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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 2, 2010

Love is a choice. Love is patient. Love is always outwardly expanding. We see the effects of love in the readings today and we can realize that love makes others do what is good in life. In Acts, we hear of Paul’s and Barnabas’ soaring spirits as they preach Jesus Christ to many cities and towns and win new converts. After their travels, they return to the place where they received their mission to bring reports back to the community who rejoice heartily in the favor the Lord has bestowed upon the church. They celebrate the good they have accomplished and marvel that the Lord has opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Their persevering hard work and lengthy prayers have paid off.

In John’s Gospel, we are left with a paradox to ponder – the betrayal by Judas will lead to God’s glorification of Jesus. It doesn’t seem to connect, but what we see plainly is the love to Jesus to extend his hand of goodness to others – even to those who want to harm him. I am sure that Jesus felt the sting of betrayal and the hurtful rejection by Peter and the Twelve, but he made a choice to extend his hand in friendship to them regardless of their actions. He knows that his invitation will not be accepted in the immediate timeframe, but he is patient enough to know that friendship is a process. Love does not give up on another, but can endure the many bumps and bruises that are a part of relationships. Our minds and hearts need time to process the many demands of life and the loving person realizes this and holds out hope that the gentle, loving invitations are accepted or at least considered. When we experience this as a model, we are able to extend this type of invitation to others.

It is good for us to learn what it means to love one another in the way that Jesus commands us. We are not Jesus and we may not be able to do what he has done, but we can learn how to love in our own unique, particular way. I’ve often seen a person try to perform a loving action because Jesus would have done so, but it comes off as awkward because this person is doing an action he or she does not really want to do even though it is a noble aspiration. Love has to flowingly emanate from our outwardly-directed attitudes that are based in freedom. It has to just natural erupt from our sense of rightness and goodness and care for the other – even if we know the recipient cannot receive our actions. We have a lifetime to learn how to learn to act freely. Let’s be patient with ourselves. Let us learn to choose the right actions that pull us out of ourselves and into the lives of others. You’ll innately sense the rightness of your choices and your actions will be generated by love.

Quote for the Week

From The Confessions of Saint Augustine:

Two loves build two cities; the city of the devil is built by love of self growing into contempt of God, and the city of God by love of God growing into contempt of self.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Judaizers, the opponents of Paul’s theology, present great trouble for him and the new church, but it caused the community to come together to report what God has done with them and to show how God opened the door to the Gentiles. The church members head to Jerusalem to speak with the disciples and elders about the necessity of circumcision as a requirement for entrance to the faith, but the disciples decide no further burdens are to be placed on them. They are to be welcomed into the community as they respectfully observe the essential aspects of the worship life.

Gospel: John’s Supper Discourse continues as the Twelve wonder where Jesus is going after his death. Jesus wishes them the type of lasting peace that is rare in this world so that they can continue to be with him in faith. He describes the way that they will remain together as he is the true vine and they are the branches. Discipleship, for John’s Jesus, is to believe in him and by doing so to keep his commandments - the greatest one being love of each other in the way the Father loves Jesus. Beware, though, that many people will persecute them because of the name of Jesus. Hold steadfast as God is steadfast.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Philip and James, Apostles, are little known disciples of Jesus. Philip is known to have had several conversations with Jesus in John’s Gospel though none of the conversations are very descriptive of his identity. James is called the Lesser in order to distinguish him from James, brother of John of Zebedee. James the Lesser is mentioned in Mark’s Gospel and may be younger than the other James.

Tuesday: Joseph Mary Rubio, S.J., priest, was a Jesuit priest who worked in Madrid, Spain as a pastor, confessor, and spiritual director in the early 20th century. He showed great sensitivity to the poor and the elderly and was dubbed “the Apostle of Madrid” by the bishop. He was known as a man who cared about the development of a person’s spiritual life of prayer.

This Week in Jesuit History

• May 2, 1706. The death of Jesuit brother G J Kamel. The camellia flower is named after him.
• May 3, 1945. American troops take over Innsbruck, Austria. Theology studies at the Canisianum resume a few months later.
• May 4, 1902. The death of Charles Sommervogel, historian of the Society and editor of the bibliography of all publications of the Jesuits from the beginnings of the Society onward.
• May 5, 1782. At Coimbra, Sebastian Carvahlo, Marquis de Pombal, a cruel persecutor of the Society in Portugal, died in disgrace and exile. His body remained unburied fifty years, till Father Philip Delvaux performed the last rites in 1832.
• May 6, 1816. Letter of John Adams to Thomas Jefferson mentioning the Jesuits. "If any congregation of men could merit eternal perdition on earth and in hell, it is the company of Loyola."
• May 7, 1547. Letter of St. Ignatius to the scholastics at Coimbra on Religious Perfection.
• May 8, 1853. The death of Jan Roothan, the 21st general of the Society, who promoted the central role of the Spiritual Exercises in the work of the Society after the restoration.

Plans for the Week

I am in my second week of directing the Retreat in Daily Life to the faculty and staff of Xavier Catholic College in Hervey Bay. The retreatants are doing well and are very open to the movements of God’s Spirit. Please continue your prayers for them and pray for me, their director.

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