Seeds of Hope for Sunday, April 18, 2021 (with Mission Prayerline)

To this Seeds of Hope, I have attached Mission Prayerline, a short mission story and prayer intention. Please page down to see it.


Scripture Reading for Today: Luke 24:35-48 (read it here)

Reflect

As far as the shattered disciples were concerned, Jesus was dead, dead and gone, finished; and they knew what was left when a person dies: death certificates, undertakers, funerals, a grave and a circle of grieving loved ones and friends. 

Therefore, their first response to the appearance of Jesus was fear, disbelief, wonder, and uncertainty about what it meant to be in the presence of someone who has just passed through the obscurity of death and betrayal and now has come back to life wishing them “peace.” 

Today’s Gospel reminds us that the resurrected Jesus returned among the disciples not in a disembodied and purely flimsy spiritual state; not as some wonderful hallucination; not as a mist or a wind or a ghost; and not as some spark of life ready to be absorbed back into the Divine radiance. 

To the disciples locked in the Upper Room, Jesus came in a body: a body that had flesh and bones; and a body that maintained a substantial connection with the body he originally had—and he told them, “A spirit has not flesh and bones, and, as you can see, I do.”

The risen Jesus was a real person, speaking, smiling, eating with them, extending his arms to them and saying, “Touch me and see for yourselves.  I am the same person that walked with you, taught you, and cried and laughed with you.”  

In other words, Jesus’ resurrected body, was a body real enough to be felt and to have wounds, to walk on the road to Emmaus, to appear in the form of a gardener; and to be real enough to eat grilled fish with the disciples.

But that was not the whole story: something radical had happened. 

Jesus’ new body was a new creation functioning in a mysterious way; his body reflected the old body but was not the same old body reassembled or cloned or revived. 

Just ask those early witnesses.  Mary Magdalene wept by an empty tomb, and though Jesus came and stood behind her, she did not recognize him until he spoke to her; two disciples on the road to Emmaus joined with a stranger who opened the meaning of the Scriptures, but they did not know who he was until he broke bread with them at the evening meal; and then he just vanished from their sight.

In other words, we cannot read today’s Gospel without noting that the body of the risen Lord was the same, yet radically different, timeless, space-less—and magnificently real. 

Above all, by looking at the resurrected body of our Lord, we are given a preview of our new body at the end of time, when he “will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body” (Philippians 3:21). 

Perhaps our body has never been strong; our sight, crisp; our hearing, clear; our walk, sturdy; or our heart steady.  But God will make a “new” body out of the old one: a body without corruption, a body without weakness—a body identical to the body of Jesus.

We will receive a renewed body, and our bodies will have a future with God; what is now crooked will be straightened, what is now faulty will be fixed, what is now arthritic will be cured, what is now weak will be strong in heaven.

Our body will be different, but we will not have a different body.  We will live forever in this body we were given; but our body will be raised in power and given a form like that of Jesus’ glorious and resplendent body.

Today’s Gospel gives us hope, encouragement, and joy.  In contemplating Jesus’ resurrected body, we are reminded that we do not die into nothingness.  This old and disjointed jalopy of a body of ours will not simply be refurbished. We are not going to take a long nap and then get up to live forever on this planet; and we will not go through endless reincarnations into this world. 

Instead, we look forward to the time when we will be totally raised up, completely transformed into another form of existence, entirely a new creation, forever endowed with a body as real as that of the risen Christ—no longer bound by any of the limitations of time, space, sickness, and sin.

At the same time, the promise of sharing in Christ’s bodily resurrection encourages us to be sincerely hopeful in situations in our lives that from the outside seem hopeless and to find meaning and grace in situations of disappointment and sorrow.

Consider  

The hope in the resurrection of our body helps us to see that God has not abandoned us and that we can see his loving hand in every corner of our world and every circumstance of our life.

In the Eucharist, we see and touch the wounds and the glorious Body and Blood of the resurrected Christ, and we make the memorial of his death and resurrection.

Let ask the Lord that we might be made worthy of eternal life,

Sustained by Mary who already enjoys eternal life in her body, let us profess our faith in the resurrection of our body. 





Moroccan Christians Have to Practice Their Faith in Secret

The Malekite rite of Sunni Islam is the state religion of Morocco, and authorities do not legally recognize followers of any other religions, except Judaism. 

The 2012 Moroccan Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, but it penalizes conversions to any religions other than Islam.  That puts the Christian community in a difficult position.

There are two Christian communities in Morocco: foreigners who work and live in the country and Moroccans who converted from Islam to Christianity. 

Moroccan Christians face a grim situation, because only Christian foreigners enjoy freedom of worship, even though they have no legal status in the eyes of the state. 

There are an estimated 30,000 foreign residents who are Catholic, while 10,000 are Protestant. The number of Moroccan Christians is an estimated 8,000, though some sources put that number as high as 25,000.  Morocco has a population of 34.6 million.

There are some 44 churches in the country, which were built during the French protectorate era (1912-1956), some of which have been turned into meeting halls and municipal headquarters.  The government does not give permits to build new churches.

The penal code holds that all Moroccans are Muslims, so those who convert to Christianity face legal problems, beside threats to their security. Moroccan Christians worship in secret house churches to avoid state sanctions or harassment from society. Moroccans do not worship publicly, because they risk being accused of proselytizing if they engage in public expressions of any religion other than Islam. 

Also, the government restricts the distribution of non-Islamic religious materials, as well as Islamic materials it deems are inconsistent with the Maliki-Ashari school of Sunni Islam.

Under Moroccan law, proselytizing or converting to another religion is a criminal offence punishable by six months to three years in prison. 

Although religious freedom is constitutionally enshrined in Morocco, Moroccan Christians and especially Muslims who converted to Christianity face numerous forms of discrimination and are not allowed by the police to set foot in a church.

The state considers Christianity to be dangerous and a threat the Moroccan nation.

There are some 2,400 Jews living in Morocco, with Judaism enjoying full legal recognition. Authorities treat the Jewish community with respect for two reasons—first because it is economically strong, and second because the government uses its toleration of Judaism to whitewash the abuses targeting other religious minorities.

Pray

Almighty God and Father, somewhere at this moment there are thoughtful, kindly men and women who are staring at prison walls because they dared speak out for truth and justice.  Somewhere at this hour persecuted Christians are meeting for worship in secret, knowing that sooner or later someone might betray them.

As one Church, united under your holy headship, and knowing that we are all one family in Christ, we pray for those who suffer in your name all over the world, our brothers and sisters, who share in that same great gift of salvation through your son, but who face injustice, oppression and even death because of their faith in you.

We want to walk with them as they journey through the valley of darkness, and we pray knowing that you are a God of compassion, comfort, and justice, who always hears their prayers, never leaves them, and will forever be their fortress and shield, whatever they face.

We pray that you will grant them strength, courage, and protection from those who seek to harm them because they follow you, guidance and wisdom for when their path seems impossible to tread, and hope for a future where they have the freedom to worship you without fear.



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Que la palabra de Cristo habite y se sienta a gusto en ustedes (Col. 3:16)



Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.

Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC

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