May 17, 2017

May 17

May 17, 2017:  Wednesday, 5th week, Easter

  • Tie with grapes, other fruit:  "I am the true vine"; bear fruit (gospel)
  • 'Castle' button:  "Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord" (psalm)
  • 'Precious feet' pin:  "We've set foot within your gates" (psalm)
  • '?' tie pin:  The Apostles and the presbyters met to resolve the circumcision question (1st reading)
  • 'Fire' pin:  One who doesn't remain in me will be burned in a fire (gospel)
  • Red and white shirt, white socks:  Red for fire (gospel), white for Easter season
  • "I voted" sticker:  We had a [one-issue] election yesterday.  (Successive elections in March, April, May, and June:  our tax dollars at work...)
    For the gospel

    For Psalm 122
    Pope Francis General Audience
    Mary Magdalene was the first to see the Risen Jesus.  Her visit to the tomb mirrored the fidelity of many women who visit cemeteries to keep alive the memory of those who have passed away.  Even death won't break the most authentic bonds.  Mary Magdalene’s first visit to the tomb was a disappointment:  seeing the empty tomb, she told the disciples that someone had stolen Jesus' body.  But she returned to the tomb despite her sorrow.  While she was there, crying, God surprised her; once Jesus called her by name, she discovered the most shocking event in history.
    How beautiful that the Risen One's first apparition (according to the Gospels) should be so personal!   How beautiful someone recognizes us, sees our suffering and disappointment, is moved for our sake, and calls us by name.  Though many seek God, really God seeks us first, and has sought each of us personally.  Each of us is a story of God's love.  When Jesus said Mary’s name, her life was changed.  The Resurrection is not a joy given with an eyedropper, but a cascade, a waterfall that fills our life.  With all our disappointments and defeats, God is close to us, calls us by name, and tells us, "‘Don’t cry; I've come to set you free."  God is a dreamer; he dreams of the transformation of the world and has realized it in the Resurrection.
    Mary Magdalene, who had been at the mercy of the evil one, became the apostle of the new and greatest hope.  Her life was changed because she had seen the Lord.  Her experience is an example for us whose lives are changed because we've seen the Lord; this is our strength and hope.
    I am the vine...
    • Acts 15:1-6  Because much dissension followed the instruction of some that you needed to be circumcised to be saved, they decided to go to the Apostles and presbyters about the matter.  When they arrived, they were welcomed, they reported what God had done, and the Apostles and presbyters met to see about the matter.
    • Ps 122:1-5  "Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord."  We've set foot within Jerusalem.
    • Jn 15:1-8  "I am the vine; my Father the vine grower who prunes branches so they bear more fruit; you, the branches.  Remain in me, as I in you, and bear fruit."

        • Creighton:  The circumcision debate shows the early Church's commitment to keeping their covenant with God.   Circumcision is a personal sign of adherence to the faith but can be a high price, and too-high ticket costs can mean an empty theater.  Converting Gentiles was a priority, and not requiring physical circumcision would help.  Redirecting one's life toward Christ amounted to a metaphorical circumcision.  Abiding in Jesus, as called for in today's gospel, keeps one on the vine of Christ and grows the Church by multiplying adherents as new branches....
        • Passionist:  We center our lives on what we think will give us life:  some on money, possessions, power, pleasure, privilege, or influence, but today’s gospel says it's being in Christ.  If Jesus isn't source and center of our lives, we wither.  This is a promise, not a warning:  he doesn't just say “Remain in me” but also “as I remain in you.”  That's the source of hope and joy.  We can live with confidence, courage, faith, hope, love, and joy because Christ is in and with us to strengthen, comfort, encourage, console, support, live in, and work through us to bless and redeem the world.  No need to wonder whether we matter or will make a difference; “whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.”  If Christ lives in and acts through us, we're bringing others God's love and justice, changing lives, transforming the world, building God's kingdom, and glorifying God.
        •  "Abide in me, and I in you":  The house of Israel is "the Lord's vineyard."  God planted Israel "as his choice vine."  But the vine was also a sign of degeneration:  Israel "yielded wild grapes"; it became a "degenerate and wild vine."  When Jesus calls himself the true vine he makes clear that no one can claim their spiritual inheritance through association with a particular people; only through him can we be grafted onto the Vine.  The vine becomes fruitful through careful pruning so non-fruit-bearing branches don't sap strength from the fruit-bearing ones.  There can be no fruit in our lives apart from Jesus.  May we abide in him and let him purify us....

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