Love

Love

By Nancy Nobrega

As we witnessed the Easter Vigil, and as we celebrate Easter for the next weeks leading to Pentecost, how can we but be filled with love and gratitude and joy. We know this Holy Story so very well.

In this week’s Gospel the apostles are in awe and wonder as Jesus visits them for the third time since His resurrection. In the first reading they have much to fear as the high priest threatens them, but instead they are joyful to be considered worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name. They are full of love for Jesus. In John 4.18, we see that love replaces fear and here love has replaced the fear and confusion that they felt during Jesus’ Passion.

In the Gospel the apostles don’t recognize Jesus at first. This echoes Mary Magdalene who did not immediately recognize Jesus at His tomb. When Peter does recognize Jesus, he covers his naked body and we recall the story of Adam and Eve.

Peter is tasked with feeding the lambs and tending the sheep. This reminds us of the Good Shepherd who loves us so completely that He laid down His life for us. John writes that while around a charcoal fire Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves Him. It was around a charcoal fire that Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus wipes away the denial that Peter exhibited earlier. Jesus chooses Peter to lead His people, and Peter later lays down his life in Jesus’ name.

“Sinners” and “sins” are alluded to in this Gospel – Adam and Eve, Mary Magdalene, Peter’s denial, those Jesus loves don’t recognize Him – and they are juxtaposed to Jesus tenderly calling His apostles children. No matter what we do, as long as we keep trying and “follow” Jesus we will be forgiven and loved. Jesus knows that we make mistakes and life is messy, but in the “new and most important” commandment that accompanied Jesus’ “ new covenant” he says“love one another; even as I have loved you…” ( John 13 :34). Jesus gives us “the way” to heaven on earth. Love one another which will always include forgiveness.

How can we but be filled with love and gratitude and joy?

Sunday’s Readings:
Acts 5.28-32, 40b-41
Psalm 30
Revelation 5.11-14
John 21.1-19

Nancy Nobrega is a parishioner and volunteer at St. Basil’s. In addition to her volunteer work with Magdala and R.C.I.A., she is currently a student of Theology at Regis College.

Free from the Tomb

Free from the Tomb

By Trevor Rainwater, SJ

At each of the scrutiny Masses during Lent, the readings at Mass differ to allow the Elect and the larger Christian community to uncover their own sin and weakness so as to better prepare for the joy of Easter. This Sunday, most people hear of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), that tells us that despite one’s sins, forgiveness is always found in Christ. Those, however, who attend the 4:30 PM Mass hear the scrutiny reading of the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). The Raising of Lazarus is a fitting Gospel to have just before Holy Week because it clearly foreshadows what will occur in two weeks on Easter Sunday. In both stories, new life overcomes the grip of sin and death. Joy and excitement replace sadness and grief; disbelief transforms into the faith. It is clear from the passage that Jesus, Mary, and Martha shared a close friendship, but Martha, nonetheless, blames Jesus for Lazarus’ death. Yet it is only through the “dead” Lazarus walking out of the tomb and Mary and Martha’s grief that Jesus reveals the glories of His Heavenly Father. Just as Lazarus, Mary, and Martha had to go through suffering and death to see a flowering and deepening of their own faith, so too can we see this aspect in our own lives today. Through Lent, we undergo a cleansing and renewal of our faith in preparation for the joy of Easter. As we journey with Jesus and his disciples in these final days of Lent, we continue our quest to see Christ as the giver of new life in order to love God more deeply. Thus, what “tomb” do you want Jesus to free you from? In other words, just as Lazarus needed freedom from his burial clothes after walking out of the tomb, what parts in your life need to be “unbound” and exposed to the light of Christ? Or if you heard the Gospel of the adulterous woman, what are the “public” sins you carry and wish to let go of? Remember, Jesus waits to set you free through the sacrament of Confession!

Sunday’s Readings: Isaiah 43.16-21 Psalm 126 Philippians 3.8-14 John 8.1-11

Laetare Sunday

Laetare Sunday By Stefani Bedin This Sunday is often called Laetare Sunday, a name which refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent: “Laetare, Jerusalem” (“Rejoice, O Jerusalem”). The Church is encouraging us to rejoice! We are approximately halfway through our Lenten journey, and we are invited to look forward, with joyful anticipation, to Easter, which is just three weeks away. Today, we momentarily break from some of the austerities of the penitential season. This spirit of rejoicing is reflected in our liturgies, which differ somewhat from the other Sundays of Lent. The pipe organ, which since the beginning of Lent has been used at Sunday liturgies solely to support singing, today also offers solo music—preludes and postludes. Flowers are permitted in the sanctuary. You may have also noticed the priest wearing rose-coloured vestments. These vestments are only worn on one other day of the liturgical year, the Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday, another time when we are specially invited to be joyful. The readings also remind us there are many reasons to rejoice. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we hear that the father celebrates over the return of his lost son. During Lent, when we are especially reminded to repent and seek forgiveness, we find joy in knowing that our God is loving and merciful. May this Sunday bring us refreshment and strengthen our faith and hope as we continue to journey toward Holy Week and Easter.

