Skip to comments.The Blessed Season of Easter - Fifty Days of Reflections
Posted on 04/19/2004 8:33:36 PM PDT by Salvation
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Thanks, fatima. Some of them (the first posts for each day) are on the light side. But I really like the reflections on the daily Mass Readings.
The son of Irish immigrant, he was known as a non-drinker, a gentleman and a devout Catholic. Gene Tunney was also the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world.
Born May 25, 1897, in New York City, James Joseph Tunney graduated from LaSalle Academy, a high school run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland.
At 21, Gene enlisted in the Marines where his boxing prowess was soon discovered, and he was nicknamed The Fighting Marine. While serving in Paris at the close of World War I, he became the light-heavyweight champion of the American Expeditionary Forces.
He returned to civilian life and earned a shot at the heavyweight title held by Jack Dempsey. They met in 1926 before a crowd of over 100,000 in Philadelphia. Dempsey was a 4 to 1 favorite, but Tunney beat him.
There was a rematch a year later in Chicago. In the 7th round, Dempsey knocked Tunney to the canvas, but failed to go directly to a neutral corner causing the count to be delayed (the famous long count). Tunney got up at the count of nine and went on to win the fight.
Two years later, he retired undefeated as a heavyweight.
Gene Tunney died on November 7, 1978.
The Last supper Discourse is coming to an end. Jesus is about to leave the supper table and go to Gethsemane. He looks upward and, right there in front of his disciples, he begins to talk to God.
Jesus is just hours away from his own death and whom does he pray for? His disciples. He asks the Father to protect them from the world.
Remember that in Johns Gospel, the world has two different meanings: Creation and human beings in general, and those who have rejected Jesus and who work against him.
Until the Reign of God comes, the world will be a mixture of good and evil. Because we are free human beings, we experience a pull in two directions. Toward God and away from God.
So Jesus prays for his disciples his disciples of all ages.
Imagine Jesus praying for me, pulling for me. Why?
Because he loves me.
On this date in 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte, in addition to being Emperor of France, was crowned King of Italy in Milan. He was 36 years old and at the height of his glory.
In just nine more years, he would find himself in exile on the island of Elba.
However, after less than a year in exile, he was back in Paris, and once again in power. He led an army against the Prussians on Belgian soil, but was defeated at Waterloo on June 18, 1815.
He was sent into exile again, this time to the distant island of St. Helena (about 1,200 miles off the southwest coast of Africa, and more than 5,000 miles from France.)
He died there on May 5, 1821, at the age of 51.
In his final years in exile Napoleon said, There is no immortality but the memory that is left in the minds of men.
Through his love of power and tyrannical rule he did create a memory in peoples minds. But historians know that it is not a historical memory. It is legend far more than fact, a legend that has entered into the worlds imagination. And it was bought at the cost of over three million soldiers who died in the wars that had brought him his glory.
In his final words at the Last Supper, Jesus prays for his disciples. It is a very long personal prayer (26 verses in Johns Gospel.)
Jesus asks God to protect his disciples from the Evil One. This comes as no surprise. In Matthews version of the Our Father, Jesus says: Do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the Evil One.
Earlier in his Last Discourse, Jesus spoke about his own face-off with the Evil One: I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. (14:30)
We believe that the world has a future, and that we are called to help bring the world to its destiny as the Reign of God. Yet, the accomplishment of this great task might take eons. In this time between the first coming of Christ and the coming of Christ at the end of time, the world is a mixture of the good news of the Gospel and the bad news of the Evil One. Which means that, as much as I hate to say it, some of what surrounds me is opposed to the Gospel.
A mistrust of the world is not the whole story. But full acceptance of the world is not the whole story either.
Jesus prays for me, that I will know the difference.
In the next post, Jesus is praying to the Father and, looking ahead to all disciples of future ages. He says: That they also may be one in us.
The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, had a sense of this when he wrote
Life is very simple: We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent to God, and God is shining through it all the time. This is not a fable or a nice story. It is true. God manifests himself everywhere in every thing, in people, in things and in nature and in events. You cannot be without God. Its impossible. Simply impossible.
