April 11, 2016


April 11, 2016:  Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr

Find a dozen connections with today?
Legend below

Pope Francis
Homily:  The Doctors of the Law accused Stephen of blasphemy against Moses and God because they couldn't withstand the wisdom and the Spirit he spoke with; they even got false witnesses to uphold their claims.  Closed to God’s truth, they clutched only at the truth of the Law, taking it by the letter.  Jesus had already reprimanded them for this attitude, but they washed their hands and judged themselves pure, though they were closed to God's Word, to truth, and to the prophet who brought his message.
It hurts me to read that Judas, after he repented, went to the priests and said, "I have sinned," returned the coins, and was met with "Who cares!  It’s none of our business!"  They closed their hearts before this repentant man, who then hanged himself.  And once he did, these "doctors of the letter" referred to the rules to determine the coins were blood money not to enter the temple.  His life didn't matter to them; they only cared about the laws, words, and things they built.  This shows the hardness of their hearts, the foolishness that couldn't withstand Stephen's wisdom and truth.  Stephen ended up like all prophets, and it's repeated in the history of the Church.  Many innocent people are judged 'according to God's word' and killed; think of witch hunts, Joan of Arc, and others burned to death because they weren't seen as in line with God's Word.
Jesus himself ended up on the cross for having trusted and obeyed God.  Remember his tender words to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus:  “How foolish you are!  How slow to believe the prophets.”  Ask the Lord to look tenderly at the follies of our hearts, to caress us and tell us, "You foolish and slow of heart" and begin to explain things to us.
To peacebuilding conference:  Mercy is “a source of joy, serenity and peace,” an interior peace that flows from reconciliation with the Lord.  For peace, people and groups must be brought together and reconciled.  We must work together on a social, political and economic level, nourish diplomacy, and promote justice.  Let me offer these approaches to supplement your thoughts on revitalizing the tools of non-violence:
Abolition of war is a deeply worthy goal.  We must face, tackle, and resolve conflict, transforming it into peacemaking.  We must consider our peers as brothers and sisters.  We must overcome figurative, and physical, walls of indifference that touch people and our environment; we can if we show mercy like the Father, expressed in solidarity.
As daunting as living non-violence is achieving full disarmament by reaching people’s souls, building bridges, fighting fear, and pursuing dialogue.  Dialogue is hard, requiring give and take, accepting differences, remaining true to our positions, seeking the good of all, and maintaining accord.  Finally, help abolish the death penalty and forgiveness or sustainable management of poorer nations' debt. 
Apostolic Exhortation:  Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), summary continued from yesterday
7.  Towards better education of children
Pay attention to small steps that can be understood, accepted, and appreciated.  Obsession is not education; we can't control all our children's situations.  Rather, lovingly help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline, and real autonomy.  Sound sex education is needed and must be carried out within the broader framework of education for love and mutual self-giving.  "Safe sex" conveys a negative attitude, as if an eventual child were an enemy to be protected against.      
8.  Guiding, discerning and integrating weakness
Guiding, discerning and integrating are fundamental in addressing fragile, complex, or irregular situations.  Gradualness, discernment, and mercy are needed in pastoral care.  The Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital.  Some forms of union radically contradict the ideal of Christian marriage, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way.  The Church does not disregard the constructive elements in situations that don't yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage.
We must avoid judgments that don't consider the complexity of situations, be attentive to how people experience distress because of their condition, reach out to everyone, help each person find their proper way of participating in the Church community and be touched by mercy.  Don't pigeonhole the situations of the divorced who have entered a new union; they need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities.  Their participation can be expressed in different ecclesial services.  They should feel like living members, able to grow in the Church. 
We need renewed encouragement to undertake responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one that recognizes that the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same.  Consider mitigating factors and situations.  General rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded, but they can't provide absolutely for all particular situations.  But what's part of practical discernment in particular circumstances can't be elevated to the level of rules.  Showing understanding in the face of exceptional situations isn't dimming the light of the ideal or proposing less than what Jesus offers.  More important than the pastoral care of failures is the pastoral effort to strengthen marriages and so prevent their breakdown.
If you find yourself in a complicated situation, speak confidently with your pastor or a lay person committed to the Lord; you'll receive light to help you understand your situation better and discover a path to growth.  Pastors, listen with sensitivity, serenity, and a sincere desire to understand their plight and point of view, to help them live better lives and recognize their place in the Church.  We can find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity, emptying mercy of its meaning and significance by putting conditions on it.   That's the worst way to water down the Gospel.
  • Acts 6:8-15  Stephen was working wonders and signs.  People debated with him but couldn't withstand the wisdom and Spirit with which he spoke.  They falsely accused him, stirred up the people, elders, and scribes, brought him before the Sanhedrin, and false witnesses testified.  All saw his face was like an angel's.
  • Ps 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30  "Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!"  Your decrees are my delight, my counselors.  You answered me; teach me your statutes.  I've chosen the way of truth.
  • Jn 6:22-29  After Jesus had fed the 5,000, the crowd found him and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  Jesus:  “You look for me because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Work for the food that endures for eternal life, that the Son will give you.” / “How can we do God's works?” / “Believe in the one he sent.”
    • Creighton:  St. Stanislaus incurred the wrath of King Boleslaus when he spoke out about his injustices; he excommunicated him and paid with his life.  The Spirit-filled Stephen threatened many with his wise speaking.  Both Stanislaus and Stephen followed their Spirit-guided hearts; they made enemies by preaching and acting on their beliefs.  Today's martyrs do the same as they stand up as Christians in a less than welcoming world.   We're bombarded with ways, things, and people pulling us away from the Lord.  May we work for food that endures and live what we believe.  How do I spend my time?
    • Passionist:  But God blesses us always, in good and bad times.  The crowd didn't recognize Jesus' miracles as signs pointing to Jesus as Son of God.  “You seek me not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves, and were filled.”  We need the true nourishment of spiritual food to order our lives right so we might draw nearer to God and follow Jesus in good times and bad.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Labor for the food which endures to eternal life":  Only God can satisfy our deep hunger for truth, life, and love.  Jesus offers a new relationship with God and a life of love, service, forgiveness, holiness, and trust....
    Bonus:  Laudato Si audiobook
    Fr. Joel mentioned in his homily that he listened to the encyclical.  You can too, here.
    Dress legend
    • 'Sign' pin:  Stephen worked great wonders and signs among the people (1st reading); "You're looking for me not because you saw signs..." (gospel)
    • 'Wheat' pin:  "...but because you ate the loaves and were filled." (gospel)
    • 'Owl' tie pin:  Stephen spoke with wisdom... (1st reading)
    • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  ...and the Spirit; (1st reading)
    • 'Angel' pin:  his face was like an angel's (1st reading)
    • 'Boat' tie bar:  Jesus hadn't gone along in the boat (gospel)
    • 'Wheat' pin:  Bread of Life discourse (gospel)
    • Tie with food:  You ate and were filled; work for food that endures for eternal life (gospel)
    • Blood-red and white shirt, 'blood drop' pin, white socks:  blood/red for martyrdom of St. Stanislaus, white for Easter season

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