Thứ Bảy, 30 tháng 4, 2016

Pope at Jubilee Audience: ‘Be reconciled to God’

Pope at Jubilee Audience: ‘Be reconciled to God’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Saturday held an extraordinary Jubilee Audience in St. Peter’s Square for thousands of eager pilgrims. The Audience also celebrated the Jubilee for members of the police and armed forces.
The Holy Father focused in his catechesis on a very important point of mercy: reconciliation, taking the apostle St. Paul’s words in the second letter to the Corinthians 5:20-21 as his guide: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”
Pope Francis said St. Paul’s words ‘be reconciled to God’ are an invitation for all Christians, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. He said God constantly offers us his forgiveness, and our sins can never keep us from God’s mercy.
“Often we believe our sins push God away from us: in reality, by sinning we push ourselves away from Him, but He, seeing us in danger, keeps searching for us. God never accepts the possibility that someone could remain estranged from His love, as long as He finds in that person some sign of contrition for the evil committed.”
The Holy Father went on to say that, in our sinfulness, we can only return to God by freely accepting his grace.  For this, he has given us his Son Jesus, whose cross is a bridge leading us back to the Father.
“The sinner sees only himself and thus pretends to be self-sufficient; for this reason, sin distances us ever more from God, and this can become a barrier. However, Jesus comes to look for us like a good shepherd who is not content until he has not found the lost sheep (cf. Luke 15:4-6). He rebuilds the bridge which connects us to the Father and allows us to rediscover our dignity as sons and daughters. With the offer of his life, he has reconciled us to the Father and given us the gift of eternal life (cf. John 10:15). ‘Be reconciled to God!”
Reconciliation brings peace and contributes to society
He said this Holy Year of Mercy is a time for each of us to accept this offer of reconciliation and, in our communities, to bring it to the world around us.  Being reconciled with God not only brings inner healing and peace, but also impels us to work for reconciliation within society at every level, and thus contribute to the building of a global culture of peace, justice and solidarity.
“Let us accept, therefore, the invitation to be reconciled to God to become new creatures and to be able to radiate His mercy among our brothers and sisters.”
After the audience Pope Francis offered a special welcome to the members of the armed forces and police from throughout the world, especially those present at the audience from Canada, Kenya, Korea, the Philippines, and the United States of America.

(Devin Sean Watkins)


Pope greets Rotary members at special Jubilee Audience

Pope greets Rotary members at special Jubilee Audience

(Vatican Radio) Nearly 9,000 Rotary members attended the Jubilee Audience in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday at the invitation of Pope Francis. A delegation greeted the Pope at the end of the Audience.
Rotary, which brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues, kicked off the Rotarian Jubilee on Friday afternoon, with a conference on the challenges refugees are facing worldwide.
The conference organized by the Jesuit Refugee Service - in partnership with Rotary, UNHCR and WFP -  and entitled “Helping Refugees to Start Over”, focused on the work that can be done to give millions of refugees dignity and quality education – the best possible tool for them to be able to shape their lives, not lose hope, dream of a future. 
Linda Bordoni spoke to Ravi Ravindran, President of Rotary International about the Jubilee Audience with the Pope and about Rotary’s commitment to improving the lives of refugees.
Mr. Ravindran called Pope Francis a model for Rotarians, saying "he is doing exactly what every Rotarian should be doing. So we see a great synergy of thought with this Pope, and being here, receiving his blessing, I think is something quite wonderful for us."
"We are all very excited; we are passionate about this. We have Rotarians who have come from 80 countries to be present, so you can imagine the excitement."
Mr. Ravindran compared the conference on giving refugees a new start to lighting a candle in the darkness. "I realize that trying to take on this whole problem is beyond us. I have to be honest and say that Rotary cannot solve this problem, but rather than cursing the darkness, we can light a candle. I definitely know of many, many Rotary Clubs who in their own small way are doing what they can to give refuge, to educate, to take care, to nurse refugees. So if many of us do what we are doing, then to a large extent the problem gets alleviated."


Vatican Regenerative Medicine conference Day 2

Vatican Regenerative Medicine conference Day 2

(Vatican Radio)   The body can work as its own “pharmacy” with its own tool kit to heal itself – that’s one of the revolutionary concepts to come out of a Vatican conference on regenerative medicine and its cultural impact on society. 
On day two of the three day conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Stem For Life Foundation, researchers from some of the world’s leading cancer institutes presented their ground-breaking technologies in immunotherapy and expressed high hopes that a cure for the all-too-often deadly disease may be just around the corner.
Need for prevention, access and affordability
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son to cancer, addressed participants saying his son’s doctors told him that just in the last 4-5 years, cancer research has reached a turning point and that for the first time in history, many disciplines are working together to bring a cure. Echoing the call of Pope Francis, he said the tens of thousands of cases of cancer need to be prevented, and patients need access to affordable treatment.  Fewer than 5% of patients end up in clinical trials.
His voice rising with emotion, he challenged the scientists and doctors to share their research and data with each other:  “Why do you wait?  Do it now!”
Many of the researchers have begun to do just that thanks to a new approach among donors and philanthropists who are encouraging them to work in teams and share the data they gather.  Many, as we heard Friday, are already seeing success with immunotherapy - using the body’s own immune system to attack malignant cells -  as well as with stem cells and combined therapies to treat cancer.  Work is also underway to create and test personalized, patient-specific vaccines that hold the promise of preventing tumors from ever developing.
Dr. Robin Smith, President of the Stem For Life Foundation, spoke to Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure about the interest in the Vatican meeting…
“Really it’s important for us to search for the cures and help bring solutions to people who are suffering around the world and we’re starting to see everyone really focusing on that,” says Smith.
Over the last five years, results in cancer trials have been “amazing”
“Immunotherapy, the way that you can take your immune system and educate it to kill cancer cells or to stop being over-active and killing good tissue” are just some of the exciting advances to come to the fore, Smith explains.  “We are learning more about how our body acts and we are learning more how we are able to really use what we have, what God has given us, to influence our health and cells that are damaged along the way.”
A cure for cancer is on the way, need for speedy regulatory approval
“A cure is on the way,” says Smith.  “More effective therapies – not just  treating symptoms but actually treating the underlying cause of their disease - is underway.  It’s just a matter of time and we have to band together to get the regulatory bodies focused on getting these therapies approved and into the clinic and to the patients who need them.
Some countries, like Japan, have been able to speed up the regulatory process.
“They’ve changed some legislation – if they know [the therapy] is safe and it shows a sign of efficacy – to allow patients to get the therapy while it continues along the development program for final approval.”  “So we all need to take a look at that and figure out how to make [the process] quicker.  Maybe [the answer is] it’s not as many patients because these trials are so costly.”  Development can take up to 10-15 years and costs can be upwards of US$ 500 million.  “And for people who are sick and suffering through their lifetime, that’s too long.”
Pope Francis’ words to participants, Smith says, offered a very “consistent” message.
“It’s the Year of Mercy, he’s focused on helping people, people’s needs, the focus on children, and you know, the fact that you have rare diseases that affect very few people – people aren’t focused on this.  It’s not economically feasible to come up with the therapies to treat those diseases as they take so long and cost so much. So from a corporation point of view, it’s very difficult.  And [the Pope’s] point is that we need to focus: someone needs to get out there and realize that there are many millions of people with rare diseases and we have to look for solutions and people aren’t doing that right now and he wants the world to come together and focus on those people who need advocates and who need people to really push on their behalf.”
To find out more about the conference:
#unitetocure and go to the website http://www.stemforlifefoundation.com/

