He Is Risen!

Living Prayers

Daily Prayer for April 1

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5, RSV

Lord God, our Father, we thank you for all the light you give us and for all your loving help in outward things as well. We come into your presence and ask you to give us your light and your constant guidance for the path we must follow. Grant that what is of heaven may be revealed on earth, that we may rejoice in the good and beautiful things you give to all people. Our Father, reveal what is of heaven, and free people from their sin and darkness so that at last they recognize your glory. Strengthen our hope for this goal. Rule and work in the hearts of many people, that through them your glory may be proclaimed to all. Amen.

 

Easter Prayer1

Go Forth in His Victory

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Christ’s resurrection is not just something that happened in the past. There is resurrection today just as much as there was back then, after Christ’s death…

So many Christians seem exclusively concerned with the life beyond. They are under the illusion that God stays eternally in heaven. They think that we are condemned to endure the pain of suffering for the time we live on this small orb called earth. And after our life here we will be either condemned or blessed, depending on our religious belief. And so it goes on throughout the ages – and we are content to leave it at that.

But this is nothing but unbelief. If all we aspire to is to get out of this world in order to be free in the next, then we are paying tribute to sin and death. We are also showing the greatest disdain for the scriptures when we reject the joyous hope of God’s coming reign, when we simply resign ourselves to our fate on this earth, letting things continue as they are. Because our religious lives are so bankrupt, we think that God is also bankrupt and unable to accomplish his will on earth.

Tell me, which of the two are more central to the message of the Bible: our death and flight into heaven, or God’s future reign here on earth. From the first to the last chapter, the Bible deals with the coming of God into this world. There is so little about this business of dying. Every word in the Bible guarantees the deeds of God right here where I stand. Down here is where Jesus appeared, not above in the invisible world, not around the throne of God.

Here on earth is where he won the victory, and it is right here that we may find him. We should lay claim to our right on this earth – the right to victory over sin and death here on earth – not because of our faith, but because of God’s power to make things right…

Our task, therefore, is to demonstrate the power of the resurrection…This power is not so far away, because Christ is alive. He cares about the earth as much as for the heavens. Otherwise we would never know his reality. His resurrection would be history, but not a reality, and we could never conceive of anything becoming different. At best, we would think that his resurrected life was some spiritual thing that we human beings could not understand. That’s not what it is. His victory is within our reach…

Therefore we must not focus on the evils and imperfections of this world. Nor are we to try to figure out how this or that matter is going to turn out. If we try to pursue higher goals by the usual methods or even with extraordinary works of love, we will accomplish nothing for God’s kingdom. In every case where we want to help someone along, we must find our strength in Christ.

Those who think things have to be done by human ways and means are wrong (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). If that is the way we are supposed to approach our situation, we are beaten. God’s kingdom remains far off if it depends on what we do or what we may yet accomplish. Indeed, we can spoil the work that God does through us if we think it depends on our strength. If Christ is victorious, then our happiness depends upon God exercising his power, not we exercising ours (Psalm 92:4).

Our redemption, then, consists of deeds that we can do nothing to bring about. It is thus not so much a question of our wanting to be converted. The first and most important thing is that God gathers us in. On the day when we have breathed our last and stand before God, we shall be amazed at how much God has done for us and how he has used his power to save us, despite our will.

Whoever is truly in Christ experiences an abundant variety of divine powers, and is so filled with the sense of them that it is natural to live by them. Indeed, these powers of life can come to us, powers that other people would never think possible. That is what it means to be risen with Christ and to go forth in his victory.

 

 

 

Living Lent Daily

April 1
Easter Sunday
Jesus Is Risen!

The joy of the Resurrection is that Jesus is alive and well, that God has raised him bodily from the dead, and that his resurrection will be ours. When you are given the grace to share in Jesus’ joy through contemplation of the scenes of his resurrection, you can never despair, no matter what happens in your life, because you know in your bones that Jesus is risen and that you are one with him and will share in his resurrection.

Jesus, let the joy of the Resurrection be the enduring grace that guides my life.

Easter Action

► Enjoy the Arts & Faith: Easter video.

 Easter Sunday II

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See all articles in this series.

Eugène Burnand, “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection,” 1898

Arts and Faith: LentIn this painting, Eugène Burnand invites us along as Peter and John run to the empty tomb on Easter morning. In front of a resplendent dawning sky and rushing through a pastoral landscape, Peter and John are hurrying toward the site of Jesus’ burial. Peter, bearded, older, and wearing somber colors, wears a complex expression. In his face is the story of his experience of the Passion, the shock and anxiety, the fear and desperation, the guilt and heartbreak. His is an exhausted face that lived this experience. His body moves toward the tomb, but his spirit is conflicted—fearing the worst about the missing body, daring to hope but torn by the fact that he has denied the Lord. What if his body has been taken—when will the torture of these events stop? But what if he is risen? And what will happen now?

