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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Seventh Sunday of Easter

The Seventh Sunday of Easter
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June 2, 2019
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29

On Easter Day, God raised Jesus from the dead so he could be our intercessor and the one who judges with mercy. Jesus announced the victory of God to let us know that he brought his love for us straight to God’s heart. Before he went to his death, Jesus prayed for the protection of those who believed in him and he revealed his emotions about us. We are precious to him and he has such affinity for us that he wants God to know that we and Jesus are linked, just as he and the Father are one. Above all, the church prays for this unity among its believers because the forces of the world will try to separate us from one another.

The story of Stephen’s martyrdom is a reminder to us that we hold our positions dearer to ourselves than we hold each other. Stephen was the first martyr for Christ, and he represents a belief system much different from the Jewish community of which he was a part. He was a Greek-speaking Jew who would serve the community’s pastoral and practical needs. The early Jewish church held prejudicial and biased views against the Greek-speaking widows and orphans who were not pure-blooded, Hebrew-speaking Jews, and the widows complained about this discrimination. Stephen, preaching the words of Jesus Christ and performing great signs in his name, was opposed by the Jews, who saw him as a threat to their faith. Stephen was charged with blasphemy against God and Moses and was stoned to death.

Filled with wisdom, Stephen detailed Israel’s history by outlining God’s blessings upon the people, but reminding them that they often became disobedient, despite God’s mercy. This Jesus, who had been raised from the dead, came to fulfill the Mosaic Law, not destroy it, and Stephen provided Scriptural evidence and then chastised the Sanhedrin for failing to hear and understand and resisting the Holy Spirit. The crowd killed Stephen after he told of a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father, a charge the people equated with blasphemy. Saul, who worked tirelessly to fulfill the Mosaic Laws, consented to his death sentence.

From the first days of the church, believers were opposed by those closest to them, and that is where there is the most severe pain. Just think about the hurt and suffering within families. The pain is so real, so intense that family members refuse to talk or even see other family members. The worst enemies are those closest to us.

It is amazing that the church holds together with the many disputes among its members. Bring up any of the following items and strong feelings arise: immigration, gay marriage, abortion, the roots of sexual and power abuse by priests and bishops, taxes, welfare, race, class, transgendered people, liturgical or musical styles. People hold their world-views and beliefs dearer to themselves than they do a person with a different perspective. Somehow the church has a big enough tent to include many perspectives, but we have to do better than that. We are called to reconcile with our family and our once-loved ones so we can be reconciled to God. Life is about uniting with those with whom we have become estranged.

Love of neighbor as we love ourselves is proof that we believe in Jesus, and not in our own perspectives. The work is indeed challenging, but we will be known by the amount of love we show to others. It starts with having compassion on ourselves and understanding why we hold our worldviews, and then it begins with a desire to have compassion on others. We pray for the desire to have the desire. We keep inching towards our goal of loving better, and we let Jesus, our Lord, assist along the way. We are his people. His love is magnanimous, and our love has to grow as we strive for his way of love. At the end of our lives, he will not ask, “What was your position on this issue?” He will only ask, “Did you have the desire to love? Did you try? That’s all I want.”

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 19) Paul went through the interior of Greece and down to Ephesus to introduce the believers to the Holy Spirit. The community was baptized into the Body of Christ. 

Tuesday: (Acts 20) The presbyters at Ephesus summoned Paul, who told them that he was going to an uncertain fate in Jerusalem. Paul recounts the ways he served the Lord with humility, tears, and trials, but imprisonment and hardships await him.

Wednesday: (Acts 20) Paul prays for the whole flock and he prays for them because he knows adversaries will take advantage of Paul’s absence. When Paul finished speaking, the people wept loudly and threw their arms around him and kissed him. 

Thursday: (Acts 22) Paul is brought to trial. The Pharisees and Sadducees are sharply divided; armed forces rescue Paul from their midst. The Lord tells Paul he must go to Rome and be faithful there the same way he was faithful in Jerusalem. 

