Emmaus

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
(Luke 24:13-35)

Scripture Study

24:13 Emmaus: A Judean village of uncertain location (1 Mac 9:50).

24:18 Cleopas: Probably the same person as the one called “Clopas” in Jn 19:25. Early Christian tradition identifies him as the brother of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus (3:23), and the father of Simon/Simeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem.

24:19 mighty in deed and word: Moses is described in these terms in Acts 7:22. The implication is that Jesus is the awaited prophet-like-Moses announced in Deut 18:15 (Acts 3:22–23; 7:37). Jesus was often viewed as a prophet by his contemporaries (Lk 7:16; Mt 16:14; 21:46; Jn 6:14).

24:21 redeem Israel: The discouraged travelers had hoped that Jesus would reign as king in Jerusalem and rescue their nation from Roman oppression (19:11; Mk 11:10; Acts 1:6). Their expectations are out of step with God’s plan to free Israel from sin and death, not from political subjugation (Mt 1:21; Jn 1:29; CCC 439).

24:27 all the Scriptures: Jesus gives an overview of salvation history from the OT. His entire life was foreordained in Scripture, including his birth (Mt 1:23; 2:6), ministry (4:18–19), death (20:17; Acts 8:32–33), and Resurrection (Mt 12:40; Acts 2:24–28) (CCC 601, 652).

24:30 took … blessed … broke … gave: A sequence of actions recalling the Last Supper accounts (22:19; Mt 26:26). Here the disciples encounter Christ in a spiritual way, discerning his presence in the meal (24:35). ● The structure of the Emmaus episode reflects the structure of the eucharistic liturgy, where Jesus gives himself to the Church in word and sacrament, in the proclamation of Scripture (24:27) and in the eucharistic Bread of Life (24:30, 35) (CCC 1346–47).

24:35 breaking of the bread: Among Jews this was a ceremonial gesture that commenced the celebration of an ordinary meal. Among Christians it was used as a description of the eucharistic liturgy (Acts 2:42; 20:7; CCC 1329).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel is one of the greatest stories ever told: the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is a story of the Church and its mission, and therefore it speaks to us all. On the day of new creation they are walking in precisely the wrong direction, away from Jerusalem. You won’t see Jesus if you look away from his cross and resurrection.

Next, “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” Jesus is always with the Church, even when it strays, patiently trying to lure it back in the right direction. Then Jesus does for them what he does for us: he interprets the meaning of his own life. The opening move of the liturgy is just this. We read the Old and New Testaments in light of Jesus, Christ himself providing the interpretive key.

The disciples invite Jesus to come in and have supper with them. As he had done the night before he died, he “took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.” This is the great Eucharistic action of the Church: Jesus offering his very self to us, presenting sacramentally the drama of his death and resurrection.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

He Rules Over All Things

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea,
embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum.
It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.
When they had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat,
and they began to be afraid.
But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
They wanted to take him into the boat,
but the boat immediately arrived at the shore
to which they were heading.
(John 6:16-21)

Scripture Study

6:16–21 The fifth sign is a nature miracle, portraying Jesus sharing Yahweh’s power. Cf. the parallel stories following the multiplication of the loaves in Mk 6:45–52 and Mt 14:22–33.

6:19 Walking on the sea: although the Greek (cf. Jn 6:16) could mean “on the seashore” or “by the sea” (cf. Jn 21:1), the parallels, especially Mt 14:25, make clear that Jesus walked upon the water. John may allude to Jb 9:8: God “treads upon the crests of the sea.”

6:20 It is I: literally, “I am.”

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus demonstrates his authority over nature by walking on the sea. Water is, throughout the Scriptures, a symbol of danger and chaos. At the very beginning of time, when all was a formless waste, the spirit of the Lord hovered over the surface of the waters. This signals God’s lordship over all of the powers of darkness and disorder. In the Old Testament the Israelites are escaping from Egypt, and they confront the waters of the Red Sea. Through the prayer of Moses, they are able to walk through the midst of the waves.

