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Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

Scripture Readings

I find that with the excitement of Easter and all the preparations, including the music involved with singing in the choir (which I love), I sometimes miss the opportunity to listen carefully and reflect on the Easter story. I don’t mean the overall theme of resurrection; that’s obvious and evident in the entire celebration. Rather, I mean, the actual gospel readings. So, I’m thankful that for a couple more days after Easter Sunday the gospel readings continue telling the story of that first early morning, each from a somewhat different perspective, allowing more time to reflect. And I especially appreciate today’s gospel passage from John (20:11-18) that continues with Mary Magdalene’s experience after the other disciples have left the place of the empty tomb.

John’s gospel passage from Easter Sunday morning omits the final line of when they (the other two disciples Mary Magdalene had told) had seen the empty tomb: “Then the disciples returned home” (20:10). I think this is noteworthy as today’s passage picks up where John left off, continuing that Mary did not return home, but remained outside the tomb “weeping.” And this is when she first encounters the risen Lord, whom she does not initially recognize.

Was it the shock of grief, finding the tomb empty and not knowing where Jesus’ beloved body had been moved to — or the tears blurring her vision — that kept her from initially mistaking Jesus for a Gardner? Perhaps some of both. But it is when Jesus speaks her name, “Mary!”, that she is able to recognize her beloved “Rabbouni.”

This is the Mary whom Luke’s gospel tells us Jesus had cured of seven demons, and who she, along with other women, traveled with and helped support out of her means. This Mary of Magdala had turned her life over to him, and now was faced with the shock of grief. Not only the grief of his death, but also someone seemingly taking the body of her Lord. 

Why does Jesus not immediately call her name? He first asks, as if he doesn’t know, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Does he want to hear her intention/desire first? (Perhaps like a prayer, does Jesus want to hear from us although he already knows our heart’s desire?) And then he speaks her name, “Mary!” and she recognizes him in his recognition of her. In our humanity, we want to be known. Perhaps that is part of the Trinity as well. Being known. Being in relationship. This is where Mary recognizes Jesus, in being known by him.

As we continue in the liturgical Easter season, let us take time to speak our heart’s desires to the Risen One. Let us take time to listen to how we are known, by name, by the One who loves us enough to die for us. May we live as a people of the resurrection. Known and called by name.
~Eileen Miller

Monday in the Octave of Easter

Scripture Readings

In this week's Scripture readings everything is 'new'. The excitement and joy of Easter continues in the days and weeks following the Resurrection of Jesus and in our own lives as well. We may look back on Lent and wonder how (or if) we have been transformed through our Lenten journey. So often, though, the 'treasures' God gives us take time to reveal themselves. They may not be at all what we expect and can tempt us to hesitate and resist.  But let us be patient, keep moving, and spend time 'mining' the treasures of Lent.

Holy Saturday

Scripture Readings (for the Easter Vigil Mass)

Today is Holy Saturday. The day of the tomb. My co-workers could all tell you that I have an unusual love for this day of Holy Week.

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Scripture Readings

I want to reflect today mostly on the Isaiah passage (Isaiah 52:13—53:12), not because the reading of the passion (John 18:1-19:42) isn’t intensely important, but because when it comes to Good Friday and the crucifixion, I think that meditation on the cross, and the liturgy of the day, speaks for itself. What more could I possibly say? If you have a chance at all to get to a Good Friday service, go.

Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper

Scripture Readings

As the Triduum begins today, our readings recall the Passover foreshadowing of the Passion of Jesus that has deflected sin’s arrow.  Just as the lamb’s blood signaled the Lord to pass over the Israelite households, so the Blood of the Lamb that we drink shields us from the spiritual death that normally follows sin.

Wednesday of Holy Week

Scripture Readings

We are half way through Holy Week and Triduum is only hours away.  This said, today is a good day to take stock of our Lenten journey.  Hopefully these forty days have helped us set our face like flint to our own sinfulness.  Hopefully these days have helped us recognize that there is no disgrace in doing our best to turn away from all that distracts us from God.  In short, reflect upon how this journey has brought us closer to the Lord.

Tuesday of Holy Week

Scripture Readings

Today’s readings speak of failure, betrayal, and denial, as well as love and good intentions (which are not always acted on). We hear that Jesus is “deeply troubled” as he enters further into the events that eventually lead to his death. We learn of Judas’s forthcoming betrayal of Jesus and Peter’s eventual denial of him. It is not looking good at this point. We, however, also have the “rest of the story” that the disciples did not yet have. So, I invite you to reflect with me. What are we doing with the rest of that story?

Monday of Holy Week

Scripture Readings

As we begin Holy Week, the gospel readings tell the story of the increasing conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of His time.  Today’s gospel reading mentions that they are planning to kill Jesus (and Lazarus as well) because many of the Jews were “turning away and believing in Jesus.” What exactly were these people turning away from, and what are the things in our lives that we need to turn away from to become disciples of Jesus?

