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.