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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Company we Keep. The Seventh Sunday of Easter 2020.

   The Company we Keep.
The Seventh Sunday of Easter 2020
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May 24, 2020
Acts 1:12-14; Psalm 27; 1 Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11

It seems fitting in these liminal times when we are transitioning from stay-in-place orders to moving about more freely that our readings guide us to a period of increased prayer. It is better to err on the side of caution and safety and to remember the havoc the virus has wreaked on certain families. Scripture helps us remain focused on coming together in a community, both as an act of thanksgiving, but also as a precautionary move to keeps us safe and united in purpose. Measured prudence is our way forward, as it was for the disciples.

In the first reading, after the Ascension, the disciples returned to the upper room where there gathered so often and then came together in prayer. They deliberated how they were to move forward without the physical presence of Jesus, and they patiently waited for the arrival of the Advocate, who would usher in Pentecost. Their business was to pray in one accord for the community. Psalm 27, The Lord is My Shepherd, is a type of prayer that they might have prayed – to be in the presence of the Lord with great trust and to know that God will hear the prayers.

The Gospel passage relays the heart-felt prayer that Jesus offered for the protection of his disciples as he was going to depart from them. He prays for their deliverance from evil forces, and he prays for their unity. His life, his words, his actions will remain in the consciousness of his believers, and, as he knows our concerns, fears, and worries, he will tell them to the Father with whom he shall find glory. Through his loving concern and God’s radical love for him, due to the creative energy they generate, the disciples will be able to feel the intimate nearness of God, and this felt knowledge will sustain them. The power of this love will keep the community united. Prayer is a power that binds us, and our love for another person has a ripple effect.

As we open up our lifestyle once again, many people will choose not to wear masks that protect other people. Some will think about the infringement upon their civil liberties and will not act prudently to support the common good. Others will think that they are young and healthy and will withstand the illness if they by slim chance contract it. Some want to take the risks to jumpstart the economy, while others just want to get back to church. Still others are just impatient and do not know what more to do with this idle time. Then there are those who want to recover slowly and take whatever time is needed to regain good health for everyone, especially those who are vulnerable. It is difficult for us to be a community of common purpose with these varied motivations. It seems like even prayer won’t work.

Prayer does work. Prayer helps us to be mindful of the needs of others; prayer helps us serve other people and thank those who are working for the common good. Prayer gives us wisdom and understanding, and it helps us listen to the needs of others and the voice of God. Prayer will help us endure people who have different opinions and different worldviews. Prayer changes us. We help the world evolve when we unite ourselves with the resurrected Christ by becoming more loving.

Let’s spend these days in prayer waiting for the Spirit to come anew into our lives. The Spirit will help us keep our ears open to the words and counsel of Jesus. The Spirit will guide us during these perplexing times and will keeps us patient with those who think differently than us. This Spirit will work overtime to keep us together as a community, not just to endure, but to become strengthened because we will remain united, not just with the risen Jesus of Nazareth, but with the cosmic Christ who sits with the Creator of the Universe. You, me, the Spirit, the cosmic Christ, and the Creator of the Universe. That’s pretty good company to keep, and it makes me very happy.

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

May 24: Our Lady of the Way or in Italian, Madonna della Strada, is a painting enshrined at the Church of the Gesu in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus. The Madonna Della Strada is the patroness of the Society of Jesus. In 1568, Cardinal Farnese erected the Gesu in place of the former church of Santa Maria della Strada. 

May 25: Bede the Venerable, priest and doctor, (673-735), is the only English doctor of the church. As a child, he was sent to a Benedictine monastery where he studied theology and was ordained. He wrote thorough commentaries on scripture and history as well as poetry and biographies. His famous work is the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People," the source for much of Anglo-Saxon history.

May 25: Gregory VII, pope (1020-1085), was a Tuscan who was sent to a monastery to study under John Gratian, who became Gregory VI. He served the next few popes as chaplain, treasurer, chancellor and counselor before he became Gregory VII. He introduced strong reforms over civil authorities that caused much consternation. Eventually, the Romans turned against him when the Normans sacked Rome.

May 25: Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi (1566-1607), a Florentine, chose to become a Carmelite nun instead of getting married. Her biography, written by her confessor, gives accounts of intense bouts of desolation and joy. She is reputed to have gifts of prophecy and healing.

May 26: Philip Neri, priest (1515-1595), is known as the "Apostle of Rome." A Florentine who was educated by the Dominicans, he re-evangelized Roe by establishing confraternities of laymen to minister to pilgrims and the sick in hospitals. He founded the Oratorians when he gathered a sufficient following because of his spiritual wisdom.

May 27: Augustine of Canterbury, bishop (d. 604) was sent to England with 40 monks from St. Andrew's monastery to evangelize the pagans. They were well-received. Augustine was made bishop, established a hierarchy, and changed many pagans feasts to religious ones. Wales did not accept the mission; Scotland took St. Andrew's cross as their national symbol. Augustine began a Benedictine monastery at Canterbury and was Canterbury's first archbishop.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      May 24, 1834. Don Pedro IV expelled the Society from Brazil.
·      May 25, 1569. At Rome Pope St Pius V installed the Society in the College of Penitentiaries. Priests of various nationalities who were resident in Rome were required to act as confessors in St Peter's.
·      May 26, 1673. Ching Wei‑San (Emmanuel de Sigueira) dies, the first Chinese Jesuit priest.
·      May 27, 1555. The Viceroy of India sent an embassy to Claudius, Emperor of Ethiopia, hoping to win him and his subjects over to Catholic unity. Nothing came of this venture, but Fr. Goncalvo de Silveira, who would become the Society's first martyr on the Africa soil, remained in the country.
·      May 28, 1962. The death of Bernard Hubbard famous Alaskan missionary. He was the author of the book Mush, You Malemutes! and wrote a number of articles on the Alaska mission.
·      May 29,1991. Pope John Paul II announces that Paulo Dezza, SJ is to become a Cardinal, as well as Jan Korec, in Slovakia.
·      May 30, 1849. Vincent Gioberti's book Il Gesuita Moderno was put on the Index. Gioberti had applied to be admitted into the Society, and on being refused became its bitter enemy and calumniator.

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