Now, at the end of his prayer at the Last Supper table, Jesus explicitly prays for us: I pray for those who will believe in me through their word.
Its touching. Jesus sounds like a mother or father on their deathbed, praying that the family will stay together: That they may all be one.
The oneness Jesus prays for isnt merely an external linkage a structural unity. He wants us to be one as the Father and he are one.
This is the kind of unity the peace ceremony at Mass is intended to express. It isnt simply a polite greeting, or forced pretense, or glad-handing with friends. It is the recognition that even though our personal relationship may not be good, or we are at odds on some major issues (political or religious), there is a deep-down bond among us all. We share one faith, one baptism Gods own life within us.
The gesture we use, the words we speak in the peace ceremony should express this. It is the peace of Christ that we exchange. When we consciously realize this, our other differences dont dissolve, but it helps to put them in perspective.
Todays time with the Lord might well be spent talking about the difficulty of being at peach with some people.
In the passage in the next post, Peter calls Jesus, Lord. When most people hear that title today, they think of Jesus Christ.
However, very often the title refers tot God the Father. When reading the Scriptures, the Jewish people never pronounced aloud the sacred word for God Yahweh. Instead, they always substituted the word Lord, and that is the word used in most translations.
Eventually, that title came to be applied also to Jesus. One of the earliest professions of faith is: Jesus is Lord. This puts him on the same level as Yahweh.
At the Visitation Elizabeth says to Mary, And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord [Jesus] should come to me? Elizabeth continues, Blessed are you who believed that what has spoken to you by the Lord [the Father] would be fulfilled. Then Mary says, My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord [the Father].
In the celebration of the Mass, Lord generally refers to God the Father. For example, the entire Eucharistic prayer is addressed to God the Father, and every single use of the word Lord in that prayer refers to the Father.
[The readings for the last two weekdays of the Easter Season jump to the last chapter of Johns Gospel.]
Seven of the disciples had spent the night fishing and caught nothing. On their return, as their boat neared the shore, Jesus was standing there except they didnt know who it was. He told them to drop their nets one more time. They did, and caught a great haul of fish. At that moment they realized that the man on shore was the Risen Jesus.
When they came ashore, Jesus had breakfast ready for them. After breakfast, Jesus takes Peter aside and asks, Do you love me more than these? (Jesus isnt asking if Peter loves him more than the other disciples love him. Hes asking if Peter loves him more than these that is, more than his love for his boat and his nets and his friends.)
Jesus will ask this three times. He wants to help Peter undo his three denials. But Jesus knew that Peter was sorry, and that Peter loved him. So why go through this?
Christianity isnt a religion simply of thoughts and abstractions. It involves a genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To speak our thoughts and feelings engages more of our whole self. So we tell the Lord what our needs are, even though he knows what they are. We tell the Lord how we feel, even though he knows how we feel.
If I ever had any questions about whether prayer is really needed, this passage should help put those questions to rest.
Mount Everest, located on the Nepal-Tibet border is the highest mountain on earth, reaching a height of 29,028 feet (just under six miles). Attempts to climb its peak began in 1920, but all failed.
Fifty-one years ago today, a New Zeeland beekeeper named Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the peak of Mount Everest and became the first human being to stand on the top of the world.
In the Gospels Jesus is frequently described as going up a mountain, usually to pray. However, the term mountain is a relative one.
The Britannica World Language Dictionary defines a mountain as a natural elevation of the earths surface, rising more or less abruptly, reaching an elevation greater than that of a hill.
As for a hill, that same dictionary says: A conspicuous natural elevation rising above the earths surface and smaller than a mountain.
After Peter had three times affirmed his love of Jesus, the Lord tells him that like the good shepherd, Peter will lay down his life for the sheep.
Jesus and Peter were apparently walking together during this conversation. Peter notices the Beloved Disciple approaching to join them and, naturally enough, Peter asks Jesus, What about him will he too give his life for the sheep?
Jesus dismissed the question and says, What concern is it of yours? You follow me.
Those are the last words Jesus speaks in Johns Gospel: Follow me.
At the beginning of Marks Gospel, these were the very first words Jesus spoke to Peter: Follow me. Now, in Johns Gospel, they are the very last words Jesus speaks to Peter: Follow me.
