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May 14, 2020 May 14, 2020

May 14 – Thursday, Fifth Week of Easter

May 14, 2020 – Thursday, Fifth Week of Easter

The 13th apostle

Shortly after the ascension of Jesus, the small Christian community (Luke says there were about 120 of them) gathered and decided there should be a replacement for Judas as one of the Twelve. They cast lots, and Matthias was chosen.

The practice of casting lots went back to ancient Jewish tradition. People sometimes turned to their priests to determine God’s will. The priest would cast sacred lots, called the “Urim and Thumminm.” It’s not known exactly what these pieces looked like – they may have been precious stones with some type of characters on them. Magic and superstition were forbidden to Israelites, but casting lots was not considered superstitious.

By using this method to choose Judas’ replacement, the early Christians showed their Jewish roots.

Matthias is never mentioned in the New Testament after his election. Although there are legends, little is known about him.

Today is the feast of St. Matthias.

Philip said to Jesus, Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’” (Jn 14:8-9)

Philip and the other disciples were feeling left behind. Jesus was going to his glory, and they were being left out.

Everyone has experienced that feeling of being “left out.” There are only so many places on a team, and sometimes you don’t make the team. There are only so many places at a dinner party, and sometimes you don’t get invited. It’s hard, especially when people who are close to you get invited. You want to be with them, but you don’t get to go.

Jesus assures them: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Where I am, you also will be.

He will not leave me behind.

May 13, 2020

Pope Francis asks all to pray on May 14 for an end to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: Faithful respond to Pope’s invitation to pray on 14 May                 As Pope Francis invites people of all faiths to pray on 14 May for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, we get a snapshot of people around the world who plan on taking part in this unique initiative.                                                                On Thursday 14 May, believers around the world will join – whether through prayer, fasting or by performing acts of charity – to pray for an end to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking before the Regina Coeli on 3 May, Pope Francis said “since prayer is a universal value, I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity for believers of all religions to unite spiritually this 14 May for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Remember: 14 May, all believers together, believers of different traditions, to pray, fast, and perform works of charity”.                                                                                                  As you watch the video below, you will see brothers and sisters around the world who are being affected by the world-wide pandemic. We hear their voices in a chorus of hope.

May 13, 2020

May 13, 2020 – Wednesday, Fifth Week of Easter

May 13, 2020 – Wednesday, Fifth Week of Easter

Simon the Apostle

Very little is known about Simon.

Simon is sometimes called the Zealot, which means he was a member of the Zealot party, a group of Jews committed to a violent overthrow of Roman rule. He is said to have come from the village of Cana. After Pentecost, he is believed to have preached in Egypt, and, along with Jude, in Persia. Although there is no historical data regarding his death, various traditions say that Simon was martyred by crucifixion or by being sawed into pieces, likely in Persia.

Simon and Jude share the same feast day of October 28.

Jesus said to Thomas: “…No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (Jn 14:6-7)

The old Catholic catechism described God as “the Supreme Being, above all creatures, the self-existing and infinitely perfect spirit.”

Not quite as graphic as Jesus describing his Father.

Some of the attributes and perfections of God – God is eternal, all-knowing, all-present, and almighty – may seem very philosophical.

But Jesus invites me as he invited Thomas: “If you want to know what God is like? Look at me.”

I could reply, “Well, I guess God cries, and God laughs, and God embraces little children, and God touches the lepers.”

And Jesus, of course, would say, “That’s true.”

The Gospels of the Easter season tell me how wonderfully close God is to me.

May 12, 2020

May 12, 2020 – Tuesday, Fifth Week of Easter

May 12, 2020 – Tuesday, Fifth Week of Easter

Roger Schutz

Roger Schutz was the founder and prior of Taize, the first ecumenical community in Europe. Born on this day in Switzerland in 1915, Roger was ordained a minister in the Swiss Reformed Church. In 1940, as World War II loomed over Europe, the 25-year-old minister left Switzerland and traveled to the village of Taize, in the region of Burgundy, close to the demarcation line which separated German-occupied France from free France. Soon Brother Roger and the Taize community were sheltering Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. After the war, they cared for orphaned children, as well as the German prisoners of war interned near Taize.

On Easter Sunday, 1949, Brother Roger and six other men formally made a commitment to live a life of community, celibacy, and simplicity, devoted to peace and justice, in the monastic community of Taize.

When he first arrived in Taize, Brother Roger sought the local Catholic Bishop’s permission to use the village church. The bishop referred him to the papal nuncio in Paris, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli. The tow men became friends. When the archbishop became Pope John XXIII, he invited Brother Roger and his community to attend the Second Vatican Council.

In 1986, another pope, John Paul II, visited Taize. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI invited Brother Roger to attend the World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, but the 90 year-old monk declined for health reasons. Shortly thereafter, on August 16, Brother Roger was fatally stabbed by a Roman woman attending a Taize evening prayer at its headquarters in eastern France.

