Sunday, 5 May 2013

God's light Springs in Hope! Readings for the 6th Sunday of Easter

 A Longer be expected with Sunday readings!

St. Hilary of Arles

Feast Day:May 5
Born:400 at Lorraine

This saint was nobly born about the year 401,
probably in Lorraine. He was brought up in a
manner suitable to his birth, in the study of the l
liberal arts, and of every branch of polite learning.
But how little value we ought to set on all things that
appear great in the eyes of the world, he himself has
taught us. "We are all equal,in Jesus Christ; and the
highest degree of our nobility is to be of the number
of the true servants of God. 

A noble idea that he took a little too far as he spoke
 of our need for contempt for Science and status.
 ( his contempt of status is not an issue obviously!!) 

He was a relative of  St Honoratus, a saint 
who founded a monastery and was instrumental 
In St Hilary's journey. Once he experienced his 
conversion, he aspired  to perfection, by selling  
all his several estates to his brother, and distributed 
all the money accruing from the sale among the poor, 
and the most indigent monasteries. 
HE is most renowned for his zeal in how he lived his simplicity.  
His exposition of the creed, commended by the ancients, 
is now lost: his homilies on all the feasts of the year were 
much esteemed, but are not known at present.

Spring is in the air in the urban jungle that is Toronto.
 I'm not fully certain what that means yet, what in entails
\-besides the obvious 'the trees are blooming, gardens are
being worked upon, the restaurants are opening up their
patios, and people are coming out of hibernation!'-. But for
 me, it seems to be an experience of colors. Not only are
 people -especially women it seems!- wearing more lively,
 bright colors, but even as I look up...the hues of pink, red,
 and blue fill the sky and inspire the presence of God
within me.

 Perhaps those colors aren't seasonal, and they can
 be found all year round, but I notice them more
around this time of the year, and they therefore
carry more meaning for me around Spring, especially
as we continue our meditations on the resurrection!
 Even the Mass this evening seemed to be
 bursting with colors and hope.
Everything is coming alive around me.

I remember when I was in high school and college, this 'Rite of Spring' -without the sacrifices that this title entails in the repertoire of Russian music!- was an invitation for me to fall in love with a pretty girl, read lots of romantic poetry, and be infused with  joy brought upon by Mother Nature's renewal.  Now, as a Jesuit, I'm not immune to the life that this stage of our earth's journey around the sun brings to us, but rather than seeing it as an invitation to dwell on romantic fantasies,I see it as as opportunity to reflect on two things: The light of God, and the hope that Jesus offers us.

  All week long, as we've followed the early Christians through the book of Acts...we're unfortunately stuck with this  Acts/Luke dichotomy for a while, so we better get cozy with this pattern.(I say unfortunately, only because I like a little diversity in my readings of scripture in our Calendar, not because I have anything against either books!). We've seen their struggles, and have marveled at their courage. And we continue to do so, but we must always remember where that courage comes from. All these men and women that laid down their lives so that others could hear about the faith, did so only for one reason...the got a glimpse, or knew someone who got a glimpse of the light of God, shining radiantly upon earth for a short 33 years in the presence of Jesus. That light is a big theme in scripture. The writer of the Psalms often  speaks of people who beg that God will 'show us the light of your (his) face' - Psalm 4:7; 80:4 etc..-. People have yearned for that proximity to God since Moses encountered God in a burning bush - Exodus 3:2- because they've always understood how much that light can give us. we even see it in today's Psalm, which suggests that the expression 'the light of God' could be similar to his blessing. However, I also see it as that moment of clarity...when we understand God's will.

 Imagine for one second, those early Christians, who as we have seen this week, faced constant persecution and conflict in their communities, and whose daily life was threatened by the zeal of their enemies. Then, amidst all the troubles, they receive clarity: This new faith will not be for Jews alone, but for Gentiles as well.
 All..Hell...breaks...loose. Missionaries are sent by other groups to try to de-educate early communities of the truths they've come to terms with to encourage them to remain close to their roots. But Christians remain firm...understanding God's will was that this message  needed to echo throughout the earth, and giving this community hope that the Jerusalem spoken about in Revelations was not just a dream or a fantasy, but a reality they needed to subscribe to!

One thing that strikes me about that vision is that it strongly unites the 2 different traditions, as the imagery for the 12 tribes, and the Apostles is very closely connected. So we move away from the tension discussed in Acts, and focus on the unity in God's kingdom of all His children, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile.

 But to be sure, the main message communicated throughout the book of Acts is not unity, but the truth of Christ, rejected by one people, which will now be received by every other people -and not just a select chose few-. In other words,  the early Christians were struggling with their reaction to that rejection, since many of them were still Jewish and were not ready to turn their backs on their own heritage. But it eventually became clear to them that even more important their own personal heritage, was bringing the Light of  God to the world. And if this meant sacrificing their own understanding of how that light was to be perceived, if it was God's will to extend that light to the entire world, who were they to get in the way!?

By the time we get to the Gospel passage -which should sound familiar you've been following with the other readings from last week. 3 verses from those readings are repeated in today's readings!- one more thing becomes clear: The early Christians were given a lot of courage to bring that light into the world, but they did not do this alone. Jesus speaks of the great Advocate, the Paraclete, or the Holy Spirit, that would come among them to serve as their guide as they set out. This spirit is not just some sensation of goodness coming in's this assistance that Jesus promises them for their mission. It's this assurance that wherever they end up being, God will be acting through them in the presence of that Spirit. But what we see in this scripture passage, would probably not be understood until Pentecost, when filled with that Light that is the spirit, they would  be given the strength to bring the hope of God into the world.
In the end, this is what makes Christians so unique in the history of religions. It wasn't enough for the early Christians to receive enlightenment...they were asked to share their spiritual enrichment with the world, so that the whole world would be given that opportunity to taste and see God's hope, coming alive in them and around them.

Acts 15: 1 - 2, 22 - 29

1But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."2And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.22Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsab'bas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,23with the following letter: "The brethren, both the apostles and the elders, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cili'cia, greeting.24Since we have heard that some persons from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions,25it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,26men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.27We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.28For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:29that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell."

Psalms 67: 1-8

Psalms 67

1May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, [Selah]2that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations.3Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah]5Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!6The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.7God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Revelation 21: 10 - 14, 22 - 23

10And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
11having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
12It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed;
13on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.
14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
22And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb
John 14: 23 - 29

23Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
24He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
25"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you.
26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
28You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.


  1. a wonderful idea to introduce lesser known saints.

    from a fellow Canadian near Brockville

  2. Thanks Melanie!
    it's even nicer when I get to incorporate the Saints into the readings...doesn't always happen!
    I've been following your blog too! I'm so inspired by the wisdom that comes out of your experience,but I'm also incredibly touched by your experience of God working in your kids. I hope they've all grown up to learn to see God in all things. Not an easy thing to raise a Catholic family these days! God bless you for even trying!