Thứ Tư, 26 tháng 4, 2017

APRIL 27, 2017 : THURSDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK OF EASTER

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Lectionary: 270

Reading 1ACTS 5:27-33
When the court officers had brought the Apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
"We gave you strict orders did we not,
to stop teaching in that name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man's blood upon us."
But Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
"We must obey God rather than men. 
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

When they heard this,
they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

Responsorial PsalmPS 34:2 AND 9, 17-18, 19-20
R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 20:29
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe?
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 3:31-36
The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains upon him.


Meditation: He who believes in the Son has eternal life"
Do you hunger for the true and abundant life which God offers through the gift of his Holy Spirit? The Jews understood that God gave a certain portion of his Spirit to his prophets. When Elijah was about to depart for heaven, his servant Elisha asked for a double portion of the Spirit which Elijah had received from God (2 Kings 2:9)
The Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand God's word of truth 
Jesus tells his disciples that they can believe the words he speaks because God the Father has anointed him by pouring out his Spirit on him in full measure, without keeping anything back. The function of the Holy Spirit is to reveal God's truth to us. Jesus declared that "when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13). When we receive the Holy Spirit he opens our hearts and minds to recognize and understand God's word of truth.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, "I believe in order to understand; and I understand the better to believe." Faith opens our minds and hearts to receive God's word of truth and to obey it willingly. Do you believe God's word and receive it as if your life depended on it?
God gives us the freedom to accept or reject what he says is true. But with that freedom also comes a responsibility to recognize the consequences of the choice we make - either to believe what he has spoken to us through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, or to ignore, reject, and chose our own way apart from God. Our choices will either lead us on the path of abundant life and union with God, or the path that leads to spiritual death and separation from God.
Love the Lord, cling to him, and you will have life
God issued a choice and a challenge to the people of the Old Covenant: "See I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. ...I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him" 
(Deuteronomy 30:15-20). And God issues the same challenge to the people of the New Covenant today. Do you weigh the consequences of your choices? Do the choices you make lead you towards life or death - blessing or cursing?
If you choose to obey God's voice and to do his will, then you will know and experience that abundant life which comes from God himself. If you choose to follow your own way apart from God and his will, then you choose for death – a spiritual death which poisons and kills the heart and soul until there is nothing left but an empty person devoid of love, truth, goodness, purity, peace, and joy. Do your choices lead you towards God or away from God?
"Lord Jesus Christ, let your Holy Spirit fill me and transform my heart and mind that I may choose life - the abundant life you offer to those who trust in you. Give me courage to always choose what is good, true, and just and to reject whatever is false, foolish, and contrary to your holy will."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersAlways bless the Lord! by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"When are you to 'bless the Lord?' When he showers blessings on you? When earthly goods are plentiful? When you have a plethora of grain, oil, wine, gold, silver... - while your mortal body remains healthy, uninjured and free from disease; while everything that is born on your estate is growing well, and nothing is snatched away by untimely death; while every kind of happiness floods your home and you have all you want in profusion? Is it only then that you are to bless the Lord? No, but 'at all times.' So you are to bless him equally when from time to time, or because the Lord God wishes to discipline you, these good things let you down or are taken from you, when there are fewer births or the already-born slip away. These things happen, and their consequence is poverty, need, hardship, disappointment and temptation. But you sang, 'I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be in my mouth always,' so when the Lord gives you these good things, bless him, and when he takes them away, bless him. He it is who gives, and he it is who takes away, but he does not take himself away from anyone who blesses him. (excerpt from EXPOSITIONS OF THE PSALMS 34.3)

THURSDAY, APRIL 27, JOHN 3:31-36
Easter Weekday

(Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 34)

KEY VERSE: "Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true" (v.33).
TO KNOW: The Gospel of John continually contrasts the radical difference between salvation in Christ and the workings of the Evil One. Jesus brought light into the world while the Evil One brought darkness. Jesus followers believed in him, while the unbelievers refused to listen to his words. Jesus was the one from the heavenly world "above" whom God sent to the world "below" (this description is theological, not geographical). The Son shares the fullness of the Spirit with the Father, who withheld nothing from him. The Son in turn imparts the Spirit to his followers. Throughout salvation history, God gave partial revelation to God's people. In the final age, God was fully revealed through the Son, who "spoke the words of God" (v.34). Whoever accepts this revelation receives eternal life; those who reject this gift bring God's judgment upon themselves.
TO LOVE: Do I give thanks for the divine gift of God's Son?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, help me to listen to your words so that I might know how to act in truth.


Thursday 27 April 2017

St Louis Grignion de Montfort
Acts 5:27-33. Psalms 33(34):2, 9, 17-20. John 3:31-36.
The Lord hears the cry of the poor — Psalms 33(34):2, 9, 17-20.
Peter speaks out forthrightly.
‘God raised Jesus from death to be our saviour … and we are witnesses of these things.’ Peter probably had heard, and maybe here was unconsciously echoing, John the Baptist’s outspokenness as we hear Jesus speak of it in today’s gospel. ‘He tells what he has seen and heard.’
Jesus, my Lord, I accept you with all my heart. Help me to hold on to that faith. Deepen it. Strengthen it. Forgive my weaknesses and my self-centredness.

