Thứ Năm, 18 tháng 5, 2017

MAY 19, 2017 : FRIDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 289

Reading 1ACTS 15:22-31
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,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
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: 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.'"

And so they were sent on their journey.
Upon their arrival in Antioch
they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.
When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.

Responsorial PsalmPS 57:8-9, 10 AND 12
R. (10a) I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and chant praise.
Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn.
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD,
I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory!
R. I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 15:15B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."


Meditation: "I have called you friends"
What is the greatest act of love which one can give for the sake of another? Jesus defines friendship - the mutual bond of trust and affection which people choose to have for one another - as the willingness to give totally of oneself - even to the point of laying down one's life for a friend. How is such love possible or even desirable? God made us in love for love. That is our reason for being, our purpose for living, and our goal in dying.
Scripture tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8) - and everything he does flows from his immense love for us. He loved us so much - far beyond what we could ever expect or deserve - that he was willing to pay any price to redeem us from our slavery to sin and death. That is why the Father sent us his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. In this great exchange - the Father giving up his Son to death on the cross in order to give us abundant everlasting life and adopt us as his beloved sons and daughters in Christ (Romans 8:14-17).
God has poured his love into our hearts
It is for this reason that we can take hold of a hope that does not fade and a joy that does not diminish because God has poured his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). God's love is not limited or subject to changing circumstances. It is an enduring love that has power to change and transform us to be like him - merciful, gracious, kind, forgiving, and steadfast in showing love not only for our friends, but for our enemies as well. God's love is boundless because he is the source of abundant life, perfect peace, and immeasurable joy for all who open their hearts to him. That is why Jesus came to give us abundant life through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment - a new way of loving and serving one another. Jesus' love was wholly directed toward the good of others. He loved them for their sake and for their welfare. That is why he willingly laid down his own life for us to free us from sin, death, fear, and everything that could separate us from the love of God. Our love for God and our willingness to lay down our life for others is a response to the exceeding love God has given us in Christ. Paul the Apostle states,
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?... For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35,38-39).
Friendship with God 
Jesus calls his disciples his personal friends. Jesus not only showed his disciples that he personally cared for them and sought their welfare. He personally enjoyed their company and wanted to be with them in a close and intimate relationship. He ate with them, shared everything he had with them - even his innermost heart and thoughts. And he spent himself in doing as much good for them as he could. To know Jesus personally is to know God and the love and friendship he offers to each one of us.
One of the special marks of favor shown in the Scriptures is to be called the friend of God. Abraham is called the friend of God (Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23). God spoke with Moses as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). Jesus, the Lord and Master, calls the disciples his friends rather than his servants.
What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship with God who is our everlasting Father and with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ entails a personal, close, and loving relationship and a union of heart, mind, and spirit with the One who created us in love for love. Such a relationship with our Father, Creator, and Redeemer involves loyalty, respect, and obedience. But it is even more than these because God has chosen to love us in the same way in which the Father and the Son love and serve each other - a total giving of oneself to the other in a bond of affection, esteem, and joy in each others company. 
Jesus' discourse on friendship and brotherly love echoes the words of Proverbs: A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17). The distinctive feature of Jesus' relationship with his disciples was his personal, loyal, and sacrificial love for each one of them. He loved his own to the end (John 13:1). His love was unconditional and wholly directed to the good of others. His love was costly and sacrificial. He gave the best he had and all that he had. He gave his very own life for those he loved in order to secure for them an everlasting life of union and love with the Father in heaven.
Love to the death
The Lord Jesus gives his followers 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 a 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.
Jesus says that 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?
Love that produces abundant fruit and joy
The Lord Jesus tells us that he is our personal friend and he loves us wholeheartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he has loved us, wholeheartedly, without reserve, and full of mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will know his love more fully and we will bear much fruit - especially the fruit of peace, joy, patience, kindness, and goodness - the kind of fruit that lasts for eternity. Do you wish to be fruitful and to abound in the love of God? Trust and obey him and he will fill you with his overflowing love.
"Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersLove encompasses the other commandments, by Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)
"This is my commandment." Have you then only one precept? This is sufficient, even if it is unique and so great. Nevertheless he also said, "Do not kill" (Matthew 19:18) because the one who loves does not kill. He said, "Do not steal," because the one who loves does even more—he gives. He said, "Do not lie," for the one who loves speaks the truth, against falsehood. "I give you a new commandment" (John 13:14). If you have not understood what "This is my commandment" means, let the apostle be summoned as interpreter and say, "The goal of his commandment is love" (1 Timothy 1:5). What is its binding force? It is that of which [the Lord] spoke, "Whatever you want others to do to you, you should do also" (Matthew 7:12)."Love one another" in accordance with this measure, "as I have loved you." That is not possible, for you are our Lord who loves your servants. But we who are equals, how can we love one another as you have loved us? Nevertheless, he has said it... His love is that he has called us his friends. If we were to give our life for you, would our love be equal to yours?... How then can what he said be explained, "As I have loved you"? "Let us die for each other," he said. As for us, we do not even want to live for one another! "If I, who am your Lord and God, die for you, how much more should you die for one another." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON TATIAN'S DIATESSARON 19.13)