 

(Tracey McClure)


80.000 tín hữu dự buổi tiếp kiến đặc biệt của Đức Thánh Cha

80.000 tín hữu dự buổi tiếp kiến đặc biệt của Đức Thánh Cha

VATICAN. ĐTC mời gọi các tín hữu tận dụng Năm Thánh Lòng Thương Xót như cơ hội thuận tiện để hòa giải với Thiên Chúa và tha nhân.
 Ngài đưa ra lời kêu gọi trên đây trong buổi tiếp kiến chung 80 ngàn tín hữu hành hương, sáng ngày 30-4-2016, tại Quảng trường Thánh Phêrô. Đây là buổi tiếp kiến chung mỗi tháng 1 lần vào sáng thứ bẩy ĐTC thực hiện thêm trong Năm Thánh.
 Trong bài huấn dụ về đề tài: lòng thương xót và sự hòa giải (Xc 2 Cr 5,17-21), sau khi nhắc đến lòng từ bi thương xót của Thiên Chúa không bao giờ ngừng tìm kiếm người tội lỗi và ban ơn thư thứ hòa giải cho họ, ĐTC nói: ”Anh chị em hãy hòa giải với Thiên Chúa!” (2 Cr 5,20): tiếng kêu này Thánh Phaolô Tông Đồ gửi đến các Kitô hữu đầu tiên ở thành Corinto, ngày nay cũng có cùng sức mạnh và niềm xác tín như thế đối với tất cả chúng ta. Năm Thánh Lòng Thương Xót này là một thời kỳ hòa giải đối với tất cả mọi người. Bao nhiêu người muốn hòa giải với Thiên Chúa nhưng không biết làm sao, hoặc không cảm thấy mình xứng đáng, hay không muốn chấp nhận điều đó cho mình. Cộng đoàn Kitô có thể và phải tạo điều kiện dễ dàng để những người cảm thấy nhớ Chúa chân thành trở về cùng Chúa. Nhất là những người thi hành ”sứ vụ hòa giải” (2 Cr 5,8) được kêu gọi trở thành những dụng cụ ngoan ngoãn của Chúa Thánh Linh, vì nơi nào tràn đầy tội lỗi thì lòng thương xót của Chúa càng dồi dào hơn nữa (Xc Rm 5,20). Tôi xin các cha giải tội đừng tạo chướng ngại cản trở sự hòa giải của hối nhân với Thiên Chúa. Vị giải tội phải là một người cha, phải đón tiếp những người đến với mình và giúp họ trong hành trình hòa giải họ đang thực hiện.. Sứ vụ của anh em là một tác vụ đẹp đẽ chứ không phải là một phòng tra tấn hoặc một cuộc hỏi cung. Vị giải tội đại diện Thiên Chúa Cha ôm lấy con người và tha thứ cho họ”.
 ĐTC nói thêm rằng ”Cảm nghiệm sự hòa giải với Thiên Chúa giúp chúng ta khám phá sự cần thiết của những hình thức hòa giải khác: trong gia đình, giữa con người với nhau, trong các cộng đoàn Giáo Hội, cũng như trong các quan hệ xã hội và quốc tế... Vậy chúng ta hãy đón nhận lời mời gọi để cho mình được hòa giải với Thiên Chúa, để trở thành những thụ tạo mới và có thể làm lan tòa lòng thương xót của Chúa nơi anh chị em mình”.
 Chào các quân nhân cảnh sát
 Trong phần chào thăm các tín hữu hành hương, ĐTC đặc biệt nhắc đến sự hiện diện 20 ngàn quân nhân và cảnh sát từ nhiều nơi trên thế giới, về Roma hành hương nhân dịp Năm Thánh đặc biệt Lòng Thương Xót. Ngài nói:
 ”Các lực lượng an ninh - quân đội và cảnh sát - có sứ mạng bảo đảm môi trường an ninh, để mỗi công dân có thể sống trong an bình và thanh thản. Trong các gia đình của anh chị em, các môi trường khác nhau nơi anh chị em hoạt động, anh chị em hãy trở thành những dụng cụ hòa giải, những người xây dựng những nhịp cầu và gieo vãi hòa bình. Thực vậy, anh chị em được kêu gọi không những phòng ngừa, xử lý hoặc chấm dứt các cuộc xung đột, nhưng còn góp phần vào việc xây dựng một trật tự dựa trên sự thật, công lý, tình thương và tự do, theo định nghĩa của thánh Gioan 23 trong thông điệp ”Hòa bình dưới thế” (nn.18ss).
 ĐTC nhận xét rằng ”sự củng cố hòa bình không phải là một công trình dễ dàng, nhất là vì chiến tranh làm cho các tâm hồn chai đá, gia tăng bạo lực và oán thù. Tôi khuyên anh chị em đừng nản chí. Hãy tiếp tục hành trình đức tin của anh chị em và mở rộng con tim cho Thiên Chúa Cha từ bị thương xót, Đấng không bao giờ mỏi mệt trong việc tha thứ cho chúng ta. Đứng trước những thách đố mỗi ngày, anh chị em hãy làm cho niềm hy vọng Kitô được chiếu tỏa rạng ngời, xác tín chắc chắn về sự chiến thắng của tình thương và hòa bình trên chiến tranh” (SD 30-4-2016)
 G. Trần Đức Anh OP



