Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31a)

Although St. Joseph the Worker is an optional memorial, it is one of those feast days that most Catholics remember.  It is fitting, therefore, to apply the readings for the Easter season to work.  Fortunately, it can be done today without stretching the meaning of at least the first reading.

The passage from Acts describes the glory and the hardship of the work of the apostles.  Paul and Barnabas have successfully evangelized apparently thousands of people.  When they return to Antioch, they duly celebrate their accomplishment.  The job has not been easy, however.  Today’s reading also depicts Paul being stoned and left for dead.

All work has similar benefits and costs.  Even in pitching hay a worker develops some skill.  Honest work also brings the satisfaction of contributing to the common good.  On the other hand, work contains elements that challenge physically, mentally, and emotionally.  As the apostles did at the start of their mission, we want to commend our work to God.  And as they no doubt include in their celebration, we need to thank God for work accomplished.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 14:5-18; John 14:21-26)

Fernando de Loazes was archbishop of Valencia during the sixteenth century.  His humanist background saw heavy-handed inquisitorial attempts to convert Muslims as futile.  In fact, he succeeded in evangelization by convincing non-believers of the gospel’s efficacy.  St. Paul had the same experience fifteen hundred years before.  In today’s first reading Paul struggles with cultural differences as he preaches in Lystra.

When Paul cures the paralytic, he no doubt expects to gain the attention of the people.  After all, the crowds in Jerusalem listened to Peter after he made a similar cure.  So Paul prepares himself to preach about Jesus.  But Jews can differentiate between God and His prophets with healing power.  Greeks, on the other hand, assume that the healer is a god.  Paul and Barnabas then are proclaimed “Zeus” and “Hermes” of mythological fame.  Because the people speak the lingua franca, the apostles are unaware of what is happening.  Only when the people bring animal offerings do they catch on.  Paul then tries to reason with the people, but his argument is in vain.  As when he preaches natural theology in Athens, the people are not affected.   He learns by experience the lesson of today’s gospel.  People need to be convinced of God’s love through the love of those who work in His name.

We too can evangelize by showing God’s love to others.  We do this when we listen to another’s pain and respond with a word of understanding.  Love evangelizes more powerfully than either logic or force.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

(Acts 13:26-33; John 14:1-6)

During the first years of the Church, Christians considered themselves members of “the Way.”  They were not the first group to do so.  Essenes, living in the desert, also identified themselves by that name.  Of course, “way” here does not designate a road as friends living on Willow Way. Rather, “the Way” indicates a form of living, a “way of life.”  Jesus’ disciple in today’s gospel confuses these two senses of “way.”

Jesus is trying to console his companions as he prepares to leave them.  He gives them the reason for his departure - to prepare a place for them in the family home.  He adds that he will return to take them to his Father’s eternal home.  Finally, he says that they know “the way” to go until his return.  At this point Philip, who at the beginning of the gospel was eager to follow Jesus, demurs.  He claims ignorance of “the way” as if following Jesus were a matter of walking up an avenue.

We know “the way” of Jesus.  It is conforming ourselves to his mode of love.  Where that word has been terribly distorted these days, we strive to restore its original meaning.  We seek the well-being of one another without worrying about the cost to ourselves.  This is the way that Jesus has shown us.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

(Acts 13:13-25; John 13:16-20)

Pope Francis has recently proclaimed Pope VI a saint.  St. Paul VI, a wise and holy man, wrote two outstanding Church documents.  One, Humanae Vitae, critiqued the ascendant values or, better, disvalues of artificial contraception.  The other, Evangelii Nuntiandi, proposed a dynamic plan for Church members in the modern world.  This plan reflects a statement in today’s gospel

Jesus indicates to his disciples that they are being sent into the world.  He wants them to proclaim his death on the cross as the definitive sign of God’s love.  The same disciples carried out their mission, but still not all the people believed.  So the mission has been handed on to Christian disciples today.