Next to Peter is John, the Beloved Disciple. He is younger and brightly clad with a face of yearning and deep emotion. His white garments convey purity and innocence, as well as new life. As the Beloved Disciple, he is a symbol of the Church, the symbol of those who will come and enter into the Death and Resurrection of Christ through the font of Baptism—John’s white garment reinforces this. He clutches his hands together, embodying desperate hope. His expression of yearning shows the small seed of faith growing larger within him to believe the unbelievable—that the body of the Lord is risen, not stolen. After the horrific events of the Passion, this thought alone is already a powerful movement of faith.

The dawning sky reinforces the idea of this growing faith. Like the brightness of the rising sun, the faith of the disciples dawns as they run to the empty tomb. They are told the body is taken, but as they run along and see for themselves, their dawning faith allows them to begin to understand, to begin to hope, and to begin to feel the joy of the Resurrection.

 

Reflect on the Gospel for Easter Sunday Mass with the Sunday Connection.

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday’s Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.

This Sunday’s Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 10:34a,37-43
Peter preaches about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23
Rejoice in this day of the Lord.

Second Reading
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
Colossians: Having been raised by Christ, be concerned with what is above.
1 Corinthians: Let us celebrate this feast with new yeast.

Gospel Reading
John 20:1-9
Mary of Magdala finds that the stone has been removed from Jesus’ tomb.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we begin the Easter Season, our 50-day meditation on the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection. Our Gospel today tells us about the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. It concludes by telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus, the details provided are not necessarily meant to offer proof of the Resurrection. The details invite us to reflect upon a most amazing gift, that is faith in Jesus and his Resurrection.

Each of the four Gospels tells us that Jesus’ empty tomb was first discovered by women. This is notable because in first-century Jewish society women could not serve as legal witnesses. In the case of John’s Gospel, the only woman attending the tomb is Mary of Magdala. Unlike the Synoptic accounts, John’s Gospel does not describe an appearance of angels at the tomb. Instead, Mary is simply said to have observed that the stone that had sealed the tomb had been moved, and she runs to alert Simon Peter and the beloved disciple. Her statement to them is telling. She assumes that Jesus’ body has been removed, perhaps stolen. She does not consider that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

Simon Peter and the beloved disciple race to the tomb, presumably to verify Mary’s report. The beloved disciple arrives first but does not enter the tomb until after Simon Peter. This detail paints a vivid picture, as does the detail provided about the burial cloths. Some scholars believe that the presence of the burial cloths in the tomb offers evidence to the listener that Jesus’ body had not been stolen (it is understood that grave robbers would have taken the burial cloths together with the body).

The Gospel passage concludes, however, that even having seen the empty tomb and the burial cloths, the disciples do not yet understand about the Resurrection. In the passage that follows, Mary of Magdala meets Jesus but mistakes him for the gardener. In the weeks ahead, the Gospel readings from our liturgy will show us how the disciples came to believe in Jesus’ Resurrection through his appearances to them. Our Easter faith is based on their witness to both the empty tomb and their continuing relationship with Jesus—in his appearances and in his gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Read Waking Up to the Risen Jesus by Loretta Pehanich.

This story is inspired by the first contemplation in the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the apparition of Christ to Mary (#218).

Do you know that semiconscious state as you begin to awaken, when it’s possible to believe you’re still dreaming? That’s how I awoke the morning of my son’s Resurrection.

I felt my Jeshua gently stroking my hair. I smiled and looked into his sweet face. Such a loving son! He was sitting on the side of my bed, leaning over and smiling. My darling Jeshua looked more radiant than I’d ever seen him.

“Good morning, Mother. I love you. How are you this Resurrection Day?” he said.

Resurrection? What was he talking about?

The sweet aroma of myrrh mysteriously pervaded the room, and I began to realize I wasn’t dreaming. My Jeshua was in the room, waiting for me to awaken.

My mind raced. He died three days before! I’d held his body, feeling confusion and heart-rending loss. But even then, I knew there had to be more to God-with-us. The crucifixion couldn’t be the end.

As my mind cleared, I sat up and rubbed my eyes as the sparkling, laughing eyes of my Jeshua came into focus. “My son! Alive again!”

We hugged each other and gently rocked. I kept repeating, “My son! You’re alive again!” My heart was in my throat. Tears flowed.

He chuckled as he whispered into my unpinned hair, “Yes, Mother, I am alive.”

I don’t know how long I held him, his cheek against mine. Eventually, I let go.

Had he appeared to me while I was fully conscious, it probably would have scared me. To awaken to his gentle kiss was natural and loving. It felt right.

“Mother, let me give you some breakfast,” he said, reaching for a tray on the bedside table.

In a state of awe yet deeply at peace, I allowed my son and savior to feed me. I thought of our Last Supper together, with so many present, and his words that we would eat again in the Reign of God.

“Mother, you’ll have much to do now. Many will come to you, seeking me. You’ll know what to say,” Jeshua said. “Help our family now to be their best selves. Show the intimate love you and I have for each other. Your work isn’t finished. Encourage our flock, and always show them my love.”

I had much to ponder as this visit came to a close.

He told me he couldn’t stay, but that his Spirit would always live in me. He asked me to wait until his friend John came for me. John would need some time; they all would. He asked me to be patient and listen to their doubts and fears.

