Thứ Ba, 9 tháng 5, 2017

MAY 10, 2017 : WEDNESDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF EASTER

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 281

The word of God continued to spread and grow. 

After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission,
they returned to Jerusalem,
taking with them John, who is called Mark. 

Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers:
Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene,
Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
"Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them." 
Then, completing their fasting and prayer,
they laid hands on them and sent them off.

So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit,
went down to Seleucia
and from there sailed to Cyprus. 
When they arrived in Salamis,
they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. 

Responsorial PsalmPS 67:2-3, 5, 6 AND 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.

AlleluiaJN 8:12
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus cried out and said,
"Whoever believes in me believes not only in me
but also in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.
I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. 
And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them,
I do not condemn him,
for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. 
Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words
has something to judge him: the word that I spoke,
it will condemn him on the last day,
because I did not speak on my own,
but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. 
And I know that his commandment is eternal life. 
So what I say, I say as the Father told me."


Meditation: "Believe in me - that you may not remain in darkness"
What kind of darkness does Jesus warn us to avoid? It is the darkness of unbelief and rejection - not only of the Son who came into the world to save it - but rejection of the Father who offers us healing and reconciliation through his Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus' last public discourse before his death and resurrection (according to John's Gospel), Jesus speaks of himself as the light of the world. In the Scriptures light is associated with God's truth and life. Psalm 27 exclaims, The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The light of Christ removes the darkness and reveals the goodness of God to us
Just as natural light exposes the darkness and reveals what is hidden, so God's word enables those with eyes of faith to perceive the hidden truths of God's kingdom. Our universe could not exist without light - and no living thing could be sustained without it. Just as natural light produces warmth and energy - enabling seed to sprout and living things to grow - in like manner, God's light and truth enables us to grow in the abundant life which only he can offer us. Jesus' words produce life - the very life of God - within those who receive it with faith.
To see Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh for our sake (John 1), is to see God in visible form. To hear the words of Jesus is to hear the voice of God. He is the very light of God that has power to overcome the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. God's light and truth brings healing, pardon, and transformation. This light is not only for the chosen people of Israel, but for the whole world as well. Jesus warns that if we refuse to listen to his word, if we choose to ignore it or to take it very lightly, then we choose to remain in spiritual darkness.
The Word of God has power to set us free from sin, doubt, and deception
Jesus made it clear that he did not come to condemn us, but rather to bring us abundant life and freedom from the oppression of sin, Satan, and a world in opposition to God's truth and goodness. We condemn ourselves when we reject God's word of truth, life, and wisdom. It is one thing to live in ignorance due to lack of knowledge and understanding, but another thing to disdain the very source of truth who is Christ Jesus, the Word of God sent from the Father. Jesus says that his word - which comes from the Father and which produces eternal life in us - will be our judge. Do you believe that God's word has power to set you free from sin and ignorance and to transform your life in his way of holiness?
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) summed up our need for God's help in the following prayer he wrote: "God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, and that our resentment against you was groundless."
The Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand the truth and wisdom of God's word
God does not wish to leave us in spiritual darkness - in our ignorance and unbelief. He is always ready to give his light, wisdom, and truth to all who seek him and who hunger for his word. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he helps us to grow each and every day in faith, knowledge, and understanding of his life-giving word. Do you want to know more of God and grow in his transforming love? Look to Jesus, the Light of God, and in his truth you will find joy, freedom, and wholeness of body, mind, heart, and soul.
"Lord Jesus, in your word I find life, truth, and freedom. May I never doubt your word nor forget your commandments. Increase my love for your truth that I may embrace it fully and live according to it."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersWhoever sees Jesus sees the Father, by Cyril of Alexandria, 375-444 A.D.
"[Our Lord] gradually accustoms their minds to penetrate the depth of the mysteries concerning himself, [leading them] not to the human person but to that which was of the divine essence. He does this inasmuch as the Godhead is apprehended completely in the person of God the Father, for he has in himself the Son and the Spirit. With exceeding wisdom he carries them onward, ... for he does not exclude himself from being believed on by us because he is God by nature and has shone forth from God the Father. But skillfully (as has been said) he handles the mind of the weak to mold them to godliness in order that you might understand him to say something like this: 'When you believe on me - I who, for your sakes, am a man like yourselves, but who also am God by reason of my own nature and because of the Father from whom I exist - do not suppose that it is on a man you are setting your faith. For I am by nature God, notwithstanding that I appear like one of yourselves, and I have within myself him who begat me. Forasmuch therefore as I am consubstantial with him that has begotten me, your faith will assuredly pass on also to the Father himself.' As we said therefore, the Lord, gradually trains them to something better and profitably interweaves the human with what is God-befitting." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 8.7)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, JOHN 12:44-50
Easter Weekday

(Acts 12:24 ̶ 13:5a; Psalm 67)

KEY VERSE: "Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me" (v.44).
TO KNOW: In the prologue to John's Gospel, Jesus was described as the "Word made flesh" (Jn 1:14). In Jesus' words and deeds, in his life, death and resurrection, he was the fullness of divine revelation. Whoever saw Jesus saw God, and whoever heard Jesus heard God's own words. All who believed in Jesus' life-giving word must also believe in the one who sent him. Jesus did not speak on his own authority, but by God's command. The light of God's truth, which Jesus revealed, cast out the darkness of sin and ignorance in the world. Each individual is given the freedom to accept or reject this truth. Jesus did not come to condemn those who refused to believe in him (Jn 3:17); however, anyone who denied the truth would be judged by God's Word.
TO LOVE: Do I proclaim the word of God in what I say and what I do?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, increase my faith in your word.


