Jesus meets us at our “charcoal fires”

When it comes to St Peter, those last days of Jesus’ life and his death on Calvary became pretty intense. “You will never wash my feet!” Peter told the Master kneeling with basin and towel before him.

“I will never betray you!” Peter attested before his brother apostles when Jesus revealed that someone was going to betray him, someone in the room, someone he had known and trusted, someone he didn’t name. What a surge of terror may have passed through Peter as he imagined what that meant, what that might mean if it was him, what that would mean for their future. No. I will never betray you! the burly fisherman asserted if only to keep the potential terrors at bay.

“I do not know the man!” Before a wimpy servant-girl, the self-proclaimed immovable column of fidelity and strength collapsed. Three times. I don’t know this Jesus.

The witness of this intense shame was the charcoal fire around which everyone was warming themselves on that chilly and fateful night.

All of us have our own charcoal fires.

Back in the shadowy cobwebs of memories we wish were not our own, there are plenty of charcoal fires where we have chosen safety, pleasure, conceit over this Jesus whom we proclaim to love with all our hearts. The embers of these charcoal fires still may be warm, the ashes not yet blown away on the winds of mercy.

The charcoal fire appears again in Peter’s story shortly after the resurrection. He was out fishing, unsuccessfully, when a man called across the lake to lower their nets on the starboard side. Immediately the nets were filled to the breaking point. “It is the Lord!” John whispered to Peter.

What emotion must have gone through Peter’s heart at that moment. Without a fear, without a worry, without a memory of the ashes that still smoldered from the charcoal fire that witnessed his betrayal of the Lord, Peter leapt into the water and ran ashore.

And there Jesus stood.

Next to the visual symbol of his betrayal, of his weakness, of his shame.

And it was at that charcoal fire that Jesus asked him one question, three times: Do you love me? In the Passion Translation of the Bible the footnote for John 21:15 sheds some light on this question: The Aramaic word for “love” is hooba, and is taken from a root word that means “to set on fire.” This was the word Jesus would have used to ask Peter, “Do you burn with love for me?”

This time there were from Peter no blustering assertions and self-important declarations. Peter had touched the very roots of his weakness. Those weaknesses and mistakes and even sins that have been witnessed by our charcoal fires become the bridges to truth, to humility, to the trust that children have because they are not able to do anything for themselves.

The footnote continues: It was Peter’s boast that he loved Jesus more than the others, and though everyone else would leave him, Peter never would. That boast proved empty, as within hours of making the claim, Peter denied he even knew Jesus three times. So Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. In essence, Jesus knew how to bring healing to Peter and remove the pain of his denial. Three times Peter denied Jesus, but three times he made his confession of his deep love for Christ. By the third time, the “crowing rooster” inside Peter had been silenced, and now he was ready to be a shepherd for Jesus’ flock.

Here are five things always to remember when you think about the wounds the the charcoal fires in your life have witnessed:

