21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 27, 2017)

The passage we have just heard is pivotal in the Gospels. Everything that precedes this passage is preparing us for it; everything that follows it is an explanation.

Jesus asks his closest followers a fundamental question: “Who do you say I am?” Peter speaks for the apostles: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” They acknowledge that Jesus is the promised Messiah; he is the very Son of God.

This is a true moment of faith, proclaimed for the ages. Jesus makes it very clear that they are responding with the gift given to them by his heavenly Father, not just to the mere sum of their own experiences of Jesus. This becomes clearer as the Gospel progresses, and we see that they have much more to learn about how Jesus will be the Messiah-Savior.

At this point in the Gospel narrative, they have no idea that Jesus will suffer, die on a cross, and rise on the third day. Despite their lack of full understanding, Jesus uses this moment of faith to set the foundation of the Church on the “rock” of Peter’s confession of faith. He entrusts the keys of the kingdom to Peter: the symbol of authority in the community of believers. The Church will have power to continue when Jesus returns to his Father.

For the moment, Jesus orders his disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Messiah because they have much more to learn before they can accurately communicate the full truth of faith in Jesus as Messiah. Once they have experienced Jesus’ death and resurrection and have received the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will tell them to go out to all the nations and proclaim the Good News of salvation.

We heard St. Paul sum up the wonder of God’s plan of salvation, meant for all people. His words are a reminder that we are part of the continuing plan as members of the community founded on the authority of Peter. As we continue to grow in our knowledge and experience of the good news, we can well echo Paul’s words: “O, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!”

As we speak his words, let us be grateful for the gift of faith and renew our commitment to live by what we have come to believe - so that all we are and do is seen as coming from God, done through his grace, and leading us to give God glory today and every day!

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 20, 2017)

Today’s Scriptures call us to reflect on the greatness of God’s merciful love.

St. Paul reminds us that God desires to be merciful to all – no one will be excluded. Paul knows that God’s call to the Jews is irrevocable. He suspects there is irony in the working out of God’s plan.

When the Jews did not accept Jesus, this opened the way to preach the Good News to the Gentiles. God’s mercy desires to reconcile the whole world to himself – even his chosen people. The unfolding of God’s plan of mercy will reveal the greatness and faithfulness of God’s love.

The Samaritan woman in today’s Gospel is one example. Her simple plea – “Lord, help me” – reveals her faith in Jesus. Her persistence in faith is met by Jesus’ merciful response: “Your faith is great! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

God never refuses humble love.

What are we to learn from today’s readings? The obvious lesson is the wideness of God’s mercy. As individual Christians and as a community of faith, we must be welcoming to all. Our God tells us: my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. It’s too easy for us to be satisfied with ourselves and forget that God’s calls us to open our minds and our hearts to all the people around us, inviting them to join with us in faith and love.

God desires us to build up a community of faith and love, a community that reaches out with divine mercy – a mercy that knows no limits or partiality.

We are not to make the decision who will/will not will benefit from God’s mercy. God wants everyone to experience it through you and me.

Let us be humble and persistent in our faith and welcome all our brothers and sisters in love.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 13, 2017)

Today’s Scriptures remind us that God’s presence can be found in a tiny, whispering sound and in the winds and waves that toss the disciples boat on the sea. We are always in God’s presence; he is always speaking to us.

We heard Elijah recognize God’s presence in the tiny, whispering sound. Then he hid his face in his cloak and stood at the entrance of the cave that sheltered him as the Lord passed by.

In a very different circumstance, Jesus walks on the turbulent water and approaches his disciples’ boat. The disciples are afraid until Jesus speaks to them: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then the ever-bold Peter wants Jesus to enable him to walk on the water. Jesus says, “Come.” When the strong wind distracts Peter, he begins to sink and calls to Jesus for help. Jesus takes Peter by the hand and chides him: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

While these two stories differ, they both speak of faith and trust in God’s loving presence. I’m sure each of us has had moments when the Lord has spoken to us in a “tiny, whispering sound.” And there certainly have been times when he has spoken in the turbulence of our life. God is always saying: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid. Come, take my hand and walk with me.”

