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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Fifth Sunday of Easter 2024 April 28, 2024

 Living in Unity:

The Fifth Sunday of Easter 2024 

April 28, 2024

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Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8


The Church now pivots to the accounts of Paul’s life, whose life has often been mischaracterized by preachers in the last century. Paul was the one who gave us Christian theology, the one who built the church into an enduring institution, and whose openness to the Spirit allowed the church to develop into a community rooted and grounded in the love of Jesus. Jesus opened us up to the kingdom of God; Paul made the church into an image of Jesus. In the passage we just heard, Paul struggled mightily for acceptance by the first Apostles, and each effort he took was thwarted by those who resisted change. 


Paul preaches what Jesus preached: unity in the Spirit. The Gospel passage means that we are to remain united to God through Jesus, and this union necessarily entails communion with one another. Loneliness is the great suffering of our day, and we are disconnected from meaningful relationships even if there are many people around us. Communion is a sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially at a mental or spiritual level. When we receive the Eucharist, we share these thoughts with Jesus Christ, who likewise wants to share his thoughts.


Communion in the church is never an individual act. It is done as part of a community, and communion is incomplete if we think of it as only receiving the consecrated host. Communion happens when we share our thoughts and feelings of gratitude, love, and openness with one another. We are called by Christ into a community where together we learn about his kingdom, and we actively choose to stay a part of those who are called. Communion is our conscious choice to stay on the vine that is nourished by Christ. Communion is our conscious choice to stay connected to those who are called to worship alongside us. Communion is side-by-side.


After we receive the consecrated hosts, we are invited to sit or kneel in silence. We value this time, if even just momentarily. When we do not know what we are feeling, when we are feeling disconnected, then sit down. Listen to your body. Listen to what is happening inside of you. Even listen to the suffering that has been trying to communicate with you. We slow down our breathing, which helps us connect the disparate pieces of our selves together into a whole. Our body, our soul, experiences communion when we spend time with ourselves and are put together again, re-membered, int our whole selves. 


When we sit in silence, we can learn what Christ wants for us. We discern our future together. We solve our challenges as a community united in Christ by the principles of our faith: by being slow to anger, rich in mercy, gracious in understanding, and open to the needs of the people. Our hearts must stay open to the emotions of Jesus, who is heartbroken for the suffering world. Our hearts must stay open to the needy among us, especially those who carry it silently, not wanting to bother others. We will be known for how deeply we care for those suffer most. Suffering disconnects us and causes us to withdraw when we most need to connect. Mercy is our virtue that binds us together, reconciles, and reconnects. 


We all want peace. We want peaceful relations with those around us, and for everyone to come together in happiness. We want to be meaningful to those in our family, among friends, and within church, and we want to hear that we are important to one another. We want trust rebuilt, friendships strengthened, and hurts reconciled. We need to know we are valued and cared for. The First Reading says that we are to love not in word or speech but in deeds, but let’s start with our words today and let our deeds prove our worth. Let us tell one another how important you are to them. Speak them often. Simply say to the person next to you: You are meaningful to me. I’m glad you are in my life. This is our way to build communion. This is our way of love. 


Scripture for Daily Mass


Monday: (Acts 14) As Gentiles and Jews in Iconium were about to attack Paul and Barnabas, they fled to Lystra where Paul healed a lame man.  


Tuesday: (Acts 14) The crowds began to put their faith in Paul and Barnabas as gods, but the men protested and told the story of the Christ event. Opposition to Paul increased shortly afterwards and he was stoned. They left for Derbe to strengthen the disciples in those cities and encouraged them during their times of hardship.


Wednesday: (Acts 15) Some of Paul’s Jewish opposition raised the question of circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic laws. Along the way to Jerusalem to seek the advice of the Apostles, they told everyone of the conversion of the Gentiles.


Thursday: (Acts 15) After much debate, Peter and James decided that no further restrictions were to be made on the Gentiles.


Friday (Acts 15) The Apostles and presbyters chose representatives and sent them to Paul and Barnabas with word that the Gentiles were indeed welcomed into the faith with no extra hardships placed upon them. The people were delighted with the good news.


Saturday (Acts 13) In Derbe and Lystra, Paul heard of a man named Timothy who was well regarded by the believers. Paul had him circumcised and they travelled to Macedonia to proclaim the good news.