“Hold them as you held me so many times.”

I remembered the tears over a broken arm, his heartbreak over a teenage crush on a girl who didn’t care, and flashes of many other memories.

“I meant what I said from the cross. I need you to be the mother of all now.”

As I nodded, he kissed my forehead, said goodbye, and disappeared.

I felt a soft cramping in my womb as my heart filled with joy. My son! My son! Alive again!

I settled back on my pillow to ponder this glorious day, now fully awake and full of joy.

Imagine waking up to the risen Jesus. To what mission does he invite you?

 

 

 

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord – The Mass of Easter Day

Reading 1 Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23.

R. (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 Col 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

Or

I Cor 5:6b-8

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sequence Victimae paschali laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.

Alleluia Cf. 1 Cor 5:7b-8a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed;
let us then feast with joy in the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Or

Gospel Mk 16:1-7

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
“Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.'”

Or

Gospel Lk 24:13-35

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.

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Reading 1 Gn 1:1—2:2

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said,
“Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw how good the light was.
God then separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Thus evening came, and morning followed—the first day.

Then God said,
“Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters,
to separate one body of water from the other.”
And so it happened:
God made the dome,
and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.
God called the dome “the sky.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the second day.

Then God said,
“Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin,
so that the dry land may appear.”
And so it happened:
the water under the sky was gathered into its basin,
and the dry land appeared.
God called the dry land “the earth, ”
and the basin of the water he called “the sea.”
God saw how good it was.
Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth vegetation:
every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.”
And so it happened:
the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.

Then God said:
“Let there be lights in the dome of the sky,
to separate day from night.
Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years,
and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth.”
And so it happened:
God made the two great lights,
the greater one to govern the day,
and the lesser one to govern the night;
and he made the stars.
God set them in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.

Then God said,
“Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures,
and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.”
And so it happened:
God created the great sea monsters
and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems,
and all kinds of winged birds.
God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying,
“Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas;
and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day.

Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures:
cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.”
And so it happened:
God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle,
and all kinds of creeping things of the earth.
God saw how good it was.
Then God said:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.
Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
Since on the seventh day God was finished
with the work he had been doing,
he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.

or Gn 1:1, 26-31a

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35 

R. (30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
not to be moved forever;
with the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
above the mountains the waters stood.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You send forth springs into the watercourses
that wind among the mountains.
Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
from among the branches they send forth their song.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You water the mountains from your palace;
the earth is replete with the fruit of your works.
You raise grass for the cattle,
and vegetation for man’s use,
Producing bread from the earth.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—the earth is full of your creatures.
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

or Ps 33:4-5, 6-7, 12-13, 20 and 22

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as in a flask;
in cellars he confines the deep.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 Gn 22:1-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am, ” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust,
set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants:
“Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” Isaac said.
“Yes, son, ” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the holocaust?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.”
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”

or Gn22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am, ” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am, ” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy, ” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial Psalm  Ps 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Reading 3 Ex 14:15—15:1

The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp,
now moved and went around behind them.
The column of cloud also, leaving the front,
took up its place behind them,
so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians
and that of Israel.
But the cloud now became dark, and thus the night passed
without the rival camps coming any closer together
all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the LORD swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night
and so turned it into dry land.
When the water was thus divided,
the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit;
all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them
right into the midst of the sea.
In the night watch just before dawn
the LORD cast through the column of the fiery cloud
upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic;
and he so clogged their chariot wheels
that they could hardly drive.
With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel,
because the LORD was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the LORD told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians,
upon their chariots and their charioteers.”
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.
The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the LORD hurled them into its midst.
As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army
which had followed the Israelites into the sea.
Not a single one of them escaped.
But the Israelites had marched on dry land
through the midst of the sea,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.
Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.
When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the LORD
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

Responsorial Psalm Ex 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18

R. (1b) Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The LORD is a warrior,
LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
You brought in the people you redeemed
and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place where you made your seat, O LORD,
the sanctuary, LORD, which your hands established.
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

Reading 4 Is 54:5-14

The One who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
a wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
but with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.
This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
so I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
my love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
In justice shall you be established,
far from the fear of oppression,
where destruction cannot come near you.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Reading 5 Is 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm  Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Reading 6 Bar 3:9-15, 32C4:4

Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life:
listen, and know prudence!
How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,
defiled with the dead,
accounted with those destined for the netherworld?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!
Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.
Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;
that you may know also
where are length of days, and life,
where light of the eyes, and peace.
Who has found the place of wisdom,
who has entered into her treasuries?

The One who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledge—
The One who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed beasts;
he who dismisses the light, and it departs,
calls it, and it obeys him trembling;
before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice;
when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”
shining with joy for their Maker.
Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:
He has traced out the whole way of understanding,
and has given her to Jacob, his servant,
to Israel, his beloved son.

Since then she has appeared on earth,
and moved among people.
She is the book of the precepts of God,
the law that endures forever;
all who cling to her will live,
but those will die who forsake her.
Turn, O Jacob, and receive her:
walk by her light toward splendor.
Give not your glory to another,
your privileges to an alien race.
Blessed are we, O Israel;
for what pleases God is known to us!