Sunday’s Readings:

Joshua 5.9a, 10-12

Psalm 34

2 Corinthians 5.17-21

Luke 15.1-3, 11-32

Fishers of People

Fishers of People

By Emily VanBerkum

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians expresses his desire that all Christians accept the basic tenets of the Christian faith- that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, appeared to Cephas, then the twelve apostles, was buried, and rose from the dead. Paul further emphasizes the importance of belief in Christ’s resurrection by positioning himself as a witness to the resurrection, and an Apostle of Christ. In Magdala, a conciliary formed in St. Basil’s dedicated to understanding the feminine genius and the feminine dimension of the Church, members have explored the richness of Mary Magdalene’s rightful status as ‘Apostle to the Apostles.’ Though not mentioned by Paul in today’s second reading, the Gospels position Mary Magdalene as the first to witness the resurrection of Christ and the one given a distinct Apostolic charge to go share the news of Christ’s rising from the dead. In many ways, Mary Magdalene bore a transformative love for Jesus- followed him in his earthly ministry, through his gruesome death by crucifixion; she anointed him for burial, wept by his tomb, and waited in desperation and unwavering faith for her Saviour to come again in glory. Mary Magdalene was a model disciple. Learning from the significance of Mary Magdalene’s witness to Christ and fervent discipleship, today’s Gospel encourages us to reflect on our own status as a disciple of Christ. In the moments following a miraculous haul of fish, Jesus tells Simon, James, John, and the many that had gathered by the shore: “Do not be afraid; from now on, you will be catching people.” They left everything and followed Him. Fishers of people. Jesus longs for real discipleship so that followers will draw others to him by the way they model their faith. Belief in Jesus is conveyed in countless ways and, as Paul, Mary Magdalene, and the twelve apostles all understood and lived, discipleship is predicated upon a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. Jesus’ language here does not discriminate about who can follow him, rather stating that those who witness his resurrection and saving action – as it has been passed down from generation to generation ­– will be catchers of people, in turn welcoming all women and men into the Kingdom of God.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Isaiah 6.1-2a, 3-8
  • Psalm 138
  • 1 Corinthians 15.1-11
  • Luke 5.1-11

The Magdala conciliary gathers once a month through the academic term, discussing topics of relevance to the understanding of the feminine genius and the feminine dimension of the Church. If you are interested in finding out more, please speak with Michael Pirri at (416) 926-1300 x.3210 or michael.pirri@utoronto.ca

Love and Charity

Love and Charity

By John Paul Farahat

I must confess that the second reading for this week gave me pause – many of us will recognize it as a reading often proclaimed at weddings. And I think that it is safe to say that approximately 75% of the 35-40 weddings that take place at Saint Basil’s every year incorporate this excerpt from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. So often, we miscategorise this reading as being about romantic love. We assume that Paul is talking about the love between spouses or partners. As meaningful as we may find this interpretation, it is important to point out that the reading is instead referencing charity: that is, God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love of neighbour. Paul is reminding his reader that charity is at the core of Christian living and urging a fundamental shift in their way of living out their faith. How often do we forget to connect our faith to our sense of charity? So often, our faith life, our sense of charity, and our self are not aligned: our ego, our prejudice, our sense of self, all get in the way of being charitable to “the other”. How often do we limit our charity to “the familiar”? How often do we forget that our charity is especially called on when we encounter “the other”? He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40)

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Jeremiah 1.4-5, 17-19
  • Psalm 71
  • 1 Corinthians 12.31-13.13
  • Luke 4.21-30

The Wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana

By Dane and Anne MacCarthy

Cana has a special affection for us as we fondly remember a pilgrimage trip to Israel in 1997 when, along with other married couples in our group, we had the opportunity to renew our wedding vows in the little church at Cana in Galilee. This weekend’s Cana readings give us pause to reflect on a number of things. We understand that the Evangelist John mentions Mary by name only twice in his Gospel. Today’s reading is a significant first – Mary asking her son, Jesus, to perform a miracle at the beginning of his public ministry. Though reluctant, He agrees. Maybe we need to call on Jesus through His mother at challenging times in our lives – how can a son say no to his mother? But why at a wedding celebration did Jesus perform the first of His signs? We married couples like to believe that He wanted to recognize marriage as a key event in many lives. Marriage marks the beginning of a new family, and is not family a little church? This Cana event points the way to the establishment of marriage as a sacrament (which admittedly did not occur until centuries later). Possibly, this is why marriage can seem to be the forgotten sacrament. Yes, the wedding day (or days as in the time of Jesus when a week of celebration was the norm) is certainly a highlight for a couple with all the accompanying dazzle – including plenty of wine. But how do we and even our Church honour the sacrament of marriage after the wedding day – when couples need that support in living out day to day life with its many struggles and challenges? We would be delighted to see in the worldwide church, a special day to honour marriage, as is the case for the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, the World Day of Prayer for the Sick etc… Here in the Archdiocese of Toronto, we are fortunate that our Archbishop, Cardinal Collins, has since 2011, designated the second Sunday in February as Marriage Sunday. On this day, all parishes in the Archdiocese are asked to honour married couple in a significant way, be it by special blessing or the communal celebration of significant wedding anniversaries. The Cana experience is also seen as being about transformation from the old law to the new, as well as the ongoing transformation of our lives whether our vocation be Marriage, Holy Orders, Consecrated Religious or Single Life. Indeed, Cana gives us much cause to reflect.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Isaiah 62.1-5
  • Psalm 96
  • 1 Corinthians 12.4-11
  • John 2.1-12