Easter: April 18th
Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Other Commemorations: St. Apollonius (Hist)
Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Jouney to the United StatesWelcome Holy Father!10:45 a.m. Pope Benedict XVI will address the United Nations, after an early morning flight to New York.6 p.m. Prayer service with leaders from other Christian denominations at St. Joseph's Church in Manhattan.For complete information see: Christ Our Hope
Jesus declared publicly: "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me, sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I am not the one to condemn him; for I have come, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me, and does not receive my word, already has a judge: the very word I have spoken will condemn him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has instructed me in what to say and how to speak. I know that his commandment is eternal life, and that is why the message I give, I give as the Father instructed me (Jn 12:44-50)."
Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me
Jesus cries out; He cries out just as someone who is saying words everybody should clearly listen to. His clamor synthesizes his saving mission, as He has come "to save the world" (Jn 12:47), but not on his own but in the name of "the Father who sent me and has instructed me in what to say and how to speak" (Jn 12:49). It is not yet a month ago when we were celebrating the Paschal Triduum: how much present was the Father in the final hour, the hour of the Cross! As His Holiness John Paul II has written, "Jesus, overwhelmed by his foreknowledge of the trial waiting for him, alone before God, invokes him with his usual and tender expression of trust: ‘Abbá, Father’." The next hours clearly show the intimate dialogue of the Son with the Father: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk 23:34); "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:46).The importance of this work by the Father and his Messenger, well deserves the personal response of he who is listening. This response is to believe, that is, a profession of faith (cf. Jn 12:44); faith that gives us the light — by the same Jesus — so that we shall not remain in darkness. But, he who rejects all these gifts and manifestations, and does not listen to those words "already has a judge: the very Word I have spoken" (Jn 12:48).Therefore, to accept Jesus is to believe in, see and listen to the Father, not to be in darkness, to obey the command of eternal life. We certainly deserve Saint John of the Cross' rebuke: "[The Father] with this Word said everything in one go (...). Consequently, if you would like to ask God now, or should you pretend some kind of vision or revelation, it would not only be a piece of nonsense, but an offense for God, for not looking up only at Christ without asking for any other thing or novelty."Fr. Julio César Ramos González SDB (Salta, Argentina), Contemplating Today's Gospel
Marcus Aurelius had persecuted the Christians from principle, being a bigoted Pagan: but his son, Commodus, who, in 180, succeeded him in the empire, after some time, though a vicious man, showed himself favorable to them out of regard to Marcia, a lady whom he had honored with the title of empress, and who was an admirer of the faith. During this calm, the number of the faithful greatly increased, and many persons of the first rank enlisted themselves under the banner of the cross, of which number was Apollonius, a Roman senator. He was a person very well versed both in philosophy and the Holy Scripture. In the midst of the peace which the church enjoyed, he was publicly accused of Christianity by one of his own slaves, named Severus, before Perennis, prefect of the Prætorium. The slave was immediately condemned by the prefect to have his legs broken, and to be put to death, in consequence of an edict of Marcus Aurelius, who, without repealing the former laws against convicted Christians, ordered by it that their accusers should be put to death. The slave being executed, pursuant to the sentence already mentioned, the same judge sent an order to his master, St. Apollonius, to renounce his religion as he valued his life and fortune. The saint courageously rejected such ignominious terms of safety, wherefore Perennis referred him to the judgment of the Roman senate, commanding him to give an account of his faith to that body. At which point the martyr composed an excellent discourse in vindication of the Christian religion, and in a full senate gave a public discourse. St. Jerome, who had perused it, did not know whether more to admire the eloquence, or the profound learning, both sacred and profane, of its illustrious author: who, persisting in his refusal to comply with the condition, was condemned by a decree of the senate, and beheaded, about the year 186 by Commodus the sixth.