May 13th, 2022

The Gospel according to John (14:1-6)

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.”

Reflection

Today’s gospel reading is my favorite gospel. I use it almost exclusively at ever funeral I do throughout the year. It is a gospel of great promise, comfort and hope.

Jesus begins this gospel with a personal challenge for each of us. Don’t be troubled over the death or loss of someone we know or love. But as we dig deeper into those few words we see the challenge is not about focusing on the loss but upon the gift of eternal life. Have faith Jesus says. Have hope because here is what is prepared for you as you come home to Me and my Father. The promise in today’s gospel applies to everyone who hears the voice of the good shepherd.

So many times I think we loose sight of what we are working towards in life. We forget that everything we do either prepares us to live eternal life with God or we choose a path that allows us to drift away and forget about the promise Jesus tells us in the gospel today. Life many times can be a distraction from heaven. Life also gets messy and we don’t have to look very hard to see that messiness in our world today. 

In my own life it has been sad for me to have to say goodbye to my parents and in-laws. It has been hard to loose friends along the way as well. But the promise of the gospel today reminds me that there is hope and a promise that we will see each other again and when we do, it will be forever. 

So how do we apply this gospel in today’s world? While we walk through our crazy world and work on ourselves, striving for that prize of heaven, we have to stop, look and ponder the question of how did our world get to where it is today. Why is there so much conflict, anger, hate and selfishness? We are called to not loose hope, not loose faith, that Jesus and the Father have a plan for us that will bring us to heaven at the end of our journey. But in the meantime we all have a mission here and that is to serve others and help diminish the anger pain and suffering we come across.

I find great comfort in Jesus’ words in this gospel. He says that He will come back and take us – you and me – to Himself and to the place He has prepared in heaven. Remember that it was Jesus who said this, not an apostle or prophet so there cannot be any mistake or false promise! Jesus wants us to live with Him and other faithful members forever in His house. We are blest to be called into that wonderful relationship with Jesus and all we must do in life is trust Him, serve Him and listen to Him in our daily prayer.

Remember that if we simply walk with and follow Jesus we will see the Father and all those who have faithfully gone before us. What an amazing promise to look forward to.

Action:

Take a few minutes today to sit and reflect on all your family and friends that are now at home in heaven. Try and see their faces glowing in God’s presence and how they wait for the day that we join them. See how happy and peaceful they are. 

Audio Reflection:

May 12th, 2022

The Holy Gospel according to John (13:16-20)

When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, the one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Reflection: Are you afraid of suffering and betrayal? How would you feel if one of your closest friends, one whom you loved dearly – wife or husband or child, goes around telling rumors about you, that everyone believed and looked at you with disgust? If you knew from the very start that that person would do such a terrible thing, would you allow him/her to be in your circle of family or friends in the first place?

Amidst our love and concern for someone, our hearts are often times tested; pierced by a thing called rejection. It even becomes one of our greatest fears in loving freely, to be rejected. But we are called not to love only when it is convenient for us, or when everything is happy and ok, or when we are loved back. The challenge is to love WHEN we are rejected; to love even the most unlovable.

Jesus showed this to us when He loved, served, and ate with Judas even when He knew he would betray Him. And He teaches this to us every time He embraces us – despite our mistakes, pride, selfishness, and sins. Sometimes, we repeatedly reject Him, but He loved us to the point of the Cross.

To love like Jesus is love’s challenge to us. It is difficult, if not impossible, because of our human weaknesses and limitations. Sometimes, even our greatest or highest effort is not enough. But we have to give everything we can nonetheless because at this point, it would no longer be us, but Christ fighting for us, pouring His abounding, ever-flowing love, to others through us. In the end, we only need to trust Him. May we conquer our fears and may we love as He does.

Action of the Day: Love is redefined by Jesus as “service,” helping another person in need. As followers of Jesus the question that is always before us is “How can I serve?” This will answer the question, “How can I love.”

We travel the dusty roads of life. Along those roads we will have many opportunities to love, to serve.. There are times, however, when we will not love, not serve. The dust, dirt, and hate of the world will accumulate on our feet. We will need to come to Jesus and have our feet washed – this is the time we need the gift of the Sacrament of Confession – Reconciliation. In order to serve with great love, we must have a pure heart.  

Audio Reflection:

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May 11th, 2022

The Gospel according to John 12:44-50 

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.” 

Reflection: Have you ever ‘cried out’ about anything in your life? It’s not the same as weeping or as actually crying due to having felt extreme pain or even a feeling of a great loss in one’s life. Or how about this; to speak so as to be heard at a distance or she cried out for help. 

When we sin, we cry out for mercy. We are asking for God’s mercy at a time when we need it the most, “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.” Pope Francis calls Jesus the face of God’s mercy. We need to be merciful because we have already been shown mercy and loved because we’ve already been loved. 

