Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Thursday Fifth Week of Easter
Thursday Fifth Week of Easter
[St. Rita of Cascia, Religious]
Acts 15: 7-21 / Ps 96: 1-2a, 2b-3, 10 / Jn 15: 9-11
Reading: Acts 15: 7-21
As the discussions became heated, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brothers, you know that from the beginning God chose me among you so that non-Jews could hear the Good News from me and believe. God, who can read hearts, put himself on their side by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them and cleansed their hearts through faith. So why do you want to put God to the test? Why do you lay on the disciples a burden that neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? We believe, indeed, that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are." The whole assembly kept silent as they listened to Paul and Barnabas tell of all the miraculous signs and wonders that God had done through them among the non-Jews. After they had finished, James spoke up, "Listen to me, brothers. Symeon has just explained how God first showed his care by taking a people for himself from non-Jewish nations. And the words of the prophets agree with this, for Scripture says, After this I will return and rebuild the booth of David which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again. Then the rest of humanity will look for the Lord, and all the nations will be consecrated to my Name. So says the Lord, who does today what he decided from the beginning. Because of this, I think that we should not make difficulties for those non-Jews who are turning to God. Let us just tell them not to eat food that is unclean from having been offered to idols; to keep themselves from prohibited marriages; and not to eat the flesh of animals that have been strangled, or any blood. For from the earliest times Moses has been taught in every place, and every Sabbath his laws are recalled."
Gospel: John 15:9-11
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love. You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you all this, that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
God's love for us is expressed in the graces He showers us. In today's Gospel God says if we want to stay in His graces, He expects, not demands, that we obey Him. There is a big difference: expecting means a package deal while demanding means there are strings attached. While there is no conditionality for staying in God's love, it is our job to be worthy of or to deserve those graces because in the first place we are not and we do not. When we say we love God but disobey His commandments, disharmony sets in. A simple bother is when our troubled conscience kicks in. But more painful is when God starts to take back what was given.
To illustrate how hard yet how rewarding it is to consistently stay in God's grace, here is the story St. Rita of Cascia whose feast we celebrate today. Young Margherita was a beautiful woman who wanted to be a nun. But instead she followed her parents' wishes in an arranged wedding with a man she barely knew. She became a battered wife but events took over when the belatedly remorseful husband was murdered. She had two sons who planned for revenge. Again St. Rita expressed her wish in a prayer that instead of the sons becoming murderers, "may God take them both." Shortly, both sons got sick and eventually died. Widowed and alone in her old age, St. Rita decided to pursue her previous plan to be a nun. Three times she was turned down. One night she returned to the convent after all doors were locked. When she was able to open the doors without keys, the community took this as a sign from God and she was finally admitted. She stayed in the convent for the next 44 years strictly observing her vows. Although she by then had attained her single ambition, her fierce devotion to God further gained her a distinct honor of feeling the pain of Jesus' thorn on her forehead complete with a deep wound that remained open up to her death on May 22, 1457 at the age of 76. Nearing death, she asked for a rose from the monastery garden. It was deep in winter, but a nun found roses blooming amidst the snow. As with all her wishes, she did not demand for results. She knew it would be given. So great was her love of God and her devotion to His will. Indeed God's joy was in her and her joy was complete.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
... for families who are in need of healing
... for world peace and reconciliation
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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