Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Third Sunday in Easter

May 8, 2011
Acts 2:14, 22-33; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

Never underestimate the effect of one's hospitality. It reveals crucial openness - a most essential prerequisite to faith and a fulfilling life. The early church is replete with examples of extending hospitality to anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus display this disposition of openness and hospitality as they leave Jerusalem despondent at the failure of the mission of Jesus. As they allow a stranger to walk with them and converse about what they are thinking and feeling, they are able to have their minds more fully open to what this stranger is telling them.

When we meet the two disciples, they are leaving Jerusalem since they abandoned the way of Jesus for he did not meet their expectations. Their infidelity is contrasted with the fidelity of the women who were the first to proclaim the Easter message. The women disciples' proclamation is resisted and does not open one's eyes to faith, but when one hears the message, Jesus is able to interpret his life in fulfillment of all God's promises from one end of Scriptures to its end. Since the traveling disciples entertain the stranger, their eyes can be opened to faith. The risen Jesus reconciles two wayfarers, who, once they are forgiven and enlightened, immediately journey back to Jerusalem to the Peter and the others.

The kingdom of God comes through the sharing of food with others, especially outcasts. The disciples had to have eaten with Jesus many times and they would have known his particular way of sharing the meal. His customs and techniques would have been noticeable. They probably ate with him at the Passover meal. Jesus told them at his farewell meal that he would not share food with his disciples until God's kingdom came. His actions signify that it has indeed come and Jesus is bring back his disciples into his fold. He is returning them to one another by forgiving them and this forgiveness comes only because they reached out to the stranger and was hospitable to him.

They found "their hearts burning." Because of their real, human concern for the stranger, their sadness, foolishness, and slowness of heart are transformed into joy, insight, and a ready recommitment to Jesus. When they return to Peter, they find he too has been forgiven and is now empowered to strengthen his fellow believers along the way.

It is not difficult to see the effects that hospitality can have on today's church and world. A church that is open to growth, in an enriching dialogue with secular professionals, and flourishing with the culture around it is healthy; one that is defensive and closed to new ideas struggles. We have a conscious choice to make as individuals and as a community. It seems that extending a welcoming hand to a stranger provided the early church with extraordinary benefits. It can still work today, especially at a time when many are discouraged and despondent - just like the traveling pair of disciples. When we give the risen Jesus an opportunity to enter our way, we gain forgiveness, strength, and insight that further transforms our community. We see the world differently because we are joyful at the ways the Lord is present to us and urging us to go forward even when the larger picture looks bleak. This risen Jesus will give us courage and we will exude an enlightened happiness that many will envy. Always extend your hands in friendship to that friend, enemy, or stranger. It will end in LIFE!

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We continue with the Acts of the Apostles and we read the account of Stephen who was working great signs and wonders among the people in the name of Jesus. False testimony is lodged against him but he stands angelic before them. His angry opponents stone him including Saul who gave consent to execute him. A severe persecution breaks out in Jerusalem and the believers are displaced to Judea and Samaria. Saul, trying to destroy the Church, enters house after house to arrest them. Philip's testimony and miracles in Samaria emboldens the believers. Philip heads out to Gaza and meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah's texts. Philip interprets the scripture and the eunuch begs to be baptized. Meanwhile, Saul is carrying out hateful acts against the believers and is struck blind as he beholds an appearance of Jesus. The beginning of his call and conversion is happening.

Gospel: In John 6, Jesus feeds the 5,000 as a flashback to the Eucharistic memory of the believers with the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus instructs them, "it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; my heavenly Father gives true bread." Jesus proclaims, "I am the bread of life." He further states that anyone who comes to him will never hunger or thirst. Jesus will raise everyone on the last day. All that is required is belief in him. Belief is a gift not given to all and the way to the Father is through the Son. As you would expect, opposition arises to the statements of Jesus as his cannibalistic references are hard sayings to swallow. He tells the people, "my flesh is true food, and by blood is true drink." If you eat of Jesus, you will live forever.

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Damien de Veuster of Moloka'i, priest (1840-1889), was a Belgian who entered the Congregation of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was sent on mission to the Hawaiian Islands and eventually volunteered as a chaplain to the leper colony of Moloka'i. He contracted leprosy and died at the colony. He is remembered for his brave choice to accept the mission and to bring respect and dignity to the lepers.

Thursday: Nereus and Achilleus, martyrs (early second century), were Roman Imperial soldiers who converted to Christianity. They left the army and were martyred when they refused to sacrifice to idols during Emperor Trajan's reign.

Pancras, martyr, (d. 304)was a Syrian orphan who was brought to Rome by his uncle. Both soon after converted to Christianity. Pancras was beheaded at age 14 during the Diocletian persecution and buried on the Via Aurelia.

Friday: Our Lady of Fatima is a name given to Mary after she appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal between May 13 and October 13, 1917. During her appearances, Mary stressed the importance of repentance, ongoing conversion, and dedicated to the heart of Mary through praying the Rosary.

Saturday: Matthias, Apostle (first century) was chosen after the resurrection to replace Judas who committed suicide. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter told 120 people who gathered that they were to choose a new apostle - someone who had been with them from the baptism of Jesus until the resurrection. Two names were put forward and the assembly cast lots. Matthias was chosen.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         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.
·         May 9, 1758. The 19th General Congregation opened, the last of the Old Society. It elected Lorenzo Ricci as general.
·         May 10,1773. Empress Maria Teresa of Austria changed her friendship for the Society into hatred, because she had been led to believe that a written confession of hers (found and printed by Protestants) had been divulged by the Jesuits.
·         May 11, 1824. St Regis Seminary opens in Florissant, Missouri, by Fr. Van Quickenborne. It was the first Roman Catholic school in USA for the higher education of Native American Indians.
·         May 12,1981. A letter of this date, from Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, speaks positively of Teilhard de Chardin in celebration of the centenary of his birth (May 1,1881).
·         May 13, 1572. Election of Gregory XIII to succeed St Pius V. To him the Society owes the foundation of the Roman and German Colleges.
·         May 14, 1978. Letter of Pedro Arrupe to the whole Society on Inculturation.

Mothers Day

Blessings upon all mothers on this day set aside in their honor. May the Lord bless you abundantly for the good you have given your children and their friends. You have given us life and you have also given us reasons to find hope and joy in life. Thank you for the nurturing care and the compassionate guidance you provided us to set us on a good course in life.

Thank you for those who have been our biological mothers. Thank you also for our aunts, grandmothers, and sisters and all those who have been mothers to us in some capacity that has made our hearts and souls open up to life and to grow in surprising ways. We honor those women who would like to have been mothers and are not able to do so and we honor those women who would like to have been married and remain single. We thank you all for the tremendous influence you have upon us. Our prayer is that God will generously spoil you with great goodness today and always. Amen.