April 12, 2016

April 12

April 12, 2016:  Tuesday, 3rd week, Easter

  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  "You oppose the Spirit"; Stephen was filled with the Spirit (1st reading)
  • 'Angel' pin:  "You received the law as transmitted by angels" (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  "I see Jesus standing at God's right hand" (1st reading); "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (psalm)
  • Red shirt:  Stephen's  martyrdom (1st reading)
  • 'Stone/rock' tie pin:  They stoned Stephen (1st reading); "You are my rock" (psalm)
  • 'Signs' tie:  "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?" (gospel)
  • 'Wheat' pin:  "He gave them bread from heaven"; Bread of Life discourse (gospel)
  • White socks:  Easter season

For the gospel
For the psalm
Pope Francis
Homily:  We call Stephen the Protomartyr, first Christian martyr, though before him there were little martyrs who suffered persecution under Herod.  From then till now there have been and are martyrs in the Church, killed for confessing Jesus Christ as Lord.  Tomorrow we'll read about the persecution that broke out after Stephen's martyrdom, when everyone but the Apostles fled.  Persecution is the Church's daily bread of the Church.
We can think that the martyrs were those the lions killed, but martyrs are people of every day.  Christians who celebrated this Easter in Pakistan were martyred just for celebrating the Risen Christ.  The Church is the community of believers, confessors, those who profess Jesus as Christ; she's the community of martyrs.  Persecution is cruel, like Stephen's, like our Pakistani brothers and sisters'.  It's cruel, like what Saul did as he took Christians away to be judged.
But there's another kind of persecution not often spoken about; it's disguised as culture, modernity, progress, 'polite persecution.'  You can recognize when someone is persecuted for wanting to demonstrate the values of the Son of God.  We see the powerful make laws that force people to take this path, and a nation that doesn't follow this modern collection of laws is accused, is politely persecuted.  This form of persecution takes away our freedom, and even the right to conscientious objection!  “If you don’t do this, you'll be punished:  you’ll lose your job and many things, or you’ll be set aside.”
This is the persecution of the world, and its leader is the prince of this world.  We see him “when the powerful want to impose attitudes or laws against human dignity, opposing God the Creator.  Christian life continues with both kinds of persecution but also with the certainty that the Lord won't distance himself from us:  "Don’t fall into the worldly spirit!  But go forward, I'll be with you."  Lord, give us the grace to understand that our path must advance amid both kinds of persecution....
9.  The spirituality of marriage and the family

Marital and family spirituality is made up of thousands of small but real gestures.  Those who have deep spiritual aspirations shouldn't feel the family detracts from their growth in the life of the Spirit but rather see it as a path the Lord is using to lead them to mystical union.  Everything, moments of joy, relaxation, celebration, and even sexuality, can be experienced as sharing the life of the resurrection.  All family life is ‘shepherding’ in mercy.  Each of us leaves a mark on the life of others.  It's a profound spiritual experience to contemplate our loved ones with God's eyes and see Christ in them.

No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need to grow in the ability to love.  All are called to strive towards something greater than ourselves and our families, and every family must feel this impulse.  Let us keep walking together as families.  May we never lose heart or stop seeking the love and communion God holds out before us. (Complete textBishop Barron's remarks, The Tidings article) 
  • Acts 7:51-8:1a  Stephen:  “You oppose the Spirit, like your ancestors who killed the prophets.”  They ground their teeth, but he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand.”  They stoned him; witnesses laid their cloaks at Saul's feet.  He called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit....  Don't hold this sin against them,” then fell asleep.  Saul consented to his execution.
  • Jn 6:30-35  Crowd /  Jesus:  “What sign can you do, that we may believe in you?  Our ancestors ate manna in the desert.” / “My Father, not Moses, gives the true bread from heaven and gives life to the world.” / “Give us this bread always.” / “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
    • Creighton:  “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”:  Did Stephen see beyond the rocks and hateful words into the wounded minds and hearts and suffering souls?  There are always Good Friday moments, deaths of the false self, opportunities to allow God to transform us, to let go of anger, hurt, defensiveness.  We receive grace to do so from the Bread of Life....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Who will die?"  At the first Christian Pentecost, many who heard Peter "were stabbed in the heart" by his words and the Spirit's power, and 3,000 repented, were baptized, and received the Spirit.  After Stephen preached, his hearers "were cut to the heart" but didn't repent; they rushed at him and stoned him.  God's Word demands we either accept or reject it....
      Stoning of St. Stephen/ Uccello
    • Passionist:  Stephen had remarkable clarity of vision.  He'd earned the respect to be made one of the seven deacons to make sure widows' needs were met.  His great influence on the people brought him to the attention of authorities who singled him out for destruction.  He endured their false accusations and continued to witness to Christ with courage, even to his death.  Remember all who witness to Christ today such as Archbishop Romero and Mother Teresa.  We've received so much to share; may we embrace others with the love of Christ.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "I am the bread of life":  The Jews regarded the manna as bread of God.  There was a Rabbinic belief that the Messiah would give manna from heaven.  The Jewish leaders were demanding that Jesus produce manna from heaven to prove his claim to be Messiah.  Jesus responds that God, not Moses, gave the manna, and it was only a symbol of the bread to come; then he claims as only God can that he himself is the bread of life.  Only the bread he offers can satisfy our deep hunger with divine life to sustain us forever; it's the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Christ" (Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20,2), healing for body and soul, strength for our journey to heaven.

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