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Contents: Volume 2 - 5th Sunday of Easter - C
May 15, 2022

 

  2022

EASTER

V

(C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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5th Sunday of Easter 2022

In today's Gospel according to John, Jesus tells the apostles: "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." One important question throughout the ages has been "what is love?" An even more important questions for disciples of Jesus is "how did Jesus demonstrate his love?" Only with this latter knowledge can we attempt to do the same and follow Jesus's command.

If we look at what the Scriptures tell us about Jesus, we can easily see that Jesus gave his full time and attention to those he encountered. Whatever he did, Jesus did it prayerfully, intentionally, and in accordance with the will of the Father. I think that those 5 characteristics are Jesus's marks of how he loved and how we are to love.

Reviewing the stories in Scripture will show those main characteristics throughout Jesus's life. Jesus interacted with people in many different ways. Sometimes he was comforting and sometimes he was challenging. Each of us has a favorite Scripture story or two about Jesus. Taking some time to match a favorite story with those characteristics might give us insight into how we might incorporate those 5 characteristics into our daily lives.

For busy modern day people, just focusing on the characteristic of "time" would be life changing for all concerned. Looking at "attention" might put the cell phone business out of business! Increasing our prayer life would benefit us all spiritually. Actually making conscious choices and doing things more intentionally than robotically would definitely change relationships. Purposefully seeking the will of the Father would bring us and those we love closer to our Creator.

Cooperating with the grace from the Holy Spirit would have a very marked effect on each of us personally and on those we encounter. Jesus's kind of love, embraced by each of us, would change the world even more so than it already has. Love does make the world go round; how can you be on board, Jesus's way?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Fifth Sunday of Easter May 14 2022

Acts 14:21-27; Responsorial Psalm 145; Revelation 21:1-5; Gospel Acclamation John 13:34; John 13:31-35

There is an interesting line in the first reading from Acts. It is one of those lines that our ears do not particularly like. So, there is a fogginess that silences our ear drums when this Scripture is proclaimed. "It is necessary for us to endure many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God." Just maybe it is a good thing that we were baptized as infants, so we did not have make a decision about "hardships." Maybe it was merely a culturally expected event that motivated our parents’ taking us to the font – maybe they were not listening either. Who wants hardships? Maybe Luke, in writing this passage in the Acts of the Apostles, was just talking about that time just after Jesus left us to head home to heaven. The Roman emperors were not exactly pleased to be knocked off their divine thrones by this wandering Jew in rebellious Palestine. Lots of blood was being spilt with stones by Jews and by Romans in coliseums. The Christians became the bad guys of the time and frequently were victims of violence. They were weird. They stopped going to orgies. They gathered to listen to some writings, they shared a meal; they said they ate the body and drank the blood of their model, this Jesus. They claimed this Jesus had died and after three days came out of the tomb in which he had been laid. Preposterous! And worst of all they were not like the world where everyone could be counted on to think only about themselves. These Christians loved each other and took care of each other. Imagine that!! They took pains to know each other – widows and orphans were esteemed members of their communities. No one could depend on them acting for their own benefit. Their attitude was terrible for the economy. For these Christians it was always about the community, those people called together. And, wow, they were willing to die for what they believed. It was that important to them. In our time Christians mostly seem to be riding pretty high in the saddle, enjoying their status as followers of that Jesus. We claim to be a Christian nation. We claim to follow the Christ – mostly trailing after this Jesus at some great distance.

The question becomes simply this: are we really following Jesus who was willing to die for the God’s message that conflicted with the culture of the world? Oh, yes, we know the saying that we should love our neighbor just as we love ourselves. If we hate ourselves does not empower us to hate our neighbor? This love of self and love of neighbor is overridden by what Jesus tells us in this Sunday’s gospel. Do we notice the slight change in wording? This is no longer – love your neighbor as you love yourself. He changes this and in the light of the crucifixion, this becomes much more difficult. Jesus, in John’s gospel this weekend says: "A new commandment I give you. As I have loved you so you should love one another. This is how they will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another." Okay, then! Just who is willing to be betrayed by friends, be condemned in a trumped-up trial, be the fool for the sport of soldiers, be scourged and made a phony king with a crown of awful thorns, and then be murdered in the most cruel manner known – suffocation nailed naked on a cross between two thieves? That is the measure of our love for Him. Well, no: he tells us the measure of the love we should have for one another is how he loved us. Who can possibly measure up to such a terribly difficult standard?

