This Sunday's Gospel

Exegetical notes and homily themes to get you started this weekend:

5/3/2020 – Easter 4
5/10/2020 – Easter 5
5/17/2020 – Easter 6
5/21/2020 – Ascension
5/24/2020 – Easter 7
5/31/2020 – Pentecost

6/7/2020 – Holy Trinity
6/14/2020 – Body and Blood of Christ [ROMAN lectionary]
6/14/2020 – Pentecost 2 [COMMON lectionary] 
6/21/2020 – Sunday 12/Pentecost 3
6/28/2020 – Sunday 13/Pentecost 4 

May 3 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

“I am the gate for the sheep . . . Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture . . .
“I came so that they might have life and have it to more abundantly.”
John 10: 1-10


Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel is Jesus’ “Good Shepherd” discourse.  In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus points to two kinds of sheepfolds or corrals:  In the community or town sheepfold, the real shepherd was recognized by the gatekeeper and his flock knew his voice and followed; out in the fields, the shepherd slept across the corral opening – his body became the corral gate.  Both “gates” are beautiful images of the Redeeming Christ, the “Good Shepherd” who lays down his own life to become the very source of life for his people.

John places these words of Jesus right after the curing of the man born blind (the Gospel read a few weeks ago on the Fourth Sunday of Lent).  The evangelist uses these references about shepherds, sheep and sheep gates to underline the miserable job of “shepherding” being done by the Pharisees and the temple authorities as in the case of the blind man.  John is writing in the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 34):  God will raise up a new shepherd to replace the irresponsible and thieving shepherds who feed themselves at the expense of the flock.


In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls himself the “gate” of humble justice, selfless compassion and ready forgiveness that leads us to the dwelling place of God.   In this Easter season, God invites us to pass through the threshold that is his Risen Christ: to leave behind our sadness and fears and doubts in order to come into the safety and warmth of God’s hearth of peace and compassion.

When our spirits ache over what has been lost, when we lose our moral and ethical way, when we feel our footing slip beneath us as we try to navigate life’s twists and turns, Christ’s voice can always be heard above the noise and din our lives if we listen for it with hope, conviction and faith.

Sometimes we look at the Gospel from our modern, sophisticated perspective and quietly dismiss what Jesus says as too unrealistic or too simplistic to deal with the complex problems we must face.  But there is no high- tech, comfortable, convenient road to living the Gospel of forgiveness, compassion and justice.  “To have life to the full” demands that we journey by way of the “gate” of Gospel wisdom, charity, reconciliation, compassion and justice.

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May 10 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

“Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater than these, because I am going to the Father.”
John 14: 1-12


Today’s Gospel takes place at the Last Supper.  John’s account of that night is the longest in the Gospels – five chapters in length (but with no account of the institution of the Eucharist).  The evangelist uses a literary device common in Scripture: A leader (Moses, Joshua, David, Tobit) gathers his own (family, friends, disciples) to announce his imminent departure, offer advice and insight into the future and give final instructions.

At the time of the writing the Fourth Gospel, Christians are being harassed by both the Jews and the Romans.  Proclaiming the Crucified Jesus as the Messiah is blasphemy to Judaism, while accusing the Romans of “judicial murder” in the death of Jesus threatens the new faith’s chances of survival as a “lawful religion” tolerated by their Roman occupiers.

The dominant themes here are consolation and encouragement: Be faithful, remember and live what I have taught you, for better days are ahead for you.  Christ – the Way to God, the Truth of God and Life incarnate of God – will return for the faithful who “who do the works that I do.”


The Jesus of the Gospel does not only show us the way – his life of humble and generous servanthood is the way; he not just philosophizes about a concept of truth – he is the perfect revelation of the truth about a God of enduring and unlimited love for his people; he is not just a preacher of futuristic promises – he has been raised up by God to a state of existence in God to which he invites all of us.  In embracing the Spirit of his Gospel and living the hope of his Word, we encounter, in Christ, God himself.

