"The Eucharist is the bread that gives strength... It is at once the most eloquent proof of His love and the most powerful means of fostering His love in us. He gives Himself every day so that our hearts as burning coals may set afire the hearts of the faithful." — St. Damien of Molokai
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"In the sinking to the depths, he [Jesus] rose to the heights. Now he has radically fulfilled the commandment of love; he has completed the offering of himself, and in this way he is now the revelation of the true God, the God who is love . . . He takes to himself the whole suffering people of Israel, all the suffering humanity, the drama of God's darkness, and he makes God present in the very place where he seems definitely vanquished and absent." — Pope Benedict XVI, p.113 AN EXCERPT FROM Way of the Cross
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St. John of Avila
Born in the Castile region of Spain, John was sent at the age of 14 to the University of Salamanca to study law. He later moved to Alcala, where he studied philosophy and theology before his ordination as a diocesan priest.
After John's parents died and left him as their sole heir to a considerable fortune, he distributed his money to the poor. In 1527, he traveled to Seville, hoping to become a missionary in Mexico. The archbishop of that city persuaded him to stay and spread the faith in Andalusia (southwestern Spain). During nine years of work there, he developed a reputation as an engaging preacher, a perceptive spiritual director and a wise confessor.
Because John was not afraid to denounce vice in high places, he was investigated by the Inquisition but was cleared in 1533. He later worked in Cordoba and then in Granada, where he organized the University of Baeza, the first of several colleges run by diocesan priests who dedicated themselves to teaching and giving spiritual direction to young people.
He was friends with Sts. Francis Borgia, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, and Teresa of Avila. John of Avila worked closely with members of the Society of Jesus and helped their growth within Spain and its colonies. John's mystical writings have been translated into several languages.
He was beatified in 1894, canonized in 1970, and declared a doctor of the Church on October 7, 2012.
St. John of Avila knew that the lives of Christians can contradict the Good News of Jesus Christ (for example, thinking racism is OK), implicitly encouraging Christians to live their faith-halfheartedly and causing obstacles to non-Christians who might accept Baptism. In 16th-century Spain, those who advocated reforming the Church were often suspected of heresy. St. John of Avila held his ground and was eventually recognized as a very reliable teacher about the Christian faith.
At the Mass after John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen were declared Doctors of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI described him as "a profound expert on the sacred Scripture . . . gifted with an ardent missionary spirit." The pope continued: "He knew how to penetrate in a uniquely profound way the mysteries of the redemption worked by Christ for humanity. A man of God, he united constant prayer to apostolic action. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the more frequent practice of the sacraments, concentrating his commitment on improving the formation of candidates for the priesthood, of religious and of lay people, with a view to a fruitful reform of the Church."
"Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest" Here I am, Lord. I come to seek Your presence. I long for your healing power.
God is not foreign to my freedom. Instead the Spirit breathes life into my most intimate desires, gently nudging me towards all that is good. I ask for the grace to let myself be enfolded by the Spirit.
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
Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 19:1-8
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They answered him, "We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." He said, "How were you baptized?" They replied, "With the baptism of John." Paul then said, "John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Altogether there were about twelve men.
He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the Kingdom of God.
Responsorial Psalm PS 68:2-3ab, 4-5acd, 6-7ab R. (33a) Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia. God arises; his enemies are scattered, and those who hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; as wax melts before the fire.
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia. But the just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice. Sing to God, chant praise to his name; whose name is the LORD.
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia. The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
R. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Col 3:1 R. Alleluia, alleluia. If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 16:29-33
The disciples said to Jesus, "Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ How easy it is to identify with the Apostles! Fired by enthusiasm, they profess unwavering faith. Jesus knows them better than they know themselves. He warns them that the fervour will quickly wear off and that they will disappear quickly when the storm begins to gather around him. I have so often vowed to turn aside from things that separate me from God, only to fall at the first hurdle.
▪ Lord, let me take comfort from your patience with your disciples. You looked past their present failures to see what they would become – bearing steadfast witness to you as they faced torture and death. Grant me the grace to be forever beginning, forever becoming – untrammelled by my past failures, always open to growth and change.
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.
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.
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers? (Acts 19:2)
Imagine getting a promotion at work, but your pay, your duties, and your privileges don't change at all. The only thing that changes is your title. If you were to tell your friends or family, they might wonder what this change means. You might wonder, too!
This is one way to understand how Paul felt when he met a group of disciples in Ephesus. Something must have moved him to ask if they had received the Holy Spirit—he must have detected that something was missing in the way they lived. That's when he discovered that they had received only John's baptism of repentance, not the full baptism into Christ that was at the heart of his message.
Like a promotion at work that brings real changes, baptism in the early Church brought a real change—the power of the Holy Spirit. New Christians showed the joy, courage, and freedom that only the Spirit can bring. The believers in Ephesus had taken the first step by turning from sin, but they had yet to receive the Spirit. They had yet to receive the grace to help them live the new life they were seeking.
What a marvelous truth this reading conveys about our own baptism! Even if it happened when you were very young, your baptism is meant to bring revolutionary changes in your life—changes that everyone else should see. Of course, this happens over time as you ask God to release the Spirit in you, but it does happen!
