May 28, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 1:12-14

After Jesus had been taken up to Heaven the apostles
returned to Jerusalem
from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem,
a Sabbath day’s journey away.

When they entered the city
they went to the upper room where they were staying,
Peter and John and James and Andrew,
Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew,
James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot,
and Judas son of James.
All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer,
together with some women,
and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

How beautiful is it that the Apostles were bonded because of prayer.  So many of us do not recognize the power of prayer.  It is what makes us strong and directly connects us to God.  It is what keeps our spirits alive and adds hope and peace to our lives.  It is our souls’ oxygen.  As said here, it unifies people through the Holy Spirit in each of us.  Prayer brings God and drives out fear.

Reading 2 1 Pt 4:13-16

Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,
so that when His glory is revealed
you may also rejoice exultantly.
If you are insulted for the Name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests upon you.
But let no one among you be made to suffer
as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer.
But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed
but glorify God because of the Name.

This is such a positive way to look at persecutions due to being Christian.  Our suffering makes us like Christ because He suffered.  Therefore, we may rejoice even more because of the pain.  God is with those that suffer for Him, and we should not be embarrassed.  The Holy Spirit comes to those that are ridiculed and mocked because of God.  We need to take this strength and glorify Him through the pain and confusion.  Maybe it is because you are saving yourself for marriage, don’t drink, don’t curse, talk about church “too much”, pray in public.  Whatever it may be, remember God sees it and will reward it, maybe not in this life but in the one to come.

Gospel Jn 17:1-11a

Jesus raised His Eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to Your Son, so that Your Son may glorify You,
just as You gave Him authority over all people,
so that Your Son may give eternal life to all You gave Him.
Now this is eternal life,
that they should know You, the only true God,
and the One whom You sent, Jesus Christ.
I glorified You on earth
by accomplishing the work that You gave me to do.
Now glorify Me, Father, with You,
with the glory that I had with You before the world began.

“I revealed Your Name to those whom You gave Me out of the world.
They belonged to You, and You gave them to Me,
and they have kept Your Word.
Now they know that everything You gave Me is from You,
because the words You gave to Me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from You,
and they have believed that You sent Me.
I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones You have given Me,
because they are Yours, and everything of Mine is Yours
and everything of Yours is Mine,
and I have been glorified in them.
And now I will no longer be in the world,
but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

Is it beautiful to see Jesus’ devotion to the Father.  This is our Model.  We are supposed to love the Father how Jesus does.  He wants to do God’s work and be completely connected to Him.  It is a complete, intimate love that only comes from having God intertwined in your whole being.  The part about Jesus praying for us gives me chills.  JESUS PRAYS FOR US.  How crazy that He thinks about, cares about, and loves us so much.  We are in the world while He left.  We are called to be His representation while He is with our Father.

May 25, 2017, the Ascension of the Lord

Reading 1 Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day He was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom He had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after He had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with them,
Heenjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard Me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked Him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by His Own Authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When He had said this, as they were looking on,
He was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as He was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus Who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Jesus told the Apostles that it is not for them to know the times or seasons the Father established.  This goes for us as well.  How often do we question God and want to know what and when things are going to happen.  We must know and trust God that even though events are not always revealed to us, He is working it all together for our good.  The Apostles were going to be Jesus’ witnesses all over to the ends of the earth. We need to be mirrors of Christ all over to all people, too.  We need to cover all the ends and expose parts of darkness that need the light.  All parts of the world thirst for Jesus, whether it is because they have heard so little about Him or because they reject Him but need to rehear His Message.

Jesus is retuning to us, and we have to remember we are never alone.  He left earth but gave us the Holy Spirit.  If there is ever distance between us and God, it is because of us.  He goes out of His way to make sure His Presence is in this world is near, and we just have to be open.  It is comforting to know Jesus is coming back for us because we have not been abandoned and are constantly being thought of.

Reading 2 Eph 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of Him.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to His Call,
what are the riches of glory
in His inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of His Power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of His great Might,
which He worked in Christ,
raising Him from the dead
and seating Him at His right Hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And He put all things beneath His Feet
and gave Him as Head over all things to the church,
which is His Body,
the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.

I need a Spirit of wisdom and revelation.  I want to be smart, make good decisions, and see God in this world.  Knowledge of Him is all of our lives’ goals.  Knowing Him and making Him known is more important than any degree, career, spouse, title, raise, etc.  Knowing Him more makes life easier and gives us guidance and direction on where to go and what to do.   Having the eyes of my heart enlightened would mean that I get to remove everything that clouds me from fully seeing God when He is right in front of my face.  There is hope in His call to us and meaning behind what He is telling us to do.  We are promised an inheritance and to know His Power and Might.  Facing the Creator’s Power and Might seems overwhelming but at the same time thrilling and awe-inspiring.  That same Power that raised Jesus from the dead is the Power within us, fills us, and keeps us alive.

Gospel Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw Him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” 

We need to worship whole-heartedly and never doubt during.  We need to let go of anything that holds us back from fully giving ourselves to Him in worship.  Only after being fully open to the Lord can we go and bring people to Him.  This is a command.  We have the responsibility to teach people all Jesus’ teachings.  Our lives belong to Him, and we have to give back to Him what He gave to us.  He cares so much about us that after giving us this task, He reminds us that He is always with us no matter what until the end of time.

May 21, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem
heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,
they sent them Peter and John,
who went down and prayed for them,
that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
for It had not yet fallen upon any of them;
they had only been baptized in the nNme of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them
and they received the Holy Spirit.

I want to be like Philip.  I want to proclaim Christ to all people.  Samarians and Jewish people did not get along in those days so it was brave for Philip to teach about Jesus there.  There are places and times when it is easy and comfortable to speak about Jesus and religion.  Those times may rejuvenate and re-energize our faith, but what about the situations that are awkward or uncomfortable to talk about faith?  Do we push on or hide behind the fear?  We must go out and save souls despite the possible rejection, insults, or hate.  After Philip spoke and people accepted the Word, other disciples followed. We should all be the trail blazer that paves the way for people to bring the Spirit to those that do not know Jesus.  Once that first person moves out in faith, people will surely follow.

Reading 2 1 Pt 3:15-18

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once,
the Righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that He might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
He was brought to life in the Spirit.

What is the lord of your heart? Is it Christ or is it that boy you like, work, booze, friends, being popular, getting good grades?  What reigns in you and dictates your life’s choices? Let go of everything else if the answer is not Christ.  Only when He is at the top of the priority list will anything else make sense.  If He is at the middle or bottom, you will feel like you constantly are just going through the motions to reach happiness or just miss the mark every time even though you seemed so close.  That is because if Christ is missing, truth and happiness can never fully be found.

Christianity should be attractive to those that don’t believe.  We should be ambassadors of Christ and should be a joyful people.  We should stand out, and the reason for that is our hope.  Christian hope is different because it is anchored in Christ, Who never fails and always keeps His promises.  We need to desire to tell people about Him and should be willing and ready to speak of this hope when people ask.  If we live our lives how we are supposed to, people will ask why and how we are so happy in all situations.

As Christians we should also be aware of the suffering we my go through.  It could be because we are Christians or it may just be part of our lives.  God is always with us and never leaves us so if we remember that, nothing I mean nothing can destroy us.  He is always talking and saving,  We just have to listen and trust.

Gospel Jn 14:15-21

Jesus said to His disciples:
“If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows Him.
But you know Him, because He remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see Me,
but you will see Me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in My Father
and you are in Me and I in you.
Whoever has My commandments and observes them
is the one who loves Me.
And whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father,
and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.”