Then we have the choice. We can “come,” trusting in God’s loving presence and care for us. Or we can become distracted by the turbulence and confusion around us and may be within us, and lose sight of the Lord who is caring for us.

It would seem to be wise if we learned ways to hear Jesus’ words more often each day: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” He is our sure hope!

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6, 2017)

St. Francis de Sales challenges us to be transfigured in Christ through our daily activities:

At the Transfiguration Jesus showed us a spark of eternal glory. While the Prophet said, “I will never forget you…I have carved you on the palm of my hand,” Jesus went further and said, “I will never forget you, since I bear your name engraved in My Heart.” At the Transfiguration Jesus shows His flaming Heart of love for us.

Like the apostles who wanted to remain in Jesus’ presence, we too must do likewise. So little by little let us leave behind all our affections for lowly things and aspire to the happiness that Our Lord has prepared for us. Where could we give better witness to our fidelity to God than in the midst of things going wrong?

There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied with the world and depressed about it when we have of necessity to be in it. Yet we will always encounter difficulties in the “busyness” of the world. To think that we can be holy without suffering is a delusion. Where there is more difficulty, there is more virtue. However, if we stumble, with trust and confidence in God’s mercy, let us put ourselves back on the path of virtue.

Be like the honeybee. While you are carefully making the honey of holiness, at the same time make the wax of your worldly affairs. If our Lord finds honey sweet, so does the wax honor Him, since it is used to make the candles that give light to those around us. Let us focus on always being transfigured in Christ. What we will do and become as we experience the lovable Heart of our Master aflame with love for us!

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 30, 2017)

Today’s first reading gives us the origin of Solomon’s great wisdom: it comes from God as a gift in answer to Solomon’s humble prayer. God is pleased that his prayer is selfless - and he gives him far more than he requested.

This seems to be God’s habit with the humble.

In the Gospel, Jesus is encouraging us to ask for this gift of wisdom so that we will be able to discern what is really important when it comes to choosing how we will live as a member of the kingdom. Like the man who finds a treasure or the merchant who finds a valuable pearl, we must be willing to surrender all to be a part of the reign of God.

Our willingness to surrender our all will be based on the depth of our belief that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him.” God has called us to become the image of Jesus, and has already made this possible through His Son’s sacrificial death for us. Our final destiny is glorious because God has already made it so for us. Even now we have some taste of that glory in the midst of the trials and sufferings that are also a part of our calling.

As the Gospel reminds us, the reign of God is in process. The dragnet is collecting all kinds of things. We want to be found among the “worthwhile things” and not among the “useless” which will be thrown away.

Those who are learning as the reign of God unfolds must ask for the gift of wisdom, as Solomon did. Then we will have the insight needed to keep surrendering all as we continue toward the glory that God has prepared for us who are open to being transformed in the image of His Son.

Let us seek the gift of an understanding heart and use it well in all we say and do.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 23, 2017)

Today’s first reading from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom invites us into the mystery of our God.

Though our God is master of might, God judges with clemency and governs us with great leniency. The inspired writer is clearly pointing out to us that God’s mercy is directly proportionate to his power. God’s power is the source of divine justice and mercy.

What a wonderful revelation! We are always aware that our God is all-powerful – a God of justice. That awareness can often make us fearful of God.

Today’s reading helps us to understand that God’s power is a power for good. God’s power shows itself is a justice that is always merciful, compassionate, lenient – a justice that is urging us to repent and allow ourselves to be drawn closer to our God.

We need not fear the power of our God when we understand our God as he reveals himself in the Scriptures, and especially in Jesus. Our God’s power desires to draw us more completely into his mercy – make us more completely his children. All we need to do is choose to let God’s power into our hearts each day so that God can draw us closer to himself and share his loving mercy more fully with us.

As the writer of the Book of Wisdom reflected on God’s deeds of power and mercy in history, he understood that God is showing his people how he wants them to live. “Those who are just must be kind.” Whatever position of power we may have, our power must reflect divine power – a power that is loving, just, kind, merciful, compassionate, and lenient. God asks us to treat others as he treats us.

There is much in today’s Scripture readings that we can take to prayer this week. Our God desires to continue to teach us about what it means to live as his children.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 16, 2017)

What a beautiful image St. Paul paints for us today: all creation is groaning as it eagerly awaits the fullness of redemption when everyone and everything will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

The presence of the Spirit within us gives us hope as we join our groaning to the groaning of all creation.

Isaiah reminded us: just as the rain and snow effectively water the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, so too will the word of God do his will, achieving the end for which He sent it.

Jesus also compares God’s word to seed sown by the Divine Sower. The seed always bears some kind of fruit, serving some purpose, but in good soil it bears fruit abundantly.

The seed sown is much like the rain that falls - the extent of its ability to make fertile and fruitful depends on the ground that receives it. Even the short-lived wild flowers that bloom after a desert storm serve a purpose.

Jesus wants more for us.

He adds a warning to the parable: “Let everyone heeds what he hears.” That means that we must spend some time in prayer with his words in order for them to be most fruitful in our life. They are able to touch that place of groaning, of eager waiting, in each of us. They speak to that hope we all have as a gift of the Spirit in us.

May each of us be “good soil” today - soil which accepts the seed and the rain that God is sending us in His word. In our prayerful listening, may we have the courage to remove stumbling-stones and thorns that may be present in the soil of our heart. May we allow that seed to be watered well and become an abundant yield as we await with a sure hope the redemption of our bodies.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 9, 2017)

The prophet Zechariah pictures the coming of the Savior/King as a time of peace. Jesus, the Savior/King, has come.

We might ask, in light of all the turmoil in the world around us, where is the peace that he is supposed to bring?

Our question brings to mind that Jesus told us: I do not give you the peace that the world gives. What then is the peace that Jesus brings? He tells us this morning that his peace is only possessed by the child-like - those who are willing to learn from his gentle, humble lead - those willing to yoke themselves to him. The peace that Jesus is able to give is refreshment to the weary and to those who find that this worldly life can be burdensome.

To be humble like Jesus means to accept the gracious, compassionate love of God our Father for what it is - unconditional, always welcoming us into the love of our Father’s home. The Father loves us in the same way that he loves his Son Jesus. Our faults and failings are forgiven even before we ask, and our acceptance of his love is reason for rejoicing, for celebrating.

Gentleness will flow from accepting that God loves everyone else in the same way he loves me - unconditionally. This realization causes me to respect and even reverence others as the place where God’s love is at work - even if that other person is not yet aware that God is loving and working there.

Gentleness is learning to love others unconditionally - forgiving them even before they can say “I’m sorry,” reaching out to fill their needs even before they can say “I’m in need,”lifting their spirits even before they can say, “I feel down today.”

When I open myself to be grateful for God’s compassionate love for me and am willing to respect his love working in everyone around me, then I am able to experience the peace that Jesus brings. My soul will find rest from the weariness of the world’s competition and conniving. The burdens of living each day will be lightened. I will be better able to see the hand of God’s love at work in everything and everyone around me.

May each of us be wise enough to learn the secret of inner peace from Jesus who is gentle and humble of heart.

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 2, 2017)

We just heard St. Paul remind us of the wonderful gift we received in Baptism.

We joined Jesus in his death to sin once and for all and we were given a share in his risen life, a life for God. Paul tells us that we must continue to think of ourselves in light of what happened to us in our Baptism: in Jesus we are dead to sin; we are living for God.

Our Baptism changed us into new people who share in divine life. The challenge for us is to choose each day to live as a redeemed person.

Today’s Gospel is Matthew’s conclusion to Jesus’ great missionary instruction to his disciples – to you and me. Our Baptism commissioned us to be missionaries – to live our new life in Jesus with enthusiasm and to share with others the good news we are experiencing so that they can experience it too.

Jesus reminds us that much of our missionary efforts will be done in little things: giving a cup of cold water in his name. He tells us that there is a profound implication to even the smallest act of unselfish love. In these little acts of kindness, we can mirror the loving kindness of our God. Our God in return gives us a reward immensely greater than our efforts deserve. That is the nature of God’s loving kindness.

Let us resolve once again to live more faithfully the new life we were given in our Baptism. Let us be more conscious of the little opportunities we are given to be God’s loving kindness to one another each day.

