Archive for April, 2016

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Posted: April 30, 2016 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

Counsel of Jerusalem: 
Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Readings:

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
John 14:23-29

The first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem we hear about in today’s First Reading, decided the shape of the Church as we know it.

Some Jewish Christians had wanted Gentile converts to be circumcised and obey all the complex ritual and purity laws of the Jews.

The council called this a heresy, again showing us that the Church in the divine plan is meant to be a worldwide family of God, no longer a covenant with just one nation.

Today’s Liturgy gives us a profound meditation on the nature and meaning of the Church.

The Church is One, as we see in the First Reading: “the Apostles [bishops] and presbyters [priests], in agreement with the whole Church [laity].”

The Church is Holy, taught and guided by the Spirit that Jesus promises the Apostles in the Gospel.

The Church is Catholic, or universal, making known God’s ways of salvation to all peoples, ruling all in equity, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

And the Church, as John sees in the Second Reading, is Apostolic – founded on the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

All these marks of the Church are underscored in the story of the council.

Notice that everybody, including Paul, looks to “Jerusalem [and] …the Apostles” to decide the Church’s true teaching. The Apostles, too, presume that Christian teachers need a “mandate from us.”

And we see the Spirit guiding the Apostles in all truth. Notice how they describe their ruling: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.”

Knowing these truths about the Church, our hearts should never be troubled. The Liturgy’s message today is that the Church is the Lord’s, watched over and guarded by the Advocate, the Holy Spirit sent by the Father in the name of the Son.

This should fill us with confidence, free us to worship with exultation, inspire us to rededicate our lives to His Name – to love Jesus in our keeping of His Word, to rejoice that He and the Father in the Spirit have made their dwelling with us.

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 30, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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What do we stand to gain if we have the whole world but forfeit our souls?

The soul of a disciple of Jesus is one that bears the heart and mind of the Master he serves, his friend. Both are not of this World. And though a disciple lives in the world his sight is set on the Kingdom to come.

So on his pilgrim journey home he takes on the yoke of Christ his Master serving his brethren with joy. He does whatever is  necessary even if it means  personal sacrifice, to bring the message of God’s love made visible by Christ to all.

Jesus my Lord and Saviour, through You I can call out Abba to whom I love and worship. Help me be Holy and one with You. Amen

First reading
Acts 16:1-10

From Cilicia Paul went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra. Here there was a disciple called Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess who had become a believer; but his father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy, and Paul, who wanted to have him as a travelling companion, had him circumcised. This was on account of the Jews in the locality where everyone knew his father was a Greek.

  As they visited one town after another, they passed on the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, with instructions to respect them.

  So the churches grew strong in the faith, as well as growing daily in numbers.

  They travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, having been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas.

  One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News.

Gospel
John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you.

If you belonged to the world,
the world would love you as its own; but because you do not belong to the world, because my choice withdrew you from the world, therefore the world hates you.

Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well.

But it will be on my account that they will do all this, because they do not know the one who sent me.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 29, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Loving and forgiving is our Lord.  Whose love liberates and heals. A love of one that would lay down his own life for a friend. And He calls us friends because we have listened to His Word.

What kind of love then do we offer one another? Or our neighbour? Is our love modeled after our master of whom we love and serve? Or someone or something else?

In order for us to bear fruit through and for the love of Christ; we must come out of our comfort zones to go forth. To share His love amidst challenges even trials. Let us move onwards to bring His love to the least of our brethren.  Lord be with us always… Amen

First reading
Acts 15:22-31

The apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

  ‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’

  The party left and went down to Antioch, where they summoned the whole community and delivered the letter. The community read it and were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.

Gospel
John 15:12-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.

A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.

You are my friends, if you do what I command you.

I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know his master’s business;

I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.

You did not choose me: no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.

What I command you is to love one another.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 28, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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The ability to discern the will of God comes from a deep knowledge of His Word through the Holy Scriptures and a relationship in His love. For which we are united in Him through faith, obedience and love for one another.

We are all called to shepherd His flock. Let us do so by always seeking to do His Will.  And with the joy of the resurrected Lord in our hearts. By our love, all will know that we are disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

First reading
Acts 15:7-21

After the discussion had gone on a long time, Peter stood up and addressed the apostles and the elders.