Friday (Acts 25) King Agrippa hears Paul’s case and determines that Paul is to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul, as a Roman citizen, appeals for the Emperor’s decision. 

Saturday (Acts 28) When Paul entered Rome, he was allowed to live by himself. He called together the leaders of the Jews to let them know the charges brought against them. He told them his story. He remained for two years in his lodgings and received all who came to him without hindrance as he proclaimed the Kingdom of God.

Monday: (John 16) The disciples realize Jesus is returning to the Father and that he is strengthening them for the time when he will not longer be physically with them.  

Tuesday: (John 17) Jesus raises his eyes to heaven and realizes it is time to glorify the Father through his death so he may give eternal life to all that we given to him. He revealed God’s name to them and now it is time to see the glory of God revealed.

Wednesday (John 17) Jesus prays for the safety of those given to him. He wants them to be safe as they testify to God’s steadfastness in a harsh world. He prays for unity, “so that they may be one just as we, Father, are one.”

Thursday (John 17) Jesus consecrates them to the truth and wards off the Evil One. He also prays for those given to him through the testimony of others. The love Jesus and the Father share is available to future disciples.

Friday (John 21) After the Farewell Discourse ends, Jesus appears at the seashore with Simon Peter who professes his three-fold love of Jesus. Jesus forgives him and asks him to care for his people even though the authorities of this world will eventually have their day with him.

Saturday (John 21) Peter turns to Jesus and asks about the Beloved Disciple. Jesus retorts, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?” This disciple is the one who wrote the testimony about Jesus and can attest to its truth.

Saints of the Week

June 2: Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs (d. 304) died in Rome during the Diocletian persecution. Peter was an exorcist who ministered under the well-regarded priest, Marcellinus. Stories are told that in jail they converted their jailer and his family. These men are remembered in Eucharistic prayer I.

June 3: Charles Lwanga and 22 companion martyrs from Uganda (18660-1886) felt the wrath of King Mwanga after Lwanga and the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) censured him for his cruelty and immorality. The King determined to rid his kingdom of Christians. He persecuted over 100 Christians, but upon their death new converts joined the church.

June 5: Boniface, bishop and martyr (675-754), was born in England and raised in a Benedictine monastery. He became a good preacher and was sent to the northern Netherlands as a missionary. Pope Gregory gave him the name Boniface with an edict to preach to non-Christians. We was made a bishop in Germany and gained many converts when he cut down the famed Oak of Thor and garnered no bad fortune by the Norse gods. Many years later he was killed by non-Christians when he was preparing to confirm many converts. The church referred to him as the "Apostle of Germany."

June 6: Norbert, bishop (1080-1134), a German, became a priest after a near-death experience. He became an itinerant preacher in northern France and established a community founded on strict asceticism. They became the Norbertines and defended the rights of the church against secular authorities.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jun 2, 1566. The Professed House was opened in Toledo. It became well known for the fervor of its residents and the wonderful effects of their labors.
·      Jun 3, 1559. A residence at Frascati, outside of Rome, was purchased for the fathers and brothers of the Roman College.
·      Jun 4, 1667. The death in Rome of Cardinal Sforza Pallavicini, a man of great knowledge and humility. While he was Prefect of Studies of the Roman College he wrote his great work, The History of the Council of Trent.
·      Jun 5, 1546. Paul III, in the document Exponi Nobis, empowered the Society to admit coadjutors, both spiritual and temporal.
·      Jun 6, 1610. At the funeral of Henry IV in Paris, two priests preaching in the Churches of St Eustace and St Gervase denounced the Jesuits as accomplices in his death. This was due primarily to the book De Rege of Father Mariana.
·      Jun 7, 1556. Peter Canisius becomes the first provincial superior of the newly constituted Province of Upper Germany.
·      Jun 8, 1889. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins died at the age of 44 in Dublin. His final words were "I am so happy, so happy." He wrote, "I wish that my pieces could at some time become known but in some spontaneous way ... and without my forcing."

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