Tuesday, 30 April 2013

April 30th: A peace that's out of this World!

 Our holy Guy of the Day, A Pope! A special man, who would even put Pope Francis to shame with his deep sense of service to the poor!:

St. Pius V

Born  near Alexandria, Lombardy, in a poor though noble family his lot would have been to follow a trade, but he received a good education from the Domincans, and entered the order. Was ordained in 1528. He himself was an example to all. He fasted, did penance, passed long hours of the night in meditation and prayer, traveled on foot without a cloak in deep silence, or only speaking to his companions of the things of God. His zeal against heresy caused him to be selected as inquisitor of the faith in Milan and Lombardy. He became cardinal in  1557. Not unlike Catherine of Siena, he seemed to have been a politically savvy individual.  He defeated the project of Maximilian II, Emperor of Germany, to abolish ecclesiastical celibacy. On the death of Pope Pius IV, he was, despite his tears and entreaties, elected pope, to the great joy of the whole Church.

He began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor, instead of distributing his bounty at haphazard like his predecessors. As pontiff he practiced the virtues he had displayed as a monk and a bishop. His piety was not diminished, and, in spite of the heavy labors and anxieties of his office, he made at least two meditations a day on bended knees in presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In his charity he visited the hospitals, and sat by the bedside of the sick, consoling them and preparing them to die. He washed the feet of the poor, and embraced the lepers. He was very austere and banished luxury from his court, raised the standard of morality, labored with his intimate friend, St. Charles Borromeo, to reform the clergy, obliged his bishops to reside in their dioceses, and the cardinals to lead lives of simplicity and piety. There is much more that he accomplished in the world, as he was involved with many political battles against Protestants, and supported many military campaigns against the Turks. He died in January 1572.  He was beatified 100 years later by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.
Source: EWTN

 It's always a little challenging for me to read about popes like him who were involved with the inquisitions and with the political world of his time, excommunicating Queens and princes, throwing his political clout around.It's difficult to look upon such a Pope with admiration.  And yet, it's amazing how close he remained to his Dominican formation, how he remained a deeply simple and humble man. I thought Pope Francis was doing a lot, but it's peanuts compared to Pope Pius V who was rooted in humility, simplicity and poverty, perhaps even more so than Bergolio -Pope Francis- had been. What touches me about Pious's papacy is that, no matter how much work he had to do with reforming the Church and supporting military campaigns against the Invading Turks and dealing with the Protestant reformation, he still committed so much of his time to his meditations, and to remaining close to the poor.He's a role model to many of us who struggle with that balance. As for his involvement with the inquisition and in political matters, let History judge his actions. My work is to derive spiritual inspiration from the Saints, not to criticize their actions from a historical point of view. I leave that task to historians and other scholars to focus on that aspect of his legacy! I will always try to recognize the more problematic aspects of a Saint's life, but wont' make that the focus of my blog! 

Onto our readings:
  Picking up where we left off, which was a rather crazy scene in which the Apostles went from being persecuted, to being treated as Greek Gods. You'd think that was a good thing...but the Apostles clearly were horrified by this. And today...we're back to the persecution. Tough life these guys led, let me tell ya!
 Most Striking of all in the account is how, one moment, Paul is on the verge of death, and in the other, he's preaching to more people and infusing the people with God's deep love for them.Some scholars speak of a miraculous healing that allow Paul to continue his work...overall, we can only be amazed at his perseverance.  In a recent breaking open of the word/homily, I described Paul as the 'Chuck Norris of the Bible'! He never seems to be afraid to face death or the hate and judgement of others in order to bring Christ's message to every corner of the earth...
 This passage does reflect how much these early Christians travelled. Here's a visual to give you an idea exactly where they traveled to:

Map of Missionary Journeys of St. Paul.

source: http://biblescripture.net/Acts.html

They were men of the world, that went against the logic of their world in order to communicate the new radical love that God wanted them to have. This is why they faced persecution, and all of the disciples of Jesus in those days would face a bloody death at some point. But they believed so strongly in the message of Christ, that they could have no other alternative than to lead this life in order to follow him.