Responsorial Psalm  Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Reading 7 Ez 36:16-17a, 18-28

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their land,
they defiled it by their conduct and deeds.
Therefore I poured out my fury upon them
because of the blood that they poured out on the ground,
and because they defiled it with idols.
I scattered them among the nations,
dispersing them over foreign lands;
according to their conduct and deeds I judged them.
But when they came among the nations wherever they came,
they served to profane my holy name,
because it was said of them: “These are the people of the LORD,
yet they had to leave their land.”
So I have relented because of my holy name
which the house of Israel profaned
among the nations where they came.
Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel,
but for the sake of my holy name,
which you profaned among the nations to which you came.
I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Responsorial Psalm – When baptism is celebrated. Ps 42:3, 5; 43:3, 4

R. (42:2) Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
I went with the throng
and led them in procession to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,
with the multitude keeping festival.
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
 

When baptism is not celebrated. Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

When baptism is not celebrated Ps 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a holocaust, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Epistle Rom 6:3-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm  Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 16:1-7

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
“Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
‘He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.'”

– – –
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

 

What Saint Peter and a Donkey Stuck in a Well Can Teach You About Rising Above Adversity

by Mary Morrisey

Whatever your personal spiritual beliefs may be, here’s a little Easter humor to remind you that every adversity brings with it an opportunity to grow and expand into the next, best version of yourself.

There’s a funny story about Easter that has stuck with me for many years, and it goes like this:

Saint Peter and Jesus are having a conversation, and Saint Peter is complaining about all the people who get into heaven who have no understanding of scripture.

Jesus says to Saint Peter, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”

St. Peter decides to give the next three people who come up to the pearly gates of Heaven a quiz about scripture.

The first person comes up to the gates, and Saint Peter says, “Before you go can enter, I have a question for you. Tell me… what is the feast of Easter?”

The person thinks about it and says, “I think the feast of Easter is when the pilgrims came over to the New World on the Mayflower, and then they had a big feast with the native people who were first living there. Am I right?”

Saint Peter says, “Go and wait in the holding room. I’ll come and see you in a minute.”

Then a second person approaches the gates. St. Peter asks them the same question, and the person replies, “The feast of Easter is when Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem and there was no room in the inn, so they had the baby Jesus right there, outside with the lowly cattle… is that right?”

Once again, Saint Peter says, “Go and wait in the holding room. I’ll come and see you in a minute.”

Finally, a third person approaches the gates, and St. Peter again asks his question. The person replies, “Well, I think the feast of Easter is when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and then after the Last Supper, there was a great betrayal…”

And St. Peter excitedly says, “Yes, yes! Go on…”

“And then there was the arrest, then the trial, and then the crucifixion…”

And St. Peter encouragingly says, “Yes, yes! Keep going!”

“And then Jesus was in the tomb for three days, and people gathered around, waiting, and when Jesus came out… they were very anxious to know whether he saw his own shadow, because then they would know if there were six more weeks of winter!”

And St. Peter puts his hands on his head and sighs.

What can we take away from this Easter humor?

I love this funny story because it’s a nice reminder that, regardless of what our personal spiritual beliefs may be, we can all reflect on and tap into the spirit behind different religious holidays, and apply the messages they contain to our own lives.

In this case, Easter is about transformation – it’s about the power inside all of us to rise above our circumstances, even in situations that may seem dark or difficult.

When we embrace the magnitude of this power, we can rise up and experience a fresh, new beginning.

There’s a story about a donkey that falls into a well that helps illustrate how tapping the power within us can transform our lives…

One day an old farmer finds his old donkey down at the bottom of the well.

The farmer thinks sadly to himself, “How on earth am I going to get this donkey up and out of there? Well, it’s probably time for him to go anyway.”

So the farmer and a neighbor decide to just throw dirt over the donkey and put him out of his misery.

As the dirt is falling down upon the animal, it starts thinking to itself, “I’m not ready to be put out of my misery!” And he decides right then and there that no matter what, he’s going to shake it off and step up.

So the donkey shakes off the dirt and begins to step up onto the pile of dirt that’s forming. As more dirt falls down on him, he continues to shake it off and keep stepping up… right up until he’s able to actually step right up and out of the well!

The donkey’s attitude and a process is one that you can choose to bring to any circumstance, situation or condition in your life, no matter how challenging. It could be a diagnosis, a divorce, a move, the loss of a job – any type of situation that you wish wasn’t happening, but that’s happening anyway.

We can accept a diagnosis, but not the prognosis. We can accept a divorce, but know that it doesn’t mean we’re unloveable and won’t find love again. We may have difficulty financially right now, but that’s not our future, unless we decide it’s going to be.

You always have the power to shake off the energy or the emotion of any challenging situation, tap into the immense power that’s within you, and keep moving forward.

Just as Easter season marks the beginning of Spring, we can look at the holiday of Easter to remind us that…

A season of renewal always returns to our lives, even following the most challenging winters.

