"The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his ﬂesh to eat?'" From the beginning, the Eucharist has been a source of controversy. Some people have always found the teaching difficult to accept. But as Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament is at the heart of our worship and our spirituality; we go to Mass to share in the holy sacrifice of Jesus' body and blood, and we receive spiritual nourishment from partaking of this heavenly food. As Jesus himself tells us in today's Gospel, "Whoever eats my ﬂesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."READ MORE
"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." We are used to this profound idea, so used to it that we often glaze over the incredible reality: God the Father has a Son who became man and dwelt among us! Too often we blithely make the sign of the cross in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, without realizing what a radical theology we are announcing.
Only Christianity proclaims a triune God. Only Christianity professes that we have one God in three divine persons. Only Christianity declares that the very natureof God is to be relational and literally "personal."Why does this matter? Because we are made in God's image, asthe opening chapters of Genesis tell us. We, therefore, are made in the image of this Trinitarian God who is love.We are built to be like this God! Just asGod the Father loves God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we too are called to love one another. In fact, we are not fulfillingour nature and design when we don't. And just as Godloved the world (that is, us!) so too we are called to lovehim in return.READ MORE
"Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" Then, he said it again. And then, "he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" Jesus brings peace, and he brings the Holy Spirit. Peace, in fact, is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Today, on this feast of Pentecost, we remember the dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit that came upon those first apostles and the peace that came along with it. But we do more than remember. We also celebrate the presence of this same Spirit in our midst.READ MORE
"Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ." The Easter season is resplendent with the joy of eternal life. Jesus conquered death through his resurrection and promises all believers a share in this miraculous triumph. The gates of heaven have been opened for us by the great sacrifice of our Savior. All good things lie in wait for us who know "the only true God" and his Son, Jesus Christ.
When we gather together in our communities of faith, it's easy to remember all of this. We share common beliefs and practices with those friends, family members, and neighbors who attend our church. But carrying the joy of Easter with us out into the "world" can be more of a challenge. Once we step outside the safe confines of our parish or home, we encounter those who do not know the true God. We work with, study with, encounter, or gather with many people who have forgotten, abandoned, or never even known Jesus. Sometimes this can make us hesitant to share our joy, or even apologetic for our beliefs. But of course we are called to be witnesses of what we believe, not cowards who hide it frompublic view.READ MORE
"If you love me you will keep my commandments." It's really as simple as that. We are only paying lip service to the Lord if we externally declare ourselves to be Christians but don't follow through on a life that confirms it.
In our modern culture, we often think of love as a feeling or a kind of devotion. It is thus all too common to separate love from appropriate action. Perhaps we reassure ourselves that we love Jesus because we believe that he is the Son of God and our personal Savior. But these thoughts--or even any grateful or pleasant feelings that come along with them--are not the fullest manifestation of real love. Rather, as Jesus tells us directly in today's Gospel, "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me."READ MORE
The beauty of Easter lies in the beauty of the varied images that Jesus shows when he talks to his disciples already resurrected. Last Sunday the Gospel told us how important it is to enter through the door that is Christ. Now, Jesus himself clearly shows us who he is: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14, 6). We know God in the measure of our personal encounter with His Son Jesus. Our conversion comes according to this meeting. The revelation of who God is began in the Incarnation of Jesus and this Incarnation continues through us as we practice justice, love, compassion and reconciliation among those around us.READ MORE
"Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture." Jesus uses the image of a gate today to help us understand how we are to relate to him. He is our path to "pasture," in other words, to the peace and prosperity that we long for. He shows us the way to find all that we need right there before us.
Some people, however, may think that it's better to avoid the trouble of finding the gate and thus choose to enter another way instead. But Jesus says, "Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber." Although this is all cast in the gentle terms of an analogy about sheep, the message is actually rather stern. Jesus is telling us that if we don't follow him, we are taking the wrong course of action. He is not suggesting a kind of relativistic principle that says, "Following me is one of many good options." No. He is telling us that in order to "have life and have it more abundantly," we must follow the path that goes by way of Christ.READ MORE