Get Up

Getting up can be difficult – getting up in the morning, getting up from the couch, getting up to help someone. I like sitting down myself. Getting up is a big change; a change of posture, certainly, but also a change of ATTENTION, a change of INTENTION. One moment I am doing one thing, the next moment I have gotten up to do SOMETHING ELSE. It’s human nature to want to remain where we are, to be undisturbed from whatever we are doing. Change is hard. Change requires a decision and a choice.

Matthew was sitting. He was at his customs post, waiting to collect more money, probably counting the money he had. Maybe he was figuring sums as he sat. Maybe he was sitting there figuring out how to find real fulfillment in his life, we don’t know. His Gospel doesn’t tell us, and doesn’t flatter him in any way. It tells the truth in such simplicity we might miss the monumentalness of it all:

“As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.”

He GOT UP. He made a decision and a choice to change. He changed his attention and his intention. One moment he was doing one thing, the next moment he got up to do something else. He responded to a call. He literally rose to the occasion.

Clearly, he was moved by grace to do this. Clearly, he saw something in this carpenter from Galilee that promised more than the money he had been counting. And clearly, he wanted to share this with his friends (who were clearly tax collectors and sinners) because he invited them to dinner with Jesus. And Jesus’ answer to the ever-skeptical Pharisees gives us some insight into the reason for the calling of Matthew: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Matthew wasn’t perfect; but Jesus would perfect him.

Three lessons blaze up like fire from this short Gospel:

First, God does not wait for us to get all our spiritual affairs in order and to do everything right before he calls us! He calls us, the spiritually sick and imperfect, to follow him so that we can be healed and perfected by his Presence.

Second, we must respond to the call of Christ by GETTING UP and making a decision and a choice to change our attention and our intention. We must turn from one thing to another, from a lesser thing to the best thing, which is the will of God for our lives.

Third, others may question this change in us. No matter. Our witness to the mercy of God will outshine any ridicule or questions. For our part, when we are called, we must GET UP and follow wherever He leads. This is our YES to God.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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Exaltation Of The Holy Cross

True story: the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, St. Helena, went to Jerusalem in search of the actual places in Jesus’ life. In the process, she had the Temple of Aphrodite torn down because it was said that it had been built over Jesus’ tomb. As they were tearing it down, three crosses were found. How were they to know which one had held the Savior? It is said that it was identified when it was the one which immediately healed a dying woman. Constantine then built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on that spot, and it was dedicated on September 14. This date and the cross itself have been venerated ever since the 4th century.

We all know what a cross is, what THE Cross is, and yet its very familiarity can obscure the profound meaning because we have never actually seen a cross in its original use: as a terrible instrument of torturous execution used by a cruel and barbaric “government” to control people and maintain power. People – many people – died horribly and publicly throughout the Roman Empire on crosses so that others would get the message to “stay in line” and not go against the system. Nothing to “exalt” there. 

Today, we don’t celebrate crucifixion. We celebrate ONE CROSS of ONE PERSON who suffered and died a horrible and public execution FOR US. This particular Cross is therefore the place and instrument of Jesus’ triumph over sin and death FOR US. It is the celebration of our own salvation, which we can never forget came through the obedient suffering and death of Jesus. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, emptied himself and became one humbled, persecuted, and condemned FOR US. Crucified. FOR US.

When we make the Sign of the Cross over ourselves today, let’s make a point to recall that our ability to live in grace comes from the Cross, our very existence today comes from the Cross, our hope in eternal salvation comes from the Cross. Everything we do today that is good and true and beautiful is possible because of Jesus’ death on the Cross. FOR US.

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless you, because by Your Cross You have redeemed the world.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Gime Salvatelli, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/16859-sacrificio

This Or That?

When most of us are trying to make a decision, we focus on which option will bring us the most satisfaction. Will this make my life easier, help me feel better about myself, fit into my schedule, etc. Do I want this, or that?

