Let all the devout, all who love God rejoice in this beautiful, bright Feast. Let the wise servants be glad and enter into the joy of their Lord. Let those who have borne the burden of the Fast, now receive their pay. And those who have toiled since the 1st hour, now receive their just reward. Let any who came after the third hour, gratefully join in the fast. And those who have come after the sixth hour, let them not doubt, for they shall suffer no loss. If any have delayed to the ninth hour, let them not hesitate, but also come. And they who have arrived only at the 11th hour, let them not be afraid because they delayed, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to those who come at the eleventh hour as well to those who have worked from the first. [Read more…] about Easter Sunday Reflection: St. John Chrysostom’s Easter Sermon
— Global Edmonton (@GlobalEdmonton) October 1, 2017
Many of you may have seen or heard about the suspected terror attack in Edmonton last night which sent five to hospital – including a member of the Edmonton Police Service.
There are many reminders that will be repeated over the next few days as we process these happenings in our own community including the fact that we are so, so fortunate to have such courageous and professional men and women serving in the EPS & RCMP, looking out for our good each day. We’ll also be reminded that the actions of an individual or group do not reflect on the beliefs of an entire religion or culture.
Equally important to those reminders are reminders particular to our faith: that in face of such senseless violence (and ultimately in the face of all suffering) we have recourse both to hope and to prayer.
When it comes to hope, I’ll lean on the words of a spiritual giant. On September 12, 2001, St. John Paul II set aside his usual Wednesday catechesis to address the 9/11 attacks on the USA. A few lines from that talk seem particularly appropriate today:
“How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.”
Additionally, we are called – in imitation of Christ Himself – to respond to hatred and terror with prayer. From the Cross Jesus prayed for his accusers & executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). With that in mind, I offer the following as a prayer you might use to pray for Edmonton (adapted from http://www.christiananswers.net/pray.html):
God of faithfulness,
As we come to you to pray for the victims of the recent attack on our community, we ask for your help for ourselves and for others:
We ask for your grace to center our minds and settle our hearts.
We ask for your hope to sustain our passion for justice and our will to be peacemakers.
We ask for your wisdom to help us recognize your presence dwelling within us and within every being you have made.
We ask for your courage to live as children of light, hope and love, putting away all darkness, fear and hatred.
Take from us all longing for vengeance, and fill us with compassion for victims of violence throughout the world.
Give us a love that is not withheld even from our enemies.
Be with those members of the Edmonton Police Service and the RCMP who work each day on our behalf for our protection. Grant that our leaders may act justly in response to this situation.
As we pray, help us to truly believe not only in Your abiding presence, but also in the power of prayer to move mountains.
Pull us from the grasp of violence and guide our steps in Your way of peace.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
We offer heartfelt prayers today for those hurt in the senseless attacks that occurred last night in Edmonton.
— Archbishop Smith (@archbsmith) October 1, 2017
We have a big year coming up. Starting this fall, the Catholic Church will be celebrating a “jubilee” year focused in particular on the mercy of God. Jubilee years find their origin in the book of Leviticus (25:8-13), and usually focus on forgiveness, pardon, and growing closer to God. Jubilee years have been celebrated every 25 or 50 years for the since the 1300’s, the last of which was the great Jubilee of the year 2000. That celebration followed a three year preparation looking at the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This Jubilee, on the other hand, is an “extraordinary” celebration (as it deviates from that 25/50 year schedule) – and will focus on one of Pope Francis’ favorite themes: the mercy of God the Father.
In a lot of ways, life unfolds like a card game. You don’t get to decide which cards you are given… but you do get to decide how you’re going to play them. Students often ask me why I do what I do – and it has everything to do with where I’ve come from. When I look back over my life, it’s clear to me that God gave me the cards He did for a good reason. I’d like to share with you how those cards have led me to where I am today… and why I’ve been blessed to spend my entire adult life serving as a youth minister/chaplain to some incredible young people. [Read more…] about God stacked the deck in my favor
Picture yourself: a follower of Jesus during the first century. One called – audibly – by name to follow Him, one selected to be among His inner circle, one of the twelve. The most notable miracles? You saw them. The most memorable sermons? You heard them. You were sent out with another of the twelve to proclaim the Good News and performed miracles yourself in His name. For three years you lived and breathed right alongside Jesus soaking in everything He said and did.
I can only imagine what that experience would do to my faith. I’d like to hope it would be a life-defining experience, the sort that would leave any one of us unalterably changed. Which is always what makes the story of one of Jesus’ twelve, Judas, so troubling. He lived this… and he walked away. While we know very little about Judas Iscariot: his call, his betrayal of Christ, and his death (Matthew 27, Acts 1), we know with certainty that he was a traitor (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:19, Luke 6:16, John 6:71), who apparently stole from the apostle’s common purse (John 12:4-6).
The Apostles were almost certainly stunned by Judas’ actions: the tone of their recollections of him in Gospels show great sadness or even bitterness at the mention of his name. Dean Jones performed a wonderful one-man play called St. John in Exile – Jones plays the title character, John, reflecting on the Gospel story while living out his days in exile on the prison island of Patmos. When he narrates Jesus’ betrayal, there is a moving mixture of anger and anguish in his voice as he recognizes Judas leading the mob to arrest Jesus (start watching at 34:05):