4th Week of Easter, Thursday

Readings: Acts 13:13–25; Psalm 89:2–3, 21–22, 25, 27; John 13:16–20.

In today’s First Reading Paul is winding up to pitch to the Jews listening to him in the synagogue that Our Lord is the fulfillment of all the promises and events that came before him: tradition means handing on something, and Jesus brings that tradition to fullness and asks us to hand on his message to the generations that follow us.

In the Gospel he describes the role of the disciples: servants and messengers. The original Greek for the word “messenger” in today’s Gospel is the same root word as apostle: an apostle, whether we’re talking about the Twelve or any Christian, is someone who is sent, someone who bears a message. As apostles we bear the message of Our Lord, just as he had brought it from Our Heavenly Father. It is not only the message that matters; how we deliver it also affects how it is received. That’s why our service as bearers of Christ’s message must by characterized by humility and a desire to serve the recipient of the message. In today’s Gospel Jesus has just finished washing the disciples’ feet, a menial service. As his disciples we too should not be afraid to do things we consider menial in order to transmit the message Our Lord has entrusted to us; sometimes that gives greater witness to Christ than anything we could say.

Let’s make an effort today to serve others with humility out of love for Our Lord and a desire to transmit his message in the best way possible: through our charity.

3rd Week of Easter, Thursday

Readings: Acts 8:26–40; Psalm 66:8–9, 16–17, 20; John 6:44–51.

Today’s readings remind us that encountering and drawing closer to God is not just an exterior process, but an interior one as well. Our Lord describes the Father as calling and teaching, but at the same time, clarifies that this doesn’t involve an external and perceptible experience of him. So how does the Father communicate? In our hearts. Somewhere in our soul something moves: an insight, an intuition, and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish this from feelings, which is why in spiritual theology a lot has been written about discernment of spirits. Often this interior communication goes beyond just feelings.

A response of faith to Christ is not born in a vacuum: something inside helps us to see he is worthy of our belief, worthy of our trust, and it’s not just our reasoning or our feelings. Sometimes the fact that we feel called to do something that we don’t want to do shows that whatever is behind it is not necessarily coming from us. A solid interior life means always listening for whatever God wants to tell us in the depths of our soul. The more we listen, the more we gain the ability to distinguish him speaking within us from our anxieties and preferences that at times can try to masquerade as God.

Let’s ask Our Lord today for the simplicity shown by Philip in the First Reading: the Holy Spirit told him to go to the desert route in the south that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza, and he went. And thanks to that interior generosity Our Lord used him to help someone understand what God was trying to tell him through Sacred Scripture, and to bring him to encounter Christ through faith and baptism. Let’s try being like Philip today: just tell the Lord, “I’m listening” and see where he leads you.

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.

Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Readings: Exodus 12:1–8, 11–14; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Psalm 116:12–13, 15–16c, 17–18; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; John 13:1–15

In this evening’s Gospel Peter realizes that being clean means being pleasing to Our Lord, and so he asks Our Lord to wash him all over, not just his feet. We’ve been living Lent in preparation for these holy days that are about to intensify, and the dirty feet of the disciples after a long walk is much like how we are arriving near the end. The Lenten journey we have completed, surely with some stumbles and wrong turns along the way, has been pleasing to Our Lord. Even if it has not, it’s not to late to let him wash us clean.

Now is the moment to put our Lenten lapses into Our Lord’s hands and let him forgive us as we begin the Sacred Paschal Triduum. If you haven’t gone to confession yet, now is the perfect time. Just as Our Lord washes the feet of his disciples, we need confession to arrive at Easter Sunday not just showered and dressed in our Sunday best on the outside, but on the inside too. On Holy Thursday let’s thank Our Lord for the gift of priests who feed us with the Bread of Life and give us someone to confide in when we need spiritual guidance and an encounter with God’s mercy through their priesthood.