Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter (Year 1)
*Good News Reflection*
  Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
  May 15, 2009
*Today's Readings:*
  Acts 15:22-31
  Ps 57:8-10, 12
  John 15:12-17
*Laying down your life for Jesus*
  In today's Gospel reading, Jesus emphasizes that he has chosen us to be his friends. HE chose YOU! He looked at you and said to the Father, "I want to be close friends with this one!"
  Slaves serve their masters out of fear and duty. Friends serve each other because they care. Jesus doesn't want us to serve him with the "do it or else" fear of punishment. Nor does he want us to serve him out of obligation and duty. Rather, he wants us to realize that he's here to serve us because he cares about us. Then, because we appreciate him so much, we want to serve him by helping him serve others.
  In our enthusiastic love for Jesus, we love everyone whom he loves, and we want to serve them as he serves them. Jesus and you are friends who partner together to make the world a better place.
  Jesus summarized all of the commandments of God in one sentence: "Love one another as I love you." Do you obey God because you love OTHERS? Do you obey Church teachings because you love others?
  We are friends of Jesus to the extent that we love everyone whom he loves and to the extent that we serve them as he serves them, for he serves them not only with us but through us. This of course means doing good to everyone, even those who bring trouble into our lives. Jesus is our example of how to serve the sinner while being uncooperative with their sins.
  Loving means caring; it does not mean putting up with evil. Do you pray for those who've made you suffer? Not this kind of prayer: "Punish them God the way they deserve. Make them suffer like they made me suffer." Instead, do you ask God to heal their souls and bless them with his mercy? If they don't repent, they will reap what they sow and suffer terrible consequences. Do you feel sad for them?
  It can be difficult, but by uniting ourselves to Jesus and his way of handling sinners, we obey the Father just like Jesus did. Then, whatever we ask the Father in his name (i.e., while united to Jesus), it will be given to us. This is a fact, because when we're united to Jesus, we don't ask for anything that is not already the Father's will for us. And thus, Jesus gets another opportunity to serve us, to his great delight.
  If we want to grow deeper in our love relationship with God, we will serve our friend Jesus by serving those around us, because he cares about them and so do we. In friendship, Jesus serves us as we walk the extra mile for others.
Love is the bottom line and top priority of every decision we make and every action we take, even if it doesn't seem right in our limited understanding and our wounded hearts. This is how we lay down our lives for our friend Jesus.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter (Year 1)
*Good News Reflection*
  Thursday of the Fifth    Week  of Easter
May 14, 2009
*Today's Feast: Saint Matthias, Apostle *
  Pray for vocations:
*Today's Readings:*
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
Ps 113:1-8
John 15:9-17
*The winning lottery ticket*
Today's first reading shows how Saint Matthias became one of the "official" twelve Apostles or first bishops of the Church. Until this ceremony, he had been one of the many unnamed disciples who followed Jesus throughout his ministry. He watched the baptism of Jesus. He travelled with Jesus to learn from him. He was probably among the seventy-two whom Jesus appointed and sent out ahead of him (see Luke 10) to practice preaching  the Good News.
He might even have been present at the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, although he wasn't  one of the twelve who were seated at table with him. And apparently he witnessed the crucifixion, encountered the risen Christ, and watched him ascend to heaven after hearing Jesus commission all of his disciples to spread the Good News throughout the earth.
What can St. Matthias teach us today? We know very little about him, but in the way he was ordained we are reminded that sometimes our vocations come unexpectedly after a period of serving in a different kind of calling.
Did Matthias ever wish to become included in Christ's innermost circle? Did his spirit stir when he grew in grace and spiritual wisdom as he listened to Jesus for three solid years of training and education? Did this cause him to strive for a leadership role in the spreading of the Good News?
From the scriptures, we can only see that he responded to the call of the priesthood in one short day, when Christ inspired Peter to find a replacement for Judas, and he was nominated by his peers, and the lottery  selected him instead of Barsabbas.
What has Jesus selected you to do? How many readers of this reflection have a calling to the priesthood or permanent diaconate without yet knowing anything but an inner stirring of the spirit? And those who are not called to be clergy: What is your apostolate?
The word "apostle" means "one who is sent". Vatican Council II produced a document, entitled /The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity/, urging all lay people to realize that they been sent by Christ to spread God's kingdom throughout the earth. We all have unique but necessary roles connected to the ministry of Christ. In this decree, the bishops officially call  us to contribute to Christ's mission by fully utilizing our particular gifts and talents and opportunities.
What are you waiting for? The winning lottery ticket? You already have it! Say yes to doing whatever Jesus is calling you to do next, whatever interest is stirring up within your heart. In the eyes of St. Matthias, taking action on your calling makes you quite a big winner.

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

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tuesday of the 5th Week of Easter

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter (Year 1)
*Good News Reflection*
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
May 12, 2009
*Today's Readings:*
Acts 14:19-28
Ps 145:10-13ab, 21
John 14:27-31a
*What do you want most from Jesus?*
Imagine what it would be like if Jesus were to visit you in person , visibly and audibly , and he sits you down next to him, holds your hands in his, and tenderly tells you that you're about to die. He says that soon he will take you home to live with him forever in heaven.
And further imagine that he smiles at you and then says that before you go, you can give a gift to the people you're leaving behind on earth — any gift at all, no matter what the cost or how impossible it might seem. It'll be your last will and testament. What gift would you choose?
Let's say that you want to give a healing to Uncle Joe, money to pay off the debts of your unemployed friends, and a soul-mate for your single co-worker. But Jesus explains that it must be one and the same gift that you give to each person, a gift directly from you, representing who you are. This gift is the legacy that you will leave behind. They'll mention it at your funeral and joyfully discover that they all received the same wonderful gift from you. It will comfort them in their sorrow.
The legacy that Jesus left behind — his gift to us, which he explained in today's Gospel passage — is peace. True and lasting peace. A peace that calms troubled hearts. A peace that drives away our fears. A peace that is heaven on earth.
If we accept this gift of peace, we have to trust God no matter what's going on around us. We cannot trust our own interpretation of what's best for us and how our problems should be solved. We have to trust in God's wisdom and limitless compassion. If we take our eyes off of Jesus, we turn away from this gift. Remaining in constant communication with him will keep us securely in his peaceful embrace.
Fear tells us not to trust God, which steals us peace by replacing it with troubled hearts. Fear always lies to us. Remember it this way: F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. To regain the peace that Jesus has given you, first identify the falsehoods that your fears are speaking. Then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what the truth about it is. Listen carefully. If you need help discerning God's voice, talk to a spiritual director or a prayerful Christian friend. Once the truth becomes audible, trust it. AND ACT UPON IT before fear gets a chance to speak up again!
What gift do you want most from Jesus today? If you have his peace, everything else you want will either follow automatically, in God's perfect timing, or they will no longer matter.
Re-read this Gospel passage and put your own name into it. "My peace I give to you, ." Interpret these verses as a personal testament of love from Jesus to you. Receive the gift he has bequeathed to you!

© 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!