Pentecost Sunday - Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23 or Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

05-19-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: Pentecost Sunday is here! If ever there was a day in the Church calendar to celebrate the transformational power of Christianity, this is it. We know from the first reading how the disciples go from being huddled and afraid in a locked room to stepping out boldly in the streets, loudly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. What changed them so suddenly? It was the coming of the Holy Spirit, the third divine person of the Trinity, into their hearts and lives. Jesus calls the Spirit an Advocate, “the Spirit of truth,” who will remain with the apostles after he has left. That same Spirit is promised to us, continuing the Easter joy. It is only through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit that we have the knowledge, ability, and courage to proclaim Jesus as our Lord. Only in this way can we belong to Jesus and be in relationship with the Father. The very same God who created all things is here to help us become the sons and daughters he always envisioned us to be.

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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord - Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mk 16:15-20

05-12-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: It’s easy for me to get impatient with the Lord – to wonder why he makes me wait for an answer to a prayer or, worse, why his answer may be no. However, when I look back at the lessons of the Bible, it becomes clear that God works on his timetable, not mine. That same message comes through in today’s first reading. The apostles ask Jesus whether he will be restoring the kingdom to Israel, and he is clear in his answer: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.” And then, after saying this, he ascends to the Father. Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus has left his disciples again. But instead of leaving them to weep and mourn – as happened after his death – this time, our Lord left them with a mission. They were to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” They did, faithfully, and they traveled far and wide. Armed with the gift of the Holy Spirit which they received at Pentecost, they baptized countless people as they shared the Good News about Jesus and his gift of salvation.

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Sixth Sunday of Easter - Acts 10:25-36, 34-35, 44-48; 1 Jn 14:23; Jn 15:9-17

05-05-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you … If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” We don’t earn God’s love – it is freely given to us. But only by loving God and others, and by keeping his commandments, do we remain in that love as our source of life and joy. It becomes the air we breathe, and the breath we exhale. Today’s second reading and Gospel reassure us of the love of God, but also give us a few specifics for how to live in and remain in that love – self-sacrifice and prayer. We are to love one another as Jesus loves us, and we know what that looks like from his life: feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, forgiving one another, and more. Living in the way Jesus instructs is not simply completing a checklist of things to do, however. It’s a way of life – to live in God’s love and to demonstrate his love with our outward actions. When we do so, we are helping bring about the kingdom in a very real way. It’s not complicated. We begin by acting in accordance with the truth that the person in front of us is loved by God.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter - Acts 9:26-31; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8

04-28-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: “Where do they get their energy!” Maybe you’ve said that about your children as they run around the yard while you’re trying to wrangle them inside for bedtime. Jokes abound about how sugar and caffeine are what keep most adults going, but we know it’s proper nutrition, exercise, and rest that enable us to do well whatever it is we do. That is all relevant to us physically. What about spiritually? Bishop Barron, writing on the Gospel, says, “Jesus declares that he is the vine and we are the branches. He is the power and energy source in which we live.” (Word on Fire Bible, 548) Just as we see the effects of sugar and caffeine on people, we see the supernatural effects of Jesus’ love on, and in, people. As he nurtures us with his perfect love, and that flows into us who are grafted onto him, it changes us. It transforms us and converts us away from sin and toward God. We fill up on that spiritual fuel in the sacramental life of the Church and become a witness to it in how we go about our days – loving one another.

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Fourth Sunday of Easter - Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18

04-21-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: Several years ago I went to a shopping mall with my six-year-old son, and I could tell he was overwhelmed by the fast-moving crowds; he stuck close to my side. Not long into our trip, he turned a corner and, suddenly, his face lit up. He pointed at a young boy ahead. “That’s James! I know him! He’s in my class!” he exclaimed, and ran up to talk to him. Out of the sea of strangers was someone he knew, and who knew him. That changed the whole experience for him. Today’s readings are all about that kind of knowing. In the Gospel Jesus tells us that, like a good shepherd, he knows his flock and they know him. How comforting it is to know that Jesus not only knows each one of us, but he willingly chose to lay down his life for each one of us as the ultimate sacrifice of love. But how do we get to know our Good Shepherd better? By immersing ourselves in Scripture and prayer and seeking a personal relationship with him. If we stay close to the Lord, we’ll know his voice when we hear it – in the quiet of our prayer, in the everyday promptings of the Spirit in our decision-making, and even, in the midst of all the noise, as the calming and guiding voice leading us along the right path.

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Third Sunday of Easter - Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 Jn 2:1-5a; Lk 24:35-48

04-14-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: It’s only been two weeks since Easter, but already the holiday can seem like another item checked off our to-do lists. It’s easy to get complacent as we go about our busy lives – marking celebrations, important dates and gatherings on the calendar. Today’s readings remind us that the Resurrection is not just a story or a metaphor about something ordinary that happened more than 2,000 years ago. It was so different and so shocking that it trembled the very earth, and nothing has been the same since! Luke describes the confusion the disciples felt when they first saw Jesus in his resurrected body. Here was their Lord and teacher, back from the dead, but not as a ghost or spirit as they might have expected: He was just as real as before. He was eating, speaking, touching, and interacting. And yet he was different. He could arrive in a locked room without using the door, pass among people unnoticed (as on the way to Emmaus), and give gifts of wisdom and insight directly to the disciples. Today’s Gospel offers Jesus’ explanation that these things were done to fulfill the promises God made to the prophets.

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Second Sunday of Easter - Sunday of Divine Mercy - Acts 4:32-35; 1 Jn 5:1-6; Jn 20:19-31

04-07-2024Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: We tend to beat up St. Thomas for his doubt, when what is really most amazing in the scene from today’s Gospel is his understanding, and the first public pronouncement of, Jesus Christ’s divinity. He gets it. And he proclaims it without hesitation: “My Lord and my God.” I think about what Thomas’ face might have looked like at that moment, and I imagine a countenance of conviction alongside humility – joyful tears in the eyes that reflect awe and wonder. The truth behind his realization and understanding is that God is faithful, God is loving, God is merciful. Of course, knowing that with our heart and mind needs to be translated into doing with our every action. The early Christian communities seemed to have lived this well, happily sharing their possessions and selling what they didn’t need. Not because they had been forced to, but because the “commandments [were] not burdensome” for those who loved God. God loved us first, and by his grace, and his mercy, we are commanded and empowered to love one another.

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