Thứ Sáu, 2 tháng 6, 2017

JUNE 03, 2017 : MEMORIAL OF SAINT CHARLES LWANGA AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
Lectionary: 302

When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself,
with the soldier who was guarding him.

Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews.
When they had gathered he said to them, "My brothers,
although I had done nothing against our people
or our ancestral customs,
I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem.
After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me,
because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty.
But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar,
even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation.
This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you
and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel
that I wear these chains." 

He remained for two full years in his lodgings.
He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance
and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God
and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Responsorial PsalmPS 11:4, 5 AND 7
R. (see 7b) The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD's throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold,
his searching glance is on mankind.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD searches the just and the wicked;
the lover of violence he hates.
For the LORD is just, he loves just deeds;
the upright shall see his face.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 16:7, 13
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I will send to you the Spirit of truth, says the Lord;
he will guide you to all truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved,
the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper
and had said, "Master, who is the one who will betray you?"
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about him?"
Jesus said to him, "What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours? 
You follow me."
So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die.
But Jesus had not told him that he would not die,
just "What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?"

It is this disciple who testifies to these things
and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books
that would be written.


Meditation: The immensity of what Jesus has done for us
Why do we often compare ourselves with others? Do we envy those who seem more fortunate than ourselves? Why did Peter question Jesus about John's future? Jesus had predicted that Peter was to suffer and die as a martyr for his faith. What would John's fate be? Jesus seems to indicate that John would live a long life - in fact he outlived all the other apostles.
Jesus says, "Follow me and you will have life in abundance"
While Peter and John were both called as disciples of Jesus, each was given a particular task and mission to fulfill. When Peter questions John's role, Jesus responds, "What is that to you? Follow me!" Peter's given task was to "shepherd the sheep of Christ," and in the end to die as a martyr for the Lord Jesus. John's role was preeminently to witness to the risen Lord Jesus and to give his testimony to the Gospel account of Jesus' identity as the divine Son of God who became a man to save us from sin, Satan, and death (John 20:31). John lived to long age and wrote the Gospel as his testimony to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus does not cease to do great works of power and love through his people today
John ends his Gospel with an astonishing remark: "Human books cannot exhaust the person and work of Jesus Christ." His power is inexhaustible, his grace is limitless, his wisdom unfathomable, his triumphs are innumerable, and his love is unquenchable. We can never say enough of the power, majesty and glory which belongs to Jesus Christ alone. Do you witness to others the joy of the Gospel message that Jesus died for us to bring us new life, freedom, love and power to live as his disciples?
"May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love."  (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersPeter follows, John remains, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"The Lord either said what he said to Peter about his martyrdom, or he said it about the gospel of John. As regards the martyrdom and this 'Follow me,' [he means] suffer for me, suffer what I did. Because Christ was crucified, Peter too was crucified... while John experienced none of this. That is what is meant by, 'It is thus that I wish him to remain.' Let him fall asleep without wounds, without torment, and wait for me. You, Peter, 'Follow me,' suffer what I did. That’s one way these words can be explained...
"As regards the Gospel of John, though, this is what I think is meant: that Peter wrote about the Lord, others too wrote; but their writing was more concerned with the Lord’s humanity... But while there is something about the divinity of Christ in Peter's letters, in John's gospel it is very much to the fore... He soared above the clouds and soared above the stars, soared above the angels, soared above every creature and arrived at the Word through which all things were made." 
(excerpt from Sermon 253.5.5) 

SATURDAY, JUNE 3, JOHN 21:20-25
(Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; Psalm 11)

KEY VERSE: "What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?" (v.23).
TO KNOW: Jesus warned Peter what sort of death awaited him as shepherd of the flock. He then offered Peter another opportunity to follow him (v.19). As they walked along, John, the beloved disciple, followed them. Peter wanted to know about the apostle's fate. Jesus told Peter that it was not his business to know God's plan for someone else. Peter's only concern should be following Jesus. John the evangelist concluded his Gospel by testifying to the truth he had written. Although the whole world could not contain all that might be said about Jesus, we must be content, like Peter, with those things God wishes to reveal to us. Our job is to follow the Lord with our hearts, minds and wills in step with his.
TO LOVE: In what way am I being asked to follow Jesus today?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, help me to trust in God's plan for my life.
NOTE: According to the apocryphal Acts of Peter, the apostle was crucified head down. Tradition also locates Peter's burial place as directly beneath the high altar where the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome was later built. At the end of the 2nd century, Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, claimed that John’s tomb was at Ephesus, identified him with the beloved disciple, and added that he “was a priest, martyr and teacher.” That John died in Ephesus was also stated by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon c. 180, who said John wrote his Gospel and letters at Ephesus and Revelation at Patmos.​

