Saturday, April 16, 2016

Liturgical Year C, Cycle II

First Reading: Acts 9:31-42
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 116:12-17
Gospel: John 6:60-69

The Sorrowful Mystery

First Reading:  Acts 9:31-42

31 Now the church had peace throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria; and was edified, walking in the fear of the Lord, and was filled with the consolation of the Holy Ghost.

The Healing of Aeneas

32 And it came to pass that Peter, as he passed through, visiting all, came to the saints who dwelt at Lydda.

33 And he found there a certain man named Eneas, who had kept his bed for eight years, who was ill of the palsy.

34 And Peter said to him: Eneas, the Lord Jesus Christ healeth thee: arise, and make thy bed. And immediately he arose.

35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron, saw him: who were converted to the Lord.

Peter in Lydda and Joppa

36 And in Joppe there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

37 And it came to pass in those days that she was sick, and died. Whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppe, the disciples hearing that Peter was there, sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not be slack to come unto them.

39 And Peter rising up, went with them. And when he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber. And all the widows stood about him weeping, and shewing him the coats and garments which Dorcas made them.

40 And they all being put forth, Peter kneeling down prayed, and turning to the body, he said: Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes; and seeing Peter, she sat up.

41 And giving her his hand, he lifted her up. And when he had called the saints and the widows, he presented her alive.

42 And it was made known throughout all Joppe; and many believed in the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 116:12-17

Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness

12 What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things he hath rendered unto me?

13 I will take the chalice of salvation; and I will call upon the name of the Lord.

14 I will pay my vows to the Lord before all his people:

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

16 O Lord, for I am thy servant: I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds:

17 I will sacrifice to thee the sacrifice of praise, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.

Gospel: John 6:60-69

The Words of Eternal Life

60 These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum.

61 Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it?

62 But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?

63 If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

64 It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.

65 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.

66 And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.

67 After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.

68 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?

69 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

"You have the words of everlasting life"

Why do some find it easier while others find it harder to accept the claims which Jesus made? Many were attracted to Jesus because he offered them something irresistible - a visible sign of God's mercy and favor which Jesus demonstrated in his wonderful works of healing, deliverance, and miraculous signs, including the multiplication of the loaves and fish when he feed the five thousand who had gathered to hear him speak. Many stumbled, however, when Jesus made claims which only God can make. Jesus' discourse on "eating his flesh and drinking his blood" (see John 6:51-59) which pointed to the Last Supper, caused offence to many of his followers.

Jesus claimed to be the bread of heaven, the very life of God given to us as spiritual food to sustain us on our journey to our promised homeland with the Father in heaven. Jesus did not leave any middle ground for his hearers. They must either accept his word as divine or reject it as the claim of an imposter. Even the apostles admitted that this was a "hard saying". This expression meant that it was not just hard to understand, but hard to accept. Jesus pressed the issue with his beloved disciples because he wanted to test their faith and loyalty to him as the Holy One sent from the Father in heaven. Jesus promised his disciples nothing less than the full blessing of eternal life and union with God. Jesus assures his disciples that it is his heavenly Father who gives the invitation and the grace to believe and follow even in the "hard sayings". Jesus knew that some would not only reject him and his word, but would do so with violence fueled by hatred, envy, and even betrayal by one of his own disciples.

Jesus told his disciples that his words were "spirit and life" (John 6:63) - his words came from the heavenly Father who is the Author of life and the One who breathes his Spirit into those who believe in him. Through the gift of faith Peter was able to receive spiritual revelation of who Jesus truly is - the Holy One of God, the eternal Son sent from the Father in heaven to redeem a fallen human race and reconcile them with God.

How does God help us grow in faith and trust in his word, even the hard sayings which are difficult to understand? Faith is a gift which God freely gives to those who listen to his word and who put their trust in him. Faith is a personal response to God's revelation of himself. Faith is neither blind nor ignorant. It is based on the truth and reliability of God's word. True faith seeks understanding. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, "I believe in order to understand, and I understand the better to believe." The Lord Jesus offers all of his followers his life-giving word and Spirit to help us grow in our knowledge and understanding of God.

Paul the Apostle tells us that it is the work of the Holy Spirit who enlightens the eyes of our heart and mind to understand the truth and wisdom which comes from God (Ephesians 1:17-18). Faith is the key to understanding and experiencing God's action and work in our personal lives. Paul the Apostle tells us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). We can know God personally, and we grow in recognizing his voice as we listen to his word and obey his instruction. Do you believe, as Peter did, that Jesus has the words of everlasting lifeand the power to change and transform your life? Ask the Lord Jesus to increase your faith that you may grow in knowing, loving, and serving him as your Lord and Redeemer, Teacher and Healer, Master and Savior.

"Lord Jesus, you have the words of everlasting life. Help me to cast aside all doubt and fear so that I may freely embrace your word with complete trust and joy. I surrender all to you. Be the Lord of my life and the Ruler of my heart. May there be nothing which hinders me from trusting in your love and following your will."

Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

Even when I was a child, when I received communion, it never crossed my mind that eating the body of Christ had anything to do with cannibalism. Years later, as an adult, it finally occurred to me that a total outsider, witnessing a Mass for the first time, and hearing the Bread of Life discourse from John 6, where Jesus speaks of eating his body and drinking his blood, would likely hear it as some kind of cannibalism. Today’s Gospel reading speaks of some of the early followers of Jesus expressing that same sort of shocked response to Jesus’ challenging words. Anyone familiar with Old Testament law knows that contact with blood—and, even more, drinking blood--was profoundly offensive to Jewish sensibility; indeed it was against the law. So it is easy to sympathize with those who found Jesus’ speech about eating his flesh and drinking his blood a “hard saying.”

So, how are we to understand Jesus’ answer to those who find his teaching hard? The first thing to remember is that all of the Gospels were written after Easter, and from the perspective of Easter. That is, the evangelists write about Jesus’ earthly ministry with the awareness that they are writing about the one they now know as the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and that perspective is most obvious in the Gospel of John. So when we read Jesus saying, “What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?”, I take that as a key to his meaning; the shocking words will make eminent sense after the resurrection, when his flesh will be transformed into a spiritual body accessed through faith, baptism, and in the community celebration of the Lord’s Supper. In the light of Easter, John can preach in this Prologue that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” There, “flesh” stands for the human nature he took on by becoming human. That incarnation (literally, “enfleshment”) was and remains the perfection of God’s self-revelation in the eternal Son made flesh. But it took the resurrection transformation of that flesh to make the revelation complete. It is that form of Christ’s flesh that Christians relate to in the practice of the Eucharist. It is also “bread from heaven” in the Jewish understanding of the manna in the wilderness whose deepest sense is wisdom. “It is not by bread alone that people live, but by all that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3b; and see Matt 4:4 and Luke 4:4). Our sharing of the meal of the Eucharist is not only a matter of eating, and becoming spiritually what we eat, but also of learning the wisdom of God about how to live. Christian life is an imitation of the self-offering of the Lord Jesus in service of one another.  

by Dennis Hamm, S.J.
Creighton University's Theology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
Bible Story illustrations by 


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