This is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. The scriptures today proclaim the blessings that come when a meal is shared. For Christians, sharing a meal (Eucharist) is at the heart of the Christian life. There is a deep richness in the Catholic theology of Eucharist – in our belief in the real presence of God in our shared meal. Consider how that depth and richness is present in our daily lives, in our prayer and our actions:
How is the Eucharist important for my spiritual life?
Does the Eucharist empower us for action – for life?
Are we celebrating our solidarity as the living Mystical Body of Christ?
Does our solidarity move from the works of charity toward the works of justice?
How are we the living Body of Christ in the world?
Today is the Feast of the Holy Trinity. God is Trinity: God’s very being is relational! We are each made in God’s image, and we are “all connected” as a community of faith, hope and love—a community of justice and peace—a community that hopes to bring all differences together into one family. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes God's love flow into our hearts, the one who speaks divine truth and guides us through all life’s complexities.
The scriptures remind us that because of this Trinitarian interconnection, we are to be concerned with the issues of the world and everyday life. We are concerned about any political and economic power that excludes the poor. We are concerned about the protection of the environment. We are concerned about those philosophies and attitudes that see people simply as consumers. We are concerned about domestic violence, the violence in the Holy Land, the wars in Syria and Afghanistan, human trafficking and slavery, any violations of human rights, and all forms of violence. We are concerned about any spirituality that disconnects us from the concerns of the world. Our concerns are as big as the world, and through God’s Spirit we have hope in the midst of all them.
This is the Feast of Pentecost. The Spirit calls us to discipleship and supports our efforts to be the body of Christ in the world. The Holy Spirit came to the disciples in the midst of their fears and transformed those timid followers into courageous witnesses. The Holy Spirit teaches us just as Jesus taught the first disciples, calling us to discipleship (Latin: advocare = to call) and supporting us in our efforts (Greek: parakletos = helper). Is anything blocking you from receiving the Spirit’s indwelling love and guidance?
Laudato Si assures us of the Lord of life's lasting presence acting within our common home: "In the heart of this world, the Lord of Life, who loves us so much, is always present. God does not abandon us, does not leave us alone, for God has united God-self definitively to our earth, and God’s love constantly impels us to find new ways forward." (Laudato Si' #245)
Today is the Solemnity of the Ascension. The ascension of Jesus prepares the way for the powerful and enduring presence of the Holy Spirit in the disciples who continue his ministry and witness to his risen presence. The spirituality of Christ is connected to the world around us – the world of people and nature – a world with rich and poor, men and women, young and old, nature and grace, conflict and reconciliation, war and peace, sin and virtue, etc. The disciples are blessed and “clothed with power from on high” to be his presence and do his ministry in the midst of everything that is part of life. Now we are the ones in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, called to be the living presence of the risen Christ in our world. How have you been surprised by the presence of God in daily life? How can you bring the presence of God into difficult situations?
“The life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us. …what all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” (#216, 217 Laudato Si)
This is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Jesus says in today’s gospel, “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” The word of Jesus we are to keep is his command to love as he loves - not simply in words, but as love-in-action. Our love-in-action flows from the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and teaching us. “Believing” is an action, a response to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to be concerned about what really matters -- reconciliation, issues of justice and peace in the world, a concern for the poor, a respect for creation as a gift from God and a common home--a focus on a new world where “the presence and glory of God is everywhere.”
“Believers themselves must constantly feel challenged to live in a way consonant with their faith and not to contradict it by their actions. They need to be encouraged to be ever open to God’s grace and to draw constantly from their deepest convictions about love, justice and peace. ...the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.” (200, 216, Laudato Si)
This is the Fifth Sunday of Easter. God is making something new in the world: a community bonded by mutual love. God’s dwelling is “with the human race,” so God is involved with the diverse things of the world. The Christian life is not simply about the next world: God is concerned with our daily life and our relationships. God is concerned with the works of justice and peace - with the work of social transformation and liberation for all men and women. By loving as Jesus did we are transformed, and thereby all the world. How have you experienced God in our local community? How is God calling us in the celebrations and struggles of community?
“Conversion...entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate [God’s]generosity in self-sacrifice and good works... It also entails a loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion. As believers, we do not look at the world from without but from within, conscious of the bonds with which the Father has linked us to all beings.” (Laudato Si, 220)
This is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Jesus is the Shepherd who leads us to springs of life-giving water and gives us eternal life. Eternal life involves a joy and life that comes in solidarity with others and from a relationship with a loving shepherd. It is a life which comes together in Christ not because we possess a spirituality of rugged individualism or a religion of “knowing it all” or a spirituality of “being better than others.” Joy and life flow from relationship – relationship in community – relationship fostered and nourished by a Good Shepherd whose desire is to bring all the sheep together into the fullness of life -- a relationship of justice and righteousness with people of “from every nation, race, people, and tongue,” where the whole of creation can give honor and praise.
“Productive diversification offers the fullest possibilities to human ingenuity to create and innovate, while at the same time protecting the environment and creating more sources of employment. Such creativity would be a worthy expression of our most noble human qualities, for we would be striving intelligently, boldly and responsibly to promote a sustainable and equitable development within the context of a broader concept of quality of life.” (Laudato Si #192)
This is the Third Sunday of Easter. “If you love me...tend my sheep.” Faithful discipleship is not measured by absence of failure, but by openness to risen life and growing love for Christ which is expressed in the tangible caring for others. This means that we begin to see the risen Jesus in our “everyday” lives, that we allow ourselves to be fully nourished by Jesus (through his body and blood in the Eucharist, through his word) and gradually be transformed more and more into his risen presence for others. Who – or what aspect of creation—is Christ calling me to love right now? How?
“Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbor, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered…everything is interconnected, and…genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.” (Laudato Si, 70)
This is the Second Sunday of Easter. The Risen Christ “holds the keys of death” and unlocks the doors to new life for all. God takes what is flawed, useless and inconsequential – the rejected stone, our failing lives and diseased bodies, our doubting hearts – and makes them the cornerstone of faith and forgiveness. The Body of Christ is called to witness and celebrate what is happening: God’s victory over death, disease, sin and limitations. We are invited into the wonder felt by the disciples and early converts, “Look what’s happening!”
What has stirred you to awe and wonder, and made you aware of God’s presence?
How do we allow the peace of Christ to be with us in the midst of everything life brings?
In what situations is God’s compassion stirring us to bring peace?
We remember salvation history. light the new fire, bless the water, recall our own baptism, and hear the story of resurrection. By journeying with Christ through suffering and death, we find that love is the ultimate victor, bringing resurrection life. What new seed is coming to life you, and how are you nurturing it? How do we welcome the movement of the Spirit among us? What new life needs to be celebrated?
To deepen the new life begun at Easter, we invite you to continue your spiritual practices during the entire Easter Season. Pick up a “White Book” and “Beautiful Mercy” to help your prayer continue to deepen in this Year of Mercy.