Regardless of the career path we choose – doctor, laborer, bank teller, teacher, parent or priest – if we truly consider ourselves disciples of the Risen Jesus, we are called “to do the work I do.”  In our homes, workplaces, city halls and playgrounds, we are called to bring the miracle of Easter life: the reconciliation, justice and peace of the Risen One in whom God has revealed himself to all of humanity.

Seldom do we think of death as a return home, but today’s Gospel image of the “house with many dwelling places” helps us to realize that we were created for a life beyond this one – we were created by God for life in and with him.

As Christians, we live in the eternal hope of one day living in God’s dwelling place – but that “place” of hope and compassion and peace exists here and now in the places we create where the poor and sick are cared for, the fallen are lifted up, and lost and rejected are sought after and brought home.

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May 17 – Sixth Sunday of Easter 

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him.  But you will know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.”
John 14: 15-21


In legal terminology, an advocate defends the accused on trial.  For the writer of the Fourth Gospel, Christ is the first “Advocate,” who comes to liberate humanity from the slavery of sin.  The second “Advocate,” promised by Jesus in today’s Gospel, is the Spirit of truth, the Church’s living, creative memory in which the mystery of God’s love, revealed by and in Christ, lives for all time.


The Spirit of truth, “whom the world cannot accept,” illuminates our vision and opens our hearts to discern the will and wisdom of God.  The Spirit/Paraclete “advocates” for what is good, what is right and what is just, despite our skepticism, rejection and blindness to the things of God.

The Risen Christ challenges us, in the gift of the “Spirit of truth,” not to approach truth in terms of profit, power, comfort or convention, but to embrace the truth of God’s justice and compassion present in our world.

Throughout his Gospel, the writer of John’s Gospel never allows love, as taught by Jesus, to remain at the level of sentiment or emotion.  Its expression is always highly moral and is revealed in obedience to the will of the Father.  To love as Jesus loved – in total and selfless obedience, without conditions and without expectation of that love ever being returned – is the difficult love that Jesus expects of those who claim to be his disciples.

The Spirit of truth is the creative, living memory of the Church.  Through that “living memory,” the Church enters into the mystery of Christ himself.  Jesus, the wise Rabbi, the compassionate Healer, the Friend of rich and poor and said and sinner, the obedient and humble Servant of God, is a living presence among us to give us hope, strength and light as we struggle to balance and direct our lives until he calls us to the new life of his Resurrection.

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May 21 (Thursday) or 24 (Sunday) – Ascension of the Lord 

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1: 1-11
“Go and make disciples of all nations . . . and know that I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Matthew 28: 16-20


Today’s Liturgy of the Word includes two accounts of Jesus' return to the Father:

Reading 1 is the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, Luke’s “Gospel of the Holy Spirit.”  Jesus’ Ascension begins volume 2 of Luke’s work.  The words and images here invoke the First Covenant accounts of the ascension of Elijah (2 Kings 2) and the forty years of the Exodus:  Luke considers the time that the Risen Lord spent with his disciples a sacred time, a “desert experience” for the apostles to prepare them for their new ministry of preaching the Gospel of the Resurrection.  (Acts alone places the Ascension forty days after Easter; the synoptic Gospels – including, strangely, Luke’s – specifically place the Ascension on the day of Easter; John writes of the “ascension” not as an event but as a new existence with the Father.)  Responding to their question about the restoration of Israel, Jesus discourages his disciples from guessing what cannot be known.  Greater things await them as his “witnesses.”  In the missionary work before them, Christ will be with them in the presence of the promised Spirit.

Matthew’s Gospel begins with the promise of Emmanuel – “God is with us.”  It concludes on the Mount of the Ascension, with Emmanuel’s promise, “I am with you always.”


The Ascension of the Lord is not the marking of a departure but the realization of a presence.  Matthew’s Gospel begins with the dawning of Emmanuel: “God is with us”; it concludes with Emmanuel’s promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of time.”  It is not an abstract or distant presence; Christ is the center of our Church in word, in sacrament, in every moment of generosity and every act of compassion we perform and experience.   