FRIDAY, MAY 19, JOHN 15:12-17
Easter Weekday

(Acts 15:22-31; Psalm 57)

KEY VERSE: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (v.14).
TO KNOW: As Jesus anticipated his return to the Father, he prepared his disciples for the work that he would hand over to them. Jesus told his followers that to be God's servant (Greek, doulos, literally a slave) was not a title of shame. The great leaders of the past: Moses (Deut 34:5); Joshua (Josh 24:29); David (Ps 89:20); and later Paul (Ti 1:1) and James (Jas 1:1) all counted it an honor to be God’s servants. But Jesus had something even greater in store for his disciples. He called them "friends" (Jn 14:15b). In the Old Testament, Abraham and Moses were each called a "friend of God" (2 Chr 20:7; Ex 33:11). The mark of friendship is an intimate knowledge of one another. Slaves did not have this kind of relationship with their masters. Jesus called his disciples "friends" because he shared with them everything he received from the Father. Jesus’ followers must imitate his example by being servants of one another (Jn 12:26; 13:14-16). Their labors would be fruitful if they obeyed his command to love, which was not a burden, but a loving response to God who loved them.
TO LOVE: In what ways am I a servant to my community?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, help me to willingly obey your command to love in all I say and do.

Friday 19 May 2017

Day of Penance.
Acts 15:22-31. Psalms 56(57):8-12. John 15:12-17.
I will praise you among the nations, O Lord — Psalms 56(57):8-12.
‘My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.’
We often complicate our faith, sometimes losing sight of what really matters. We begin to mistake the harness for the horse, as we stress and fret about the trimmings of our faith. Things such as the number of candles on the altar, the quality of the homilies being preached, etc., can start to preoccupy us and distract us.
That is not to say that these things do not merit our attention, but in today’s gospel, we see just how simple the core message of our faith is. Jesus asks only one thing of us—that we love one another. The rest is all commentary.