 What people who are in religious life  wrestle with is how to be in this world, while not being in it. We saw how Pope Pius V was able to balance being involved with politics and military  campaigns and his deep spiritual life. That balance is crucial, but can only happen when we understand that our priorities are not the same as those of the world. Many in our world today value security, comfort and wealth over the values of scripture. Those in religious life can't abide by these worldly values. Instead, as we see in today's gospel, we have a call to receive a peace that is not of this world. This peace that Jesus offers us, as Pope Francis mentioned in his homily this morning, does not save us from all the suffering and tribulations of the world, but it makes us stronger through them. It allows us to keep our mind focused on heavenly things, not just the problems we see aroud us . We do live in this world, and must keep our attention on it and must never do that mistake that many Christians do of hating it, or rejecting everything it has to offer.At the same time, we can not let our entire lives be shaped by it. Jesus offers us so much love, and so much hope which can give us courage and strength that will allow us to live as authentically as we can.  By accepting his peace, by allowing it to live in us, we are not rejecting the world, but simply, chose to live in the  love of God, and the peace of Christ, as opposed to the hate and turmoil that we see around us.

Acts 14: 19 - 28

19 But Jews came there from Antioch and Ico'nium; and having persuaded the people,
 they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city; and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Ico'nium and to Antioch,
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.
24Then they passed through Pisid'ia, and came to Pamphyl'ia.
25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attali'a;
26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.
27 And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
28 And they remained no little time with the disciples. 

Psalms 145: 10 - 13, 21

10All thy works shall give thanks to thee, O LORD, and all thy saints shall bless thee!
11They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and tell of thy power,
12to make known to the sons of men thy mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of thy kingdom.
13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
21My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and eve

John 14: 27 - 31
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.
30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;
31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Power of Love: Readings for April 29th

 Our Holy Lady of the Day:

St. Catherine of Siena - Doctor of the ChurchSt. Catherine of Siena
25 March 1347 in Siena – 
29 April 1380 in Rome
Doctor of the Church
Patron Saint of: Fire prevention
and of Italy

Born during the black plague, she was the 21st of 25 children. Her first mystical experiences occurred from the age of 6, where she could see Guardian angels as clearly as she could see the ones they protected. She became a Dominican Tertiary at 16,  and continued to have visions of Jesus, Mary and the Saints. She became a Doctor of the Church partly because, although not formally educated, she wrote many treatises an letters entitled "a dialogue"  which are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Church. Her early pious activities in Siena attracted a group of followers, both women and men, with whom she began traveling throughout northern and central Italy advocating reform of the clergy and the launch of a new crusade and advising people that repentance and renewal could be done through "the total love for God."[9]She was also vocal in  requesting that the papacy come  back to Rome from its displacement in France. During the period of the  Western Schism of 1378 she was an adherent of Pope Urban VI, who summoned her to Rome, at his  court and tried to convince nobles and cardinals of his legitimacy. She died when she was only 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430.
  She remains a greatly respected figure for her spiritual writings, and political boldness to "speak truth to power"— it being exceptional for a woman, in her time period, to have had such influence in politics and on world history.


  The biggest link between St Catherine and the readings of the day lies in the intense connection she had with Jesus. She is one of the first, if not the first to openly speak of being the Bride of Christ.  What made her so unique is that she did not bring Christ's wisdom to the world on her own terms...she learned -or was revealed through her visions- what it was to be a Bride of Christ, and reached out to others who also yearned to play this role.  She adapted her experience of Jesus to her world and was able to communicate the Gospel that much more effectively because of this.

St Paul tries to preach...craziness ensues!!

