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The core message of the Gospel: God first loved us

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The lessons today really demand our close listening, our paying very close attention, trying to absorb what they tell us because really, this is the core message of the Gospel. A year or so ago, Pope Francis published what he called an exhortation, a letter to the church. He called it "The Joy of the Gospel" -- Evangelii Gaudium. It's been circulating around the world now.

Church institutions have to continue to change through our experience of Jesus

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As I was reflecting on these Scripture lessons during this past week, I was reminded of a book that I had read quite a long time ago that had left a great impact on me. It's called Jesus Before Christianity. In other words, before there was a structured, organized, institutional church, in the very beginning -- Jesus before all that organization took place. It's written by a Dominican theologian priest, Fr. Albert Nolan.

Do we have the mind, the heart, the attitude of Jesus?

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In our first lesson today, we have an incident that shows how the first disciples of Jesus were beginning to carry out the work of Jesus. If you think about it, you can really imagine how distressed those officials in that courtroom must have been, how upset. They thought they had killed Jesus. What's this? Now people are going out now and in his name -- that is, with his power -- acting as he did. They're continuing to do the same thing he did.

We need unconditional love, forgiveness at every level in our lives

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Obviously, once more as we listen to these Scripture lessons this morning, we become aware and perhaps begin to feel again somewhat of the excitement and the joy that those first disciples felt when Jesus went through death to new life. They found it very difficult to believe this, and I think sometimes we fail to experience the fullness of joy of this Easter feast because we almost take it too much for granted. "Yes, Jesus rose from the dead; let's move on." No. It's so much more important to stop and really try to experience what those first disciples experienced.

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