That is, it has been given to us.  We are to proclaim the love of God not so much by word as by deed.  Jesus shows the disciples on hand what love means by washing their feet.  He then asks that they do likewise.  In the same way we are to wash the feet of others.  The washing is not literal.  We are not to open foot baths all over town.  Rather the washing is figurative.  We are to serve others by doing what is truly helpful and needed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist

(1 Peter 5:5b-14; Mark 16:15-20)

St. Mark’s gospel is the shortest of the four and in all probability the first written.  Its Greek is rustic, and its text is full of primary emotions.  But none of these factors make it so compelling.  More than anything Mark’s gospel conveys urgency because it justifies the suffering of discipleship.

After Peter intuits Jesus’ identity as Messiah, Jesus gives a warning to those who will accept him as such.  Since he will suffer for the sake of God’s kingdom, they must prepare themselves for the same.  Jesus does not tolerate any pretension of glory among them.  Rather he tells them that the one who will be first must serve the rest until the end.  The passion narrative in Mark does not spare Jesus any pain or cruelty.  He is tortured, ridiculed, and lingers on the cross more in Mark than in any other gospel.  His followers can expect similar mistreatment.

With few exceptions Christians experience suffering even martyrdom in greater numbers today than ever.  But in truth few of us are likely to be tortured physically.  However, we may be belittled or even ostracized for making Sunday worship a priority or for defending refugees and life in the womb.  As readers of Mark’s gospel, we should welcome such opportunities to follow our Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

(Acts 11:19-26; John 10:22-33)

The gospel reading today begins by declaring that the Feast of the Dedication was taking place.  The occasion marked the successful Jewish revolt against their Greek overlords.  By Jesus’ time Rome has taken control of Israel.  The Romans may not have been as oppressive as the Greeks, but their occupation was deeply resented.  The desire for a Messiah to lead a new revolt precipitates the demand of Jesus to declare himself.

In all the gospels Jesus alters the role of a Messiah.  He indicates, be it directly or indirectly, that he is not a warrior-Messiah like David.  In the passage at hand, however, he says that he is still like David in another respect.  He is a shepherd who cares for his flock.  He says that he gives those who follow him something greater than political autonomy.  He provides them “eternal life.”  This new way of living with neither bitterness nor regret transcends natural desire.  It belongs exclusively to God.  For this reason Jesus says that he does the work of his Father.

Like the Jews in Jesus’ day, we have to reconsider what we want.  Are we taken up with vindication and domination?   Or do we seek peace through love?  The former qualities belong to the world as we know it.  The latter is the promise of God in Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

(Acts 11:1-18; John 10:1-10)

“Growing pains” occasionally affect children in their sleep.  They cause some to wake up in the night with discomfort in their legs.  Since researchers have not found an underlying cause for these pains, they are named for growth, a phenomenon associated with children.  In the first reading we find the early Church afflicted with its “growing pains.”

One of the great issues for the Church in its first decades is whether to accept non-Jews into its fold.  Non-Jews are not gentiles who become Jews through circumcision and eating kosher but gentiles who refuse to accept Jewish customs.  Since Jesus was a Jew, could gentiles follow him without living as he did?  This is the critical question.  In the reading from Acts today Peter defers to none other than the Holy Spirit for an answer.  He explains to the Jerusalem inquisition that he baptized Cornelius’ household upon seeing that they manifested the gifts of the Spirit.

Today the Church has other issues to deal with.  We can easily name a few – people in second marriages after a divorce, the care of the sick in “persistent vegetative state,” the possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate.  Too often differences on these questions create fragmentation and suspicion.  Like Peter we should turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance.  That is, we should recognize that what is most authentically Christian is the primacy of charity.  On some issues change may be impossible for reason of consistency with tradition and coherency with established teaching.  Even here, however, there is an imperative to treat the people who are passionately involved with respect and tenderness.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

(Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59)

In his new apostolic exhortation Pope Francis writes of the need for humiliation.  He says that people need to be humiliated so that they may become saintly.  He continues that humiliation conforms Christians to Jesus who suffered so much at the hands of humans.  He adds that Christ reveals the humility of his Father, who has accompanied His people only to be continually rejected.  In today’s first reading Paul undergoes significant humiliation.  It may be considered the fundamental step in his journey to saintly prominence.

