Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 24, 2016
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7:9, 14-17; John 1:27-30

            Paul and Barnabas worked cleverly and persistently to tell others about the good news. Their efforts yielded a great number of disciples despite the considerable opposition that arose from within their own Jewish community. They encouraged the other disciples to persevere in their faith while knowing that hardships were coming their way and yet they remained undeterred. In fact they grew in confidence and sought to bolster the fragile faith of others. In the Christ event, God glorified Jesus in his suffering and ushered in the resurrection as a reward for his obedience of faith. Therefore, we must not be fearful of our own suffering because we know that somewhere imbedded in it, God’s presence will be glorified in us.

            Do we match the zeal of Paul and Barnabas in building up the church? Certainly not. Of course, Paul and Barnabas were telling the story of Jesus for new hearers, especially to the Gentile community. We cannot bring that same fresh, exciting tale of God’s love to new people because most have heard of Jesus. For many people today the church has too much baggage and deeper inclusion in parish life does not excite the congregation, and of course at dinner parties, it is certainly respectable to speak of the Buddha or the prophet Mohammed, but when one mentions the name of Jesus, the conversation often stops.

            How would Paul and Barnabas approach today’s world? I’m sure they would be working cleverly and tirelessly to teach people about Jesus Christ and what God has done and will do for them. They are going to find new ways of spreading the Gospel because that is ultimately what matters most to them. We do not find that same sense of urgency and we are respectful of the boundaries of others. We have also been trapped in conversations with religious eccentrics who hold fast to their particular devotions. In the end, we do not have a good track record of helping others to meet Christ, though we might help some meet the church.

            Immediately following Vatican II, Pope Paul VI tasked Pedro Arrupe and his Jesuit order to combat atheism. Since then, the sphere has been enlarged to include consumerism, rampant capitalism, secularism, and the unwanted consequences of globalism. The Jesuits have responded by moving to the frontiers of society to deal with the poor and the marginalized and to fight for the recognition of people whose voices are seldom heard and often neglected. We are to bring that fire that kindles other fires to those whose hope is damaged and diminished. We are to bring people to the person of Jesus Christ through his church, but realizing that a personal encounter is the only sufficient way to tell others about our experience of Christ. It is tireless work that has to be cleverly done.

            Pope Francis, whose formation was as a Jesuit priest, is doing his best to tell others that the way to build up the church is by showing mercy to those who are in need. Everyone is in need at some point in his or her life. Everyone needs a relationship with Jesus at all stages of life, though at some points we do not feel we need him as centrally. Everyone needs a little more mercy. Mercy is an act of supreme love because it is the conscious decision to enter into the suffering of another person. This is the type of love commandment contained in the Gospel. It is not even a choice, but a commandment to care for one another if we say we are Christians.

            Do our friends, family, and strangers know us for the charity we show cheerfully to others? If not, seek some spiritual guidance to help you become a happier Christian who sees and loves the world liked God sees and loves the world. Bang loudly on the doors of the church and demand it from your leaders and parishioners. We want to encourage you to share your faith with others. We are well-balanced Christians if we are able to show our care and positive regard for others more freely.

            It is clear we have some work to do. It is challenging work, but it is for the good of our souls and those of others. Let every time we encounter others leave them with a positive account of our faith-filled lives and the tenderness our hearts. Teach us how to love you well. Paul and Barnabas learned how to love people of different cultures in new ways. Help us as church find new ways of loving you. We will be church when we share our hearts with you. Our hearts contain the good news of Jesus Christ – his mercy put into action.

Scripture for Daily Mass

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

April 24: Fidelis of Sigmaringen, priest and martyr (1578-1622), was a canon lawyer from Swabia, Germany who became a Capuchin Franciscan  in Switzerland in 1612. Prior to priesthood, he tutored nobles in France, Italy and Spain and helped interpret legislation that served the poor. He was known as the "lawyer for the poor." He was later appointed to the challenging task of preaching to the Protestants in Switzerland, where he was killed for being an agent for the king. He was the head of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in anti-Catholic hostilities. He was accused of being the king's political agent and was assaulted and killed.

April 25: Mark, the Evangelist is the author of the earliest Gospel and is associated with Peter whom he heard preach. Mark was a member of the first Christian community in Jerusalem and his mother owned a house in the city that was used as a place of prayer during Peter's imprisonment under Herod Agrippa I. He was originally a companion of Paul and Barnabas having traveled with them back to Antioch in Syria. Later, they brought him along as their assistant on a missionary journey. He is associated with Peter’s ministry later in life. He was sent to Alexandria and formed a church that is now known as the Coptic Orthodox Church.

April 28: Peter Chanel, priest, missionary, martyr (1803-1841), is the first martyr of the Pacific South Seas. Originally a parish priest in rural eastern France, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) to become a missionary in 1831 after a five-year stint teaching in the seminary. At first the missionaries were well-received in the New Hebrides and other Pacific island nations as they recently outlawed cannibalism. The growth of white influence placed Chanel under suspicion, which led to an attack on the missionaries. When the king’s son wanted to be baptized, his anger erupted and Peter was clubbed to death in protest. 

April 28: Louis of Montfort, priest (1673-1716), dedicated his life to the care of the poor and the sick as a hospital chaplain in Poitiers, France. He angered the public and the administration when he tried to organize the hospital women's workers into a religious organization. He was let go. He went to Rome where the pope gave him the title "missionary apostolic" so he could preach missions that promoted a Marian and Rosary-based spirituality. He formed the "Priests of the Company of Mary" and the "Daughters of Wisdom."

April 29: Catherine of Siena, mystic and doctor of the Church (1347-1380), was the 24th of 25th children. At an early age, she had visions of guardian angels and the saints. She became a Third-Order Dominican and persuaded the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon in 1377. She died at age 33 after receiving the stigmata.

April 30: Pope Pius V, Pope (1504-1572), is noted for his work in the Counter-Reformation, the Council of Trent, and the standardization of the Roman Rite for mass. He was a fierce conservative who prosecuted eight French bishops for heterodoxy and Elizabeth I for schism. The Holy League he founded defeated the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto whose success was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 24, 1589. At Bordeaux, the Society was ordered to leave the city. It had been falsely accused of favoring the faction that was opposed to King Henry III.
·      Apr 25, 1915. Pierre Rousselot, Professor at the Institute Catholique in Paris, is wounded and taken prisoner during World War I.
·      Apr 26, 1935. Lumen Vitae, center for catechetics and religious formation was founded in Brussels.
·      Apr 27, 1880. On the occasion of the visit of Jules Ferry, French minister of education, to Amiens, France, shouts were raised under the Jesuit College windows: "Les Jesuites a la guillotine."
·      Apr 28, 1542. St Ignatius sent Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fifteen, from Rome to Paris for his studies. Pedro had been admitted into the Society in l539 or l540.
·      Apr 29, 1933. Thomas Ewing Sherman died in New Orleans. An orator on the mission band, he was the son of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He suffered a breakdown, and wanted to leave the Society, but was refused because of his ill health. Before his death he renewed his vows in the Society.
·      Apr 30, 1585. The landing at Osaka of Fr. Gaspar Coelho. At first the Emperor was favorably disposed towards Christianity. This changed later because of Christianity's attitude toward polygamy.