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“My peace I give to you”

Tuesday (May 16):

Gospel: John 14:27-31

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

 

Reflection:

Jesus offers peace to his disciples and to us. He says: “My peace I give to you”. The peace of Christ is more than the absence of trouble. It includes everything that comprises fullness of life. Worldly peace is avoidance of trouble and a refusal to face unpleasant things. Jesus offers the peace which conquers our fears and anxieties. Nothing can take us away from the peace and joy in the presence of the Lord. No sorrow or grief, no danger, no suffering can make it less.How can we attain the peace which the Lord Jesus offers us? Through the gift and work of the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord promised to send, the Spirit who dwells within us. Through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, we are able to overcome anxieties, worries, anger, fear, and selfishness so that we can receive his gift of peace. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and strengthens us with his gifts and virtues so that we will be able to live good moral lives as disciples of Christ.Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, may your peace be always with us. May no trial or affliction rob us of the peace which surpasses all understanding.”

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Pope Francis

PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

 

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis urged the world in his Easter message on Sunday to use the “weapons of love” to combat the evil of “blind and brutal violence”, following the attacks in Brussels.

After a week of sombre religious events commemorating Jesus’ death, Francis said an Easter Sunday Mass under tight security for tens of thousands of people in a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square.

Afterwards, in his traditional, twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message, he spoke of violence, injustice and threats to peace in many parts of the world.

“May he (the risen Jesus) draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world,” he said, speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

He mentioned recent attacks in Belgium, where at least 31 people were killed by Islamist militants, as well as those in Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Iraq.

“With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death,” the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic said from the same balcony from where he first appeared to the world on the night of his election on March 13, 2013.

The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff urged people to channel the hope of Easter in order to defeat “the evil that seems to have the upper hand in the life of so many people”.

The pope condemned the Brussels attacks several times during the past week, including at a Good Friday service where he said followers of religions who carried out acts of fundamentalism or terrorism were profaning God’s name..

The former king and queen of Belgium, Albert II and Paola, who is Italian, attended the Mass and the pope greeted them afterwards.

In other parts of his address, Francis expressed the hope that recent talks could resolve the conflict in Syria in order to end the “sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord”.

He urged Europe “not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.”

The European Union and Turkey have agreed to stop the flow of migrants to Europe in return for political and financial concessions for Ankara. Turkey and The Aegean islands have been the main route for migrants and refugees pouring into Europe in the past year.

Francis called for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, and resolutions to conflicts and political tensions in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Burundi, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Ukraine.

Security was very tight around the square, which was bedecked with more than 35,000 flowers and plants donated by the Netherlands.

Police checked people several times at various points along the approach the square and subjected those with entry tickets to body and bag searches even before they passed through metal detectors. Security sources said police reinforcements had arrived in Rome from other Italian cities.

Islamic State militants have made threats against Catholic targets in Rome. Last year, a website used by militants ran a photo montage showing the movement’s black flag flying from the obelisk at the centre of St Peter’s Square.

 

This handout picture released by the Vatican press office shows Pope Francis waving to the crowd from the central loggia of St Peters' basilica during the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing for Rome and the world following the Easter Sunday mass on March 27, 2016 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter.      AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO/HO  RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / OSSERVATORE ROMANO / HO

 

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maundythursdayGospel Reading: John 13:1-151 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.

6 He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 12:1-8,11-14

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; 4 and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening.

7 Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste.  It is the LORD’s passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever.

Meditation: Does your love waver when you encounter bitter disappointments and injury from others? As Jesus’ hour of humiliation draws near he reveals to his disciples the supreme humility which shaped the love he had for them. He stoops to perform a menial task reserved for servants – the washing of smelly, dirty feet. In stooping to serve his disciples Jesus knew he would be betrayed by one of them and that the rest would abandon him through disloyalty. Such knowledge could have easily led to bitterness or hatred. Jesus met the injury of betrayal and disloyalty with the greatest humility and supreme love.

Jesus loved his disciples to the very end, even when they failed him and forsook him. The Lord loves each of us unconditionally. His love has power to set us free to serve others with Christ-like compassion and humility. Does the love of Christ rule in your heart, thoughts, intentions and actions?

Saint Augustine of Hippo in his sermon for this day, wrote:

“He had the power of laying down his life; we by contrast cannot choose the length of our lives, and we die even if it is against our will. He, by dying, destroyed death in himself; we are freed from death only in his death. His body did not see corruption; our body will see corruption and only then be clothed through him in incorruption at the end of the world. He needed no help from us in saving us; without him we can do nothing. He gave himself to us as the vine to the branches; apart from him we cannot have life.Finally, even if brothers die for brothers, yet no martyr by shedding his blood brings forgiveness for the sins of his brothers, as Christ brought forgiveness to us. In this he gave us, not an example to imitate but a reason for rejoicing. Inasmuch, then, as they shed their blood for their brothers, the martyrs provided “the same kind of meal” as they had received at the Lord’s table. Let us then love one another as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us.”

“Lord Jesus, your love conquers all and never fails. Help me to love others freely, with heart-felt compassion , kindness and goodness. Where there is injury, may I sow peace rather than strife.”

Psalm 116:12-13, 16-18

12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid.  You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

A Daily Quote for Lent: Christ chose to be a servant who offered himself for us, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

“Even though the man Christ Jesus, in the form of God together with the Father with whom He is one God, accepts our sacrifice, nonetheless He has chosen in the form of a servant to be the sacrifice rather than accept it. Therefore, He is the priest Himself Who presents the offering, and He Himself is what is offered.” (excerpt from City of God, 10,20)

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Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:14-25

14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. 17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; 21 and as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. 24 The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Meditation: Why did Judas betray his Master? Was his treachery motivated by greed, bitter disappointment with Jesus, or hatred because of disillusionment? It may be that Judas never intended for his Master to die. Maybe he thought Jesus was proceeding too slowly and not acting aggressively enough in setting up his messianic kingdom. Perhaps Judas wanted to force Jesus’ hand by compelling him to act. Nonetheless, his tragedy was his refusal to accept Jesus as he was.

Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him. As Jesus ate the passover meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion (one of you will betray me) to teach them to examine themselves rightly, lest they be high-minded and think themselves more strong than they were. We, also must examine ourselves in the light of God’s truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. Do you pray with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray: Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13)?

Prayer
“God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous undertaking. Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you.” (Prayer of Thomas a Kempis)

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Just as we were created with purpose, angels were created with specific tasks and attributes as well.  They have characteristics different from those of humans, but they are nonetheless created beings of God.  They reside in heaven, out of heaven, and anywhere that God sends them.  

It’s worth taking a deeper look at what angels are and what they are not before forming our view of them.

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Angels in Heaven

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:16

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Dear God,

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life,

and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.

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“You’re all geniuses, and you’re all beautiful.

You don’t need anyone to tell you who you are.

You are what you are.

Get out there and get peace, think peace, and live peace and breathe peace,

and you’ll get it as soon as you like.”

– John Lennon

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