Acts 2:14, 22b-32; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35
Lord, you will show us the path of life.
Peter, where did you learn to orate like this? I mean, you are just a fisherman. Yet you stand before a crowd and tell them the way to find salvation. What has come over you? You used to be so tongue-tied, and not very subtle. Yet today you reminded me that I should "conduct myself with reverence during the time of your (my) sojourning." What a marvelous bit of advice, so faith-filled, and so profound. A guide to living a good life, and a reminder of the transitory nature of life as we know it, all in one thought. I didn't know you had it in you - what has caused this change in you?
1 Pt 5:5b-14; Mk 16:15-20
The Church presents us with the Feast of Saint Mark on a date that virtually always falls early in the Easter Season. Mark is an interesting figure in the Christian tradition because there was a young man identified as Mark or John Mark in the Acts of the Apostles and several of the Epistles whose mother was a prominent member of the Jerusalem community of Christians, a very good friend of Peter and possibly even a close relative. It was to her home that he rushed after being released from prison by an angel. Mark was a co-worker of Paul’s who seemed to have a falling out with him, and Mark then followed Peter to Rome, or “Babylon” (the city of the prince of evil) as the author of the first reading today tells us.
Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15
Today’s gospel is one of the several “multiplication” stories found in the four accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Each one of them reminds us of the abundance of God’s love for us in the person of Jesus Christ. A pattern emerges in each of the “multiplication” stories: a huge crowd of people are gathered around Jesus looking to him for healing (“about five thousand”); they gather in an open place (“on a mountain”); there is a need to feed the crowd; but without proper resources (“five barley loaves and two fish belonging to a boy in the crowd”); Jesus tells the disciples to distribute the food after he blesses the extremely small amount; the throng is not only satisfied, but there are leftovers (“twelve wicker baskets” full).
Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36
“We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts of the Apostles
In Luke’s version of the Passion the disciples demonstrate what ordinary people they were. During the Last Supper, they argued about who is the greatest. Then when Jesus told Peter that he would deny him, Peter says no way. He’d risk prison and even death before that – and we all know how that one comes out.
Then during the agony in the garden, the disciples keep falling asleep and Jesus has to wake them up to try to get them to pray. The apostles aren’t highly visible during the crucifixion either, unlike the women whom Luke mentions several times.Fast forward to today’s reading from Acts and juxtapose it against Luke’s account of the Passion and you get a sense of the amazing impact of the Resurrection in the lives of these men – and by extension the potential for transformation of our lives.
Acts 5:17-26; John 3:16-21
Today’s readings present a challenge for us: what will we do with the light we have?
In the first reading, the Apostles had an encounter with an angel of the Lord, who opened the doors of the prison, led them outside, and then said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” They did this, teaching and sharing with the people in fulfillment of this broad mandate, even after being jailed.
Acts 4:32-37; John 3:7-15
“None of them claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common. With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
When we know in poverty of spirit that everything is a gift, our hearts begin again to taste Jesus’ love alive. This love penetrates basic fears surrounding our ownership of things.
Are we anything apart from what we own and possess? In our real poverty of spirit, our nothingness, without property, homes, cars, titles, computers and brand name clothes, what are we?
Acts 4:23-31; John 3:1-8
In the gospel story there are some people who are mentioned very briefly and about whom we would like to know much more than what the gospel tells us. For me, one such person is Nicodemus, a central figure in today's gospel reading. Nicodemus is mentioned only in the gospel of St. John. He refers to Nicodemus on three occasions, and all three are very brief. We don't know much about Nicodemus, but we do know a few things. We know that he had a Greek name, Nicodemus, but we don't know what his Hebrew name was. St. John tells us that Nicodemus was a pharisee. He was also probably a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel. So Nicodemus was a man of power and influence in Jerusalem.
It is not easy to live with uncertainty and ultimately we must place our faith in someone or something to give us reason for living. To have our faith in a cause or a person shattered is a terrible experience. This was the scenario facing St. Thomas.
Perhaps Thomas’ doubt was the fruit of bitter disappointments of the past. He may have had people in his life who let him down and who betrayed his trust. He was not born with this sense of hesitation or suspicion – we can speculate that those things are acquired from bitter learned experiences. He had learned caution and wariness about who he could trust. The word of others was not enough for him- he wanted proof, not testimony. Having staked everything on Jesus, the Lord, he had much to lose if he was wrong to trust Him.
Acts 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15.
In today's gospel reading the Eleven, the chosen inner circle, refuse to believe both Mary Magdalene and the two walking out in the country, and Jesus is not at all happy about their unbelief: theirs is not a simple and passive lack of faith but an outright denial and refusal of the witnesses he sends them. What they are doing is keeping Jesus in the tomb.
Why didn’t the apostles immediately recognize the Lord when he greeted them at the Sea of Tiberias? John gives us a clue. He states that Peter decided to return to his home district of Galilee, very likely so he could resume his fishing career. Peter was discouraged and didn’t know what to do after the tragedy of Jesus’ death! He went back to his previous career out of despair and uncertainty. The other apostles followed him back to Galilee. When was the last time Peter was commanded to let down his net after a futile night of fishing? It was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee when the Lord dramatically approached Peter in his fishing boat after a futile night of fishing and commanded him to lower his nets (see Luke 5:4-11). After the miraculous catch, Jesus told Peter that he would be ‘catching people” for the kingdom of God. Now Jesus repeats the same miracle. John, the beloved disciple, is the first to recognize the Lord. Peter impulsively leaps from the boat and runs to the Lord. Do you run to the Lord when you meet setbacks, disappointments, or trials? The Lord is ever ready to renew us in faith and to give us fresh hope in his promises.