Monday: (John 14) In the Farewell Discourse, Jesus reassures his disciples that he will remain with them if they keep his commandments to love one another. 


Tuesday: (John 14) To punctuate his message of consolation, he tells them he will send an advocate to teach and remind them of all he told them.


Wednesday (John 15) Jesus leaves them with his lasting peace that will help them endure many difficult times. This peace will allow us people to remain close to him – organically as he is the vine and we are the branches. 


Thursday (John 15) Remaining close to Jesus will allow us to share complete joy with one another. 


Friday (John 15) Jesus once again proves his love to his friends by saying that the true friend, the Good Shepherd, will lay down his life for his friends.  


Saturday (John 14) However, even with the love of Jesus, his followers will experience hatred in this world, but as his friends and as God’s elect, their harm can never really harm the souls of a believer.


Saints of the Week


April 28: Peter Chanel, priest, missionary, martyr (1803-1841), is the first martyr of the Pacific South Seas. Originally a parish priest in rural eastern France, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) to become a missionary in 1831 after a five-year stint teaching in the seminary. At first the missionaries were well-received in the New Hebrides and other Pacific island nations as they recently outlawed cannibalism. The growth of white influence placed Chanel under suspicion, which led to an attack on the missionaries. When the king’s son wanted to be baptized, his anger erupted and Peter was clubbed to death in protest. 


April 28: Louis of Montfort, priest (1673-1716), dedicated his life to the care of the poor and the sick as a hospital chaplain in Poitiers, France. He angered the public and the administration when he tried to organize the hospital women's workers into a religious organization. He was let go. He went to Rome where the pope gave him the title "missionary apostolic" so he could preach missions that promoted a Marian and Rosary-based spirituality. He formed the "Priests of the Company of Mary" and the "Daughters of Wisdom."


April 29: Catherine of Siena, mystic and doctor of the Church (1347-1380), was the 24th of 25th children. At an early age, she had visions of guardian angels and the saints. She became a Third-Order Dominican and persuaded the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon in 1377. She died at age 33 after receiving the stigmata.


April 30: Pope Pius V, Pope (1504-1572), is noted for his work in the Counter-Reformation, the Council of Trent, and the standardization of the Roman Rite for mass. He was a fierce conservative who prosecuted eight French bishops for heterodoxy and Elizabeth I for schism. The Holy League he founded defeated the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto whose success was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 


May 1: Joseph the Worker was honored by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in an effort to counteract May Day, a union, worker, and socialist holiday. Many Catholics believe him to be the patron of workers because he is known for his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities that believers should adopt.


May 2: Athanasius, bishop and doctor (295-373), was an Egyptian who attended the Nicene Council in 325. He wrote about Christ's divinity but this caused his exile by non-Christian emperors. He wrote a treatise on the Incarnation and brought monasticism to the West.


May 3: Philip and James, Apostles (first century), were present to Jesus throughout his entire ministry. Philip was named as being explicitly called. James is called the Lesser to distinguish him from James of Zebedee. Little is known of these founders of our faith.


May 4: Joseph Mary Rubio, S.J., priest (1864-1929), is a Jesuit known as the Apostle of Madrid. He worked with the poor bringing them the Spiritual Exercises and spiritual direction and he established local trade schools.  


This Week in Jesuit History


  • April 28, 1542. St Ignatius sent Pedro Ribadeneira, aged fifteen, from Rome to Paris for his studies. Pedro had been admitted into the Society in l539 or l540. 
  • April 29, 1933. Thomas Ewing Sherman died in New Orleans. An orator on the mission band, he was the son of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He suffered a breakdown, and wanted to leave the Society, but was refused because of his ill health. Before his death he renewed his vows in the Society. 
  • April 30, 1585. The landing at Osaka of Fr. Gaspar Coelho. At first the Emperor was favorably disposed towards Christianity. This changed later because of Christianity's attitude toward polygamy. 
  • May 1, 1572. At Rome, Pope St. Pius V dies. His decree imposing Choir on the Society was cancelled by his successor, Gregory XIII. 
  • May 2, 1706. The death of Jesuit brother G J Kamel. The camellia flower is named after him. 
  • May 3, 1945. American troops take over Innsbruck, Austria. Theology studies at the Canisianum resume a few months later. 
  • May 4, 1902. The death of Charles Sommervogel, historian of the Society and editor of the bibliography of all publications of the Jesuits from the beginnings of the Society onward.

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