Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Sunday

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Easter Sunday
April 5, 2015
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47

            The Easter miracle comes to us in the familiar way God always speaks to us – very quietly. After all these years, we still expect God to burst onto the scene with a dramatic splash, but we can reserve grand entrances for Broadway. God works quietly, almost imperceptibly. God enters unnoticed, but with profound meaning. It is divine humility that causes God’s entrance to be nearly overlooked, but God enters with great care.

            Fortunately, on the first day of the week, the disregarded, nearly forgotten Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb while it is still dark. The Gospel’s author uses the word dark to convey that one’s faith needs to be strengthened. The message of salvation is something that takes time to understand. It’s meaning is not always evident and we can see that it takes the first witnesses some time to understand what was happening. Mary Magdalene, not understanding, runs to get Peter, the chosen leader, and the Disciple whom Jesus loved. It takes Peter some time to process these confusing events as well because he cannot but happen to experience these events from a human perspective. Few of the disciples yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the Dead.

            The Beloved Disciple could see differently though. After he followed Peter into the tomb, he believed instantly. The empty tomb was perplexing enough because they were trying to figure out all the rational explanations for the heavy stone being moved inexplicably. They were filled with questions and doubts and they would not have concluded that God’s power would have moved the stone. The Beloved Disciple knew what happened when he saw burial cloths. He knew that neither thieves nor the Romans took the body of Jesus. He knew that someone who was meticulous and neat cared for the body of Jesus because the cloth that covered the head of Jesus was lovingly rolled up and placed separately from the other neatly arranged burial cloths. They were not thrown around in haste as a disheveled person would do in his bedroom, but laid carefully as a tender caregiver who nurses one who is healing. The Beloved Disciple saw this as an act of tender love. His belief helps Peter and Mary Magdalene come to fuller faith. Faith and trust is a process that leads to greater hope.

            We do not move from darkness to light in a blazing instant. We advance step by step and we can be grateful for the forward progress. We are led to greater faith by the testimony of others, just as the Beloved Disciple did for Peter and Magdalene. Faith is measured out in different degrees and not everyone is ready to move to greater belief, but our actions encourage greater faith in others. We hope and pray that our loved ones will accept the faith as we are learning to do, but we have to be patient with them. They will see the necessity of the resurrection at their own pace on their own time. We simply have to love them with a steadfast love.

            We can wonder what the conversations must have been like for the three at the tomb on that first day of the week. We can presume that Peter must have pumped the Beloved Disciple about his certainty that Jesus was raised. There must have been something in his core that could only affirm that his friend was now alive to him in a new way. His assurance and his joy must have convinced Peter and Magdalene to trust more fully. This is the way we spread our faith today. It is not because of the rationality of the faith, even though it is pure genius, but because our being radiates our growing trust and hope in God’s steadfast care. Our assurance and comfort bring others to the faith. Our joy and peace bring others to the faith. Our contentment that God has loved us so much that he raised up Jesus of Nazareth, our friend and brother, into new life is a reason others come to our faith. As Jesus was given to us as a gift, we see that we are given to ourselves as a gift to be celebrated and honored. We are to give ourselves to others very fully as an expression of this joy. This brings others to the faith because everyone wants to be around a joyful, solid person.

            Today is the day to honor those baby steps, those tiny invitations, those quiet moments that declare to us: Jesus has been raised from the dead where no pain nor grief can ever have the last word on our lives. This is the day to inch closer to the heart of God so our trust increases. God will only move as gently as we can take. Let us come to know the hope and goodness that God extends to us only because God wants to be nearer to us – because we are lovable, despite all we have done and are doing. God wants to celebrate this joyous day with us because our Christ has been raised and has declared victory over the world. Onward and upwards, gently, gently, quietly, slowly, into the brightest reality that we could never imagine. Alleluia. Alleluia.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 2) Peter stands up on Pentecost to proclaim to Jews in Jerusalem that Jesus of Nazareth who they put to death has been vindicated by God and raised to new life.
Tuesday: (Acts 2) When the Jews realize the significance of their actions, they petition Peter to be baptized in the name of Jesus.
Wednesday: (Acts 3) Peter and John heal the crippled man at "the Beautiful Gate" at the temple.
Thursday: (Acts 3) All who witnessed the healing recognize that the man used to be the crippled beggar. Peter and John preach to the Jews gathered at Solomon's portico and tell them all that the prophets and scripture say about Jesus.
Friday (Acts 4) The priests, temple guards, and the Sadducees confront Peter and John and hold them in custody. The religious authorities question their teaching and healing power. The Sanhedrin dismissed them with instructions not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Saturday (Acts 4) Peter, John, and the healed man persevere in their boldness. The Sanhedrin wait to see if this is of God or of another source of power.

Monday: (Matthew 28) In Matthew, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary meet Jesus on the way and he exhorts them not to be afraid. The chief priests hire soldiers to say, "the disciples came and stole the body of Jesus."
Tuesday: (John 20) Magdalene weeps outside the tomb and thinks Jesus is the gardener, until he speaks to her familiarly.
Wednesday (Luke 24) Two disciples heading towards Emmaus meet Jesus along the way and he opens the scripture for them.
Thursday (Luke 24) As they recount their story to the Eleven, Jesus appears before them, beckons them not to be afraid, and eats with them.
Friday (John 21) Six disciples are with Peter as they fish at the Sea of Tiberius. After a frustrating night of fishing, Jesus instructs them to cast their nets wide and they catch 153 large fish. The beloved disciple recognized the man on the beach as the Lord and they rush to meet him.
Saturday (Mark 16) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene who told the Eleven about him. Two other disciples on the road returned to speak of their encounter, and then Jesus appears to them while they were at table.

Saints of the Week

April 11: Stanislaus, bishop and martyr (1030-1079), was born near Krakow, Poland and studied canon law and theology before he renounced his family fortunes and became a priest. Elected bishop, he oppose the bellicose and immoral King Boleslaus II who often oppressed the peasantry. He excommunicated the king who ordered his murder but the soldiers refused to carry it out. The king murdered him by his own hands, but then had to flee into exile.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lallemant, writer and spiritual teacher.
·      Apr 6, 1850. The first edition of La Civilta Cattolica appeared. It was the first journal of the restored Society.
·      Apr 7, 1541. Ignatius was unanimously elected general, but he declined to accept the results.
·      Apr 8, 1762. The French Parliament issued a decree of expulsion of the Jesuits from all their colleges and houses.
·      Apr 9, 1615. The death of William Weston, minister to persecuted Catholics in England and later an author who wrote about his interior life during that period.
·      Apr 10, 1585. At Rome, the death of Pope Gregory XIII, founder of the Gregorian University and the German College, whose memory will ever be cherished as that of one of the Society's greatest benefactors.

·      Apr 11, 1573. Pope Gregory XIII suggested to the Fathers who were assembling for the Third General Congregation that it might be well for them to choose a General of some nationality other than Spanish. Later he expressed his satisfaction that they had elected Everard Mercurian, a Belgian.