Reflections

Saturday in the 5th Week of Easter, May 8, 2022

WE ARE REJECTED WITH CHRIST

Introduction
The world that has rejected Christ hates Christ and his disciples; it persecutes them because the lifestyle of a good Christian is a condemnation of the world. Think, for example, of the films by Luis Bunuel, the Spanish director, who is obsessed by everything Christian and holds it up to bitter sarcasm.
Perhaps, more deadening than persecution is the attitude of a world that has not discovered Christ or has a distorted view of him and of Christianity. To these people, we are ridiculous, old-fashioned, irrelevant, out of touch with reality, and worthy of a pitying smile.
Yet this was the lot of Christ. We share in his love, and also in the treatment he is given by the world. The disciple is no better than the master. In the disciple, the world still rejects Christ, the Master. At least, we are in good company…
 
Opening Prayer
Lord, our God,
it is good to live in the friendship
of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Make us realize that also in this love,
we are committed to him and share with him
for better and for worse,
in misunderstanding and contradiction
as well as in joy and intimacy.
Help us to rejoice, even when treated
with indifference or ridicule on account of him,
for it means that he is still with us,
who is our Lord forever. Amen!
 
1 Reading: ACTS 16:1-10
Paul reached also Derbe and Lystra where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him, and Paul wanted him to come along with him. On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number. They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them, so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 100:1B-2, 3, 5
R. (2a) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: Alleluia.
 
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song. R.
 
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends. R.
 
The LORD is good:
his kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations. R.
 
Alleluia: COLOSSIANS 3:1
Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: JOHN 15:18-21
Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.
 
Commentary
After his conversion, Francis of Assisi entered upon the path of holiness with renewed strength. There was no indication initially that he planned to do this in the company of others. At a certain point, other men expressed their desire to share his vision. But this was God’s doing, not his. In his Testament, Francis says, “The Lord gave me brothers.”
Such a statement could be written off as medieval piety. Or it could arise from a deep spiritual conviction. In today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s zeal for evangelization led him to places he had not previously visited. The Spirit of Jesus led him and even determined his route.
Timothy was part of Paul’s missionary group. Paul, no champion of mandatory circumcision, had Timothy circumcised; he was the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. Although a man of strong conviction, Paul was not inflexible, but he was capable of necessary accommodation in the interest of a greater good.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that we have been chosen out of this world and it now has no claims on us. If the disciples belonged to this world, they would be embraced by it. But if their vision and aspirations belong to a higher realm, their stay here will be marked by discomfort. In many ways, our life here is countercultural. At the same time we recognize the God-given good that is present in the world. But we and the world will always have our differences. Without enmity or hatred, we still walk a different path. The road may not always be clear, but, with the Lord’s help, it is his will that will take the lead.
 
Intercessions
That our missionaries may be guided by the Holy Spirit to bring the joy of Easter to other people and cultures, we pray:
That like the early Christians, those who are persecuted on account of the Lord may retain their joy of witnessing to the Lord, we pray:
That like Jesus, our Lord, we may be willing and eager to render service to people, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God,
your Son Jesus, pours for us
the cup of joy,
but it can also become at times
a cup of sorrow to be emptied to the dregs.
May his Spirit guide us
to stay with him when the going is rough
as he stays always with us,
who is our Lord forever. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, we thank you
for the joy of sharing the table of your Son
in this Eucharistic celebration.
Make our faith strong enough
to share all of the life of Jesus,
even when he is rejected or ignored,
and we with him.
Make us understand that his Paschal Mystery
is both death and life
and the way we have to live
with Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
The message of Christ is not always a comfortable message; it also has to speak of the cross. But speak we must, even in the face of ridicule and contradiction. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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