ST. CELESTINE V, POPE

Celestine is a saint who will always be remembered for the unique manner in which he was elected Pope, for his spectacular incompetence in that office, and for the distinction of being the first pontiff ever to have resigned.
Pietro di Murrone was born in born 1215 in the Neapolitan province of Moline to a poor family. He became a Benedictine monk at the age of seventeen, and was eventually ordained priest at Rome. His love of solitude led him first into the wilderness of Monte Morone in the Abruzzi, whence his surname, and later into the wilder recesses of Mt. Majella. He was strongly influenced by the life of John the Baptist, and took him as his model in his religious life. His hair-cloth was roughened with knots, he wore a chain of iron encompassing his emaciated frame, and he fasted every day except for on Sunday. Each year he kept four Lents, passing three of them on bread and water only, and he consecrated the entire day and a great part of the night to prayer and labour.
As generally happens in the case of saintly anchorites, Peter's great desire for solitude was not destined to be gratified. Many kindred spirits gathered about him eager to imitate his rule of life, and before his death there were thirty- six monasteries, numbering 600 religious, and bearing his papal name, Celestini.
The order that developed amongst those that gathered around him was approved as a branch of the Benedictines by Urban IV in 1264. This congregation of Benedictine Celestines must not be confused with other Celestines, Fransiscans, who are extreme Spirituals that Pope Celestine permitted to live as hermits according to the Rule of St. Francis in 1294, but were pendent of the Franciscan superiors. In thier gratitude they named themselves after the pope (Pauperes eremitæ Domini Celestine), but were dissolved and dispersed (1302) by Boniface VIII, whose legitimacy the Spirituals contested.
In 1284, Pietro, weary of the cares of government, appointed a certain Robert as his vicar and plunged again into the depths of the wilderness. It would be well if some Catholic scholar would devote some time to a thorough investigation of his relations to the extreme spiritual party of that age, for though it is certain that the pious hermit did not approve of the heretical tenets held by the leaders, it is equally true that the fanatics, during his life and after his death, made copious use of his name.
In July 1294, his pious exercises were suddently interrupted by a scene unparalleled in ecclesiastical history. Three eminent dignitaries, accompanied by an immense multitude of monks and laymen, ascended the mountain, and announced that Pietro had been chosen as the new Pope by a unanimous vote of the Sacred College and humbly begged him to accept the honour.
Two years and three months had elapsed since the death of Nicholas IV on Apil 4, 1292 without much prospect that the conclave at Perugia would unite upon a candidate. Of the twelve Cardinals who composed the Sacred College six were Romans, four Italians and two French. The factious spirit of Guelph and Ghibelline, which was then epidemic in Italy, divided the conclave, as well as the city of Rome, into two hostile parties of the Orsini and the Colonna, neither of which could outvote the other.
During a personal visit to Perugia in the spring of 1294, Charles II of Naples, who needed the papal authority in order to regain Sicily, only exasperated the situation. Hostile words were exchanged between the Angevin monarch and Cardinal Gaetani, who was at that time the intellectual leader of the Colonna, and later, Pope Boniface VIII, their bitter enemy. When the situation seemed hopeless, Cardinal Latino Orsini admonished the fathers that God had revealed to a saintly hermit that if the cardinals did not perform their duty within four months, He would visit the Church with severe chastisement. All knew that he was referring to Pietro di Murrone.
The proposition was seized upon by the exhausted conclave and the election was made unanimous. Pietro received the news of his elevation with tears, but after a brief prayer, obeyed what seemed the clear voice of God, commanding him to sacrifice his personal inclination on the altar of the public welfare. Flight was impossible, even if he had contemplated it, for no sooner did the news of this extraordinary event spread abroad than multitudes (numbered at 200,000) flocked about him. His elevation was particularly welcome to the Spirituals, who saw in it the realization of current prophecies that the reign of the Holy Spirit ruling through the monks was at hand, and they proclaimed him the first legitimate Pope since Constantine's donation of wealth and worldly power to "the first rich father" (Inferno, Canto XIX).
King Charles of Naples, upon hearing of the election of his subject, hastened with his son Charles Martel, titular King of Hungary, to present his homage to the new Pope, but, in reality, to take the simple old man into honourable custody. Had Charles known how to preserve moderation in exploiting his good luck, this windfall might have brought him incalculable benefits. As it was, he ruined everything by his excessive greed.
In reply to the request of the cardinals, that he should come to Perugia to be crowned, Pietro, at the instigation of Charles, summoned the Sacred College to meet him at Aquila, a frontier town of the Kingdom of Naples. Reluctantly they came, and one by one, Gaetani being the last to appear. Seated humbly on a simple donkey, the rope held by two monarchs, the new pontiff proceeded to Aquila, and although only three of the cardinals had arrived, the king ordered him to be crowned, and the ceremony had to be repeated in traditional form some days later, instancing the only double papal coronation.
