READINGS for 2006-05-19

Didache | Companion | Sabbath

DIDACHE

UNCLUTTER THE HEART

?to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things? ? Acts 15:28

As a young leader some 20 years ago, I required my community members to have a one-hour daily prayer time, one-hour daily scripture time, daily Mass, daily rosary, a weekly fast, and weekly adoration. Yup, my members who were married, had kids, and had full-time jobs?
      Obviously, people carried a lot of guilt when they failed. In my community, ?not having my daily prayer time,? became a sin.
      But were we becoming more loving?which is the center of the Gospel message? No. We usually judged each other as ?unspiritual? when they didn?t follow the standards.
      So one prayer meeting, I stood before my community and asked, ?Please forgive me. I was wrong?? (Later, I discovered that leaders multiply requirements?and guilt?because this increases our control over our members. It?s called spiritual abuse.) Today, our community thrives by encouraging daily prayer in whatever length, form, style, or way that fits each individual?s situation. Believe me, people are holier!
      The Old Testament contained 613 Laws? which included what clothes to wear, where you should move your bowels, and when you should wash your hands.
      In the New Testament, Jesus simply said, ?This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.? Finally, I?m getting it. Bo S.

REFLECTION:
What burdens your spiritual life? Your failure to fulfill a certain spiritual regimen?or a failure to love others?

Lord, unburden and unclutter my heart. Let me want what you want.

COMPANION

1st READING

Acts 15:22-31

God chose us way before we choose Him. In fact, without His choice being prior, ours would be impossible. It is only because we have first experienced His love that we are able to truly love Him or anyone else for that matter. The heart of God for us is such that while we were totally undeserving of His love, Jesus died for us on the cross. It is this first act of love that impels us to love in return. Let us pray that we will be able to love others in the way that Jesus loves them and us.

22 Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided  to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. 23 This is the letter delivered by them: ?The apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some of our number [who went out] without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, 25 we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: 28 ?It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, 29 namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.?? 30 And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter. 31 When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.

P S A L M

Psalm 57:8-9, 10-12

R: I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.

7 [8] My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast; I will sing and chant praise. 8 [9] Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn. (R) 9 [10] I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O Lord. I will chant your praise among the nations, 10 [11] for your mercy towers to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the skies. 11 [12] Be exalted above the heavens, O God; above all the earth be your glory!

G O S P E L

John 15:12-17

God chose us way before we chose Him. In fact, without His choice being prior, ours would be impossible. It is only because we have first experienced His love that we are able to truly love Him or anyone else for that matter. The heart of God for us is such that while we were totally undeserving of His love, Jesus died for us on the cross. It is this first act of love that impels us to love in return. Let us pray that we will be able to love others in the way that Jesus loves them and us.

12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one?s life for one?s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 17 This I command you: love one another.

my reflections
think:
God chose us way before we choose Him. Without His choice being prior, ours would be impossible.

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God?s special verse/thought for me today________________

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T O D A Y ? S BLESSING LIST

Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________

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READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Job 37-39

SABBATH

NO GREATER LOVE

There was this tragic story that happened in Cambodia a few years ago. I forgot the name of that Filipino Jesuit novice but not what he did. He was spending his regency in Cambodia teaching kids who had been victims of war and oppression. One day, a disturbed kid showed up in class with a grenade in his hand and was about to detonate it. The Jesuit jumped at the kid and took the brunt of the explosion upon his body. Ironically, the disturbed boy who had the grenade survived but the Jesuit died. There were a lot of speculations as to whether he did it as a force of habit, in the midst of panic or consciously out of love. I am convinced that it was the latter.
      I read excerpts from his letters and his journals and it showed a man who loved  fiercely. He loved fiercely because he had been touched by that fierce love that burned within God?s very heart. He embodied Jesus? very words regarding himself ? ?No man has greater love than this: for a man to lay down his life for his friend.?
      I wanted to introduce to you a concept of God?s love as that of a fierce lover. Some might find this too far removed from the image of the heart of Jesus ?meek and mild.? Yet this is a biblical image. The fierce love of God is a love that refuses to hand over the beloved even if it means death. The fierce love of God refuses to stop loving the beloved despite the fact that the beloved had betrayed him.
      Yet to the one who would respond to him he would entrust his very heart. He would transform our hearts so that our hearts would beat in accord with his. Our hearts would be broken by the things that break God?s heart. Our hearts would begin to ?not count the cost nor heed the wounds.? And when the situation calls for it, our hearts, like that of Jesus?, would choose death ? to lay down one?s life so that others can live. Jesus laid down his life for us in the battle of salvation because he knew that the power of sin and death could destroy us. He fought a battle that we can?t win so we could fight for those who are weak. He loves us so we could be fierce like him in our way of loving. Bro. Noel C.

REFLECTION QUESTION:
In prayer, repeat the phrase, ?No greater love than this: for a man to lay down his life for a friend.? What does it say to you about the heart of God?

Let my loving not be weak. Jesus , let my way of loving be fierce and passionate just like Yours. Let me not falter when the moment comes when great things would be required of me for the love of others; for the love of You. Jesus, let me love like You. Amen.

St. Peter Celestine V, pope confessor, pray for us.




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