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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Third Sunday of Easter

The Third Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2019
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19

We hear the concluding chapter of the Fourth Gospel today when the Disciples discover Jesus on the seashore at the place they first met him. The story has come full circle, and the disciples return home but forever changed. They have become wiser and more reflective because they have known Jesus and they realize his story with them does not end. Once you are given a mission, you never retire from it.

The Jesuits use a Latin term called magis, which means “the more,” and it refers to being called to a greater depth of relationship with Jesus. People frequently mistake magis to mean that we have to do more, to go the extra mile, to go above and beyond, but this is a misreading of the message. After all, those are the people who get the rewards, but often a work-life balance is out of whack. The magis means giving more to the friendship with Jesus Christ by opening our souls to him and accepting the demands of friendship, which is to be faithful, truthful, and to remain in continued conversation. It means sharing who one is and what one does with the one whom you love, to paraphrase St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is a mutual sharing of selves in freedom.

Peter is invited into the magis at the seashore by Jesus. Jesus knows Peter denied him three times within earshot, and he knows that Peter acted out of fear, but Peter needed to receive forgiveness for the ways he crumpled in his ability to stand by Jesus. In his heart, Jesus had forgiven Peter, but he knew Peter needed to be probed so he could receive the forgiveness of Jesus. Three times he asked Peter to respond to him in faith: Do you love me? The first time was a quick “yes,” the second time was a more thoughtful reply, and the third time was penetrating, far-reaching probe that required Peter’s full commitment. By saying “yes,” Peter dedicated his whole life to Jesus and to his mission and values. He finally bonded with Jesus that brought about his redemption. From this point on, Peter is a changed man who acts with maturity, with kindness and patience, with boldness for mission, and with his heart on fire for his friend.

Jesus shows us that our relationship cannot be superficial if we want to have meaningful lives. To be a disciple, we have to place ourselves at risk and go deeper with those whom we love and are part of our primary relationships – spouses, partners, children, parents, soul mates. It is not enough to assume that the other person knows what we are thinking and how we think. We also cannot make assumptions about their thoughts. Being together or in someone’s presence is not enough. We have to be able to share stories, to reveal, to ask questions, and to be nourished by the words we hear. We cannot take people’s stories for granted and they will only share when they know they will be sufficiently heard. We’ve all learned something surprising about a loved one when we attend that person’s wake and we wonder, “Why did I not know that about them? That seemed like important information for me to know.” We must learn more about one another each day if the relationship is going to deepen. This is about letting our love penetrate into the other person.

There comes a point in every relationship that tests whether it will last, and it is typically when we reveal something fundamental about ourselves to the other person. We wonder, “If I tell something to a person, will the relationship last?” Many times, it doesn’t; people find it hard to forgive or to not judge with absolute condemnation; a solid friendship endures when the person has greater love and compassion for us when we reveal something that we keep close to the vest. This is what happens between Peter and Jesus at the seashore. The friendship gains depth because the strength of the care for one another is tested, and Peter abides by Jesus. As Jesus teaches us, life is about increasing our care, compassion, and love for the other person, and letting that love direct all our future actions and words.

We nourish relationships each day when we say hello, smile, offer gracious words, or give a kind gesture. We learn to deepen our major friendships, which then becomes helpful in deepening our friendship with Christ. The way we relate to our loved ones is the same way we relate to Jesus in our prayer, and some people have not been taught to pray to God in friendship. Perhaps this Gospel is an invitation to go deeper. Seek spiritual direction if you need help. I just want to ask you, “Do you know you are loved and forgiven?” “Do you know you are loved and forgiven?” “Do you know you are loved and forgiven?” If you answered “yes,” go and do likewise.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Readings
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 with 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

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      May 5, 1782. At Coimbra, Sebastian Carvahlo, Marquis de Pombal, a cruel persecutor of the Society in Portugal, died in disgrace and exile. His body remained unburied fifty years, till Father Philip Delvaux performed the last rites in 1832.
·      May 6, 1816. Letter of John Adams to Thomas Jefferson mentioning the Jesuits. "If any congregation of men could merit eternal perdition on earth and in hell, it is the company of Loyola."
·      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

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