Third Sunday of Easter 2023 – Road to Emmaus

I’ll be honest, I was a little stumped by this week’s Gospel reading. Maybe not stumped, but unable to hone in on a single idea for the brief video reflection that I wanted to create. So, I ended up merging two ideas, more or less successfully.

First, I mentioned the invitation of the disciples to Jesus into the house where they were going to spend the evening. More on that in a moment. Secondly, I spent the rest of the video talking about how this story is a type of analogy for the Mass. I was inspired by a homily given by Bishop Robert Barron, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share it in full for anyone interested. You can find it here.

For this accompanying blog post, I think I want to spend a little more time with the first point I made. Jesus is the master of the invitation. He calls, He doesn’t command, His disciples to come follow Him. In the Gospel of John, two of John the Baptist’s disciples begin to follow Jesus. He asks them, “What are you looking for?” They ask Him where He is staying. In the perfect one-liner, Jesus responds: “Come and see” (John 1:38-39).

Again and again, Jesus invites people into His circle. In the Gospel today, the disciples do not recognize Jesus on the road. Even as He opens their eyes to the Scriptures He fulfilled, and as they reflected afterward they realized their hearts were burning within them in Jesus’ presence, still they do not recognize Him. They would have missed Him entirely if they hadn’t extended the simple offer of hospitality. Jesus made to go on, but they stopped Him.

But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”

Luke 24:29

They led Jesus inside, and it was in the breaking of the bread that they finally recognized who He was.

We have the same choice before us every single day. Do we invite Jesus in, or do we go about our day without opening the door of our hearts to Him?

Here are a few ideas for consciously and concretely inviting Jesus into your daily life:

  • Morning Offering Prayer – there are many versions of this prayer, some are short and simple, others more complex. The basic structure of this prayer is to offer your day to Jesus, in all it’s ups and downs, to unite yourself with Jesus throughout the day, to seek His assistance in your day, and to proclaim your love for Him. When we homeschooled, we began each day with this prayer: Dear Jesus, I offer you this day, my works, my joys, my sorrows, and my play. Please help me to be good today. I love you Jesus, Amen. That’s it, it doesn’t need to be fancy. This site has a whole bunch of Morning Offerings if this one isn’t a good fit for you.
  • Setting daily check in prayer times – maybe you pray an Angelus at noon. Maybe you say a rosary while you walk every day. Setting up specific, routine, prayer times is a great way to reconnect with Jesus throughout your day. The Hallow app is great for this. You can set reminders within the app and have the prayers or reflections you want to utilize queued up and ready to go. (The link provided will give you a 3-month free trial of the full version of the app if you haven’t made an account already. This works best on a computer. I do not gain anything monetary or otherwise if you choose to use my link).
  • Frequent the sacraments. When was the last time you went to a daily Mass? What about Adoration, Confession, or other liturgical celebration offered by your parish? Invite Jesus into your schedule by prioritizing these opportunities.
  • Coming from Chiara Lubich and the Focolare Movement, be intentional about recognizing Jesus in your neighbor. When you are in the presence of others, see Jesus in them. Jesus can be encountered in every single person you come in contact with each day. Even if they aren’t your favorite person, Jesus invites us to love them as He does. For more on this, check out my post about the Cube of Love.
  • Find some inspirational saint quotes and Scripture verses. I have a friend who loves to be reminded of the things she has read, so she puts post-it notes everywhere. One over the kitchen sink, one or two on the bathroom mirror, the visor of her car. Anyplace that catches her eye or where she spends a lot of time. She changes them up also, which I think is so wise. We can start to glaze over things we see on a highly regular basis. Either changing the quotes around, or switching up the color of paper they are written on, can help avoid this.
  • Add your own ideas in the comments. It would be great to hear your ideas about how to invite Jesus into your everyday life. What works for you? What do you want to try?
Daily Graces.

Divine Mercy Sunday 2023

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! This specially named Sunday is always the first Sunday after Easter. St. Pope John Paul II instituted the day in the year 2000. The Church’s teaching on the endless mercy of God has been present from the beginning. However, Jesus chose to reveal to St. Maria Faustina in the 1930s a special look at His ocean or font of mercy.

My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. … Let no soul fear to draw near to Me. … It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.

St. Faustina, Diary, no. 699 –

It comes at no surprise then that our Gospel reading showcases Jesus’ unfailing mercy. It has been mere days since the Resurrection and Jesus has already appeared to the disciples. Just not all the disciples. Thomas, for whatever the reason, was not with the other disciples when Jesus came to them. In his shock, and likely fear and confusion, he clings to doubt.