  1. Jesus resets the relationship we have with him. After three denials he invited Peter to express his love for him. No shame or guilt or failure or regret. It is about love. It is one hundred percent about love. No matter what you have done in your life, Jesus wants to know only one thing: Do you love me? Right now, here Jesus calling you by name and asking you that question.
  2. Peter and several other apostles went fishing, spending a futile night on the lake. He who had been made to be a “fisher of men,” returned to what he had been before he met the Lord Jesus at the lake’s short three years earlier. Perhaps Peter thought that was all he was good for after having failed so miserably. But Jesus knew Peter. Jesus knew Peter loved him. Sometimes we are ashamed and we also reduce ourselves to a small life, letting go of dreams, relinquishing hope, sometimes even the hope of eternal life. It seems that there could be no way that God could not be disappointed in us. At the charcoal fire, however, Peter realized that God was not surprised, angry, vindictive or disappointed. When we stumble God is there to meet our failure with grace, a limitless love for all of us limping saints.
  3. Charcoal fires have a distinct smell. When Peter swam to shore and smelled the fire, the memory of the other, so recent and still stinging memory at a charcoal fire still seared his conscience. Jesus invited Peter to follow him into the memory of his failure and betrayal. Instead of leaving Peter to sink in the shame of these memories, Jesus invited Peter to let him into those memories. They could face them together. We all have memories of sins committed and sins committed against us. Shame and guilt surround these memories. Memories that wound, that we want to hide, that we pretend never happened. But Jesus helped Peter confront the memory of his betraying the Master he loved. It is an invitation to not fear the healing process when Jesus stands on the shores of our heart, asking us to let him in, to let go of the past, to allow him to heal and transform our wounds with his glorious mercy. Jesus will often take us into memories where we do not wish to go, but he knows that we are more than we think we’ve become by our mistakes and weakness. By standing in our memories with Jesus, things change.
  4. Peter was hurt when Jesus asked him a third time, Do you love me? God’s love for us doesn’t gloss over our pain, the wounds that need healing in our life. Jesus specifically drew Peter to himself in order to reset the broken places of his denial with mercy. But just as a doctor carefully resets a broken bone (he doesn’t just say, “Oh, you’ll be all right. Everything is just fine.”), Jesus re-sets what is broken within us through the medicine of mercy. Even if the “brokenness” in our life has hardened and our hearts are “deformed” because they’ve never been taken under the Divine Physician’s care, love can make us pliable and whole once more. This is what Jesus does. In some mysterious way he is right now arranging your renewal through mercy and the willingness to love.
  5. When Peter denied Jesus, he also denied himself. He denied his love for the Master, the three years of growth and transformation as he walked by the Master’s side. He denied who he had become as the follower of Jesus and his apostle. On the shore that post-Resurrection morn, after a night on the lake Peter had again come up with nothing after relying on the one thing he felt he should be able to do–fish. Jesus needed Peter to understand that he could not continue relying on himself. Again and again, with every boastful or desperate attempt to prove himself or provide for himself, he realized the nothingness from which he came and the nothingness of which he, of himself, was capable. “Throw your nets off the starboard side and you will catch something.” “Simon, do you love me? Feed my lambs.” Jesus has a plan for Peter who is the lead the Church as Rock. However, Peter needed to lead as sinner, not savior. Only Jesus saves. All of us, everyone of us, needs saving, yet participates in the mystery of the salvation of others. Always, it is miracle. Forever, it is mercy.

This Easter Jesus wants to bring you healing. He wants to turn the charcoal fire of your shame to the place that witnesses your humble love for him, your answer to Jesus’ heart that you will be his friend, that you will let him lead you, forgive you, heal you, and shape anew your life.

What Calvary are you walking away from?

Emmaus. One of the Easter stories of the risen Jesus appearing to his beloved followers. It has the fresh breeze of a spring morning: “that very day, the first day of the week.” The day of resurrection.

Somehow, however, for these two disciples at least, their gaze was not on the risen, the new, the astounding glory of what “some women from our group” proclaimed to them. The women “were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body; they came back with a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.”

However, their minds were filled with other voices. Not the voices of angels, but the voices of people. The voices of people arguing about the meaning of the things that had taken place in Jerusalem that week concerning Jesus that Nazarene. The voices of people speaking to dominate a conversation, voices of power, of fear, of skepticism.

In these two disciples at least, their memories were trying to figure out what had happened to this leader whom they had followed in earlier days of so much promise and hope.

Their gaze was now filled with nothingness and confusion. Their eyes “downcast.” They were “prevented from recognizing” the Lord.

What stories are you telling and retelling and rehearsing yet again? Over what situation in your life is your gaze “downcast”? What can you never forgive for entering into your life?

What stories are you telling and retelling and rehearsing yet again? Over what situation in your life is your gaze “downcast”? What can you never forgive for entering into your life? What stories are you telling and retelling and rehearsing yet again? Over what situation in your life is your gaze “downcast”? What can you never forgive for entering into your life?

