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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Fifth Sunday of Easter

The Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2017
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12

            Jesus assures us of our place in heaven because he wants us to live with him forever and to be in a familiar place with people who miss us. Jesus tells us that is going to personally seek us for himself? Why? Because we are lovable and he wants us near him. When we approach death and face life’s transitions, Jesus wants us to have peace.

This is a season of transitions. Graduations, anniversaries, retirements, confirmations, and good-bye parties dot the calendar as the year passes.  Parents sigh because their children mature rapidly. Some children will leave the nest causing highs and lows in our emotions. We respect the truthfulness of our emotions, but at the same time, we need to diminish the drama from the swirling events.

Some of us do not handle transitions well. One way to approach them is to suck it up and pretend momentous events are not occurring. We close our eyes, mind, and hearts to the chaos around us and we wait for the storm to inevitably pass. Another way is to allow ourselves to get overly stimulated by the many competing voices while we search out the strongest voice to follow. We want to find ourselves on the right side, and it is difficult for us to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, the one whose voice makes sense in the turbulence. Instead, anxieties get the best of us and we find ourselves paralyzed. In these times it is important to remember that ancient maxim, “When you are going through hell, keep going.” Rest assured a satisfying resolution is on the horizon.

What are we to do? Transitions place demands upon us, which are opportunities for grace and growth, if we accept them as such. Our discomfort instructs us to make changes in our life to achieve balance once again. A new power arises in a vacuum. We must grasp invitations as positive steps, meaning that we first adjust our attitudes in order to see change as beneficial. If attitudes are negative or pessimistic then we need to reclaim balance.

What else can we do? Comfort others. We focus less on our dilemmas when we are concerned for others. Life is meaningful when we reach out to those who struggle. The Good Shepherd comforts us when we give others compassion. Our emotions are balanced when we listen to other’s emotions. The practice of sharing feelings bind us together and this is what we are about as disciples – to become one in the Lord. We are others’ supportive strength and beauty.

Jesus comforted others in his greatest time of need. He wasn’t preoccupied with his own fate. Instead, he comforted his disciples with these words: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. I will prepare a place for you and I will come back again and take you to myself.”

Life’s journey is an individual one, but Jesus accompanies us. Friends and loved ones in heaven do as well. They are telling Jesus that we blessed them. They are our advocates. They will greet us with warm embraces of affection. They will make God’s house our own house with full comfort and peace. All will be reconciled and we can love each other as we once did. We will have peace, and then we evolve into our new ministry, that is, to comfort those who remain in transition’s turmoil, and we will ache for them to have peace.

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

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.

May 15: Isidore (1070-1130), was born in Madrid to a family of farm laborers. With his wife, he worked on an estate and became known for his piety and generosity. His remains are the cause of several miracles most notably the cure of King Philip III who became his sponsor for canonization.

May 16: Andrew Bobola, S.J., priest martyr (1591-1657), is called the Martyr of Poland because of his excruciatingly painful death. He worked during a plague to care for the sick, but he became "wanted" by the Cossacks during a time when anti-Catholic and anti-Jesuit sentiment was high. His preaching converted whole villages back to Catholicism and he was hunted down because he was termed a "soul-hunter."

May 18: John I, pope and martyr (d. 526), was a Tuscan who became pope under the rule of Theodoric the Goth, an Arian. Theodoric opposed Emperor Justin I in Constantinople who persecuted Arians. John was sent to Justin to end the persecutions. He returned to great glory, but Theodoric was not satisfied, though Justin met all his demands. John was imprisoned and soon died because of ill treatment.

May 20: Bernardine of Siena, priest, (1380-1444) was from a family of nobles who cared for the sick during plagues. He entered the Franciscans and preached across northern and central Italy with homilies that understood the needs of the laity. He became vicar general and instituted reforms.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      May 14, 1978. Letter of Pedro Arrupe to the whole Society on Inculturation.
·      May 15, 1815. Readmission of the Society into Spain by Ferdinand VII. The members of the Society were again exiled on July 31, 1820.
·      May 16, 1988. In Paraguay, Pope John Paul II canonizes Roque Gonzalez, Alfonso Rodriguez, and Juan del Castillo.
·      May 17, 1572. Pope Gregory XIII exempted the Society from choir and approved simple vows after two years of novitiate and ordination before solemn profession. In these matters he reversed a decree of St Pius V.
·      May 18, 1769. The election of Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli as Pope Clement XIV. He was the pope who suppressed the Society.
·      May 19, 1652. Birth of Paul Hoste mathematician and expert on construction of ships and history of naval warfare.
·      May 20, 1521. Ignatius was seriously wounded at Pamplona, Spain, while defending its fortress against the French.


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