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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Third Sunday of Easter

April 18, 2010

The stories told in today’s readings show us ways of showing love to one another in light of Christ’s victorious resurrection. Peter and the disciples appear before the religious council in defiance of their strict orders never to mention the resurrection, but they leave their presence in joy (despite the floggings) because they were faithful to God’s command rather than the commands of men. Neither fear of recrimination nor the sting of death has any power over the disciples anymore. They are free to live in imitation of Jesus whose faith brought about their redemption. In the second reading, the whole heavenly court is found rejoicing in the final triumph of Christ over the forces of sin and death. All creation responds in joyful celebration to the Christ event.

John’s Gospel depicts the famous scene of Peter standing in front of Jesus at the seashore to receive triple forgiveness for his triple denial during the Passion. By confessing his love of Jesus, he is able to renew his commitment to him and to live in a future that will have new, yet uncertain directions. Peter realizes only two aspects of discipleship are necessary for his life – his self-sacrificing, loving fidelity to Jesus which brings about a loving response to his neighbors. This radical version of love with Christ as the true north of the compass will govern every activity in his life and will shape the new community being formed. Love is the root that grounds all future choices. Love is a choice.

It is important for us to examine the life of the early Christians to help us understand the ways in which love is to govern our daily lives and the life of our church. We sometimes have to ponder whether our religious leaders are acting out of the Sanhedrin-like adherence to the law or the Peter and the Apostles fidelity to God’s commission to preach and to live in the Spirit of Christ. This is not always easy to discern. We have wonder whether we adequately seek the forgiveness of sins as Peter did so that we can recommit our fidelity to the merciful Christ. We may find it best to take more time to wrestle with our daily choices so we can check in with Christ to if our smallest decisions are made in conversation with him and reveal the greatest amount of our love. Taking time to comprehend our responses to Christ will help us be free enough to respond with the bold clarity and joyfulness of the apostles. Who would not want to live this way?

Quote for the Week

Jesuits celebrate Thursday, April 22nd as the Feast of Mary, the Mother of the Society. This is the day in 1541 when Ignatius and his companions as members of a religious institute profess their solemn vows in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome. It is the equivalent and precedent for Jesuits taking final vows after their period of tertian formation.

The quote below is from Galatians 4:4-7, which is used as the first reading in the feast day’s liturgy.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Stephen, one of the seven deacons, works great wonders and signs. People from all over debate him, but they cannot withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Stephen assaults the people, elders, and scribes with the truth of God, which raises a furor. He is placed before Saul who assents to his execution. Persecution of the church reigns in Jerusalem. Paul enters houses to collect Christians; the disciples are dispersed; those who were scattered preached the word everywhere. Philip, on his way to Gaza, meets an Ethiopian eunuch, who asks to be baptized after hearing scripture opened for him. Saul, with murderous intent, travels to Damascus where he has an encounter with the Lord that his the beginning of his call to be a Christian. The church is at peace and is being built up so Peter visits all the towns. He cures paralytics and raises Tabitha from the dead in the name of Jesus.

Gospel: Jesus draws parallels to mind of Moses. He tells them not to work for food that perishes, but seek out the food that will give you eternal life. He reminds the people that it was God, not Moses, who fed the people manna in the wilderness. He equates himself with God – as someone much greater than Moses. Jesus, as the bread of life, tells the crowd that it is the will of the Father that all who see the Son and believes will have eternal life. Jesus is the key to the Father. It is he who will give eternal life. Jesus’ statement that “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” is difficult for some to hear and some leave him. Peter, speaking for the disciples, replies “to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”

Saints of the Week

Wednesday: Anselm, bishop and doctor was a monastic abbot in Normandy who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093 after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Church-state relations peppered his term, but he became known to the church because of his theological and philosophical treatises, mostly for his assertion about the existence of God – an idea greater than that which no other idea can be thought.

Friday: George, martyr, was killed in Palestine. He may have been a Roman soldier who organized a Christian community in what is now Iran. He became part of the Middle Ages imagination for his ideal of Christian chivalry and is thought to have slain a dragon. He became the patron of England and the nation adopted George’s Arms, a red cross on a white background, which is still part of the British flag.

Saturday: Fidelis of Sigmaringen, priest and martyr, was a canon lawyer who became a Capuchin Franciscan in 1612. Prior to priesthood, he served the nobles in France, Italy and Spain and helped interpret legislation that served the poor. He was later appointed to the challenging task of preaching to the Protestants in Switzerland, where he was killed for being an agent for the king.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Apr 18, 1906. At Rome, the death of Rev. Fr. Luis Martin, twenty-fourth General of the Society. Pope Pius X spoke of him as a saint, a martyr, a man of extraordinary ability and prudence.
• Apr 19, 1602. At Tyburn, Ven. James Ducket, a layman, suffered death for publishing a work written by Robert Southwell.
• Apr 20, 1864. Father Peter de Smet left St Louis to evangelize the Sioux Indians.
• Apr 21, 1926. Fr. General Ledochowski sent out a letter De Usu Machinae Photographicae. It stated that cameras should belong to the house, not the individual. Further, they should not be used for recreation or time spent on trifles rather than for the greater glory of God.
• Apr 22, 1541. Ignatius and his first companions made their solemn profession of vows in the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.
• Apr 23, 1644. A General Chapter of the Benedictines condemned the calumny that St Ignatius was not the real author of the Spiritual Exercises. A monk had earlier claimed that the matter was borrowed from a work by Garzia Cisneros.
• Apr 24, 1589. At Bordeaux, the Society was ordered to leave the city. It had been falsely accused of favoring the faction which was opposed to King Henry III.

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