Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13 (R/. cf. 1); Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35
Today’s Gospel begins, “When Judas had left them…” We are at the Last Supper with Jesus, a few hours before he will be arrested, tried, condemned, and killed. Following today’s Gospel is Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial. Living between betrayal and denial, in his darkest hour, Jesus speaks of his glorification. By his suffering, death, and resurrection, God will be glorified and God will glorify Jesus. Jesus came for this “hour”. At the dawn of this “hour,” Jesus gives a new commandment: to love as he has loved, to give ourselves completely for each other, mirroring the love that Jesus has for all his disciples, past, present, and future. The meaning of life, then, is to be found giving and receiving love.
How are you called this week to bring the love of Christ to others?
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; John 10:14; John 10:27-30
The oldest image of Jesus found in the early church is the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd carrying home on his shoulders a lost sheep. The image of the Good Shepherd is the most common of the symbolic representations of Christ found in Early Christian art in the Catacombs of Rome, before Christian imagery could be made explicit. The images portrayed Jesus with a big smile on his face as he carried around his neck a very large sheep. The joy on the shepherd’s face was palpable. Today Jesus speaks of how the sheep know his voice, so they follow him. He takes them to eternal life. This eternal life is the destiny of those who follow the Good Shepherd, hear his call to live in communion with him, and carry out what he has taught them. The most comforting promise is found in his words, “No one can take them out of my hands.” Just like that shepherd who firmly carried his sheep around his neck, Jesus holds on to us and does not let us go. Jesus is not boasting here, but he himself knows that the Father has entrusted us to him, and he participates in the strength of the Father because they are one.
Do you need the Good Shepherd to rescue you from any particular danger or threat?
Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41; Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21: 1-19 or 21: 1-14
Easter offers believers a profile to live into, inviting us to live our faith in particular ways. Acts calls us to be as courageous in our own day as Peter and the apostles were in theirs, fearlessly witnessing to Jesus Christ, and not being ashamed to speak of our relationship with him. This does not mean battering people with our beliefs in a way that disrespects or condemns. Nevertheless, we are called to speak out when we have a chance to witness to Jesus as our Savior. Years ago (1975), in a letter calling all in the Church to evangelize, that is, to bring the Gospel to others (Evangelii Nuntiandi), Pope Paul VI wrote that the modern person listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he or she does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. The best witness we can give is when we respond to Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel. After Simon assures Jesus he loves him, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” Love for Christ flows over into a life lived in love.
How can you witness to Jesus this week by “feeding his sheep?”
Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 (R/. 1); Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20:29; John 20:19-31
Easter has escaped the busyness that surrounds Christmas: shopping, parties, get-togethers. In addition, when one thinks of Easter music, hymns and oratories come to mind, since there are only a few Easter songs. There seems to be something so sacred about this feast that even the merchandisers have refrained from commercializing it for the most part. Nevertheless, we do not want to forget that Easter reminds us of the gifts the risen Lord Jesus brings. We hear about them in the Gospel today. To the frightened apostles, locked into the upper room, Jesus suddenly appears with gifts that release them from their fears. First, he gives the God’s peace (shalom), that is, all God’s blessings that can enrich human life. Then he breathes the Holy Spirit on them, empowering them to offer God’s forgiveness to all who seek it. Finally, he gives to Thomas, and to all followers, the gift of faith in him as Lord and God. To live at peace with God and others, to have the capacity to forgive and receive forgiveness, and to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, these are Easter’s gifts to us.
How will you make use of these gifts this Easter season?
11Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.g12* Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.h Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
22You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end* will be saved.
1 Peter 4:12-16
12Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.g13But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.h14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.i15But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer.16But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.
1 Peter 2:11-12
11* Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners* to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.j12Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation.