Saturday, April 18, 2009

Second Sunday of Easter

Good News Reflection
April 19, 2009
Divine Mercy Sunday, Cycle B

Sunday's Readings:
Acts 4:32-35
Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 John 5:1-6
John 20:19-31


"My Lord and my God!" This exclamation of Thomas in Sunday's Gospel reading used to be our exclamation at the raising of the Eucharist during Mass. It was a tradition that many Catholics have forgotten in recent years. We should renew this habit. It's an awe-filled, humble recognition of Christ's Lordship AND of the reality of his presence in the form of bread and wine.

Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia: "To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of his body and his blood." (You can get to know the entire amazing document by taking my online course that covers it:

Notice how Jesus convinced the disciples that he'd really come back to life in the flesh. They thought he was a ghost, or they didn't know what to think. They found the miracle of the resurrection too incredible to grasp.

Jesus revealed the truth of the miracle through his wounds. He does the same for you and me in every Mass.

Through the use of our logic and our senses, it's difficult to grasp the truth that the bread and wine miraculously become the actual body and blood of Christ — the same broken and bleeding body that died on the cross 2000 years ago. It's even harder to see and understand that the resurrected Jesus is also there!

During Mass, we enter the timelessness of eternity to benefit from the living Christ. When we realize that we personally need the sacrifice he made on Good Friday, because we've sinned, we begin to look at his wounds from a crucial perspective. It is then that we begin to understand the truth about the Eucharist.

The first step toward believing in the miracle of the Eucharist occurs when we want Christ's death to save us from our sins and his resurrection to take us to heaven. The final step occurs when our desire to unite to Jesus is so thorough that we yearn for him to consume our lives with his presence. We want the divine Jesus to come to us in the flesh — in whatever manner he chooses — to transform us into his likeness.

It is this desire that makes us exclaim whenever we see the Eucharist, "My Lord and my God!"

Questions for Personal Reflection:
Have you ever doubted the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? How do you feel when you look at the Eucharist? Does your spirit exclaim, "My Lord and my God"? Why or why not?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
How has Jesus revealed himself to you in surprising ways — "in his many forms of presence"? When have you found him incredible, difficult to grasp? What helped you accept the truth of his presence in that situation? And how has Jesus revealed his presence to you in the Eucharist?

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday in the Octave of Easter

Friday in the Octave of Easter (Year 1)
*Good News Reflection*
Friday in the Octave of Easter
April 17, 2009
*Today's Readings:*
Acts 4:1-12
Ps 118:1-2, 4, 22-27a
John 21:1-14
*Moving forward into mature spiritual growth*
Recall a time when you had no problem recognizing that Jesus was ministering to you through another person or some unusual circumstance. You had no need to ask Jesus, "Who are you?" or "Is that you, Lord?" because you knew the answer.
Prior to the incident in today's Gospel reading, whenever the resurrected Jesus visited his disciples, they either didn't recognize him or they thought he was a ghost. Now at last they have reached enough spiritual maturity to know Jesus when they encounter him.
What convinced them that this man standing on the lake shore was the Lord? Was it the miracle of the super-abundant catch of fish after a night of frustration and disappointment? As a repeat of what had happened at the beginning of his ministry, this might have been a clue. Or had they learned to sense his nearness?
How do WE recognize Jesus?
Today's first reading reminds us that we reject the presence of Jesus when we fail to recognize him in the people around us, or when we fail to accept what he's doing in our long-suffering hardships. What seems like the wrong way to solve a problem actually is the cornerstone of God's plan. What seems like a reason to doubt God's love turns out to be the cornerstone of new spiritual growth. What seems like the loss of a relationship can become the cornerstone of a new and better friendship. What seems like a day of disaster is really "the day the Lord has made", a day to "rejoice and be glad in it", as today's responsorial Psalm proclaims.
Every time we give up, every time we despair, every time we lose hope, we are misunderstanding Jesus. He is always — always! — busy caring for us and working for our benefit (and for the benefit of everyone else who's involved in the situation). He's always fulfilling the Father's plans for us — plans for our good, a loving plan. It's impossible for him to do otherwise!
Spiritual maturity comes from learning to recognize Jesus and keeping our eyes on him. We mature as he reveals himself through scripture, the Eucharist, in our hearts, in the love of the people around us, in the gifts and talents that God has given us, in the way circumstances fall into place and our prayers are answered, in the circumstances that DON'T seem good, in the people who are difficult to love, and in the dark where we can't see God at all.
When we ask: "Where are you, God? Who are you? Is that you?" — that's when we're on the cusp of new spiritual growth. The next step is to trust that God is right here beside us doing much good.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

Good News Reflection
Thursday in the Octave of Easter
April 16, 2009

Today's Readings:
Acts 3:11-26
Ps 8:2ab, 5-9
Luke 24:35-48

Discovering who we really are

Today's Gospel reading makes a point of calling our attention to the physical nature of Jesus' resurrected body. Why is it important to know that Jesus could still eat? Or that people could feel his skin?

Christianity is the only religion that has a savior who is fully divine yet fully human like us. Until the birth of Jesus, the world was divided between heaven and earth, the eternal and the temporal. God could bridge the gap and touch us, but due to our sinfulness, we could not exceed the limitations of earth and touch him. Since Jesus was the only sinless human who was also divine, he became the bridge that united heaven and earth.

Today, we don't have the opportunity to touch his hands and dine on fish with him like the first disciples did, and so we easily forget just how human Jesus continues to be and will always be throughout eternity. As a human, he was the first physical person to reach heaven. As a human, he comes for us when we die. As God, he embraces all those who want to be united to him eternally and takes them to heaven. Jesus leads the way — physically as well as spiritually.

Eventually, we'll all have "glorified" (i.e., eternal) flesh-bodies like the one Jesus told the disciples to touch. We won't be bodiless spirits floating around. We'll be able to eat fish and double-chocolate fudge brownies (without getting fat of course). I suppose that those who enjoy baking here on earth will be able to continue this scrumptious ministry in heaven, and the rest of us will partake of their goodies! Okay, okay, don't take my food-filled description of heaven too literally; the earthly mind cannot begin to know what heaven will really be like, and I'm only using my limited understanding to explain what I can't really explain.

Are there any wounds in heaven? Yes — the wounds of Jesus. He showed them to the disciples, so we know he's still got them. Will we take our wounds into heaven? No — by his wounds we are totally healed! This would not have been possible if God had not become one of us.

There's a bad excuse we sometimes use when we sin: "Oh well, I'm only human." Only what? Being human means being like Jesus! If we've been baptized, we've been raised up into his humanity and his divinity. Therefore, when we sin, it would be more accurate to say: "Oops, I forgot to be human like Jesus."

Our flesh-nature has been redeemed, but in its weaknesses we often succumb to an animalistic sub-human nature. Or we give ourselves up to non-human demonic influences. Either way, it's not who we really are. Jesus made a big deal about the physical nature of his resurrected body so that we could discover who we really are.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

Good News Reflection
Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
April 15, 2009

Today's Readings:
Acts 3:1-10
Ps 105:1-4, 6-9
Luke 24:13-35

Recognizing Jesus when he comes to us

Mary Magdalene did not recognize the risen Jesus until he called her by name. In today's Gospel story, the disciples on the road to Emmaus do not recognize him until they (1) listen to him explain the Word, and (2) break bread with him.

When Jesus gave them a new understanding of scripture, these two unnamed disciples did not recognize him consciously (in their heads), but their hearts definitely did. Their heads caught up with their hearts at the end of the journey when Jesus gave them a eucharistic sharing of the bread.

The Masses we celebrate today are meant to be a similar journey of rediscovering and recognizing Jesus. First, we have the Liturgy of the Word. To get value from the scriptures as they are read at Mass, we must listen with our hearts.

Then we move into the Liturgy of the Eucharist. When the presiding priest consecrates the bread and wine, it is actually Jesus who is doing it. Christ who dwells within him is doing for us what he did for those two disciples at Emmaus.

