April 20, 2014

Monday in the Octave of Easter

Today’s Readings: April 21, 2014
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalm 16:1-2a, 5, 7-11
Matthew 28:8-15
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042114.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/14_04_21.mp3

Are you ruled by fear or by the Holy Spirit?

In today’s Gospel reading, the women who discovered the empty tomb were "fearful yet overjoyed." Why? They weren't afraid that his body had been stolen, because the angel had made it clear that Jesus rose from the dead (read the seven preceding verses). And they weren't afraid to hope in this, because they had seen it happen to Lazarus.

So, what did they fear?

What do you and I fear when something very significant happens? Maybe we're afraid to discover that we need to change our perspectives. Or that the event will change our lives. Or that others will ridicule this change, reject us, misunderstand us, and persecute us. Or that the changes will demand more from us than we want to give.

Imagine if the women of Easter morning had given into such fears: After returning to the Upper Room where the disciples have hunkered together for mutual support, they quietly busy themselves making breakfast for the group. While their minds are spinning with a mix of excitement and turmoil, they hope that someone else will go down to the tomb and notice that Jesus has risen from the dead. They want that person to come back and validate their news before they speak it out loud to anyone.

And when no one does and their joy cannot be contained any longer, they take a deep, uncertain breath and say, "I think something wonderful is going on at the tomb, but it might be just my imagination." Silently, they worry, "Don't think I'm crazy!"

We've all handled the Good News this way at least once.

Notice the bold fearlessness of Peter and the other disciples in the first reading today. They've come out of hiding. They don't care how crazy they sound or what trouble it might cause. And 3,000 people are converted by their fearlessness.

What gave them so much boldness? The Holy Spirit. The two Marys on Easter morning had not yet experienced Pentecost.

How's your relationship with the Holy Spirit? How powerfully does the Spirit of God move within you and through you? The readings at Mass for the Easter season point us toward Pentecost. Let's spend the next forty days inviting the Holy Spirit to overwhelm our fears and enliven us in holy boldness.

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica of Good News Ministries (gnm.org)
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to gnm.org/copyrights.htm
For professionally published reflections and other Good News materials for RCIA, church bulletins, etc., please visit Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com

To sign up to receive the Good News Reflections by email, go to gogoodnews.net/DailyReflections

April 18, 2014

Easter Sunday

This Sunday’s Readings: April 20, 2014
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians. 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042014.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/14_04_20.mp3

Are you ready to proclaim the Good News about how Jesus has helped you? What holds you back? Do you hesitate because you don’t yet understand how the deaths in your life (the sacrifices, the lost hope, the broken relationships, etc.) have been resurrected into new life?

Such hesitation was the mental state of the disciples on the first Easter morning, as depicted in the Gospel of John.

The attitude of Peter in the reading from Acts is quite a contrast! The disciples now know their calling: They were empowered and commissioned to testify that Jesus is the Savior, and they fully embraced this vocation.

Do you understand how Jesus is turning your tragedies and other difficulties into triumphs and great blessings?

To “testify” means to share the truth based on your own experiences. Peter specifically proclaimed that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins. Of course he did! Peter knew first-hand what it’s like to need and then receive Christ’s forgiveness.

We will not understand much about how our sufferings have led us to a new and blessed life until we start talking about it. The first inklings of insight awaken when we discuss it within our close, holy friendships, like Mary of Magdala did when she ran to Peter and John after discovering the empty tomb. They, in turn, told the other disciples.

It was while they were together – in community – that Jesus appeared and revealed his resurrection to them. Later, after having lots of time to talk about it with friends, the Holy Spirit empowered them to go out and evangelize the world by sharing their experiences with anyone willing to listen.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
The empty tomb doesn’t immediately make sense. What has been confusing to you during your faith journey? What has caused you to feel empty and frightened? Where might Jesus be in this?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
How have your own experiences of being forgiven enabled you to feel more compassionate toward others? Does that change the way you talk to them about God and church and other spiritual or moral issues? What is the biggest change that Jesus has brought into your life? What were you like before this change? How did God intervene? What were the results? This is your testimony. Practice sharing it by telling the story to your community of friends.

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica of Good News Ministries (gnm.org)
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to gnm.org/copyrights.htm
For professionally published reflections and other Good News materials for RCIA, church bulletins, etc., please visit Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com

To sign up to receive the Good News Reflections by email, go to gogoodnews.net/DailyReflections