May 13th 2018

Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family and Sacred Heart
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (1:15-17.20-26)

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers - there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ·"Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus - after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours.

In the Book of Psalms it says: Let someone else take his office. We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was traveling around with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us, and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection."

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, "Lord, you can read everyone's heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place." They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.



Second Reading
A reading from the first letter of Saint John (4:11-16)

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us. We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit. We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God. We ourselves have known and put our faith in God's love toward ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.


Gospel Reading
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (17:11-19)

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

"Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures. But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full. I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth."


Sunday Reflection 7th Sunday of Easter (13.05.18)

"I am with you always, yes to the end of time."

To lose contact with a loved one is frightening. To lose contact with a loved one on whom one has come to depend is far, far worse. Such a loss can happen suddenly or over time. It can result from injury or infection or the breakdown of a relationship. If the impact is immediate then the familiar sound and sight of the other is suddenly replaced by a feeling of emptiness and a silence that drives home the depth of loss.

Jesus had frequently prepared his constant companions for the time when they would no longer see and hear him on a daily basis. St. John's Gospel gives us Jesus' 'Farewell Discourse' in the course of which he said:
"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:33-35)
Peter questioned Jesus: "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied: "Now you cannot follow me where I am going, but later you shall follow me."

The majority of people will face, in the course of life, the distress of separation from loved ones. Where the Christian faith is a living and shared bond between the parties, the pain of actual separation can be assisted by the light of a living hope. Jesus is that hope who accompanies the bereaved as he awaits the departed. From his dying, rising and Ascension we draw our faith in which we base our hope.

The noun 'Ascension' (with a capital 'A') is, even in today's secular society, uniquely attributable to the Risen Jesus of Nazareth. It expresses the Christian belief in the unimpeded access that the Son of God-made-Man has to his heavenly Father.

God became Man to subsume death, the devastating calamity that our first parents had brought upon themselves and their progeny, the human race. Jesus of Nazareth freely chose to embrace and triumph over death - "No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." (John 10:18)

St. Paul echoes Jesus' words in his first Letter to the Corinthians:
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (15: 55-57)

Death is the contradiction of everything God is. As the Book of Wisdom expresses it:
"Do not court death by your erring way of life,
nor draw to yourselves destruction by the works of your hands.
Because God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have life,
and the creatures of the world are wholesome; ... "
(Wisdom 1: 12-14)

We can hear - as we celebrate The Ascension - Jesus' final exhaustive utterance from the Cross on Calvary, "It is accomplished." (John 19:30) Jesus had accomplished the restoration of the fractured relationship between God and his Creation. Jesus, after his Resurrection, worked ceaselessly to demonstrate to his Apostles that death had been overcome by the Risen Life of God-made-Man.

In the Ascension, we celebrate that God, like us in all things but who did not sin in the person of the Resurrected Jesus of Nazareth, is now with our heavenly Father. Prior to Jesus' Ascension, no human person was at one with God. Moreover, where Jesus is we, whom he has adopted through Baptism as his sisters and brothers, are called to be. Where the Head leads, the Body is called to follow. As Jesus died, so must we. As Jesus rose from death, so must we. Whereas Jesus, free from sin, Ascended, we, sinners, make our pilgrimage of atonement towards judgement day.

Jesus gave his Apostles this final briefing:
"Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you." (Matt 28:19-20)
Then Jesus added: "And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time."

How can Jesus be leaving the Apostles and, at the same time, continue to be with them?
Could it be that our purgatorial pilgrimage on earth is in allowing Jesus, present in us through his Spirit despite our sinfulness, to progressively transfigure us in our reaching out to others? The story of the two dejected disciples on the 'Road to Emmaus' (Luke 24:13-35) serves as an example.

The 'making of disciples' consists in our consistent collaboration with the Holy Spirit who alone can bring us to the fullness of whom we are called to be. In other words, we are called to be Christ to one another. In the process we will have to do battle with the 'death' that continues to stalk this land of exile. As it was for our Saviour, our battle with 'death' will bring pain and disfigurement in many and varied ways. But if we remain in communion with Jesus, through his Spirit, his triumph over 'death' will be our triumph, his Resurrection our resurrection and his return to the Father our entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. Is this 'pilgrimage' of unknown length and content also 'our daily bread' enabling us to be forgiven, as we forgive others, by the power of the Spirit dwelling within us?

The Holy Spirit is the intimate force of God's love who, living in us and enabled by our free will, transforms us in Christ. Therefore, we call upon the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts expelling from them all that prevents us from being finally transfigured in Christ. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, uniquely demonstrates how our human nature, made by God in his own image and likeness, has the capacity to make present the Risen Christ for the salvation of others.

Do not forget, though, that our continuous cooperation and our freely given consent are required for this transfiguring action, as St. Augustine taught: "He who made you without you, will not save you without you".