Thomas said to Jesus, “Master, we do not know where you are going: how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (Jn 14:4-5)

Thomas wants to know the way. Three time in this short passage, the way is used. In the Acts of the Apostles, it will be used eight times. Before Christianity was ever called Christianity, it was called, The Way. It was a certain way of life. I’m familiar with some ways of life. A vegetarian. That’s a way of eating. A vegetarian could explain that if you want to be one of these people, then this is what you do and don’t do. Clear, simple focus.

A person in Weight Watchers could tell me how to eat and live as a Weight Watcher. A person in Alcoholics Anonymous could explain their way of life as an AA member. They all would probably refer me to systems, or books, or principles, or teachings.

There were two things anyone who was going to be a member in this community that was called The Way had to do:

  • They had to know The Way so they could help other people live it.
  • They had to really live The Way.

How am I doing? Do I really know The Way…and am I living it?

May 11, 2020

May 11, 2020 – Monday, Fifth Week of Easter

May 11, 2020 – Monday, Fifth Week of Easter

Philip the Apostle

In John’s Gospel, Philip is among the first disciples called by Jesus. Twice he provides an opportunity for Jesus to give a teaching.

  • Jesus, wanting to feed the multitude, asks Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip replies that even 200 days’ wages wouldn’t be enough to feed all of the people. Jesus then miraculously feed the people.
  • At the Last Supper, Jesus says that if the apostles know him, they also know the Father. Philip says, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus replies, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Philip was a Galilean from Bethsaida, and is credited with introducing the future apostle, Nathanael/Bartholomew, to Jesus. Following Pentecost, he preached in Phrygia (modern-day Turkey), Greece, and Asia Minor. He was martyred about 80 A.D. in Phrygia. Philip was said to be married, and is buried with his daughters. He is the patron saint of pastry chefs.

At one time, today was the feast of St. Philip the Apostle. But now he shares his feast day with St. James the Lesser on May 3.

Jesus said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” (Jn 14:1-3)

The setting for this week’s Gospel is the Last Supper. This is the last meal that Jesus will have with his disciples. Within 24 hours, he will be dead.

He is concerned about the problems his departure will cause for the disciples left behind. He tells them not to be trouble, and tries to reassure them.

Jesus has talked about “my Father’s house” Before – at the cleansing of the Temple. Then, “my Father’s house” was the Temple.

Now Jesus is telling them that he is the new Temple, and there is room in his heart for every one of them. In his Father’s house there are many dwelling places, and he is going to prepare a dwelling place for the disciples.

He could have spoken in abstract concepts, saying that in the Kingdom they would experience eschatological wholeness and bliss. But he spoke in very personal terms instead.

When I am troubled, the risen Lord reassures me in the same way. There is room in his heart for me too.

May 11, 2020

May 10, 2020 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 10, 2020 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb – Mark 16:1-2

Mother of James and John

Very little is known about the mothers of the apostles, except for Salome (the mother of two apostles) and Mary (the mother of James). Even then, much of the information comes from legends or apocryphal gospels.

Salome is described as the mother of the apostles, James and John, or, as the Evangelist Mark puts it, “the mother of Zebedee’s children.” Her family background is unknown, outside of the fact that she is the wife of Zebedee, a wealthy fisherman living in Capernaum.

Salone is believed to have become a follower of Jesu, and supported her sons’ decision to become disciples of Jesus. St. Matthew also writes of her request to Jesus that her sons be seated beside him. St. Mark says she was present at the Crucifixion, and accompanied Mary Magdalene to Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning.

After Pentecost, legend says Salome settled in Veroli, in central Italy. She is sometimes called St. Mary Salome, whose feast is celebrated October 22. She is the patron saint of Veroli, whose Basilica of St. Mary Salome is said to contain her remains.

Called to be a disciple

I don’t know much abut Matthias but I wonder What kind of a person he was, and what he was thinking when he was selected to be one of the apostles. He wasn’t chosen when Jesus picked the original Twelve. Then Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and Matthias found himself in the same situation that, actually, I am in today – serving a God who isn’t physically present.

Here Matthias is, by some strange circumstances, as the apostles try to choose somebody to replace Judas. And they are going to do it by chance. They are going to draw lots. And Matthias is chosen to be one of the Twelve.

Well, it may seem like Matthias’ selection was by chance, but it wasn’t. The apostles had prayed. They believed that God works in so many mysterious ways that sometimes it seems like chance. It’s like wondering how I got to be who I am, how I even go the gift of life, and how I became Catholic, when most of the world wasn’t. There are about 7.5 billion people in the world, and only 15 percent are Catholic.

But my being Catholic wasn’t by chance any more than Matthias being chosen to be an apostle by chance.

I was called by name by God to be a disciple in a way that seems mysterious and almost by chance. And the more I believe that I was handpicked by God and sent into this world, the more I feel called to sometimes stand against the world and be who I am called to be, God’s disciple.

‘A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.’ – G.K. Chesterton

May 11, 2020

May 9, 2020 – Saturday, Fourth Week of Easter

May 9, 2020 – Saturday, Fourth Week of Easter

About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John killed by the sword.’ – Acts 12:1-2

How did the Apostles die?

Except for St. John. Despite attempts to poison him and immerse him in boiling oil, John died of old age.