In today’s Gospel, we see how Jesus makes decisions: he spends the night in prayer so that he can learn what the FATHER wants. Before choosing the Twelve Apostles (those who are sent) from among the disciples  (those who are followers), he consults with the Father, to know what HIS will is, to conform his own will to the eternal, perfect, holy will of the Father. This gives us an insight into the interior of Jesus’ own Heart, and into his total communion with the Father: Jesus always desires to glorify the Father by obeying His will in all things, even unto death. Even as Jesus struggles in Gethsemane, he prays, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

This is the model we are called to conform ourselves to in becoming disciples of Jesus, isn’t it? We don’t conform ourselves in a superficial way, but we conform our hearts to HIS Heart, our wills to HIS will, and we become configured to HIS way of life so that, filled with HIM, the Father looks on us and says the same thing He said at the Jordan and at Tabor: “This is My beloved son.” We are His beloved sons and daughters who are called by name to participate in His awesome Plan for our salvation and the salvation of others, and to be with Him beyond the grave.

Tomorrow we celebrate the birthday of Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. Mary is the perfect model for us of complete obedience and a ready “yes” to whatever God asks. She meant her “yes” at the Annunciation all the way to the Cross and beyond, with all that God’s will demanded. Let’s ask Mary to intercede for us before the Throne of Grace, that we may also conform ourselves through obedience to the Will of God, just as Mary’s Heart and Jesus’ Heart beat with that one desire.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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Radiant Grace

Today’s Gospel is a bit difficult to apply because we are so far removed from the cultural references – virgins? bridegroom? wedding feast? oil lamps?

If the “wedding feast” here refers to Heaven, and the bridegroom is Jesus himself (images already present in the Old Testament), then we see that the Church is the Bride of Christ, and each one of us is also his bride.  

Those waiting for the bridegroom are described as “virgins” – those who seek “the one thing necessary”, as Jesus said (Lk 10:42); their souls thirst for the Lord (Psalm 63); they are focused fully on being ready for Jesus to return for them. He is delayed and comes at midnight to bring the virgins into the feast with him when they have all become weary and fallen asleep, but only half of them are prepared. The foolish half did not bring enough oil to keep their small lamps burning and had run out. The wise ones brought enough to wait right through the heart of the night, so they replenish their oil and stoke up their flames.

What is this “oil”? The oil that keeps their lamps burning to the end of their lives when Jesus comes to bring them into the Heavenly Feast signifies grace and love, their loving desire, faithfulness, and prayer, their pure and burning offering of themselves to him.  

The foolish ones think of these things as a superficial commodity they can run out and get at the last minute, but growing in love and grace and becoming the person we are created to be is the work of a lifetime. This is why the wise virgins cannot give any of their oil to the foolish ones – the oil is a specific image of Christ-life within each of us, and the warmth and light that come from deep devotion and fidelity cannot be handed off to another at the last minute.

Jesus tells us that he has come to cast a fire on earth (Lk 12:49), and he desires that it burn in a unique way in each of us. This fire that God longs to see in each soul grows throughout our spiritual journey, gradually taking its shape in the depths of our relationship with the Lord and with one another. We can let our light shine for others, and others may light their lamps from this fire, but the oil must come from each person’s cooperation with the work of the Holy Spirit within them, as they become a unique Image of God.

This is the goal of each individual life and of the whole of human history – to grow in our relationship with God in such a way that we burn with the radiance for which He created us so that He knows us as His own and we light up the world and heaven in the way that He has called us to shine.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: Ritabrata Das, https://unsplash.com/photos/kpaBHvDE7aQ

Great and Beautiful Things for God

What is faith? How big is faith? How big is it supposed to be?

How big is a mustard seed? Is tiny faith enough to do big things? Why would we ever want to move a mountain?

These are the questions my 7-year-old self asked when I first heard the words of this Gospel:

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.”

Will it? I can’t even seem to say to my children, “Move from here to there,” and they will move…

Well, faith is not a thing that we can hold or measure. And it is not simply an idea that we carry in our heads, where we say we believe all things. Faith is a RELATIONSHIP. Tiny relationships with powerful Persons can indeed move mountains.