How do we measure up on that scale? Surely the end of our lives is a time of reckoning and measuring our characters. But the scene is us standing next to Jesus and measuring ourselves in the shadow of his love for us. Surely, we will judge ourselves. Matthew’s gospel in chapter 25 tells us how that goes. Did we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, visit the sick and those imprisoned, give shelter to the homeless? That is our measure. Be assured getting to that depth of character and love of the Lord is a life-time project. Be as well assured that we grow in that type of Jesus-character over time and with focused efforts. But only if we let go of that enslaving belief that it is everyone for themselves. It is a lot more than following a bunch of commandments and rules. We would like that as rules give us definition. And when we go through the adolescence of our living, we need rules. That is a time of great questioning and rules keep us from going into the chasm of anger, violence, and bitterness at not achieving what others do. This is so contrary to the rugged individualism that causes us to pursue accumulation of things, money, wealth, and that ever important influence and fame. Those pursuits always deteriorate and there is always more to force us into wrecking our health, our relationships, and our families. It is a paradox. The more we give ourselves away, the more it is that we grow and become more than we were. It is when we come into community and there discover God among those others in our communities. Again, how very contrary to the way of the world which would have us destroy what we are as persons in the pursuit of "stuff" that does not really have staying power to encourage, to inspire, to have us go beyond self-centered idolatry.,

When the way of Jesus, the coming together in love with our community happens, then it is that we personally and corporately discover love. And in discovering love, especially when that love is challenged by struggle and most assuredly in death, then there we discover God. It is only when we are noticed as loving one another that we live the way of the Lord. Antioch was the first place where the followers of Jesus were called Christians. And those persons were an amazement to the walkers in the way of the world. They could not believe what they saw. They exclaimed, "See how they love one another!"

May it be so in our time and place! For then God will wipe away every tear from eyes and there will be no more death, nor mourning, wailing or pain for the old order will have passed away. The One who sat on the throne says, "Behold, I make all things new." And the power and energy of that "new" is the love we have for one another. And in that sharing of living, we discover the living God who remains present to us – present only when it is that we discover what love is and means.

In all this there underlies a truth, a mystery, a wonder. It is that the Father-Creator of All, the Word that reveals that Dad, and the Spirit that is love personified cares about each of us with compassion, mercy, and a loving kindness we struggle to emulate. "Be at peace, do not be afraid" is the greeting of the Lord, the Christ. Be at peace and know that this life is for growing in what we are. These persons, these three that are so united that they are one are our ultimate model. When we discover the love that is the Spirit, we discover God present among us. Death becomes not a defeat, but a harvest of a life lived in appreciation of other, especially the other that is Those Three. Death where is thy sting?

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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THE LOVE WE NEED: 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER C

Acts of the Apostles 13:1-35; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-35

Some people say they don’t read newspapers anymore because there’s too much bad news in them. They have a point. A while back e.g., a national newspaper ran stories about footballers knowingly or unknowingly taking banned performance-enhancing substances; a pedestrian killed by a hit-run driver; the drug cocaine being extracted from items of clothing being sold for a fortune; a factory collapsing in Bangladesh and killing two hundred and seventy-three persons, and hundreds of innocent civilians being killed in wars. News like that may well turn people off reading newspapers.

Thank God such bad news is not all the news there is! On its front page a while back, the same paper ran a story about Eugene (‘Curly’) Veith, a rich man and a Christian, aged 94. As business prospered, Curly says that he ‘used to lie awake at night thinking of the hungry and homeless children all over the world. So, I decided to give all my money away to help them!’ About $23 million so far! Mr. Veith has set up Mission Enterprise Limited to channel funds to worthy causes everywhere - American Indians in Colorado, street kids in Bangkok, water wells in East Africa, land for a school in Queensland!

More than that, with the courage of his convictions about doing good, he has been going to other rich business people and challenging them to give generously to people and projects in need. Clearly this old gentleman has taken strongly to heart today’s message of Jesus to his friends and followers, delivered the night before he died for them: ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples’ (John 13:34-35).