Today is a good day both to recall and to rejoice in your baptism. You have the Holy Spirit! Gifts like fortitude, reverence, and understanding are yours, and they can help you grow closer to God. They can also overflow from your life to bless everyone around you. People who knew the first Christians saw how exuberant and bold they were. They could tell that something good had happened to them, and it moved them to ask how they could receive the same gifts. This can happen in you as well.
So ask the Spirit to release his grace in you. Ask him to make a greater difference in your life today than he did yesterday. Keep alert for his promptings today. The world needs your witness!
"Holy Spirit, I'm ready to listen. Direct me in your ways."
my2cents: St. Paul asks the Christ followers ""Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" At the eulogy yesterday for my cousin, they said he had got a trucking job in Dallas and his work companion was teaching him the ropes, and for the two weeks they were together they said that companion never stopped talking about the Lord until my cousin "Pachalo" accepted the Lord. Pach was already baptized and sacramentalized, but it took someone every day in his face to make him realize the fire of the Lord. Later on that companion died. Pach was now evangelizing, with his flaws, still kept going at it, praising our Lord. He got his younger and only brother to accept the Lord, and now Pach has gone to the next life. And I asked the people while I stood in front during vigil prayers, "what are you investing your life in?" Pach was homeless, and people gave him a home, hungry, and he was fed. I compared Pach, my cuz, to Jesus. He was heard to come home from a long day at work and start washing dishes at his mom's house, or massage her feet. This is exactly how the Lord teaches us to live, not about self, but selfless, less of me, more of Him, and I said "I must decrease, He must increase" as we hear the Word in the book of John. We prayed the Holy Psalms today "Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth." They put a guitar pick in Pachalo's hands in the coffin. He loved praise and worship songs to the Lord, and he loved to sing and play the guitar. I said "we are fellow Christ lovers and song writers, this is another way we are united through Christ" "God arises; his enemies are scattered, and those who hate him flee before him." When the truth arrives, there are two ways to accept Him into your life, either stand there and accept the Truth, or run away. "As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; as wax melts before the fire." The fire purifies, either we are the wick, or the wax. Here's a point of reflection, upon reflecting on my cousin's life "either we are Jesus in the needy, or we are Jesus helping the needy". Anything else is wax. Let us open our hearts to the Holy Gospel today and our King says, "Behold the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone." In Comes the moment of truth, the moment of the cross and crucifixion, everyone scattered, to the point that Jesus cried on the cross in tears "Daddy! Daddy, why have you abandoned me?" Between the two evildoers, he was placed among them. I questioned everyone at the vigil "have you abandoned Christ in the Church?" Have you no need of Christ in your life? I had brought up a time that I had noticed someone sleeping in an abandoned church that our parish acquired next door. Fellow parishioners said "we can not allow anyone to sleep in this abandoned building, it is a liability". My thoughts were "this poor person has no place to go, and what better place to be than here...let him be". Later on my cousin Pachalo told me it was him that was sleeping in that church. Once again, Jesus. How often is He abandoned in the dark and cold church left alone by people like you and me? We scatter way too fast, and many are slow to gather again, some never gather again at all. I told another cousin at the viewing "are we going to have to see each other in a casket before we get together again?" A few minutes later I sat next to him and he left, and I never saw him again. In darkness, we scatter. But Christ is the answer. He is the light. Our Lord said " I am not alone, because the Father is with me." Pachalo was never alone. We are with our Father continuously in thoughts and prayer. Never cease the prayer, our lifeline to Christ our Lord. "I have told you this so that you might have peace in me." says our Lord. "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." The problem is the trust. Do you believe? Do you do what He says? Because if you don't do what He says, it means we don't believe. Believe in the love of God. We are about to go for the Funeral Mass for Pachalo. The greatest heartache, knowing I should've spent more time with Jesus, knowing I should've and could've done more. I thought he was fine, we all did, but he fell. I pray. I read from the super long text spanish reflections today something that in a way offered some light, and I'll translate for you, and God bless you...do not scatter, but remain.
A CALL TO LIVE
I called you to live.
I made you beautiful with my own hands. (Pach's dad, my uncle stood by his son's casket and said to me as we looked to him after the vigil and rosary "Isn't he beautiful?")
I communicated my life.
I put in you my own love in abundance.
I made you see the scenery and color.
I gave you ears, so you'll hear the birds singing and the voice of men.
I gave you the word for "father", "mother", "friend", "" brother, "" I love you "," You're important to me. "
I gave you my deepest love.
Not only did I give you life, I'm holding it.
You are my beloved son; I know when you breathe and take care when you sleep. Do not hesitate.
My eyes are on your eyes.
I placed my hand on your head.
I love you, but you forget or reject me.
I love you, even though you do not love me.
You know it well; You can go wherever you can and where you want; and I will follow you there, to love you and my hand will sustain you.
Or do you think that I, as Father, I can forget my son? Do not even think about it!
Since I made you, I can not leave you alone.
I walk and I smile with you, I live in you!
I write it in a thousand ways and you hear me when whispered in silence.