We must obey Jesus’ Commandments.  How many times a day I sin is sad to think about.  We become so accustomed to it that our conscience lessens the effects.  We train ourselves to think our sins aren’t so bad.  When put in these terms, it all becomes more serious and makes sense again.  We must follow these commands to show our love for Jesus.  When we don’t, we are literally saying we don’t love You.  I never want Jesus to think that.  How simple it is to follow these commands for Someone that gave His Life for me.  Why do we make it so complex ?  It should be simple common sense that there should never be another option than to follow Him.  Jesus will reveal Himself to us if we follow what He says, and that is what we all long for.

Because Jesus lives, we will live.  Life is dead without Christ.  There is so much more spark, joy, and vibrancy with Him in life than without Him.  We are nothing without Him and are only here because of Him.  But because He lives, we are alive and need to be grateful we have this life.  We must show it, too.  We should not carry ourselves in a mopey, sad, or angry way rather in a way that is super alive and upbeat, recognizing that without Christ, we would not even be here.


May 14, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 6:1-7

As the number of disciples continued to grow,
the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews
because their widows
were being neglected in the daily distribution.
So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said,
“It is not right for us to neglect the Word of God to serve at table.
Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men,
filled with the Spirit and wisdom,
whom we shall appoint to this task,
whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer
and to the ministry of the Word.”
The proposal was acceptable to the whole community,
so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit,
also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas,
and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They presented these men to the apostles
who prayed and laid hands on them.
The word of God continued to spread,
and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly;
even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

I want to be like these people – devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.  How many things I seem to be devoted to that are not God’s.  I want to influence people to come to Christ.  It gives me great joy to hear that the number of disciples increased greatly because I want more people in this day and age to become disciples.  I always think how different the world would be if more people followed Jesus.  Obedience to faith is the cure for evil.  It is a beautiful thing to see the discipline and dedication of people to God, and I strive for my life to be an example of that to those that do not yet know His Love.

Reading 2 1 Pt 2:4-9

Come to Him, a Living Stone, rejected by human beings
but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
and, like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For it says in Scripture:
Behold, I am laying a Stone in Zion,
a Cornerstone, chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in It shall not be put to shame.

Therefore, Its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith:
The Stone that the builders rejected
has become the Cornerstone, and

A Stone that will make people stumble,
and a Rock that will make them fall.

They stumble by disobeying the Word, as is their destiny.

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people of His Own,
so that you may announce the praises” of Him
Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful Light. 

Jesus was rejected by humans yet is the most important Being to ever live.  Although people rejected Him, God saw Him as precious.  That is what we need to remember when we are rejected.  God sees us differently than those people that do not recognize our value and worth.  We need to keep that in our hearts, and we have to know we are never alone because Jesus was publicly rejected by many many people.  He understands us in that way.  We need to always profess how great He is as His people.  We are chosen and see the Light.  Since we are set apart, we must act different and stand out from those that turned their backs on Him.

Gospel Jn 14:1-12

Jesus said to His disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in Me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to Myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know Me, Philip?
Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in Me is doing His works.
Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in Me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

There are times when we question Jesus and ask what He’s doing and where He’s going, but we have to have faith.  We must continue to know that Jesus is preparing a place for us as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is the Answer to it all – when we do not know where to turn, what to do, or how to go.  Follow Him and find the path that is waiting for you.  Once our faith is strong enough, we will not constantly doubt or question what’s next or feel lost. Believing in Jesus leads to doing good works as He does.  He passes on the responsibility of doing these works, and this task is for us to serve God and keep Him in the world.

May 7, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

The line about saving yourselves from this corrupt generation really stood out to me.  The words jumped out because of the relevance they have to modern day society.  Many many people have fallen away from their faith, and others even view religion as “bad”.  There is an apathetic view toward religion, and people simply do not care.  Not only is this generation spiritually lazy, but they are moving to a lifestyle that is opposite of God.  There seems to be more of a culture that is into pleasure and instant gratification – sex, drugs, alcohol, cheating, lying, stealing….  Do what you want and do what feels good is pretty much the motto.

We need a different motto.  We need saving.  Repenting is step 1, and accepting Jesus into our hearts is next.  Saving souls can come after that because just like that day when 3,000 were baptized, we can bring others to Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Reading 2 1 Pt 2:20b-25

If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an Example that you should follow in His Footsteps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His Mouth.

When He was insulted, He returned no insult;
when He suffered, He did not threaten;
instead, He handed Himself over to the One who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in His Body upon the cross,
so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By His Wounds you have been healed.
For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Patience while suffering.  That is something I definitely need to learn.  I complain, worry, stress, and question things because I want to know why I am suffering and how to fix it immediately.  That waiting period psyches and freaks me out to the point where it eats me away.  It becomes my idol, and I tend to only think/focus on the suffering.  I let it take me down and away from God.  It is consuming, and I try to do it all on my own.  I need to instead look to the cross where our Savior healed all suffering.  His suffering allows me to know I am not alone in mine and gives a perfect Example of how not to sin yet still glorify God through the pain.  Rather than only looking to the hurt, I need to break down my walls and allow myself to be brought back to my Guardian.  Only then can my soul fully be restored.

Gospel Jn 10:1-10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what He was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the Gate for the sheep.
All who came before Me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the Gate.
Whoever enters through Me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

We must follow Jesus.  He is the One that will bring us to where we need to be.  Many people/things will try to steer us in one direction or another, but we have to spend enough time in prayer and contemplation to know God’s Voice.  We need to recognize Him and pick Him out of the cloud of voices that attempt to lead us astray.  Jesus is the only Way to true life.  He came so we might live more abundantly.  When you’re looking for happiness, you’re looking for Jesus.  How many things promise us happiness if we just buy this or sell this or eat this or watch this…The list goes on, but there will always be an empty void waiting to be filled.  It can be filled for a while, but nothing will actually satisfy us.  Jesus is the Answer for that loving-life spirit and soul-filled attitude.

April 30, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 2:14, 22-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
You who are Israelites, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazarene was a Man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify Him.
But God raised Him up, releasing Him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for Him to be held by it.
For David says of Him:
I saw the Lord ever before me,
with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

“My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did His flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
He received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father
and poured Him forth, as you see and hear.”

Death could not hold Jesus.  Isn’t it amazing that the God we serve is above even death.  If that can’t stop Him, nothing can.  So why are we so concerned about menial things in our lives as if God can’t handle them? Of course He will provide and take care of us.  Therefore we should be glad and joyful.  Our hearts should be singing and our voices praising at the fact that God is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present.  I find myself sad, lonely, confused, hurt, and distraught over things in life, but we should never let those things truly bring us down or away from God.  Our negative feelings/emotions should never take God off His throne.  When we keep Him on the throne, there is one place to look instead of looking around in 100 different directions that take us away from our King.

Reading 2 1 Pt 1:17-21

If you invoke as Father Him who judges impartially
according to each one’s works,
conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,
realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.

He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through Him believe in God
who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God. 

Our lives have been bought at a high price.  This is no joke or cheap deal.  This is Jesus’ Life.  How easy is it to sin? and how often do we do it? When I think about Jesus being tortured and murdered for me, I am disgusted with how much I sin.  We should never think of religion as a set of rules, but it’s about love.  Love for Someone Who died for us to be with us and to stop us from turning our backs to Him.  This innocent Victim died so that I might have life, and wow do I take that for granted.  Reverence during sojourning is key.  We must be aware of this sacrifice, and it should show in our daily lives.  This love that Jesus has for us should be obvious to those around us.  We need to remember how serious it is that Jesus took on our sins and not think of it lightly.  It is easy to think of it as just something that happened or not think of it as deeply since we’ve always heard about it, but that’s not right.  I’ve realized I need to think more often and more seriously how grave an act it was for Him to come die for me.

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 bread.

