Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Seventh Sunday in Easter

Seventh Sunday in Easter
June 1, 2014
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20

On this Feast of the Ascension Pope Francis gives us memorable words and gestures from his recent trip to the Holy Lands. The motto for his trip, “that all may be one” comes from our readings for the Seventh Sunday in Easter, the prayer of protection commonly called ‘the priestly prayer.’ It communicates to the believers that God’s Spirit will protect the faithful after the period of time when the Risen Jesus is no longer physically on earth. The Ascension readings in Acts of the Apostles and Matthew’s Gospel are intended to encourage Christians to persevere during times when they have to rely upon their own spiritual resources to trust more fully in God.

Pope Francis boldly stands up for the causes that are right and just. Though cautionary words told us this was not a political trip, all actions are political and spiritual statements. We have seen many images of the Pope spontaneously stopping this motorcade to lean on and pray at that terrible wall of division along the route to Bethlehem. Walls of every type must come down if we are going to practice the “testimony of peace” Francis called for during the papal mass in Amman.

The Pope made grand gestures to our siblings of the Eastern churches in order to inch forward to the unity suggested in the readings: “That all may be one.” Petrine supremacy and other non-dogmatic practices do not have to hold us back from embracing our brothers and sisters in common faith. Our faith is strong enough to compromise on tightly held traditions for the sake of unity. He also made gestures to Jews to say “never again, never again” will we let our human hearts destroy human life and dignity. He embraced Muslims and honored tolerance and respect for other faiths, much of what is practiced in the kingdom of Jordan. He visited Al Aqsa mosque, the Dome of the Rock, the altar of sacrifice – a site holy to three major religions and declared this spot belongs to no one and to everyone and he beckoned that people challenge their long-held prejudicial beliefs with responsible maturity.

He calls for peace – an end to an unnecessary war in Syria and the extremists who sell weapons that perpetuate the cycle of violence and bloodshed. He holds many people accountable for participating in the war – even if it is from afar. Fundamental attitudes that respect and honor the sanctity of life and the common good need to be developed – through people who need to grow up and care for others instead of their self interests. His calls for peace extend to the people of the states of Palestine and Israel, a process to be continued in the Vatican next month. We join the pope in praying for peace.
The work of peace, justice, and mercy cannot come about only by prayer, though it is a necessary ingredient. Just like Jesus, the Pope came and left, but they both equipped us with enough resources to progress God’s work in the kingdom. We are not orphaned because the Spirit of God resides in our hearts. We need to release it from its protective shell and take the courageous risks Francis did during his visit. He was symbolically vocal and so we must be. We must make ourselves into a Christian presence where we work hard to bring glory to God. We cannot pray for peace in Syria, Palestine, Iraq or other parts of the troubled world if we hold onto serious grudges and offenses. Harboring anger in our hearts and letting it fester, failing to forgive or to understand, and a reluctance to move forward in vulnerability means that we deny the resurrection. Peace must be practiced daily where we become big enough men and women to move forward – onwards and upwards – towards a new day. Let us affirm the good work of the Pope. Let us affirm the resurrection and craft this new day of the Lord.

Let us try something different this week to show that we can be like the Apostles who were of common mind. Let us pray, not individually, but communally, for the sake of unity, peace, and justice. We need to pray together. Shake up your prayer style and be specific in your prayers. Actively ask others to pray with you and allow yourselves to be enriched by the ways we pray, and then ask the Spirit to guide you to glorify Jesus Christ through your actions. The hour of Jesus has already come; Let us pray that this is our hour. Our time has come to embrace and affirm the power of his resurrection.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul goes to Ephesus to introduce believers to the Holy Spirit. Paul recounts the ways he served the Lord with humility, tears and trials, but he returns to an uncertain fate in Jerusalem. As Paul says goodbye, he urges them to keep watch over each other and to be vigilant about those who pervert the truth of the Gospel. Paul is brought to trial. The Pharisees and Sadducees are sharply divided; armed forces are sent to rescue Paul from their midst. The Lord tells Paul he must go to Rome and be faithful there just as he was faithful in Jerusalem. King Agrippa hears Paul's case and determines Paul is to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul, as a Roman citizen, appeals for the Emperor's decision.

Gospel: The disciples realize Jesus is returning to the Father and that he is strengthening them for the time he is away. Jesus prays for the safety of those given to him by God. He wants them to be safe as they testify to God's steadfastness in a harsh world. He prays for unity, "so that they may be one just as we are one." He consecrates them to the truth and wards off the Evil One. He also prays for those given to him through the testimony of others. The love Jesus and the Father share is available to future disciples. ~ After the Farewell Discourse ends, Jesus appears at the seashore with Simon Peter who professes his three-fold love of Jesus. Jesus forgives him and asks him to take care of his people even though the authorities of this world will eventually have their day with him.

Saints of the Week

June 1: Justin, martyr (100-165), was a Samaritan philosopher who converted to Christianity and explained doctrine through philosophical treatises. His debating opponent reported him to the Roman authorities who tried him and when he refused to sacrifice to the gods, was condemned to death.

June 2: Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs (d. 304) died in Rome during the Diocletian persecution. Peter was an exorcist who ministered under the well-regarded priest, Marcellinus. Stories are told that in jail they converted their jailer and his family. These men are remembered in Eucharistic prayer I.

June 3: Charles Lwanga and 22 companion martyrs from Uganda (18660-1886) felt the wrath of King Mwanga after Lwanga and the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) censured him for his cruelty and immorality. The King determined to rid his kingdom of Christians. He persecuted over 100 Christians, but upon their death new converts joined the church.

June 5: Boniface, bishop and martyr (675-754), was born in England and raised in a Benedictine monastery. He became a good preacher and was sent to the northern Netherlands as a missionary. Pope Gregory gave him the name Boniface with an edict to preach to non-Christians. We was made a bishop in Germany and gained many converts when he cut down the famed Oak of Thor and garnered no bad fortune by the Norse gods. Many years later he was killed by non-Christians when he was preparing to confirm many converts. The church referred to him as the "Apostle of Germany."

June 6: Norbert, bishop (1080-1134), a German, became a priest after a near-death experience. He became an itinerant preacher in northern France and established a community founded on strict asceticism. They became the Norbertines and defended the rights of the church against secular authorities.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jun 1, 1527. Ignatius was thrown into prison after having been accused of having advised two noblewomen to undertake a pilgrimage, on foot, to Compostella.
·      Jun 2, 1566. The Professed House was opened in Toledo. It became well known for the fervor of its residents and the wonderful effects of their labors.
·      Jun 3, 1559. A residence at Frascati, outside of Rome, was purchased for the fathers and brothers of the Roman College.
·      Jun 4, 1667. The death in Rome of Cardinal Sforza Pallavicini, a man of great knowledge and humility. While he was Prefect of Studies of the Roman College he wrote his great work, The History of the Council of Trent.
·      Jun 5, 1546. Paul III, in the document Exponi Nobis, empowered the Society to admit coadjutors, both spiritual and temporal.
·      Jun 6, 1610. At the funeral of Henry IV in Paris, two priests preaching in the Churches of St Eustace and St Gervase denounced the Jesuits as accomplices in his death. This was due primarily to the book De Rege of Father Mariana.

·      Jun 7, 1556. Peter Canisius becomes the first provincial superior of the newly constituted Province of Upper Germany.