Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59
“The Conversion on the Way to Damascus” by Caravaggio
On our spiritual journey from Easter to Pentecost we follow the progress in the growth of the church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Today we are presented with one of the more memorable incidents that had a huge significance on the growth of the nascent Christian community, namely the conversion of St.Paul as he travels to Damascus. We all know the story of the bright light, the jettisoned rider, the voice and the blindness that followed. In Caravaggio’s painting “The Conversion on the Way to Damascus,” the artist is close to the account in Acts. The horse is there and Saul lies on the ground stunned, his eyes closed as if dazzled by the brightness of God’s light that streams down the white part of the horse onto Saul; but that the light is heavenly is clear only to the believer, for Saul has no halo. The drama is internalized within the mind of Saul. The artist makes religious experience look natural. There is no action, Saul’s splayed hands and discarded sword is frozen; all is stillness. [Perhaps so God can inaugurate the conversion process!]
Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51
I’ve come to understand Eastertide as a time of remembering, re-encountering, re-engaging, and re-understanding the resurrection of Jesus. Each year we are given this time to unravel this mystery again. What a gift!
There is a wonderful concern named in the first reading for today. It is a fundamental characteristic of Luke’s gospel. The author of the Third Gospel wants to ensure that his Gentile believers (all future believers as well) make profound connections with “Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.”
Acts 8:1b-8; John 6:35-40
After just a few minutes of reflection on today's readings, I realized that each of them put emphasis on ideas that could be expressed with words beginning with the letter P -- words like "persecution" and "perseverance." Quite quickly a flood of other "P" words came to mind: patience, and prayer and praise, proclamation and possession and petition. Even in the phrase from Acts, "crippled people," the letter stands out. And all of these words are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. Around the world there are those who are persecuted as the early Christians were persecuted, because of their race, their religion, their ethnicity, their ideas or poverty. Our patience is tested by intractable wars, and by violence in our cities and towns, by sickness and natural disaster. On a positive note, the glorious colors, smells and sounds of spring are prompting our praise of the Creator of all the natural wonders. Whether we suffer or celebrate, we have reasons for prayer.
People can be so blind. They can’t see what’s right in front of them. In the first reading Stephen chastises the people because they had the right information, they were told by prophets and angels but they wouldn’t believe it. They denied the prophecies, they put the prophets to death, and when Stephen reminds them that those prophecies came true – they were told the truth but wouldn’t accept and acknowledge it – they get so angry at him that they stone him to death. I suppose he should have seen it coming, given their past history with prophecy. Plus, people don’t like to be told they’re wrong or have their mistakes shown to them. But then that just perpetuates the blindness. It turns out that Stephen had it right too, and the people he was trying to help kept getting it wrong.
Acts 6:8-15; John 6:22-29
Today’s readings are both preparatory for tomorrow’s: the martyrdom of Stephen and the discourse of Jesus on Himself as the Bread of Life. Yet they both have a common message of their own. I would put it this way: how we LOOK and how we LISTEN determine what we see and what we hear. Looking and listening objectively are very hard for us humans who tend to see and hear things only through the lenses and hearing aids of our own self-interests, self-pre-occupations, personal concerns, narrow biases, etc. And so, in our first reading, the religious leaders who oppose Stephen cannot even hear the grace and power of his words or see his face “like the face of an angel.” And this will lead to them becoming murderers, as well as missing out on the saving mystery of Easter.
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
1 John 2:1-5A
Jesus, to the roomful of his amazed, fearful friends, said: “it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day …You are witnesses to these things.”
And Peter, standing with John and the healed man, surrounded by his fellow Jews, said: “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”
Acts 6:1-7; John 6:16-21
We belong to various communities and groups. Some of them are ‘blood’-based communities – our families. Some are networks based on choice – our friends, people who have the same interests as we have, and so on. Some are work and career oriented – class mates and work mates. Some are grounded in shared beliefs and understandings about life and the world – religious groups, churches, and ideological movements to whom we belong. All these communities face threats: threats from the outside and threats from the inside. This came to my mind when I read the two readings of today. They remind us that challenges endanger our communities.
Acts 5:34-42; John 6:1-15
Today’s gospel is one of the several “multiplication” stories found in the four accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Each one of them reminds us of the abundance of God’s love for us in the person of Jesus Christ. A pattern emerges in each of the “multiplication” stories: a huge crowd of people are gathered around Jesus looking to him for healing (“about five thousand”); they gather in an open place (“on a mountain”); there is a need to feed the crowd; but without proper resources (“five barley loaves and two fish belonging to a boy in the crowd”); Jesus tells the disciples to distribute the food after he blesses the extremely small amount; the throng is not only satisfied, but there are leftovers (“twelve wicker baskets” full).
Only the children who are preparing for their first confession and Holy Communion joined the catechetical classes in this school year. This is a large group, about 15 people, because last year, due to the pandemic, First Communion was postponed. After the start of classes in September last year, the children eagerly began to attend meetings and actively participate in their preparation. But it didn't last long, because the classes had to be canceled beginning in November.
With much joy, the long awaited moment has arrived, as we welcomed our two young Missionary Sisters from the Queen of Peace Province, Tanzania. It was indeed a blissful and exciting day for our Province in South Africa as well as for these two young Sisters. Amidst the Corona pandemic, on 21st March, Sr. Dorothea Laurent Lyimu a qualified counselor and Sr. Suzana Amon Kimario a junior sister arrived in Cape Town.
Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36
“We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts of the Apostles
In Luke’s version of the Passion the disciples demonstrate what ordinary people they were. During the Last Supper, they argued about who is the greatest. Then when Jesus told Peter that he would deny him, Peter says no way. He’d risk prison and even death before that – and we all know how that one comes out.
Then during the agony in the garden, the disciples keep falling asleep and Jesus has to wake them up to try to get them to pray. The apostles aren’t highly visible during the crucifixion either, unlike the women whom Luke mentions several times.Fast forward to today’s reading from Acts and juxtapose it against Luke’s account of the Passion and you get a sense of the amazing impact of the Resurrection in the lives of these men – and by extension the potential for transformation of our lives.
"Vita Consecrata" 25 Years Later
The Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CIVCSVA), Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, sent a message to all consecrated men and women on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata of St. John Paul II.