 The inability to do this  is precisely the struggle the disciples face today. As we see in the book of Acts, up to this point, they were doing rather well. Yes, they received much persecution from Jews and Gentiles, but when that happens, they simply move on to another city and still manage to touch  hearts and minds. But in today's readings...a twist.  The people react so strongly to the miracles they perform that they begin to see them as Greek Gods...much to the horror of Paul and Barnabas.  Suddenly, all the pretty words they've used and that have worked every where else they've gone can't seem to do much for this people. In short, this particular episode of evangelization is a complete failure! It's hard to truly understand why, but one suggestion is that their mission became one of conversion, instead of one of love.  Paul would eventually learn how central love needs to be to his ministry, but he had to go through his errors first.
 This discipleship business is complicated.  We see even Jesus'  own disciple -Judah, not Iscariot, is mentioned in our Gospel passage of today!- ask the question that many have probably asked:  if Jesus' message of love was so important to the entire world, then why was it manifested to only a few people?  I can imagine Jesus musing over this question for a short while, and then looking up to his followers who were already with the Spirit even before Pentecost came upon them, realized that the answer was simply that the rest of the world was not ready. These men and women - the disciples and the women who followed him- were ready, and proved it by offering their entire lives to following and learning from him. But they would have much learning to do. Even though they were able to respond to the Holy Spirit's invitation to follow Jesus, the Spirit was not within them yet. When that would happen, they would be really ready to bring this message to the ends of the earth. But it was not Jesus' mission to do this. His mission was to lay the foundations of love, and allow the love story between God and His people to enter it's new chapter, a new, revolutionary, life altering chapter. This is Why Jesus often tells his disciples " If you love me, and if you hear god's will for you, you will do great things, far greater than the ones you see me do". This does not mean that we are called to great things, but that we are called bring God's greatness to the world in all its brightness. As the Psalm says today " Not to us O Lord, but to thy name give glory".

Acts 14: 5 - 18

5When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to molest them and to stone them,
6they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycao'nia, and to the surrounding country;
7and there they preached the gospel.
8Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet; he was a cripple from birth, who had never walked.
9He listened to Paul speaking; and Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,
10said in a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he sprang up and walked.
11And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycao'nian, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"
12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief speaker, they called Hermes.
13And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people.
14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying,
15"Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
16In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways;
17yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
18With these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

Psalms 115:
 1 - 4, 15 - 16

1Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to thy name give glory, for the sake of thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness!
2Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"
3Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.
4Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
15May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
16The heavens are the LORD's heavens, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.
John 14: 21 - 26

21He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"
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.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Can Judgement triumph over love? Readings for Sunday April 28th

Our Saintly Guy of the day:
  Patron of Oceania.
St Peter Chanel
1803 - 1841

Entered a Diocesan priest in France, was able to revive a rundown community, but eventually had his mind on missionary work,so, in 1831, he joined the newly formed  Society of Mary (Marists)  which concentrated on missionary work at home and abroad. After a few years of teaching in France, he was sent to the  New Hebrides  (Vanuatu) islands  in the Pacific as Superior of an evangelizing community. 

 He brought the faith to the natives of the Island, and was fairly well received, but with time his success brought jealousy of the local King, who on  April 28, 1841, had his men was seize and club Peter to death . His death  inspired people on the Island, as the entire Island  converted 5 months after his martyrdom.

 I know there are some people who see  missionaries as people who tried to destroy other cultures in order to force Christianity upon a  local people. And we know there were such missionaries who saw evangelization as a kind of 'culture war' where other spiritual practices had to be eradicated in order to advance Christianity -we've seen examples of that in our own history, in the way some  European missionaries treated  the Native  people in Canada-. However, it's good to  remember that for many missionaries, this venture into a new place, a new culture, was a loving opportunity to bring the Good news of the Gospel to all people. Nothing more. And so they learned the culture and the language of the people in order to communicate this message to all who would receive it(which is what many  Jesuits did with the natives in Canada.)  Rather than a rejection of the local culture, it's an effort to bring Christ into that culture.  I myself have struggled with this kind of missionary work in the past, but the deeper I fall in love with God, the more I understand why those who truly loved Christ wanted the whole world to know about His wondrous loving presence among us.