Unless I see the mark of the nails and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.

John 20:25

Because we know the whole story, we tend scoff at Thomas’ assertion. “How can he possibly have the gall to make such a demand?” “Where is this doubt coming from, doesn’t he trust his friends?” “If I were in his place, I would have believed them.” And while yes, perhaps Thomas should have trusted more closely in his friends’ claims, I find Thomas to be exercising a very human response when we are left out of a crowd.

FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out, encourages us to make strange choices. No one wants to be left out of something new, fun, or different. As human beings we were made for community, but sometimes we confuse authentic community for the cool crowd. Think back to your teenage years and consider the choices you made out of FOMO. Maybe they were benign, like wearing a certain color t-shirt or getting a specific haircut. Maybe they were a bit more drastic – drinking alcohol at too young an age, getting a piercing without your parents’ permission, sneaking out at night. While you are, hopefully, past these growing pains, FOMO still has a part to play in your psyche.

Commercials, marketing campaigns, billboards, YouTube and Instagram ads – all of these rely at a certain level on FOMO. They want you to see the next best thing, what are your friends clicking on, what’s the latest trend or fad in an area of interest for you.

It’s even in the knitting and spinning yarn world people – I know because I’m actively following a FOMO rabbit hole right now. Long story short, you can spin yarn on a spinning wheel. Cool, I have 2 (and I love them both, don’t make me choose!). You can also spin yarn on spindles, which are basically sticks with a weight at the bottom that you spin like a top and use that spinning to twist wool fiber into yarn. Slower yes, but you can make thinner yarn and it’s just another way to achieve the same result. This is not a fast craft so why not embrace the slow nature of the make.

Acorn Support Spindles” by grizzlymountainarts is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

For whatever the reason, YouTubers are popping up with spindle spinning and now, guess who wants a spindle? Yep. Guess who already has one in the mail and used sweet puppy eyes on her husband so he would also get her one for her birthday? Yep. Because of course you need more than one, they are little and there’s so much yarn to spin!

FOMO. It’s a thing. It’s not always a bad thing, but it’s a thing we have to acknowledge plays a role in our lives. Depending on the topic or situation, we might react to it differently.

I am reacting to my FOMO by acquiring 2 spindles, and being very strict with myself not to get any more (there’s a hot resale market. I know, you think I’m crazy, but that’s ok), until I know if this is a new craft I want to spend time on. I’m engaging in the established community more as I learn more about spinning and enriching my overall understanding of fiber crafts. While calling it a natural progression seems a bit too much like permission to lose self control, it is still related to interests I already have made room for in my life. However, I acknowledge this is a potential slippery slope, so I need to proceed cautiously.

Thomas took a more aggressive approach to his FOMO episode. Not wanting to be left out or undone, Thomas makes a wild assertion about what level of proof he needs in order to be convinced. We’ve seen this before in our lives – a wild bet, an outlandish or fantastical claim, making or accepting a dare – all done to impress the group and be accepted by it.

We call Thomas “Doubting Thomas” because of this series of events. He doubts, not just Jesus’ resurrection, but I believe his place in the group. Why didn’t Jesus wait for him to be back from whatever errand he was on? Why had he been left out? Was he someone less than or inferior to the others? Notice how Thomas doesn’t just need to see Jesus, but to touch Him as well. No one else had done that, surely his bravery would be rewarded in some way, if only just to be considered an equal again.

Doubts. We talk about how seeds of doubt are sown in our minds and hearts. Doubt is such a deceptive thing. It’s one of the primary weapons the Devil employs against us. Doubts come to us in little one liners, often out of no where. “If you really loved your wife, you’d let her get as many spindles as she wants” ……. sorry, couldn’t help it. But really, the phrase “If you really” usually ends with a seed of doubt planted. Consider these possible endings.

If you really….

  • wanted that job, you would have found a way to get it.
  • loved your kids, you would be at every single soccer game no matter what.
  • were beautiful, he would have asked you out.
  • were successful, she wouldn’t have left you.
  • are fun to be around, that specific group would be your friends.
  • believed in Jesus, you wouldn’t have been in that accident.

Doubt, FOMO. They go hand in hand. The Devil wishes for us to be in a state of continual doubt and FOMO. Doubt makes us question what we are doing, who we are, and what we believe. FOMO makes us constantly chase after what we perceive we are lacking, even if we aren’t lacking anything at all. This cycle of doubt and fear will lead us down a path of destruction in quick order.