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

A common occurrence in my home is for Avila (who turns two today) to come up to us at bed time and say, "La La La Song!" The La La La Song is one of many songs that have come from Bess's side of the family. For the longest time I did not know its origin but I knew the kids loved it. As Bess sits in the middle of the room clapping and singing they run around her as fast as possible, recreating a scene of her own bedtime rituals. I always thought my creative Father-in-law conjured up this joyful song about virgins and young men dancing. Then I read the responsorial today.

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Game shows like to heighten suspense by asking, “Is that your final answer?” , which potentially psyches out the contestant.  Today’s scriptures display a similar kind of suspenseful questioning,  but for Christians, these readings will not psyche us out, but give us some faith and hope.

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Today’s first reading begins with a covenant - a covenant made with Abram. This covenant, in which God fulfills Abram’s deepest desires - for a family, a legacy, a whole nation that he will father - a nation that will praise the Lord - plays a central role in our salvation history.

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

At an RCIA session I helped lead had a wonderful session where we discussed a variety of questions the candidates and catechumens were asking.   One of the queries was to help the candidate understand the Catholic belief in purgatory.  At the heart of the discussion we was that in this world we are not perfect yet in heaven we are a glorified body purged of our sinful nature.  The process of moving from here to eternity requires us to be purified.

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

During Lent, we are called to examine all the ways in which we are just like the Jews in the passage from John. Jesus tells them that they belong to what is below. In so many ways, so do we. When we imagine that we don’t need to care for the poor because they’re just lazy or otherwise unworthy and, therefore, deserve what they get, we belong to what is below. When we don’t reach out to the homeless because we figure they must have some addiction that is of their own making and, therefore, are not our problem, we belong to what is below. When our hearts go cold to the plight of refugees or immigrants because we think they pose some threat to us, we belong to what is below. Whenever we take satisfaction in the idea that we are better than others or that what we have been blessed with is owing to our merit rather than God’s generosity and grace, we belong to what is below. Or, conversely, when we (like the children of Israel) complain that God’s gifts to us are not good enough, we belong to what is below. And whenever we reject God’s gift of forgiveness by continuing to beat ourselves up for sins God no longer even remembers, we belong to what is below.

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Today's Responsorial Psalm (Ps 23) says, "Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side…". This is a comforting reminder that God is with us, in death or the worst of life's circumstances. It also reminds us that God's protection and comfort is not limited to life circumstances. God is with us in the very deepest parts of our hearts and souls—even in the shadowy corners we try and keep hidden.  

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

There are many things that threaten our spiritual life.  We can become overly scrupulous – convinced that every little thing is the gravest of sins – or we can have a dull conscience that doesn’t convict us of anything.  We can put undue emphasis on material goods or on spiritual goods to the detriment of the other.  And the list goes on for a long time.  I think one the greatest threats we face is for Christ to become lackluster.

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Have you noticed that devotion puts others on the defensive, even if it is devotion for God?  In today's world, when secular people see religion as something not rational, it is easy for devotion to feel threatening.  Regular attendance at worship or reading scripture is threatening for some.  Indeed, even other Christians can feel threatened if they think someone else is trying to be a better Christian than them.  Fasting, attendance at daily mass, praying at other times than table grace, protesting against unjust wages or the death penalty, trying to practice the church's teachings on marriage and family, using clean speech - all these and more become things that put others on the defensive (and not coincidentally, become the subject for a great many arguments online and offline).

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

We see in today’s readings an ebb and flow of relationships.  In Exodus, we see the Lord disown the Israelites, when he says to Moses, “Go down to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt…”  Moses was only God’s chosen spokesman. He didn’t bring anyone out of Egypt; God brought the ten plagues, parted the Red Sea, and led the people by pillars of fire and smoke.  But the Lord has been rejected by the people, and accepts that rejection by assigning them to Moses.  But Moses dares to correct the Lord, responding, “Why should wrath blaze up against your own people?”

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Recently archaeologists unearthed the “Cylinder of Cyrus”.  This artifact is an ancient Persian treasure.  This artifact also tells us by what is written upon it that Cyrus, though conqueror, was a benevolent King.  On the “Cylinder”, an edict stated, (paraphrase) as your King I want you to know peace.  You are no longer slaves and you are free to worship the religion of your ancestors.

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Change is not easy. At least for me it isn’t. And yet, we all know change can be good. I recently left the place I had worked for the past two years to venture out into somewhat new territory in my work as a counselor.  This decision involved a process of discernment and of goodbyes and letting go so that I could embrace something new. I wasn’t ready last year, although I considered it, pondered it, prayed about it, and even struggled with it. It seems that when I was ready and God was ready, certain things fell into place. It was still somewhat of a risk for me, but one that I sensed God was a part of; so, although still challenging, it also brought peace. Although not nearly as significant a change as suddenly being able to walk, I share this recent experience as a way to relate to today’s gospel story.

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Sometimes I hear God’s voice in the most unexpected places.  Recently when watching the Disney movie “Aladdin” the classic scene of Aladdin holding out his hand and asking Jasmine, “Do you trust me?” struck me as wonderful illustration of how God reaches out His Hand and asks us this same question.  Are we willing to leave our fears and worries behind and accept God’s invitation to live in the freedom and joy that He promises?