Jesus’ Ascension is both an ending and a beginning.  The physical appearances of Jesus are at an end; his revelation of the “good news” is complete; the promise of the Messiah is fulfilled.  Now begins the work of the disciples to teach what they have learned and to share what they have witnessed.

The fledgling Church is not off to a very promising start.  Christ places his Church in the care of a rag-tag collection of fishermen, tax collectors and peasants.  And yet, what began with those eleven has grown and flourished through the centuries to the very walls of our own parish family. 

The Church Jesus leaves to the disciples on the mount of the Ascension is rooted not in buildings or wealth or formulas of prayer or systems of theology but in faith nurtured in the human heart, a faith centered in joy and understanding that is empowering and liberating, a faith that gives us the strength and freedom to be authentic and effective witnesses of the Risen One, who is present among us always.

Christ entrusts to his disciples of every time and place the “great commission,” the sacred responsibility to teach others everything he has taught and revealed about the Father: God’s limitless love, his unconditional forgiveness and acceptance of every person as his own beloved child and our identity as God's sons and daughters and brothers and sisters to one another.  Christ also calls us to be witnesses of God’s presence in our lives: to bring into the lives of others his healing forgiveness and reconciliation with God and one another, to hand on to others the story that has been handed on to us about Jesus and his Gospel of love and compassion.

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May 24 – Seventh Sunday of Easter 

[NOTE:  In some dioceses, the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated today.]

“Father, I pray for those you have been given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.”
John 17: 1-11


Today’s reading from John’s Gospel is the climax of the Last Supper discourse: the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus.  As his “hour” of glory approaches, Jesus prays to the Father for the unity of present and future disciples, a union rooted in the love of the Father and the Son.

In the first part of his prayer, Jesus prays that his disciples will be worthy and effective witnesses of the Gospel he has entrusted to them.  When Jesus left this world, he had little reason to hope.  He seemed to have achieved so little and to have won so few.  And the Twelve – soon to be the Eleven – to whom he has entrusted his new Church are certainly not among the most capable of leaders or the most dynamic of preachers.  Yet with so small a beginning, Jesus changed the world.  As Jesus returns to the Father, he leaves a portion of the Father's glory behind: the community of faith.


Jesus’ priestly prayer is a prayer not only for his followers at table with him then but also for us at this table: that we may be united and consecrated in the truth Jesus has revealed and that we may reveal to the world the love and care of the Father for all of the human family.

The Church as a community of prayer is at the heart of today’s readings: prayer that is, first and foremost, an attitude of trust and acceptance of God's presence in the community, an attitude that is not occasional but constant and continuing, an attitude not limited to asking for something but of thanksgiving for what is and for what has been.  The prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper and the prayer of the company of disciples seek not God's acquiescence to their will but that God's will might be done effectively through them.

In baptism, the Gospel first preached by Jesus and then by the Eleven is passed on to us – we became witnesses of the great Easter event and accepted responsibility for telling our children and people of our time and place the good news of the empty tomb.  Not in words alone but in our attitude of joy, our work for reconciliation among all, our commitment to what is right and just, our simplest acts of generosity and compassion, do we witness the Father's name and presence to the generations who follow us.

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May 31 – Pentecost [ABC]

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Acts 2: 1-11
Jesus breathed on them and said:  “Receive the Holy Spirit . . . ”
John 20: 19-23


Pentecost was the Jewish festival of the harvest (also called the Feast of Weeks), celebrated 50 days after Passover, when the first fruits of the corn harvest were offered to the Lord.  A feast of pilgrimage (hence the presence in Jerusalem of so many “devout Jews of every nation”), Pentecost also commemorated Moses’ receiving the Law on Mount Sinai.  For the new Israel, Pentecost becomes the celebration of the Spirit of God's compassion, peace and forgiveness – the Spirit that transcends the Law and becomes the point of departure for the young Church's universal mission (the planting of a new harvest?).