Now in the New Testament, this same symbolism can be found. In all four of the Gospels there is a version of this story of Jesus mastering the waves. The boat, with Peter and the other disciples, is evocative of the Church, the followers of Jesus. It moves through the waters, and the Church will move through time.

All types of Storms—chaos, corruption, stupidity, danger, persecution—will inevitably arise. But Jesus comes walking on the sea. This is meant to affirm his divinity: just as the spirit of God hovered over the waters at the beginning, so Jesus hovers over them now.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Food for the Journey

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
(John 6:1-15)

Scripture Study

6:1–15 This story of the multiplication of the loaves is the fourth sign. It is the only miracle story found in all four gospels (occurring twice in Mark and Matthew). John differs on the roles of Philip and Andrew, the proximity of Passover (Jn 6:4), and the allusion to Elisha (see Jn 6:9). The story here symbolizes the food that is really available through Jesus. It connotes a new exodus and has eucharistic overtones.

6:1 [Of Tiberias]: the awkward apposition represents a later name of the Sea of Galilee. It was probably originally a marginal gloss.

6:5 Jesus takes the initiative, possibly pictured as (cf. Jn 6:14) the new Moses (cf. Nm 11:13).

6:6 Probably the evangelist’s comment; in this gospel Jesus is never portrayed as ignorant of anything.

6:7 Days’ wages: literally, “denarii”; a Roman denarius is a day’s wage in Mt 20:2.

6:9 Barley loaves: the food of the poor. There seems an allusion to the story of Elisha multiplying the barley bread in 2 Kgs 4:42–44.

6:10 Grass: implies springtime, and therefore Passover. Five thousand: so Mk 6:39, 44 and parallels.

6:13 Baskets: the word describes the typically Palestinian wicker basket, as in Mk 6:43 and parallels.

6:14 The Prophet: probably the prophet like Moses. The one who is to come into the world: probably Elijah; cf. Mal 3:1; 3:5.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today focuses on St. John’s intense meditation on the meaning of the Eucharist. The tone is set with the familiar story of the feeding of the five thousand, the only miracle story mentioned in all four Gospels. This scene deeply affected the first Christians. Jesus instructs the crowd to recline on the grass. Taking the barley loaves and dried fish, Jesus makes a meal that satisfies the enormous crowd. They are hungry, tired, worn out from their exertions, and Jesus gives them sustenance for the day.

For Thomas Aquinas, the great metaphor for the Eucharist is sustenance, food for the journey. Baptism defines us, making us sons and daughters of God; confirmation confirms and deepens this identity; marriage and holy orders seal us in our life’s vocation. These are sacraments offered once at key moments in one’s life.

Then there is the Eucharist, which is daily food, nourishment to get us through the day-to-day. How effective would we be if we never ate, or ate only on special occasions and in a festive environment? Not very. So, in the spiritual life, we must eat and drink or we will not have the strength.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Obedience

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
“We gave you strict orders did we not,
to stop teaching in that name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this,
they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.
(Acts 5:27-33)

Scripture Study

5:28 blood upon us: Bloodguilt for the condemnation and death of Jesus rested on the head of Jewish and Roman authorities (4:27). Though degrees of personal and individual guilt are known to God alone, collective responsibility for this outrage was accepted by the frenzied mob in Jerusalem that coerced Pilate to have him crucified (Mt 27:24–26; CCC 597).

5:29 obey God rather than men: The foundational premise of civil disobedience. It insists that believers cannot submit to human authorities, institutions, and laws that contradict the laws of God (Wis 6:1–3; Mk 7:8–13). Part of the Christian mission is to bring civil legislation in line with divine law and, when this proves unsuccessful, to make a courageous stand in favor of the gospel. In this episode, the mandate of Jesus to preach the gospel (1:8) overrides the charge of the Sanhedrin to keep silent (4:18; CCC 450, 2242).

5:30 on a tree: A reference to crucifixion, described in terms of Deut 21:22.

Scripture Reflection

A Christian should conform his behavior to God’s law, “Man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. His dignity lies in observing this law, and by it he will be judged” (Rom 2:15–16). His conscience is man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.