Optional Memorial of Saint Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka'i, priest

The "Leper Priest of Moloka'i," named Joseph at birth, received the name Damien in religious life when he joined the Sacred Hearts Fathers in 1860. In 1864, he was sent to Honolulu, Hawaii where he worked in missions. In 1873, he went to the leper colony on Moloka'i, after volunteering for the assignment. Damien cared for lepers of all ages, but was particularly concerned about the children segregated in the colony. Although he contracted leprosy in 1885 he continued to build hospitals, clinics, and churches, and some six hundred coffins. He died on April 15, on Moloka'i. Robert Louis Stevenson defended Damien against a slanderous attack in 1905. Damien was canonized on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. It was during Damien’s years at Moloka'i that a Norwegian doctor, Gerhard Hansen, first identified the bacillus of leprosy. Today, Hansen’s disease, as leprosy is now called, can be slowed and sometimes totally halted, but it still remains a serious illness. The World Health Organization estimates that there are currently 10-12 million cases of Hansen’s disease worldwide. 


Wednesday 10 May 2017

Acts 12:24 – 13:5. Psalms 66(67):2-3, 5-6, 8. John 12:44-50.
O God, let all the nations praise you – Psalms 66(67):2-3, 5-6, 8.
The word of God continued to spread …
The Book of Acts is a story of almost constant movement. Indeed, in this relatively short passage there are five different places named. It gives us a sense of the missionary zeal of the fledgling church and how far and how fast the message of Christ spread in the early decades and centuries. There are also six people named: Saul (Paul), Barnabas, John Mark, Simeon, Lucius and Manaen. Some of these names are familiar to us, some not so. It reminds us that the message of the Gospel is spread through people.
The Word of God still needs to be spoken today. We proclaim the Gospel whenever we look to the poor and those in need, whenever we offer compassion and forgiveness, whenever we live in hope and love. When we do this, our names are added to those who have helped serve the Word and have shared in its telling.

ST. DAMIEN OF MOLOKA'I

The Catholic Church remembers St. Damien of Molokai on May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island.
Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious life, was born into a farming family in the Belgian town of Tremlo in 1840. During his youth he felt a calling to become a Catholic missionary, an urge that prompted him to join the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Damien's final vows to the congregation involved a dramatic ceremony in which his superiors draped him in the cloth that would be used to cover his coffin after death. The custom was meant to symbolize the young man's solemn commitment, and his identification with Christ's own death. For Damien, the event would become more significant, as he would go on to lay down his life for the lepers of Molokai.
His superiors originally intended to send Damien's brother, a member of the same congregation, to Hawaii. But he became sick, and Damien arranged to take his place. Damien arrived in Honolulu in 1864, less than a century after Europeans had begun to establish a presence in Hawaii. He was ordained a priest the same year.
During his ninth year of the priesthood, Father Damien responded to his bishop's call for priests to serve on the leper colony of Molokai. A lack of previous exposure to leprosy, which had no treatment at the time, made the Hawaiian natives especially susceptible to the infection. Molokai became a quarantine center for the victims, who became disfigured and debilitated as the disease progressed.
The island had become a wasteland in human terms, despite its natural beauty. The leprosy victims of Molokai faced hopeless conditions and extreme deprivation, sometimes lacking not only basic palliative care but even the means of survival.
Inwardly, Fr. Damien was terrified by the prospect of contracting leprosy himself. However, he knew that he would have to set aside this fear in order to convey God's love to the lepers in the most authentic way. Other missionaries had kept the lepers at arms' length, but Fr. Damien chose to immerse himself in their common life and leave the outcome to God.
The inhabitants of Molokai saw the difference in the new priest's approach, and embraced his efforts to improve their living conditions. A strong man, accustomed to physical labor, he performed the Church's traditional works of mercy – such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and giving proper burial to the dead – in the face of suffering that others could hardly even bear to see.
Fr. Damien's work helped to raise the lepers up from their physical sufferings, while also making them aware of their worth as beloved children of God. Although he could not take away the constant presence of death in the leper colony, he could change its meaning and inspire hope. The death-sentence of leprosy could, and often did, become a painful yet redemptive path toward eternal life.
The priest's devotion to his people, and his activism on their behalf, sometimes alienated him from officials of the Hawaiian kingdom and from his religious superiors in Europe. His mission was not only fateful, but also lonely. He drew strength from Eucharistic adoration and the celebration of the Mass, but longed for another priest to arrive so that he could receive the sacrament of confession regularly.
In December of 1884, Fr. Damien discovered that he had lost all feeling in his feet. It was an early, but unmistakable sign that he had contracted leprosy. The priest knew that his time was short. He undertook to finish whatever accomplishments he could, on behalf of his fellow colony residents, before the diseased robbed him of his eyesight, speech and mobility.
Fr. Damien suffered humiliations and personal trials during his final years. An American Protestant minister accused him of scandalous behavior, based on the contemporary belief that leprosy was a sexually transmitted disease. He ran into disagreements with his religious superiors, and felt psychologically tormented by the notion that his work had been a failure.
In the end, priests of his congregation arrived to administer the last sacraments to the dying priest. During the Spring of 1889, Fr. Damien told his friends that he believed it was God's will for him to spend the upcoming Easter not on Molokai, but in heaven. He died of leprosy during Holy Week, on April 15, 1889.
St. Damien of Molokai was beatified in 1995. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him in 2009.

LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 12,44-50
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Easter Time


1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
through your Son Jesus Christ
you assure us that he came
not to condemn us but to bring us life,
a life worth living,
a life that is rich and refreshing us and our world
with love and a spirit of service.
Let Jesus stay with us
as the light in which we see
all that is good and worth living for
and let us share in his life that has no end.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 12,44-50
Jesus declared publicly: Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in the one who sent me, whoever sees me, sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as light, to prevent anyone who believes in me from staying in the dark any more.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully, it is not I who shall judge such a person, since I have come not to judge the world, but to save the world: anyone who rejects me and refuses my words has his judge already: the word itself that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
For I have not spoken of my own accord; but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and what to speak, and I know that his commands mean eternal life. And therefore what the Father has told me is what I speak.

3) Reflection
• Today’s Gospel presents to us the last part of the Book of Signs (from 1 to 12), in which the Evangelist draws up a balance. Many believed in Jesus and had the courage to manifest their faith publicly. They were afraid to be expelled from the Synagogue. And many did not believe: “Though they had been present when he gave so many signs, they did not believe in him; this was to fulfil the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘Lord, who has given credence to what they have heard from us? And who has seen in it a revelation of the Lord’s arm?” (Jn 12, 37-38). After this confirmation, John takes back some of the central themes of his Gospel:
• John 12, 44-45: To believe in Jesus is to believe in him who sent him. This phrase is a summary of the Gospel of John. It is the theme that appears and reappears in many ways. Jesus is so united to the Father that he does not speak in his own name, but always in the name of the Father. He who sees Jesus, sees the Father. If you want to know God, look at Jesus. God is Jesus!
• John 12, 46: Jesus is the light who comes into the world. Here John comes back to what he had already said in the Prologue: “The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone (Jn 1, 9). “The light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it” (Jn 1, 5). Here he repeats: “I have come into the world as light, to prevent anyone who believes in me from staying in the dark any more”. Jesus is a living response to the great questions which move and inspire the search of the human being. It is a light which enlightens the horizon. It makes one discover the luminous side of the darkness of faith.
• John 12, 47-48: I have not come to condemn the world. Getting to the end of a stage, a question arises: “How will judgment be? In these two verses the Evangelist clarifies the theme of judgment. The judgment is not done according to threats, with maledictions. Jesus says: “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully, it is not I who shall judge such a person, since I have come not to judge the world, but to save the world. Anyone who rejects me and refuses my words has his judge already: the word itself that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. The judgment consists in the way in which the person defines himself before his own conscience.
• John 12, 49-50: The Father commanded me what to say. The last words of the Book of Signs are a summery of everything that Jesus says and does up until now. He reaffirms that which he affirmed from the beginning: “For I have not spoken of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and what to speak, and I know that his commands mean eternal life. And, therefore, what the Father has told me is what I speak.” Jesus is the faithful reflection of the Father. For this reason, he does not offer proofs or arguments to those who provoke him to legitimize his credentials. It is the Father who legitimizes him through the works that he does. And saying works, he does not refer to great miracles, but to all that he says and does, even the minutest thing. Jesus himself is the Sign of the Father. He is the walking miracle, the total transparency. He does not belong to himself, but is entirely the property of the Father. The credentials of an Ambassador do not come from him, but from the one he represents. They come from the Father.

4) Personal questions
• John draws up a balance of the revealing activity of God. If I made a balance of my life, what positive thing would there be in me?
• Is there something in me which condemns me?

5) Concluding Prayer
Let the nations rejoice and sing for joy,
for you judge the world with justice,
you judge the peoples with fairness,
you guide the nations on earth.
Let the nations praise you, God,
let all the nations praise you. (Ps 67,4-5)