"And let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being 'in Christ' or of Christ being 'in them', this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts-—that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution—a biological or superbiological fact. There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it." — C.S. Lewis, p. 64 AN EXCERPT FROM Mere Christianity, p64
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St. Vincent Ferrer
The polarization in the Church today is a mild breeze compared with the tornado that ripped the Church apart during the lifetime of this saint. If any saint is a patron of reconciliation, Vincent Ferrer is.
Despite parental opposition, he entered the Dominican Order in his native Spain at 19. After brilliant studies, he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Peter de Luna—who would figure tragically in his life.
Of a very ardent nature, Vincent practiced the austerities of his Order with great energy. He was chosen prior of the Dominican house in Valencia shortly after his ordination.
The Western Schism divided Christianity first between two, then three, popes. Clement VII lived at Avignon in France, Urban VI in Rome. Vincent was convinced the election of Urban was invalid though Catherine of Siena (April 29) was just as devoted a supporter of the Roman pope. In the service of Cardinal de Luna, Vincent worked to persuade Spaniards to follow Clement. When Clement died, Cardinal de Luna was elected at Avignon and became Benedict XIII.
Vincent worked for him as apostolic penitentiary and Master of the Sacred Palace. But the new pope did not resign as all candidates in the conclave had sworn to do. He remained stubborn despite being deserted by the French king and nearly all of the cardinals.
Vincent became disillusioned and very ill, but finally took up the work of simply "going through the world preaching Christ," though he felt that any renewal in the Church depended on healing the schism. An eloquent and fiery preacher, he spent the last 20 years of his life spreading the Good News in Spain, France, Switzerland, the Low Countries and Lombardy, stressing the need of repentance and the fear of coming judgment. (He became known as the "Angel of the Judgment.")
He tried, unsuccessfully, in 1408 and 1415, to persuade his former friend to resign. He finally concluded that Benedict was not the true pope. Though very ill, he mounted the pulpit before an assembly over which Benedict himself was presiding and thundered his denunciation of the man who had ordained him a priest. Benedict fled for his life, abandoned by those who had formerly supported him. Strangely, Vincent had no part in the Council of Constance, which ended the schism.
The split in the Church at the time of Vincent Ferrer should have been fatal—36 long years of having two "heads." We cannot imagine what condition the Church today would be in if, for that length of time, half the world had followed a succession of popes in Rome, and half, an equally "official" number of popes in, say, Rio de Janeiro. It is an ongoing miracle that the Church has not long since been shipwrecked on the rocks of pride and ignorance, greed and ambition. Contrary to Lowell's words, "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne," we believe that "truth is mighty, and it shall prevail"—but it sometimes takes a long time.
"Precious stone of virginity... Flaming torch of charity... Mirror of penance... Trumpet of eternal salvation... Flower of heavenly wisdom... Vanquisher of demons." (From the litanies of St. Vincent)
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. (Gerard Manley Hopkins) I dwell for a moment on the Presence of God around me, in every part of my body, and deep within my being.
Fill me with Your Holy Spirit Lord, so that I may have inner freedom. Let your Spirit instil in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
The Word of God
Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 4:32-37
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated a son of encouragement"), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.
Responsorial Psalm PS 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5
R. (1a) The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or: R. Alleluia. The LORD is king, in splendor robed; robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or: R. Alleluia. And he has made the world firm, not to be moved. Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O LORD.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or: R. Alleluia. Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed: holiness befits your house, O LORD, for length of days.
R. The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.
or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 3:14-15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 3:7b-15
Jesus said to Nicodemus: "'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to him, 'How can this happen?" Jesus answered and said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Like Nicodemus I am puzzled about 'being born again'. I ask Jesus to explain. He tells me that he wants me to present myself in the world in a new way: I am to start over. He wants me to live out a Spirit-filled life. I am to attend to the promptings of the Spirit in making my choices. He tells me that in this way I become 'the light of the world'! What a promise!
Conversation requires talking and listening. As I talk to Jesus may I also learn to be still and listen. I picture the gentleness in His eyes and the smile full of love as he gazes on me. I can be totally honest with Jesus as I tell Him of my worries and my cares. I will open up my heart to Him as I tell Him of my fears and my doubts. I will ask Him to help me to place myself fully in His care, to abandon myself to Him, knowing that He always wants what is best for me.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own. (Acts 4:32)
"Mine, mine, mine!" chirped the crowd of seagulls in the movie Finding Nemo as they eyed a baby crab. Each of them was trying to claim it for dinner—and very loudly! Isn't that how we can feel sometimes?
