Gospel Reflection: Grief to Joy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”-John 16:20-23

Today’s Gospel presents a beautiful scene between Christ and his disciples.  Christ has told them that he must go, and the disciples are sad to hear that their teacher and friend will not be around.  Jesus is honest and tells that they will mourn and that the world will rejoice.  Jesus encourages them by saying that their grief will turn to joy.  He then uses the imagery of a mother who has just given birth.  Though the birth was painful the child was worth it.

Is there something that you are grieving over today.  Perhaps it is a hard situation at work, the loss of a loved one, or some other difficulty.  It is easy to focus on the bad that is happening, but lets remember who we are in Christ.  Christ is with us and he we will go through hard times.  People will look at how you react to certain situations and will draw their own conclusions.  Will they conclude that you are a catholic by the way you react, or will they fail to see Christ?  Let’s remember the words of Christ in today’s Gospel.  He told the disciples that their hearts will rejoice.  The period you are in is temporary.  Keep your eyes on Christ and let him lead you.

 

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“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
-St. Catherine of Sienna

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Gospel Reflection: True Peace

The disciples said to Jesus,
“Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.
Now we realize that you know everything
and that you do not need to have anyone question you.
Because of this we believe that you came from God.”
Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived
when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world.”-John 16:9-33

There is nobody in the world that is exempt from worry.  We are being bombarded from a million different directions.  We have family obligations, work obligations, church obligations, and many more.  We don’t take enough time to rest and refresh ourselves.  What does this have to do with today’s Gospel reading?  If you think about it carefully, the two are very closely related.

The disciples made a statement that they believe that Christ came from God.  Christ responds by saying that each will be scattered.  What happens when we let the pressures of the world become our priority?  We try to do so much that don’t study scripture, the catechism, or may even miss mass.  Everything else becomes more important than God.  At this point we become scattered, and Satan has easy prey.  He has someone that he can deceive and twist their priorities.

In today’s Gospel Christ tells the disciples that He has overcome the world.  He also says that true peace lies in himself.  We have busy lives, but you will find peace in your job, money, or more toys.  True peace is found by cleaving to Christ.  Is Christ our priority today?

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“Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ, just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it, can they derive peace, grace, and truth”.-St. Anthony of Padua

Gospel Reflection: We all Need a Helper

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.”- John 15:26-16:4A

We all need a helper.  From the beginning of creation God said that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).  In today’s Gospel passage Jesus is telling the disciples that the world will hate them because they hated Christ.  Sometimes we tend to forget that the disciples were Jews, and because they followed and proclaimed Christ they were excommunicated from the fellowship of Israel.  They were not able to go into the synagogue and worship as they had always done.  This was serious business, and it becomes even more serious when one looks at the Rabbinic interpretation of Numbers 25:1-13 in the Talmud.  The rabbinic tradition says that apostates were to be killed as a sacrifice to God.  Yikes!

What does all this have to do with us today?  Just like the disciples we are in need of a helper.  Christ has not left us as orphans, but loves and cares for us.  The Holy Spirit was sent from the Father and the Son to be of advocate and comforter.  Just as with the disciples the Holy Spirit will give us courage to live in a world that has a growing hatred for Christ and his Church.  Take heart and have faith.  Christ is with us until the end of the age.  The Holy Spirit will help us testify to the person of Christ, and stand up for what is right.  Go forth today in the peace of Christ, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your steps.

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Enrich your soul in the great goodness of God: The Father is your table, the Son is your food, and the Holy Spirit waits on you and then makes His dwelling in you. — St. Catherine of Siena

Deeds of Christ

Every Sunday in the creed we declare that Jesus is our Lord, but what does that mean?  What implications does that have on our lives?  In the Gospels Jesus tells us to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31), love God (Matthew 22:37), and show mercy (John 8:11).  How do his words correlate to his deeds, and what does that mean for us as his followers?  This essay will take a deeper look at the scriptures referenced to illustrate how the words that Christ spoke correspond with his actions.

Jesus often spoke of what we now the call the perfect commandment.  Jesus spoke about loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as yourself.  The first verse mentioned above is Mark 12:31 which states, “The second is this ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these” (NRSV).  To love your neighbor means so much more than greeting them when they are in their front yard.  Whether they treated him as he deserved or not, Jesus showed compassion to everyone (Collins 51).  He healed the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8:13, St. Peter’s mother in law in Matthew 8:14, and healed a multitude in Matthew 14:14.  In healing the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8:13, Jesus shows that his salvation is for Jew and Gentile alike.  In addition, this was a member of the occupying government and an enemy of the Jewish people.  He shows us what we must do with those we do not agree with.  We must still them as people as they are created in the image of God.

To go along with loving our neighbor, Jesus tells us “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NRSV).  How is loving God a deed of Jesus?  As the Son of God he is the only way to the Father, and Christ said we can only know the Father through him (John 14:6).  To love God with all your heart is to go where he leads and to do what he is telling us to do.  In short, we must follow his will if we love him with our whole being.  Jesus demonstrated this is many ways, with the most notable being his Passion.

In the garden of Gethsemane, we see the human will of Jesus manifesting itself.  He is so terrified about what he must endure that he begins to sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44).  This is a medical condition known as Hematidrosis, and occurs when an individual in experiencing extreme stress.  He prayed that he may not have to endure, and this shows he is human.  He was scared, and above all it means he can relate to what we go through.  Though he was terrified, Christ knew his mission and because of his overwhelming love we are redeemed.

In John chapter 8 Jesus encounters a group of Pharisees who are circling a woman and looking to stone her for the sin of adultery.  According to Leviticus 20:10 this was the consequence for such an action, but adultery takes two people.  The woman was about to get stoned, but where was the man?  It is speculated that the man was in the crowd that was wanting to stone the woman, and this was a way to trap Jesus.  He knew what was going on, and said if someone present has never sinned then he could throw the stone (John 8:7).  Jesus told her to stop sinning, and did not condemn her.  He forgave her for the sin by saying “Neither do I condemn you.  Go your way, and from now on do not sin again” (John 8:11 NRSV).  Jesus showed mercy and did not just talk about it.  We see this several times in the Gospels, but this example is significant as the penalty was death for such a sin.  He gave the woman a new life and hope, and he does the same for us.

 

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