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, martyrs

There were perhaps 400 court pages in King Kabaka Mwanga's palace in Uganda, Africa. Charles Lwanga was the chief of the pages. He trained the others to be exemplary servants of the king but later pointed them towards Jesus Christ as their savior. As strong followers of God they prayed constantly even under death threats. Charles Lwanga was among those who became the martyrs of Uganda, burnt at Namugongo on June 3, 1886. Charles Lwanga's death was a slow one. He was tied on a low stake where he was burnt. He never feared the fire but declared that there was fire for the executioners which would last forever. The rest of the pages were tied in bundles of threes and thrown into fire, where they kept singing and praising God until they perished. To honor these modern saints, Paul VI became the first reigning pope to visit sub-Sahara Africa in July 1969, a visit which included a pilgrimage to the site of the martyrs. He also dedicated a site for the building of a shrine church in honor of the martyrs, at the spot where Charles Lwanga was killed in Namugongo.


Saturday 3 June 2017

St Charles Lwanga & Cc.
Acts 28:16-20, 30-31. Psalms 10(11):4-5, 7. John 21:20-25.
The just will gaze on your face, O Lord — Psalms 10(11):4-5, 7.
‘Follow me!’
Today’s readings contain both the private and public commitment we need in our faith.
Jesus’ response to Peter’s question reminds us that God calls each of us personally. Ultimately, no one but the individual can decide what God’s unique call happens to be for him or her. Only by encountering God in prayer can we discern the way we are being called.
Yet in no sense are we meant to be silent or unconcerned with others on their spiritual journeys. Paul received many people and spoke about the Lord with them. And why did John write his gospel other than to hand on his experience of Jesus? Let us be committed to meeting the Lord in the solitude of private prayer, and then equally committed to sharing that experience with others.


ST. CHARLES LWANGA AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS OF UGANDA

St. Charles and many other martyrs for the faith died between November 15, 1885 – January 27, 1887 in Namugongo, Uganda. St. Charles and his companions were beatified in 1920 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964.
In 1879 Catholicism began spreading in Uganda when the White Fathers, a congregation of priests founded by Cardinal Lavigerie were peacefully received by King Mutesa of Uganda.
The priests soon began preparing catechumens for baptism and before long a number of the young pages in the king’s court had become Catholics.
However, on the death of Mutesa, his son Mwanga, a corrupt man who ritually engaged in pedophilic practices with the younger pages, took the throne.
When King Mwanga had a visiting Anglican Bishop murdered, his chief page, Joseph Mukasa, a Catholic who went to great length to protect the younger boys from the king’s lust, denounced the king’s actions and was beheaded on November 15, 1885.
The 25 year old Charles Lwanga, a man wholly dedicated to the Christian instruction of the younger boys, became the chief page, and just as forcibly protected them from the kings advances.
On the night of the martyrdom of Joseph Mukasa, realizing that their own lives were in danger, Lwanga and some of the other pages went to the White Fathers to receive baptism. Another 100 catechumens were baptized in the week following Joseph Mukasa’s death.
The following May, King Mwanga learned that one of the boys was learning catechism. He was furious and ordered all the pages to be questioned to separate the Christians from the others.  The Christians, 15 in all, between the ages of 13 and 25, stepped forward. The King asked them if they were willing to keep their faith. They answered in unison, “Until death!”
They were bound together and taken on a two day walk to Namugongo where they were to be burned at the stake.  On the way, Matthias Kalemba, one of the eldest boys, exclaimed, “God will rescue me. But you will not see how he does it, because he will take my soul and leave you only my body.”  They executioners cut him to pieces and left him to die alone on the road.
When they reached the site where they were to be burned, they were kept tied together for seven days while the executioners prepared the wood for the fire.
On June 3, 1886, the Feast of the Ascension, Charles Lwanga was separated from the others and burned at the stake. The executioners slowly burnt his feet until only the charred remained. Still alive, they promised him that they would let him go if he renounced his faith. He refused saying, “You are burning me, but it is as if you are pouring water over my body.”  He then continued to pray silently as they set him on fire. Just before the flames reached his heart, he looked up and said in a loud voice, “Katonda! – My God!,” and died.
His companions were all burned together the same day all the while praying and singing hymns until they died.
There were 22 protomartyrs in all. The last of the protomartyrs, a young man named John Mary, was beheaded by King Mwanga on January 27, 1887.
The persecutions spread during the reign of Mwanga, with 100 Christians, both Catholics and Protestants, being tortured and killed.
St. Charles Lwanga is the patron saint of African Catholic Youth Action.


LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 21,20-25
Lectio Divina: 
 Saturday, June 3, 2017

1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord our God,
like Mary, the women and the apostles
on the day before the first Pentecost
we are gathered in prayer.
Let the Holy Spirit come down also on us,
that we may become enthusiastic believers
and faithful witnesses to the person
and the good news of Jesus.
May our way of living bear witness
that Jesus is our light and life,
now and for ever.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 21,20-25
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them -- the one who had leant back close to his chest at the supper and had said to him, 'Lord, who is it that will betray you?' Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, 'What about him, Lord?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.' The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, 'He will not die,' but, 'If I want him to stay behind till I come.' This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true. There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written.
3) REFLECTION
• Today’s Gospel begins with the question of Peter: Lord, what about him? Jesus begins to speak with Peter, announcing the destiny or type of death by which Peter will glorify God. And at the end Jesus adds: Follow me. (Jn 21, 19).
• John 21, 20-21: Peter’s question concerning John’s destiny. At this moment, Peter turned back and saw the Disciple whom Jesus loved and asks: “Lord, what about him?” Jesus had just indicated the destiny of Peter and now Peter wants to know from Jesus which is the destiny of this other disciple. It is a curiosity which does not deserve an adequate response from Jesus.
• John 21, 22: The mysterious response of Jesus. Jesus says: If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.” A mysterious phrase which ends again with the same affirmation as before: Follow me! Jesus seems to want to stop Peter’s curiosity. Just as each one of us has his/her own history, in the same way each one of us has his/her own way of following Jesus. Nobody is the exact copy of another person. Each one of us should be creative in following Jesus.
• John 21, 23: The Evangelist clarifies the sense of the response of Jesus. Ancient tradition identifies the Beloved Disciple with the Apostle John and says that he died very old, when he was almost one hundred years old. Putting together the old age of John with the mysterious response of Jesus, the Evangelist clarifies things saying: “The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet, Jesus had not said to Peter: He will not die, but: If I want him to stay behind till I come; what does that matter to you?” Perhaps, it is a warning to be very attentive to the interpretation of the words of Jesus and not base oneself in any rumour.
• John 21, 24: Witness of the value of the Gospel. Chapter 21 is an added appendix when the final redaction of the Gospel was made. Chapter 20 ends with this phrase: “There were many other signs that Jesus worked in the sight of his disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.” (Jn 20, 30-31). The Book was ready but there were many other facts about Jesus. This is why, on the occasion of the definitive edition of the Gospel, some of these “many facts” about Jesus were chosen and added, very probably to clarify better the new problems of the end of the first century. We do not know who wrote the definitive redaction with the appendix, but we know it was someone of the community who could be trusted, because he writes: “This is the disciple who vouches for these things and has written them down and we know that his testimony is true”.
• John 21, 25: The mystery of Jesus is inexhaustible. A beautiful phrase to conclude the Gospel of John: “There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written”. It seems an exaggeration, but it is the truth. Never will anyone be capable of writing all the things that Jesus has done and continues to do in the life of persons who up until now follow Jesus!
4) FOR PERSONAL CONFRONTATION
• Is there something in your life which Jesus has done and which could be added to this book which will never be written?
• Peter is very concerned about the other disciple and forgets to carry on and live his own “Follow me”. Does this also happen to you?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Yahweh in his holy temple!
Yahweh, his throne is in heaven;
his eyes watch over the world,
his gaze scrutinises the children of Adam. (Ps 11,4)