April 17, 2018

April 17

April 17, 2018:  Tuesday, 3rd week, Easter

See about 16 connections with today?
Legend below
Listen

For the gospel
For Psalm 31
Pope Francis
Homily:  Stephen accused the people of being stiff-necked, opposing the Holy Spirit and persecuting the prophets.  Hearts closed, they didn't want to listen him or remember Israel's history.
Just like their ancestors persecuted the prophets, they rushed upon Stephen and stoned him.  When a prophet speaks truth and touches hearts, anger and persecutions are unleashed.  True prophets not only speak truth with strength but also can weep for their people who turn away from it.  Jesus both reprimanded his people as an evil generation and wept for them.
Prophets can give hope:  opening hearts, healing roots, reinforcing the sense of belonging to God's people.  They know when to scold but also how to open the door to hope.  They put themselves on the line.  Stephen submitted to martyrdom to be coherent with truth.  “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians” (Tertullian).
The Church needs each of us to be a prophet, not a critic.  If you just criticize and aren't happy with anything, you're not a prophet.  Prophets pray, look to God, and look at their people, and when the people err, they weep.  May the Church always have this service, so we may always go forward.
Gaudete et exsultate nugget:  Subtle enemies of holiness
Gnosticism and pelagianism, heresies reflecting anthropocentric immanentism, can lead us astray; they give rise to an elitism that leads us to classify others, instead of opening the door to grace out of love for them.

Contemporary gnosticism:  Gnosticism presumes a subjective faith whose only interest is an experience or ideas and information meant to enlighten, but that keeps you imprisoned in your thoughts and feelings.

An intellect without God and flesh:  Thank God, our perfection is measured by our love, not our knowledge.  But Gnostics judge others based on their ability to understand certain complex doctrines.  Thinking the intellect is separate from the flesh, they can't touch Christ’s suffering flesh in others.  By disembodying the mystery, they prefer “a God without Christ, a Christ without the Church, a Church without her people” (11-11-16).
This superficial conceit attracts some people, since the approach is allegedly pure and can seem harmonious or ordered.  They think their explanations can make faith and the Gospel comprehensible.  They absolutize their theories and force others to submit to their thinking.  Healthy, humble use of reason to reflect on the Gospel is one thing, but reducing Jesus’ teaching to cold logic that seeks to dominate is another (see Bonaventure, Journey of the Mind into God, VII, 4‑5).
Read
  • 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.”
Reflect
  • Creighton:  Today’s gospel focuses on bread, the bread of life.  I imagine an energetic crowd listening to Jesus on a sunny day.  It is a warm, sunny day with a gentle breeze blowing.  Some are excited to see and hear Jesus; others are skeptical, asking for a sign. Jesus explains that God sent him from heaven to give life to the world.  Lord, make me more open to hearing your promise.  Help those who struggle with hunger.  Help all who work to grow, harvest, transport, and prepare food.  May we all all prepare to experience everlasting life.
  • One Bread, One Body"Hungry for God's food?"  God fed the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, till they could eat in the promised land.  The manna from heaven foreshadowed what God the Father did through Jesus, sent from heaven to give us life.  Jesus taught that he was the Bread of Life, sent by the Father to feed his people and thereby give them life till they reach the heavenly promised land.  If the Israelites didn't eat the manna, they'd starve, but we don't think we'll starve if we don't receive the Eucharist, though Jesus says that if we don't eat the heavenly manna, we have no life....
  • Passionist:  Stephen's death resembles Jesus’:  both are accused of blasphemy, condemned to death by the Sanhedrin, see a vision of someone at God's right hand, and pray that God forgive those who kill him.  Stephen could die like Jesus only because he strove to live like him, daily giving himself to him.  We look for something to satisfy our deepest longings, fill our emptiness, ease our anxiety, and make us whole.  Sometimes we seek it in things that disappoint us.  Instead of wasting our lives on “food” that can leaves us spiritually famished, may we open ourselves to Jesus, Bread of Life, who offers himself to us every every day and so know the joy and peace that filled Stephen to his death.
  • 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.
    Dress legend
    • 'Jesus' (WWJD) pin:  Stephen saw the face of Jesus (1st reading); Jesus, Bread of Life (gospel)
    • 'Heart' tie pin:  "You people uncircumcised in heart..." (1st reading)
    • 'Dove' pin:  "...oppose the Spirit"; Stephen was filled with the Spirit (1st reading)
    • 'Angel' pin:  "You received the law as transmitted by angels but didn't observe it" (1st reading)
    • 'Car with teeth' pin:  They ground their teeth at Stephen (1st reading)
    • 'Gun' pin:  "Your ancestors killed those who foretold the righteous one's coming; you've become his murderers" (1st reading)
    • 'Feet' pin:  The witnesses laid down their cloaks at Saul's feet (1st reading)
    • 'Hands' pin:  "I see Jesus standing at God's right hand" (1st reading); "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (psalm)
    • Red/white shirt, white socks:  Red for Stephen's martyrdom (1st reading), white for Easter season
    • 'Stone/rock' tie pin:  They stoned Stephen (1st reading); "You are my rock" (psalm)
    • 'Sun' pin:  Let your face shine on your servant (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)
    • Suspenders evoke secret knowledge /neo-Gnosticism (nugget)