EASTER OCTAVE – Resurrection Sunday

Second Sunday of Easter

DIVINE MERCY

April 8, 2018

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:19-23

Ant. 1: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 1: Jesus appeared to many people after His resurrection but the first to whom He appeared was Mary Magdalene. (John 20:16-17) It is here we see the loving mercy of Christ as He tells her to go tell the others that He has risen. The suspense was now over, the truth now finally revealed. The guilt and confusion pushed to the side as Jesus announces that He is alive – concurring death forever! I often think about this moment when Jesus came to Mary alive, her only word, ‘Teacher!’ was said out of shock or perhaps more of a sigh of relief. How quickly did her sadness change to joy? That is what it will be like when we pass away and go to Heaven and see Christ for the first time… sadness turned to instant joy! What must have been racing in her mind as she ran to tell the others? How was she going to announce the good news?  I wonder if she thought; would they believe? When she burst into the room the disciples were all hiding, how joyful her voice must have been yet they did not believe her. The visual clues must have been confusing for the disciples when they saw how excited she was. Now in John’s account, this joyful news was in the morning and that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the evening of the first day…

The Resurrection Narrative

According to Matthew, Mark, & Luke

In Matthew’s account, (Matthew 28:1-10) both Mary’s witnessed an angel from Heaven descending to earth and caused an earthquake. Then the angel rolled back the stone and invited Mary, mother of James, Salome, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene to come into the tomb to see that it was empty. It was the angel who told them to go tell the disciples and on their way Jesus appeared to them both. In Mark’s account, (Mark 16:1-8) which closely supports Matthew’s account in that it was an angel who told the two Mary’s to go tell the others. The main difference is that the two Mary’s did not see the angel roll back the stone as the angel had already done this and was inside the tomb when the two women came in.  The longer ending of Mark, (Mark 16:9-10) supports the individual appearance by Jesus to Mary Magdalene alone. It also states that the disciples did not believe her. Mark also further mentions an appearance to two disciples on the road to the countryside. These two unnamed disciples came back and told the others and were also not believed. Finally, in Luke’s account, (Luke 24:1-12) Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women who went with them which are unnamed coming to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Supporting Mark, the stone was already rolled away by the time they got there. When they went in they did not find Jesus’s body but were greeted by two angels who reminded them of what Jesus had told them in Galilee, that he would die and be raised on the third day. They then returned to the disciples who did not believe them. (Luke 24:12) Tells that Peter got up and ran to the tomb and was amazed! Luke also supports the appearance of Jesus by two disciples, Cleopas & and an unnamed disciple while walking into the countryside, but does not tell of where they were actually headed… but we later find out they were going to the town of Emmaus. This account goes into detail of the conversations they had with Jesus without knowing it was the risen Lord. It ends with the breaking of bread and their eyes being opened and once this had happened Jesus disappeared and the two men went back to tell the disciples of what had happened to them.  In all during the first day, Jesus had appeared to;

Jesus Appears

 Ant. 2: After eight days, although the doors were locked, the Lord came among them and said: ‘Peace be with you.’ Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 2:  Peter got up and ran to the tomb! (Luke 24:34) then in the evening after all the witnesses came to tell the disciples of the risen Christ – Jesus finally appears to them. (John 20:19-23) At this point, Peter is the only male disciple who had seen the risen Christ, as opposed to all the major female characters who had all seen Him, talked to Him, and in which truly believed. It was the women disciples who proclaimed that Jesus has risen and to this point, none of them were believed by the male disciples. Why was it that they did not believe? The hint is within, (John 20:19), they were afraid, terrified, and in Peters case depressed because of his three denials of knowing Jesus. In such a state how could they go out and preach about Jesus, and I really think that Thomas gets the worse wrap of them all by being labeled, ‘Doubting Thomas’, for clearly at this point they all did not believe it possible for Jesus to be alive for their collective grief had taken them over. 

Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, Jesus appeared to His disciples to lift their spirit, prove that He is the Son of Man, and to dispell this fear they had deep in their hearts. Mercy was extended to them all in different but similar ways as none could refute His divine powers. As for Thomas who had to wait eight days, and the second appearance to His disciples was invited by Jesus to stick his finger into Jesus’s side as proof of the resurrection. For truly I say to you that if Jesus’s body had been stolen from the tomb, thus not risen, then in the words of Saint Paul, ‘If Christ has not risen, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.’ – Jesus’ Resurrection, (pg.118) The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Saint Mary’s Press. Furthermore, the following three things we factually know because Christ did rise from the tomb;

1.) Jesus is confirmed as the Son of God

2.) All of Jesus’s teaching is in fact true

3.) The divine truth of the Paschal Mystery –  That death is not the end.

Guiding Question: “Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?” “Why is this fundamental question so important?”

Answer Q2: This core belief; that Christ was raised from the dead on the third day is so important because how you answer this question determines how seriously you believe in Jesus, His teachings, the reason why He had to die, and His promises He has made to you and the rest of mankind. If your answer is, ‘Yes! I believe in His resurrection!’ Then how can you not make Jesus the center of your life? 

For I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that this is why we celebrate His divine mercy.  For through His suffering and death we; all of God’s children will have everlasting life with Him in heaven forever and ever. How much greater our reward in heaven to have not seen but yet believe?  We celebrate because of Jesus Christ, His absolute truth within His words, His divine promises which he fulfilled on our behalf, and to which all our worries have now been made mute in His presences. For the Son of Man goes before us shining a light leading us to salvation which is God’s ultimate mercy upon all of His children.

Intercessions 

In rising from the dead, Christ destroyed death and restored life. Let us cry to Him, saying:

Lord Jesus, you live forever; hear our prayer.

You are the stone rejected by the builders which became the cornerstone rejoiced by the builders which became the chief cornerstone.

make us living stones in the temple of your Church. 

You are the faithful and true witness, the firstborn from the dead,

make your Church bear constant witness to yourself. 

You alone are the Bridegroom of the Church, born from your wounded side,

make us reveal to the world the love of the Bridegroom and Bride.

You are the first and last, you were dead and are alive,

keep those who have been baptized faithful until death, that they may receive the crown of victory.

Light and lamp of God’s holy city,

shine on our friend who have died, that they may reign forever. 

Let Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

– Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

Ant 3: The Lord is risen. Alleluia.

God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection increase our awareness of these blessings, and renew your gift of life within us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 451-452.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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“Let’s grow together as children of God”

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

 

Resisting Temptation

Driven into the Wilderness

Lenten Season Yr. B

First Sunday of Lent

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:12-15 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

I want to begin this Sunday’s reflection with a thought, ‘What would it have been like to be tempted by Satan as Jesus was?’  This goes without saying because we are tempted by Satan every day, but not in the same way.  I saw that because Jesus was being tempted in a very particular way, in fact, His temptation was centered on His life as a human being and on His divinity all in one go.  Satan sought to over through our Lord right out of the gate! Here is an analogy I used to tell my students in elementary school. We as human beings are like a raw metal that is filled with impurities. God seeks through our lives and experience to drive those impurities out through a series of lessons that burn away those impurities only to give us cooling down periods which serves to toughen us up. From the purification fires to the cooling down faith forming waters over and over we follow this cycle all the days of our life.

However, Jesus was born without sin, He was already pure. So why did He need to be tested by Satan? (Let me know your thoughts on Facebook)

Possible Answer: Satan saw an opening and tried to take advantage of it. Because Jesus was both man and God there were two sides of the same coin, on weaker than the other. Guess which one was weaker – the human side right? Satan, therefore, sought to tempt Jesus’s humanity and appeal to his human desires. It is here where Jesus was most vulnerable as forty -days lingered on. Think of the world today if Satan had gotten Jesus through His mortal hunger to make the stones before him into loaves of bread? What would this world be like if Jesus allowed His humanity to stumble as we often do? But Jesus instead chooses to answer Satan with a quote from Deuteronomy, 8:3;

4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Reflection Question: ‘What example does this set for our lives today?’

