Saturday, May 16, 2015

Beleive through Grace

[Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him.  After his arrival he gave great assistance to those who had come to believe through grace. Acts 18:26-27
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.  John 16:23B-24
Let [the Abbess] know, then, that she who has undertaken the government of souls must prepare herself to render an account of them. Whatever number of sisters she knows she has under her care, she may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day she will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls, as well as of her own soul.
Thus the constant apprehension about her coming examination as shepherd (Ezekiel 34) concerning the sheep entrusted to her, and her anxiety over the account that must be given for others, make her careful of her own record. And while by her admonitions she is helping others to amend, she herself is cleansed of her faults. (Rule of St. Benedict, May 16)
Today we might be witnessing some of the earliest Scriptural applications of what came to be known as the Cursillo method.  Apollos has committed himself to the “Way” and his life is filled with piety, study and action.  He is getting support from members of his Cursillo group.  First, Pricilla and Aquila aid in his study by expanding his knowledge beyond the Baptism of John.  Then, the brothers further encouraged him with palanca to support him on his journey to Achaia. 
In the Gospel, Jesus stresses the importance of a well-rounded piety – making sure that we understand the importance of offering prayers to the Father that ask for what is important in life.  We have many ways to prayer in adoration praising and blessing Jesus as Lord – Believing He is in control.  When we sin, we pray in confession seeking God’s mercy and admitting we have a need for God. Thanksgiving prayers tell the Lord that we appreciate all that God has done (or will do) for us and all He means to us. Jesus reminds us that our prayer must go one step further to supplication prayers (or petition prayer) that ask for God's help. God will answer.
As we celebrate the final weeks of Easter, the bishops of Virginia issued a statement on the death penalty.  Clearly, this public policy issue challenges us all in ways that go beyond morality and peer into how we see mercy. Without a complete understanding of the Church teaching, we might be like a modern-day Apollos, eager yet not complete in our understanding.  The bishops’ statement includes the following:
The Church's teaching on the death penalty is succinctly stated in a 2005 U.S. Bishops' statement, "A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death": "No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so." This statement is the teaching of the Catechism, and for decades Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis consistently have urged us to embrace it.
To be sure, this teaching challenges many people, including ourselves when we reflect on violent crimes and lives lost in senseless and unimaginable ways. The deep pain, grief, and suffering of those who have lost loved ones to violence cry out for our care and attention. More killing, though, is not the answer: The death penalty does not provide true healing for those who mourn, nor does it embody the Gospel of Life, which each of us is called to affirm even in the most difficult circumstances.
It is also important to note that people have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt, and inmates who languished on death row for decades have been freed after their innocence was proven. Since 1973, some 152 death row inmates nationwide - including one in Virginia - have been exonerated. We must also be aware of the racial inequity inherent in the system, and that the death penalty has been administered to individuals with severe intellectual disabilities.
In light of the news out of Boston and many states that are challenged to carry out the death penalty, we are at a crossroads in many ways.  Ask the Lord for guidance on how to reconcile the Way with your heart on this issue.  Once you do, encourage our leaders to support a way of mercy. 

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