Kitô hữu đừng sống hai mặt

Kitô hữu đừng sống hai mặt

VATICAN. Trong bài giảng thánh lễ sáng thứ Sáu, 29.04, tại nguyện đường Thánh Marta, Đức Thánh Cha Phanxicô đã cảnh giác các Kitô hữu trước một lối sống hai mặt, phô diễn ra cho người khác thấy vẻ bên ngoài sáng láng, thánh thiện nhưng trong tâm hồn lại vô cùng đen tối. Đức Thánh Cha cũng khuyến khích các tín hữu biết bước đi trong ánh sáng chứ đừng lún sâu vào con đường tối tăm, vì chân lý của Thiên Chúa không thể được tìm thấy nơi đó.
Khởi đi từ bài đọc được trích từ thư thứ nhất của Thánh Gioan Tông đồ, Đức Thánh Cha đã trình bày những suy tư của mình về trận chiến bất tận với tội lỗi. Ngài nói rằng chúng ta phải trở nên tinh tuyền như Chúa Cha, nhưng nếu chúng ta phạm tội chúng ta vẫn có thể cậy dựa vào sự tha thứ và lòng xót thương của Chúa. Tiếp đến, Đức Thánh Cha cũng nhấn mạnh đến sự khuyến cáo của các Tông đồ với các tín hữu: phải nói sự thật và đừng sống hai mặt, đừng nói một đường mà lại làm một nẻo.
Nếu bạn nói bạn kết hiệp với Chúa, thì phải bước đi trong ánh sáng, không sống hai mặt. Chúng ta thấy quen với những lời dối trá và cũng có cám dỗ nói dối nữa đúng không? Nói điều này nhưng lại làm điều khác đúng không? Cám dỗ sẽ không bao giờ ngừng. Chúng ta đã biết sự dối trá đến từ đâu. Trong Phúc Âm, Đức Giêsu gọi ma quỷ là ‘cha của sự dối trá’; là kẻ lừa dối, xảo quyệt. Chính vì điều này mà các giáo phụ khuyên nhủ Giáo hội thời sơ khai với sự yêu mến và đầy tình thương là: ‘Đừng dối trá! Anh chị em kết hợp với Chúa, thì hãy bước đi trong ánh sáng. Làm việc ngay chính, đừng nói một đường mà lại  làm một nẻo. Đừng sống hai mặt.’
Hãy để ý Thánh Gioan bắt đầu lá thư với lời chào ‘các con’. Đây cũng chính là lời của các giáo phụ nói với con cái mình trong thời Giáo hội sơ khai vời tràn đầy tình yêu, sự an ủi và vỗ về. Lời này cũng nhắc nhớ lại lời hứa của Đức Giêsu là sẽ cho nghỉ ngơi bồi dưỡng những ai đang vất vả mang gánh nặng nề. Cũng vậy, Thánh Gioan khuyến cáo các tín hữu đừng phạm tội, nhưng nếu ai có lỡ phạm tội thì cũng đừng thất vọng nản chí.
Chúng ta có Đấng Bào Chữa luôn chuyển cầu cho chúng ta bên cạnh Chúa Cha, đó là Đức Giêsu, Đấng Công Chính. Ngài thánh hóa chúng ta nên thánh thiện, tinh tuyền. Chính Ngài đã tha thứ cho chúng ta. Các giáo phụ đã khuyên chúng ta như thế này: ‘Còn điều gì xấu xa hơn là phạm tội nữa không? Xin thưa là không. Tội lỗi là thứ xấu xa nhất. Nhưng nếu phạm tội, hãy nhìn lên Đấng đang chờ đợi để tha thứ cho anh chị em. Thiên Chúa cao cả hơn tội lỗi của chúng ta.’”
Cuối cùng, Đức Thánh Cha kết luận rằng: “Chính nhờ lòng thương xót và sự cao cả của Thiên Chúa mà chúng ta có được sức mạnh. Chúng ta phải bước đi trong ánh sáng vì Chúa là sự sáng. Đừng bước một chân trong ánh sáng còn chân kia lại trong bóng tối. Đừng là kẻ dối trá. Chúng ta nên biết rằng tất cả chúng ta đều tội lỗi. Bởi vậy, không ai có thể nói người khác rằng: ‘Ông này có tội hay cô kia có tội. Còn tôi, tạ ơn Chúa, tôi công chính, thánh thiện.’ Không. Chỉ có một Đấng Công Chính mà thôi. Ngài đã chuộc tội cho chúng ta. Và nếu có ai trong chúng ta phạm tội, Ngài sẽ chờ đợi và sẵn sàng tha thứ, vì Thiên Chúa đầy lòng xót thương và biết rõ rằng chúng ta được tạo dựng nên bằng gì và chúng ta chỉ là thân phận cát bụi mà thôi. Ước mong rằng niềm vui từ bài đọc một ngày hôm nay giúp chúng ta luôn biết sống một đời Kitô đơn sơ và trong sáng, trên hết là khi chúng ta hướng về Thiên Chúa với tất cả sự thật.”
Vũ Đức Anh Phương, SJ


