Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Second Sunday in Easter
Second Sunday in Easter
April 27, 2014
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
We see the great potential for unity in the Acts of the Apostles when the early disciples committed themselves to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread, and to the prayers. It creates an idyllic community when we care for the social needs of others because we realize we have enough to share with those around us. We are able to see the wonders of God through each other and we realize God is in our midst.
Though it was the early church, the community was mature in its understanding that we are in this together. They were, as Richard Rohr, O.F.M. describes in his work on “Falling Upward,” a community that is doing its second half of life work. A community in its first half of life is insecure, seeks to gather everything to itself, is preoccupied with its own needs like acceptance, intimacy, fairness, and justice; while a community in its second half of life is more concerned with others, seeks to give materials away, strives to encourage and to build up others because it knows its rightful place in God’s order. A maturing Christian community respects and honors its members and seeks to bring about a social order filled with God’s values. It becomes secure knowing they are a people on a journey whose beginning and end is the Lord.
Peter, in the second reading, and the Evangelist of the Fourth Gospel, bless those who have not seen the Lord in their temporal lives, but love him all the same. We have much in common with Thomas, the twin, who was not present with the other Ten Disciples on that first Easter night. He is the one who professes, “I will not believe unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands.” However, when the risen Jesus appears before him and wishes him “peace,” he abandons his demand to physically touch the body of Jesus because he knows the risen Lord is not a ghost, but is a man who has been raised from the dead and is alive to him in a new way of existing. He remains his friend. He is the same man he knew before that fateful trip to Jerusalem.
This is an era in which everyone demands that we prove to them that God exists. Many are just like Thomas who want proof that meets their own demands, but without doing their own work. How do we deal with these people, especially those who want to bring down the church with insults and highly idealistic claims that can never be met? Do not get immersed in their drama, but see past their highly volatile emotional state and see their hidden request. You cannot answer their questions satisfactorily. You never will. Only God can do that, but do offer them an invitation. Let them come to know you because hidden with their questions, insults, or charges, is an request to join your community and to know about your God. Let Christ be the one who offers them peace. Just find a place for them at your community’s table and let Christ do the rest.
Simply invite people to the table. Try not to see yourself as Anglo, Hispanic, Filipino, or African, but as a community of believers called by and rooted in Christ. Do not worry about whether your house is in order or whether people will see your best face. Do not be ashamed of flighty aunt Gracie or cantankerous uncle Zaid. Your guests are not coming to judge you, but they are coming to see whether you accept them into your family. They are anxious enough. Just love them and give them freedom. Honor and respect them by gently asking questions and do not try to overfeed them. Be like the community of disciples in the Acts of the Apostles who come together to care to enjoy one another because when we see another person smile, we see the Risen Jesus in our midst.
We are blessed because we are able to see the Risen Lord. We do not need great physical evidence to know Jesus is near like Thomas thought he did. We have it when we hold each other as maturing people of faith who look outwards towards the community. We see the Lord when we give each other freedom and let them be who they are. We know he is with us when we strive to bring our community together, not just our small groups, but also our larger community, especially those people who stay outside the walls of the church. When we are secure that he is with us, we finally receive the peace he offers us. Christ’s peace will do the work we cannot do. Let us be the ones who pass this radical peace onto others. May Christ be with us! May Christ be before us! May Christ be in us, Christ be over all! Let us go with him onwards and upward singing songs of praise. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: We continue with the Acts of the Apostles in the Easter octave. Peter and John return to their people after being released from the religious authorities. They prayed to the Lord about their ordeal and as they prayed, the whole house shook. The high priest with the Sadducees had the Apostles jailed but during the night the doors of the prison were opened by the Lord and the Apostles went back to the Temple to teach. As the Apostles were brought forth again during their arrest, they were reminded that they were forbidden to preach. Peter said on behalf of the Apostles that they are to obey God, not men. Gamaliel the Pharisee urged wisdom for the Sanhedrin declaring that if this is of God it cannot be stopped, but if it is of men it will certainly die out. The number of disciples grew. Hellenists complained to the Hebrews that their widows were being neglected. The Twelve decided it was right to select seven reputable men (deacons) to take care of the daily distribution while they continued with prayer and the ministry of the word. Meanwhile the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly. Even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
Gospel: In John, Nicodemus appeared to Jesus at night asking how one could be born again to which Jesus answered, "you must be born from above." As the discourse continues, the Evangelist proclaims, "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world might be saved through him." He explains that Jesus has come from above and speaks of the things that are from above. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. At a feast of the Passover, Jesus miraculously feeds the hungry crowds as a good shepherd would. He reminds the people that the actions in his earthly life were precursors of the meal that are to share. They are to eat his body and drink his blood. Jesus then departs to the other side of the sea. When a storm picks up, he walked on the turbulent waves and instructed them not to be afraid. He is with them. He has power over the natural and supernatural world.
Saints of the Week
April 28: Peter Chanel, priest, missionary, martyr (1803-1841), is the first martyr of the Pacific South Seas. Originally a parish priest in rural eastern France, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) to become a missionary in 1831 after a five-year stint teaching in the seminary. At first the missionaries were well received in the New Hebrides and other Pacific island nations as they recently outlawed cannibalism. The growth of white influence placed Chanel under suspicion, which led to an attack on the missionaries. When the king’s son wanted to be baptized, his anger erupted and Peter was clubbed to death in protest.
April 28: Louis of Montfort, priest (1673-1716), dedicated his life to the care of the poor and the sick as a hospital chaplain in Poitiers, France. He angered the public and the administration when he tried to organize the hospital women's workers into a religious organization. He was let go. He went to Rome where the pope gave him the title "missionary apostolic" so he could preach missions that promoted a Marian and Rosary-based spirituality. He formed the "Priests of the Company of Mary" and the "Daughters of Wisdom."
May 1: Joseph the Worker was honored by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in an effort to counteract May Day, a union, worker, and socialist holiday. Many Catholics believe him to be the patron of workers because he is known for his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities that believers should adopt.
May 2: Athanasius, bishop and doctor (295-373), was an Egyptian who attended the Nicene Council in 325. He wrote about Christ's divinity but this caused his exile by non-Christian emperors. He wrote a treatise on the Incarnation and brought monasticism to the West.
May 3: Philip and James, Apostles (first century), were present to Jesus throughout his entire ministry. Philip was named as being explicitly called. James is called the Lesser to distinguish him from James of Zebedee. Little is known of these founders of our faith.
This Week in Jesuit History
· Apr 27, 1880. On the occasion of the visit of Jules Ferry, French minister of education, to Amiens, France, shouts were raised under the Jesuit College windows: "Les Jesuites a la guillotine."
· Apr 28, 1542. St Ignatius sent Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fifteen, from Rome to Paris for his studies. Pedro had been admitted into the Society in l539 or l540.
· Apr 29, 1933. Thomas Ewing Sherman died in New Orleans. An orator on the mission band, he was the son of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He suffered a breakdown, and wanted to leave the Society, but was refused because of his ill health. Before his death he renewed his vows in the Society.
· Apr 30, 1585. The landing at Osaka of Fr. Gaspar Coelho. At first the Emperor was favorably disposed towards Christianity. This changed later because of Christianity's attitude toward polygamy.
· May 1, 1572. At Rome, Pope St. Pius V dies. His decree imposing Choir on the Society was cancelled by his successor, Gregory XIII.
· 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.