Christ is faithful
During these Sundays of Eastertide, the Church takes us back to the Last Supper, giving us a chance to dig deeper into its meaning. We can use our imaginations to picture the scene. Our blessed Lord and the Twelve are in the Upper Room, gathered for the Passover. Our blessed Lord begins to tell them about His coming sufferings. He tells them that He will be leaving them to go back to the Father. We can picture the Apostles frowning in confusion, maybe beginning to feel a creeping sadness. They have staked their lives on Jesus! They have given up everything to follow him. And now, now he says that He must go way from them, and that they cannot follow where He is going.
Our Lord Jesus Christ knows their hearts. He knows their fears. Twice during the discourse He tells them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He only repeats it because He knows that their hearts are truly troubled. He then makes them a promise. He says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” He promises never to abandon his chosen followers. The crucifixion will come, the darkness, the suffering, the persecution, the apparent failure and defeat. But through all of it, the Apostles can cling with faith to this promise: I will not leave you orphans, I will never abandon you.
Our Lord Jesus Christ knows that our hearts too are troubled. He knows that we are filled with fear and confusion, with regret and sorrow in the midst of our own Good Fridays. He makes the same promise to us: I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. I will be with you. His Resurrection is the first and definitive step in his fulfilment of this promise.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is faithful. We can count on that.
✠ ✠ ✠ ✠ ✠
St Zita perseveres
The life of St Zita illustrates the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ. St Zita grew up near a beautiful town called Lucca, in north-central Italy, during the Middle Ages. Her family was poor but devout. When only twelve-years-old, she had to go to work as a live-in servant to one of the local noble families. She spent the rest of her sixty years serving that same family, living in that same house.
She always got up early enough to pray and go to Mass before beginning her day’s work. For this piety, her fellow servants continually made fun of her. And her efforts to be Christ-like through hard work and gentle manners made them laugh at her and ridicule her even more. And when she simply continued her humble and hard-working ways, they accused her of arrogance and stupidity.
But it got worse. For some mysterious reason, the master of the house despised her. He would fly into violent rages merely upon seeing her. The lady of the house felt the same. She would run St Zita ragged without even a touch of kindness.
For years, St Zita lived a prayerful and virtuous life. Yet God seemed to reward her with misery and maltreatment. But instead of becoming discouraged or angry with God, she remembered that our blessed Lord had also been mistreated, so she simply kept praying, working, and suffering with faith. Eventually, her quiet display of virtue won over the hearts of her persecutors, as did her tireless generosity to the poor—which more than once left the pantry bare at night, only to be miraculously replenished by the morning.
Hundreds more miracles were worked through her intercession after she died. Three hundred years later her body was exhumed and moved to a chapel in the little church where she used to go to Mass. The body was completely incorrupt. You can still visit it today in her chapel at Lucca. It’s as if our blessed Lord preserved it just to prove once again to all the world that He is faithful, even when no one else seems to be.
✠ ✠ ✠ ✠ ✠
Pledging allegiance to Christ
In today’s Mass, our Lord Jesus Christ is renewing His promise never to abandon us. We ought to thank him for that. Our Lord Jesus Christ is always with us. He is with us in our hearts, through the gift of the Holy Spirit that he poured into us at our confirmation. He is with us in the Eucharist, 24/7, whenever we need Him. He is with us in the Bible, the revealed Word of God that will always nourish our souls if we read it with faith. He is with us in the Church, the bark of Peter guaranteed to reach the heavenly shores.
Yes, our Lord Jesus Christ is truly with us. He has not left us as orphans. There is, however, a chance that we have made ourselves into orphans. Maybe we look like Christians on the outside, but still haven’t really become Christians on the inside. Maybe that is why we feel gnawing frustration or loneliness deep in our souls.
Today, our blessed Lord is giving us another chance, a new invitation to let him take up residence on the throne of our hearts, as St Peter puts it in the Second Reading, to “sanctify Christ as the Lord of our hearts.” There can only be one King in our hearts. Either ourselves, with our ignorance, our weakness, and our limitations, or Christ, with His infinite wisdom, His power, and His goodness.
Today, let us pledge our allegiance once again to Christ, the everlasting Lord.
Today, let us put our trust in His promise by promising to accept His will, even when it hurts; to follow His teaching, even when it is inconvenient and unpopular; and to take up our crosses with Christ, following Him all the way through the Crucifixion to the Resurrection. That is what the Apostles did: they had no regrets.
✠ ✠ ✠ ✠ ✠
Grant, almighty God, that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy, which we keep in honour of the risen Lord, and that what we relive in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Readings at Mass
Acts 8:5–8, 14–17; Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15–18; John 14:15–21