They are spoken to me, too.
Like Peter, we all have a lot of thoughts, a lot of questions. Jesus says, Just follow me.
What is my answer to that invitation?
How does one describe the Holy Spirit?
The Third Person of the Trinity is pure spirit and did not take flesh to become one of us. So, one has to use images.
In talking about the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, all four Gospels use the image of a dove descending from the heavens and coming upon Jesus.
Luke, in the passage in the next post, compares the Spirit to wind and fire.
In Johns Gospel, Jesus himself uses the image of an advocate (in Greek, paraclete) which means someone called to be permanently at our side, on our side, like an attorney.
Paul uses the image of a pledge: or earnest in the sense of money paid in advance with the assurance of more to come. He sees the Spirit as the beginning now of a share in the fullness of life which comes after death.
Luke says that they were all in one place together.
Who are they?
A few verses earlier, the community had selected a successor to Judas, and Luke says that there were about 120 persons there. So, they refers back to this group.
This took place only weeks after the Resurrection. This community in Jerusalem was the entire Church.
As best we can figure out, none of these people had been baptized. In effect, the Pentecost event would have been their baptism. This can help us realize more fully what happens at baptism.
Baptism is more than a couple drops of water washing away original sin. Baptism is becoming immersed in the Spirit not just in that moment, but for the rest of my life.
The same Spirit that Luke describes in the passage above that same Spirit is with me now.
The daily schedule of our society has certain normal expectations built in lunch hour, happy hour. Exercise time, commuter time, bed time, and a few others. But it doesnt have prayer-time built in.
Which means that if Im going to practice the Catholic tradition of daily prayer, Im going to have to be counter-cultural a bit out of step.
Which means it wont just happen naturally: I have to make a decision, do something unusual. And then develop it into a habit. (Thats what a virtue is a good habit.)
These daily reflections have been a reminder to pray, and they have provided material for each day. Youve also experienced a particular kind of prayer reading a Scripture passage and reflecting on it.
Keep going. Find the form of prayer that fits you. Find the prayer-time, and prayer-place that fits you. Use your Bible!
Prayer is a luxury, a gift given to Gods daughters and sons.
Do it. You deserve it.
To your epilogue, I would add the following comments from Fr. Altier, in his May 2 homily.
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us that His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. Now when we stop to think about hearing the Lords voice, it is difficult for most of us because there are so many other voices vying for our ear; what is even worse, there are so many other voices that are trying to be our shepherd. If you just think about the typical day of the average American, many people wake up to the radio, they have the radio on in the bathroom, they have the TV on near the breakfast table, they have the radio on in their car, the radio is on at work, the radio is on again in the car on the way home, the TV is on when they get home, and many people go to sleep with the TV on. Not one minute of silence in the entire day. And the voices that are speaking to so many people are voices that are telling them to do things that are wrong, leading them astray, leading them either more deeply into themselves or more deeply into the profligate way of life that America has now become famous for. What is happening to so many people is they are being led astray, so we need to look seriously at this question of hearing the Lords voice.
We have to make sure that we are following the right shepherd. We have a Good Shepherd, and none of us is going to be able to stand before the Lord and say, But Father said it was okay. The bishop didnt do anything about it, so it must have been okay. The Lord will look at you and say, Ill deal with that priest or that bishop when they get here. You, on the other hand, knew better, and Im going to hold you responsible for what you knew. We know the truth. It is written in our hearts and on our minds; we are without excuse. It would be easy to look around and say, But look at all the other Catholics who arent doing what theyre supposed to do! God will deal with them, but each one of us will have to stand individually before the Lord, Who is our Shepherd, for judgment. He will look at each one of us and say, You knew. You knew Me. You knew what truth I preached. The question is Did we choose to listen to His voice and follow Him? Or did we choose to listen to someone elses voice and follow them because it was easier, more convenient, more politically correct, more fun, whatever it might be?
**We have to make sure that we are following the right shepherd.**
** Did we choose to listen to His voice and follow Him?**
And do we take the time in our prayer to really listen?
BTTT on Monday in the Octave of Easter.