The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

John 14:15-18

This gospel passage is taken again from the Last Supper discourse. Jesus is speaking with the 12 before His arrest and crucifixion. Jesus uses this discourse to encourage His Apostles. He promises them, that although He is leaving, the Spirit, who is sent by the Father, will never leave them. Not only will the Holy Spirit be with them, the Spirit will dwell within them. Jesus does not explain how this will occur, but He does make one thing clear. This Spirit, whom He calls “the Spirit of truth,” is rejected by the world.

Throughout John’s gospel the evangelist makes a contrast between “the world” and Jesus Christ. In the opening prologue John writes, “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not…and his own people received him not.”(Jn 1:9-11). Later in the Last Supper discourse, John recounts Jesus saying,”If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”(Jn 15:18)

John is not speaking here of the world that God originally made and declared “good”(see Genesis 1). Rather, the evangelist is acknowledging that with the first sin, creation “fell” from grace, and ever since, humanity has been in rebellion against God. Jesus came to quash the rebellion and redeem humanity and all of creation. The forces of sin are strong and it was not easy mission, in fact, Jesus suffered terrible betrayal, torture and death to vanquish the enemy. The Resurrection is the sign of His victory. “The world” will come to an end, but He lives forever.

Reflection

“The world” which rejects Jesus and rejects the Spirit also rejects the followers of Jesus who are inspired by the Spirit. Though this might sound unsettling, Jesus exhorts us, “In the world you will have trouble, but have courage, I have over come the world” (John 16:33).

Activity

It is important to realize that being a Christian requires fortitude, which is strength, perseverance, and courage. This is a virtue that we can practice, and that God will help us to grow in. This week, read about a courageous Christian. There are many, but two you might enjoy reading about are Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Irena Sendler.

I am the door

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:7-10

This gospel is from John chapter 10, which is sometimes called the “Good Shepherd Discourse.” In the lines that come after this excerpt, Jesus explicitly says “I am the Good Shepherd.” This self-proclamation would have been important to the Jews of Jesus’ time. For one thing, the people were very familiar with sheep and shepherds. Jesus was speaking to them with imagery that was relevant and made sense to them. More importantly, for the Israelites, there was connection between shepherding and leading God’s People. King David, the great Israelite king, was first a shepherd. The prophets had strong condemnations for shepherds who lead the people of God astray. The Old Testament foretold a a “good” shepherd who would lead the people back to God- protecting them, guiding them, providing for them.

But this in these lines from John’s gospel, Jesus does not call Himself “the Good Shepherd,” that comes later. Here, He calls himself the “door” or in other translations, the “gate.” How is Jesus a gate?

I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

There is one mediator between God and man. That is Jesus Christ. There is one, and only one savior. That is Jesus Christ.

Take notice, He is not the “gate keeper” or “door opener.” To live fully and abundantly, it is not enough that He open the door. For He tells us, that we must enter into and through Him.

Reflection

The Church is the “Mystical Body of Christ.” To enjoy salvation, and the fruits of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, to have life and have it abundantly, we must enter into His Body- the Church, and then we may draw our life from Him.

Activity

Watch this video to learn more about shepherding

He saw and believed

Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. so she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved and said to them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came bout with the other disciple, …they both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came…and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. The the other disciple who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-10

“He saw and believed.” In this Gospel account, John sees the empty tomb and the discarded burial cloths, and believes.

Even before this takes place, John loved Jesus. He respected Him. He left his father and their family business of fishing to follow Him. And unlike the other disciples, he did not abandon Jesus as Jesus suffered on the cross. But in this story, John tells his readers that it is the empty tomb, the evidence that Jesus had arisen from the dead, that caused John to believe. Furthermore, John admits that neither he, nor the older Peter, even understood the Scripture until the Resurrection.

What does this mean? It means that these two disciples, so close to Our Lord, did not believe Jesus or understand all that the Scripture had foretold about Him.

Jesus had revealed to them who He was and that the Jewish Scripture were fulfilled in Him. Presumably Peter and John accepted this, because they continued to follow Him. Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, “the Son of the living God.”(Matt 16:16) So when John says that it was only on seeing the empty tomb that they came to understand and believe, what is he talking about?