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 25, 2017)

We heard St. Paul remind us that the sin of Adam has affected all of us - death entered the world. But Jesus has overcome death and his gift of the grace of salvation forgives the sin of Adam and our own sins and gives us new life - a sharing in the very life of God - a life that will continue beyond our death to this world.

God’s loving mercy goes far beyond the forgiveness we need. God gives us life unending. In light of God’s gracious mercy, why do we become so obsessed with sin and not with grace?

The surety of our faith in God’s mercy can give us the courage and the strength needed to face the opposition and intimidation that disciples of Jesus are bound to experience. Jesus tells us: Fear no one - not even those who have the power to destroy our bodies in this life. The same Father who cares so lovingly for the little sparrows cares even more for us.

Confidence can flow from our knowledge of God’s loving providence for us - a confidence that will allow us to speak boldly about the ways of God and proclaim by the way we live that Jesus is Lord.

Like Jeremiah, we may experience the plottings of those around us. But we will know that the Lord is with us, like a mighty champion. We can put ourselves in God’s hands and know that God will hold us safe.

The challenge for each of us is our willingness to witness to Jesus’ way of living each day, our willingness to sacrifice our own interests and concerns for His, our willingness to put our worries and anxieties about the difficulties of our daily life in Jesus’ hands - and confidently live by the gift of God’s gracious mercy shown to us in Jesus.

The challenge is great! And we might ask: “What about the reward?” “Anyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Can we ask for more?

I think not.

Body and Blood of Christ (June 18, 2017)

Today we celebrate God’s providential care for us in the gift of the Eucharist.

The Scripture readings we have just heard are so familiar that it’s easy to let them pass through our ears and never direct them to our mind and heart. Each day we offer Jesus’ sacrifice for us to the Father once again and eat his body and drink his blood as food for our day’s journey.

Each time we celebrate Eucharist, Jesus gives himself to us completely. As we stay close to him, our lives become so entwined with his life that his thoughts, his desires, his attitudes become ours. More and more, Jesus lives in us.

Through the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we as Church “become more profoundly in Christ a sacrament, a sign and instrument of intimate unity with God and of the unity of the whole human race,” as Pope John Paul reminded us.

Do we always remember the grace and responsibility we accept when we eat and drink? Paul reminds us: the bread we share is one. Therefore, we who eat it must be one - selfishness and individualism are unthinkable. Do we take care about that responsibility as we leave the Lord’s Table and go about our daily living?

Jesus reminds us: “the person who feeds on me will have life because of me.” The Eucharist is the graced means given to us to fulfill our purpose in life - to give praise to God by letting Jesus come alive in all we say and do. The Jesus whose Body we eat and whose Blood we drink is the same Jesus who is in us as we go about our day.

Are we as conscious of that fact as we could be

- when we talk with one another?
- when we have to deal with our own weaknesses and faults?
- when we get irritated at others’ faults and weaknesses?

Do we let the gentle, humble, compassionate, forgiving Jesus come alive in us in these circumstances? Or do we tend to forget and let self-interest and self-gratification come alive instead?

We all give thanks each day for the gift of Eucharist we celebrate and receive. Perhaps today’s celebration can remind us once again in our humanness that the gift we receive in Eucharist - Jesus himself - is the gracious presence we carry with us during the day.

May each of us learn more and more to share Jesus living in us with everyone we encounter each day.

Most Holy Trinity (June 11, 2017)

Today’s Scripture readings reveal our God as Three in One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We heard God reveal his name and his love to Moses: “The Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” Moses bowed to the ground in reverence as God revealed his tender love and he asked God to come along in the company of his people.

Jesus tells us even more about our God: “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. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him.”

These are all familiar word to us. How do we hear these words and what do they say about how we live? Do we hear them as the truth about our God and believe in a God who has taken such a great initiative to love us?

Jesus is the revelation of the greatness of our God’s love for us. In Jesus, we see our God loving us: a merciful and gracious God who is slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.

Our God is speaking to us again today, reminding us, ”I love you so much.” How are we going to respond? I would suggest a simple response: “I love you too.”