Tưởng niệm các vị tử đạo tại đài phun nước Trevi

Tưởng niệm các vị tử đạo tại đài phun nước Trevi

Roma – Như đã đưa tin, chiều tối hôm qua, lúc 20.30 tại đài phun nước Trevi, một điểm du lịch nổi tiếng ở Roma, đã diễn ra sự kiện tưởng niệm các  vị tử đạo Ki-tô của thời đại chúng ta. Đài phun nước đã được chiếu toàn màu đỏ, tượng trưng cho máu của các vị tử đạo.
“Cám ơn tổ chức “Trợ giúp các Giáo hội đau khổ”, về sự can đảm và cương quyết của tổ chức trong việc nâng đỡ các Ki-tô hữu bị bách hại. Đây là sự kiện duy nhất và căn bản, vinh danh máu các vị tử đạo kêu lên đến trời cao, nó thúc đẩy chúng ta đừng đầu hàng, bỏ cuộc nhưng tin vào hòa bình và xây dựng hòa bình từng ngày.” Đó là lời của Đức giám mục Giáo hội Can-đê của Aleppo.
Trước đó trong phần khai mạc, Đức cha Nunzio Galantino, tổng Thư ký Hội đồng Giám mục Italia đã nói: “Chúng ta ở đây để nói cho các Ki-tô hữu bị bách hại biết là họ không đơn độc. Những người theo Chúa Ki-tô là những người đầu tiên chịu bắt bớ và vì điều này chúng ta phải đứng đầu trong những sự kiện như thế này.”
Chủ tịch của tổ chức “Trợ giúp các Giáo hội đau khổ” phân bộ Italia cũng nhắc đến “nhiều cộng đoàn Ki-tô hữu bị đói, đau khổ và bạo lực bởi vì đức tin của họ” và mời gọi tất cả xé tan bức màn dửng dưng và cá nhân chủ nghĩa, để tránh sự bách hại đến mức đau khổ không thể chịu đựng được.
Trong khi hình ảnh của các nhà thờ bị tàn phá và các ảnh tượng bị phạm thánh được trình chiếu trên nền của đài phun nước, Đức Hồng y Mauro Piacenza, chủ tịch quốc tế của tổ chức đã nói về sự tử đạo Ki-tô giáo. Ngài nói: “chiều nay, chúng ta tưởng niệm máu các vị tử đạo Ki-tô giáo đã đổ ra vì bạo lực của con người và tội lỗi của thế giới.Như Đức Thánh cha Phanxicô đã khẳng định: sự im lặng và thụ động cũng là tội lỗi!”
4 nhân chứng đã xé tan sự im lặng thụ động với việc thuật lại câu chuyện của các vị tử đạo thời nay. Nữ tu Hedez thuộc ngành chiêm niệm của các Thừa sai Bác ái đã nói về 4 nữ tu cùng dòng đã bị giết ở Yemen: “dù các chị sợ sống trong đất nước đó nhưng các chị vẫn ở lại để phục vụ những người cuối cùng cho đến phút cuối.”
Giáo sư Shahid Mobeen, sáng lập Hội Ki-tô hữu Pakistan ở Italia, đã kể lại hoạt động của Shahbaz Bhati đã bị giết năm 2011, biểu tượng của chứng tá đức tin. Nếu cô chịu cải sang Hồi giáo thì có lẽ giờ đây cô được tự do. Sinh viên Luka Loteng người Kenya nhắc đến 148 sinh viên Ki-tô giáo bị giết năm ngoài trong thảm kịch xảy ra ở đại học Garissa ở Kenya. Cuối cùng, Maddalena Santoro đã nói về cha Andrea, anh của mình, dù ý thức những khó khăn nhưng cha luôn tiếp tục phục vụ ở Thổ nhĩ kỳ, trên mảnh đất của các Tông đồ mà cha vô cùng yêu quý.
Cuối cùng, Monica Mondo giới thiệu giây phút cảm động nhất của buổi chiều. Trên nền nhạc của Bach, đài phun nước Trevi được nhuộm một màu đỏ thắm huy hoàng như máu của các vị tử đạo. Hình ảnh đã được các phương tiện truyền thông lấy lại và nhờ đó sự tử đạo của các Ki-tô hữu được đưa lên trang nhất của các tờ báo trên thế giới (Aci 30/04/2016)
Hồng Thủy OP


MAY 01, 2016 : SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER year C

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 57

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
“Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved.”
Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders
about this question.

The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:

“The apostles and the elders, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”
Responsorial PsalmPS 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light,
and its lamp was the Lamb.

AlleluiaJN 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.”


6th Sunday of Easter – Cycle C 
 
Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage. 
 
 
1st Reading - Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 
  
Last week we heard of the end of Saint Paul’s first missionary journey. Today we hear of the Council of Jerusalem. 
 
Just as the Jewish faith had a ruling council (Greek: Synedrion; transliterated into English as Sanhedrin), the early Christian church was not disorganized with the apostles and their followers each going their own separate ways. When a question arose, they would gather to work out a common answer which was applicable to all. The council of Jerusalem is the first known of these councils and was called to answer the questions raised by the Judaizers around A.D. 50, some 17-20 years after Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. Since that time there have been many local councils and 21 universal (ecumenical) councils. To be considered an ecumenical council, the works must be approved by the pope.  
 
The council of Jerusalem falls in the middle of the book of Acts and describes the turning point for the Church when the council officially recognizes the evangelization of the Gentiles. This evangelization had been initiated by Saints Peter, Barnabas and Paul. Thus, the Christian church broke away from the Mosaic rules while maintaining its roots in the rich theology and traditions of the chosen people. 
 