Sometimes it’s not easy to go through our own personal challenges and setbacks, and sometimes we feel like we’re being tried unfairly by life.

But our ability to be resilient and triumphant comes from our ability to do what we can, from where we are, and with what he have in the present.

So remember that whatever is happening in your life right now, that there is a power in you that is greater than any circumstance, situation or condition that life can bring to us, and we tap into this power most profoundly in the presence of major difficulty.

And when we partner with this power and persevere, we resurrect ourselves and enter into a fresh beginning.

 

 

THE WEEKEND THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.  But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:33-34a

The weekend of March 14-16, 1986 will always be special to my wife and me. It was on that weekend we were married. Friday night was the wedding rehearsal, Saturday night was the main event, and Sunday kicked off our first day as husband and wife. The course of our lives was changed as God brought us together to be one until death.

That weekend in March is special to us… but there was a weekend in early April, nearly 2000 years ago, that is special to all of humanity.

  • It was the weekend of brutality and bloodshed as the righteous died for the unrighteous.
  • It was the weekend that began with tremendous agony, but ended with tremendous victory.
  • It was the weekend when Jesus Christ gave Himself up for sinful man.
  • It was the weekend when Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, hell, and the grave.
  • It was the weekend that changed the world for all history and eternity.

PERSONALLY ENCOUNTERING THAT WEEKEND

From the time I was little, my parents taught me about that weekend when Jesus died and rose again. I believed the report. I believed He died on the cross and rose from the grave. The only problem I had was that I believed it as facts on a printed page. I believed in Jesus in the same way I believed in George Washington. I had a mental assent to the truths of history. But those truths didn’t make one bit of difference in my daily life. In short, I was like the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians—I had head knowledge of Jesus, but no heart knowledge of Him. I believed on paper, but not in practice. I didn’t really know Him, I just simply knew about Him.

I was 17 years-old when the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection made a connection from my head to my heart. The Lord revealed to me that I was a sinner, totally deserving of death and hell—with no way out, in and of myself. It was at that moment that the cross and the empty tomb took on real meaning as I cried out to Jesus for salvation. Alone in my bedroom on a Monday night in early 1980, I got down on my knees, and with all my heart prayed this simple prayer, “Save me, Jesus.”

And you know what? He did!

That night, I put my faith and trust in Jesus and Jesus alone for my salvation. In that split second of time, I passed from death to life (John 5:24). I went from being a child of wrath to a child of God (Ephesians 2:3, John 1:12). I was spiritually transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13). I was born again and changed forever. The Lord had come into my life to live in me and through me. I certainly didn’t understand it all at the time, but I knew within a couple of weeks that my life could never be the same.

IT MUST BE PERSONAL TO BE EFFECTUAL

Has the message of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection made it from your head to your heart? Jesus didn’t die for a faceless humanity, He died for you (Galatians 2:20). He rose again for you. He wants you to know Him, not just know about HimYou see, it must be personal in order for His death and resurrection to be effectual in your life.

Let me encourage you this Easter weekend to make sure you don’t just simply go through the motions. The worst thing that could ever happen to anyone is to know the plan of salvation and not the Man of salvation… to know the way to heaven and yet fail to go that way.

Jesus is indeed the One and only Savior. He will save anyone who will cry out to Him in repentance and faith. His cross and empty tomb changed the world as they made it possible for sinful man to have a personal relationship with Holy God. Receive Christ into your heart.  Don’t just tip your hat to Him, bow your knee. The surrender of your heart makes it personal, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Please visit us online at www.fromhisheart.org/whyjesus for more and also click here http://ow.ly/ZU1Nh to download my free booklet, How To Know You Are Going To Heaven.

Love,

Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries

P.S. I would love to hear from you this week. Click here to email me about how I can pray for you.


Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online.  Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.

Nothing Is Impossible

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:27
Are you facing a situation that looks impossible to fix?
In 1969, the pollution was terrible along the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, Ohio. It was unimaginable that it could ever be cleaned up. The river was so polluted that it actually caught fire and burned. Now, years later, this river is one of the outstanding examples of environmental cleanup.
But the river wasn’t changed in a few days or a few months. It took years of work to build new sewage plants and reduce the industrial pollution. Eventually that hard work paid off and now the water in the river is cleaner than ever.
Maybe you are facing an impossible situation. Maybe you have a habit that is driving your family crazy. Possibly you drink too much or don’t know how to control your credit card use. When you face such an impossible situation, don’t you want a quick fix and something to change immediately?
While God can perform miracles and instantly remove your desire for drugs or alcohol, for most of us the changes are gradual and involve a lot of effort and work . . . like cleaning up a polluted river.
I challenge you today as you are facing your difficulties to put them in God’s hands and trust in his timing.
“As the poet said, ‘Only God can make a tree’ probably because it’s so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.” -Woody Allen (1935-    )
Devotionals Daily: A Year with Jesus

From Grace for the Moment: Morning and Evening Edition by Max Lucado

A Meeting of Moments

[They] put him to death by nailing him to a cross. But this was God’s plan which he had made long ago. – ACTS 2:23

The cross was no accident.