Faith is my personal relationship with the reality of God. Relationships are built on deep trust – in this case, deep, unshakeable trust in the power and goodness of a loving God. This relationship, this essential connection with the One Who IS, the One Who IS LOVE, is a sharing in the very power of God.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because if my faith is authentic and selfless, if my connection with the reality and power of God is what it should be, it transforms my attitudes and creates a new vision in which I live and think and act. If my whole self is turned toward the healing and empowering Presence of God, if my faith seeks salvation and justification from God alone in Christ, then I also allow Jesus to act in me and through me AS HE WILLS, because I trust that He knows best, He gives all we need, He makes all things new! As Erasmus Leiva-Merikakis says, “It means the deep and joyful reception of the mustard seed of His life into the earth of our being, where it may grow into a fruitful Tree of Life.” (Leiva-Merikakis, E. Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, (Vol. 2, p. 587). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.).

On our own, we can do nothing. But with faith in God, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”

On our own, we are on our own. But with deep faith in God, we can be made new and filled with Life.

Let’s pray that the Spirit will breathe into us this kind of true, humble, loving faith, which will allow us to be transformed and enable us to do great and beautiful things for God.

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is  https://www.kathryntherese.com/

Feature Image Credit: Joshua Lanzarini, https://unsplash.com/photos/Vct0oBHNmv4

Wheat, Weeds, and We

Today we hear Jesus’ explanation of the parable that was read at Mass on Saturday (Matt 24-30).

The Son of Man sows the good seed that is the “children of the Kingdom” (that’s us) in the field that is the world. Meanwhile, his enemy (and ours) sows his own seed, “the children of the Evil One,” in amongst the good seed. Why does the enemy do this anyway? Because the devil hates God but cannot attack God, he uses every possible means to wound God by attacking what God loves most: His Incarnate Son, and the members of His Body, the Church.

Does the enemy do this in broad daylight? No! The enemy always works in the dark, “while everyone was asleep.” This begs the question of whether the enemy would be ABLE to sow his wicked seeds IF THE CHURCH WERE AWAKE and ever vigilant! We can’t say. But we know that God allows the good and the bad to grow together, to give the good seed ample time to establish solid roots and adequate strength. And we can expand this parable to suggest that weeds and wheat can actually change one another somehow – wheat can be infected and become weedy, and weeds can absorb the light and life of wheat and be transformed. No one is definitively in one category or the other until “the end of the age”; until then, we must guard against absorbing the weed-ness around us and hope that every weed will ultimately be changed into wheat. We pray that with enough time, and nourishment, and the quiet miracle of grace that makes repentance and conversion possible, the weeds sown by the enemy to destroy the harvest will be transformed.

There is a cosmic battle going on, and we are part of it! This is no myth: God is real and Satan is real and we are really part of a battle being waged beyond our eyesight. St. Paul tells us to “put on the armor of God” because we are struggling “with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Eph. 6:11-13). But we do not say that there are two equal kingdoms in this battle – the devil is not equal to God. We do not say that the devil creates his own kingdom – he can create nothing. But the enemy works to vitiate God’s kingdom by fouling up what is good, true, and beautiful. He works furiously to spoil God’s work, but he is still God’s creature, only able to sneak around in the dark confusion doing what God allows for a greater good.

In the parable, the master shows no panic when the servants report the weeds. It’s almost as if he expected the enemy would sow them, and he planted the wheat anyway. This is the risk Love takes: knowing the hostility of the enemy and the fragile freedom of our will, God plants us into the Kingdom anyway. We must work to transform the weeds into wheat!

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Feature Image Credit: Felix Mittermeier, https://pixabay.com/photos/wheat-field-sunset-backlighting-2391348/

Chosen and Sent

I was on the edge of my Kindergarten seat, hoping to be called by the teacher to run the weekly errand of taking the attendance sheet to the Principal’s Office (which was practically next to our classroom). Why was this desirable? I think it was because only the reliable kids were entrusted with this task – the ones who would be certain to do just what they were given to do without childish dilly-dallying. The Friday that I was called, I was elated and couldn’t wait to get home to tell my mom.

Have you ever been chosen from a crowd to participate in the task of the moment in a particular way?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus chooses twelve men from among those who followed him as disciples. A disciple, or pupil/student, chooses which teacher to follow; an apostle is chosen by the teacher for a specific task. This reading from Matthew is the first time the word “apostle” is used in the Gospel, and these twelve specific men are identified. We can see them as very real people (identified by name), flesh and blood and fallenness (among them are a tax collector and a betrayer), men with family trees (they are brothers and sons), a band of men who knew each other and their idiosyncrasies. Men who had to respond to a special personal call of Jesus, and who were then sent to bear Jesus himself into the world.

This call comes in three parts: Jesus “summons” them to himself, he instructs them and gives them “authority over unclean spirits…and to cure every disease and every illness”, and he sends them out. His first sentence to his would-be followers (after his baptism in the Jordan) is: “Come, and see.” His final words on earth (just before his Ascension into Heaven) is: “Go and make disciples.” First, come and be with him; then, go out to others.

This is the nature of every call or vocation: we are called to Christ (in baptism and in successive “calls” through our lives), we are given a share in his own authority and power (through study and prayer and the sacraments), and we are sent forth for others. The gifts that we are given are not for ourselves only; they are given to us so that we can use them in service to others. In fact, like the Twelve Apostles and countless saints after them, we are called to pour ourselves out completely to fulfill this call – all twelve of them were martyred for remaining faithful to this call of Christ!

My five-year-old self only wanted to be called to do something special; there was not even an understanding of service to others. A Christian call is much deeper than this, demanding a commitment of our whole self to the cause of Christ, for God’s glory, our own good, and the good of others!

What is God calling you to today?

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Feature Image Credit: Fernando Pérez Lara, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/17768-jesus-sus-discipulos

Judging and Tiny Cups

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

 Sometimes, this verse is misunderstood to mean that we cannot judge actions as right or wrong, and so to mean we must tolerate serious wrongdoing because “it’s none of my business.” And if we judge others we will be severely judged. But elsewhere, Jesus tells us to “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). So, we CAN judge, but we shouldn’t?

 Sometimes, this is (more correctly) understood to mean that we can judge actions but not people. We should not condone sin, but we cannot condemn a sinner. This is certainly true, but where is love in this interpretation? Refusal to judge must be filled with genuine love for the other, and a desire for their good. A “parable” from Erasmus Leiva-Merikakis in his wonderful reflection on the Gospel of Matthew entitled Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word (Ignatius Press) invites us to a subtler reflection on how we might apply these words to our lives:

 A beggar comes to my door asking for water to quench his thirst. I will not turn him away, because I fear some neighbor might observe my disdain. At the same time I do not consider the beggar worthy of touching with his lips more than the smallest tin cup in the house, which I quickly fill and brusquely hand him, so carelessly that half the cup spills. The cup is so small and mean, in fact, that I tell him to keep it. In reality, I don’t want to waste my time in such company.

 Much time—a whole lifetime—passes, and I find myself in the presence of Christ the King and Judge. I anxiously await my reward: I have always revered God, kept the commandments, observed the Lenten fasts, and celebrated the Church’s feasts with due solemnity. The King hands me back my tin cup, which I had long forgotten and certainly did not expect to see again in this eschatological setting. Seeing the look of dismay on my face, and with an infinite kindness in his voice that almost has the pleading tone of a beggar in it, Christ says to me: ‘I’m sorry, friend. Even I, the King, have no other cup to give you.’

Taking on ourselves the role of judge closes us up against all that the Lord wants to give us! It is not simply a fear of judgment that should align us with these words of Christ, but the awful truth that the capacity of our own hearts for love and forgiveness and God is constricted when we ignore them! To become “perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect,” we must share his loving and forgiving view of all of creation, particularly those we find difficult.

How can we see others through the lens of genuine love today?

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

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Putting Ourselves Ahead of our Gift?

We’ve all heard the axioms about giving: Be generous. It’s better to give than receive. Do not let the right hand know what the left is doing. We must give of our time, talent, and treasure. 

And we do! We give gifts to others to celebrate special events. We donate to good causes. We buy the little trinkets or subscriptions or chocolate for our neighbor’s fundraiser. We contribute to our parish and diocese.