Jesus wants to take you where you cannot bring yourself on your own terms.

Jesus wants to free you from those conversations that trap you in complaint and criticism and certainty.

Jesus is dying to be your conversation partner.

Jesus wants to set your inner being on fire, that you may run with joy to tell others that you too have seen the Lord. Yes. You. Today. Now.

Jesus wants to share with you his secret. He wants to flood your consciousness with his Father. His Father’s presence. His love. His providence. His power.

Jesus wants to share with you his secret. He wants to flood your consciousness with his Father. His Father’s presence. His love. His providence. His power. His overwhelming closeness that encompasses us in every detail of our life. At any moment in Jesus life, he was conscious of his Father’s desires for him and his will for his life.

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus told these two apostles that there was a plan. Beginning from Moses and all the prophets he opened their eyes to how they all referred to him. It was a plan of love for them. He revealed to them a plan that Jesus carried out with immense trust in his Father, ultimately breathing forth his spirit into his Father’s hands.

There are many things about which we disagree these days. We see unthinking online mobs attack people, reducing a human being down to one idea they have had, one deed they have done (or neglected), one word they have said. We may have joined in, taking sides as we listen to the news, or in conversations with colleagues and friends. Prizing being right, being first, being on the right team. In the end, it’s only what we’ve figured out on our own terms, through our own interpretation of events.

Jesus is showing us today that we need to walk with him in order to understand his interpretation of events. To see how this one detail of human history fits into the whole. To reverence how all of human history is part of God’s salvation history that is unfolding and can never be stopped.

This Easter week, Jesus shows us the real words of power, the deeds of authentic greatness, the meaning that gives true value to life. Only if we live as a child of the  Father will we know the fullness of what is true, what is good, what is life.

Walk away from your Calvary’s if you must, but walk away with Jesus at your side. Listen to him along the way, and meet him in the “breaking of the bread.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia: Fritz von Uhde – Der Gang nach Emmaus (1891)

Stations of the Resurrection or Via Lucis

During Easter time it is appropriate to pray the Stations of the Resurrection, also called the Way of Light or Via Lucis. During Lent, and especially Holy Week, we focus on Jesus’ sufferings in the Stations of the Cross. But Jesus’ resurrection is the central event of his life, one that we can meditate on anytime, but especially in the Easter season. Death was not the final word. Jesus our Savior conquered death by his death on the cross and by his rising to new life. May our loving Lord continue to raise us up by his grace and the power of his resurrection to new life.

Downloadable and printable booklet with images.

Introduction

All: Sign of the cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

A reading from Saint Paul:

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory (Col 3:1-4).

FIRST STATION
Jesus Rises from the Dead

All
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!

 
A reading from Saint Paul:
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (1 Cor 15:3-8).

Reflection:
Jesus is risen from the dead! On that bitter Friday afternoon everything had seemed so bleak and hopeless. After enduring extreme sufferings, Jesus had died. It was all over, or so it seemed. The hope he had brought to Israel, the knowledge that God is our loving Father, the new law of love—all of this seemed dead, too. But it wasn’t, and when Jesus came to life again he rekindled hope in the human heart. Jesus is alive, and he brings to us a new hope that springs up in our hearts. The life-giving teaching he gave us leads us back to the Father.

Prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life for us and for fulfilling your promise to us of eternal life. You want us all to be with you in heaven. Please give me a firm faith in your resurrection from the dead. May your new life fill me with grace and the spiritual gifts you want to bestow on me. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary

SECOND STATION
The Disciples Find the Empty Tomb

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke:

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women] were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men] said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles (Lk 24:1-10). 

