Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Divine Mercy Sunday
April 3, 2016
Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118; Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31

            Thomas joins the other Disciples in the Upper Room because the others told him, “We have seen the Lord.” Naturally, Thomas protests because he wants empirical evidence that Jesus is alive and is not just a dream or a hallucination. He saw him die and he knows Jesus did not survive this brutal form of crucifixion and no one has ever come back from the dead. Any sane person would want proof for this preposterous claim that Jesus is alive and is visiting his friends. Give me the proof, Thomas demands. Show me the marks on his hands and his side.

            When Thomas meets the Risen Jesus, he crumbles with his demands. He no longer seeks proof because he sees the wounds and feels the pain of the suffering humanity of Jesus. No one can stand in front of a man who has been brutally crucified and not feel the anguish of those marks. He does not need to touch the wounds; just seeing them is enough to bring a visceral reaction. The mercy we show someone who is suffering connects us closer to the person.   

            I wonder what Thomas preached when he told others about Jesus. I’m sure he mentioned the miracles, healings, and teachings of the earthly ministry of Jesus, but I would venture to say that those wounds left an indelible mark on his consciousness, that he preached about the wounds Jesus still carries from the cross. Thomas would probably be one of the great advocates for those who come to belief without seeing the Risen Lord with their own eyes. The testimony of others is enough. One’s personal prayer is sufficient. But for Thomas, he was bound closer to Jesus because he gazed upon those holy wounds.

            Many adults willingly entered into the Catholic faith this Easter. What is their faith all about? It is not because these neophytes were strong, clever, or accomplished in their spiritual lives, but because they were vulnerable enough to explore their questions. Many times persons have a jarring emotional experience that jostles their spiritual life and deeper faith is often borne out of holding the pain before our eye and asking, “Why do you haunt us?” One’s response to this suffering shapes the way our faith grows. Suffering prunes us and makes us reassess what we value. If we feel a response of mercy, then our faith life deepens and we find greater meaning in the fractured parts of our world, and we see that mercy connects us and keeps us whole.

            Jesus still bears many wounds today as the crucified peoples of the world lead shattered lives. Nearly every person suffers invisibly and the wounds of Jesus remain unhealed while our suffering continues. The world remains broken and in need of someone to touch our suffering. This is the call of Divine Mercy to the church. It is our time to be like Thomas, that is, it is our time to reach into the wounds of another person and be that healing presence. We have to bandage, apply ointment, provide a balm, and comfort those in pain. We have to sit and listen and hold and honor the experience of another person. It may lead us to a place where we are suspended on the cross with Jesus, writhing in pain for another person, powerless to cause any real change, but we allows ourselves to be crucified in solidarity with them so they know they are not alone. Mercy heals. Mercy is miraculous. Mercy is our greatest expression of faith. Mercy has to be the good news we bring to others.

Dear friends, stretch out your hands. Let us see your wounds. We know the marks run deep and have been open for a long time. Would you let us touch your wounds? Together, we put our lives in the healing, wounded hands of Jesus Christ.             

Scripture for Daily Mass

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 was 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

No saints are on the calendar this week because it is typically Holy Week or Easter.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 3, 1583. The death of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the original companions of Ignatius who later entrusted him with publishing and distributing the Jesuit Constitutions to the various regions of the early Society.
·      Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre) ordained a deacon in Paris.
·      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.