Thank goodness we have a Sunday like this Sunday. This Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, shows us that there is nothing to fear, nothing to doubt. Jesus’s Divine Mercy is boundless, endless, and ever present for us. We don’t have to doubt it. We don’t have to be fearful that He will keep it from us. Jesus is waiting for us to reach out to Him. He wants nothing more than to shower us with His merciful love. I cannot say it better than Pope John Paul II:

As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!
Lord, who reveals the Father’s love by Your death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to You today: Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world.

St. Pope John Paul II, Regina caeli message prepared for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, 2005

Jesus not only requested a day to be set aside for us to commemorate and celebrate His Divine Mercy, He also instructed St. Faustina to pray a chaplet to divine mercy. If you have never prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet before, I highly encourage you to find some time this weekend. It is prayed on rosary beads, but takes about half the time as the rosary. Not that time should be a factor, but it’s also good to know what you’re getting yourself into. Check out the Hallow app’s guide to praying the chaplet.

Daily Graces.

Happy Easter 2023

Well, we made it! We’ve always known the end of the story, but it still feels miraculous. I think part of this, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, is that we are also emerging from the cold and darkness of winter. Spring is here, or very nearly. The early flowers and green shoots are coming up, the days are lengthening, the sun feels warmer. The earth’s hopefulness of new life is contagious.

As an aside, I’m going to need to spend some time pondering our holidays and how they fall seasonly. I haven’t given serious thought to how the holidays like Christmas and Easter fall in opposite seasons in the Southern Hemisphere, what must that be like? I’d love to know your experiences if you are a Southern Hemisphere dweller or have visited during a holiday season. As our world becomes more interconnected, I am becoming more aware of how the seasonal imagery I have tied to specific holidays because of where I was born is not everyone’s experience.

Anyway, thanks for taking that little aside with me. Back to the main story – Easter! It’s here! Jesus is Risen!


So now what? What difference does this information make in your life? Does it make any difference at all?

We have spent the last 40 days preparing for this moment. Now that anticipated moment is here. Are we different? Have we changed? Or will we go back to work tomorrow the same person who was at our desk, washing machine, truck, or grocery store on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday?

Change is difficult. If we have been faithful to our fasts, prayers and almsgiving for these past 40 days, we ought to have made a start at change. We have created more room for God with our fast. We have deepened our conversation with God through prayer. We have recognized the need to rely on God’s providence in our almsgiving.

I think the hardest days of these two seasons are:

  • The Monday after Ash Wednesday when we begin to struggle with motivation and perseverance in our Lenten practices
  • Monday after Easter when we have to choose what to do now that the requirements of Lent are gone.

Will we go back to who we were, or will we become who God called us to be this Lent?

I have good news, Jesus knew this would be hard and scary. He knew He was asking His disciples to believe the impossible, to speak the impossible. He says to them over and over again, “Do not be afraid.”

Don’t make choices out of fear, make them out of love for Christ. What does Jesus ask us to do? To go out to all the nations and share the Good News – Jesus is Risen! But what does this look like, practically speaking? Here’s a few examples from my own life.

Sharing the Good News means not being afraid to share my faith with my children. When they ask questions, I give them honest answers. When they are confused, I share my perspective and how God calls us to view the situation. When I hear them being unkind to one another, I remind them they are all God’s children and we are called to love one another.

Sharing the Good News means not being afraid to consider a new ministry position, even if you’ve only been at your parish a few months and don’t know many people. There’s always a need for catechists, Bible study small group leaders, choir members, or lectors, just to name a few of the ministries I’ve participated in as we have moved from place to place. We aren’t in one place for long, there isn’t much time to “get to know” a parish before it’s time to move again. Jump in where you see a need, don’t wait.

Sharing the Good News means not being afraid to speak truth when presented with the opportunity. It means leaning into the Holy Spirit’s wisdom for how to speak and what to share. It means discerning what going to help a specific situation – a strict declaration of Church teaching (which is correct), or a gentle word of reassurance of Jesus’ love for each person, no matter the situation they find themselves struggling with (which is also correct). Both options are truthful, but depending on who you are speaking with, one might be better than the other. It takes both bravery and humility to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, it means relying on His strength and not your own.

Sharing the Good News means this blog and video series. These have been works of the Holy Spirit and come out of my prayer. God has placed these desires in my heart and has also given me the courage to share them with you.

I hope you find the courage to step out in faith and share the Good News this Easter season. Each of us is called to share Jesus’ resurrection in a unique way. How the world will change when we each take this calling seriously and live to proclaim:

Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father!