May 19, 2017

May 19

May 19, 2017:  Friday, 5th week, Easter

  • 'Letters' tie:  Apostles and presbyters chose reps to go with Paul and Barnabas and deliver a letter. (1st reading)
  • 'Hearts' suspenders:  "My heart is steadfast" (psalm); "Love one another as I love you" (gospel)
  • 'Dove' pin:  Holy Spirit and we decided not to put extra burdens on you (1st reading)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  Abstain from... blood... (1st reading)
  • 'Apple' pin:   "I chose you and appointed you to go bear fruit."  (gospel)
  • White shirt and socks:  Easter season
For Psalm 57
Even in the first Christian community there was jealousy and struggle for power.  We're human, sinners, and there are difficulties, even in the Church; that leads us to humility and drawing close to the Lord who saves us from our sins.  The apostles and elders chose several people to go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas:  some had forceful discussions but with a good spirit; others sowed confusion.  Some wanted to discuss the problem, others to create problems, to divide the Church, saying that Jesus didn't say what the Apostles were preaching.  After discussion, the apostles came to an agreement, not a political agreement but one inspired by the Spirit.  
The liberty of the Spirit led to the agreement allowing Gentiles to enter the Church without circumcision.  The Holy Spirit and the Church leaders gathered then and later to clarify the doctrine; it's a Church duty to clarify doctrine, so what Jesus said, and the Spirit of the Gospels, will be understood well.  But people always go out and disturb the community with upsetting speeches; they're fanatics of unclear things, like those who sow weeds to divide the community.  The problem is when Church doctrine, from the gospel, inspired by the Spirit who "will teach us and remind you of all I've taught," becomes an ideology.
These individuals were ideologues, not believers, closed to the Spirit's work, while the Apostles were open to what the Spirit said.  Don't be afraid in the face of ideologues' opinions.  We must go along the path that comes from Jesus' preaching, the Spirit's teaching and assistance, Church Magisterium, remaining open and free; sound doctrine unites, the Councils unite the community, while ideology divides.

  • Acts 15:22-31  The Apostles and presbyters sent representatives to Antioch with this letter:  "Since some went out without a mandate from us and upset you, we chose and sent you representatives with Barnabas and Paul.  The Holy Spirit and we decided not to place on you any burden beyond the necessities:  abstain from unlawful marriage, meat sacrificed to idols, meats of strangled animals, and blood.  If you do, you'll be doing right."  When they arrived, they called the assembly together and delivered the letter, and the people were delighted.
  • Ps 57:8-10, 12  "I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord."  I'll sing praise for your mercy and faithfulness.  Be exalted, O God!
  • Jn 15:12-17  “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You're my friends if you do what I command.  I chose you and appointed you to bear lasting fruit.”

  • Creighton:  What does it mean to be conformed to Christ's mission, death, and resurrection?  How are we shaped into Christ?  The 1st reading tells us we must belong to the Church in intention and practice, incorporated into the Body Jesus chose to hand on his Spirit to.  The Gospel goes on to say we must love the members of the community as much as Jesus loves each of us.  Love of one another is the sign by which we'll be recognized as conformed to Christ.   We can’t choose to be followers of Jesus alone; we must be invited and say yes.  Towards the end of the Easter Season, we focus more on the Spirit; we ask God to send the Spirit into our lives and conform us to Christ.  Then like Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Judas, we'll be sent to go bear lasting fruit, mandated to bring life to others.  We must look at every Christian as a brother or sister to be loved and cared for.  We suffer with patience and compassion, not complaint or anger, for Christ's sake.  Our lives must be marked by joy, even amid suffering.  God's presence brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and other gifts.   May God's Spirit conform us into Christ’s Body and and give us joy, and may we labor for it for others and our world.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "How to be delight-ful":  The early Church leaders sent a letter to the Gentile Christians of Antioch telling them "to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, blood, meat of strangled animals, and illicit sexual union"; they were delighted and encouraged, likely not because the commands were easy but rather because they were docile to the Spirit and unselfish.  They delighted in obeying the Lord revealed by the Spirit through Church leaders.  Delight and encouragement are based not on getting our way but on finding God's will.  We derive our food, fulfillment, and joy from doing the Father's will.  We can't always get what we want, but we can always do God's will, so delight is always available to us....
  • Passionist:  The 1st reading gives us an example of how to resolve a conflicts.  "Might makes right" leaders declared opponents lawbreakers and punished them, but the Council of Jerusalem came together to pray, dialogue and reach consensus.  They trusted the Holy Spirit would give them wisdom to decide for the common good, they listened to those who presented their case, they decided as the whole church, and they communicated the decision.  Don't shy away from hard decisions; as in this example, resolution can strengthen the bond between those in conflict.  The Spirit can create new life and energy from the resolution.  Jesus' approach was self-sacrificing love:  “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
  •  "I call you friends":  Jesus defines friendship as willingness to give of oneself, even to the point of laying down one's life.  God, who is Love, made us in love for love.  We have hope and joy because God poured his love into us through the Spirit, an unlimited, enduring love that can transform us to be merciful, gracious, kind, loving, and forgiving like him.  Jesus' love was directed toward others' good.  Our love for God and willingness to lay down our life for others is a response to God's love in Christ.  Jesus calls his disciples his friends.  He cared for them, sought their welfare, enjoyed their company, ate with them, shared what he had with them, spending himself doing good for them.  To know Jesus is to know God and the love and friendship he offers each one of us.  Abraham is called God's friend. God spoke with Moses as one with his friend.  Jesus calls the disciples friends, not servants.  Friendship with God entails love that goes beyond obedience.  "A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity."  Jesus loved his own to the end.  The essence of Jesus' new commandment is love to the death, purifying love that overcomes selfishness, fear, and pride, total self-giving for others' sake, selfless love oriented towards others' welfare ahead of mine.  We prove our love for God and others when we embrace the way of the cross.  What is my cross today?  Jesus wants us to love one another as he loves us, unreservedly.  His love frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others.  If do, we'll bear much fruit.
"Teach us to serve You as You deserve, to give and not count the cost, to fight and not heed the wounds, to toil and not seek for rest, to labor and not ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will."  (Ignatius Loyola?)

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