At an isolated roadhouse in North West Queensland, two children aged eight and six tell a visiting traveller about a play they have staged at their local church. They have teamed up with a friend to dramatize how Jesus wants us to love one another. The first child gets a phone call from Jesus to say he will be coming along that day and will want some help. The two children are to keep a lookout for him. Well, Jesus turns up in the guise of the third child who has hurt her knee and is looking for some first aid. One of the first two reaches out to help and asks the second who is talking to Jesus on the phone to also help. She says she is too busy talking to Jesus, and is still waiting for him to arrive. But in the end, she too goes to help the injured one. At the end of the day, she receives another phone call from Jesus. He thanks her for helping him. She says she doesn’t understand. She waited and waited for him, she points out, but he didn’t turn up. Then Jesus explains that he did come after all, in the form of the child that needed help.

That’s the wonderful thing about the kind of love that Jesus wants of us. It’s a love modelled on his kind of love. He showed his love for people in so many wonderful ways – in kindness, compassion, generosity, patience, perseverance, endurance, faithfulness and forgiveness. There was no limit to what his love would give or where it would go.

The love which imitates the love of Jesus for others is therefore a practical, down-to-earth kind of love. It’s a kindness and compassion kind of love, a self-forgetting kind of love. It’s a self-sacrificing kind of love even to the point, as shown by so many brave soldiers in two World Wars, as well as in Korea and Vietnam, of giving up their own lives so that others might be free - free to be good, kind, unselfish, generous and loving persons too.

It’s our love for others that keeps the great love of Jesus for people alive in our world today. An American journalist, watching Mother Teresa caring for a man with gangrene, remarked to her: ‘I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.’ Mother Teresa replied: ‘Even I wouldn’t do it for that amount, but I do it for the love of God.’

True love is the opposite of selfishness. Selfishness confines us, keeps us shut in and shut down. It builds barriers, even walls, between us and others. What frees us is caring about others and caring for others, being friends, being sisters and brothers, and being good neighbours. In short, it’s love alone that frees us from the cage of selfishness. A doctor, who has shared some of the deepest moments in the lives of many patients, says that people facing death don’t think about the degrees they’ve earned, the positions they’ve held, or the money they’ve made. What matters, in the end, is whom you have loved and who has loved you.

Love always demands the best from us and brings out the best in us. Being loved gives us surprising energy and courage. Love makes us fruitful, productive, strong and constant in doing good. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, famous for her work on the stages of dying, has written: ‘Love is the flame that warms our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It’s our connection to God and one another.’

To love is to heal, both those who receive it and those who give it. To refuse to love is to die. To decide to love is to live. But love is a choice, not a feeling, and when we choose to be loving, caring, healing, helping, and forgiving persons, we experience well-being, contentment, and happiness.

Freedom from selfishness and freedom to love and care for others, surely that’s what life is all about! There’s no other way. So, Jesus insists, strongly insists: ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year C: 5th Sunday of Easter

"By this love you have for one another

Everyone will know that you are my disciples."

Our religion is – or should be – the most complete possible expression in our lives of the love that God has shown to us. Sadly, it is not always so; there have been times when religious difference has caused people to fail enormously in love for one another. Even people who call themselves Christians have sometimes failed to love other Christians of a different stripe. Nowhere has that been more true in our own lifetime than in Northern Ireland, which is where I happen to come from. Certainly, the conflict in Northern Ireland is much more complex than we sometimes read in the newspapers – it is two populations divided by differences of race, class, economics and social grouping; but partly also by religious differences. But just now and again, there is a great moment which transcends that and two communities find themselves unexpectedly and gloriously united. And that was the story of my great Aunt Moya.

My great Aunt Moya was a nun - one of the really old-fashioned sort that they don’t make anymore - probably for good reasons. When I knew her she was, I think, 89. And, in the summer of ‘76, great Aunt Moya was coming home from America to Northern Ireland. At this point, she had been the Mother Superior of a convent of nuns in New Jersey for about 20 years. So, it was a bit like the Queen coming to visit on tour: each branch of the family would have to take her for two or three days and entertain her in a style that would befit her.

Therein lay the problem - just how to entertain her? In our little village of Cushendall, only two things ever really happened: golf and fishing. Neither seemed entirely suitable for an 89-year-old nun. So my father, bereft of any sensible ideas, suggested a trip to the local distillery in Bushmills. My mother was appalled - you can’t take a Mother Superior to a distillery!