15:1 Some who had come down from Judea 
 
This points to the Jerusalem church as their origin. 
 
were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised  
 
The main issue at this council is “do you have to become a Jew before you can become a Christian?” 
 
according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.”  
 
Circumcision was prescribed by the Torah which, according to Hebrew tradition, was written down by Moses. Genesis 17:9 traces the practice of circumcision to Abraham. Circumcision placed a physical mark on the body indicating that the bearer was one of God’s chosen people. 
 
2    Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, 
 
For once, Saint Luke reports a conflict that Saint Paul does not (see Galatians 2:1). 
 
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question.  
 
The officials of the Jerusalem church. Galatians 2:9 tells us that Saints Peter, James and John were there. 
 
Our reading today skips over verses 3-21 which give some insight into how the Council proceeded. Let’s review them to gain some background: 
 
3    They were sent on their journey by the church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, as well as by the apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. 5 But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.” 6 The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. 7 After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. 10 Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.” 12 The whole assembly fell silent,  
 
Notice that after Saint Peter (our first pope) speaks, the issue is settled; there is no more debate. 
 
and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them. 13 After they had fallen silent, James responded, “My brothers, listen to me. 14 Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name. 15 The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written: 16 ‘After this I shall return and rebuild the fallen hut of David; from its ruins I shall rebuild it and raise it up again, 17 so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord, even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked. Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things, 18 known from of old.’ 19 It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood. 21 For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”  
 
Saint Paul is not amending Saint Peter’s decision but is offering a manner of implementation which will not offend the sensibilities of the Jewish onlookers while at the same time relieving the converts, both Jewish and Gentile, of the prescriptions of the Mosaic law. 
 
And now, back to the reading. 
 
22 Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,  
 
He is otherwise unknown. 
 
and Silas,  
 
Saint Paul’s future companion 
 
leaders among the brothers. 23 This is the letter delivered by them: “The apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: 
 
Although the problem appeared in Antioch, the letter is addressed to its expanding mission territories. 
 
greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some of our number (who went out) without any mandate from us  
 
The implication is that the conduct was unauthorized. This would indicate that there was a central authority within the Church, even at this early date. 
 
have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, 25 we have  
 
Verse 22 says “apostles and elders” this is the central authority within the Church. 
 
with one accord  
 
The decision was unanimous. Verse 22 declares “in agreement with the whole church.” The ruling body has the ability (and responsibility) to bind the Church in matters of doctrine (Matthew 16:19, 18:18). 
 
decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: 28 ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit  
 
The true guide of the Church as it spreads from Jerusalem. It directs the work of the authorities as they make the decision. Church authority does not act on its own power or agenda; it is legitimate only in carrying out the saving will of God. The text which follows contains two parts; one disciplinary, and the other moral. 
 
and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, 29 namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals,   
This is the disciplinary part which lays down rules of prudence which can change. It asks Christians of Gentile background to abstain, out of charity toward Jewish Christians, from what has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from meat of animals killed by strangulation (thus still having the blood in them). To perform these things would be a sure way of breaking up a mixed Christian community of Jewish and Gentile Christians. The effect of the decree means that the disciplinary rules contained in it, although they derive from the Mosaic law, no longer oblige by virtue of that law but rather by virtue of the authority of the Church, which has decided to apply them for the time being. What matters is not what Moses says but what Jesus the Christ says through the Church. 
 
and from unlawful marriage.  
 
This is the moral part, it declares that the pagan (Gentile) converts are free of the obligation of circumcision and of the Mosaic law but are subject to the gospel’s immutable moral teaching on matters to do with chastity. 
 
If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’” 
 
 
2nd Reading - Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 
 
Last week we heard the beginning of John’s description of the Heavenly Jerusalem, we now continue with that description. We must remember that it was Jesus’ mission to go to the earthly Jerusalem to offer His sacrifice; so that we could find the path which we must follow to reach the Heavenly Jerusalem and dwell with Him forever. 
 
10    He [the angel] took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.  
 
The seer is granted a vision wherein he is taken to a high mountain to admire the spouse descending from the presence of God (see Ezekiel 40:2-3). He is an inspired apostle, receiving revelation. 
 
11    It gleamed with the splendor of God.  
 
Like the transfiguration, and when Moses came down from the mountain. God’s presence, filling the Church, transfigures her. During Judah’s apostasy, the prophet Ezekiel saw the Glory-Cloud (Shekinah) depart from the Temple and travel east, to the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 10:18-19; 11:22-23); later, in his vision of the New Jerusalem, he sees the Shekinah returning to dwell in the new Temple, the Church (Ezekiel 43:1-5). This was fulfilled when Christ, the incarnate Glory of God, ascended to His Father in the Cloud from the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50-51), thereupon sending His Spirit to fill the Church at Pentecost. 
 
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal.  
 
The glory of the Church is being compared with its source, the splendor (glory) of God. Recall also the reading from Isaiah 54:11-12 we heard last Easter vigil (“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days. Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.”)  
 
12    It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels  
 
Because the city comes from heaven, these must be the celestial guards. 
 
were stationed and on which names were inscribed, (the names) of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.  
 
John alludes to the perfect continuity between God’s people in the Old Covenant (Ezekiel 
 ; Exodus 28:17-21) and the Church in the New Covenant (Matthew 19:28; Luke 
 
13    There were three gates 
 
Three, in Hebrew numerology, is the number of completion. 
 
facing east, three north, three south, and three west.  
 
Four directions, in Hebrew numerology, this indicates the whole world. Three gates times four directions equals twelve, the number of earthly fullness and governmental perfection in Hebrew numerology. 
 
14    The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  
The preaching of the apostles is to the formation of the Church as the foundation is to an edifice (see 1 Timothy 3:15b). 
 