Jesus’ death was not the result of a panicking cosmological engineer. The cross wasn’t a tragic surprise. Calvary was not a knee-jerk response to a world plummeting toward destruction. It wasn’t a patch-up job or a stop-gap measure. The death of the Son of God was anything but an unexpected peril.

No it was part of an incredible plan. A calculated choice.

The moment the forbidden fruit touched the lips of Eve, the shadow of a cross appeared on the horizon. And between that moment and the moment the man with the mallet placed the spike against the wrist of God, a master plan was fulfilled.

-From GOD CAME NEAR

 

 

 

Resurrection!

Have you read the story lately? Are you celebrating life made new by our resurrected Savior?

The World Changed:

From the moment Judas betrayed Jesus, and as Jesus endured torture, illegal trials, crucifixion, and burial, the future of humanity hung in the balance. On that morning, the first Sunday after Passover so many years ago, everything changed. God re-tuned history. Death lost its grip on us. Satan’s ultimate power was defeated. Why?

Jesus emerged from the tomb that was sealed and that held him, alive. Our Lord triumphed over sin, hell, and death for us by walking out of that tomb and into our lives. Death could not hold him. Satan could not defeat him. His enemies could not stop him. Nothing would ever be the same.

At HEARTLIGHT.org and VerseoftheDay.com we pray God’s richest blessings and a day full of love, celebration, and joy. This is RESURRECTION SUNDAY. Jesus is risen and alive for us. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is coming back for those who are his own. Praise God! Everything is changed. Our future is secured. Grace has emerged victorious. Love has defeated hate. Hope has eclipsed sorrow.

To celebrate this day, we are providing you with the biblical account of Jesus’ resurrection in a format that is the combined gospel testimony.[NOTE] After this biblical testimony, you will find a special video presentation from James Nored on what the resurrection means for all of us. May God bless you this day and every day that follows with the confidence that your life is now hidden with Christ, your resurrected Savior because Jesus lives (Colossians 3:1-4).

Jesus’ Resurrection:

The next day after the Sabbath day (Mark 16:1), suddenly an angel of the Lord came from the sky, and there was a huge earthquake. The angel went to the tomb and rolled the stone away from the entrance. Then he sat on top of the stone. The angel was shining as bright as lightning. His clothes were as white as snow. The soldiers guarding the tomb were very afraid of the angel. They shook with fear and then became like dead men (Matthew 28:2-4).

Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James bought some sweet-smelling spices to put on Jesus’ body. Very early on that day, the first day of the week, the women were going to the tomb. It was very early after sunrise. The women said to each other, “There is a large stone covering the entrance of the tomb. Who will move the stone for us?” Then the women looked and saw that the stone was moved. The stone was very large, but it was moved away from the entrance (Mark 16:1-4).

They went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They did not understand this. While they were wondering about it, two men in shining clothes stood beside them. The women were very afraid. They bowed down with their faces to the ground (Luke 24:3-5). But the man said, “Don’t be afraid. You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, the one who was killed on a cross” (Mark 16:6).

The men said to them, “Why are you looking for a living person here? This is a place for dead people (Luke 24:5). He has risen from death! He is not here. Look, here is the place they put him when he was dead (Mark 16:6). Jesus is not here. He has risen from death. Do you remember what he said in Galilee? He said the Son of Man must be handed over to the control of sinful men, be killed on a cross, and rise from death on the third day (Luke 24:6-7).

“Now go and tell his followers. And be sure to tell Peter. Tell them, ‘Jesus is going into Galilee and will be there before you come. You will see him there, as he told you before'” (Mark 16:7).

Then the women remembered what Jesus had said (Luke 24:8).

So the women left the tomb quickly. They were afraid, but they were also very happy. They ran to tell his followers what happened (Matthew 28:8). These women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and some others. They told the apostles everything that happened. But the apostles did not believe what they said. It sounded like nonsense (Luke 24:10-12).

But Peter and the other follower started going to the tomb. They were both running, but the other follower ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and looked in. He saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in.

When Simon Peter finally reached the tomb, he went in and saw the pieces of linen lying there. He also saw the cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. It was folded up and laid in a different place from the pieces of linen. Then the other follower went in—the one who had reached the tomb first. He saw what had happened and believed. (These followers did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from death.) Then the followers went back home.

But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying. While she was crying, she bent down and looked inside the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been. One was sitting where the head had been; the other was sitting where the feet had been. The angels asked Mary, “Woman, why are you crying?”

Mary answered, “They took away the body of my Lord, and I don’t know where they put him.” When Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

She thought that this was the man who takes care of the garden. So she said to him, “Did you take him away, sir? Tell me where you put him. I will go and get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and said in Aramaic, “Rabboni.” (This means “Teacher.”)

Jesus said to her, “You don’t need to hold on to me! I have not yet gone back up to the Father. But go to my followers and tell them this: ‘I am going back to my Father and your Father. I am going back to my God and your God.'”