In his Acts of the Apostles (Reading 1), Luke invokes the First Testament images of wind and fire in his account of the new Church’s Pentecost:  God frequently revealed his presence in fire (the pillar of fire in the Sinai) and in wind (the wind that sweeps over the earth to make the waters of the Great Flood subside).  The Hebrew word for spirit, ruah, and the Greek word pneuma also refer to the movement of air, not only as wind, but also of life-giving breath (as in God’s creation of man in Genesis 2 and the revivification of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37).  Through his life-giving “breath,” the Lord begins the era of the new Israel on Pentecost.

Today’s Gospel of the first appearance of the Risen Jesus before his ten disciples (remember Thomas is not present) on Easter night is John’s version of the Pentecost event.  In “breathing” the Holy Spirit upon them, Jesus imitates God’s act of creation in Genesis.  Just as Adam’s life came from God, so the disciples’ new life of the Spirit comes from Jesus.  In the Resurrection, the Spirit replaces their sense of self-centered fear and confusion with the “peace” of understanding, enthusiasm and joy and shatters all barriers among them to make of them a community of hope and forgiveness.  By Christ’s sending them forth, the disciples become apostles – “those sent.”


The feast of Pentecost celebrates the unseen, immeasurable presence of God in our lives and in our Church – the ruah that animates us to do the work of the Gospel of the Risen One, the ruah that makes God’s will our will, the ruah of God living in us and transforming us so that we might bring his life and love to our broken world.  God “breathes” his Spirit into our souls that we may live in his life and love; God ignites the “fire” of his Spirit within our hearts and minds that we may seek God in all things in order to realize the coming of his reign.

Today we celebrate the gift of God’s Spirit: the Spirit that enables us to love as selflessly and as totally as God loved us enough to become one of us, to die for us and to rise for us; the Spirit that takes us beyond empty legalisms and static measurements of “mine” and “yours” to create a community of compassion, reconciliation and justice centered in “us”; the Spirit that enables us to re-create our world in the peace and mercy of God.

In Jesus’ “breathing” upon them the new life of the Spirit, the community of the Resurrection – the Church – takes flight.  That same Spirit continues to “blow” through today’s Church to give life and direction to our mission and ministry to preach the Gospel to every nation, to proclaim the forgiveness and reconciliation in God's name, to baptize all humanity into the life of Jesus' Resurrection.

The Spirit of God enables the Eleven – and us – to do things they could not do their own: to understand the “truth” of God’s great love for his people that is embodied in the Risen Christ, and then to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Christ.  The Spirit empowers us with the grace to do the difficult work of Gospel justice, forgiveness and compassion.

The miracle of Pentecost (Acts 2) is the Spirit’s overcoming the barriers of language and perception to open not only the minds of the Apostles’ hearers but their hearts as well to understanding and embracing the Word of God.

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June 7 – The Holy Trinity [A]

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . . for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him.”
John 3: 16-18


As Ordinary Time resumes, two “solemnities of the Lord” are celebrated on the next two Sundays.  Today’s celebration of the Trinity originated in France in the eighth century and was adopted by the universal Church in 1334.  The solemnity focuses on the essence of our faith: the revelation of God as Creator, God’s re-creation of humankind in Jesus the Redeemer, the fullness of the love of God poured out on us in the Sustainer Spirit.

Today’s periscope omits the context of this Gospel.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, comes under the cover of darkness to meet the remarkable rabbi he has heard so much about.  In their exchange (today’s Gospel), Jesus speaks of the need to be reborn “from above” and of the great love of God who gives the world his own Son, not to condemn humankind but to save it.


Today we celebrate the essence of our faith manifested in our lives: the loving providence of the Creator who continually invites us back to him; the selfless servanthood of the Redeemer who “emptied” himself to become like us in order that we might become like him; the joyful love of the Spirit that is the unique unity of the Father and Son.