Jesus is always with us, but we often miss Him or do not recognize Him.  He is in the people we meet, ourselves, the nature around us, songs, etc.  He is everywhere yet so many times we do not feel close to God.  It’s a shame that we miss moments with Him or do not see Him when He is right in front of us.  How much more joyful life would be if we stepped away and breathed in the Holy Spirit, allowing us to recognize our Lord in the moments where we are busy, distracted, or self-centered.

This story especially speaks to me in relation to the Eucharist.  We need to make the Eucharist the Center of our lives.  This is the breaking of the bread.  Here is the place where Jesus is present and we get to experience Him in a way like no other.  This should be so sacred to us and should heal, nourish, and strengthen us each week (or more often).  The same Jesus that appeared to the men walking on this road is the Jesus we receive at Mass, and that is life altering.

April 23, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves
to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life,
to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone,
and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common;
they would sell their property and possessions
and divide them among all according to each one’s need.
Every day they devoted themselves
to meeting together in the temple area
and to breaking bread in their homes.
They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.
And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

I think this reading is so beautiful because it reminds me of how simple life can be when we just devote ourselves fully to God.  When we pray, join together in worship, and actually put faith as the number 1 priority in our lives, life is serene.  I crave that peace these people must have had with God as their main Focus.  Materialism and selfishness did not take over, and God saved souls through them.  It leads me to think how many more people I could bring to the Lord if I stepped back and really let go of everything obstructing my path to Him.  It would not take so much effort to make me happy because time praising and thanking God is pure bliss.  We may not believe we can wonders an signs like the Apostles, but that is not true.  Through us, God can perform miracles and accomplish many deeds that can change people’s hearts and souls.  We just have to believe and fully grasp that word devoted.  I feel as though my commitment level can always increase, and I can become even more dedicated to God.  I just think how much time do we spend chasing checks, boys, that summer body, A’s…..

Reading 2 1 Pt 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen Him you love Him;
even though you do not see Him now yet believe in Him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Because of Jesus’ Resurrection, we have a new birth and hope.  We are reborn and are of a new creation.  We do not have to be the same sinful people that we were, and we have an inheritance to look toward.  One that is safeguarded and unchanging because Jesus opened the way for us that was once locked.  Although life comes with a package of trials and sufferings, it is this hope and faith that gets us through.  The fact that we know our reward will be sweet makes the pain less harsh and bitter.  We have something amazing and glorious to look forward to, and we should forever be rejoicing.  Our faith needs to be genuine though otherwise it becomes robotic.  You feel as if it is a job and something you have to work at to make work meanwhile it should be the most natural thin in your life.  This is what is saving our souls, and that should not be taken lightly.

Loving and believing in something without seeing it takes courage and effort because we might be wrong.  The difference is that with Jesus, our love and beliefs are not wrong.  We have this love and belief without seeing Him, yet it is so strong.  We know this is true, and that is so powerful, beyond words.  The fact that Jesus’ story carries on after 2,000 years is unfathomable and shows there is strength in His Name.

Gospel Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When He had said this, He showed them His Hands and His Side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in His Hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into His Side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later His disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see My Hands,
and bring your hand and put it into My Side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen Me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in His Name.

Do you doubt God?  We have questioned Him and where He was and why things were happening and when we don’t feel His Presence, but why don’t we more easily trust and believe?  We should not be like Thomas, but we should take Jesus’ advice and be believing.  It may be hard in those moments of pain and despair, but this story is a prime example that God is always doing and working for our benefit even when we do not see it.  There is so much more than meets the eye.  We are so finite, and God is so infinite that there is no need to fret and worry.  Worry is sinful, not holy.  The only fear we should have is not being as close to God as we possibly can.  The first step is to let down our guard and let Him into all spaces where there may be darkness.  Honesty and opening up in prayer comes next because once you see God’s Presence more in your life, the doubt subsides and things begin to make sense.  Let the Holy Spirit come into your soul, and you will have a change of heart.

