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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Second Sunday of Easter

 Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Second Sunday of Easter
April 23, 2017
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

        This early Resurrection scene has several stunning events: Jesus passing through locked doors, breathing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, and Thomas finally coming to belief that Jesus has been raised from the dead. The enduring mark of the Resurrection, though, is peace that we received from the mercy of Jesus, even though it is undeserved.

            The disciples were crest-fallen that Jesus was shamefully crucified and that his movement came to an end. They expected that he would be victorious and that his entry into Jerusalem somehow would have changed the religious leader’s minds. Now, they live in fear that they will be captured and put to the test by the religious authorities. Then, they fear is confounded because, while they are huddled together in that upper room, Jesus appears to them from beyond the grave. They wonder: Will he exact vengeance? The disciples are deserters, betrayers, and deniers, and their fear is weightier than crucifixion. Their fear is excruciating, which comes from the word crucifixion, because it is emotional and spiritual. Though they deserved eternal punishment for abandoning Jesus, he forgives them, which makes no sense to them. It is mercy that is undeserved. Hence, this day is called Divine Mercy Sunday.

            We have to keep in mind that above all else, Jesus wants his believers to be a peace – a peace that is an offering of himself, a gift that softens hearts, a gift that gives courage to do the unthinkable, a gift that binds friends and former foes alike, a gift that brings about the kingdom of God.

            All that Jesus asks of us is to receive his peace, share it with others, and to forgive. This is the essence of Christianity. Can we give mercy to others when they do not deserve it, just like Jesus gave to us when we did not deserve it? If we can say yes, then we are his disciples. Forget all else and learn to live in peace.

            Today we get confused about the state of current relationships and what might happen if we do something courageous to set these matters aright. We live in fear about what our closest friends and family members will do if we act differently than they expect. We bind ourselves with this fear and therefore cannot live freely. Our ability to forgive has to be preceded by courage to get out of the boxes in which we put ourselves. It comes easier when we realize that Jesus is urging us to do so and that he will be very pleased when we change our patterns. He is not going to condemn us in the least. We do that to ourselves. Jesus is helping us prize our dignity and self-worth and to look at others with that same type of reverence.

            We have so many underdog stories today in the media to help us stand up for ourselves and to make things right. Jesus restores right relationships and he asks us to do that same. His peace will make us temporarily uncomfortable, but in the long run it will give us the balance we need for true happiness – one that comes from inner peace because everything has been restored. Only mercy, only love, only love that is undeserved and makes so sense at all, can make relationships right again. Mercy repels violence. It thwarts hatred. It sends away all that is disagreeable. We must become persons of mercy because this is what our faith demands. We’ve seen it in action so we do not have to doubt like Thomas. This is our most important lesson as a Christian. Today, our Risen Lord wants to teach us so we can have the peace that he died to give us.

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.

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

April 23: George, martyr (d. 303), was killed in Lydda, Palestine. He may have been a Roman soldier who organized a Christian community in what is now Iran (Urmiah). He became part of the Middle Ages imagination for his ideal of Christian chivalry and is thought to have slain a dragon. He was sent to Britain on an imperial expedition. He became the patron of England (and of Crusaders) and the nation adopted George’s Arms, a red cross on a white background, which is still part of the British flag.

April 23: Adalbert, bishop and martyr (956-997), was Bohemian-born who was consecrated bishop of Prague amidst fierce political opposition. He was exiled and became a Benedictine monk in Rome that he used as a base to preach missions in Poland, Prussia, Hungary, and Russia. He is named the "Apostle to the Slavs." He was killed in Gdansk, Poland.

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Apr 23, 1644. A General Chapter of the Benedictines condemned the calumny that St Ignatius was not the real author of the Spiritual Exercises. A monk had earlier claimed that the content was borrowed from a work by Garzia Cisneros.
·      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.


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