar story of the feeding of the five thousand, the only miracle story mentioned in all four Gospels. This scene deeply affected the first Christians. Jesus instructs the crowd to recline on the grass. Taking the barley loaves and dried fish, Jesus makes a meal that satisfies the enormous crowd. They are hungry, tired, worn out from their exertions, and Jesus gives them sustenance for the day.
For Thomas Aquinas, the great metaphor for the Eucharist is sustenance, food for the journey. Baptism defines us, making us sons and daughters of God; confirmation confirms and deepens this identity; marriage and holy orders seal us in our life’s vocation. These are sacraments offered once at key moments in one’s life.
Then there is the Eucharist, which is daily food, nourishment to get us through the day-to-day. How effective would we be if we never ate, or ate only on special occasions and in a festive environment? Not very. So, in the spiritual life, we must eat and drink or we will not have the strength.
April 27, 2017
Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains upon him.
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, today’s Gospel declares that the Son of God does not ration his gift of the Spirit. At the Cathedral of Chartres, the figure of Jesus is surrounded by seven doves, symbolizing these seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Messiah will be filled up with all of the powers and energies of God’s spirit.
These seven gifts have played a prominent role in our tradition, appearing in theologians as diverse as Gregory the Great, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. These gifts are signs that the Christian is participating in Jesus Christ. In holding up this image, therefore, the Church is asking us to meditate on the people that we are called to be, participants in Jesus.
How does one come by these gifts? We can’t really earn them or work our way toward them. But they do come from Jesus Christ, and therefore from our proximity to him through the Church and the sacraments. As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord, pray for the conformity to him which consists in the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
April 26, 2017
Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
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.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, our Gospel passage today includes one of Jesus’ best-known and best-loved sayings. The Lord is speaking to Nicodemus and he tells him, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Why does the Son come? Because God is angry? Because God wants to lord it over us? Because God needs something? No, he comes purely out of love, out of God’s desire that we flourish: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
It is not in order to work out his anger issues that the Father sends the Son, but that the justice of the world might be restored. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s salvific intent, displayed throughout the Old Testament.
April 25, 2017
Tuesday – Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, today Jesus commissioned his disciples (and us) to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world. Then he was taken up to heaven where he took his place at God’s right hand, as the disciples went forth and preached everywhere.
The ascension of Jesus signals the beginning of the era of the Church. As Jesus leaves the scene (at least in the most obvious sense), he opens the stage for us. What if Caesar, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Churchill were still striding the world stage? No one would have the courage to enter the game. So, Jesus leaves, that we might act in his name and in accord with his spirit.
And it is precisely those who are most focused on the things of heaven that do most good here below—Gandhi, King, Dorothy Day, John Paul II. Those who pray most intently are most effective in the practical realm. This too is opened up by the ascension.
April 24, 2017
Monday of the Second Week of Easter
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.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him,
“How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills,
and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Bishop Robert Barron:
Jesus tells us that no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. He says: “What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the love shared by the Father and the Son; he is, in the lovely image proposed by Fulton Sheen, the sign of affection that goes up when the Father looks at the Son and the Son looks back at the Father.
We have access to this holy heart of God because the Father sent the Son into the world, into our dysfunction, even to the limits of godforsakenness—and thereby gathered all of the world into the dynamism of the divine life. Those who live in Christ are not outside of God as petitioners or supplicants; rather they are in God as friends, sharers in the Spirit.
April 22, 2017
Saturday in the Octave of Easter
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.
She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping.
When they heard that he was alive
and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
After this he appeared in another form
to two of them walking along on their way to the country.
They returned and told the others;
but they did not believe them either.
But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them
and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart
because they had not believed those
who saw him after he had been raised.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, in today’s passage Jesus commissions his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all. A great lesson of the Resurrection is that the path of salvation has been opened to everyone. Paul told us that “though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself and took the form of slave…accepting even death, death on a cross.”