What they had not believed and understood was that Jesus came to overturn the reign of sin and death. God is Lord of life and He never intended suffering or death. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they brought pain, suffering, and death into creation. The Son of God became man liberate man and all of creation from the power of sin and death and God’s Kingdom of life and love might flourish. The empty tomb was the evidence that He was victorious.

For Reflection

Do you believe that Jesus has power over sin and death? If so, ask for his help with any sin that you struggle with.

Activity

For a beautiful printable coloring page go to http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/empty-tomb

For a fun paper mache tomb activity go to https://birmingham.citymomsblog.com/holidays-and-seasons/easter-lessons-mom/

Hosanna to the Son of David

And when they drew near to Jerusalem…Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble , and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed the…And most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him, and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who come in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!

Matt 21:1-11

All that Jesus has said and done on his path to Jerusalem has been designed to alert the Israelites that He is the Messiah, the new king sent by God to deliver God’s People.

Remember that the Israelites are God’s chosen people. A people whom God had formed, saved from slavery, spoken to, given the law to and provided for. They had once been a mighty kingdom. But for almost 1000 years, they were divided, overcome by more powerful kingdoms, driven into exile and ruled by foreigners. Still, many held on to the hope that God would never abandon them. They believed that He would send a Messiah who would deliver them.

Jerusalem had been the epicenter of the Israelite kingdom. The place of true worship and the city of its kings. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is an emphatic signal for the Jewish people that Jesus is the long awaited Hope of Israel. Just before this story in Matthew’s Gospel, Matthew tells of a woman who anoints Jesus’ head with costly oil. In the Jewish tradition, the king’s head was anointed with oil as a sign that this was the man chosen by God to rule the people. In this story, Matthew points out that by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus is the king that had been promised by the prophets Isaiah and Zechariah. Even the crowd’s response reveals Jesus as the new king. They call Him Son of David, linking Him to the mighty King David. They greet Him with psalms of praise that had been prayed by the Israelites for a thousand years. They welcome Him in the same way that they had welcomed their kings of old, throwing their cloaks on the ground before Him and waving palms.

Let us watch throughout this Holy Week and see how He assumes His throne.

If you knew the gift of God…

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”

-John 4:4-10

It is a great mystery that God became man.

The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son, in an act of obedient love, gave up all the majesty, power, and glory of God to take on a human nature. He came into the world as a poor, tiny child, who would eventually be imprisoned, beaten, and crucified.

In this gospel reading from John, we are invited to contemplate, once again, the utter humility and giftedness of God the Son. Jesus is “tired from his journey.” God is tired and thirsty. The Word of God, through whom the seas and the entire universe was created, asks for a drink.

The woman balks at this idea, because “Jews used nothing in common with Samaritans.” This was because the Jews looked down on the Samaritans. Though they both traced their heritage back to Jacob, the Samaritans had intermarried with pagans and adopted some of the pagan traditions. Jesus responds, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you ‘give me a drink’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.

Jesus’ “living water” is his own life, poured out for us. He did this once and for all on the Cross. Each time the Church baptizes a person, Jesus’ living water is again poured out. It cleanses the soul and makes a new creation. The baptized is given a new life in Christ that he/she may enjoy for all eternity.

For Reflection

God will never force us to love him and serve him. It is our free will choice. He comes to us in humility and invites us into a relationship, just as he did with the Samaritan woman.

Activity

Look for an opportunity to cheerfully serve another person. This could be something as simple as getting a drink for a younger sibling who cannot reach the cups, or offering to help a parent do the dishes. Do one small activity of service this day, and offer it to Jesus.

Who are my mother and my brothers?

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3:31-35

Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of all. As the Creed tells us, He is :

the only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

Nicene Creed

It is a great gift that anyone who is baptized as a Christian becomes a child of God and an heir to Heaven. In Baptism, we, or our parents and godparents, on our behalf, reject sin and profess our faith in God the Father, and in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We acknowledge our belief in the Holy Spirit and the holy Catholic Church. Guided by the Spirit, the Church continues Jesus saving work on earth. By Baptism, we enter this Church and become His brother or sister. This makes us destined for Heaven and eternal happiness with God and the saints.

