Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday in the Octave of Easter

266 Saturday in the Octave of Easter

CCC Cross Reference:
Acts 4:20 425; Acts 4:21 2640
Ps 118:14 1808
Mk 16:11 643; Mk 16:12 645, 659; Mk 16:13 643; Mk 16:14 643; Mk 16:15-16 977, 1223; Mk 16:15 888

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Reading 1
Acts 4:13-21

Observing the boldness of Peter and John
and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men,
the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed,
and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus
. Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them,
they could say nothing in reply.
So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin,
and conferred with one another, saying,
“What are we to do with these men?
Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign
was done through them, and we cannot deny it.
But so that it may not be spread any further among the people,
let us give them a stern warning
never again to speak to anyone in this name.”

So they called them back
and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John, however, said to them in reply,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God
for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
After threatening them further,
they released them,
finding no way to punish them,
on account of the people who were all praising God
for what had happened.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 118:1 and 14-15ab, 16-18, 19-21

R. (21a) I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the Lord,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just.
R. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
“The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord has struck with power.”
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.
Though the Lord has indeed chastised me,
yet he has not delivered me to death.
R. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel
Mk 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week,
he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,
out of whom he had driven seven demons.
She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping.
When they heard that he was alive
and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After this he appeared in another form
to two of them walking along on their way to the country.
They returned and told the others;
but they did not believe them either.

But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them
and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart
because they had not believed those
who saw him after he had been raised.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

First reading Acts 4:13 – 21

The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen; and they recognized them as associates of Jesus; but when they saw the man who had been cured standing by their side, they could find no answer. So they ordered them to stand outside while the Sanhedrin had a private discussion. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘It is obvious to everybody in Jerusalem that a miracle has been worked through them in public, and we cannot deny it. But to stop the whole thing spreading any further among the people, let us caution them never to speak to anyone in this name again.’

So they called them in and gave them a warning on no account to make statements or to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John retorted, ‘You must judge whether in God’s eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God. We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard.’ The court repeated the warnings and then released them; they could not think of any way to punish them, since all the people were giving glory to God for what had happened.

Psalm: Psalm 117(118):1,14-21

I will thank you, Lord, for you have given answer.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he was my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the just.

I will thank you, Lord, for you have given answer.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.
I was punished, I was punished by the Lord,
but not doomed to die.

I will thank you, Lord, for you have given answer.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Open to me the gates of holiness:
I will enter and give thanks.
This is the Lord’s own gate
where the just may enter.
I will thank you for you have answered
and you are my savior.

I will thank you, Lord, for you have given answer.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Gospel Mark 16:9 – 15

Having risen in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared first to Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven devils. She then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them. But they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him.

After this, he showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either.

Lastly, he showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.

Readings and Commentary from the Navarre Bible

Saturday in the Octave of Easter

From: Acts 4:13-21

Address To the Sanhedrin (Continuation)
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[13] Now when they (the Sanhedrin) saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. [14] But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. [15] But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred with one another, [16] saying, "What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. [17] But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any one in this Name." [18] So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. [19] But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God you must judge; [20] for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." [21] And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for all men praised God for what had happened.

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Commentary:

13. The members of the Sanhedrin are surprised by Peter's confidence and by the way these men, who are not well versed in the Law, are able to use Sacred Scripture. "Did not the Apostles," (St. John) Chrysostom asks in admiration, "poor and without earthly weapons, enter into battle against enemies who were fully armed [...]? Without experience, without skill of the tongue, they fought against experts in rhetoric and the language of the academies" ("Hom. on Acts", 4).

18-20. In one of his homilies [Pope] John Paul II gives us a practical commentary on this passage, which help us see the right order of priorities and give pride of place to the things of God: "Whereas the elders of Israel charge the Apostles not to speak about Christ, God, on the other hand, does not allow them to remain silent. [...] In Peter's few sentences we find a full testimony to the Resurrection of the Lord. [...] The word of the living God addressed to men obliges us more than any other human commandment or purpose. This word carries with it the supreme eloquence of truth, it carries the authority of God Himself. [...]

