Open it Up
The Sixth Sunday of Easter 2021
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Acts 10:25-, 34-35, 44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
The consciousness of Peter and the Apostles were being stretched as they came face to face to Cornelius, a god-fearing Gentile, a foreigner who accepted the Jewish religion and wanted to be accepted into the community of the Apostles. Cornelius was known to be a man of devout prayer who did many good works and gave generously to charity. An angel of the Lord appeared to Cornelius to tell him to go to a house in Joppa where he would find Peter, a Jew, who was not to socially interact with him. Peter likewise had a dream and was told to receive Cornelius, who became the first Gentile convert to the faith.
You can imagine the anger and confusion that rippled through the Jewish community when they heard that Cornelius was baptized and was accepted as a believer. The traditionalist Jews asked, “Who was Peter to do this? Who gave him this authority?” The community of Christian believers were also sensitive because inclusion of the Gentiles overturned all their prior teachings, and the identity of the Jewish believers was changed in a single instance when Peter declared, “I see that God shows no partiality. In every nation, whoever fears God and acts uprightly is acceptable to God.” This puts an end to the notion of a “chosen people” because it is up to an individual to put faith in God and become righteous. An individual’s response makes one a friend of God.
For the young Christian community, the road to accept believing Gentiles was being paved and it would not come without challenges. The conservative Jews rejected the Christians and forbid them from worshiping with them in their synagogues and they were cut off from social and business interactions. They also wondered about the relevancy of Sacred Scripture and the place of honor of their cherished teachings. Though they tried to be good Jews, everything was being questioned and turned upside-down, and yet, they were learning to obey the Holy Spirit. They moved from being a self-isolating group of Jews to become a community of inclusion, mercy, and compassion, and there are few rules with mercy, except to love one’s neighbor as oneself. How could they possibly restrict anyone from moving closer to God? If anyone receives the Holy Spirit, how can they keep them from baptism?
This idea challenges us today when we are still called to be a welcoming, inclusive church, rather than one of restrictive regulations. We know that conversions happens one heart at a time. Like the Apostles, do we make it easy for people who are inspired by the Holy Spirit to join us, or for that matter, to stay with us? Or do we give them teachings and regulations to consider. In the first instance and in the end, Christ will sort it all out. In the meantime, let’s show our joy and deep happiness that we are friends of God to a world hungering for meaning and belonging. Let’s make a person who asks questions about God feel welcome and included in our presence. Let us remove any impediments that we might be inclined to put in the way of one’s further conversion by honoring the person and celebrating that God is at work in them. Let us celebrate our shared story as friends of God, and let us open the doors a bit wider so that more people may come to know the treasures that we hold – Jesus Christ and his companions in the kingdom.
Scripture for Daily Mass
Monday: (Acts 16) Paul and Barnabas set sail for Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia, and a Romany colony. Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, listens to their preaching and opens her heart to them. She is baptized and invites them to stay with her.
Tuesday: (Acts 16) Paul is brought to the Areopagus in Athens and tells them of the Unknown God he and Barnabas worship.
Wednesday: (Acts 17) At the Areopagus, Paul declares that this unknown God is the same one Christians worship and has brought about salvation, including the resurrection of the dead. This concept unsettles some who find it a difficult teaching to accept.
Thursday: (Acts 15) Paul travels to Corinth and meets the Jews, Aquila and Priscilla, who were forced to leave Rome because of Cladius’ dispersion edict. He learns the tent-making trade and preaches to Jews who reject him. He encounters Titus Justus and Crispus, a synagogue leader, who comes to believe. The entire congregation believes the news of Jesus Christ.
Friday (Acts 18) While in Corinth, Paul receives a vision from the Lord urging him to go on speaking as no harm will come to him. Others are harmed, but Paul escapes injury.
Saturday (Acts 18) Paul travels to Antioch in Syria. Priscilla and Aquila meet Apollos, a Jewish Christian, who is preaching the way of Jesus, but of the baptism by the Holy Spirit he is not informed. They take him aside and teach him the correct doctrine. He then vigorously refutes the Jews in public, establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.
Monday: (John 15) Jesus tells his friends that the Advocate will come and testify to him. Meanwhile, they will be expelled from the synagogues and harmed – even unto death.
Tuesday: (John 16) The Advocate, the Spirit of truth, will guide his friends to all truth. Jesus confuses them by saying, “a little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.”
Wednesday (John 16) The Spirit of truth will guide you and will declare to you the things that are coming. The Spirit will glorify. Everything the Father has is mine.
Thursday (John 15) Remaining close to Jesus will allow us to share complete joy with one another.
Friday (John 16) As they debate, he tells them their mourning will become joy – just like a woman who is groaning in labor pains.
Saturday (John 16) As Jesus tells them again that he is part of the Father, he instructs them to ask for anything in his name and God will grant it because Jesus is leaving the world and is going back to the Father. The Father loves them because they have loved him. The Father will reward them for their generosity.
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.
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.
This Week in Jesuit History
- 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.
- 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.