“If the world hates you, remember that the world hated me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world because the world loves its own” (Jn 15:18-19). He calmed their perplexed and vacillating spirits recalling that a dramatic destiny puts together, for always, all the just ones. “Remember, that is how the ancestors of this people treated the prophets. Alas for you when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of these people treated the false prophets” (Lk 6:23,26).
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The believers’ reflection on the fate of Mary after death continued to grow over the centuries. It led to the belief in her assumption and, on 1 November 1950, to the papal definition: “The Immaculate Conception Mother of God ever Virgin, finished the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
The goods offer a sense of security; they promise to satisfy every need and every desire, from which the psychological mechanism that leads to the accumulation and idolatry is triggered. Riches give an impression of being solid, unwavering, enduring: they survive those who have them. Actually, they deceive him, deprive him of everything, and leave him empty-handed.
In front of money and property, even the best of people, Christians too, often end up losing their heads and become blind and deaf: they see only their interest and are willing to override even the most sacred sentiments. At times, with the help of a wise friend, the parties are able to agree, at other times instead the hatred lasts for years and the brothers stop talking to each other.
Our prayers seem attempts to persuade God to change his plan. We would like him to comply with our ideas, that he would correct the “mistakes” committed. If we talk with him at length, we eventually understand his love and accept his designs. Prayer does not change God; it opens our minds, changes our hearts.
The temptation could be to oppose the sisters Martha and Mary, in the same way as we sometimes place the "spiritual" and the "temporal" in opposition, or the "active life" and "contemplative life", or even "the word" versus "acts".eflection for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Today we find Jesus in the house of two sisters. Martha, the oldest, puts herself to work immediately. Her feminine sensibility suggests that a glass of good wine and a plate of tasty meat, served with kindness, show more affection than any talk for a person. Mary, the youngest, instead of working in the kitchen, prefers to stay seated to listen to Jesus.
The New Testament gives us the full light, one that allows us to understand what it really means to love God. The first letter of John is very explicit: “This is love: not that we loved God but that he first loved us … . Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another” (1 Jn 4:10-11).
The apostles, invited by Jesus to follow him, abandon the nets and Levi leaves everything (Lk 5:27). To whoever wants to be his disciple, the Lord asks to “sell all that he has” and to start a new journey with him (Lk 18:22), and does not admit hesitation, indecision, afterthoughts.
Jesus did not leave us a statue, a photograph, a relic. He wanted to continue to be present among his disciples as nourishment. The food is not placed on the table to be contemplated but to be consumed. Christians who go to Mass, but not receive Holy Communion, should be aware that they are not participating fully in the Eucharistic celebration.
Christians celebrate today the specific aspect of their faith: they believe in a Triune God. They believe that God is the Father who created the universe and directs it with wisdom and love; They believe that he did not remain in heaven, but in his image, the Son, he came to become one of us; they believe that he accomplishes his plan of love with his power, with his Spirit.
Where the Spirit comes radical upheavals and transformation always happen: barriers fall, doors are opened wide; all the towers built by human hands and designed by “the wisdom of this world” shake; fear, passivity and quietism disappear; initiatives are developed and courageous decisions are made. Who is dissatisfied and aspires the renewal of the world and of man can count on the Spirit: nothing can resist its power.
With the coming of Jesus in the glory of the Father has anything on earth changed? Outwardly nothing. The lives of the people continued to be what it was before: to sow, reap, trade, build homes, travel, cry and party, as usual. Even the apostles had not received any reduction on dramas and anxieties experienced by other people. However, something incredibly new happened: a new light was projected on the existence of people.
The falling back on the past, the fear of novelty, the pessimistic look about the present and the gloomy forecasts for the future are not signs of love and fidelity to tradition, but symptoms of poor faith in the work of the Spirit. Pope John XXIII dissented from the “prophets of doom” and invited them to contemplate “the fruit of the Spirit” present not only in the Church but everywhere.
The Church’s days are numbered—some say—because she is old, does not know how to renew herself, repeats old formulas instead of responding to new questions, stubbornly restates obsolete rituals and unintelligible dogmas while today’s people are looking for a new equilibrium, a new way of life, a less distant God.
The fourth Sunday of Easter is called the Sunday of the Good Shepherd because in it, every year, the liturgy presents a passage from John chapter 10 in which Jesus presents himself as the true shepherd. The four verses that we read in the Gospel today are drawn from the final part of the speech of Jesus and they want to help us deepen the meaning of this biblical image.
Jesus was an uncomfortable person for those in power both political and religious. The apostles were equally uncomfortable for the powers that be, that was why they were persecuted. Christians cannot not be but uncomfortable people. They have made and will always bother defenders of unjust situations, incompatible with the Gospel.
“Fortunate are you to see what you see!” Jesus said one day (Lk 10:23). The disciples who accompanied the Master during his public life are called by Luke witnesses of the events that have taken place among us (Lk 1:1-2). It is undeniable; they are blessed because they have seen. Among them, there is also Thomas. Yet this experience was just the first stage of a demanding journey, one that had to bring them to faith.
“Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark…” (v. 1). In these first words of the Gospel of Easter day one can perceive, almost breathe the signs of death’s victory. On earth it’s all silence, immobility, quietness. A woman, alone and frightened, moves in the darkness of the night. Death seems to dominate unchallenged and silence and darkness celebrate the triumph.