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with Him.
We are witnesses of all that He did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.
This Man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that He is the One appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To Him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in Him
will receive forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

We need to be like the Apostles and preach about Jesus to all people.  We are commissioned as they were because we, too, are witnesses of Christ.  We may not be with Him in His earthly Bodily Form, but we are witnesses of His mystical Body, the Church.  It is an honor although some may think it is a burden.  But what an honor to be given the responsibility to spread God’s Love.  The fact that He wants to use us is something to savor.  We should not keep Him to ourselves, but we need to go out into the world and make Him known.  Because of Him, our sins are forgiven.  Wiped away and clean.  If people truly believed this message, so many more souls would be saved.  There is no need to beat ourselves up and remove ourselves from God because we feel ashamed, rather Jesus heals the wound and is the Bridge to the Father.

Reading 2 Col 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right Hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with Him in glory.

Seeking what is above is difficult.  There is so much noise and fog that clouds our heads, minds, hearts, and souls.  So much stress results from us looking around instead of looking up.  We constantly want and claim we need things of the world because our focus is skewed.  We are not on the right track and become distracted by materialism, lust, drunkenness, gluttony, pride, anger.  We have these thoughts about what our lives are supposed to look like and in that we lose God.  God is where our meaning and purpose comes from, and nothing else will quench our thirst or satisfy us until we detach ourselves from the earthly things.  There is a certain peace that comes from looking up and above because only then do we find ourselves and what we are supposed to be, Christ’s mirror.

Gospel Jn 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put Him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered His Head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that He had to rise from the dead. 

How great a joy Easter produces! A time when we become more alive.  It is the start of such a happy season.  We are no longer slaves chained down by our sins but a people whose Savior defeated death.  Now death is not the end but a new beginning.  Jesus destroyed sin as well because all of our sin and suffering was on the cross with Him.  We can now be fully alive and know the end is not Good Friday.  There is more.  This is why we have hope, a hope that never fails.  It is the anchor to the soul.  The reason we continue to live.  Everything else in our lives should reflect Easter.  We are saved and remade, and we should act this way.  No longer do we have an excuse to keep sinning, and we are different.  We are whole and changed all because God came down in the form of man and gave up His Life in order that we may have life. Wow. Thank you, Jesus.  I never want to let the Easter miracle become just something I know.  I want to live it, love it, and promote it.

Good Friday, April 14, 2017

Reading 1 Is 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

This passage pretty much sums up Good Friday.  Jesus is a King, but no one believed He was a King while on earth because He did not resemble earthly kings.  Many people avoided and disregarded Him, thinking He was nothing of importance or special.  This is a lesson learned that what you see does not tell the full story because He stunned many people.  Jesus is the greatest of all Kings, but people did not care to give Him a chance because He was not rich or gaudy or taking control and making people follow Him.  We cannot just judge by appearance and looks because there is so much more than meets the eye.

Why was Jesus on the cross? Simple. Because of our sins.  Not Herod, not Pilate, not the Jewish people…..we killed Jesus.  He without sin took the weight of the world and surrendered because He loves us.  Because we turn away from God, Jesus came to heal us and our brokenness. It’s the best love story of all time.  All of our sins and wounds were hung on that cross, and He took away our sins.  We are free, and the bonds are broken.  We no longer are slaves to sin because of Jesus’ humility to take on our sins and save.  Jesus saves.

Reading 2 Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

In the days when Christ was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.  

So many of us complain saying that no one understand what they’re going through or that God doesn’t get it because He is God.  But guess what.  God has already gone through every possible struggle, trial, pain, problem, etc. that you have experienced.  He is not a distant God that merely looks down on us; He came down to be with us and like us.  He was tempted, mocked, ridiculed, tortured, shamed, and made a spectacle.  Therefore, He is able to understand, and we can go to Him with anything and everything with pure honesty.  There is no reason to hold back because wouldn’t you want Someone who has already experienced it to give you the advice on what to do.  It provides a sense of comfort that He already knows the answer and has examples on what He did.  This helps us because He is perfect so is a Model of behavior for us to follow.

