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Friday of Easter Week: Readings & Message

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USCCB Audio of Today’s Readings

The Pastor’s Daily Message

April 17, 2020

First Reading:  Acts 4:1-12
Responsorial:  Psalm 118:1-2 & 4,22-24,25-27
Second Reading:  John 21:1-14

You may have noticed how often the resurrection appearances are linked with meals. I have already mentioned the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus who recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Jesus also took and ate a fish to demonstrate that he had actually risen from the dead.

In John 21:1-14, he directs his disciples to throw their net into the sea and there is a miraculous catch. When some of it is cooked, he “came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.”

The Eucharistic themes are unavoidable. He makes himself present to us when we gather in his name and eat the bread of life. The symbol of the fish, because of its recurrent use, has also become a signature of sorts for the presence of the risen Lord. Indeed, in the midst of persecution, Christians would often draw a fish upon the ground as a secret sign that it was safe to speak, that they were all among friends.

It is no accident that the Lord uses the occasion of the meal to repeatedly reveal himself to his friends. It is an ancient maxim that to share food is to share life. What better sign could there be then for the resurrection to be seen for what it is, real and glorious? The disciples recall all the past times when they would gather with their master and share nourishment. We can imagine that these were occasions of great intimacy and bonding. When the Christian community is exiled from the synagogues, and we can see such friction as this in Acts 4:1-12, the meal they celebrate in common upon the following day increases in importance. Christianity takes root and grows from the seed of Judaism. Those who thought the issue of Jesus would be resolved by his death find that his disciples continue to work in his name, gathering new adherents and working miracles.

In the early days of the Church, the agape or love feast celebrated by Christians included a regular banquet where they recalled the stories of Jesus and commemorated the Lord’s Last Supper with his friends — the Eucharist. As time passed, and the first meal became unwieldy, it was dropped and the celebration of the sacrament became the principal meal that Christians celebrated as a family. It is still in this spiritual food that the risen Jesus is made present in our midst. He gives it to us and it is Jesus, himself. Just as we need food for physical nourishment; so too do we need the Eucharist to nurture us and to keep us spiritually alive in faith.

I pray that our good people who are usually faithful to the weekly Mass are not spiritually starving. Just because you are currently exempt of the juridical obligation to attend does not mean that you are released from your moral and faith obligation to worship God and to benefit from his graces. That is why the spiritual communion is important, even if is somewhat difficult because of its intangibility. As true believers in the incarnation, Christ entering his creation, we as Catholics trust and rely on the sacraments— how material things, words and gestures can convey the presence and saving activity of the Lord. Because of this— it is a very trying time for us. Again, watch the Mass when it is offered online or on television. Listen to the daily messages from your pastor. Stay connected, both to the faith and to your parish. Stay safe. Keep the faith.

Supplication Prayer

Lord, we beseech you to guide medical researchers to find a cure and treatments for the coronavirus. Give strength and compassion to those who are placing their own lives on the line to care for the sick and to save lives. Give acceptance and grace to your ministers and faithful that we will witness to you during this crisis. Console the grieving and give a share in eternal life to those called from this world. Amen.

USCCB Mass Readings