Sunday, April 29, 2018

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

"Purification and fruit belong together; only by undergoing God's purifications can we bear the fruit that flows into the Eucharistic mystery and so leads to the marriage feast that is the goal toward which God directs history. Fruit and love belong together: The true fruit is the love that has passed through the Cross, through God's purifications. 'Remaining' is an essential part of all this. In verses 1-10 the word remain  (in Greek menein) occurs ten times. What the Church Fathers call perseverantia--patient steadfastness in communion with the Lord amid all the vicissitudes of life--is placed center stage here. Initial enthusiasm is easy. Afterward, though, it is time to stand firm, even along the monotonous desert paths that we are called upon to traverse in this life--with the patience it takes to tread evenly, a patience in which the romanticism of the initial awakening subsides, so that only the deep, pure Yes of faith remains. This is the way to produce good wine."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Part One: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration (New York: Doubleday, 2007), p. 262

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Reflection on the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord

Icon of Christ the Pantocrator, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem
(Photo by Andrew Shiva)

"Amid our silence, our overpowering silence, the stones begin to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40) [1] and to clear the way for the greatest message that history has ever heard: 'He is not here, for he has been raised' (Mt 28:6). The stone before the tomb cried out and proclaimed the opening of a new way for all. Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of the Gospel. The stone before the tomb was the first to leap up and in its own way intone a song of praise and wonder, of joy and hope, in which all of us are invited to join.

"Yesterday, we joined the women in contemplating 'the one who was pierced' (cf. Jn 19:36; cf. Zech 12:10). Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: 'Do not be afraid… for he has been raised' (Mt 28:5-6). Those words should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially the ways we relate to others. The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits. It should make us think, but above all, it should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens” in every situation and every person and that his light can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives. He rose from the dead, from that place where nobody waits for anything, and now he waits for us – as he did the women – to enable us to share in his saving work. On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity.

"He is not here… he is risen! This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity. How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen, and with him, he makes our hope and creativity rise so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone."

--Pope Francis, Homily at Easter Vigil Mass, March 31, 2018