In this passage, Jesus tells us what is necessary to remain a child of God, a member of his family, destined for Heaven.

We must do the will of God.

Do you want to be a brother or sister of Jesus? Do you want to enjoy his friendship, guidance, and care? Do you want to inherit Heaven and an eternity of happiness and peace?

Do the will of His Father.

Reflection

Do I strive to do the will of God the Father? How can I know His Will?

Activity

God reveals his will in Sacred Scripture and in the teachings of the Church. Before you go to bed tonight, look over this examination of conscience and see if you are following God’s will. http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/penance/upload/Examination-of-Conscience.pdf

Amazing Faith

Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not conisder myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here, ‘ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him…

How does one amaze the God-Man?

Faith. Jesus says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

The Centurion is a Roman soldier. The Romans were pagans who often worshipped many false gods. The Israelites were the “Chosen People” of God. God had revealed himself to them and continually saved them and cared for them. They should have had great faith, and indeed many did.  But let us compare the faith of the Jewish elders in this story to that of this Roman soldier.

Remember that the soldier sent “elders of the Jews to Jesus” because he did not believe himself worthy of asking Jesus’s help. What do the elders say? “He deserves to have you do this for him…” The soldier is so humble, he will not approach Jesus. The elders on the other hand tell Jesus, “this man deserves to have you to do this for him.” While they tell Jesus what he should do, the soldier acknowledges that he is not even worthy to have Jesus enter his house. He humbly awaits Jesus’s command, knowing that even a word from Jesus will accomplish all that he asks.

For Reflection:

As Christians, we have been baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and given the gift of faith. Do we believe that Jesus owes us something? or are we like the Roman centurions, humblying asking for Jesus to make us worthy of his help?

Prayer:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my house, but only say the word,

and I shall be healedrome-clipart-roman-centurion-10

If you have thoughts you would like to share…

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Matthew 16:13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”: And Jesus answered him, “blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus established a Church and He chose Peter to lead it. He says it quite explicitly here, “And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.” Today the Church, founded by Christ, celebrates the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.

A feast for a chair you say?

Yes! The Chair of St. Peter represents the authority of Peter. This authority of Peter to be Jesus Christ’s Vicar on earth is revealed most clearly in this passage,”I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Peter receives a share in Almighty God’s authority. Memorize this line: Matthew 16:18.

Jesus established the Church to continue His salvific work when he would take his place in Heaven at the right hand of His Father. His authority, his grace, his redemption comes to us today, over two thousand years later through his Church. Thank God for his Church! Enjoy the feast!

Sin speaks to the sinner…

Matt 5:21-24

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.”

“Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of his heart.” Psalm 36:1

Sin does not begin with our angry actions. By bearing a grudge, or harboring anger we have already committed sin. Jesus’s disciples knew that they must not kill. He wants them to understand that to follow him, it is not enough not to commit grave sin, our hearts must be pure. We must not think evil thoughts or use evil words or speak unkindness.

It is not easy to be a follower of Christ. We are accountable not only for our deeds, but for our thoughts and intentions as well. When we examine our consciences, we must look deeper than what we have done. We must look also at why we have done something. What are the inclinations of our heart. What are our deepest desires and thoughts, for these too must be pure, good and holy.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you

Luke 18:27-28,  37-38

But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you a good measure, packed together, shaken down and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. Fro the measure with which you mearure will in return be measured out to you.

To quote from another passage in the Gospels, “This is a hard saying!” and “Then who can be saved?”  When the apostles put that question to Jesus, He responded, “What is impossible for man is possible for God”

We need God. The demands of love, the demands of Christian discipleship are too great for us. Jesus shows us what love looks like. After being tortured, mocked and spit upon, after being nailed to a cross and left to hang for three hours in the heat of the day, Jesus cries out, “Forgive them Father, for that do not know what they are doing.”  This immense love, and forgiveness is impossible for us, but not for God. If we entrust ourselves to God and rely on His help, He will bring us to perfection.