Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Ascension of the Lord (Seventh Sunday)

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 8, 2016
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53

            The beauty of the Ascension is that we recognize that Jesus is the one we all have in common. The           disciples experienced a period of absence when Jesus returned to God while waiting for the promise of God’s spirit. During this intervening period, the disciples gathered together to share their stories about Jesus and to tell others that God raised him from the dead. Their stories kept alive his memory until the Holy Spirit came to guide people in the teachings of Jesus.

            It might be time for us to examine how we think of our church attendance and participation. What good is it if I go to church every week and do not talk to anyone except to say hello to the priest? I thought the whole idea of church was to tell our stories to one another and then to be fed by his Body and Blood? Do you recall the last time you told someone about the work Jesus is doing in your life? Church is the safe place to tell our stories so we can encourage one another and be inspired. The world is a riskier place to tell others about Jesus, but as disciples, we do not have a choice. It is our duty to tell others about the ways Jesus has transformed our souls.

            In the early church, the community gathered to have an Agape meal that followed a regular nutritious meal. The believers ate with one another. They had each other over for dinner and spiritual conversation. They took steps to solidify their bonds. They liked one another and wanted to hear their stories. I wonder if we have the same enthusiasm today. We invite people into our homes because we like them and want to forge a deeper friendship. Our faith life is always furthered when we hear how the Lord is affecting someone else’s life. These are conversations that must begin again in our local church for it adds a mysterious dimension that gives our lives much joy.

            In the church, our laity must accept their power to a greater degree. At the Ascension, the angel asked the disciples, “Why are you looking up in the sky?” Simply look around you. The solutions are within your grasp. We are still caught in a pattern where we expect the pastor or priest to make decisions and then to organize each activity. Yes, the priest has to run the church and administer the sacraments, but the life of the parish depends upon the laity. From their own volition, they have to form the community’s spirit. Instead of waiting for a priest to initiate a particular program, organize it and let us know what you are doing so we can support it. Parishioners can animate the community and take responsibility for the many ministries within it. From the pulpit, the priest can encourage, plant seeds, affirm, support, but then you have to step forward to give life through your actions. A church community that is not filled with Christ’s spirit will certainly wither away.

            After Jesus ascended to heaven, the people had no choice but to rely upon each other. They gathered together in prayer and asked the Holy Spirit to come to them as Jesus promised. Together they prayed for a certain intention for the benefit of the community. We can do the same thing today instead of having individual prayer. Imagine if we came together to figure out how our parish ought to respond to the refugee crisis or an economic concern that affects our community. We would have God’s input into our decision-making processes. That makes sure we are contributing to our common good rather than only pushing our own agendas.

            This is an exciting time within the church. Pope Francis has opened to doors for new life and new ideas. We have to rise from our slumber and decide that we are going to contribute to a more engaged church that responds to our needs with mercy and reconciliation. It is a brand new time for you to step forward and be a part of an exciting enterprise. God is telling you that you cannot only dream about the possibilities for a revamped church, you can make it come true, but first we have to reimagine and revision what church can be for us. Daydream and let your imagination take root. Take ownership of this new day. Christ wants you to claim it. He will be with you in Spirit and will guide you. Don’t be afraid of trying something new and demanding more for your life. It is up to us to come together, to respect you, and to deliberate for the good of the community. Christ is inviting you to an exciting journey. Do you want the “more” that he offers? 
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.

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 10: Damien de Veuster of Moloka'i, priest (1840-1889), was a Belgian who entered the Congregation of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He was sent on mission to the Hawaiian Islands and was a parish priest for nine years. He then volunteered as a chaplain to the remote leper colony of Moloka'i. He contracted leprosy and died at the colony. He is remembered for his brave choice to accept the mission and to bring respect and dignity to the lepers. He was canonized in 2009. A statue of him stands in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

May 12: Nereus and Achilleus, martyrs (early second century), were Roman Imperial soldiers who converted to Christianity. They left the army and were martyred when they refused to sacrifice to idols during Emperor Trajan's reign.

May 12: Pancras, martyr, (d. 304)was a Syrian orphan who was brought to Rome by his uncle. Both soon after converted to Christianity. Pancras was beheaded at age 14 during the Diocletian persecution and buried on the Via Aurelia. A cemetery was named after him, but his remains were sent to Northumbria in England where six churches are dedicated to him.

May 13: Our Lady of Fatima is a name given to Mary after she appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal between May 13 and October 13, 1917. During her appearances, Mary stressed the importance of repentance, ongoing conversion, and dedicated to the heart of Mary through praying the Rosary.

May 14: Matthias, Apostle (first century) was chosen after the resurrection to replace Judas who committed suicide. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter, quoting a psalm, told 120 people who gathered that they were to choose a new apostle - someone who had been with them from the baptism of Jesus until the resurrection. Two names were put forward and the assembly cast lots. Matthias was chosen.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      May 8, 1853. The death of Jan Roothan, the 21st general of the Society, who promoted the central role of the Spiritual Exercises in the work of the Society after the restoration.
·      May 9, 1758. The 19th General Congregation opened, the last of the Old Society. It elected Lorenzo Ricci as general.
·      May 10, 1773. Empress Maria Teresa of Austria changed her friendship for the Society into hatred, because she had been led to believe that a written confession of hers (found and printed by Protestants) had been divulged by the Jesuits.
·      May 11, 1824. St Regis Seminary opens in Florissant, Missouri, by Fr. Van Quickenborne. It was the first Roman Catholic school in USA for the higher education of Native American Indians
·      May 12,1981. A letter of this date, from Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, speaks positively of Teilhard de Chardin in celebration of the centenary of his birth (May 1,1881).
·      May 13, 1572. Election of Gregory XIII to succeed St Pius V. To him the Society owes the foundation of the Roman and German Colleges.

·      May 14, 1978. Letter of Pedro Arrupe to the whole Society on Inculturation.