Saturday, May 24, 2014

Only one week left . . .

6th Sunday of Easter  
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Ps 66
1 Pt 3:15-18
Jn 14:15-21

The first reading from Acts continues to describe the rapid growth and spread of the Church in its first years.  Two week ago we heard, "It was at Antioch that they were first called Christians."   In chapter 5 of Acts we read Gamaliel's analysis regarding how to respond to the Apostles' proclamation of the Good News of Jesus, risen from the dead for our sins.  That analysis still holds,

"So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

"But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy it."

Despite the attempts of many throughout the centuries, despite the attempts in many places today, to destroy the Church, it continues because, and only because, of the Church's provenance from God.  The growth of the Church during the time of Philip, Peter and John was astonishing.  The persistence of the Church proves that it is governed by the Spirit sent by God. 

We heard in the First Letter of Peter,  "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame."  That the Church heeds this advice became quite evident in the Boston area over the past weeks.

One can, and should, take pride in the response of the Boston Catholic Church and its members to the recent blasphemous actions at Harvard, the QUOTE Black Mass UNQUOTE, as well as the pathetic defense of those who wished to sponsor or approve of the sacrilege such the Globe.  The Globe published a letter by a Miss Sarah Wuncsh, staff attorney for the Massachusetts ACLU coven, who criticized Harvard's president for ultimately censoring the abomination, using the tired free speech argument. 

Were Catholic students at Harvard to have parodied or, God-forbid even criticized, gay marriage heads would have rolled, apologies would have been forced, and at least a few of the benighted would have been put in the newly resurrected stocks on Cambridge Common for all to jeer and criticize as they passed by.  Indeed, one recalls an opinion by a former Harvard president who was forced to resign because it did not meet the standards of political correctness even though it should have come under the protection of free speech. 
The holy hour at St. Paul's attended by over 1000 was not the only one in town.  Other churches and several Jesuit communities had similar periods of prayer and reparation for Harvard's hideous, disrespectful, biased, and, if I may coin a word, religiophobic behavior.  Sacrilege was countered by prayer.  Adoration was the response to blasphemy.

The desire of Harvard to stage a sacrilegious ceremony is not entirely surprising.  It, and similar actions throughout the world, represents the fear of the revelation of the Spirit that Jesus promised in the Gospel reading.  As Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow wrote in his commentary on this particular Gospel passage, the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth because it cannot tolerate the revelation.  The revelation calls the world's values into question, inverts its hierarchies, and overturns its cherished idols. 

At the beginning of today's Gospel we heard, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments . . ." At the end we heard, "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me."  Both statements say the same thing in slightly different fashion. Obedience to his commandments is the only available means we have of
manifesting our love for Jesus.  Nothing else can or will do. Only by obeying his commandments can we manifest to the world that we live in Christ and he dwells in us. We live in troubled and troubling times.  We can only understand and respond to them if we do so in the light of the Christ's birth, passion, death, resurrection and ascension.  

Elsewhere in his commentary, Fr. Marrow wrote a superb analysis of the call to be Christian, ". . . loving with utmost generosity and utter selflessness, even to laying down of one’s life, is not uniquely Christian.  What distinguishes, or must distinguish, Christians is, when they love, they love as Christ loved them and because he loved them."  When we love like that we can do as the psalmist instructs,

"Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, "how tremendous are your deeds!"

Over the past days I've been going through the photo files to discard those that should be discarded in preparation for what is going to be a huge number of new ones.  It is not so much a concern of space on the storage drive but why hang on to redundant and poorly done photos int he first place?  In doing so I found the file of photos I took three years ago this weekend while in Melbourne.  It was late autumn at the time.  Didn't feel a whole lot different than the weather does here today though it is ostensibly spring in Boston.  

The first is the street named Royal Parade in Melbourne.  The Jesuit theologate was a bit further up the street from where I took this.  Royal Parade would remind one of Commonwealth Ave in Boston except for the fact that the cars are moving on the wrong sides of the street.  

 I enjoy taking photos of small details that would otherwise be missed.  This is one of them.  A small set of wind chimes in a house on Royal Parade.

A bit further down and across Royal Parade is the University of Melbourne.  Beautiful campus with some very old architecture.  The first is one of the cloisters surrounding a quad.

A Bible on the lectern in the chapel at the university. 

A bit further down I had to cross the busy street to get to the Victoria Market.  This was the view on the median.  Where I was going and from whence I came. 

The busy market.  I spent a lot of time there with the camera. 

Scallops waiting to be seared in a very hot pan. 

Vinegars standing in a row. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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