22    I saw no temple in the city, 
 
The temple was the focal point of the historical Jerusalem, for it was there that God dwelt among His people. But God’s presence in the heavenly Jerusalem is not bounded by temple walls (John 4:21,24). The glory of God and the Lamb completely permeates the city (John 2:19-22; 2 Corinthians 6:16). In Revelation 21:15 (omitted in our reading today) we find that Saint John measured this Heavenly Jerusalem and found that it was a perfect cube; its length, breadth, and height were equal. This means that the Heavenly Jerusalem is shaped just like the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 6:20), in fact it is the Holy of Holies. There is no longer a need for the Holy Place or the various courtyards, everyone can approach God directly. 
 
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.  
 
He is consistently and intimately associated with God. 
 
23    The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. 
 
See Isaiah 24:23; 60:1-3, 19-20; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5. 
 
 
Gospel - John 14:23:29 
 
Having heard last week of Jesus giving us a new commandment, to love one another, we rejoin Jesus and the apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus is instructing His apostles of the things to come. Before entering into the reading for today, it might be useful and informative to backtrack a few verses to John 14:15 and read:  
 
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  
 
The ten commandments, the new one just given (Love one another), and later “Do this in remembrance of me.” 
 
16And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you desolate; 
 
As orphans, without a family. 
I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot)  
 
Judas the son of James, included in Luke’s list of the twelve (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) and traditionally identified with the Thaddeus of Mark 3:18 and Matthew 10:3. 
 
said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world? 
 
The answer to this question is the Eucharist. It is present throughout the world but is not believed. 
 
23    Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word,  
 
He who has my commandments and keeps them. 
 
and my Father will love him,  
 
Covenant language and imagery.  
 
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.  
 
There is no longer any separation between God and the believers; they don’t need to look to the parousia to experience the presence of God. 
 
24    Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; 
 
It is the lack of love and obedience that precludes the world from having any part in this manifestation of Father and Son. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).” “All who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God (John 1:12).” 
 
yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. 25 “I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name - 
 
As the Son was sent in the name of the Father to do His works and will (John 5:43), so the Spirit stands in relation to the Son. Recall that in Semitic usage, name is equivalent to the person. Faith is not simply the acceptance of a proposition, but a commitment to a person. he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.  
 
After Christ’s ascension, it will be the function of the Holy Spirit to complete the revelation of Christ by enlightening the Church concerning the true and full meaning of what Jesus had done and said. This function was not completed when the New Testament was written but continues today as the Church continues to guide and teach. 
 
27 Peace  
 
Peace, in Hebrew is shalom. Shalom was and is the common Jewish formula of greeting and farewell. The word has a much deeper significance however, as an expression of the harmony and communion with God that is the seal of the covenant (see Numbers 6:24-26). Shalom came to have an eschatological and messianic meaning (see Isaiah 9:6), virtually the same as salvation. It is this spiritual tranquility that Christ gives, which has no resemblance to what the world gives. 
 
I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.  
 
During the Arian controversy, this verse was used to support a subordinationist Christology. Though Christ is one with the Father (John 10:30), as the Son he has been sent by the Father to do His will, and in this relationship the Father is the greater. Christ’s return to the Father with His mission accomplished is the condition of all that He has promised to His disciples. 
 
29 And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.



Meditation: "My peace I give to you"
Do you know the love that surpasses all, that is stronger than death itself (Song of Songs 8:6)? In Jesus' last supper discourse he speaks of the love he has for his disciples and of his Father's love. He prepares his disciples for his imminent departure to return to his Father by exhorting them to prove their love for him through their loyalty and obedience to his word. He promises them the abiding instruction and consolation of the Holy Spirit.
God unites us to himself in a bond of love and peace
Saint Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love. God’s love for each of us is as real and tangible as the love of a mother for her child and the love of a lover who gives all for his beloved. God made us in love for love - to know him personally and to grow in the knowledge of his great love for us and to love him in return.
How can we know and be assured of the love of God? The Holy Spirit helps us to grow in the knowledge of God and his great love. The Spirit enables us to experience the love of God and to be assured of the Lord’s abiding presence with us (see Romans 8:35-39). The Holy Spirit also opens our ears to hear and understand the word of God. Do you listen attentively to God's word and believe it? Ask the Holy Spirit to inflame your heart with the love of God and his word.
The true nature of peace
Do you know the peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)? In his farewell discourse Jesus grants peace as his gift to his disciples. What kind of peace does he offer? The peace of Christ is more than the absence of trouble. It includes everything which makes for our highest good. The world's approach to peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Jesus offers the peace which conquers our fears and anxieties. Nothing can take us from the peace and joy of Jesus Christ. No sorrow or grief, no danger, no suffering can make it less.
How can we attain the peace which the Lord Jesus offers his followers? Through the gift and work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, the Lord Jesus shows us how to yield our passions of anger, fear, and pride to him so we can receive his gift of peace. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and strengthens us with his gifts and supernatural virtues which enable us to live as wise and holy disciples of Christ. 
Caesarius of Arles (470-542 AD), an early church bishop in Gaul who was noted for his godly wisdom and preaching of Scripture, linked peace with the character of Christ and the Christlike virtues which help us to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Caesarius describes some of the key character traits (virtues) which form us into true people of peace:
"Peace, indeed, is serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the fellowship of charity. It removes hatred, settles wars, restrains wrath, tramples on pride, loves the humble, pacifies the discordant and makes enemies agree. For it is pleasing to everyone. It does not seek what belongs to another or consider anything as its own. It teaches people to love because it does not know how to get angry, or to extol itself or become inflated with pride. It is meek and humble to everyone, possessing rest and tranquility within itself. When the peace of Christ is exercised by a Christian, it is brought to perfection by Christ. If anyone loves it, he will be an heir of God, while anyone who despises it rebels against Christ.
"When our Lord Jesus Christ was returning to the Father, he left his peace to his followers as their inherited good, teaching them and saying, 'My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you.' Anyone who has received this peace should keep it, and one who has destroyed it should look for it, while anyone who has lost it should seek it. For if anyone is not found with it, he will be disinherited by the Father and deprived of his inheritance." (Sermon 174.1)
"Lord Jesus, in love you created me and you drew me to yourself. May I never lose sight of you nor forget your steadfast love and faithfulness. And may I daily dwell upon your word and give you praise in the sanctuary of my heart, You who are my All."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersGod is pleased to dwell in us, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"God is not too grand to come, he is not too fussy or shy, he is not too proud - on the contrary he is pleased to come if you do not displease him. Listen to the promise he makes. Listen to him indeed promising with pleasure, not threatening in displeasure, "We shall come to him," he says, "I and the Father." To the one he had earlier called his friend, the one who obeys his precepts, the keeper of his commandment, the lover of God, the lover of his neighbor, he says, "We shall come to him and make our abode with him." (excerpt from Sermon 23,6)