The temptations of Christ was intended to test every facet of what would become His ministry all the way to His final passion.  Jesus would overcome Satan on both sides of that coin. Satan most certainly knew that Jesus in whatever form He chose was stronger and could destroy his hold on humanity, Satan knew that Jesus was that one High Preist that would intercede on man’s behalf gaining the favor of God as it relates to our sins. The very sin’s that condemned humanity from the very first day in the Garden. Satan’s temporary victory would be shattered for all time! Satan finally knew that Jesus through the very act of humbling Himself in becoming human would be able to relate to humanity, feeling every sorted feeling, every physical pain, every tempting thought to rebel against God. Jesus being driven into the desert was to clear His doubts about His final three years on earth, His desire to live over the plan of salvation; so Satan tempted Him. Each day Jesus walked the earth as a man was another day closer humanity could relate to God in a new and exciting way. All of which would topple Satans stranglehold on all of mankind for eternity. Jesus’ s very public announcement that kickstarted His ministry after His baptism was one that most certainly drove Satan to defend all that he had done in his rage against God, the lion looking pounced upon Jesus and our Lord took the brunt of His rath for all of us through those forty days of His divine temptation.

Let Us Pray

Let all Creatures Praise the Lord

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Canticle – Daniel 3:57-88, 56

And from the throne came a voice saying,

‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’ Revelations 19:5 (NRSVA)

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

57 ‘Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
58 Bless the Lord, you heavens;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
59 Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
60 Bless the Lord, all you waters above the heavens;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
61 Bless the Lord, all you powers of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
62 Bless the Lord, sun, and moon;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
63 Bless the Lord, stars of heaven;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

64 ‘Bless the Lord, all rain, and dew;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
65 Bless the Lord, all you winds;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
66 Bless the Lord, fire, and heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
67 Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
68 Bless the Lord, dews and falling snow;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
69 Bless the Lord, ice, and cold;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
70 Bless the Lord, frosts, and snows;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
71 Bless the Lord, nights and days;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
72 Bless the Lord, light, and darkness;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
73 Bless the Lord, lightning and clouds;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

74 ‘Let the earth bless the Lord;
    let it sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
75 Bless the Lord, mountains, and hills;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
76 Bless the Lord, all that grows in the ground;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
77 Bless the Lord, you springs;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
78 Bless the Lord, seas, and rivers;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
79 Bless the Lord, you whales and all that swim in the waters;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
80 Bless the Lord, all birds of the air;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
81 Bless the Lord, all wild animals, and cattle;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

82 ‘Bless the Lord, all people on earth;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
83 Bless the Lord, O Israel;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
84 Bless the Lord, you priests of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
85 Bless the Lord, you servants of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
86 Bless the Lord, spirits, and souls of the righteous;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
87 Bless the Lord, you who are holy and humble in heart;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

88 ‘Bless the Lord, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever. For he has rescued us from Hades and saved us from the power of death, and delivered us from the midst of the burning fiery furnace; from the midst of the fire, he has delivered us.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Let us bless and exalt Him above all forever. Blessed are you, Lord, in the firmament of Heaven. Praiseworthy and glorious and exalted above all forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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“Let’s grow together as children of God”

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Special Posting: Christmas 2012

26 “In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28, NIV Bible.

