May 2, 2016

Athanasius

May 2, 2016:  St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor



  • 'Sailboats' tie:  We set sail...  (1st reading)
  • Purple in shirt, tie, suspenders:  Lydia, dealer in purple cloth (1st reading)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  The Lord opened Lydia's heart...  (1st reading)

  • 'Crown' tie bar:  Rejoice in your king (psalm)
  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  "The Spirit will testify to me" (gospel)

    • White in suspenders and socks:  Easter season
    Listen

    As we near Pentecost, the readings focus on the Holy Spirit.  Acts tells us the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth who came to hear Paul.  She felt something that made her agree with what he said.  The Holy Spirit made her feel Jesus was Lord, made her know salvation was in his words;  it made her hear Paul's witness.  Each time we feel something draw us closer to Jesus, it’s the Spirit working.
    The Gospel speaks of the witness of the Spirit which shares Jesus’s witness, and of our witness.  We're witnesses of the Lord with the Spirit's strength.  Jesus invites the disciples to stand strong because bearing witness comes with persecution.  From the little persecutions of gossip, criticisms, to the greater ones that fill Church history like imprisonment and martyrdom.  This, Jesus says, is the cost of witness.  "They'll expel you from the synagogues.... Everyone who kills you will think they're offering worship to God."
    The Christian,  with the Spirit's strength, gives witness to the living, Risen Lord, to his presence in our midst, that he celebrates with us his death and resurrection each time we come to the altar.  Christians too give witness, aided by the Spirit through our daily actions; this witness can provoke attacks and persecution.  The Spirit who introduced us to Jesus is the same one who urges us to make him known to others through living witness.
    Holy Spirit, come into my heart that I may give witness to Jesus.  May I not stray from Jesus.  Teach me what Jesus taught.  Help me remember what Jesus said and did, and help me to give witness.  May worldliness, the easy things that come from the father of lies, sin, not lead me away from giving witness.
    Read
      (animate)
    • Acts 16:11-15  We sailed from Troas to Samothrace, Neapolis, and Philippi.  We spoke with women gathered outside the city gate, and the Lord opened Lydia's heart to pay attention to Paul.  After we baptized her and her household, she invited us to stay, and we did.
    • Ps 149:1b-6a, 9b  "The Lord takes delight in his people."  Praise the Lord with song and dance, for the Lord loves and gives victory his people, Alleluia.
    • Jn 15:26-16:4a  “The Advocate, the Spirit of truth I'll send from the Father, will testify to me.  So will you, because you've been with me from the start.  I've told you this so you won't fall away when, because people don't know the Father or me, they expel you and think killing you is worshipping God.  Remember that when their time comes.
    Reflect
      • Creighton:  "Witness is the power of the Spirit."  Show compassion to our persecuted Church; we're in solidarity with Jesus and the martyrs:  pray, help those forced to leave their homelands, raise consciousness re persecuted Christians' plight, help refugees and encourage businesses to....
      • One Bread, One Body:  "I told you so":  Twice today Jesus told the apostles he told them something in advance:  he told them "all this" so worldly pressure won't shake their faith.  "All this" = people would hate, harass, and disrespect those who bear witness to him.  He told them to remember he warned them he'd be beaten and martyred; they must live in a state of remembrance.  "Do this in remembrance of me.  Is the world putting pressure on you for your witness?  "Christ suffered; arm yourself with his mentality."  
        St. Athanasius
      • Passionist:  In the 1st reading, Paul leads cloth dealer Lydia  and her household to baptism, and she invites Paul and Barnabas to stay at their home.  This summarizes the nature of the Church:  we become “Church” through the inspiration of the Spirit working through a proclamation of the gospel and invitation to baptism.  Baptized, we become members of the “household of the Church,” the community of the faithful connecting us with the whole Church and empowering us to be “Church” in more intimate settings:  family, parish, local civic communities....  We're the fruit of the missionary experiences of the first generation of Christians.
      • DailyScripture.net:  "When the Counselor comes, the Spirit of truth":  Jesus offers his disciples the best, truest friend:  the Holy Spirit, Counselor, Advocate, Paraclete, Helper.  Counselor is a legal term for one who defends someone against an adversary and guides them during the trial.  The Spirit guides and strengthens us and brings us safely through life's challenges and adversities.  Jesus tells us the Spirit is one with the Father and the Son, gives life, enkindles faith in people receptive to God's word, makes it possible for us to know God personally, gives us experiential knowledge of God, and witnesses that the Father has sent his Son to redeem us, raised him from the dead, and seated him at his right hand.  The Spirit reveals God's wisdom and plan and enables us to see the Father's and Son's work with eyes of faith.  Through the Spirit we become witnesses to the work of God in Christ.  Jesus told his disciples they'd be persecuted as Jesus was, but the Spirit would give courage and perseverance.  O God, fill our hearts, with the graces of your Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.  Teach us to love those who hate us, to pray for those who use us; that we may be the children of Your love....  In adversity grant us patience; in prosperity, humility.  May we guard the door of our lips, lightly esteem this world's pleasures, and thirst after heavenly things  (Anselm).