May 5, 2017

May 5

May 5, 2017:  Friday, 3rd week, Easter

See a dozen connections with today?
Legend below

For Psalm 117
Pope Francis
Homily:  The first time we read of Saul is at Stephen's stoning.  Saul was young, idealistic, and convinced of the law's rigidity.  He was rigid but sincere.  Jesus condemned those who were rigid but insincere, living a double life, making themselves look good but doing ugly things when no one is looking.  Many in the Church have fallen into the temptation of rigidity.  Some are good and sincere; pray that the Lord help them to grow meek.  Others use rigidity to cover over weakness, sin, or personality problems; they use it to build themselves up at others' expense.  Saul grew so rigid that he couldn’t tolerate what he saw and so began to persecute Christians.  He went to Damascus to arrest Christians, but on the way, he encountered another Man, who spoke meekly, "Saul, why are you persecuting me?"  Saul then allowed himself to be led where the Lord called.  This is the power of the Lord's meekness.

Saul, having become Paul, proclaimed the Lord to the end, and suffered for him.  He preached out of his experience, persecuted, with problems, even in the Church, even having to suffer from Christians quarreling among themselves.  He who had persecuted the Lord with zeal now told the Christians, "With the things by which you've sinned and drawn away from God, you now give glory to God."  Jesus speaks with sweetness to the rigid and sincere.  Christians must go forward along the path Jesus marked out:  preaching, suffering, the Cross, the resurrection. Pray to Saul for those in the Church who are rigid, whether sincere or hypocrites.

May prayer intention:  When we look at Africa, we see not only its great natural richness but its joie de vivre and grounds for hope in its intellectual, cultural, and religious heritage.  But we also see fratricidal wars decimating peoples and destroying these resources.  Pray that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

  • Acts 9:1-20  Saul asked for authority to haul believers to Jerusalem.  On his journey, he was blinded and heard Jesus ask why he's persecuting him and tell him to go to Damascus.  God told Ananias where to find him; he went and laid hands on him, and Saul regained his sight and strength, was baptized, and began to proclaim Jesus as Son of God.
  • Ps 117:1bc, 2  "Go out to all the world and tell the Good News."  Praise the Lord; he's kind and faithful.
  • Jn 6:52-59  Jesus:  “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him.  The one who feeds on me will live forever.” 
  • Creighton:  Saul followed through on his convictions:  when faced with a rival, he obtained the authority and set out.  But when God sent Ananias on a mission, he looked for the exit:  “Don't you know who Saul is?”  But he overcomes his fear; he doesn't let the risk keep him from living his faith, and so he participates in a miracle.  He prays with Saul, and Saul is transformed; his mission changes.  We may identify more easily with Ananias’ subtle transformation than Saul’s dramatic experience.  An inner prompting to do an act of kindness presents us with an opportunity and a choice.  Having the faith to extend ourselves is often rewarding, even if we don't get an immediate result like Ananias did.
The Conversion of Saul/ Michelangelo
In the gospel Jesus challenges us with a radical claim about himself.  Some may resist it, make it a metaphor, or marginalize it, but the beauty and truth of the Eucharist resonates deeply in us and is embedded in the Christian faith passed down to us....
  • Passionist:  Jesus' passion and death traumatized the early Church.  Many had come to hate Jesus, including people who once walked with, listened to, and benefitted from him.  In today’s gospel, people walk away from him; one follower betrayed him with a kiss; others fled; Peter denied him.  Jesus’ resurrection began to change all that, but it took time.  The women believed first.  Jesus had to appear to them all twice before they believed.  They were still afraid, but their faith challenged them to overcome their fear and urged them to be more like Jesus, praying and preaching openly, healing, restoring life....  Opponents to Jesus and his message didn't go away; Saul was committed to bringing his followers to justice, even death.  As the Christian community learned more about Saul, the more they feared.  But Saul had a conversion, and Jesus' followers were called to overcome their fear.  We're called to overcome our fear and prejudices with faith, to let go of hate and rage toward those who have done us evil, to be peacemakers in the midst of violence.  May the Risen Lord make us strong in our resolve to follow him.
  •  "All who eat this bread will live forever":  The Jews were scandalized and the disciples divided when Jesus said "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life."  The miracle of the loaves prefigured the abundance of the bread of the Eucharist.  Bread and wine were offered in a thanksgiving sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment of the Creator, giver and sustainer of life. The sacrifice of Melchizedek, priest and king, prefigured the offering of Jesus, our high priest and king.  The remembrance of the manna recalled that we live not by bread alone but by the bread of the Word of God.  When Jesus blessed and gave his disciples the wine, he was pointing to the sacrifice he was about to make on the cross....  Paul tells us "Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed."  Jesus made himself an offering and sacrifice, a gift pleasing to the Father, and "offered himself without blemish to God" and "gave himself as a sacrifice to God."  When Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites us to take his life into the center of our being.
Dress legend
  • 'Letters' tie:  Saul asked the high priest for letters to synagogues (1st reading)
  • 'Street light' tie bar:  A light from the sky flashed around Saul (1st reading)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  Ananias' vision; Saul regained sight when he laid hands on him (1st reading)
  • 'Hands' pin:  They led Saul by the hand; Ananias laid hands on Saul (1st reading)
  • 'Accordion' pin:  Paul is God's chosen 'instrument' (1st reading) (I chose this instrument because World Accordion Day is tomorrow.:-)
  • 'Dove' pin:  "The Lord sent me... that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit" (1st reading)
  • 'Wheat' tie bar:  Bread of Life discourse (gospel)
  • Flesh-colored suspenders:  "How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?" / "My Flesh is true food" (gospel)
  • !!'Blood drop' pin:  If you drink my Blood you have eternal life, and I'll raise you up... (gospel)
  • Red, white, and blue shirt:  red for Jesus' blood (Is blood really red?) (gospel), white for Easter, blue for baptismal waters (1st reading)
  • 'Scales' pin (unfotunately lost; see here):  "Things like scales fell from Saul's eyes" (1st reading)

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