Mon, 7 May 2018
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
Psalms 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20
1 John 4:11-16
Today’s First Reading begins by giving us a time-frame—the events take place during the days between Christ’s ascension and Pentecost. We’re at the same point in our liturgical year. On Thursday we celebrated His being taken up in glory, and next Sunday we will celebrate His sending of the Spirit upon the Church.
Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel today also captures the mood of departure and the anticipation. He is telling us today how it will be when He is no longer in the world.
By His ascension, the Lord has established His throne in heaven, as we sing in today’s Psalm. His kingdom is His Church, which continues His mission on earth.
Jesus fashioned His kingdom as a new Jerusalem, and a new house of David (see Psalm 122:4-5; Revelation 21:9-14). He entrusted this kingdom to His twelve apostles, who were to preside at the Eucharistic table, and to rule with Him over the restored twelve tribes of Israel (see Luke 22:29-30).
The twelve apostles symbolize the twelve tribes and hence the fulfillment of God’s plan for Israel (see Galatians 6:16).That’s why it is crucial to replace Judas—so that the Church in its fullness receives the Spirit at Pentecost.
Peter’s leadership of the apostles is another key element of the Church as it is depicted today. Notice that Peter is unquestionably in control, interpreting the Scriptures, deciding a course of action, even defining the nature of the apostolic ministry.
No one has ever seen God, as we hear in today’s Epistle. Yet, through the Church founded on His apostles, the witnesses to the resurrection, the world will come to know and believe in God’s love, that He sent His Son to be our savior.
Through the Church, Jesus’ pledge still comes to us—that if we love, God will remain with us in our trials and protects us from the evil one. By His word of truth He will help us grow in holiness, the perfection of love.
Mon, 30 April 2018
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
1 John 4:7-10
God is love, and He revealed that love in sending His only Son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins.
In these words from today’s Epistle, we should hear an echo of the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac at the dawn of salvation history. Because Abraham obeyed God’s command and did not with-hold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations (see Genesis 22:16-18).
We see that promise coming to fulfillment in today’s First Reading. God pours out His Spirit upon the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, as they listen to the word of Peter’s preaching. Notice they receive the same gifts received by the devout Jews who heard Peter’s preaching at Pentecost—the Spirit comes to rest upon them and they speak in tongues, glorifying God (see Acts 2:5-11).
In his love today, God reveals that His salvation embraces the house of Israel and peoples of all nations. Not by circumcision or blood relation to Abraham, but by faith in the Word of Christ, sealed in the sacrament of baptism, peoples are to be made children of Abraham, heirs to God’s covenants of promise (see Galatians 3:7-9; Ephesians 2:12).
This is the wondrous work of God that we sing of in today’s Psalm. It is the work of the Church, the good fruit that Jesus chooses and appoints His apostles for in today’s Gospel.
As Peter raises up Cornelius today, the Church continues to lift all eyes to Christ, the only one in whose name they can find salvation.
In the Church, each of us has been begotten by the love of God. But the Scriptures today reveal that this divine gift brings with it a command and a duty. We are to love one another as we have been loved. We are to lay down our lives in giving ourselves to others—that they too might find friendship with Christ, and new life through Him
Mon, 23 April 2018
Psalm 22:26-28, 30-321
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He is the true vine that God intended Israel to be—the source of divine life and wisdom for the nations (see Sirach 24:17-24).
In baptism, each of us was joined to Him by the Holy Spirit. As a branch grows from a tree, our souls are to draw life from Him, nourished by His word and the Eucharist.
Paul in today’s First Reading seeks to be grafted onto the visible expression of Christ the true vine—His Church. Once the chief persecutor of the Church, he encounters initial resistance and suspicion. But he is known by his fruits, by his powerful witness to the Lord working in his life (see Matthew 7:16-20).
We too are commanded today to bear good fruits as His disciples, so that our lives give glory to God. Like Paul’s life, our lives must bear witness to His goodness.
Jesus cautions us, however, that if we’re bearing fruit, we can expect that God will ‘prune’ us—as a gardener trims and cuts back a plant so that it will grow stronger and bear even more fruit. He is teaching us today how to look at our sufferings and trials with the eyes of faith. We need to see our struggles as pruning, by which we are being disciplined and trained so that we can grow in holiness and bear fruits of righteousness (see Hebrews 12:4-11).