MAY IS MARY'S MONTH

The month of May, with its profusion of blooms, was adopted by the Church in the eighteenth century as a celebration of the flowering of Mary's spirituality. In Isaiah's prophecy of the Virgin birth of the Messiah, the figure of the Blossoming Rod, or Root of Jesse, the flower symbolism of Mary was extended by the Church Fathers, and, in the liturgy, by applying to her the flower figures of the Biblical books of Canticles, Wisdom, Proverbs and Sirach. In the medieval period, the rose was adopted as the flower symbol of the Virgin Birth, as expressed in Dante's phrase, 'The Rose wherein the Divine Word was made flesh,' and depicted in the rose windows of the great gothic cathedrals, from which came the Christmas carol, 'Lo, How a Rose 'ere Blooming.' Also, with the spread of the Franciscan love of nature, the rose of the fields, waysides and gardens, came to be seen as symbols of Mary.

This month of May
* Honor Mary with a Rosary each day.
* Read some inspiring literature about Mary.
* Set up a little Shrine to her outside or inside your house.
* Love her!

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
SUNDAY, MAY 1, JOHN 14:23-29

(Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23)

KEY VERSE: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (v.27).
TO KNOW: As Jesus faced the cross and his final battle with the powers of evil, he comforted his fearful and bewildered disciples about his impending departure. The disciples were afraid that Jesus was abandoning them, but he assured them that he would not leave them orphans. He and the Father would send another advocate (Greek, parakletos), the Holy Spirit. A "paraklete" was legal terminology for an advocate, one who would give witness in someone's favor in a court of law. The Holy Spirit would lead the disciples into a deeper truth about God and remind them of everything that Jesus taught them. The unbelieving world could not accept these divine truths because they did not love Jesus and did not keep his commands. Jesus' disciples would prove their love by obedience to his word. Jesus granted his followers the gift of peace as they awaited the fulfillment of his promises. The peace that Jesus offered his followers was not the absence of strife, but everything that made for their highest good (Hebrew, "shalom"). Jesus was going back to his Father and would be released from the human limitations of this world. He would be restored to his glory, and if his disciples really loved him, they would be glad that it was so.
TO LOVE: Am I being true to Christ's word at home and work?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, send your Spirit to stand beside your Church in times of trouble. ​

Sunday 1 May, 2016

Sun 1st. 6th Sunday of Easter.Acts 15:1-2, 22-29. O God, let all the nations praise you!Ps 66(67):2-3, 5-6, 8. Apocalypse 21:10-14, 22-23. John 14:23-29. 


Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Eastertide is a season for us to celebrate the Resurrection with open and joyful hearts.
In today’s Gospel the Resurrected Jesus is preparing his disciples for the time when he will no longer be with them on earth. He tells them, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid’. I have always loved this phrase, if only I remember it when my heart is feeling just so!
Jesus tells them: ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home in him’.
Lord, help me to love you and keep your word so that one day I might be with you in Heaven.

MINUTE MEDITATIONS 
Just Listen
It is much harder to criticize or to be angry with someone who wants to listen to you rather than lecture you or get angry in turn. Let people know that you are listening, that you know their pain, and that the message of respect for life also says that their lives are precious, no matter how strongly they disagree with you.

May 1
St. Joseph the Worker

Apparently in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. But the relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers has a much longer history.
In a constantly necessary effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary human life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasized that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in both the satisfactions and the drudgery of that vocation. Humanity is like God not only in thinking and loving, but also in creating. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ.


Comment:

“The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). The Father created all and asked humanity to continue the work of creation. We find our dignity in our work, in raising a family, in participating in the life of the Father’s creation. Joseph the Worker was able to help participate in the deepest mystery of creation. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, we again today repeat, ‘Go to Joseph’” (see Genesis 41:44).
Quote:

In Brothers of Men, René Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: “Now this holiness (of Jesus) became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of work, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God....this mystery involves the conviction that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of someone who is poor and obliged to work for his living.”

LECTIO DIVINA: 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER (C)
Lectio Divina: 
 Sunday, May 1, 2016
The Holy Spirit will help us
understand Jesus’ words
John 14,23-29

1. Opening prayer

Shaddai, God of the mountain,
You who make of our fragile life
the rock of your dwelling place,
lead our mind
to strike the rock of the desert,
so that water may gush to quench our thirst.
May the poverty of our feelings
cover us as with a mantle in the darkness of the night
and may it open our heart to hear the echo of silence
until the dawn,
wrapping us with the light of the new morning,
may bring us,
with the spent embers of the fire of the shepherds of the Absolute
who have kept vigil for us close to the divine Master,
the flavour of the holy memory.
2. LECTIO
a) The text:
23 Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
25 "These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.
b) A moment of silence:

Let us allow the voice of the Word to resonate within us. 