Then we need to sit in prayer with this word of God’s love for us and allow the love of God shown to us in Jesus to fill our heart. God’s love has the power to transform us little by little and lead us to love more in our daily actions.

St. Paul tells us something about loving: encourage one another and live in peace. This is loving one another as Jesus has loved us. This is learning to love as our God loves: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Three Persons, yet One God.

Like Moses, may we learn to bow to the ground in awe and reverence at the mystery of God’s great love for us. Then let us rise and set about loving one another in daily living.

Pentecost (June 4, 2017)

We have just heard Jesus announce the new creation. Jesus breathes new life into his disciples. And then he announces that mutual forgiveness will be the mark by which his community will be recognized. As God has forgiven us in Jesus, we are to forgive one another as a sign of the new life we share.

St. Luke describes the coming of the Spirit in more dramatic fashion. As the Spirit descends on the disciples as tongues of fire, they begin to make bold proclamation of the Good News in an astounding way.

The same Spirit is given to each of us at our Baptism, and his presence has been strengthened in Confirmation. St. Paul points that that we are one in the Body of Christ because we all share the one Holy Spirit.

Each of us has special gifts which have been given to us as a way of manifesting the Spirit’s presence in us. Our gifts are given, not for our own good, but for the good of others; when we use our gifts for others, we witness to our oneness in Christ. No one’s gift or ministry or work is more important than anyone else’s; all are needed for the unity of the community of the Church.

Each of us is important because we bring a gift or talent or way of working that no one else can bring to the group. We all lose something when an individual person’s gifts are not welcomed or used in the community. We need one another in order to experience the full wonder of God’s love for us.

This morning, we have prayed, “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” This is a bold request on our part. Are we really open to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that God wants to give us?

Are we willing to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to be drawn more deeply into the Mystery of God’s love? Can we find new ways to use these gifts in our efforts to love one another during the day?

May this feast of Pentecost be a rebirthing in each of us of all the spiritual gifts that help us stay centered in the Holy Spirit.

Seventh Sunday Of Easter (May 28, 2017)

We have just heard that Jesus is praying for us – the ones who believe that the Father has sent him. And when the apostles returned to Jerusalem after the Ascension, we hear that they are devoted to prayer with one accord. Spending time in prayer allows us to be present to our loving God and receive the strength we need for daily living.

As Peter reminded us, we will have a share in the sufferings of Christ as part of his Body, the Church. He encourages us to rejoice in this sharing, because we will rejoice exultantly when the glory of Jesus is finally revealed.

How can we do this? St. Francis de Sales suggests a daily prayer practice: begin each new action mindful of God’s presence and ask for his grace, so that all we do will be done in God’s name. Then no matter what we encounter, God will help carry us through it, even sufferings. With God’s help, we can keep a peaceful, gentle heart throughout the day.

Today’s Psalm Response provides us with an encouraging prayer: “I believe that I will see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Ascension of the Lord (May 25/28, 2017)

Today we celebrate the conclusion of Jesus’ mission from his Father. We see Jesus stand before his chosen eleven as the Christ, Lord of the universe. With full authority for the salvation of the world, Jesus sends the Eleven forth to make disciples of all the nations. They are to baptize in the name of the Trinity, and teach all they have been commanded by Jesus.

Then Jesus returns to his Father, leaving the earth in his bodily form. His leaving emphasizes the importance that faith will play in their mission. They are to put their trust in the Spirit he will leave with them, and they are to act on all they have been taught to believe. They will have doubts and fears as they go, so they are to remember his final words to them: “I am with you always.” Jesus’ abiding presence with them through the Spirit will give them strength and courage when they need it to continue their efforts.

Over the past few weeks, you and I have been renewed in our faith by our celebration of Jesus’ death and rising. Today, as we celebrate his return to his Father, Jesus speaks to us, his disciples in 2002, with the full authority of the Christ: I send you forth to make new disciples. Announce the truth of what I have taught you by living it every day. When you feel the insecurities of the journey, recall my promise to you: “I am with you always.” My Spirit will provide the strength you need to continue on.

