WELCOME to the latest email recipients of "First Impressions,"
the retreatants at Santa Sabina’s day of prayer and the Holy Week
retreat for the "Friends of the Dominican Sisters," both in San
Dear Preacher Exchange Readers:
Greetings! I recently celebrated my 10th
anniversary with Preacher Exchange! I am amazed and honored to be able to share
with you each week the guidance of the Spirit through “Come and See” and
“Provisions for the Journey” during Advent and Lent. It has been wonderful to
hear from some of you; I am humbled that you choose to incorporate my
reflections in your ministries, and I am grateful to Father Jude and Brother
Chuck for supporting me in my ministry.
If this website is of value to you, would
you consider making a small donation to support Preacher Exchange so that Father
Jude can continue this outreach?
It would mean a lot to me as a way to
celebrate this special anniversary. Just click on the “Donations”
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Thank you and blessings on you as you
spread the Good News!
With love from,
My comments will focus on today’s Gospel. Since the events take
place at a meal that has Eucharistic overtones, there is a preaching
possibility for developing the implications of the Eucharist in our
daily lives. Here are some possible inroads for the preacher and
those preparing for this liturgy.
Peter's going fishing suggests the disciples were unable to
sustain their Easter faith beyond the connection with the actual
appearances. So, their belief in the resurrection hasn't translated
into life and mission. After all they have experienced in their time
with Jesus, and having encountered the resurrected Christ, they seem
to have forgotten his charge to them. They are not going "fishing" –
going out to catch others for Christ. They are just returning to
their old business, as if nothing has changed in their lives! Even
Peter's tone suggests a kind of resignation, "I'm going fishing," as
if to say, "What else is there to do?" Things are falling apart and
the call they received seems to have dissolved. While the disciples
may have abandoned their call, it is encouraging to note that Jesus
has not abandoned them. As in the beginning of the Gospel, when he
first called them, and after his resurrection, when he goes to them
in the locked room, once again Jesus finds them and calls them to
their mission. And note where he finds them (and us) – in the midst
of their everyday working lives. They are at their old work and he
goes there to meet them.
Once again, the disciples are eating with Jesus and one another.
Something happens at meals – not the rushed meals we often
experience, but meals we spend time preparing. The preacher might
develop this meal-dynamic some more, for it will lead to the Gospel
meal Jesus has with his disciples in the story and to the Eucharist
we are celebrating. For example, when meals are planned and have
special guests: bonds are deepened among the participants; stories
are told that link common identity and friendship. And more: old
tensions might dissolve, or get put aside. After such a meal, we
linger and then can leave refreshed to go about the tasks and
struggles of our lives. What a shame that shared meals are less
frequent in our rushed society and families!
So, the meal with Jesus has these just mentioned elements about
it. The disciples had gone back to old patterns and need renewal in
their identity as witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of
Jesus. Like them we need to be strengthened in our resolve to love
and to bear up under the persecution that comes because we follow
Jesus' call to love and service. The Eucharistic table is the place
we get help and a renewal of our resolve to carry the cross, and
This meal with Christ is another reminder that the Eucharist is
not just a harkening back to some past event. Each time we gather
for Eucharist, Jesus is inviting us, as he did his disciples, "Come
and eat." We who return to old patterns, need the constant
invitation and renewal the Eucharist offers. At the eucharistic meal
we are also confronted with the question Jesus asks Peter, "Do you
love me?" To the table we bring our failures of the love and service
Jesus asks of us. Notice how Peter replays his threefold denial by a
threefold profession of love for Christ. A forgiveness is happening
here for Peter and for us, our denials are put aside and a chance is
given again to respond to Christ's invitation to follow him.
For John, faith is a personal relationship with Christ. This
faith is expressed not only in words, but in obedience. So, if Peter
is to be obedient to Christ he must care for others. The care Peter
gives to Jesus' "sheep" will result in his martyrdom, for he and we,
will run counter to ways of our world. Who are those that Jesus is
inviting us to care for now? How have we failed to do that? This
meal will help us hear again our call to be disciples of Christ and
will empower us to respond to what we are hearing.
Remember in John 10 how Jesus contrasted the true shepherd from
the "hired hand"? Well, Peter has been "the hired hand," who fled
the scene when danger approached. He abandoned Jesus. Now in his
threefold affirmation of love for Christ, Jesus announces that Peter
is to be a true shepherd who will feed Jesus’ flock. It is clear
that love for Christ is reflected in how much we care and are
willing to sacrifice for others. Sacrifice for others will be the
cross we take up each day to follow Christ, the one true shepherd.
