"Charity includes everything. With fresh needs it invents new means."
— St. Eugene de Mazenod
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Certainly we need no greater proof of the eminent sanctity of Joseph than is implied in the choice made of him by God to be the husband of Mary. We have only to look at her to know what he must have been." — Edward Healy Thompson, p.109 AN EXCERPT FROM The Life & Glories of Saint Joseph
click to go there
St. Achilleus (Nereus and Achilleus)
Devotion to these two saints goes back to the fourth century, though almost nothing is known of their lives. They were praetorian soldiers of the Roman army, became Christians and were removed to the island of Terracina, where they were martyred. Their bodies were buried in a family vault, later known as the cemetery of Domitilla. Excavations by De Rossi in 1896 resulted in the discovery of their empty tomb in the underground church built by Pope Siricius in 390.
Two hundred years after their death, Pope Gregory the Great delivered his 28th homily on the occasion of their feast. "These saints, before whom we are assembled, despised the world and trampled it under their feet when peace, riches and health gave it charms."
As in the case of many early martyrs, the Church clings to its memories though the events are clouded in the mists of history. It is a heartening thing for all Christians to know that they have a noble heritage. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have stood in the same world in which we live—militarist, materialist, cruel and cynical—yet transfigured from within by the presence of the Living One. Our own courage is enlivened by the heroes and heroines who have gone before us marked by the sign of faith and the wounds of Christ.
Pope Damasus wrote an epitaph for Nereus and Achilleus in the fourth century. The text is known from travelers who read it while the slab was still entire, but the broken fragments found by De Rossi are sufficient to identify it: "The martyrs Nereus and Achilleus had enrolled themselves in the army and exercised the cruel office of carrying out the orders of the tyrant, being ever ready, through the constraint of fear, to obey his will. O miracle of faith! Suddenly they cease from their fury, they become converted, they fly from the camp of their wicked leader; they throw away their shields, their armor and their blood-stained javelins. Confessing the faith of Christ, they rejoice to bear testimony to its triumph. Learn now from the words of Damasus what great things the glory of Christ can accomplish."
Dear Lord, help me to be open to you for this time as I put aside the cares of this world. Fill my mind with your peace, Your Love.
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.
How do I find myself today? Where am I with God? With others? Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Wishing to determine the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews, the commander freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.
Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead." When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three. A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, "We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome."
Responsorial Psalm PS 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11 R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope. or: R. Alleluia. Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; I say to the LORD, "My Lord are you." O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope. or: R. Alleluia. I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope. or: R. Alleluia. Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope. or: R. Alleluia. You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 17:21 R. Alleluia, alleluia. May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that the world may believe that you sent me, says the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 17:20-26
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus' prayer that "all may be one" can be misinterpreted. This "oneness" is something much greater and deeper than uniformity, than people professing the same faith and observing the same religious practices. This is a oneness in which love is given and received, a love which embraces difference. Jesus and the Father, while being one, remain distinct from each other. The disciples, while being one with Jesus, retain their own identity and individuality.
▪ Lord, help me to understand that in love there is difference, but not division.
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
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.
Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)
I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory. (John 17:24)
It's a truth of our faith that Jesus is with us wherever we are—right? Absolutely. He promised that he and his Father would never leave us. It's a promise we can build our lives on.
Don't you find it striking, then, to hear Jesus wishing that we would be with him? Wishing isn't exactly promise language; it's the language of desire. It seems that Jesus is leaving it open that, sometimes, we may not be where he is.
Perhaps Jesus is speaking of more than our physical location. He means that our hearts and minds may not be in the same place as his. The things we're doing and saying—especially inwardly—are not the things he is doing and saying. We can all relate to the experience of having found ourselves in a place where Jesus wasn't leading. Maybe we've wandered into unforgiveness. Or we've slipped into rote prayer and inattentiveness at Mass. It's in these times that Jesus asks us to stop, lift our eyes to heaven, and step into the place where he is.
