Easter Octave: April 5-10, 2021:
5 Monday: Mt 28:8-15:
The context: Today’s Gospel describes how the two Marys who had been at the foot of the cross – Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (sister or cousin of Jesus’ mother) – went to the tomb of Jesus early on Sunday morning. They were shocked at seeing an open tomb without Jesus’ body in it. As they ran back with fear and joy to report the news to the apostles, the risen Jesus greeted them and told them to inform the apostles that he would meet them in Galilee. The guards, too, went to the chief priests to report the Resurrection of Jesus. But they were promptly silenced by the Temple authorities who bribed them to spread the false news that Jesus’ body had been stolen by his disciples.
Life messages: 1) The Resurrection of Christ is the most sublime and foundational truth of our Faith. It is the presence of the risen Lord everywhere that gives meaning to our worship and prayers, because Jesus is present everywhere to hear our prayers and grant our petitions.
2) The Risen Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist, in the
Bible, in the praying assembly and in believing Christians, so we need never be
out of contact with him. 3) Let us renew this fundamental belief of our Faith
every day and let us recognize and serve the risen Christ in everyone around
us, thus becoming the Marys, “apostles to the apostles”. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
April 6 Tuesday: Jn 20:11-18: St. Mary Magdalene
The context: Today’s Gospel presents the great recognition scene in the New Testament in which Mary Magdalene, at the tomb early in the morning, was not able to recognize the Risen Jesus until Jesus called her by name. Gradual recognition, or misunderstanding, as a stage on the path to belief and understanding, frequently occurs in the narratives of John’s Gospel. [See, for example, the conversations Jesus had with Nicodemus (ch. 3), and the Samaritan woman (ch. 4).] In today’s passage, we find it once again: Mary thought at first that Jesus was the gardener.
Mary Magdalene failed to recognize Jesus because of her false assumption that his body had been stolen. Her attention was concentrated on the empty tomb. Her tears of intense grief could also have blurred her vision. Once Mary had recognized Jesus, he gave her a message to be conveyed to his Apostles about His plan to leave them and ascend to his Father. She was the first to see the Risen Christ and the first to tell the apostles about the Lord’s resurrection. Mary’s message to Jesus’ disciples, “I have seen the Lord,”(Jn 20: 18),” became the basis and essence of later preaching and Christians’ witness-bearing. St Thomas Aquinas said that one old lady (una vetera), might have more Faith than a host of learned theologians.
Life messages: 1) Just like Mary Magdalene, we
too may fail to recognize the presence of the risen Lord in our neighbor
because of our preoccupations, spiritual blindness, and evil habits. But we can
be open to experience the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives through our
prayer, our Sacramental life, and our meditative reading of the Bible. These
all enable us to bear witness to the Risen Lord in our daily lives.2) It is our
powerful conviction of the Real Presence of the Risen Lord, both in the
Eucharist and in our lives, which gives us the strength to fight temptations
and to serve our brothers and sisters in corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
April 7 Wednesday: Luke 24:13-35:
The context: The Emmaus episode, which is found only in Luke’s Gospel, describes how Jesus shared the sorrow and frustration of the disciples at the sad and shameful death of their Master. Their hopes of Jesus’ conquest of the Romans and establishment of the glorious Davidic kingdom with his Divine power had been shattered. The risen Lord, unrecognized, joined them as they walked along. He explained the Scriptures and reminded them of the prophecies about the Messiah’s death and Resurrection in order to show them how the events that had happened were the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies. But it was only at supper, when Jesus blessed and broke the bread and gave it to them, that they recognized Jesus, who promptly vanished from their sight. The phrase, “the Breaking of the Bread”, is used repeatedly in the Acts of the Apostles (also written by Luke), to refer to the ritual meal of the Christian community, the Eucharist (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7; 27:35). Disciples in every century have continued to recognize Jesus in “the Breaking of the Bread.”
Life messages: 1) The risen Lord is with us in
both the joyful and the sad moments of our lives. Too often, we have our hopes
and dreams shattered by the untimely deaths of our dear ones, by a split in
family relationships, by the worsening of our illnesses, or by the loss of
jobs. On such occasions, we have to learn to experience the risen Lord’s
consoling and supporting presence in our lives. 2) As the disciples met the
risen Lord on their way to Emmaus, we too must recognize and appreciate his
presence in the Holy Eucharist, in the Word of God, in the praying community,
at home, and in our Churches. Jesus is still beside his followers.
