Acts 13:13-25; Jn 13:16-20
In that first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, Luke shows the way St. Paul did his missionary work. Upon arriving in a new town, his method was first to go to one of the local synagogues and bring the gospel message to the folks who, by heritage, were most entitled to it, his fellow Jews. After the readings of that Sabbath from the scrolls of the Law and the prophets, the leader would ask if the visitor had any message for the congregation. Did he ever! As Luke tells it regarding Paul’s visit to this synagogue in the town of Antioch in Pisidia, Paul got up and presented a thumb-nail summary of the history of the people of Israel—with the surprise ending that the whole thing had been climaxed by the life, death, and resurrection (!) of a craftsman from Nazareth—Jesus! That was a turn of events that no one had expected. There were plenty of expectations about a future anointed servant of God, but none that matched the kind of Messiah that Jesus turned out to be.
Acts 12:24-13:5a; John 12:44-50
Jesus was sent here to be our light and to light our way out of darkness. Before Jesus it was all darkness, but Jesus is the manifestation of God’s word to save us. He is a beacon, illuminating the path, lighting the right way. He is our guide, our leader. Here to save us from the darkness, not to condemn us. Before we were trapped in the darkness, but now there is light, a way out. Believing in Jesus is believing in God who sent Jesus. And not believing keeps us trapped in the darkness of ignorance and despair.
Ps 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7
At times, when we face hardships, we sometimes become frustrated, want to give up, or are blinded by the difficulties that we encounter and do not see other, more encouraging, aspects of our life. We can become paralyzed, losing sight of the wider picture and purpose and feeling pity for ourselves. We all have experienced this sometime in our lives and this was also the experience of the early Church. The original communities of Christians were ridiculed, discriminated, and persecuted. However, the way they conceptualized their difficulties and how they interpreted their hardships is exemplary and guides us during times of trouble.
Psalm 42: 2- 3, 43:3, 4
“I am the gate.” And to emphasize it even more Jesus says it a second time – “I am the gate.” So what was so important that Jesus had to say it twice? Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees after they refused to allow a man he just healed from blindness to enter a synagogue. Jesus admonishes them as not being true shepherds of the flock. Instead, it is he who is the true shepherd. So, to explain he uses a “figure of speech” or parable involving a shepherd and his sheep. In Jesus’ time, shepherds spent day and night tending to the needs of their sheep. They assured their access to food and water, and just as importantly, they protected them from the dangers of predators and thieves. Sheep were valuable commodities and the shepherds treated them so. In protecting them, shepherds would place their flock into a sheepfold at night. A sheepfold was a circular enclosure constructed of a low stone wall possibly with thorns on top to not only keep the sheep within, but to keep danger out. The only legitimate way for the sheep to enter or exit was through “the gate,” a small opening in the sheepfold where the shepherd would sit or lie and sleep.
Holiness: A Path Travelled Together
The Pallottine Charism - A Prophetic voice of a New era
St. Vincent Pallotti, “Prophet to the Catholic Church”, “an Innovator and Saint of a new era”. Indeed, his prophetic voice which gives equal space for everyone in the Church to be Apostles according to one’s state and condition of life is really amazing. I am deeply inspired and inflamed by his charism of “rekindling charity and reviving faith” in the Church as an Indian in a Church marked by traditional practices, perceived as placing particular emphasis on hierarchy, traditions and popular saints. This led me to experience much confusion in the initial stages of my Religious life, and a sense of the Pallottine charism being clouded in my mind. Involvement in various UAC gatherings inspired me to deepen my studies regarding St. Vincent Pallotti’s life and charism, and involvement in various Pallottine ministries lifted my gaze out to the deep, to the vast sea of Pallottine spirituality.
The UISG XXI Plenary Assembly counted approximately 850 Superiors General of Congregations of Women Religious from 80 countries, united in Rome from 6 -10 May to explore the Plenary theme: “Sowers of Prophetic Hope”.
“This is what we women religious are called to be today: Sowers of hope” - said in her welcome speech UISG President, Sr. Carmen Sammut, msol. “As Superiors we need to ask ourselves how we nurture this hope, above all when we feel that our resources and strength are diminishing. What are the signs of hope that we are gathering in our congregations? Are our intercultural communities perhaps signs of hope in a world of division and war? How are we signs of hope for the many women and children who are suffering?”
In the gospel reading Jesus identifies himself as the shepherd: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). His Jewish listeners must have gasped in shock to hear him say that. This is because, for Jews, the shepherd of the flock of Israel is none other than the Lord God himself (Psalm 23:1). Jesus went on to make explicit what is implied in his claim to be the shepherd of the God’s flock when he said, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). That the Father sent Jesus and delegated him with full authority to act in His name is only half of the story. The other half of the story is that Jesus in turn delegated his chosen disciples to act with full authority in his name. We see this in the first farewell ceremony with his disciples as recorded by John. He commissions and delegates his disciples in these words:
Acts 9:31-42; Psalm 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17; John 6:60-69
“YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE”
What words does/is God speaking to you Today? Are they words of mercy, of healing, of God’s goodness, of your goodness. What are they? The psalmist speaks of “all the good he (God) has done for me.” Some of us just wake up in the morning and are able to say, “thanks, Lord, I am awake and alive and it’s a new day.”
Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59
How often has someone said to you, “You’re as blind as a bat,” and no reference to your eyes was intended? The reference is not to outside sight but to inside sight or insight. When we say “I see” in response to an explanation, we never mean we see something with our eyes; we mean we understand the explanation. Visual seeing is frequently a metaphor for understanding, not only in our culture but also in the Hebrew culture in which the Bible was written.
Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51
I often ask myself how I came to believe in the God of the Bible and am grateful for many who shared their faith with me: individuals in my family, my home parish, and elsewhere. Their example helped me to understand what faith is about and to commit myself to this faith. Every one of us has a unique journey to faith but today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles highlights four foundational aspects of coming to believe: (1) God’s calling, (2) listening, (3) desire to understand, and (4) concern for others.