Easter 7th Week: May 17-22:

 Easter 7th Week: May 17-22:

May 17 Monday: John 16: 29-33

Context: Jesus is speaking to his apostles after the Last Supper. 

Scripture lessons: In this Last Supper discourse, Jesus explains his Divine origin and his relationship to God his Father in clear terms without using any metaphors.

The apostles acknowledge that they understand the Divinity of Jesus. But Jesus prophesies that they will soon desert him and seek their own safety, while he will be arrested, brought to trial and crucified. Our Faith is tested every day when we live in a world filled with agnostics, atheists, and pleasure-seekers who see true believers as superstitious people and hate them. That is why Jesus gave his apostles and all his future disciples the assurance of the anointing of the Holy Spirit Who would strengthen them and guide them.  The Second Vatican Council teaches in connection with this passage: “The Lord Jesus who said `Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33), did not by these words promise complete victory to his Church in this world.  This sacred Council rejoices that the earth which has been sown with the seed of the Gospel is now bringing forth fruit in many places under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, who is filling the world” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 22).

Life messages: 1) Our Faith is firmly rooted in the Divinity of Jesus demonstrated by his Messianic miracles, most of which were foretold by the prophets. The Resurrection of Jesus is the Miracle of miracles proving Jesus’ Divinity beyond doubt. 2) We need to get our daily infusion of spiritual strength by recognizing the presence of God – the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit — living within us wherever we are and by communicating with our indwelling God in prayer. Fr. Tony ( L/21

May 18 Tuesday (St. John I, Pope, Martyr) : Jn 17:1-11a 

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is taken from the “High Priestly Prayer” Jesus offered to the Father for himself, the apostles and all future believers. He offers this prayer at the end of his long Last Supper discourse. It is called the High Priestly Prayer because it is as the High Priest of the New Covenant that Jesus offers to God, his Father, the imminent sacrifice of his passion and death, his apostles and their mission and all future believers.

Glory in crucifixion: In the first part of the prayer, Jesus asks for the glorification of his human nature and the acceptance of his sacrifice on the cross by his Father.  Jesus considered his crucifixion as his glorification — just as the martyrs would later do.  The cross was the glory of Jesus because it was the completion of his double work of saving mankind and of demonstrating to us how much God loves us. Further, it was his death on the cross that led to his Resurrection in glory.   Jesus glorified God 1) by accepting death on the cross in perfect obedience to God, to complete His eternal plan of salvation; 2) by revealing God to men as a loving, forgiving and saving Father; and 3) by giving believers Eternal Life in making them his disciples and teaching them to obey his new commandment of love.

The essence of Eternal Life: According to the New Testament, Eternal Life is: “to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent” (John 17:3).  To know God in the Gospel sense is to have a deep, personal experience of God Who is working in one’s life.  It involves a close, intimate relationship which matures eventually into mutual love and trust.  Christian Faith is essentially a “believing in”- a total surrender.  It is the way we come to “know” Christ closely, to experience Him intimately, and to love Him personally.

Life message: 1) Let us center our Christian life on prayer and the glorification of God.  Prayer means getting into contact with God — listening to Him and talking to Him.  If we are convinced of the presence of God within us, we can talk to Him even while we are driving, waiting in a queue or doing routine work in the kitchen or yard. Our talk with God can include adoration, praise, thanksgiving, pleas for forgiveness for ourselves and for those who injure us and/or others, and prayer for the needs of others and of ourselves. A few minutes spent in reading the Bible is the best way of listening to God. Fr. Tony ( L/21

May 19 Wednesday: John 17:11-19: 

In today’s Gospel passage, taken from Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, Jesus prays in particular, for those disciples who are sharing the meal with him. Jesus prayed for the victory, unity, protection, and consecration of his disciples.  (i) Jesus prayed that they might find victory by living out their Christianity in the rough-and-tumble of life.  The disciples must win the world for Christ by living out their Christianity within the world. They must bear witness to Christ through their transparent Christian lives, reflecting Christ’s love, mercy, forgiveness and spirit of humble service.  (ii) Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples.  The world cannot be evangelized by competing Churches, and that is why Jesus prayed that his disciples might be as fully one as He and the Father are One. Christian unity is determined by whether and how well we love one another, and whether we reflect the love of God in Christ for the world. (Eph­esians 4:4–6: one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call; d5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; e6one God and Father of us all, Who is above all and through all and in all). (iii) Jesus prayed for His Father’s protection for his disciples from the attacks of the Evil One.  If the disciples of Christ fall, it is because they try to meet life on their own strength alone, and do not remember the presence of their protecting God and seek His help.  (iv) Jesus prayed that his disciples might be consecrated in the truth.  (a) ‘Consecrate’ means to set apart for a special task (Jer 1:5; Ex 28:41).  (b) ‘Consecrate’ also means to equip a man with the qualities of mind, heart, and character which are necessary for that task.  God has chosen us and dedicated us for His special service of loving and obeying Him ourselves and bringing others to do the same.  He has not left us to carry out that great task with only our own strength, but by His grace He fits us for our task, if we place our lives in His hands.

