5th Week of Easter, Friday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord commands us to love one another. Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est asked how it was possible that love could be commanded (n.14). Love is one of the freest acts the human person can perform: someone can be very ingratiating to us, but love always requires that moment where we give our “yes,”that inner movement of our heart and will that seeks the good of the beloved because he or she is beloved. The Holy Father’s answer to the question was simple: “Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first been given.”

Jesus reminds us today that love for him is connected with love for others. We can’t claim either love if we deny one of them. This is the calling card of every sincere Christian. We have been loved by God, who loves each and every person, past, present, and future, sinner or saint, to the point of dying for them on the Cross. If he is willing to go the distance for every soul, it shouldn’t be hard for us to see the need to show our love for him by trying to love others.

If there’s anyone today you consider “off-limits” to your love, either because they’ve hurt you or because you can’t see a way to love them, contemplate Our Lord on the Cross and ask him to help you see the path to loving that person. If you don’t do it for yourself at first, do it for him.

Readings: Acts 15:22–31; Psalm 57:8–10, 12; John 15:12–17.


4th Week of Easter, Friday

Readings: Acts 13:26–33; Psalm 2:6–11b; John 14:1–6.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord describes Heaven not just as his home, but as a place for us to call home as well. Thinking of home evokes so many warm sentiments–rest, security, peace–and it also invokes the memory of the people there waiting to be with us. Many people today live a difficult situation at home, if they have a home at all, but they all dream of that peaceful place where they can be together with their loved ones forever. A simple family dinner, where everyone sets aside work, school, etc., to spend time together becomes a glimpse of Heaven as each rests with the other and there are no worries that can dampen the evening.

Our Lord has prepared a place for each of us with Our Father in Heaven. How often do we dream of that? How often do we dream of the day in which life’s journey, with all the fatigue and trial, will be over and we’ll finally and permanently be home with the ones we love? How often do we see the need to remind others of our true home as well so that one day we’ll all be there together?

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us always keep our true home in mind. If we know he’s shown us the way, no burden or obstacle of this life will rob us of our hope in getting there.

3rd Week of Easter, Friday

Readings: Acts 9:1–20; Psalm 117; John 6:52–59.

Today’s Gospel is a key passage for the teaching on the sacrament of the Eucharist. Our Lord leaves no room for interpreting his words about being the Bread of Life as something metaphorical. It’s not just his teaching, his example, and his leadership that “nourish” us and sustain our lives; he wants to be a real food and drink that give us an unparalleled spiritual nourishment, one that will sustain us all the way to eternal life. This is not just a comfortable banquet from the larder of a generous person; it is a meal of flesh and blood that implies worship and sacrifice.

The Jews in today’s Gospel are quarreling because they know he is not just speaking metaphorically and the thought of eating another person repulses them. Once again they are trying to understand before they believe. In this case, understanding is trying to work something out in their head that cannot be worked out apart from faith. The Eucharist is something so amazing that theology had to formulate new terms to describe it on the basis of faith, such as transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ.

Pick one Church teaching today that’s hard for you to understand or accept and ask Our Lord to help you to try and process it more with faith and not so much by reason alone. You’ll be amazed what horizons faith can open to understanding something.

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.

Good Friday, Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion

Readings: Isaiah 52:13–53:12; Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12–13, 15–17, 25; Hebrews 4:14–16, 5:7–9; John 18:1–19:42

This afternoon Jesus is on the Cross. If anyone has hurt me, if I think anyone owes me something, if I think anyone has done me wrong, Our Lord on the Cross is ready to pay that debt in full.

If I have hurt anyone, if I owe anyone anything, if I think I have done something wrong to someone, Our Lord on the Cross is ready to help me pay that debt.

Jesus is on the Cross today to reconcile us with Our Heavenly Father and with each other. Let’s be reconciled to God by reconciling today with anyone who owes us and with anyone to whom we are indebted.