Paul’s first humiliation is in meeting Jesus whom he dismissed as dead.  He has discovered that the cause to which he has dedicated himself is not only vain but also blasphemous.  He also suffers the humiliation of being blinded and having to be led about like a child.  For a capable man like Paul this humiliation must have been very frustrating.  Finally, Paul suffers the humiliation of initially being considered suspect by other Christians.  He is feared, no doubt, as a possible double agent.  These humiliations prove to be transformative.  Paul becomes so humble that he will accept hardship, torture, even execution.  Nothing is too great for him to endure in order to complete the mission given to him by the Lord.

It is interesting that Francis does not use “humbling” but “humiliation.”  Humbling would be less radical, more a regular step toward self-knowledge.  Humiliation implies an inflated self-image that calls for considerable downsizing.  Francis is suggesting, perhaps, what our mothers tried to teach us.  We must learn the world does not center around us.  Rather we have to serve in it, above all, the God who has created and redeemed us.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

(Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51)

The two readings today fit together like a hand in a glove.  In the first Philip is sent by God to meet the Ethiopian eunuch on the road.  He reaches his assigned traveler just as the man is reading one of the Servant Songs of Isaiah.  When the man suggests that he needs Philip’s help to interpret the passage, Philip gladly complies.  He tells the eunuch that the passage refers to Jesus and wastes no time in baptizing him.

It is not just chance that brings the two men together.  Since Philip is sent by God’s angel, God is the instigator of the encounter.  In the gospel Jesus tells the crowds in Capernaum, “’No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him…’”  The Ethiopian eunuch is but one example of God’s grace drawing people to His Son.

God has called each of us as well to Jesus.  We may not feel especially graced because we are overly influenced by worldly values.  No matter, we are truly blessed.  We belong to a Church along with many gracious people.  We have eternal life as our destiny. Most of all, Jesus has become our friend.  We can rely on him to meet our needs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

(Acts 8:1b-8; John 6:35-40)

In his recent apostolic exhortation Pope Francis reminds Christians of their call to holiness.  He says that Christ provides them help to reach their goal.  When Christians feel overwhelmed, Francis exhorts them to beseech Christ crucified.  The pope only confirms what Jesus is saying in today’s gospel.

Jesus boldly says, “I am the bread of life.”  Attention should be given to both parts of this statement.  When Jesus declares, “I am,” he is giving the code word for divinity. He is to be trusted more than anyone else because he is God.  When he says, “…the bread of life,” he does not mean ordinary life for which food is required to survive.  Rather he provides the means to the joy and peace of life in its fullest sense.  He invites everyone - rich and poor, black and white, homosexual and heterosexual – to accept his offer. 

There is a cost to follow Jesus.  It is not monetary, but it is substantial.  If we are to become holy and have life in its fullest sense, we have to walk in Jesus’ way.  We have to be patient with the elderly, compassionate with the needy, and gracious to all.  Do not worry.  This is not a prescription of sacrifice so much as one of happiness.

Tuesday, April1 7, 2018

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

(Acts 7:51-8:1a; John 6:30-35)

According to one journalist a ferocious debate is taking place about food.  The topic is how to assure that everyone eats when the world’s population rises to ten billion.  The journalist calls the two sides of the debate “wizards” and “prophets.”  Wizards predict that technological manipulation of present crops will be able to feed such great numbers.  Prophets believe that people will have to change eating habits if everyone is to have enough to eat.  They call for eating less meat and more grains and vegetables.  Jesus may be seen as weighing in on the issue in today’s gospel.

The people want Jesus to perform a miracle.  Knowing that he has just fed over 5,000, they want him to give another such sign.  But they are missing the point of Jesus’ feeding.  More than bread, they need to trust in Jesus’ word if they are to grow in life.  By following his teachings, they will come to possess even eternal life.  Thus Jesus shows himself in a sense to be both a wizard and a prophet.  As a prophet, he teaches people to abandon old ways of jealousy and rivalry.  As a wizard, he tells them of a radical way to love one another.

