INCREDULOUS WITH JOY: Stewards of Mercy & Life
3rd Week of EASTER
RCIA Session, April 15 & 19
Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalm 4:2,4, 7-8, 9
1 John 2:1-5a
“The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses." -cf. Acts 3:13-19
“While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst...But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, 'Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.' ...While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed...he said to them, 'Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'" -cf. Luke 24:35-48
- Thursday, April 12: focus on sustaining one's own newfound faith for the "long-haul" as "stewards of the faith"
- Thursday, April 19: focus on GOING OUT to others as "stewards of God's loving mercy"
- Thursday, April 26: focus on "offering of one's life to God" by learning the "little way" of Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church
- Thursday, May 3: focus on being stewards of the life of the Church, taking a "taste" of Small Christian Community prayer groups
PRACTICE THE FAITH: Be a Steward of Mercy
"The Christian program - the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus - is a 'heart that sees.' This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly. ...A Christian knows when it is time to ...let love alone speak." - from Deus Caritas Est, by Pope Benedict XVI
- This week you will have an opportunity to sign up for different Parish Ministries. One way to think about the ministries which many Parishioners have found helpful is to take an online "spiritual gifts inventory" and consider the ministries that make use of their own particular gifts. Take this online inventory and write down your results.
- Commit the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy to memory. But then, more importantly, begin a habit of practicing Works of Mercy as a central part of your life. How can you do this?
- Helpful HANDOUT: use this handout on building your own Rule of Life and include in your "rule" the ways you want to live as one who carries the love and mercy of God to the ends of the earth (or at least, your corner of the earth).
REFLECTING TOGETHER THIS WEEK:
What is a "heart that sees"? Who are the people you know who have "hearts that see"? Who do you 'see? right now in your life who could use a little love?
If we are truly "witnesses to the resurrection" - just as the earliest disciples were witnesses to the resurrection - what in us will be changed? How does Jesus touch our minds/thinking, our hearts/feeling, and our lives/priorities? What reactions of the disciples in today's Gospel are closest to your own?
What are the Corporal and Spiritual "Works of Mercy"? Where do these come from? How are you called to embody them, incorporate them, in your own life right now? How will you continue to live them more and more? What support or help do you need to do this?
FOR THOSE WHO WANT MORE DEPTH:
Reflect on what Pope Benedict teaches in his great first Encyclical, "God is Love" or "Deus Caritas Est". Consider reading this Encyclical in its entirety - several times:
"A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented. ...Love can be commanded because it has first been given. ...Love of neighbor is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person who I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings.
"One is so closely to the other (love of God and neighbor) that to say that we love God becomes a lie if we are closed to our neighbor or hate him altogether. Saint John's words rather(I John 4:19-20 "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.") should be interpreted to mean that love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.
"Following the example of the given in the Good Samaritan, Christian charity is first of all the simple response to immediate needs and specific situations: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick...Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs. ...The Christian program - the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus - is a 'heart that sees.' This heart see where love is needed and acts accordingly. ...Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practiced as a way of achieving other ends. But this does not mean that charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside. ...A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak."