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/

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!

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.

Do we love as Jesus commands?

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Everything that we believe, all that the Church teaches us about how to live is summed up in and based on these two great commandments. Jesus is the Lord of Love, and if we wish to follow him, we must love as He commands. This command requires such complete and utter selflessness. The perfect example of this humble submission to the law of love is Jesus himself. His love lead Him all the way to the cross, where He suffered and died for us. He is our model and our proof that Love exists. In Him, and from Him we find strength to overcome our selfish inclinations.

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!”

Anointing of the Sick

Gospel Mark 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two

and gave them authority over unclean spirits.

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick

–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.

They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.

He said to them,

“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.

Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,

leave there and shake the dust off your feet

in testimony against them.”

So they went off and preached repentance.

The Twelve drove out many demons,

and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

There are seven sacraments. They are Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation/Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace.

What does this definition mean?

As an outward sign, we can see, touch, and hear the sacraments. We can perceive them with our senses. All of the sacraments were instituted by Christ. That means that we can read in the Sacred Scriptures that Christ himself first performed the sacraments. The sacraments give us grace. Grace is invisible. It is not perceived with our senses. It is a very real sharing in God’s life. Grace makes us holy. Grace makes us one with God. Grace enables us to live a life pleasing to God, and grace is necessary for us to get to Heaven. It is our “ticket to Heaven.”

In this bible story, we see Jesus sending out the Twelve Apostles to share in His ministry of saving the world. Re read the last line. “[A]nd they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” This line gives us evidence of that the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was performed over 2000 years ago. Taught by Christ and being the first ministers of the Church, the Apostles anointed the sick, just as our priest do today.

Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.

There was a man there who had a withered hand.

The Pharisees watched Jesus closely

to see if he would cure him on the sabbath

so that they might accuse him.

He said to the man with the withered hand,

“Come up here before us.”

Then he said to the Pharisees,

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,

to save life rather than to destroy it?”

But they remained silent.

Looking around at them with anger

and grieved at their hardness of heart,

Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

He stretched it out and his hand was restored.

The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel

with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

         Sometimes we see pictures of Jesus and he looks weak. He doesn’t look like a man whom we would want to follow. In theses verses from the Gospel of Mark today, we are reminded that Jesus is not some willowy, weak man.  In fact, when Jesus begins his public ministry he is about 30 years old, and he is a carpenter. Jesus was a strong man. In this Gospel, we encounter  a man with strong feelings. Mark writes that he looks at the Pharisees “with anger,” and that “he is grieved at their hardness of heart.”

       It is important to note that anger is not always sinful. Although we list anger among the seven deadly sins, feelings, or passions such as anger, are not sins. Our passions, or feelings, should help move us to do what is right and good. The sin is allowing our emotions, not our reason to rule us.Indeed there is a form of just anger. Anger over the Pharisees shallow adherence to the law is understandable and justified.

       Jesus is angry because while these Pharisees outwardly follow the prescriptions of the law, inwardly they have hardened their hearts. Jesus knows that they watch him closely, not to share in his goodness, but to “catch” him in a violation of the law. Despite their judgments, Jesus is moved to “do good on the Sabbath,” and to cure the suffering man. In the new testament we learn that the purpose of the law and the true fulfillment of the law is love.