Jesus’ word has been embodied in the Eucharist.  When we take his body and blood, we commit ourselves to his ways.  The food itself has enormous value.  It provides us the grace to let go of hard feelings so that we might take care of one another.  In this way we follow Jesus to eternal life.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

(Acts 6:8-15; John 6:22-29)

Saints Peter and Paul seem to dominate the Acts of the Apostles.  Yet the story is not primarily about them.  Much less does is it dominated by the work of the apostles as a whole.  Above all, the Acts of the Apostles features the Holy Spirit.  The one whom is to be called the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity is at work throughout the story.  He develops the Christian community and moves its center from Jerusalem.  The Spirit, not Paul or chance, brings the gospel to Rome.  From there it will be dispersed throughout the world. 

Stephen has been chosen for the work of the apostles precisely because he has the Spirit.  Jesus once promised that the Spirit will enable his disciples to defend themselves (Luke 12:12).  In today’s passage the Spirit is seen performing this task.  Stephen’s preaching with the Spirit surpasses the arguments of his interlocutors.  Resenting his mastery, the defeated debaters go to the authorities to silence Stephen.  The Spirit does not spare Stephen martyrdom, but he gives him an unparalleled countenance.  No other person in Scripture is said to have “the face of an angel.”

We have received the same Spirit.  He moves us to speak the truth to power and to recognize our own falsities.  The Spirit, most of all, enables us to make sacrifices for the benefit of others out of love.  In doing the latter, we too will have - to some extent at least - “the face of an angel.”

Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15)

Pope Francis has criticized the “culture of waste” found in both rich and poor countries.   He has called the way many people throw food away like “stealing from the table of the poor and hungry.”  There are hundreds of millions of people who are undernourished while the rich and middle classes and often poorer people are growing obese.  Not only is the situation ironic and scandalous, it also blinds one to Jesus’ work in the gospel.

Jesus producing a superabundance of food cannot be appreciated outside a culture where it is in short supply.  In first century Palestine yields were a fraction of modern production and storage from pests a perennial problem.  In today’s passage, however, Jesus takes just enough food for a small family, multiplies it, feeds a crowd of well over five thousand, and finds enough bread for a feast remaining.  John the evangelist is showing why Jesus is the Son of God destined to rise from the dead.  He pictures him here as a new Moses with many elements of the Exodus saga: mention of a sea and of the Passover feast, going up a mountain, and of course feeding legions with bread from heaven.  The people in John’s story understand Jesus to the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy: I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18).

Following Jesus, we heed his command to care for the poor and needy. In this way, we look forward to his leading us beyond the enticements of this world to a realm of everlasting love.  This is the fulfilment of his Easter promise.  Death itself will not hinder us from reaching our deepest yearning for happiness.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36)

Since atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, we have to be careful about Peter’s statement in today’s first reading, “We must obey God rather than men.”  We hear of Muslim “holy wars,” but there was a time when Christian Europe was so tragically engaged.  To discern whether a particular impulse is of God or not, we must, as the first Letter of John puts it, “test the spirits.”

Testing the spirits means to compare whether a proposed action conforms to Scripture.  Take the case of the committed Christian who asks herself, “Should I take on another ministry, or am I already failing to do justice to the work I have?”  She will find in St. Paul’s writing the bold statements: “I have become all things to all people” (I Cor 19:22) and “Be imitators of me” (I Cor 11:1).  At the same time she may note how Jesus makes strategic retreats at times (e.g., Mark 7:24) and refuses to become overly involved in any one locale (e.g., Mark 1:38).  Obviously we sometimes need assistance in our discernment.  Fortunately, most of us have wise people nearby whom we may consult. 

We Christians have Jesus as our primary model of virtue.  Unlike Mohammed who was a businessman and a warrior, Jesus was a pacifist teacher.  He will not lead us into battles at those which promote social supremacy more than defend the common good.  Some of his sayings are not to be taken literally.  (If you have ever looked at pornography, do not pluck on your eye.)  But we should always pray to him for assistance.  As he says in today’s gospel, he “does not ration the gift of the Spirit” of wisdom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 5:17-26; John 3:16-21)

There can be no doubt to whose life the angel refers to in the first reading when he tells the apostles, “’Go and take you place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.’”  At the beginning of the Book of Acts as he is about to ascend into heaven, Jesus instructs them “to be my witnesses” in Jerusalem and throughout the world.  The angel is just reiterating that command.

