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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday - Second Sunday of Easter

April 11, 2010

It was an extraordinary day for the disciples. First, Mary and the women come back to them with reports that the tomb is empty and then Peter reports that he has seen the Lord. They cling together and huddle in a room fearful that they will be sought after by the religious authorities since the Passover festival has concluded. After all, they not only lost Jesus, but they just had a death of God experience too. They thought they were doomed. With doors locked, Jesus stands in front of them that evening and twice wishes them “peace” and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them to take away their fear and give them courage. A week later Jesus repeats with action with the skeptical Thomas present this time around. I am left wondering whether they received any sleep that night. Can you imagine the thoughts that must have been running through their minds as they tried to comprehend the events that just occurred? They must have pinched themselves when they awoke the next morning to see if it was all a dream.

Jesus brings us into the divine life by granting us the gift of forgiveness – an act formerly done only by God, but before he does that he forgives the sins of the disciples by taking away their fear and wishing them peace. The events that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season attest to the fact that the fear and despair held onto by the Disciples has been removed and they have been able to proclaim the mystery of the Christ event with courage and joy. Something extraordinary happens to the disciples when they begin to understand Scripture in light of the life of Jesus. It shows the incredible effect of our faith when we truly experience that Christ has risen from the dead for you and me personally and that our God is a god of deliverance who intensely desires our friendship.

So if God delivers us, we might want to consider (1) what God has delivered us from and (2) what God delivers us for. It might be a good moment to recollect ourselves and examine our profound fears that may stop us from revealing our true selves to one another, e.g., fear of rejection, of force and violence, of being insignificant, of not finding deep meaning to life. So what might our lives look like if we imagine our worst fears removed from our consciousness? How might we act? What hobbies or interests might we pursue? What might we do that brings us life’s energy and happiness? It is Easter. Go ahead and daydream with Christ about what he might want to do with your life? Once those fears are removed by Christ, we can finally receive the type of peace that is so uncommon in this world, but that brings us the joy of the resurrection because we know that God cares intimately about all our life’s details and complexities. This is an amazing God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Quote for the Week

Excerpt from the Book of Revelation, the second reading:

When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Acts Peter and John are released from confinement and as they assembled with their friends, they prayed and the place shook and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They continued to speak the word of God with boldness. The community of believers lived together of one mind and heart and everything was had in common. The Sadducees in their jealously accost the disciples and imprison them, but during the night an angel of the Lord unlocked the doors to let the disciples go free. They preached in the temple area about their way of life. When questioned about the Sanhedrin’s order to stop preaching, Peter replied that they must obey God rather than men, which infuriated the Council. Gamaliel, a respected teacher, recommends patience and prudence to the Sanhedrin. If this is not of God, he says, it will fizzle out over time. They flogged the disciples who went home praising God for their suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus. As the number of disciples grew, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. Seven reputable men were chosen, filled with the Holy Spirit, to assist in the service of others.

Gospel: Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night for further enlightenment and Jesus replies that no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without being born of water and Spirit. Jesus states that he is the unique revealer of God to the people because he has come from heaven where he has seen God. Jesus comes down from heaven because God sent his Son so the world might be saved through him. The Father loves the Son and has given over all authority to him. Jesus calls to mind images of Psalm 27 as the Good Shepherd he distributes bread to those who are reclining as much as they want. After the feeding, the disciples go down to the sea to cross it to Capernaum. They see Jesus walking on the sea and he assures them, “Do not be afraid. It is I.”

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Martin I, pope and martyr was killed in 65 because he fought the heresy that believed that Christ had only a divine will and not a human will. He is the last pope to be martyred. He was exiled to Constantinople and later to the Crimea where he starved and suffered misery.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Apr 11, 1573. Pope Gregory XIII suggested to the Fathers who were assembling for the Third General Congregation that it might be well for them to choose a General of some nationality other than Spanish. Later he expressed his satisfaction that they had elected Everard Mercurian, a Belgian.
• Apr 12, 1671. Francis Borgia, the 3rd general of the Society, was canonized by Pope Clement X.
• Apr 13, 1541. Ignatius was elected general in a second election, after having declined the results of the first election several days earlier.
• Apr 14, 1618. The father of John Berchmans is ordained a priest. John himself was still a Novice.
• Apr 15, 1610. The death of Fr. Robert Parsons, the most active and indefatigable of all the leaders of the English Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth I.
• Apr 16, 1767. Pope Clement XIII wrote to Charles III of Spain imploring him to cancel the decree of expulsion of the Society from Spain, issued on April 2nd. The Pope's letter nobly defends the innocence of the Society.
• Apr 17, 1540. The arrival in Lisbon of Francis Xavier and Simon Rodriguez. Both were destined for India, but the latter was retained in Portugal by the King.

Thank you, Saints!

Thank you all for your prayers during my Thirty Day retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. My retreat was made easier by your care and affection. I am grateful to God for the many graces I have received. God is steadfast and generous.

Easter Blessing

From the Solemn Blessing of the Easter Season:

Through the resurrection of his Son, God has redeemed you and made you his children. May God bless you with joy. Amen.

The Redeemer has given you lasting freedom. May you inherit his everlasting life. Amen.

By faith you rose with him in baptism. May your lives be holy, so that you will be united with him forever. Amen.

May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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  1. Fr. John,
    It would be awesome to hear your insights on the Divine Mercy

  2. I just find it amazing that Jesus returns to his closest friends and is able to call the best of out them by offering a more meaningful love, deeper friendship, and a fearless peace. I'm sure he has a memory of what was done to him, but his care and compassion for them leads to his act of consoling them. Real love changes a person and perfects the other. The Risen Jesus is able to show the power of love that the historical Jesus of Nazareth had for his friends - and his adversaries. This type of love changes the world and makes us live out our lives differently.