Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in Easter Week

Matthew 28:8-15 - World English Bible

8 The women departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring his disciples word. 9 As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!"

They came and took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.

10 Then Jesus said to them, "Don't be afraid. Go tell my brothers that they should go into Galilee, and there they will see me."

11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12 When they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers, 13 saying, "Say that his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 If this comes to the governor's ears, we will persuade him and make you free of worry." 15 So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until today.

In Matthew 28, the evangelist present two sets of witnesses to the Resurrection: the women and the soldiers. The women represented the faithful who pointed to the Risen Lord, while the soldiers represented the unbelievers, insisting upon the empty tomb as proof of a grave robbing. Both groups were given a mission to spread their testimony, the women to the Apostles to go to Galilee, the soldiers to the Temple officials to accept the bribe and, along with it, a shameful reputation of dereliction of duty (sleeping while on guard). The difference between the two groups, besides a matter of faith, was a matter of sight; the women saw the Lord, the soldiers did not. And, along with that revelation, came the mission to evangelize.

Where have you seen the Lord lately? Who did you evangelize about the experience?

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Tuesday in Easter Week

John 20:11-18 - World English Bible

11 Mary Magdalene was standing outside at the tomb weeping. So, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb, 12 and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 They told her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"

She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they have laid him." 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, and didn't know that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?"

She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

16 Jesus said to her, "Mary."

She turned and said to him, "Rabboni!" which is to say, "Teacher!"

17 Jesus said to her, "Don't hold me, for I haven't yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers, and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had said these things to her.

In John 20, the evangelist presented the two signs for the Easter experience: the empty tomb and the appearance of the Risen Lord. He also highlighted the first witness to the event: Mary Magdalene. Mary cried as part of the grieving process and out of shock. Her mourning was culturally expected, but she did not find what she expected to see. Instead of a body she would finish preparing for burial (remember she could not finish the rites due to the hasty entombment of Jesus), she found the tomb empty. So, she was asked twice, "Why are you weeping?" Notice, however, the question did not inquiry about her sadness, but about her inappropriate behavior. She shouldn't be weeping but rejoicing. The Lord rose from the dead! But, she did not understand. To each question she responded with a search for the body.

After seeing the empty tomb, Mary encountered the Risen Lord. This was one of the only times he addressed a woman by name. The meeting implied a close relationship the evangelist addressed throughout his gospel. Yet, she responded with respect, calling him, "Rabboni" (which means "Great Teacher"). She found whom she sought (20:15b); now, she was given a mission: don't hold onto the Lord; instead, spread the Good News about him.

When we encounter the Lord, do we want to hold onto him, or tell others about him?

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Wednesday in Easter Week

Luke 24:13-35 - World English Bible

13 Behold, two disciples were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was sixty stadia from Jerusalem. 14 They talked with each other about all of these things which had happened. 15 While they talked and questioned together, Jesus himself came near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 He said to them, "What are you talking about as you walk, and are sad?"

18 One of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn't know the things which have happened there in these days?"

19 He said to them, "What things?"

They said to him, "The things concerning Jesus, the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that it was he who would redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Also, certain women of our company amazed us, having arrived early at the tomb; 23 and when they didn't find his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of us went to the tomb, and found it just like the women had said, but they didn't see him."

25 He said to them, "Foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Didn't the Christ have to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?" 27 Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 They came near to the village, where they were going, and he acted like he would go further.

29 They urged him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is almost evening, and the day is almost over."

He went in to stay with them. 30 When he had sat down at the table with them, he took the bread and gave thanks. Breaking it, he gave to them. 31 Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to one another, "Weren't our hearts burning within us, while he spoke to us along the way, and while he opened the Scriptures to us?" 33 They rose up that very hour, returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and those who were with them, 34 saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 They related the things that happened along the way, and how he was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

In Luke 24, the Emmaus story presented two ways to view the Good News: a report of sadness and incredulity or tidings of great joy. Two disciples left for a small hamlet about seven miles from Jerusalem. On the way, they encountered Jesus as a stranger and retold the events of his suffering, death, and Resurrection but from the perspective of a broken heart. Their disappointment colored their outlook and prevented them from seeing the larger picture. The Lord put those events into the context of their faith tradition. At that, their eyes began to open but did not truly see him until he broke bread with them.

Volumes have be written about the liturgical overtones of this passage. The believer travels on the road of life sometimes discounting the presence and activity of Christ in their life. The one proclaiming the word of God (an ordained minister standing 'in persona Christi') gives the events in the life of the believer context and engenders real faith that burning desire to come closer to the Lord. That desire can only be satiated when the Lord himself (again represented by the minister standing 'in persona Christi') breaks bread within the community. In other words, the Emmaus narrative describes the Mass.

How have you "seen" the Risen Lord at Mass?

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Thursday of Easter Week

Luke 24:35-48 - World English Bible

5 The two disciples (who returned from Emmaus) related the things that happened along the way, and how he was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

36 As they said these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace be to you."

37 But they were terrified and filled with fear, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 He said to them, "Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn't have flesh and bones, as you see that I have." 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they still didn't believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Do you have anything here to eat?"