As revealed to us by Jesus, our God is a God not of endings but beginnings; a God who does not demand the payment of debts but who constantly offers unconditional and unlimited chances to begin again; a God who does not take satisfaction in our failures but rejoices in lifting us up from our brokenness, despair and estrangement from him and from one another. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges Nicodemus to move beyond old, incomplete and “childlike” images of God in order to grow toward a more complete, “adult” faith that recognizes the God who works and moves from his Spirit of unfathomable love; the God who constantly takes the initiative to be reconciled with us, despite our failings; the God who is not removed from his creation but constantly present in every act of love and compassion and forgiveness.

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June 14 – The Body and Blood of the Lord [A]

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
John 3: 16-18


Today’s celebration of the Body and Blood of the Lord originated in the Diocese of Liege in 1246 as the feast of Corpus Christi.  In the reforms of Vatican II, the Corpus Christi festival was joined with the feast of the Precious Blood (July 1) to become the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord.  We celebrate today Christ’s gift of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life together as the Church.

In the “bread of life” discourse in John’s Gospel, Jesus’ revelations concerning his Messianic ministry take on a Eucharistic theme.  The image of Jesus as “bread from heaven” echoes two dimensions of the same First Testament image: the wisdom of God's Law nourishing all who accept it and God's blessing of manna to feed the journeying Israelites.


The gift of the Eucharist comes with an important “string” is attached: it must be shared.  In sharing the body of Christ, we become the body of Christ.  If we partake of the “one bread” (Reading 2), then we must be willing to become Eucharist for others – to make the love of Christ real for all.

Our coming to the table of the Eucharist is even more than just reliving the memory of Christ’s great sacrifice for our redemption – in sharing the Eucharist we re-enter the inexplicable love of God who gives us eternal life in his Son, the Risen Christ.

In the course of our lives we come to realize a “hunger” that food and drink cannot come close to satisfying: a hunger to belong, a hunger to matter, a hunger to be at peace, a hunger to love and be loved.  The “bread” that satisfies that hunger the “bread” this is Jesus: his spirit and example of generosity and compassion that mirrors that of God. 

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June 14 – Second Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 6A]

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “ . . . As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.  Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Matthew 9: 35 – 10: 8


Today’s Gospel serves as a narrative transition from Matthew’s recounting of Jesus’ miracles and works of wonder (chapters 8 and 9) to Jesus’ missionary discourse (chapters 10 and 11). 

The missionary dimension of discipleship is centered in two images: the “sheep without a shepherd” and harvest in need of laborers.  Having established his identity as God’s Christ in his work as a healer, Jesus now commissions the Twelve and his Church to heal hearts and souls in a ministry of reconciliation:

“cure the sick” – bring back to God those who are alienated, those who are lost, those who are weak (the Greek word used in the text of today’s Gospel asthenes means “weak”);

“raise the dead” – lift up those hopelessly and helplessly dead because of sin, who are blind and deaf to the grace of God, who are entombed by poverty, racism and violence;

“cleanse lepers” – bring back the sons and daughters of God who are rejected or estranged from the human family;

“drive out demons” – liberate those enslaved by sin and evil.


Jesus compassion for the “shepherdless” calls us to bring to the lost, forgotten and marginalized (those Pope Francis calls those on the “periphery”).  Today’s Gospel reaffirms our responsibility as disciples of Jesus to welcome rather than condemn, to lift up rather than judge, to seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged or separated for whatever reason.

Every one of us, in our struggle to make sense out of life, seeks absolutes by which to guide our decisions, formulae to determine what is fair and good, yardsticks to judge success and failure.  Masters and gurus, saviors and deliverers, parties and movements of every stripe preach to their followers how to secure fortunes but not how to live, how to feel better but not how to cure what afflicts, how to conquer one’s enemies but not how to live lives of justice and peace.  Christ the “shepherd” walks with us on our life’s journey through hurt and change and maturity and wholeness to the dwelling place of God.  