As we carry out our mission each day, we are not to waste time trying to judge our success or failure. Jesus asks us to place our faith in him and give the best effort we can each day. St. Francis de Sales reminds us to begin each day anew, trying to be faithful today to letting Jesus live in us and love through us.

As we celebrate Jesus’ return to his Father, let us renew our faith in all that Jesus has taught us. With confidence, let us set about living today with grace and enthusiasm. Remember: Jesus is with us always!

May Jesus draw others to himself by the way we live.

Sixth Sunday Of Easter (May 21, 2017)

We have just heard Jesus preparing his disciples for the time when he will no longer walk with them.

He promises: “I will not leave you orphans.” The Father will send them and us another Advocate (the Spirit) who will be with us always.When the Spirit comes to us, we will realize that we have a most intimate relationship with our God: Jesus is in the Father and we are in Jesus and he is in us.

We are loved to the point of sharing in the life and love of God through Jesus’ death and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is telling us such good news!

We heard Jesus ask us to learn from him that love and obedience are one. The person who loves Jesus is the person who observes the commandments given by the Father. Knowing that we are loved so greatly leads us to trust in the one who commands us to love.

Peter tells us: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” Let Jesus live in us and fill us with his love. Jesus is the foundation of our hope. Knowing who lives in us makes us ready to explain the reason for our hope with gentleness and reverence.

Sometimes we may be misunderstood and have to suffer for our trust in Jesus – suffer for doing good. When that happens, we must willingly join our suffering to that of Jesus who suffered for our sins so that he could lead us to our God.

As we continue to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and look forward to celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, let us remember how closely we are united to Jesus. Let us renew our commitment to letting Jesus live more fully in us. Then let us gently and reverently share with others the reason for our hope.

Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 14, 2017)

Today’s Scripture readings tell us much about the new life we have received in baptism. Peter tells us: we are chosen by our God to be a royal priesthood, to be God’s holy people.

We are living stones built on Jesus our cornerstone. As a community, we are to be a spiritual house in which we share in the priesthood of Jesus. With Jesus, we are to offer spiritual sacrifices to praise our God who has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. We are carrying out one of our priestly duties here this morning as we offer our Father this memorial of Jesus’ death and rising.

We heard Jesus tell us: don’t be anxious about anything. We are to put our faith and trust in him; he is the way and the truth and the life. He is leading us home to his Father’s house where he has prepared a place to us.

The words of Scripture are the living word of God. God is telling us the truth about ourselves, as he created us and redeemed us in Jesus God’s word is also gracing us to live out that truth, as an expression of our thanks.

Today’s Scriptures also remind us that Jesus can be a stumbling block for us at times. The truth Jesus tells us will call us to move beyond our self-interest and concern and reach out in love to everyone who crosses the path of our life. It isn’t always easy to see the people we meet each day as opportunities to love as Jesus loves us. The difficult people we meet offer us a graced opportunity to welcome them into our spiritual house where they can experience God’s loving compassion and mercy through us.

We have been given wonderful gifts by our baptism. Our mission is to use our gifts to do the work of Jesus: to bring our Father’s love to every corner of our world.

Let us be renewed in this Eucharist today, for Jesus comes to fill us more deeply with his life and love. Then he will bless us and send us forth to carry out his mission this week.

Fourth Sunday Of Easter (May 7, 2017)

Today’s Gospel reading speaks of Jesus as the shepherd who calls his sheep by name and leads them out to pasture. He is also the gate of the sheepfold. All who enter through him will “have life and have it more abundantly.” Our relationship with Jesus allows us a place of refuge, a place where we will always find nourishment and safety. Jesus has called us by name so we are able then to recognize his voice.

What does that mean in terms of our daily living? Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows us by name, and he wants us to know him in the same way that he knows his Father, and his Father knows him. He knows and loves us intimately, and he gives us the grace to know and love him in the same way.

We learn to do this by taking the time each day to listen to his voice. He speaks to us in the Scriptures, in our worship, in our personal prayer, and in the people and events that are part of our daily lives. St. Francis de Sales calls this process learning to let Jesus live in us. As we let ourselves be led by the voice of Jesus,

Jesus lives in us more and more - and the new life that he shares with us becomes the source from which we live each day. The power that flows from his death and rising transforms our self-centeredness into out-reaching love for one another. More and more, we become the love of God incarnated in our world.