Acts gives various examples of the apostolic witness.  But the most famous summary of “this life” is seen in today’s gospel.  Jells tells Nicodemus, “’God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.’”  Jesus is of God – His “Son.”  He comes to testify to God’s love for “the world” – all humanity.  This love is most powerfully witnessed when he willingly dies on the cross – among the cruelest of sufferings ever endured.

The witness of love has been shown to us today through the apostles, their successors, and many other true witnesses of Christ.  It compels us to love others by sacrificing some of our time, talent, and treasure.  We are more than willing to do this but not really for altruism’s sake.  No, we love even when it hurts, as Jesus says, so that we “’might have eternal life.’”

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 4:32-37; John 3:7b-15)

Everyone who has heard the four gospels a few times knows that John is different from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  One significant difference is that in John’s gospel Jesus does not teach much with parables.  There are no long pedagogic stories in John like the “Good Samaritan” in Luke or the “Vineyard Owner” in Mark.  Rather John is the master of another teaching technique that is not commonly found in the others.  In John Jesus teaches by means of extended dialogues with different characters such as Nicodemus in today’s gospel.

Nicodemus has come to Jesus “at night,” which is symbolic for being unenlightened.  Perhaps he is impressed with Jesus like those in the first reading who witness the Jerusalem Christian community holding everything in common.  In any case Jesus tells Nicodemus about the power behind such generous sharing.  It is this way “with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  When Nicodemus asks about the source of the Spirit, Jesus replies a bit cryptically but nevertheless understandably to the Christian readers of the gospel.  The source of the Spirit is Jesus, the Son of Man, being “lifted up” on the cross.

Believers’ generosity has drawn many non-believers and lukewarm believers to Christ over the century.  We should not be afraid to contribute to this effort.  This does not mean that we make public displays of our giving.  But it moves us to treat all people better than fairly, showing particular care for the poor and unemployed.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

(Isaiah 7:10-14.8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38)

A new coffee filter promises to make better coffee by filtering the water before it touches the coffee grounds.  Separating the good from the bad or the true from the false has always been a helpful exercise.  It is the essence of discernment which in turn is at the heart of today’s readings.

King Ahaz sounds pious when he rejects Isaiah’s offer for a sign in the first reading.  Actually he is refusing to engage in discernment so that he might enter into a pact with Assyria.  God expects obedience from His creatures, not sanctimony.  The Letter to the Hebrews shows Christ responding in the way God desires: “’…behold, I come to do your will, O God,” he says.  The four gospels are in accord that discerning and obeying the Lord’s will is a particular attribute of Jesus.  But he is not the only one who does God’s will.  Mary, his mother, proves herself similarly obedient.  In today’s gospel she discerns the sign of Elizabeth’s pregnancy as a sufficient indicator of what God expects of her.

We often have difficulty discerning God’s will.  Signs are ambiguous.  The probable results of proposed actions are unclear.  Prayer is helpful in such situations as is seeking advice of wise people.  We also have to questions our motives in doing one thing or another.  Then we act, never doing anything contrary to what we know to be God’s will and always praying for God’s assistance.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday within the Octave of Easter

(Acts 4:1-12; John 21:1-14)

Speaking truth to power often puts one in danger.  Martin Luther King, Jr., did it continually and died by an assassin’s bullet.  Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador also spoke up on behalf of the poor and likewise died a martyr’s death.  Both of these contemporary prophets no doubt were inspired by Peter’s speech in today’s first reading.

Peter is being harassed by Jewish authorities for having invoked the name of Jesus.  His persecutors want to suppress the cult of Jesus, but Peter cannot but proclaim what he experienced with Jesus’ resurrection.  As he says, God raised Jesus from the dead and there is no salvation other than in him.  Peter publicly pronounces Jesus’ salvation four other times in the Acts of the Apostles.  Although Acts does not tell of his martyrdom, his fate is sealed for so boldly declaring the primary Christian message.