3. MEDITATIO
a) Some questions:
- “And we will come to him and make our home with him”: looking in our interior camp, will we find there the tent of the shekinah(presence) of God?
- “He who does not love me does not keep my words: Are the words of Christ empty words for us because of our lack of love? Or could we say that we observe them as a guide on our journey?
- “The Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”: Jesus turns to the Father, but everything which he has said and done remains with us. When will we be able to remember the marvels which divine grace has accomplished in us? Do we receive or accept the voice of the Spirit who suggests in our interior the meaning of all that has taken place, that has happened?
- “My peace I give to you: The peace of Christ is his resurrection”: When will we be able in our life to abandon the anxiety and the mania of doing, which draws us away from the sources of the being? God of peace, when will we live solely from you, peace of our waiting?
- “I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe”: Before it takes place... Jesus likes to explain to us beforehand what is going to happen, so that the events do not take us by surprise, unprepared. But, are we ready to read the signs of our events with the words heard from him?
b) Key for the reading:
To make our home. Heaven does not have a better place than a human heart which is in love. Because a dilated heart extends the boundaries and all barriers of time and space disappear. To live in love is equal to live in Heaven, to live in Him who is love, and eternal love.
v. 23. Jesus answered him: If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. In the origin of every spiritual experience there is always a movement forward. Take a small step, then everything moves harmoniously. And the step to be taken is only one: If a man loves me. Is it really possible to love God? And how is it seen that his face is no longer among the people? To love: What does it really mean? In general, to love for us means to wish well to one another, to be together, to make choices to construct a future, to give oneself... to love Jesus is not the same thing. to love him means to do as he did, not to draw back in the face of pain, of death; to love as he did takes us very far... and it is in this love that the word becomes daily bread to eat and life becomes Heaven because of the Father’s presence.
vv. 24-25. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.If there is no love, the consequences are disastrous. The words of Jesus can be observed only if there is love in the heart, otherwise they remain absurd proposals. Those words are not the words of a man , they come for the Father’s heart who proposes to each one of us to be like Him. In life it is not so much a question of doing things, even if they are very good. It is necessary to be men, to be sons, to be images similar to the One who never ceases to give Himself completely.
vv. 25-26. These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. To remember is an action of the Spirit; when in our days the past is seen as something lost forever and the future is there as something threatening to take away our joy today, only the divine Breath in you can lead you to remember it. To remember what has been said, every word coming from God’s mouth for you, and forgotten because of the fact that time has gone by.
v. 27. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. The peace of Christ for us is not absence of conflicts, serenity of life, health... but the plenitude of every good, absence of anxiety in the face of what is going to happen. The Lord does not assure us well-being, but the fullness of son-ship in a loving adherence to his projects which are good for us. We will possess peace, when we will have learnt to trust in that which the Father chooses for us.
v. 28. You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you’. If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. We come back to the question of love. If you loved me, you would have rejoiced. But what is the sense of this expression pronounced by the Master? We could complete the phrase and say: If you loved me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father... but since you think of yourselves, you are sad because I am leaving, going away. The love of the disciples is an egoistic love. They do not love Jesus because they do not think of Him, they think of themselves. Then, the love which Jesus asks, is this love! A love capable of rejoicing because the other will be happy. A love capable of not thinking of self as the centre of all the universe, but as a place in which one feels open to give and to be able to receive: not in exchange, but as the “effect” of the gift received.
v. 29. I have told you before it takes place, so when it does take place, you may believe. Jesus instructs his own because he knows that they will remain confused and will be slow in understanding. His words do not vanish, they remain as a presence in the world, treasures of understanding in faith. An encounter with the Absolute who is always and for always in favour of man.
c) Reflection:

Love: a magic and ancient word as old as the world, a familiar word which is born in the horizon of every man in the moment in which he is called into existence. A word written in his human fibres as origin and end, as an instrument of peace, as bread and gift, as himself, as others, as God. A word entrusted to history through our history of every day. Love, a pact which has always had one name alone: man. Yes, because love coincides with man: love is the air that he breathes, love is the food which is given to him, love is the rest to which he entrusts himself, love is the bond of union which makes of him a land of encounter. That love with which God has seen in his creation and has given: “It is something very good”. And he has not taken back the commitment taken when man made of himself a rejection more than a gift, a slap more than a caress, a stone thrown more than a silent tear. He has loved even more with the eyes and the heart of the Son, up to the end. This man who became a burning torch of sin, the Father has redeemed him, again and solely out of love, in the Fire of the Spirit.
4. ORATIO

Psalm 37,23-31
The steps of a man are from the Lord,
and he establishes him in whose way he delights;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord is the stay of his hand.
I have been young, and now am old;
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging bread.
He is ever giving liberally and lending,
and his children become a blessing.
Depart from evil, and do good;
so shall you abide for ever.
For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
The righteous shall be preserved for ever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall possess the land,
and dwell upon it for ever.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.
5. CONTEMPLATIO
I see you, Lord, dwelling in my days through your word which accompanies me in my more intense moments, when my love for you becomes courageous, audacious and I do not give up in the face of what I feel that does not belong to me. that Spirit which is like the wind: blows where it wants and his voice is not heard, that Spirit has become space in me, and now I can tell you that he is like a dear fried with whom to remember. To go back to remember the words said, to the lived events, to the presence perceived while on the way, does good to the heart. I feel profoundly this indwelling every time that in silence one of your phrases comes to mind, one of your invitations, one of your words of compassion, your silence. The nights of your prayer allow me to pray to the Father and to find peace. Lord, tenderness concealed in the pleads of my gestures, grant me to treasure all that you are: a scroll which is explained in which it is easy to understand the sense of my existence. May my words be the dwelling place of your words, may my hunger be your dwelling, bread of life, may my pain be the empty tomb and the folded shroud so that everything that you want may be accomplished, up to the last breath. I love you, Lord, my rock.