Saint Rita of Cascia, religious (opt. Memorial)
One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people." He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. They said, "This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law." Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters." And he dismissed them from the tribunal. Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the officer of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things.
After staying there for a considerable time, Paul said farewell to the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow.
All peoples, clap your hands,
cry to God with shouts of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, we must fear,
great king over all the earth. (R./)
He subdues peoples under us
and nations under our feet.
Our inheritance, our glory, is from him,
given to Jacob out of love. (R./)
God goes up with shouts of joy;
the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.
Sing praise for God, sing praise,
sing praise to our king, sing praise. (R./)
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete."
Some people claim that all questions of faith and morality can be solved from the Bible and tradition. But it seems we will still have issues to resolve until the Lord’s second coming. “On that day you will ask nothing of me,” said Jesus in today’s Gospel. This gospel was written some sixty years after the resurrection. Since the author could survey the whole New Testament era, why did he not have all the answers? Yet he is quite clear that we must await the second coming before all questions are answered.
To balance this, we have the assurance that Jesus is always with us, as we face the questions that life raises for us. When Paul was uncertain how to share the Gospel message in Corinth, Jesus appeared to him and promised: “I am with you.” Even with this promise Paul had serious issues to face. He was accused before the proconsul as a trouble-maker, and the angry protestors even turned against their own leader, Sosthenes, who had supported Paul, and beat him up.
Paul began his pilgrimage to Jerusalem by taking a Nazirite vow (see Num 6:1-21). He shaved his head and would not cut his hair again until the vow is completed. He would follow strict dietary laws and keep himself ceremonially pure. To win the goodwill of the disciples in Jerusalem he returned more fully to Jewish practice and immersed himself in traditional Jewish customs, before leaving Cenchreae (the seaport of Corinth) and sailing for the Holy Land.
Why did he practice these Jewish rituals, having set his pagan converts free from all such regulations? Evidently, Paul pondered about God’s will for his own lifestyle. He had earlier written that “with the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jews” (1 Cor 9:20). He thought long and hard about how to shape his own conduct. His process of discernment shows him adapting to circumstances, sensitive to people’s feelings, adapting to their needs. Just as he guided St Paul, the ever-present Holy Spirit helps us to deal with each issue as it arises.
Sorrow turned to joy
Jesus speaks frankly about the grief his death will bring to his disciples, “I tell you solemnly, … you will be sorrowful.” The death of someone close to us always brings strong feelings of grief and loss. Jesus knows they will experience this when he is taken from them. But he says that these feelings won’t last forever and in the end their sorrow will turn into joy.
He promises that sorrow and pain and death will not have the last word. Because he has passed from death to life all our pains and losses will be left behind. This change can begin to be experienced here and now, for he says to us too: “your sorrow will turn to joy.” This was discovered by the two disciples on the road to Emmaus , and we can discover it for ourselves.