Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter & St. Gregory VII, May 23,2015
Today’s readings reveal yet another integral link between the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Jesus tells Peter that his only true “concern” is this: “You follow me.” Paul as well witnesses to such supreme following: In his chains he received all who came to him, proclaiming Jesus Christ “with complete assurance.”
“May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love.” Amen. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)
Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself,
with the soldier who was guarding him.
Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews.
When they had gathered he said to them, “My brothers,
although I had done nothing against our people
or our ancestral customs,
I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem.
After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me,
because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty.
But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar,
even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation.
This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you
and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel
that I wear these chains.”
He remained for two full years in his lodgings.
He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance
and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God
and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word of the Lord.
Ps 11:4, 5 and 7
R. (see 7b) The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold,
his searching glance is on mankind.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
The LORD searches the just and the wicked;
the lover of violence he hates.
For the LORD is just, he loves just deeds;
the upright shall see his face.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved,
the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper
and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?”
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?
You follow me.”
So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die.
But Jesus had not told him that he would not die,
just “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?”
It is this disciple who testifies to these things
and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – What concern is it of yours?”
In today’s gospel we are all witness to Peter’s brokenness and his jealous attitude towards the disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” In time, Peter blurted out the question- “Lord, what about him?” And to this Jesus responded, “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”
Jealousy is a deep attitude problem founded on an uncontrollable lust and desire after some possessions, what a person is, a privilege or a position of status. It naturally flows from one’s self-centeredness. Jealousy steals away one’s life and removes joy and peace in one’s heart. It also ruins relationships. It slowly creeps into one’s being and takes over like a thief in the night if one is not careful. Thus the response of Jesus to Peter’s question “Lord, what about him?” was very appropriate as He said: “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”
Jesus needed to bring Peter to his senses as like a thief jealousy enters one’s heart unnoticed and as an uninvited guest. No one sets out with the goal of being jealous. Jealousy can begin when one desires for his life something that is outside of God’s will. It can grow from a fleshy heart as one finds difficulty in yielding to the Holy Spirit. It flows from sin as it comes with its deceitful friends: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, anger, conflicts, dissensions, factions and envy.
Jealousy was quite manifest in Peter as he always wanted to be at the head of the group, always wanting to be the first among the disciples. His jealous spirit may have led him at one instance to even desire to lead Jesus rather than follow our Lord. Certainly, what we may perceive from Peter’s actions are not far from what we may observe today among God’s people. But we should not be frustrated and give up our relationship with God and those who have believed and have decided to follow Him.
All we need to do is persevere in doing good and follow God and His will. Amidst the brokenness and sinfulness of man, even those whom God has asked to lead His church, we still have our obligation and duty. God’s order is cut and dry, very simple and not complicated. He said: “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”
Stay focused on the Lord. Follow Him and live by His Word.
Heavenly Father, give me the grace to just focus on You and follow You so that one day I may gaze on your face, O Lord. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – St. Gregory VII (1020-1085 A.D.)
The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. He was to become Gregory VII.
Three evils plagued the Church then: simony (the buying and selling of sacred offices and things), the unlawful marriage of the clergy and lay investiture (kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials). To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later (1073-1085) as pope himself.
Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots.
Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1399
The Gregorian Reform, a milestone in the history of Christ’s Church, was named after this man who tried to extricate the papacy and the whole Church from undue control by civil rulers. Against an unhealthy Church nationalism in some areas, Gregory reasserted the unity of the whole Church based on Christ and expressed in the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter.
Gregory’s words still ring true today when civil or national religion is making subtle demands: “In every country, even the poorest of women is permitted to take a lawful husband according to the law of the land and by her own choice; but, through the desires and evil practices of the wicked, Holy Church, the bride of God and mother of us all, is not permitted lawfully to cling to her spouse on earth in accordance with divine law and her own will” (A Call to the Faithful).
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