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Reflection for April 2023 (Liturgical Year – Cycle A, Year I

Community Word: Jesus Christ, the Living Hope, leads us to eternal life
Order: “… Seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God… not of what is on earth.” (Col 3:1-2a)
The scriptural readings during the month of April encapsulate the love of God, the victory of Christ, Jesus’ Divine Mercy, His living presence in Scriptures and the Eucharist and the assurance that we have a Good Shepherd who is always ready to lay down His life for our sake. What an awesome manifestation of love beyond compare!
The Cross of Christ, perceived as suffering and hardship, is the image of God’s love exemplified by Jesus’ endurance in obedience to the Father’s will. This month is the season to celebrate God’s love through our Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead to save us and who continues to assure us with His very presence in our life. Our community word for the month of April tells us – Jesus Christ, the Living Hope, leads us to eternal life. Almost three years of pandemic have taught us that despite fears and anxieties, we continue to rely on God’s promise to protect us. Through persevering prayers and interventions we experienced peace and hope during those trying times. Though we learned that we can be made helpless, what is important is our relationship and communication with the Lord, following His ways and commands, as the order for this month says – “… Seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God… not of what is on earth.” (Col 3:1-2a).
The Sunday readings for April offer us a special opportunity to reflect and meditate upon the events which will lead us in the path to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Living Hope.
The theme for Palm Sunday is – We have hope for eternal life when we unite our suffering with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The readings take us through the events of the next eight days. It begins with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to announce the Good News, not just with His words but by His act of loving and ultimate sacrifice. The readings are so heart-wrenching – how Jesus endured persecution, humiliation, degradation and suffering to accomplish His paschal mystery. We are called to lovingly and prayerfully reflect on the passion of Christ and feel the pain and agony He went through for us that we may be saved. May this give us greater awareness of the magnitude of God’s love for us! May it serve as our inspiration to have endurance and perseverance in the face of trials and problems, not to lose hope but have faith as we hold on to the promise – “The Lord is my help, therefore I am not disgraced…I shall not be put to shame,” (Is 50:17).
The theme for Easter Sunday is – We have hope for eternal life when we rejoice and testify to Christ’s resurrection. Christ is risen! The culmination of the Lenten season is Easter Sunday which is the most significant celebration of the Church. The entire Christian world celebrates the victory of Christ over death that brings salvation to mankind. Resurrection is the victory of Jesus Christ over suffering and death. Believing in the resurrection of Jesus means that He must be the center of our lives. He must be loved, followed, served, praised and worshipped. The path of salvation is open to everyone; we are called the “Easter people.” As we acknowledge Christ’s saving grace and become transformed, we rejoice in the assurance of this promise – “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory,” (Col 3:4).
The 2nd Sunday of Easter is the Divine Mercy Sunday and we are guided by our theme – We have hope for eternal life when we believe and seek Christ’s divine mercy. Thomas doubted that Jesus was alive simply because he was not present when Jesus appeared to the rest of the Apostles. He missed the opportunity to encounter the Risen Christ that first moment. As members of our Covenant Community, we have all the chances to meet Jesus, to listen to Him, to experience and know His miracles through the corporate worship, word sharing circles, formation teachings, and outreach mission activities. If we persevere in serving Him, we will experience His peace and mercy. Jesus’ most pronounced words are “Peace be with you” as He breathes and says to us “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Isn’t this an awesome declaration to those who are in Jesus’ company? Let us continue and deepen our relationship with Jesus and be active to serve Him through our community. Then, we are assured of His divine mercy as we believe and seek Him, for He has said – “Blessed are those who have not seen me, and have believed,” (Jn 20:29).
Our theme for the 3rd Sunday of Easter is a declaration of faith – We have hope for eternal life when we recognize Christ’s presence in the Holy Scriptures and the Eucharist. Two disillusioned and disheartened disciples, on their way to Emmaus, were so focused on their pain and disappointment on the death of Jesus that they failed to recognize Jesus traveling with them and discussing the Scriptures. It was only after the breaking of the bread that their eyes were opened and their sorrow turned to joy as they became aware of the presence of the Risen Christ in their midst as they proclaimed, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:33). Similarly, when we are overwhelmed by problems, worries and fears, sometimes we fail to acknowledge that Jesus is always with us. In moments like this, we should remember to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus is the Living Bread, where our spiritual growth is sustained. In the Eucharist, Jesus promised us fullness of life – “You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever,” (Ps 16:11).
The 4th Sunday of Easter is the Good Shepherd Sunday and our theme is – We have hope for eternal life when we follow the guidance of Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Jesus leads us through the gate of salvation. The first reading is a call to conversion. In Psalms we are told that God is always caring for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep. The second reading assures us that when we go astray, we can return to the Lord. And in the Gospel, Jesus promises to lead his people to safety and warns us to be cautious about who we follow. The Good Shepherd offers us protection from those who would lead us astray, but we must hear his voice and always decide to follow Him. Following Jesus starts with repentance, conversion and a commitment to do what He commands, even if we encounter suffering along the way. We have to be comforted by His promise – “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved…” (Jn 10:9a).
Today’s Gospel is also a lesson on Christian leadership. Jesus suggests that those who will lead the Christian community will be known by their faithfulness to Him. The leaders must realize that having a good relationship with Jesus is the primary characteristic of a Christian leader. It is imperative that faithful Christian leaders also have a good relationship with the community members. The shepherd knows his sheep, and they know him. Christian leaders follow the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, by being faithful to him and by being a good shepherd to his flock in the community.
The Lord has given our Community these comforting words: “Rejoice! I have overcome death and tribulation; nourish in your life the victory I gained for you. Live in my joy and peace and you will live in love for others!” A Blessed Easter to all!
Sunday Readings:
April 2, 2023 – Is 50:4-7/ Ps 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24/ Phil 2:6-11/ Mt 26:14-27:66
April 9, 2023 – Act 10:34A, 37-43/ Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23/ Col 3:1-4/ Jn 20:1-9
April 16, 2023 – Act 2:42-47/ Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24/ 1 Pt 1:3-9/ Jn 20:19-31
April 23, 2023 – Acts 2:14, 22-33/ Ps 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11/ 1 Pt 1:17-2/ Lk 24:13-35
April 30, 2023 – Acts 2:14, 36-41/ Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6/ 1 Pt 2:20B-25/ Jn 10:1-10


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