All of us have opportunity to speak truth to power.  When we find ourselves confronting an injustice, we should prepare ourselves to speak well.  We want to make sure that what we say is true.  Sometimes the power we are addressing is not as evil as it appears.  Then we must be ready to endure repercussions.  However, if we know what we are talking about and say it with prudence, we may convince at least some of the powerful people who oppose us.  Finally, we want to pray for assistance.  Jesus promises his disciples his continued presence when they speak what he teaches.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Thursday within the Octave of Easter

(Acts 3:11-26; Luke 24:35-48)

During the Easter season the Church does not use the Old Testament in its liturgies other than the Psalms.  Its purpose is to emphasize how Jesus’ resurrection makes everything new.  But this does not mean that the Old Testament is entirely silent.  It is so inextricable to the Christian message that it will be continually found in readings selected from the New Testament.  This can be demonstrated in in today’s first reading.

After healing the lame man St. Peter explains the purpose of the miracle to the astonished people.  He says that God is using the healing to glorify Jesus in whose name it was performed.  Then Peter identifies Jesus as the prophet whom Moses anticipates in the Book of Deuteronomy.   Belief of this prophet, he indicates, brings salvation from one’s sins.  Not heeding him, Moses continues, will lead to being cut off from God’s people. 

The Jews to this day have never converted en masse to Christ.  This does that mean, however, that they have forsaken their heritage as God’s chosen people.  At Vatican II the bishops taught, citing St. Paul, that God is always faithful to his promise, that God will never withdraw his favor from Israel.  We pray that the Jews will be faithful to the Covenant made to Moses.  In this way they will help us to understand Jesus better.  He came to redeem all humanity, even those who do not acknowledge him as their savior.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wednesday of the First Week of Easter

(Acts 3:1-10; Lucas 24:13-35)

As the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, falls the day after Christmas, today marks not just the fourth day of Easter but also the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  King should be seen as a contemporary martyr who daily risked his life until he was murdered.  The motive of the crime was racial bigotry which King prophesied against with heart, mind, and soul.

Today’s gospel shows Jesus’ disciples unable to recognize him as he explained to them the Hebrew Scriptures.  Fifty years ago many Americans had a similar blindness to King’s biblical denunciation of racism.  They had to be awakened to the evil by the murders of innocent children, civil rights workers, and finally the prophet King himself. 

We honor Martin Luther King today by examining our attitudes and actions to people of other social backgrounds.  Like Peter and John going out to the crippled man in today’s first reading we have to look in the eyes of men and women of other races, religions, sexual tendencies, and economic statuses and demonstrate our care for them.  Money was not the principal concern of the apostles nor is it ours today.  More than anything else, a greater commitment to social solidarity is needed among the different peoples who make up our society.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tuesday of Easter Week

(Acts 2:36-41; John 20:11-18)

Deacon Luis is known as a happy fellow.  His smile beams just about all the time.  He is also kind and helpful.  One cannot tell from anything in his demeanor that he suffers considerable pain.  Arthritis pervades his bones and an injury that has been diagnosed as a cracked pelvis continually reminds him of its presence.  He takes a prescribed painkiller, but there appears to be more than that to give him such a gracious countenance.  Luis seems to have appropriated the joy of the resurrection which both readings today intimate.

In the gospel Maria is at first sad not only because of the traumatic ending to Jesus’ life but also because she believes that his body has been stolen.  When Jesus calls her by name, her tears turn into ecstasy.  She cannot help but cling to her teacher and friend.  In the reading from Acts Peter advises the Jews not to worry about having crucified God’s chosen one.  Rather, he tells them to be baptized to receive the Holy Spirit who not only forgives sins but also instills the hope of eternal life.

So why do some of us Christians today go about with heavy hearts and downcast faces?  Pope Francis has commented that many sport a “face of a funeral wake.”  It is probably so because they have a hard time accepting the fact that salvation is a gift and not something we earn.  Christ has done the work through his death and resurrection.  Now we accompany him in joy.