But, we had to do something and she had no better suggestions. So the great day came and great Aunt Moya arrived with a 70-year-old minder - both fully kitted out in the full penguin outfit - black crinoline from tip to toe. We loaded them into the car and off we went.

Well, I ask you, how were we to know that this was going to be the one really hot day of the Irish summer? There’s always one; there is never more than one and you can never predict when it’s going to happen. But, today was the day. So, by the time we arrived at the distillery - only about 15 miles down the road - it was already hot. We started the tour – up iron stairs, around steel gantries, past the steaming boilers and cauldrons in which the whisky mash was being fermented, hot and steaming, all under sheet steel roofs roasting in the hot sun. It was boiling hot, sticky and unbearably humid. And the tour went on and on and on for about two hours in the sweltering heat. The two old nuns stuck to it gamely. Every so they often they had to stop and have a little rest and fan themselves with their prayer books. But they were determined to finish what they had started. Like I said, they don’t make ‘em like that any more.

Finally, at last, at long last, at very long last, we came out of the last building, walked down the final gantry and were back in the car park. All we ever wanted to do was to get out of the place, go home and have something (or probably several things) long and cold to drink. Oh, and by the way, NEVER AGAIN!!!!

But, just as we were poised to flee to the car, our tour guide said in enticing tones, "now I’m sure you’ll want to come and spend a few moments in our tasting room".

Well, you could see the upper lips stiffen. And you could see just one thought going through the minds of the two old penguins: "once more round for Jesus". And off we trooped, forlornly and unwillingly, for the one last stop on the tour.

The tasting room was a fairly snug little bar with maybe 15 or 20 men sitting in little groups and as the two nuns walked in, the conversation suddenly froze into the most absolute silence. And we suddenly remembered the other thing that we should have known: Bushmills is right in the heart of serious Unionist country – hard, dour, rigid and bible black. Anyone with the faintest tinge of foresight (by which I mean anyone who was not my father) would have known that this is not the place where two nuns in the full battle-dress of popery could expect an instant welcome.

But the two nuns, fresh from America and unfamiliar with local intolerances, just didn’t know that. They simply sat down exhausted at the nearest table to rest. The silence thickened and darkened, like quick-drying concrete. I wondered briefly if we were all going to end up as an item on the Nine O’Clock News.

The barman hesitantly approached their table, obviously unsure of what he was supposed to do next. He looked to his left. And he looked to his right. And he found no inspiration. So he did the only thing he really knew how to do: he poured – a small tasting-glass of Old Bushmills for each of the two sisters. The two penguins picked up their glasses containing the strange unfamiliar orange fluid. They looked all round the glasses, sniffed suspiciously and looked at each other. An almost imperceptible nod passed between them and they both took a tiny sip. They looked at each other again; there was a rather more perceptible nod and they both had a slightly less tiny sip. And then another and another and then a few more and finally, after a couple of minutes, a positive slurp.

The silence was not broken, but it seemed thinner and lighter – like quick-drying concrete when you’ve got the mixture wrong. The barman returned and almost managed a smile as he refilled the glasses.

Well, 40 minutes later, everyone in the bar was gathered around the two old penguins and the craic was great. And they sang for them: ‘Soul of my Saviour’ and ‘Faith of Our Fathers’. The locals responded with ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ and ‘The sash my Father wore’. And in the following two hours more was done for the cause of genuine ecumenism than could be achieved in ten thousand years of theological commissions. And when we finally came away and took the road home, we did so with a crate of the oul’ stuff wedged into the back seat for Auntie Moya to take back to the convent in New Jersey.

It is funny how even the greatest barriers can be overcome when people find that they have something in common - especially when that something just happens to be a taste for Irish whiskey.

Just for a moment, I would ask each of us to think of our worst enemy. We all have one - most of us probably have a selection - I have a photograph album! And just reflect for a moment and consider what each of us could find in common with that person. And just what could be possible if, one day, we happened to call round to see them bringing along whatever is the equivalent in each of our lives of a bottle of Old Bushmills Irish whiskey.

"By this love you have for one another (and for a decent whiskey)

Everyone will know that you are my disciples."

Let us stand and profess our Faith.

Paul O'Reilly, SJ. <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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