Life message: #1: We need to understand, appreciate, cooperate with, and pray with and for each other: The denominations are a reality.  There is no use in our blaming each other for the historical events which caused these divisions in Christ’s Body.  What we can do is to learn sympathetically about the doctrinal similarities and differences among the members of our Christian community and learn to love each one and cooperate with the members of all denominations in all ways possible. 2)  Let us pray fervently that God may show us how to proceed in building true and lasting Christian unity without sacrificing the basic Christian principles and teachings. Fr. Tony ( L/21

May 20 Thursday (St. Bernadine of Siena, Priest) Jn 17:20-26 20

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the concluding part of Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” in his Last Supper discourse. Here, Jesus prays for true unity among his followers who accept him as their Lord and Savior.

Divisions in Christianity: The first major division in Christianity, which took place in the fifth century, was the schism caused when the Eastern Orthodox Churches under the patriarchs separated themselves from the Western Church under the Pope.  Next, the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century separated its followers from unity with the Church centered in Rome and freed them from her Authority. This separation resulted in the formation of more than 30,000 Protestant denominations during the following five centuries. According to Pope St. Paul VI [canonized October 14, 2018 by Pope Francis] “the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which he prayed is indefectibly one in Faith, in worship and in the bond of hierarchical communion” (Creed of the People of God, 21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity:  In his prayer for unity among his disciples, Jesus mentions that the basis and criterion of unity must be the Unity of God in His Three Divine Persons among Whom there is eternal, mutual love and Self-giving.  The unity of Jesus and his Father is a unity of love and obedience and a unity of personal relationship. Another reason for Christian unity is the union of the faithful with Jesus Christ in His Mystical Body by Baptism, and through Him with the Father (verse 23). This means that the fullness of Unity is attained through the supernatural grace, which comes to us from the Father through Christ (cf. Jn 15:5). Jesus mentions that unity among the believers is essential if the world is to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, because the disunity among Christians acts as the biggest block for evangelization, as it offers living, constant counter-witness to the Good News of Redemption.

Life messages: 1) Since Jesus Christ himself left us his final wish for unity through his prayer to the Father: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (Jn 17:21), it is our duty to pray and work for meaningful unity among Christians

2) Let us learn to appreciate each other’s common beliefs and enter into genuine dialogue and cooperation with members of other Christian denominations, instead of accusing each other of heresy. We need to remember that the present non-Catholic Christians are not responsible for the historical events and actions from which the various denominations originated in the past. Fr. Tony ( L/21

May 21 Friday (St. Christopher Magallanus, Priest and companions Martyrs) : John 21:15-19: 

The context: This is a post-Resurrection apparition scene. After miraculously providing breakfast for his apostles who had been fishing all night, Jesus conferred on Peter the Primacy in the Church, which he had promised as a reward for Peter’s profession of Faith (Mt 16:16-19).

The triple question: As if to give him a triple chance to atone for his triple denialJesus asks Peter, three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me (ag├ípe love) more than these?” Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than he loves his boat and fishing equipment, occupation, family, and friends. Jesus is also asking whether Peter loves him more than the other Apostles do. Instead of boasting of his own fidelity, strength, and greater love, as he had done before his triple denial of the Master, Peter humbly puts everything in Christ’s hands. “Lord, You know well that I love (philia love=love of a friend) You.”

The dual reward: 1) Primacy of jurisdiction over the Church was formally defined by the First Vatican Council (Vatican I) in the First Dogmatic Constitution On the Church of Christ, (Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1) declaring, “We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ our Lord. […] And it was upon Simon Peter alone, that Jesus, after his Resurrection, bestowed the jurisdiction of chief pastor and ruler over all his fold in the words: ‘Feed My lambs; feed My sheep (Jn 21:15-17).’” 2) Peter was also given the promise of a martyr’s death because real love involves responsibility as well as sacrifice. According to Tradition, St. Peter followed his Master to the point of dying by crucifixion — head downwards, because he felt unworthy to die as Jesus had done. This happened during Nero’s persecution of the Christians, which took place between the years 64 and 68 in Rome.

Life messages: 1) We need to pray for the Pope, the successor of Peter, and for the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and to support them in their ministry. 2) Jesus is a God of second chances Who gives chance after chance to sinners to return to his love, as is made clear by Jesus’ conferring primacy in his Church on Peter. Fr. Tony ( L/21

May 22 Saturday (St. Rita of Cascia, Religious) : Jn 21:20-25: 

Context: Today’s Gospel passage describes the role of Peter as the chief shepherd of Christ’s people and John as a long-lived witness to Christ in the early Church. The last part of the passage was intended to correct the false notion in the early Church that John would not die until the much-expected, imminent “second coming” of Jesus.

Jesus’ reply: Jesus’ response implies that what is important is not to be curious about what the future will bring but to serve the Lord faithfully each day, keeping to the way He has marked out for one.

John’s testimony about his Gospel: The passage concludes with John’s testimony about the truth of the content of his Gospel. It also explains the purpose of John’s Gospel: to strengthen our Faith in what Jesus did and taught. In addition, it tells us that the written Gospels contain only a fraction of what Jesus taught and did, implying that we have to depend upon the Sacred Tradition of the early Church handed down to us by the early Fathers of the Church to complete the truth of the written testimony.

Life messages: 1) Just as Peter and John each had his unique role in Christ’s Church, so each believer, as a member of this Mystical Body of Christ, each of us with our different talents, strengths, weaknesses, and limits, has his or her own particular work to do in bringing the task of the Body – to bring the world to Christ and Christ to the world – to its completion. Hence it is our duty to bear witness to Christ by surrendering our lives to Christ on the altar of service for the people of God and by offering ourselves as humble instruments in the hands of Christ. Fr. Tony (