The world cries out for justice and equality! Can we cry out for peace? 

Jesus is crying out in today’s Gospel to be heard. He wants everyone to know ‘why’ the Father has sent Him to us. We can always see better when there is light present and that’s why Jesus is the truth and the light. He cries out to lead those who have trapped themselves in the darkness of sin and disparity. 

The more we recognize sin for what it is, the more grateful we are for our redemption, accomplished by Jesus Christ. We cry out to Jesus for His help and His mercy and Jesus cries out so that we might hear him from afar. 

Action of the Day: This week start looking at each day at the end of your day.   Look to see where you have been the face of Christ as well as where you missed the opportunity to show God’s love and compassion.         

Audio Reflection:

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May 10th, 2022

The Gospel according to John (10:22-30) 

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem.
It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

Reflection:

Some years back, I went to see my niece perform in “Fiddler on the Roof” with a youth troupe. I don’t recall the role she played (but I am sure she was great – after all, she is my niece!).  The role of Teyve, the main male character was played by Deacon Frey, the son of Glenn Frey, who was in the music group the Eagles.  I happened to get to say hello to Glenn at intermission and recalled how amazed I was that he introduced himself just as “Glenn” (not “Glenn Frey from the Eagles”).  He seemed just like a regular person, happy to see his son in a play.  I probably had my own preconceived notion about what he would be like — you know, that he wouldn’t talk to a common person like me — but I was thankfully wrong!

I tell that story because I suspect that the Jews in today’s Gospel had their own idea about what the “Christ” would be like.  Doubtless, many of them looked for the Christ to be the one to overthrow their oppression by the Romans and be a new political leader, like King David.  Jesus was, after all, from David’s line.  It seems like very few of those Jews recognized Jesus for the Christ that He was – the suffering servant from Isaiah, who laid down His life for those who believe in Him.

How often do I expect Jesus to be something that He is not?  How often do I pray not for His Will, but that He will let *my* will be done?  Our own nature always wants our needs met ahead of (and maybe sometimes at the expense of) others.  That’s the nature that we fight against when we try to be good followers of Jesus.

The challenge during this Easter time is to stop listening to those who would lead us away from our Lord, and instead to pause and listen for His voice!  He is always there, leading us, but even more amazingly, He is right at our side, too.  He companions us, His sheep, through the path we follow in our lives, wanting only that we feel His love, that we share His love, and that we keep our eyes fixed on Him, so that we can receive the eternal life that He promises.  May we all see Jesus as the selfless, ever-loving Son of God who is our brother, and may we long to share His love and peace wherever we go!

Action for the Day:

Find a quiet moment today to listen for the voice of the Shepherd, calling you to follow Him, and then, go and be kind to someone for no reason at all.  You’ll be amazed at how good you will feel!

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below! 

May 9th, 2022

The Gospel according to John (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.”

Reflection: This reminds me of one of my favorite cartoons, although I had a lot of them, The Roadrunner. Wil-e Coyote was always attempting to be the thief or the robber in his attempt to capture the Roadrunner. That was his only goal in Wil-e-coyote’s life. In one of Wil-e attempts, he would sometimes put on a sheep costume to mimic a sheep. Of course, the Roadrunner was always smarter and would avoid situations.  Now isn’t this true in our own lives where there are so many “Shepherds” in our life that attempts to influence us one way or another? Some are good and some are not so good.  Oftentimes we can talk ourselves into believing that the many “voices” or influences that we encounter daily do not affect us.  We are pressured by the voice of the media, pop culture, love of money, a desire for recognition and so much more.  These are powerful influences and, whether we want to believe it or not, they do affect us. We must be aware of the false Shepherd’s that attempt to encompass our life.

The Gospel above gives us insight into this internal struggle in that it contrasts the voice of the Shepherd with the voice of a stranger.  The sheep are easily taught and conditioned.  They learn the voice of their shepherd because it was common practice for shepherds to regularly speak to their sheep.  Once the sheep became used to the shepherd’s voice, they would turn and follow him when he called. We will follow the voice of that which we are most familiar with. “What are you most familiar with?”  Ideally, we spend sufficient time in God’s Word, learning His language, tone and voice.  Ideally, we dedicate some portion of our day, every day, to silent contemplation of God.  As we do this, we build a habit of hearing Him speak and we become comfortable with and comforted by His voice.  

Whatever it is that we immerse ourselves in each and every day will grow on us and draw us, even unknowingly, to follow.  This Gospel is about discipleship and relationships. It’s calling us to Shepherd for our own flock and to one another. A great example since we celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday are all the wonderful Mom’s who shepherd their flocks by being the example of unconditional love, compassion, loyalty, devotion, and care. Mothers are the true shepherd that this Gospel is talking about.

Action of the Day: Identify who your loyal and true shepherds are that in your life.

Audio Reflection:

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