Reflection: The faithful women hurried to the tomb, seeking to anoint Jesus’ body with oil and spices. To their surprise they found the huge stone rolled away from the tomb and two angels who announced to them the good tidings that Jesus had risen from the dead. The women hurried to tell the apostles, who at first were skeptical. Mary Magdalene and the other women, however, held onto their Easter faith. Their immense joy at seeing Jesus prompted the apostles to go to the tomb and see for themselves.

Prayer:

Jesus, help me to have as strong a faith as that of the holy women. When things seem dark in my life, fill me with the grace to see your love and mercy at work. May faith and hope be firmly rooted in my heart so that I can fully trust that you will lead me safely through it all. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary

THIRD STATION
The Risen Lord Appears to Mary Magdalen, Apostle to the Apostles

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to John:
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[ “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her (Jn 20:11-18).

Reflection: Mary Magdalene had a deep love for Jesus, for he had healed her, forgiven her sins, and cast out seven demons from her (see Mk 16:9). Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross (see Jn 19:25), showing greater courage than the frightened apostles who, except for John, had fled the scene. Jesus met Mary in the garden by the tomb. At first Mary did not recognize him. His risen body must have looked very different from the ordinary way Jesus had appeared before that. However, when Jesus said her name, she knew it was him. She wanted to keep holding on to him, but Jesus told her not to. Mary couldn’t contain her joy. Do I have the same joy, knowing that the risen Jesus is present in my life too?

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to be one of your apostles too. Help me to see the opportunities you place in my life to witness to others about you. Don’t let fear hold me back from sharing my faith, especially with those who do not believe. Bring them all to you and help me to have the courage to show them the way to you. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary

FOURTH STATION
The Risen Lord Appears on the Road to Emmaus

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke:
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles] from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. (Lk 24:13-27).

Reflection: Two disciples, one of them named Cleopas, were going to the village of Emmaus on Easter day. Jesus appeared to them but they did not recognize him. They poured out all their sorrows and troubles to this stranger who seemed so much in command of the situation. Jesus took them through the Scriptures and explained to them every passage that referred to him. The disciples’ heads must have been whirring. Why did hope and joy start to spring up in their hearts? They still didn’t realize it was Jesus. Are there times when the Lord starts to break into my life but I do not recognize him? If so, how can I be more attentive to the presence of Jesus?

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, sometimes you want to hide yourself from me so that you may test my faith. When that happens, help me to look beyond my own narrow perspective and resolve to see you in every event of my life. You are always with me even when it seems like you are not. Only sin can drive you away. Heal me of all my sins and their effects in my life. Be with me always, walking at my side, and holding my hand. Help me to love you more and to spread that love to others. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary



FIFTH STATION
The Risen Lord is Recognized in the Breaking of the Bread

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke:
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:28-35).

Reflection: The two disciples finally recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. This familiar action woke them up to realize that the mysterious stranger was Jesus. At every Mass Jesus comes to stay with us, to explain the Scriptures, and to break the bread, which becomes his very Body. Jesus did not only open their eyes, but he also opened their hearts. At Mass today we have the same privilege that the disciples did—to meet Jesus anew and invite him to dwell in our hearts.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, in so many ways my eyes and my heart are still closed to you. Please give me a deep love for the Holy Mass, in which you come to us in the Holy Eucharist. Help all Catholics to realize what a great gift the Mass is, one that we could never deserve on our own. But you come to stay with us, to read the Scriptures and break the bread. May we allow you in the Mass to soften our hearts and from you learn to love others as you did. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary


SIXTH STATION
The Risen Lord Appears to the Community of Disciples

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to John:
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord (Jn 20:19-20).

Reflection: The apostles and other disciples went into hiding after Jesus was put to death. They were afraid. But Jesus passed through the locked doors of the house and greeted them: “Peace be with you.” Jesus had only peace for them: no rebukes, no anger over their cowardice. Instead he showed them his hands and his side.