  ‘My brothers,’ he said ‘you know perfectly well that in the early days God made his choice among you: the pagans were to learn the Good News from me and so become believers. In fact God, who can read everyone’s heart, showed his approval of them by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as he had to us. God made no distinction between them and us, since he purified their hearts by faith. It would only provoke God’s anger now, surely, if you imposed on the disciples the very burden that neither we nor our ancestors were strong enough to support? Remember, we believe that we are saved in the same way as they are: through the grace of the Lord Jesus.’

  This silenced the entire assembly, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul describing the signs and wonders God had worked through them among the pagans.

  When they had finished it was James who spoke. ‘My brothers,’ he said ‘listen to me. Simeon has described how God first arranged to enlist a people for his name out of the pagans. This is entirely in harmony with the words of the prophets, since the scriptures say:

After that I shall return and rebuild the fallen House of David; I shall rebuild it from its ruins and restore it.

Then the rest of mankind, all the pagans who are consecrated to my name, will look for the Lord, says the Lord who made this known so long ago.

‘I rule, then, that instead of making things more difficult for pagans who turn to God, we send them a letter telling them merely to abstain from anything polluted by idols, from fornication, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has always had his preachers in every town, and is read aloud in the synagogues every sabbath.’

Gospel
John 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.

Remain in my love.

If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 27, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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Have you ever thought about just how wonderful it is to belong to a Church that has stood the test of time? How did it accomplish this when we are of very diverse backgrounds, race, language, culture, thinking and so on?

It is Jesus Christ our Lord who unites us all. We are truly one body in Him. We have Shepherds who when face an uncertainty, new challenge or disagreement; will come together and invite the Holy Spirit so that in their dialogue they draw the wisdom, courage and strength from the Lord our God.

Jesus my Lord, grant that I may always remain rooted to and in You. Let Your Word continue to inspire me that I may in turn inspire many to rejoice in the knowledge of You. Amen

First reading
Acts 15:1-6

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

  All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.

  But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.

Gospel
John 15:1-8

Jesus said: ‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.

Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.

You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.

As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches.

Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it.

It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 26, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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O Sweet Jesus my Lord and God! Indeed the precious gift of Your peace is far greater than all the riches in the world and worlds over. I long for Your peace to reign in my heart.

It is the grace of Your peace that enabled St Paul to get up and move onwards after being betrayed and stoned. To continue with his mission to create and empower new disciples for You. The same peace shared by all Your disciples. So that all may share in the good news of God’s love for His children that He wills they be with Him forevermore.

What then could trouble my heart? For in your peace, I am comforted in knowing that no trials, challenges, sufferings or even death can separate me from Your love. Amen

First reading
Acts 14:19-28

Some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium, and turned the people against the apostles. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the town, thinking he was dead. The disciples came crowding round him but, as they did so, he stood up and went back to the town. The next day he and Barnabas went off to Derbe.

  Having preached the Good News in that town and made a considerable number of disciples, they went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

  They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.

  On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans. They stayed there with the disciples for some time.

Gospel
John 14:27-31

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.

If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe.

I shall not talk with you any longer, because the prince of this world is on his way.

He has no power over me, but the world must be brought to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.’

On Today’s Gospel

Posted: April 25, 2016 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

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We sometimes have grandeur notions that we have all the answers. That we know best our gifts, talents and the way to put them to proper use. Even ‘helping’ those who choose to be lost so that they might find their way.  How about those who cannot fend for themselves? Those who don’t know if they will have food the next day? Those in dire need of spiritual healing? Liberation? Then what happens when we are faced with these many challenges, trials and sufferings?

We need to acknowledge that all our wisdom, knowledge and strengths comes from the Lord our God. And so when we unite our wills with His Will, we are destined to do great things in His name.  So that the salvific name of Jesus who brings new life to all who believe in Him, will live long in the hearts of His people for all generations to come.

Glory be to our Risen Lord, our Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit.  May His love reign in our hearts for one another. Amen

First reading
1 Peter 5:5-14

All wrap yourselves in humility to be servants of each other, because God refuses the proud and will always favour the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God now, and he will raise you up on the appointed day; unload all your worries on to him, since he is looking after you. Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things. You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts for ever and ever. Amen.

  I write these few words to you through Silvanus, who is a brother I know I can trust, to encourage you never to let go this true grace of God to which I bear witness.

  Your sister in Babylon, who is with you among the chosen, sends you greetings; so does my son, Mark.

  Greet one another with a kiss of love.

Gospel
Mark 16:15-20

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

  And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.