But HOW do we give? Do we give immediately and generously? Do we sacrifice our own time to do good to another? Do we give of our talents even without repayment or recognition? Do we give from our surplus only? Do we give only after we have secured our own retirement, or our own wants, or our own savings account? These are not bad things to do, but today’s readings make a point: TRUE GIVING is an act of love for another, and an act of trust that God will take care of us.

“A little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness,” Raphael tells Tobit and Tobiah. Would you leave your dinner to get cold while you did something for someone else? Giving up their dinner in order to bury the dead brought down the blessing of healing on Sarah. In the Gospel, the widow who gave from what she actually needed had given more than those who gave only from their excess. It was her complete trust in the Lord’s providence for her that allowed her to give what others might have held onto as “necessary” or even “prudent.” And she did it in secret: no one saw this but Jesus. This is in contrast to the Scribes Jesus warns about: those who give publicly for public recognition, those who make a show of their praying or doing or giving so that others will praise them for their “goodness.” It is not WHAT they give, but HOW they give it that makes the difference.

Essentially, if we give so that others will see our generosity, we make ourselves the recipient of our own “gift”! We are really doing it for our own benefit, and not only for the benefit of others, or for the Lord. But as today’s Communion Antiphon reminds us, “Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it in eternity” (Mt 10:39). We are called to “lay down our lives,” trusting in the Lord, by giving all we have and all we are in service and in praise to God.

Today, let’s sit with the Lord and look at our giving to make sure it aligns with His glorious invitation to us: to offer our time, talent, and treasure for the good of others, without mixing in the need for recognition and without putting ourselves ahead of our gift.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

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Love Is Gathering and Rescuing Us

“You, Father, are in me and I in you… I in them and you in me… that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them…” Today’s Gospel can sound like a logic puzzle and have our minds glazing over at first; it really needs to be read slowly, and several times. Every sentence – every clause – is rich and profound, giving us insight into Jesus’ relationship with his Father, his love for us and for the whole Church, our relationship with one another, and our relationship within the Trinity.

Jesus prayed this prayer out loud for his disciples, so they could glimpse these relationships and enter into them. And they are recorded for us, so that we can do the same.

Jesus’ repeated desire is for ONENESS – deep, true, spiritual oneness based on mutual love. He prays that we will be one just as the Father and the Son are one! In order for that to happen, we need to be united to the Son who is IN the Father, and the Father will dwell in us as He is IN the Son. This is the perfection to which we are all called: “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as ONE…”

It is Jesus who draws us together, who wants us to enjoy the very love that he himself enjoys in the Father. Jesus expresses this wish explicitly: “I wish that WHERE I AM THEY ALSO MAY BE WITH ME…” Jesus’ deepest desire is to gather us all to himself, so that we can, in him, enter into the very Heart of the Father, to share his love, joy, and glory. And the Father wants this as well, as we – you, me, everyone – are the Father’s GIFT to the Son. The Son wants to respond by winning us back from sin and self, and then giving us all back to the Father.

Why? LOVE. Jesus’ entire life and self-offering is motivated by love. He does the Father’s will because he loves the Father. He offers himself for us because he loves us. He pours his grace and mercy over us because he wants us to be with him to share the “joy beyond words” of the life of the Trinity. Forever. He tells the Father that he does it all so “that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

This is the radiance for which we are created! This is salvation! This is heaven! This is the whole purpose of existence! We are made IN HIM and FOR HIM (Col 1:16-17); we come from Love, we are returning to Love, and Love is rescuing us every step of the way. Today, let’s seek ways to walk in this glorious Truth and return love for Love.

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Feature Image Credit: II ragazzo, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/14588-un-solo-dios

Friend Group

Think of the personalities in your friend group. Who’s the de facto “leader” of your group? Which person comes up with the plans, gets everyone else excited, keeps everyone connected? Every group has that person. Maybe it’s you.