If we have opened our hearts to Jesus during the first part of Mass, we will have the faith to see much more than a piece of bread and a cup of wine. We know with our hearts AND our heads that the Eucharist is indeed truly the body and blood of Jesus — not symbols, not what our eyes or our taste buds tell us, but what faith tells us.

Those who still cannot believe with their hearts that the bread and wine are transformed into Jesus himself need only ask Jesus to help them recognize the truth and continue asking until they experience the truth. The desire to believe is the starting point of full belief.

When Jesus comes to you in the Word, is your heart quickened? Do the scriptures touch your heart and change your life? And when the bread and wine miraculously become Jesus, do you fall onto your knees in awe because you are in the presence of God Almighty? Do you feel unworthy to receive onto your lips one so holy as Jesus? When you pray, "Lord I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed," are you changed by the experience? Do you become holier, purer, and more determined to live the way Jesus asks you to?

Finally, are you so moved by your encounter with Jesus in Mass that you leave church like the two disciples in Emmaus? They set out at once and returned to Jerusalem to tell others what Jesus had done for them. They became evangelizers. They did not keep the news to themselves; they shared it so that others could benefit.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

Good News Reflection
Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
April 14, 2009

Today's Readings:
Acts 2:36-41
Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22
John 20:11-18

Experiencing heaven on earth

Why did Jesus tell Mary Magdalene to stop clinging to him in today's Gospel reading? Was he against hugs? Don't you wish you could feel him hugging you right now? How could Mary's embrace interfere with Jesus ascending to the Father?

Chapel of Mary MagdaleneIn Jerusalem, the Chapel of Mary Magdalene in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has a bronze sculpture depicting this scripture. It shows Mary full of joy in the discovery that her dearest friend has risen from the dead. One hand of Jesus is gesturing for her to stop. His other hand is raised toward heaven, and his gaze is following this hand upward. It's as if he's saying, "Look toward heaven; what's earthly doesn't matter nearly as much."

Mary's head is tilted upward. Her gaze wants to go where Jesus is looking, but her eyes are caught between heaven and earth. One of her hands wants to touch Jesus, the other is covering her heart as if realizing that this is where he will dwell after he ascends to the Father.

Have you ever wished you could see and touch Jesus in the flesh? Jesus wants you to know that it's better to focus on the blessings of heaven than to wish for an experience that's only brief and temporary. Jesus does hug us — through every hug we get from other people — but the physical touch is never enough. That's why he told Mary not to "cling" or "hold" onto him, instead of saying, "Don't hug me."

To fully embrace the eternal, we have to let go of everything that we cling to on earth. Saints have levitated in prayer because their spirits were stronger than their physical bodies, which were no longer attached to this world. Their relationship with God was stronger than the distractions of this world.

Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit to raise our spirits to the Father. What are you clinging to that hinders this? Sometimes, we hold onto the subconscious idea that God the Father is imperfect like our human fathers. Maybe we're more interested in OUR ideas, OUR goals, OUR desires (which will only satisfy us for a season) than in what the Father wants for us (which will satisfy us for all eternity).

Do we fail to make sacrifices for others because we're clinging to our own earthly comfort? Are we refusing to stretch beyond our comfort zones, because we want to hold on to what's familiar? Are we hanging on to any old habits or addictions?

Resurrected living means letting Jesus raise us from the dying, temporary world of earthly satisfactions into the joys of heaven. We don't need to touch Jesus to feel touched by him. He's inviting us to let our spirits soar heavenward while we're still living on earth. We fly to him whenever we remember that what's earthly doesn't matter nearly as much as what awaits us in heaven.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday in the Octave of Easter

Good News Reflection
Monday in the Octave of Easter
April 13, 2009

Today's Readings:
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Ps 16:1-2a, 5, 7-11
Matt 28:8-15

Living in the good news of Easter

Do you know what it's like to be fearful and, at the same time, overjoyed? That's how the women in today's Gospel passage felt when they encountered the risen Lord for the first time.

