Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy)

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy
April 12, 2015
Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 118; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31

            No one can blame Thomas for wanting empirical confirmation of the resurrection of Jesus because we all know that perception cannot be trusted as reliable information. Someone’s experience of an event seldom matches another person’s experience of the same observable event. Thomas is led back to the upper room because the disciples were convincing in their belief that Jesus returned to them from beyond death. Their bold assertions persuaded Thomas to come to the place where they experienced the risen Jesus a week earlier. He already has partial faith, even though this story was incredulous, and he reluctantly came to experience what the others already knew. That the disciples were willing to risk bodily harm to gather in the same spot for fear of the angry Jews, they showed up on behalf of Thomas so the remaining disciples could all be together.
           
            Many faithful Christians fret that their loved ones, most especially grown children who were raised in the faith, no longer attend church services. They profess fundamental belief but do not include Sunday worship in their plans. Their attitudes are often cynical or even hostile if a parent asks them to join them, and though they try to say the right words, their attitude carries anger and resistance. Sometimes, it does not seem that it is directed towards God, but to the messenger. The heartache for many is that children and the youth are not brought up with a ritualized expression of regular Sunday worship.

            The best way to lead people back to the faith is to let them know how you feel about Sunday worship. Empirical evidence can always be disputed; feelings cannot. Never underestimate the power of revealing your feelings. This is what Jesus does on behalf of God. Thomas was not led back to Jesus because of factual evidence, but because the disciples told him how they felt about what they experienced. They wanted him to participate in this same wonder as well. Our best persuasion in getting others to return to church is to let them see our happiness, peacefulness, and contentment when we have been to Sunday service. Others will want what we have. Our persuasion cannot be in direct words, but with indirect displays of feelings.

            For many of us, older persons who experienced bouts of hardship and suffering have been our most inspirational teachers in the faith. These people were happy when they had no reason for joy or contentment and somehow their faith was the bedrock that held them steady. Everyone can see this is desirable and worthy of holy envy. These impressions of our belief are memorable to those who are trying to understand why faith is relevant. Religious educators may give empirical content, but our displays of faith are the vehicles that teach others. This is what we want. Stop fretting and trying so hard. Just let others know how your faith makes you feel. God will do the rest.

            Divine Mercy Sunday shows that the risen Christ is patient with us. The great heart of God is revealed when Jesus breathes the spirit of life onto us so that our fear is banished and we live in peace. The Divine Mercy is not that we, like Thomas, reach into the wounds of the risen Jesus, but that he reaches back to touch our wounds.
             
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 4) Peter and John return to their people after being released from the religious authorities. They prayed about their ordeal and the whole house shook and all were filled wit the Holy Spirit.  
Tuesday: (Acts 4) The community of believers were of one heart and mind and together they bore witness to the Resurrection. Joseph, called Barnabas, sold a property and give money to the Apostles.
Wednesday: (Acts 5) The high priest with the Sadducees jailed the Apostles but during the night the Lord opened the prison doors and the Apostles returned to the Temple area to preach.
Thursday: (Acts 5) The Apostles were brought forth again during their arrest and they were reminded that they were forbidden to preach. Peter said on behalf of the Apostles that they are to obey God, and not men.  
Friday (Acts 5) Gamaliel, the Pharisee, urges 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 .
Saturday (Acts 6) The number of disciples grew. The 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: 
Monday: (John 3) Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews comes to Jesus wondering about where he is able to do the great miracles and teachings. He tries to understand.
Tuesday: (John 3) Jesus answered Nicodemus saying, “you must be born from above” to accept this testimony.
Wednesday (John 3) God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world might be saved through him.
Thursday (John 3) Jesus explains that he was come from above and speaks of the things that are from above. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.
Friday (John 6) Near a Passover feast, 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 they are to share. They are to eat his body and drink his blood.  
Saturday (John 6) Jesus then departs to the other side of the sea. When a storm picks up, he walks on the turbulent waves and instructs them not to be afraid. He is with them. He has power over the natural and supernatural world.

Saints of the Week

April 13: Martin I, pope, (6th century – 655), an Umbrian was elected pope during the Byzantine papacy. One of his earliest acts was to convene the Lateran Council that dealt with the heretical Monothelitism.  Martin was abducted by Emperor Constans II and died in the Crimean peninsula.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 12, 1671. Francis Borgia, the 3rd general of the Society, was canonized by Pope Clement X.
·      Apr 13, 1541. Ignatius was elected general in a second election, after having declined the results of the first election several days earlier.
·      Apr 14, 1618. The father of John Berchmans is ordained a priest. John himself was still a Novice.
·      Apr 15, 1610. The death of Fr. Robert Parsons, the most active and indefatigable of all the leaders of the English Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth I.
·      Apr 16, 1767. Pope Clement XIII wrote to Charles III of Spain imploring him to cancel the decree of expulsion of the Society from Spain, issued on April 2nd. The Pope's letter nobly defends the innocence of the Society.
·      Apr 17, 1540. The arrival in Lisbon of St Francis Xavier and Fr. Simon Rodriguez. Both were destined for India, but the latter was retained in Portugal by the King.

·      Apr 18, 1906. At Rome, the death of Rev Fr. Luis Martin, twenty-fourth General of the Society. Pope Pius X spoke of him as a saint, a martyr, a man of extraordinary ability and prudence.