Today's first reading shows us a different way. We see the first Christians generously sharing their possessions so that "there was no needy person among them" (Acts 4:34). Rather than shouting "Mine," "no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own" (4:32). Something had happened in them when they were baptized and filled with the Spirit. They began to feel responsible for each other and committed themselves to caring for one another.
During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have been hearing a lot about how Jesus wants us to be agents of his love and compassion. We have been hearing a lot about our call to be as merciful with each other as God is with us. But this can seem like a huge burden at times. "How can I possibly imitate Jesus? It seems next to impossible!"
If you ever feel that way, keep one vital truth in mind: you have the Holy Spirit! God never intended for you to try to do this on your own. This is, after all, why Jesus came—to save us from selfishness and to empower us to live a new life. So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you want to say, "Mine!" turn to the Spirit, and ask for his help. It can be as simple as saying, "Holy Spirit, help me to be generous!" Then take just one step closer to the kind of love that the first disciples showed. Try your best, and watch as the Spirit softens your heart over time.
God doesn't expect us to give away everything in the name of generosity. But today's reading isn't just a fairy-tale either. It's a picture of his desire that we all be of one heart and mind. With the help of his Spirit, we certainly can do this!
"Holy Spirit, give me the grace to be generous. Help me to tell Jesus, 'It's all yours.' Help me to say the same thing to my brothers and sisters."
Psalm 93:1-2, 5 John 3:7-15
Minute Meditation A way of life is a set of values, a spirit that affects our whole life, an attitude that enters into every thought we think, each emotion we feel, what we say and each action of our days. Christianity is the way of life God himself has graciously given us. — from Live Like Francis
my2cents: From today's 1st Holy Scripture: "With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,". They bore witness it says. They gave witness. They brought about this great witness, and so the Lord's favor was upon them. Favor in this case as always, should be the case for grace. Because on this side of Christianity, sharing and caring is only a byproduct of a true living being ... of Christ. We pray the Psalms today "The LORD is king, in splendor robed; robed is the LORD and girt about with strength." The Lord is my strength, I take comfort with His rod and staff, His guidance to where He sees best for my life to feed and be protected. In this captivating scene, a lamb grows strong, perhaps, ready for the slaughter, or to clothe the shepherd, because either way, it is a life of giving, and take note as we read the Psalm today "The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." Our Lord was lifted up on a cross. How do you lift Him up? Take note as we read the Holy Gospel. In comes the Lord into our lives through the Holy Gospel, ""'You must be born from above.'" We are born in the flesh, and then born in the Spirit. This is why we are baptized, and as baptized souls, we are to allow the Spirit move among us, as a true body of Christ. "If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?" If Jesus told us things about Heaven, then, we would not believe. How can we say that? Because, He said we don't even believe the earthly things, the lesser things, then how in the world will we believe the higher things, things that we can not even begin to imagine or comprehend. Because if you've got the universe figured out, then what room is there for God? Such is a human, that wants things figured out, isn't it? Mysteries are a problem, yet, the Holy Catholic Church honors the mystery; the mystery of:
* Creation * The Entire Life of Christ, Incarnation, youth, ministry, passion, death, Resurrection, ascension, and the Holy Spirit today * The Church * The Sacraments * The Paschal Mystery * The Christian mystery, the object of faith And the list goes on and on and on about the mystery. At one point the Catechism of the Catholic Church says "Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God." There aren't correct words to describe Heaven, but there are correct ways to live Heaven. Those of us that are baptized are called to this life, we have been anointed and appointed. Take a deep look, and breathe in the breath of God. It is one thing to say you believe in God, and another to live the belief. The belief then should drive you towards holiness, the light. As you come closer to the light, your soul becomes light. It is said that our sun in our solar system will eventually engulf the earth, and the timing makes no difference, because what is being said is that the Son will encompass the earth and engulf it on fire, because the Lord's wish, the King's wish shall be done, because the heart of this soul will never forget His desire when He said ""I came to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already set ablaze!" Lk12:49. What happens to you when you read this? Doesn't it make you want to be a fire starter? Pyromania, and when the Lords speaks of fire, He speaks of a burning furnace of purity driven by the Holy Spirit of God. It is then a purification which the Holy Church teaches. This then, it is not a mystery, because we are speaking of terms we can relate to. I want what is not of God out of my life. I want what is of God IN my life. Then, we can see ourselves being pumped as blood cells through this heart of God, and the energy is endless and timeless. We are the fuel of the fire. What has been said has been spoken in terms only your heart is realizing right now. This code given is to break open your safe; your safe zone, your safe harbor, to let Christ in and take over. Do not be afraid. Once again, fear not, do not be afraid to love as we ought. God is with us, who can stand against the Love of Christ?