I can remember numerous occasions when I felt this way. For one, the moment my first child was born. In the midst of that wonderfully awesome joy, fear made me wonder: Can I be a good enough mom to handle the unimaginable responsibilities of raising this son into a God-serving man? (The answer was: "Yes, but only with the Holy Spirit's help. And when he grows up and seems to stray from My plans for him, it's not because you failed as a parent; it's because the Holy Spirit isn't finished with him yet.")

Think of any overwhelming, maybe even impossible task that you've been given. Or any God-ordained task you did do but apparently failed to do well.

Easter is not merely the end of Lent. Resurrection is not merely the end of an old life or old habits or an old problem that you've wanted to overcome. Easter is a season — an unending season — of joyfully running to others to share the Good News like those first evangelists on that first Easter Sunday. The resurrection experience is a season of letting your faith be a source of joy for those who don't yet know how to find Jesus, like the women did for the disciples on that gloriously surprising day.

How overwhelming does THAT task feel?

If we really understand that we're Easter people, which means that we've been resurrected from the destruction of sin, how can we restrain our joy? When we're fully aware, we don't want to keep this truth to ourselves. We push the fearfulness aside and freely share our life-changing experiences with others.

The movement of growth during Lent was inward. We reflected on our need for forgiveness. Now, the movement of growth is outward. In this, there is much to fear: What if we get rejected? What if we get persecuted for our faith?

But Jesus tells us what he told the first disciples: "Don't be afraid." And why not? The reason is simple and profound: Because he is with us always, and because he fills in the gaps of our inadequacies with his Holy Spirit. Jesus the Man kisses our boo-boos and embraces us in our persecutions. His Spirit gives us wisdom and inspiration.

The joy of Easter Sunday is nice, but let's be honest. In our everyday lives, do we live more by fear or by joy? Easter Sunday is the beginning of a season. Easter faith is the beginning of a lifetime of joy. It's time to move beyond the Cross. We have much to celebrate in Jesus. There are people around us who need to see us celebrate our faith. The Good News isn't GOOD news unless it raises people up out of their miseries. This is the evidence that the world needs, proving that Jesus is still very much alive.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

My audio of this reflection is podcast at:

Good News Reflection
April 12, 2009
Easter Sunday, Cycle B
The Resurrection of the Lord

Readings for Easter Morning:
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Col 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9 or Mark 16:1-7 or Luke 24:13-35

Celebrate! This Sunday is the anniversary of the Great Surprise, and just as the first disciples were surprised to find the tomb empty, so too does God have some resurrection surprises ready for you!

In Easter Sunday's Gospel reading, there's a lot of scurrying around and excitement and reporting some amazing news that no one yet understands. Even though Jesus had given them advance notice that he would rise again after being put to death, God's plans took them by surprise. They did not expect a resurrection. They didn't understand that it was a necessary part of the Messiah's mission.

God's plans often take us by surprise. In so many situations of our lives, we don't understand that hard times are going to produce wonderful victories. We fail to realize that the empty tombs in our lives (the losses that we grieve) are beginnings of important new growth. We cannot imagine how Jesus is going to redeem bad times into great blessings.

We suffer through the hardships, just trying to cope, waiting for an opportunity to finally walk away from our crosses. Meanwhile, Jesus wants to give us an Easter morning because of the crosses.

How can we recognize the glory of God when we're depressed? How can we realize our resurrections when we're cursing our crosses? It's impossible!

To be the Easter people that we're supposed to be, we have to learn how to see the hope of resurrection in the pain of the cross. We have to trust that Jesus is always there, working a plan to redeem bad into good. We have to allow ourselves to be surprised by God.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
What trials are you still enduring? What cross are you still carrying? Are you still being nailed for something you did not do? Which of your desires or dreams are dying? Ask the Father to use your sufferings for the glory of his kingdom. What new life is this creating for you?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
What are some of the ways in which God has surprised you? How is this an experience of resurrection?

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Renew the Face of the Earth

Lord Send out Your Spirit In commemoration of the completion of the Year of St. Paul! Check out for higher resolution versions!