We need to always remain rooted in Him, as today’s Epistle tells us. We remain in Him by keeping His commandment of love, by pondering His words, letting them dwell richly in us (see Colossians 3:16), and by always seeking to do what pleases Him. In everything we must be guided by humility, remembering that apart from Him we can do nothing.
As we sing in today’s Psalm, we must fulfill our vows, turning to the Lord in worship, proclaiming his praises, until all families come to know His justice in their lives.
Mon, 16 April 2018
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 29
1 John 3:1-2
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.
He is the shepherd-prince, the new David--who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10-13, 23-31).
In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15-17).
Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple, that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10-13; 1 Peter 2:4-7).
Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16),and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.
In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did--as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22-23; Revelation 21:7).
Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.
Mon, 9 April 2018
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Mon, 2 April 2018
Mon, 26 March 2018
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Mon, 19 March 2018
Mon, 5 March 2018
The Sunday readings in Lent have been showing us the high points of salvation history—God’s covenant with creation in the time of Noah; His promises to Abraham; the law He gave to Israel at Sinai.
In today’s First Reading, we hear of the destruction of the kingdom established by God’s final Old Testament covenant—the covenant with David (see 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89:3).
His chosen people abandoned the law He gave them. For their sins, the temple was destroyed, and they were exiled in Babylon. We hear their sorrow and repentance in the exile lament we sing as today’s Psalm.
But we also hear how God, in His mercy, gathered them back, even anointing a pagan king to shepherd them and rebuild the temple (see Isaiah 44:28–45:1,4).
God is rich in mercy, as today’s Epistle teaches. He promised that David’s kingdom would last forever, that David’s son would be His Son and rule all nations (see 2 Samuel 7:14–15; Psalm 2:7–9). In Jesus, God keeps that promise (see Revelation 22:16).
Moses lifted up the serpent as a sign of salvation (see Wisdom 16:6–7; Numbers 21:9). Now Jesus is lifted up on the Cross, to draw all people to himself (see John 12:32).
Those who refuse to believe in this sign of the Father’s love condemn themselves—as the Israelites in their infidelity brought judgment upon themselves.
But God did not leave Israel in exile, and He does not want to leave any of us dead in our transgressions. We are God’s handiwork, saved to live as His people in the light of His truth.
Midway through this season of repentance, let us again behold the Pierced One (see John 19:37), and rededicate ourselves to living the “good works” that God has prepared us for.
Mon, 26 February 2018
Jesus does not come to destroy the temple, but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17)—to reveal its true purpose in God’s saving plan.
He is the Lord the prophets said would come—to purify the temple, banish the merchants, and make it a house of prayer for all peoples (see Zechariah 14:21; Malachi 3:1–5; Isaiah 56:7).
The God who made the heavens and the earth, who brought Israel out of slavery, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands (see Acts 7:48; 2 Samuel 7:5).
Nor does He need offerings of oxen, sheep, or doves (see Psalm 50:7–13).
Notice in today’s First Reading that God did not originally command animal sacrifices—only that Israel heed His commandments (see Jeremiah 7:21–23; Amos 5:25).
His law was a gift of divine wisdom, as we sing in today’s Psalm. It was a law of love (see Matthew 22:36–40), perfectly expressed in Christ’s self-offering on the cross (see John 15:13)
This is the “sign” Jesus offers in the Gospel today—the sign that caused Jewish leaders to stumble, as Paul tells us in the Epistle.
Jesus’ body—destroyed on the Cross and raised up three days later—is the new and true sanctuary. From the temple of His body, rivers of living water flow, the Spirit of grace that makes each of us a temple (see 1 Corinthians 3:16), and together builds us into a dwelling place of God (see Ephesians 2:22).
In the Eucharist we participate in His offering of His body and blood. This is the worship in Spirit and in truth that the Father desires (see John 4:23–24).
We are to offer praise as our sacrifice (see Psalm 50:14,23). This means imitating Christ—offering our bodies —all our intentions and actions in every circumstance, for the love of God and the love of others (see Hebrews 10:5–7; Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5).