Third Sunday of Easter, April 26
Luke 24: 35-48
“While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them,
“Have you anything here to eat?”
In our Gospel chosen to be read on this Third Sunday of Easter we see Jesus teaching his disciples just how wonderful life can be. So often we hear and talk about the negative things that happen in life, the crises, divorces, disease and illness. And we get so tied up in all of this that we miss the beauty and joy of life and living.
We all seem to be in such a hurry these days and in such a rush to get heaven knows where. Where are we all going so fast? If the speed limit on the highway was 150 mph, we would surely find people going 170 mph. Why this big hurry? Years ago I can remember Ann Landers saying often in her columns: slow down and smell the roses. This is not bad advice for those of us living today.
Jesus shares a beautiful meal with his disciples in today’s Gospel. The mood seems to be light and happy. When is the last time you took the time to prepare and sit down to a fine meal with family or friends and enjoy the moment? Meal time is a wonderful time for the whole family to get together, pause, settle down for a while, unwind, share their day and doings with one another, and to just get to know what the other person is all about. It’s a time to listen, learn and share. But sometimes I look at our busy, busy families these days; the one going here, the other there, and wonder if ever the twain shall meet.
Spring time is also a good time to realize the beauty of the earth on which we live and the beauty of the people who inhabit it. There are so many wonderful people to meet. I noticed this when I was in Italy after I learned the language. Several times we had the opportunity to just drive out into the countryside and meet the people who lived and farmed there. It was good to take the time to meet them, talk with them, learn about their lives and interests, and not always to be in such a hurry to move on. It is also a great thing just take a ride with the family today, to go out in the country and see nature, the trees and flowers with a few turkeys and deer thrown in for good measure. All of these things can really make life worth living, but we have to take the time to do them.
Let’s thank God for the gift of leisure in our lives. Let’s follow good old Ann Lander’s advice and stop, slow down, and just smell the roses.
Monday of the Third Week of Easter, April 27
John 6: 22-29
In today’s Gospel reading we see the aftermath of the miracle of the loaves and fishes where Jesus fed the crowd with a few loaves of bread and some fish. After the people had eaten, Jesus managed to slip away from them. The people finally discovered where he went and got into their boats and followed him to Capernaum where they found him again. In reality they went chasing after him hoping for another meal at his expense. Jesus realized this and told them to raise their sights a bit higher and seek the lasting spiritual food that he could give them.
Why do we follow Jesus, why do we chase after him? Did he grant some favor we asked of him and we are looking for more favors? Maybe we too can set our sights a little higher and work to attain Jesus’ values of compassion, caring, forgiving, healing and serving other people. These things constitute the “food” for our souls and “endure for eternal life.”
Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter, April 28
John 6: 30-35
The Gospel reading for today reminds me of the Gospel episode where Jesus met the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s well and asked her for a drink of water. In the conversation that ensued he told her to seek the living water that could quench her thirst forever. In today’s Gospel he tells the crowd to seek the true bread from heaven that will satisfy their hunger forever. We too are to seek our spiritual nourishment from God’s gifts.
I read a story recently about an immigrant family from Europe who spent almost all of their money for boat tickets to the USA. In order to have a little money for when they arrived at their destination, they stayed in their cabin during the voyage and ate hard bread that they had brought with them rather than purchase the expensive food in the dining room on board. After they docked in New York, they discovered that the food on board the ship was included in the price of the ticket. They had missed out on the good meals.
So it is sometimes with us and the Food and Drink given to us by Christ. The ticket to the Kingdom is belief (a deep faith and trust) in Jesus. When I have that, all the rest comes along with it. We do nothing to earn or deserve the eternal gifts of Jesus. They are his pure gifts to us all and included in the ticket.
My God, how good you are to us.
Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter, April 29
John 6: 35-40
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
C.S. Lewis in his work Mere Christianity wrote: “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Humankind feels sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Such desires do exist in us that no experience in this world can satisfy. I have read in many spiritual books, for example, that I have a desire deep in my heart or soul to return to my Creator. I know of no experience I have had here on earth that can fully satisfy that desire. I have another deep desire to be happy and free of pain and suffering. No earthly experience can satisfy this desire either. Also I have the desire to be whole, complete, fulfilled and holy as the Lord God is holy. This desire isn’t going to happen here on earth either. Nor will my desire for joy, peace and complete serenity, or the desire I have to be re-united with my family and friends someday, be satisfied here on this earth. I dare say, we all have these desires. Do you think like C.S. Lewis that just maybe we have been made for another world?
Thursday of the Third Week of Easter, April 30
John 6: 44-51
“Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.”
I don’t know about you, but I would imagine that your idea of God, like my idea of God, has changed over the years. When I was a child going to grade school, I really believed Jesus was always watching me and just waiting for me to goof somehow so he could write it down in his ever-present notebook so he could punish me later for what I did. I thought God was revengeful, exacting, and somehow expected me to be perfect before I could ever even hope to get into heaven.
Now I believe that God is going to save us all in spite of ourselves. I believe he is loving, merciful, compassionate, forgiving. There is no ever-present notebook. Nothing I do affects Jesus at all. I believe that all of us are very special to him and that we are all going to enjoy eternity loving him and one another. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” I see all the above in Jesus and in the Scriptures. My God is a loving God. Scripture tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8) and he/she who abides in love abides in God and God in them.
My God, you are far more than I can ever imagine until I see you face to face.
Friday of the Third Week of Easter, May 1
John 6: 52-59
Jesus of Nazareth
Requests the honor of your presence
At a meal given in his honor.
I’m quite sure that most of you have at one time or another seen the above invitation. It was written by that notable author, Anonymous, and I have seen it any number of times.
Jesus issues a number of invitations to us in the Scriptures. He tells us: Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will refresh you. I will re-fresh you, he says. I will make you fresh all over again. I will make you new again. I will restore your strength and enthusiasm for life. Jesus also invites us to eat his flesh and drink his blood that we might have life everlasting.
Let us accept these and his other invitations often. Daily Mass and reception of the Eucharist are beautiful ways to begin our days. Our happiness, peace and calmness in living depend on our recharging the spiritual batteries of our person often, and I know no better way to do this than Mass and the Eucharist daily. Get rid of the excuses for not doing this! Try it just for a month and notice the difference in life!
Saturday of the Third Week of Easter, May 2
John 6: 60-69
“As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.”
Many of the disciples took offense at the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel selection and his claim to being the source of life and giving them his flesh to eat and blood to drink. The insistence that it is the spirit that gives life while the flesh is of no avail signifies the limitations of human understanding.
Once again, I don’t know about you, but the last thing, absolutely the last thing, I want to do is return to my former way of life. I am speaking of my former life when it included the disease of active alcoholism. Outside of that I had a wonderful former life. It’s like: Outside of that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? But I want no more of the alcoholic way of life. It was in putting that behind me that I discovered the Spirit and embraced it; and life has been wonderful ever since. Someone is trying to tell me something. I have proved to myself conclusively that it is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is to no avail. I see some who would choose to go the same way I went in recovery but who finally reject the Spirit and return to the ways of the flesh, and they just proceed then to get worse, not better.
Allow me to quote for you the first three Steps of the Spirit Life:
1. We admitted we were powerless over _________ and our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity (completeness, fulfillment, wholeness, holiness).
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.
These may be summed up briefly in the following phrase: I can’t, God can, I let Him.
Believe me, it works. The flesh and all its attractions do not stand a chance against the above Steps of the Spirit.