Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2016
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29

            The early church presents us with a sound approach to resolving conflicts. The Gentiles have recently been included into the faith, which blew the limits of the faith open to a radical degree. At this present point in the scriptures, Christian Jews are telling the new converts that they have to do things that are culturally unfamiliar in order to be considered a worthy disciple in full communion. People who spoke firmly and authoritatively take it upon themselves to decide larger matters of the faith and their uninformed judgments are causing great strains within the community. Paul and Barnabas appeal to the apostles and elders to decide the case and render a verdict. The whole church came together to deliberate and they sent official representatives back to Antioch with the following message to be delivered word of mouth: It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond the essential necessities.

            Wow! Imagine the gift of freedom the Apostles and elders gave to these new converts! The Gentiles were coming to the faith because of their belief in Jesus and it was unfair to ask them to adopt Jewish customs because they were not Jews. The Apostles distanced themselves from those who claimed to speak on their behalf because they were unauthorized voices. It is extremely important that we do not impose our conditions and cultural assumptions upon others. Instead of controlling how people act, we have to call people to be faithful disciples who employ great responsibility towards one another. The church is best when we give each other freedom because responsibility is intertwined with freedom.

            In this Year of Mercy, the church is making us the same offer it made years ago: It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place undue burdens upon you. Again, this does not mean that you can do what you want; it means that you have the freedom to practice you faith responsibly by using your conscience, which is your duty to form and inform. It means that the path to salvation is open to you and you are wise if you take advantage of what is being offered. The church is bending over backwards to help you take steps forward to develop a maturing faith. It is now your responsibility to ask yourself: What do I need to do differently to become more engaged and a vibrant presence within the church? Do I take ownership of my parish or do I leave it up to the pastor’s administration?

            The Pope is feeding us a spirituality of care and consolation where we can understand the nuances and responsibilities of love and the trust that goes along with it with its power to set others free. Love always gives life. Love is shown more by deeds than by words and we must be able to love ourselves as an important psychological prerequisite for being able to love others. Love does not have to be perfect for us to value it. Another person can love me as best they can, with their many limitations, and that can be sufficient because we all are broken and incapable of always doing what is right. The Pope asks that we show our love through tenderness so this love can be visible to all. Loving another person changes us and keeps us oriented to God. Love has to be welcomed as a gift, and then we have to give this gift to others so they may have life. Love allows us to enter into someone else’s life to understand the chaos he or she experiences. I’m left wondering: what is going to jolt us out of our patterns of life so that we can allow this type of love to affect our personal lives and our life within our community of faith that we call church? Let’s find some way today to stretch beyond our comfortable confines so we can be gently intrusive into the life of our neighbor. It does not even have to be a person in need, but someone whose existence we take for granted.

            In the Gospel Jesus tells us that he will send the Holy Spirit to be among us to guide us in the way of truth. My friends, the Spirit is very active today and is among us. We have to be clever enough to read the signs of the times. We have a great opportunity in front of us with the initiatives of our Pope. Can be banish our fear and rise from our levels of comfort to take a courageous risk? The Spirit is present; our Advocate is with us; the Spirit is speaking from among you and from our Pope. Trust in your power. Trust in your goodness. Use your courage. When we come upon difficult deliberations, we have all the resources we need. We have each other. We have the Gospel. We have the Holy Spirit, who demands that we place no undue burdens upon anyone striving to meet Christ. This is a God in whom I trust and I can rejoice because the Spirit of Love, the Spirit of Truth, is bringing us all together so we can respond in loving tenderness.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 16) Paul and Barnabas set sail for Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia, and a Romany colony. Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, listens to their preaching and opens her heart to them. She is baptized and invites them to stay with her.  
Tuesday: (Acts 16) Paul is brought to the Areopagus in Athens and tells them of the Unknown God he and Barnabas worship.
Wednesday: (Acts 17) At the Areopagus, Paul declares that this unknown God is the same one Christians worship and has brought about salvation, including the resurrection of the dead. This concept unsettles some who find it a difficult teaching to accept.
Thursday: (Acts 15) Paul travels to Corinth and meets the Jews, Aquila and Priscilla, who were forced to leave Rome because of Cladius’ dispersion edict. He learns the tent-making trade and preaches to Jews who reject him. He encounters Titus Justus and Crispus, a synagogue leader, who comes to believe. The entire congregation believes the news of Jesus Christ.
Friday (Acts 18) While in Corinth, Paul receives a vision from the Lord urging him to go on speaking as no harm will come to him. Others are harmed, but Paul escapes injury.
Saturday (Acts 18) Paul travels to Antioch in Syria. Priscilla and Aquila meet Apollos, a Jewish Christian, who is preaching the way of Jesus, but of the baptism by the Holy Spirit he is not informed. They take him aside and teach him the correct doctrine. He then vigorously refutes the Jews in public, establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.

Gospel: 
Monday: (John 15) Jesus tells his friends that the Advocate will come and testify to him. Meanwhile, they will be expelled from the synagogues and harmed – even unto death.  
Tuesday: (John 16) The Advocate, the Spirit of truth, will guide his friends to all truth. Jesus confuses them by saying, “a little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.”
Wednesday (John 16) The Spirit of truth will guide you and will declare to you the things that are coming. The Spirit will glorify. Everything the Father has is mine.
Thursday (John 15) Remaining close to Jesus will allow us to share complete joy with one another.
Friday (John 16) As they debate, he tells them their mourning will become joy – just like a woman who is groaning in labor pains.
Saturday (John 16) As Jesus tells them again that he is part of the Father, he instructs them to ask for anything in his name and God will grant it because Jesus is leaving the world and is going back to the Father. The Father loves them because they have loved him. The Father will reward them for their generosity.

Saints of the Week

May 1: Joseph the Worker was honored by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in an effort to counteract May Day, a union, worker, and socialist holiday. Many Catholics believe him to be the patron of workers because he is known for his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities that believers should adopt.

May 2: Athanasius, bishop and doctor (295-373), was an Egyptian who attended the Nicene Council in 325. He wrote about Christ's divinity but this caused his exile by non-Christian emperors. He wrote a treatise on the Incarnation and brought monasticism to the West.

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 1, 1572. At Rome, Pope St. Pius V dies. His decree imposing Choir on the Society was cancelled by his successor, Gregory XIII.
·      May 2, 1706. The death of Jesuit brother G J Kamel. The camellia flower is named after him.
·      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.