THURSDAY, Easter week three
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The Responsorial Psalm has the same response as yesterday — “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy” (Psalm 66) — but the verses selected focus on God’s saving help rather than his “tremendous deeds.” The readings likewise focus on the joy that comes from being saved: saved from death through
the gift of everlasting life.
In Acts 8: 26-40 Philip is asked to explain a passage about the suffering of the Savior that does not seem to speak of joy: “In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken away from the earth.” But when Philip explained about Jesus, the meaning of his death and the triumph of his resurrection, his listener believed, was baptized, and “continued on his way rejoicing.” Even suffering, whether Jesus’ or our own, need not deprive us of joy if we can find meaning and value in it. “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy,” for Jesus has risen from the dead and so will we.
Philip brought joy to the eunuch by teaching him the meaning of Scripture. Jesus too: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). But joy actually comes through the new life given in Baptism. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). He gives us joy by giving us the divine life of God.
John 6: 44-51 presents the same sequence of learning-believing-life. Jesus quotes Isaiah 54:13: “They shall all be taught by God,” and continues, “Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.” It is not just listening and learning that saves; it is believing: “Whoever believes has eternal life.”
Believing involves coming to Jesus in faith. We find divine life in living contact with Jesus: “I am the bread of life…. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Divine life comes through incorporation into Jesus, through assimilation into his body.
This is expressed, experienced and realized in a unique way in Eucharist. Saint Augustine explains that in contrast to ordinary eating, when we receive Communion we become what we eat. We are transformed more fully, assimilated more completely into Christ. Because we “become Christ” by the sacrament of Baptism (St. Augustine again), we can no more be overcome by death than Jesus was. Because his life in us is sustained and nurtured by the Eucharist, we will “eat and not die.” “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy,” because in Jesus we have the Bread of Life, now and forever.
Take Initiative: Be a prophet. Embody your faith, hope and joy in the way you participate in Eucharist — through your words, actions and enthusiasm.