In a word, Jesus went all the way down, journeying into pain, despair, alienation, even godforsakenness. Why? In order to reach all of those who had wandered from God. Then, in light of the Resurrection, the first Christians came to know that, even as we run as fast as we can away from the Father, all the way to godforsakenness, we are running into the arms of the Son. The Resurrection shows that Christ can gather back to the Father everyone whom he has embraced through his suffering love.
So let us not domesticate the still stunning and disturbing message of Resurrection. Rather, let us allow it to unnerve us, change us, and set us on fire.
April 21, 2017
Friday in the Octave of Easter
Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
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.
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Risen Jesus appears to seven disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. Jesus rose bodily from the dead. This is the fact—eminently surprising and unexpected—that gives birth to Christianity. The excitement that you can sense on every page of the New Testament comes from this novelty.
Why did the Risen Jesus appear only to a few? Why didn’t he make himself readily apparent to anyone who wanted to see? Cardinal Newman commented on this. If Jesus had appeared publicly and indiscriminately to all, the power of the resurrection would have been lessened. Some would believe; others wouldn’t. Some would get it; others wouldn’t. Some would be fascinated, others indifferent.
Instead, he deigned to appear to a small coterie of dedicated disciples who knew him, loved him, understood him—confident that they would be the effective bearers of his message. We are those now who eat and drink with him after his resurrection. And so we have a commission to announce this good news.
April 20, 2017
Thursday in the Octave of Easter
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
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.”
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Risen Jesus appears to his eleven disciples. Understandably terrified, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus is quick to disabuse them of this notion: “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
While they were still amazed and incredulous for joy, he stunned them further, saying, “Have you anything here to eat?” With that, they gave him a piece of baked fish, which he ate in their presence. The bodily resurrection of Jesus—as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep—is the great sign that heaven and earth are coming together. A body, which can be touched and which can consume baked fish has found its way into the realm of heaven.
What does this mean? That bodies are not finally alien to God. We have indeed an Advocate in the heavenly places. Were the Resurrection a convenient story or a clever myth, the two realms of heaven and earth would be as separate as ever.
April 19, 2017
Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
Today’s Gospel – LK 24:13-35
That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
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?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus enlightens the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Have you ever tried to solve a puzzle and then were surprised when the various pieces suddenly fell into place? Well, this is what happens to these disciples as Jesus begins to speak: “How slow you are to believe all that the prophets have announced! Did not the Messiah have to undergo all this so as to enter into his glory?” The whole of Christianity is hanging here in the balance.
The disciples didn’t get it at first. They didn’t get the Secret. The Mystery. The key. The pattern. And what was that? God’s self-emptying love, yes even unto death. God’s act of taking upon himself the sins of the world in order to take them away, the Mystery of redemption through suffering.
Jesus explains this first, with reference to the prophets; but then, he makes it as vividly present to them as he can: “He took the bread, pronounced the blessing, then broke the bread and began to distribute it to them.” And that’s when the piece fell into place–that’s when the puzzle was solved. The Eucharist made present this love unto death, this love that is more powerful than sin and death. The Eucharist is the key.
April 18, 2017
Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Today’s Gospel – JN 20:11-18
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
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.'”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
Bishop Robert Barron:
Friends, today’s Gospel reveals St. John’s report of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus. An interesting lesson follows from the disquieting fact of the Resurrection, namely that this world is not it. What I mean is that this world is not all that there is. We live our lives with the reasonable assumption that the natural world as we’ve come to know it is the final framework of our lives and activities. And one of the most powerful and frightening features of the common-sense world is death. Every living thing dies and stays dead.
But what if death and dissolution did not have the final say? What if, through God’s power, and according to his providence, a “new heavens and a new earth” were being born? The resurrection of Jesus from the dead shows as definitively as possible that God is up to something greater than we had imagined or thought possible.
And therefore we don’t have to live as though death were our master. In light of the Resurrection, we can begin to see this world as a place of gestation, a place of growth and maturation toward something higher, more permanent, and more splendid.