Like the eye, conscience is designed to enable a person to see, but it needs light from outside (God’s law and the Church’s guidance) to discover religious and moral truths and properly appreciate them. Without that help man simply tires himself out in his search as he seeks only himself and forgets about good and evil, and his conscience becomes darkened by sin and moral opportunism.

A right conscience, which always goes hand in hand with moral prudence, will help a Christian to obey the law like a good citizen and also to take a stand against any unjust laws which may be proposed or enacted. It is not enough for good Christians to profess privately the teaching of the Gospel and the Church regarding human life, the family, education, freedom etc. They should realize that these are subjects of crucial importance for the welfare of their country, and they should strive, using all the usual means at their disposal, to see that the laws of the State are supportive of the common good.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

God So Loved

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
(John 3:16-21)

Scripture Study

16:13 he will guide you: The work of the Spirit counteracts the work of Satan. The former discloses the full meaning of the gospel (14:26); the latter spreads deception and falsehood throughout the world (8:44). The point here is that the Spirit continues the teaching mission of Jesus to bear witness to the truth (8:31–32; 18:37; CCC 687). ● Vatican II outlined the doctrine of magisterial infallibility, meaning that the pope alone or the pope and the bishops united with him are divinely protected from teaching error when they define matters pertaining to faith and morals (Lumen Gentium, 25). The guidance of the Spirit is Christ’s guarantee that the gospel will not be corrupted, distorted, or misunderstood by the ordained shepherds of the Church during her earthly pilgrimage (CCC 768, 889–92).

16:15 declare it to you: The Spirit gives us a share in the divine life and authority of Jesus (6:63; Rom 8:14–16; CCC 690).

16:18 A little while: The disciples will again see Jesus at his Resurrection (20:19–30), and after his Ascension they will await his visible return in glory (Acts 1:9–11).

16:21 her hour has come: The hour of Christ’s Passion is compared to the pangs of childbirth. The disciples, like a woman in labor, will experience extreme distress that soon gives way to joy when Christ is reborn to a new life on Easter morning. ● The Prophets similarly compare times of divine testing and judgment to the onset of labor pain (Is 13:6–8; 26:17; Mic 4:10).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel passage today includes one of Jesus’ best-known and best-loved sayings. The Lord is speaking to Nicodemus and he tells him, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Why does the Son come? Because God is angry? Because God wants to lord it over us? Because God needs something? No, he comes purely out of love, out of God’s desire that we flourish: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

It is not in order to work out his anger issues that the Father sends the Son, but that the justice of the world might be restored. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s salvific intent, displayed throughout the Old Testament.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

God Favors Humility

Beloved:
Clothe yourselves with humility
in your dealings with one another, for:

God opposes the proud
but bestows favor on the humble.

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Be sober and vigilant.
Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith,
knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world
undergo the same sufferings.
The God of all grace
who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you
after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen.

I write you this briefly through Silvanus,
whom I consider a faithful brother,
exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.
Remain firm in it.
The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son.
Greet one another with a loving kiss.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
(1 Peter 5:5-14)

Scripture Study

5:5 God opposes the proud: A quotation from the Greek version of Prov 3:34. ● The proverb pleads for humility with the promise that God will exalt us in his favor. Peter is encouraging humble submission to clergymen, who represent the Lord to his people (Acts 20:28). The proud, who are puffed up and insubordinate, will one day be humiliated (Jas 4:6–7).

5:6 Humble … exalt you: Echoes the saying of Jesus in Mt 23:12.

5:7 all your anxieties: Like any good father, God invites his children to unload their worries upon him so that peace and comfort can be given in return (Phil 4:6–7; CCC 322).

5:8 Your adversary the devil: Peter points the finger at Satan, accusing him of being the unseen perpetrator of Christian persecutions (5:9). His deadly intentions and predatorial tactics make him comparable to a ravenous lion on the hunt for food. Lions were greatly feared in biblical times (2 Kings 17:25–26) and were sometimes made a symbol of one’s enemy (Ps 7:1–2; 10:8–9) (CCC 2851–54).