The defining mark of discipleship is the willingness and commitment to bring healing to the broken, comfort to the afflicted, hope to the despairing.  In his first “organizational meeting” of the Twelve, Jesus commissions them to take on the work of healing, restoring, reconciling.  As God humbled himself to become one of us and be part of our lives, we are called to the same humility in order to bring the compassion and forgiveness of God to the poor, the needy, the helplessly and hopelessly “dead,” the alienated, the rejected and the abused. 

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June 21 – 12th Sunday of the Year / Third Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 7A]

“Fear no one.  Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.  What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
Matthew 10: 26-33


In Matthew’s missionary discourse, Jesus instills in his disciples of the need for courage and discernment in their preaching of the Gospel.  The disciple who faithfully proclaims his Gospel can expect to be denounced, ridiculed and abused; but Jesus assures his followers that they have nothing to fear from those who would deprive “the body of life,” for their perseverant and faithful witness to the Gospel will be exalted in the reign of God.


In the Gospels, Christ reveals a God who loves us and cares for us and every “strand” of creation.  Sometimes we are called to be the vehicles of God’s love for those desperate to realize that presence in their lives; sometimes we are the recipients of such blessings of forgiveness and compassion.  The providence of God who has “counted . . . all the hairs of your head” manifests itself in the love of family, the comfort of friends, the support of church and community. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us beyond our fears and insecurities; he invites us to embrace a spirit of joy and possibility beyond our comfort zone.  Three times in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid, that we have nothing to fear before God who has proven his love and acceptance of us unreservedly.  Christ calls us in to embrace a vision of hope that is the opposite of fear — hope that matches our uncertainty of the unknown with the certainty of the love of God; hope that can only be found and embraced once we reach beyond our own fears to confront the fears and heal the hurts of others; hope that the Good Fridays of our lives will be transformed into Easter completeness.  

We “disown” Jesus, not only by what we do, but by what we fail to do.  We “deny” Jesus by our silence in the face of injustice, our protecting our own interests at the expense of the common good, our failure to respond to Christ calling us in the cries of the poor, the abused, the desperate and the lost.

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June 28 – 13th Sunday of the Year / Fourth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 8A]

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me . . . and whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me . . .
“And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
Matthew 10: 37-42


Today’s Gospel is the conclusion of Matthew’s collection of Jesus’ wisdom sayings to those will go forth on mission to proclaim his Gospel – Jesus speaks of the sacrifice demanded of his disciples and the suffering they will endure for their prophetic proclamation of the Kingdom of God.  In today’s pericope, Jesus clearly is not attacking family life; he is warning his disciples of the conflict and misunderstanding they will experience for their proclaiming the word.  To be an authentic disciple of Jesus means embracing the suffering, humility, pain and selflessness of the cross; to be an authentic disciple of Jesus means taking on the often unpopular role of prophet for the sake of the kingdom; to be an authentic disciple of Jesus means welcoming and supporting other disciples who do the work of the Gospel.


God calls every one of us to the work of the prophet: to proclaim his presence among his people.  Some are called to be witnesses of God's justice in the midst of profound evil and hatred; others are called to be witnesses of his hope and grace to those in pain and anguish; and many share in the work of the prophet/witness by enabling others to be effective witnesses and ministers of God’s love.  The gift of faith opens our spirits to realize and accept our call to be witnesses of God's love borne on the cross and prophets of the hope of his Son's resurrection.

The most difficult part of imitating Jesus is the cross and what it stands for: unconditional forgiveness, the totally emptying of ourselves of our wants and needs for the sake of another, the spurning of safety and popular convention to do what is right and just.  

To “receive the prophet’s reward” is to seek out every opportunity, to use every talent with which we have been blessed, to devote every resource at our disposal to make the love of God a living reality in every life we touch.

Authentically committed disciples of Jesus possess the vision of faith and determination of hope to use anything — from a cup of cold water to a sign to protect the most helpless of creatures — to make God’s reign of compassion and peace a reality in our time and place. 

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