"Peter and the Apostles are before the Sanhedrin. They are completely and absolutely certain that God Himself has spoken in Christ, and has spoken definitely through His Cross and Resurrection. Peter and the Apostles to whom this truth was directly given--as also those who in their time received the Holy Spirit – must bear witness to it. Believing means accepting with complete conviction the truth that comes from God, drawing support from the grace of the Holy Spirit 'whom God has given to those who obey Him' (Acts 5:32) to accept what God has revealed and what comes to us through the Church in its living transmission, that is, in Tradition. The organ of this Tradition is the teaching of Peter and of the Apostles and of their successors.

"Over the centuries the sanhedrins change which seek to impose silence, abandonment or distortion of this truth. The "sanhedrins of the contemporary world" are many and of all types. These sanhedrins are each and every person who rejects divine truth; they are systems of human thought, of human knowledge; they are various "conceptions of the world" and also the various programs of human behavior; they are also the different "forms of pressure" used by so-called public opinion, mass civilization, media of social communication, which are materialist or secular agnostic or anti-religious; they are, finally, certain contemporary "systems of government" which--if they do not totally deprive citizens of scope to profess the faith--at least limit that scope in different ways, marginalize believers and turn them into second-class citizens...and against all these modern types of the Sanhedrin of that time, the response of faith is always the same: 'We must obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29)" ("Homily", 20 April 1980).

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From: Mark 16:9-15

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene and to Two Disciples
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[9] Now when He (Jesus) rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast our seven demons. [10] She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. [11] But when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

[12] After this He appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walkinginto the country. [13] And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Jesus Appears to the Eleven. The Apostles' Mission
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
[14] Afterwards He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they sat at table; and He upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen. [15] And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation."

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Commentary:

11-14. When reporting these first appearances of the risen Jesus, St. Mark stresses the disciples' disbelief and their reluctance to accept the fact of the Resurrection, even though Jesus foretold it (cf. Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34). This resistance shown by the Apostles is a further guarantee of the truth of Jesus' resurrection; they were to be direct, specially-appointed witnesses to the risen Christ, yet they were reluctant to accept this role. They had personal, direct proof of the truth of the Resurrection.

However, our Lord will say: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (John 20:29). In the Apostles' case, they needed, in addition to faith in the risen Christ, clear evidence of His resurrection, for they were to be the eye-witnesses, key witnesses who would proclaim it as an irrefutable fact. In this connection Pope St. Gregory the Great comments: "The reason why the disciples were slow to believe in the Resurrection was not so much due to their weakness as to our future firmness in the faith; what other purposes does this have (the very Resurrection being demonstrated by many arguments to those who were in doubt) than that our faith should be strengthened by their doubt?" ("In Evangelia Homilae", 16).

12. Our Lord's appearance to these two disciples is reported more fully by St. Luke (cf. 24:13-35).

15. This verse contains what is called the "universal apostolic mandate" (paralleled by Matthew 28:19-20 and Luke 24:46-48). This is an imperative command from Christ to His Apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world. This same apostolic mission applies, especially to the Apostles' successors, the bishops in communion with Peter's successor, the Pope.

But this mission extends further: the whole "Church was founded to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth for the glory of God the Father, to make all men partakers in redemption and salvation ...Every activity of the Mystical Body with this in view goes by the name of 'apostolate'; the Church exercises it through all its members, though in various ways. In fact, the Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. In the organism of a living body no member plays a purely passive part, sharing in the life of the body it shares atthe same time in its activity. The same is true for the body of Christ, the Church:'the whole body achieves full growth in dependence on the full functioning of each part' (Ephesians 4:16). Between the members of this body there exists, further, such a unity and solidarity (cf. Ephesians 4:16) that a member who does not work at the growth of the body to the extent of his possibilities must be considered useless both to the Church and to himself.

"In the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in His name and by His power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole people of God" (Vatican II, "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 2).

It is true that God acts directly on each person's soul through grace, but it must also be said that it is Christ's will (expressed here and elsewhere) that men should be an instrument or vehicle of salvation for others.

Vatican II also teaches this: "On all Christians, accordingly, rests the noble obligation of working to bring all men throughout the whole world to hear and accept the divine message of salvation" ("ibid.", 3).

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Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

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