 And yet, all too often, the Love Jesus communicated to us is lost, in a kind of  tension between the good religion can achieve in people, and the bad that people do in the name of  that religion.  The tension is a real one, but it's more complicated than we think. All too often the problem is not only that people use religion for evil, but that they are quick to make their own, simplified conclusions of what  sacred scripture is really saying. Even worse, sometimes, people simply concentrate on one theme, and ignore the richness of the whole text that accompanies that theme.

 Take today's 2nd reading from the book of Revelation. It's a relatively profound text that speaks of the New creation that is being formed by Christ's love and his sacrifice for us. It's also a text that is painfully easy to misinterpret.  I saw an example of that this morning during  Mass at a local parish, as I noticed the reaction of our choir director to one particular verse:
 " And I saw  a holy city...coming down from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband". 
Taken in isolation, cut off from the rest of the text, this could be seen as an offensive text to women. Some may see this as a passage that suggests that the only role women have is to look pretty, or 'be adorned'  for their husbands. This certainly seemed to be the interpretation the choir director was going with, as he put down his missalette -mass book-  in disgust. He, like some more liberal Catholics out there, do seem to go to the negative interpretation of texts rather naturally, in their desire to blame the Church for not being 'modern' enough.  In developing this point of view, they work from the assumption that  most Catholics are much better at judging  one another, than following Christ's  command to love one another.  They are not alone in making this assumption.  It seems that many people in this world have simplified the experience of faith to that of judgement. And honestly, I don't blame them. There are many people of faith for whom judging those who fail to do good is more important than loving them.

 And yet, if this behavior was representative of the entire faith, we would not have stories like that of today's martyred Saint, St Peter Chanel, who was so eager to give his entire life to the Gospel of love. Here was a man who thrived on God's love everywhere he went. Even when missioned in a quiet parish in Europe, he received the challenge to bring God's love and light into every corner of that quiet world to renew the lives of the faithful and ensure their lives were rooted in Faith, Hope and Love, even though he dreamed of doing missionary work abroad! When he finally got his wish to evangelize abroad, like Jesus, he gave his life so that others would know what it was to be renewed by this  divine love.

  And it's that renewal that we should seek the most. We can read something from Revelation and dream of the far off distant kingdom of God where there will be no more tears, no more violence or hate, but only God's warmth and tenderness around us all the time, or we can live out Jesus' radical commandment to love all people as we have been loved, no matter what the cost, no matter what the response -i.e. even if people return our love with hate!-. A difficult lesson to learn, but a necessary one for anyone who dreams of a better world! I understand that even I will fall short of living this commandment perfectly, but I also know that being renewed means that I should expect to struggle and stumble with this commandment, but that I must come back to it the next day/moment to try to live it out more perfectly. Day by day, moment by moment...en haut...en avant!


Acts 14:
 21 - 27

21When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Ico'nium and to Antioch,
22strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
23And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.
24Then they passed through Pisid'ia, and came to Pamphyl'ia.
25And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attali'a;
26and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled.
27And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.

Psalms 145:
 8 - 13

8The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
10All thy works shall give thanks to thee, O LORD, and all thy saints shall bless thee!
11They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and tell of thy power,
12to make known to the sons of men thy mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of thy kingdom.
13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.

Revelation 21:
 1 - 5

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
3and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;
4he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
5And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."

