3rd Week of Easter, Monday

Readings: Acts 6:8–15; Psalm 119:23–24, 26–27, 29–30; John 6:22–29.

A recurring theme in the Gospel of John is that Our Lord performs a series of signs so that people believe in him. In today’s Gospel the crowd goes looking for Jesus after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, but Jesus knows they are either just curious about what miracle he is going to do next or are placing their faith more in his ability to provide them a free lunch.

Our Lord is inviting the crowd today to have a faith in him that is not just connected with getting results. Sometimes in our relationship with God we treat him more as the guy with the credit card who’ll always treat us to lunch than as our friend. When the credit card is not forthcoming, or the lunch, do we care about the cardholder? Friendship involves give and take; a true friend is with you whether you’re living the high life or penniless, whether you’re healthy or sick, whether you’re on the top of the world or in the depths of despair. When our focus shifts from the person who treated us to lunch to the lunch itself, or its absence, we know something is off.

Our Lord has done a lot for us: the world we live in, the air we breathe, the people we love, our very existence are all thanks to him. Let’s make a resolution today to not have an attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” Let’s believe in him and remember all that he’s done for us, knowing he may not always give us what we want and when we want it, but he’ll always give us what we need.

3rd Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 3:13–15, 17–19; Psalm 4:2, 4, 7–9; 1 John 2:1–5a; Luke 24:35–48.

Sacred Scripture is a narration of salvation history. God through many human authors seeks to communicate a message of love and salvation when that love is rejected. In today’s Gospel, just as with the disciples on the way to Emmaus, Our Lord tries to help the disciples understand what Scripture said about him in order to understand the culmination of salvation history. Whether the disciples were distracted, weary, confused, or disinterested when he first taught them doesn’t matter; in today’s Gospel he opens their minds to understand the Scriptures and reminds them that they have to be witnesses to him as the culmination of salvation history, a mission they are carrying out on Pentecost in the First Reading.

We as members of the Church continue to share the message of salvation that Jesus Christ entrusted to the Apostles. We try to be faithful to what Jesus teaches us and to the testimony that the Apostles handed down to us about him. This touches on two ways in which the Church is considered Apostolic: she is sustained by the testimony of the Apostles regarding Jesus, and she receives the mission to transmit that testimony and be faithful to it. When Jesus opened the minds of the Apostles he gave them a gift of the Holy Spirit to understand Scripture and help them be faithful witnesses to everything he said and did, as well as everything Scripture said about him. As Catholics we believe that the Apostles then handed on this gift of the Holy Spirit to their successors and that apostolic succession continues to this day in the bishops, another reason for which the Church is considered Apostolic. This help of the Holy Spirit in determining the authentic teachings on faith and morals in Scripture and tradition is called today the Magisterium.

Let’s pray for all members of the Church to be faithful recipients and witnesses to the testimony about Jesus handed down to us from the Apostles. Let’s ask Our Lord to open our minds to understand everything Scripture says about him in order to communicate it to others.

2nd Week of Easter, Saturday

Readings: Acts 6:1–7; Psalm 33:1–2, 4–5, 18–19; John 6:16–21.

The final words of today’s Gospel remind us that God doesn’t always get from point A to point B in a way that we’d either expect or want:  “They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.” Did the disciples ask for him to get into the boat so that the situation would return to normalcy as soon as possible so that they could forget something amazing had happened? A recurring theme throughout Scripture, especially by the prophets, is to not forget God’s past wonders or lose trust that he’ll act again.

God’s presence in our lives is mysterious; we know he’s near and watching, but he often doesn’t reveal himself or suddenly we realize his loving and provident hand in some combination of events that can’t be easily explained away. When we fail to understand this, or we distance ourselves from him in some way, a sudden revelation of his presence can spook us, just like it spooked the Apostles in today’s Gospel. We only have an instinct of superstition in the face of the unexplained or the amazing when we lose sight that someone is present, often behind the scenes, concerned and involved in our lives, but not as a cop on stakeout gathering evidence to arrest us, but as a loving and concerned Father who sends his Son and seeks to fill the world and its events with his Spirit.

Whatever moments of uncertainty or storms we face, let’s pray today’s  Psalm: “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you” and keep our eyes of faith open to see when and how God chooses to reveal himself and trust that he knows what he is doing and will help us get from point A to point B in our lives in a way that we’ll never fully understand or grasp.

2nd Week of Easter, Friday

Readings: Acts 5:34–42; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13–14; John 6:1–15.

Today’s readings remind us that if God wants something, he’ll be the one to do the heavy lifting; we just have to try to put everything we have into doing his will. In the First Reading Gamaliel wisely observes that if God is backing the Apostles the Sanhedrin will not be able to stop them. He doesn’t know for sure, but probably suspects the Lord has a hand in what is going on and has the prudence and wisdom to not try to put obstacles in God’s way.

Sometimes we receive a vague intuition that God wants something more from us, but we enter into that confusion of whether he wants it, whether we’re imagining it, or whether we might be trying to put words in his mouth. Something inside us says a change is called for, and many times it involves us being more generous and more trusting. That’s just one of the ways we can tell whether an idea comes from us or from God: if something moves us beyond our comfort zone, tries to take us beyond ourselves, often it is God inviting us to grow spiritually through working with him on something.

In the Gospel Our Lord asks a simple question: “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip looks at thousands of people and does the math, and the math says they don’t have the money. Andrew sees the few resources at hand and says it seems impossible. Jesus asks them to not focus so much on the logistics and to simply try and the miracle happens. They didn’t have enough bread. They didn’t have enough money to buy more bread. But they didn’t factor in what Our Lord was bringing to the table: he asked for it, and he did the heavy lifting. Let’s ask ourselves today if Our Lord is asking something from us that seems impossible based on our mental math–overcoming something sinful in our life, doing something more for others, forgiving the seemingly unforgivable–and try to do his will with what we have knowing he will help us succeed.

2nd Week of Easter, Thursday

Readings: Acts 5:27–33; Psalm 34:2, 9, 17–20; John 3:31–36.

Our Lord in today’s Gospel continues to teach Nicodemus that if you don’t trust a witness, you won’t trust his testimony either. In contrasting Heaven and earth Jesus encourages us to trust his testimony for another reason: if a high point is often the best vantage point, what higher or greater vantage point is there than Heaven?

Sometimes we think of Heaven as something distant and disconnected from earth, but Our Heavenly Father is always watching over every detail of our life, and does so as a loving father, not as an all-controlling Big Brother. He has the big picture always in mind and can help us make the best decisions regarding ourselves and regarding others. And when sometimes life doesn’t seem to make sense, if we are trying to do what is pleasing to him we know that in the long run everything will work out.

If God sees things from the best vantage point, and has a loving concern for us, his testimony is worthy of our belief, and he is worthy of our trust. Let’s open our hearts to him today and ask him to help us see the big picture from his perspective, and to gain a deeper knowledge of how we can be a part of it, not just for his best interests, but for ours as well.