Acts 16:1-10; John 15:18-21
John’s gospel for today seems rather depressing, certainly not very inviting. We are being told that the world will hate us and that we will be persecuted because God has chosen us. It reminds me of our kids chiding each other with, “Doesn’t that make you feel special?” when one was asked to do something that no one really wanted to do. I am sitting here sort of like the kids and wondering, do I really want to be the special one to be chosen by God especially if hatred and persecution are the result?
On April 28th, after a great meeting in Warsaw, the members of the General Council with all the Provincial, Regional and Delegature Superiors travelled to Gdańsk for the second part of the Central Assembly. It was here, in 1945, that young Pallottine Sisters arrived after the war and started a community. They came from Rajca, today belonging to Belarus. The Convent served as the Headquarters for the Polish Pallottine Missionary Sisters until 1983 when the Provincial House was moved to Warsaw.
In Gdańsk we were warmly welcomed by Sr. Kazimiera Kaczykowska, the Superior and all the Sisters. They expressed their joy in meeting the Major Superiors of the different countries. Though we could not communicate in the Polish language, the signs of love broke the barriers and made it possible to relate and converse with each other.
"Love one another as I love you"
The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through “com-passion” is a cruel and inhuman society... The Latin word con-solatio, “consolation”, expresses this beautifully. It suggests being with the other in his solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude. Furthermore, the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme...
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you"
Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love. It’s like a thread of love that captures souls. “God loves a joyful giver” (2Cor 9,7). People who give with joy go one step further. There is no better way of expressing our gratitude to God or others than to receive everything with joy. Hearts burning with love are necessarily joyful hearts. Never allow sadness to overcome you to such an extent as to make you forget the joy of the risen Christ.
In the real spiritual life of an ongoing faith/relationship with the living “de vine” God, we will experience trimming. The blossoms and fruit that this Vinegrower knows are hidden only in potential (even and especially when we do not) are gifts of this greening Spirit. What is coming into being is our, shall we say, “divinization”—our sharing in the very life and “who-ness” of Christ that produces holiness and compassion. These fruits that God sees in us (even when we do not) include virtues our world very much needs in these days: charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, awe in God’s presence…..especially peace….
"My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you"
Prayer for peace is not an afterthought to the work of peace. It is of the very essence of building the peace of order, justice, and freedom. To pray for peace is to open the human heart to the inroads of God's power to renew all things. With the life-giving force of his grace, God can create openings for peace where only obstacles and closures are apparent… To pray for peace is to pray for justice…
Acts 14:5-18; John 14:21-26
The gospel reading today gives us chance to reflect on one of the fundamental mysteries of our Christian faith: the Trinity. All three of the divine persons are part of the reading from John’s gospel. The passage is an excerpt from the long and beautifully nuanced discourse Jesus gives to his disciples before his death. The passage in its entirety is a kind of “last will and testament” of Jesus to his closest friends and companions. It is Jesus’ way of continuing to let himself be known to the disciples and of helping them to look forward to the day when he would not be with them any longer in the flesh.
Acts 14:21-27; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33, 34-35
"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating others could destroy overnight; create anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten; do the good anyway.
Give the best you have and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway." Mother Teresa
Acts 13:44-52; John 14:7-14
In today’s Gospel, the apostle Philip has a problem that most of us might honestly admit we wrestle with too. “Master, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus’ response makes lots of sense theologically. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” After all, Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in him. But the challenge comes when we know the Son in the flesh. Our sensible nature has a difficult time peeling away the flesh and blood of his human nature and recognizing what remains, the pure spirit that is God. Of course the divine attributes are there; infinity, omnipotence, immutability, omniscience, and so on. But we are so immersed in the senses; sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, that once these are eliminated we can’t imagine what is left.
Acts 13:26-33; John 14:1-6
It must have been tough to be one of the 12 apostles. This gospel brings home to me both the leap of faith these men made over and over again and how Jesus is nearly always patient with them. (I say nearly always because at times I read a little exasperation, like the exasperation of a father when his son or daughter doesn’t heed a warning. Be careful walking backward, the dad might say. And then, when backwards walking doesn’t work out so well, a shake of the head as the dad picks up the child, brushes him off and gives him a hug before the next adventure.)