Mary Magdalene went to the followers and told them, “I saw the Lord!” And she told them what he had said to her (John 20:3-18).

Suddenly, Jesus was there in front of them. He said, “Hello!” The women went to him and, holding on to his feet, worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.”

The women went to tell the followers. At the same time, some of the soldiers who were guarding the tomb went into the city. They went to tell the leading priests everything that happened. Then the priests met with the older Jewish leaders and made a plan. They paid the soldiers a lot of money and said to them, “Tell the people that Jesus’ followers came during the night and stole the body while you were sleeping. If the governor hears about this, we will talk to him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers kept the money and obeyed the priests. And that story is still spread among the Jews even today (Matthew 28:9-15).

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a town named Emmaus. It is about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking about everything that had happened. While they were talking, discussing these things, Jesus himself came near and walked with them. (But the two men were not allowed to recognize Jesus.) He asked them, “What’s this I hear you discussing with each other as you walk?” The two men stopped, their faces looking very sad. The one named Cleopas said, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has just happened there.”

Jesus said, “What are you talking about?”

They said, “It’s about Jesus, the one from Nazareth. To God and to all the people he was a great prophet. He said and did many powerful things. But our leaders and the leading priests handed him over to be judged and killed. They nailed him to a cross. We were hoping that he would be the one to free Israel. But then all this happened.

He is not here, he is risen just as he said!

“And now something else: It has been three days since he was killed, but today some of our women told us an amazing thing. Early this morning they went to the tomb where the body of Jesus was laid. But they did not find his body there. They came and told us they had seen some angels in a vision. The angels told them Jesus was alive! So some of our group went to the tomb too. It was just like the women said. They saw the tomb, but they did not see Jesus.”Then Jesus said to the two men, “You are foolish and slow to realize what is true. You should believe everything the prophets said. The prophets said the Messiah must suffer these things before he begins his time of glory.” Then he began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures. He started with the books of Moses and then he talked about what the prophets had said about him.

They came near the town of Emmaus, and Jesus acted as if he did not plan to stop there. But they wanted him to stay. They begged him, “Stay with us. It’s almost night. There’s hardly any daylight left.” So he went in to stay with them.

Joining them at the supper table, Jesus took some bread and gave thanks. Then he broke some off and gave it to them. Just then the men were allowed to recognize him. But when they saw who he was, he disappeared. They said to each other, “When he talked to us on the road, it felt like a fire burning in us. How exciting it was when he explained to us the true meaning of the Scriptures!”

So the two men got up then and went back to Jerusalem. There they found the followers of Jesus meeting together. The eleven apostles and the people with them said, “The Lord really has risen from death! He appeared to Simon.”

Then the two men told what had happened on the road. They talked about how they recognized Jesus when he shared the bread with them (Luke 24:13-35).

About the Author

In this series, James Nored and Phil Ware partner two pioneering ministries providing resources to reach coming generations. James is a minister, Executive Director of Next Generation for Christ, and author of the Story of Redemption Film Series, filmed in the Israel, U.S., and around the world. This series is designed to lead seekers to faith and strengthen the faith of believers. Divided into 5-6 minute video segments, it is great to use with social media, small groups, sermon series, families, and friends. Phil is President of Heartlight, Inc., a preacher for 40 years, author of five books along with hundreds of articles & 11 years of daily devotionals, coach for churches in transition, and a resource for missionary renewal. Phil’s verseoftheday.com devotionals are read by hundreds of thousands every day.

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Stop!’

[About the man who had been healed, John wrote:] But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.

Key Thought

Stop sinning! Isn’t it interesting that while all the fury and fuss were about Jesus’ supposed sin on the Sabbath, the real sinner was the man who was healed. He didn’t want to take responsibility for anything. He wouldn’t go out on the limb to honor Jesus and follow him. Jesus warned him, and he ignored the warning. He went and immediately betrayed Jesus into the hands of those who would do him harm. When we become ashamed to share the testimony of what Jesus is doing in our lives, the sad reality is that we are easily conscripted to do holy-sounding things that actually do the Kingdom great harm. Jesus says to us, “stop sinning”! Let’s heed his warning today.

Today’s Prayer

Father, stop me and confront me when I am being led astray, especially by things that sound religious, but which are really sin. Give me a clearer and more holy understanding of your will in my life and a more powerful and holy influence upon my friends. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

God’s Holy Fire: ‘Who Is Qualified to Give God Advice?’

Who else [besides God] has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?

Key Thought

In Genesis 1, we find that the “Spirit of God was hovering over” the primordial deep waiting for God’s word to bring the work of creation to completion. So when Isaiah talks about God as Creator, he refers to the Spirit of the Lord. As beings created by the Spirit of the Lord, we are finite. While we can understand many things about our created universe, there are many more truths about our universe that remain shrouded in mystery. The Spirit of the Lord doesn’t need our advice. We are not his consultants. He is Creator, and we are the created. He is infinite and glorious; we are finite and fallen. But rather than feeling discouraged or unimportant, we should take heart that the Spirit of the Lord now lives in us as followers of Christ. The power of the Creator is alive in us. The wisdom of the One who made the universe is now available to us to help us know the way we are to live and to help empower us to live that way. He who holds the oceans not only holds us but also lives within us!