ST. ZITA OF LUCCA

On April 27 the Catholic Church honors Saint Zita, a 13th century Italian woman whose humble and patient service to God has made her a patron saint of maids and other domestic workers.
Born into poverty during the early 1200s, Zita was taught by her mother from an early age to seek God's will in all circumstances. She had already developed a strong prayer life by the time she was sent, at age 12, to work in the home of the Fatinelli family in Lucca.
Zita's employers lived near a church where she managed – by waking up extremely early in the morning – to attend daily Mass. She looked upon her work primarily as a means of serving God, and kept herself mindful of his presence during long hours of exhausting tasks.
Her presence in the Fatinelli household, however, was inexplicably unwelcome and met with harsh treatment for a number of years. Zita suffered hostility and abuse from her employers, including fits of rage and beatings.
The young woman faced these trials with patience and inner strength developed through a life of prayer. In time, the members of the household came to value her service, and appreciate the virtues she had acquired through God's grace.
Zita maintained her humility when she was promoted to a position of responsibility within the Fatinelli home. She continued to view her earthly responsibilities as a service to God, and to seek his presence through prayer and fasting. She also refused to hold a grudge against those who once mistreated her.
Within her new household role, Zita was faithful to Christ's admonition that superiors should conduct themselves as the servants of all. She was kind to those under her direction, and mindful of the poor through frequent almsgiving to the point of personal sacrifice.
Throughout her life, Zita found a source of strength and consolation in the Mass and Holy Communion, which frequently moved her to tears. Despite her many responsibilities, she frequently set aside time to recall God's presence through contemplative prayer in the course of the day.
After foretelling her own death and spiritually preparing for it, Saint Zita died in Lucca on April 27, 1271. Many residents regarded her as a saint and began to seek her intercession, to which a large number of miracles were attributed. Some writers even began referring to the city of Lucca as “Santa Zita” in her honor.
The Fatinelli family, which had once caused St. Zita such extreme suffering, eventually contributed to the cause of her canonization. The earliest account of her life was found in a manuscript belonging to the family, and published in 1688.
The Church's liturgical veneration of St. Zita was introduced in the early 1500s, and confirmed by Pope Innocent XII in 1696. In 1580, her body was exhumed and found to be miraculously incorrupt. It is venerated today in the Basilica of St. Frediano, where she attended Mass during her life.

LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 3,31-36
Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, April 27, 2017
Easter Time

1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus Christ came from you
and bore witness to the things
he had heard and seen.
He could not but bear witness to you.
Give us the Spirit of your Son, we pray you,
to speak your word and to live it,
that we may show Christ, your living Word,
to those who have not seen him.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 3,31-36
John the Baptist said to his disciples: "He who comes from above is above all others; he who is of the earth is earthly himself and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven bears witness to the things he has seen and heard, but his testimony is not accepted by anybody; though anyone who does accept his testimony is attesting that God is true, since he whom God has sent speaks God's own words, for God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything to his hands. Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: God's retribution hangs over him."
3) REFLECTION
• During the month of January we meditated on John 3, 22-30, which shows us the last witness of John the Baptist concerning Jesus. It was a response given by him to his disciples, in which he reaffirms that he, John, is not the Messiah, but rather his precursor (Jn 3, 28). On that occasion, John says that beautiful phrase which summarizes his witness: “It is necessary that he grows greater and I grow less!” This phrase is the program for all those who want to follow Jesus.
• The verses of today’s Gospel are, again, a comment of the Evangelist in order to help the communities to understand better all the importance of the things that Jesus did and taught. Here, we have another indication of those three threads of which we spoke about before.
• John 3, 31-33: A refrain which is always repeated. Throughout the Gospel of John, many times there appears the conflict between Jesus and the Jews who contest the words of Jesus. Jesus speaks of what he hears from the Father. He is total transparency. His enemies, not opening themselves to God and because they cling to their own ideas here on earth, are not capable to understand the deep significance of the things that Jesus lives, does and says. In last instance, this is the evil one which pushes the Jews to arrest and condemn Jesus.
• John 3, 34: Jesus gives us the Spirit without reserve. John’s Gospel uses many images and symbols to signify the action of the Spirit. Like in the Creation (Gen 1, 1), in the same way the Spirit descends on Jesus “like a dove, come from Heaven” (Jn 1, 32). It is the beginning of the new creation! Jesus repeats the words of God and communicates the Spirit to us without reserve (Jn 3, 34). His words are Spirit and life (Jn 6, 63). When Jesus is about to leave this earth, he says that he will send another Consoler, another defender, to be with us forever (Jn 14, 16-17). By his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus obtains for us the gift of the Spirit. Through Baptism all of us have received this same Spirit of Jesus (Jn 1, 33). When he appears to the apostles, he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (Jn 20, 22). The Spirit is like the water which springs from the persons who believe in Jesus (Jn 7, 37-39; 4, 14). The first effect of the action of the Spirit in us is reconciliation: “”If you forgive anyone’s sins they will be forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained!” (Jn 20, 23). The Spirit is given to us to recall and understand the full significance of the words of Jesus (Jn 14, 26; 16, 12-13). Animated by the Spirit of Jesus we can adore God in any place (Jn 4, 23-24). Here is fulfilled the liberty of the Spirit of which Saint Paul speaks: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Co 3, 17).
• John 3, 35-36: The Father loves the Son. He reaffirms the identity between the Father and Jesus. The Father loves the Son and places all things in his hand. Saint Paul will say that the fullness of the divinity dwells in Jesus (Col 1, 19; 2, 9). This is why the one who accepts Jesus and believes in Jesus has eternal life, because God is life. The one who does not accept to believe in Jesus, places himself outside.
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Jesus communicates the Spirit to us, without reserve. Have you had some experience of this action of the Spirit in your life?
• He who believes in Jesus has eternal life. How does this take place today in the life of the families and of the communities?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Proclaim with me the greatness of Yahweh,
let us acclaim his name together.
Taste and see that Yahweh is good.
How blessed are those who take refuge in him. (S 34,3.8)