18May 18 May, 2019. Saturday, 4th Week of Easter

Saturday of Week 4 of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 13:44-52

Failing to convert some Jews, Paul and Barnabas turn to the Gentiles

The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial: Psalm 94: 1-4

Response: All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God

Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation. (R./)

The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel. (R./)

All the ends of the earth
have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy. (R./)

Gospel: John 14:7-14

Jesus tells Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”

Jesus said to his disciples,
“If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”


Adapting to changing times

Adapting our vision of God to major changes in the surrounding culture (e.g. Big Bang theory, Expanding Universe, genetic manipulation, moral relativism etc.) can be difficult and divisive, as much for Catholics as for other religions. Our church grappled with these ideas during and after Vatican II, and still feels this tension more than a half-century later. Various traditional doctrines are still critically tested against widely shared values of our times. As we struggle to adapt to our changing context we might recall Jesus’ words to the apostle Philip: “Whoever believes in me will do the works I do, and greater than these.” How can our works be greater than those of Jesus? Is he teasing us with unreal praise or inviting us, prodding us to move on?

Here is something parents often think and say to their children: “what I couldn’t achieve, you must go ahead and complete! Take up my dreams and bring them into reality.” Jesus dreamed of a mission to the entire world and yet in practice could not achieve it in his lifetime. He told the Canaanite woman, just outside of Jewish territory, “My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” When she persisted, he first refused before saying, “Woman, you have great faith! You can have your wish.” (Matt 15:21-28). “Your wish,” he seemed to say, “is my wish.” How he longed to see humanity united around the heavenly banquet table. No one would need to survive from crumbs that fall from the master’s table.

When Paul and Barnabas were barred from the synagogue and expelled from the territory, their apparent failure served the spread of the Gospel. At least that was how Paul saw it. He quotes from Isaiah: “I have made you a light to the nations, a means of salvation to the ends of the world.” We can look to this hopeful principle in any personal crisis or change, trusting that the whole process is under the loving, guiding providence of our God.

What would satisfy us?

Parents often complain that their children are never satisfied. In a sense that is true of us all; we are hardly ever satisfied. Saint Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Philip expressed something of this when he asked Jesus, “Let us see the Father, and then we shall be satisfied.” He understood that if only he could see the face of God all his longings would be satisfied. Jesus replied, “To have seen me is to have seen the Father.” It is he himself who reveals the Father; he is the way to the Father.

We won’t see the face of God in this life, but God has sent us his Son. We cannot see Jesus physically as the apostles saw him, but we can see him with the eyes of faith. We can see him in his Word, in the Eucharist, in the other Sacraments, in each other. Such “seeing” of the Lord won’t fully satisfy us but it gives us a glimpse of what awaits us.


Saint John I, pope and martyr

John I (470-526), a native of Siena, was Pope for three years until his death in 526. Although already frail when elected to the papacy, he was sent
to Constantinople by the Arian King Theodoric to plead with the emperor Justin for moderation towards the Arians. While Justin offered some concessions to Theodoric, when pope John returned to Italy, he was accused of not having done enough for the Arians. Theodoric had John was imprisoned at Ravenna, where he died of neglect and ill treatment.
He is venerated at Ravenna and in Tuscany.

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