Today’s Prayer

Father, you have told us to pray for wisdom, so I pray today for wisdom and discernment. Give me the wisdom to make decisions that bless my family and those with whom you have given me influence. Give me discernment to know how to plan and prepare for the opportunities ahead and to know how to react and respond both when things don’t go well and when they do. I know that this wisdom and discernment will come from your Spirit who lives in me, so I commit to yield my heart to your Spirit’s influence and leading. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Illustration

Illustration of Isaiah 40:12-13 NLT —  Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?

Passion for Praise: ‘How Great’

Illustration of Psalm 147:5-6 — How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension! The LORD supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust.

 

 

 

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It Is Time

It is the time to seek the Lord.
Hosea 10:12

The month of April is said to derive its name from the Latin verb aperio, which means to open, because all the buds and blossoms are now opening, and we have arrived at the gates of the flowery season.

Reader, if you are not yet saved, may your heart, in keeping with the universal awakening of nature, be opened to receive the Lord. Every blossoming flower warns you that it is time to seek the Lord; do not be out of tune with nature, but let your heart bud and bloom with holy desires. If you tell me that the warm blood of youth leaps in your veins, then I entreat you, give your vigor to the Lord. It was my unspeakable happiness to be called in early youth, and I am thankful to the Lord every day for that. Salvation is priceless, let it come when it may, but oh, an early salvation has a double value in it.

Young men and women, since you may die before you reach your prime, “It is the time to seek the Lord.” You who feel the first signs of decay, quicken your pace: That chest pain, that biopsy report, are warnings that you must not trifle with; with you it is definitely time to seek the Lord. Did I observe a little gray, a little thinning in your hair? Years are flying by, and death is drawing nearer by the day; let each return of spring arouse you to set your house in order.

Dear reader, if you are now advanced in years, let me entreat and implore you to delay no longer. There is a day of grace for you now—be thankful for that—but it is a limited season and grows shorter every time the clock ticks. Here in the silence of your room, on this first night of another month, I speak to you as best I can by paper and ink, and from my inmost soul, as God’s servant, I lay before you this warning, “It is the time to seek the Lord.” Do not make light of this; it may be your last call from destruction, the final syllable from the lip of grace.

 

 

Opening Our Spiritual Eyes
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
April 01, 2018

“And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” – 2 Kings 6:17

Elisha was counseling the nation of Israel against the impending attack of the king of Aram. The Lord supernaturally gave Elisha the plans that the king was implementing, and in turn, Elisha warned Israel of each intended attack. The king could not understand why his plans were continually foiled. It seemed there was a secret informer in his midst. He was furious when he was told it was the God of Israel who was to blame for this inside information. The king decided the only way to resolve the situation was to get rid of the problem – kill Elisha.

The king’s forces arrived and surrounded Elisha and his servant. Elisha’s servant became upset and fearful when Elisha was not upset. Elisha immediately prayed that his servant’s eyes might be opened to see that there was no need to be afraid, because the angels were protecting them.

And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike these people with blindness.” So He struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (2 Kings 6:17-18).

Who is the Elisha in your life? Do you have a mentor friend who can see the activity of God in your life when you cannot see it? We all need to have somebody we can trust to help us see the activity of God. It is often difficult for us to see what God is really doing because we are so consumed by the circumstances of the moment. Ask God today to help open your spiritual eyes that you might see Him in your circumstances.

 

 

Verse of the Day

for Sunday, April 1, 2018

Inspirational illustration of Psalm 14:1

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

At one time or another, most of us raised an angry fist to fate and cursed the darkness. Each of these actions is about as equally effective. But to deny there is a God is something else altogether. To rob heaven of God is to rob ourselves of grace, hope, and future. How foolish indeed to forget that behind a Creation of wonder, order, variety, beauty, power, and pattern is the Creator. He is far greater than his handiwork and we dare not ignore, deny, or dismiss him.

My Prayer…

O Lord God Almighty, Creator and Sustainer, thank you for not only being there, but being with me today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Well, it’s Easter Sunday……Jesus has risen, again!  Glory be!!  I have candy on the table, even though I have no small children……these habits are hard to give up……..
I recall other Easters, so long ago, it seems now……another life, another time…….
Soon, I’ll head into the kitchen to start on our dinner………I decided on turkey, since we have ham often……I buy half-hams so I can use the leftovers and bones for my cabbage soups, which I love!  This week, I’ll make turkey soup………yummy!
It drifts into my mind…….what are my children doing today?  My daughter is at church……Catholic church, which I still think is more pomp and show-off than true religion and spirituality…….I’m sorry….I mean no insult to her or her children……but, I was raised in the Catholic church and they still have the same habits, with their hands out every Sunday………….but, as I once told her, any religion is better than no religion at all…..
All in all, I hope everyone has a pleasant and blessed Easter Day…….
Stay blessed!!!!

 

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