By Cynthia E. Wood
Come Back to Life
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ. (1 Corinthians 12: 12)
In fear, the followers of Jesus hid behind locked doors. The air did not stir and the walls closed in like a tomb. The trauma of recent days silenced them. They had lost their way. In dread they awaited cries for more bloodshed. In guilt they felt they had failed him. But it was a playful breeze that slipped under the door and swept over them. How could a wind trick its way through these thick walls? The crushing weight lifted and breath returned. Like dry branches, their spirits ignited. They laughed and embraced. Amazing words poured forth. Fear fell away like the shells of locusts. Once again new life came forth.
Mary showed us the true meaning of faith and love in her life on earth. She is an example to us of how to live according to the gospel. With St. Vincent Pallotti we venerate her as Queen of Apostles and Patroness of the Catholic Apostolate. (Our Way of Life, 13)
I beg you, O Immaculate Mother of God, Queen of the Apostles, to deign to unite yourself to me, as an unworthy son, with all the angels and archangels and saints in Paradise, to thank the Holy Trinity that I have been given the gift of faith. I am happy, dear Mother Mary, that the Church (…), greets you with the most august title of Queen of Apostles because while this title gives honour to you, it gives courage to me. I implore you with the affection of Mother already experienced by me to unite yourself to miserable me and to the whole heavenly court (…), in order to receive the merits of the Apostolate in order to obtain for myself and for all, now and forever, the gift to commit everything in a special way to the propagation of faith in the entire world so that soon, and very soon that moment predicted by your divine Son will arrive, that moment desired by you and the whole of Heaven, and feared by the whole of hell, that can be seen forever to the end of the world: that moment when there will be one Fold under one Shepherd. Amen. (V. Pallotti, OOCC XI, 85-87)
Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19
I find today’s Gospel both enigmatic – and, somewhat understandable. The enigma – what did Jesus mean with his three questions which were each stated a little differently – “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and, “Feed my sheep.” In that culture at that time with Jesus talking to a male apostle, was there specific language meaning to the choice of words? I don’t know. However, from this Gospel story I take this message for my life – how many times daily do I respond to Christ’s call to me to “tend to others”? How many times daily do I think I’m responding to “tending to others” when perhaps I am not? Am I a 21st century version of Simon Peter and have to be reminded three times every day?
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; John 17:20-26
An Intimate Conversation
Today’s readings speak about God’s protection. In the first reading Paul is being assured by the Lord that he must keep up his courage for further trials. The Psalmist speaks to the safe refuge found in God’s love. And in the Gospel, Jesus prays that his disciples and all believers may stay close to God. The theme that jumps off the page is an intimate conversation about God’s protection. In all three examples God’s protection was made known through an intimate conversation.
Acts 20:28-38; John 17:11b-19
Jesus prays that God will protect and guard all those given to him in the Father’s name. How can we go wrong, knowing that Jesus continues to pray on our behalf and that God continues to give us strength and power? We shouldn’t think about our lives, then, in terms of our weaknesses, but in terms of our strengths. But that is not so easy to do all of the time, especially as we grow older and have to acknowledge that we are physically weaker and our health is often challenged. I have come to think, however, that during those times, God is even more with us. It is during these times when we draw closer to God for strength that we are even more protected from evil. While we may be weak in some ways, we can become stronger in truth in the word.
Acts 20:17-27; John 17:1-11a
St. Paul gave me chills today as he informed his friends that he would never see them again because he was leaving for Jerusalem. He had no clue what would happen except that he expected “imprisonment and hardships.” He warned the disciples that they might also pay for their beliefs in blood he wasn’t responsible because “I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”
Talk about laying it on the line!!!!
Acts 19:1-8; John 16:29-33
The readings speak to me of many things – the humanity, vulnerability and devotion of Paul and the disciples to Jesus and to each other. They truly want to get it right. They want to understand. They want to know. They want to be faithful and to believe. However, what they experience is their own humanity. It is not in their power to understand this Jesus. They can not go it alone, although there will be many times when each one will be very much alone.
Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; 1 John 4:11-16; John 17:11b-19
The theme of conflict between the Christian disciple and the world is very clear in this passage. Raymond Brown remarked that a passage such as this has “a message for an era that becomes naively optimistic about changing the world or even about affirming its values without change.” The ‘world’ in this case is not, of course, the natural world of mountains, rivers, trees… but all the worldly forces that are antagonistic to the Kingdom of God (and even to the natural world).
Acts 18:23-28; John 16:23b-28
All this week we have been reflecting on the Lord’s words from the final discourse in John’s gospel. Again and again Jesus is alerting his disciples that he will soon leave them but that they will be taken care of when he is gone. The lines before today’s reading (Jn 16 ff) repeat the theme. “In a short time you will no longer see me, and then a short time later you will see me again.” Jesus used the dramatic example of a women in childbirth: “A women in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering.”
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; John 15:9-17
Today is the feast day of Saint Matthias. How do we share in the “luck” of Saint Matthias who joined the apostles after casting lots? If we imagine ourselves in Matthias’ place, our spot opening up to join the apostles, just after Jesus’ crucifixion. What would our ministry be? How would we live our lives? What can we do today to bring our lives more in congruency with our call?
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; Eph 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20
Today’s feast, Ascension Thursday is celebrated on Sunday in many dioceses of the world.
Acts 1:9 is the only canonical text that describes Jesus’ ascent into heaven. “.... as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight.”
Forty days after the Resurrection He left them in the flesh. I wonder if they felt what we feel when a loved one moves away or dies. Alone? Abandoned? Desolate? Or did they recall His promise, one that would be fulfilled in ten days? On Pentecost He would return to them pouring out His spirit. What a moment in time, between Ascension and Pentecost, between loss and promise. He does promise that we will see Him again, as we will one day see our loved ones. But what should we do in the meantime?
Acts 17:15, 22–18:1; John 16:12-15
One of man’s great quests is the pursuit of truth. All of us seek the truth. We seek the assurance that what we know is really true. We are opposed to falsehood and deceit. We have no confidence in those who would deceive us by hiding or withholding the truth. We seek the truth in many ways. Students seek the truth in their studies. They want to learn and they seek the truth by the questions that they ask. Lawyers seek the truth in questions pertaining to the law. They want to know the true facts so that they can apply the law properly to the case. Theologians seek the truth about God and his relationship to his creation. They want to learn more about God so that all of us can know God better and follow him more closely.