We can imagine how overjoyed the disciples were to see Jesus. Just minutes ago their dreams lay shattered and they thought everything about Jesus was over. It would come to nothing, they thought, with the Savior dead. Their meager faith didn’t allow them to understand it was just the opposite. With the resurrection, everything was just beginning. Jesus had conquered death. After giving them some final training, Jesus would send them out into the world to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, we thank and praise you for your glorious resurrection from the dead. We believe that you are risen and present among us, your disciples of today. Remove any fear from our hearts. Be with us as we seek to bring your good news of salvation to people throughout the whole world. Amen. 

Our Father, Hail Mary

SEVENTH STATION
The Risen Lord Breathes Peace and Gives the Apostles the Power to Forgive Sins

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to John:
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:21-23).

Reflection: Jesus keeps insisting on peace. He does it so patiently. The disciples are having a hard time to accept that peace. But this time Jesus gives them another gift: the power to forgive sins. During his ministry some people were scandalized when Jesus forgave people’s sins. “Who can forgive sin but God alone?” they objected. But Jesus is God and so not only does he possess the power to forgive sins, but he can also give that power to others. The apostles receive the gift from Jesus. With that power comes profound peace for others, who will have the heavy burden of sin lifted from them.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I thank you for giving your priests the power to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Help me to make good use of this sacrament and never to ignore your gift. I am sorry for my sins with all my heart, and I want to walk in your light. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary


EIGHTH STATION
The Risen Lord Confirms the Faith of Thomas

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to John:
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:24-29).

Reflection: Perhaps God allowed Thomas to doubt in order to support our own faith. If Thomas, who was so stubborn in denying Jesus was alive, was converted and believed, we too can believe. Jesus can touch the most hardened hearts. The words of Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” are prayed by many people during the consecration at Mass.

Prayer:

Saint Thomas the Apostle, at first you would not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. But then when you saw him, you believed. Pray for us that, like you, we may have a strong faith. Help us to realize that we will be blessed for our faith, since we cannot see Jesus and touch him like you did. Pray for us that our faith may grow ever deeper and stronger.

Our Father, Hail Mary

NINTH STATION
The Risen Lord Eats with the Disciples on the Shore of Tiberias

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to John:
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead (Jn 21:1-14).

Reflection: Again we find Jesus as a mysterious stranger whom the apostles did not recognize at first. It was only after the miraculous catch of fish that they saw it was Jesus. Our Savior sometimes comes into our lives in extraordinary ways. The apostles remembered the miraculous catch of fish that Jesus had performed when he first met them. Jesus has infinite patience with them. He doesn’t mind that they did not recognize him at first. He simply welcomes them with joy—and a good meal—when they finally do recognize him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help us to recognize you in whatever way you choose to come into our lives. Thank you for all the times you came to support us even though we didn’t recognize you. And thank you for all the times that we did recognize you. You are quietly at work in our hearts. Please come spiritually into our hearts again and again as you work in us through your grace. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary

TENTH STATION
The Risen Lord Forgives Peter and Entrusts Him to Feed His Sheep

All:

We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to John:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me” (Jn 21:15-19).

Reflection: Greek has several words for love. When Jesus first asks Peter if he loves him, Jesus uses the word agape. This is the highest form of love, one that represents a total self-gift of one person to another. But Peter answers with phil­o, which is love but a lesser form, more like a good friendship. The second time Jesus asks Peter, they both use the same words they had before; Peter’s philo responds to Jesus’ agape. But the third time Jesus asks, he comes down to Peter’s level and uses philo too. At that moment Peter was still recovering from his denial of the Lord, and somehow he couldn’t find it in himself to promise an agape love for Jesus. But Jesus takes him where he is at. Jesus doesn’t scold him for not being generous enough. No, he is grateful for whatever love Peter has, and he knows that in time Peter’s love will grow into an agape love. In the end Peter will give his life for Jesus.
 
Prayer:

Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd who carries the sheep who is wounded. You don’t scold or blame us if the level of love is not as high as you would like. Instead you are patient and loving with us all. Help us to follow you as you tenderly watch your flock and call it home.