Cardinal Latino was so grief- stricken at the course which affairs were evidently taking that he fell sick and died shortly after the coronation. Pietro took the name of Celestine V. As one of his first acts of Pope, being urged by the cardinals to cross over into the States of the Church, Celestine, at the behest of the king, ordered the entire Curia to repair to Naples.
It is wonderful how many serious mistakes the simple old man crowded into five short months. We have no full register of them, because his official acts were annulled by his successor. On September 18, he created twelve new cardinals, seven of whom were French, and the rest, with one possible exception, Neapolitans, thus paving the road to Avignon and the Great Schism. Ten days later he embittered the cardinals by renewing the rigorous law of Gregory X, regulating the conclave which Adrian V had suspended.
He is said to have appointed a young son of Charles to the important See of Lyons, but no trace of such appointment appears in Gams or Eubel. At Monte Cassino on his way to Naples, he strove to force the Celestine hermit-rule on the monks, which they humoured him with while he was with them. At Benevento he created the bishop of the city a cardinal, without observing any of the traditional forms. Meanwhile he scattered privileges and offices with a lavish hand. Refusing no one, he was found to have granted the same place or benefice to three or four rival suitors. He also granted favours without a second thought.
In consequence, the affairs of the Curia fell into extreme disorder. Upon his arrival in Naples, he took up his abode in a single apartment of the Castel Nuovo, and on the approach of Advent had a little cell built on the model of his beloved hut in the Abruzzi. But he was ill at ease. Affairs of State took up time that ought to be devoted to exercises of piety, and he feared that his soul was in danger. The thought of abdication seems to have occurred simultaneously to the pope and to his discontented cardinals, whom he rarely consulted.
That the idea originated with Cardinal Gaetani, the latter vigorously denied, and maintained that he originally opposed it. But a serious canonical doubt arose: Can a pope resign? As he has no superior on earth, who is authorized to accept his resignation? The solution of the question was reserved to the trained canonist, Cardinal Gaetani, who, basing his conclusion on common sense and the Church's right to self-preservation, decided affirmatively.
It is interesting to notice how curtly, when he became Boniface VIII, he dispatched the delicate subject on which the validity of his claim to the papacy depended. In the "Liber Sextus" I, vii, 1, he issued the following decree: "Whereas some curious persons, arguing on things of no great expediency, and rashly seeking, against the teaching of the Apostle, to know more than it is meet to know, have seemed, with little forethought, to raise an anxious doubt, whether the Roman Pontiff, especially when he recognizes himself incapable of ruling the Universal Church and of bearing the burden of the Supreme Pontificate, can validly renounce the papacy, and its burden and honour: Pope Celestine V, Our predecessor, whilst still presiding over the government of the aforesaid Church, wishing to cut off all the matter for hesitation on the subject, having deliberated with his brethren, the Cardinals of the Roman Church, of whom We were one, with the concordant counsel and assent of Us and of them all, by Apostolic authority established and decreed, that the Roman Pontiff may freely resign. We, therefore, lest it should happen that in course of time this enactment should fall into oblivion, and the aforesaid doubt should revive the discussion, have placed it among other constitutions ad perpetuam rei memoriam by the advice of our brethren."
When the report spread that Celestine contemplated resigning, the excitement in Naples was intense. King Charles, whose arbitrary course had brought things to this crisis, organized a determined opposition. A huge procession of the clergy and monks surrounded the castle, and with tears and prayers implored the Pope to continue his rule. Celestine, whose mind was not yet clear on the subject, returned an evasive answer, whereupon the multitude chanted the Te Deum and withdrew. A week later, on December13, Celestine's resolution was irrevocably fixed.
Summoning the cardinals on that day, he read the constitution mentioned by Boniface in the "Liber Sextus", announced his resignation, and proclaimed the cardinals free to proceed to a new election. After the lapse of the nine days enjoined by the legislation of Gregory X, the cardinals entered the conclave, and the next day Benedetto Gaetani was proclaimed Pope as Boniface VIII. After revoking many of the provisions made by Celestine, Boniface brought his predecessor, now in the dress of a humble hermit, with him on the road to Rome. He was forced to retain him in custody, lest an inimical use should be made of the simple old man.
Celestine yearned for his cell in the Abruzzi, and managed to escape at San Germano, and to the great joy of his monks reappeared among them at Majella. Boniface ordered his arrest, but Celestine evaded his pursuers for several months by wandering through the woods and mountains. Finally, he attempted to cross the Adriatic to Greece but, driven back by a tempest, and captured at the foot of Mt. Gargano, he was delivered into the hands of Boniface, who confined him closely in a narrow room in the tower of the castle of Fumone near Anagni (Analecta Bollandiana, 1897, XVI, 429-30).
Here, after nine months passed in fasting and prayer, closely watched and attended by two of his own religious, though rudely treated by the guards, he ended his extraordinary career in his ninety-first year. That Boniface treated him harshly, and finally cruelly murdered him, is a calumny. Some years after his canonization by Clement V in 1313, his remains were transferred from Ferentino to the church of his order at Aquila, where they are still the object of great veneration. His feast is celebrated on May 19.

LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 15,12-17
Lectio Divina: 
 Friday, May 19, 2017

1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord our God, loving Father,
you have given us your Son Jesus Christ
as the true vine of life
and our source of strength.
Help us to live his life
as living branches attached to the vine,
and to bear plenty of fruit
of justice, goodness and love.
Let our union with him become visible
in our openness to one another
and in our unity as brothers and sisters,
that he may be visibly present among us
now and for ever.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 15,12-17
Jesus said to his disciples: This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master's business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. My command to you is to love one another.
3) REFLECTION
• Today Gospel of John 15, 12-17 has already been meditated a few days ago (..... or it will be read again within a few days). Let us take some of the points considered that day.
• John 15, 12-13: To love one another as he has loved us. The commandment of Jesus is only one: “to love one another as he has loved us!” (Jn 15, 12) Jesus exceeds the Old Testament. The ancient criterion was the following: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lv 18, 19). The new criterion is: “Love one another as I have loved you”. It is the phrase that we sing even today and which says: “There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s brother!”
• John 15, 14-15: Friends and not servants. You are my friends if you do what I command you”, that is, the practise of love up to the point of the total gift of oneself! Immediately Jesus presents a very high ideal for the life of his 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 no longer had any secrets for his disciples. He tells us everything that he has heard from the Father! Behold the wonderful ideal of life in community: to reach a total transparency, to the point of not having any secrets among us and to have full trust with one another, to be able to speak about the experience of God that we have and of life, and thus, be able to mutually enrich one another. The first Christians succeeded to reach this ideal after many years: “they had one only heart and one only soul” (Ac 4, 32; 1, 14; 2, 42-46).
• John 15, 16-17: Jesus has chosen us. We have not chosen Jesus. He met us, called us and entrusted a mission to us to go and bear fruit, and a fruit which lasts. We need him, but he also wants to need us and our work in order to be able to continue to do today, for the people what he did for the people of Galilee. The last recommendation: This is my commandment: to love one another!”
4) FOR PERSONAL CONFRONTATION
• To love our neighbour as Jesus has loved us. This is the ideal of every Christian. How do I live it?
• All that I have heard from the Father I make it known to you. This is the ideal of the community: to attain total transparency. How do I live this in my community?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
My heart is ready, God, my heart is ready; 
I will sing, and make music for you.
Awake, my glory, awake, lyre and harp, 
that I may awake the Dawn. (Ps 57,7-8)