John 13:
 31 - 33, 34 - 35

31When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified;32if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.33Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.'34A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Saturday, 27 April 2013

He's inspired me not just a little!
  A while back, I started on a project. It was intended for my brother, a guy who is seeking for different kind of  answers to some of life’s questions, but remains unable to connect to God. Despite this, he will occasionally express a desire for some kind of faith in something ‘bigger than him’ to help him receive the greater joy and hope he sees in myself and other people of faith. In response to this, I began to write for him short reflections on the readings and the Saints of the day in the Calendar of the Catholic Church (this means I end up discussing both major saints celebrated in the Calendar, and those forgotten by the calendar). Some people –both Catholic and non Catholic- have mentioned it would be a good idea to include this on a blog. So this is my effort to do so. I was a little reluctant to turn this into a blog, mainly because I still don't know how to design a very aesthetic blog and it may not look pretty as I struggle with font colors, pasting and various other Bloggy things. Nonetheless, I'll assume that content is more important than design here, and will proceed to put these reflections on my blog!

 A few words about these reflections:
1) They're partly written for my brother and any people out there who are a little unfamiliar with Catholic belief and culture. This means I sometimes take the time to discuss very basic catholic ideas/themes that should be known by most Catholics. However, I try to mix the basic stuff with reflections on big theological and christological themes, so any interested Catholic may also derive some enjoyment from reading this as well!
2) My main source for any entry on the Saints is the website  Catholic.org, which uses Wikipedia for its information. What it does that Wiki does not is list the Saints for every single day. This is why I intend to continue integrating this website in my reflection whenever possible. I'm not a big fan of Catholic.org as a website, as one often finds a lot of empty anti liberal propaganda on it, but despite the rhetoric, it still serves as a good Catholic resource
3) One final influence on my blog, is Pope Francis. I already read him regularly, and intend to include his insight on a certain passage or saint whenever possible!

4) I'd like to write an entry a day..but that's not going to happen. Even I know that! So, I'll commit to writing an entry whenever time allows. It may be every 2nd day, or it may be everyday, if I can learn to perfect my blogging efficiency and keep my work on these blogs under 45 minutes -which I most definitely did not do for this one! Hopefully, I'll get better with time!-
5)   A brief disclaimer before we begin: Yes I'm will be writing these words from the perspective of my Jesuit formation as often as I can, but also from that of my own personality. Therefore the words I will be uttering here will not reflect the opinions of the the entire Society of Jesus in Canada, but are merely the opinions of this one Brother within the society. 

Thank you for your patience... 
and now
quoting a well known Jesuit Scientist Priest of the 20th century,  Thearde de Chardin, and his famous words when describing the Cross:

 Upwards, Forward ( En Haut, en Avant). 
The Cross points upward, so we can move forward!

Daily Readings and Saint for Saturday, April 27, 2013

Our Saintly guy:

 He's actually not celebrated in the official Catholic calendar until December, but he is celebrated in the Jesuit one, so I figured I'd start this series of reflections with him:

Saint Petrus Canisius.jpg
St Peter Canisius 1521-1591

 He's most remembered for being a great debator, and is notorious for arguing/debating with Protestants during the reformation especially in Germany,Austria, Switzerland and other places.The restoration of the Catholic Churchin Germany after the Protestant Reformation is largely attributed to the work there of the Society of Jesus, which he led. He is  venerated as a Doctor of the Church. (of course, he's not The Doctor of the Church, but that's another story for another time!). 
 It was through Peter Faber that he met the Society of Jesus and by 1543, became the first Dutchman to enter the society -only 3 years after the creation of the Society of Jesus-.His preaching was said to have been so convincing that it attracted hundreds of Protestants back to the old faith. By the time he left Germany, the Society of Jesus in Germany had evolved from a small band of priests into a powerful tool of the Counter Reformation, the Catholic response to the Reformation.
Through his preaching and writings, Peter Canisius became one of the most influential Catholics of his time. 
 In his fight with German Protestantism, he requested much more flexibility from Rome, arguing:
"If you treat them right, the Germans will give you everything. Many err in matters of faith, but without arrogance. They err the German way, mostly honest...very open for everything Lutheran. An honest explanation of the faith would be much more effective than a polemical attack against reformers."

