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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Easter

The Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2017
Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10

                    Saint Peter writes about our need to be patient when we suffer because Christ suffered for us and he gave us an example to follow. Peter then describes the circumstances around Christ’s sufferings and shows us the ways he remained righteous. As the Good Shepherd who remains pure and undefiled, Jesus shows us he is the real shepherd. He points us to himself as the one we are to follow because he is the gate to protected pastures. The care Jesus gives us is trustworthy.

            This patient suffering stuff is hard to take. I talked with a woman this week whose brother is dying and was moved to hospice. She wants to spend time with him to give him a tender, warm send-off to God. Instead, she is immersed in abundant drama over strained relationships. Most of the times this is done because people cannot confront the reality before them – that a loved one is dying and that their own mortality is brought to mind. The death of another person reminds us all too often that we are not living rightly and that we have many relationships that need to be reconciled and mended.

            This woman is distraught because her siblings pressure her to talk about the reasons they do not get along. Her siblings are controlling and use their anger to get their way. They try to control the funeral arrangements and will not let God or the Church be any part of the discussion. They decide how and when treatment is to be administered and who can visit at certain times. They want everyone to be open to their point of view, but their favorite word to the requests and concerns of others is, “No.” This woman realizes she has to be patient with her siblings, but her practice of patience prolongs her suffering.

            This woman recognizes the only one who can resolve this chaos is Jesus, but her family will not let her bring him into the conversation. Sometimes people become rabidly anti-church, anti-religion, at a time when they desperately need the church. Our prayer as Christians for people like this are the same words of Peter: What are we to do? Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the Holy Spirit. If we make ourselves humble and recognize our need for something larger in our lives, we will be more agreeable people. Otherwise, we keep ourselves overly concerned with our own needs.

            Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, wants to open the gates for us, but for him to do so, we must recognize him and give him proper honor. The Gospel says that those who try to enter the sheepfold by climbing over the walls illegally makes themselves thieves and robbers and no one wants anything to do with them. To appropriately honor Jesus means that we must be in relationship with him. We have to become familiar with the ways he speaks to us and acts in our lives. Once we have established this connection, we build trust in him because he remains faithful to us. He doesn’t fail us.

            We, as faithful people, are bound to suffer patiently with people who simply do not get it. It hurts us because the controlling, narcissistic ways of others will often take precedence and shape the narrative. We are the ones who have to be responsible because we understand the larger meaning. As we go through our suffering, we realize that we have to persevere in faith because it is authentic and filled with integrity, and we have to accept the anxiety and fear of others. We know Christ will stand by us and will reward our responsible care of others, but it is a slog at times. Persevere anyways. You are doing the right thing.

            The Good Shepherd says, “I came so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” As a patient people, we know Christ is part of our suffering and will reward us in the long run. He will transform our mourning into joy, and he will wipe away our tears. We will understand what others long for and cannot grasp. Our patient suffering is our way of loving our brothers and sisters who do not yet know Christ. We know him and he knows us, and that is the difference between despair and joy. Live in the joy Christ gives us. May you have new life in abundance.  

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 11) The Apostles include the Gentiles into the community after solemn deliberation. Peter lifts the Jewish dietary laws for them declaring that, “God granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”
Tuesday: (Acts 11) Those who had been dispersed since the persecution that followed Stephen’s stoning began proclaiming the story of Jesus Christ to their new communities. The number of converts increased dramatically. 
Wednesday: (Acts 12) The word of God continued to spread and the number of disciples grew. At Antioch during prayer, the Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Thursday: (Acts 13) In Perga in Pamphylia, Paul stood up and told the story of God’s deliverance of the chosen people from bondage and slavery. God’s work continued in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Friday (Acts 13) The whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord, but strict Jews opposed Paul and Barnabas and claimed they told the wrong story.
Saturday (Acts 13) The Gentiles were delighted when Paul and Barnabas opened scripture for them and those them of their inclusion as God’s elect. Salvation was accessible to them too.

Monday: (John 10) The Good Shepherd tales continues as Jesus describes to his friends the characteristics of a self-interested person who pretends to be a shepherd. The sheep know and trust the voice of the good shepherd.
Tuesday: (John 10) During the feast of the Dedication, Jesus declares he is the good shepherd and that he and the Father are one.
Wednesday (John 10) Jesus cries out, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me.” Jesus speaks and acts of behalf of the Father.
Thursday (John 13) Jesus makes “I am” statements and he shows he does the work of the Father when after he washes the feet of the disciples, he says, “I am.”
Friday (John 14) In his farewell discourse, Jesus consoles his friends. He tells them that the is going away but will soon return to take away their fear.
Saturday (John 14) He reassures that that since they know the mind and heart of Jesus, they also know the mind and heart of the Father.  

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      May 7, 1547. Letter of St. Ignatius to the scholastics at Coimbra on Religious Perfection.
·      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.


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