42 They gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 He took them, and ate in front of them. 44 He said to them, "This is what I told you, while I was still with you, that all things which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me must be fulfilled."

45 Then he opened their minds, that they might understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things."

Western culture is inherently skeptical. We want proof of the "other worldly," like ghosts. We judge those who claim to have seen such phenomena as "crazy." Yet, some cultures highly prize such seers as those who can look beyond this existence into the eternal. Still, an encounter with those beyond the grave can frighten the common person. Such was the experience of the disciples in Luke 24.

Even with the witness of the two from Emmaus, the appearance of the Risen Lord startled the men in the upper room. Jesus greeted them with "Shalom" ("Peace") then challenged their incredulity in two ways. First, showing his wounds proved his identity. Secondly, consuming fish proved his corporeal existence. Both created an experience unlike any in history. Here was a man who not only survived death, but transcended it; he was in this world, but existed beyond it. He possessed a reality a ghost could never had, for he possessed a resurrected body.

Much has been written about the nature of the Resurrection. Some claim the event was simply metaphoric, possessing great symbolic power. No doubt the Resurrection has this power, but this passage from Luke clearly argued for a rising of the body. His wounds, his challenge to the disciples to touch him, his consumption of fish in their sight showed his followers that he, indeed, rose from the dead.

Now, the disciples had a mission, witness to the Good News of the Resurrection. He who died was now alive, just as the Scriptures foretold. That event began the reconciliation of humanity with its maker.

We are skeptics and times we might doubt the story of the Resurrection, but that doubt should not stop us from celebrating the event. Like the disciples in the upper room, the Lord will turn our misgivings into joy. He will give us an opportunity to see him, to touch him, to witness to his presence among us.

How have you witnessed to the Risen Lord this week?

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Friday in Easter Week

John 21:1-14 - World English Bible

1 After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I'm going fishing."

They told him, "We are also coming with you." They immediately went out, and entered into the boat. That night, they caught nothing. 4 But when day had already come, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn't know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus therefore said to them, "Children, have you anything to eat?"

They answered him, "No."

6 He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some."

They cast it therefore, and now they weren't able to draw it in for the multitude of fish. 7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Lord!"

So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around him (for he was naked), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits away), dragging the net full of fish. 9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught."

11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fish, one hundred fifty-three; and even though there were so many, the net wasn't torn.

12 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast."

None of the disciples dared inquire of him, "Who are you?" knowing that it was the Lord.

13 Then Jesus came and took the bread, gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus was revealed to his disciples, after he had risen from the dead.

In the context of John's gospel, chapter 21 appeared to be an addition. When it is compared to fishing scenes from the Synoptics, it acted as a return to the roots of the original disciples. Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, John and two unnamed followers (a total of seven) went fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee, renamed in honor of the emperor). The named disciples were present at the beginning of Jesus ministry in John's gospel (John 1:35, 40-42, 45-49), doing what they did when the Lord called them in the Synoptics (Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11). Yet, the encounter scene reversed the place many had with Jesus; he taught from a boat just off shore to accommodate the crowds (Mark 3:9, 4:1, Luke 5:3, Matthew 13:2). Here, he stood on shore, called to the men in the boat, and instructed them to cast their nets over the side for a catch (Luke 5:4-7). They caught 153 fish (St. Jerome held this was the total number of fish species in the world, signifying that people from every nation would be evangelized). After the miracle of the catch, they recognized the Lord, reminiscent of their realization at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1). On shore, the scene shifted to a breakfast of fish and bread, echoing the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:31-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:5-15). As the reader can see, this scene drew together many themes from both Synoptic and Johannine traditions: the Lord's call, evangelization (represented by the miraculous catch) and fellowship in the meal (with a strong Eucharistic overtone). So, John 21 was a fitting end to this gospel.

How do the themes in John 21 resonate in your life?

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Saturday in Easter Week

Mark 16:9-15 - World English Bible

9 Now when he had risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 When they heard that he was alive, and had been seen by her, they disbelieved. 12 After these things he was revealed in another form to two of them, as they walked, on their way into the country. 13 They went away and told it to the rest. They didn't believe them, either.

14 Afterward he was revealed to the eleven themselves as they sat at the table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they didn't believe those who had seen him after he had risen. 15 He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation."

From the time of Church Fathers onward, Mark 16:9-20 has been considered controversial. The tone and style of the text argue against its originality to the gospel; instead, many people consider it an addition to Mark. Nonetheless, all Christian denominations consider these verses inspired.

The text summed up some of the traditions found in the other gospels. Mary Magdalene first saw the Risen Lord and reported his appearance to the grieving disciples (16:9-11). The two from Emmaus (Luke 24:35-48) related their experience with him, but they were doubted (16:12-13). Finally, he appeared to the Eleven, chastised them for their lack of faith and gave the apostolic commission (16:14-15). Notice, he commanded them to go everywhere and " preach the Good News to the whole creation." Evangelization was to not only be universal, but to be cosmic in scope. The message of the Lord's rising was not limited to time, place or audience. It was meant to permeate all relationships, all parts of life, everything we come into contact with. The Good News was more than life changing; it changed the universe we inhabit.

Has the Good News changed your world?

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