5:12 Silvanus: Also known in the NT as “Silas”. He was once a member of Paul’s missionary team (Acts 15:40; 2 Cor 1:19) and a co-sender of two of his letters (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1). Most likely, Silvanus is mentioned here because Peter employed him as the writer or drafter of the epistle. It is also possible that he delivered the letter to its original recipients (1 Pet 1:1).

5:13 She: I.e., the Church, which is a feminine noun in Greek. Babylon: The place of writing where the letter originated. Most agree it is a code name for the city of Rome, in central Italy. my son Mark: John Mark, an early believer from Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) whom Christian tradition identifies as the author of the Gospel of Mark. Here associated with Peter, he was also a onetime companion of Paul (Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11).

5:14 the kiss of love: A customary form of greeting in Jewish antiquity (Gen 33:4; Lk 15:20). It was adopted by the early Christians as a sign of their fraternal affection as brothers and sisters in the faith (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20).

Scripture Reflection

The apostle concludes his exhortation with a call to humility, which should express itself in complete docility in the face of the trials God permits as we cast our burdens at the feet of our Lord, for he has promised to sustain us.

If we remain firm in the faith, we will be able to resist the attacks of the devil. The trials of these momentary afflictions are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparisons. St Francis of Assisi, encourages us to remain fixed on our faith in God: “So great is the good that I hope for, that any pain is for me a pleasure.”

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Proclaim With Boldness

After their release Peter and John went back to their own people
and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.
And when they heard it,
they raised their voices to God with one accord
and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth
and the sea and all that is in them,
you said by the Holy Spirit
through the mouth of our father David, your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the princes gathered together
against the Lord and against his anointed.

Indeed they gathered in this city
against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed,
Herod and Pontius Pilate,
together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
to do what your hand and your will
had long ago planned to take place.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and enable your servants to speak your word
with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are done
through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
(Acts 4:23-31)

Scripture Study

4:25–26 At the center of the community’s prayer (4:24–30) stands a citation from Ps 2:1–2. ● The Psalmist wonders at the conspiracy of rebel nations plotting against Yahweh and the anointed king of Israel, knowing that God’s plans cannot be frustrated by earthly princes (Ps 2:4–9). Read as a prophecy, the psalm envisions the collaboration of Jewish and Roman authorities in executing Jesus, the anointed Messiah. Mention of rulers being gathered together also echoes the statement in 4:5, where the leadership of Jerusalem is conspiring against the apostles.

4:27 whom you anointed: The Spirit anointed Jesus at his Baptism (10:38; Lk 3:22).

4:29 with all boldness: The believers pray, not for an end to persecution, but for evangelical courage in the face of opposition (Eph 6:18–20; 1 Thess 2:2).

4:31 filled with the Holy Spirit: The apostolic community relives the experience of Pentecost and is renewed in the grace and encouragement of the Spirit (2:1–4).

Scripture Reflection

This prayer of the apostles and the community provides Christians with a model of reliance on God’s help. They ask God to give them the strength they need to continue to proclaim the Word boldly and not be intimidated by persecution, and they also entreat him to accredit their preaching by enabling them to work signs and wonders.

The prayer includes some prophetic verses of Psalm 2 which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself experienced this opposition, as the apostles do now and as the Church does throughout history. When we hear the clamor of the forces of evil, still striving to “burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us” (v. 3), we should put our trust in the Lord, who “has them in derision. […] He will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury” (vv. 4–5); in this way we make it possible for God’s message to be heard by everyone: “Now, therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet … Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (vv. 10–12).

Meditation on this psalm has been a source of comfort to Christians in all ages, filling them with confidence in the Lord’s help: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (v. 8).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Penance

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “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.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
(John 20:19-31)

Scripture Study

20:19 that day: The evening of Easter Sunday.

20:20 his hands and his side: The point is that Jesus is raised not simply with a body, but with the same body that was crucified and died only days earlier (20:25, 27). He carries these marks of his earthly sacrifice with him even when he ascends into heaven (Rev 5:6) (CCC 645).

20:21 Peace: A traditional Hebrew greeting.

