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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

5th SUNDAY OF EASTER -C- May19, 2019

Acts 14: 21-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21: 1-5; John 13: 31-33, 34-35

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

Confession time: as I have mentioned before, when we preachers start our preparation we tend to ask, "What’s the gospel?" Gospel narratives catch the imagination as they focus on Jesus, the world in which he preached and his stunning works. The gospel passage is also the last of the readings – the preaching follows immediately – and our hearers are most likely to remember the gospel they just heard. Nevertheless, in my preparation this week, I’m going to focus on our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

A few words about Acts. It was written by Luke and is considered his "second volume." Some would name both under one title, "Luke-Acts." A clue to this relationship is in the opening lines of the two documents. Luke’s gospel begins addressing "most excellent Theophilus"; promising after "investigating everything," to "write an orderly account for you." Acts opens with a clear link to the gospel: "In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote all that Jesus did and taught…." The gospel ended with Jesus’ sending his disciples to preach (24:46-47). That’s where Acts picks up.

About a third of Acts features speeches and preachings from key figures in the early church. The initial setting for the preachings takes place in Jerusalem (1:1-8:3) and then moves to Judea and Samaria (8: 4-9:43). Isaiah had promised that Israel would be a "light to the nations" and so next, the preachers take up their mission to the Gentiles (10:1-15 – 15:35). In the last part, Paul’s preaching exemplifies God’s call for the mission to reach the "ends of the earth" (15:36–26:31).

Paul and Barnabas returned to preach at Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch – the very places they had suffered persecutions. In Lystra Paul was stoned and left for dead by his opponents. In today’s reading the apostles return to the Christian communities they established to teach and encourage the communities and to strengthen their faith. As we follow the preaching missions of the apostles we learn, while some accepted their message, others rejected and persecuted them.

In their perseverance and suffering, because of their preaching, the early evangelists were not just drawing on their own energies and grit. What these preachers reveal is that Jesus had kept his word and had given them the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was that Spirit that filled their spirits with a burning desire to preach and witness to their resurrected Lord. When they returned to their home communities they would not boast of their accomplishments, but of the Holy Spirit working through them in unique ways. Thus, today’s reading ends with Paul and Barnabas at their home base in Antioch, where they "… called in the church together and reported what God had done with them and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles."

Something like that happens in parishes when members volunteer, or are asked, to teach religion to teens; be an RCIA team member; start a food pantry; take communion to the sick, etc. Often they profess their limited knowledge and experience, yet they say "Yes" to the invitation. They studiously prepare for their mission and take guidance from the "elders." They discover people are moved by their ministry and more – the ministers’ own faith takes on new life as, like Paul and Barnabas, they undertake the mission of preaching the gospel. How do those changes come about? How else, but through the work of the Holy Spirit – anointing and working through their efforts.

So, where do our travels take us, for we too have been assigned to proclaim the Good News to the world? Probably we won’t have to go on a whirlwind evangelizing mission like our two featured apostles. But still, our baptism has anointed us to be prophets in the places we find ourselves. There is no getting around that responsibility!

Name your own "mission field": around the breakfast table (that can be real mission territory for some!); at work; among friends at social gatherings; on line at the supermarket? I’m not suggesting we stand on a soapbox and start preaching; though being a little less shy about our faith wouldn’t hurt. But our habitual actions, values, judgments, style of life, etc. should stir up curiosity for those around us. Who knows, they might be curious enough to ask the big questions: "What makes you so different?" "With all the problems you have, how do you get your strength to go on?" "How can you be remain so hopeful?" Then the opportunity will arise for us to do what Paul and Barnabas were doing – "proclaim the Good News."

We may feel we are not theologically trained enough, but we should speak from the knowledge we do have – our heart and the experience of our faith. (A little study wouldn’t hurt either!) Like Paul and Barnabas, we won’t be unaccompanied on our journey, because the Spirit will be our "tour guide." Which is what the Acts of the Apostles is really about: the Holy Spirit working in ordinary people to help them proclaim the Good News and make, as Acts tells us, "a considerable number of disciples." Give it a try!

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051919.cfm

QUOTABLE

 
"This is a wonderful day.

I have never seen this one before."

—Maya Angelou

 

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Psalm 145:8

Would others recognize us as disciples of Jesus by how we love? Do we reflect the love of our Creator by our charity? As Christians, these are questions that we should make part of our daily experience. The Jesuits have the mantra, "see, judge, act." The term "judge" in this instance has more to do with discernment of a situation through personal reflection. When you experience or encounter an injustice, how do you respond? When the opportunity presents itself to do a work of charity, do you turn away or lean in?

This weekend is our spring food drive for Catholic Parish Outreach. CPO, a Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh program, is celebrating 41 years of serving residents of Wake, Franklin, and Johnston counties. It has become the largest food pantry in the Triangle providing emergency food assistance. CPO does more than just give out food. The food pantry gives hope to its clients by treating them with dignity and respect along with showing that volunteers come together with one purpose - to help them. CPO also provides a food stamp outreach program, and a resource list of other assistance throughout the community. It also offers, when possible, small children's clothing and baby items, such as formula and diapers. CPO is a model throughout the state of how to serve the less fortunate in our communities.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • -25% of NC children under 5 go to bed hungry
  • - 2,200+ children are registered in Wake County public schools as homeless
  • - 80% of NC households with children who receive food assistance do not know where their next meal is coming from

(Sources: www.thefoodeffect.org, www.ncfoodbanks.org, and www.cbsnews.com ) Of the 170,200 people in North Carolina that receive emergency food assistance every week, CPO plays a vital role. In 2018, CPO served 8,200 people a month on average by utilizing 1,900+ volunteers and 3.5 paid staff. To become an HNOJ-CPO volunteer, contact Mary Overcash at: socialconcern@hnojnc.org .

Please stop by the CPO truck with your groceries and if you forgot your bag, know this--a tax-deductible donation of just $30 feeds a family for one week.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS WORK OF LOVE!

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Revelation reading:

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.

The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,

and the sea was no more

Reflection:

Revelation is the assurance that, despite the apparent victories of evil in our world, God is sovereign and just and will overcome evil in the end and reward the just who have persevered and lived faithful lives. Revelation speaks to those who look to God for a comfort that only God can give. It is a prophetic book urging us to hear the Word of God and stay faithful to the covenant God has made with us in Christ.

So we ask ourselves:

  • If someone were to ask you, "Which do you think is winning in the world, good or evil?" What would you answer?
  • What hope does the reading from Revelation stir in you?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Russell Tucker #0413011 (On death row since 2/21/96)
  • Guy T. Le Grande #0238344 (4/26/96)
  • Jamie L. Smith #0376917 (5/10/96)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.org - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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