The cause of death for the other apostles was reported by witnesses or is the result of legends that have developed over the years:

  • James the Greater was the first apostle to be killed, and his is the only death of an apostle described in the New Testament. Legend adds that James’ body was placed in a boat and set adrift, and it came ashore in Spain.
  • Peter was crucified in Rome.
  • Andrew was Crucified in Greece in the year 70. A tradition originated in the Middle Ages that he wished to be crucified on an X-shaped cross.
  • Philip was martyred in Phrygia (an area that today is part of Turkey).
  • Bartholomew/Nathanael was flayed alive in Armenia
  • Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia.
  • The historian Josephus says James the Lesser was stoned to death in Jerusalem.
  • Jude (Thaddeus) was martyred in Armenia.
  • Thomas was stabbed by a spear in India.
  • Simon was sawed into pieces in Persia.
  • Matthias was martyred in Turkey or in Jerusalem.

Jesus said: “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)

I came so that they might have life

Sometimes I may get the impression that to join the Church is just the opposite of what Jesus said in the Gospel/ Instead of coming out of the confinement of the sheepfold.

Maybe I feel confined because there are things I can’t do. Maybe I feel my thinking has to be stifled.

But Jesus’ words are true.

I may expect that belonging to the Church community means I give up some freedom to think what I want to think. In reality, the security I can find in the Church allows me to dream and explore and ask questions I couldn’t ask before.

By belonging to a community of the Lord’s disciples, I can dream great dreams and experience a great destiny no matter who I am.

Jesus has come so that I might have life.

May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020 – Friday, Fourth Week of Easter

May 8, 2020 – Friday, Fourth Week of Easter

What happened to Mary after Jesus’ death?

The four Gospels tell very little about Mary following the death of her son. The Gospel of John says that from the time of the Crucifixion on, the disciple whom Jesus loved took Mary into his care.

The only additional mention of Mary after Jesus’ death is in the Acts of the Apostles: “Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer. There were some women in their company, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14)

Ancient tradition has suggested that Mary moved with the Apostle John to Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey) where she lived out her final days. Today, travelers to Ephesus can visit “the house of the Virgin Mayr,” which is located on a mountain near Ephesus. In the 1960s, Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit Mary’s home in Ephesus.

Another tradition suggests that she stayed in Jerusalem since her family lived there. Catholics believe that, after her earthly life, she was assumed body and soul into heaven.

Jesus said: “All who came (before me) are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. (Jn 10:8-9)

What is the chemistry between me and Jesus? Do I see him as he describes himself in the Gospel passage I read this week – a gate opening up to wide and enjoyable pastures? Someone with whom I can feel safe? Someone with whom I can rest easy? Someone whose voice I recognize and with whom I feel secure?

What if I “abandoned” myself to him: “Lord, do with me what you will.”, like most people,

Probably, like most people, I would brace myself for some suffering. In the back of my mind, perhaps I think that the more I give myself to the Lord, the more suffering I can expect from him.

But nowhere in this whole chapter of John’s Gospel does Jesus come across as someone who intentionally sends me hardship, a rough road. He did say that these kinds of things happen in life, but he also said that he wanted to be there when they did.

There is a great difference between seeing Jesus as the one who sends suffering and seeing Jesus as my shepherd.

When I give myself to Jesus, I receive a good shepherd who will walk with me through every rough spot.

May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020 – Thursday, Fourth Week of Easter

May 7, 2020 – Thursday, Fourth Week of Easter

We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.’

-Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier                                                                                                                                    Born September 10, 1928, in Geneva, Switzerland, Jean Vanier was the son of the former governor general of Canada. Vanier served in the navy for Great Britain and Canada. He considered joining the priesthood, and lived for a while in a Trappist monastery in France. Instead, he received his doctorate and taught philosophy at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.

After a visit to France to see his Dominican spiritual director, Vanier was impressed by the priest’s work with developmentally disabled people. Vanier began visiting asylums where he was appalled by the patients’ living conditions. Inspired by the Gospels and the work of Dorothy Day, Vanier decided to establish a community where disabled people could live together and equally with non-disabled people. With financial aid from family and friends, he purchased a home outside Paris, France, in 1964.

The community became known as L’Arche International, named after the ark which saved Noah, his family, and the animals. Today, there are more than 154 L’Arche communities in 38 countries.

Vanier, who also founded Faith and Light, a network of support groups for mentally disabled people and their families, died on this day in 2019 at the age of 90.

Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the disciples did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amend, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. (Jn 10:6-7)

The full power of the shepherd image came through easily to people whose ancestors were Bedouin shepherds and who lived in a country where shepherds were a familiar sight.

The sheep were part of the Bedouin family. They traveled with the family. New lambs were born into the group, and the sights and sounds and smells of the family were familiar to these lambs from the time they were born.

When Jesus used the image of the sheep and the shepherds, the people immediately understood the closeness he was talking about.

God is like that for me.

From the very beginning of my life, I had an experience and knowledge of God. As I grew up, people “from the outside” helped me to interpret this experience and helped enhance the truths I held within.

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