Our Father, Hail Mary

ELEVENTH STATION
The Risen Lord Sends the Disciples into the World

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke:
 
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:16-20)

Reflection: Even at this late stage of Jesus’ life, some of his disciples doubted. They had seen him die, but they also had seen him risen. Jesus simply ignores their doubts and gives them a commission: to preach the Gospel to the whole world. The Church is still trying to carry out that commission today. We might make excuses, like we aren’t able to do this, or are afraid to talk to people about Jesus. But Jesus ignores all our excuses and expects us to spread the Good News.

Prayer:

Help us, Lord Jesus, to have the courage and boldness to proclaim your name to anyone who will listen. Don’t let me fear people’s reactions or doubt your goodness. You want to help us carry out the great commission you entrusted to your disciples before you left the earth. But you are still with us. You dwell in our hearts through grace, and you have promised that wherever two or three gather in your name to pray, there you are in the midst of us. Help us to be joyful and enthusiastic disciples, happy to be bearers of your name. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary

TWELFTH STATION
The Risen Lord Ascends into Heaven

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke:
 
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it (Mk 16:19-20).

Reflection: The mission of Jesus was now complete. After his resurrection he stayed with his disciples for forty days, teaching them and preparing them to proclaim the Gospel everywhere. Jesus promised to be with them throughout the ages. He is still with us today, living in the Church. He had said he is the light of the world, and as his disciples we share in that light. We can ask Jesus to help us as we seek to bring that life to others.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace of your Ascension into heaven. Thank you for being with us now and always. It is consoling to know that when we speak to others about you, you are there with us. Open our eyes to take advantage of every opportunity to evangelize. Help us to bring you to others so that you can transform their lives too.

Our Father, Hail Mary


THIRTEENTH STATION
Mary and the Disciples Keep Vigil in the Upper Room for the Coming of the Holy Spirit

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the Cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles: When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (Acts 1:13-14).

Reflection: Among her many titles, Mary is called Queen of the Apostles. We see her here among the apostles as they await the coming of the Holy Spirit. As their Queen, Mary was a maternal, loving presence among them. Mary’s role was to lead others to Jesus, and she took that very seriously. Her prayers hastened the coming of the Holy Spirit among them. Mary was already filled with the Spirit, but she was able to open herself to the Spirit more and more. Just as the Holy Spirit had filled her at the Annunciation to bring about the birth of Jesus, so too the Holy Spirit filled her at Pentecost to begin her new mission in the Church.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us your mother Mary to be our spiritual mother too. Help us to learn from her how to be your disciples. Mary had a hidden role; she didn’t push herself out into the limelight. Her mission was a hidden mission, calling forth the Spirit through her maternal prayers. Mary, be with us as we proclaim Jesus to the world.

Our Father, Hail Mary


FOURTEENTH STATION
The Risen Lord Sends the Holy Spirit

All:
We adore you, O Christ
and we praise you!
Because by the wood of the cross and
the light of the resurrection,
you have redeemed the world!
 
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability (Acts 2:1-4).

Reflection: Before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were afraid and kept themselves locked in the upper room of the Cenacle. But as soon as the Holy Spirit descended on them, they changed completely. Fear dropped away. They burst out of the Cenacle and started preaching to the large crowd of Jews who had come to Jerusalem. The apostles’ preaching was so effective that 3000 people converted and were baptized in the name of Jesus. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to transform us too. He can free us of our fears and disabilities and help us live as faithful Christians.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, come and shine in our hearts. Fill us with grace and wisdom, and all of your sevenfold gifts. Transform us too just like you transformed the apostles. Help us to remember that you dwell in us through grace. Be with us always as we strive to go deeper in our discipleship. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary

by Sr. Lorraine Trouve, FSP


All photos: Creative Commons, Wikimedia