Sunday, April 3, 2016

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy) – Life through Wounds & Doubts

“Peace be with you … Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” – Jn 20:26-27

The story of doubting Thomas is my story. Like him, I don't always trust the testimony of others. Like him, I need to experience things in order for them to become real for me. Perhaps the rest of the disciples were not convincing: after Jesus breathed peace on them (twice) and gave them the power of his forgiving Mercy, they were still locked in fear. A week later with Thomas present, Jesus again entered their locked hearts, offering “shalom.”

Wounds and doubts are intricately related. For many of us, we doubt God’s presence or divine goodness more when we are most wounded by life. Our trust is eroded when we cannot accept or understand suffering, others’ or ours.

Jesus did not offer Thomas an explanation. He offered him an experience – an invitation to touch his very wound and hollowed flesh. In doing so, Jesus invites Thomas to come to face with his very own wounds, to a healing process that enables him to proclaim with clarity and trust, “My Lord and my God.”

We are called to touch the wounds of Christ in others around us. In doing so, we allow grace to heal our hearts and minds, transforming whatever that threaten life and erode trust within us. For me, this Easter Season involves an invitation to let the Risen One draws me with his tender, merciful gaze and leads me with his peace as I engage my doubts and touch the wounds of others. New life flows out of this experience.

The story of Thomas is our story. By touching wounds and doubts (ours and those of others), we come to greater peace and deeper faith. We come to have and to share life in Jesus’ name!

Lord Jesus, breathe peace into our wounds and doubts so that we may be your healing, merciful love.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Saturday of Easter Octave: Ordinary Men, Ordinary Moments

“It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” - Acts 4:20 

If we won an award, lost a tooth, or had something exciting happen as kids, our first call was always to our grandmother. We would call her with our news as soon as we got home from school and she usually answered. But in the pre-cell phone and pre-voicemail world of the 1980s sometimes we would have to wait and try again later. When this happened, we would not call my aunt or anyone else until we could reach our grandma so she could be the first “hearer” of our news.  

In today’s readings, I can identify both with being the teller and the receiver of incredible news. Jesus did not appear to just any random person who happened by the tomb; He chose Mary Magdalene first for a reason. Maybe it was because of her raw faith and openness to what would seem “impossible” to most of us. Maybe it was because she so missed Him that she could not stay away from his tomb. Maybe it was because of a deep friendship between them: what is happening right now is so real and awesome that I don’t want you to hear it from anyone but me.  

All of these first hearers and witnesses to the Resurrection could not keep the news to themselves. Like a new grandparent who proudly shows baby pictures to people waiting in line in the grocery store or a high school student who hangs a banner on a freeway overpass inviting his girlfriend to prom, are we overflowing with excitement and joy about what Jesus has done to us that we cannot contain it?  

Who are my first “hearers” of any news (good or bad)? What does it feel like for me to receive news I cannot hold inside?  

Lord, help me to rush to you with my daily reality like you drew close to your dear friends in those first Easter days? 

Jen Coito 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday of Easter Octave: Crazy in Love

"When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea." – Jn. 21:7 

Simon Peter was crazy in love with Jesus. He had not too long ago denied Jesus three times during Jesus' final hours. Although Peter felt bitterly guilty about his denial, it did not prevent him from jumping out of the boat half-naked when he saw Jesus on the shores of Tiberias. The other disciples were more contained with their response waiting instead for the boat to arrive at the shore. Perhaps Peter had an insight to how crazy in love Jesus was with him despite all his shortcomings that elicited Peter's own crazed response at the sight of Jesus. 

When we have wronged someone, the natural response is avoidance. We feel ashamed, close in on ourselves, and become self-conscious. Our world in relation with that person becomes stagnant and smaller. This is even more so with the realization that the offense is also a sin against God. We may shift our attention on our own worthiness and away from God's unconditional love for us. I continue to wrestle with my inherent imperfections. I cannot avoid the fact that I will continue to offend, hurt, and love imperfectly. But how do I respond each time I fall short? Do I shrink into myself and become self-focused? Or do I run to the outstretched arms of Jesus who is crazy in love with me? 

It is God's love that allows us to choose to lovingly respond. Beyoncé sings, "But I still don't understand, just how your love can do what no one else's can." – Crazy in Love. God's crazy love can move us beyond ourselves. Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ says when we choose to fall in love with God in an absolute, final way, it will decide everything. For Simon Peter, falling in love with Jesus compelled him to jump into the sea half-naked, lead the disciples, buildJesus's church, and die for him. How will falling crazy in love with Jesus who is crazy in love with us decide what we do? 

Lord Jesus, thank you for madly loving me. Please give me the grace to reciprocate your crazy love and share it with others. 

Michael Jamnongjit