Sixth Sunday of Easter

Over the last few weeks of Easter readings we’ve seen the Church gradually understand that the Gospel was meant to go beyond the confines of Judaism to other cultures and, ultimately, to every culture, including Cornelius. In today’s First Reading we see one of the culminating moments in the early Church: the Holy Spirit helping the first disciples to take the Gospel everywhere.

With this reading we see a glimpse of what we’ll celebrate in two weeks on Pentecost Sunday: God the Holy Spirit gives life and growth to the Church, often unperceived except with the eyes of faith, and even then in subtle ways. The Holy Spirit also helps the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, to bring souls to the Church and to baptism in Jesus’ name, because God’s action, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, always leads to unity.

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us over the last two weeks of this Easter season to take our Christian living to new frontiers in God’s service and sharing the Gospel.

Readings: Acts 10:25–26, 34–35, 44–48; Psalm 98:1–4; 1 John 4:7–10; John 15:9–17.

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.

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Readings: Mark 11:1–10; Isaiah 50:4–7; Psalm 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24; Philippians 2:6–11; Mark 14:1–15:47

Many movies today are so packed that you have to get a copy to watch them over and over again in order to understand all the details of the plot. Many traumatic moments in a life are played out in our minds over and over again because, “it all happened so fast…”

Today on Palm Sunday we experience that first look, that first experience of the Lord’s Passion and death so that during Holy Week we can go back over it moment by moment in order to understand more deeply the conversation of love that takes place between God and us: in a language of words, but especially in a language of actions. Let’s take it moment by moment this week because it’s a moment of our history: the trauma of our sin (for God and for us) and the triumph of God’s love for us.