Our Gospel story this weekend is the appearance of the risen Jesus to the disciples as they were fishing in the Sea of Tiberius, also known as the Sea of Galilee. Notice how similar it is to Luke’s version of the call of the first disciples: they were fishing all night and caught nothing, they do what Jesus tells them and get an abundance; and it ends with a commission from Jesus. At the first call, it is “from now on, you will be fishers of people.” In this resurrection story, it is “feed my lambs…tend my sheep...feed my sheep.”
In both stories, they were fishing all night and caught nothing. But, with the light of Christ, there is an overwhelming abundance. Jesus turned a losing situation into a win.
There is a strong message for us. It is easy for us to say, I can’t be a good disciple because I am a sinner (any worse than Peter who
denied Christ three times after boasting that he would die for him?); I can’t be a good disciple because I am a nobody (any less than an uneducated fisherman?); I can’t be a good disciple because I don’t know what to do (do you think Peter knew exactly what to do and what would happen?). With the light of Christ, our failings and
deficiencies will become an abundance. And that light is the gift of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate at Pentecost.
In the five weeks remaining of our preparation to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, let us reflect on the abundance of grace that the Holy Spirit can bring to others from our simple, though sometimes
faltering, efforts to bring Christ’s love and forgiveness to our world. We don’t have to be important, we don’t have to be perfect: we simply have to do our best to live as Christ did. The Holy Spirit will take over from there. God bless.
Church sign of the week: One day, you’ll be just a memory. Make it a good one.
As we move through Easter time, it is fascinating to see how the apostles are presented in the Gospels as compared with how they are presented in the Acts of the Apostles. In the Gospels, we have sad, confused, scared people, who are often hiding in the upper room for fear of the religious authorities. In the Acts of the Apostles, we have people bravely proclaiming the story of Jesus and curing in His Name, often in direct disobedience to the religious authorities. Peter boldly proclaims, “we must obey God, rather than people.” That is not someone who would be hiding in a locked room!
What happened? What turned these cowering people into brave proclaimers of Jesus? The gift of the Holy Spirit! Pentecost was the turning point: those who had been hiding in fear burst out onto the streets, publicly proclaiming Jesus as Lord and curing in His name. That was the beginning of the Church and, under the guidance of the Spirit, it grew quickly.
This is the same Holy Spirit that we receive at baptism and
confirmation, the Spirit who strengthens us to live as Christ did, bringing His love and compassion to others. By presenting these contrasting pictures of the earliest disciples, the Church is inviting us, during this period leading up to the celebration of Pentecost, to
reflect on the gift we have been given to help us in our lives as
That is what we celebrate in Easter time, which will culminate in our celebration of Pentecost: the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not just remembering that Jesus is risen; we are celebrating that He is
walking with us always through His gift of the Holy Spirit.
I invite us during these days leading up to Pentecost to become more aware of the Spirit in our lives. The Spirit will always guide us, but we need to be listening. That is why I spend quiet time each day, allowing the Spirit to talk to me. If you are not doing the same, I
invite you to start; you will never be sorry. Jesus is truly risen and His Spirit is with us always! Let’s make sure we are paying attention. God bless.
Church sign of the week: I’m so glad I learned about parallelograms instead of how to do taxes. It came in so handy this parallelogram season.
An egg is a vivid symbol for me of what we are celebrating this
Easter Sunday: an egg needs to be shattered for new life to come out. What does that say to me?
First of all, it represents the events of this past week. As we listened to Luke’s Passion narrative on Palm Sunday and John’s version on Good Friday, it became obvious that Jesus WAS truly shattered: forcefully arrested, scourged, mocked with a robe and crown of thorns, forced to carry a cross, nailed on a cross, and killed. But what we celebrate today is that out of his being shattered came new life, eternal life for you and me and all of God’s children.
Which leads to my second point: it connects my observance of the season of Lent with my celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and the Easter season. The season of Lent invited me to shatter the things that could be keeping me from new life, be it internal emotions or external things, so that, in celebrating Easter, I would be
experiencing new life.
The point is this: if I have not shattered myself during Lent, if I have not grown in my spiritual life, I am simply remembering past events with my celebration of Easter. But, if I shattered myself by giving up acts contrary to the commandments, by forgiving others, by sharing the gifts God has given me, etc., then I am celebrating new life within me, in addition to remembering a past event.
Hopefully, all of us have grown through our Lenten observance, so that our celebration of Easter is much more than remembering
something that happened a long time ago: it is the celebration of new life and the hope of more to come. May you have a blessed Easter! God bless.
Instead of a Church sign of the week, I would like to share a prayer, written by two third graders in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd faith formation program, Sophia from Christ King and Katelyn from St. Pius. It captures what the Good Shepherd and Easter are all about: Lord, there is nothing I need. I am content as I am. You lead my soul. You guide me along the right paths into the light. You bring happiness into my soul. Amen
With our liturgy this weekend, we enter into Holy Week, a time of remembering what our Lord and Savior has done for us. I am always struck by how we are thrown back and forth between celebration and suffering.
For example, take our liturgical service for Palm Sunday. We begin with palms, recreating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This is a solemn declaration and celebration that He IS the kingly Messiah the Jews were waiting for, but a different kind of king than human nature would expect. Shortly after the procession, our first reading warns us that the mood will change: I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. Finally, we read the Passion according to Luke. God’s idea of a king is clearly presented: one who lays down His life for others, rather than lording it over them.
The same dynamic occurs on Holy Thursday. Jesus and His disciples celebrate the most holy Passover meal. But Jesus makes two crucial innovations: He washes the feet of His disciples, once again emphasizing the kind of kingly Messiah He is. Then He substitutes His own Body and Blood for the Passover lamb: Jesus is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world!
The final example is the contrast between Good Friday and Easter, our culmination of Holy Week. The intense sorrow and despair of Good Friday give way, after a prolonged period of silence, to the joy that Mary Magdalene felt as she realized that her Lord was truly alive.
I invite you to participate in our services this week, walking through these events in the life of Jesus. Our lives can feel heavy with sorrow as we experience all that is happening around us. Our celebration of the events of Holy Week will help us to remember that Jesus is truly risen and that, ultimately, all will be OK. With that realization, we can experience the same joy that Mary Magdalene did.
Church sign of the week: The ability to speak several languages is an asset, but the ability to keep your mouth shut in any language is priceless.
Our Gospel this weekend is a very powerful one, the story of the woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders knew that Jesus was “soft” on sinners: after all, He ate with them and even had the tax collector Matthew as one of His inner circle. If Jesus refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery (where is the man?), they could accuse Him of breaking the law.
Jesus simply says, let the one without sin throw the first stone; then, He starts writing in the sand. Was He writing out their sins? Or was He doodling, giving them time to reflect? Either way, they realized they could not condemn the woman and went away.
The point for us is this: we have a tendency to judge and condemn, but that is God’s work, not ours. Our work is to take care of our own sins and failings, letting God do His work of taking care of other
people. We have enough to handle with ourselves. We will have much more peace in our lives when we learn this important lesson: let go and let God, especially when it comes to judging and
We are clearly told that we will be judged as we judge, that we will be condemned as we condemn. Do we believe that? Are we trying to root out this tendency? Let us pray for each other, that we may grow in our ability to let go and let God do His work of judging.
Church sign of the week: Stack every bit of criticism between two layers of praise.