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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2015
Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8

            Finding a trusted mentor in the faith makes life much easier. Barnabas becomes that mentor and protector to Saul. Saul arrives in Jerusalem and tries to join the disciples. He is a neophyte in the faith and wants to meet the people who were close to Jesus, but they do not trust him because he publicly persecuted Christians who were destroying the Jewish faith. The disciples fear for their lives because they realize Saul might harm or kill them. The intervention of Barnabas saves the day. Barnabas is a trusted apostle who takes Paul under his wings. His protection of Paul lends the credibility that tells others they do not have to fear Paul’s intentions. Barnabas aptly relates Paul’s experience of the Risen Lord to the Disciples and confirms the miracle that the Lord worked through Paul. This enables Paul and Barnabas to move about freely in Jerusalem and to debate the Hellenists who want to kill him. The crucial intervention of Barnabas protects the Disciples, lends credibility to Paul’s conversion, and protects Paul from his former friends and allies. Because Paul was in harm’s way, the Disciples, in their great care, decide to send Paul to Tarsus for safety.

            In the Gospel, Jesus seeks unity with the believer, who will grow in grace by being connected to him. A believer cannot bear fruit by oneself; he or she must be connected with Jesus through the community of faith just as a vine is connected to its branches. The vine is that which provides sustenance and growth, just like the Eucharist continues to feed and nourish us. We need Christ in the Eucharist to shape our growth so that we receive abundant grace. This growth needs pruning, which can be painful, but allows better growth in the areas that will make us more fruitful. However, what is most important is in knowing that someone has our back. The feeling of protection allows us to move forward in freedom.

            Many times we make our faith private and we travel our journey as individuals. We prize our liberty and often keep our views to ourselves. In tumultuous times, we are not even sure where our church stands on complicated issues, but we hold dearly onto our private opinions. Faith is lonely when we keep everything inside us private. We belong to a community of faith and we have to learn to trust its goodness because it belongs to Jesus Christ. The community shields and protects us as Barnabas protected Saul and it looks out for our welfare. We have to understand that our community is dynamic and that it is our responsibility to both shape it and be shaped by it. We prune the community when it acts without mercy, compassion, and understanding and we are pruned by it when we act in a way that is contrary to the faith.

            We might want to find mentors in the faith that can guide us with honest statements given in charity. For some, this could be a spiritual director who can walk with us through a period of time. For others, it might mean developing a relationship with a confessor who can help us with the pruning that makes us more faithful persons of faith. For still others, it could be finding a small community of faith to do some faith sharing and further study. It is important to have a generative person form us, protect us, nourish us, just as Barnabas did for Paul and Jesus does for us. Having a concrete in-the-flesh person become our faith friend surely will make life easier. Then we will show to the world that we love not just in word of speech, but it deed and truth.

            Keep feeding your heart. Let your heart affirm your faith and God will give you the confidence to thrive as you remain in him and God remains in you. When we are at peace, the church will build us up and the Holy Spirit will bring us to new places we never imagined we could go.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 14) As Gentiles and Jews in Iconium were about to attack Paul and Barnabas, they fled to Lystra where Paul healed a lame man.  
Tuesday: (Acts 14) The crowds began to put their faith in Paul and Barnabas as gods, but the men protested and told the story of the Christ event. Opposition to Paul increased shortly afterwards and he was stoned. They left for Derbe to strengthen the disciples in those cities and encouraged them during their times of hardship.
Wednesday: (Acts 15) Some of Paul’s Jewish opposition raised the question of circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic laws. Along the way to Jerusalem to seek the advice of the Apostles, they told everyone of the conversion of the Gentiles.
Thursday: (Acts 15) After much debate, Peter and James decided that no further restrictions were to be made on the Gentiles.
Friday (Acts 15) The Apostles and presbyters chose representatives and sent them to Paul and Barnabas with word that the Gentiles were indeed welcomed into the faith with no extra hardships placed upon them. The people were delighted with the good news.
Saturday (Acts 13) In Derbe and Lystra, Paul heard of a man named Timothy who was well regarded by the believers. Paul had him circumcised and they travelled to Macedonia to proclaim the good news.

Monday: (John 14) In the Farewell Discourse, Jesus reassures his disciples that he will remain with them if they keep his commandments to love one another.  
Tuesday: (John 14) To punctuate his message of consolation, he tells them he will send an advocate to teach and remind them of all he told them.
Wednesday (John 15) Jesus leaves them with his lasting peace that will help them endure many difficult times. This peace will allow us people to remain close to him – organically as he is the vine and we are the branches.
Thursday (John 15) Remaining close to Jesus will allow us to share complete joy with one another.
Friday (John 15) Jesus once again proves his love to his friends by saying that the true friend, the Good Shepherd, will lay down his life for his friends.  
Saturday (John 14) However, even with the love of Jesus, his followers will experience hatred in this world, but as his friends and as God’s elect, their harm can never really harm the souls of a believer.

Saints of the Week

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.

May 4: Joseph Mary Rubio, S.J., priest (1864-1929), is a Jesuit known as the Apostle of Madrid. He worked with the poor bringing them the Spiritual Exercises and spiritual direction and he established local trade schools. 

This Week in Jesuit History

·      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.

·      May 9, 1758. The 19th General Congregation opened, the last of the Old Society. It elected Lorenzo Ricci as general.

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