20:22 he breathed on them: Anticipates the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost, which will take place 50 days later (Acts 2:1–4). Here we see that the risen humanity of Jesus has become a sacrament of the divine Spirit (6:53–58; CCC 1116). ● John uses an expression that recurs in significant contexts in the Greek OT. It appears in Gen 2:7, where the Lord breathes life into Adam; in 1 Kings 17:21, where the Greek version specifies that Elijah resuscitated a boy with his breath; and in Ezek 37:9, where God raises an army of corpses to new life by the breath of the Spirit.

20:23 forgive the sins: Jesus’ ministry of mercy and reconciliation will continue through the apostles (2 Cor 5:18–20; Jas 5:14–15). The power to “forgive and retain” sins in the name of Jesus is elsewhere described as the authority to “bind and loose” (Mt 16:19; 18:18; CCC 553, 730). ● The Council of Trent connects this episode with the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, by which Christ distributes divine forgiveness to the world through the successors of the apostles (bishops) and their assistants in the presbyterate (priests) (CCC 976, 1441, 1461).

20:26 Eight days later: The second Sunday of the Easter octave.

20:28 My Lord and my God!: The climactic confession of faith in John’s Gospel (CCC 448, 644).

20:30–31 A statement of purpose by the evangelist. He has written the Fourth Gospel both as history and as witness, in the hope that a factual portrayal of the Christ’s life will not just inform readers, but challenge them to accept him and his claims with true faith (Lk 1:1–4).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our magnificent Gospel declares that there is no greater manifestation of the divine mercy than the forgiveness of sins. We are in the upper room with the disciples, those who had denied, betrayed, and abandoned their master. Jesus came and stood in their midst. When they saw him, their fear must have intensified: undoubtedly he was back for revenge.

Instead, he spoke the simple word “Shalom”, peace. He showed them his hands and his side, lest they forget what the world (and they) did to him, but he does not follow up with blame or retribution—only a word of mercy. And then the extraordinary commission: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jesus’ mercy is communicated to his disciples who in turn are sent to communicate it to the world.

This is the foundation for the sacrament of penance, which has existed in the Church from that moment to the present day as the privileged vehicle of the divine mercy.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Gathered Back

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week,
he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,
out of whom he had driven seven demons.
She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping.
When they heard that he was alive
and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After this he appeared in another form
to two of them walking along on their way to the country.
They returned and told the others;
but they did not believe them either.

But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them
and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart
because they had not believed those
who saw him after he had been raised.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
(Mark 16:9-15)

Scripture Study

Verses 9–20, commonly called the Longer Ending, do not appear in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel. Scholars are virtually unanimous in holding that these verses were not written by Mark but by a Christian of the late first or early second century who sought to fill out the abrupt ending of verse 8. Yet the Church accepts this addendum as part of the canon of inspired Scripture. The Holy Spirit’s gift of inspiration is not limited to the original writer, but encompasses each biblical book in its final edited form.

16:9–11 The author of the Longer Ending was apparently familiar with all four Gospels (or with the oral testimonies on which they were based), and compiled these verses from the resurrection accounts in Matthew, Luke, and John. Verses 9–11 are an abbreviated version of Jesus’ encounter with Mary Magdalene (John 20:11–17). Here, as in the other Gospels, it is clear that people do not simply “catch sight” of the risen Lord; rather, the Lord takes the initiative in appearing to whom he chooses. And significantly, the first person to whom he appears is a woman out of whom he had driven seven demons (Luke 8:2)—someone who by human standards might be considered the least reliable witness (like the healed demoniac of Mark 5:19–20). Mary goes to his companions with the news and finds them mourning and weeping, still limited to a this-worldly mindset in which the cross was the ultimate disaster. It does not yet enter their minds that God could have shattered the power of death itself. Predictably they fail to believe her testimony.

16:12–13 These verses seem to be drawn from Luke’s account of the disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–32). That the risen Lord appeared in another form suggests a mysterious ability to transform his bodily appearance. His risen body is such that he is not recognized until he makes himself known. In Luke’s account the disciples do not recognize Jesus until he breaks bread with them at table, an allusion to the Eucharist. Once again an eyewitness report of the resurrection meets with only skepticism in the demoralized disciples.