Because we hear Jesus’ voice, we are able to be more patient in our suffering. We are able to look at Jesus’ own experience of suffering and learn from him how to accept our own. He left us an example. He trusted in his Father’s love for him and knew that his Father was with him no matter what he was doing. He listened for his Father’s voice and found refuge in his love.

In the sacrament of Baptism, Jesus called us by name and made us part of his flock. What a wonderful gift we have been given in our baptism! May we learn to take hold of that gift each day and nurture its growth through prayer and generous love. Let us take joy in the fact that Jesus is leading us to abundance of life with him - an abundance that will be complete in eternity.

Third Sunday of Easter (April 30, 2017)

In today’s Gospel Luke gives us a feel for the disciples’ encounter with the risen Jesus. He also gives us the essentials for a Christian liturgy. Once the Scriptures have been opened and the bread has been broken and shared, the eyes of the disciples who have gathered are opened ever wider and once again Jesus is recognized among us. We are so moved in our faith by this encounter that we rush out to share the good news we have come to recognize more clearly as word and sacrament were celebrated.

Notice the disciples’ remark: “Were not our hearts burning inside us as he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” Their words indicate an eagerness and an openness to listening to whatever Jesus was saying to them. That attitude of openness and eagerness to listening to Jesus’ words allowed their hearts to be touched by what they heard.

We have to bring that same attitude of openness and eagerness to listen to our celebration. We have to be attentive to the Scriptures readings for they are the living word of God, meant to teach us about our lives and how God is working in them.

We also have to come to each celebration of Eucharist with an active faith, believing that Jesus is present, offering himself to the Father for our sins and feeding us with his Body and Blood to strengthen us on our journey.

It’s very easy for all of us to come to Eucharist out of routine and forget that we encounter our God in the celebration. The more alive our faith is as we celebrate, the deeper the word of God can speak to us and the more fully we are nourished. We will be able to experience what the disciples on the road experienced - our hearts burning within us as Jesus speaks to us and nourishes us.

Perhaps, then, we will feel a greater urgency to share the good news we have experienced in faith-filled, Jesus-filled living.

Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, is the Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center.

Second Sunday of Easter (April 23, 2017)

With the reading of Peter’s First Letter, we are invited to join the whole Church in offering praise to our heavenly Father for his great mercy, shown to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Through God’s mercy, we draw new life from the resurrection of Jesus and partake already in eternal life. Through his mercy, we already possess an imperishable inheritance. We are also reminded of the cost of this new life - the death of Jesus on the Cross - a death we too must share in. This new life that we celebrate will pass repeatedly through the cycle of death to new life. Each new suffering that we experience can lead us to a new experience of Jesus’ resurrection.

We have been encouraged to appreciate the description of the early Jerusalem community as a model for our own experience as a faith community. We all know from our experience that these expectations are not easily achieved. Each of us individually and all of us together must learn to share all things in common - including suffering, patience, forgiveness, and love. All of these are the marks of the crucified Jesus that we must learn to bear in order to bring about the transformation needed to live as Jesus calls us to live.

The ability to do all this must rest on faith that Jesus lives within and among us and shares the power of his death and resurrection with us. The signs of Jesus’ scars are the human weaknesses we see among us. In those scars we can learn to acknowledge “My Lord and my God” as Thomas did.

The glory of resurrection is to be revealed through the weakness of human flesh. The hope held out to us by our faith reaches beyond reality and expects more than what is seen and what seems possible. This hope brings us through the daily deaths we need to experience to new glory and wonder at the power of the Lord Jesus to transform those who are willing to be transformed.

There is a cost to living as the Jerusalem community lived - the daily cost of dying to our self-interest and selfishness. But the cost is nothing compared to the joy and strength we can be for one another in a loving community of faith and hope. Our willingness to accept the daily death required to live our common life opens us to sharing in an ever-deeper way in the risen life of Jesus. May we praise the great mercy of our God by letting Jesus live in us more fully each day.

Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS, is the Executive Director of the De Sales Spirituality Center.