You've heard from Wiki, now I'll have my say: The quote you just read is an important one for our time. There is a bit of arrogance on the part of Canisius -in the original quote, he calls Germans simple minded-, but there is also a EVER SO IMPORTANT theme for us today: the futility of polemical rhetoric. This lesson is for anyone out there who thinks they can convince people that they're right, by insulting them, swearing at them, or demeaning them. And there are Catholics who do this as well...we are not immune from this heinous, unchristian behavior. I don't deny we need to defend the faith against anyone who  limits our rich heritage of 2000 years to their criticism of the Church because of  The Crusades, the Sex scandals, and the Church's unpopular position on social issues like gay marriage ,contraception and women's ordination. But maybe the point is that, we can communicate our faith better, not by being arguing against others who don't believe, but by talking, dialoguing  with them.By honestly explaining what we believe, not by getting offended and defensive (and hostile) every time a person attacks our Church. It turns out, although he was famous for his debates, Canisius was not a big fan of these. He felt that  the Church could achieve more by simple communication, not argumentation.  There's wisdom in that. Now all I have to do is figure out how to live it for myself and how to teach it to others!


 If you've been following the readings from Acts at all this week, you'll see that the 'dialogue' in those days wasn't necessarily the priority. For the Apostles who had just witnessed the true pascal mystery of Christ's death for our sins, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven, the time for pleasantries was long gone. It was time to challenge the world, to get people to understand that this guy wasn't any other mad  prophet. He was for real. 

 But many people were somewhat angered by this proclamation. -the authors keep emphasizing that those who were furious at the early Christians were Jewish, but this is irrelevant to me. It's not their Jewishness that prevented them from hearing the message of Jesus, but their humanity. If Christ came back today, I believe that many people, regardless of their cultural identity, would struggle with his message, including Christians!!- What we should remember from today's first reading from the book of Acts, is the resilience of the Apostles to preach the Gospel despite the danger this exposed them to. However, what's most important today is the shift: This message that was once intended mostly for the children of Israel, is now being heard, and received by Gentiles with great joy! It's a reminder of what it was that fueled these apostles. They must have been broken hearted that their  Jewish brethren refused to recognize the wonderfully complex nature of Jesus Christ, and yet, filled with hope at how the spirit moved in many other people all over the world. Suddenly, these old songs captured 100s of years earlier by their ancestor David and written down in the Psalms must have made so much more sense to them " Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!"

 However, in Jesus' lifetime, that song of praise sung around the world was not to be, because Jesus' message, as I mentioned earlier, was difficult. Last week, we heard of how some of his disciples began to leave his side when his teachings got too complicated. And today, his followers are confronted with this notion of the duality of Christ's nature. Both man and God. This means, anything he says comes from the Father. There can be no more doubts about this. And yet, there were doubts...Phillip is the one brave enough to voice his confusion, but you can be sure that most of the apostles are scratching their head saying 'so he's here, but he is connected to God at the same time???HOW!! THAT WOULD MEAN HE'S BOTH HUMAN...AND DIVINE...HOW!!?" 
Good question. 
It took us close to 300 years to wrap our minds around it, and many of us still struggle with the how. But Jesus almost seems to be saying 'forget about the how. Just believe, and you'll see what you can achieve when you do.' This may be a lot to ask in our age of reason and rationality, but like the disciples, I have nowhere else to turn but him at the end of the day...so I'll take my chances, take that leap of faith in him, as joy, hope and love continue to unfold within me.

 Acts 13:44-52

44The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear the word of God.
45But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted what was spoken by Paul, and reviled him.
46And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.
47For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, `I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.'"
48And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
49And the word of the Lord spread throughout all the region.
50But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.
51But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and went to Ico'nium.
52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

1O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
2The LORD has made known his victory, he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Gospel, John 14:7-14
7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him."
8Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied."
9Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'?
10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.
12"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.
13Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;
14if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.