16:14 Finally Jesus appears to the eleven remaining disciples as they are gathered together and reprimands them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, familiar themes in the Gospel of Mark.

16:15–16 Jesus’ reproach does not invalidate the apostles’ commission but rather prepares for it. Chastened by the recognition of their own slowness to believe, now they are commissioned to proclaim the gospel to every creature. It is the same charge given at the end of Matthew’s Gospel and anticipated in the eschatological discourse. The good news is no longer limited to God’s chosen people, as it had been during Jesus’ earthly life. It is destined for all the world, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s passage Jesus commissions his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all. A great lesson of the Resurrection is that the path of salvation has been opened to everyone. Paul told us that “though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself and took the form of slave…accepting even death, death on a cross.”

In a word, Jesus went all the way down, journeying into pain, despair, alienation, even godforsakenness. Why? In order to reach all of those who had wandered from God. Then, in light of the Resurrection, the first Christians came to know that, even as we run as fast as we can away from the Father, all the way to godforsakenness, we are running into the arms of the Son. The Resurrection shows that Christ can gather back to the Father everyone whom he has embraced through his suffering love.

So let us not domesticate the still stunning and disturbing message of Resurrection. Rather, let us allow it to unnerve us, change us, and set us on fire.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

It is the Lord!

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.
(John 21:1-14)

Scripture Study

21:1 Sea of Tiberias: Another name for the Sea of Galilee.

21:2 At least five of these seven disciples are apostles. John, who is one of the sons of Zebedee (Mt 10:2), remains consistent until the end in withholding his name from the Gospel narrative.

21:3 that night: Net fishing was done at night (Lk 5:5). The most popular fish were tilapias, now called “Peter’s fish”.

21:7 It is the Lord!: John is the first to recognize Jesus on the shore. It is unclear whether his identity was veiled because of the distance, the lingering darkness, or a dullness of spiritual insight (20:14, Lk 24:16; CCC 645). ● Allegorically (St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Evan. 24): the presence of Christ on land signifies the stability and peace of his Resurrection life, as distinct from the instability and commotion of mortal life still experienced by the disciples as they labor upon the waves of the sea.

21:9 charcoal fire: This expression, used only here and in 18:18 in the NT, sets up the following conversation between Jesus and Peter. The point is that Peter is given a second chance to affirm his love for Christ in front of a fire after three times denying him in front of a fire (18:15–18, 25–27).

21:11 a hundred and fifty-three: The number of fish hauled ashore is symbolic. St. Jerome claims that Greek zoologists had identified 153 different kinds of fish (Comm. in Ez. 14, 47). If this is the background, the episode anticipates how the apostles, made fishers of men by Christ (Mt 4:19), will gather believers from every nation into the Church (Mt 28:18–20).

21:13 took … gave: The breakfast recalls the feeding of the 5,000 in 6:1–14, since these are the only two meals in John eaten beside the Sea of Galilee and the only two where bread and fish are served.

21:14 the third time: i.e., that Jesus appears risen to the group of disciples. Individual encounters like the one in 20:16 are not included in this numbering.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel, the Risen Jesus appears to seven disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. Jesus rose bodily from the dead. This is the fact—eminently surprising and unexpected—that gives birth to Christianity. The excitement that you can sense on every page of the New Testament comes from this novelty.

Why did the Risen Jesus appear only to a few? Why didn’t he make himself readily apparent to anyone who wanted to see? Cardinal Newman commented on this. If Jesus had appeared publicly and indiscriminately to all, the power of the resurrection would have been lessened. Some would believe; others wouldn’t. Some would get it; others wouldn’t. Some would be fascinated, others indifferent.

Instead, he deigned to appear to a small coterie of dedicated disciples who knew him, loved him, understood him—confident that they would be the effective bearers of his message. We are those now who eat and drink with him after his resurrection. And so we have a commission to announce this good news.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.