Often, he is only dimly recognized and only by few. “You were with
me,” wrote St. Augustine some centuries later, “but I was not with You” (Confessions,
X, 27). Let us learn to talk to Jesus whenever we are alone and listen to
him when we read the Bible, hear it preached or have it explained to us. (Fr.
Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
April 8 Thursday: Lk 24:35-48:
The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes the first post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus to the apostles while they were listening to the first-hand account of his appearance by the two disciples who had gone to Emmaus and had met Jesus on the way. This apparition is reported by both Luke and John.
The apostles could not believe that their Risen Lord was before them. Hence, Jesus had to show them the marks of the wounds in his hands and feet in proof. He also asked for a piece of broiled fish and ate it before them. Thus, Jesus confirmed his apostles’ Faith in his Resurrection by inviting them to touch Him, and by giving them these two proofs. Then Jesus explained to them that all that had happened during the past week had been done to fulfill the Messianic prophecies given in the Torah, by the Prophets and in the Psalms. His suffering, death, and Resurrection took place exactly as they had been prophesied. (Throughout his account, St. Matthew cites the Old Testament prophecies that have been fulfilled in Christ, because the Evangelist’s immediate readers were Jews, who needed and would accept these fulfillments as proofs that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah). The next unfolding of Jesus’ mission was to be the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. That would be begun by the apostles; it would be carried on and will finally be brought to completion by the Church before Jesus’ Second Coming and Final Judgment of the living and the dead.
Life messages: 1) We, too, are called to bear witness for all around us to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, just as the first apostles were commissioned by Jesus to bring the Good News of salvation to all the nations.
2) What is essential for the success of our preaching and witnessing mission is our firm and lively awareness of the presence and support of the Risen Lord in our lives. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
April 9 Friday: Jn 21: 1-14:
The context: Today’s Gospel story is about our risen Lord’s persistent search for the apostles, even when they had gone back to their fishing profession, trying, perhaps, to forget the disastrous events leading to the crucifixion of their Master. John presents this incident as the third of Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances. The incident proves that Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances were not mere hallucinations. In the first part of today’s Gospel, the risen Jesus appears to the apostles and gives them a symbol of their mission in a miraculous catch of fish, followed by a grilled fish breakfast which Jesus had prepared for them. The second part is a dialogue between Jesus and Simon where Simon is asked three times whether he loves Jesus and answers that he does, as if in reparation for his triple denial of Jesus. As his primary mission, Peter is given the care of the vulnerable lambs and sheep, and he is told that fidelity to this mission will lead him to martyrdom.
Life messages: We need to open our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts wide to see, hear and experience the risen Lord coming into our lives in various forms, circumstances and events. These include: 1) The risen Lord blessing us with success and achievements: We often fail to acknowledge the presence of the risen Lord behind our unexpected successes, great achievements, promotions at work, miraculous healings, and success in relationships. But the risen Lord is right there at our parties, celebrations, and occasions of rejoicing.
2) The risen Lord is present in our pains and suffering: Acts 9:1-13 tells us how the risen Lord transformed the life of Saul by flattening him on the Damascus road, and by making him temporarily blind, so that he would come to see that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God and believe. The same Jesus often visits us in the form of accidents, illnesses, the loss of dear ones, pain, suffering, and problems in relationships.
3) The risen Lord visits us through our friends and well-wishers: He is present in those who visit us and encourage us in our sad and desperate moments. The risen Lord visits us in our dire needs in the form of unexpected help from the least expected persons. 4) The risen Lord is present in our Christian worship: Jesus is present on our altars during the Holy Mass to share his Divine life with us, in the words of the Holy Scripture, in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and wherever two or three are gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20). (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
April 10 Saturday: Mk 16: 9-15:
The context: Today’s Gospel mentions the three appearances of the risen Lord and Jesus’ entrusting to the apostles their mission to preach his Good News: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15). According to Mark (in the longer encing), Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. But Jesus’ apostles did not believe her. Later, he appeared to two disciples during their trip to Emmaus. When they had returned to Jerusalem and while they were explaining their experience, Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles gathered there. After gently chiding them for their unbelief and hard-heartedness, Jesus gave them his preaching mission or the “universal Apostolic mandate.”
Life messages: 1) The preaching and witnessing mission of Jesus applies especially to the successors of the Twelve Apostles, namely, the Bishops in communion with Peter’s successor, the Pope. 2) However, Vatican II declared in the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicum Actuositatem), that the whole “Church was founded to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth for the glory of God the Father, to make all men partakers in Redemption and Salvation” (AA, 2). “On all Christians, accordingly, rests the noble obligation of working to bring all men throughout the whole world to hear and accept the Divine message of salvation” (AA, 3). (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21