An angel came to Mary, the mother of Jesus and said to her, ” Greetings, you who are highly favored.” In retrospect there is no better opening; no news greater; nothing more spatular, than what we as mortal beings could have ever hope to hear whether in the time of Mary or in our own current day. How awesome it would have been to be told by an angel of God that you are highly favored. I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through Mary’s mind upon hearing those words spoke aloud. Building upon what would have most certainly been a highly emotional event for Mary; firstly the shock of seeing an angel of God, secondly the impact of what he had announced must have been overwhelming in and of itself, those breathe taking and at the same time scary words Gabriel spoke to her. To be certain Mary indeed was blessed, and God was truly with her in that moment and in every other precious moment she experienced and would ever experience from that moment on. For me I think Christmas begins with these words spoke by Gabriel, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!”, because through the promise of Jesus, His salvation, the future events which had not yet come to fruition at the time Gabriel came to Mary, I can’t help but to think that Gabriel was really speaking to all of humanity, that he had foreknowledge of the mission of Jesus and was thus so excited when first addressing Mary. There is no arguing to the fact that God loves us and wanted us to be close to him, to have a lasting rewarding relationship with Him, thus logically the first present given to humanity by God in this moment was these very words spoke by Gabriel, thus adding to Gabriel’s excitement and jubilee; “Greetings, you who are highly favored!”

29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.'” Luke 1:29-33, NIV Bible.

If it was fear that Mary first felt, then the second emotion must have been the smallness of being mortal, or even more to the point the feelings of being inferior and undeserving. The first question which might have crossed her mind might very well have been; (Who am I to have won such favor with God?) Again many of us today ask this very question when God blesses us with miraculous miracles that we know that we do not deserve; ( Who am I to have won such favor?) This question also would elude to a devastatingly awesome humility that few of us exhibit in today’s time, but Mary was filled with it. In fact it was Mary’s humility which concurred the sin of pride exhibited by Eve in the garden of Eden. It was our beloved mother Mary which redeemed for all time women and their roll in society. Her love which concurred the law in Joseph her betrothed that which kept him from turning her over to be stoned as it was demanded by the Mosaic law of the Jews. This same love that for thirty years fostered in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. All of this told to her by the angel Gabriel to calm her and to ease her for what was to come. Mary’s fear and then humility was honest and forthright and it was qualities which God Himself feel madly in love with. Proof of this can be found in the blessing God bestowed unto her both in life and in death, for what she received no other person has or will ever receive, the chance to give life, to give birth, to be the mother of the most High God. In truth the story of Christmas started nine months before the birth of Christ, as there where many individual miracles which manifested themselves to make this one event possible, all of which was given as foreknowledge to Mary as both a promise and proof of God’s power and unfailing love for her and of all mankind. Truly this is a time of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, mercy, and a season of giving.

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” ~ Luke 1:34, NIV Bible.

On this verse of the Bible, Mary’s concern is one of the worlds not of God, but a fare question as she would have to deal with the repercussions of becoming pregnant before marriage as everyone that she knew would believe she had been with a another man when in fact she had not been. What of Joseph, his disgrace; but how would giving birth to the Son of God be disgraceful? Another valid question which she did not ask, but rather implied with her first and only real question. With no tangible manner in which for Mary to cling onto, the angel Gabriel steadfast in his mission answered her;

” 35 The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” ~ Luke 1:35-37.

If there was any fear or uncertainty in Mary at this point, the Bible does not mention it, again her humility, her nobility in God, and her strength which she is so known for was all that remained. Her questions seceded and her humanity took over, for Mary must have known her unborn child’s mission, and of his fate. The gravity of the moment and its life altering affects also must have loomed large in her mind. But despite these challenges Mary forged on, and accepted it, gave herself to God, and with it the salvation of all mankind.

” 38 I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:38, NIV Bible.

Thus, let it be so that in this Christmas season we celebrate not just the birth of Jesus, but also of Mary His mother who over came fear and doubt, but who also loved us enough to make this sacrifice for all of us. May we remember those gifts which came into this world that might not have if Mary had not been humble and obedient to God. May we give thanks to her bravery and forthrightness in all her deeds in raising Jesus to be who He eventually became.

Amen

If you have been moved by this reflection please do not hesitate to leave a comment, and may your holidays be filled with the love and blessing of our loving God.