What if you're not exactly sure where Jesus is at any given moment? Well, in today's Gospel, we see one place where he can always be found: in the midst of his people, teaching them and washing their feet.
Two thousand years later, Jesus' strategy has not changed. He's still with his people. He is still caring for us and offering us his grace, his wisdom, and his guidance.
So one of the best ways to find Jesus is to look for opportunities to serve. Look for situations in which you can offer a helping hand. As you give of yourself, try to keep your ears and eyes open. Look for him in the eyes of the people around you. Listen for him in their voices. Try to sense his love and his glory right there in that moment. What is he saying to you? How is he ministering to you? Remember, whenever two or more are gathered in his name, he is there!
"Jesus, I want to be with you where you are. Help me to abide in your presence. Lord, show me your glory in your people!"
Usually upon the invocation of the Holy Spirit, words of prophecy arise. For us today let it be: "Jesus is Alive, and, Jesus is Ready".
It is evident in the life of St. Paul, especially when hearing today "...the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome." Just as you are to bear witness here, you are to bear witness there. Just because you go into a new zip code or new atmosphere, a group of friends, doesn't mean your witness should change. Your living testimony should always be evident and alive.
We prayed today the Holy Psalms " Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope." To have God in your life then is to have hope in your life. "Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence;" Because once your heart is firm in this hope, your heart is glad, thus your soul rejoices, because the body and soul are united on this earth, and Jesus is in everyone's soul...therefore, God. "Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption." Faithful ones, listen! He will not allow the faithful to undergo the corruptions we are facing. Where is your hope now!? In comes the Lord of our lives, thank you Lord! ""I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word..." and once again he is praying for us! Intercessions continue and we follow His example as do saints and angels. He prays for the witnesses because by witnesses we believe in God. Therefore, God is praying for you and for me. He is praying for our hope that lives inside of us to grow and flourish and be glad and our souls then to rejoice. This is evident in what is about to transpire on Sunday with Pentecost and the Holy Spirit 50 days after His Resurrection...Easter. I am anticipating this day with every moment that passes. Every day of the week has been a growing moment. We are going to sing a song among the people that I told the choir leader yesterday "I can't jive with that song, it just isn't clicking" but we tried again, and a young singer Jazmine, a young high school student (that just won a scholarship in music) took the lead and it started clicking and jiving. Her witness made the difference, her attempt, her willingness to go forth. That's all it takes. Not huge witnesses like getting shot in front of everyone, that is a red witness, but she done a white witness, where the soul takes the lead in prayer and perseverance. Learn from this, and learn from the little ones and be submissive to the great ones. And myself, I too was willing to persevere with it, but was lit by the fire of love of God witnessed by others. Your little spark with other charcoals make a flame for the Lord, and the Lord is the fuel, for the air we put into the fire. Breathe it on Sunday, take it all in. If you are in the pews, sing. SING to the Lord. Choir members add a spark, but the congregation must be the air for the fire.
And I'll leave you with a vision I had one day years ago before getting out of bed: Suddenly, I was seeing the face of the Lord, but it was not a human body I was seeing, but the Spirit alive in every cell of His face and hair. It was teaming with lights that moved about in Him. So many lights as if He was a dwelling and the spirits moved about in Him. It was such an impacting vision that I still remember it from many years ago. I say this so you will realize that we are to be one with Him, our spirit with His and HIS is already among us, and within us. THen pentecost asks for fuel, for our breath to be inflamed with the power of His tremendous love. For if there is something I lack, I believe it is love...and God is love. How to be a pure love for the world. How to truly love like He did. So as to not talk about it anymore, but to be that love of God. That then is what we are to anticipate and should be praying for already for Pentecost in our lives. Because Jesus is praying, your brother, your friend, your King, your one with the creator, the Father of all, He is praying already. Let us unite with Him in this fire of love. Where sin is burned out of our souls. Where white witnesses give life to red witnesses...