Easter Friday

Today’s readings

“Come have breakfast.”  These are some of my favorite words of Holy Scripture!  I say that in jest, but I truly think these are significant words in Scripture.  Here Jesus appears to his disciples, and just like the appearance on the way to Emmaus, the disciples recognize him in the breaking of the bread, as he is feeding them.  Jesus’ preferred way to be present to his people is by feeding us in our hunger, and that is truly something to celebrate in these Easter days.

It is always interesting to me that the disciples, who, we are told, were trained fishermen, never catch anything unless they are with Jesus.  Go through the Gospels and you will see that this is true.  Their nets always come up empty until he gives the command to cast the nets.  Then they can hardly bring in the catch because of the sheer number of fish they have caught.  Today’s episode finds the disciples dejected, not sure where to go, ready to return to their former life and their former career.  They had not yet made sense of the whole Jesus event.  Just when they thought things were going well, he is betrayed by one of their own brothers, arrested, killed on a cross.  And now he is appearing to them here and there.  They have no idea what to do so they do what they always used to do … they go fishing.

And it is Jesus once again who not only gives them the fish, but cooks breakfast for them.  They were hungering for wisdom, for some way to make sense of everything they had experienced.  And Jesus provides that by breaking bread with them, and helping them to see that it is only in him that their life makes any sense.  They’re not going to find it in their former work, they’re not going to find it in their pre-conceived notions about the Messiah.  They’re only going to find it by taking up the cross themselves, dying to what has made them feel comfortable, and rising to a freedom that nothing can match.  Then, in their relationship with Jesus, they’ll really be able to go fishing and will produce a catch that no net can contain.

We too, are called to go fishing for the Lord in some way, but we’ll never catch anything if we go off on our own.  Praise God that he is always willing to go fishing with us!

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Holy Saturday: Blessing of Food

Reading:  Deuteronomy 26:1-4, 10b-11

Holy Saturday is a rough day for us Catholics, I think.  We started last Sunday with a triumphant procession with palms, only to end with the death of Jesus in the Passion.  On Thursday, we gathered for the joyful celebration of the institution of the Eucharist – an incredible gift from our God – but then, yesterday, we ended the week by realizing the cost of that Eucharist: the Passion and death of our Lord.  It’s been a roller coaster week of death and life, of triumph and disappointment, of joy and sadness.  And today, well, today’s even harder.  We have the memory of the cross fresh in our minds from yesterday.  And we know the joy that’s coming tomorrow.  But for now, all we can do is wait.

And we’re not so good about waiting, are we?  We live in a culture where we want immediate gratification.  But all we can do today is gaze on the sealed up tomb, symbolized in our church by the empty tabernacle, the extinguished sanctuary lights, and the stripped altar.  We are absolutely yearning for life to burst forth from the tomb and destroy death forever.  And it will, but not yet.

This reminds me of when I was a kid, and mom would start cooking for Easter.  Days before, she would prepare Easter calzone, a traditional Italian Easter food that her father used to make.  She would bake lamb cakes made of Aunt Mia’s sour cream pound cake recipe, one of my two favorite versions of that cake.  The smells would be incredible, and we longed to nibble on the jellybeans that decorated the lamb cake, or have just a little slice of the calzone.  And we’d get to do that, but not yet.

Not yet because it’s not Easter yet, and we’re still observing the Paschal Fast, still waiting, still hoping, praying and believing.  There will be joy in the morning, but for now, all we can do is wait … even as our hungry tummies growl, as we smell the wonderful things baking in the kitchen.

Food gives us powerful memories, especially on feasts like this.  We always remember the things we ate on Easter Sunday, or on Christmas, and even the Irish soda bread on Saint Patrick’s day!  In so many ways, the food we prepare and eat reminds us of who we are, reminds us of those we love, and reminds us of the wonderful mysteries that we celebrate.  It’s important to cook our traditional foods because they are gifts to us from the One who provides food for our stomachs as well as food for our souls.  It’s important that young people learn to make these foods so the tradition doesn’t end, and that they hear the stories of those great traditions so that the grace will live on.  The children need to know who we are as a people of faith and why we do what we do, and eat what we eat.

We gather here today then, to thank our Maker for providing for us once again.  We ask his blessings on the feasts of tomorrow, just as he has blessed us with the whole reason for tomorrow.  We remember the stories of our family traditions, as well as The Story that brings us together on Holy Week and Easter.  The time is almost here.  The fast is almost over.  We eagerly await the Feast and the feasting.

