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Bible Reflections View Comments

May God Give You Peace
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 7, 2013
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I was looking for a small gift for a friend the other day and ended up browsing the Quotable line of magnets, mugs, and other items. I found a wonderful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

It came to mind as I was looking at the readings for this Sunday. We can be so focused on what we don’t have that we miss what we do have. We can be so consumed by what we haven’t done that we take for granted all that we have in fact accomplished. And always we hold on to grudges and resentments, sometimes not even realizing that we’re doing it. We spend far too much of our time criticizing, whether we’re pointing fingers at our own weakness or at other people’s failures. We are, in Emerson’s words, encumbered by old nonsense.

In the Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out to spread the message of the kingdom. To do this well, they needed to be wholly committed to their task. And they needed to make sure that their focus was on spreading the Good News. This is why Jesus counsels them not to dwell on those who reject the message. The act of shaking the dust of unrepentant towns from their feet is less an act of rejection than it is a way of setting themselves free of destructive attitudes of revenge and retribution.

Just before today’s passage from Luke, we read that Jesus and his disciples were passing through a town in Samaria that rejected them. Luke tells us Jesus’s response was simply to go on to the next town. James and John, loyal followers that they were, wanted to call down fire on the townspeople. When the disciples return to him with stories of their success, it becomes clear that they are a bit intoxicated with their first taste of the power of God working through them. Jesus again says, “Do not rejoice that the powers are subject to you. Rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”

Power is always a danger among those who lead. If that power is not consciously turned toward doing good for others, the temptation to take out one’s frustrations, old hurts, and unhealed wounds on those who stand in opposition or are simply weaker can be difficult to overcome.

Pope Francis has been consistently preaching to the cardinals, bishops, and priests in Rome—and throughout the Church—to remain humble and guard against the urge to misuse power for their own advancement. Like Jesus with his disciples, he is reminding them to stay focused on the commitment to Christ and to God’s people that lies at the heart of every true vocation. This applies to us as well, whatever our state in life.

More than anything else, the message of the kingdom of God is one of peace. We are called to be at peace with God, with others, with ourselves. Jesus tells us, “Peace is my gift to you.” Like any gift, it is ours to receive. But in order to open our hands to God, we have to let go of the things of this world.



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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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