We should learn His reverence.  It is so humble and graceful that He had so much reverence for His Father as we should.  Something else to admire and follow is Jesus’ learning obedience through suffering.  How much we complain through every step of suffering, but here we can learn to find what God is teaching us through suffering rather than complain.  This is true obedience.

Gospel Jn 18:1—19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, ”
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
“Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered,
“I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said,
“I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave’s name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
“I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said.”
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
“Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him,
“If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
“You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said,
“I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
“What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him,
“If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him,
“We do not have the right to execute anyone, ”
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered,
“Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered,
“I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered,
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,
“Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered,
“You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
“I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again,
“Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
Pilate answered,
“What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, ”
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.

This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.

Here I am going to talk about Peter.  I always used to think it was so awful and disgusting how he denies Jesus.  I still do, but now I recognize where I deny Jesus in my own life as well.  When we avoid speaking about God when we have clear opportunities or when we tone down our passion for the Lord because the situation may be uncomfortable.  How about not only sin of omission but when we just flat out do not do what we should.  We love Jesus when we love our brother, but sometimes we hurt our brother.  This hurts Jesus.  We should grow stronger in faith, and it should be the thing we are most proud of.  We should never want to evade a conversation about our Savior; we should be eager to tell people about Him.  Think: how often do you tell people about that boy/girl you like?  I’m sure you could go on for hours.  Or the times when you stand up for your friends and don’t hold back at all….it is the same with Jesus.  He is your Lover, Best Friend, Everything.

Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reading 1 Ex 12:1-8, 11-14

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel:
On the tenth of this month every one of your families
must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month,
and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

Isn’t it crazy that they are just talking about an animal here yet Jesus is the Lamb that was slain.  It is so barbaric how He died, and it can be related to the killing of the lamb for Passover.  Jesus was the Scapegoat/the Sacrifice for our sins, and it is His Blood that saves us just like the lamb’s blood saved the Israelites years ago.  It makes me sad that Jesus was slaughtered in such a barbaric way, and it should only be carried out for animals let alone the Savior of the universe.  We are set aside, special, because of Jesus’ Blood, and for this, we should sacrifice everything in our lives to make sure this is remembered and celebrated.

Reading 2 1 Cor 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

This reading reminds me of the Consecration at Mass.  It is such a holy moment that I think too often many of us take for granted.  It is the time when the bread and wine become Jesus’ actual Body and Blood.  We are entering the table of the Lord and are commanded to take part in the scene that He instituted the night before He was killed.  We should come to Mass with true joy knowing we are with God through the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the Medicine and Healer of the world, and I was once told It is like radiation because It saves people from the illness/disease of sin and anything else.  The Mass should be a holy, pure, and inspiring time to rejuvenate and re-energize for the week ahead.  It is also the most important Prayer and closest time with God while still on this earth.  The Eucharist should be a Center in our lives and revered as Jesus would be if He was walking in the streets.

Gospel Jn 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

I need to be cleaned and purified by God.  I love the washing of the feet because it is so humbling.  There is so much dirt and garbage in all of our lives that need to be cleaned out, maybe even scrubbed.  There’s that sin we keep committing, the pain from regret, the anger in our hearts…So much that can and will be wiped away by God only if we allow Him.  Much of the reason we continue to sin is due to fear or pride.  The fear comes from the fact that once you are clean, you have to stay clean and that is a lot of work.  Pride gets in the way of everything because we assume we know more than God.  Just like how Peter said he wanted more of him washed, not just his feet.  We think we know what we are doing or have a better plan, but God needs to be trusted with simplicity.

Jesus is the Model to follow.  He is a King yet acts like a Servant.  This is a lesson for us.  We need to serve in order to love like Christ.  We need to give ourselves and listen when He says to do as He does.  We wander all over life and question what we should be doing, but the answer is right in front of us.  It’s so nice that we do not have to figure it out all on our own; Jesus is the Example.  Each day every decision should legit ask WWJD because He is perfect, and that should be the Goal.