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.

4th Week of Easter, Wednesday

Readings: Acts 12:24–13:5a; Psalm 67:2–6, 8; John 12:44–50. Note: April 29 is also the Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena.

Our Lord reminds us today that he is not just another source of self-help tips in order to help us be more fulfilled in life. He describes himself as the light. Anyone who has experienced a blackout or stumbled around in a dark room fumbling for a switch knows that without the light what awaits is paralysis, afraid to take any step that might lead to anything from a stubbed toe to a deadly fall. If he tells us where to step, what lies ahead, independently of whether we believe him or not, his words are as true as daylight, and the consequences will also be true.

We’re always free to accept Our Lord’s light and word in our lives, just as we’re free to reject them, but as he warns us today, ignoring him doesn’t mean he’ll exact a price: the fact that we turned our back on the truth exacts a price all its own. Ignorance is not bliss.

If we’re trying to close our eyes to something Our Lord is pointing out, or trying to ignore something he’s telling us in the hope that it’ll go away, let’s ask him today to help us open our eyes and adjust to the brightness of his light, and to listen to what he wants to tell us.


4th Week of Easter, Tuesday

Readings: Acts 11:19–26; Psalm 87:1b–7; John 10:22–30.

In today’s Gospel the Jews show they still have a lot of preconceived notions about how the Messiah (Christ, “the anointed one”) should act and how he should accomplish his mission. At the time of Jesus the expectation was that the Christ would be a strong political leader, a king who would drive out the Romans, conquer the enemies of Israel, and establish a lasting kingdom and dynasty. The First Reading reminds us that even the disciples themselves moved in Jewish cultural circles for some time before they realized the Gospel message was for all peoples of all cultures.

Perhaps those insisting Jesus say clearly he was the Christ also saw that as being the proof they needed that they should band together as soldiers behind a king who was going to help them clean house. Our Lord gives them a different image of his disciples: sheep who are cared for and protected from the wolves, but who also recognize the shepherd for who he is and follow him in meekness and humility. In the First Reading these “sheep” were called Christians for the first time: society had to acknowledge that this was not just another group, but something new, something different.

Society today also needs something new, something different, and Christianity always has the potential to infuse culture with life and meaning. Let’s ask Our Lord help us today to see how by being better Christians in his eyes we can also give that testimony to something new and different in the secularized society that surrounds us.


4th Week of Easter, Monday

Readings: Acts 11:1–18; Psalm 42:2–3, 43:3–4; John 10:1–10.

In today’s Gospel Jesus describes himself as the sheep gate; he’s the one who protects those who are inside and he’s the one who lets them leave when they should, which is not necessarily when they want (an experience with which anyone who in their youth tried sneaking into or out of their house can identify). If someone doesn’t use the door it puts everyone on their guard, and rightly so. Our Lord invites us today to consider whether our path is really the best way to accomplish something in our life, whether we’re trying to avoid legitimate obstacles or trying to avoid circumstances, situations, etc., that are disagreeable to us.

Our Lord describes himself in another part of John’s Gospel as the way (cf. John 14:6); he is the way to greener pastures and he is the way to safety and security, the way to a place to call home. If you lose your keys it’s not fun to have to break into your own house. You’d panic if you tried to leave by your front door or your garage and found the doors to be locked from the outside. Our Lord doesn’t lock us in; he protects us, sometimes from ourselves. We can accept his guidance or try jumping through windows or breaking down walls instead of living our lives with Gospel simplicity. If we don’t accept his guidance in the long run we’ll be creating more obstacles to a truly fulfilling life: a life he wants to show us.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to show us how we can live our lives with more simplicity.

4th Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 4:8–12; Psalm 118:8–9, 21–23, 26, 28–29; 1 John 3:1–2; John 10:11–18.

Our Lord describes himself in today’s Gospel as the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd cares so much for his sheep that he is willing to lay down his life for them. A person hired to do such a job would just say “this is not in my contract” and abandon them. Even the owner of the sheep might write them off as the wolf drew close, thinking to himself, “I’m insured,” or “I’ll just need to write this off as a loss on my tax returns.”

The Good Shepherd shares his life with his sheep. He’s not indifferent to their trials and sufferings, so he’s not indifferent to their death. He’d rather die first. That attitude goes beyond just business or even obligation: Jesus says he willingly lays down his life for us, his sheep. He cares about each one of us.

Let’s try to show our gratitude today by letting him lead us in humility wherever he wants to lead us, knowing it’ll always be toward more verdant pastures.