"Be peace-loving. Peace is a precious treasure to be sought with great zeal. You are well aware that our sins arouse God's anger. You must change your life, therefore, so that God in his mercy will pardon you. What we conceal from men is known to God. Be converted, then, with a sincere heart. Live your life that you may receive the blessing of the Lord. Then the peace of God our Father will be with you always." — St. Francis of Paola
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Jesus is nailed to the Cross. The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure . . . Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation and realize that it is then that we are closest to God." — Pope Benedict XVI, p.104-05 AN EXCERPT FROM Way of the Cross, 104-105
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Blessed Buonadonna (Luchesio and Buonadonna)
Luchesio and his wife Buonadonna wanted to follow St. Francis as a married couple. Thus they set in motion the Secular Franciscan Order.
Luchesio and Buonadonna lived in Poggibonzi, Italy, where he was a greedy merchant. Meeting Francis—probably in 1213—changed his life. He began to perform many works of charity.
At first Buonadonna was not as enthusiastic about giving so much away as Luchesio was. One day after complaining that he was giving everything to strangers, Buonadonna answered the door only to find someone else needing help. Luchesio asked her to give the poor man some bread. She frowned but went to the pantry anyway. There she discovered more bread than had been there the last time she looked. She soon became as zealous for a poor and simple life as Luchesio was. They sold the business, farmed enough land to provide for their needs and distributed the rest to the poor.
In the 13th century some couples, by mutual consent and with the Church's permission, separated so that the husband could join a monastery (or a group such as Francis began) and his wife could go to a cloister. Conrad of Piacenza and his wife did just that. This choice existed for childless couples or for those whose children had already grown up. Luchesio and Buonadonna wanted another alternative, a way of sharing in religious life, but outside the cloister.
To meet this desire, Francis set up the Secular Franciscan Order. Francis wrote a simple Rule for the Third Order (Secular Franciscans) at first; Pope Honorius III approved a more formally worded Rule in 1221.
The charity of Luchesio drew the poor to him, and, like many other saints, he and Buonadonna seemed never to lack the resources to help these people.
One day Luchesio was carrying a crippled man he had found on the road. A frivolous young man came up and asked, "What poor devil are you are carrying on your back?" "I am carrying my Lord Jesus Christ," responded Luchesio. The young man immediately begged Luchesio's pardon.
Luchesio and Buonadonna both died on April 28, 1260. He was beatified in 1273. Local tradition referred to Buonadonna as "blessed" though the title was not given officially.
It is easy to mock the poor, to trample on their God-given dignity. Mother Teresa of Calcutta often referred to poverty as Christ's "distressing disguise." Since it is so easy to make people feel unwanted—the poor, the sick, the mentally or physically handicapped, the aged, the unemployed—resisting that temptation indicates the level of generosity in our lives. If the followers of Francis see Christ in the poor as Luchesio and Buonadonna did, they enrich the Church and keep it faithful to its Lord.
Francis used to say, "Whoever curses a poor man does an injury to Christ, whose noble image he wears, the image of him who made himself poor for us in this world" (1 Celano, #76).
God is with me, but more, God is within me. Let me dwell for a moment on God's life-giving presence in my body, in my mind, in my heart, as I sit here, right now.
It is so easy to get caught up with the trappings of wealth in this life. Grant, O Lord, that I may be free from greed and selfishness. Remind me that the best things in life are free. Love, laughter, caring and sharing.
There is a time and place for everything, as the saying goes. Lord, grant that I may always desire to spend time in your presence. To hear your call.
The Word of God
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 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 Psalm PS 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 10 R. (3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations. or: 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. or: 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. or: 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. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 10:27 R. Alleluia, alleluia. My sheep know my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 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."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ St Ignatius would have us begin our prayer by considering how God sees us. There is no better place to begin, and no better place to end! Each of us can say, 'You see me as your well-beloved'. Much of our prayer time can be taken up in simply savouring this delightful truth about ourselves.
▪ If we pray like this, the joy of God will fill our hearts. In the Gospels, joy is always linked with closeness to the Lord. So Mary and Elizabeth pour out their joy in the Visitation scene and the shepherds and the Magi are full of joy when they find the Lord. Joy is the best indicator that a person is living close to Jesus.
Lord, I know that when I turn to you there is no need for words. You can see into my heart. You know my desires and you know my needs. I place myself into your hands.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
We ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God. (Acts 15:19)
For centuries, the Israelites had been taught that the Gentiles were unclean. Just entering into the house of a Gentile would render a Jew unclean, and he would have to go through a series of steps to become purified again.
So imagine the apostles' shock when they realized that the Holy Spirit was also calling the Gentiles into the Church. Suddenly, for the first time in history, God was asking them to put aside the traditions of avoiding contact with Gentiles. In fact, he was telling them to embrace the "unclean" new believers and call them brothers and sisters in Christ.
That must have been a lot for the Christians to work through, and it's a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit that the merging of these two peoples went as smoothly as it did.
Today, the ideal of a universal Church made up of people from all over the earth has come to pass. Still, people sometimes complain that Catholics can be overly exclusive. Perhaps we subtly look down on Christians from other traditions. Maybe we avoid making friends with non-Christians. Or maybe we emphasize the things that separate us from the rest of the world instead of the things that unite us.
Pope Francis has made very bold steps to help overcome this division. When he travels, he is often accompanied by two old friends: a Jewish rabbi and a Muslim, both of whom he came to know while he was living in Argentina. These friendships are important to him because they help him keep his horizons wide and welcoming.
Just as Pope Francis has made it a point to develop friendships with people of other faiths—or people who have no faith at all—he encourages us to do the same. Today, consider how you can open your life to people from other backgrounds or traditions. Approach them with friendship, not the goal of converting them. Appreciate the unique person God has created each of them to be, and let the Holy Spirit bind you together in love.
"Lord, give me the courage to open myself to people outside of my faith circle. Help me imitate your love for all people. Jesus, I want to be a friend to all!"
my2cents: Powerful words today "...we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus" and this is what Catholics, the first Christians believe. We are saved by grace, not by what we do, not by proclaiming by word and confessing and just believing, but by grace. Grace is an impacting word, and it is very transforming. Let's keep all this in mind for when we hear the Word of God speak...our Lord Jesus. The Psalms today we prayed said "Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations." So if Grace saves, why do we have to do things for the Lord? LOL, well, we have to be disposed and giving to God, which opens up Grace for us in our hearts, for the light to shine in your home, you have to open the door, or a window! You have to be available. Proclaim! For crying out loud, proclaim with your very life! "Say among the nations: The LORD is king. He has made the world firm, not to be moved; he governs the peoples with equity." The King has entered our lives, the building is our souls, our temples of our bodies: ""As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love." REMAIN! Quedate! STAY! Do not ever leave. There have been instances in my life, not too many, where I have felt the call to stay, even spend the night, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Have you ever gone to someone's place and the family asks you to stay with them and not leave? You feel the warmth and love of them opening not just their homes but their hearts, it is the same with the Lord, only He is an entire family of love and life, asking in such a humble way that it is so easy to dismiss. Jesus your Father and brother and friend and in the poor is asking, "will you stay with Me?" For only a little while. For just temporary, for the temporal, into the immortal. "will you pay attention to Me?" asks the Lord today. So many things have got your attention right now...what about ME? And so today's married saint surrenders his life to God and carries Him on His shoulders. What love will you carry on your shoulders? Will it be the Love of God? You see, the Lord is there for the taking...so you might take what He is offering....complete Joy, fullness of life. Listen to God's words today which lead us to a life for HIM: