Thứ Tư, 17 tháng 5, 2017


Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 288

Reading 1ACTS 15:7-21
After much debate had taken place,
Peter got up and said to the Apostles and the presbyters,
"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.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
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?
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they."
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders
God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

After they had fallen silent, James responded,
"My brothers, listen to me.
Symeon has described how God first concerned himself
with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
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,
known from of old.

It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols,
unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,
has had those who proclaim him in every town,
as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath."

Responsorial PsalmPS 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 10
R. (3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
R. Alleluia.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
R. Alleluia.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear by voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 15:9-11
Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete."

Meditation: "Abide in my love"
Do you know the love that no earthly power nor death itself can destroy? The love of God the Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ is a creative, life-giving love that produces immeasurable joy and lasting friendship for all who accept it. God loves the world so much because he created it to reflect his glory. And he created each one of us in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). He wants us to be united with himself in an inseparable bond of unity, peace, and joy that endures for all eternity. That is why the Father sent his Son, the Lord Jesus, into the world, not to condemn it, but to redeem it from the curse of sin and death (John 3:16-17). Paul the Apostle tells us that we can abound in joy and hope because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
Through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, God offers pardon for all of our sins and failings, and he calls us to lay aside everything that might hold us back from loving him above all else. We owe him a debt of gratitude and love in return. We can never outmatch God because he has loved us first and has given himself to us without measure. Our love for him is a response to his exceeding mercy and kindness towards us. In God's love alone can we find the fulness of abundant life, peace, and joy.
A new commandment of love
The Lord Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment - a new way of love that goes beyond giving only what is required or what we think others might deserve. What is the essence of Jesus' new commandment of love? It is love to the death - a purifying love that overcomes selfishness, fear, and pride. It is a total giving of oneself for the sake of others - a selfless and self-giving love that is oriented towards putting the welfare of others ahead of myself.
There is no greater proof in love than the sacrifice of one's life for the sake of another. Jesus proved his love by giving his life for us on the cross of Calvary. Through the shedding of his blood for our sake, our sins are not only washed clean, but new life is poured out for us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We prove our love for God and for one another when we embrace the way of the cross. What is the cross in my life? When my will crosses with God's will, then God's will must be done. Do you know the peace and joy of a life fully surrendered to God and consumed with his love?
"Lord Jesus, may I always grow in the joy and hope which your promises give me. Inflame my heart with love for you and your ways and with charity and compassion for my neighbor. May there be nothing in my life which keeps me from your love."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersJoy in rejoicing over us, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"And what else is Christ's joy in us except that he is pleased to rejoice over us? And what is this joy of ours that he says is to be made full, but our having fellowship with him?... His joy, therefore, in us is the grace he has bestowed on us, and that is also our joy. But he rejoiced over this joy even from eternity when he chose us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Nor can we rightly say that his joy was not full. For God's joy was never at any time imperfect. But that joy of his was not in us. For we, in whom that joy could exist, had as yet no existence. And even when our existence commenced, it began not to be in him. But in him it always was, who in the infallible truth of his own foreknowledge rejoiced that we should yet be his own. Accordingly, he had a joy over us that was already full when he rejoiced in foreknowing and foreordaining us. And there could hardly be any fear intermingling in that joy of his that might imply a possible failure in what he foreknew would be done by himself." (excerpt from TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 83.1)

THURSDAY, MAY 18, JOHN 15:9-11
Easter Weekday
(Acts 15:7-21; Psalm 96)

KEY VERSE: "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love" (v.10).
TO KNOW: In Jesus' time, a son was expected to become an apprentice to his father in his trade. Jesus learned by watching Joseph at work. A father taught his son because he loved him. In the same way, Jesus' whole life was directed toward doing the Father's will; he only did what he saw the Father doing. Just as Jesus could do nothing apart from the Father, neither could his disciples do anything if they were separated from him (15:5). Those disciples who lived in accord with the Father and the Son would find that obedience to God's commands was not a joyless task, but an expression of love. They would discover that their joy was made complete by living as Jesus did, in a loving response to their Father's will.
TO LOVE: Do I find joy in my work?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, teach me to lovingly obey our Father.

Optional Memorial of Saint John I, pope and martyr

John was a native of Tuscany in Italy. In 523, John was elected Pope while he was still an archdeacon. At that time, the ruler of Italy was Theodoric the Goth who subscribed to the Arian heretical brand of Christianity. For a while, Theodoric let Catholics live in peace, but in later life he became suspicious of everyone, imagining conspiracies and attempts to seize his throne. He tried to involve Pope John in his political machinations. John, the first pope to travel to Constantinople, led a delegation to negotiate with Emperor Justin I who was the first Catholic on the Byzantine throne in fifty years. John's mission was successful, but Theodoric thought John and the Emperor had plotted against him. While returning to Rome, John was kidnapped by Theodoric's soldiers. Pope John died of thirst and starvation in prison in Ravenna, Italy.
NOTE: The Heresy of Arianism taught that Christ was a creation of the Father, a creature, and not a part of God. Athanasius formulated the doctrine of homoousianism which said that Christ was "consubstantial with the Father,” as we pray in the Nicene Creed. 

Thursday 18 May 2017

St John I.
Acts 15:7-21. Psalms 95(96):1-3, 10. John 15:9-11.
Proclaim his marvellous deeds to all the nations — Psalms 95(96):1-3, 10.
‘If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remained in his love.’
On the surface, these words appear very simple—you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. But, underneath, the meaning is far more profound.
The commands of Jesus are deep, meaningful, thought-worthy and difficult. They take daily dedication, reflection, revision and reassignment. They take us away from the ‘me’ and into the ‘you’. They take us away from simply following to be a participant, a listener, a doer, a reader and reflector. Following Jesus’ commands isn’t easy, but with that we grow, learn, stretch ourselves and, ultimately, love.


On May 18, the Catholic Church honors the first “Pope John” in its history. Saint John I was a martyr for the faith, imprisoned and starved to death by a heretical Germanic king during the sixth century.
He was a friend of the renowned Christian philosopher Boethius, who died in a similar manner.
Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also honor Pope St. John I, on the same date as the Roman Catholic Church.
The future Pope John I was born in Tuscany, and served as an archdeacon in the Church for several years. He was chosen to become the Bishop of Rome in 523, succeeding Pope St. Hormisdas.
During his papal reign Italy was ruled by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric. Like many of his fellow tribesmen, the king adhered to the Arian heresy, holding that Christ was a created being rather than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
Arianism had originated in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, and subsequently spread among the Western Goths. By the sixth century the heresy was weak in the East, but not dead.
In 523, the Byzantine Emperor Justin I ordered Arian clergy to surrender their churches into orthodox Catholic hands. In the West, meanwhile, Theodoric was angered by the emperor’s move, and responded by trying to use the Pope’s authority for his own ends.
Pope John was thus placed in an extremely awkward position. Despite the Pope’s own solid orthodoxy, the Arian king seems to have expected him to intercede with the Eastern emperor on behalf of the heretics. John’s refusal to satisfy King Theodoric would eventually lead to his martyrdom.
John did travel to Constantinople, where he was honored as St. Peter’s successor by the people, the Byzantine Emperor, and the Church’s legitimate Eastern patriarchs. (The Church of Alexandria had already separated by this point.) The Pope crowned the emperor, and celebrated the Easter liturgy at the Hagia Sophia Church in April of 526.
But while John could urge Justin to treat the Arians somewhat more mercifully, he could not make the kind of demands on their behalf that Theodoric expected.
The gothic king, who had recently killed John’s intellectually accomplished friend Boethius (honored by the Church as St. Severinus Boethius, on Oct. 23), was furious with the Pope when he learned of his refusal to support the Arians in Constantinople.
Already exhausted by his travels, the Pope was imprisoned in Ravenna and deprived of food. The death of St. John I came on or around May 18, which became his feast day in the Byzantine Catholic tradition and in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, he is celebrated on May 27, the date on which his exhumed body was returned to Rome for veneration in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, May 18, 2017
Easter Time

