PS: 5th Sunday of Easter

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Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.

Saint Basil the Great:

The just person’s entire life is tribulation…. Therefore the Apostle elsewhere says that he has been “afflicted in every way,” and here, that “we must enter the kingdom of God through many afflictions.” God does rescue the holy from affliction, but he does so not by rendering them untested but by blessing them with endurance. For if “affliction brings about endurance, then endurance brings about an approved character.” Whoever rejects affliction deprives himself of approval. Just as none is crowned who has no rival, so none can be pronounced worthy except through tribulations. Therefore, “he snatched me from all my tribulation,” not by allowing me not to be afflicted but by granting with the test a way out, in order to be able to endure.

Tertullian:

If sorrow, and mourning, and sighing, and death itself assail us from the afflictions both of soul and body, how shall they be removed, except by the cessation of their causes, that is to say, the afflictions of flesh and soul? Where will you find adversities in the presence of God? Where incursions of an enemy in the bosom of Christ? Where attacks of the devil in the face of the Holy Spirit? What plague awaits the redeemed from death after their eternal pardon? What wrath is there for the reconciled after grace? What weakness after their renewed strength? What risk and danger after their salvation?

St. Thomas Aquinas:

Christ loved us three ways. He loved us gratuitously because he began to love us and did not wait for us to begin to love him…. In the same way we should first love our neighbors and not wait to be loved by them or for them to do us a favor. Christ loved us effectively, which is obvious from what he did; for love is proven to exist from what one does. The greatest thing a person can do for a friend is to give himself for that friend. This is what Christ did…. We also should be led by this example and love one another effectively and fruitfully…. Christ also loved us rightly. Since all friendship is based on some kind of sharing…, that friendship is right which is based on a similarity or a sharing in some good. Now Christ loved us as similar to himself by the grace of adoption, loving us in the light of this similarity in order to draw us to God…. We also, in the one we love, should love what pertains to God and not so much the pleasure or benefits the loved one gives to us.

Pope Francis:

Jesus is encountered, just as 2,000 years ago, in a human presence, the Church, the company of those whom he assimilates to himself, his Body, the sign and sacrament of his Presence…. It is a question of starting to say “You” to Christ, and saying it often. It is impossible to desire it without asking for it. And if someone starts to ask for it, then he begins to change. Besides, if someone asks for it, it is because in the depths of his being he feels attracted, called, looked at, awaited…. There from the depths of my being, something attracts me toward Someone who looked for me first, is waiting for me first.

Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus:

God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love, and since he has “loved us first,” love can also blossom as a response within us…. [L]ove is not merely a sentiment…. I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, and encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them…. I can give them the look of love which they crave…. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbor and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.

Servant of God Luigi Giussani:

When there is something beautiful within us, we desire to communicate it to others. When we see others who are worse off than we are, we desire to help them with something of ours. This need is so…natural, that it is within us before we are conscious of it…. We do charitable work to satisfy this need. We become ourselves to the extent that we live this need…. This is so true that, if we are not able to give, we experience ourselves as incomplete beings…. We do charitable work so that we may learn to fulfill the task of becoming ourselves. But it is Christ who has enabled us to understand the ultimate reason for this…. I am able to understand the word “charity” when I remember that the Son of God, loving us, did not send us his riches (as he was able to do) and revolutionize our situation; instead, he became poor like one of us. He “shared” our nothingness. We do charitable work in order to live like Christ.

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P.