Monday of the Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

“Give them some food yourselves,” Jesus says to the disciples.  Yes, it would be easier to send the people away so they can fend for themselves.  But that’s not how God wants to feed them, and Jesus won’t hear of it.  “Give them some food yourselves.”  All they have are five loaves and couple of fish, hardly enough for the incredible crowd.  But, that sacrifice in the hands of Jesus is enough to feed all of them and then some.  What meager offering will you be called upon to sacrifice today so that others can be fed?  Our little service might not seem like much, but in Jesus’ hands it is more than enough.  “Give them some food yourselves.”

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

Today’s readings

At our core, we all want peace and security in our lives.  We don’t want rough waters, or pain, or discord in our families, and that’s all understandable.  I think it’s that very same sentiment that is behind our Scripture readings today.

The Jewish people, the elders and the scribes, the religious establishment of the time, had their laws and customs, and for them, following those laws and customs represented a peaceful and secure life.  So they were not at all open to any kind of teaching that challenged their way of life.  Stephen points out that whenever a prophet called them to a deeper reality, a deeper sense of God’s call, rather than accept that teaching and reform their lives, their ancestors instead murdered the prophets.  And so their response was to prove his point.  They could not accept Stephen’s own prophecy that Christ in his glory was the key to human salvation.  So they stone him to death, with the tacit approval of a man named Saul, a man for whom God had future plans.

The crowd in the Gospel reading wants peace and security too.  They had recently been fed in the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  But they had missed the point.  They wanted just the bread they could eat for today; they didn’t get and didn’t want to get the bread Jesus really wanted them to have – the bread of eternal life.  And so they ask today for another feeding sign.  Just like Moses was able to provide bread from heaven, they wanted Jesus to feed their physical hunger too.  But Jesus is more interested in their spiritual hunger, and longs to provide that in himself, he who is the bread of life.

But if all we hunger for is peace and security, bread for today, then we will certainly miss receiving the Bread of Life.  Our hearts have to be open and our desires have to be for the deepest longings.  Then we can receive our Savior who wants to give us everything we truly need.  “I am the bread of life;” he says to us.  “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Holy Saturday: Blessing of Easter Foods

Holy Saturday is a rough day for us Catholics, I think.  We started last Sunday with a triumphant procession with palms, only to end with the death of Jesus in the Passion.  On Thursday, we gathered for the joyful celebration of the institution of the Eucharist – an incredible gift from our God – and again, yesterday, we ended the week with the Passion.  It’s been a roller coaster week of death and life, of triumph and disappointment, of joy and sadness.  And today, well, today’s even harder.  We have the memory of the cross fresh in our minds from yesterday.  And we know the joy that’s coming tomorrow.  But for now, all we can do is wait.

And we’re not so good about waiting, are we?  We live in a culture where we want immediate gratification.  But all we can do today is gaze on the sealed up tomb, symbolized in our church by the empty tabernacle, the extinguished sanctuary lights, and the stripped altar.  We are absolutely yearning for life to burst forth from the tomb and destroy death forever.  And it will, but not yet.

This reminds me of when I was a kid, and mom would start cooking for Easter.  Days before, she would prepare Easter calzone, a traditional Italian Easter food that her father used to make.  She would bake lamb cakes made of Aunt Mia’s sour cream pound cake recipe, one of my two favorite versions of that cake.  The smells would be incredible, and we longed to nibble on the jellybeans that decorated the lamb cake, or have just a little slice of the calzone.  And we’d get to do that, but not yet.

Not yet because it’s not Easter yet, and we’re still fasting, still waiting, still hoping, praying and believing.  There would be joy in the morning, but for now, all we could do is wait … even as our hungry tummies growled, as we smelled the wonderful things baking in the kitchen.

Food gives us powerful memories, especially on feasts like this.  We always remember the things we ate on Easter Sunday, or on Christmas, and yes, even the Irish soda bread on Saint Patrick’s day!  In so many ways, the food we prepare and eat reminds us of who we are, reminds us of those we love, and reminds us of the wonderful mysteries that we celebrate.  It’s important to cook our traditional foods because they are gifts to us from the One who provides food for our stomachs as well as food for our souls.  It’s important that young people learn to make these foods so the tradition doesn’t end, and that they hear the stories of those great traditions so that the grace will live on.

We gather here today then, to thank our Maker for providing for us once again.  We ask his blessings on the feasts of tomorrow, just as he has blessed us with the whole reason for tomorrow.  We remember the stories of our family traditions, as well as The Story that brings us together on Holy Week and Easter.  The time is almost here.  The fast is almost over.  We eagerly await the Feast and the feasting.