The cross awaits Peter, for that has been the traditional way the
community has interpreted what Jesus says to Peter:
"I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress
yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you
will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go."
Suffering comes as we respond to Jesus' commandment, "Feed my
sheep." This cross is not the cross of involuntary suffering that we
have when we get sick, or lose a job; but the suffering we take on
because we choose Christ's way. "Love others as I have loved you"
We have 50 days during this Easter season, 10 more than Lent’s
40. We need the extra time to try to grasp the grace of these days
in which the Risen One among us is revealing himself. Here at our
tables, in church and also at home, we need to take the time to
pause, look around and really "see’ who feeds us and how many ways
we are being fed. "Come and eat," is his constant, daily invitation.
Even when we go back to our work-a-day worlds, Christ is there
offering us nourishment and then inviting us to feed his sheep. This
is both strength and challenge. It is at this "daybreak" meal that
we receive from the Lord the food that satisfies our hungers and, at
the same time, urges us, with Peter, "Feed my sheep."
for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
ONE GOOD BOOK FOR THE
"The Cloister Walk," by Kathleen Norris. This Protestant
poet has spent time with a Benedictine community in
Minnesota and this part memoir, part religious
meditation, is the result of the meeting of these
different religious traditions. Of particular current
interest to us preachers is her chapter, "The Book of
Revelations," our second readings for these Sundays of
"As I listened to the Book of Revelation over several
weeks I found in it a healing vision, a journey through
the heart of pain and despair, and into hope. And I was
consistently reminded of how subtly this vision works on
us. It asserts that the evils of this world are not
incurable, that injustice does not have the last word.
And that can be terrifying or consoling, depending on
your point of view, your place within the world."
----Kathleen Norris in, "The Cloister Walk"
be my helper"
The care we give to those entrusted to us flows from the Lord’s
love and care for us and our caring, in turn, is an expression of
our love for the Lord. Not only should we care for fellow human
beings but we must also care for all of creation, as God gave us
stewardship over the earth not to dominate it, but to care for it.
Quite simply, Earth is the only home we have, the only home that we
will pass on to the next generations, the only home in our care.
We are not doing a very good job of caring for creation--we are
raping the land, we are clear-cutting the forests, the coral reefs
are dying, we are losing many species of life. . .we must stop and
listen to the "cry of the earth" (Pope Francis).
In the teaching document, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis
states: "Man cannot be separated from the rest; there is a
relationship which is reciprocally influential, both the environment
on the person, and the person in a way which affects the
environment; and the effect bounces back to man when the environment
is mistreated." Laudato Si’ is Pope Francis’ encyclical on
the environment, or more formally – "On Care for Our Common Home."
Pope Francis makes it clear in Laudato Si’ that the
well-being of the Earth is not separate from the well-being of our
souls. He states: "The ecological crisis is also a summons to
profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed
and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism,
tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others
are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become
inconsistent. So what they all need is an ‘ecological
conversion’,whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ
become evident in their relationship with the world around them.
Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential
to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of
our Christian experience" (#217).
From the outset, Pope Francis states the goal of the document: "I
would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common
home" (#3). In order to do this at HNOJ, Msgr. Michael Shugrue will
be leading an introductory seminar on Laudato Si’ on Tuesday,
May 14 at 7 PM. Seating is limited to 30. RSVP to
O Lord, let me be of help.
Director of Social
Holy Name of Jesus
Cathedral, Raleigh, NC
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for
persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted
in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Gospel reading:
son of John, do you love me!"
Peter answered him, "Yes Lord, you know that I love you."
to him, "Tend my sheep."
The sheep Jesus is sending us to feed and care for might not be
very far away: in the next room, at school, work, across the street,
or the other side of town. Our prayer response at this Eucharist
could be, "Here I am the Lord, ready to do your will." Then, we
listen to his response and go where he is sending us to feed his
So we ask ourselves:
- Who are the sheep Jesus is sending me to feed and care for?
- Where do I find nourishment to help me fulfill his mandate?
POSTCARDS TO DEATH
"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to
the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal
dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."
Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison
system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and
addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them
to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them
you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith
Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might
consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
- Leslie Warren #0487189 (On death row since 10/6/95)
- Darrell Stricklan #0393145 (10/27/95)
- Jerry D. Hill #0511057 (10/31/95)
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC
For more information on the Catholic position on the death
penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the
is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday
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If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group,
or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in
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these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.
You can order the CDs by going to our webpage:
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—These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are
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Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First
Impressions" and "Homilías
Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and
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4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those
wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the
Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent
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you and blessings on your preaching,
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert the
Great Priory of Texas
Vince Hagan Drive
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