Lord our God,
you want your Church
to be open to all persons and all nations,
for your Son was available to all
and you love all people.
God, give us open minds
and open hearts.
Save us from our narrow prejudices
and stop us from trying to create people
in our own image and likeness.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples: "I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.
• The reflection around the parable of the vine includes from verses 1 to 17. Today we will mediate on verses 9 to 11; Day after tomorrow, the Gospel skips verses 12 to 17 and begins with verse 18, which speaks about another theme. This is why, today, we include in a brief comment verses 12 to 17, because in them blossoms the flower and the parable of the vine shows all its beauty.
• Today’s Gospel is formed only of three verses which continue on yesterday’s Gospel and give more light to be able to apply the comparison of the vine to the life of the community. The community is like a vine. It goes through difficult moments. It is the time of the pruning, a necessary moment in order to be able to bear more fruit.
• John 15, 9-11: Remain in my love, source of perfect joy. Jesus remains in the love of the Father, by observing the commandments which he receives from him. We remain in the love of Jesus by observing the commandments which he has left for us. And we should observe them in the same way in which he observed the commandments of the Father: “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love”. It is in this union of the love of the Father and of Jesus that the source of true joy is found: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy be complete”.
• John 15, 12-13: Love one another as I have loved you. The commandment of Jesus is only one: “To love one another, as he has loved us!” (Jn 15, 12). Jesus goes beyond the Old Testament. The ancient criterion was: “You will love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 18, 19). The new criterion is: “That you love one another, as I have loved you.” Here he says the phrase which we sing even until now: “Nobody has greater love than this: to give one’s life for one’s friends!”
• John 15, 14-15: Friends and not servants. “You are my friends if you do what I command you”, that is, the practice of love up to the total gift of self! Immediately after, Jesus adds a very high ideal for the life of the disciples. He says: “I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father!” Jesus had no more secrets for his disciples. He has told us everything he heard from the Father! This is the splendid ideal of life in community: to attain a total transparency, to the point of not having any secrets among ourselves and of being able to have total trust in one another, to be able to share the experience of God and of life that we have, and in this way enrich one another reciprocally. The first Christians succeeded in attaining this ideal during several years. They were “one only heart and one soul” (Acts 4, 32; 1, 14: 2, 42. 46).
• John 15, 16-17: Jesus has chosen us. We have not chosen Jesus. He has chosen us, he has called us and has entrusted us the mission to go and bear fruit, fruit which will last. We need him, but he also needs us and our work in order to be able to continue to do today what he did for the people of Galilee. The last recommendation: “My command to you is to love one another!”
• The symbol of the vine in the Bible. The people of the Bible cultivated the vine and produced good wine. The harvest of the grapes was a feast with songs and dances. And this gave origin to the song of the vine, used by the prophet Isaiah. He compares the people of Israel to the vine (Is 5, 1-7; 27, 2-5; Ps 80, 9, 19). Before him, the prophet Hosea had already compared Israel to an exuberant vine, the more fruit that it produced, the more it multiplied its idolatries (Ho 10, 1). This theme was used by Jeremiah, who compares Israel to a bastard vine (Jer 2, 21), from which the branches were uprooted (Jer 5, 10; 6, 9). Jeremiah uses these symbols because he himself had a vine which had been trampled on and devastated by the invaders (Jer 12, 10). During the slavery of Babylonia, Ezekiel used the symbol of the vine to denounce the infidelity of the people of Israel. He told three parables on the vine: 1) the vine which is burnt and is good for nothing (Ez 15, 1-8); 2) the false vine planted and protected by two waters, symbols of the kings of Babylonia and of Egypt, enemies of Israel. (Ez 17, 1-10). 3) The vine destroyed by the oriental wind, image of the slavery of Babylonia (Ez 19, 10-14). The comparison of the vine was used by Jesus in several parables: the labourers of the vineyard (Mt 21, 1-16); the two sons who have to work in the vineyard (Mt 21, 32-33); the parable of the wicked tenants, who did not pay the landowner, beat the servants and killed the son of the landowner (Mt 21, 33-45); the barren fig tree planted in the vineyard (Lk 13, 6-9); the vine and its branches (Jn 15, 1-17).
• We are friends and not servants. How do I consider this in my relationship with persons?
• To love as Jesus has loved us. How does this ideal of love grow in me?
Proclaim his salvation day after day,
declare his glory among the nations,
his marvels to every people! (Ps 96,2-3)