Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Third Sunday of Easter

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Third Sunday of Easter
April 10, 2016
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; Psalm 39; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19

            The readings would make greater sense if they were placed in chronological order because the life of an apostle begins when one receives the personal love of Christ. Peter, who thrice denied Jesus, gives Christ a three-fold affirmation of his love. This passage is designed to restore Peter to his rightful place as the humble shepherd of the church. The leader of the church must first be one of humility because he has placed the love of Christ and love of neighbors before all other needs.

You can be sure that this moment was not the first personal encounter Peter had with the Risen Lord. I’m fairly certain that when Peter first saw Jesus he said, “I’m sorry. I’m terribly sorry. What can I do to be forgiven by you?” He probably could not look lift his head to look Jesus in the eye because of the shame he bore, but Jesus would have put his hand to his chin, gazed into his soul, and sincerely utter the words, “I forgive you. My hopes for the church still rest upon you. Let your shame go. I set you free.” Peter probably embraced Jesus and sobbed in relief that Jesus understood why he denied him. This is the humility upon which the church was built. This is the humility upon which the church must be rebuilt today. It is the love of Jesus that turned around Peter’s life.

Notice the way Peter speaks in the Acts of the Apostles. He boldly stands before the high priest and the Sanhedrin and he is unafraid. He has gained inner authority because of his relationship to the Risen Jesus. His bold words are clear and ringing of the truth: The God of our ancestors raised Jesus though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. This Jesus is exalted as the world’s savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. Peter is not judging their actions; he is simply describing them. Despite the council’s strict admonition that the disciples cease teaching in the name of Jesus, Peter declares himself as a witness to the Jewish leadership’s actions. The end result is that the Sanhedrin reiterates their demand that they stop speaking about Jesus, but the apostles leave rejoicing because the religious leaders have no real authority over them. They continue to teach.

The Apostles confidence can only result because their faith is built upon receiving forgiving through the love of Jesus. Peter knows he did the worst act of treachery to his best friend and yet his friend forgave him. This reconciliation binds Peter closer to Christ and Peter realizes nothing will ever separate him from his friend again. In fact, he is proud to stand up for his friend and face adversity, unlike his fear of the past. Imprisonment, torture, slander, and even death are no longer deterrents to the Apostles because they realize they must obey God, who revealed to them the higher ideals of Christ’s love. The Apostle’s transformation is astonishing.

Peter’s life gives us an example of what we need to do to become greater disciples. It begins with a life of reconciliation where our bonds of friendship are forged tightly because we recognize who we are before him and he forgives us and banishes our shame and guilt. As we achieve this reconciliation, then we can step out boldly as apostles who proclaim the great work of Christ. Receiving this forgiving love makes us into new creations that live for the Lord. Christ’s mercy and compassion then rules our life and we hand on to others what we have received. We become real leaders in his kingdom as we marvel at the transformation he has brought about in us. This radical change attests to the power of his resurrection. We have not even begun to grasp the extent of the power he has given us.
Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 6) Stephen worked great signs and wonders in the name of Jesus.
Tuesday: (Acts 7) False testimony is lodged against him but he stands angelic before them. Angry opponents stone him, including Saul, who consents to execute him. 
Wednesday: (Acts 8) A severe persecution breaks out in Jerusalem and the believers are displaced to Judea and Samaria. Saul, trying to destroy the Church, enters house after house to arrest them.
Thursday: (Acts 8) Philip’s testimony and miracles in Samaria emboldens the believers. Philip heads out to Gaza and meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah’s texts. Philip interprets the scripture and the eunuch begs to be baptized.  
Friday (Acts 9) Meanwhile, Saul is carrying out hateful acts against the believers and is struck blind as he beholds a manifestation of Jesus. The beginning of his call and conversion takes place. 
Saturday (1 Peter 6 – Mark the Evangelist) Clothe yourself in humility; be sober and vigilant and resist the devil. The God of grace will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. 

Monday: (John 6) Jesus feeds the 5000 as a flashback to the Eucharistic memory of the believers with the Bread of Life discourse.
Tuesday: (John 6) Jesus instructs them, “It was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; my heavenly father gives the true bread.” Jesus proclaims, “I am the bread of life.”
Wednesday (John 6) God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world might be saved through him.
Thursday (John 6) Jesus states that all that is required is belief in him. Belief is not given to all. The way to the way is through the Son.
Friday (John 6) The Jews quarreled and opposition to the cannibalistic references of Jesus rises because his sayings are hard to accept. He tells the people, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” If you eat of Jesus, you will live forever.  
Saturday (Mark 16) Jesus appeared to the Eleven giving them instructions to proclaim the Gospel to every creature.

Saints of the Week

April 11: Stanislaus, bishop and martyr (1030-1079), was born near Krakow, Poland and studied canon law and theology before he renounced his family fortunes and became a priest. Elected bishop, he oppose the bellicose and immoral King Boleslaus II who often oppressed the peasantry. He excommunicated the king who ordered his murder but the soldiers refused to carry it out. The king murdered him by his own hands, but then had to flee into exile.

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 10, 1585. At Rome, the death of Pope Gregory XIII, founder of the Gregorian University and the German College, whose memory will ever be cherished as that of one of the Society's greatest benefactors.
·      Apr 11, 1573. Pope Gregory XIII suggested to the Fathers who were assembling for the Third General Congregation that it might be well for them to choose a General of some nationality other than Spanish. Later he expressed his satisfaction that they had elected Everard Mercurian, a Belgian.
·      Apr 12, 1671. Pope Clement X canonized Francis Borgia, the 3rd general of the Society.
·      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.