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.

This life is passing away

Luke 16:19-31

There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, rember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment. ‘ But Abraham said, ‘The have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’ “

This world is temporary. Our lives here on this earth are short. We will die. All of us will die one day. All our riches and stuff, everything that we had, our clothes, our homes, our toys, our video games and i pods. They will be of no use. The only thing that will matter then will be how we lived, and most especially how we loved. Did we love God? Did we obey him and worship him? Did we see him in others? Did we love and care for him in others?

We must be realistic. We must look at ourselves and how we treat others. How do we treat the people whom we encounter each day? Be honest, because that is what matters in this life. Our life here on earth is passing away and it is so short compared to what awaits us after death. Choose to love God and others. Choose eternal happiness.

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!

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.

Jesus will come again

Matthew 24:42-44

Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

We profess our faith every time we pray the Creed.  We can think of the Creed as the most basic “list” of all that we believe. Each Sunday we say :

He [Jesus] ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his Kingdom will have no end.

Jesus will come again. This world will end.  When Jesus returns, he will have power over all things and every one. Every single person will be judged, and there will be no tolerance of sin, death and evil. Those who refuse to accept Him and His Kingship will be eternally damned, but those who are honest and humble will acknowledge their guilt, apologize, and accept Jesus’s mercy and forgiveness. To these He will give eternal happiness and an everlasting share in His Kingdom.

Are you envious because I am generous?

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

Matthew 20:1-16

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’So they went off.

And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,beginning with the last and ending with the first.’

When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour,and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’

He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’

Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”


Commentary

         Envy is sadness over the good that another receives. Instead of being happy for the good of another, or content with what we have, we believe that we are deprived of something that is due to us.  In this passage, the laborers who were first chosen, given in to envy.:

…when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour,and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’

            Notice a few things. They are looking at what the others received instead of peacefully awaiting their own compensation. They “grumble” against the landowner, even though they were fortunate to be chosen in the first place. What if they had been waiting all day and had never been hired? Clearly the landowner saw some good potential in them from the very beginning. And what is it that they say to him? “…you have made them equal to us,” They clearly did not respect the others and were affronted that the landowner would treat them as equals.

          Despite their envy and lack of charity toward the landowner and toward the other workers, our Lord gently rebukes them and warns them to not let this sentiment grow and give way to further sin:

‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go.

And then He reminds them that all that they have received, all that each laborer has received, both the opportunity to work and the recompense for work well done is from Him.

For Contemplation

When we are tempted by envy, we make look at the Lord and all the good that he does with us, in us and for us and say “Thank you!”

They scurried about the country and brought their sick

Gospel Mk 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,

Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret

and tied up there.

As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him.

They scurried about the surrounding country

and began to bring in the sick on mats

to wherever they heard he was.

Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,

they laid the sick in the marketplaces

and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;

and as many as touched it were healed.

In Jesus time, there was no TV, no Internet, no cell phones, no phones at all.

How did they recognize him? How did they know about Him?

The people heard about Jesus. Word travelled quickly. Everyone was talking about Jesus. They had heard that he was moving about the area, teaching, driving out demons, and curing others. They heard that he was not like the other leaders. He was humble, gentle, and kind. He cared deeply about the people. He eased their suffering.

When the people heard that Jesus had arrived at their town, they were so excited! Everyone wanted to see him, to be near to him. They brought those who were sick and what wonderful hopes they had! Just to touch the edge of his cloak would be enough.