Jesus’ friend group included a lot of personalities too – the Rock, the Boanerges (“Sons of Thunder”), the doubting one, the young and Beloved disciple. But it wasn’t Jesus’ personality that kept them all connected, it was WHO HE IS, and WHAT HE DID for them. He is God and he gave everything for them. Wow.  The really awesome thing is that WE CAN BE IN THAT FRIEND GROUP TOO!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is reiterating the most important lesson for his friends: they must love one another AS HE LOVED THEM. In case they might miss the point, he tells them exactly how he loves them; his love is so great that he will LAY DOWN HIS VERY LIFE for his friends. He chose them, he told them everything he heard from his Father, and now he will die for them.

What are they (and we) supposed to do in response? Jesus’ friends are called to love one another in the same way and GO AND BEAR FRUIT, to the glory of the Father. A few verses earlier (Jn 15:1-8), he has explained that without him, we can do nothing, and so we are like branches which must remain firmly connected to Jesus, the Vine, in order to bear any fruit.

These words, spoken just before Jesus actually gave himself over to death for love of his friends and love of his Father, must have resonated deeply with the disciples. The Church built up around this genuine self-giving love and Communion with the very Person of Jesus Christ, defining his followers as those who loved one another and their enemies! This was a profound, sacrificial love, far deeper than “being nice” or any kind of natural human compassion – this is love with an eternal perspective, love that wants what is spiritually, eternally, best for the other. This is love that can only come through us from the One Who IS Love, and only if we remain firmly connected to the Vine, and allow ourselves to be pruned by the Vine Grower. Jesus taught us that we can call God “Father,” because we are IN the Son.

Anything we think we can do without Jesus is just self-assertion, self-insertion, self-sufficiency. None of these keep us connected to the Vine so that we can love truly and bear lasting fruit. Today, let’s consider how well our attitude toward God mirrors Jesus’ attitude toward the Father, and how deeply we love the people around us. Enough to lay down our very lives? This is the profound love that can be ours IN CHRIST, if we set our own agendas aside. This is the glorious grace that is ours through baptism. This is the profound commandment Jesus gives his friends. 

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Feature Image Credit: Kimson Doan, https://unsplash.com/photos/AZMmUy2qL6A

Beginnings Without Endings

We all love good stories with satisfying endings. But it seems Jesus is the Master at building tension and leaving us to find the conclusion through prayer and reflection – sometimes decades of theological reflection!  Jesus is the fullness of revelation, but sometimes it seems that he holds back more than he reveals. He gives solid clues, but does not lay things out plainly, and the apostles are often left confused and probably discussing between themselves what he meant. So are we.

Today’s Easter reading actually comes from the Last Supper, after Jesus has washed his disciples’ feet and they are beginning to wonder what is going on. He speaks of betrayal, Judas has left early without any explanation, and Jesus begins to talk about going somewhere they cannot come right away. Something is stirring, and there is tension. Jesus knows this, and he cannot soften the blow of what is about to happen.

So Jesus tells them not to be troubled, to lean into their faith. He reminds them of their eternal future in the Father’s house. And then he tells the disciples that they actually already know the way to where he is going. Thomas objects that they don’t even understand what he’s talking about, they don’t even know where he is going. You can sense a kind of confused exasperation in Thomas as he insists they have no idea of the way.

Jesus’ answer (enlightened by retrospect and the Holy Spirit in the Church!) could be paraphrased something like this:

“You DO know the way, because you know ME. I AM THE WAY, and there is no other way.

You also know all you need to know because you know ME. I AM ALL TRUTH.

You can also walk in hope, because you know ME. I AM LIFE – abundant life, eternal life! 

So, FOLLOW ME by imitating what I have done and what I am about to do.

Walk confidently in the truth that I AM and that knowing me reveals the meaning of all creation and the deep desires of every human heart, including your own.

Hope in me, confident that the fullness of life will be yours, now and forever.

Human hope finds satisfaction in happy endings, but the Father loves beginnings without endings!

We are all journeying to an eternity in the Heart of the Father, and I am going before you.

The only way for you to get to My Father is through ME.

Because I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.”

 Do our lives reflect this? Do our lives demonstrate that Jesus is our all, that we need him, that he gives us all, that our confidence is in HIM?

 Is Jesus our way, our truth, and our very life?  

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Feature Image Credit: Matt Howard, https://unsplash.com/photos/A4iL43vunlY